As you may have seen by now, we have just announced our plans for this year’s Fantastic Arcade — the yearly games festival we curate and organize at the Alamo Drafthouse alongside the theater’s renowned genre film fest, Fantastic Fest.
Most excitingly, as we did last year, JUEGOS RANCHEROS has commissioned brand new games which will premiere at the festival, from some of our favorite devs, many of whom will be familiar to attendees of our recent meetups (this was our secret orientation plan!).
This year’s cabinets will include new games from: Ojiro ‘Moppin‘ Fumoto, creator of Downwell (above left), together with his frequent collaborator Momo ‘nemk‘ Murakami (who created the Downwell illustration at top), as well as Nathalie Lawhead, a new festival mainstay behind the Tetrageddon Games series (above right), which took home the Nuovo Award at the 2015 Independent Games Festival.
We’ll also have a new game from Netherlands collective Sokpop, made up of the devs behind games like the incredible low-fi sci-fi exploration game Bernband (above left), as well as Klondike, the French indie supergroup whose members include the devs of games like Mu Cartographer and the KO_OP-published Orchids to Dusk (above right).
In addition to that, we’ll also be constructing a brand new cabinet for ALPHABET (above), the game co-created by Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy designer Keita Takahashi and JUEGOS RANCHEROS co-founder Adam Saltsman. The game was previously only available to Kickstarter backers, and is now being given a wider exhibition for all Fantastic Fest and Fantastic Arcade attendees.
Below the fold is the first press release for the upcoming 2016 Arcade with more information on our arcade cabinets and the first ten games we’ve chosen as our Spotlight selections.
I’ve taken the liberty of adding a number of links, images and videos to all the games detailed below for better context — scroll to the bottom to take a longer look! All of us here are looking forward to seeing you all at this year’s Arcade!
FANTASTIC ARCADE RETURNS TO THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WITH NEW GAMES FROM THE CREATORS OF DOWNWELL, PAPERS PLEASE, HOHOKUM & MORE
SEPTEMBER 26 – 29, 2016
International Games Festival Features Lineup Of Independent Games, Including Premiere Games, Alongside Major Publisher Showcase
AUSTIN, TX – August 10th, 2016 – Organizers of Fantastic Arcade have announced the September 26th return of its yearly festival, which showcases the best in independent games. Now in its seventh year, Fantastic Arcade is held in conjunction with Alamo Drafthouse’s Fantastic Fest, the world’s largest genre film festival. This year’s festival will see the premiere of brand new games from the creators of beloved indie titles like Downwell, Bernband, Orchids to Dusk and more.
These never-before-seen games will be featured in custom-built, free-to-play arcade cabinets at the Highball event center throughout the duration of Fantastic Fest. They will be displayed alongside a selection of more than 30 independent games from around the world. The first ten of these selected games will make up this year’s Arcade Spotlight, and come from both new developers and returning Fantastic Arcade fan-favorites.
In addition to the selection of free play games on display throughout the entirety of Fantastic Fest, Fantastic Arcade will once again feature a number of special events, panel discussions, developer talks, and game tournaments from September 26th through 29th. All games and related events at Fantastic Arcade are free and open to the general public at the Alamo South Lamar theater and adjoining Highball. More information about these special events will be released in the coming weeks, including information on this year’s free ticketing system, which will ensure seat availability at each event or panel.
The 2016 lineup of games have been chosen from nearly 250 submissions by Juegos Rancheros, Austin’s independent games collective operated by Adam Saltsman, Wiley Wiggins, Katie Kizziar, Rachel Simone Weil, and Brandon Boyer, alongside Fantastic Arcade Technical Director Joshua Fields.
In addition to selecting the showcase lineup, the Juegos Rancheros team have incubated four of the games that will be premiering at the festival in custom-created arcade cabinets, alongside an assortment of arcade curiosities by artists like Eye of the Pyramid’s Alan Watts and Katamari Damacy creator, Keita Takahashi.
“Fantastic Arcade is to the world of indie gaming what Fantastic Fest is to genre and cult film,” noted Wiley Wiggins, Juegos Rancheros co-founder and Fantastic Arcade Director. “It’s not like any other festival or trade show. It’s a party where the best and brightest outsider talents come to enjoy the company of their audience: both die-hard fans and newcomers. This year, we’ll feature new games from developers whose work has caught our eye again and again with its ingenuity, uniqueness, and artistic flair.”
Dozens more additional games will be announced as part of the full Fantastic Arcade lineup in the coming weeks, alongside special nightly tournaments — an annual fan-favorite tradition — exposition plays, panel discussions, and developer talks.
This year’s Premiere games will be created by:
Having recently come to international renown through the breakout success of his first game, Downwell, Ojiro “Moppin” Fumoto will be debuting a new game created in conjunction with graphic artist Momo “Nemk” Murakami. Both recognized as peerless creators in indie gaming, Fumoto and Murakami are both featured subjects of the just-released feature film Branching Paths, documenting the rise of independent game creation in Japan.
Fresh off her back-to-back Fantastic Arcade appearances with her 2014 Showcase game Offender II and 2015 Spotlight game Froggy, multidisciplinary game designer Nathalie Lawhead will be debuting a Premiere game for 2016. Lawhead is best known for her Tetrageddon Games series, which was honored with a Nuovo Award at the 2015 Independent Games Festival, a category which celebrates the best abstract and unconventional games.
Collectively hailing from the Netherlands, and made up of members Tom van den Boogart, Aran Koning, Tijmen Tio & Rubna, the new supergroup has quickly established itself one of the most reliably creative forces working in games. The collective is best known for games like the abstract alien-city sci-fi simulator Bernband, as well as Digital Bird Playground, recently showcased at the 2016 Game Developer Conference’s chill-out games lounge, Mild Rumpus.
Collectively hailing from various points around France, this ten-strong group of developers has proven itself an incredibly prolific powerhouse of understated games with bold & beautiful aesthetics. Among its members’ best known recent works are the short-form wandering experience Orchids to Dusk, as well as the experimental treasure hunt Mu Cartographer.
Game titles, screenshots and other details from these teams’ ongoing work will be revealed closer to their festival debut.
In addition to these four brand-new works, Fantastic Arcade will also be debuting a new miniature arcade cabinet containing ALPHABET, a game by Keita Takahashi, the cult-legend designer of Namco Bandai’s Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, co-created with Juegos Rancheros co-founder Adam Saltsman. Previously only available to a select group of Kickstarter backers, the cabinet will for the first time bring the game to the wider audience of Fantastic Fest and Fantastic Arcade attendees.
In addition, the following ten Arcade Spotlight titles will be highlighted during Fantastic Fest, chosen from the nearly 250 games submitted to this year’s festival.
Everything (David O’Reilly)
Everything is a game in which everything you see is a playable character, allowing you to be anything you want, and to experience the same world through thousands of points of view. Everything was created by visionary animator David O’Reilly, creator of the 2014 Fantastic Arcade Spotlight game Mountain, and collaborator on Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her.
Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
In 1802, the merchant ship “Obra Dinn” set out from London for the Orient with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later it hadn’t met its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope and was declared lost at sea. On October 14th, 1807, the Obra Dinn drifted into port with sails damaged and no visible crew. Players will find means to board the ship and recover the Crew Muster Roll book for assessment in Return of the Obra Dinn, created by designer Lucas Pope, known best for his multiple award-winning Papers, Please.
Knuckle Sandwich (Andrew Brophy)
In this modern day homage to cult-classic oddball 16-bit era RPGs like Earthbound, Knuckle Sandwich follows a boy who sets out looking for work in a new city. After landing a job at a run-down diner, he finds himself wrapped-up in a missing persons mystery that involves a local crime gang and a fanatical cult.
Loot Rascals (Hollow Ponds)
Crashed on a hostile alien world in the depths of space, Loot Rascals sees players fighting their way to freedom with only their wits to keep them alive. The debut work by upstart studio Hollow Ponds, Loot Rascals was created by the team behind Sony’s innovative exploration game Hohokum, with art by David ‘Swatpaz’ Ferguson, the underground animation legend known best for his Adventure Time guest-episode, ‘Water Park Prank’.
Manifold Garden (William Chyr)
Manifold Garden is an exploration puzzle game that imagines a universe with a different set of physical laws. Set in an Escher-esque world filled with secrets and mysteries, learn to see the world through whole new perspectives as you navigate mind-boggling architecture and solve seemingly impossible puzzles.
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor (Sundae Month)
Take in the trash… Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is an anti-adventure game about picking up trash in an alien bazaar. Play as the Janitor, an Alaensee girlbeast with a municipally-subsidized trash incineration job who dreams of leaving the planet of Xabran’s Rock far behind her.
Hidden Folks (Adriaan de Jongh & Sylvain Tegroeg)
Hidden Folks is a game like Where’s Waldo?, but black and white and interactive, in which players find little people in tiny landscapes, lifting doors, pressing buttons, and shaking trees.
Yankai’s Triangle (Kenny Sun)
Following his 2015 Fantastic Arcade guest appearance, Circa Infinity’s Kenny Sun returns with his first Spotlight title, a colorful, recursive puzzler that slowly stretches out like a folding kaleidoscope of infinite triangles.
Orchids to Dusk (Pol Clarissou & KO_OP)
Orchids to Dusk is a short contemplative wandering experience about being an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes left to live. Created by Vignettes designer Pol Clarissou of French indie collective Klondike, in partnership with Montreal indie studio KO_OP.
TumbleSeed (Greg Wohlwend, Joel Corelitz, Benedict Fritz, Jenna Blazevich & David Laskey)
TumbleSeed is the dual-stick “rolly rogue-like” debut from a Chicago-area supergroup of developers and designers, whose members have variously contributed to indie game favorites like Hohokum, The Unfinished Swan, Ridiculous Fishing, Threes!, and Solipskier.