Destroy villages and hoard gold as a dragon in the RTS, Hoard

hoard

This piece was originally published as a review on Game Boyz on 5/31/11. Each Game Boyz review is structured with sections for introduction, graphics, sound, gameplay, and conclusions. Hoard was reviewed using two downloaded copied provided by Big Sandwich Games. The game got little-to-no attention but was quite fun!

Developer: Big Sandwich Games
Publisher: Big Sandwich Games

Features:
1 – 4 Players
Four game modes
Over 100 Steam achievements
Leaderboards

hoard

Big Sandwich Games recently provided me with two copies of their awesome new game, Hoard. To understand Hoard, I’d like to consider an RTS game. Villages grow and become cities while farms increase in size to feed the villagers. Carts of gold travel along the roads. Castles rise, training knights to eliminate the dragons the terrorize the country. Now consider controlling the dragon.

Graphics

Hoard features a colorful, fantasy look. Maps look like they are placed on a wooden table. This drives a feeling of fun over realism. Multiple tilesets are included, giving you the ability to change the feel of the maps. The world is sparse and simple. While this makes the background a bit too plain, it makes aspects of the world you can engage really pop. While the graphics won’t win any awards, they set the tone and mood of the game well.

Your health and carrying capacity, two very important statistics, are prominently displayed over and under your dragon. This allows them to be seen easily at all times. Your fire-breath on the other hand, which is also an important statistic, is displayed at the top of the screen along with your dragon’s color and score. Because it’s out of the way, it’s hard to keep in mind. Of the three, it’s the least important to see at a glance, so I understand the decision, but I wish I could see it more easily. Keeping it out of the way, however, also keeps the interface uncluttered so you can keep a good view on the game.

Sound

The music and sound effects work very well in Hoard to set the mood. The music is simple yet exciting, giving that extra drive in competitive matches. The cheerful, light-hearted sound effects contrasts with the music wonderfully, reinforcing that the game is about fun even when you’re trying hard to win. I especially love it when the princesses call for help or cry out. It really adds that goofiness into the game.

hoard

Gameplay

The goal in Hoard is simple – collect the largest amount of gold to win. The primary way to gain goal is to burn villages, farms, and gold carts and carry the gold back to your hoard. There is some strategy to this though. Letting towns and farms grow bigger will yield larger hauls. Do you want to destroy the towns quickly to maximize your gold early in a match, or do you want to let the towns grow a little, giving you more gold but sacrificing progression at the start of the match? It’s hard to decide.

In matches with multiple dragons, if you deal enough damage to villages without destroying them, they’ll become fearful of you. Once they reach this state, they will periodically bring carts of gold straight to your hoard. To keep them doing this, you’ll want to make sure no other dragon deals more damage to them, otherwise they will become fearful of the rival dragon instead of you!

Thieves will also visit your hoard, attempting to get away with your hard-earned (or hard-stolen, I suppose) gold. If you can get back to your hoard in time, you can kill them before they make it away. Mage towers will periodically rise in the land, attacking you with magic. Destroying them causes a gem to appear worth a large amount of gold. Similar to villages, if you leave the mage towers alone, they’l grow more powerful but will drop more gold. Letting them live can be quite the gamble, however, because too many can prove too much to handle. Another fun way to make gold is to kidnap princesses. Once you return to your hoard with a princess, you’ll have to keep those pesky knights away for a preset amount of time in order to collect your ransom.

hoard

You can only hold a set amount of gold before needing to return to your hoard to drop it off. You also replenish HP when at your hoard. Gold also acts as experience; when you collect enough gold, you gain a level and can increase your stats. You have four stats that can be raised – speed, fire-breath, carrying capacity, and armor. What you raise first can really change how you play at the start of the match, leaving this a great example of the complexity of strategy inherent in the game.

Hoard features four different game modes. In the Treasure mode, which is the primary mode, you must collect the biggest hoard of gold to win. Princess Rush tasks you with kidnapping the most princesses. In Hoard (survival), HP doesn’t replenish. Instead, you’ll need to kidnap princesses to regain health while attempting to survive as long as possible. Finally, in Co-op you share a gold hoard with the other dragons! Hoard doesn’t have a campaign or story mode at all. All the modes are played in short skirmishes either alone, with AI-controlled dragons, or multiplayer!

hoard

Hoard is a fantastic game because of the complex strategies available that have been boiled down into 10 minute chunks of gaming. Multiplayer is a great way to spice it up, but AI dragons provide fun when no one’s aound with whom to play. While it lacks any kind of campaign mode that can give that “ahh, I’ve beat the game” moment and feeling, it’s great because you can play as many rounds as you feel like playing, and it’s always a bit different. Similar to how multiplayer, arena-based first-person shooters contrast story-driven first-person shooters, Hoard fulfills the same relationship with story-driven real-time strategies. Hoard is a complex RTS dressed up as a tabletop, miniatures wargame and served in small portions. It’s $10 on Steam and definitely worth the pricetag.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth, a reverse tower defense (tower offense?)

Anomaly: Warzone Earth
This piece was originally published as a review on Game Boyz on 5/2/11. Each Game Boyz review is structured with sections for introduction, graphics, sound, gameplay, and conclusions. Games are scored on graphics, gameplay, sound, tilt, and overall, each on a 10-point scale. Anomaly: Warzone Earth was reviewed using a downloaded copy provided by 11 bit studios. I still find this game under-appreciated.

Features:
Single-player campaign and two assault modes
Steam Achievements
Steam Leaderboards
Steam Cloud
Controller Enabled

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a fantastic new game available on Steam for both PC and Mac. Provided to me by 11 bit studios, Anomaly is a tower defense game… of sorts. Perhaps it’s better to call it a reverse tower defense or a tower offense game. Or better yet, we could just call it a strategy game! In Anomaly, you see the layout of turrets in the level while controlling a line of assault vehicles. You strategize by planning the best route, deciding which vehicles to use and upgrade, and using special abilities. If you plan carefully, your units can destroy the turrets, get through the defense, and reach the end of the level!

Graphics

Anomaly looks great on my great on my PC. I’m running Windows 7 Professional on an Intel Core 2 Duo 64-bit 2.53 GHz processor with 6 GB RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT graphics card. Even with my less than stellar graphics card, the game ran fine on maximum video settings and looked fantastic. Everything looked clean and easy to see. Enemies are outlined in red and friendly units are outlined in blue. Simple health bars appear over units’ heads. On the left side of the screen, icons representing various abilities are present with the amount available appearing adjacent to them. An elegant tactical map screen can be pulled up at any time, and the unit upgrade and purchase screen is also sleek looking and simple to use. In the main menu screens, small amounts of the screen were cut off from the edges of my non-widescreen monitor. I could manage to read everything, so it wasn’t a terrible error. It’s also a known bug that 11 bit studios is fixing.

Sound

Like the graphics, the audio was also great, and I definitely don’t have any complaints. Both the music and sound effects were good. I enjoyed the dialogue quite a bit. Despite being a little cheesy, it was very fun. Sometimes holding the speed-up button, which speeds up the game for those stretches where you’re waiting for combat, caused dialogue to cut out. It was a minor annoyance, but I had to remember to stop holding the button if I was approaching a goal at which I expected dialogue.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Gameplay

As I mentioned previously, Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a reverse tower-defense game. You control up to six vehicles and a commander. The vehicles travel along roads on set paths. Bringing up the tactical map pauses the game and allows you to control which direction the convoy will turn at each intersection. You can’t stop, reverse, or deviate from the path. The map shows the entire level, any power ups available to be picked up, and all enemies as well as your own units. Because different enemies have different types of weapons and ranges, it becomes very important to plan your route carefully on the map screen. For example, some enemies can only shoot directly in front of them. You’ll want to drive past these turrets rather than down streets heading straight toward them. Another trick is loop around repeatedly, slowly picking off enemies. You’re awarded money for destroying enemies, and you can also find minerals that are worth money. You can then spend your earnings on new units (up to six) or on upgrading your current vehicles.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Besides planning your route and upgrading, there’s another huge aspect to the strategy involved in Anomaly. Your commander doesn’t follow the set paths and can go anywhere. Unlike the vehicles, he deals no damage; rather, he deploys special abilities! You have a set number of each ability but can find more throughout the level with them usually appearing where some enemies were destroyed. When an ability is deployed, it lasts for a small amount of time. The first ability introduced is the Repair. Any friendly unit within the circle that appears is repaired as long as it’s within the circle. Next there’s the Smoke Screen, which lowers the accuracies of all enemies within the circle. Similar to the Smoke Screen, the Decoy will cause all enemies within the circle to target the decoy. (Using the Smoke Screen and the Decoy at the same time works quite well!) The final ability is the Airstrike, which drops a bomb on the current location. When the commander dies, he respawns at the same location after a short delay and is invulnerable for a couple seconds, letting you get back to safety.

The strategy involved comes from a few different aspects. First, you’ll want to plan a good route. Most likely you’ll be bringing the map up repeatedly throughout each level, adjusting your path as you go. Next, you’ll want to plan which units to use and which order to put them in your convoy. For example, I like to start with a high-armor unit, and I include two shield generating units in my convoy. These shield units provide shields around themselves and the two adjacent vehicles. You’ll also want to correctly use your commander’s abilities to help your vehicles survive. Finally, you’ll need to upgrade your units wisely. There are three difficulties available with which to challenge yourself. You’re awarded points for destroying enemies (more for destroying them without too much delay between kills) and having abilities at the end of the level. Each level has its own leaderboard, providing a lot of competition.

Let’s not forget the story! There is a reason for the vehicles to be fighting those turrets! An alien ship crashes in two spots on Earth, Baghdad and Tokyo. Strange domes, anomalies, appear over the crash sites, and appear to be some sort of shield. Inside these anomalies are the alien ships and turrets. After investigating, the military finds them quite aggressive and decide to neutralize the enemy. Before and during missions, characters talk, giving you some background on what’s happening. This is ample motivation to give a reason to the actions in the game and also provides some interesting twists along the way.

11 bit studios has made a fantastic game with Anomaly: Warzone Earth. It’s definitely a change to the tower defense genre. With a compelling story mode, achievements, leaderboards, and two assault modes, there’s plenty to do for people looking for high replay value. I find Anomaly: Warzone Earth incredibly cheap at $9.99 and worth every penny. If you’re interested in strategy games, I highly recommend you pick this one up and keep your eyes on 11 bit studios in the future!

Gemini Rue, the fantastic sci-fi noir adventure game

Gemini Rue
This piece was originally published as a review on Game Boyz on 2/23/11. Each Game Boyz review is structured with sections for introduction, graphics, sound, gameplay, and conclusions. Games are scored on graphics, gameplay, sound, tilt, and overall, each on a 10-point scale. Gemini Rue was reviewed using a downloaded copy provided by Wadjet Eye Games. I loved Gemini Rue when I first played it, and it’s still one of my favorite games.

Gemini Rue, formerly known as Boryokudan Rue, is a new PC game developed by Josh Nuernberger. Published and provided to me by Wadjet Eye Games and Dave Gilbert, Gemini Rue was a 2010 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Winner. Nuernberger has created a wonderful point-and-click adventure game featuring a dark, sci-fi future.

The game’s neo-noir narrative takes players through a grim future in which trust should be withheld and the Boryokudan crime syndicate controls the Gemini system. The story kept me at the edge of my seat through the entire game. In fact, not being able to talk about the game while playing my review copy was almost painful! Gemini Rue explores the themes of individuality, identity, ethics, loyalty, and what it means to truly be who you are.

Gemini Rue

Graphics

Gemini Rue is absolutely gorgeous. As you can see in the screenshots included in the review, it has a retro-inspired look to it that adventure game fans should recognize. While not 3D or pushing anyone’s graphics card to its limits, it’s a stunning game that will leave most appreciators of retro game art with their mouths hanging open. Gemini Rue lets you explore beautifully detailed backdrops while discovering the truth of the world around you. You’re given a closer look at the characters when their detailed portraits appear during dialogue. Throughout the game, small cutscenes play out that are fascinating to watch. Not only do they push the narrative forward, but they also set the mood using well-placed, beautiful scenic views.

Sound

In a lot of games I play, there isn’t a lot to say about the sound. In this case, forgetting to talk about the sound would be leaving a large part of the review missing. The audio in Gemini Rue is amazing. The music always fits the action and story, reinforcing the desolate, dark atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are always clear and realistic, which helps the game feel more real and adds to the immersion. Voice-acting performances were done well. Even though Gemini Rue is an indie game, no corners were cut with the voice-acting. The lines are delivered in a natural way so they don’t feel forced. I could tell the sound was going to be great and a major part of my enjoyment of the game by the first scene during which the characters’ dialogue was delivered over the sound of Barracus’ rainfall.

Gemini Rue

Gameplay

Gemini Rue has two main playable characters. One is Azriel Odin, a former assassin searching for an old friend in the Gemini system. The other is a man known simply as Delta-Six, a patient in a strange facility that wipes the minds of its inmates. The narrative switches between the two characters throughout the game. Sometimes this happens as preset times, but you can also manually switch characters. This can give you a nice break if you’re stuck with one character. The stories seem far apart from each other, but the characters’ stories slowly come together, culminating in a fantastic and satisfying ending.

As the genre, point-and-click adventure, suggests, you use your mouse to control the game, clicking on various objects to explore the game. Left-clicking causes the character to walk to that point. Right-clicking on certain objects in the scene brings up the action menu, allowing you to choose which action to perform on that spot from the four action-verbs and inventory items in your possession. Clicking the eye allows you to examine something. The hand has you interact with or pick up an object. Using the mouth will have you talk to the target. Selecting the foot causes you to kick the object. The kicking action is interesting because I don’t recall seeing it any previous adventure games. While it’s similar to the hand action, it gives players a second way to interact with the world, which can lead to more involved puzzles. Gemini Rue forces you to use this action very early in the game, making sure you incorporate this less familiar action into your repertoire. Also in the action menu are any inventory items you have. Selecting one will attempt to use it on the spot you originally right-clicked. Right-clicking on an inventory item causes you to examine it. Lastly, double-clicking in the scene will use whichever action was last used, allowing you to save time if, for example, you want to examine many different objects.

I have two small complaints about the control system. First, to examine an inventory item, you have to bring up the menu by right-clicking on a targetable object in the game. Note that you can’t simply right-click anywhere. It seems strange that even though examining an object in my inventory has nothing to do with any item currently in the scene, I still have to choose one object in the scene arbitrarily to right-click on to be able to access my inventory menu. Another small complaint is that interacting with an object on the other side of the screen will sometimes cause the character to walk over to it and interact with it while other times will cause the character to say it’s too far away. Why the discrepancy? It seems like saying it’s too far away would be the best response if there’s some puzzle blocking the path, so this might be a pathing bug. These faults are minor and do not detract very seriously from the enjoyment of the game.

Gemini Rue

Gemini Rue also contains action sequences featuring shooting. It uses a fun system that rewards being patient and intelligent rather than having fast reflexes. It’s perfect for an adventure game and isn’t overused. Whenever a shooting sequence starts, your character will automatically get into a cover position. Using ‘a’ and ‘d’ causes the character to lean out of cover to the left or right. Pressing ‘space’ shoots, ‘s’ goes back into cover, ‘r’ reloads, and ‘w’ switches targets. Enemies will either shoot at your left or right out-of-cover positions. To successfully defeat enemies, you’ll want to lean out of cover on the opposite side of where your adversary is aiming to shoot at him. Pressing ‘control’ while out of cover will bring up a slowly filling meter. When the meter reaches a sufficient height, successfully shooting an opponent will instantly kill him with a headshot. This is a gamble because you’ll have to be out of cover for longer to wait for the meter to fill. Some people might not like action sequences in their normally slow-paced adventure games, but the characters in Gemini Rue will always get into cover automatically at the start and won’t take damage while in cover. Because of this, the player never needs to worry about being caught unaware. Shooting adds a bit of variety to the game, and let’s be honest: How could this neo-noir thriller be complete without some gunfights?

Gemini Rue

There are a few other scenes in the game that require gameplay other than normal point-and-click. Interacting with certain boxes allows you to push them around, ‘a’ and ‘d’ used to move them left and right, ‘w’ used to climb on top, and ‘s’ used to climb back down. Also, there are occasional puzzles regarding getting a computer or machine to do what you need it to do. These never distract from the story or take very long. They fit very well with the rest of Gemini Rue and, more importantly, would detract from the game if missing.

One aspect of the game is interacting with the environment – finding items you need and figuring out where to use them. You’ll also need to gather information, sometimes from notes found lying around or computer terminals. You need to think about what you know and what you need to know to reach that satisfying moment where the puzzle suddenly clicks in your head. You’ll also need to get a lot of information from other characters in the game. Dialogues have multiple choices that can lead to the same positive result, giving players more than one way to solve a dialogue puzzle. The dialogue is fascinating and continually adds to the narrative. No character feels needless or like filler content. In fact, Nuernberger does a fantastic job of making sure every scene, character, and bit of dialogue exists for a reason and continues to progress the narrative and enjoyment of the game.

Gemini Rue

Conclusion

Let’s get this out of the way: I love Gemini Rue. The narrative was gripping, friendly characters were likable, and supporting characters all seemed like they belonged in the world and evoked the correct emotional response. The dark, rain drenched neo-noir setting is perfect for the story being told. Scenes were beautiful, the music fit superbly, the voice-acting was believable, and the sound effects were realistic. Is a person simply the sum of all experiences and outside input or is there more to a person? Gemini Rue explores identity, ethics, and even free will. Like all great pieces of fiction, which Gemini Rue definitely is, it’ll leave you contemplating the questions it poses even if it doesn’t offer a concrete answer. Gemini Rue is available for purchase and download at WadjetEyeGames.com for $14.99, a very low price for what is now one of my favorite games. For those of you who are still unsure, there’s a demo available on that site as well. If you’re an adventure game fan or simply like the themes, setting, and story presented, you owe it to yourself to look into Gemini Rue!

The emotional and thought-provoking worlds of Team Ico

shadow of the colossus

My friend Edward introduced me to Shadow of the Colossus, and I loved it. Scaling colossi was exhilarating, Agro was a loyal campaign, and the minimalist story raised more questions as the game progressed. By the end, the arc reaches a conclusion while at the same time the game allows the player to draw his or her own conclusions. Why has Wander traveled to the Forbidden Land? Yes, to save Mono, but who is she to him? Is Wander good? Is Wander evil? Perhaps the same questions could apply to Dormin or even Lord Emon.

What’s surprisingly fascinating is all that exists to explore that isn’t put directly in front of you. There’s so much beautiful world to see in Shadow of the Colossus. There’s realizing all the poetic touches, such as the physical change of Wander, the final fate of Agro, and the relationship between Dormin, the idols, the colossi, and Wander. The game never tells you about fruit or lizard tails. The only thing driving Wander to the top of the temple is the player’s own curiosity.

ico

Like the majority of fans, I played Shadow of the Colossus first, but I soon followed it by playing Team Ico’s first game, Ico. While the gameplay is vastly different, its tone and themes are quite similar. Ico might have a companion in Yorda, but it’s still an isolating experience considering he can’t communicate with her. They might not share a language, but there’s still a small amount of communication. The game can really instill a sense of panic in me when I hear Yorda cry out and I’m not near her. Like Shadow of the Colossus, Ico has a fully whole and satisfying story arc while still leaving many things open to interpretation. Who is the Queen? What of her subjects? Was it just her and Yorda? Why was Ico brought to the castle? Miyuki Miyabe wrote a fantastic novelization of the game called, in English, Ico: Castle in the Mist. I was definitely surprised when I saw it sitting on a table in Barnes & Noble and quickly purchased it. It goes into great detail and provides fascinating background information based on Miyuki’s interpretation of Ico. It might not be canon, but I still highly recommend it to fans.

After playing both games, a whole new chapter unlocked – the relationship between the two. First, I thought about it, but that soon yielded to Internet research. The Queen’s Sword is an unlock in Shadow of the Colossus; does this imply the Shadow of the Colossus takes place later, or is it a fun nod? How about some of the Queen’s architecture found in Shadow of the Colossus? I think it’s likely reuse of art assets, but some people saw it differently. Of course, there’s the rather obvious fact that the baby at the end of Shadow of the Colossus has horns just like Ico. Fumito Ueda, director of both games, sees Shadow of the Colossus as a prequel but leaves it open for players to decide for themselves.

People all over did the world did more than look for relationships between the two games: they also searched for hidden secrets, with the biggest being the idea of a 17th colossus. The title never told players to eat the fruit or lizard tails. There’s no reason for Wander to be able to grab birds and go for a flight. Nothing tells players to climb the temple. There are large amounts of unused landscape. It certainly seemed to many that there was room for and reason to believe in more hidden in that Forbidden Land. It’s now been over nine years since the release of Shadow of the Colossus, and most fans agree that everything to be found has been found. There is no 17th colossus. But there is plenty to see in the game, and exploring for the sake of exploring can still be satisfying. In fact, exploring outside the game can be satisfying as well. Maybe there are only 16th colossi in the game, but there were still scrapped colossi. If they can’t be found in the game, they can be found in sketches and notes. Craig Owens published a great piece on Shadow of the Colossus and fans’ search for its secrets called The quest for Shadow of the Colossus’ last big secret for Eurogamer on February 5, 2013. It was a great read when it was first published, and I’ve enjoyed rereading it multiple times as well.

Team Ico revealed a follow-up, The Last Guardian at E3 2009. It was one of the reasons I purchased a PS3. Many of the development team have left, but as of just a couple months ago, Ueda says it’s in development. Hopefully the PS4 sees it eventually.

Both images taken from their respective games’ Wikipedia articles. Ico’s was uploaded by Wikipedia user Jayteecork and Shadow of the Colossus’ by Wikipedia user The Prince of Darkness.

Pixel Press Floors

[Updated on 1/30/15.]

Pixel Press Floors is an iOS and Android game that allows you to make your own platformer levels. I Kickstarted this around June of 2013 because of an interesting hook: you actually design by hand on paper and take a photograph of the paper to import it into the game.

There were a few hiccups, such as the Android version being significantly delayed. As an iOS user, this didn’t bother me. However, two others things did. First, the game changed from a paid game to a free game with in-app purchases. As someone who backed the game early, I got an account in the game that reflected this. Supposedly this would give me bonuses. I don’t know what those are. I thought I was supposed to be able to place enemies in my level (it’s normally an IAP), but I don’t see any option for that currently. [Update: I contacted the developer, and they fixed everything for me within a day. Great customer service!] The second, bigger problem is that the creation mode ended up being iPad only. That’s great if I owned an iPad, but I don’t.

Regardless, I finally had a chance to sit down and make some levels with gem’s iPad, and it was a ton of fun. I’m still annoyed about not being able to create on the iPhone, and I’m hoping they add it. As for the backer bonuses, I don’t know what the deal is there, but I just reached out to Pixel Press to find out.

As for making levels? Fun! You don’t get to change any of the physics or design your own sprites, but you still can set the layout of levels. Even though what initially piqued my interesting was designing on paper, I did the whole thing on the iPad. You can watch the video embedded above to see my level, appropriately named The Adventures of Peter. And hey, I published it around 1:30 today and it already has 77 plays!

If you like platformers, you might want to give this a try. As mentioned, it’s free. There are a ton of community-created levels, and you can search for mine as well.

Finished Gears of War 3

Yes, I’m behind, but I started 2015 by beating Gears of War 3. I really enjoyed it! I suppose there are going to be some minor spoilers here, but I won’t spoil the big points.

The opening of the game on the CNV Sovereign is cool because it’s nice to see the ship and Michaelson, leader of the COG Navy. He was a major character in the novels, but this was his first appearance in game. Unfortunately, I felt like major changes from the books were changed rapidly. Michaelson is only in the very beginning of the game, likely because people who didn’t read the books wouldn’t care about him. The former Chairman Prescott returns early in the game too with his MacGuffin. It makes sense from a story standpoint, and by the end of the game, it all makes sense, but it still feels weird.

From there the game progresses well. There are more characters that follow Marcus, which makes it more varies and interesting. Anya, Sam, and Jace are all major characters now too. There are floating gas barges that are pretty cool, but at one point you’re forced into combat using one. Similarly, you later control the guns on a submarine. I don’t play Gears of War to do these things. I feel like these levels are the modern equivalent to the “obligatory mine cart” level. I’m not sure what to call them, but I don’t want to take control of some larger contraption with a totally different feel.

Getting through some less-than-amazing parts get you to Anvil Gate, another major location from the novels, so I suppose it’s worth it. We also get to see Colonel Hoffman and Bernie, so that’s pretty cool too! Dom seems a little more reserved and depressed after the events of the second game, which makes for some interesting character development. He has a really amazing moment during the game. The Carmine in this game is a bit more badass too.

The end of Gears of War 2 had gameplay that differed a bit from the main game. It felt anti-climatic regarding gameplay even if the story itself was quite climatic. This wasn’t a problem in Gears 3. The last battles felt really climatic and awesome, which is one of the most important things in a game besides actually being fun.

Now I just have to resist the urge to spend money on Gears of War: Judgment until I beat some of the other games I own!

2014 in review for Polygons and Pixels

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

It’s nice to see that things are relatively “on target” with engagement in interesting places. The strange tale of “bob’s game” is still my most popular piece, but I also got a lot of traffic from goofans.com about World of Goo because of Backing up Android’s World of Goo saves.

Click here to see the complete report.

The McElroy brothers “play” Elegy for a Dead World

A couple weeks ago, Griffin and Justin McElroy recorded a video while “playing” Elegy for a Dead World. The game lets you float through a backdrop of a desolate, alien world and provides writing prompts. You can complete the prompts and publish your story as well as view others’ stories. I don’t think anything I’d ever be able to write could compare to their work though! Check it out on Polygon.

Spending Christmas with Diamond Trust of London

Diamond Trust of London Packaging

How did you spend your Christmas? I played some Diamond Trust of London, a game I funded on Kickstarter a few years ago and first wrote about in November of 2012. Sadly, I never played it until now. What really made me interested was the fact that it’s an indie DS game released on an actual cartridge. The game is about the diamond trade in Angola in 2000.

DTOL is a turn-based strategy game in which the two players choose their actions at the same time, and once they’ve made their decisions, the results are shown. The goal is to have the highest number of diamonds at the end. Each turn, you can move your agents to various regions, bid on diamonds, sell diamonds, and bribe opposing agents. If you bribe an agent with more money that your opponent pays them, you’ll get to see their planned actions and modify your own actions.

One thing that’s cool is that it only takes about 20 minutes to finish a game. You can change the AI difficulty or play against another person. It’s a pretty fun game, although I haven’t had a chance to play it against a human opponent. It’s really interesting that someone managed to release an independent game made by two people as a full retail release.

Chip’s Challenge NES prototype

chip's challenge nes

There’s an eBay auction currently in progress for an unreleased prototype of Chip’s Challenge for NES. I didn’t even realize that existed. At $1091.77 with 47 bids, it’s a little out of my price range. Interesting nevertheless. Thanks to Retro Treasures for posting about it!

via Unreleased Chip’s Challenge NES Prototype, Gnome, Retro Treasures, 12/12/14.

Source: UNRELEASED NES Prototype EPROM Card CHIP’S CHALLENGE DEMO NTSC 1992 NINTENDO, 93tomegatherion, eBay,

Offspring Fling!

offspring fling

Offspring Fling! is a cute puzzle platformer on Steam that I tried recently. It was very enjoyable, and just look at that art! What you can’t hear, because I’m not including it, is the great music.

offspring fling

When this mean looking dinosaur shows up, your babies scatter. It’s up to you to rescue them!

offspring fling

You can run and jump as well as pick up and fling your babies. As you carry more babies, you won’t be able to jump as the high. Each level tasks you with getting your babies to the door. Some of the stages definitely took some thinking, but I was never really stumped. You won’t find yourself losing repeatedly like in a platformer such as Super Meat Boy or N+, but you will have to think about the puzzles.

offspring fling

It’s a neat little game with adorable graphics. There are still extras to unlock if I choose to keep playing, but it only took me about four hours to beat the base game. It was definitely worth it.

Atom Zombie Smasher

atom zombie smasher

Atom Zombie Smasher is an interesting little real-time strategy game I played recently. You run a country’s military as it’s being overrun with zombies and must attempt to rescue civilians and fight back the infected.

atom zombie smasher

There’s sort of two main spheres of strategy. First, there’s the map of the country. It’s procedurally-generated, so the game’ll be a little different each time you play. To beat the game, you need a certain number of points, and one way you earn points is by controlling territory. Your map shows you what territories the zombies have taken and what territories you’ve fully cleaned. Each day, which is basically a level, has different soldiers available. You need to decide when to attack each territory considering the state of the board, how strong the enemies are, and what soldiers you have available.

atom zombie smasher

During a battle for a particular territory, you’ll have differents tools as your disposal with a variety of victory conditions. In this level, you can see purple infected, yellow civilians, and blue scientists. Scientists are basically currency for addition unlocks. Along the bottom, you’ll see the tools I have – a helicopter to rescue civilians, explosives, blockades, and snipers. What I really like is that you’re always given the option of trying a level again before continuing, even if you succeed. Sometimes I win but think I can do better.

You can set up games of varying lengths dependent on the number of points required for victory. A long campaign can be quite complicated, but you can also make a short campaign capable of being finished in under hour. It’s definitely a fun little game!

Roguelikes, the Flipboard magazine

Nellistos has an online magazine about roguelikes aptly called Roguelikes that might be worth reading if you’re interested in the genre. It uses Flipboard, a magazine-like aggregator. Basically, he collects articles about roguelikes on his Flipboard. I found out about it because he included my earlier article on Fatal Labyrinth from June. I really should have mentioned this sooner!

The Last Arcade on the Planet

Last Arcade on the Planet

Saturday night I went to the Last Arcade on the Planet, a private arcade in Santa Ana. From the outside, you’d think it was just another typical warehouse. On the night of a party, people lounge outside near food vendors while the inside is packed with people and games.

last arcade on the planet

Juan Sanchez owns a great selection of arcade games and pinball machines from 1986 or earlier. In other words, no games younger than me! He periodically throws parties, charging a $10 cover with all the games on free-play. I’d been meaning to attend for a while, but when I learned that the parties are coming to a close by the end of the year, I made sure to visit. Juan’s going to be getting them into top shape so he can sell the games.

asteroids

I’ll apologize for the bad photos right now. The lighting conditions obviously weren’t fantastic, and taking photos wasn’t my priority. gem was smart enough to wear this cool t-shirt of a t-rex playing Asteroids, so she posed in front of the Asteroids cabinet. This time it was for me, but she was actually asked for a photo on her way inside the party when paying the cover. Pretty cool!

asteroids

Woo, high score! We set a few high scores that night, but of course, many games reset their scores when power is lost.

space invaders

I love the screen on Space Invaders. There’s no actual color of course. The display is reflected from below. A lot of machines used this, and it’s pretty smart. I’ve always loved Space Invaders, probably as an icon for gaming as much as I do for the game itself. In fact, the Space Invaders Extreme games were fantastic modern takes on the series. I also can’t help but think of the episode of Futurama, Anthology of Interest II, in which Fry asks the What-If Machine what life would be like if it was more like a video game.

zoo keeper

Zoo Keeper was a pretty fun game with which I wasn’t familiar. Animals bounce around a box representing their cage, slowly breaking out of it. As you run around it, you rebuild the walls. You can also jump over animals and collect food for more points. It’s simple but pretty fun. I was the fifth and ninth best keeper that day, and gem was the tenth!

We also played some other games I didn’t photograph – Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Tron, and Discs of Tron to name a few. I played Donkey Kong 3 for a bit. I don’t think I’d played it previously, so that was interesting. It felt like Galaga basically, but maybe that was also because I had just played Galaga. Star Wars was another interesting game, a first-person space combat simulator using a yoke rather than joystick. It was pretty cool.

last arcade on the planet

All that game playing made us hungry, so we headed outside. I had nachos with cheese sauce and jalapeño, lumpia, and a quesadilla. It was tasty, and everyone was pretty nice!

last arcade on the planet

Our bellies full, we continued to pinball! We started with some Jack•Bot, a beautiful machine. With the combination of fun, illustration, story, energetic sound effects, physical clanks, responsive lights and colors, and tactile feedback, it’s hard not to love pinball. Aesthetically, Jack•Bot was my favorite pinball machine.

last arcade on the planet

gem sent me this Snapchat of myself playing. I’m no pinball wizard, but I appreciate the reference!

last arcade on the planet

We ended the night by taking turns on The Machine Bride of Pin•Bot, the second of three Pin•Bot pinball machines ending with Jack•Bot. Despite not being as pleasing to the eye as Jack•Bot, I enjoyed the mechanics of The Machine Bride of Pin•Bot more as we attempted to complete the Bride and then make her human. (It’s amazing how much story Pinball makers can cram into a pinball machine.) We didn’t succeed, but I feel like I could make another post in the future just about this machine.

The Last Arcade on the Planet is truly an awesome collection. It’s great of the owners to open it to parties (and offset the costs a bit I suppose). I’m glad I had the chance to check it out while the option still exists!

Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace for iOS | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Action Games, Space Sims, Philipp Seifried, Bulkypix

Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace for iOS makes you a pilot, defending humanity against the space-faring dinosaur threat! The game’s developed by Philipp Seifried and published by BulkyPix. Dinosaurs are returning to take over the Earth using their spaceships, and players are tasked with stopping them! The game gives you control of Ace Ferrara as you engage in space combat and cartoon fun.

Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace contains great space combat adjusted with superb controls for a phone. It has a silly storyline that I enjoyed. It’s not so gripping that I was constantly hankering to find out what happened next, but it definitely entertained me and gave motivation to move forward into each next mission. Check out the trailer if you want to see more. If you decide you want to stop the Dino Menace, you can pick up the game for $3.99 on the iTunes Store.

via Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace for iOS | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Action Games, Space Sims, Philipp Seifried, Bulkypix.

The PAX Pokemon League

PAX Pokemon League scarf

Did you know that there’s a PAX Pokemon League with gym leaders, badges, Elite Four, and champion? I didn’t until my friend, Alex, posted a link on Facebook to a Kotaku article on it. It’s such an amazing idea.

At PAX, volunteers are acting as gym leaders and can be identified by green scarves (hopefully they don’t mind me borrowing the image used at the top). People can challenge them to Pokemon battles in Pokemon X and Y to earn their badges. There are a few basic rules, but it boils down to “don’t be cheap, and have fun.” The gym leaders can award badges at their own discretion, so you don’t necessarily have to defeat them to earn the badges.

It’s a neat event that embraces the fun and dedication of fans. Alternate reality games like this one are particularly interesting and engaging, bringing some real world activities to otherwise virtual games. It reminds me a bit of the WoW quests I’ve seen at Anime Expo years ago (that were subsequently banned) or even the Geeky Hooker’s CritterDrops, in which she drops crocheted critters and leaves tips on Twitter so people can find and adopt them. (I didn’t manage to get any at SDCC, but there was a lot of competition.)

It’s too bad there wasn’t something like the PAX Pokemon League at SDCC; I would have loved to participate. On the other hand, it’s good on my wallet because it would have made me purchase the game. It’s a great idea, and I hope more things like this continue to happen.

Teaser for The Behemoth’s Game 4!

The Behemoth is one of my favorite game developers with a pretty stellar record so far. Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, and their latest, BattleBlock Theater, are all fantastic games. They’ve been wonderful with the inclusion and focus on playing cooperatively with local friends as well, which is something I really value. Their booths always attract me, and I absolutely love their arcade cabinets. I’ve even been to local events.

Game 4 is their newest game; The Behemoth just debuted the teaser trailer for it. I love it. And I love Will Stamper’s voice work. Game 4 will be playable soon at Pax Prime. I can’t wait to find out more about it.

Source: First Look at Game 4, danp, The Behemoth Blog, 8/20/14.

Fatal Labyrinth, Genesis roguelike

Fatal Labyrinth

While going through the games I hadn’t tried in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, I stumbled upon Fatal Labyrinth. It started with a corny story for a minute or so before the action started (and even that minute of story could be skipped). Despite showing its age (bad music; can’t go back one level in the menus, so you have to close the menu), it was a very enjoyable game. Not only are the levels randomly generated, but the items are described by colors with each color corresponding randomly to a specific spell. On one play, a blue cane might do blizzard damage; on the next, it might confuse the enemy.

I’ll admit that I used save states to determine what each color did so I wouldn’t waste any items. I never did manage to get the best armor or sword in the game in spite of fully clearing every level. There were are also a couple of interesting tricks I found on GameFAQs. Cursed weapons are very weak, and a curse removal item can remove the curse, allowing you to unequip the weapon. If you remove the curse before equipping the item, it’ll say it has zero power while actually being devastating to enemies. Similarly, if you equip two bows back and forth, your armor will decrease by three each time until rolling over to an ungodly amount of armor. I tried the tricks because I was curious but restored a save because it made me too powerful.

Food was an interesting in the mechanic. While your HP will slowly regenerate, your food value will slowly decrease. You don’t die when you reach zero, but you’ll begin to lose HP. This would lead me to think that I should collect all the food I find, but too much food causes the character to move slower, and if a certain amount of food is eaten, the character die on the spot. Overeating is the number two killer of knights, you know (just after dragons).

It’s been a while since I’ve played a fun roguelike. It reminded me of Azure Dreams, one of my favorite PlayStation games. After playing the game on and off for the past four days, I beat it last night.

The only thing I care about from the third day of E3 is dating birds

I think dating sims and cliche high school games that aren’t anything like my real experience are exceptionally fun, so it’s no surprise that I’d be interested in Hatoful Boyfriend. You play a young woman who goes to school, manages her time, and goes on dates. You’re also “the last human girl in the world.” I’m not sure if you’re the last human or just human girl, but either way, you apparently decide to start dating birds. Of course. It’s a PC and Mac game aiming at a release this summer. Assuming it’s cheap enough, I’m pretty much sold.

– Bird dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend is a bizarre delight, Megan Farokhmanesh, Polygon, 6/12/14.

Also, this comment:

hatofulboyfriend

E3 Day Two

There were a few tidbits that interested me today.

The Last Guardian

Yoshida of Sony remarked that The Last Guardian isn’t canceled. He also said that when they do cancel a title that’s already been announced, they’ll tell their fans. It’s nice to see that reiterated, but I’m still annoyed that when I bought my PS3, I did so under the impression that I’d get to play The Last Guardian on it.

– If we ever cancel The Last Guardian, we’ll tell you, Sony’s Yoshida promises, Brian Crecente, Polygon, 6/11/14.

The Last of Us, Shadow of the Colossus, and Diablo 3

There will be a nephalem rift in Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition with references to The Last of Us. This is sort of interesting although I haven’t played The Last of Us and prefer D3 on PC. What’s slightly more interesting is that there will be armor based on Shadow of the Colossus. After reading the first part of an article about the inclusion of The Last of Us, I was really hoping for more than just armor. Could you imagine fighting a Colossus in Diablo? Oh well.

– The Last of Us and Shadow of the Colossus guest star in Diablo 3 on PS3 and PS4, Owen S. Good, Polygon, 6/11/14.

LittleBigPlanet 3

Another reminder of a game I own and still need to play – LittleBigPlanet 2 in this case. LBP 3 still includes Sackboy but has three new characters as well: Oddsock is a dog-like character that moves faster. He’s adorable, and I’m excited. Toggle is a large, heavier sack-person that can move heavy objects and use his weight to solve puzzles. Lastly, Swoop is a flying bird. I’ll admit it; I’m interested.

– LittleBigPlanet 3 has some new friends for you to meet, Colin Campbell, Polygon, 6/11/14.

Devil’s Third

Here’s a game that I skipped yesterday until my friend talked to me about it today. It was announced as a Wii U exclusive. The trailer shows the main character as some sort of ninja, sniper, assassin cool guy with an attitude that also plays the drums, cusses a lot, and drinks. Honestly, it seemed over the top, and not in the good way like MadWorld or No More Heroes. It just seemed like Nintendo wanted to show that they can have mature exclusives, when that should be obvious by the titles I just mentioned. This just looked silly.

– Devil’s Third Trailer (Wii U), GamesHQMedia, YouTube, 6/10/14.

Destiny

Lastly, I watched a new Destiny gameplay video. I’m fairly certain others had already been released, but I didn’t know much about the game. A friend of mine has compared it to WoW a number of times. He’s never played WoW, and that’s incredibly clear after watching the video. It might still be a fun game, but it’s not really in the same market at all.

– Destiny gameplay video and interview, E3 2014, Polygon Staff, Polygon, 6/11/14.

E3 Day 1, Nintendo’s day

It seemed like Nintendo announced new entries in most of their franchises. Many of them looked pretty great. Hopefully it’ll be enough to substantially increase their install base. I suppose I’ll talk about the games for which I’m least excited first. I didn’t put a ton of thought into the order besides wanting to end on high notes.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is still coming out. It’s not one of my favorites, so I don’t have a lot to say. I’m sure I’ll play it and enjoy it, but Smash is usually a game I play a bunch for a day or two and then leave. Creating custom fighters with miis could be interesting.

amiibo

Nintendo has figures called amiibos that work like the Skylanders toys. I’m really not sold on this idea. Okay, they can into my game, but can’t I already bring things into games using, I don’t know, DLC, without having to store a bunch of figures? They mentioned that as an amiibo fights in Smash, it’ll get better, and I could then bring it a friend’s house. Again, I feel like you could just save this to an account. Now, I’m not against figurines. If they’re really cool, that’s great, but it seems needless.

Star Fox, Project Giant Robot, and Project Guard

A new Star Fox is being designed by Miyamoto. I was shocked that the Wii didn’t have a Star Fox or a Pilotwings, so I’m glad to see a new Star Fox coming to the Wii U. I’m not clear on how it controls, but it requires you to watch the TV, which displays what looks to be a familiar view for a Star Fox game, as well as the gamepad, which is used for aiming and shooting. I don’t know. That sounds terrible.

Miyamoto is also designing Project Giant Robot, which also uses the TV and gamepad. The TV gives you a larger view of what’s happening while the gamepad has a first-person perspective. You control a giant, slow-moving robot. The sticks control the arms while tilting the gamepad controls the robot’s balance. It was compared to sumo wrestling. I’m more open to this than the controls of Star Fox.

His third game is Project Guard in which players control security cameras defending a base. The TV displays feeds from all the security cameras while the gamepad shows a map. You use both to see enemies approaching your base and to plan your defense.

Zelda

Link’s going to do some running around on the Wii U in a new Zelda game soon that’s supposedly going to be much more open and focus on exploring. That’s good and bad. I liked going into side dungeons back in A Link to the Past to find better weapons to help. It was nice being able to obtain some at any time. On the other hand, sometimes if I spend too much time playing around in an open game without making progress, I feel demoralized. I’ve also been annoyed at the increasing long tutorials in Zelda games. I hope we get started quickly and that Link gets his sword within the first two minutes. It does look really beautiful! I’m not sold on it yet, but I do really love the Zelda universe.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

A new Kirby game is coming as the successor to Kirby’s Canvas Curse called Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. At first I thought it said “Course” and was excited in the hopes that it was a sequel to Kirby’s Dream Course. Come on, Nintendo! I didn’t play Kirby’s Canvas Curse, so I don’t know what to expect here. Also, there are plenty of other Kirby games I missed that I could play cheaper (or already own) – Dream Land 2, Dream Land 3, 64, The Amazing Mirror, Epic Yarn, Mass Attack, Return to Dream Land, and Triple Deluxe.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

Yoshi’s Woolly World looks like a combination of a Yoshi game with Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It looks like a lot of fun, but it also reminded me that I didn’t play Kirby’s Epic Yawn. And then I realized that there was a recent Yoshi game, Yoshi’s New Island, with which I wasn’t familiar at all!

Splatoon

Splatoon is an interesting third-person shooter that involves squids shooting ink. The goal is to cover the map with your color, and the ink they shoot has consequences in the game. You move faster through your own ink (and refill your ink), and you move slowly through the opposing squids’ ink. It looks like it could be fun.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Last night I was playing Super Mario 3D World, and as I played a toad level, I realized that they’re a lot of fun and wondered if Nintendo would ever release a game based on it. Apparently they would, and it’s going to be called Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. I can only imagine it’ll be fun because I love the puzzles in Super Mario 3D World.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Speaking of puzzle games, a new Mario vs. Donkey Kong game was announced for the Wii U. I played and loved the first two, but this announcement did make me realize that I missed the last three titles in this series.

Mario Maker

Mario Maker is the game that makes me giddy. Mario Maker is to Mario levels as Mario Paint is to pictures and music. As far as I could tell, there was no information released on sharing your levels. I really hope I can share them online with my friends. It looks like a blast.

Final thoughts

Before I jump back into Nintendo, I should also mention that a feature-length Sonic the Hedgehog movie was announced blending animation with live-action. I bet it’ll be terrible, and I’ll definitely enjoy watching it!

As for Nintendo, they had a very strong showing, but there’s still a problem. I’m not sure how many of these I’m going to purchase. I hope that they get strong sales, because I want Nintendo to succeed. When I have so many games that I own and haven’t finished, I shouldn’t be buying new games. Some of these games would be ones I’d be super excited to play except for the fact that they reminded me that I’ve already missed entries in their series I could play cheaper. I have Kirby’s Dream Collection and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, for example. There are also similar platformers I missed such as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze (or non-Nintendo series such as Epic Mickey and its sequel).

I would have been interested in purchasing Star Fox if it wasn’t for that control scheme. It might not be so bad, but I’ll need to wait and see. Considering that Mario Kart is one of my favorite series and I’ve resisted buying Mario Kart 8 in an effort to save money and play what I own, I’m not sure I’ll be buying many of these.

Mario Maker looks amazing, and I’ll probably be picking that up. If Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is cheap enough, I could see getting that. (If it’s a retail release, I’ll likely pass.) That’s not  to say that I’m not interesting in the others. Many of them I’ll likely play in the future, either picking them up cheap, borrowing them from friends, or possibly just caving to my cravings. This is all really a reflection of where I am with gaming and not their announcements, I suppose. I don’t think Nintendo could have had a stronger showing honestly. It’s not enough to simply release good games, because there isn’t enough time to play every good game. They have to be better than whatever else one would do with that free time. Let’s hope these announcements help Nintendo!

Happy 30th, Tetris

Today marked 30 years since the original release of Alexey Pajitnov’s amazing puzzle game, Tetris. To celebrate, I quit Dr. Mario Express on my DSi for the first time in months and played some good old Tetris DS.

Most of my Tetris playing over the years has been on Nintendo handhelds – Tetris, Tetris DX, and Tetris DS. It’s funny, but each time a new one was released, I was very resistant. I remember hating the look of Tetris DX at first, but I got over it. I still think that the lack of a similar puzzle game with the same longevity still hurts iOS. Nothing else really comes close.

I also have a ton of great memories playing TetriNET, an unofficial, online Tetris game. Besides playing like normal Tetris, it also had modes with powerups. If you cleared a line with an item in it, it went into your inventory, and you could press a number key to use the item on that player. For example, you could add a line, remove a line, jumble the blocks, switch fields, etc. It was a ton of fun, although maybe I shouldn’t talk too much about a game that’s infringing on the real Tetris.

The original designer, Alexy Pajitnov, designed other games as well. Most notably, he designed Hexic and Hexic HD, which was pre-loaded on all Xbox 360 consoles. I had no idea that Hexic HD was his game, but I played it a ton when the 360 was new.

Countless nights I’ve stared at the ceiling in bed, seeing falling tetronimos under the Tetris effect after playing a lot of Tetris. It’s definitely an amazing game created by a talented designer. Thanks for all the fun, Pajitnov.

Another month, more games crossed off my list

My backlog is now down to 314 unfinished games and 269 unplayed games, down from 323 unfinished games and 277 unplayed games from my last post on April 25. Slow and steady wins the race.

SquidsOdyssey_WiiU_turtle

SQUIDS Odyssey

I was given a download code for this game to review for Game Boyz. You can read the review, if you’d like. It’s a port of the first two games in the series with additional content. Fun game. This increased my backlog count by one, and I haven’t crossed it off yet because I’m not quite done with it.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and Cataclysm

As usual, I won’t spend too much time talking about WoW. I’ve been playing three characters. First, I’m still doing some LFR for transmog on my main, Devee, the troll priest. I’ve also been playing Voidgazer, my undead warlock. Voidgazer’s in his 50s now. Lastly, I made a pandaren monk named Sleepypaw that recently joined the Alliance. I have some friends that play together every Friday night Alliance-side, so I thought I’d try to catch them. Sleepypaw is 12 or so, and my friends are approaching level 30.

phoenix wright justice for all

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All

I’m currently in the third case. I don’t spend a lot of time in this because I only play while I’m walking at lunch at work. It’s fun though!

Dr. Mario Express

I just can’t stop playing this. My high score is currently 55,200.

Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic 2

This game was part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus, and it was about time I finished it. I’ll admit, I didn’t go for the Chaos Emeralds. There was some pressure to reload save states when I failed the special stages, but at this point, I need to decide whether something is worth my time and provides enjoyment. I hated those special stages, so too bad. The game was fairly fun, but I wish the stages were updated more for Knuckles. There were many places in which I climbed and then suddenly hit an invisible wall. Also, I remember there being better enemy and pit placement. If I’m moving fast, as expected of you in a Sonic game, and in a ball, I shouldn’t roll right into a spiky enemy. The game should reward you for going fast. Even so, I like Sonic 2.

Sonic Drift, Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic Blast,The OozeFlicky, and Dynamite Headdy

Here’s a nice set of games in Sonic Mega Collection Plus or Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection that were just bad. I was glad to cross them off my list. I jotted some notes down in my backlog after I tried them; I’ll reproduce them here.

Sonic Drift: “Wow, this is bad. I’m glad that they improved the formula by the time Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing was released.” It’s a racing game but just barely.

Sonic Labyrinth: “I finished one level. It’s nothing like a Sonic game and quite boring.” It’s like an even worse version of Sonic 3D Blast.

Sonic Blast: “Played one zone. It’s so slow and bad.” Surprisingly, this isn’t like Sonic 3D Blast. It’s just a really slow, bad Sonic game.

The Ooze: “What? No. Just no.” I don’t know how to explain this one. You’re a puddle of ooze, and you ooze around in a boring fashion.

Flicky: “More fun than I expected, but I’m not going to keep playing it.” You play as a flicky bird, and jump between platforms gathering up your little chicks.

Dynamite Headdy: “Cute style but weird game. I don’t want to keep playing.” You fling your head around or use it as a bomb. Reminds me a little of Vectorman.

Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2

I own Streets of Rage in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection and thought it was about time to give it a try. It seemed boring as beat ’em ups go. I decided to stick with it until I either beat it or got game over. I was on the last round with I reached that game over screen. I’m crossing you off the list, Streets of Rage.

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection contained Streets of Rage 2 as well (and I also own it on iOS). I went it with the same mindset as the first game and actually liked it a bit more. This I managed to beat.

Ecco: The Tides of Time

Here’s another Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection game. I think the Ecco series contains some really interesting and eerie games. I’m very glad to have experienced them, but I don’t think experiencing more of this game is worth the time put into it. Unfortunately, I’m crossing it off my list.

Shining Force

Okay, one last Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection to mention. It’s interesting to me how old RPGs spend such little time building the story at the beginning. It’s seems less realistic to have you mission and be on your way within two minutes, but at the same time, it’s refreshing to jump into the game. I was also expecting a menu-driven RPG and not a map with a grid. I didn’t realize it was a tactical/strategy RPG. I played it a little, entering a few battles, but I don’t think I’ll play it more.

Rock N’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings

I didn’t play either of these, but I added them to my backlog because Blizzard added them to everyone’s Battle.net accounts. Unfortunately, that causes my backlog account to increase by two.

SQUIDS Odyssey for Wii U reviewed on Game Boyz

The SQUIDS franchise consisted of SQUIDS and SQUIDS Wild West for iOS, but now it’s getting bigger with the release of SQUIDS Odyssey, a downloadable title for the Wii U and 3DS by The Game Bakers. SQUIDS Odyssey is a port of the first two games with new, additional levels and content. You can read my previous reviews of SQUIDS and SQUIDS Wild West if you’d like, as much of them are still applicable. This review is based on the Wii U version. I suspect that the 3DS version is very similar, especially considering that the 3DS, like the Wii U, consists of one touchscreen and one normal screen…

SQUIDS was one of the first games for iOS about which I was truly excited, looking forward to sequels. The Wii U version didn’t let me down. It’s available on the Wii U eShop for $14.99. Not only is it fun, but it’s also very beautiful. While I’ve played the iOS games before, it was still great to jump back into the ocean-world of SQUIDS on my Wii U. This time I had the opportunity to let people watch me easily, which isn’t something I could do on my iPhone. I’d definitely recommend SQUIDS Odyssey to strategy fans who like light-hearted fun and will be waiting to see what The Game Bakers do with the series next.

via SQUIDS Odyssey for Wii U | iPhone/iPod, Wii U, Nintendo DS , DSI, Reviews, Strategy.

I have a new review of SQUIDS Odyssey up at Game Boyz. It’s my first console game review for the site actually.

“bob’s game” Kickstarter succeeds

Yesterday morning, I checked the “bob’s game” Kickstarter with low hopes. As I expected, it was only about half way to the goal with 12 hours remaining. I knew it was over, but I intended to check back later.

I was quite surprised to see a comment by Anonymouse informing us that someone donated a huge chunk, giving the project the amount it needed to complete. This is pretty exciting for fans of “bob’s game.” It’s also a bit of a turning point. He has some of our money now. I only gave $20, and it was a gamble I was willing to make. However, what happens if the game doesn’t materialize soon? Obviously I still believe in Pelloni, otherwise I wouldn’t have backed the Kickstarter. This seems like his last chance, and I bet he knows it too. Will we be playing “bob’s game” soon? Let’s wait and see.

Trying a new batch of games

My backlog at Backloggery is now down to 323 unbeat (277 unplayed) from 338 unbeat games from my last post on the subject. That’s a nice bit of progress, but keep in mind that I don’t mind marking games as null, thus removing them from the unbeat count, if I get sick of them and decide they’re not worth more time. I played some games that I thought I’d enjoy like I normally would, but I also played some that I thought I wouldn’t like with the intent to cross them off my list quickly.

hinterlands

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

I usually open with WoW mainly because I don’t want to talk about it here. I already talk about WoW much more at Kor’kron 501st. My warlock has reached his 40s and just finished the Hinterlands.

DC Universe Online

I also started playing DC Universe Online. Again, I talk about it at Kor’kron 501st because it’s an MMO, but I’m playing a mentalist hero, and I just beat the Scarecrow.

Super Mario 3D World

I’m enjoying this a lot, but I still liked Super Mario 3D Land a lot more. I’m currently in World 4.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

While I don’t have much to report, I began playing this again. I put it down a long time ago now, so it’s nice to get back into it.

Rhythm Heaven

I beat one level. Does that count as progress?

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

I have some terrific news about Tiny Death Star: I stopped playing it. Good bye.

cc3d

Chuck’s Challenge 3D

I finished the fifth bundle, Eclair, in Chuck’s Challenge 3D. It was a lot of fun; I really love this game.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

I picked up the Collector’s Edition of Reaper of Souls when it was released and have been having fun with it. I’m taking my time, so I haven’t finished the new act yet.

Ticket to Ride Europe

Thanks to Collin for letting me know that this was available for free. I never played the board game, but the iOS game is fun. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy, but I still enjoyed it.

Scotland Yard

Here’s a DS game I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did. I was looking for a quick game to cross off my list as boring, but I ended up needing to beat it. It’s a board game as well, so I might need to check out the physical game. Scotland Yard involves multiple detectives and one criminal, Mr. X, taking turns moving around a board. Mr. X wants to last until the turns are expired without being caught while the detectives want to land in the same space as him.

Mystery Tales: Time Travel

One…

Hidden Mysteries: Salem Secrets

…two…

Murder in Venice

…and three bad hidden object games I was able to cross off my list quickly.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House

Here’s another I thought would be bad. It seems to be a lot like Layton although they don’t explain the goals of the puzzles. That could be a little annoying, but it was fun enough that I’ve decided I’ll return to it later.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Mummy

Oh, another Sherlock Holmes game. This is bound to be like the last one, right? No. This one was a terrible first-person exploration game with dismal controls. Next.

Naval Warfare

Naval Warfare is a Steam game that’s basically a “twin-stick shooter” using keyboard and mouse. I can’t say for sure whether I’ll want to play it to completion, but it’s worth keeping in my backlog.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

I’m not usually a big fan of RTS games, but this was decently fun. I highly doubt I’ll beat it, but here’s another I’ll leave on my list.

Again

Speaking of “again,” I find myself leaving a game on my backlog again. Again is a DS game about the FBI. One agent can see the past and must match the present to look like the past to unlock scenes of what happened. It could be decent!

The full bob’s game now on Kickstarter

bobsgame

[Updated on 5/23/14.]

Can this really be happening? Pelloni now has a Kickstarter for the full bob’s game for PC, Mac, Linux, and Android. He’s hoping to raise $10,000. At the time of this writing, he’s raised $1,515 with 28 days to go. I think he’s going to do it this time. I’m also a big fan of his reward tiers – or tier, rather. For $20, “You get access to the full single player campaign when it is available, a premium account for the online service, access to a special forum, and other goodies!” I actually have a lot of respect for that.

Is it sad that I actually had a dream that I met Robert Pelloni last night?

There’s a nice, long history written at bobsgame.com as well. You might want to check it out!

Thank you to everyone who continues to check out my site and keep me informed. I received comments about the new Kickstarter on my last bob’s game post by wot is bobs gam, killamo187, and anonymouse, so thanks you three! Also, thanks to gBev for keeping up the Bob’s Game Mailing List.

As usual, I’m going to update my master post on bob’s game here on Polygons and Pixels, The strange tale of “bob’s game.” I’m going to consider this Act X. That’s a nice, round number. It sure would be nice if this is the one that leads to an actual release!

Update, 5/23/14: The Kickstarter succeeded yesterday!

All done with Castle Doombad

Castle Doombad

When my friend Joe told me about Adult Swim’s new iOS game, Castle Doombad (developed by Grumpyface Studios), in February, I immediately bought it. I’m a fan of some of their previous games, so I was excited to play this new one. I don’t intend this post to be a formal review, so I’m not going to worry about going into too many details on the game. However, it’s a tower defense game in which you try to protect your captured princess from heroes. You can beat a stage by ensuring a hero never rescues the princess, but you can also crown a stage by keeping a hero from ever reaching her. You earn currency in the levels and can use it to purchase new traps or upgrade current ones. In addition, there are thirty tasks called “TO-DOOMS” that reward a second type of currency, used for powerful abilities.

Here you can see that I crowned every stage in the first chapter.

Castle Doombad

And here I crowned every stage in the second chapter.

Castle Doombad

I couldn’t leave the third chapter incomplete.

Castle Doombad

Every good game needs an endless mode, and of course, I played that too.

Castle Doombad

The Summer Slaycation update introduced a new chapter. In this one, there are two princesses you need to protect. I crowned every stage here too.

Castle Doombad

I had to ensure all my to-dooms were to-done.

Castle Doombad

If all the levels were complete, I didn’t really need to make my traps more powerful, but I did manage to unlock and upgrade every trap…

Castle Doombad

…which means that I earned every achievement.

Okay, Adult Swim, I’m ready for another update now.

 

Typing of the Dead: Overkill went overkill on being bad

TotDO

What a disappointing game. I thought it’d be fun, and it did keep me entertained for the first half of the first level, but my attention declined quickly.

Obviously, the gameplay is simple – type words to shoot zombies. With such a basic mechanic, the levels should be kept short, but instead they continue long after I became bored. TotD:O presents itself in the style of a B-movie, but it’s over-the-top antics felt too forced. It was filled with cliches and sexual innuendo, and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Modern Dream developed The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, Headstrong Games developed the original, The House of the Dead: Overkill, and Sega published them. I don’t know who’s to blame, but maybe they wanted the game to be sort of meta. As the boring levels and grotesque cliches lumbered forward like a game idea that should have died and but instead was forced into this state between life and death, I can’t help but think the The Typing of the Dead: Overkill has become the very thing you’re tasked with destroying in the game itself.

Whatever. I’m not putting any more time into this game.

February gaming recap

I couldn’t help myself. I bought games in February. I have so many games to play that I know I shouldn’t, but then I always do anyways. My current backlog is at 338 unbeat games, 284 of which are unplayed.

World of Warcraft klaxxi

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

I don’t like to talk about WoW too much here since I have a separate blog for it, but we did manage to defeat the Paragons of the Klaxxi last month, putting us at the final boss of the expansion.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

In Cataclysm content, I got through Silverpine Forest on my warlock.

Twitch Plays Pokemon

Twitch Plays Pokemon

I’m not sure if you count this as playing, but Twitch Plays Pokemon did take up a decent portion of my gaming time in February! If you’re unfamiliar, you really missed out. Basically, it’s Pokemon Red, but the emulator’s inputs were tied to chat inputs over Twitch. Effectively, everyone was in control at the same time. In the screenshot, you’ll notice people saying “anarchy” and “democracy.” If enough people vote for democracy, it changed into a mode during which it only took input periodically based on what was the most common. It was used to get through puzzles, but usually the game was in anarchy mode. Anyways, it was incredibly fun to watch, and the lore and content that was created by fans along with the game are what really made it amazing.

poker night 2 portal

Poker Night 2

I continued playing Poker Night 2 last month, really getting into the swing of things. I unlocked everything and got every achievement save one – the achievement for having a net $1,000,000. I’m not sure if I’m going to get that or not. I marked this game as beat.

Castle Doombad

I purchased this Adult Swim iPhone game at my friend Joe’s suggestion and have been enjoying it. It’s a defense title in which you set traps to stop heroes from rescuing the princess in your tower. It has three level packs, and I’m in the last one.

Super Monsters Ate My Condo

Here’s another Adult Swim iOS game that I purchased in February. I loved MAMC, and the Super version is similar. Instead of going as long as you can, there’s a time limit. The other big change is that there are power-ups you purchase for coins, and you can buy coins as IAPs. Unfortunately, I don’t like it as much. I feel like I’m not going to get a highscore without the good power-ups, but if I don’t have the coins, I have to grind.

QuizUp

This one’s free, so while it’s a new game I started playing, at least I didn’t have to spend money on it. It’s just doing trivia against random people or your friends in a variety of categories. The game tracks your win rate versus each person, and you can level up by playing. It’s pretty great, especially because there’s a huge amount of categories. I marked this game as beat.

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

I have no idea why I’m still playing this. Someone stop me.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

I continued playing this just a tad. I got stuck on a puzzle, so I had to skip it. I feel terrible.

Wii Fit

Wii Fit saw a little bit of use but not as much as January.

Dr. Mario Express

This is still a fantastic game, and it’s a great way to fill a little bit of time.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright – Justice For All

I’m still playing this one too in my free time. I’m in the second case.

AVSEQ

AVSEQ

AVSEQ is an interesting game that I decided to try from my backlog. It combines music with gameplay, but the game itself basically consists of chaining together atoms of a particular color. Connect all the red, detonate them, then connect all the blue, etc. It looked fun, and I enjoyed trying it, but after playing it the one time, I’m done.

Cause of Death Volume 2 – The Connoisseur

I was near the end of the volume as February started and quickly beat it. Good stuff! I’ll probably move on to volume 3 in the future when I have less things on my plate.

World of Tanks

Here’s another game that I played a little but not much. I’d like to play more. It’s fun with my friends, but they play on Friday nights, and I’d rather go out if I can.

pid

pid is some sort of platformer that looks cute on Steam. I picked it up because it was, for some reason, free, but I haven’t played it.

Hawken

I found this in my Steam library. What is it? No idea. I have no memory of picking it up, and it wasn’t in my backlog.

The String Arcade, game music for string quartet

The String Arcade, game music for string quartet | Reviews, Rhythm

A couple weeks ago I reviewed The String Arcade for Game Boyz. The String Arcade is an album of music arranged for string quartet all based on songs from video games. It’s pretty cool, so I thought I’d share a link to my review here.

Creating a new variation on some classic video game music, the recently release album, The String Arcade, reimagines fifteen video game songs (seventeen if you buy the physical CD) arranged for string quartet. The album was arranged by Dren McDonald and Jason Poss. The proceeds go to the Alameda Music Project, an after-school music program starting in September that features strings, chorus, and percussion for children in grades K-5.

You can read more about The String Arcade on their website at TheStringArcade.com where you can also find links to purchase the album. The digital download is $9.99, and the CD is $11.99, which comes with the two bonus tracks – Tron Arcade Medley and Altered Beast Title Theme. Now I find myself wondering how I can find more string quartet music, because I loved The String Arcade. Any suggestions?

via The String Arcade, game music for string quartet | Reviews, Rhythm.

Evolve is looking interesting

I saw this trailer for Evolve last week and was immediately intrigued. I’ll admit, the first thing I noticed was the awesome song – Mother by Lissie, originally by Danzig. The game’s developed by Turtle Rock Studios, the developer behind Left 4 Dead.

Evolve is a 4v1 shooter in which four players control human hunters and one controls a monster. It’s sort of like a boss battle if the boss was controlled by a player. The monster can evolve by hiding from the hunters and eating smaller monsters, and as it evolves, it gets stronger. This means the hunters want to find the monster quickly; the monster wants to hide and evolve until it’s strong enough to face the players.

This second video has a little more information about the game itself and includes actual gameplay. I can’t say with any certainty if it’ll actually be good, but it sounds pretty cool!

What happened to Cave Johnson? GLaDOS answers in Poker Night 2

poker night 2 portal

I unlocked the Portal felt, deck, and chips in Poker Night 2 recently, which gives Poker Night 2 a little more of a science feel! As a lover of Portal, this made me pretty happy. Of course, when Brock asked GLaDOS about Cave Johnson, I got even more excited.

Here’s a video I found capturing the conversation. Poker Night 2 doesn’t have much a story, so I wouldn’t really consider this a spoiler. However, I recommend avoiding the video if you haven’t beat Portal and Portal 2. The Portal series is my favorite series, and I consider Portal to be the best game I’ve ever played. Please don’t watch it if you haven’t played those games!

January gaming

Poker Night 2

I thought it might be time to recap what I’ve been playing. As I mentioned in my last post, I began playing a lot of Poker Night 2. I found it a lot more difficult than Poker Night at the Inventory but still just as fun.

Surprise, surprise. I’ve also been playing more World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria in Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar. I won’t go into too many details since I blog in depth about WoW at Kor’kron 501st, but I did make some good progression. I got some pets, hit exalted with the Brood of Nozdormu, finished the introduction zone on my Forsaken warlock, earned Glory of the Hero, obtained the Twilight Drake from OS 3D 25-man, and began running older content with a new WoW buddy. As for raiding, I killed Garrosh in flex and in normal saw a lot of progression – Kor’kron Dark Shaman, General Nazgrim, Malkorok, Spoils of Pandaria, and Thok the Bloodthirsty!

Dr. Mario Express

I’ve been spending a couple minutes with Dr. Mario Express almost every night and set a high score.

Tiny Death Star

I can’t explain why Star Wars: Tiny Death Star is so fun, but it is. This screenshot is outdated as well. In January I finished all the non-Imperial floors and got a lot more bitizens. I’m sure I’ll be done with all the floors this month.

phoenix wright justice for all

For a series I really loved, I was bad at playing the Phoenix Wright games. January saw me finish the first case of Justice for All in the Phoenix Wright Trilogy for iOS.

cause of death

Cause of Death is a super exciting visual novel about a detective and FBI agent. I continued playing Volume 2 in January. I own five volumes, so I should get on that.

World of Tanks

This screenshot is dated, but I’ve also played a little bit of World of Tanks. My highest tank is a tier VI, the TOG II, which is a gold tank. I’ve been working on the US tank destroyer line, and my highest is the M10 Wolverine, a tier V.

And then there was some crap. I tried Tanktastic on iOS, which is basically a World of Tanks clone. It was terrible. I also tried Tiny Tower. It should be great if I love Tiny Death Star, right? Wrong. Boring.

Playing Poker Night 2

Poker Night 2

I’ve been playing Telltale’s Poker Night 2 recently and was finding it much harder than the original, Poker Night at the Inventory. I don’t know if it’s actually harder or if I just needed to get into the swing of things. Just as with the first game, the banter in the second is pretty great. Of course, Poker Night at the Inventory didn’t have GLADoS, so it pales in comparison.

Each character has a bounty you can win, although there’s an outline of a fifth – what’s obviously a personality core. I don’t yet know how you earn it, but earn it I shall. I have Sam’s banjo currently. Hopefully I’ll begin to pick up on their tells, but I didn’t really notice any in the original, so I wouldn’t count on it (and I’d rather not look it up).

 

Robert Pelloni releases and retracts background on bob’s game development

bob's game faq

On January 30th, reader anonymouse commented that Robert had a new page that gave what he called “disturbing insight into the history of ‘bob’s game‘.” Personally, I think calling it disturbing is too strong, but I did find it very interesting. It was available from http://bobsgame.com/faq/ but has since been removed. It’s been replaced with a simple message. “Please wait for the full story and don’t post what was already here. Thank you.”

I’ll admit that I did save a .PDF copy, but I’ll respect his wishes. I hope he wouldn’t mind if I do at least say that it provided a bit of history and context to his development of bob’s game, and it reassured me that he really was trying to get this released. I’m looking forward to the “full story.”

I also received two comments (here and here) from reader shicky256 / Nathan M. on January 28th that Robert uploaded some new YouTube videos. While they weren’t all interesting to me, a few were and showed the location at which he did some of the development it seems.

February 2nd brought a comment by a reader who simply used the name “Who is Bob???” He points out that the bob’s game OUYA game was released. He links to a review of the game on OUYAbrew.com. To be clear, this bob’s game is simply a single puzzle game that’s supposedly a minigame from the RPG. (Although it is pretty complex and changes rulesets, so maybe calling it “simply a single puzzle game” is an understatement.) I’d just like to be clear that this bob’s game is distinct from the bob’s game RPG and from the bob’s game within the bob’s game RPG.

The strange tale of “bob’s game” attempts to keep the entire story of Robert Pelloni and his game organized. I’m going to consider these updates part of Act IX and update the article accordingly.

To everyone who’s following along or contributing to the conversation here on this blog, thank you! I appreciate all the comments, and I’m glad that there are still people interested in bob’s game. I know I don’t always update immediately when I receive a tip, but I’m glad to receive them!

New high score in Dr. Mario Express

Dr. Mario Express

It’s been a while since I’ve played Dr. Mario Express. It’s a DSiWare game, and I used to play it all the time. I recently checked my DSi for something and was surprised to find that there was battery charge in it still. I decided to play some Dr. Mario! On the second day of playing it again, I beat my previous high score! I was pretty surprised but definitely thrilled. And then I tried again and sucked the next round. Oh well, that’s how these things go!

Couldn’t stick with GTA5

I picked up Grand Theft Auto V when it was released. It was generally very enjoyable. The amount of polish and detail was astounding, and the world felt like a great stylized summary of Southern California. Unfortunately, I simply stopped playing it.

I suppose this happens to me much more than I’d like. GTA5 features three different playable characters, and I didn’t even unlock the third before I stopped. I did, however, get Chop, the dog. I love Chop.

One of the great things about the game is just how over-the-top it seems. The series has always been a bit over-the-top, but it seemed to take a step back from that recently. Do you remember using an explosive RC car to blow up a car in the original Grand Theft Auto? I believe the person giving you the mission said something about “that’ll teach Mom to something something.” I forget what exactly, but that wasn’t organized crime. That was comedy. Plowing through the glass walls of a building or pulling a building off of a hill is pretty similar. It’s just so silly that it’s great.

Despite being pretty entertaining, it just didn’t hold my attention enough. GTA4 was similar for me, and I did eventually go back to finish it and all the DLC. We’ll see if I return to GTA5.

Tiny Death Star for Mobile Game Boyz review

Tiny Death Star

For such a simple game, I found Star Wars: Tiny Death Star to be quite enjoyable. Yes, I’m a Star Wars fan. I love the movies (well, I had my problems with the new trilogy of course), and I’ve read a number of the novels. I’m sure that contributed, because all of the little references are pretty fantastic. However, even if you’re not a huge Star Wars fan, you’ll probably find it entertaining. I started playing on an iPhone 4, and it was a little laggy at times as my Death Star got bigger, but after I switched to an iPhone 5S, I never had a problem. If you enjoyed Tiny Tower, I think you’ll also really like Tiny Death Star. It’s free, so you have nothing to lose but a little of your time!

via Tiny Death Star for Mobile | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, iPhone, Strategy.

It’s been over 18 weeks since my last post on Game Boyz, but I finally put something new on the site. I’ve been playing Star Wars: Tiny Death Star for a while now. Why not review it for Game Boyz?

I don’t know what’s going on with Game Boyz, by the way. Jamie posted a news story 13 weeks ago. Before that, I reviewed BANG! 5 weeks before that. Things were slowing down for a while, and they seemed to have stopped for a while. Now that I look, in the past year we’ve only had two posts that weren’t from me or Jamie. If I had waited another week to check, they would have been pushed past the one-year mark.

Anyways, Tiny Death Star has been a lot of fun. I have all the residential, retail, service, and food levels. I’m working on recreation now, and then I’ll finish with Imperial levels.

Robert Pelloni answers my AMA questions

Pelloni started an AMA on reddit last week, and he took the time to answer my questions. There were no amazing reveals or anything, but it was nice to hear his answers.

I assume you refunded the BobsPasses because you didn’t sell enough to make a difference. Was that the reason, or was there another?

Correct, and I ran out of time to continue full time work on the RPG.

The .nds demo felt different than the Java one, but they’re obviously from different points in the RPG. Are they both still relatively indicative of the feel of the final RPG?

The Java version is the definitive version now, it is cleaner and I’m happier with the code. I am going to try a Javascript rewrite and maybe a C++ one, not sure which first.

Most people I know aren’t interested in bob’s game anymore. This seems primarily due to a lack of trust in you, thinking that you’ve been lying. I understand what they mean about the protest and the like, but I think it was also a performance and viral marketing more than lying.

Correct.

Were your intentions at other stages in bob’s game fully honest, or was there more to them? In other words, were you really hoping to release the nD, and what happened to it?

I did try to pursue funding for the nD and was talking to the Dingoo manufacturer. It did not go well, so I did what I could and turned it into a virtual console. nDworld was originally intended to be a connected portal for the handheld. By now I don’t think the nD is that relevant of an idea, and making a cheap Android handheld (nDroid?) would be better.

Did you really want to sell BobsPasses, or was that a commentary on gamers’ willingness to give money to a game that might not fully exist?

I was seriously selling them, but also kept it as a bit of commentary given the circumstances. It fit the situation well.

You do actually want to get the Kickstarter funded so that you can release the minigame and eventually the RPG, right?

Yes, I don’t know how to do anything else.

I hardly know what to believe anymore, but I’ve enjoyed both the marketing for bob’s game and the demos themselves. I’d love to sit down and play the full RPG someday! Thanks!

Thank you. I’d love for you to play it too.

Source: [bob’s game] my puzzle game (for Ouya/PC) Kickstarter needs some traction, AMA! : gamedev, Robert Pelloni, reddit.com, 12/9/13.

Direct link to comment: robertpelloni comments on  [bob’s game] my puzzle game (for Ouya/PC) Kickstarter needs some traction, AMA!, Robert Pelloni, reddit.com, 12/15/13.

bob’s game from bob’s game for OUYA Kickstarter

After six months without news of bob’s game, there’s been a new development. I’m sorry for being slow to post about it. I received an e-mail from gbev, former bob’s game forum moderator, on November 25 that discussed Robert Pelloni’s new Kickstarter. Thank you to Nathan M. (@shicky256) for commenting on The strange tale of “bob’s game” to let me know about the Kickstarter (and to pr0ton for replying as well)!

Edit: The Kickstarter was not successful.

Pelloni has started a Kickstarter for the bob’s game from within the bob’s game Java game. I know, I know. The tale of bob’s game is always confusing. Back in what I called Act VIII in my “strange tale” post, Pelloni created a web-based, Java version of the game. The Java game lost some of the child-like wonder I felt from the original .nds demo, but like that first demo, it also contained a minigame. This was the “bob’s game” within bob’s game. It was a puzzle game that involved falling blocks, but the rules of the game shifted – think Tetris, Dr. Mario, columns, but with a ruleset that shifts between them as the levels progress. In the comment I linked above, Nathan M. says that Pelloni “…wants it to be the MUGEN for puzzle games…” I think that’s a good assessment. The game was interesting, although I actually liked Tetrid from the .nds demo more.

The Kickstarter is for that rule-shifting puzzle game. Pelloni hopes to raise $6,667 so he can release that puzzle game for OUYA and PC. To be clear, this is not for the bob’s game RPG; it’s only for the puzzle game. Pelloni keeps it simple with only two pledge levels. For $4, you get the GAME PACK that comes with a digital download of the full game. For $25, you get the ENTHUSIAST PACK that comes with a full copy of the game and access to beta builds and the developer forum. As of this moment, there are 11 backers for the GAME PACK and 10 backers, including me, for the ENTHUSIAST PACK. There are six days left, and I don’t think he’s going to make it.

You may remember that the online demo asked for purchases of BobsPasses. All BobsPass purchases have been refunded, and Pelloni claims in the Kickstarter comments that those accounts that purchased it have been marked as permanently premium. There was no reason given as to the refunding of the BobsPasses. Perhaps he didn’t raise enough and knew that keeping a handful pledges without enough to make a difference would just make angry customers.

When I first saw the BobsPass sales pitch, I was skeptical of Pelloni’s true goal. Did he really want to raise money with them, or was he commenting on crowd-sourcing? Did he think gamers were naive for giving money to a developer without any guarantee of a game? I have no idea. I didn’t pay for a BobsPass, but I did contribute to the Kickstarter. What’s coming next for bob’s game is a mystery, but I’d still love to play a full RPG that felt like that original .nds demo!

World of Tanks

World of Tanks

A lot of my friends play World of Tanks, and they’ve been inviting to me join their Friday night games for a while. Last night I finally took them up on the offer.

It’s surprisingly fun. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I did. It reminds me a lot of a first-person shooter (although it’s third-person usually), but you’re in a tank of course. It’s also slower and requires more thoughtfulness and caution than most FPS games I play. There are two teams in every battle, and it appears the goal is either to be the first team to capture the neutral flag or to capture the enemy flag depending on the map. To capture a flag, you simply stay in the circle around the flag. The more tanks in the circle, the fast it captures. It’s possible that there are other modes as well and that I just didn’t play them, but I don’t know.

There are tanks from a variety of nations, and each nation has a tech tree. Depending on what you research on a nation’s tier 1 tank, you’ll be able to research and purchase various tier 2 tanks. I chose to focus on US tanks. I researched all the US’s tier 2 tanks – a light tank, medium tank, SPG, and tank destroyer. I’ve purchased all but the SPG. I seemed to have done the best with the tank destroyer, so that’s what I played the most. I researched and bought all the upgrades for it as well.

There’s a lot about the game that I haven’t learned yet, but at least I have a strong enough handle on it to play and enjoy the game. I played 31 battles with a victory rate of 74.19%. That was mostly thanks to my friends though!

 

BANG! for iOS reviewed at Game Boyz

SpinVector S.p.A. brought the amazingly fun card game, BANG! to iOS recently, and I cant stop playing it. BANG! is a western-themed card game where players have different conditions they must meet to win. To win, youll need to figure out who everyone else is while progressing your own goals. With both single-player and online play, BANG! offers a lot.

via BANG! for iOS | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Card games.

Thanks, Collin, for letting me know about BANG!’s iOS release. It’s great fun.

Playing Poker Night at the Inventory

Poker Night

Poker Night at the Inventory by Telltale Games has been holding my attention quite a bit lately. I know it’s not new, but I just got around to playing it this month. It’s a perfect game to be played while I’m playing World of Warcraft’s boring parts. I don’t read Penny Arcade, so I wasn’t familiar with Tycho, but Poker Night gives me a decent idea of his personality. The interactions between the four characters are entertaining, and of course, playing poker is fun too.

Sometimes at the start of a new game, one of the characters won’t have the $10,000 buy in. Instead, they’ll use collateral. If you eliminate the character that used collateral, you win the collateral. My first goal (besides just beating a tournament on normal and then on hard) was to obtain all the pieces of collateral. At the time, I didn’t realize that they were items in Team Fortress 2. In fact, I kind of despite all the collecting and crafting that’s warped the launch TF2 that I loved (and I’m not the only one), but that’s a story for a different post. I just wanted to collect them because they were something to collect.

Once that was done, I set my sights on earning all of the achievements. I currently have 16 out of 20, and I think it’s about time I drop that goal, because I’m getting bored. I’m still missing these achievements:

  • Straight Flush: Win a hand with a Straight Flush.
  • Four of a Kind: Win a hand with Four of a Kind.
  • Down to the Green: Win consecutive all-ins.
  • Three Wise Men: Win a hand when you have three of a kind comprised of three kings (of any suit).

There are two things that make me want to keep playing. First, there are still some pieces that I need from LFR in World of Warcraft. LFR is a sort of easy mode raiding. I won’t talk details of WoW here, but there is a benefit to me doing them every week, but it’s extremely boring and easy. I can tap one key on my keyboard and do quite well, and I like to play something else at the same time.

The other reason is that I haven’t learned my opponents’ tells. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if they existed. I had to check on Google to see if the characters have any. Yup, they do. I’m just bad if I haven’t noticed. I know I’m unlikely to pick up on all of them, but I’d like to figure out some on my own!

For now, I’ll keep playing a tiny bit. But then again, there’s always Poker Night 2!

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 2: The Wise Monkey | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Adventure

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Episode 2: The Wise Monkey | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Adventure.

I put up a quick review of the second episode in the Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller series on Game Boyz. If you like thrillers, detective work, and point-and-click adventures (and can overlook some minor presentation flaws), I’d recommend this exciting series. It’s also available for PC, although I played it on the iPad.

The Wise Monkey is the second episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller by Phoenix Online Studios. It’s the thrilling follow up to The Hangman and jumps right into the action. The first one was incredibly engaging, and this episode is even more so. It upped the ante right away. If you’ve never played the first episode, you should read my review of it here

In addition, one of the important characters from the first episode is taken by a serial killer almost immediately. I wasn’t expecting so much action so quickly, and I definitely wasn’t expecting that to happen to a character whom I really liked…

If you’ve played the first episode, you should know what to expect. The Wise Monkey doesn’t need to get you acclimated. You know the gameplay, and you know the characters. This time you can plunge into the action, intrigue, detective work, and puzzles…

A pleasurable romp through Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp

JPBR1

Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp is a fantastic platformer available on Xbox Live Indie Games. The fantastic game recommendation site, Reccr, suggested I play it, and it was a great suggestion. (Reccr is no longer online, but it was created by Studio Hunty.) Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp is a simple platformer with quaint graphics. The game uses vertical level design, which is rare. More screenshots as well as a PC download link are available on the Ishisoft site.

The idea of the game is simple. After killing all the enemies by jumping on them, a door opens that lets you complete the level. You can also collect cups of tea (or some drink), which give an extra life when enough are collected. While the description sounds simple, the level design is incredibly varied and smart. Many levels are very original, and I can easily say it’s one of my favorite platformers.

The game is now available as a free PC download at the link I put in the opening paragraph. In addition, there’s a sequel, Johnny Platform Saves Christmas! I’m very tempted to go download it now, but holiday games are best played near their holidays. I’ll have to remember to play it in December, the best time of year.

JPBR2

As happens quite often with my extensive game collection, at some point I stopped playing Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp before beating it. Only recently did I pick it back up, and I managed to finish it. It’s truly a fantastic game.