Johann Sebastian Joust and friends head to PS3 via Kickstarter



Johann Sebastian Joust, arguably the most widely respected unreleased PlayStation Move game in existence, is finally heading to Sony’s console as part of Sportsfriends, a compendium of local multiplayer sports games that launched last night on Kickstarter.

Joust, a fixture at industry events in recent years from Where Is My Heart developer Die Gute Fabrik, is a PlayStation Move game with no graphics. Four players, each holding a Move controller, move around the room (or, more commonly, the show floor), their speed dictated by the tempo of the classical soundtrack. Breach the accepted movement threshold and you’re out of the game, a simple concept that brings out the devious worst in players as they try to jostle each other into sudden movements.

Also included is BariBariBall, a water-based sports game for two or four players that was one of 10 indie games showcased at the Evolution 2k12 fighting game tournament. Developer Noah Sasso explains on the Sportsfriends project page that BariBariBall “favours responsive controls, improvisation and tactics”.

Next up is Super Pole Riders, an expanded version of the pole-vaulting polo browser game Pole Riders from Bennett Foddy, perhaps best known for creating the infuriatingly, irresistibly difficult athletics sim QWOP. Foddy says Pole Riders is “a no-holds-barred sport of launching yourself off your opponent’s head, kicking him off his pole, and flipping the other guy into orbit with your pole,” which is fine by us.

The fourth and final game in the collection is Hokra, a fast-paced “minimalist digital sports game” for two teams of two players, developed by Ramiro Corbetta, who worked on IGF-winning mobile game Glow Artisan.

“Online multiplayer is great and everything, but there’s nothing quite like gaming together with friends who are there with you in person, or competing in front of a cheering crowd,” writes Joust creator Douglas Wilson. “Think back to the games you played at the arcade, or on the playground, or on your friend’s couch. Many of our favourite gaming memories come from local multiplayer games, and we want to celebrate that kind of co-located play.”

The team seeks $150,000 to fund the recruitment of two experienced multiplatform programmers to port the games, originally made for PC or Mac, to PS3. While they will be self-publishing on PSN – and are targeting a release in autumn 2013 – Sony has already expressed an interest in the project and has offered support behind the scenes and in marketing the finished product.

Kickstarter has, of course, become the de facto home of ill-thought-out videogame projects fuelled by nostalgia and little else. While the four games comprising Sportsfriends are clearly inspired by the past, they do so in a very different way, and for very different reasons. Good local multiplayer is increasingly rare, all but killed off by the convenience of online multiplayer. Wii U will challenge that, of course, but of late it’s been indie developers who’ve continued to fly the flag for competitive, couch-based play.

In many ways this is exactly what Kickstarter was made for: helping talented creators bring tightly designed games that have proven hugely popular on a small scale to a broader audience. At the time of writing Sportsfriends has raised $22,310 of its $150,000 target with 31 days remaining; visit the project page for more.