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Star Wars podracing looks even cooler as pixel art

Now, this is podracing!

Image from pod race game Image: Johan Peitz via Polygon
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Luckily for us, developers are constantly documenting highlights from the game-making process with the hashtag #ScreenshotSaturday. These posts — which can come in the form of GIFs, screenshots, and video clips — allow fans to feast on the characters and worlds long before the release of the games. So we’ve rounded up some of the coolest works-in-progress we saw thanks to #ScreenshotSaturday to give you a sneak peek into all the fun stuff that excites us.

This week’s list includes a chunky and pixelated podracing game inspired by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Another post also showed off the early stages of a fan-made 3D version of Earthbound.

As for completely original concepts, animal-inspired games continue to be a popular choice of developers. There are frogs and gators and foxes, oh my! So, without further ado, here’s the full list of interesting and noteworthy WIPs we saw this week.

Podracing stuns with low poly style

Developer Johan Peitz describers himself as a “a tiny modeller for tiny models.” Peitz created picoCAD, a program that makes it easy to build low-polygon 3D models. This GIF shows just what it’s capable of in the form of a podracing game inspired by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And this isn’t the only impressive GIF the developer has posted. Previously, he has shown off a low-poly recreation of sailing in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

An adorable 3D frog platformer

Chunky pixels are in right now, and this lily pad platformer shows just how playful and bright they can look with the right concept. Made by Raúl “Molegato” Martínez, Frogun follows a cartoony explorer who uses a frog grappling gun to navigate their environment. In the trailer, we can see the character using the gun to pull themselves across gaps and pull objects to solve puzzles. The game doesn’t have a release date yet, but you can follow the development process on the developer’s Twitter.

A wobbling gator captures my heart

Remember the charming bite-sized adventure game A Short Hike? Well, this game, called Lil Gator Game, is like a smooth, zoomed-in version of it. In the game, we can see the gator running around with a paintbrush and pallet. This video shows the character in motion as we hear the pitter-patter of their feet. When we see it jump, it’s a floppy lil’ guy! Lil Gator Game is currently being made by three developers: Robin Burgess, Scott Slucher, and Connor Quothe.

Mother 2 returns

I would be remiss if I didn’t share this reimagined 3D version of EarthBound (also known as Mother 2). The video shows the very beginning of the game, after Ness hears a giant crash outside his house and goes to investigate. This clip doesn’t show all that much, but the game has such a rich color scheme that neatly captures the original look from the Super NES version, and I couldn’t resist sharing. The project is part of an ongoing fan-made project called EarthBound Dimensions that likely won’t come to the public for a long time, given how early in the development process it is.

Part the sea with ease

Ever wanted a video game mechanic that mimics the antics of the Old Testament? Well, you’re in luck. Soaring Pixels Games showed a clip of Breakwaters that shows one of its core mechanics in action: parting water as if you were Moses himself. From the looks of it, moving the water does more than just allow you to walk rather than swim. In this clip, we see the main character using this ability to collect fish. The Steam page says that the game will come out in 2021.

A relaxing spin on social media

Melatonin is a world dripping in soft pastel pinks and yellows. It offers a simple but stylized line drawing-inspired look. In this clip, we see a character jumping between platforms that just happen to be smartphones. Each time the character springs off an app like YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram, we see metrics like the number of likes pop up from the phone. It’s a rhythm game and it’s being made by David Huynh, who makes games under the studio name Half Asleep. Melatonin is further along in development, and is slated to release in fall 2021.

Frolic through the forest as a fox

This post shares a completed shader for the stream in the game Foxen Island. The clip shows the player controlling a fox who romps through a beautiful, misty forest. Just from this short clip, the game looks tranquil and beautiful. The game, which is being made by Gamingyourway, is already out in early access.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.