In case you hadn’t noticed already, the sort of highly-sophisticated strategy goodness we usually cover has been a bit thin on the ground recently. As such, we’ve been forced to delve into Steam’s collection of brightly coloured memey nonsense, and may have accidentally had a shedload of fun in the process. Onward.
Regular Human Basketball is, quite simply, the most fun I’ve had with a couch co-op game in a very long time. After finding an opponent either locally or through online-matchmaking (there are no AI opponents), you go head-to-head in a completely normal game of basketball involving a ball about twenty times the size of your actual character. Also, there are giant, awkward, rusty mechs to pilot.
To actually pilot the mechs themselves, you’ll need to navigate a series of switches found in the interior. So navigation is less about steering a vehicle and more about simple but hectic platforming. Switches control directions, jumping, and also the huge magnet you’ll need to pick up and throw the basketball itself. There’s a solid cause and effect logic to each one of the inputs, but the sheer chaos of having to hop across a few feet every time you need to change directions, paired with a physics system that drives home the unwieldy nature of these ramshackle robot ballers, means that everything tends to descend into chaos quite quickly. If you’re especially sneaky, you can also jump into your opponent’s mech, which is great if you enjoy feeling like a total bastard. Which I do. Very much.
Matches are quick and scrappy, with the pure ridiculousness of controls meaning that every hoop feels earned enough to rub in your opponent’s face loudly and irritatingly until they throw their controller on the floor and storm out of the room, leaving you to bask in Regular Human Basketball’s killer soundtrack of Electro-Funk bangers. Now, I can see it losing most of its appeal as a party game as soon as someone actually works out how to play it properly, but the first few hours are absolutely glorious. You can find it on Itch here, and Steam here.
Russian Subway Dogs is another beautiful example of how to get a lot of mileage out of a relatively simple concept. As a stray dog living in Moscow’s underground tube stations, you scavenge for food by barking at passing passengers, scaring them into hurling their lunch into the air in shock. Your stamina is constantly ticking down, so you need to eat to stay alive. Your inputs are limited to running, jumping, and barking, but once you start combining these, some interesting stuff happens.
If you bark at a passenger carrying vodka, for example, they’ll throw that vodka into the air, and it’ll explode as soon as it hits the floor. If it lands on food or someone carrying food, that food will cook, giving you more stamina and points. If you bark at the vodka while it’s still in the air, you can keep it afloat, chaining combos together and giving you more points when it finally lands on some unlucky fools shopping bag. Throw in a variety of enemy types and pedestrians, and things start to get hectic quickly.
Between the fluffy hats and the vodka, the game’s portrayal of Russian culture is roughly as nuanced as your average episode of South Park, but the developers are donating a dollar from every sale to help actual real-life doggos, so that’s good, right? It is probably good. I haven’t checked my moral equivalence chart lately, though, so don’t quote me on that.
I haven’t got all that far yet, but even a couple of levels in, the simple controls are balanced out by an enormously high skill ceiling that should see fans of this sort of thing set for a while. You can find Russian Subway Dogs on Itch here, and Steam here.