Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
Starting a game of Chunkadelic is like putting money into a jukebox that has all the labels scratched off. There is a general idea of what song you’re about to get, but you can’t be entirely sure until the disc starts spinning. Chevy Ray and Noel Berry’s retro procession weaves in and out of nine simple games, remade with a bright schizophrenic aesthetic. Shown a batch of nine thumbnails just once, you pick one as your starting point, playing through classics that range from a straightforward take on Asteroids to a frustrating riff on Super Mario.
It’s manic from the get-go, giving no instructions other the implied use of the arrow keys. Whether you win or not, you are thrust onward into the next game, chosen at random. There are no re-dos or second chances.
However, getting through a stage does have its rewards. Chunkadelic subtly bleeds the games into each other as you play. The neon-colored Duck Hunt ducks might fly to-and-fro during a frantic Mega-Man boss battle. The game could use more free-associative touches like this, but given its completion in just two days at Vancouver’s Full Indie Game Jam last month, Chunkadelic is still a compelling little blip with a difficulty that invites multiple playthroughs.