I uttered a phrase today while playing Territory: The Mountain Men, a game made by an 85-year-old Rob Fisher and his aptly named studio Attic Games.
I can’t moonwalk unless I’m fighting the frisky warriors!
In this strange work of art, you play a frontiersman in 19th century America in a quest to become the richest fur trader in the land. You set up posts to conduct trade with the locals as you map out the lands as well as getting grants from the governor. Sometimes, though, the locals want to go for a round of the old fisticuffs, and you’ll have to fight them.
For some reason, Fisher decided to start this encounter with the phrase to the tune of “The frisky warriors want to fight!”. What followed was some basic combat punctuated by a hilarious backwards walk cycle that had my character doing a moonwalk. Unfortunately, by the time someone had joined me to see this animation, the frisky warriors had been defeated, the encounter had ended and the control scheme changed.
Thus the above phrase entered the htxt.africa lexicon ensuring that these games would stay forever in our memories.
I first came across Fisher’s ceations on Reddit where (presumably) his grandchild had created a post entitled “My 85 year old grandpa makes video games in his attic for fun. He creates all the music, storyline, and 3D models for his games. Let’s give him a bunch of downloads for his [birth]day!”.
The resulting rush of upvotes, comments and views not only pushed the post onto the front page of one of the biggest subreddits, but also crashed the Attic Games site with all the traffic, preventing me from playing.
Luckily, a few days have passed and I was able to access them. I’ve looked at a few below. It’s also worth noting that all the games are completely free to download and contain zero advertising.
Territory: The Mountain Men
Booting this title up was something of a nostalgia shock as the graphics, interface and sound shot me straight back to the era of janky 90’s PC games. I’m willing to forgive a lot when a game is so earnest, homely and free, so we set out to make our fur empire.
What greeted me, aside from the counter-intuitive design, was an economy system that was surprisingly complex. I did my best to explore, earning grants from the local governor, setting up beaver traps and bartering to get the best deals at the trading posts and stores.
The end to the htxt.africa Fur Trading Company, TLC came when I wondered into a den of wolves and fell due to my inability to light a torch to scare them off. I leave my fur to the local Boy Scouts.
After the surprising depth of the last game, Dragon’s Bane was far simpler: you are in a turret. The turret shoots rockets. There are dragons. Shoot the dragons.
Hitting the fast moving reptiles with the slow projectiles was extremely difficult, however. When I did actually down one of the beasts the animation again provided me with a bit of a laugh as it stopped dead in the air (as if it had hit an invisible wall) and slowly drooped to the floor. It was straight out of Looney Tunes.
Unfortunately my time ran out and I failed to meet my dragon-slaying quota. Another loss for htxt.africa Professional Mythical Beast Slayers Pty Ltd.
Lost Dutchman Mine 3D
My last chance of redemption was in a task of finding the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine in an allotted amount of time. To do so I would need to find map pieces, survive the wild west, and fund my expedition by mining and panning for gold.
With my trusty mule, some ammunition and a generous $100 grant from a banker, I set out.
I soon learned that finding any gold leads to a fight which you need to beat in order to keep your earnings. The game switches to a first person view as I needed to manually cock my six-shooter and take out some enemy warriors (not frisky this time).
I returned to the town for the funniest moment of the whole experience. One way to make money in the game is to gamble at the bar. Simple enough, until you see the dealer.
Unfortunately, this man’s incredible game face threw me off and I lost all of my money. I then had to return to mine for more gold, but the quest was ended by a rattlesnake that got the jump on me.
Thus htxt.africa Totally Legitimate Real Gold Inc. collapsed in on itself like so many shoddily run mines.
You feeling lucky?
In spite of all the bugs, confusing design and unintentionally hilarious 3D models, I legitimately had a great time with every title from Attic Games.
As you play these games you get the feeling that someone created them for the sole reason to provide you with enjoyment and happiness, and they don’t want to hamper it with any intention of making money. And, you know what? They succeeded.
I only had time to play three games, but there’s a total of nine waiting for you to crack into.
If you’re a bit tired of AAA games and the indie scene not being what you want, we suggest you play some of these games because they’re what videogames are supposed to be: fun.