Earlier this August 2019 month YouTube channel, Game Maker’s Toolkit (@gamemakerstk), hosted its third annual GMTK Game Jam (#gmtkjam) seeing over 2.5k+ worth of entries worldwide and just recently, they released their list for their top 20 picks . Though all 20 are indeed great games, we at Checkpoint had a different idea – so we decided to shorten that list and show you our top 3 picks, NOT from GMTK Game Jam 2019’s top 20 list – of the hidden gaming gems you should be watching out for!
For those unfamiliar with the channel, Game Maker’s Toolkit (GMTK) is a YouTube channel, hosted by Mark Brown (owner of one of the most pleasant video essay voices you will ever hear in gaming), dedicated to doing deep dive video analyses into game design, level design, and game production. They include videos on things such as:
- how to make video game dialogue as fun as shooting
- the formula behind good video game trailers
- in-depth analyses to The Legend of Zelda’s level design
- What makes Celeste is such an amazing game
If you have not checked it out yet, and especially if you are an aspiring video game developer or journalist, we HIGHLY recommend you take a look at their videos and educate yourself – there’s a lot of really good stuff. With a turnout of 2,640 entries, the GMTK Game Jam has been itch.io’s (@itchio) biggest jam over the course of three years. For the 2019 GMTK Game Jam that took place from August 2nd to August 4th, game designers worldwide were tasked with creating a game following the theme of “only one”. As of August 20th Game Maker’s Toolkit finally announced via Twitter and YouTube their picks for the top 20 games (NOT to be confused with the top 20 games ranked according to the Game Jam criteria) – as seen in the video below.
As we at Checkpoint strive to shine a light on gaming’s hidden gems, we’ve come up with our top 3 games from the GMTK Game Jam 2019 that, though unfortunately didn’t make it to the top 20 list of “best games” – one didn’t even make it to top 100 in criteria rankings – still had impeccably interesting ideas with profound themes and deserve honorable mentions.
Checkpoint’S GMTK Game Jame 2019 Top Picks
3. The Turing Snake by edmond00 – Ranked 101st
First on our list is The Turing Snake ranked #101, a game where “you control a virtual snake in [a] matrix of bits”. The game is incredibly simple, being controlled only by selecting points on a grid of 0’s to change to 1’s that would help allow the “snake” move to its end goal. What made this game interesting was how its puzzles built upon one another, teaching players how to figure out puzzles by using what they learned from a previous level. We feel that this kind of minimalistic puzzle design coupled by the subtle level guiding has great potential as a possible cyber-hacking-mini-game that would be outstandingly fitting within bigger sci-fi games.
2. PUNCH(_SELF) by gasgiant – Ranked 20th
This game is about one robot showcasing itself in an intergalactic fight of the century – and with the two arms attached to it – one red and one blue – beats itself until one of the arms manages to “score” the main robot body in either the red or blue corner. In this game players can take control of either one of the two arms in punching the robot’s head, defending its head from the other arm, or commanding the robot’s jaw to bite the opposing arm so as to temporarily disable it. The game is marvelously silly with great graphics, sound design, and animation, and features a simple gameplay style that makes for a really fun romp. More so, the game feels like it has great potential for building its narrative and had us wondering – why is this robot doing this? Who are the onlookers in the background? What kind of society are we in, seeing the public take pleasure in such ridiculous self-harming entertainment? All of these element together makes us feel that this game has huge potential for making a phenomenal stand-alone full game!
1. 1Boss1Battle1Button by Bryce Bucher (@BryceBucher) & Ayden Machajewski (@ajmachajewski)– Ranked 26th
The spot for Checkpoint’s top pick goes to 1Boss1Battle1Button. Admittedly this choice may be inspired by our my affinity for games featuring rhythmic boss battles a la Dark Souls and Monster hunter – but this game itself is definitely still quite a work to behold. The game features the players battling it out against a Star-Fox-64-large-faced-Andross-esque-boss in which the character dodges the boss’s huge hands and attacks by jumping, crouching, and fast-falling – but what makes the game really interesting is all these controls is done ingeniously by one button. For crouching, players hold the button – for jumping, players release the button – and to fast fall, players hold the button again. The game features three different levels in which the boss makes attempts at swiping at the player with their hands in tune to a funky beat. It also features an intriguing monochromatic art style backed by a phenomenal soundtrack – and for an audiophile such as myself, having movements on screen be in-beat with the music was euphoric. All these elements make for an amazing game that contrasts an incredibly simple player interaction with beautifully complex visual and audio effects that overall made for a marvelous experience really touching my own personal gamer soul – I get to be lazy, yet still look good!