Though for die-hard RPG nuts it'll have been a red letter week with the release of Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins, it hasn't been enough to wean me off my daily regimen of pushing further into the Borderlands and compulsively playing through the two levels that make up the Left 4 Dead 2 demo (above, now fully released to the public) with each character, hoping for just one more scrap of rarely-triggered dialogue to more fully flesh out just who these characters are that I'll be spending most of the winter with. But it's without any facetiousness that I admit that there's one game release this week that's particularly pricked my ear: Lego Rock Band [Harmonix/TT Games, 360/PS3/Wii/DS] The Lego version of Harmonix's staple has taken its fair share of heat from purists for the unconventional pairing, but for a version of Rock Band targeted toward the youngest among us -- which is, it should be noted, LRB's central goal -- Lego seems just about the least offensive toy-aisle license for potential pairing, especially taken with the lightly chaotic and perfectly parodic tone TT Games has brought to its own Lego series to date (Star Wars, Batman, Indy Jones). LRB caters to the youths with an added Super Easy difficulty and other low-failure-rate options, shortened versions of certain tracks to keep the attention deficit constantly hammering away without wading through intro/outros, and a selection of family friendly songs honestly no less recognizably Rock Band (including, even, the series' first Vampire Weekend), and includes the ability to export all the tracks back to Rock Band 2 (for an additional charge) if your plastic-rock goes only so far. [And as a side note: on top of the console releases, I'm just as intrigued by (but have not had a chance to play) the DS version, which promises to bring Harmonix's classic multi-track single player experience established by its original PS2 games like Amplitude down to size, as it did with Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP, and did in lesser form with EA Mobile's iPhone version -- as seen in action here.] But the real reason I haven't had as much time as usual to make my way further through the bigger names is that, if you hadn't heard the faint eruption in the distance, the Independent Games Festival has unleashed the record 300+ strong list of entrants in this year's competition, which means (being a judge) a thorough playthrough of as many as my machine can handle. If you want a more compressed guide to start doing the same yourself, Tale of Tales has provided a YouTube/Vimeo playlist to see as many in action as are available on the video services, and UK outlet SavyGamer is laboriously compiling direct download links for all currently released games in one place here. Interestingly, one game that'd caught my eye just a day or two before the list was announced is one that presumably came out of hiding just to make that list: Rocketbirds: Revolution by Ratloop, creators of last year's "draw your own level solution" game Mightier. As you can see in the video above, the premise is quite easily summed as classic roto-scope-ish PC games like Out of This World, Blackthorne or Flashback meets Oddworld, done up gorgeously and playable online in Flash, with a wickedly darkly comic militaristic bent. Before you make your way through the rest, stop there first.
Just trying to live a wild, pure, simple life.