There's an enormous amount of (completely justified) buzz surrounding the film portion of Fantastic Fest each year, be it premieres, special events, or best of all, food specials. But the festival's younger sibling Fantastic Arcade (also entirely contained within the festival itself; what sort of relative does that make it?) is every bit as rad. Now in its fifth year, the Arcade takes over a corner of the Highball and Alamo Drafthouse for a celebration of indie game development and multiplayer madness. I love it: the feverish versus matches snatched between movies and the live tournaments and discussions with developers are highlights of the festival every year.
This year's Spotlight games - to be showcased in custom-built arcade cabinets - have just been announced, and there's some great-looking stuff in there. I've already reviewed David O'Reilly's meditative Mountain and frothed about my excitement for Aussie co-op sausage-wrestler Push Me Pull You, but all of these titles look weird and wonderful in their own ways. Some - like Gang Beasts and Donut County - leap out as likely favourites, but part of the joy of this event is discovering the games indescribable via thirty-word blurb. I have no idea what the hell Banana Chalice is, for example, but I can't wait to find out. And there are still more titles to be revealed.
See you at the Arcade! Maybe we'll hurl little animated characters each other. Maybe we'll get some live-action Push Me Pull You going. You will probably beat me either way, but that's okay. We're family at Fantastic Fest.
More than 20 independent video games will be on display at this year’s Fantastic Arcade, the fifth annual showcase of independent games from the organizers of Fantastic Fest. The games to be featured in this year’s Fantastic Arcade lineup have been selected by the organizers of Austin’s independent game collective Juegos Rancheros—Adam Saltsman, Wiley Wiggins, Jo Lammert, Rachel Simone Weil, and Brandon Boyer—and by Fantastic Arcade Technical Director Joshua Fields. Panel discussions, developer talks, and game tournaments will be held each day of the festival. All games and game-related events at Fantastic Arcade will be free and open to the general public at the newly renovated Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar theater and its sister venue, The Highball. Among the games selected for Fantastic Arcade are eight Spotlight games- games that embody a hard-to-define quality we like to call ‘arcadiness.’ These games will each have a stand-up arcade cabinet constructed for them, to be presented for free play during the event.
Dozens of additional games will be added to the full Fantastic Arcade lineup within the coming weeks. Special tournaments and exposition plays are also planned, including games such as Gang Beasts, Push Me Pull You, Nidhogg, N++, Astro Duel, and Towerfall Ascension. More information about this year’s special events, including the third annual Gamemaking Frenzy competition, will be released in the coming weeks. For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Arcade Facebook & Twitter.
- Gang Beasts (Boneloaf) One of the most eagerly anticipated tournament and Spotlight games of Fantastic Arcade 2014, Gang Beasts blends cute, doughy character design with shocking, hilarious violence and can't-put-the-controller-down gameplay.
- Donut County (Ben Esposito) Premiering at Fantastic Arcade 2014, Ben Esposito's Donut County gives players control over a stylish, Los Angeles-inspired 3D playscape, all thanks to irresistible donuts that, when eaten, open holes in the ground.
- Banana Chalice (Kyle Reimergartin) Fjords creator Kyle Reimergartin returns to Fantastic Arcade with Banana Chalice, a game in which an interdimensional Banana Cat must journey through an endless wormhole on a quest for chalices.
- Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base) This frantic 1- or 2-player local co-op action game, set inside a neon spaceship, invites players to work together to man turrets, lasers, shields, and thrusters in order to save animals and stave off interstellar demise.
- Fotonica (Santa Ragione) Fantastic Arcade veterans Santa Ragione have prepared a special 4-player arcade version of Fotonica, an abstract, exploratory first-person runner.
- Push Me Pull You (House House) Push Me Pull You is a two-on-two sports game about friendship and wrestling in which teams must use a shared body to wrap, writhe, and wrestle a ball into their half of the court.
- Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon (Tiger Style) In Tiger Style’s sequel to Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, players take on the role of a spider while uncovering the mysteries of a secret society.
- Mountain (David O'Reilly) Mountain is an ambient, procedural mountain simulator from animator David O'Reilly (The External World, Her) with programming by Damien Di Fede (Cosmic DJ).