Category Archives: Site News

Notice Of Service Resumption / Indie Tinyland: Dragon Sweeper

Heya, readers! After three weeks of being utterly adrift in the United States of America, I am finally and once again back in the Netherlands. Which is to say, back at my PC, which has all my fancy games on it. Expect regular Indie Wonderland service to resume from next week onward. I’d say I have some good ones lined up for you, but that would be lying; I don’t even know what I’m going to play right now, as I’m writing this. I still don’t know! Life is a mystery sometimes.

But as a small nugget of ‘thanks for your time and patience’, let me tell you just the smallest bit about Jesse Freeman‘s Dragon Sweeper.

Just a bit.

Dragon Sweeper is what happens when Minesweeper is also an RPG. Yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense. And yet.

You play Dragon Sweeper by clicking semi-randomly in a field of covered squares, slowly revealing parts of the field as you do. And then using the revealed information to fine-tune your searching. Your goal is to locate and neutralize several particular squares in as little time and as little clicks as possible. So far, so familiar, right? Sure, the ‘grid’ is actually an (irregular) island, and instead of numbers, you uncover open fields and forests and mountains, all conveniently surrounding and pointing to ‘monster lairs’.

There are two more monster lairs in this image. Can *you* guess where they’re placed?

But Dragon Sweeper diverges from Minesweeper in that you actually want to click on the monster lairs. Because that takes your character into the lair. Where you then fight the associated monster.

Using a simple, but not necessarily ‘easy’ rhythm game.

Oh yeah, you have a character. A Knight, Cleric, Thief, or Wizzard (sic). Each with their own special attack. And then there are levels, and hit points, and skill points, and gold, and towns where you can spend that gold…

There’s slightly more to it than meets the eye.

Dragon Sweeper is name-your-own-price to download, which means you can technically get it for free. Don’t do that, though. But for a few bucks, it’s a neat little twist on an established formula. Might get you through a boring hour or two. More if you share your computer with others, in which case there’s the scoring element to take into consideration. Less if you’re, like, really good at Minesweeper. And even if that’s the case, this game still has dragons in it — don’t count it out just yet.

Jarenth has eaten almost nothing but greasy American food for three weeks straight. Empathize on Twitter or hang out with him on Steam. And if you dig Indie Wonderland and Ninja Blues in general, why not consider supporting our Patreon campaign?

Discord Server & Stream Schedule (Indefinite Until Further Notice)

You can’t accuse us of being behind the times, because now we have our very own Discord server! If you look at the sidebar on your right you’ll now see a Discord widget that lets you see online members and connect with a button click.

Discord banner

So what’s Discord, you ask? Well now I see it’s YOU who’s behind the times! But anyway, Discord is essentially a text-and-voice-chat service where you can participate in multiple channels, make your own channel, and/or integrate your channel with your sponsored Twitch or Youtube channel. It’s very intuitive, it has customizable notifications, you don’t have to mess with IP addresses or port forwarding to voice chat, and all-in-all it feels like the next step forward for PC gaming chat.

Also, I now have it set up to notify all server members (unless you opt out) whenever I’m streaming on my Twitch channel that you all follow! You follow it, right?

stream HA HA GET IT?

Speaking of streaming, now that I’m switching from a weird janky ten-hour-days, four-day-weeks work schedule to a more standard Monday-to-Friday affair, I’m assigning myself a regular Twitch stream schedule that I’ll be using indefinitely until I post again to change it. The plan is that I’ll be streaming Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:00 to 10:00 PM Central time, and whenever I’m available and up to it on Saturday and/or Sunday. This will start on June 20th (this upcoming Monday) and I’m going to gauge how much I can handle streaming 3 days a week. I’d love to upgrade to 5 days a week, but, baby steps.

So mark your calendars, and hop on the Discord server to be notified and to engage. And to anyone who stopped by for my streams the past two weeks, thanks! And sorry I didn’t stream on Tuesday or Wednesday. Internet problems.

Jarenth, It’s Monday, Where’s My Indie Wonderland

Whoops. I totally forgot to post this earlier, didn’t I?

On account of a close friend’s wedding, I’ve spent the last three days in scenic Spokane, Washington. I’m still there, in fact! Scenic mountain far-sights are great for an agoraphobia sufferer, let me tell you.

I haven’t had a chance to play anything major this week, for two reasons: a) most of my time has gone towards this wedding, and b) the only laptop I have with me right now is a low-powered work laptop. It can technically run several games, but… let’s just say I’m not sure I feel comfortable reviewing anything new when I can’t reliably tell if it’s working well.

Consider this week, and the next three weeks, an overdue Official Indie Wonderland Break. I might be able to throw something together, and I’ll be a part of Justin’s streaming schedule as much as I can hack — I did actually remember to pack a headset and a mic. Otherwise, regular service should hopefully resume in July.

Thanks for understanding! Have a selfie.

No, not Justin, sadly.

Featuring *secret mystery guest*.

Indie Notification Land

Heya, readers.

No Indie Wonderland today, as you might have intuited. In fact, if you read last week’s review really carefully, you might even have seen the announcement in the footer on page 2! Go check, it’s right there! In order of time-claiming importance, my last week consisted of a lot of things denying me the time to play and review:

1) Work stress
2) Illness
3) Wrapping up XCOM 2
4) Curing cardboard diseases
5) Dark Souls 3
6) I was out of milk that one time

Regular service resumes next week.

And speaking of Jarenth Plays XCOM 2:

Good news is, I finished the gameplay parts of this Let’s Play. We’re looking at about 27 episodes right now, plus intro and epilogue. So expect this series to run about a month longer. ‘Bad’ news is, I’m afraid I didn’t get to all of you on the sign-up sheet. Sorry! I just… didn’t lose enough soldiers. You’ll still see a handful of new faces make their debut, but all in all, I’m guessing I got to about half of the names on the list.

Obviously I don’t want to leave anyone empty-handed who had the wherewithal and the fortitude to enlist in the first place. So one thing I will do, at the end of this Let’s Play, is add everyone who didn’t already show up to my character pool. And then that character pool will be made available for download right here — probably in the epilogue. That way, everyone can have their own Jarenth Plays XCOM 2 adventures! See if you are better than I at keeping this colour-uncoordinated group of schmucks alive.

– Jarenth

Indie Wondernews

Hey readers!

It’s one of those bad news-good news mixed-bag situations over at Ninja Blues today. As I’m sure you’re noticing, there’s no Indie Wonderland today. That’s the bad news. Sorry!

Now, I would tell you that I missed my weekly deadline because I’ve been sick, or because I’ve been busy with work, or because I had a boatload of social obligations. These things are all true… but you know me, would I let that sort of stuff get in-between us? No, the real reason there’s no Indie Wonderland this week is because I spent all the free time I could have spent playing and reviewing an indie game, on writing something else instead.

Something else? Yes, something else. Something else. Something that, deo volente, you’ll be able to read on this very Ninja Blues pretty soon. How soon? As soon as next Tuesday, i.e. tomorrow, and then every Tuesday and Saturday after that…

Back In The Saddle

Heya, readers. If you’re seeing this, then: woo! Ninja Blues has crawled back up from a frustrating and attack-filled January 2016. Hopefully, with the measures we’ve taken, it should be smooth sailing again from here on out. At least until the hackers and the scammers adapt again in the ever-flowing arms race that is The Internet, but hey, what can you do.

Couple of points of site news for you:

a) We’ll be porting over our work from the Ninja Blues Repository to here over the next few days. Expect us to be fully back and caught up sometime soon.

b) I’m officially bringing in Ranneko as our third core Ninja Blues member. Not only was his help and support invaluable for getting through January, but his massive volume of work kind of makes him eligible for the position through sheer determination alone. He doesn’t know yet that I’m planning to do this, though; won’t he be surprised when he sees this post.

c) Yes, our banner is busted right now. Blame WordPress. We’re working on it; one catastrophe at a time.

And finally, in actual game-related news:

d) The imminent release of XCOM 2 can only mean one thing: it’s finally, finally time for a new Jarenth Plays series! Given that Jarenth Plays XCOM was one of the most popular things I’ve ever done, and one of the most fun, me picking up this torch with the sequel was more or less assumed. It’s going to follow up from whatever meager storytelling I had going on back then, too; if you ever needed an excuse to re-familiarize yourself with the (screenshot-devoid) first Let’s Play, now’s the time.

And, yes, I am recruiting for this second XCOM iteration! If you’re interesting in being a soldier, scientist, or engineer in my fight against ADVENT and the alien menance, now’s your chance. Sign up in this Google sheet, or leave a comment under this post, with your name, class preferences, and looks/colour scheme.

So yeah! Welcome back, everybody. Thanks for your continued belief in and support of Ninja Blues, it means the world to us. Let’s see if we can’t make the rest of 2016 suck less.

– Jarenth

2016’s First Site News

Heya, readers! Happy 2016!

The reason you’re reading this sparse update and not a new Indie Wonderland is this: after last week’s final Sakura surprise, I spent the last week of the year actually taking the relaxing vacation I was due. This involved hanging out with friends, sleeping in, celebrating my fixed Wii U, and no games that didn’t involve apocalypses of any kind, either nuclear or squid-tacular.

i.e. I didn’t play any indie games.

Regular service resumes next week, as it so often does. In the meantime, though, to not leave you all high and dry: why not watch archive footage of mine and Josh’s annual New Year’s live stream! This one was a particular doozy: it has a whole bunch of Crusader Kings II, and a small bunch of incredibly hard zombies. Meaning that if you don’t very much care for medieval dynasty nonsense or hyper-focused zombie shooting…

…well, like I said, regular service resumes next week. See you then!

A Double News Announcement

Heya, readers. Two things I want to talk to you about.

One: those of you that have been with Ninja Blues for a while now are probably wondering what the deal is with the next Jarenth Plays. I had so much vim going after wrapping up Starships in July. “Please yell at me if I haven’t delivered anything end-of-August”, does that ring any bells? And now it’s November, and still nothing has materialized. What’s the deal with that, self? What happened?

And the honest answer is… I don’t really know?

No, but seriously. There’s a bunch of factors I could blame: work, bad luck, a sudden influx of social obligations. But I think the actual main cause here is that I’m hitting some weird kind of motivational writer’s block. I have plenty ideas for Let’s Plays, dozens of them, complete materials for two, and even a handful of draft episodes for the one I’m currently ‘working on’. But for some reason… I’m just not making any writing progress. I find myself reluctant to just sit down and write, and whatever I do put out comes at a glacial pace.

It’s a strange sensation to me. Doubly so because it’s not universal; the Indie Wonderland train is happily rolling along every week.

I don’t really want to make any more (hollow) promises, but I will say this: I’m totally intending to kick the LP writing into high gear this November. If at all possible. We’ll see if my brain cooperates. I’ll definitely have more free time this month, so maybe I’ll be able to guilt-coerce myself with that.

Which neatly leads to to thing number…

Two: it’s November again! And do you guys remember what happened last November? I certainly do. If you do too, you’re probably grinning with schadenfreude-delight right now. And if not, maybe all you need is a little refresher course

That’s right! It’s time for another Visual Novels And Dating Sims month! Or however long I can stand the concept this time around.

Now, I’ve actually been planning the games I want to play this time. There’s so much possibility. I jokingly said I’d play Fate/Stay Night last year, so that’s technically still an option… but a friend — an actual friend, not you lot of vultures — dissuaded me from that. Another idea I had was maybe looking at some more VN sequels: I know WORLD END ECONOMiCA has a second episode on Steam now, and harem drama slash tactical space battler Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius earlier this year had a frankly bizarre-seeming high school spinoff — the same characters, the same relations, but now they’re students instead of mech pilots. Even discounting my thoroughly miserable experience with the former, this could probably be interesting.

But here’s the thing: of all my 2014 VNADS reviews, one game rocketed to prominence in a way I’d never have expected — and that no other game quite managed to match. I don’t know if it was my writing, the generous amount of anime nudity, or the fact that the game had a strangely prominent place in public consciousness for a while (let’s be real, though, it was probably the boobs). But whatever the case, where once my most popular piece was hard-working Factorio, it now is… that game.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed its popularity. Over the course of 2015, developer Sekai Project put out no less than six new games in the same… I hesitate to say ‘series’, but they definitely all have the same basic concept.

And because they couldn’t leave well enough alone, neither can I. I am first and foremost an entertainer, after all, and every entertainer knows the golden rule: ‘give the audience what they want’. And the Ninja Blues audience has spoken. So it is with heavy heart that I announce here, that tomorrow marks the official start of Visual Novels And Dating Sims II.

Sakura Harder.

Indie Dumb Delay Land

Hey readers,

Because I am a doofus who forgot a crucial USB drive with text and images on it at work, today’s Indie Wonderland will be be posted tomorrow instead. Sorry about that; I know how much you all rely on Indie Wonderland as your shining Monday light.

Was signed,
the mana-Jar.

Indie A Poor Simile For An Excuse Land

Heya, readers. Sorry, there’s no Indie Wonderland today: I spent all of last week hosting an international guest and basically painting the country red, and as such, I didn’t have the time to really play anything for the column.

I mean, I played some of this game, but this is hardly an indie game at all.

It just had a bunch of random guns and some weird story about handsome dragons.

And I played some of this game, but that’s not even a computer game.

Look at this horrible low-tech wood and cardboard affair.

I also spent some time in this place, which I guess has some games.

If you’re going to that place for the *games*, though, you might be doing it wrong.

But I have no idea how I’d incorporate this thing into here.

So I won’t. If you don’t know what this means, you wouldn’t care anyway.

So, once again, sorry. I was going to put up a warning earlier, but then I realized I could get some easy sight gags out of the whole deal instead.

Regular service resumes next week.