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Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
E3 2011, Mommy's Best Games, Nathan Fouts, Serious Sam, Serious Sam Double D, Side scrollers

Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

Mommy's Best Games doesn't do subtle.

Nathan Fouts, the veteran designer behind Ratchet & Clank's weaponry, Resistance's arsenal and the epic Postal series, left Insomniac games and founded his own boutique indie studio to pursue his love of independent development. He's the man you can rely on for sumptuous hand-drawn artwork, incredibly innovative boomsticks, ridiculous action, award-winning mechanics and truly worrying enemy design... and now he's been let loose on the anarchic Serious Sam license with free rein to do what he does best.

I'll be posting my full hands-on preview of Croteam's upcoming Serious Sam 3: BFE in the next couple of days... but frankly, we're just as excited for its downloadable companion.

Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

Set up in the Figueroa Hotel a stone's throw from the E3 convention centre, I sat down with Fouts to take a look at how Serious Sam: Double D is progressing. It's a side-scroller in the vein of his first Xbox Live Indie hit Weapon Of Choice, and grants players independent control over movement and 360-degree aim with both thumbsticks. The inputs are all independently mappable to either mouse or gamepad, and Sam's familiar double-barrelled shotgun made light work of the Gnaars, Beheaded Rocketeers and Kleer Skeletons that pressed the attack thanks to a considerate amount of auto-aim.

So far, SSDD was shaping up to be a simple 2D reimagining of Serious Sam... but it was time to check out the first major innovation that Fouts has brought to the party: Gun Stacking. Players can collect connectors that link guns together into a massive pile of simultaneously-firing death, and there'll be a whopping twenty four to find in all. Connecting guns is as simple as dragging and dropping new weapons on top of each other, which soon resulted in Sam rocking a ludicrous stack of shotguns, rockets and miniguns topped off with a handy chainsaw. Enemies fell by the dozens, and then any fleeting pretence of the experience taking itself too seriously merrily disintegrated as a duo of floating chimps boosted into the fray.

Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

The Chimputees, paraplegic monkeys armed with exploding bananas and obscenely small rockets stapled to their stumps, were just the first and most forgettable statement of Double D's mission: to be a balls-out, ridiculous, hilarious and hardcore experience that's unlike literally anything else on the market. Netrixa, the faceless AI from the original games, is now a gorgeous babe whose enormous mammaries flop over the text dialogue screens. A quick trip to prehistoric Nova Scotia saw Sam duelling against enormous dinosaurs and using their corpses as makeshift bridges. A new enemy type, the Femikaze, is a nine-foot tall naked woman who makes up for her lack of a head with two enormous ACME bombs instead of breasts. And the secrets reference everything from Dune to obscure 80s cartoons.

By far the most surreal moment came later in the demo when Sam found himself mired in a mysterious sticky fluid. "It's maple syrup, dude," explained Fouts... as an enormous stack of pancakes studded with vuvuzelas leapt into centre stage. This hilarious monstrosity made me burst out laughing thanks to the sheer unexpected sillyness of it all (and its adorable blueberry eyeballs), but the ensuing tense firefight and furious sonic attacks soon made me realise that the anarchic sense of humour is just the icing on a game that's all business.

Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

You see, Serious Sam: Double D isn't just some silly spectacle that's designed for maximum exploitation of the lowest common denominator. Mommy's Best Games are known for absolutely nailing core gameplay mechanics while adding exciting and imaginative new features. The combat is tense, technical and extremely tactical thanks to limited ammo and the near-infinite numbers of stacking combinations on offer. Levels inhabit a sweet spot between tightly focused and full of rewarding secrets that promote fastidious exploration and replayability. And naturally, there are  a couple of new gameplay innovations that would feel cutting edge in a full retail release.

Corpse Piling is one such breakthrough. To demonstrate this new feature in action, Fouts booted up a level that started with Sam languishing at the bottom of a sheer pit. There were no stairs, hand holds or obvious ways out, but suddenly an enormous horde of cyclopean gnaars started dropping into the oubliette in intimidating numbers. Sam's collection of cannons ripped through them with ease, causing an ever-increasing pile of corpses to build up that Sam used as a constantly-rising platform. Fouts explained that he received the inspiration for this mechanic from the box art of the original game, and that even the biggest enemies can be used as platforms to reach hidden areas. Frankly, I'll demand this mechanic from all other platformers from now on.

Serious Sam: Double D Preview | Guns, Tits, Pancakes & Corpse Piling!

The jump pad is another nifty new gadget that builds upon a conventional videogame cliché. Instead of a static scenery item, Sam can deploy his jump pad at will and use it to leap up sheer cliffs, bounce off walls and even set it in front of approaching enemies to splatter them against the ceiling. Projectiles can even be reflected off of the deployed pad, letting players shoot around corners and access otherwise impregnable secrets.

Serious Sam: Double D is slated for a July release on PC, with a Steam version and a possible Xbox 360 port. Mommy's Best Games has delivered its own imaginative take on Croteam's beloved franchise, and for the love of sentient ferocious pancakes, it is imperative that you give this barmy and brilliant title the attention it deserves. Seriously.

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