Posts Tagged ‘indie games’

As a Doctor Who fan my mind is elsewhere today but just wanted to post this

14 November, 2013

Mattyongames approves of Speccy Jam.

Abbaye des Speccy

31 October, 2013
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Painting the town (trees) blue (red) (ah fuck it)!

A ZX Spectrum conversion of the brilliant indie platformer Abbaye Des Morts is a thing that’s happening. And just to show there’s more sweated-over code than hot air a demo has been released.

Hopefully the rumours of extra rooms and features for a 128K version will prove true…

Eventually someone else gets it right

25 September, 2013

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LIMBO is basically the game that Shadow of the Beast III was trying to be, isn’t it?

Totally

1 July, 2013
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What’s going on here? FUN!

Totally Tiny Arcade is great, it’s just fucking great. I don’t want to explain too much because you should download a copy (it’s free) and discover it yourself but it’s basically loads of mini-games (think Wario Ware or Jonathan Cauldwell’s Gamex) , based on ’80s coin-op arcade games, played against the clock. Download, install, play, thank me later.

I feel obliged to point out that I discovered this lovely wee game via the excellent Free Bundle. Totally Tiny Arcade’s “home” website is here.

Like Pac-Man, only not like Pac-Man

18 June, 2013
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The purile amongst you may enjoy pretending that the player’s blob does loads of purple shites after eating monsters.

What would Pac-Man look like in reverse? Going by the name Nam-Cap (DYS?), this game takes what sounds like a four-pints-later pub conversation gambit and turns it into an actual videogame. The player controls what can only be described as a blobby-thing which needs to fill an empty maze with dots. It has to eat the (harmless) patrolling monsters to keep laying the dots, and every time it eats a monster it leaves a heart which gives the monsters the power to chase and destroy our blobby hero should they collect it. Oh, and whilst the monsters are “powered-up”, the player character also starts eating any dots he moves over, like in the original Pac-Man. So are the fruits replaced with vegetables? Well, no, they’re replaced with wandering devils who kill the player’s character regardless. I’m not sure how this exactly an inversion but it works in the context of the game so let’s not think about it too hard, eh?

Despite clearly having been designed as some kind of experiment and ironic nod to Pac-Man, Nam-Cap actually works quite well as a game and is, therefore, recommended for a spot of time wasting and high score beating. More information and links to where it can be played here.

Recommend-o-me

14 May, 2013
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And not a Craig McLachlan in sight! (It’s a “Bugs” joke…. forget it)

A quick recommendation for a simple but addictive and extremely playable highscore game. Antibody is an arena shooter where the player controls some kind of bug in the middle of circular area which has to shoot up a whole bunch of other bugs which appear out of nowhere in waves. Control is ludicrously simple: the mouse rotates the player and left button fires whilst right button makes the player’s bug briefly shoot forward to get out of the way of projectiles or marauding beasties (although this needs to reset itself so can’t be used indefinitely). The enemies come in a range of sizes and with a range of attack styles and the action never lets up. There’s also a nice touch when your bug gets hit where, instead of just blowing up, it goes red and remains controllable just before asploding allowing you to direct it into the enemies that done you wrong.

Antibody (which I discovered via Free Bundle no. 6) is freeware and available here for Windows, Mac and Android based machines. You’ve 77,600 to beat, motherflippers.

Jim Bagley’s ZX81 Racing

14 February, 2013
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Broom broom

Legendary ex-Ocean programmer and general 8-bit person of fame, Jim Bagley, has released a hi-res racing game for baldy inventor Sir Clive Sinclair’s ancient ZX81 home computer, a platform notable for its lack of hi-res graphics as standard. It goes by the excellently-literal title of Jim Bagley’s ZX81 Racing and I’ve not played it yet, partly because I haven’t installed a ZX81-capable emulator on the new PC yet, so I’ve no idea if it’s great or shite but I provide a linky here to the announcement thread so you can all download it, try it yourselves, and make “neeeeeeoooowwwww!” noises and stick your finger in the air like Sebastian Vettel if you’re good at it.

Retro City Rant-page

17 December, 2012
RCR allows the player to indulge themselves in lots of horrible '80s hairstyle. Player is currently sporting some kind of crazy big hair and '70s tache combo.

RCR allows the player to indulge themselves in lots of horrible ’80s hairstyles. Player is currently sporting some kind of crazy big hair and ’70s tache combo.

The first test of any videogame is whether it’s fun. Not if the graphics are good, not if it has an “incredible storyline” that makes idiots try and compare videogames with cinema (whoever said “I had a great time last night playing Lawrence of Arabia and beat my train-destroying record?” Exactly), not even if it’s original. No, what makes a great videogame, primarily, is the player having lots of fun.

And for that reason, based on my first two hours of play, I’m declaring Retro City Rampage a great game.

What makes it even better is that it has everything the snotty games-are-art crowd turn their noses up at: the graphics are knowingly 8-bit and cheesy as is the music, the plot is preposterous nonsense more in love with referencing ’80s and ’90s culture than anything “serious” and the hero is a deliberately empty vessel called “Player”; he doesn’t even have features in-game.

And yet this game scores where it matters: it’s superb fun. I spent yesterday playing in-game stages that referenced – in gameplay and looks – everything from Frogger to the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Commando, chuckling at the sort of daft shop names and in-jokes that used to make the GTA series such fun (and hopefully still will in the future) and engaging in some of the most entertaining videogame police chases I’ve had since I first picked up GTA Chinatown Wars, more than three years ago. I’m sure there’s more disappointing stuff in it later on, there usually is with these things, but right now it’s been good stuff all the way: engaging, good, silly, fun.

If you’ve ever used phrases like “games are a mature medium comparable with cinema now” or “the best thing about Zombiefest IV is the conflicted central character” then Retro City Rampage probably isn’t for you. If however you still think jumping over mutant telephones in Manic Miner is fun and don’t think Pac-Man has anything to do with Citizen Kane then you should probably give this a try. The only downer for me, so far, is the price which I think is a little steep at $14.99 (£9.29 in real money). It’s currently going at a reduced price on GOG.com though and you might be able to get it cheaper elsewhere.

There are smaller things to race…

30 September, 2012

It’s moving at a terrific speed but it’s solar powered and environmentally friendly, Jeremy Clarkson would be so confused.

Incredibly, two of my favourite pick-up-and-play games discovered in the last year or so have been web-browser based. First there was the excellently straightforward strategy title Hex Empire, now there’s Race the Sun, a fast-moving action racing game which owes more than a bit to the classic 8-bit title 3D Deathchase. Based on the premise of a furious race against a setting sun in a solar-powered craft, gameplay consists of dodging dirty great pillars jutting out the surface of the planet said craft is skimming across and collecting pyramids for bonus points all whilst moving really, really fast. Clipping a pillar (and later, weird snakey things that look like they’ve recently vacated Space Harrier) will slow the craft down meaning it needs a few seconds to regain full speed whilst slamming into a pillar means Game Over. And when the sun sets, the craft sadly loses speed as it loses power until coming to a stop.

I don’t think Race the Sun is perfect. For a start some in-game features, such as a collectable that reverse the sun’s passage across the sky and another that launches the solar-powered ship into the air, have to be “unlocked”, something that I think detracts from the level playing field I think is important in highscore games like this. It’s also a shame, given how much it puts me in mind of Deathchase, that you can’t shoot things. Nevertheless this is an entertaining and very very fast little racer which, considering it’s still in the Alpha stage (the programmers hope to release it on Windows and Mac eventually; I’d throw in iOS and Android if I were them), already shows a lot of promise. There’s not really much more I can tell you about it, you’re far better off experiencing it yourself so on you go. Score to beat (as of posting) is 109,309…

Matty plays the Humble Bundle

24 September, 2012
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Here we see one of the sideways levels. Presentation is easily Shatter’s strong point (something this particular screenshot isn’t showing at its best, to be fair).

For anyone who doesn’t know (and that’s the majority of you, to be fair) I have a brand new PC with proper gaming capability and all. This means that, at long last, I can play some of those exciting post-2003 games everyone’s been talking excitedly to me about over the past near-decade whilst I ignore them and play Egghead 5 or something (which is very good, by the way).

Anyhoo, along with obvious games of the moment like Skyrim and stuff I’ve needed to catch-up on like Portal I’ve also been dipping my toes into modern indie gaming a little more with the help of the latest in the excellent Humble Indie Bundle series. Naturally, I thought it would be a nice idea to give a quick review of each game on it here in the order that I first played them.

So, we start with Shatter.

Generally called Breakout clones, this genre really owes its popularity to the arcade hit Arkanoid. The gameplay is deviously simple: the player controls a bat and has to bounce a ball (or, on some occasions, balls) around single-screen stages, hitting all the blocks until the screen is cleared and the player can proceed. Unlike most games in this genre, the playing area can be verticle, horizontal and even rounded on some stages so “up” and “down” the screen is relative. It also has a “story” mode separated into unlockable worlds with bosses to overcome. Shatter is very much a hi-tech, glowy, 21st century take on this genre and thus should have everything going for it. There is, however, a quite major problem.

On tackling the game’s story mode the first couple of levels introduce the player to a few game concepts. You might find this laughable given that this game is a Breakout clone but it does, in fact, have a few tricks of its own. We’re shown the “suck” button which, when held down, attracts things (including the ball) towards the bat. This might seem ridiculous were it not for the fact that destroyed bricks release dozens of “shards”, floaty, glowing blue things worth points. Pressing “suck” drags them towards your bat as well as the ball. Nice, a clever risk-reward mechanism.

Then, shortly after this, we’re introduced to “blow”. It has exactly the opposite effect. Meaning that along with the shards, your bat can blow the ball away. A little experimentation revealed that with the minimum of skill, this means that the bat will barely even need to touch the ball on many levels and the ball can be easily blown around the “upper” three quarters of the play area. This might have worked a little if the shards (which are also, of course, blown away) escaped out of the “top” of the play area, thus meaning points are lost. But, alas, they just gather in a big blue mass at the “top” until, when the ball is safely heading towards the “top” of the screen, they can safely be sucked into the bat just before the ball is blown back again or (occasionally) deflected.

I played the whole of the first world and part of the second and this mechanism seems to be there all the time meaning the game completely lacks the rush to deflect a speedy ball that makes Breakout games such a challenge and instead becomes a far simpler mixture of Breakout and Air Football. Add multiple balls that can be released at will and numerous power-ups (as well as that why-the-fuck-are-people-still-using-it “Continue” mechanism that makes sense in coin-op conversions but looks daft elsewhere) and this is a game with a lot of features but not a lot of challenge.

Shatter looks and sounds gorgeous, as so many indie titles do these days, but it’s a poor excuse for a Breakout-style game seemingly geared towards those modern “gamers” who care more about flashing lights and giving their fingers something to do than honing any kind of real skill. For those of us who actually like to be challenged and, occasionally, exasperated with a game that makes us work to proceed, to be honest you’re better-off digging-out Batty or Arkanoid instead.