Ludum Dare 26's 48-hour challenge is up! Lets find some gems

The Ludum Dare game jam is always a bit of a daunting prospect. Not for the programmers—I'm sure it's tricky for them too, what with having a mere 48 hours to cobble a game together from scratch whilst adhering to a theme. But think about that existential angst the rest of us must feel; I mean, what have I made in the last 48 hours?

Mac and cheese. Sigh.

Moving right along: this year's theme was minimalism, which I think lends itself well to this sort of competition. There are technically two events in every Ludum Dare: there's the proper 48-hour competition, which tasks developers working alone with making a game in 48 hours using entirely new code and assets. The "Jam" event lets people work in a team, and they have 72 hours to crank something out. The latest Ludum Dare competition ended on Monday, and while we'll need to wait three weeks before judges can tabulate votes and pick a winning entry, you can already start rifling through the entries that have been submitted.

Zen Fighter is a minimalistic fighting game that pits two tiny squares against one another in epic battle.

And what a competition its been. Consider Zen Fighter, a two-button "fighting game" that consists entirely a pair of squares clashing with cheeky sword slashing sound effects and faux motion blur. There doesn't seem to be any way to win, but that's alright; like so many of these Ludum Dare entries, a sound concept is really all you need for a fun diversion. That said, I'd love the option to get a second player in on the action. For that, there's Ego Tripper: two players will need to use opposite ends of the keyboard and mash combinations of keys to advance a step (and hurl insults at each other). Whoever types faster will shove the other off the end of the stage and win.

Cube cube cube is fun, simple and startlingly beautiful.

And then there's Cube cube cube (pictured above), which absorbed significant chunks of my time. Colored blocks fall from the sky, and you need to rotate the planet with the arrow keys to "catch" them in stacks of three. As you complete stacks you'll gain points, which kicks the speed up a notch, alters the music, and gives you an extra heart, or hit point. If a stack reaches 6 blocks tall, you lose a heart — run out of hearts, and you lose. Meteors occasionally fall to the planet and can be used to trim some of your stacks. Simple, right? It's also beautiful, and rather fun — particularly once your score starts climbing.

A word of warning: many of these entries are a bit... rough. There are also over 2,300 to sift through, with 1,600 in the main competition and 730 in the more relaxed Jam. Why not head over to the Ludum Dare 26 competition site to check out some of these weird and wonderful works for yourself?

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