Tag Archives: Headup Games

Bridge Constructor builds a Portal package of titles

The Portal adaptation of the addictive Bridge Constructor is one of the best game mash-ups I’ve played – you really can’t go wrong with Portal – and now a physical release of the game is headed to stores. If this wasn’t reason enough to pick up the bridge building puzzler, there’s two more reasons why you should buy this – Bridge Constructor and Bridge Constructor Stunts are also included!

“We love seeing the highly creative and unique approaches players take in the Bridge Constructor series,” said Gregor Ebert, PR Manager of Headup Games. “You can really innovate and create your own victory path in each of these games, so we’re excited to share each of these challenging experiences in a single bundle.”

Coming late Summer, 2018 the trio of titles will cost a measly $29.99 – that’s a whole lot of puzzling for your dollar. Check out the launch trailers for all three titles below.

SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell review

Imagine someone taking something from you, and you need it back. What lengths would you go to? A pretty common question, now factor in that it’s Satan himself, and that the item in question is your beer. Would you go through hell to bring that sweet amber nectar home? of course you would!

Speedrunners from Hell, answers that question. You play as a guy called Marty who follows Satan back to hell to find his love, his beloved beer.

The game takes its design inspiration from Quake – and certainly Doom – in its fun, fast-paced, full of action style. Speedrunners from Hell, isn’t just your simple speed run game. It has character, it stands out, and although it’s a simple format, it has that ‘just one more go’ addictiveness. Flamethrowers, gravity powers, and portal hopping abilities add plenty of additional extras to keep you hooked to the action.

The game has four game modes, and a real sense of replay-ability to them, as you’re constantly mocked into going faster – a leaderboard is present on the right hand side of the screen so you are constantly reminded of how fast your friends are, giving you a target to beat.

The first mode is your standard single player, with 100 levels to keep you going, each progressively harder round by round as you travel down through hell encountering challenging puzzle elements to get to the end in the fastest time. Oh and there’s also hidden beer cans to collect throughout, for the collector in you. Collect enough beer and you unlock bonus rounds. Just watch out you don’t go to fast and get hacked to pieces, as the game tracks how many times you fail too.

Extended play is a mode for those that require more head banging, hellacious action. Here you will find level packs that have been added to the game after its release, they’re very challenging, adding even more puzzle solving, as you try to get the end of the run in the quickest time.

Speedrun mode Is unlocked once you finish all the levels on a certain floor of hell. And is for the true speedrunner in you, competitive fast-paced action as levels are pieced together rather than in segments.

Endless Mode is last but by no means least; you have your classic ‘see how far you can travel’ mode without falling, or succumbing to the depths of hell. The round constantly changes, so that when you restart you encounter a different run. Once again, with the added leaderboard on the screen to keep that replay-ability and that famous ‘just one more go’ in your head.

I had a lot of fun with SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell, it has an easy pick up feel to it, that any gamer could play, casual or hardcore. Challenging, addictive yet frustrating at the same time – a game that keeps you coming back for more.

Thanks to Headup Games for supporting TiX

Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic review

Retro gaming on the modern console is coming back in a big way and more and more developers are turning their attention to creating fun and quirky games. Games that feature nostalgic 8 bit graphics that you would expect to see on a ZX spectrum, synth background music, that rival games like Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner and characters that have a certain charm to them even though they are in their simplest of forms. With all of that in mind we turn our attention to Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic.

Developed by HeadUp Games, Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic starts you off by asking you to choose three adventurers to make up your party. These heroes will venture into the world to claim its riches and defeat all unknown monsters on the way. So what better place to look than Ye Local Tavern? You’re in luck as it’s packed with various characters of all shapes, skills and sizes that are willing to help. Once your party is selected some local rushes in and exclaims that it’s the end of the world, and like good adventurers do, your intrepid gang step into the daylight (well go outside) to find out what’s going on. From here the game turns into what you’d expect from an RPG based adventure. Whilst walking around the town you will come across various citizens who are willing to engage in conversation with you and even throw a few quests your way. Armed with these quests you can then head off on your travels to various places and dungeons to retrieve whatever you have been asked to retrieve. At the same time you’ll defeat a host of various monsters, ghouls and, of course, the end of level boss.

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So far, so good and sounds relatively easy doesn’t it? Well it would be apart from one thing, Pixel Heroes features Permadeath. Yep, if it all goes horribly wrong and your characters die then it’s to the graveyard with you. You’ll have to start all over again, with a new team from the beginning. To assist in your questing though, there is a fairly detailed character customisation screen where you can swap gear in and out. you can also upgrade to new equipment you might have picked up on the way or spend the well-earned class points to level up your core skills. This is vitally important to the survival of your character and team as well as the careful use of the sparse healing potions you pick up.

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The whole game interface is driven by quite large menu options that would work well on a tablet or mobile device. These just seem a little sluggish to navigate via your controller. However, this doesn’t stop the enjoyment of the game and in fact adds to its old school charm. Combat is simplistic with each of your Pixel Heroes choosing to use a weapon or skill during each turn of combat Once they have had their go they are out of action for the following turn. This means you constantly need to rotate the characters in combat. My choice tended to be a tough warrior, some ranged damage-per-second speciality characters, like a mage or a healer. I would also suggest that you invest some times in your characters and get to know them. A few have magical items, spells or weapons that deal huge amounts of damage that to be honest I did not realise until it was too late. During each dungeon you face a number of rooms, each containing potentially three enemies to defeat.

On some occasions you can discover booby trapped chests that if opened successfully can contain untold riches and special items. If, and I say if, you make it through to the last level of the dungeon you will be then faced with the boss battle. These are challenging to say the least and will test your band of heroes. It’s worth persevering though as, on winning, you can claim your riches. Travel back to town afterwards and turn your quest booty in for better items for your team or even on occasion new team members. If, however, you do get it totally wrong, never fear as the grim reaper comes to your aid to guide your character to the afterlife, where you can then visit them in the local graveyard.

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Pixel Heroes itself is huge and will challenge even the most experienced RPG players. I do think this is more down to the luck mechanics of the game and the fact that, even if you have the strongest team possible, don’t be surprised if you all get wiped out within minutes. I found this randomising luck mechanic to be annoying at first but the charm of the game still made we want to create another team and try again. It won’t be for everyone, but that’s part of the charm. If you are looking for a quirky, fun and humorous old school RPG that has so much depth that you can get lost for days, but also so much luck involved, then this is definitely a game you shouldn’t pass on. Priced at an amazing £7.99 Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic is an absolute bargain.

So grab your sword, mighty adventurers, we have monsters to kill!

Thanks to Xbox and HeadUp Games for supporting TiX

Slime-san slithering on to Xbox One soon

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You might have noticed that I’m old enough to remember when games relied mainly on playability rather than sparkly graphics and gimmicks. Games like the Dizzy series were primarily presented in one or two colour glory. Headup Games and, developer, Fabraz have today announced a game very much in the Dizzy mold. Slime-san.

Slime-san is a platform story centred around a sentient ball of slime. He’s minding his own business in a peaceful forest when he’s suddenly gobbled up by a giant worm. Now deep within the worm’s belly, Slime-san has to make a crucial decision; be digested by the incoming wall of stomach acid, or jump, slide and slime his way through the worm’s intestines and escape out of it’s mouth.

Fabraz, the developer behind Cannon Crasha and Planet Diver, are cramming a host of features into Slime-san, which will initially release on PC via Steam but will folllow soon after on console. Throughout this 100 level, five-colour pixelated world you can expect to find Slumptown. This is a town full of survivors within the worm itself. You’ll be able to unlock different play styles, outfits, shaders and even some multiplayer mini games.

Slime-san will also feature incredibly fast-paced, twitch-timing platforming action and you have no time to stay still. That wall of acid is chasing you and may be just around the next corner. You will be able to slip through cracked walls and surfaces and bust through brittle obstacles and tense situations with the handy and speedy dash move.

Each level will be timed, with online rankings available to produce competitive scores for the leaderboard orientated. Collect partially digested apples to unlock the New Game+, Speed Running and Boss Rush modes. Slow time by sliming and use dash to speed it up, all accompanied by your feathered friend, Meryl Cheep.

All of this will be set to a funky chiptune soundtrack from the likes of Adhesive Wombat, Tiasu, Meganeko, Kubbi, Inverse Phase and Richard Gould.

Slime-san will be coming to Xbox One in 2017.

Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic releasing March 3rd on Xbox One

Pixel Heroes, from developer The Bitfather and publisher Headup Games, will be hitting digital shelves on March 3rd, bring it’s nostalgia inducing, amusing, retro-style RPG to Xbox One. You can get a taste of what’s the come, and the kind of humour involved, in the trailer below:

This Roguelike RPG promises a world full of hilarious events and characters, and plenty of deadly dungeons to test your adventuring might and reward you will copious amounts of loot.

It’s set to feature:

•Thirty unique hero classes to unlock, each with individual skills and attributes.
•More procedurally generated axes, spears, maces, swords, shields, bows, crossbows, spells and prayers than a llama has hair on its body.
•Thirteen mystic and beautifully cruel dungeons to explore. Epic bossfights waiting!
•Three campaigns to unlock, each with its own final dungeon and boss.
•Permadeath! You know you want it.
•A detailed graveyard where you can mourn your dead heroes, compare their statistics and see which of their choices led to their tragic death.
•Completely crazy NPCs, each one of them with a significant storyline that you can follow to unlock cool stuff!
•Tons of random events that you will encounter on your way, expecting you to make important choices. Will you yell at the cat like a crazy idiot?
•Many achievements and unlockables, try to get them all and become the most badass Pixel Hero in the world!

Toby The Secret Mine review

Released back in 2015 on Steam, Toby The Secret Mine is only just making its debut on consoles, with Wii U and Xbox One being the first step.

Red-eyed catlike creatures have kidnapped your friends and you must find (and save) them. They have been taken in to a mine full of traps and puzzles that aim to catch you out, should you not be eagle-eyed enough to spot them.

The game is beautifully presented and has a superb soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere of the environments. Think Badlands for colour and style of the environments, and Limbo for gameplay and the look of the game – silhouetted platforming puzzles – where everything is trying to kill you and death is but a mere misplaced step away.

While the funky soundtrack and colourful palette are the main differences from the adventures of Limbo, Toby is more than just a mere clone. There are varied environments, mini-game puzzles to solve, and a boss battle at the end. It all makes for a very enjoyable two hours of gameplay. Unfortunately however, it’s that short, with very little replayability.

There are 26 hidden ‘friends’ throughout the game, but on my first run-through I had found all but two of them. There’s also very little story to hung up on. The beauty of Limbo was in the story that it managed to tell without words, that same emotion is absent from Toby, and while super cute, it just can’t match its source material. The ending is rather good though, with a good or bad choice, giving a nice twist should you choose to be bad.

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Having played through Limbo several times, I expected the same tricks, and it was a good while into the game before I met with my first unfortunate step, and that was only because I misjudged a jump.  As the game goes on, the trial and error deaths feel cheaper and at times more frustrating than they did in Limbo. The highlight of my short time in the Secret Mine was a sequence where I had to escape an avalanche. I also rather enjoyed the mini-puzzles, which while never too difficult, bar a hair raising lock picking challenge, it was good to see an attempt at bringing something new to the Limbo style of game.

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I also suffered a few bugs where I got stuck in the environment. Worse though, at the end of a level where I was tasked with jumping over a series of buzz saws, whenever I clipped one, I was rooted to the spot after respawning, having to exit the game and restart the whole level.

Toby The Secret Mine is beautifully rendered. The levels and hazards are well designed, and while it takes its influences from Limbo, Toby is no mere copycat; it takes the style of the game and makes it his own, it’s just a shame that it’s so short.

Thanks to Xbox and Headup Games for supporting TiX

Bridge Constructor Stunts review

Bridge Constructor Stunts saw it’s birth first on Steam and mobile devices, the basic aim is to get your vehicle from one side of the level to the other. As simple as it sounds Bridge Constructor Stunts is not easy, but is it any good?

If physics was your thing way back at school then this will see just how much you remember. The start of the game gives you a tutorial on how to edit the level’s bridges and add the necessary pieces to existing ones to give your vehicle a fighting chance of making it to the end. With the building and adjusting starting off quite basic this quickly moves onto more complicated bridges as you progress, meaning you’ll have to build bridges at various angles and heights to be able to get to the end goal. To add a little more of a challenge there are collectibles scattered throughout each level in the form of stars and screws, which to be honest, don’t really offer much in the way of bonuses – they were put there just for an extra challenge.

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Whilst the actual building of the ramp is straight forward, the more you practice the more proficient you will get making the whole puzzle solving issue easier. The best place to start is the base, after all, this will hold the whole thing up. Next you can work on the angle and height so your vehicle makes a smooth jump onto the next bridge. Just to add a little more spice later on in the game, you can choose the materials you use to allow more support and cope with heavier loads. One little gripe I have is that you have a limited budget, which often caused me a bit of frustration as I couldn’t just build everything in the strongest materials – but it does help add that puzzle element to the game.

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Once your bridge is built and you’re confident it won’t collapse, it’s time test it out. By using the left stick you can rotate your truck mid flight to make it flip and rotate, if you land it you’ll get a better score. Often however you think your truck is rotating nicely but then all of a sudden you will over rotate and it’s game over. Mixing the stunts, your bridge, the angles, materials and numerous test runs gives you a final score needed to pass the level. As you can imagine, at times this game got sworn at.

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Bridge Constructor Stunts is a nice little game that requires lots and lots of trial and error. At times it becomes a bit of a bind, however, it is quite satisfying once you land your vehicle and cross the finish line knowing you worked hard to pass the level. On the ‘flip’ side all your efforts aren’t really rewarded much because there aren’t many achievements to be earned.

Bridge Constructor Stunts is a colourful and fun game with a pretty decent soundtrack, using a controller isn’t that easy and I can see why it was made for touch screen mobile devices in the first place.

Thanks to Headup Games and Xbox for Supporting TiX

In Between review

I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect from developer Gentlymad’s In Between. I’d watched a few of the trailers and it looked intriguing if not a little puzzling. What could this journey through the mind of one unlucky individual offer that other puzzlers cannot?

So, In Between is set inside the mind of a man hit by a cruel twist of fate. Controlling him, you are both on a journey through the protagonist’s head. This world does not seem to obey the laws of physics however. The aim of the game is to free your mind by negotiating the 60-plus levels of puzzling goodness. Each of these puzzles will require your skill, speed of action, quickness of thought and all of your analytical, puzzle-solving skills.

First impressions of the game are good then. The graphics switch from full-on, almost street graffiti inspired interlude cut-scenes to the atmospheric, sepia toned seriousness of the puzzle levels. They’re beautifully rendered and hide a multitude of small quirks. Cogs move in the foreground as you move around, platforms glide and deadly caltrops rise and fall as you move. They’re all fluidly animated and make you really think about your next move.

In BetweenThe main character is also well drawn and slick. The mechanics of the game means that you can alter the point of gravity for him to get around the various puzzles and obstacles on the level arena you’re playing. Not that this is an easy process. The right stick controls the gravity while the left moves you along that platform. It’s a strange concept to get used to and it took me a few levels to really get my head around it.

Handily, there’s a tutorial chapter to guide you through the basics. This pushes you gently through the action at first, but once you’ve completed that, you’re pretty much on your own. It’s a good introduction, but it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the next chapter of levels, where the designs, obstacles and extra elements get really devious.

The level designs lend themselves well to the game. It’s a good thing too, as with only 60 or so levels to play through, you’d make pretty short work of this title without them being a real challenge. There are lots of obstacles to negotiate and the developers have really thought about where they are placed and how you’ll need to get around them. Finding the escape formula may not be enough though. There are other hazards on the screen that will be out to get you, besides the laws of gravity and physics. The second chapter introduces the concept of darkness and fear. This has a tendency to creep up on you from the left of the screen unless you turn to face it. Even then, it will only retreat so far and you’ll face a race against it to get to where you need to be. Get swallowed up by this darkness and it’s level over.

In BetweenThere are other aspects to the obstacles too. It’s not just about moving the character. Some levels introduce a green normality area, where the right stick will not allow you to change the focus of gravity. It will, however, still affect the strange face-blocks that materialise when you stand on the blue platform switches. These can then be manipulated around the gaming area with the right stick to solve another puzzle, or part puzzle. Getting this wrong can be frustrating and if I’m honest, you’ll die lots of times before you’ll get it right. It can be immensely frustrating to get just close enough to the glowing portal to escape, only to slightly mistime a jump or drop and have to start from the beginning. On the larger levels, luckily, there are checkpoints to restart from but even they are devilish to get to.

So, the levels are well-designed, if devious, and the graphics are atmospheric. The transitions between level chapters gives a nice balance to the storyline, although the story does seem to jump between childhood memories and present day a little too much. This doesn’t make much difference to the way the game is played though. One good thing is that once a chapter is unlocked you can attempt the levels in any order. Handy if you’re stuck on a particularly tricky screen. To unlock the next chapter, you’ll need to complete a specific number of levels in each chapter. In the Tutorial, I didn’t notice that it had skipped to the next chapter, leaving three levels untouched, until I delved back into the Tutorial chapter. Just something to bear in mind if you want to beat all of the puzzles In Between has to offer.

The audio in-game is a little odd. There are certain areas of some levels that will trigger an explanation or voice-over but other than that, it’s ambient background stuff for the most part. It lends well to the overall feel, but it’s fairly unremarkable to say the least. I’m not expecting thumping techno, given the nature of the game, but a soundtrack that’s a little more memorable might have been preferred. The cut-scenes for In Between have more in the way of speech with some interaction, but little else to promote the backstory.

In BetweenOverall then, In Between is a very slick, atmospheric puzzle platformer, with a twist. That twist allows more three or four dimensional thinking when it comes to solving the puzzles that it offers. The graphics and animation are well executed and the gameplay itself, while often infuriatingly unforgiving, rewards with a sense of achievement when each level is complete. Bear in mind that with just 60 levels, if you’re particularly adept at non-lateral thinking, this might just be too short. If not, then you’re staring down the barrel of a fiendish puzzler that will keep you swearing at it for hours.

Thanks to Gentlymad, Headup Games and Xbox for supporting TiX

Elder Games hand us Solar Shifter EX

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Elder Games have been around for a little while now, since 2007 in fact. They are behind the critically acclaimed real time strategy game, Meridian: New World on Steam. They’ve teamed up with publisher Headup Games to bring a new sci-fi shoot ’em up to Xbox One.

Called Solar Shifter EX, you are tasked with leaving a dying solar system behind at all costs before it’s extinction.

The ship, called the Phase Shifter, has been kitted out with a one of a kind jump drive that allows you to get out of tough situations at will. This skill will need mastering as the game promises fierce combat in space and over distant planet surfaces.

A bullet-hell is on the cards and you’re stuck right in the middle of it.

Solar Shifter EX is coming to Xbox One in 2016.

Bridge Constructor review

As the name suggests, Bridge Constructor is a game about building bridges, how hard can that be? Playing through the game gave me a new perspective on the structures and shapes of bridges – they aren’t just built to look nice – the metal girder structures and reinforced cables have been placed with physics and function in mind and not just to be aesthetically pleasing.

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An earthquake has rocked the island nation of Camatuga, and with the kind of destruction an earthquake brings, all the bridges within and connecting the five small islands of Camatuga have been destroyed – your job is to rebuild them. With various materials at your disposal, you must build different sized bridges and keep within budget. Once complete, you must test each one to see if it can sustain the weight of cars, trucks, and once you’ve completed all the bridges, the tank truck.

Each level poses a different problem, funds and materials might be limited, the gap you need to span could be really wide, or there is a central platform that must be constructed in order to add vital support – there’s plenty to keep the puzzles challenging although after a while repetition does start to creep in.

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Each puzzle has a grid overlaid to the area, which makes an ideal guide for those wanting to build a bridge of perfect symmetry. Each grid you span with wood, steel, concrete pillars or cable will cost you money, and you only have so much to spend – on top of this, some scenarios will only allow you to build in one or two materials.

As you build, the road is laid automatically as you span each horizontal grid, although you can create a steady incline or drop. Meanwhile, placing vertical anchors will create struts – essential for giving your bridge stability. When you’re ready, you can preview your build before setting traffic across it, each part of your construction is coloured to show the stresses and strains that the bridge is under, leaving you to decide whether you need to make adjustments, or chance it and see if it will hold – it’s a great mechanic particularly for younger gamers to learn about structures and physics.

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I found it interesting to see how the different vehicle weights effected the strain of the different struts and which shapes worked best to provide a strong structure, however, watching vehicles slowly travel over your creations can be rather tedious, particularly when it’s a long bridge – a speed up option would have certainly been a welcome addition.

While some levels are easy and can be solved using the same theory as previous problems, there are plenty that are tricky to solve, particularly when you have been restricted in the materials you can use. Like most games about creation, you’re limited by your own creativity at solving a construction problem. Do you be an adventurous builder aspiring to create wonderful creations? Or do you use the same solutions to build each bridge? There are no bonus points for presentation; you get those for finishing your bridge under budget!

Once you have completed repairing the bridges of the island nation of Camatuga, there’s the Titin Islands to tackle – also known as SlopeMania, which is appropriate, as each puzzle needs to be solved by creating sloped bridges. This advanced area will need your entire structural prowess if you are to beat it, and it’s also more creative and fun than it’s more serious neighbour Camatuga – when was the last time you crossed a bridge that was a ramp that launched you to the other side?

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While I am far from being a bridge expert, I will offer one tip – mute the sound. What starts off as relaxing ambient music, becomes repetitive and irritating, funnily enough the game launched with the sound muted – keep it that way!

Bridge Constructor might have a limited game mechanic that seems like it would be more at home being played on a mobile device, but I found it to be an utterly addictive experience – I was intent on making sure all three weights of vehicle could cross my bridges, and even when my designs painfully crumbled under their own weight, it just made me more determined to rebuild and improve them until I got it right.

Thanks to Xbox and Headup Games for their support

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