Ambrosia Software is starting to build a history of putting out titles that are both creative and fun. When Darwinia made it to the market, it combined a unique visual style with one-of-a-kind presentation, and turned out to be a great example of the role independent developers can play in the modern game market. When big companies are forced by economics to rely on established franchise for their game ideas, it's the smaller companies that often birth the titles that remind you of why you play games.
Now, Ambrosia Software is gearing up to release another title that is instantly separated from its peers. SketchFighter 4000 is an action exploration game that looks to play a lot like a complicated version of Asteroid... except that it's made to look entirety like it was drawn on a child's graph-paper.
The idea somehow makes sense on the most basic of levels. When you see the screenshots, the part of you that used to doodle images of space ships and aliens during second period comes to life. Every Napoleon Dynamite with a Liger drawn on his notebook will see themselves in SketchFighter 4000.
And perhaps that's Ambrosia's gift, to be able to find the simplified, fun elements of a game, and build around them. Darwinia was not only visually distinctive, it was also addictive to play, sticking to a simple, but very effective control scheme.
SketchFighter 4000 is a space shooter that emphasizes exploration, and is still in the late Alpha stages of development. The top-down perspective comes across as old-school, flavored with enough style to keep it interesting. There are limited details about how the game will play, except that you'll collect power-ups in order to access new areas, including up to 16 different weapon combinations (there are four colors of weapons, fired four different ways).
It'll be interesting to see how different areas of the environment are portrayed using such a limited graphical palate. According to the Ambrosia site, there will be five varying regions, including ice caves and a volcano. We'll have to wait and see how well Ambrosia is able to separate the worlds in terms of visual appeal.
SketchFighter will also have a two-player mode which focuses either on short bouts of competitive play, or short bouts of co-operative play in which players work together to gather points.
More details about SketchFighter, plus information on its continued development, can be found at Ambrosia Software's website and discussion forums here.
Projects like SketchFighter 4000 rarely make it into the mainstream press. When people think of video games, they don't immediately associated with the likes of SketchFighter, but they should. Sometimes the most creative things are not the most obvious.