impulse Three Variations On A Platforming Theme s one of the earliest gaming genres, the side-scrolling platformer has a long and varied history. Within the indie scene, I’m fascinated by the way creators approach the platformer from distinct perspectives, layering in ac-tion, puzzle, shooting, and other genre elements into a new cohesive vision. This month I took a closer look at three of the most intriguing twists of the platforming experience on the horizon. by Matt Miller A Aegis Defenders PS4, PC, Mac Aegis Defenders is an odd mix of systems that somehow all work well together. Players control two treasure hunters, Clu and her grandfather Bart, as they delve into the ruins of a highly advanced civilization and pull out valuable relics. Initially, the gameplay feels like a classic 16-bit action/platformer, as your characters run and jump through increasingly complex stages. The two leads can be con-trolled either by a single player switching back and forth, or by two players in cooperation. Either way, other influences begin to crop up; a weapon and trap purchasing system and extensive dialogue threads allude to classic connect console RPGs. And then, as the stages con-clude, the concept shifts yet again, and you enter tower defense sequences. Here, the two heroes work in tandem to create turrets, place traps, and fire weapons to hold off hordes of advancing enemies before they can reach a vulnerable location. Aegis Defenders has a beautiful art palette and equally evocative music. Character dia-logue is light and at times funny. However, only time with the game reveals its biggest strengths – deep upgrade and combat sys-tems lie behind the colorful exterior. I was impressed with the couple of hours I played, which featured tight controls, challenging encounters, and constant new twists on the established gameplay. I’m eager to see the full experience when it launches on PS4, PC, and Mac later this year. South African developer Nyamakop is behind the clever Semblance , a puzzle/ platformer headed to PC, Mac, and unan-nounced consoles in 2018. In the demo I played, I took on the role of Squish, an amorphous blob-like creature who lives in a world made of something akin to Play-Doh. Hardness has entered the world, and Squish is on a quest to bring back the softness. Gameplay demands that you deform both the platforms on which Squish jumps, but also the little blob itself, in an attempt to reach objec-tives scattered throughout the levels. By dash-ing upwards into a flat platform, I reshaped it into a peak that allowed for a higher jump.