The two games I came away most impressed by during PAX East 2016 were in some ways the “Evolution” of the Mario Party franchise. Instead of focusing solely on the mini-game nature of Mario Party, and party games of its irk, these two games instead combine them into a sort of long-form challenge/fast-paced competitive titles. Those games were Marooners from M2H and Move or Die from Those Awesome Guys.
Of the two games, I found Marooners slightly more interesting. The game takes the concept of the mini-games and turns them into quick and chaotic bouts. Instead of focusing on a single mini-game at a time, players are quickly cycled through about half a dozen mini-games. These range from simple games like King of the Hill where you try to knock other players off a icey path to an Indiana Jones-esque boulder chase. Players are knocked out of each game independent of the other so you can be eliminated in 4 out of 6, but still compete in the remaining games. And even when you’re defeated, you can still cause pains for the other players by attacking in your ghost form.
To win, you need to collect the most coins throughout the various modes once a single player remains in each game. This allows for players to continue playing with all they got no matter which game knocked out of to maximize their own score or try to knock a few more points out of their opponent. It’s also really fun to watch someone survive a mini-game and somehow miss out on the final 25 point reward that drops once all other players are eliminated.
In addition to a fun and fresh experience, the art-style in the game is pretty stellar. The characters are simple archetypes like viking, pirate and eskimo, but all have a simple charm to them. The environments are lively and each feature one of your typical gaming themes, ice level, fire levels, grass, water, etc. The best part of it all, the game is currently available on Steam Early Access and features both on- and off-line multiplayer action.
The other game, Move or Die, is no slouch either. The big hook with this game is that you’re not allowed to stand around iding or “camping” as it were. The “Or Die” part of the game is represented by a meter that will start to deplete if you stand still for more than a second or two and if you don’t move… well you die.
Aside from that gimmick, this plays more or less like a traditional ladder style party game. At the start of a session, you pick from about a dozen different mini-games and the game will randomly select from the user selected pools. The minis included in this ranges from stuff like covering the most amount of arena in your color, hot potato with a bomb and simple deathmatch. To spice up the game even more, every few rounds a player is selected to pick a “modifier” for the round. This could be something as simple as being able to return as a ghost, but the more fun ones I found were stuff like making the players invisible when in motion or having the only viewing area be a tiny circle around each player. A fun addition to the game, and hope they continue to play around with those.
I’m also a fan of what they are doing with the character design, they seem to have a pretty simple template that they then put various characters into. Monsters, bananas, animals, random people heads and so much more. But more importantly, I liked that they allowed consumers to stop by their booth and come up with their own designs. Curious to see if any of them make it into the final version. Speaking of, the game is currently available on Steam and features online and local player for up to 4 players!