PAX West 2018: Merge Games

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

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It’s always a special treat to meet a group you’ve only emailed back and forth before, as it was this year with me and Merge Games. They had a bunch of titles on display, but the ones that most appealed to me were Sparklite and The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition. One is a rogue title inspired by Zelda and the other is a nutty twin-stick shooter full of mutant produce. Keep reading to see what I thought of each after demoing them!

Sparklite | Logo

The thing that appealed to me first about Sparklite was the charming aesthetic presentation. When I heard it was heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, I also took notice. In some ways, this is a bit like Rogue Legacy mixed with SNES Zelda, and that’s a great mixture. Developed by Red Blue Games, this procedural rogue-lite adventure is full of whimsy and challenging yet fair combat and exploration. One neat quirk is the airship HUB area. You’ll return there every time you perish, and each time you do, the layout of the world map will change. Luckily, you don’t lose resources when you do, which provides a strong incentive to harvest materials and explore farther and farther each time.

Sparklite | Forest

By far the most important resource is the titular Sparklite, which serves as the lifeblood of the world. It also allows you to open new shops on the airship and craft new materials and skills. I can tell there is a great loop of explore, collect, fight, perish, rinse and repeat in the game. During it, you control spunky engineer Ada as she sets off to repair her own ship and find a way home. This is definitely a game with the potential to be a lot of fun, and best of all, Sparklite is coming to all consoles and Steam sometime in Fall 2019. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the final release date.

Sparklite | HUB

Walking Vegetables | Shoot

Next up is the zany The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition, developed by Still Running. This one appealed to me for two reasons – the insane title and the fact it was a twin-stick shooter. I’ve become ridiculously fond of that genre the past few years, and so I figured I’d give this one a shot. The demo found me wandering a city, looking for danger zones to eradicate. Once in the proper area, hordes of mutated produce will come at you frantically, trying to end your miserable life. Each type of veggie has a different attack pattern, such as the lemons which stop to squirt dangerous juice on the floor or the peppers which breath fire at you from a distance.

Walking Vegetables | Run

It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re not careful, and I found myself weaving around buildings to survive. While your main pistol has unlimited ammo, the more powerful items have limited uses. I tried just using the pistol exclusively the first time and found that to be a mistake. Some of the tougher enemies will barely be slowed down by it, so I started using my bazooka and other weapons of mass destruction in a pinch. I liked the weapon wheel you can bring up to select a new item, especially since doing so briefly slows down everything happening on the screen.

Walking Vegetables | Boss

Perhaps best of all are the boss fights against huge, monstrous vegetables, such as a two headed Broccoli horror. These won’t just chase you around, but will also spawn weaker foes to distract you. There’s even a potato mini boss that flies around and shoots at you. All in all, The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition is pretty darn fun. It’s not for everyone, but if you like 80’s twin-stick shooters with lots of replay value, it’s coming to all consoles in Fall of this year.

All in all, I had a pretty good time at Merge Game’s booth this year, and anticipate playing more of both titles when they release.

Sparklite | Mine

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.