A birds-eye view of the level Too Many Trees in Marble Marcher.

Marble Marcher is a marble racing game by CodeParade. It plays a bit like a futuristic Super Monkey Ball tech-demo: race as a marble along an evolving procedurally-generated map to reach the finish flag.

The game has 24 maps available, each throwing you into different environment or challenge. Some levels evolve underneath as you make your way to the flag, meaning that you can never quite predict the correct path. You even face the risk of being crushed if the fractal closes in on you. Others offer a more technical challenge—fast and precise movement is required to get to the end of Beware of Bumps, or else you'll fall right off the fractal. There are even novelty ones: the object of Hole in One is to drop through a hole in the center of a fractal, to reach the flag on the other end.

Staring down the first level of Marble Marcher

This game is worth checking out purely because it's impressive from a technical standpoint. It uses a unique fractal physics engine with procedurally generated maps and ray-marched graphics. Because of this, this game is computationally intensive—the game requires a dedicated GPU to run at 60fps at a reasonable resolution. I'm unqualified to comment on the math, so it's worth checking out a short video from the developer that dives a bit deeper:

Sure, even though this game is mostly a tech demo, it's actually enjoyable. The variety of levels means it's easy to get about 30 minutes of enjoyment out of it, especially if you like Super Monkey Ball style games.

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Level 3 in Pagefault

Pagefault is a puzzle platformer, by tehpilot, built during the GMC Jam 33. You've lost some files, and you need to spelunk through the inner depths of your computer to find it again. 

This game takes place in a windows-inspired "desktop simulator," and you open and interact with different programs to play the game. In chat, you have an administrator who is walking you through locating different files on your system. They're the guiding hand as you platform through the file viewer, where you're actually platforming around, WASD-style. 

Later, the admin grants you access to a memory viewer program, which is an exciting twist. It shows the same level you're interacting within the file viewer, but the memory viewer can see things the file viewer can't. You even interact with the world differently—as mouse cursor on rails, traveling through walls and floors. While you're going through the levels, you also find and interact with different binary puzzles, and solve the binary puzzles that unlock doors to advance through the level. (Of course, the game provides an effective Instructions program that can sort your binary conversion troubles out, but it's not that hard to learn!)

Level 6 in Pagefault,showing the memory viewer

Pagefault was a totally unexpected find for me. As with many game jam games with clever mechanics like these, I wanted at least double the levels. I think there's more design space here for the developer to continue to add more content and challenge the player.

An exemplary level of Golf: Become Human

Golf: Become Human isn’t your average golf game. It’s not even a golf game, really.

The game description on itch.io keeps it simple: you play as a human turned golf ball, trying to complete trials to earn your humanity. A few minutes into playing this, I was exclaiming to friends that this game is “vaporwave, the game,” and oh boy, is that true—but I didn’t even know what I was really in for.

The first level, where the god teases you that you can get your body back.

An inversion of expectations

The game starts as a pretty average 3D platform golf game. You get how this game works instinctively—aim, click, and release to hit the golf ball toward the hole. You’ve seen golf games before, this isn’t much different.

The first three levels serve as a tutorial. A god-like character drops in, introduces each level, gives you some aesthetic quips and then leaves you on your way.

Everything changes and all sense of normalcy is disposed of when you hit level four. At the end of level four, the game transforms into a rubber band physics-based rock climbing game. “Figured a pair of arms would be useful,” the god quips when you start slingshotting around.

You, now walking around as a golf ball with toddler legs, in Golf: Become Human.

Skillfully applied wackiness

So once you get into the meat of the game—past level four, that is—Golf: Become Human hits its real stride. The game throws new mechanics at you, then augments them to increase complexity and to keep you guessing.

For instance, the rock climbing mechanic keeps evolving each time you encounter it, level by level. It starts off as a “climb to the top,” in the next level it adds corners, then animated bumpers, and then jumping springs and barriers. It skillfully builds from the underlying rock climbing game you found earlier into something devilishly complex and unexpected—but something I really wanted to bite into just so I could see what the game is going to do next with it.

It’s not just golf and rock climbing. There’s some platforming and flappy bird style gameplay too. You can also find the yellow flag hidden levels—which offer side-courses of gameplay varietals, like bowling and plinko.

Screenshot of Golf: Become Human, featuring bowling as a golf ball.

The ultimate mashup game of all time?

Yeah, this game is really vaporwave meets frog fractions meets the PGA tour series…with a jumble of other games you’d find in a discount bin heaped in too. That's a strength, not a crutch—everything feels at place here.

To accompany the vaporwave art aesthetic, Golf: Become Human includes its own lo-fi soundtrack from YouTube creators Lee and Zeeky Beats. The soundtrack is short and loops a few times. Once you’ve heard enough, feel free to sub in your own vaporwave soundtrack, from artists like Macintosh Plus or 2814.

Honestly, the origin of this game is mysterious to me. If you play through the credits—yes, the game gameifies the credits—you find that the game is made by a collective named “rootlads,” and lists some names in the credits, but I was unsuccessful in tracking any of them down. I weirdly suspect that there’s a deeper metagame to this, but I’m unable to find evidence of it. No social accounts, nothing. But the game is content-heavy and is polished deeply enough that it’s a surprise to see that the creators are nowhere to be found, short of posting the game.

Gameplay Tip:

There’s honestly a few bugs. The game can crash from time to time, mainly while aiming golf balls—wait for the green flash before clicking. If the game does crash, you can press R after relaunching to pick up at the checkpoint you left off at.
Oh, and strokes don’t really seem matter—or at least, I didn’t bother to three-star every course. The game always lets you continue to the next level.

A landscape shot of one of the last levels of Golf: Become Human, featuring the rock climbing in the distance.

Depending on how you feel about this sort of irreverent jokey complexity, Golf: Become Human may sound either fantastic or terrible to you, but you should really play it. It changes in ways that keep you guessing, in an irresistible sort of way that just made me searching for another hidden level, or to keep seeing how the game will evolve next.

My playthrough of Golf: Become Human took about an hour and a half. It made for a very delightful Sunday evening game. Golf: Become Human is available on itch.io for Windows.

A screenshot of level 3-3 in Ghosts Took My Camera, a platformer.

Ghosts Took My Camera is a puzzle platformer made by Vimlark, during the 8 Bits to Infinity Puzzle Jam.

You’re a ghost hunter, chasing three ghosts that keep stealing your camera. Complete platforming puzzles to catch up to the ghosts, get your camera back, and capture pictures of these ghosts.

The platforming puzzles use a combination of crates, springs, keys, locks and fans to create varied levels which slowly ramp in difficulty.

A ghost you capture a photo of.

Ghosts Took My Camera is fairly well polished for a jam game. It took me about 30 minutes to play through all 12 levels. A solution video is available on the itch.io page if you get stuck. It’s available on itch.io for web and windows.

A screenshot of the main gameplay of Ramen Rave, showing a timer, ramen, eggs, and flavor packers.

Ramen Rave, by Andy Bae, is just your average cooking platformer—if a “cooking platformer” were a standard game genre. Tasked with making ramen for your friend Jammy’s birthday, you must use your platforming and utensil skills to make a perfect bowl of ramen. Shoot away flies and undesirable ingredients while allowing only right ingredients in—such as eggs and flavor packets.

Matching the quick preparation time of instant ramen, Ramen Rave is a fast mini-game experience that is done in just 3 minutes. The pressure stacks up as time goes on—more and more ingredients fly by, requiring you even more quickly and accurately, lest earn a lower score. When the timer runs out, your score is tallied up and added to the leaderboard.

Ramen Rave is available on itch.io for windows.