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Canabalt Review: Atom Atomic Presents RUN! AND JUMP TO FREEDOM

September 11, 2009

Canabalt

It has been said that the simplest games are generally the most fun. That rings true for myself, my editor, and just about everyone else I’ve introduced to “Canabalt“; a simple, but extremely well-designed game, where you’re some suit in a big corporate office running from robots shooting bombs at the city. So, basically, it’s just like what you did earlier today. [Read more]

Bookworm Adventures: Volume 2 Review: Scrabble To Your Doom!

August 17, 2009

Bookworm Adventures 2

When it comes to “gaming,” people have many choices. That word evokes a lot of different ideas in people’s heads, and, while most people reading this may immediatly jump to “video gaming,” there are entire populations that are much more likely to think of board games. Search on YouTube for “Crossfire” if you don’t believe me; it’s well-regarded as the most awesomely-hyped board game to ever exist. Anyone out there remember Mouse Trap or Life? Man, I feel really old when I recall how many deadly-deals I made for people’s souls and their hard-earned cash due to capitalism squared in Monopoly. However, our focus today belongs to the wordsmith’s game, Scrabble.

The aft-returning adage, “easy to learn, hard to master” was this game’s selling point in many respects; spell a word with your given letters, and get points. Fast forward to today, and the game has become culturally complicated and gorged upon a fanbase of Scrabble Masters and Scrabble Dictionaries made for the game, and there’s even online and real-life Scrabble tournaments. And since most of the video game versions either weren’t particularly good, or fell into obscurity due to Hasbro typically releasing titles en-masse, those games aren’t really worth most people’s time. PopCap, however, decided to meld the same basic concept with a slimy, yet knowledgeable, bookworm named Lex in “Bookworm Adventure.” Clearly not to be outdone by “Puzzle Quest,” the player uses letters as weapons, traveling through three books of various genres and archetypes. The recently released sequel, “Bookworm Adventures 2″ builds on the concept of the original. [Read more]

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures Ep. 4: The Bogey Man Review: FORE!!!

August 13, 2009

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I wrote the review for the first Wallace & Gromit episode, “Fright of the Bumblebees.” The short-lived series had both its high and low points, but they were acceptable nonetheless. “The Bogey Man” is the final installment of “Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures,” but does it end with a proper bang? [Read more]

Dawn of Discovery Review: A Whole New World

July 16, 2009

Dawn of Discovery

If you have never heard of “Anno” before, you are probably a North American like yours truly. “Anno” is a series of real-time city and economic building games that was released in Europe, and although “Anno 1404″ (or for us, “Dawn of Discovery”) is the first one to be released in North America, it is actually third in the “Anno” series. Despite it’s experience in Europe, it is still part of a niche genre, and it beckons the questions: Are North Americans willing to embrace this game, and, if they are, is it worth it? [Read more]

Epic Battle Fantasy Review: Battle… Without The Pedantic Story!?

June 22, 2009

Epic Battle Fantasy

Matt Rosak has made so many different types of “Final-Fantasy”-esque battle animations, that he finally felt the need to make one into a game, “Epic Battle Fantasy.” Granted, it is a completely nonsensical game filled with humorous references tailored for RPG fans. If you’ve been an RPG gamer for a while you’ll appreciate the generic, yet legendary, battles against slimes and tentacle monsters, as well as a sheer amount of coolness that the creatures of this game have and skills you get to use. You play as Player 1, a warrior with multiple swords, and a pirate hat, and a huge assortment of attacks and Player 2, (who is clearly regarded as fan-service) a well-endowed white mage/black mage/summoner who brings out “Pokemon,” along with obscure anime references and dark gods.

[Read more]

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures Ep. 3: Muzzled Review: Who Let The Dogs Out?

June 19, 2009

Wallace and Gromit: Muzzled

Another month, another episode of “Wallace & Gromit.” Unlike the previous two episodes, episode three of “The Grand Adventures” series one focuses more heavily on Gromit, and you spend most of your time playing as him. This won’t come as a surprise though, as the plot is focused on lost dogs (who are cute enough to make grown men lose their puberty). It is definitely a change of pace from the rest of the series, but is it enough to redeem itself from the disappointing “The Last Resort” while besting “Fright of the Bumblebees”? [Read more]

Restaurant Empire II Review: Cooking Up A Storm

June 15, 2009

Restaurant Empire II

Trevor Chan is perhaps one of the lesser known designers in the PC industry, mostly because his strategy games are very dry, but ridiculously complex. One such example of this is “Capitalism 2,” a game where you start your own business in almost any field such as retail, manufacturing, real estate, advertising, or if you have the money, all of the above. “Restaurant Empire II” borrows many of the elements from Chan’s previous games; the depth, number crunching, and dry theme. And with all of these features added together, the resulting game will cause mixed feeling depending on what side of the fence you’re sitting on. [Read more]

Spewer Review: A Nauseatingly Good Puzzler

May 19, 2009

Spewer

Recently, the premise of puzzle games has been of two distinct types that I have been able to notice; clearing up shapes and blocks with other similar blocks to gain points with a couple variations to keep things from getting too boring, and where you control a character to move from one area to the other. Outside of a couple of variations and innovative titles like “Puzzle Quest” and “Portal,” the puzzle genre uses those two sub-genres to separate and define themselves. “Spewer” is of the latter sub-genre, and receives a bit more recognition due to the watchful eye of TIGSource and the developer, Edward McMullen, developer of the platformers “Gish,” and the upcoming “Super Meat Boy.”

In “Spewer” you play an adorable pink-and-red blob who must make it to an exit in each level by jumping and dodging spikes. How, you ask? It just so happens that you eat everything you come across, and you can not only projectile vomit and swim in said vomit to cross paths, but you can also eat your own regurgitation to charge your meter. That’s a sight from a video game that won’t leave your mind ever again. Supposedly created by the background scientist who shows up from time to time, the player navigates each level, getting introduced to new gameplay concepts each time. Some examples include the pills which change your colors and allow swimming through spewed clouds, or one that creates solid mass instead, as well as acid which kills you stone dead upon touching it, as well as breaking floors and opening the occasional switch from time to time that liquid is needed to trigger- including your own spewed juices. [Read more]

Stalin vs. Martians Review: The Martians Win

May 18, 2009

Stalin vs. Martians

The concept of throwing historical figures into video games and thrusting them into oddball plots isn’t new. You can go as far back as “Wolfenstein 3D” which stared the world’s least favorite antisemite, Adolf Hitler, and it was a great game; despite it’s rather questionable theme, it still sold well. “Stalin vs. Martians” tweaks that same, basic, idea by throwing another historically famous genocidal maniac into a plot involving an alien invasion on his turf. From the start, it sounds like a decently stupid idea that has the potential to be a good game, and it would work even better as a Real Time Strategy game. However, after playing a hours of protecting Stalin’s motherland against aliens, using the National Anthem to inspire my tanks, and using the K.G.B., I can say that this is perhaps the worst RTS game I have ever played. If anything, this game should only be used in a game design school to demonstrate how not to design a RTS game. [Read more]

Plants vs. Zombies Review: Not Just Another Zombie Game

May 13, 2009

Plants vs. Zombies

As of late, the “Tower Defense” genre has generally been tackled by independent developers exploiting flash games to their most addictive capacity, forcing players to defend a fixed, critical points on a map using other fixed defenses of varying degrees of effectiveness. Some games even let the player take a more direct role by activating one-use items to clear the area of attackers, or send their own army to battle their oncoming opponents. The original games which birthed this concept stem from the original cult following from Battle.net game “Starcraft,” and have become well known to hardcore and casual gamers alike with names like “Defend Your Castle” and “Desktop Tower Defense.” While they boil down to mindless fun, with a dash of strategy built in, the initial concept has not changed much; protect yourself by using all the means at your disposal and preserve enough resources to effectively advance through the game without being overrun by enemies. As the game progresses the player builds and upgrades until they can just sit back and watch the baddies drop like bad sitcoms until the level ends. Sure, the levels change and the towers and monsters become more interesting and powerful, but a solid player can clear any stage with enough understanding of the game’s rules and the basic layout. One thing is clear though; players that are new to the genre tend to keep back; the amount of enemies might be too overwhelming even with tutorials or help, due to the speed, strategy, and technique required. Fortunately, PopCap’s “Plants vs Zombies” is a pretty solid attempt to change the genre of defense games forever. [Read more]

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures Ep. 2: Last Resort Review: Hittin’ The Beach

May 11, 2009

Wallace & Gromit

“The Last Resort” is next episode in Wallace & Gromit’s episodic “Grand Adventures” series. Telltale Games once again throws the claymation duo into the insanity known as West Wallaby Street, and it’s up to us to help out these two characters with whatever obstacles they encounter. Unlike many of the other Telltale games, you don’t need to have played previous episodes to understand what is going on; everything here is fresh, and easy to pick it up.

Our plot begins when we see the inventor’s dog, Gromit, ready to go on vacation with his absented minded master. However, as soon as the wooden door swings open, the canine is introduced to some nasty weather that extinguishes any chance to going outside. This change of plans hits Gromit pretty hard and Wallace comes up with a brilliant idea: turn their flooded basement into an indoor beach. [Read more]

Noitu Love Review: Finally, A Game That Doesn’t Make Sense Again!

April 24, 2009

Noitu LoveBack in the glory days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the early start of the Super Nintendo, game developers didn’t care how crazy a platformer’s plot was; all you needed was a character shooting, fighting or jumping on his or her enemies on their way to a goal. That was the end of all the muss and fuss, and the games would become popular because they kept people interested. The only plot you needed was in the instruction manual, or the opening title sequence, and there were usually enough holes and crazy developments in a single plot that you’d need a pincushion to stick a needle in them all. After all, who in their right mind would send a single man with a robotic, swinging hand to defeat the Nazis (”Bionic Commando”), or have a blue-collar worker from Brooklyn enter a pipe bigger than most taxis and go to a world with mushrooms that make you grow to save a princess that has been captured by a large, spiked turtle. Those games are still great, and, nowadays, developers only do so much to keep the insanity in a “good” game. [Read more]

Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment Review: Newer, Better, Faster

April 10, 2009

Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment

With its superb game design, and innovative interface “Sins of the Solar Empire” is a real-time strategy masterpiece; an experience that not many gamers could forget. It took the well-known traits of RTS games, and combined them with 4X elements. Despite all the right things developer Ironclad has done with “Sins,” it’s not to say the game is without flaws; most players’ major gripe with the game was the lack of defense. Your fleet played either offensively or defensively, and due to the game’s slow pacing, it became a game of cat and mouse as you tried to micromanage your fleet’s orders. One minute your attacking fleet is ready to blow up the enemy’s capital, only to be told to go back since your enemy is doing the same thing on the other side of the galaxy. Ironclad recognized this and introduced their micro-expansion, “Entrenchment.”

“Entrenchment” is all about defense. There are no new ships, capital ships, or anything to help the offense. The goal with this expansion was to allow the option for players to invest into effective defensive tech for their colonies – even on the most basic level, such as additional upgrades for the basic platforms already in the first game. However, the highlights of the expansion are easily the mines and Starbases. [Read more]

World of Goo Review: Puzzles With a Creamy Filling Inside

April 8, 2009

World of Goo

When it comes to puzzle games, most recognize the simple gameplay and progressive designs that eventually get harder, and require more skill and knowledge that has been acquired through the game. This method of learning and practical application has been the staple for most puzzle games since the beginning of time; stick the right row of blocks into the correct place, fire the right kind of orb over the field into the right order, send the psychotic green-haired mooks into different roles-as taught to you be the handbook and tutorial-to the end of the level. It’s a very efficient system. In 2D Boy’s award-winning “World of Goo” no such learning period exists. [Read more]

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