For a colossus like Rovio, after the massive success of Angry Birds, staying in the public eye shouldn’t be an issue. They could coast on by, releasing endless new iterations of the explosively popular avian puzzler for the rest of their lives, sit back, and rake in the cash from merchandising and various system releases. But instead of sticking to the same franchise forever, they chose to branch out with in an entertaining new direction that’s noticeably different from their previous efforts, but one that still works to the degree that you’d expect from Rovio.
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It takes a lot of guts to leave a sure thing, especially in these times of economic uncertainty. That goes double when that ‘sure thing’ is one of the most respected videogame developers in the business and the destination one of the most financially-depressed states in the country. But it sure sounds like having guts runs in the family as that’s exactly what happened with Thomas Hoeg, founder and CEO of mobile-centric developer ByteSize Games.
After working on Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time for the PlayStation 3, Tom – along with brother Richard – left the relative development safety of Insomniac Games’ for their next big adventure – founding ByteSize Games in their home state of Michigan in 2010 with an emphasis on making “the kind of games that we want to make”, he says. After their debut with last year’s award-winning geometric color-blasting FlipShip, the company is readying their follow-up with a new spin on the eternal struggle of mouse vs. cheese with the puzzle-solving fun of Little Labyrinths. And wouldn’t you know it, Tom was more than willing to talk about his love of puzzle gaming, cheese, and going from crafting blockbusters to more bite-sized pleasures.
ByteSize Games’ Little Labyrinths isn’t looking to re-invent the wheel. They simply want to create an entertaining variant on a classic pastime. Reeling from the success of their previous game FlipShip, they’ve released a collection of mazes for gamers who love an accessible challenge…but only if you love mazes. Yes, of the pen-and-paper variety.
Dungeon crawlers can be an absolute blast. In the case of Pokémon’s Mystery Dungeon spinoffs and other recent endeavors, they can also present quite the challenge, even when released in one of the cutest packages possible. Rogue Ninja, an 8-bit RPG that takes a few pages out of the random dungeon trope, is an adorable but austere romp through the world of ninjas to track down the Shinobi’s Secret Scroll (or to save a princess, depending on your course throughout the game.) It’s a great addition to any roguelike fan’s library with much to offer in a small, portable package.
Zombies may be huge right now, but let’s not forget about their metal brethren, robots. The game Sminis is packed with a gaggle of tiny, adorable robots with a mind of their own. After a particularly nasty accident in an industrial lab, Sminis, the creation of yet another mad scientist, are on the loose.