Evercade Game of the Month 2023 #7: Orebody – Binder’s Tale
Happy October! The year sure is slipping between our fingers, isn’t it? But that means more great Evercade releases for you to enjoy all the sooner — including the latest Game of the Month for Evercade VS and Evercade EXP players!
Game of the Month is a programme for Evercade VS and Evercade EXP owners where you can download a free game every month between April and December of 2023. You can enjoy the full version of each game without limits for a month, at which point it will be replaced with a brand new game. In February 2024, all of the Game of the Month titles from 2023 will be collected together for the Indie Heroes 3 cartridge, together with a few cartridge-exclusive games to sweeten the deal even further, and you’ll be able to add them to your Evercade library permanently!
This month, we bring you the 8-bit science fiction platformer Orebody: Binder’s Tale. As the “title: subtitle” naming structure might suggest to you, this is part of a broader series known as Orebody that is the work of writer, professor and game designer John Vanderhoef.
Vanderhoef is prolific in both the creative and academic fields, with work published in a variety of journals that concern the study of popular and new media, and his writing has also appeared in edited collections such as Routledge’s Production Studies: The Sequel! and Independent Videogames: Cultures, Networks, Techniques and Politics.
To date, he has produced over 20 games as an independent developer, most of which can be found on his itch.io page. His work runs the gamut from simple arcade-style shooters to more narrative-focused experiences, with his real passion lying towards the latter end of that spectrum; he’s particularly interested in deep lore, mythology and the absurd — and how those things can often interact with one another.
Orebody: Binder’s Tale is part of an ambitious project that Vanderhoef is working on, which explores life on the titular planet of Orebody from a variety of different perspectives. Vanderhoef’s intention for the complete Orebody project is for it to be a transmedia property, meaning that it doesn’t confine itself to a single medium: not only will it include video games, but it will also explore the lore of this troubled planet through comics, novels and animation.
In Orebody: Binder’s Tale, you take on the role of the eponymous Binder, who is an orphaned battle bot originally from the Floating City of Galvanstad, home of the mysterious Fold. Having fallen from the sky, Binder has no memories save those of the old tinker Fargle who fixed him up and made him functional again — but it seems the Fold very much remembers him and want him dead!
Following the passing of his mentor — and his mysterious, dying exhortation to “don’t fold, bind” — Binder sets off on a journey to return home and get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds him. What is it about him that causes the Fold to want to rain death down upon him — and anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby? Is he a genuine danger — or does he just know too much? And what is it that he’s forgotten in his time on the surface of Orebody?
Orebody: Binder’s Tale unfolds as a side-scrolling platformer with run-and-gun elements, similar to the classic Mega Man games. Binder is able to run, duck and aim upwards with the D-Pad, while jumping is handled by the B button. The A button, meanwhile, causes Binder to fire his current weapon — though be aware that he can only have a limited number of shots on screen at once, so think before you shoot.
Binder is also able to drop down through platforms by holding down on the D-Pad and pressing B. And as the story progresses, you’ll gradually unlock new abilities as Binder regains his memories; these will be explained to you on an interstitial screen between levels as you acquire them.
(Note that the button prompts which appear in the game refer to the standard controller for the game’s original host platform, so they are labelled the opposite way around to the Evercade layout; that means if the game says “down+A” you should press down on the D-Pad and B to perform the function indicated when using the default settings.)
Most enemies are just out to get Binder and should be either avoided or destroyed, but occasionally you’ll see a high-flying enemy towards the top of the screen. Blast this — usually by holding up on the D-Pad to aim up and pressing A to fire — and it will drop a small icon; grabbing this will get you one of several different types of powered-up weapon.
The additional weapons on offer include a shot that “splits” vertically after a short distance, a spread shot that allows you to hit enemies diagonally, and a boomerang-esque shot that returns to you after reaching a particular distance. Do your best to hold on to these, as they can make a real difference in keeping yourself out of trouble while dealing with foes that are blocking your path onwards; watch out, though, because losing a life will immediately cause Binder to revert to his default shot.
You don’t have to defeat all the enemies in order to proceed, but the more you destroy, the more likely you will earn extra lives. There are also some scenarios where a single, more powerful enemy blocks your path onwards; you’ll know them when you see them. The best advice for these encounters is to take your time rather than rushing: watch out for predictable attack patterns and strike during openings rather than simply trying to batter them down as quickly as possible.
Orebody: Binder’s Tale is pretty tough, so don’t be discouraged if you find yourself struggling to clear the first stage on your first few attempts! This is a game designed to feel authentic to the games that inspired it, so practice will make perfect over time. The further into the game you go, the more critical precise timing and accurate positioning will become, so take the time to master these skills throughout the earlier stages.
Can you help Binder get home? And what will be waiting for him when he finally arrives there? Only one way to find out: fire up Orebody: Binder’s Tale and see how far you can take our little robot pal!
To get started with Orebody: Binder’s Tale and the Game of the Month programme for 2023, connect your Evercade VS or EXP to the Internet via the Network option in Settings, then perform a system update to the latest available firmware version.
When you’re all updated, you’re ready to go — start the game through the VS or EXP logo on the left of the main Evercade menu and get ready to begin your robot-crushing adventure!
Note that we always recommend that Evercade users keep their consoles up to date as a matter of course to ensure maximum compatibility with new cartridge releases and implement fixes to known issues. Please see the Evercade support pages for full patch notes; all new firmware updates are cumulative, so update once and you’ll see all the benefits, including new features and even sometimes some new secret games to enjoy!
Please note that saves from the Game of the Month edition of Orebody: Binder’s Tale will not carry across to the Indie Heroes Collection 3 cartridge when that releases in February of 2024.
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