Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wilt: Exordium, Medieval Shark, Monster Saga

Introduction? Nay. Unnecessary. Off we go!

Wilt: Exordium


Jon, your daughter is in trouble. (Or is she your daughter?) Save her in a nightmarish landscape... or don't. Who knows exactly what's happening in this little game, as it's supposedly part of a larger adventure to come later in 2012. I enjoyed the experience overall, short though it may have been - but the programmers reeeeeeeally need to work on the controls. Precision jumping is a pain in the ass in Wilt.



Shark.

SHARK.

SHAAAAAAARK

I don't feel that any of these games need an explanation. It's more of the same silly, murderous fun. This time with a jester's hat.

Monster Saga


You are a child, blasted into a strange land full of monsters and dominated by a tyrant. Free the kingdom with your own band of mighty warriors! Or something!

I dunno. Monster Saga's got rather an oddly generic story. The visuals compensate for the narrative, however, and the game play is decently fun. Train monsters and send them out to battle other monsters. It's unfortunate that you have nooooo say at all in how the battles turn out once they've started, but it's not difficult to blaze through most of them with sufficient prep. A decent game, albeit glitchy and easy.

Prediction: next week will feature more Halloween games. I can sense this happening, somehow.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Second Wind, Demon Decimator, Jacksmith

Second Wind


Fans of roguelike dungeon exploratory forays will love this sucker. Second Wind is a strange, silly, strategically-difficult game of combat, levelling, and constant descent towards a horrifying destiny. Graphically simple, perhaps, but there's so much stuff jammed into this game that you're likely to play for hours and not find the bottom. Be wary of your HP at all times, as Second Wind is utterly unforgiving.



Demons. What're they good for? Nuthin'. Nuthin' at all, save one thing: utter decimation. Death wants them all DEAD, and that's what you're gonna do. Demon Decimator should instantly remind Pokemon fans of the old days in the ice caverns of the second generation, as that's essentially what this is - a puzzle game based on sliding. Move the demons into lava pits that'll fry their little butts. The graphics are a little bland, but the puzzles are spot-on fun.



In an appropriate end to what seems to be a rather medieval-themed day, we have Jacksmith, a game whose like I have ne'er played. You are Jacksmith, a donkey with expert smithing skills, and you're out to save a princess from her evil wizard captor. You aren't so good with the fighting, though, so your role is to make weapons for OTHER people to use. The assembly process for each weapon is unique, and there's a lot of ground to cover and bits to collect for your weapons. Really neat concept with a cool setting. The art in Jacksmith is great.

That's all! Happy weekends to you lot!

Monday, September 17, 2012

bit Dungeon, Spaceship, Farm and Grow

Today's Browser Rousers takes place as I watch I, Robot! The entry has next to nothing to do with that fact, but I thought I'd point it out. Decent movie. Nothing fantastic.

First up: a point-and-click dungeon crawler! Weird combo.

bit Dungeon


You and your wife have been kidnapped and locked in a dungeon. She's presumably helpless (haven't beaten the game yet), you presumably aren't. Save her with a mass of swordplay clicking reminiscent of Legend of Zelda. Interesting concept, though the action can be awkward with the wrong device, and the interface is a little basic. No saving? Boo.

Spaceship


Usually in space shooters you're a human protecting the motherland against aliens. In Spaceship, you're an alien fending off humans. (I think. Story's sparse.) Fun, relatively basic side-scrolling shooter, a little slower-paced than other, similar games, with lotsa pretty backgrounds and funky ships. I love the art style.



Ever created a farm in a video game? Yes? Well, do it again anyway. Farm and Grow dispenses with cutesy graphics and conversations with town folk for pure farming strategy. Labour your days away in this simplistic-looking but surprisingly complex sim. No tutorial, so you'll have to learn as you go.

Alllllll done! Bit busy today, so I only did three. I'll toss an extra one on Wednesday. See ya then!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nan Creatures Extended

I've had a few run-ins with browser games that call for real money of late, with varying levels of enjoyment. It usually depends on the amount of heckling on the part of the programmers: if they ask for money occasionally, and in a surreptitious manner, I don't really mind. As long as I can still play the game for free and not feel guilty, I might consider dropping some extra coin.

Nan Creatures Extended - and I presume the 'extended' just includes more creatures and levels - is another but subtle when asking for money. It is so NOT subtle that it's annoying.


Concept

If Nan Creatures has a story, I can't find it. The point is this: you are part of a glorified cock fight, populated by giant creatures whose sole purpose in life is to beat the shit out of each other. Sound familiar? Been done a billion times by now, and with no story to back up the action Nan Creatures is also pretty boring.

This, uh, 'concept' boils down to an RPG system. A maximum of three creatures on either side of the battle lines form up and attack each other. Take out the opposite three monsters in each level and you can move on to the next. Huzzah.

In theory, not horrible. Basic, but not horrible. My primary concern throughout the game was how damned often you're hounded for money. Not that it's quite so overt, but every time you beat a level you're 'recommended' to register on the Nan Games site. Not only that, you're 'recommended' twice after each battle. AND WHENEVER YOU TRY TO UP YOUR MONSTERS' STATS. Jesus, ENOUGH WITH THE MESSAGES.

Sorry. A bit worked up. Needless to say, there is no subtlety here.


Graphics

Meh. Pretty bland. The monsters don't stand out in any way. Even the god of the monsters (I'm assuming it's a god, anyway) looks rather unremarkable.

Also? When you switch between worlds? Try creating a new arena to fight in. Yeesh.

Sound

HERE'S where Nan Creatures stands out from other games. I LOVE the music. Everything is done in rumbling, operatic fashion, which, despite doubtlessly being synthetic, works very well. I'd love to hear the battle music used in some OTHER game. Thumbs up. Buuuuuut, of course, the music is used over and over and OVER again, so even the good stuff is stale after about half an hour.

The sound effects themselves are unremarkable, save for one: the death grunt. EVERY DAMNED MONSTER sounds like some weird surfer dude when they die. What the hell? Couldn't have worked up some artificial roars instead?


Challenge Rating

Nan Creatures is not overtly difficult. It's more plodding than it is tough: most battles can take upwards of ten to fifteen minutes to complete, as enemies will heal faster than you can deal damage. It also takes a hellishly long time to increase your team's level... which I expect is mitigated somewhat if you register. Oh, joy.

My biggest beef came with the move sets. Unlike other RPGs, Nan Creatures uses a rotating set of moves for each creature. Use up one move and another comes in to take its place. Quite often the result of this is a monster that has nothing useful in its repertoire during a given turn. And, sure, you CAN rearrange your moves for maximum potency, but it's an annoying process.


Conclusion?

I didn't finish Nan Creatures. I didn't even come close. I will admit this. It strips all of the soul out of RPGs and replaces it with pure, dull grinding. Extended or not, this game ain't very good.

PLAY NAN CREATURES EXTENDED

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sands of the Coliseum

Ahh, the Roman coliseum. Home of the manliest of men... and, in this case, manliest of women... the world has ever known. Glory and honour abounded, yessir! Not a wanton waste of life involved in the coliseum whatsoever - particularly if your coliseum happens to be digital.


Concept

Sand of the Coliseum is an RPG. You, presumably, play the role of a Roman noble who happens to enjoy making money from gladiatorial fights. You create an initial slave, you equip him, you send him into battle, you see how that goes. If it goes well, you earn money, additional equipment, and the cheers of the crowds. Once you have enough money you can purchase additional slaves (to a maximum of three at a time) and wage prolonged team battles, often to the death. Do so in every city on the map and you become the top contender in the gladiator world.

Novel enough concept, I suppose. I haven't seen a ton of coliseum-based games before. Sands of the Coliseum could reeeeeally stand to have some kind of story, however, as it's just battle after battle after battle. Heavy repetition, not a lot of variety.


Controls

You have a mouse. Use it.

Graphics

Sands of the Coliseum looks pretty decent. It utilizes ragdoll characters for the fights, and unlike ragdolls in other games, these ones are tight and controlled. Their limbs don't fly willy-nilly in all directions when you get into a fight. Their features aren't terribly detailed, but I'll forgive that simply because the range of outfits you get changes their appearance all the time. Each new coliseum also sports a different look, which I much appreciated, as these games sometimes rehash the same background over and over.

Also: blood. Lots and lots and LOTS of blood. As soon as you chew through someone's armour they'll begin to bleed copiously. Put on enough pressure and you'll lop off arms, legs, even heads. Sands of the Coliseum is not for the squeamish, though the somewhat impassive faces of the gladiators sucks away some of the game's cringe factor.


Sound

Though each coliseum has its own music (I think, anyway - I honestly couldn't get through the whole game), the tracks are a little repetitive for my tastes. You hear them too often before you can go on to something new, and what you get isn't exactly addictive. Most of what I heard was rock/metal music, appropriate for big-times battles, but not necessarily for a Roman setting. Shrug?

The music didn't bother me much. What REALLY irked me were the sound effects, specifically the game's battle scream. It happens often, sounds like a woman even if it's coming from a man, and it's BLOODY IRRITATING. Like, vuvuzela irritating. Sound effects got drowned out in a hurry.


Challenge Rating

This is not a reeeeeally difficult game. Like most RPGs, it's a matter of levels. Get stronger than your opponent, and outfit yourself with some decent equipment, and you'll win most of your battles. The body parts battle system makes this even easier to accomplish, as you can simply take out the legs of most opponents and then sit back as they helplessly bleed to death. You're also allowed to choose the ultimate fate of your opponents (live or die) at the end of a successful battle, which I thought was a nice touch.

That said, Sands of the Coliseum has some issues on the challenge front:

- YOU MISS WAY TOO OFTEN. When the game assures you that you have an eighty percent chance of hitting, you shouldn't be missing once out of every two or three attacks.

- The AIs are STUPID. Leave your combatants to their own devices and they'll form absolutely no viable strategies. Concentrated fire on a single body part? Better take everyone off auto battle.

- The game is sloooow. The biggest challenge in Sands of the Coliseum is not getting tired of the constant, unending, monotonous battles. I like the combat system well enough, but not enough to want to chip through the greaves of thousands of gladiators to reach the end of the game.

Overall? If you have the patience? This game is an excellent time-waster. I'm absolutely certain that most players will get bored long before they hit the end, however.


Multiplayer!

Yep, you can play Sands of the Coliseum against your friends. I didn't, as I doubt any of 'em will want to play, but if you can convince a couple to join up... I'm sure it's probably more fun.

Probably.

Conclusion?

Sands of the Coliseum is a good base game that will appeal to players who love to level grind, because that's essentially all it is. No story, no exploration, just customization and battling. And there's nothing wrong with that! I'm cool with grinding. Just... not THIS much.

I also noticed that Sands of the Coliseum is very much geared towards sucking money out of its players. Why waste long hours earning up tons of gold when you can buy 10,000 pieces for a couple bucks? Or wait patiently for blacksmithing materials to show up why you can purchase 'em online? Both are fair ideas, and I hope the developers get their money back from players.

I, ah, just don't ANTICIPATE they will.

PLAY SANDS OF THE COLISEUM

Monday, May 21, 2012

Paladog

In all my time playing indie games for Browser Rousers, I have never needed more than two to three hours to completely sweep through a game. The average browser game takes about twenty to thirty minutes to finish, while the long ones may overstep an hour. The longest one thus far, Pestilence Z, ate up approximately three and a half hours.

Tonight, there is a new reigning champion: Paladog. Good lord, this is a robust game.



Concept

Paladog's story is mired in a poor translation, so what I'm about to say may be inaccurate. AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, Paladog is the story of Earth after the destruction of mankind: 'critters', aka animals, have risen up and taken our place in a psuedo-Medieval world, and they're battling demons for control of the planet. Leading the charge is the brave Paladog, paladin and dog in one furry container.

Yeah.

Okay. I really don't get the story. It's weird, it doesn't make a ton of sense, aaaaaand it's badly written. C'mon, guys, you NEED a naturalized writer to hash out this stuff before you stick it in a game. The end result smacks of sloppiness. Either create a passable, edited story, or eliminate the story altogether.

(I know, I shouldn't bitch so much about a free game. Still, it's not THAT hard to find someone to edit your script.)

Plot aside, Paladog is an odd hybrid game. On one end it's an RPG: you level up Paladog by killing enemies, buying new equipment and assigning new abilities. On the other, it's a side-scrolling strategic tower defense game, as you can summon other critters to fight off bad guys for you in a series of increasingly-difficult levels. Very odd idea, and, overall, extremely successful.


Controls

Paladog provides a couple different ways for controlling your character. Paladog can be guided with A and D or with arrow keys, while his various powers are used with J, K, and L. The number keys at the top send out supporting units. And, as the game often points out, you can use the mouse to execute commands. It's an accommodating setup, and appreciated for varying control styles.

Also? The game controls just fine. No problems.


Graphics

I won't mince words. Paladog looks wonderful. It's more than I'd expect, graphically, for the average browser-based game. The menus are fantastic, the sprites wonderfully diverse, and the cutscene art? Like the shot above? Dayum. Magnifique. My only complaint is with Paladog himself, for though he LOOKS fine, he's also completely lacking in personality. Couldn't his idling sprite do something every now and then?

The quality of the art aside, what astounded me most about Paladog was the lack of slowdown. There can be a looooot of units on the screen at one time, yet the game almost never suffers from lag. That's an incredible accomplishment for a Flash game.

Sound

Meh. S'fine. Paladog suffers from a common indie ailment: not enough tracks. So while what's in the game doesn't bother me at first, it's so stale after the first hour... and as far as I've seen, the battle track nnnnnnnever changes... sigh.


Challenge Rating

Paladog is more an endurance trial than it is difficult. The strategy is somewhat threadbare; in most cases the important thing is to have more powerful units than the enemy. That means a lot of grinding to empower both Paladog and his many, MANY buddies.

In both cases, it takes a while. A long while. So long that, uh, I've been playing for two and a half hours... and I'm about one fourth of the way through the game.

Paladog is a major time eater, long story short. Expect to play this one in several-evening intervals, as it's one of the few browser games where a save file is truly necessary. And this is only speaking from the experience of playing the Normal difficulty!


Conclusion?

I can see Paladog annoying some players. It's long, somewhat repetitive, and linguistically challenged. Obsessive levelers (like myself) should love the challenge it brings to the table, though, and given that Paladog's powers and potential items are fairly diverse it has a good amount of replay value.

PLAY PALADOG

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pestilence Z

I've been waiting, for a long time, for a good zombie-based RPG to come out. Zombie games are typically shooters or survival horror deals - for obvious reasons - and the genre could use some branching.

As far as I can remember, Pestilence Z is the first zombie RPG I've ever played. (Feel free to argue that if you've read the archives. I honestly can't remember.) First GOOD one? Ehhh... that's debatable. Pestilence Z ain't bad, but it could use some work.


Concept

Pestilence Z is like any zombie movie. You're a survivor in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Time to   escape your home and fight your way through massive mobs of the undead. There's a bit of a plot involved, mainly in getting to the home of a doctor who may be linked to the outbreak (read: probably), but for the most part it's an out-and-out survival-fest.

One with surprisingly high numbers of zombie fatalities. Run away? Meh. You're a one-man-woman-whatever wrecking machine.

As the screencap above hints, you can choose to be one of three people: a sexy nurse, a high school jock, or an army vet. (I, naturally, chose the nurse.) Each has different starting stats, skill progressions and specialties, and each appears differently in cut scenes. Consequently, each play through IS a fair bit different from the last, though the main goal is, as always, to blow the shite out of zombies.

And how do you do that? Via turn-based, strategic combat. The game is laid out in a series of grids, allowing you to move only a few spaces each turn before the zombies get to move. Once you get caught in battle with zombies (which can be done from a distance or at close range), you duke it out in long- or short-ranged combat with a variety of weapons. As is typical with RPGs, new weapons are scattered all over the place, and skills earned while leveling make killing zombies a little easier.

Yep. Pestilence Z is a bonafide zombie RPG. One that could use some spell checking, true, but a zombie RPG nevertheless.


Controls

As far as I can tell, you can't play Pestilence Z without a mouse. There are tons of menus, and you have to click on the map to make your character move. That said, many of the in- and out of-combat actions have hot keys that greatly speed up game play. Entire battles can be waged without touching the mouse.  Be careful using these keys, as it's easy to accidentally hit the wrong one. 

The primary issue as far as control is concerned lays in the turn-based nature of Pestilence Z. When you're on the map, it's a very slow game. Your character can only move two squares at a time when there are zombies about, which means there's a hell of a walk from one side of the screen to the next. This isn't so bad when the zombies ALSO move towards you, but there always seems to be one or two on each screen who refuse to budge. Either you hoof it to them or you tolerate a long, annoying search when looking for items in boxes or shelves or whatnot.


Graphics

It's hard to classify Pestilence Z's visuals, because they're both 'good' and 'meh' at the same time. Everything is clean and identifiable, there's a lot of variety in the surrounding environments, and the artwork is many steps above other browser-based games. I give extra points to the menu symbols, which are all easy to identify thanks to efficiently-drawn symbols.

And the meh? Again, it's a matter of speed. Everything looks and feels sluggish. There's no sense of urgency in this zombie apocalypse. The zombies never feel alive, which is an odd thing to say about the undead. Even your survivor seems detached from the whole scenario. I know RPGs can be slow, but this... this needs a few jolts of excitement.

Also? More variety. Seeing the same six or seven zombies over and over and over is so damn blech.


Sound

Pestilence Z is, by far, weakest in the sound department. There's a tiny handful of subdued songs, none of which real capture the flavour of the end of the world, and almost no sound effects. No groans, no fleshy thumps of a bat, no crazed screams... the best you'll ever get is the rat-a-tat-tat of a gun. The outbreak is devoid of menace without sound.

Challenge Rating

Because it has four different difficulty levels, Pestilence Z's challenge rating can fluctuate. I played it on Normal and it was fairly easy, with lots of findable weapons, med kits, ammunition and armour. That doubtless changes on more fiendish play-throughs, granting the game more replay value. Expect to take at least a couple hours for each complete circuit of the game.

Problem is, most run-of-the-mill RPG players probably won't replay Pestilence Z. The combat system is way too tedious and repetitive to maintain much interest, regardless of a different character choice. Movement alone will keep me from touching Pestilence Z again, or at least not for a long time - and if I DO replay it, I'll focus all of my efforts on head shots and one-hit-kills. They speed up the game significantly.

Oh, and one major problem for an RPG: though Pestilence Z allows for game saving, once you refresh the screen the save game disappears. No saving in cache. Thumbs down.

Conclusion?

This game doesn't knock the zombie genre out of the ballpark, nor does it grant much innovation to RPGs in general. Hell, it didn't even seem that strategic to me, despite the grid system. Pestilence Z IS still a decent game, however, and level-grinding fanatics will probably enjoy the pace.    
 
PLAY PESTILENCE Z

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Zork

A few months ago I was playing D&D with some friends of mine when the reference "You are likely to be eaten by a grue" popped up in conversation. I'd heard it before, but never had a clue what it meant - so I asked.

Don't do that in the company of more learned nerds. You get mocked. (Mocked by nerds. How embarrassing.)

I learned that the grue was a creature from Zork, an old text-only dungeon crawling game wherein you could be eaten by said shadow-dwelling monsters. I filed that away in the back of my mind and carried on playing, as there are no grues in D&D that I've ever seen. (Which makes sense, since you never see the grue.)

Now, on this very day, I have come across Zork in a browser-based game. And I have played. And I both enjoyed, and regretted, the experience.


Concept

The, uh, screenshot above more or less details everything you need to know about Zork. To sum up, for the lazy: it's an adventure game. You stroll into a dungeon looking for treasures. Survive. (There's EVENTUALLY a story, but find it on your own.)

Beyond that, Zork is a throwback to adventuring days of old. It is an entirely text-based journey, wherein you need to use text commands and your imagination to navigate the dungeon. I bet a lot of kids don't even know these games exist today. Hell, I was only dimly aware of them when I was a child, and I'm almost thirty. Closest I got to this was King's Quest.

And, yes, Zork is as difficult as it sounds. There is very little hand-leading here, no tutorials to make your life easier. You have only your wits (and saving) to lead you through the dungeon in one piece. Have fun!


Controls

Zork doesn't rely on 'traditional' controls. Instead, it forces players to enter instructions for their character to carry out. So long as you have a functioning keyboard, you can play Zork.

Whether you can DEFEAT Zork is another thing altogether. Like I said, this game doesn't hold your hand, and you need to experiment to find the proper navigational words. There's a ton of trial-and-error in Zork, enough that a lot of players trying to figure out how to simply enter a house may give up and play something else.

That said, Zork IS fairly liberal when it comes to commands. There are often numerous ways to do the same thing: for example, you can 'travel' east, 'walk' east, 'go' east, or even simply type 'east' if you want to see what's in the east. These commands can often prove sources of humour, so long as you're willing to experiment:


Graphics

I don't know graphics. This game is made of words.

Sound

Whatcha got playing on your radio?

Challenge Rating

Zork is a tough game without direction, and not just because the interface is quite a challenge for modern gamers. It requires some hefty logical leaps at times, and the nature of the game's corridors makes getting lost very, very easy. Either find a map for the game or, if you're feeling especially bold, make your own as you go along. Also be sure to save often, as you're not alone in the dark depths of the earth.

I must admit that I couldn't beat Zork. I played for a solid two hours, and by the end I was hopelessly lost and fed up with the lack of visualization. You'll learn, quickly, how easy it is to get turned around relying only on your memory and some text directions. That said I imagine Zork is very satisfying to beat, and therefore worthy of sticking on your gaming resume.

Conclusion?

Zork. Zork is hard. Zork is frustrating. Zork is... Zork. It ain't gonna change, no matter what I recommend, so if you intend to try it out, expect a rough go of things - though at the same time, you can also expect a fun, interesting experience that's VERY different from what you'll from most modern browser games.

PLAY ZORK

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Abobo's Big Adventure

I have been dimly aware of Abobo's Big Adventure for several months, despite the fact that it's apparently been in production for a decade or so - and as soon as I discovered the concept, I knew I had to play the thing. Consequently, I've been checking the Newgrounds 'Countdown to Abobo' almost every day.

Today is the day. Today is Abobo. And Abobo... dear god, Abobo is awesome. Awesome enough that I'm doing two reviews in one day, just because I couldn't resist.


Concept

Unless you know your Nintendo lore, you probably don't even know Abobo. He was, originally, a beefy boss from Double Dragon who had the distinction of appearing in several games, even managing to go up against the Battletoads at one point. His unusual appearance, coupled by his debatable handlebar mustache, made him a noteworthy, if minor, NES character.

What you DON'T know is that Abobo actually has a son, Aboboy, who for reasons unknown - probably because this is based on an NES game, and NES games love this stuff - has been kidnapped. Abobo needs to get him back, and he'll do it in the only way he understands: trashing anybody who gets between him and his progeny. On with the adventure!

The story for Abobo's Big Adventure is silly as hell. It's MEANT to be silly as hell, because this is a game that crosses genre boundaries between levels. Literally. You're playing a different NES game in each new venture, whether you're roaming the streets old school Abobo-style, swimming the seas like Mario, plundering the lasery depths of Quick Man's stage ala Mega Man or engaging in a good 'ol Balloon Fight. The game play changes with each stage, so being good at one does not mean you'll be so hot at the next - a challenge that most retro gamers should relish.


Controls

As mentioned above, each level has Abobo trying something new. You'll walk, you'll punch, you'll swim, you'll fly... consequently, the controls change all the time, even though you're still using the old Nintendo scheme of directional arrows coupled with two buttons (not A and B, in this one, but A and S).

Overall, the controls in Abobo's Big Adventure are pretty solid, though in many cases they're only as good as the game from which they come. For example, most players will probably find Balloon Fight to be a big pain in the ass, because the original game worked that way as well. Can't blame the programmers for sticking to the classics. I only had issues in the Mega Man stage when it came to controls, in that they weren't as responsive as the original game.

So I died. A lot. In one particular spot. You'll know which.


Graphics

Oh. Good. Lord. Abobo's Big Adventure is more NES games sewn together than I care to consider, and so the package in its entirety is a giant, glorious, pixelated orgy. The visuals are so wonderfully creative - especially in the bosses and the cut scenes - that you'll want to replay Abobo's Big Adventure several times, just to catch all of the references.


What really dragged me into the game, however, was the attention paid to Abobo himself. He's already damn cool on his own, but the game goes to great lengths to make him even cooler, giving him a series of little transformations to suit each level while remaining staple Abobo. I can't show you every change, 'cause that would spoil much of the game's ending, but they're all awesome - especially when Abobo uses his crazy Rage moves to wipe out every enemy on the screen.


Sound

Abobo's Big Adventure, as far as I can tell, relies almost entirely on the soundtracks of other games. If you liked the original NES titles, you'll enjoy Abobo's soundtrack. I also liked the attention to the little sounds beyond the background music, right down to the digitized cheering during cage matches. Bravo.

Challenge Rating

Hard, but not terribly hard. Abobo's Big Adventure is made for NES gamers; everyone else will have a little difficulty getting into the game play, especially since it changes all the time. Some levels are a lot harder than others, and even reshuffling the order wouldn't change this very much.

That said, Abobo's Big Adventure doesn't go out of its way to be too difficult. The game is relatively forgiving in the amount of extra lives, and when you die you can restart at the beginning of the level rather than having to start the entire game over. Abobo's lengthy health meter (fitting for a boss character) and his Rage moves will help pull you through the beefier challenges.

Just, uh, limber up your hands before you start. There's a lot of button tapping in this sucker.


Conclusion?

Before I finish off, I will mention one recurring bug: the game froze on me twice. This isn't a huge issue since, cache allowing, you can refresh the page and still have all the unlocked levels at the ready, but the freezing is frustrating as hell if you're almost at the end of a difficult section and have to start over.

Right. Rare negative side over. Ready for the explosion?

YOU. MUST. PLAY. THIS. GAME. If you harbour any sort of love for the NES, you have no choice but to play Abobo's Big Adventure. Sure, you might not give a damn about Abobo himself, but there are so many references jammed into this game that anyone who's so much as touched a Nintendo system will get a few chuckles.

And the ending? Epic. Worth the long wait.

Ready? Then it's time to go. Saddle up, Abobo.


Damn right.

PLAY ABOBO'S BIG ADVENTURE

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventure Story

Adventure Story. Not... the most original name I've ever seen applied to a game. It's downright generic, in fact - but it more or less perfectly sums up the substance of the package: it's a story about an adventure. Don't need much more of a synopsis than that.


Concept

This tale has been told thousands of times in the past, and not just in video games. Your girlfriend, o powerful swordsman, has been kidnapped by some asshole. Go get her! Not empowerment literature, this game, but oh well.

Adventure Story is much more about the game play than the story, and that game play is centered around platforming hack-and-slash. You have a sword, you have magic, you can jump - use 'em all to survive a slew of stages and win back your lady love. Part of a well-worn genre, yes, though the execution is adequate enough to throw off the shackles of repetition.

Fortunately, Adventure Story also has enough RPG elements to make it more novel than it sounds. The levels are packed full of secrets, like new equipment, and you can use the cash you earn while slaying monsters to buy or upgrade spells. The emphasis on exploration really expands Adventure Story above and beyond the play time of your average browser game.


Controls

Properly guiding your character is absolutely vital in Adventure Story, and I do wish I could say that the game operates cleanly. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Roughly seventy five percent of the time your character's responsiveness will be just what you want; the other twenty five he... kinda... does what he wants. Not to any huge degree, mind, but enough that you'll get into scrapes you could otherwise have avoided. My biggest irk in this respect was the fact my character kept facing the opposite direction of where I was pressing, which, given that I generally fought with a sword, made hitting enemies reeeeeeally hard. The controls do not, however, make the game unplayable - it's just more annoying than it should be.


Graphics

Adventure Story consists of somewhat bland, cutesy visuals. Don't get me wrong, the game looks great, but the characters lack... character. Open up any Japanese or Korean MMO on the market today and you'll come across a similar set of heroes and baddies.

That aside, the animation is excellent, the sprites are all top-notch and the environments are really nice. I'm a huge fan of moving backgrounds in browser games, and you could pretty much see other levels scrolling by in the distance as you slashed your way through hordes of enemies.


Sound

The characters in Adventure Story are pretty much mute, leaving the job of sound maker (beyond the swishing of swords and magic explosions) to the music. For the most part, Adventure Story's tunes are pretty good: there's a wide variety of 'em, and they typically suit the areas in which they pop up. A tad on the generic side, again, but I can at least appreciate the effort to dip into disparate musical genres.

Challenge Rating

Adventure Story is on par with its genre in terms of difficulty. It's not insanely tough, but the challenge does mount as you progress, and in an even fashion. It's not a game that holds your hand too much - and since there's a several-level-long tutorial and the ability to go back and replay levels to find more items, there's little excuse for eventual lack of advancement.


I must warn, however, that occasional control problems made Adventure Story more difficult than advertised, as you'll be leaping into pits or stupid amounts of danger without wanting to on an unfortunately consistent basis. I had additional troubles because my computer couldn't always keep up with the action, limiting Adventure Story's portability. If you wanna play this game, make sure you're on a more powerful computer - a lot of action on the screen really bogs down the experience, which is a killer in a game full of bottomless pits and crowds of enemies.

Oh, and one other thing: too many blind jumps. Any way to introduce a scrolling feature? Thanks.


Conclusion?

Adventure Story is a good fantasy platforming game that needs some more tweaks. The foundations of the game are all there... they're just a teensy bit buggy at the moment. Work on that and Adventure Story will shine amongst its peers.

PLAY ADVENTURE STORY

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cardinal Quest

Though I'm not an extensive player of roguelike games - the only one I've reeeeeally played is Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, god help me, and it's not quite as good a qualifier as some other games - I am familiar with the genre, enough to know that they're infamous for being BLOODY HARD. Permanent deaths, few items, unforgiving and repetitive dungeon environments... these things are the ORIGINAL dungeon crawls, folks.

Cardinal Quest is one such crawl, and this time, it's located in a browser game. And, yes, it more or less lives up to the reputation of the genre... more or less.


Concept

As fantasy games and books (as well as Greek myths) have long posited, minotaurs are assholes. There is one such minotaur in Cardinal Quest, and he keeps leading his monstrous minions on raids against humanity. Time to bring the bastard down - and there's only one man for the job. Who needs more of a reason to run into a dungeon, weapons at the ready?

Cardinal Quest is, as mentioned, a roguelike game. This probably isn't enough of an explanation for some folks, so to clarify, it's an RPG whereby a single hero wanders into a gridded dungeon and kills stuff while looking for treasure, as well as stairs leading to the next floor. Each time you move or perform an action it counts as a turn, and every other monster on your floor takes their turn as well - assuming you didn't kill 'em beforehand. This means that you have lots of time to plan out strategies, as enemies won't move until you do - which is good since making the wrong move can lead to a quick death.


Controls

Cardinal Quest relies on arrow keys/WASD for navigation and a mouse for accessing menus and spells and so forth. It's a simple control scheme, and so long as you don't accidentally hit the wrong key (and you have no excuse since the enemies wait for you to go) nothing should go wrong. Control problems are made through bad decisions, not programming flubs.

Graphics

Like most roguelike titles, Cardinal Quest leans towards simplicity in visuals. The environments are fairly repetitive, the enemy sprites basic as hell and the animations non-existent. I didn't expect anything beyond what I got, however, and most player should be happy they're not staring at a screen covered in ASCII characters, like older dungeon crawlers.


Sound

Sound effects in Cardinal Quest are few and far between, and could probably be generated by any midi program. That leaves the music, which is admittedly better than I expected - though still not amazing. I WILL grant the programmers kudos, that said, for at least changing up the tunes every few levels. The aesthetics are typically not the focus in these kinds of games.

Challenge Rating

If you've played a game similar to Cardinal Quest before, you shouldn't have a ton of trouble with the title. It's unforgiving, yes, but it's also a more streamlined and simpler dungeon crawler: for example, the best items are automatically equipped on your character, and unnecessary items are sold to avoid clutter. You also do have one life before you die for good, so it's a two-strikes-you're-out sorta deal.

This does NOT make Cardinal Quest easy. Remember, you're a single man against a dungeon full of monsters, many of whom are just as strong as yourself. You're not a crazy Final Fantasy protagonist here with a massive sword and physics-defying powers, you're just some dude with a sword (or dagger, or magic wand - and in the case of the wand, you're very fragile). Careful strategy is an absolute necessity for survival.

Oh, and saving? There is none. You die twice, you have to start over again from the beginning with a new character. Sucks to be you.

These games are not meant to be fair to the player. They're endurance trials that test your strategic skills. For this reason alone, I can see many players giving up on Cardinal Quest before they get very far - and I will sadly admit that the game's semi-anti-climactic finale doesn't give much reason to go the full mile.


Conclusion?

With multiple character classes, seemingly randomized dungeons (it's tough to tell when starting over) and a simplified-but-still-suitably-complex skill, item and combat system, Cardinal Quest is a worthy successor to the roguelike genre. It's not always fun and it's seldom fair, but saying that you beat the sucker (especially if you can beat it with the warrior, which is HARD AS HELL despite claims in the game) is like a badge of honour.

PLAY CARDINAL QUEST

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trigger Knight

Browser games tend to come in two flavors when it comes to controls. Either they're really simple - arrow keys and up, usually - or they're fairly complex, bringing in a slew of different buttons to introduce more spice to their game play.

Trigger Knight is, perhaps, the simplest game, control-wise, that I've played in my Internet browser - yet at the same time, the controls can be fairly complex. How the hell? Read!


Concept

Trigger Knight is all about a blade-wielding swordswoman who wants to become the strongest of the strong. She dashes across the countryside, killing monsters and collecting gold, and you're brought along to help by providing monetary and item-based assistance while she does the fighting.

What's that? YOU don't fight? That's right. You're more like the sidekick, a helpful, invisible presence who spends the girl's money for her while she's hunting beasties. The heroine runs along a stretch of greenery, passing buildings and fighting monsters, and your click decides whether or not money will be spent on various upgrades - not to mention whether or not the girl receives an item during combat. Doesn't sound like much, but your click almost always means the difference between life and death in Trigger Knight.


Controls

Theoretically, simplest damn thing in the world. Click when you want the girl to do something. That's it. You don't move her, you don't tell her when to attack, you just deal with the distribution of material goods. Never goes wrong, which is good since timely clicking is everything in Trigger Knight.

Graphics

Trigger Knight, at once, reminded me of either an Atlas or NIS game. The heroine has the usual lithe, anime, giant sword look typical of JRPG games, and is pretty good for a browser game.

Everything else? Eh, it's okay. The buildings could use variation to spice up the surroundings, and the enemies are hardly epic. Wouldn't mind moving into different lands as you go along, either. Keep the girl, work on the rest.


Sound

An epic rock track coupled with hack and slash noises. I liked the music, though it did get repetitive after a couple of runs through the game.

Challenge Rating

Trigger Knight is a trickier venture than it seems. You need to carefully balance your spending, as you're not only running up against the need to upgrade arms and keep your girl's health high, but a constantly-depleting Lifespan that must be replenished at Soul Shrines. There's a lot of money juggling involved, and given that the enemies get stronger mercilessly fast it pays to know when to purchase certain upgrades. Just 'cause it's a one-click game doesn't mean it's simple, and that, I say, is a highly impressive accomplishment.


Conclusion?

Despite sporting a system that forces you to sit and watch seventy-five percent of the time, Trigger Knight is pretty fun. It could use more variety, sure, but if the author description is any indication this is more a test run for a FULL game - and if that's true, I'll be more than happy to partake, considering Trigger Knight is good enough to BE a full game. Thumbs up.

PLAY TRIGGER KNIGHT