Ludum Dare 36 – Steam Heart

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Ludum Dare is a contest that’s currently held three times a year that challenges game devs of any experience to create a game in 48 hours based around a specific theme. This year’s Ludum Dare, #36, centered around the theme of “ancient technology” with a huge number of entries from beginning designers to seasoned vets. It doesn’t matter what kind of game it is — it can be a board game, text-only game, point ‘n click, etc.. Just as long as it’s some kind of game or interactive experience that others can download, try out, and potentially vote on their favorites.

Steam Heart is one particular gem that popped up in the most recent jam. Created by jam veteran, SinclairStrange, it’s a run ‘n gun homage to the 16-bit Sega greats like Gunstar Heroes. It even starts off with a SEGA logo screen and it’s all self-contained in one .exe file. There’s even a post-mortem by SinclairStrange going over their thoughts on what they did to develop the game.

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I’ve been itching for a bit of retro action after having completed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (hooray Pacifism completion) and crawled through Ludum Dare’s batch of entries to check things out. In short, Steam Heart’s great! It really captures the spirit of pure, run ‘n gun, plowing-through-legions-of-bad-guys-with-crazy-weapons feel and the 16-bit aesthetic down to the pixels and the music. It’s only the first level of “a long lost Mega Drive game” and neatly captures the theme.

There are a lot of other great entries in the contest, too, but if you’re looking for a short but sweet injection of exploding pixels, great music, and solid action, you can’t go wrong with Steam Heart.

The stages have a great variety to them. It'd be nice if this could become a full fledged game.

Varied stages and backdrops help offset the re-use of cannon fodder foes, but the boss enemies are something else.

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Some of these bosses can be pretty brutal like this, steampunk "dragon" bot.

Some of these bosses can be pretty brutal like this, steampunk “dragon” bot.

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The evil villain makes his getaway with his prize...

The evil villain makes his getaway with his prize…

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A race up the elevator shaft...

A race up the elevator shaft…

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...and face to face with this unusual boss critter.

…and face to face with this unusual boss critter.

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And a final boss fight against a giant clock boss!

And a final boss fight against a giant clock boss!

 

 

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