I'll get this out of the way quickly, because it irks me but it is totally irrelevant, really: To me, Amnesia in a game context will, forever and always, be the brilliant text adventure written by Tom Disch, the equally brilliant author of On Wings of Song, one of my favorite science fiction novels, as well as of The Puppies of Terra, which I have always thought was the inspiration for Porno for Pyro's We'll Make Great Pets.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Pioneering Ludic Horror
|Submitted by costik on Fri, 01/07/2011 - 03:34.|
I Played This Thing Listening to Ninja Rap (Not Really)
|Submitted by TheDustin on Thu, 01/06/2011 - 03:02.|
When I wrote words about Space Funeral (my second favorite game this year (indie or otherwise)) I made mention of a little ninja game that let me love again. This isn’t that little ninja game. I don’t love it. I do, however, harbor a grade school infatuation for this little platformer that has kept me from my love for the past handful of days. Like, if this came out for the Game Boy Color a little over a decade ago -- and it plausibly could have, minus the gratuitous six-pixel bloodshed -- I would still play it now, off and on (but mostly off), on a battered backlit GBA at four in the morning. I would hypothetically smile, which I assume would shift into a nostalgic sigh, and I’d half-mutter, half-yawn to nobody “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore”. Insomnia can make you say stupid things sometimes**. I would be wrong, though, because they do make them like this anymore, and I‘ll be damned if still don’t find Mega Man-likes with retro aesthetics endearing. If my Teppoman 2 review isn't written by 2010 (protip: it wasn't) you know which game is to blame.
Videogame as Scuffle
|Submitted by costik on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 02:40.|
B.U.T.T.O.N. ("Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now") is an extremely peculiar videogame. It is, in fact, the only videogame I've played which produces physical scuffles, and without any goofy motion-detecting controllers.
|Submitted by costik on Thu, 12/30/2010 - 00:14.|
A 2011 IGF Nuovo Award nominee, Loop Raccord was originaly developed for a Experimental Gameplay contest with the theme "neverending".
The black screen is tiled into anywhere between three and twelve video panes. In each pane, a short clip of public domain video plays. One pane is your focus initially. You may pause, reverse, and advance through the video in that pane one frame at a time, and restart when you wish. Your objective is to start it, from the right frame, at the right moment so that motion from an adjoining pane "flows" somehow into your pane in a naturalistic fashion. In other words, there's some motion in that pane that moves toward the edge of your pane at a place where motion in your clip begins at some point, even though the clips are entirely different from one another, and you want the motion to seem to move smoothly from one pane to the next. If you succeed, the game rewards you with text and points, and moves onto another pane -- you don't control which pane is editable, the game does.
To complete the level, you arrange all panes so that motion is continuous across them. I haven't played the full game, so I'm not sure how many levels there are, but there seem to be quite a few.
It's certainly a novel design, and its interesting that the game is as much fun as it is, given than 'splicing video' is a pretty unlikely theme for any game. It also has a somewhat frustrating "guess the designer's intention" element, similar to that of many adventure games, since it isn't always entirely apparent exactly how or why the designer wishes motion to flow between two panes in a particular case, and of course the "correct" match is specified by the designer.
And of course, in general, use of linear video in a game is otiose; here, it's used cleverly.
Ultima IV Part 2: Dude, Where's My Avatar?
|Submitted by costik on Thu, 12/23/2010 - 05:24.|
At the beginning of Ultima IV Part 2, Mondain (the villain of Ultima and Minax (the villain of Ultima II) appear on Jerry Springer remonstrating with their offspring, Exodus (the villain of Ultima III), until the Avatar, a young man in America watching this on television, is called by "the gypsy" and told they really need him in Britannia.
Which leads into a IV-like set of bogus questions to establish your alignment with "the eight virtues," but which I think are irrelevant here.
Anyway, you wind up in Lord British's throne room and, after looting everything in sight and talking with him to find the secret exit, off you go. Apparently all three of the previous baddies have returned to Britannia and through some hugger mugger they've replaced the eight virtues by new ones. Like, say, "passion" for "compassion" hence the come-on in the screenshot at upper left.
As a game in se, Dude, Where's My Avatar is not spectacular; in fact, though supposedly an RPG, in fact it's it's close to a graphic adventure, the game pushing you to follow through the story and talk to characters in sequence and perform actions with no real choice in the matter, if you wish to unlock the story. There aren't even the random monster fights of the original, nor the multiple and simultaneously pathed quests, to alleviate the linearity of the plot. There are some actual fights in the end game, but the game is calibrated so that if you've done the obvious RPG things (taken everything in sight and spent any money you've earned buying as much crap as possible), you will win.
But it's amusing in its depiction of an altered and depraved Britiannia, and in its parody both of the tropes of Ultima, and of the continuity problems between episodes of the series.
In short, if you are not an Ultima fan, you need not bother (although it would not hurt you to find and play the older games, which have strong virtues); and if you are, you will find yourself chuckling frequently.
|Submitted by costik on Mon, 12/20/2010 - 19:30.|
Suggested By:sebastian sohn
Radial Plus is an arena space shooter with one twist on the usual paradigm of the form: If you shoot an enemy directly, it suffers no damage, but it does suffer damage if you hit it with a bank shot. In other words, you have to find the right place in the geography and the right angle at which to fire to hit your enemies.
Relax, The Only Fucking Here Is Done By the Corporations
|Submitted by TheDustin on Sat, 12/18/2010 - 02:36.|
A business simulation of a sex harem for comic book characters? This game cannot not be reviewed here. However -- refrain from any lewd remarks here -- I couldn't last more than fifteen minutes with it. Blame an early childhood rife with the Dark Knight, my (sorta) aversion to games without a jump button, or plain old apathy, but I just couldn't get into it. From what I gathered there was some Macguffin that required Professor Xavier to pimp out his mutants, or something. The game threw Horniness, Stamina, and Kinkiness meters at me and I got a chuckle from that, but my kid sister walked into the room and asked what I was playing. I didn't experience any Puritanical shame or anything like that, but I didn't really want to crack open that proverbial can of worms at that specific moment -- and especially in that context. I exited the game, told her "nothing", and we played some Mario Kart 64. She's devastating with those damn green shells.
Not Quite There
|Submitted by costik on Thu, 12/16/2010 - 02:54.|
Neonplat2 is one of those hastily-made games by a developer who sets himself a goal of creating a bunch of games quickly, and while it has some of the flaws of such games -- primarily a lack of polish and balance -- it has some strong points as well.
It's a platformer, with platforms slowly moving across space. Falling off the bottom makes you fall from the top. Some platforms are colored, but others are white; to complete a "level," you must run the length of each white platform.
Enemies--and there are quite a variety--appear from the top; some can be defeated by bouncing atop them, Mario style, and others require you to throw (Z key) a ball you've previously picked up. In addition to enemies, there are quite a variety of powerups that give you temporary special abilities.
NeonPlat2 has an engaging feeling, requiring quick reflexes, and imparts the sense of progress you want in an action game -- and yet the algorithmically generated nature of the game eventually makes you lose interest. An enemy spawn at the wrong place can kill you (or damage health) through no error of your own; random placement of powerups means that they are often essentially useless; as with many algorithmically generated videogames (back into the dim early history of the arcade), increasing spawns of enemies eventually grind you into dust.
It's a game done in a week, and for a game done in a week, it's highly impressive; there's almost a game here. But you'd need months to polish it, really -- which makes me think of Chris Hecker's rant at GDC a few years ago calling on indie developers to "finish their games."
But worth playing, certainly.
Saturday Morning Metroidvania
|Submitted by TheDustin on Wed, 12/15/2010 - 03:30.|
Ideally this game would be played on a lazy Saturday morning: slightly after you gorge yourself on delicious, nutritiously-void cereal, but right before you properly wake up. Unlike the multicolored breakfasts of your youth there isn't a trinket at the bottom -- it's cheesy as hell to say this, but the prize is the game itself. The game evokes memories of simpler times without being condescending or awkwardly nostalgic. It's just fun; lighthearted, kinda messy, delightfully juvenile, fun.
Can a Game Make You Meditate?
|Submitted by IanSchreiber on Fri, 12/10/2010 - 22:59.|
The creator of this game initially did it as a game design challenge: is it possible to create a game where the mechanics center around zen and meditation rather than action and challenge? Conventional game design wisdom says no: entering Csikszentmihalyi's flow state requires challenge, not relaxation. On the other hand, a few games have tried this before (Journey to the Wild Divine being the largest project I know of), but few have done it in this minimal a style. Conventional wisdom, apparently, still has a way to go.