VideoHeroeS is a good fit for Fantastic Arcade, the annual indie game exhibition tied to Fantastic Fest, a genre film showcase held in Austin, Texas. VHS is a game about the nostalgia of picking out movies, on VHS, in the 90s from the local rental store – players are the store clerk and have to find the right tape for each customer. Customers have specific demands, such as, "I hate movies. They suck. Give me anything that is not a movie," and questions including, "Do you still have that martial arts movie with the screaming guy? You know, when he says, "Kiiaiii!"
I played VHS during GDC Europe in Cologne, Germany, and it's more than a simple point-and-click method of movie selection. It's a physics game in the way that Octodad uses physics, flinging films around the carefully organized shelves to float above the floor in a jumbled, chaotic pile. This adds to the frenzy of helping customers as their demands pile up. As the clerk, you only get paid if you find a film to meet the customer's needs. It's a joy not only to pick the correct movies, but also to look at all that old-school box art.
Currently, VHS uses actual movies and their box arts, but if the game takes off outside of Fantastic Arcade, developer Santa Ragione has a plan: commission famous and talented artists to design boxes inspired by classic titles, mimicking them enough for players to get a sense of each film's contents, but not enough so the devs get sued. As a bonus, this avenue would create tons of original artwork within the game, which could be an extra selling point.
Anyone going to Fantastic Arcade in Austin on September 19 - 26, check out VHS – and please be kind, rewind.