Another year, another Tokyo Game Show has come and gone. While attendees waited in a dreadful Disney-esque line queue for a few fleeting moments with triple-A titles like Kingdom Hearts III and the Resident Evil 2 Remake (don’t get us wrong, we are still super hyped), the indie games booths were relaxed and approachable. There were tons on of fun, charming, and unique games on the show floor, but these are the top six indie games that stole our little gamer hearts.
6. Pump The Frog
Pump the Frog comes from Seventh Holy Frogges, a team of Swedish developers currently enrolled at Uppsala University studying game design. The team wanted to create a game with an inspired control scheme. In Pump the Frog, you not only control the main character— a bouncy inflatable frog, but also the objects and creatures that make up the game’s world.
Earlier this year, they turned heads at the 2018 Game Developer’s Conference when they showed off Pump the Frog with a controller made from a re-purposed bicycle-pump. At Tokyo Game Show, it was running with a standard controller, but the controls still felt innovative and fun. The music, animation, and sound effects were hilarious, and it had a slight Rayman feel to it. There is no word on a release date yet, but we’re definitely pumped for Pump the Frog.
5. Hako Dake No Blues
Speaking of fun and innovative controls, it doesn’t get much better than a plain old cardboard box. That’s right. Eat your heart out, Nintendo Labo. While the Mushroom Kingdom is charging suckers seventy bucks for something your cat’s going to claim and destroy anyway, developer Wataru Nakano is out here making nudity fun again.
The title of this game roughly translates into “The Box-only Blues,” and the goal is to make it all the way home without anyone seeing your dangle shame. Here’s hoping an actual release comes with actual box support so we can all try this out naked at home.
4. Vambrace: Cold Soul
Vambrace: Cold Soul is the follow up to Devespresso Game’s The Coma: Recut. It’s set in a world cursed by an endless winter and inhabited by deadly wraiths. The developers describe it as a”fantasy-roguelike-adventure”— gameplay that is reminiscent of old-school 2D adventures and fantasy RPGs.
Features include multiple classes, races, weapon and armor crafting, and permanent death for your party members if you make the wrong decision. Vambrace: Cold Soul is planned to release on Steam (Mac & PC), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch in January 2019.
3. Code: Hardcore
Take the fast-paced local fighting of Super Smash Brothers and mix it with the Armored Core series and you get Code: Hardcore. Developed by Rocket Punch in China, the game will support online multiplayer at release, but it’s also a local split-screen lover’s dream come true.
Since its debut on Steam Greenlight in 2016, Code: Hardcore is better than ever with newly added features and mechs— each with unique special abilities. Flying and dashing is performed with the push of a button and aiming is completely manual, so it will take a bit of skill if you want to be the top mech.
2. Chris Story & The Last Journey
Unfortunately, not much info is out there on these two games from Mog Gen Studios. The developer’s twitter account and blog look abandoned, but we were really impressed with the demos they had on the show floor. The title cat character from Chris Story had adorable animations as he ran across the stage murdering chickens. The 2D hack n’ slash adventure game looked much farther along than The Last Journey.
The short demo we played boasted gorgeous art in the style of guóhuà, traditional Chinese painting. Gameplay involved making “brush strokes” with the mouse to trace Chinese characters, collecting flower petals, and simple platforming. The music and sound emitting from the headphones was peaceful and helped put me in relaxed mood— at least until I failed for the 14th time trying to trace the Chinese character for a tree or whatever the heck it was.
1. N1-RV Ann-A
The only cyberpunk bartender simulation is back with new characters, stories, and drinks in this sequel to VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action. Inspired by old Japanese graphic adventure games like the classic Snatcher and Policenauts, you take the role of a bartender in a Blade Runner-style city, mixing drinks for patrons sharing their woes and wishes. While not everyone’s cup of booze— gameplay is mostly dialogue driven, but it’s ideal for anyone looking to kick back and enjoy a story-driven experience.