Inside the Indie Games Room at AVCon

A sneak peek into some new and upcoming games that appeared at AVCon.


Now in its eighth year, the Indie Games Room (IGR) is the prime area to check out new and upcoming games by local developers at the Adelaide Anime and Video Game Convention (AVCon). In previous years IGR has hosted many great local titles, including the popular 2D platformer Hollow Knight. Here are some standout games that on display in the IGR this year.

Cardboard Carnage by Cardboard Kids

Making its debut in 2019, Cardboard Carnage is a game developed by Cardboard Kids, a development team made of TAFE SA students. The game was made using Unreal Engine and is inspired by games like Psychonauts and similar games from the original Xbox – early Xbox 360 era (2003-2007). There is currently no release date for Cardboard Carnage.

Homeowner by Birdrun

Developed by William Newman and Ashleigh Hanson, Homeowner is a 2D top down survival game developed during a Global Game Jam. The premise of the game is trying to survive the daily life of being a homeowner. This is explored through maintaining your character through basic needs, like income, sleep, food and entertainment, similar to a Sim. Its pixel art style and colour palette are inspired by games created for the Commodore 64 in the 1980s. While Homeowner made its AVCon debut in 2019, Newman and Hanson have previously made appearances in IGR before. The game can be downloaded for free here.

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The team at Manatech in IGR.

Little Reaper by Little Reaper Games

Little Reaper is a 2.5D platformer that follows Ollie, the assistant to the Grim Reaper. Other titles like Ducktales and Hollow Knight have been listed as inspirations for this title. The game has been developed in the Unity game engine alongside C# coding. Little Reaper Games’ debuted at AVCon this year, but Little Reaper has appeared at Australian PAX, bar one, during its six-year development. Developer Adam Robertson says they hope to release the game on PC later in 2019. There are plans to port the game for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Check out their website here.

Manatech by Drunk Galah

Manatech is a top down fantasy twin stick shooter for PC. The game has players selecting characters to pit against each other in an arena during a time limit. Developer Peter Cowen said its art style was inspired by World of Warcraft (circa 2010) and Battlerite. Developed in Unreal Engine and this is the third time Manatech has been featured in the IGR at AVCon. While there is no release date so far, the developers plan on releasing to Steam Early Access within the next year with console ports coming later on. Check out Drunk Galah’s website here.

Rooftop Renegade by Melonhead Games

Returning for their second AVCon, Rooftop Renegade is a 2D side scrolling platformer set in a futuristic city. The game was developed using Unreal Engine and its art style is described by the developers as “Pixar meets sci-fi”. Melonhead Games held several competitions over the weekend around the game and were selling stickers of the game, which were designed by local artist Kayla Woods. They are hoping to sell Rooftop Renegade at the next AVCon.  For more information on Melonhead Games, check out our Spotlight feature here and their website here.

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Rooftop Renegade on display.

Tinker & Spell by Anthony Robinson

Developed in Unity, Tinker & Spell is a 2D Metroidvania side scrolling platformer made its AVCon debut in 2019. The game has been worked on by its developers for the last six months and has an anime-inspired art style. Its primary narrative focus is around a collapsed civilisation and magic working alongside robot tech. There is currently no release date for this game, but you can check out their The Rookies page here.

 


These are only some of the games on display in the IGR during AVCon in 2019. For a full list of the games present check out the link to the IGR website here.

Words and images by Cameron Lowe

 

An Overview of AVCon 2019

The weekend where Anime and Video Games rule Adelaide’s CBD.

The Adelaide Anime and Video Game Convention (AVCon) has been uniting a community of pop culture fans for sixteen years. It has also become the prime convention to try out upcoming local games and sample the latest anime series. There was a little bit of everything for everyone there, from gaming and anime, to indie art and cosplay.

Gaming Goodness

Gamers were spoiled for choice throughout the event. Nintendo were back again, giving the wider public a chance to try out their latest and greatest first-party games for the Nintendo Switch. StreetGeek returned, offering an old-fashioned LAN (Local Area Network) experience with games like CounterStrike: Global Offensive and StarCraft. Retrospekt offered a free chance to experience classic consoles like the Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo, as well as gaming magazines from the late 1990s-early 2000s. Numerous speed-runners and tournaments also took place for some extra fun. Games that could be played in tournaments included old favourites like Super Smash Bros. and League of Legends. Tabletop gamers were covered too, with a number of roleplaying and board games on offer to play, like Call of Cthulhu and Settlers of Catan.

 

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The Nintendo Switch stand

Anime Galore

Anime lovers were spoilt for choice as well. Madman’s stall was full of manga, anime and J-Pop artists. Some interesting things on sale at this stall were artbooks from the Studio Ghibli films. Animeworks sold a variety of Japanese anime figurines and toys. If shopping isn’t your thing, there are always plenty of screenings by Madman and Hannabee. Special guests this year included Paul St. Peter, the voice actor for Punch in Cowboy BeBop: The Movie and Kurama in Naruto, and a livestreaming event with Spike Spencer (Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion).

Indies Assemble

Indie artists has become one of the fastest growing areas of AVCon. Artist’s Alley is the place to go for fan made art to pick up something unique. One standout stall was The Bee’s Knees, where one could purchase a Splatoon heat-pack or select stickers and badges*. Conventions like AVCon are one of the few places where you can check out these artists with their work on display. The Indie Games Room (IGR) was the other main indie zone at the event. It is where Australian game developer’s community came to show off their latest projects. Games like Melonhead GamesRooftop Renegade and Drunk Galah’s Manatech were available to try out and offer feedback to the developers.

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Artist’s Alley

Cosplayer Paradise

The AVCon experience would not be complete without the almost endless number of cosplayers. All over the event, people came dressed as their favourite anime or video game characters. A personal favourite was a cosplayer dressed as Malon from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The places to check out the best of the best were in the Cosplay Competition and parades which occurred throughout the event. Anyone interested in Lolita also had a chance to learn more about the fashion or participate in a Lolita parade.

Verdict

AVCon is one of the prime pop culture conventions in Adelaide. With many great games to try out and pop culture goods to pick up, AVCon proved once again to be a success. If you haven’t been but love games and anime, definitely check it out when it returns next year. It is one of the many friendly places where you can check out pop culture in Adelaide.

 


Words by Cameron Lowe

 

* Connect with The Bees Knees through facebook, instagram, or etsy.

AVCon 2018

AVCon is a three-day festival that runs during July and signals the end to both the school and uni break. In 2017 it attracted over 20,000 visitors and this year I suspect that record was broken. It is a place where avid lovers of video games, cosplay, pop-culture, and anime come together to share that passion. Run entirely by volunteers, AVCon is an example of a small community coming together in real life as opposed to the forums many visitors undoubtedly frequent to discuss the latest in games, cosplay, and anime.

Walking through AVCon, where-ever you might be, it’s not unusual to hear someone gasp over a cosplayer, artwork, or piece of merchandise they’ve been coveting all year. Adelaide has a lot of amazing talent and, for me, that is where AVCon shines. Not only do we have a strong community surrounding anime and videogames, but we have a range of talented artists with varying art styles who converge to sell their wares and display their skill.

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CDW Stall at AVCon 2018, photography by Cameron Lowe

Each year the convention begins with the opening ceremony on the Friday evening—generally characterised by weekend and gold-pass holders gathering in the foyer of the Convention Centre for up to a couple of hours before the doors open. This year was the first year I attended the opening ceremony. We were introduced to the organisers, volunteers, special guests, and the spirit of AVCon with a skit which blurred the lines of dream and reality. The special guests for 2018 included Major Sam, Spike Spencer, Vera Chimera, Neil Kaplan, Beke, and Knitemaya who were all involved in panels across the weekend. The ceremony was followed by a screening of Ready Player One in conjunction with Hybrid World Adelaide.

With Saturday morning came a rush of people flocking in to enjoy the weekend. In the gaming hall there was a mixture of free-play and indie games, as well as some of the weekend’s gaming tournaments (which were also held on the Sunday). In the Exhibitors Hall there was a selection of stalls selling official merchandise as well as stalls promoting Marion and City Libraries, HIDIVE streaming service, and CDW Studios. Beyond the hall was the chaos of Artist Alley. Downstairs you could find panels, special guests, and anime screenings from both HIDIVE and Madman.

With the evening came the ever-popular quiz night with forty-nine tables competing for the prize and privilege of first place. Unfortunately, this year the quiz wasn’t as enjoyable as it has been in previous years with challenging questions and barely anything accessible to your non-gamer. Unfortunately, the winning team disappeared before they could claim their prize and their prize was passed on. I can only hope that next year’s questions will be better and more specific to avoid confusion and that next year’s winners will remain present.

The cosplay competition on Sunday was a wonderful display of talent from local and interstate cosplayers who cosplayed a range of people from games, anime, and pop-culture. Some had spent months on their costumes and others just a few sleepless days. One thing was consistent however, the attention to detail each cosplayer had for their costume, all doing a fantastic job of portraying their chosen character and their personalities. One highlight of the competition was seeing a Xenomorph come onto stage and break out into dance.

My highlight was, predictably, Artist Alley. I’ve always loved the scattering of stalls, the friendly faces, and familiar fan-art portraying characters I knew and didn’t, as well as those I’d long since forgotten. Artist Alley isn’t just fan art; Decay Comics, indie author Matt J. Pike (whose self-published book series Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor is set in Adelaide), and Anthony Christou (a full time visual artist) stood out from the crowd by providing their own unique work. Artist Alley had a wide variety of products on offer ranging from prints and badges all the way to socks and scarves printed with original designs.

I’ve always found that AVCon is what you make of it. It is a wonderful place to engage with the gaming, cosplay, Lolita, and anime communities here in Adelaide. It’s also a place to meet new people and form life-long friendships. It offers a sense of belonging for people of all ages and celebrates the talents of video game enthusiasts. Overall I’ve always found it a friendly environment and would recommend getting a friend or two and heading in next year if you can afford it.


Words by Kayla Gaskell

AVCon and Artist Alley: In conversation with Avery Andruszkiewicz and Ella Guildea

Ahead of AVCon cosplayers and vendors are preparing like mad for the three days a year when avid fans of anime, video-games, and general pop-culture converge on the Adelaide Convention Centre. AVCon is fast approaching (20-22nd July) and, as per tradition, it marks the end to both Uni and school break.

If you haven’t attended the convention before, it is, quite simply, a place where people of similar interests come together to celebrate anime, video-games, and the exciting work of a number of talented cosplayers and vendors.

Some of these vendors are local artists and can be found in Artist Alley and have provided both encouragement and inspiration to a number of artists and other creatives for many years. It’s not unusual to see people clutching their own sketch books or settled in a corner drawing throughout the weekend—I know that’s been me a few times!

In order to prepare for this year’s AVCon I sat down with Ella Guildea and Avery Andruszkiewicz, both of whom have attended a number of AVCons. Guildea even met her partner, Connor Madden, at the 2011 event, and he tables with her along with Sophie Ladd.

If you’re an AVCon aficionado you might recognise Avery Andruszkiewicz’s name already. Their design was selected to be on the AVCon shirts and merchandise for 2018. When speaking to Andruszkiewicz, I asked how they felt about their design being chosen and whether they’d expected it:

“Not really, but I definitely had all my fingers crossed for it. I was rather proud of my design this year, so I was really hoping to place, but winning the whole thing was a surprise! The other entries are always so amazing, I’m glad my design was picked.”

 

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AVCon Announcement of Avery Andruszkiewicz’s design.

 

Both Andruszkiewicz and Guildea have previously been involved with Artist Alley, Andruszkiewicz just for the 2017 event while Guildea will be tabling for the third year running with The Bees Knees (together with Ladd and Madden).

Andruszkiewicz says working in Artist Alley is: “a really great opportunity to meet and support other artists. But of course, the chance to get your work out there, and having people actually want to buy what you create is an amazing feeling.”

Guildea’s involvement with Artist Alley began when a friend asked her to table with them in around 2014. While that didn’t end up happening, in 2015 Guildea and Madden bought a badge maker, although “the final push for me to invest in a table at Artist Alley was really heavily inspired by artists Jac and Emerson from the table, Gutgeist! (http://gutgeist.tumblr.com). They travel every year from Melbourne to table at AVCon and were super helpful with guiding me on how to run my first table! I’m really grateful for the support they gave me.”

Much like the event itself, Artist Alley provides participants with a strong sense of community. Some artists get together ahead of the convention to work together cutting out stickers and pressing badges, essentially keeping one another motivated ahead of the event.

When I asked about the community of Artist Alley, Andruszkiewicz said that while they are still fairly new to it, it’s been quite welcoming. “Group orders to save money on shipping/get bulk buy discounts is not uncommon, as well as groups getting together to cut out stickers and press badges and such before a con. Working in a group can be great for motivation!”

One of Guildea’s highlights of the con experience “is the compassion and empathy vendors have for each other. On one of the days last year someone brought Krispy Kremes around to all of the tables, I’m not throwing hints or anything!”

 

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Ella Guildea, 2018.

 

This sense of community is evident in the level of support that artists offer to first timers. Andruszkiewicz and Guildea both offered some advice for anyone looking at getting involved in the 2019 event.

 

 

Advice from Andruszkiewicz:

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Avery Andruszkiewicz 2018.

 

“I always say just go for it, but definitely take the time to prepare. Use your resources. Don’t be afraid to ask artists for advice. A fellow artist by the name Hawberries (Twitter: @hawberries_) has put together a fantastic guide to art stalls, which was honestly my lifesaver for my first time, and I still reference it now.
Don’t table alone, it’s absolutely soul crushing. Either find a friend to split a table with (you save money on the table that way too, and that makes it easier to break even), or if you have enough stock for your own table (I’ll be blunt, you won’t for your first-time tabling), make sure you have a table buddy so you’re not there on your own.
Don’t go in with the mindset of making a profit, go because you want to and because you love what you do. Unfortunately, a lot of artists tend to come up at a loss at their first con, which can be disheartening, but even more so if you go with the exclusive intention of making money. Go, make friends, make connections, and as you gain experience, a following, and improve your art, the profits will come.

And to be harsh for a moment, prepare yourself for disappointment. There’s only a set amount of tables at any one convention, and the harsh truth of that is that artists get declined as a result. If you get declined, don’t let that overshadow your passion for art. Gather your resources again, work hard, and try again next time! Don’t let disappointment overshadow your love of the craft.”

 

Advice from Guildea:

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Ella Guildea, 2018.

 

“There’s a lot of Facebook groups which can be a really great influence for first timers – Aussie Con Artists is probably my favourite. However, the best way I’ve found to find the community is by networking at the conventions that you attend! Talk to your neighbours! Talk to that person who has the art style that you’ve totally fallen in love with!

Tough it out, keep it up and find what inspires you. Your first con might not be phenomenal, but if you’re passionate about vending, please keep it up!

Our first convention involved less than two weeks’ worth of prep, had 15 items in total, and featured the previously mentioned corkboard-ruler-blu-tack scenario. We now prep for significantly more than 2 weeks, stock over 125 different items, and have a nice easel to put our display board on so it doesn’t come crashing down every 20 minutes.

You’ll constantly grow and learn from your mistakes, and a lot of reflection as to how you can improve. You’re not going to become some sort of professional by the time of your first convention. Just throw yourself into it and learn!”


 

You can follow Avery Andruszkiewicz on Twitter @matte_bat_ or check out their Redbubble store https://www.redbubble.com/people/matte-bat/portfolio.

To contact Ella Guildea and The Bees Knees about commission work, see where they’re headed next, and keep updated about upcoming item releases, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thekneesofthebees

If you can’t make it to the convention check out their Tictail here: https://tictail.com/thekneesofthebees

Both artists are tabling this year at AVCon and are always up for a chat so don’t be afraid to stop by and say hello. When you do, don’t forget to mention this article!


 

Words by Kayla Gaskell

Mega Toy Fair 2018

The Adelaide Mega Toy Fair is the largest annual market for toys and collectables in Australia. This year’s event was held over the first weekend of June (June 2nd-3rd) at the Stirling Angas Hall in the Adelaide Showgrounds and marks 25 years since it began. I have been wanting to visit the Mega Toy Fair for years, but due to other commitments I never had time, this year I finally had the chance to visit. What I came out with was a thrilling, worthwhile experience that, without self-control, could have easily drained my bank account.

I arrived at the Mega Toy Fair right on opening time (10am) Saturday morning to a massive line up. The picture below shows me from the end of the line, near the Kidman Entrance gates. Seeing the line-up, I knew this was going to be an interesting event. The line eventually died down, much to the relief of anyone arriving later on.

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After paying the $7 entrance fee (I got concession, $8 for regular adult) I felt as though I had fallen down a hole into another dimension. The event was gigantic! Hundreds, possibly even, over a thousand stalls were before me. It was a collector’s paradise of things old and new; from pre-World War Two Hornby clockwork trains and a $35 statue of K-9 from Doctor Who to endless rows of Hot Wheels cars and a OO (1:76) scale model of The Flying Scotsman steam locomotive.

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My inner nerd went into overdrive browsing all of these tables, especially when I found the video games. At one table, I found a loose cartridge of Secret of Mana selling for $75 and a boxed copy of Mystic Quest Legend (Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in the US/Japan) for $100. While I did not buy these, I thought they were reasonably priced, as compared to game stores and eBay, which could have easily been double the price. One of my other encounters was discovering a copy of Harvest Moon on the SNES, a game that is rare in Australia. However, I suspected it to be a reproduction cartridge as it appeared too new and the cartridge art seemed off.

The Mega Toy Fair was a pop culture lover’s dream come true. I found Star Wars toys from the seventies and eighties on a vast majority of tables and a boxed Robot figurine from the original Lost in Space. To me, there were three things that really caught my interest out of this pop culture goodness. One was a Laserdisc copy of Star Wars: A New Hope. I did not ask for the price, but I found it to be a very unique piece and I would have bought it if I had a Laserdisc player. Another stand out piece was a collection of Star Trek: The Original Series figurines at the Starship Mawson stand. They were imported from the US and selling for $300, a price too steep for me at this moment. Although they were expensive, I found them to be beautifully crafted and would have gone well in my pop culture collection. The third was an Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead selling for $40. It is one of the things I eventually caved and bought.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the Mega Toy Fair. It was well worth the trip through to the other dimension, where pop culture and my childhood took over. I will certainly be going back to it next year. I can only hope I have more money on me and more space available to use up at home.        


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe 

Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair 2018

 

Despite being a small city, Adelaide has a number of pop culture conventions, one being the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair. Now in its fourth year, the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair is held around the Adelaide CBD and this year’s April 28th event was held on the first level of The German Club on Flinders Street. I decided to make my first visit and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I felt at home right as I entered the room, after paying the $2 entry fee. I found figurines from popular franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Action Man filling the tables inside. The variety of them was diverse, from boxed Farscape figurines selling at $15 to a $500 boxed Black Series Boba Fett with Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Alongside all of these were Lego (but not actual Lego) sized figurines of super-heroes selling for $10-15 each. Whether it be for starting a toy collection, or finding your favourite childhood toy, the Comic and Toy fair had it all.

 

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For retro game collectors, the Comic and Toy Fair did not disappoint. There were boxes full of games, mainly from retro consoles like the Sega Saturn and PlayStation 2. Many games were the usual shovelware titles, but there were some hidden gems. One gem was a copy of Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (case included) for the Nintendo DS selling for $40. Perhaps the most impressive find was a copy of Final Fantasy V (cartridge only) for the Super Famicom selling for $7[1]. Speaking of the Super Famicom, one was on sale for $130 with its box for any willing game fan.

For bookworms, the Comic and Toy Fair had enough books to quench your thirst for reading. There was a little a bit of everything, from the classic Doctor Who Target Books series to old encyclopedias of the Star Trek universe. Comic book fans were also spoiled for choice, having a wide selection of comics from both the past and present. Both Greenlight Comics and Gamma Rays had a presence, offering the usual $2-$4 range of old single-issue superhero comics to trade paperbacks of V for Vendetta. Alongside these were comics from Adelaide indie comic writers like Darren Koziol of Dark Oz, and Dr. Mike 2000 of the Universe Gun series. Fans of the DECAY series could pick up the final issue for $12 from Koziol himself.

 

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The final interesting part of the Comic and Toy Fair was the presence of two Adelaide pop culture clubs. These clubs were Starship Mawson and TinTin Club Australia, with the former being the prime Adelaide sci-fi fan club. Some memorabilia from Lexicon, a recent pop culture exhibition at Unley Museum, was on sale too, including a framed 1960s Spiderman comic being sold at the Starship Mawson table for $90. For anyone who might be interested in joining these club, I recommend looking them up and getting in contact.

Overall, the 2018 Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair was a worthwhile experience. It was a fun day out where you could find a hidden gem and discover more of the Adelaide pop culture scene. I recommend anyone who is interested in pop culture expos like AVCon and Supanova to go check out the Comic and Toy Fair next time it is held.

If you are interested in pop culture and toy collecting, the Mega Toy Fair will be on at Adelaide Showgrounds (June 2nd-3rd). For more information, click the link here.


[1]WARNING: Super Famicom games will not work on your Australian Super Nintendo (SNES). This is due to region lock. To play a Japanese game, you will need either a Super Famicom, or a third-party region-free system. Another word of warning: Super Famicoms run on the Japanese 110V power setting, well below the Australian 230V standard. To prevent possible motherboard frying or a fire, you must buy a step-down convertor.


Words by Cameron Lowe

‘Harvest Moon’ is the antidote to your 2017 hangover (A New Year’s Suggestion)

So I think we can all agree that 2017 was a trash fire of a year. And while I’m cautiously optimistic that 2018 will be better, just in case, it’s good to have something to combat all the possible stress that this brand new year could unexpectedly unleash.

And there’s nothing quite as good to destress (that’s legally available) than virtual farming.

Harvest Moon is one of those classic video game series, like Mario or Zelda, with editions for most consoles, stretching back from Harvest Moon (1996) on the SNES, with following titles on the N64, Gamecube, the Wii, WiiU, on each Gameboy/DS/3DS handheld console, and the Switch. But far from being a Nintendo exclusive, you can also find these games made for the Playstation 1, 2, 3, the PSP and Vita. Last year Natsume even released games for Windows (available through the Steam store) and on Android. I can think of few other series with as wide a market reach. And all this for a simple farming game.

Keep in mind this list also includes the spinoff series (Rune Factory – which added dungeon crawling and fighting monsters to the usual farming gameplay) and the split which saw the North American distribution taken over by XSeed and create their own rival series, Story of Seasons. But as this was originally all once a part of the Harvest Moon brand, I’ll be including them in this discussion.

But what makes Harvest Moon such a successful franchise? Why have there been so many copycat games, most notably the thrillingly successful Stardew Valley (now even available on the Switch! Not bad for an indie title)? Why is a game with no combat, little customisation and no online multiplayer continually selling well enough to keep the franchise going for over twenty years? As someone who has played almost all of these games I think it comes down to a few factors.

 

It’s like real life but not.

Firstly, there’s something about simulation games that you don’t get in other genres. Here you are the master of your world. While you’re not quite playing God as you are in The Sims, Harvest Moon gives you a plot of land and says go at it. You are able to craft the farm of your dreams, cultivating whatever crops you desire, raising cows and sheep and chickens and (sometimes) pigs and goats and llamas, or not. You could also skip the farming all together and make your money from foraging in the local forest for berries and acorns, or become a professional fisherman, or miner. Or all of the above. The choice is yours.

 

It’s also a romance sim.

In addition to farming, you’re expected to integrate into the local village community, court one lucky bachelor or bachelorette (depending on the game. Unfortunately same-sex couples are not an option, although you CAN have a “friendship ceremony” with a same-sex villager in Harvest Moon DS and Harvest Moon DS Cute), get married and (usually) have a child. Each game comes with a choice from about 5 (or 10) eligible young people each with their own backstory, personality and lists of likes and dislikes. Some games even feature romantic rivals, who will move in if you’re not fast enough, so get cracking on that daily gift-giving. Each romance option comes with a list of milestones and cutscene events which are the closest thing to an actual story plot in most of these games, and all lead up to the big moment where you can propose with a blue feather (the game’s version of an engagement ring). It’s usually possible to romance more than one person to get as many cutscenes as possible, but usually you need to pick just one guy or girl by the end. Just don’t expect any explicit reward at the end. This game is exceedingly PG and child-friendly. Even the process of becoming pregnant and having a kid is vague and random. And your new virtual family won’t necessarily help you with your farm and your child may never grow up (in most games anyway), which can be a bit existentially concerning, but it’s the milestone at which you could consider the game finished, because,

 

You can farm forever.

Dean
Look at all the muscles he got from picking flowers and nothing else.

In almost all the games, there is no real END. You just play until you get bored and move on. For me this usually happens after the second year or so, once I’ve married my beau and fulfilled whatever other story plot requirements there may be – most recently I’ve been playing Harvest Moon Skytree Village, and only now do I get to properly court my masculine red-headed flower shop man. Forcing the bulk of the romance into post-story content is a devious trick to extend the playability of this game, but there’s also enough new collectables unlocked to keep you busy.

 

The Collectables

If you’re a completionist, you will either love or hate these games. There are long lists of crops, animals, animal products, forgeable items, fish and more to collect in each game, as well as lists of villagers met, building upgrades, and – my favourite – recipes. Cooking in this game is usually only available once you upgrade your house to build a kitchen and/or buy some kitchen utensils, and can be a great way to increase the value of your produce (ie, boiled egg can be shipped for more G than raw eggs), as well as creating dishes which can be given to villagers as gifts or entered into the cooking festival. For the games that list a pokedex-like recipe book, I’ve literally created spreadsheets based of the lists available in the Wiki’s to systematically unlock each recipe – because I’m the kind of person who likes lists and spreadsheets – and yes it’s very satisfying to tick off every soup and salad and main and dessert and flick between your completed lists. It’s way more exciting than actual cooking.

 

In summary, these games are the ultimate de-stress, zone-out anthesis to your busy life. Every aspect of life has been simplified and shrunk down into a series of simple repetitive tasks, in a world where pregnancy happens by throwing sparkles over a female cow, you can till an entire 3”x3” square with a big enough swing, and spamming the local library girl with pink flowers every day will eventually lead to your wedding day despite the almost entirely one-sided conversation. It’s a world where there are only 30 days to a season, 4 seasons to a year, and people get “drunk” off grape juice at the local tavern. There’s always a goddess living in a lake, a series of tiny sprites you can recruit to do your chores, and summer will always bring a hurricane or two which will drop rocks on your fields and kill your crops. Every game is essentially the same framework in a different skin and trimmings, but there’s something oddly comforting – and addicting – in that reliability.


Words by Simone Corletto.

20170920_080752Simone Corletto is an Adelaide-based YA and Science-Fiction writer. She’s performed her work numerous times for Speakeasy and at the National Young Writers Festival. Her first co-edited anthology, Crush, was published by MidnightSun Publishing this year. Her work has also appeared in Empire Times, Double Helix, RiAus, and the 2017 Visible Ink anthology “The End”. She spends her spare time crocheting lumpy hats, writing about teenage superheroes, and telling people about her science degree. She tweets at @SimCorWrites

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (A New Year Suggestion)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is undeniably one of the greatest video games ever created. First released on the Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1998, it was developed and published by Nintendo and was the first 3D entry in The Legend of Zelda series. Now, twenty years later, I wish to celebrate this title by discussing it and how it inspired me to become a writer.

Ocarina of Time was a ground-breaking title at the time of its release. It was one of the first open world games where a player could ride a horse, explore secrets, and participate in side-quests. Its main quest, however, is the real prize. Players take Link, the playable protagonist, through numerous dungeons, each one unique to its region, travel through time between the present and future, all as part of the epic quest to saving Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, from the hands of Ganon.

My introduction to this game came sometime in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The N64 was the family game console and my parents had bought the game cheap from Blockbuster. I spent countless hours of my childhood exploring the world of Hyrule, attempting to rescue Princess Zelda, all the while going fishing and looking for secret caves. For a younger me, its wide-open world, engaging narrative, and many secrets were what kept making me return to it and what kept inspiring me.

Ocarina of Time started the fire that made me want to be a writer. Some of my earliest fiction works were fanfictions of the game, all of which containing my own unique, original spin on the game. I had even started to imagine my own versions of Hyrule, each one with a unique storyline and style.

There was one aspect of the game though that really fuelled my growing imagination: a group of enemies called ReDeads. ReDeads are zombies that are nothing more than skeletal beings with browned skin, a mask-like face, and the power to paralyse and suck the life from Link. Hearing their low-pitched moans in a dungeon always made my hairs stand on end and frightened me enough sometimes not progress any further. The terror of them continued beyond the game, into my nightmares. It’s in my mind that they were suddenly more frightening and powerful, a trope which later made me fall in love with zombies and the horror genre.

Although aged in contrast to its successors in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still a fantastic game. It’s the game that inspired me to be a writer and fall in love with hideous creatures of the night. Its narrative and storytelling still remain engaging 20 years on and hopefully will continue to inspire people to become writers for years to come.

For anyone who’s interested in video game writing, wanting to play an inspiring game, or just want to play a great game for 2018, then go play Ocarina of Time. If you want an updated experience of this game which is gorgeous to look at and play, pick up the remake of the game on Nintendo 3DS. If you want that same experience I had, but on a modern console, it’s available on Wii U Virtual Console for about $15AUD. If you have neither a Wii U nor 3DS, you can pick up the original N64 cartridge, or the special edition of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on Nintendo GameCube where it’s an extra disc. These options may be more expensive due to their age and increasing rarity.


Words by Cameron Lowe.