I am an elder millennial, so I remember well the days of Windows 2000. The pre-WinXP days were marked with too many windows cluttering up a too-small interface, every website having at least two pop-up windows with ads, and always worrying that the MP3s you got from Napster might be harboring malware. You too can relive that claustrophobic experience with Battle of Windows, an active tower defense game made by yumehiko with music by tsukihiko and komekami, where you must save your Windows 2000 OS from an onslaught of popups, spam, and malicious viruses!
It starts off simple enough. You have Life and Mana bar gauges in the taskbar, and a summoner window with buttons to spawn units. Once your mana bar fills up, you can spawn a spaceship that will shoot down incoming windows. Viruses and popups will spawn continuously from the right and move towards the left. If they reach the far left, they will drain your OS’s life. Once you run out of Life, it’s game over! Take down enough pop-up windows and you'll level up, increasing your Mana pool and opening up more abilities. Fill your Mana bar twice and you can spawn a firewall, three times for a Jack to do a melee attack, and four times for a King to slash in four directions. But watch out, enemies will also increase in strength and number the higher your level, so you'll need to stay on your toes.
Battle of Windows is an active tower defense, meaning you can’t just spawn units and sit back to let them take care of everything for you. You need to be constantly adjusting your spaceships to take down viruses, and you need to drag your two Jacks and Kings around the screen to take advantage of their limited but powerful melee attacks. (Pro tip that I did not learn until much later: the blue enemy firewalls can only be taken down with melee.) You'll also need to drag your windows out of harm's way from things like the powerful enemy laser. You can also adjust the size of your windows, which helps make your firewall larger to block more attacks, though at the cost of taking more damage from more enemy units.
It’s a simple game that ramps up in difficulty almost immediately. It took me a few tries to break past the 1000 point range, but once I did I was hooked. I kept replaying to chase an ever higher score. I don't think I ever made it past 9000 despite trying dozens of times. Daikon got over 15,000 on his second or third try, which is infuriating beyond belief. The comments section is full of people bragging about their score, which gives it the fun atmosphere of an arcade cabinet surrounded by friends.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Battle of Windows is that it was an entry in the 72-hour Mini Jam 121: Reflection, with the added limitation of “Windows as a Mechanic.” The six music tracks (accessible in-game as a Windows Media Player window) were made especially for this game, making multiple score-chasing playthroughs frantic and fresh each time.
This is also by far not the team’s first time participating in Mini Jam. Some of my favorite games in recent memory are their previous entries like Miniventure, a wordless dungeon-crawling adventure game; Everything is your enemy, a brutal and surreal platformer; and IAI, a methodical action game where you must carefully time your attacks.
Yumehiko’s signature visual style is striking and bold, sometimes using pixel art and sometimes interactive collages of old print material. My introduction to yumehiko’s works and favorite go-to work is ○○ (aka NikoMaru), a surreal point-and-click game with striking visuals and abstract, out-of-the-box puzzles that are also strangely intuitive. I recommend looking through their entire library, which is available in English on yumehiko’s itch page. And be sure to keep an eye out for their future Mini Jam entries!
Play Battle of Windows in your browser. You can find more of yumehiko's games on itch.io and follow them on Twitter @yumehik0. You can see more of Everything is your enemy in Indiepocalypse Presents: インディー通信 Indie Tsushin. And if you wanna see their games in action, we covered ○○ (NikoMaru), IAI, and Battle of Windows on stream!