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Pick Up Bonsai Defense for Free

Who says that tower defense games have to be about fending off zombies or protecting military installations? Okay, no one likely ever said that, but the genre is saturated with clones of games obviously inspired by Plants vs. Zombies and Defense Grid: The Awakening. While Mate Cziner’s game still upholds the basic concepts of building and protecting, I believe we can assume that the setting of a bonsai tree is wholly original.

A thesis project at Moholy Nagy University of Art and Design (aka MOME), Bonsai Defense charges you with shaping the growth of your tree, and encouraging the growth of fruits to battle and inhibit infectious pests. In a welcome twist, the goal is not to survive, nor to destroy the pests. Rather, you need to accumulate nectar, which both dissolves over time and attracts even more pests.

You can see more screenshots below, or download Bonsai Defense and start playing.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Coming to OSX

Overhaul Games continues its slow trickle of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition news with the reveal that, in addition to the iPad release, the game will also be made available on Macs. As has been the norm so far, other details have been scant, saying only that the game runs on an “improved” version of the Infinity Engine, will include the entire base game plus the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion, and will feature new content, including a new party character. This version of the game also includes iCloud support, so there’s that.

5 (more) Indie Games to Watch in 2012

Most Wanted Indie Games 2012 Owlboy

I previously wrote about a 5 Indie Games to Watch in 2012, but really, I can’t limit it to such a tiny amount. It’s like having your kids both look up at you and ask which one is your favorite. I’d go for the athletic one, cause that’s scholarship money for college right there, but you get what I’m saying.

Monaco
From: Pocketwatch Games
Platform: PC, Mac, unannounced console
Release Date: TBA

Monaco features a mix of stealth and action that recalls the planning and purposeful actions required in the Splinter Cell and Hitman series, but created as a top-down heist game. In short, 1-4 players cooperatively infiltrate a location, take down or avoid guards, crack safes, and make off with piles of loot. Each class has particular strengths (eg faster lockpicking, a stash of C4), ensuring a healthy amount of replay-value. Monaco has no official release date yet, but, with a heavy focus on multiplayer, I imagine that a beta release is likely. If nothing else, you can catch Monaco at conventions and smaller events such as the recent Giant Robot Game Night. After one demo, you’ll likely become a fellow believer.

Owlboy
From: D-Pad Studio
Platform: PC
Release Date: TBA

Not every game needs a newfangled gimmick to be wholly enticing. Owlboy is a traditional-style platformer featuring a young owl out to save his village from sky pirates. The game has appeared as a finalist in the Independent Games Festival and already won Game of the Year at the 2010 Norwegian Game Awards. D-Pad Studio is obviously on to something good, but, to quote Reading Rainbow, you don’t have take my word for it. Follow the link above to download the demo. If Owlboy doesn’t grab your heart immediately, you might already be dead inside.

Hawken
From: Adhesive Games
Platform: PC
Release Date: December 12, 2012

As many of you can probably relate, I had about given up hope for good, action-packed game of mech-based warfare with features like swappable weapons and customizable armor. Fans of Mechwarrior will still have to wait for a hardcore simulation, but Hawken has the potential to carry the flag that Armored Core dropped so very long ago. It was revealed earlier this month that Hawken will be a free-to-play title, which could be a positive or negative decision, depending on how deep Adhesive expects us to open our wallets.

Super T.I.M.E. Force
From: Capybara Games
Platform: XBLA
Release Date: TBA

It all started back at a Toronto Game Jam, where developers tirelessly plugged away for three days straight to make a game… for fun. Super T.I.M.E. Force emerged, and the quaint little game was entered into IGF 2012, where it received an Honorable Mention for Technical Excellence. None of the developers could have been happier, until that is, their baby won the IGF XBLA Prize, confirming a release on Xbox Live Arcade. So what is Super T.I.M.E. Force about? Well, uh… it has time-travel and lots of shooting and stuff. Just watch the trailer already.

Most Wanted Indie Games 2012 Runner2

Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien!
From: Gaijin Games
Platform: XBLA, PSN
Release Date: TBA

Ever play a game that made you sincerely happy? I don’t mean that it was fun, or memorable, but that it could make you feel utterly content and hopeful. For me, that game was BIT.TRIP RUNNER. The new aesthetics are sure to throw a few fans off-balance, but at least there won’t be any Wii-induced blurriness to muddy up the experience this time around. I have to say that I’m not into this business of adding checkpoints either, although they can be turned off. And, you can’t argue with multiple characters. I only hope that Gaijin Games has a few extra surprises up its sleeve, because the gameplay is looking mighty familiar thus far. See for yourself.

5 Indie Games to Watch in 2012

Contending with the likes of The Binding of Isaac, Frozen Synapse, Dungeons of Dredmor, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP, 2012 has a tough act to follow. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does represent some of the most promising indie games to keep on your radar this year.

FEZ
From: Polytron Corporation
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: Early 2012

After more than three years in development, I can only imagine how much pressure the developers are currently feeling, but I don’t think that they have anything to worry about. After a life of two-dimensional living, a hidden third dimension is suddenly revealed to Gomez. In terms of gameplay, this gives players the ability to twist environments in order to shift platforms and reveal new paths in the 2D world. Much like echochrome on PSN, it’s not the physical location of a platform that matters so much as the perspective from which it is viewed. FEZ has no combat to speak of, placing the emphasis squarely on exploration, puzzle-solving, and soaking up the wonderfully colorful world.

Spelunky Mossmouth screenshot

Spelunky
From: Mossmouth
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: TBA

You may have played Derek Yu’s freeware version of Spelunky on PC, but the upcoming XBLA rendition features completely overhauled graphics and four-person multiplayer. Taking a nod from roguelikes, this platformer features randomly generated levels with tons of surprises to uncover as you climb, jump, and bomb your way through stages. During one demo, I rescued a damsel in distress, had to carry her after unintentionally knocking her out with a rock, and further compounded the disastrous situation when I dropped her on a bomb. Circumstances like these don’t occur in your average platformer. Although Spelunky was originally slated for release on XBLA back in 2010, recent appearances at conventions and IGF 2012 suggest an impending arrival.

Lone Survivor
From: superflat games
Platform: PC, Mac
Release Date: March 2012

Remember when survival-horror games were unsettling, drenched in lonely atmospheres, and more importantly, challenging? Lone Survivor features plenty of horrific monstrosities, a smattering of random events, and boss-battles, but most intriguing to me is that side-quests for getting supplies like food and water and coffee imply that survival will require more than a gun. On top of that, developer Jasper Byrne has bluntly revealed that most of Lone Survivor’s multiple endings are thoroughly depressing. It sounds like his heart is in the right place.

The Hunger Games Girl on Fire iOS screenshot

The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire
From: (see below)
Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Release Date: March 23. 2012

I wouldn’t normally be so excited about a movie-based game, despite being a fan of The Hunger Games, but the talent behind Girl on Fire is undeniable – Adam Saltsman (Canabalt), Doomlaser (Hot Throttle), Paul Veer (Super Crate Box), and Daniel Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy composer). Saltsman wants to create something beyond an adaptation, thus Girl on Fire is set before the timeline of the books and focuses on the main character’s affinity for archery and tactical approaches to problems, and draws inspiration from “classic Sega Genesis games.”

Gunpoint Game Pentadact PC Screenshot

Gunpoint
From: Pentadact / Tom Francis
Platform: PC
Release Date: TBA 2012

Tom Francis is a video game journalist attempting to put his money where his mouth is by developing a game of his own. The act of rewiring doors, elevators, lights, and security systems to distract guards makes Gunpoint a puzzle-game at heart, but there is no set solution for any given stage. As Francis told Gamasutra, “I wanted to make a game with the idea that the player might be smarter than me. Let him think of solutions that never occurred to me in hours of playtesting, and give him the tools to be more creative than I was when I designed this level.”

What indie games are you most looking forward to?