Scratching That Itch: Mobility!

This is the seventh entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our seventh random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Mobility! by Auroriax (Tom H.), which cheats a tiny bit by listing itself as “Mobility! Accessible precision platformer” so that it doesn’t need to cover that in the tagline. Instead, its tagline in the bundle reads:

Jump, spin and flip to fix broken spaceships!

That sounds like something I can get behind!

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Scratching That Itch: Visigoths Vs. Mall Goths

This is the sixth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Through the magic of random number generators, I have pulled another item from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. It’s Visigoths vs. Mall Goths, by Lucian Kahn (@oh_theogony). Its tagline in the bundle reads:

There are a lot of bisexuals.

There sure are!

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Keeping Score: Celeste

This is Keeping Score, a series about games and their soundtracks. This particular post is also the honorary fifth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, because Celeste was added to the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality when I was nearly finished playing it. Don’t worry if you missed the bundle, there are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Longtime readers may remember that I am a fan of Matt Thorson’s games, which I highlighted as part of a post celebrating super-hard platformers way back in 2012. Matt Thorson came to more prominence in 2013 with Towerfall (or rather, the multi-platform reissue Towerfall: Ascension in 2014), but I never played it as I’m not set up for local multiplayer. But Matt Thorson’s next game, developed with a larger team, had me quite excited: Celeste is a return to their earlier style of single-player, highly challenging platformers, but with much higher production values and finesse. Critics heaped it with praise, and I nabbed it soon after release, but as often happens I was distracted by many other games and didn’t get around to playing it until recently.

After I’d played for some time, and conquered all but its toughest challenges, Celeste was added to the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. I’ve been picking things at random from the bundle and writing about them in my Scratching That Itch series, but of course, my choice of Celeste was not random, and indeed was made before the bundle launched. Still, since Celeste is included in that absolutely massive bundle, consider this post — which I was fully intending to write anyway — an honorary entry in the series.

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Scratching That Itch: Black Heart

This is the fourth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Next up in my random perusal of the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Black Heart, by boyproblems. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

A Carly Rae Jepsen-themed cultist TTRPG one-shot.

And here I was thinking it would be Calexico-themed.

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Scratching That Itch: Flufftopia

This is the third entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

My next random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Flufftopia, from German developers SmokeSomeFrogs. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

Clicker Game with Story

Very well, SmokeSomeFrogs. I will click on your game and follow its story. Let’s go.

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Scratching That Itch: Asteroid Farmer

This is the second entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our next random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Asteroid Farmer by Allicorn Games. It’s tagline in the bundle reads:

Dodge big asteroids. Collect and deploy turrets. Scoop up the little bits.

Ah, asteroids. Ever since the classic 1979 arcade game Asteroids, asteroids have been a constant presence in video games. They threaten our space ships or even our planets, we strike back by shooting them or mining them. In reality, space is incredibly empty, even in the middle of an asteroid belt, but in video games asteroids always come in packs, ready to smash into things. But let me ask you this, Allicorn Games: what if we could talk to the asteroids?

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Check Out The Humble Fight For Racial Justice Bundle

The massive itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality may be over, but if you are looking for a way to support the critical issue of racial justice while also nabbing a bunch of good games, you should check out the Humble Fight For Racial Justice Bundle, which is running this week. 100% of proceeds go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and The Bail Project, with donors deciding how their donation is split.

The minimum donation is $30, pricier than the itch.io Bundle was, but it features a selection of highly regarded games, including several that I’ve written about on this blog. If you are unsure why you might want to play Spelunky (I wrote about the original freeware version, but the spiffy newer version offered here is even better!), FTL (plus follow-up post), The Ball, System Shock, or Broken Age, just click those links to read my thoughts on them. There are many other excellent games in there that I’m planning to eventually play and write about, too. The bundle also features a bunch of comics and books in digital format, most dealing with Black Americans and ways we can help realize racial justice.

If you can’t afford to donate right now, or you’re simply looking for other ways to help, take a look here for some ideas on how to get started.

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Scratching That Itch: Time Stone

This is the first entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle just finished, raising $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions, or in this case, exactly the same size versions.

OK, here we go. With the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality just wrapped up, I — and many others — are now staring at a whopping 1704 games and game-related things. Lists and recommendations are popping up everywhere, but looking through the bundle I was intrigued by just how many of the lesser-known entries seemed interesting. So I’ve decided to start selecting things from the bundle at random, trying them out, and writing short posts about them here.

First up is Time Stone, by Scared Square Games, aka Stuart Lilford. Its tagline in the Bundle reads:

Uncover the Professor’s secret and rescue him from the evil clutches of the…

before being cruelly truncated by the character limit. A quick glance at the game page suggests this is referring to the evil clutches of the Warlock. It’s always bad news when a warlock is so evil they are referred to solely as “the Warlock”. But I guess this Professor isn’t going to rescue himself. All right, Scared Square Games, I’m in.

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Black Lives Matter

This blog isn’t much of a platform, with only a handful of regular readers. But I feel compelled to add my voice to those calling for racial justice in the United States and beyond, and the sweeping reforms that are required to make that happen. As has been clearly communicated in recent weeks, those in privileged positions (such as myself) must do much more than simply express solidarity with Black people and other groups who suffer from institutional racism and societal prejudice. The murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin may have been the event that sparked recent protests and conversations about institutional racism, but it is only the latest example of targeted brutality, atrocity, and unjust policy that stretch back centuries in the United States (and much of the rest of the world). Many privileged people are unaware of the extent of these societal problems, so the first step is education. There are countless reading lists that have done the rounds over social media recently; here’s an example roundup from Rock, Paper, Shotgun, a UK-based site about PC games. But learning about these problems is only the first step. We must take action to change our society.

For my part, I am striving to spread education about these issues to as many people as possible, through direct and open conversations with friends and acquaintances, and through this blog, limited as its reach may be. With enough people informed and enough minds changed, we can begin the hard work of fixing the deep-rooted problems in the United States and around the world. I have also donated to several organizations committed to racial justice reform, including Black Lives Matter and multiple bail funds in the United States. One of my donations was for the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality put together by digital games storefront itch.io. When I donated there were nearly 750 games (and art assets, and music) included, but the number has now ballooned to over 1600, for a minimum donation of $5 with all proceeds split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund (I was in a position to donate more than the minimum and happily did so). At the time of writing, there is just one day left for the Bundle, which has now raised nearly $7 million USD. The Bundle is a great place to start, but if you miss your chance, or are looking for other ways to help, itch.io suggest you try here.

There are some big names in the bundle but also a whole lot of small indie offerings that I am completely unfamiliar with, including many tabletop games, and several non-game entries such as stories, art assets, or even settings or writings to use as inspiration for one’s tabletop role-playing campaigns. And that’s only from looking through the original roster of 750, before it doubled in size. So I’ve decided to start selecting items from the bundle at random, playing them, and writing short posts about them here as part of a new series. I hope this will be a way to maintain the focus of this blog — writing about games — while also continuing to highlight the problems with institutional racism that we must work to eradicate.

Look for the first of these posts soon. And let’s build a better world together.

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Once More Into The Caves Of Qud

Readers unfamiliar with Caves of Qud should read my earlier posts about it first, as this post doesn’t bother explaining what it is. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

It’s been nearly five years since I last played Caves of Qud. But I’ve been following its development, and always intended to return to see how things were progressing. Developers Freehold Games were kind enough to give me a free copy of the game in Early Access on Steam back then, but when I saw it had also released on GOG I decided to buy it there to support development (it’s now available on itch.io as well). I was still busy playing other things, however, and didn’t actually fire it up. Finally, the periodic patch notes convinced me to dive back in. Notes like:

–Being in the same cell with slippery liquids no longer causes chairs, beds, iron maidens, and psionic sarcophagi to malfunction.
–There should be fewer game-breaking problems when you dominate a creature and a spacetime vortex consumes your dormant body.
–Cooking with the gland paste of various bearded lizards no longer forcibly removes your beak if you have one.

I was overdue for another trip to Qud.

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