In case you don't know what this is...

Back in June 2020, itch.io hosted a bundle called the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. This bundle was inspired to provide financial support for legal defense and bail funds for those involved in the protests working to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other Black lives that met their ends at the hands of police brutality.

As the bundle grew in popularity, more contributors opted to include their works into the bundle. By the end, more than 1,700 works by almost 1,400 Creators were included. The initial goal of $100,000 was met exceptionally fast (within a day) so they opted to increase it (multiple times) to see how much money could be raised. The last goal set was$5 million. The final total raised? Just under \$8.152 million.

This series is a look into the various games included in said bundle. They include a brief overview of the game, followed my my initial impressions!

Games in this post:
Cuckoo Castle | Hive Time | Little Comet | Pictassembler | Spring Falls

## Cuckoo Castle

Cuckoo Castle is a Gameboy-inspired mini metroidvania title that is simple and to the point, while not being boring or unimpressionable. You start out as this knight, tasked with saving the 10 villagers who have been kidnapped and whisked away to the evil Cuckoo Castle. As you work to bring the villagers home, you fight some badies along the way and get some help in the process.

For someone who doesn't always jump at the word 'metroidvania', I enjoyed Cuckoo Castle much more than I expected. Its simplicity allowed me to get invested without requiring a lot of mental energy. The overall scope of the title is compact, and doesn't try to bite off more than it can chew. You have a jump, and an attack, and that's really about it. You do have a map, albeit a very simple one, but it's enough to get you by and help you to keep moving forward. The monochromatic art style of this GB homage adds to the simplistic narrative and mechanics to boot. I finished my playthrough after a couple hours, which was much longer than I anticipated playing. If you're looking for something non-linear, but doesn't require a lot of effort - this is definitely worth checking out!

## Hive Time

Hive Time is a resource management simulator where you play as bees, working to expand and develop your hive! Your main goal is to collect enough royal jelly so that you can hatch a new queen before the lifespan of your current queen is over. With 5 different bee types to work with, you must find a balance amongst the bee life cycle to keep your hive functioning, growing, and thriving.

I personally love the concept of management sims, be it resource-driven or not, but I tend to eventually get overwhelmed with the complexity a lot of them have. That aspect does allow for a truly endless sandbox experience and extended play time, but my ADHD brain decides pretty quickly that we've had enough of remembering mechanics and figuring out how to implement them. Hive Time has a smaller scope in mind which works much better for my attention span. The way you expand your hive allows you a lot of creative freedoms without having too many mechanisms in play. If you have never really played a management sim before and want to dip your toes in, or are looking for one that you don't need extended longevity for - Hive Time might just be for you!

## Little Comet

Little Comet is an adorably charming physics-based puzzle game in which you help a little star 'mini-golf style' across a whimsical galaxy. With candies and treats to collect, you ricochet your way through various parts of the cosmos. The enchanting art and music, accompanied by the minimal text and intuitive U.I., makes it easy to dive right into this astrological adventure.

The simplicity of this game is one of the biggest draws. After even just the first level, I understood the objective, and the mechanics without there being any text. After playing the first couple worlds, the challenges that get added in are gradual and forgivable while you’re still learning them. Each level consists of the classic 3 star system: 1. for beating the level, 2. collecting the treat(s) before beating the level, and 3. beating the level within the specified number of moves. As someone who hates leaving things less than 3 stars as they go, I love the fact that these can be achieved in multiple attempts. I.e. you don't need to obtain the treat(s) while also getting to the exit in less than X number of moves. You can do one playthrough where you take all the moves you need in order to get the treat(s), and another to flex your skills and get to the exit in as little steps as possible.

Overall, this game is adorable and super easy to pick up and put down. If you're looking for something to have on your computer to easily boot up and kill some time, while being captivated by the sheer adorableness of it, Little Comet hits that nail right on the head. Also, it's super touch-screen friendly!

## Pictassembler

Pictassembler is a really intriguing game in which you create pixel images by directing marbles to fill in the squares/pixels of the image. You start out with a launching node, and a receiving node, and need to use various other directors to launch the marble and relocate it to the receiver.

This game was very perplexing and took some time for me to figure out. If you're very mechanically oriented and like the lighter aspects of engineering, this is worth checking out. The amount I've played so far has been broken into very small chunks, slowly trying to pick away at the first couple levels. It still feels like I'm trying to understand the fundamentals of the game, even after a few levels past the tutorial, but I'm not very mechanically minded so I don't think that helps. That being said, I do really like the premise of this title, and want to keep working on it. It is a far step beyond being your average logic puzzle game, so I wouldn't turn to this title if you're looking for something simple to start.

## Spring Falls

Spring Falls is a relaxing puzzle game centered around shaping a mountain side to revive patches of land and bloom flowers! Each level starts with specifically laid out pools of water, which you can move the pieces of land immediately adjacent to. The puzzle aspect is figuring out how to adjust the land levels around the water to help revive the flowers by a) reviving dry patches of grass bordering the flower and b) have a pool of water bordering it as well.

The main thing I really enjoy about this title is that it's very forgiving and stress-free. There is no timer, no cap on the number of moves you can make in order to beat the level. You can make as many moves as you'd like, and if it doesn't work, undo your moves or just restart the level again. The audio and visuals make for a very relaxing experience, but just because it’s relaxing - doesn’t make it easy!

Looking for more itch.io games from the bundle to check out? Take a look at the Showcase Tag for more!