We first found out about the up-and-coming indie arcade game by the name of Cosmotrons when it was seen at Midwest Gaming Classic event this past March. As development progressed for that title, the developers decided to take the game on tour. That tour began just two weeks ago and since I participated in that tour as a sponsor, Arcadeaholics LLC made a stop at my arcade for a couple of days. This gave me the opportunity to play all of the game modes and get a feel for this title to share with you.
The Cosmotrons Summer Tour
Before we get into the game, I’d just like to talk about the tour. As far as I am aware, taking a game on tour like this with the developers is unprecedented in arcade history. Generally a game gets out into the public before a release through clandestine location tests, not all of which are attended by the developers. In this instance, the game designer Shane Gutbrod and his wife Juanita packaged two cabinets and have been taking them to locations and urging players to stop by and play. Prior to visiting my location, they stopped by the Garcade(WI), Up/Down Arcade(IA) and Hyperspace Arcade(CO); afterwards they visited Grinkers (ID), Dorky’s (WA) and Ground Kontrol (OR) then are going to be at CAX in Santa Clara this weekend. I also know that they will be visiting Starfighters Arcade in AZ after that as they were one of the major sponsors for the trip like myself. There are more locations on the roster but I really have to tip my hat to the Gutbrods for making such a trip with a tight travel schedule.
Here’s video of it at my location, which might be the only mall-based arcade on the trip. That certainly makes for a unique dynamic of having a lot of walk-in customers and younger people that arcade/bars don’t see.
Ground Kontrol setup a very cool display for them, like straight out of an 80s flick:
— CosmotronsGame (@CosmotronsGame) July 24, 2017
Cosmotrons – The Game
Ok so onto the game. At first the best way I could describe it was a multiplayer Gravitar but that doesn’t cover everything that the game has to offer. The aesthetic and the gravity certainly do fit in with Gravitar but they have added more that helps the game stand out: multiple ships that all have different stats and abilities, twenty arenas/maps, full play stats which included ‘life expectancy’, a “Space Sprint” bonus round where you race and three multiplayer game modes. It also may have online content although that has not been finalized yet.
When I first played it, I wasn’t told what to do and while it took a couple of games to get the feel for it, that did come and before long I was exploring the game features and testing myself on clearing maps as quickly as possible. I even managed to win a bonus round race once.
The game really shines in multiplayer, with a full console creating plenty of exciting (and loud) moments as people win or lose. The presence of three multiplayer modes also gives groups a reason to play again, beyond the sheer competitiveness of it all. It is similar in that spirit to Pac-Man Battle Royale or Killer Queen Arcade – in fact, I believe that this game stands to appeal to arcades with KQA and due to the lower price & footprint, could end up in more locations at the end of the day.
It should be noted that this is still an incomplete game – I asked Shane about it and he felt that it was still an alpha build but regardless it being an alpha/beta, it was very much playable. The game had only begun development in November of last year and you can already enjoy complete multiplayer matches. The physics feel realistic and the sounds are very “Atari” in their nature.
That said, there are still tweaks/adjustments/improvements/additions to be made. One of those may be a ‘pre-fab’ beginner/tutorial mode where first timers can play the game with everything ready to go for them from the start. Changes to the effects of the charge weapons will be implemented as will changes to the maps occur in some places. The final cabinets will also have some differences from the prototype design but I was pleased to see that they had taken many things into consideration as far as hardware access goes. Just having two cabinet options is awesome – sure, everyone has offered different cabinet styles since the 70s but it is nice to have given that this is a small business/indie creation and not a major manufacturer with millions in R&D to spend.
Here is a video of it in action (direct link in case there is an issue; a Youtube version is being uploaded as I type but it is a big file)
Now you might be wondering, will I buy the game? That is ultimately the biggest question as I put money where my mouth is. Because it is not 100% complete yet, I am reserving my final judgement on the game as well as a purchase but I am leaning towards it. Unfortunately I have bought a few indie games that from a business standpoint, did not end up as good investments. So to overcome my ‘jadedness’, I want to see more info on how this will perform in a setting where no one is there to help players get interested in playing or walking them through the initial steps. With that in mind, I was suprised to see how many people took to the game, especially younger ones (10-15 years of age) and I have had people ask me about it after the game left.
One nice aspect is that Arcadeaholics is exclusively focusing on development for an arcade build as opposed to a console release. While a console release hasn’t been ruled out (note that what was released to Steam earlier this year was a demo and has since been removed from the Steam store), they do understand how the local play of a multiplayer game like this works better in an arcade setting along with arcades needing some time to themselves.
If you have played it, what did you think?