There are a ton of game jams happening online at any point during the year. Many of these jams follow a theme and a timeframe, giving developers the challenge of creating a game within a specific jam’s restrictions. I am able to record loads of these games for each and almost every game jam. As I record them all, I pick out games that stand out to me and games I love from each individual jam. This article contains the games I love from the the Train Jam 2018.
The Train Jam is a game jam that takes place en route to GDC, across America, in a train! This train has a functioning start and end time, not a whole lot of places to charge your PC, and limited Wifi, adding a lot of challenge. I’ve played through each of the submitted creations in my compilation video series and below are a few of my favorites, in a random order.
HUG THEM REAL GOOD by MXEDK
HUG THEM REAL GOOD is an adorable and friendly little game where you are able to roll around as a small ball, finding new friends to join you! As you roll around this area, you can run into creatures just wanting to have a hug. The thing is, not everyone likes the same type of hugs. Some people want tight hugs, while others want more of a loose hug. You can use your mouse wheel to increase the tightness.
However, you will need to keep an eye on the face of the person you are hugging — as they are only really enjoying it if hearts come off of their face. Once you have found their sweet spot, you need to attempt to keep your hug there until they are happy enough to follow you around the park! HUG THEM REAL GOOD is just fun to play around with!
Road Flip by Contigo Games
Road Flip is a challenging platformer where you are able to draw out your routes, in an attempt to go where you want to go. On this road trip, it seems like the terrain is made of huge, sculptable blocks. These blocks need to be carved out so that your car can drive through and make it to the end of the level.
In each level, there are also post cards that can give you a look into where you are traveling from and too. These postcards are very challenging to get too — as the entire game is quite challenging. You cannot sculpt very smoothly, so you will need to drive carefully to make sure you don’t end up flipping your car. There are also sometimes large rocks within these bits of land, looking to fall and destroy your car. Hopefully, you will make it to wherever this road trip ends.
shortArm by Brantly McCord
shortArm is a two button game where you need to keep an eye on two different sides of the screen, where two very different things are happening. You are playing two very different characters; a punk rocker who is in a band, and a corporate worker whose days are full of paperwork and meetings. You’ll need to make sure that these two people each continue to do their tasks as well as possible, all by pushing buttons at the right time.
For the corporate world, you need to push your bottom to stamp paperwork or quickly make it up the stairs, while on the punk side you need to hit mailboxes as soon as they appear within your bat’s range or jump over barrels while trying to run up a hill to your gig. If you start to slack on one of the two tasks you need to do per screen, you will lose and have to restart. Along with having some pretty interesting gameplay, shortArm has some wonderful music.
Be My Quest by Glass Knuckle Games
Ever wonder how NPC’s come up with various quests for you to go and explore? Well, in Be My Quest, you become the NPC — looking to design various quests for adventurers to take part in. Starting with only a few options, you need to create a quest for someone to come and attempt. At first, you start off with only a few locations as well as some gold to give out as a reward. There is only one desired item; meat.
You must pick the location you want to use, then the desired item you want from that location, as well as provide a reward. Depending on what you choose, you will be shown the level this quest is at. Then, you can write up a description so adventurers know what to do. Once your quest is advertised, someone will go and attempt it. Your goal is to not have quests that are so challenging and unbalanced on the reward, that no one can achieve them. This will force you to lose reputation and ultimately the ability to be a good NPC. The concept behind Be My Quest is simply genus, being an NPC is a very fun job.
Every Little Light by Ty Taylor
Mixing both a puzzle game with a story full of options, Every Little Light puts you in the place of a little firefly looking to make it to a distant lighthouse. This lighthouse used to guide people home and help others find their path, however, the light has gone out. Wondering what happened and what’s there, you are looking to make it to the lighthouse and fix the light.
Each level shows two paths; one left and one right. These have a little bit of story under them, letting you know what option you would be picking depending on the path you take. This decision then changes the story as you move forward. These paths aren’t easy to get to as other animals hang out in the land in between. These animals, in their various patterns, can be moved as a group — as long as nothing is in the way. You’ll need to figure out the best way to move these animals to make it to your path. It is quite challenging, but the story behind Every Little Light, and the mix of these genres, is really excellent.
Oddysea by John Pantaleon, Brice Puls, Alisa Faber, & David Laskey
Oddysea is a lovely and mysterious game about a bunch of frog-wizards hanging out on a lilypad, hoping to find what is beyond the pond. Unsure of what goes on outside the water, you are able to float around the river, collecting items and talking to other individuals that hang out in the pond. Some of these creatures are helpful, others give items, and some are just strange — minding their own lives.
Oddysea is a bit rough around the edges — the controls aren’t perfect and the graphics sometimes clip, but the mystery and writing within the game really make it. These frogs not only have their wizarding ability to grab stuff from the water and horde it on their lilypad, but the other creatures within this game are really interesting and fun to talk too. If you’re into strange creatures, a quest to go beyond the wall, and collecting junk — then Oddysea is a game for you.
Dark Side of Balloon by Jerry Belich, Mike Enoch, Cameron Pinard, Izzy Gramp, & Elie Abraham
Dark Side of Balloon is a local two-player game where each of you play a balloon looking to pop the other. Around the room, you can find objects that will help you. Knives can be picked up by your string and cactuses border the walls waiting to be knocked over and shoved into. With all of these weapons, you’ll need to watch your back in order to survive.
Movement in Dark Side of Balloon is interesting, as you do play as a balloon. There is a floaty quality that makes shoving the other player sometimes lethal when there is a build up of movement. The idea behind this game is simple, but it’s really well done and fun to play against your friend in!
Banana Foolishness by The Hats, Megan Varde, Sebastian Gosztyla, & Luno
Banana Foolishness is a chaotic yet fun local 2-player where you need to find a listed object and run into it before the other player grabs it! You both start off as a banana — not ideal for movement around this world of ramps, jumps, and platforms that forces you to jump into the air. However, you’ll need to rush quickly over to the listed item — a burger or a vase, or whatever is listed at the bottom of the screen.
The first player to interact with this item will get a point and both players will be turned into that object, quickly looking for the next. As you are playing random objects instead of different players, the movement and chaos of beating your friend to the next object just provides a really fun experience!
Train Jam is a yearly game jam, happening right before GDC. If you’re interested in taking part, you can keep an eye on their website or @indietrainjam on Twitter.
Interested in reading about more game jam highlights? Why not check out our archive?