Strafe May Be Kickstarter's Most Awesome Game Marketing Yet

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Strafe May Be Kickstarter's Most Awesome Game Marketing Yet

few minutes on Kickstarter will show users a huge litany of games seeking the necessary cash to get developed. But it may well be Strafe, a new game that's surprisingly familiar, that may well have established the new gold standard when it comes to game marketing. A great trailer, a great pitch, and a great attitude all combine to make something that's a whole lot better than the sum of its parts.

Strafe, a game geared toward PC and Mac—complete with Oculus Rift support—came on the scene just recently, and has most of a Kickstarter run to go. Given that it's already raised nearly 10 percent of its goal with fully 446 total backers, Strafe may well achieve its ultimate goal. Strafe is familiar gameplay at its best, sufficiently reminiscent of the 1990s that the copyright date on its title screen is 1996. Strafe follows a junk dealer who's signed on with the Icarus, a ship about to go deep into the edge of the galaxy, where there may well exist untold fortunes in space flotsam and derelicts on hand. But not surprisingly, you turn up precious little from your small scout ship, and decide to head back. The Icarus has seemingly departed...but its transporter beacon is active. You therefore transport back...and what's waiting for you is worse than you could imagine.

Strafe is a game that's almost aggressively nineties. Its clunky graphics are deliberate, reminiscent of 90s fare at its finest. Its trailer features a kid at a computer—a computer complete with CRT monitor, no less!—in 90s garb spewing 90s slang like “tight” as a means to express satisfaction. Oh, and then there's the gore. Bloody chunks tossed around most everywhere, even in the trailer, and no one seems to care. That's actually part of the gameplay; the levels are randomly generated, so the gore serves as a marker beacon of sorts; you know where you are because anywhere you've been and fought something is soaked in a layer of the claret. The gore actually stays persistently, too, so there's no need to worry that your gore marker will disappear, and that may be the most awesome and most disturbing thing about the whole idea.

Needless to say, if they'd had a game like this in 1996 my freshman year of high school would have been a blur of chunky giblets on screen. Just to top it off, even the Kickstarter rewards have the clear tang of the nineties in tow, including not only AOL buddy icons, but also pogs. Yes, pogs. That's not a misspelling; at the $250 tier, you get actual pogs. Never mind that no more than a handful of people play this game; you will still get a set of pogs.

While this whole idea is a hilarious anachronism writ about as large as Chairface Chippendale's name—Google it to appreciate the true potency of that joke if you don't get the reference; I'll not spoiler here—the marketing value here is immense. It's so clearly put out a message with its mythos that it's hard to miss; anyone who's missing nineties style gaming, or just wants to see what it was like, should get in on this action because this is actually more nineties than the nineties themselves were. This is nineties-retro excelsior. And in the process, it's drawn plenty of attention, and that makes it hard to ignore. Love it, hate likely won't feel ambivalent about it, and that's likely to give this game a lot of extra room to run.

Only the next month or so will tell how well it does overall, but there's certainly plenty of possibility ahead for Strafe, and it's going to be one to watch all the same.

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