How do four indie games end up on the PS3? With a bit more cash than is easily gathered, as it turns out. Sportsfriends is going to be a compilation of four multiplayer-focused indies that have a strong social, party-game aspect, but transforming the current code into something suitable for PSN is going to take a Kickstarter campaign to finance. The compilation is headed by Johann Sebastian Joust, which has been making the convention rounds for almost two years now and gaining awards wherever it goes, so it’s about time it became available to the world at large. Bringing along three other games by different artists, each with their own take on multiplayer gaming? That’s party gaming riches beyond all reasonable expectations.
While Johann Sebastian Joust is the headliner, it’s also the hardest to call a “video” game. JSJ is a designed specifically for the Move controller, and during actual gameplay has no graphics to speak of. You carry a Move controller very carefully and the tempo of the music indicates how much jostling it can take before you’re disqualified. Your opponents are doing the same, everyone is within a few steps of each other, and you’d better believe physical contact is allowed. The last person with an active controller wins. The potential for chaos is limited only by your horrible, twisted imagination.
The other three games are more traditional, in that they at least have a visual component, but are no less socially focused. BariBariBall is a team game about crazy air jumping while trying to dunk a ball into the water on your opponent’s side of the screen. Super Pole Riders involves kicking a ball on a line into your opponent’s goal, except you’re controlling a pole vaulter and the physics are both maddening and very funny to watch people flail away at. Finally, Hokra is a minimalist sports game pitting two teams of two players each against each other, each trying to get a black pixel into the goal on their corners of the screen, and the incredibly simple rules are designed to stay out of the way while teamwork takes the foreground.
What makes each of these games special is that there’s zero online components for any of them. These are designed to be played with friends in the same room, and the more people available the better. The Kickstarter is off to a good start, but the goal is still a long ways off. If you’ve got a PS3, PC, Mac, or Linux machine, plus any number of friends, it’s definitely worth your time to take a look at all the lovely potential mayhem waiting for you.