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These last few years, there’s been a special crackle in the air as we roll into the latter half of the year. In Japan, since 2005 (as far as I can tell), there’s been an annual art show wherein participants create artwork for the case of imaginary Famicom games, called My Famicase Exhibition. In 2015, a gamejam would begin shortly after the showcase that would present game developers with these covers to develop what the game attached to the artwork would be. One of my absolute favorite gamejams, the A Game By Its Cover Jam, facilitates a strange reverse-engineering of game development that produces beautiful, unexpected work.

Like most jams, there’s a lot to sift through in the submissions. Below, I’ve listed a handful of games from the jam that stood out to me, and are worth giving an in-depth look.

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After Ragnarok, with all the Gods dead, Yggdrasil slowly bleeds dry. In a last-ditch effort, it calls forth the souls of the strongest women from history to undergo the challenge of the Neverinth, an ever-shifting labyrinth that, when conquered, will grant the champion who survives its halls the title of Valkyrie. Here, you enter as one of these women and must face down the hordes of evil lurking within its twisted halls.

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Part Worlds Chat, part Broken Reality, theclub.zone is an intriguing exploration of the strange wacky side of virtual worlds, but one that has been done better- kind of.

Primarily known for their comedy collaboration with Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland, developer CrowsCrowsCrows recent entry into experimental digital media is a little more up Rebind’s alley than their usual fare.

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Your tiny baby legs patter across the metal grating as you sprint towards a cop, praying to your boss, God, that he doesn’t turn around and pump you full of lead. You lunge forward and possess him. His body pulsates as your powers take hold, and you begin steering this meat puppet that will finally grant you access into the next room. Once you get there and his job is done, feel free to throw him over that railing into the vat of acid. Just make sure you pop out first, you certainly don’t want to take the final swan-dive with him.

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Launching the interstellar spaceship “Hope,” humanity shunts a baby into the cosmos off of a shattered Earth, its remnants orbiting the fractured rock. You awaken twenty-some-odd lightyears out, the cyropod next to yours bloodied, bearing a note reading “Find me.” Now grown, you don an exo-suit and set off for the alien surface of a nearby planet with nothing more than a trusty blaster in tow.

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An organism like any other.

Sand Gardeners (@BrownieCove and @Zephyrraine) are quite the intriguing group; this will have been our second piece on their work, the first being Brownie Cove Cancelled, a lovely absurdist examination of the woes of travel. While you may not have heard of them, their body of work thus far is a deeply stimulating (and extensive) catalog of thought experiments.

While roughly a year old at this point, their LD41 entry Definition Of A Ghuest is no exception and easily worth a look. What exactly is a Ghuest? It’s more complicated than one may think.

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One thing I really like about outlandish games is seeing how far I can push their boundaries. As an interactive art form, games are uniquely in their ability to react to impulsive desires. For instance, in The World is Your Weapon from Japanese developer kagaya (@qqrypwqy), you are thrust into the world as Weaco, a young girl who works as a Weapons Merchant. Here, everything is a possible bludgeon for you to wield against monsters. It’s incredibly silly to pick up a full-sized tree over your head and slap about some slimes with it. It’s even sillier to have that tree break mid-battle, so you pick up one of the slimes, and use them to beat down the rest of their compatriots.

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  • David Will (@TheTrashbang) wrote a rather thoughtful piece on the state of online virtual spaces and how we informally share spaces historically. This is a topic we briefly touched on in our Sven Co-op anniversary retrospective, and it’s nice to see others reflect on this unique facet of gaming.
  • A new documentary on Operation Flashpoint was released this past week. While I never personally played the franchise, many of my early online gaming pals were deeply invested in it’s clever, expansive gameplay. You may know it’s successor.
  • I wanted to take a moment in the vein of our mod retrospectives here and appreciate the grand absurdity that was Japanese Half-Life 2 SMOD (warning: gore).  I personally spent many hours defeating metrocops armed with little more than soybeans. There was also SMOD: Tactical for the Brutal Doom fan in your life.
  • If you have a VR headset, I enthusiastically encourage you to spend a few minutes in Giphy’s Museum of GIFs. It isn’t the best VR experience around, but it’s definitely a fun and unique one.

We’ll see you Monday!

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