Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: 'Towerfall' by Matt Thorson

Video games have always been about playing with others, all the way back to when you were hitting the Player 2 button on an arcade game or getting stuck as Luigi in Super Mario Bros.  Technology has changed the way we play multiplayer games with social gaming and online play, but there's really nothing like sitting down with some friends, grabbing some controllers, and playing a game where you're all close enough to actually hit each other in real life, too.  Luckily, Matt Thorson has brought us that with Towerfall, exclusive to the OUYA for a limited time.  The game is fun, frantic, and challenging, and it's the perfect hit for the fledgling console.

Towerfall is a "party fighter" in a vein similar to the Super Smash Bros. series.  You control one of four archers and bounce around different dungeons, attempting to skewer your opponents while dodging their arrows.  You have a limited number of arrows but can snatch misfires from the walls and ground (or out of the air, if you want to show off); powerups, from shields to wings to trippy level-bending effects, help keep things interesting.

There are no discernible differences between the characters you have at your disposal (besides the fact that the Turncoat Soldier is obviously the coolest), but that doesn't mean you can't add a little extra variety.  There are a crazy number of variances you can tweak for the perfect custom games.  Want to turn off some powerups, or turn them into bombs?  Go for it.  Think the seeking arrows are too easy?  Switch them off.  Want special arrows, like the bramble arrow?  It's all yours.  The best part is you can make these changes for the entire game or for individual players, so you can balance - or imbalance - the playing field however you wish.  There are dozens of different categories to make changes to, meaning you'll be hard pressed to run out of options and get bored with the game.

The graphics in Towerfall are delightfully old school, harkening back to the glory days of sitting around playing games with friends and letting you focus on the combat and skill of gameplay.  The details are great - you'll see characters lose a hat or hood on a close call and have to navigate around hanging lanterns that can block your shots - so although the graphics look vintage you know it's absolutely by design.  The sound effects are equally as wonderful and the music, by Alec Holowka, is epic and catchy and will have you turning up the volume to build the atmosphere of a daring battle.

Towerfall reminds us of the great time we can have with friends all sitting around the same television playing games, and it's the excellent type of title the OUYA needs to differentiate itself from the mature console market.  There's a free demo to play, but Towerfall is absolutely worth the mere $15 to unlock the entire game.  If you're looking for a healthy dose of old school multiplayer action and a reason to shell out for an OUYA game, Towerfall is, hands down, the way to go.

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