In these days of Grand Theft Auto IV and WiiFit (who knew you could wee and get fit) its good to know there are plucky game designers out there doing it all for nothing. Perhaps as a showcase for half finished ideas, perhaps as a way of trying out ideas. Or just to show off. Anyway in flicking through a couple of these at Indie Games* I came across ROM CHECK FAIL! which is a acid fuelled nostalgia fest which has been a fun little diversion for the last couple of days.
The conceit (if you can call it such) is that you are playing on an early eighties video game, which somehow seems to be crashing, and melting all its games together. Your sprite has to battle against the bad guys still, but every five seconds or so everything changes. So you may start with a screen like this, Mario on a Pac-Man background against some bubbles but then this morphs seemlessly and 8-bitly into you piloting a ship from Defender against ghosts from Gauntlet on a racing game background. The terrain remains the same, what your character can do changes with the morph (potentially very annoying when you turn into the Space Invaders pop which can only move left or right!) Destroy the enemies, clear the level. TWenty levels and you win a compilation of every old arcade winning screen you never saw.

So what to say about this little diversion, beyond it being the best game that wasn’t around in 1985? Actually you would feel a bit robbed if you paid 20p a game for this as some of the random jumps can leave you almost completely shafted. And it only took me about thirty goes to defeat it. But as a mash-up it feels a bit like playing WarioWare, lots of silly little rushes of excitement when you try and work out if it is
a) possible to win in this five second burst
b) possible to stay alive.
But considered as a copyright busting bootleg of goodness which manages to take all its component parts and make something exciting and new out of them, its a lovely little indie gem. (I know Sonic and Mario are like best buddies now, and taking part in the Olympics and probably oppressing Tibetan Game designers, but there is something about watching pac-man trying to work out how it can beat an asteroid which is great).

You can download it here from what made it.

*Indie Games don’t always fuss about quality or content of the games as this Japanese looking up ladies skirts game shows.