Tales of the Arabian Nights (TOTAN) is a hybrid electronic and mechanical pinball game. Bookkeeping, combo chain states, and scoring is managed by the electronic components while gameplay -- keeping the steel ball in play -- is managed by sloped angles, gravity and mechanical parts. TOTAN is ranked number seven of all pinball machines in The Internet Pinball Database. TOTAN gets interesting if you understand the goal and the various "side quests," and the subtle meaningful choices that designer John Popadiuk put in TOTAN. There are many ways to achieve your goal of rescuing the princess from the evil genie Saleem Bagazi. However because there is no tutorial for TOTAN (or most pinball machines), players cannot fully appreciate the intricate and clever game design. Even after reading the official manual (PDF), it is difficult to understand all the different scoring and combo options. Many players, unaware of specific goals, will play TOTAN by hitting random bumpers and other targets, and watch the pretty lights, unaware of the deeper gameplay.
Tales of the Arabian Nights Pinball
Tabletop Tuesdays: Action Narrative
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 08/07/2012 - 10:52.|
Rabbits For My Closet
Out Of The Closet... and Into Our Hearts
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 09/24/2010 - 19:28.|
Argentine designers are artistic by default, this has to do with magetic poles and ancient archetypes of the South. Think about it, why is the most successful developer in North American named "Blizzard" while South America offers lots of guys who make art games based on poems? It's all foretold in the four winds.
This one is based on a short story by Julio Cortázar about a girl who vomits up creatures representing her repressed anxiety, which she summarily tries to repress (it seemed like a good idea at the time). In Eze's own words (I worked with this guy in 2009, full disclosure) the game "attempts to merge Cortazarian passages with a more ludic, popular, up-to-date experience." Let's see how it did.
The gameplay suffers from a few dusty corners, the focus is on using the arrow keys to push dust bunnies into the closet, but the collision detection could use a few exceptions for corners and dealing with furniture. The flow could be improved by a wall-bounce to get those bunnies out of corners and a bit of gamma in the push function so furniture could be more readily moved without flinging it all over. But whatever, maybe those rough edges are intentional, because while the game initially poses itself as another frictionless amusement for the web-surfing mainstream, it doesn't take long to start playing tricks on you, which seeks to serve the Cortezian dualism of the late author's modernist literature.
As you go about your business of flowing under a time limit, the game will periodically, randomly and without warning warp you to a mirrored version of the very room you're working in, the size of these psychological manifestations shrunk or increased, your process disordered. As you proceed through the levels the linear challenge escalation of content arrangement, which you're surely used to from decades of tradition, is augmented and spun by the increasing use of warp effects. The text between levels serves to prime you for these phantasmal spooks in the same way that Braid's text tried to prime you for its spooks, which should give you an idea of how much you'll appreciate it.
Maybe my Yanqui sensibilities cause me to over-dissect what should be enjoyed with quiet appreciation like a nice gouda melted over a milanesa.
Sidescrolling Shooter for Hardcore Shmup Fans
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Thu, 06/10/2010 - 00:29.|
Hydorah is an original side-scrolling shooter with authentic 80's arcade-style gameplay. The high-res text is about the only hint that you aren't playing an arcade ROM. Locomalito did a superb job capturing the look and feel of the arcade, right down to the boot-up ROM check and cheesy dialogue.
Why I Want To Fuck Barack Obama
It's The Hair
|Submitted by the99th on Tue, 04/06/2010 - 03:15.|
Quicksand Games, creators of We Want You bring us another politically charged masterpiece, inspired by J.G. Ballard's 1968 short story, Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan, it serves to transplant the political machinations of hyper-personalized political celebrity to the mechanics of puzzle-by-proxy AI manipulation games -- or, it's Lemmings with Barack.
Super Vampire Ninja Zero
For The Children Y'all
|Submitted by the99th on Thu, 12/17/2009 - 16:12.|
From everyone's favorite chillax country, Uruguay, comes a game that will be for many young boys and girls, their first experience with a videogame. Produced by Batovi Studio in Montevideo, this game manifests basic joys of button mashing and combo-stringing with the deformed anime-esque pixel people we've come to know and wield. The game takes the old formula of Final Fight or Double Dragon of beating up a seemingly endless torrent of opponents with a few buttons, including the layered health bars that have different colors for greater amounts of health correlating to shinier layers. The doldrums of that genre, the repetition of the punching and the stretched out reward schedule, are fixed somewhat in this game with a more diverse array of inputs and the ability to do mid-air combos that really lay into opponents, instead of having to wait for their temporarily invulnerable bodies to rise again for a few more centimeters of health chipping.
What's most notable about this little gem is that it's being deployed for the XO operating system used by the infamous $100 laptops distributed via the One Laptop Per Child program. I really believe in stuff like this, these younger generations are like gasoline soaked tinder waiting for a spark of informatic flame to explode their minds into transcendence, or at least less paco usage. The initial reaction of many sensible people is that it isn't a good thing to be giving kids stuff like this, better to leave Don Hopkins to his porting of SimCity on that OS, but I say, why not both? I probably intuited just as much math from watching Mario increment coins against the decrementing clock and feeling the slow inertia of his pacing as I did from playing Seasame Street edutainment. I remember when one of my money management clients told me about his non-profit and I suggested he show these kid's Kenta Cho's Torus Trooper, I really believed in that. I also suggested he show them the McDonald's game. Satirical tycoon game + triptastic shmup + 3rd world children = future. I think this game does a pretty good job of serving the right-brain role as well.
Speaking broadly about the future of OLPC, games, and education, I have to say the path of least resistance seems to be in using Flash. But that assumes there's WiMax everywhere, which might not even be desirable considering the unknown safety hazards of bathing in WiFi radiation all the time for years. To paraphrase Braid, this feels like an acceptable start.
Cap n' Raid
|Submitted by the99th on Sat, 12/12/2009 - 21:48.|
World leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to talk about climate change, and generating a lot of carbon emissions in order to do so fashionably. It is in this context that we look at Gonzalo Frasca's newsgame on the subject, from earlier this year. Global Warming is a fairly simple Flash where you control a hot air balloon picking up and dropping objects in order to limit carbon emissions and prevent the penguin from becoming lonely.
Frasca was one of the first designers to push the button (or envelope?) of what games can do in terms of political persuasion. I thought his game September 12th was a real benchmark in game design, I played it when I was 18 and my design scope as well as concept of how the world really works were just being cracked out of the shell of fast food, cheap gameplay and Christianity - which combine into an Easter Egg hunt. September 12th demonstrated that you could balance timing and splash radius to create a feedback loop that confounds any amount of skille, it demonstrated that you could subvert the assumptions of a game to make a political point, though Greg had a differing perspective (you'll need to scroll down 3/4th of the page).
Global Warming does not seem to have the same lever of procedural rhetoric that Frasca's earlier work did, it works as a casual arcade game whose balance begins easy enough and becomes rather tight as the difficulty increases, you'll find yourself swinging to cap that last factory right as the ice caps buckle and the world is seconds away from flooding. But still, maybe I'm just kind of messed up in the head, I try to find meaning in it. What I come away with is a concern that this game is, no doubt unintentionally, abetting with distraction a scam that will not only not-solve our climate problems but enrich the usual suspects. The game's dynamic hinges on a cartoonish abstraction of what a future carbon-neutralized economy might portent, factories producing bikes, smog-filters and... firemen, and these things then saving the environment, cleaning up our transportation, and cleaning up the factories, including the factories that make the smog-filters. If you don't know much about the loopholes in this carbon credit game, here's a cheeky video.
By suggesting that rapid replacements of parts of our existing infrastructure, using cleantech-upgrades which in this case are funded by your clicks, but in the real world are funded by a great scam-o-la, I fear that Frasca may be drawing attention away from the real solutions. The music and graphics are lush, calming, like one of those wind turbine commercials British Petroleum was putting out in 2008. Games are good at demonstrating processes that imply arguments, perhaps, but they're just as good at making you feel complacent. If only we had more money, perhaps we could make more of the prior, we'll have to do work-for-hire for advergame clients and save up!
He's Better Than Us
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 12/09/2009 - 03:32.|
Cactus gets finished making a vegetable smoothie, he then takes out the trash and wraps a Christmas present for his mother. He thinks, "I have half an hour until my girlfriend comes over, what should I do with my time." He decides to surf the blogs where he notices that Kokoromi is having another contest so he checks his watch, shrugs his shoulders and makes a triptastic, shader-loaded, splendiferous little joygasm, composes an audio track for it, sneezes, and then hears his girlfriend buzz the door.
Simply entitled Gamma 4, Cactus's latest is an exercise in baroque minimalism, that is, the game uses one button (per contest rules), is fairly simple to play, and yet the sync of the music and the shiny, electric visual effects make it feel like a parade. Who would have thought that a game about dancing swastikas (originally a symbol of love) would be so upbeat and poppy? The game is being distributed only with donations, he can't release it for free until March per contest rules, so I'll tease you with some details. You have four symmetrical vectors that leave a trace, if they crash into a wall or a red beam they'll all explode, there are shiny boxes that you must collide with, collide with all of them to move to the next level, press space to change the vectors 45 degrees. Basic stuff, and once you play through the levels the game burns pretty fast, but the real sheen here is Cactus's expert use of the GameMaker engine's visual tool-set, the quadrangular symmetry, and of course, the burn effect where past traces layer onto the blackness of the background. This is the style the man is known for, and he delivers once again. For an outside observer, the game appears to be a procedural visualizer, like an interactive version of Electric Sheep, for the player you tend to focus your eye on one quadrant, I focused my eye on the upper-left, which on decompiling the game turned out to be the basis, the rest of the screen is extrapolated procedurally.
This game is worth the price of $whatever-you-want-to-pay. I dontated $5, which is the sweet spot for "premium" iPhone games, according to a lecture I attended, and this should most definitely be ported to iPhone. Cactus envy is trite but that doesn't stop me from feeling it.
Aspen Has It Coming
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 12/04/2009 - 02:04.|
From the makers of the excellent DinoRun comes another exploration of mayhem in Atari drapings, laced with sweat and 8-bit MIDI. Mountain Maniac has you playing an estranged dwarf hammering out boulders from a mountain top to destroy a city below. Its like Pachinko meets Rampage with a suitably pissed off Scandavian midget going where no Southpark character has gone before. The joy of watching the boulder fall, the comedy of emergent timing as it crushes a bald eagle, narrowly misses the sasquatch and destroys a major bank, it almost makes you forgot that you can influence the boulder's path. I'm not sure which is better, having more control or having more looney tunes comedy as people's homes and lives are ruined by sheer physics.
Garden Gnome Carnage
|Submitted by the99th on Thu, 04/16/2009 - 16:50.|
When Tim Leary died, his last words were "why not?" This game is basically an expression of that. Total insanity giving way to refreshing mechanics and surprisingly deep arcade gameplay. See, you´re a garden gnome, or maybe a building, and you use tether physics in conjunction with left/right movement to knock these little bastard Christmas elves off of you. If one can climb up and get in your chimney, like a Santa of doom, then you lose. Each wave gets more crazy and loaded with elves, then they get the flying sleighs out and the black cats you never know quite what to do with. Then there´s this guy´s face popping up in moments of hysteria to reward you with a bonus token and a perpendicular sound effect. All in all, a wholly aesthetic mosh.
Like Having Sex With Yog Sothoth
|Submitted by the99th on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 02:07.|
09 IGF Winner for Audio
Digital Eel makes deep games about weird stuff, going so far as to name one of their better games Weird Worlds. Then they went ahead and outdid themselves.
Brain Pipe is an experiment to see if a game can be designed to evoke feelings that are alien to the human condition, a design to evoke feelings that cannot be designed or accounted for. Apparently the answer is yes, we can do that.