I love video games. Always have, always will. I grew up watching Mario stomp koopas, Link slay moblins and Kirby inhale enemies to copy their powers. Games will always have a special place in my heart.
As much as I like the classics and the stuff being released by the big name companies, however, recently my attention's been diverted to a select few independent companies and developers. People say these past few recent years have been some of the best times for indie developers to get into the gaming market, and, frankly, I agree with them. As of late the indie game market's really been booming, and it's no wonder why. There are some really great indie games out there to find if one knows where to look. And unlike pricey console games, many of these independently developed games can be downloaded onto your computer for as low as $20, $10 or even $5.
Given, these games might not have the newest, most-cutting edge graphics, and might be relatively simple when compared to some of the things we see Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft releasing. However, that doesn't change the fact that they are good games nonetheless. And many gamers seem to agree with me.
One shining example of an indie game that's risen from obscurity is Dokutsu Monogatari, better known by is Americanized name, Cave Story. The game was originally made as a freeware 2D platform-adventure game by independent developer Daisuke Amaya (art-name "Pixel") in 2004. He developed the game in his spare time, intending it to be a tribute to classic popular titles he had played in his youth, such as Castlevania and Metroid.
After it's initial release on the Internet, Cave Story slowly gained popularity as a indie game, and was praised by many gamers for its compelling story and gameplay. Fans of the game eventually developed an English translation, spreading the game even further.
Later on, Nicalis, an independent video game company, worked with Amaya to bring an updated version of Cave Story with new modes of gameplay and improved graphics to Nintendo's WiiWare service in 2010.
Since then the popularity of Cave Story has skyrocketed, leading Nicalis to work with Nintendo to bring yet another updated version of the game to the Nintendo 3DS under the title of Cave Story 3D.
And Cave Story is just one of the many success stories told about independently developed games these days. Several other popular titles have risen from the depths of obscurity to become commonly known titles to gamers everywhere: Minecraft, Super Meat Boy and Angry Birds just to name a few.
Unfortunately, there are also risks involved for gamers who chose to invest their money in independent games. A method many indie developers seem to be taking recently is releasing a “beta-version” of their game over platforms such as Steam for a low price, with the promise of free updates as the game is further developed. A prime example of one such game is Re-Logic's Terraria, a 2D “sandbox” game featuring exploration, crafting, resource gathering, and combat with a variety of different creatures.
Upon its initial release in January 2011, Terraria's sales boomed. Over 1 million copies of the game were sold, gamers being drawn in both by the unique style of gameplay and the prospect of future updates to the game. Head developer of the game, Andrew Spinks, made regular posts about planned features to the game in his blog, keeping the community informed about what they could expect in future updates.
Upon Terraria's version 1.1.2 update, which included new enemies, biomes, resources and a slew of new items to be discovered and crafted, popularity of the game boomed even more, resulting in the game being named as the No. 1 of 2011's Indie of the Year Player's choice.
Unfortunately for fans, Spinks suddenly decided to halt production of Terrarria, announcing in his blog on Feb. 21 that there would be no further updates to the games despite the fact that the several planned features that had been announced in his blog. Many members of Terraria's online community protested, feeling that the game had been cut down in its prime, and had yet to reach its full potential.
Sadly, however, this seems to be a route that many independent game companies take. Several indie games seem to be halted before they are considered to be “finished.” Lacking the resources that larger game companies have, independent developers either run out of money for production, or simply become burned out, no longer having the time or interest to continue working on their projects. It's disappointing for the fans who pay to play these games in the early stages of development, however, it's also a risk people take when they decide to play independent games.
Is it enough to scare people away from the indie game market? Certainly not, as there are still many gems out there to be found if one is willing to spend the time and money. Indie gaming is on the rise. And things can only get better as time goes on.
Independent Spirit Award-nominated film In The Family opens at The Esquire tonight. Writer, director and star Patrick Wang will be in town for the premiere weekend, and will host a Q&A after this weekend's screenings. Check out the 8 p.m. screenings Friday and Saturday and the 1 p.m. show Sunday to meet and chat with the star. Read our review here.
San Francisco dance company Robert Moses' Kin performs in town this week with Contemporary Dance Theater's Guest Artist Series. Faith and Fable was inspired by choreographer/artistic director Robert Moses' children – fairy tales, in particular. Moses reexamined moral tales and translated them into a multi-genre dance piece for all ages. Performances are tonight at Saturday at the Aronoff Center. Go here to read our interview with Moses.
LEGOs are one of those iconic toys that kids still think are cool and adults still secretly want to play with. This weekend's LEGO's KidsFest may be marketed toward youngsters, but LEGO fans of any age can be entertained for hours at this construction block convention. At the fest, you'll find a LEGO model museum (clearly not built by kids), a master builder academy, activity area, challenge zone and much more. Saturday's sessions have sold out, but there's still tickets available for tonight (4-8:30 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m.) All sessions feature the same fun exhibits and activities. Find ticket information and event details here.
The Newport Aquarium welcomes Mighty Mike, a 14-foot, 800-pound American Alligator this Saturday. Mike is the largest gator in the U.S. outside of Florida. The new Gator Alley exhibit will feature many species of alligators and crocodiles from around the globe. The aquarium is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Find admission and other details here. Purchase your tickets in advance to save time at the door.
We're just two months away from the highly anticipated MidPoint Music Festival and the free MidPoint Indie Summer Series is still rockin' on. Stop by Fountain Square Friday for a taste of quality music you can expect at the September fest. This week's line up features a superb spread of local talent. Alternative Folk crew The Western kicks off the show at 7 p.m., followed by Garage Rockers The Prohibitionists at 8:15 p.m. July for Kings headlines the show at 9:30 p.m., bringing their quirky Rock & Roll sound. Check out a past interview with her crew here. For tickets, lineups and all the latest updates on MPMF, follow them on Facebook.
Today is also the kick-off of American Craft Beer Week. That’s a thing! Cincinnati has a rich brewing history, so it’s no surprise that local watering holes are celebrating the creation and consumption of delicious craft beer. Tonight, Arnold’s taps Bell’s Third Coast Ale — one of two fifth-barrels in the entire city. Find Arnold’s full ACBW schedule here.
The Crazy Fox in Newport hosts open mic and all-night happy hour every Monday. All musicians are welcome to perform in a friendly atmosphere, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The Seedy Seeds’ Margaret Darling guest hosts this week.
It's Only A Day Away
Tomorrow, Northside Tavern hosts a fundraiser for End Slavery Cincinnati. Help raise awareness about human trafficking in the country and right here in Cincinnati from 5-10 p.m. There will be live music from The Flavor Junkies and Wild Mountain Berries, door prizes and more, for $5 at the door.
This American Life presented a live cinema event last Thursday that featured its standard true storytelling format, but with ample visual elements. In addition to anecdotes from David Sedaris, Tig Notaro and others, there were also dance performances, a hilarious short film from Mike Birbiglia and an interactive performance by OK GO. The theater in Newport where I watched the show was far too empty — I found the show more entertaining than any movie in theaters right now! Those who missed out have another chance to check out the program in theaters Tuesday. Sure, it will be a recording of the live show, but the charm and excitement of the live format will surely shine through. Without spoiling anything, the stories they were able to assemble were killer: laugh-out-loud, misty-eyed, thought-provoking TAL goodness.
Be sure to download this free app before you go — the TAL crew pulled some strings to allow audiences to use their phones at one point in the performance. Go here to find nearby theaters screening the show tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Can I gush any more? No. It’s worth the $20 ticket. Please go.
Ricky, Julian and Bubbles bring the trailer park to town for
a night tomorrow! For those unfamiliar, Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian
mockumentary-style comedy series and movies that has developed a
cult following over the past decade. It’s white trash hilarity at its finest.
If last year’s live show was any indication, Tuesday’s “Community Service Variety
Show” is sure to bring the LOLs. Buy tickets here.
Scared yet? Don't be. It just takes some practice. Bike polo is one of the world's up-and-coming sports, already highly popular in India and across Europe. According to the League of Bike Polo, U.S. bike polo was born in Seattle in the '90s, when a group of bike messengers were playing with a ball and some homemade mallets.
“This bike polo court is one
the few official bike polo courts in the country,” says Steve Pacella,
Cincinnati Recreation Commission superintendent, according to a press
release. Several other cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, are scheduled to open official bike polo courts later this year.
Aside from the rise in U.S. cycling culture, its popularity is attributed, in part, to its flexibility — courts can be parking lots, roofs or grassy areas, meaning it's easy for urban-dwellers to find spots to pay.
The new bike polo court is located at the end of Joselin Avenue off Clifton Avenue, near the University of Cincinnati, and will be opened and dedicated today at 3 p.m. Councilman Chris Seelbach will be present to celebrate the court's opening, and the ceremony will also feature a bike polo demonstration for those unfamiliar with the game.
The opening of the bike court comes during Bike Month, a country-wide celebration of all things bike. Click here for a comprehensive list of Cincinnati bike happenings.
Park+Vine's Vegan Slowcooker Throwdown, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed. Check their calendar or follow P+V on Facebook for updates. You can still celebrate meatless Monday by grabbing lunch or items to make dinner at the green general store.
If you're still experiencing some residual St. Patrick's Day drinking enthusiasm, Northside's Mayday presents Monday Mayhem each week – stop by between 4 p.m.-midnight and grab a dog and a draft for under eight bucks. Mayday's gourmet hot dogs are served on homemade pretzel buns with delicious, unique toppings. And their beer selection is killer. Or stop by Milton's on Prospect Hill for Vinyl Club. Bring your records to share or have a DJ spin 'em for you while you enjoy a drink. The night starts at 10 p.m.
Later tonight, Cincinnati native Geoff Tate will appear on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The comedian offers a storytelling style and has been compared to the late, great Mitch Hedberg. Tune into CBS at 12:35 a.m.
On July 21, the Roadshow will make a stop at an area venue (not yet announced) and hopefully make a few locals a little bit richer (but just a few — it's honestly more fun to watch when people's precious collectables aren't worth jack).
It’s Bunbury Weekend! The second annual three-day music fest takes over Sawyer Point Friday-Sunday with acts including fun., Walk the Moon, MGMT, Cake, Tegan and Sara, Yo La Tengo, Belle & Sebastian and tons more. Check out our interview with Matt Berninger of The National — Bunbury’s Sunday headliner — here.
In addition to great music, there will be tons of food and drink vendors with lots of local options, a craft beer village, free Rockstar energy drink and water samples and a Trojan vibrator giveaway from 4-8 p.m. Saturday (for real!). Official after-parties take place at Igby’s Friday, aliveOne Saturday and The Righteous Room Sunday. Ready to go? Don't leave home without peeping our cheat sheet, complete with lineup, map, dos and don’ts and more vital info.
One- and three-day
tickets to Bunbury are still available here.
Second Sunday on Main returns to Over-the-Rhine this week with a lineup of special Pride events in addition to the art, shopping, demos, kids activities, food and music that the free street festival serves up every month. Be sure to check out the annual Drag Race and Dykes on Trykes — a race you’ll have to see to believe! — as well as the new mobile boutique Truckshop. Read more about the unique, locally owned shop-on-wheels here. Second Sunday on Main runs noon-5 p.m.
The Gambling Rose
Tattoo Convention brings some of the best tattoo artists across the globe to
town for the weekend. Swing by Duke Energy Center Friday-Sunday for tattoo
competitions, seminars, vendors and a roller derby showdown between the
Cincinnati Rollergirls and the Black-N-Bluegrass Rollergirls. Tattoo artists
and piercers from around the country and world will be under one roof,
available for appointments. Featured artists include Jerod Ray and Tylor Schwarz
(contestants on Oxygen’s Best Ink
Season Two); Sarah Miller (runner-up, Spike’s Ink Master Season Two); Tatu Baby (contestant on Spike’s Ink Master Season Two, voted by fans to
return to Season Three — premieres Tuesday); and Chris Torres (NY Ink bad boy). Tickets are $20 for a single-day
pass/$30 for two days/$40 for the whole weekend.
Newport on the Levee is going to be a real sausage fest this weekend — literally! The Queen City Sausage Festival unites all the loves of a true Cincinnatian: pork, beer and river views. Eat your way through more than two-dozen sausage specimens including the grilled gyro cheddar met, the zest Italian sausage hoagie and, of course, Queen City goetta. There will also be foods that didn’t once say “oink,” plus live music, eating contests and lots of rides and games for the kids. The fest runs Friday-Sunday at the Levee and admission is free.
Add a little français to your Thursday with Cincinnati Symphony's French Connection concert. Enjoy works of three French composers, performed by French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, led by French conductor Stéphane Denève. Tickets for tonight's 7:30 p.m. show at Music Hall start at just $10 — c'est bon marché! The show continues Saturday and Sunday. Go here for tickets and performance details.
Cincinnati Zoo's Tunes and Blooms series continues tonight with Magnolia Mountain and Comet Bluegrass All Stars. This free concert offers excellent local bands in the beautiful setting of the zoo's gardens. The concert runs 6-8:30 p.m.; admission to the zoo is free after 5 p.m. (parking is $8). Tunes and Blooms continues every Thursday this month.