Friday, August 31, 2012

Double Geek!

I'm a double geek.  I'm a geek because I love video games and also a geek because I like to read.  So I bought these simple bookmarks.  Yeah, I could have made them myself, but I like to support folks that are doing fun stuff for the industry.  By the way, I'm really a triple geek because I also love math.


I bought this one, but there are others that are similar.

Game of the Day - Finalizer - Super Transformation

Somebody once told you not to judge a book by its cover.  Finalizer is that book.  It is a much better game than it looks upon first glance.  Finalizer-ST is a not-quite-so-old-school vertical shooter with some evil enemies and several cool power-ups.

You play with the joystick and two buttons.  The first button is fire.  And the second button is fire or the second button is shield or the second button...  You get the picture, the 2nd one is context sensitive based on your power-up.

You actually play the whole game while flying over a map of the world (starting with the U.S., launching just north of Cuba).  While this is a cool and unique concept, hardly any of the map is marked and so it just looks like a generic map of land and rivers and lakes for most of the time you are flying.  Could've been better.  I wonder how accurate they tried to make the maps...

The thing that make this game great is the behavior of the enemies.  As I've described in other games, the fun of many mid-school shooters is directly tied to the variety of behaviors of the enemy ships.  In Finalizer, they come in all forms:  Fast, big, multi-hits required, bouncy, break into shrapnel, in big formation, in random formation...  It's just plain fun to do battle and stay on your toes all the time.  There's always something new or different or some combo of ships that are terrifyingly hard.

Of course, to combat this, you get power-ups.  They come from a little oblong thing that flashes and then appears.  As you hit it with fire, it changes what the power-up is.  Then, you catch it to power-up.  There are many different things here... Some power-up your own ship, turning you into a bigger mech looking thing and giving you a shield to carry.  Use the 2nd button to move this shield in front of you to block incoming fire.  You can continue to add pieces to become a bigger and more effective badass (mech).  There are also power-ups that make you temporarily fast and invincible and you can kill the enemy by crashing into them ( a la Vanguard!!!).  Also, there is a power-up that freezes everything temporarily so you can go blast everything with no worries.  All the temporary power-ups display a countdown timer on the screen so you know how long you have left.

It's not very complicated and again, the graphics are uninspired, but Finalizer - Super Transformation is a fine game that'll give you lots of fun and challenge for an extended period of time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Game of the Day - Buggy Boy

Buggy Boy (aka Speed Buggy) is a quasi-cutesy over-the-shoulder third person racer  - although you aren't racing anybody but yourself.  Unlike many other driving games, points are actually the main goal of Buggy Boy.

Whereas in other drivers, I find myself simply trying to qualify or to finish or to place or to get to the next race, Buggy Boy is designed as a point gathering harvest and plays very well.

You drive through any of the five different courses on a dune buggy.  The steering controls are analog, so you can use many different inputs - I liked using my spinner the best.  So you steer and have three buttons - accelerate, brake and gear shift.  Again, the accelerate and brake were designed to be analog (pedals) so you can configure them any way you want on MAME (but who in the hell ever uses the brake on these games??????).
So, kind of like a ski slope, you drive into flags and thru gates to collect their posted points. You also need to drive thru the "time" gates to add time to your round.  If the time runs out before the end of the track, your game is over.  A very nice addition to the scoring is that on the upper right there is a sequence of colored flags - get all the colors in order (you can get other flags in between) and you get a bonus and a small amount of time to get additional, higher scoring flags.  So, not only are you going for the flag, gates and points, but you have to make sure you are getting the right ones to max out your pointage.  By the way, the KLOV entry for this game mentions that you get more points if you collect the flags while on two wheels.  Nice.  Finally, make it to the end of the track in time, and collect additional copious bonuses.
Buggy Boy is simple, quick and cute.  The graphics are nice and the levels differ greatly from each other.  Their graphics, backgrounds, day vs night, and tracks all look and play differently and this adds greatly to the life of the game.

I don't review a lot of driving games, but Buggy Boy stands out for simple, straight-forward fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Game of the Day - Battlantis

 
Okay, so it's just a new twist on Space Invaders.  Yet somehow, I found it very compelling.  Battlantis is mostly just Space Invaders with updated graphics that depict you defending your medieval castle.

Invaders of all types scroll across and down in that famous SI way and you have to blast them before they get there.  Of course, there are some updates to the gameplay.  Some enemies attack directly.  Some appear from nowhere, separate from the rest of the attacking army.  Some require more than one shot, or require you to destroy their shield before you can kill them.  Some disappear at random only to reappear somewhere else.  And when the enemy hits the castle wall (your last defense), they take a second to climb up it - giving you a last ditch effort at thwarting their takeover.  It keeps you busy.

To help you out, there are power-ups.  From the Japanese flyer I found online, it seems like there are at least six diff kinds of power-ups - yet I don't know what they all do.  I know some help you shoot faster and another freezes time, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.  There's also a timer that appears when you are powered-up, counting down the seconds until you lose that power.

Each level also has bosses.  They are rude and difficult and it's terribly hard to avoid their firepower, so good luck.

Of course, like many games, one of the main factors that make Battlantis compelling is that it is difficult.  Not so difficult to be disheartening, just enough to let you advance a little and then scoff at your next efforts.  Thus, despite its derivative concept and mediocre graphics, Battlantis keeps you coming back with srpy gameplay and a balanced but high degree of difficulty.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tron Car

Yeah, you can't really buy it (although I'm sure there's some amount they'd take for it)... But it's really cool.  The link goes to their FB fan page.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Game of the Day - Rescue

As I've written over and over, I'm a sucker for a dual joystick game.  Rescue is a fun d-j game wherein you (not-so-surprisingly) rescue dudes from the water while battling off enemy helicopters, sharks and other baddies.

You fly a helicopter by using the left joystick.  The right joystick is for firing in the direction you push a la Robotron 2084.  There is also a single button that drops bombs.  Each wave starts with a goal of the number of idiots to rescue.  They parachute down and float in the water, waiting for you to rescue them.  Meanwhile, the enemy copters are trying to shoot you down.  So, you have to stay alive AND start rescuing the dudes.

The way you rescue them is to hover over them.  Do so, and a ladder drops down.  When you are close enough, the dude climbs the ladder. DO NOT fly away too fast.  If you fly before the guy is aboard, he'll drop off the ladder and die.  You know he's on board when it flashes the points you have earned for rescuing him (500).

There are many things to watch out for besides enemy fire.  If you get too close to the water, your blades will catch and you will crash.  Starting with the 2nd wave, there are sharks in the water.  So, if you don't rescue your guys fast enough, the shark will eat them.  Luckily, you can shoot the shark with your guns (right joystick).  Another little programming gem is that you have to watch out for your guys when they are parachuting down, fly into them and your blades will turn them into red goo instantaneously.

So, rescue the proper number and then the game instructs you to fly to an island to let them disembark.  When this is done, the round is over.  Bonuses are awarded.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  But with more difficulty.

The main screens scrolls, so you can fly far to the left or right.  Luckily, the game continues to scatter rescuees so you don't have to go back and find the ones you left behind (bastard).

The graphics are typical for the age of the game.  Fun old-school stuff that looks like it was written for the 2600 or Colecovision.

Play it, enjoy the dual-joystickiness and laugh when you squish your own men.  Rescue is a good time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Game of the Day - Cube Quest

LaserDisc lovers unite!  Cube Quest is an ancient LD game that is a better experience than it is a game, but one you have to try out.

It is an almost-3D space shooter, that plays a little like Gyruss or Tempest in that the enemy ships kind of come at you on a track from the middle.  But mostly, it's just a 3rd person space shooter where you blast all the enemy ships in quasi-glorious vector looking polygon graphics projected against freaky LD backgrounds.  You use the trackball (or joystick in MAME) to control your ship and move all around as you fly thru wave after wave of enemies down unbelievably colorful and rich corridors of LaserDisc worlds.  This is what the game is about, the crazy graphically supercharged corridors of the cube that you fly through while trying to avoid being mesmerized by them.

You start the game by looking at your ship on the edge of a vector-graphic-ed cube.  You select which of the verticies to fly to/attack.  Your ultimate goal is to chase down the treasure on the far side of the cube.  Each time you choose the next point, you then start flying down a gorgeous corridor, shooting everything in sight.  Most ships in any given corridor are the same, but there are some bonus items to get.  When you complete a corridor (wave), you then have your cannons shut off and are required to fly thru an obstacle course to get back to the cube.  The 3D of the obstacle course is interesting and makes it a little hard to accomplish.

So then, you are back at the outside of the cube, choose your next vertex and fly down some new psychedelic corridor.

The sound is minimal (however, there is a nice Star Trek type hum) and the game play can be a little tough to see because the vectorish graphics are so small and distant looking.  However, it's certainly a fun game and unique in its play, look and feel.

Crank it up and don't let the 3D and backgrounds give you "Ecco the Dolphin Syndrome" - but don't worry, I didn't, and I'm the king of it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

GameSwag Website

If you are looking for Klax Cigarettes, Sonic Pasta or a Chainsaw controller for Resident Evil 4, the website for you is www.gameswag.com .

It's a great site dedicated to all the crazy/cool collectibles, give-aways and strangeness of products related to the gaming world.  In fact, the link at http://gameswag.com/list/unusual/   -  takes you directly to their list of the most unusual stuff.

Very cool and yes, I want most of it!

Summer

Been dormant for a couple of weeks trying to squeeze every minute out of the short-lived Seattle summer.  Can't see my laptop screen out in the sun so haven't posted anything while the sun is around.  Ramping back up soon... (It's not your monitor, my sun is blue)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Game of the Day - Armed Police Batrider

Another candidate for the best game names Hall of Fame, APB is a modern shooter with graphics and a bullet count you expect from a vertical shooter that was born in the late 90s.

One thing I like about the graphics is their fun factor.  They aren't the most beautiful or detailed, but you are flying over a city with tons of cars, trucks, billboards and other crap - ALL of which you can blow up.  The sights to be seen are plentiful and fun  - especially since you can shoot most of them. 

The game starts with a series of choices.  And there is a myriad of things to choose from: levels, difficulty, ships and characters.  There may be more choices in this game before you start than any other arcade game I know of.  Of course, the beauty is that if you don't want to choose, you can just take the default settings of "normal" and the default team of ships and you're off!!

The controls are easy and a little sparse.  Along with the joystick you have two buttons, fire and bomb.  There is also the requisite charge shot - which in this case I call an "anti-charge" shot since the way you use it is by laying off the fire button until the shot is fully charged... then press fire and bam!  The charge shot is mainly a bigger, stationary blast from your satellite pods.

There are things to collect (although they can be hard to see).  Power-ups and bomb build-ups come frequently.  You simply collect the bomb pieces and they show on the bottom left of your screen.  Collect enough and you are awarded a new bomb to deploy.

As is the case for most of this era of games, my only complaint is the utterly-crazy-ridiculously-overdone-batshit-zealous way the screen is filled with fire/artillery.  The enemy can lay down fire like you can't believe and it takes an extreme amount of work for you to avoid it all.  The bosses are big and powerful and cool, but still don't frighten me as much as the bullet-ridden main gameplay that looks like ants covering food at a picnic.

Armed Police Batrider is a worthy (if not perfect) contribution to the genre, I just hope you like avoiding enemy fire.