Published on February 2nd, 2013 | by Joe Berthiaume0
Cactus Squid will melt your brain!
Swedish game designer Jonatan Söderström has built up a stellar reputation for making games that are just as weird as they are entertaining. Most titles boast an extremely effective yet simplistic art-style, but the actual types of games run the gamut from shmup to First Person Puzzler. Most Cactus-joints tend to explore 1 simple concept to a level of extreme depth.
A great example of this is Precision. This small platformer has a little dude running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Sounds simple enough, but the jumping mechanic is often very frustrating. This odd set of physics is what makes the game interesting. At first you will fail, but the game leaves a dotted path to mark your last few attempts, so you (almost) never make the same mistake twice, even if it may take a bit of trial and error.
Another simple concept well explored is the multiplication system in Fractal Fighter. This little shmup may not be much to look at, but it’s the perfect trainer for bullet hell. The game goes from one epic boss fight to the next; no weird powerups, no freeze time gimmicks, just you and a set of cannons that multiply with every boss. The learning curve is as smooth as butter so by the time you’re up against hundreds of lasers you’ll be dodging them like a champ.
I’m sure at one point we’ve all played a dual stick shooter- Geometry Wars, Groove, Super Stardust HD, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. All of these titles are great and share the same goal. Don’t get touched. SeizureDome is a bit more lenient, instead of the 1 hit touch of death, simply don’t get knocked out of the sumo-wrestling ring. This makes the mechanics more forgiving and allows the designer to stack on even more chaos than it’s predecessors. Warning: they don’t call it “Seizure” Dome for nothing.
Most all of the titles available on his page are done within a matter of a few days. Heck, some took just a couple of hours. It’s absolutely amazing that someone can learn so much about game design in just one afternoon. So while a couple of the micro-games may be a bit tough or too wonky, I strongly recommend at the very least downloading the Cactus Arcade to experience a taste of the squid. Those who are hooked on this quirky chaos will be happy to hear that Jonatan has since then moved up to developing larger titles- working with Dennis Wedin to create the highly acclaimed Hotline Miami.
This collection of 50+ free games is a very humble beginning for someone who is now rearguard as such a prolific game designer.
**Also be sure to try Shotgun Ninja- it’s probably my favorite.**