We regularly see new publishers pop up, though many of them are only featured on platforms like Steam. We recently caught wind of ChiliDog Interactive though, and besides a tasty name they also publish across all console platforms and have been very prolific these past few months, handling both the porting and publishing side of things. To get to know them a little better, we’re highlighting three of their most recent releases: Scrap Garden, Restless Night and Mighty Aphid.
Originally released on Steam way back in 2016, Scrap Garden was recently re-released to the public thanks to ports for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation (with full compatibility on next gen systems). A character-driven 3D puzzle platformer originally developed by Flazm, it’s a charming indie take on the genre for those who enjoy games like Spyro the Dragon.
Our protagonist is a small yet bulky looking robot called Canny, who realized that his robot buddies are no longer working. It’s up to you to find out what happened and fix things. The controls are quite simple and thus family-friendly, with jumping and throwing as your main mechanics. You’ll also gather gems and other items, and engage in combat – but mostly in the classic platforming sense of jumping on top of enemies (though throwing objects at them also works).
It may be a simple and even formulaic platformer, but Scrap Garden is also a charming adventure with an endearing protagonist and a touching story that comes complete with voice acting. The visuals, camera and sometimes floaty controls remind us that this is an indie game from a small developer, but at its budget price point it’s a good introduction to 3D platforming.
We love retro-style games, and few are more retro than Restless Night. HugePixel originally developed and launched it on Steam, but ChiliDog made sure the game also reached audiences on the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch formats.
Usually when we mentioned “retro-inspired”, a game will evoke memories of the 8-bit or 16-bit era of gaming – often with a visual style that mimics the NES. Restless Night, which could have been released at Halloween because of its plethora of bats, zombies and pumpkins, goes back much further than that. Remember the classic arcade machines of 1978 to 1983 or so? The ones with heavily curved screens? Restless Night mimics that look exactly, and takes inspiration from classics like Robotron: 2084 as well.
Each level is essentially a night that you have to survive by killing enemies inside an arena battle. There’s a range of guns you can pick up, and levels often have scenery elements that you can exploit for cover or as an obstacle as a horde of zombies tries to chase after you. It’s a simple game concept that’s about 40 years old, but it still works in 2021 and the audiovisual approach is spot on for those who enjoy a bit of nostalgia.
Developed by Cascadia Games and now brought to consoles by ChiliDog, Mighty Aphid was originally released on Itch.io so even if you’re a loyal follower of indie games on Steam this one may have eluded you. Inspired by the liked of Mighty No 9 (in name) and Mega Man, this one’s a platform shooter designed with an NES-era look and feel.
There’s a narrative that explains why you get into a superpowered mechanical suit to try and defeat bad guys as Avery “Aphid” Cavor, but as with almost any game in this genre the story is far from the most important part in the game. But yeah – if you needed a reason why you have a built-in gun and the ability to double jump, there it is.
In each level, you’ll need to rescue innocent civilians before the exit unlocks, but you can freely choose from the first three levels in the game – which is a nice and flexible way of introducing you to the core mechanics. Later on, you’ll unlock other abilities as well – most of these coming as rewards after completing a boss fight. Some of these extra abilities need your gem supply to be filled as well, which is an interesting mechanic because it makes you mindful of what you pick up and when you activate your more powerful moves.
Mega Man games are also notorious for being challenging, and Mighty Aphid follows in their footsteps by not being too generous with checkpoints and a challenging but fair level of difficulty across its six large levels. The game gets harder as you progress through its stages though, so this is one that should keep you busy for a while as you learn how to deal with its wide range of enemy types, figuring out where the civilians are that need to be rescued and try to get past the boss fights. An aggressive play style is risky as well, because you don’t get that brief period of being invincible after you get hit, and thus you’ll want to steer clear of danger before getting caught up in it.
With responsive controls, appealing retro-style graphics and a challenging campaign, this one is aimed at Mega Man fans, who’ve been waiting for a new installment for a few years now and at least have something to tide them over for a while.