Spelunky creator’s mega-collection of fictional retro games UFO 50 will finally be out this September

UFO 50 is a collection of fictional retro games designed as if they were made for a non-existent games console 40 years ago, but in reality have been developed as brand new titles for an upcoming collection from indie devs including Spelunky creator Derek Yu. With the ambitious project nearing a decade in its own development, though, those games have now taken on their own real history in addition to their made-up one. Those histories will meet this September, when UFO 50 finally sees the light of day.

UFO 50 was revealed all the way back in 2017 as a playful take on the trend of bundling together retro games of yore. The collection is made up of 50 different games – ranging from smaller arcade-like experiences to bigger games said to be “quite large” in their scope and ambition, with the insistence that none are “mini-games” – tied together by their in-universe origins under fictional studio UFOsoft, developing for a fictional console during the 1980s.

That framing is key to UFO 50’s ambitious take on modern-retro offerings, with the 50 games designed in such a way to trace the in-world history of the company from 1982 to 1990. The commitment to the concept goes as far as limiting their colour palettes and audio capabilities to the hardware of the time, with the progression of technology seen in the advancing visuals and soundscapes across the games. There’ll even be some straight-up sequels within the fictional catalogue, as well as recurring characters and other ties across the games to make it feel like much more than a grab-bag of random ideas.

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What hasn’t been limited to the time are the design sensibilities and genres of the games, with UFO 50’s creators approaching UFOsoft’s output as “ahead of their time” in terms of gameplay. The collection runs the gamut from platformers, brawlers and shmups to turn-based strategy games, RPGs, fighters and sports games – I spotted something that looked distinctly Windjammers-inspired. Of those games, half also have some kind of multiplayer, whether cooperative or versus.

Best of all, you’ll be able to play everything off the bat rather than being forced to unlock things one by one, with the collection’s creators being upfront in saying that not every game will be for everyone. Seems like there’ll be more than plenty to try out, at least, with the promise that every game is a “complete experience” rather than a glorified demo. Given that it was originally planned to come out in 2019 and then missed that date by half a decade as the ambition ballooned, that’s perhaps unsurprising.

Having teased a potential release date toward the end of 2024, UFO 50’s appearance during the Day of the Devs showcase at Summer Game Fest gave us a hard date to look forward to: September 18th. It all sounds very promising, and a heck of a lot of thought and work has clearly gone into it – could UFOsoft instantly become one of the best developers that never were?

The flurry of summer games events are now underway! Hit up our Summer Game Fest 2024 hub and our Day Of The Devs roundup for all the news worth caring about from the shows so far.

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