Joined 12/20/2012

If you're leaving scorch marks, you need a bigger gun.

14 Posts

It's hard for me to gripe about a "pay what you want" game package, but I kinda feel like Blendo is playing fast & loose with what constitutes a game here.

The premium title of the bundle (the one you have to beat the average donation to get) is Thirty Flights of Loving. Now, I went into this knowing it wasn't a game, so much as it was an "artfully told story." Mm-hm. Nope. Nope, it's just that between the story and the gameplay, the story *almost* exists and the gameplay does not at all. If you'd like a story-told-in-game-format, I'd like to recommend To The Moon, Portal 2, Final Fantasy 6, Myst... gee, it's almost like we had the story-told-as-game thing down for a couple decades before this was released, isn't it?

Next up, Air Forte. This is actually a kids' game. Seeing this lined up next to Flotilla, I thought I'd be in for an aerial combat romp. Nope, I'm in for practicing my basic multiplication and geography skills. Now, I'm not meaning to complain about kids games or edutainment, but there's a context here that's simply being ignored. When I was very young, I found a copy of "Tax Planner" sitting in the games caddy for the family's Atari 2600. I *thought* was in for a sim game. To my credit, I only "played" it for about fifteen minutes before I realized I was trying to beat a utility program. This time around, it only took me a minute and a half to figure out that characters asking me to find their "multiples of 2" was not some cutesy way of telling me their twin siblings had been kidnapped. So personal growth +1, videogame funtimes - 100.

Atom Zombie Smasher is a reasonably interesting idea. Now that I'm out of nice things to say I'll proceed with the review. In software development, we have a mantra: "What is the dumbest thing that could possibly X", where X is either "work", "be recognized as a feature", or something similar. It's basically how we decide where to draw milestones and how to divide work into manageable chunks. Atom Zombie Smasher feels like someone reached the Dumbest Thing that could Possibly Be a Zombie Game, then published it. It's playable. There's even a little bit of strategy involved. But it feels like this one got published long before it got polished. Most of your flash games on Kongregate (Rebuild comes to mind) will outpace this for depth, easily.

I'd love to review Flotilla for you. I really would. But I can't get the damn thing to run on my system. I've followed all of the three-year-old troubleshooting tips, uninstalled, reinstalled, did the usual Windows mamba. It simply does not run. Perhaps not surprising; there are no maintenance patches newer than 2010.

So, there you have it. One story that would fit on a pamphlet, one "game" for your eight-year-old nephew, one zombie game released before its prime, and one thing that purports to be a game but is actually a shrug and a fart noise. Honestly, I can't recommend the Humble Bundle purchase even at name-your-own prices. If you're really curious about one or two of these, go for it - it's not your dollar, but your gaming hour that I'm afraid will be wasted.
This is just a quick, nostalgic sendup of a fantastic adventure game of a bygone era: Loom. It's blowing my mind that this game is over 20 years old; when I got my hands on it for the first time it was already a classic.

Loom is not a particularly challenging game; this was right about when the industry was overcorrecting a bit for the mind-punishingly difficulty of the early adventure games. That's alright, though, even if the puzzles are not particularly stumping they're fun to play with and solve, and though the graphics and sound are definitely dated, they have aged well. Loom would probably be right at home next to some well-polished "retro" indie titles of today's gaming world.

One of the major game mechanics of loom centers around "weaving" spells via musical notes, and so the game holds music close to its heart. Perhaps wisely, then, the game's creators opted to use Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake as the soundtrack, and there are certainly some inspirations taken from the movements of that score.

I have a lot of fond memories of this game, and one of the sadnesses of the tech of that era was that upgrading systems often made your old software incompatible - and that was especially true for games. LucasArts as well as the game's fanbase wrote patches and workarounds to keep the game running on newer systems, with mixed success. Now, though, the game is available on Steam for both Mac and PC, and by all accounts it's a solid, stable build.

If you're in the mood for a fun, low-stress, cleverly-presented stroll through a classic story, I can definitely recommend Loom. Last I looked, it was going for $4.99 on Steam, and that's a small price to play for a classic from a studio famed for its titles in the genre.

I finally made it through FTL! Once. On "easy" mode. But let's not dwell on details, shall we? :) Spoilers ahead!

The winning build was, at the time of the Big Fight:

Redtail Kestrel layout
6 power in shields (3 dots)
6 power in engines
3 power in cloaking
4 power in drone control
Anti-Ship Drone II
Burst Laser I
Basic Laser
Basic Laser
Small Bomb
7 crew members

Sensors, Doors, Oxygen, Medbay weren't really relevant, but for the record Medbay and Sensors were each upgraded by one point.

I think the two biggest pieces here were the Cloaking and the Small Bomb, both of which were *critical* to the second round of the boss fight. Without cloaking you will have a hard time surviving the Power Surge, and without the small bomb you will have a hard time getting past enough defenses to start damaging anything. (4 shields make it hard to do anything with lasers, and the defense drone makes it hard to get missiles in for a hit). The third most important piece was the anti-ship drone; once I got shields down enough to start hitting things the anti-ship drone kept a lot of pressure on and alternated between keeping shields low and actually ripping up some hull damage.

For my next steps, I'm going to bop around on easy for a bit longer and maybe unlock a few more ships, then I'll shift gears into normal mode and see what the differences are.
Ever notice how, in your garden-variety RPG, the shopkeep gets to sit behind a counter all day while you quest up and down the countryside slaying monsters and looting dungeons... yet the shopkeep seems to be the one to wind up with all your gold by the end of the game? Ever wanted to switch places for a day?

Meet Recettear. This game is all about the business end of the RPG world. You get to manage stock, decide which of your wares to showcase, haggle over prices, and, pay off an outstanding debt. Nope, not even kidding - paying off the debt, in fact, is the main storyline of the game. In a nod to traditional dungeoneering, you do get to hire adventurers to explore procedurally-generated dungeons for you, and you get to control them (while your actual main character tags along behind, invincibly, to do the beancounting), but the big moments of the game happen while you're behind the counter.

This is a *very* Japanese game. The translation to English was done just fine, maybe even better than most imports, but the culture was preserved. For example, nobody is "slightly" anything. The game's "broke adventurer" fellow isn't just hard on his luck; he's found in the park trying to suss out which plants are safe to eat. The game's "rich snob" makes a special trip to your shop to explain how she's going on an excursion for the express purpose of eating foie gras. Your character berates herself every time you fail to make a sale; the sound effects and visuals would be right at home in any manga or anime piece you could imagine, and so on and so on and so on.

It's a fairly easy game. I won't go into spoilers here, but I will say that there's only so bad that the game will let you be. I've "beaten" the game - yes, I'm sure, because the characters actually broke the fourth wall and thanked me for beating the game on behalf of the studio - but they also point out that there's a lot more content to be enjoyed in the game's "endless" mode. To that end, I don't feel qualified to fully evaluate the story... but I will say that when I beat the game, there were some pretty glaring loose threads that none of the characters even really felt like acknowledging. I'm not sure if that's reserved for a Super Special Secret Plus Plus Plus Hooray ending, or if the characters are just like "whatever" about these points, but I was definitely left waiting for something that never came.

All in all, I'd give this one a 7/10. I don't know that I'll ever play it all the way through again, but I feel like I enjoyed my time here. And the next time I fork over 100,000 gold for a Diamond Sword, I'm going to hesitate just that one moment longer. Now I know for *sure* this shopkeep's job isn't as hard as he's making it out to be.