As Shakespeare famously said, “There are more games in itch.io, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your Steam.” And just as Shakespearean contemporary Sir Walter Raleigh returned from the new world bearing the potato, I have ventured into the new world of itch.io to bring to you the very butteriest of potato treats.
A top-down WASD and mouse shooter with a mech theme, weapon upgrades, and apparently you’re a potato? Small, functional, you’ve got better games on your phone, possibly even on your watch, but well done KorinOo for making something that works.
Yep, there are a few with this name. This one promised ZX Spectrum art and grappling hook-enabled platforming action, a kind of spudulike Flinthook. Unfortunately the control to fire the grapple doesn’t always work, so I couldn’t progress beyond the second flip-screen. Not so much Pota-TO as Pota-TOSS.
That doesn’t work, does it? I’m trying here.
The Infinite Potato Complex
Developed for BitSlap’s potatosalad jam, this is a functional proof of concept with pretty pixel art. Videogame consumers don’t need to see this, but if you’re a student you might want to take a look. It executes a lot of common game systems competently: health, currency, enemy spawning, animation, upgrades, game levels, and so on.
It’s utterly without ambition and entirely functional, which makes it the opposite of a Peter Molyneux game. This is the very definition of a potato.
Potatoman Seeks the Troof
Okay, check this trailer:
Is your interest not piqued? This is a knotty little platformer. Potatoman walks and hops through trippy block-coloured landscapes, encountering the gnomic wisdom of its inhabitants and utterly unguessable platforming puzzles.
The unpredictability of the gameplay is charming at first – a cactus that you were jumping over a moment ago might suddenly leap into the sky, or burst into hundreds of clones – but it quickly becomes a memorisation drag as enemies or obstacles don’t foreshadow their movements, inevitably sending you back to the checkpoint. Cudos to the city level for being genuinely tense though, and for the soundtrack’s solid beats.
Oh hey, this looks good
Howard Phillips Lovecar doesn’t have anything to do with potatoes but it showed up in my recommendations after I downloaded Infinite Potato Complex so I gave it a try. Turns out it’s pretty okay!
You drive a jalopy from a top down perspective, handling with squirrelly PSX-era Grand Theft Auto vehicle physics, blasting away at cultists to stop them summoning enormous old ones that lumber and groan around the screen. It has a cool, Devolver-y sepia palette, and the monster designs are pretty sweet, but you’ll see the entire game within one minute. Worth a spin over your lunchbreak.
Now that we’re ignoring the article premise
Vektor 2089 is an 8-bit demake of Wipeout. This is clearly a good idea. Tracks are full of hairpin bends, slaloms and choke points, and succeeding requires judicious use of both the boost (which can overheat if abused) and the airbreak that enables you to drift.
Competitors leave a ribbon of afterglow from their engines, and the smart rubber banding means that you’re never more than a few seconds from picking up the next intoxicating trail. Though still in early access, this is the easiest recommendation so far.
Oh hey cool I already have something in my account!
At some point in the past I must have created an Itch.Io account to buy Mona, a short story by Leigh Alexander. The titular Mona is an insular, lost young woman in New York, a gamer with aspirations to use her hobby to ‘make it’, even if she doesn’t know what that means.
Mona’s character is obviously talented, obviously insecure, and haunted by the idea that there is some right way to be that she isn’t good or successful or smart enough to embody. Written with gentle humour and a sense of tragedy, this is well worth your time.