tojam-2008 posts

Indiedaze: TOJam 2008

Since indie competitions are such a large part of the independent community, ignoring them would be very foolish. There's lots of undiscovered talent out there as well as established masters, and indie competitions are the best way to bring them out of the woodwork. They are held everywhere from TIGSource to poppenkast, and always bring together lots of great talent. Indiedaze takes the best entries from a recently finished indie competition and showcases what we think are the best of the best. Sometimes they coincide with what the original competition's top three were, sometimes they are completely different. In any case, they are always the games we liked most, and worth all the attention you can give them.

TOJam, otherwise known as The Toronto Independent Game Development Jam, is a three day annual marathon of game-making, intended to make developers create a reasonably polished and executed game. They must create the concept, graphics, and code entirely during the three day period. Needless to say, it's like an endurance trial for game developers. The third annual TOJam occurred two months ago, and the games were released for general consumption just last month. After savoring all of the delights of the competition (and trust us, there is a lot of great content), we have decided on our favorites!

Dig to victory in Choon

There's not a lot of games quite like Choon. The only other game to have the player digging for treasure (as far as we know) is the excellent browser-based Motherload. In Motherload, however, you don't fight off enemies trying to destroy you. A TOJam 2008 competitor, Choon has you digging through a mountain of cheese with your laser to find the right cheese. Fighting off (or squishing) rats, finding a path, and various other nuances await you. On top of this, the graphics and sound are superb. It's not persistant, but it's great if you just feel like digging and not stopping. And sometimes that's all one feels like.

Indie Wrap-Up: July 12th - July 18th

We here at Big Download love indie games. From telling you about them, playing them, or offering downloads for them, we are all about helping lesser-known developers get their name out into the world. Each week on Saturday, we'll give you the Indie Wrap-up, a collection of all the indie news stories and features during the previous week.

There was no big features this week, unfortunately. Most of our staff was gone at E3, after all! Just Freeware Friday was this week. However, the TOJam 2008 competition recently wrapped up, so there's a ton of games that were released this week! Dwarf Fortress also finally got the first update in the Army Arc, adding battles and wars to the historical records of the game.


Freeware Friday: Off-Road Velociraptor Safari
James Murff takes Freeware Friday to a new place: browser games.

Be the cheesy action hero in Cheese Blaster Extreme

Okay, so we lied. We had to make another pun, because this one was just too easy. In the TOJam 2008 competitor Cheese Blaster Extreme, you play a man with a large gun whose goal it is to destroy an army of cheese. You can see how our awful puns relate! The game itself is fairly simple, consisting of just mouse control and your goal of killing the oncoming hordes of cheese. You can control a tank along with your regular guy. The character is no pushover either, being armed to the teeth. The graphics and sound are both phenomenal, and the gameplay is just simple arena action, making this a great game to chill with.

Beat your cheeses in Cheese Beats

We apologize for that pun up there. We just couldn't resist it. We promise it will never happen again. The game itself, Cheese Beats, is a TOJam 2008 competitor with lots of violence and absolutely no puns. We promise! The goal of the game is to beat the cheese against a surface to kill it. After killing the cheese, you must place it on a delicious cracker. The gameplay itself is simple, if silly, but where Cheese Beats really shines in the graphics. They remind us of Don Hertzfeld's Rejected short film, among other various excellent pieces of traditional animation. The game is small download with no install, so have fun.

Cowgirl and Gospelboy ["Sue"] ride into the sunset

Much like another game we talked about that was a part of the TIGsource Procedural Generation Competition, Cowgirl and Gospelboy ["Sue"] is about surfing along a line while doing some sweet tricks. Unlike sin(surfing) though, Gospelboy dynamically generates the line based on the music. You can either go with the default 2 minute songs or add your own by editing the songs.all file. It's not so much a game as a fun way to relax to your music, almost as if it's a musical screensaver. This TOJam 2008 competitor was also designed and coded by the TOJam founder Nelson Yu. It's a fairly lightweight install, so enjoy!

Ah, le Goats Amoré

We here at Big Download do love a good puzzler, and this one's a doozy. Straight from the TOJam 2008 competition, Goats Amoré is a puzzler that forces you to use parts of your brain you don't normally use. Thankfully, the hilarious sound makes failure funny instead of frustrating. The goal of the game is to chase down the goat on a pogo stick that is dropping all the cheese. However, you can only get by a piece of cheese if you look like it. This seems simple enough, except for the fact that there's 4 different attributes you can change: size, roundedness, color, and texture. It'll tax your brain, but you'll have a blast. We sure did!

Arm a mousetrap with your Super Cheese Repulser

Noticing a trend yet? A lot of the TOJam 2008 games use cheese in their graphics, if not gameplay. That's because one of the themes of this year's TOJam competition was that cheese must be somewhere, in any form, in the game. Super Cheese Repulser is another game form this competition, and like a fair bit of the other games, has cheese and mice involved.

It's a same-screen co-op (or single-player, if you have good enough reflexed) browser game where you control two anti-gravity generators. You must push the cheese using the generators over to the mousetrap, where a random animation will play to get rid of a mouse that eats your cheese. It's a very simple maze/puzzler game, but it's a blast to play and a browser game to boot!

Guard your cheese in Mousetrap Mania

Chu Chu Rocket has always been a puzzler classic. Guiding your mice to the rocket and away from the cats in real-time was an extremely simple but very compelling way to challenge the mind. Mousetrap Mania, a TOJam 2008 competitor, plays much like that classic, with a slight twist. You must guard your cheese for a precious 3 minutes against the mouse horde. You can do this by luring the mice onto mousetraps scattered around the level. Once again, it's and extremely simple but incredibly fun and compelling experience. The added nuance of luring and eliminating mice only makes it that much better!

Fill the subways in TTC Crowd Control

A casual puzzle game is always great for a little relaxation when stress is starting to get to you. There's quite a few of them out there, many being of rather dubious quality. TTC Crowd Control is not one of those. It is a casual puzzle game that you will relish every moment you play it. A TOJam 2008 competitor, its heavily stylized artwork and compelling puzzle gameplay make it an instant classic.

You must click and drag people to put them into their seats, get them out of the subway car, and rearrange them as needed. Some people don't like being next to others, so remember that when placing them. Also, a passenger with a ! above their head wants to get off at the next stop. There's no horrible penalty for messing up, and any points lost for an incorrect decision can be regained merely by correcting the mistake. It's an excellent way to relax and work out your mind at the same time!

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