2024年 3月 26日
Indie Tsushin 2024 March-April issueThis article was featured in our 2024 March-April issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
Title screen of MOTION●REC

Once upon a time, I used to be a band geek who played the clarinet. My high school did not have many students and so it was easy to pick out each individual musician. This meant we were all under a lot of pressure to practice hard and not screw up. So every day, I would go to the music department's practice rooms, bring a tape recorder with me, and record myself. During the session, I'd listen to those tapes again and again, making mental notes of all the mistakes I had made. Run the tape, stop, adjust myself, rewind, play the tape again. Over and over, I'd mentally plot out a path in my mind to make the most of my limited practice sessions. I would like to tell you that I took it seriously and only used my tape recorder to record my clarinet playing... but the reality was that, I was a kid, and I loved messing with all the different buttons. My friends and I would record ourselves saying silly things, then we would play them back at high speeds or in reverse. For us, tape players were not much more than big clicky toys.

Player approaching a giant floating audio cassette

There it is! The magic tape!

That is a bit what it's like playing through MOTION●REC, a PICO-8 puzzle platformer by Shoma. Push the Up and Action buttons, then start moving around. The screen will turn red, indicating that your actions are being recorded. Push the Action button again, or wait for time to run out, and hey presto! Your movement has been written to tape. Press the Action button alone to play the tape. The screen will turn green and your character will automatically follow the path that you recorded.

Screen is red and REC in the top left as the player records jumping up the side of a cliff using a platform.

Simply record yourself jumping up the side of this cliff...

Your character will follow those paths through space even if there aren't any physical platforms underneath to support them. For example, you can record yourself walking left to right across terra firma. When you arrive at a large gap or a row of dangerous spikes, simply play the tape back, and voila! Your character magically walks left to right through thin air. You can also do things like record yourself jumping up a platform and onto a ledge. When you then arrive at a sheer cliff, play the tape back, and you will jump up to the top without the use of any platforms.

Screen is green and PLAY in the top left as the player performs the same action as previous screenshot but on a cliff that doesn't have a platform.

...then play it back when you get to the next cliff that lacks a jumping platform!

If you push Down and then the Action button, the screen turns blue and you will play the tape in reverse. Let's say you arrive at a large pit of spikes on your left that you need to cross. Your previous recording had you going left to right, so playing it as-is won't do. But playing the reverse of that lets you moonwalk your way across right to left. And there you have it! With these three simple functions under your belt, you are ready to tackle the rest of the puzzles in MOTION●REC!

Screen is blue and REVERSE in the top left as the player moves left across a gap to collect coins in a straight line.

You can also reverse your recordings to get places you otherwise can't reach.

The one-bit pixel art by m7kenji is, as always, super charming. If you have not already checked out the rest of this duo's portfolio, you're missing out on some simple yet striking artwork. The highlight of MOTION●REC is the huge cassette in the bottom right corner that clicks down into place whenever you record or play the tape. I love the physical, almost tactile feeling of how the controls feel somewhat like a real cassette player, like the way you hold down two buttons to start a recording and tap a single button to play. Even though it is a completely different machine, these key combos along with the great UI tricked my brain into feeling like I am actually messing around with a tape player. Record, move around, play back, stop, adjust, re-record, play again.

Screen is green and PLAY in the top left as the player moves in a huge 90-degree angle up and to the left onto a platform while avoiding spikes.

There are some actions that don't strictly require you to use the recording functions, but it's still neat to play around with them anyway.

The way the screen changes its entire color scheme always makes it clear what is going on, and flipping through the different modes feels perfectly natural. MOTION●REC is a lot of fun even between the moments when you are working out a puzzle. That simple tactile feeling I mentioned of working a cassette player is great to play around with. It feels very toy-like, and makes for a delightful centerpiece. This is not a high-stakes game with a lot of stress, but is instead a joyful romp with a nostalgic bit of hardware. Remember when you would mess around with tape players and camcorders and other analog equipment with your friends? Surely, I was not the only kid to do that. MOTION●REC is a great throwback to those days of pushing big clicky buttons and scanning through squealing audio tape.

The demo of MOTION●REC is currently playable in browser at itch and the Lexaloffle Forums. An expanded version is coming soon to Steam. Check out Shoma's itch page for their other works. And you can watch us play MOTION●REC on stream!