Alex Ritman rounds up some of the latest and coolest-looking gaming projects worth throwing your dirhams at, plus a couple of sneak peaks.
Independent gaming gets a boost from crowdfunding
Having first burst on to the scene last year, crowdfunding now appears to be almost as ubiquitous as toast. But it's not restricted to earnest documentaries or heartfelt charity projects. Even the gaming world is at it, with hundreds of programmers eager to get your cash – whatever the amount – for a whole variety of curious adventures. Here are a few of the tastier-looking projects you could get involved in.
Double Fine Adventure
When Tim Schafer of the San Francisco-based Double Fine Productions announced he was starting a crowdfunding campaign for a new point-and-click adventure in February, there was rather a lot of excitement, largely because Shafer was involved in such legendary classics as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. The US$400,000 (Dh1.5m) target was soon beaten, with a rather astonishing $3m raised. While the Kickstarter campaign has now closed, it's not too late to pledge $15 and ensure a copy of the game when it lands soon. Head to www.doublefine.com.
Volgarr the Viking
If you yearn for the blocky, limitedly animated, 16-bit days of old (games involving shirtless men waving pixelated swords around), this arcade-style actioner could be just what you're looking for. Crazy Viking Studios is promising a game that "puts the meat back in the cheeseburger", a 2D side-scrolling, dragon-slaying affair for the PC that might look old but boasts a rather epic Lord of the Rings-like soundtrack. And for a $10 Kickstarter pledge, the game will be yours. Let's hope Arnie doesn't plan a cinematic adaptation.
Forget little games, how about getting involved in a full-blown console? Ouya will be a Rubik's cube-sized box based on open-source software that is hoping to put video game fun back into television, giving players a world of "free-to-play" options from its Ouya store. It's already smashed its $950,000 target, with almost $6m pledged, and has gained support from many developers, including the cloud gamer OnLive, which will add its software to the machine. For $99 you can get your own Ouya, but hurry – there's just one day left on Kickstarter!
Minecraft may have become the dominant force in the sandbox world-building genre, but a group of programmers are hoping to take this and give players more modding opportunities while throwing in some spicy RPG elements, too. Crea is a cutesy 2D world where you can make your own, well, anything, from items to monsters, without any programming skills. It also features character progression and quests. For $10 on Kickstarter you can ensure you get a copy on release. Or fork out $150 for a playable character with your likeness.
Perhaps the best thing about crowdfunded gaming projects is that, by and large, they're made by game lovers with a great idea, rather than big publishers looking to make a mint out of spoiled children at Christmas. This certainly seems to be true of Castle Story, a gorgeous-looking sandbox strategy game set in a lush world in which you must control an army of little yellow Bricktrons who will build a castle and then defend it from the enemy. Think Minecraft meets Command & Conquer meets, er, Lego. And for $15 on Kickstarter, it's yours.
Sneak Peak: Fifa 13, Electronic Arts, Out September 28
PES 13 might be coming out almost two weeks earlier, but Electronic Arts' next instalment of its all-conquering franchise is offering good reason why it might successfully defend the footy crown. Fifa 13 throws in something called First Touch Control, which adds a certain unpredictability to the game. No longer will long balls always find their way to feet, with factors such as bounces and weather conditions now coming into play. There are also better dribbling options – taken from Fifa Street. And perhaps most exciting of all, a thoroughly revamped manager mode featuring far more realistic transfer options. But you still won't be able to afford Messi.
Return to Funkotron
They came from Planet Funkotron and, for anybody tired of a blue hedgehog hogging the limelight, were the coolest dudes on the Sega Mega Drive. Yes, they were ToeJam and Earl, a three-legged red alien and a fat orange alien who became cult favourites in their day but never managed to spawn a successful franchise. Now they're set to return very soon when their first two adventures join a Sega Vintage Collection to be made available on the PlayStation Network. But will T&E's utterly random, two-player daftness go down well with the kids of today? Probably not, which is why we expect the main users to be men in their thirties trying to rekindle their lost youth.