The Lord spoke to me, and he said toKill those mofos and take their money!

Toronto Gets Whiff of TOJAM, sans Earl

Referencing obscure SEGA games is all the more entertaining and relevant when it's used as a lead in for a post about video games, wouldn't you agree?

And this hits a nice level of awesome. A few weeks ago there was a complete geek-out of a slumber party, as some of Toronto's most promising up and coming game developers gathered together for a weekend of non-stop designing, programming, and caffeine pill popping. The fruits of the weekend are finally being released for free to the public.

Expecting God Of War would be a little much, but if you got a hankerin' for some high-on-concept lo-fi gaming (with super low system requirements), then hit the jump for some pungent TOJAM.

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The idea is that it shouldn't take 4 years and 10 million dollars to make a fun game. In fact, some games take even longer, cost more money, and suck thrice the ass. The organizers of TOJAM proved last year that it is indeed possible to make something fun and entertaining in as little as 3 days, which is exactly how long the indie developers had to create their minimal masterpieces.

In keeping with the spirit of last year's TOJAM, this year's event was not a competition or a conference or anything like that. It was a gathering of like-minded individuals from varying backgrounds coming together to collectively produce as much rad as possible. No one was allowed to bring in any assets they'd worked on previously; only ideas in their brains were permitted (and event then only because the mind-reader TOJAM organizers had hired was out of town on family business).

The games are now getting posted and are available as free downloads. Some of them require you to install the software, while other can run directly in your web browser. They're simple to look at, easy to understand, and most importantly they're fun to play. Past competitors have gone on to win awards with future titles (notably Jonothan Mak and his ever-in production game Everyday Shooter, which, as soon as it's available will be getting a review and developer interview here on blogTO). If you got some time to kill, which you obviously do, check out the games section which will be getting updated frequently over the coming weeks to include all the games, some of which are described below.

Xiq: This is a game all about trapping those asshole triangles by shooting out lines in all directions to form boxes around them. Said to be akin to the likes of Qix and Vectrex, I'd also say the mechanic resembles the seminal Buster Bros. game.

Benny Hinn's Bible Blast for Cash: Remember Super Smash TV or Zombies Ate My Neighbors on the Genesis/SNES? This is just like that, except your goal is to liberate the citizen's of Toronto for their cash. How do you do that? Sell bibles by "shooting" them at the people. If you stun an atheist, touch them for bonus bucks. Face off with the Devil and don't let him near your cash! This is pretty much the most accurate bible thumping game out there today.

Quiver: 2 players are required for this game. One controls the archer who kills the monsters, the other is the dungeon master who creates the monsters to kill the hero. Like a top-down version of Alien Shooter with basic (yet surprisingly fluid) graphics. Not too many games put the player in control of the dark lord commanding an army of minions while the other controls the lone hero, so this is totally worth checking out.

Giant Robo Battles: Author description is as follows, "Turn based strategy. Giant. Robo. Battles." Game has a quirky control issue wherein two players are required, and both have to share the mouse and keyboard for fast paced turn based combat. Take the time to learn the robots strengths, though, and it's a rewarding game.

Last Days of Earth: It's like Missle Command and Conquer. The basic premise is to kill the baddies before they hit your colony, but you also gotta create outposts with miners who turn debris into cash for you to upgrade your laser and missle command centers. If you don't quickly plan out your attacks ahead of time, consider yourself toast. Unexpectedly deep strategy for a game whose roots lie in the decades old Missle Command.

Lastly, TRISHADE: Arduro: This one is for the schmup fans (if you don't know what a schmup is, then you ain't a fan). And if you fall into that category, you undoubtedly know that the Gamecube/Dreamcast schmup Ikaruga is the undisputed king of the genre. The game had crazy amounts of bullets filling the screen which encouraged pattern memorization. The real treat, however, lied in the game's intuitive combo system involving chaining ship kills together for bonus points and higher powered blasters. TRISHADE: Arduro is Ikaruga-Lite, with a killer soundtrack composed in Reason and Cubase.

That's a brief wrap up of some of the games currently available. As I said earlier, keep checking back. Only 7 of the 27 games have been posted, so the organizers are trying to spread things out a bit to give each game its time to shine. TOJAMmers are promising that they really are saving the best for last. If you're starved for more right now, check out the games from the original TOJAM in 2006. Don't forget TOJAM's homepage, which comes with built in bouncing Space Invaders!


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