Friday, April 29, 2016


Don't give the player a "bonus chance" that's really just a chance to fail.

You can get Runner2 at

Other footage from:
Little Big Planet
NHL 16 (thanks, Senpai-Chan!)
Rock Band 3


Monday, April 25, 2016

CAPSULE REVIEW: DuckTales Remastered

DuckTales Remastered
Capsule Review!

See also the And in the game? comic.

You can get DuckTales Remastered at or

DuckTales Remastered is a 2D platformer that's a remake of the NES original. It's lovingly-rendered nostalgia that holds up pretty well, with gorgeous character animation, beautiful soundtrack, and tight gameplay as you explore levels looking for treasure. A single play-through is two to three hours or so. The intro and finale levels, which were added for the remake, aren't as well-designed as the original levels, but those are all still there and quite fun. The difficulty settings are a bit odd and for most players I'd recommend playing on Easy.

Monday, April 18, 2016


SteamWorld Dig
Capsule Review!

You can get SteamWorld Dig at

SteamWorld Dig is a 2D mining and platform game with Metroidvania elements and a lightweight plot. You dig up ores to sell, find and buy upgrades and new abilities, and periodically have platform challenges and a boss fight or two. There's maybe a smidgen too much resource management, as your flashlight has a limited timer that resets when you exit the mine, and buying ladders or teleporters back to the surface uses the same finite resources used for upgrades, though there's enough that it's not really a problem. The game is superbly paced - new abilities, challenges, and environments come up just when you've mastered the old, such that nothing wears out its welcome.

Friday, April 15, 2016

CAPSULE REVIEW: Analogue: A Hate Story

Analogue: A Hate Story
Capsule Review!

You can get Analogue: A Hate Story at

Analogue: A Hate Story is a visual novel about investigating a disaster that occurred on a generation ship drifting through space. There's a lot of reading as you dig through text logs and interact with AI NPCs to uncover the truth. The game is notable for presenting an incredibly fair and even-handed examination of moral relativism. It depicts a society that is horrifying and deplorable by modern standards, but at the same time is clearly made up of people who are just trying to do what they believe is right. There are a lot of characters and some pretty complicated family trees - more visuals would have helped keep them straight, but the writing is strong enough that it's still very easy to believe in these characters and to care about them.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Super Meat Boy
Capsule Review!

You can get Super Meat Boy at

Super Meat Boy is a precision platformer with incredibly tight controls and jump physics. It feels really good to play - especially since the devs focused on stripping away frustration while still presenting a high level of challenge. There's no limited lives (outside of a few bonus levels), respawn is instant, and the levels are small enough that the goal is always visible. At least, that's how it starts. The levels get longer and longer and have multiple different kinds of challenges, but you still always respawn at the start of the level - meaning that the punishment and therefore frustration increase as you go. If the devs had stuck to their design goals, the game would be just about perfect. As it is, it's merely very good.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A quick note on DOCPLAYS

TL;DR: I've unlisted the older DOCPLAYS videos because they were terrible. If you'd already stopped watching DOCPLAYS, you may want to give the newer ones a shot - they're more about insight into design choices now.

I've often said that if you want to get better at something, do it in public, which is why I'm publishing two videos a week in 2016. Keeping up this pace forces me to experiment, learn, and grow, and one of the ways I've grown is by learning that my early DOCPLAYS experiments were flawed. The format I tried - live commentary as I play the game for the first time - doesn't use my strengths and I don't think that the results are worth watching. In fact, I've unlisted those videos from my YouTube channel. They're still accessible if you already had the URL, or via the embeds in the corresponding Pixel Poppers posts. But I want it to be the case that someone who stumbles onto my channel and clicks around finds only content that I'm actually proud to share.

The newest DOCPLAYS videos follow a different format: I play the game and write up some notes on the design, highlighting what works and what doesn't. Then I record new gameplay with that commentary. These videos take a lot longer to put together but it's worth it. If you stopped watching DOCPLAYS because the old ones were crap - I don't blame you. The new ones are better so give them a try.

I'm still experimenting so if you have any thoughts about what's working and not working in my videos or ways you think I could make them better, I'd love to hear them.

CAPSULE REVIEW: Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone
Capsule Review!

You can get Thomas Was Alone at

Thomas Was Alone is a 2D puzzle platformer with strong characterization that creates a lot of empathy, despite the cast consisting entirely of colored rectangles. This feat is accomplished through quite good narration of pretty decent writing, paired with evocative visuals and an incredible soundtrack. Some of the mechanics support the narration, though they never really reveal anything beyond it, and mostly just present competent puzzle platforming. Creator's commentary is also included and quite interesting, justifying playing the game a second time to hear it in context. Though be advised: the DLC is worth neither your money nor your time.

Monday, April 4, 2016

CAPSULE REVIEW: You Must Build A Boat

You Must Build A Boat
Capsule Review!

You can get You Must Build A Boat at

See also the Capsule Review for 10,000,000:

You Must Build A Boat, like its predecessor 10,000,000, is a match-3 game with infinite runner and RPG elements, where obstacles and enemies must be overcome by matching the right kinds of tiles, and other tiles grant resources that can be used to purchase upgrades between runs. But there's a lot more spectacle and complexity going on between runs - you're expanding your boat, recruiting allies and monsters, traveling between different areas with different enemies and different bonuses and penalties active in the dungeons. It's better balanced and more engaging than 10,000,000 but still has the same design philosophy, where each run makes you better off for the next, and eventually you reach a satisfying end. If you only play one of them, play this one.