Let's construct a modern Simple Series lineup

[EDIT: here is the list so far]

I'll call this the Simple Series Sampler. So far we have:

SSS01: [Ace of Seafood](https://store.steampowered.com/app/450500/Ace_of_Seafood/?snr=1_5_1100__1100)
SSS02: [Pull Stay](https://store.steampowered.com/app/1179890/Pull_Stay/?snr=1_5_1100__1100) (pending release)
SSS03: [Fishing Spirits](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_YWaW8wQgc)
SSS04: [Karate Master 2 Knock Down Blow](https://store.steampowered.com/app/347670/Karate_Master_2_Knock_Down_Blow/)
SSS05: [Brief Karate Foolish](https://store.steampowered.com/app/546390/Brief_Karate_Foolish/)
SSS06: [Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae](https://store.steampowered.com/app/263620/Mitsurugi_Kamui_Hikae/)
SSS07: [Iron Brigade](https://store.steampowered.com/app/115120/Iron_Brigade/)
SSS08: [Rock of Ages](https://store.steampowered.com/app/22230/Rock_of_Ages/)

SSS09: [Fitness Boxing](https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/fitness-boxing-switch/) --

I'd been thinking for a few years about what a modern Simple Series lineup would look like. Back in the early aughts I was telling D3 Publisher, when they had a bigger US presence, that they should just release all their Simple Series games on Steam for wacky views. I still think that would've been the right call! And they would've been forced to create a commercial PS2 emulator, which would have been good for the world in general.

But lately, now that it's probably too late to do all that, I've been thinking about what modern Simple Series games would look like. Last night I found this one, which 100% has what it takes. https://twitter.com/necrosofty/status/1272369504547270663

So this game, Pull Stay (which isn't even out yet) is my first entry into the series.

Also submitting Ace of Seafood, which I first saw when I was judging the Sense of Wonder Night for Tokyo Game Show (they have not invited me back since I said they stopped focusing on games with a sense of wonder lol):


Anyway I think those two really fit the bill, so here are the "RULES" so you can add more.

a "big" idea
a relatively narrow focus aimed broadly (like, be any fish and shoot lasers, but they're not actually that different)
a "rushed" appearance, either in UI, frame rate, or general execution

It's tough to find the line between "lolwtf" games like Goat Simulator, and something like Pull Stay. Would I put Goat Simulator in this list? I could argue for it. But something feels off about it, I'm not sure! That said, I want to emphasize that a game need not be Japanese to make the list. Farm Simulator 2020 can't be on here because it's too polished. But a rushed knockoff of it that focuses only on hay baling for some reason, that'd make the cut.

Some less modern titles as honorable mentions:
Kung Fu Rider

Tokyo Jungle:

Well, what have you got!?

Like where do we lie on this here? I lean toward yes, for earnestness, but I'm not 100% sure…??


Maybe Castle of Heart?


It's pretty basic clunky Ghost and Goblin's with iffy frame rate, though that might be because they really go hard on the graphic (although they are still pretty bland). The plot is something about LOVE conquering evil magic. Its not good per say, but you do really feel like they were trying.


@exodus#2107 I lean toward yes, for earnestness, but I’m not 100% sure…??

I think it’s visually too researched. Also the title betrays a kind of awareness which is missing from these earnest (i.e. slightly dumb) Simple Series games.

On the other hand, Overcooked! and its zillion upcoming clones are a good example of a simple high concept which could have been accidentally great even in the hands of a less talented team.


@exodus#2104 Would I put Goat Simulator in this list? I could argue for it. But something feels off about it, I’m not sure!

I agree. I think the issue is the lack of commitment and earnestness to the actual experience vs. pitched proposal. You could have pretty much exactly the same game with a sheep or a kangaroo.

Something like Untitled Goose Game is much closer to the design philosophy of Simple Series games. It’s a game about being a goose.

I feel like Fishing Spirits has Simple energy.


I think Amazing Frog? might be on that Goat Simulator border, but I think it has a bit more heart. It was the Ouya launch title that got the most play in my apartment over Towerfall and Hidden in Plain Sight.


Another that springs to mind are the Kuukiyomi games, which are kind of mundane riffs on WarioWare style minigames


@chazumaru I feel like untitled goose game is maybe too high concept for a simple series title almost!?

Fishing Spirits is right in there though - it's a console-ized version of an arcade redemption style game concept that grandparents play, which is exactly the vibe.

Amazing Frog? might have too much self awareness too... otherwise I'd put all the arcane kids games in here (I'm almost tempted to anyway). Looks real good though, I guess I was pretty unaware of it!

I‘m not sure what to add here except that a lot of games that I’d otherwise think would qualify are way too postmodern and self aware. The Simple 2000 games had little idea how ridiculous they were.

I‘m sure they knew… but there’s this earnestness that happens after the initial wacky idea. it‘s like - okay, we’re going to have a giant woman in a bikini destroy cities. that's the joke bit. Now how do we make this in 4 months.

So they kinda stop with the jokes after the initial premise, and just seriously make the joke game they proposed. I guess like Oh, Deer! did, heh. but that still doesn't feel like a simple 2000 game, cause it's not 3D dang it.

Even if it's 2D, I totally feel like Karate Master 2 belongs in here. A martial artist simulator with the option to enter both legit and illegal tournaments and a plethora of weird and interesting training minigames that echo the best parts of Shenmue. You even get to fight against a bear. Ambitious beyond its possibilities but also surprisingly cool.

[I don't know how to integrate the Steam page so here is a link](https://store.steampowered.com/app/347670/Karate_Master_2_Knock_Down_Blow/)

[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/94dITP8.jpg]
[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/Ld8CUNp.jpg]

Did I mention it's from the same guy that did Age of Barbarian? Because yeah, that's a thing too.

ah, 100% this one should be in there! It's got that vibe for sure.

Also I don't know how I integrated those first two steam pages, I just pasted a link. I think something's going wacky with links right now....

I totally got Simple vibes when I saw Pull Stay! Also kinda reminded me of King of Crusher.

Looking at my Steam wishlist and there's a few that I think fit the mould.

**Brief Karate Foolish**
Every Simple collection needs a weird fighting game...and it's Free! The publisher [Henteko Doujin](https://store.steampowered.com/franchise/hendj) has a lot of other games that would qualify.

**Catlateral Damage**
You probably already own it if you got The Bundle.

A more boring approach would be to see what previous Simple series entries are actually on Steam. Here's a few for fun.
Earth Defence Force series

Onechanbara series

There must be so many examples in [that itch.io bundle](https://itch.io/b/520/bundle-for-racial-justice-and-equality).

@“exodus”#p2177 I posted that from my tablet instead of the computer, so maybe that's what happened xd

Another couple of games that maybe belong in here too are:

Ahhh... the good old wacky Simple 2000 mech games... If only everything could always be so simple. I didn't link it but 100ft Robot Golf maybe deserves a shoutout too in this department.

A game about being a giant boulder smashing stuff? Sure, why not. It even got a sequel a couple of years.

Yeah definitely looks like it was because of my tablet...

@exodus#2162 I think Untitled Goose Game is a little too well made and not janky enough to be a Simple Series game. It's like you said, too high concept, but also waaaay too polished and self conscious.

I think the best Simple Series games are like the best bad movies-- there's an intent at quality but without the budget or production skills to back it up. And as a result it ends up being unintentionally funny. There are plenty of bad or dumb games that are self-consciously bad (I'm including the majority of my own work in this btw) and as a result don't have the dumb earnestness of a Simple Series game.

Haha, I guess I didn't manage to suggest a game for the list even! I'll have to give it some thought. But the ones already suggested are excellent!


@hellomrkearns#2189 The publisher Henteko Doujin

Oh yeah, _Soul Saber 2_ is Simpley too


@exodus#2104 Ace of Seafood is on the latest Humble Bundle for those curious.


I added some of these! I was reluctant to get Rock of Ages in there, because it‘s so self-aware, but it’s ALSO extremely earnest, so for me it's on the correct side of the fence.

Soul Saber 2 doesn't quite have the interestingness edge, but it absolutely has the rest of it, all the way down to the mixed reviews. I'm gonna percolate on that one.

@exodus#2224 No worries on not including Rock of Ages if you don't feel like it! I was just randomly brainstorming, no real intent of making them part of the “official” list.

There are, of course, the Puppet Combo games, which have a very distinctive Simple Series vibe to them imo, but maybe they are too obscure? I'd highlight Babysitter Bloodbath in particular:


There is a serious lack of STGs in the list so I want to bring up Ether Vapor Remaster, a cool game that mixes up the horizontal and vertical perspectives, with some bits even on chase camera.


Also, this one is VERY popular because it went super viral when it released, but isn't Getting Over It the perfect example of what we are looking for here? Just try to ignore the popularity it received for a moment. Is it too self aware? On the other hand, is a game about a dude inside a cauldron climbing with a hammer too self aware?


If I understand well how we progressively pinpoint the characteristics of a proper Simple Series game, I would say the in-game commentary of Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy kills it off the list for the same reasons Untitled Goose Game was deemed too smart and self-aware to be in there.

Although the Simple Series gained notoriety (notably in the West) for its more original high concept ideas that came around once the more obvious ideas had all been explored, it should be remembered the first games were very simple budget concepts, so any game that strives for this sort of simplicity (such as a plain mahjong or card game) should fit the bill.

I think another good candidate is the [surprisingly successful](https://www.gematsu.com/2020/04/fitness-boxing-shipments-and-digital-sales-top-700000) Fitness Boxing (just plain "Fit Boxing" in Japan). It's a very simple concept all summed up in the title of the software, adapted from an old Wii game, from a small team on a (seemingly) tight budget, designed competently and earnestly but without any strike of genius or hint of self-awareness, clearly punching above its weight (get it? too subtle?) when facing the direct competition of Ring Fit Adventure, yet somehow finding its own place on the market riding on the coattails of Ring Fit Adventure's success, when everyone suddenly found themselves stuck at home, and thanks to the lack of any real competition. And sold at a budget price, by modern standards. It could have been called THE FITNESS BOXING and I don't think anyone would have batted an eye. Sometimes those games are just accidentally good and somehow come at the perfect time.