Four local competitive indie games are being bundled together in an anthology called Sportfriends, coming to PS3, PC, Mac and Linux - if the Kickstarter is successful that is.
Sportfriends conttains the following titles: Johann Sebastian Joust, Super Pole Riders, BaraBariBall and Hokra.
The most well known of the group is the tactile Move-based folk game, Johann Sebastian Joust by Die Gute Fabrik. JS Joust isn't really a video game even, but rather a regular game that happens to use video game hardware. Let me explain:
Johann Sebastian Joust doesn't have graphics or even use a monitor. Instead, players each hold a Move controller with the goal being to jostle your opponent's wand, while keeping your own steady. A piece of Bach music plays in the background and when it speeds up you're allowed to move faster, but when it slows down you need to be extra careful about moving your controller.
It looks silly, but having played it I can say that it might be the most fun I've had with a game this year. It somehow made being in a noisy bar feel like a level in Dark Souls where every opponent possessed a grave danger. Rather than being limited to specific moves mapped to a controller, your only limitation is your own motor skills. The cost of entry may be high with the motion-sensing peripherals needed, but if several friends invest in a few Move controllers it could become a party game standard for years to come.
In fact, Harmonix's Dean Tate said, "I think JS Joust is the best multiplayer game ever created," and Tim Schafer called it " the second most fun thing I've ever done with a Move controller."
Elsewhere in the package is Super Pole Riders, a suped up version of QWOP creator Bennet Foddy's competitive game about pole vaulters trying to push a ball tethered to a horizontal rope towards their opponent's goal. Its earlier version Pole Riders is currently available as a free flash game. Play it here.
Noah Sasso's BaraBariBall tasks two to four players with kicking their opponent's ball into water on their side of a floating platform, while avoiding contact with the water themselves. Each player can only jump eight times before needing to touch back down on solid ground. It looks simple to understand, but quite tactical under the hood. Some of you may have played BaraBariBall at Rezzed.
And finally, Ramiro Corbetta's Hokra is a four-player 8-bit inspired riff off footy, where players pass a ball back and forth in hopes of shooting it through their opponent's goal. Corbetta is currently working on an eight-player version of Hokra for the Sportsfriends release.
"With Sportsfriends, our goal is to bring people together to the same physical space to enjoy simple, spectator-friendly videogames," said the developer on Kickstarter. "Many of our favorite gaming memories come from local multiplayer games, and we want to celebrate that kind of co-located play."
"We want to draw attention to what's happening in front of the screen, between the human beings playing and watching."
Sony has already agreed to market Sportsfriends if the developers can raise the money to port it to PS3 and prove that there is in fact interest in these low-fi locally competitive titles.
"We want to show that the gaming public does indeed care about local multiplayer; that the future of this medium concerns more than just fancy graphics, but also innovative design and replayability; that sometimes, the best games of them all are the simplest."
Pledging $15 will grant players a copy of Sportfriends for a platform of their choice upon release, as well as a copy of Jan Willem's unreleased tennis game, Tennnes. $30 will reward the same, plus alpha versions of the four games shortly after the Kickstarter ends next month. $500 grants players all of the above plus a a seven-player JS Joust kit complete with all the Move controllers necessary. And $10,000 grants players the "ultimate trampoline package," which contains two actual trampolines and a trampoline-controlled game by Foddy and Die Gute Fabrik's Douglas Wilson.
Sportfriends is slated for an autumn 2013 release on PS3 with the PC, Mac and Linux versions to follow shortly after. The Kickstarter has currently raised $20,888 of its $150,000 goal with 31 days to go before the 10th December deadline.