Super Crate Box

Key events

Super Crate Box remains the best antidote to thinking that I know about. It is almost impossible to think about anything when you're playing it. This knotty little arena shooter ties all of its pieces together so tightly that there's barely room for cognition to factor in. Enemies swarm from the top of the screen and loop back round when they drop off the bottom. Crates spawn new weapons, but if you fancy sticking with a favourite, you're out of luck, because collecting crates are also the only means of scoring. I have spent mindless hours here, dashing between gantries of a game whose average playtime, I am ashamed to say, is still measured in seconds. As a getaway from real life, it is nearly perfect.

Trends of 2012: Indie Games

An indie bundle of British developers predicts this year's trends.

In much the same way that the music industry struggles to define indie music, so indie games is a term that's increasingly slippery in the hands. Most would agree that an indie game is one produced without the financial backing of a publisher, but as the lines of sales and distribution blur with each passing year, so the indie label becomes less trustworthy. Your game may be wearing Converse, but does it bleed My Bloody Valentine?

Super Crate Box iOS update incoming

Super Crate Box iOS update incoming

Vlambeer celebrates 5 million crates collected.

The iOS version of hit indie platformer Super Crate Box is due a fresh batch of content any day now, developer Vlambeer has announced.

Vlambeer had promised an update as soon as five million crates had been collected in the game following its App Store release earlier this week.

Sure enough, that milestone was passed within 48 hours of the game going on sale, prompting the developer to post the following on its Twitter feed:

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Super Crate Box Review

Super Crate Box Review

Crate out of ten?

It's hard to believe that Super Crate Box came out on Macs and PCs as recently as 2010. It feels like I've been playing it forever. That's not because I'm any good at it, mind. It's more likely because I'm intimately aware of all the ways I'm not any good at it. I know I lurk too much on the safer mid-level platforms of the Moon Temple stage and then get overwhelmed, for example. I know I'm scared of weapons like the disc gun and the laser rifle, so I've never really mastered their quirks. I know I flip out completely whenever the little floating skull guys turn up and that I often fall in the flaming pit at the bottom of the screen entirely by accident.

There's another reason it's hard to believe Vlambeer's fast-paced blaster is only two years old, though, and that's because Super Crate Box, while oozing with indie credibility, feels like a classic arcade game from the Eugene Jarvis era. It's got a great line in tight, replayable maps, it's got dribbling horrors to populate them with, and it's got some adorable, savagely differentiated weaponry to keep you alive.

Like Robotron or Defender, Super Crate Box is a brisk tutorial in how less really can be more when it comes to design. You could list its handful of ideas on the back of a rail ticket, and yet they provide enough structure to build a game that you can then pretty much play until the end of time.

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