Little Rock Gaming and the Golden-Age Revival Project
An introspective look at E3 through our very own B-Chan!
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the Valhalla for anyone who has an interest in gaming. Many fans, including myself, often dream of going to the E3 event, so you could imagine my joy when I got the orders from heaven to scope out the scene and come back with an interesting read. I eagerly logged on to the convention’s site to sign up as a journalist, hoping to get the inside scoop on some exciting new title. I will admit I have never done the virtual con experience, but what I saw was far from what I expected. The E3 page was a hub for game companies who had their own page called, “Virtual Booths”. I clicked on the ones who caught my interest and quickly realized that the vast majority if not all of them just had links to their YouTube or Twitch streams, some companies did so little as to just post a link to their steam page with several titles that were only marked “coming soon”.
To be completely honest, I found out about all the gaming news at the same time as everyone else. Not that I am upset about that, but I expected more than just links to streaming accounts that were set up perhaps even years ago. I suppose my only disappointment was the fact that there was nothing that made browsing the E3 page exciting or engaging. So, with that in mind, I came across a couple of finds that merit some more attention, and I do not plan to go over any big news you may have heard from companies like Nintendo or Square Enix. Instead, this article will cover the interesting business sim title from a small but productive indie game company, and an established console manufacturer from yesteryear throwing their hat in the fold once more.
While doing my first browse of the virtual booths, I would click on unfamiliar game companies to see if maybe they had done something special for E3. I clicked on the links, and they posted any media they may have released that on their page, somewhat bummed that a lot of the titles I was seeing this year were sci-fi themed, which is not my favorite genre. It was then that I clicked on Little Rock Games and noticed they had posted a schedule, something even top-tier companies like Sega and Capcom neglected to do. I clicked to be reminded of the stream and went about my business. Night one of E3 had ended.
I logged on to my Twitch and joined game developer Tanner Marshall in showing off his latest title, To The Rescue. To The Rescue is a business simulator where you run a dog kennel. You start from your home, taking care of one dog before it gets adopted, this is the tutorial by the way, and then you get hired by a dog kennel where you take in dogs and care for them until they get adopted.
As some of you may not be aware, I have worked several dog kennel jobs over the years, and I never resonated with a character as much as I did when I saw that avatar walking by and filling each dog bowl with specific types of food according to the dog’s taste. That is not your only task however, much like working in an actual kennel, you are also responsible for watering, grooming, playing, and even giving medication to the digital canines.
While we are on the pups, there will be several types of breeds. All in different shapes, sizes, weight, and food preferences. They also come with different stats such as being good with children, being overweight, and so on. Kind of like how The Sims have their own little quirks, but in dog form. As you care for them and pet the rascals, they will gain more stars.
The stars come into play when people come in to adopt a pet, they will ask for certain requirements that match the dog’s personality traits and you choose your five best dogs to show off. The stars from each dog are then fed into a meter increasing the chance of the person adopting one of the dogs. Once the bar is full and the potential owner is done looking at the dogs, they will pick one at random, unless there is a dog with matching stats.
At the end of the day, you tally up how much money you made versus any business expenses you may have and then start the new day. Before you begin your shift, however, you have the option to expand your kennel. You can add more cages, a play area, a new room, even an auto cleaner tool so you do not have to waste time washing the dogs, which is good because titles such as these tend to be time-based.
Another option at your disposal before the next workday begins is the chance to spend skill points to increase your own stats. These stats will help you in your daily tasks or even help to gain increased profits. After you are done with your pre-morning tasks, you begin the day by feeding and releasing the dogs out to the yard a la Ba-Ha Men circa 1998.
As mentioned earlier, you will get new fosters coming in to care for, and eventually come across certain negative traits such as biter. If a dog is a biter, it increases the chances of fights breaking out and one of them being injured. But there are ways to manage this, such as hiring AI workers to assist in tasks and keep an eye on the dogs. You can also help the canines unlearn some bad habits as well as teach them some good ones. There are also penalties for not treating the dogs properly such as fees your business would have to pay for and watch out for any outbreaks that may occur in your kennel.
All and all, I am looking forward to this charming title’s release during the 3rd Quarter, the hand-drawn, and animated dogs are beautiful. And in terms of customization, Tanner Marshall and Little Rock Games take it to a place not many indie titles do. For example, as you go through the tutorial, you will have a dog, that you can select, be your tutor. There is even a no-kill mode, which allows you to send dogs to other shelters rather than euthanizing them. And while this shelter may not accept cats, I have been told from a reliable source that the counterpart to this title, named Cat Café Manager, is in the works.
My second venture in the E3 virtual booths took me to a company I was not expecting to see. I clicked on the Intellivision link, expecting to see some new updated versions of their old titles from the ’60s and ’70s. What I found was a YouTube video directly talking with the fans of E3 about their new console named the Amico. The console itself looks like a Wii charging station, since it houses two controllers with the possible connection of up to eight, and the controllers themselves look as if the Intellivision warehouse just purchased all the unsold Zunes they could find, but I was impressed with the demonstration they showed in the video. It was your typical Space Invaders styled title, but with some modern touches such as completely reworked graphics, and the auto-scroll right function.
After the video, I browsed the internet to see if I could find any more on this console. Sure, it was more focused on couch play, and the creators said as such, but I was still interested in owning one. Upon further investigation, I learned that this has been in the market since 2020, complete with a video showing off its initial library, showing it off at The Video Game Museum in Frisco, Tx, and even some videos stating that it was a scam. However, I paid no heed to that because I only ever pre-order on rare occasions, and this was not one of them.
The reason why the Amico holds so much interest for me, however, is the controller itself. As a game designer, I can see the untapped potential of having a touch screen on the controller. And yes, many gamers and developers tend to shy away from it because they think the idea of having to look at two screens while gaming is a waste of time.
But I can recall several times throughout gaming vast history where a second screen was most beneficial. Obviously, The Jack Box titles come to mind, but what I was talking about was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the Game Cube. My friends and I damn near killed ourselves trying to get a hold of 4 Game Boy Advance consoles to play, but it was the most fun we had that year.
Speaking of titles, the games you can expect on the Intellivision Amico’s launch are what you would expect from most gaming consoles. They include childlike titles where you play as colorful fish, a gauntlet-styled title, several two-side scrolling, and top view titles, and even a title for MLB in the works.
I have yet to find out if there is a release date for the Amico, or if Intellivision has even settled on a time frame. But I feel as if this console, along with the right title, could give a type of resurgence that does not rely heavily on online connectivity, but rather on people gathering to play. And with how some people may be feeling post-pandemic, it might just the thing our homes need.