Serious Sam: Double D

A game by Mommy's Best Games for PC, originally released in 2011.
Development of the Serious Sam series was started in the late 90’s by Croatian developer Croteam, and found its way into the US consciousness by way of Old Man Murray. By the time Serious Sam: The First Encounter was released on the PC in 2001, the FPS genre had become saturated with grand stories and scripted events in the wake of the extremely popular and well-received Half-Life.

But Serious Sam harkened back to the days of classic FPS actioners like Doom, where the only goal was to kill monsters, find bigger guns, and kill bigger monsters. It was a refreshing reminder to FPS fans of what got them into the genre to begin with, while also offering something entirely different.

Where Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake were defined by navigation through tight-quarter indoor environments – thus the moniker “corridor crawl” – Serious Sam instead took place in wide open outdoor environments and large arenas. Instead of moving room-to-room and hallway-to-hallway to fight a few enemies at a time, Sam ‘Serious’ Stone faced off against huge armies of enemies from every direction.

And apparently gamers were still yearning for this kind of action experience, because Serious Sam: The First Encounter did well on the PC, eventually being followed up with Serious Sam: The Second Encounter and a full-blown sequel (and new game engine) with Serious Sam II. These games were ported to the Xbox as well, and a Croteam farmed out development to Climax for a unique Playstation 2 and GameCube entry called Serious Sam: The Next Encounter, and a GBA title called Serious Sam Advance.

Serious Sam fell off the radar for a while, but in 2011 – a decade after Serious Sam’s first adventure – Croteam announced a shiny new entry in the series: Serious Sam 3: BFE. Along with this announcement came something truly astounding… a trio of 2D games. In order to promote Croteam’s new tech-heavy sequel, publisher Devolver Digital worked with a number of indie developers to create smaller-scale games based on everyone’s favorite T-shirted action star.

First off, there’s a mobile game called Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack, from Be-Rad Entertainment, which has players controlling a beheaded Kamikaze in an auto-running game (similar to Be-Rad’s own Lame Castle), as he tries to take down Serious Sam. Secondly, we have a turn-based RPG called Serious Sam: The Random Encounter (get it?) from Dutch studio Vlambeer (best known for Super Crate Box). And finally, we have a sidescrolling action game called Serious Sam: Double D from Mommy’s Best Games, developers of Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP, and Explosionade, and operators of the website you're reading right now as part of our terrible hidden agenda.

OK, so let’s get the title out of the way first: Double D is two D’s. Get it? Two D’s = 2D! Aha! …It might also have something to with brassieres, but we’re still looking into that. The reason for the name, aside from the double entendre, is that this really is a full-blown Serious Sam game. The only exception is that it takes place from a 2D perspective, rather than 3D. Many of the series’ hallmark enemies and weapons make an appearance, along with some of the biggest and most intense battles you’ve ever experienced, 2D or otherwise.

In this game, you’ll encounter beheaded soldiers, including the fan-favorite screaming Kamikazes, chomping one-eyed Gnaars, bastardly Kleer Skeletons, acid-spitting Marsh-Hoppers, and hulking Bio-Mechanoids. A few original creations have been added to the mix as well, including the Chimputee, a chimpanzee that has had its limbs amputated and replaced with various instruments of war. Its legs are now jet engines, one arm is a battle axe, and the other arm is a grenade launcher that dispenses bouncing banana bombs. (We’ll give you a moment to re-read that last sentence if you like.)

Another new enemy is the Vuvuzelator which is a Frankensteinian combination of utensils, vuvuzelas, and pancakes that defies any rational description. Oh, and there are tons of huge original bosses as well, which we wouldn’t even consider spoiling for you… but you’re going to need to bring a big load of guns to the party if you’re hoping to hang with the big boys.

Fortunately, if there’s one thing the game has plenty of, it’s guns. Most of the Serious Sam arsenal is represented: from shotguns and Tommy guns, to explosive weapons like grenade and rocket launchers, to spicy hurt machines like lasers and flamethrowers. And if you find yourself running low on ammo, you can always fall back on the infinite-ammo machine pistols or the always-gassed chainsaw.

This all might sound like pretty basic action game stuff, but there’s one extra component that makes an already over-the-top game even over-the-toppier (that would be “more over the top” -ed). Namely, the Gun Stacker. Throughout the game, you’ll find connectors that let you hook your guns together, stacking them one on top of the other. So, instead being forced to choose between a shotgun and a Tommy gun, you can strap two of them together Ellen Ripley-style and double-blast the baddies into oblivion.

But it doesn’t stop there. The more connectors you find, the bigger your gun stack can be. Get enough, and you can eventually sling up to six guns simultaneously. Sure, that Biomechanoid might have given you trouble in Level 1, but strap a few shotguns and machine guns together and you can turn that sucker into cream cheese in just a few seconds. Now imagine the possibilities of taking on bosses with a grenade launcher, rocket launcher, laser, and flamethrower all at once, spewing forth wholesale burny pain directly into their breakfast holes.

You may be wondering how an arena-style FPS like Serious Sam could translate into 2D. After all, in 3D, you’re free to run in any direction to escape your enemies, where 2D restricts you to movement to the left and right. That’s where the Jump Pad comes in.

The Jump Pad is essentially a portable trampoline that Sam can deploy at will, allowing him to soar high up into the air. This allows Sam to reach higher platforms, dodge enemies, and even uncover secrets by chucking Jump Pads against the walls and using them to triangle jump upward through narrow passages.

And the Jump Pad doesn’t just work on Sam; it affects his enemies as well. A major part of the strategy in the Serious Sam series is understanding how each of your enemies moves and attacks. Some enemies, like Kamikazes, will run off of the edge of platforms and fall down to the floor, so it’s best to engage them from above. Kleer Skeletons, on the other hand, will run at you along the floor and jump to attack you, but they take a long time to recover and turn around. So, if you can’t kill the Kleer before it reaches you, it’s best to dodge it and get in a shot from behind. One choice would be to use the Jump Pad to fly over the enemy, but a more advanced technique would be to toss the Jump Pad in front of you and send the Kleer flying helplessly into the sky while you shotgun it from below. This design allows Sam to change the landscape of the battle, and gives him more choices when sorting Mental’s forces for termination.

Per series conventions, the environments are large, and feature a number of wide-open spaces and arena-like battles. Sam starts out in Ancient Egypt, which is the staple introductory level, with desert landscapes and pyramids. Next, it’s off to Jurassic-era Nova Scotia, which is a jungle environment populated not just by Mental’s forces, but by huge dinosaurs as well. The final environment is even more volatile and dangerous, and will see you facing enemy hordes in great numbers and ferocity. Tucked in hidden alcoves throughout the game world are secret weapon caches, large health and armor restoratives, extra connectors for your Gun Stacker, and Mommy’s Best Games’ trademark (literally) pies.

Finding hidden MBG pies unlocks challenge levels, which are accessible from the main menu. These challenges generally pit you against an insane number of enemies with a specific set of weapons, tasking you with surviving the onslaught. This adds some extra incentive to explore previously-completed levels to uncover new secrets. Also, any weapons that you’ve unlocked in the later levels can be brought with you to any previously completed level. So now you can head back to the pyramids, armed to the teeth with every weapon imaginable, and tear through enemies like an undercooked taco through an intestinal tract.

The feel of the Serious Sam universe is well-represented here. Sam lets out his various grunts and yells, enemies use their authentic battle cries from the original games, Netricsa urges Sam smartly along via a needlessly well-endowed holographic representation, and bits of humor are spread throughout the game. The Serious Sam games are not dark and gloomy FPS’s full of heady storylines; they are bright flashy action-packed romps against hordes of enemies and stupidly large bosses. Brooding anti-heroes and regenerating power armor are out. Wisecracking, t-shirt wearing, health pack-hunting beef hammers with great big piles of guns are in. You know, seriously.

Mommy's Best Games is responsible for a number of innovative 2D action titles.

Weapon of Choice is a high-octane side-scrolling action game where you take one of 7 operatives – each with his or her own unique weapon of choice – into battle against hordes of monstrous alien beasts and huge boss creatures, all of whom are bent on destroying you and everything else on Earth. The game is a completely over-the-top tribute to all of the things you loved about the 2D shooters of old, with numerous modern gameplay enhancements, including Death Brushing, where time slows down when the player character is inches from death; the Spider Pack, which allows you to walk up walls and across ceilings, leaving your hands free for blasting aliens in their tender spots; and the Vengeance Missile, which lets you to launch a 400 kiloton rocket at whatever is left on the screen after your last death.

Solve your problems with firepower through branching paths, multiple endings, and difficulty modes that challenge you to play the game at high speed with no Death Brushing.

Shoot 1UP is a shmup that centers entirely around the ability to gain 1UPs.
1UPs have been a part of our gaming culture for decades now, and we all know how they work… get enough points, or grab an onscreen icon, and your little “extra life” reservoir starts to fill up with extra chances to beat the game once you’ve been killed.

Shoot 1UP asks the question… why wait to die to use your 1UPs?

That’s right, each time you earn a 1UP – which happens pretty frequently – it is instantly dropped into the action. After just a few minutes of playing, you’ll have a small squadron of ships on the screen. Play a bit longer, and you may find yourself with up to 30 ships at once, maneuvering in unison and firing a wide stream of bad-guy pellets in multiple directions. 2 player co-op and “ghost ship” powerups can double the action, giving you 60 friendly ships onscreen at once.

Once again, the Mommy’s Best Games pedigree shows through with colorful environments, numerous alien baddies, enormous bosses, and innovative action-packed gameplay.

Explosionade falls into the 2D mech combat sub-genre along with a handful of other outstanding titles, such as Cybernator, Metal Warriors, and the Bangai-O series. In these games, the player takes control of a huge mech that is represented onscreen by a relatively small sprite, but which has huge amounts of firepower. Navigation tends to be a bit slow and deliberate, with a focus on pressing forward, defending your position, and choking your enemies with mouthfuls of bullets, missiles, bombs, and whatever else you have stashed away in your arsenal. And, in Explosionade, you can actually double the firepower with some same-screen 2P co-op.

Taking a cue from those games, the mech in Explosionade has a low movement speed, a jetpack-assisted jump, a shield, a machine gun, and an unlimited supply of grenades. That’s right, unlimited grenades. Actually, the grenades are called Meganades because they’re a bit oversized, as are the explosions that they leave behind.

As you might imagine, grenades blow up a lot of stuff. You’ll be demolishing your way through 40 challenge room-style levels blowing holes in the floors, walls, and ceilings, usually with the sole purpose of getting to the other side so that you can blow up even more stuff. Of course, you’ll also be delivering flaming death upon the heads of your enemies, including several varieties of flying critters, hovering sentries, walking soldiers, and mounted turrets. When life gives you explosions, make explosionade!

Somewhere along the line, Mommy’s Best Games decided that there just wasn’t enough action in Serious Sam: Double D, and so they popped the hood, cranked the explosionator into the red zone, and unleashed Serious Sam: Double D XXL. Now, instead of fighting mutants and headless kamikazes on his own, Sam can team up with his new gun-loving pal for some solid 2-player co-op. The game is now fully voiced with John J. Dick, the voice of Sam “Serious” Stone, reprising his role as the enigmatic hero of the future.

Everyone enjoys the Serious Sam stable of weaponry, including shotguns, Tommy guns, rocket launchers, and lasers. But why settle for incredible firepower when you can have unreasonable firepower? A new device called the Gunstacker gives players the ability to stack up a huge pile of weapons and fire them all at once. A shop system allows players to purchase dozens of weapon upgrades, but rather than offering something as simple as increased firepower, these upgrades completely change Sam’s abilities. Turn your grenade launcher into a flesh-eating beetle dispenser, trip your enemies with hot slices of butter, and toss throwing stars from your machine gun Machinobi style!

The total disregard for restraint doesn’t end there, with several new challenges and entirely new levels. Sam can take to the skies on the back of a flying dinosaur and launch heat-seeking missiles at Bio Mechanoids, and he can hang 10 as he races through Ancient Egyptian pyramids on a rocket-propelled snowboard. He even gets to face off against new enemies such as the armored Gnaar and flying fire breathing kittens. Oh yes, gather ye catnip while ye may and prepare to eat bees, you belching furball!

After years of developing explosion-fueled action games, Mommy's Best Games turned to something a bit cuter... but still bizarre and somewhat disgusting, with Pig Eat Ball.

Pig Eat Ball features a young pig princess named Bow living on a space station filled with clam people. Her father, King Cake, has decided to host a competition to win his daughter’s hand in marriage. But Bow has a different idea… she dons a disguise and enters the contest herself. The game features a number of different level types, most of which center around eating tennis balls. However, if you eat too many tennis balls, you get too fat to fit through narrow corridors, so you have to barf them up, slip through, and then re-eat the barfed up balls… called “barfies” for short. The game also features a number of competitive multiplayer modes for up to four players where players race each other, fight over tennis balls, and even build sandwiches. The game has more than 100 levels included, as well as a level editor.