So, I’ve decided to go bi-weekly with the Indie Round-Up in an effort to showcase better-quality games. Dear reader, you’ve lucked out, because this week, the games highlighted here are some of the best currently on the market. With one notable exception – The Shit Taco.

Wushi is a one-button platformer where the player must leap across wide chasms in an effort to avoid the purple clouds below. Similar to Washington’s Wig (highlighted in a previous Indie Round-Up) and Bit.Trip Runner, the game is incredibly fun and challenging, while also being visually stunning. Totally worth the 80 MSP (a single buck).

Milkstone Studios is becoming one of my favorite indie developers. Their bright, beautifully colored games are always a pleasure to play, and their design is almost-always top-notch. Their animation is often crisp and high-quality, as well. Sushi Castle is very similar to The Binding of Isaac, only far less punishing and with better visuals. While The Binding of Isaac was one of my favorites last year, I’ll definitely be putting Sushi Castle on my best of indies list this year. A steal at 80 MSP.

Shit Taco Award:

Chrono Dash is a game trying to be Portal. While this is admirable, the outcome is so far off the mark, it’s truly unbelievable how this game slipped passed the peer review stage of the XBLIG release process. The music is terrible, the controls are floaty and the level design is uninspired.

The main problem with the game is that a primary mechanic doesn’t work. You run through puzzles/levels on a timer, and when that timer his zero, it’s game over, you’re dead. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that. I ran around the levels at zero for a good, long while, with no negative outcome. A game with a completely broken mechanic (in my experience with the game) is a Shit Taco Award winner.

Indie Darling:

Quantum Conundrum, I’ve been waiting for you for so long. Biding my time. Kicking at the dirt and glancing flirtatiously at your screenshots, my attraction to Kim Swift, one of the developers behind the original Portal growing more and more. I needed you in my life, and now that you’re here, I don’t want you to go away.

Portal 2 was the best game of last year. Easily. No dragon-shouting bullshit is going to change that. Quantum Conundrum is like the perfect dessert to the feast that is Portal 2. The game centers around a young boy visiting his uncle, who happens to be a kooky inventor. He also happens to something of a sadist, as he runs his nephew through the paces in order to test and perfect an interdimensional system. A system that takes our dimension and changes it to fluffy (if everything was coated in cotton balls), heavy (leather and metal) and slow motion (sepia tones and film scratches) and reverse, which is similar to the rewind mechanic in Apple Jack 2 or Braid.

Having all of these bizarre dimensions at your disposal allows you to solve a myriad of puzzles ranging from riding flying tables across impassable chasms to placing normally heavy boxes onto levers. Take the Portal series, run it through a Pixar/Klasky-Csupo filter and you have the kind of game we’re dealing with here. Add in great voice acting by John De Lancie (as the boy’s uncle), and you’ve got a brilliant journey of puzzle solving that can easily hold a candle to anything GLaDOS can throw at you.

A cute interdimensional critter named Ike appears from time to time to remind you how brilliantly-designed the characters are. It’s also a nice touch to show the various paintings throughout your uncle’s house changing to reflect the various dimensions. One minute the uncle will be wearing a white lab coat, the next, a bunny suit.

There you have it. Buy Quantum Conundrum! Buy Sushi Castle! Enjoy some indies!

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