Organisers of Evo 2K12, the biggest and most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world, have announced that 10 indie games will be playable at this year's event, which takes place next month in Las Vegas.
In a post on fighting game website Shoryuken, organisers say that the ten games in the event's first-ever Indie Showcase "have been chosen on the basis of their skill-based and competitive designs that we think can inspire and engage any Evo attendee."
Some of the selections are obvious. There's Aztez, a side-scrolling, black-and-white action game whose combat system is inspired by the likes of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. In a similar vein, but with a more cartoony style, is Super Comboman – both games are suitable choices for a showcase in Ceasar's Palace populated by people well used to delving into the depths of intricate combo systems.
Then there's DiveKick, a fighting game parody played with two buttons: one to jump, the other for an angled kick which kills instantly if it connects. Designed to satirise the strength of Capcom characters with dive kicks – like Street Fighter III's Yun, SFIV's Rufus and Marvel Vs Capcom 3's Wolverine – it has Street Fighter X Tekken-style gems, and a ranking system (grading players for their prowess at diving, kicking, and not losing).
The game was first playable at the recent UFGT8 tournament in Chicago, using two outsized buttons stripped from a Pop'n Music arcade machine. It's been made by the fighting game community for the fighting game community, and is a natural choice for Evo's Indie Showcase.
BariBariBall (a multiplayer, water-based sports game), Nidhogg (an IGF-nominated two-player fencing game) and Chris Hecker's psychological multiplayer game SpyParty are also logical inclusions; fighting game players understand, perhaps better than anyone, the mechanics and mind games of local competitive multiplayer.
Hecker tells Joystiq that, while SpyParty "is very different [to fighting games] at the low level, with very few twitch elements, the high-level psychology, deception and perception skills of elite play might be similar. I can't wait to find out."
The tenth game, Super Time Force, is a side-scrolling XBLA shooter, in the style of Contra and Gunstar Heroes, with a time-travel mechanic. Why, then, has it been selected to feature alongside side-scrolling action games, a fighting game parody, and competitive multiplayer titles? Nathan Vella, CEO of Capybara Games, is a big fan of fighting games, and a friend of Seth Killian, the former Capcom community man and Evo co-founder who helped put the Indie Showcase together. Indeed, Vella sees parallels between the fighting game and indie game scenes.
"I really like the idea of game culture," he tells us. "Street Fighter's a perfect example of it: this very specific component of what game culture is, this amazing, thriving ecosystem of people and players focused on a very specific thing.
"The fighting game community is, in a weird way, the same as indie gaming. Some of the fighting game guys make videogames; some are lawyers. It needs that common thread to tie them together. I think we're now at the point where the community is more important than the label attached to it."
Evo 2k12 runs from July 6 to 8 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and organisers are expecting a record number of attendees from over 40 countries around the world who will compete for a combined prize pool of over $100,000. For more, see Evo2k.com.