Indie Preview: Sombrero from PixelMetal

Josh brings you a preview of the super-fun Sombrero from New York based PixelMetal, LLC. Four player platforming action ago! Reach for the stars, cowpoke.

2015-06-08 10_26_37-Greenshot

(Read our in­ter­view with PixelMetal about game dev, the in­dus­try and oth­er mis­cel­lany here!)

Don’t mess with us. We’re from New York. “

Gather around folks, I have the plea­sure to­day of telling all you lit­tle cow­pokes about the sto­ry of a lil’ game called Sombrero. Sombrero is a com­pet­i­tive lo­cal mul­ti­play­er based (up to four) par­ty plat­former from New York City based PixelMetal, LLC. It’s the kind of ac­tion based friend­ly fight­er that brings to mind games like Towerfall Ascension. A straight com­par­i­son to Towerfall would be do­ing a dis­ser­vice to Sombrero, though, which works on be­ing in a class of its own via aes­thet­ic and execution.

Despite play­ing on pre­view builds, Sombrero feels well pol­ished and is a blast to play al­ready. Even though not all the planned fea­tures are in yet, this game is al­ready in bet­ter shape than a num­ber of com­plet­ed games on the mar­ket I’ve had the dis­plea­sure of playing.

At the time of writ­ing, you have 16 char­ac­ters re­flect­ing west­ern themes and ref­er­ences (as well as some in­die game cameos), three lov­ing­ly de­tailed stages with mul­ti­ple lay­ers of scrolling and scal­ing that re­al­ly bring them to life, and two of four planned play modes im­ple­ment­ed that are en­joy­able and, at times, a lit­er­al blast. Development of Sombrero is go­ing heavy and hard as well, with new power-ups, fea­tures, and char­ac­ters be­ing added with every build.

Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!”

2015-06-08 11_12_43-GreenshotGameplay in­volves se­lect­ing your char­ac­ter, se­lect­ing which stage you will piss your friends off on, and choos­ing a game mode to de­fine your action-packed duels.

You will find a lot of re­spect­ful ref­er­ences, friend­ly nods, and hu­mor with­in the char­ac­ter se­lec­tion. They all present a dif­fer­ent look, but play the same. So it makes the se­lec­tion a mat­ter of avatar pref­er­ence and not tech­ni­cal match-ups. All game modes throw you and your friends into the se­lect­ed stage with your trusty pis­tol at your side to start, with power-ups like shot­guns, dy­na­mite, and ever so sat­is­fy­ing can­non­balls avail­able to help you in stop­ping your op­po­nents and to de­stroy parts of the ter­rain (at times ex­pos­ing stage haz­ards). The dev news feed in-game notes in­clud­ing more power-ups, in­clud­ing a tem­po­rary shield and a high jump.

Controls are about as sim­ple as you can get. This is a great thing, as there is no need to over com­pli­cate con­trols for a game like Sombrero, and it makes it so any­one can pick it up quick­ly. It has a twin stick shoot­er set­up where the left ana­log stick con­trols your move­ment and the right ana­log stick used to point and shoot your weapons (there is ear­ly key­board sup­port of­fered as well). The two shoul­der but­tons have you jump, and this sets up a very com­fort­able con­trol scheme. The con­trols are not re­bind­able at this time, but this is just a pre­view build and I’m sure that will come with the prop­er op­tions menu down the line.

Everything just feels sol­id, move­ment is flu­id, and the sound de­sign comes to­geth­er to make play­ing feel good. It even has the oblig­a­tory Wilhelm scream when you die!

Any man don’t wanna get killed better clear on out the back.”

2015-06-08 11_14_24-GreenshotSombrero is wrapped in an aes­thet­ic that not just fits its theme very well, but helps to of­fer de­f­i­n­i­tion and con­trast while the chaot­ic ac­tion is hap­pen­ing on-screen. It uses a tra­di­tion­al Mexican art style that folks will find fa­mil­iar from games like Guacamelee, and it pays its re­spects to Western, Mexican, and Aztec lore. I’ve heard some call this aes­thet­ic a lit­tle gar­ish, but it is used well here to tell the sto­ry of the game with out words and is ef­fec­tive at keep­ing every­thing clear in a very fast paced game.

The sound­track to Sombrero, done by Nathaniel Chambers from Bubble Pipe Media, pro­vides the game the cher­ry on top of the icon­ic west­ern feel it achieves. Even the un­der­stat­ed ti­tle screen theme helps to set up what to ex­pect when first launch­ing the game, and gets stuck in your head as eas­i­ly as any pop song would — I’m hum­ming it right now whilst writ­ing this up!

Get to the point, Slim.

Despite the Alpha state of the game (Beta com­ing soon), Sombrero is al­ready a very pol­ished, fun-filled, and sat­is­fy­ing game. The ex­pe­ri­ence while play­ing is bois­ter­ous and en­ter­tain­ing for all ages Any fans of games like Super Smash Bros. will feel right at home jump­ing around and twerk­ing to get those kills and snatch that loot.

So far the only real con — and I’m re­al­ly hav­ing to play devil’s ad­vo­cate here — that I can pick on the game for is that it is lo­cal mul­ti­play­er only, no on­line mul­ti­play­er here. First , net­code is a bitch to do well and who knows about the fu­ture. Second, and more im­por­tant­ly, this is the type of game to be played to­geth­er with a group of friends while shov­ing shoul­ders and talk­ing smack.

The only oth­er thing that comes to mind as a pos­si­ble con is if you are not into this style of game. I know a mul­ti­play­er ver­sus plat­former may not be everyone’s cup of tea, even though I still think you should give this in-progress gem a shot with a group of friends. You’ll have fun.

Here is video of me de­tail­ing some as­pects of the game out­side the bus­tle of bat­tle. (Author’s note: I TOTALLY didn’t lose my record­ed footage of play­ing with a friend and thus had to record this by my­self to make sure I hit my dead­line to­day. Totally.)

You can look for­ward to Sombrero hit­ting Windows, OSX and Linux lat­er this year.

(Disclaimer: The au­thor and ed­i­to­r­i­al staff are friend­ly on Twitter with Nick Robalik.)

(Note 2:30pm 6/8/2015: Corrected a part that said “fast past” to be “fast paced.”)

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Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a fo­cus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­ph­er with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Editor-in-Chief and do-er of tech things at SuperNerdLand

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