Bodoink, developed by Robomodo

When Midway Games, the local longtime video-game publisher that brought us Ms. Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat, filed for bankruptcy in 2009, Chicago’s standing as a hotbed for game development seemed to be on its last life—especially given that Electronic Arts had shuttered its River North office in 2007. But a new generation of studios has arisen, fueled by former Midway and EA employees with something to prove. We rounded up the six latest titles from local developers hoping to score some of your screen time. Game on.

Bodoink (Kinect for Xbox 360)

GET IT: Available later this spring for about $5 at; see for updates
DEVELOPED BY: Robomodo, a West Loop studio whose designers, from Midway and EA, created the last two titles of the Tony Hawk franchise for Activision
PREMISE: Players become human pinballs in this controller-free game, flailing away as an onscreen avatar bounces around pegs and power belts.
AUDIENCE: Families, fans of old-school arcade games, pinball wizards


Photograph: Courtesy of studio

Octodad 2, developed by Young Horses

Octodad 2 (PC, Mac)

GET IT: Available this summer for about $15 at; see for updates
DEVELOPED BY: Young Horses, a consortium of current and former students in DePaul’s game development program, whose last project, the original Octodad, won accolades at the 2011 Independent Games Festival
PREMISE: Players navigate a clumsy business-suit-clad octopus through his day-to-day domestic dealings in this bizarre—and strangely addictive—slapstick creation.
AUDIENCE: Hard-core gamers ages five and up, adults who love the Cartoon Network and Pixar


Photograph: Courtesy of studio

Project Horn (working title), developed by Phosphor Games

Project Horn (working title) (mobile devices, including iPad and iPhone)

GET IT: Available in April for about $5 at; see for updates
DEVELOPED BY: Phosphor Games, a fast-growing West Loop studio that rose from the ashes of Midway; its first mobile game, 2011’s shadowy fairy tale Dark Meadow, was a six-figure-download hit
PREMISE: Details are top-secret, but Phosphor pledges console-quality graphics in an action-fantasy game (think Zelda) that plays like a storybook come to life.
AUDIENCE: Thrill seekers of all ages, casual gamers


Photograph: Courtesy of studio

Telepath RPG: Servants of God, developed by Sinister Design

Telepath RPG: Servants of God (PC, Mac, Linux)

GET IT: ETA: Feb. 14 for $24.95 at
DEVELOPED BY: Sinister Design, a.k.a. Craig Stern, a 29-year-old self-taught developer and practicing attorney working out of his Ravenswood apartment
PREMISE: In this role-playing game, or RPG, players explore a steam-punk version of the Middle East, interacting with fellow warriors and engaging in combat.
AUDIENCE: D&D devotees who also love chess, World of Warcraft vets looking for a new challenge


Photograph: Courtesy of studio

Touch of Death, developed by Lunar Giant

Touch of Death (iOS: Apple devices)

GET IT: Released in December; $1.99 at
DEVELOPED BY: Lunar Giant (, a small Batavia operation that made its mark with 2010’s Delve Deeper, a retro-cheeky dungeon-adventure/strategy game
PREMISE: This side-scrolling kung fu beat-’em-up, set to a funky 1970s beat, pays tribute to the 1980s classic Double Dragon.
AUDIENCE: Nintendo nostalgists, Curtis Mayfield fans


Photograph: Courtesy of studio

Word Off, developed by Toy Studio

Word Off (cross-platform: web, mobile)

GET IT: Released in December available for free download at
DEVELOPED BY: Toy Studio, the 14-person Wicker Park concern best known for its popular Hangman app for Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color tablet
PREMISE: Scrabble meets Risk as opponents take turns spelling words and conquering territory on a pop art–inspired virtual game board.
AUDIENCE: Word nerds


More Coming Soon

NetherRealm (, the Chicago studio that Warner Bros. formed in 2010 after purchasing Midway’s post-bankruptcy assets, will introduce a version of Mortal Kombat for PlayStation Vita, Sony’s new hand-held device, this spring. Iron Galaxy (, a 30-person outfit in Lincoln Park, is working with Microsoft on a confidential Kinect for Xbox 360 release, coming this summer. My Escape ( will debut a new downloadable game, currently code-named Project Blue Screen, on the heels of its January release, the web-based obstacle game Krong.


Photograph: Courtesy of studio