This Week's Waste of Time

We handicap the 600 playable games of Ludum Dare

Good thing he can float like that. Too bad he's stuck in a box being poked with swords.
Good thing he can float like that. Too bad he's stuck in a box being poked with swords.

What did you do this past weekend? What? You didn't make a fully functional video game during those 48 hours? Seems a waste when almost 600 people did exactly that for the annual Ludum Dare competition. Only a portion of those games fit the constraints of a Weekly Waste of Time (ie., free to play on a browser without plugins), and here are a few of the highlights.

A quick caveat: These games can be innovative, fun, challenging, easy, and just about every other adjective you can think of to describe a video game. But, what none of these games are is polished. Almost all of the games have a bug here and there, so don't judge too harshly. Look past the jagged edges and see the kernel of radness beneath. (Note to self, new band name: Kernel of Radness or Colonel of Radness). The theme of this year's event was "escape."

Start locally with Adam "Atomic" Saltsman's Legend of Zelda-esque Bomber Planet. Traverse the moon-like open world in search of a way back home. Your only weapons are timed bombs that can obliterate space crabs or be used to reveal helpful items. I recommend you use them for both.

The unstoppable indie force Markus Persson created a first-person dungeon crawler, Prelude of the Chambered, that looks and plays much like his other massively successful game, Minecraft.

I expected the vast majority of the escape-themed games to be run-and-jump centric, the only true platformer that impressed me was Hollow. The multipurpose jump/attack mechanic is interesting and the developer even managed to squeeze in an easter egg.

The puzzle games stood out the most with the color matching of Rainbow Jail begging to be ported to handheld devices. The moody, hand-drawn mazes of Dream Path and the plan-your-path confusion of EscapeBot are both worth a whirl. The strangest puzzle game is Not the Sharpest Sword in the Box that involves moving your loose-limbed character within the confined space to avoid getting impaled.

Lastly, the interactive fiction of A Tale About Life Death and a Looser [sic] is a depressing look at modern life told with a needle-point aesthetic.

You might want to click around the other 590 or so games at your disposal on the Ludum Dare website. That should keep you busy until next year.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

This Week's Waste of Time
This Week's Waste of Time
Three browser games to keep you occupied and unproductive

James Renovitch, Feb. 8, 2013

This Week's Waste of Time
This Week's Waste of Time
Pikachu: From Slave to Freedom Fighter. Seriously.

James Renovitch, Oct. 11, 2012

More by James Renovitch
The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival Winners 2023
The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival Winners 2023
The people and critics have chosen the best of the fest

Sept. 10, 2023

2022/2023 Austin Music Awards Winners
2022/2023 Austin Music Awards Winners
You voted – here's Austin's favorite artists, albums, and more

Feb. 26, 2023


TWWT, Ludum Dare, Bomber Planet, Not the Sharpest Sword in the Box, Hollow, EscapeBot, Rainbow Jail, A Tale About Life Death and a Looser, Prelude of the Chambered

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle