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Nuclear Throne

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Nuclear Throne is the latest game from Vlambeer, the geniuses/indie darlings behind Ridiculous Fishing, Super Crate Box, and Luftrausers, and it's just come out as an eary access alpha, available from Steam for £10 or from the developers directly for $12.99 (Steam key included). It's due for release on PS4 and Vita once it's done, and the developers will see if they can port to mac (notoriously difficult for games built in game-maker) at a later date.

It's a twin-stick shooter roguelikelikelike (think Binding of Isaac with different sized rooms and no keys), but with bullet hell elements, and some Hotline Miami style twitchiness. The idea is simple, kill enemies, pick up bullets, weapons and health to stay alive, and collect the little rods of plutonium they drop in order to level up your character and buy perks between levels. There are a couple of small twists to keep things fresh too, the most notable being you're only allowed to carry two weapons at once, making switching weapons often enough to ensure you don't run out of ammo paramount to success. There are also several different characters to pick from, each with their own unique ability, ranging from an incredibly useful shield, to lowered max HP for increased XP gains and the ability to use "explosive retaliation" (that is, BLOW UP ALL ENEMY CORPSES ON SCREEN). Anyway, the ultimate aim is simple; finish enough levels, and sit the Nuclear Throne*. Easier said than done though, as like any good roguelike, it's harder than trying to explain how to play Crusader Kings II to an infant. A deaf, blind and dumb infant.

The pixel art/animation and music are as good as you'd expect from Vlambeer, and likewise the core gameplay doesn't disappoint either. The audio and visual feedback makes all the weapons in the game, (and there are many, many weapons in the game) incredibly satisfying to use, there's a great variety of enemies and bosses to test your mettle against, and well, despite being in alpha and a liiitle bit rough, it already feels like a fairly complete package. Saying that, there's fucktonne of content still in development and being added on a weekly basis: more levels, types of enemies, three characters, and all sorts of secrets and assorted craziness are planned before the game is "out" proper.

And if you're not quite convinced yet, check out this giant bomb quick look and marvel at its mutated glory.

You can follow along with development on these streams as well!

Main development livestream + gameplay - http://www.twitch.tv/vlambeer (Tuesdays & Thursdays)

In-game art (animation, character design, etc) - http://www.twitch.tv/pietpiet

Music - http://www.twitch.tv/kozilekmusic

Sound design - http://www.twitch.tv/kissa3m0

Promotional artwork - http://www.twitch.tv/justinchans

*Not yet implemented in the game.

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From the FAQ on their website:

Will the game be available on Mac, Linux, Xbox One, Wii U, Wii, 3DS?

All we know for sure is that the game will be available on PC and later for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. We should have no real trouble porting to Mac, but as always we're going to be cautious and not announce that fully in case it turns out there are problems with that. Since GameMaker 8.1 doesn't compile builds for most platforms, we won't know for sure until we try. We'll try when we're done with the PC builds.

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I've put about 7 hours into it, it's really good but I'm going to hold off playing it for a while; I'm not much for the difficulty curve and things like this need a lot of secrets and unlockables which aren't there at the moment.

It's still in development and it's got a lot of potential - but the way they've opened it up to the public worries me that they might not put the extra time in to finish it. Really needs 3 times the levels and to start with a gentler difficulty curve.

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The Steam page says "partial controller support."

How partial is it? Can you play with a controller without doing some funky weird set-ups ?

I just tried to play it with a controller, and err, nope, doesn't seem like there's any native controller support going on at the moment other than being able to press A on the title screen. Shame really, as I'm sure it'll work really well once the game is complete. As it is though, Mouse and keys work really well, so I'd still recommend giving it a go if you're not too averse.

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I've put about 7 hours into it, it's really good but I'm going to hold off playing it for a while; I'm not much for the difficulty curve and things like this need a lot of secrets and unlockables which aren't there at the moment.

It's still in development and it's got a lot of potential - but the way they've opened it up to the public worries me that they might not put the extra time in to finish it. Really needs 3 times the levels and to start with a gentler difficulty curve.

It seems like difficulty in roguelikes is quite a tricky undertaking. I also started playing Eldritch yesterday, which is a pretty cool FPS roguelike set in a Lovecraftian universe with a blocky Minecraft-like aesthetic, made by two guys who worked on Bioshock 2. The problem with Eldritch is that the first world is too easy, and then the second world is incredibly difficult. I guess the idea is that since your general progress (unlocked levels) are permanent, once experienced enough, you'll be able to quickly run through the first world in order to prepare for the second (you don't want to tackle it without any weapons or equipment, I'm sure). However, the fact that you're almost obligated to go through the easy level each time makes the game slightly more of a chore, even if you can speed through it. On the other hand, if the first world was so difficult that you were faced with an uncertain fate before you could even attempt the second world, well that would possibly put people off from persevering at all.

In comparison I think Nuclear Throne does a great job of balancing its difficulty with speed of play. It's certainly cut-throat, but I actually really like that, the game is so fast paced that being sent back to the start doesn't seem like that much of a chore. At the moment I'm still in the phase where I enjoy the forced variety that restarting affords me, since I haven't settled into any habits yet. Plus, hearing that starting horn every level never ceases to send fiercely strong signals to the pleasure centre of my brain.

BWHAAAAM!

Agreed though, more secrets and random stuff would be rad. I'm sure they'll be implemented before long.

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The Steam page says "partial controller support."

How partial is it? Can you play with a controller without doing some funky weird set-ups ?

Good news, controller support should be added after this weekend's build goes live.

There's a stream of the developer playing on pad, and it seems there's some nice autoaim to help compensate for the comparative lack of twitchy-accuracy.

They're live streaming development of the game on tuesdays and thursdays, and as you might expect, it's equal parts fascinating and tedious. At least when watching the dev play his own game, he's fucking good at it. There are some amazing moments tucked away in the streams!

http://www.twitch.tv/vlambeer

EDIT: In fact, there are a whole bunch of streams going on!

Main development livestream + gameplay - http://www.twitch.tv/vlambeer

In-game art (animation, character design, etc) - http://www.twitch.tv/pietpiet

Music - http://www.twitch.tv/kozilekmusic

Sound design - http://www.twitch.tv/kissa3m0

Promotional artwork - http://www.twitch.tv/justinchans

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For anyone interested, they're streaming development right now on http://www.twitch.tv/vlambeer

Another update to the game went live last night, adding in a rudimentary menu and controller support (and a few bugs that should be squashed pretty soon). Be careful with controller support though, once turned on, it's hard to turn back off (to do so, exit the game, unplug your controller and restart.).

Not the most exciting update, but still nice. More in-game content to come in the next patch.

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I played this. It's alright.

It's beyond alright. It sunk its teeth in me in less than 30 minutes of play, something even the likes of Spelunky and Rogue Legacy weren't able to do. The way Vlambeer managed to combine the insta-fun of Super Crate Box with the addictive qualities of the rogue-like is commendable.

It looks overly simplistic at first, but it has a surprising amount of depth. The way you can manage the different character abilities with certain weapons and level mutations is super addictive. For instance, if you enjoy using grenade launchers, you'll definitely want to get that More Ammo Drops mutation, while something like Wrench + Melee Range Up is deliciously OP, especially if you've chosen the big crystal guy and can afford to get in close.

Just killed my first Dog; this game even has a dash of bullet hell! ^__^ Fantastic stuff. I haven't progressed beyond 4-2 yet, but I've only played about 2.5 hours so far.

Everyone must get it. I suck at twin stick shooters but even on the Vita I managed to git gud pretty quickly.

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I've put more 7 hours into this since buying it last night. It's ridiculously good. Trust me blindly on this and get it, rllmuk. It's that good, and it pains me to see that this thread isn't blowing up.

Also: it's cross-buy. And I'm actually playing it on both platforms, too.

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Yeah, it's really good. The Vita port isn't amazing - letterboxed, and I've encountered one or two pretty severe frame-rate drops - which is a shame, as it fits the format really well. Might try it on PS4 tomorrow. I reviewed the Early Access version for PC Gamer at the beginning of the year and got hooked for a short while, but I think it's best played in bursts. I binged and got a bit bored of it in the end, but it's a great game to go back to.

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Just found out that not all enemies damage you if you touch them :D That knowledge made this glorious carnage possible:

During previous runs I'd get absolutely slaughtered in situations like that, as I'd try to avoid touching all enemies. Suddenly, the Gamma Guts mutation became one of the best.

Yeah, it's really good. The Vita port isn't amazing - letterboxed, and I've encountered one or two pretty severe frame-rate drops - which is a shame, as it fits the format really well. Might try it on PS4 tomorrow. I reviewed the Early Access version for PC Gamer at the beginning of the year and got hooked for a short while, but I think it's best played in bursts. I binged and got a bit bored of it in the end, but it's a great game to go back to.

Yeah, I really need to pace myself, LOL. Just bought Bastion on the Vita as an incentive not to burn myself out on this.

As for the frame-drops: aren't they intentional, as a throwback to, say, Treasure games? It seems to only happen when you kill a boss or cause a giant explosion.

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Yeah this game is fucking quality. Was such a pleasant and unexpected surprise to see it finally got released on console last night.

Tried getting into on PC but I fucking hate mouse controls and sitting at my desk.

So it's awesome to play using tight Vita controls in bed or on the train. Yeah it's letterboxed but it's so mental and satisfying to play.

BUY THIS GAME

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Just found out that not all enemies damage you if you touch them :D That knowledge made this glorious carnage possible:

During previous runs I'd get absolutely slaughtered in situations like that, as I'd try to avoid touching all enemies. Suddenly, the Gamma Guts mutation became one of the best.

Yeah, I really need to pace myself, LOL. Just bought Bastion on the Vita as an incentive not to burn myself out on this.

As for the frame-drops: aren't they intentional, as a throwback to, say, Treasure games? It seems to only happen when you kill a boss or cause a giant explosion.

Oh, I'm not talking about those moments - I've had a couple of instances when nothing (or very little) has been happening and it's been very noticeable, not just a slight thing. We're only talking an hour or two of play, mind, and it's hopefully just a blip.

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Reached the Nuclear Throne, with Robot (his weapon-eating ability is great). Still can't get enough. I don't think I'll ever manage it (some of the golden trophies are insane, like the "reach the nuclear throne with Melting" one) but I might even try to get the Platinum :)

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It's amazing how much you improve man, I thought I'd never see past each area when they were added to the game, but sure enough, after a little time I was looping the game every month. Still, the PC version has been broken for me for about 4-6 months now since they updated the front end UI, so I haven't seen half of the cool loop bosses. :(

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The Vita version of this has now crashed a total of four times on me, once after just picking up a crown, and just now, literally a few seconds away from reaching the throne.

To say that this has somewhat soured my initial exuberant praise, is a bit of an understatement :(

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I was playing as Robot and had some ridiculous weapons, like a nuke launcher. All the right mutations too. I was beyond pissed off.

:(

What do you mean when you say 'right' mutations? Should I be only picking the mutation for the character I start with, or something? Is there some benefit I'm not aware of? Not read anything about the game, just dove straight in.

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