Fantastic Fest, the popular Austin, Texas independent film festival is returning for it’s seven year in action from the 22nd of September to the 29th. While this may seem unrelated to independent gaming, the festival also hosts a spin off videogames section, aptly titled Fantastic Arcade, which will run from the 22nd to the 25th. This year sponsored by Playstation Network, the event will give a wide showcase to twenty high profile independent games that has been drumming up support over the recent months. A variety of tournaments, discussions with creators and gameplay footage are planned to keep the gaming fraternity ecstatic if the movies aren’t to their liking.
Several of the games which will be demonstrated at Fantastic Arcade are:
- Bit Pilot (Zack Gage)
- Insanely Twisted Shadow (Shadow Planet Productions)
- Radical Fishing (Vlambeer)
- Skulls of the Shogun (Haunted Temple Studios)
- Fez (Polytron)
- Lost Mars (Tiger Style)
- FRACT (Phosfiend Systems)
A wide variety of game genres will be seen here, with the audio-only game Deep Sea being one of the more left-field examples. Developed by Robin Arnott and previously showcased at E3 in May, the title involves donning a mask and headphones, cutting off all visual and audio elements of the outside world, as the player tries to fight off creatures in a black undersea void, with only noises to guide their shooting. An excellent showcase video can be seen here for those who’d like a quick taste of what Deep Sea is all about.
Then there’s the incredibly endearing Octodad which is vaguely reminiscent of Earthworm Jim by Shiny Entertainment in it’s character, a lovable Octopus who has everything a man would want…except bones. Developed by Team Octodad, the gamer’s goal is to try and master the ordinary tasks of the day while making sure his blissfully ignorant family don’t find out! Set in a 3D world where even the simplest of tasks can be a nightmare of epic proportions, Octodad could well be the runaway hit of the festival. If you’re not convinced, check out this handy preview video of Octodad 2 which will tell (and show) you everything you’ll need to know.
Radical Fishing by Netherlands based developers Vlambeer is just your ordinary day’s fishing with Grandpa…if your grandfather happens to be a rocket launcher loving man who loved shooting fish after flinging them into the air with his rod! Simple crude graphics hide a Duck Hunt inspired affair that the creators hope will keep you playing for hours.
The Fantastic Arcade is split into two sections, the Showcase Games and the Spotlight Games. The eight Spotlight titles (including Octodad, Jesus vs. Dinosaurs and Rez-inspired Fez) are those which are part of the Arcade’s main competition, but the others (the Showcase titles) will be available throughout the four days the event runs. When asked for a comment, one of the FA curators, Mike Plante stated:
“Fantastic Arcade is a direct bridge between the worlds of independent gaming and genre filmmaking.”
The event is free to enter throughout the four days it’s active, although the film festival itself will cost $50 to access.
Fantastic Fest is not the only film festival to showcase games – in April, Rockstar Games hit title L.A. Noire was showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. With games ever more commonly being compared to the medium of film, it could well be that we’ll be seeing more videogames at film festivals in the near future.