Garden Story is an indie adventure game developed by Picogram and published by Rose City Games. Twitter’s algorithm is why I know this game, which is the discovery story for most indie games reviewed on Level Editors. I wish I had more interesting indie game discovery stories. But it’s true, Twitter is a marketing gold mine.
Yo-kai Watch is a Level-5 franchise with a cult following in Japan but modest success in the US. My discovery of the franchise began at a Walmart in 2014. Yo-kai Watch, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, and a bunch of generic releases were on the shelf. I was familiar with Dragon Quest and the JRPG genre in general, so of course, Dragon Quest is my first pick. But I kept thinking about Yo-kai Watch after I left. I find that it’s common to leave Walmart with Komasan’s coy eyes staring at your back from the glass window.
My middle school years of online activity consisted of websites like Addicting Games and GamesForGirls (this site refuses to load). My online history contained hours of playing flash games; the game categories I frequented were cooking or point-and-click.
A vast percentage of flash games on Addicting Games are cross posts from Newgrounds and Armor Games. They continue to live on as more flash game sites spawn and players repost them. But with the death of Adobe Flash, a lot of these games are dead or require a Google Extension. So now many of these sites are hollow. In the younger me, Itch.io does not exist, and I will not start my love affair of indies games until I’m an adult. Itch.io starts in 2013 by Leaf Corcoran.
CONTENT WARNING: Brief description of body horror, minor story spoilers.
Urban legend: Shin Hayarigami – Blindman is the first installment of the detective visual novel series Shin Hayarigami by Nippon Ichi Studio. It was originally released on the PS3 and PS Vita in Japan, then later ported to iOS and Android globally. For English speakers, only Blindman has been released at the time of this writing, while in Japan Shin Hayarigami is an ongoing franchise of six adventures. Blindman is infamously known for being the first visual novel by Nippon Ichi on mainstream platforms to be rated with CERO Z due to body horror and graphic gore.
OK/NORMAL is a lo-fi experience by 98DEMAKE, an independent solo developer known for making PSX and VHS horrors for the computer. I am familiar with this scene of solo development, where fanatics of the 90s J-Horror video game renaissance vie to make their own tribute or create a universal revival, but I’ve never actually had the chance to play one.
Warning: Story Spoilers Ahead
206 is a short narrative-adventure game created by solo developer Yo Fujii. It was released as a demo in April 2020. Japanese independent game developers are relatively unknown in English speaking spaces. So 206 was one of many games that I had stashed in a folder with no pre-decisions or research done before downloading and storing. I know absolutely nothing about it other than that it was made by a Japanese independent developer, which is a demographic of games that I only found in the RPG maker horror section of indie games (i.e. Kikkiyama of Yume Nikki).
Warning: Major story spoilers ahead
Stories Untold was a horror/science-fiction, first person narrative adventure game developed by indie studio No Code. It created quite the buzz among interactive fiction communities around the time of its release. When you look it up, the first thing that pleased the eye was the bold, red logo. Its depiction of computers, that existed before most of its audience, floated across the screen. And there was the oh so familiar sound of 80s synthesizers.
Nintendo’s Most Successful Simulation Game
Animal Crossing is one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. It’s a game that reminds us of the small things in our lives and caresses you in a world where violence and deceit is not needed to win. There is no ending and no general goal in Animal Crossing. All you need to do is live and wander across the land you stumbled upon.
Ribbit King – also known in Japan as Kero Kero King – is a golf game that came out on the Gamecube in 2003 and on Playstation 2 in 2004. It was developed by Jamsworks and published by Bandai. It was rather obscure in the U.S. when it first came out.
A vast majority of people weren’t aware of this game, unless scoping out rarities on the Gamecube was a hobby of theirs or they’re a faithful Nintendo Power reader. I was a part of the latter.