Tagged: demo

A trio of clever 2D Indie Games Platformers

Feeling a little better this afternoon after a crippling Saturday of sickness, I was on my way to finally starting Alpha Protocol but stopped by the Indie Games channel to see what was new. Extreme Baby Maker got a sequel (still with Avatars) but I didn’t bother with the free trial. Instead I found a trio of neo-retro 2D platformers, each with a twist of their own.

Nyan-Tech (80 Microsoft Points)
A single-screen puzzle platformer, I dig the minimalist look and the super tiny, super cute art. It also has an interesting hook in that you have to hold different buttons on the controller to solidify the platforms you need to jump across. Navigating the stages looks simple at first but timing button presses (and button releases) in mid-jump proved more hysterical and challenging than I expected. A score timer also starts counting down once you begin moving, making it not only a dexterous challenge but a quick-thinking one as well. In searching for wallpaper and more info I happened upon a couple reviews of the game that point out how short it is.

Maid_san’s Caving Adventure (80 Microsoft Points)
Yeah, so I checked it out because it has an anime maid in it. It also has some pretty 2D environs and I’m a sucker for both caving and adventures. It also reminded me a bit of Yumi’s Odd Odyssey only without the bipedal land-fish or the grappling hook. What you get is a platformer that’s as much about grabbing shiny stars at it is about stealth. Stealth in the form of Maid_san’s special “trembling” technique that makes her invisible to the wandering troll guys, the Benars. It looks good but this is classic Japanese fare that’s all about doing everything perfectly and being critically graded on your performance. I couldn’t muster anything above a failing ‘D Rank’ and decided to move on.

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES (80 Microsoft Points)
Oh look, someone made their own ‘I Wanna Be the Guy’ on the Indie Games Channel! Oi! Along with the 1,000 tricky spikes that shoot out of nearly every platform you land on you also get 1,000 lives, and I needed them; it took about a dozen just to get past one of the first obstacles. When I thought I was finally up to speed with the game an unexpected patch of spikes killed me and sent me all the way back to the start. I love the look and sound of it but I got all my punishing platforming from Super Meat Boy, thanks.

And then I was done with those trials and ready to start Alpha Protocal which I am, shockingly, enjoying given how much gum-flappin’, conspiracy-talkin’, dialog is packed on that disc. More on that at [REDACTED] and on the [CLASSIFIED] Show.

Achieving: Pre-chieving in the Crackdown 2 Demo

As far as I’m concerned this is genius stuff! The 30-minute timed demo of Crackdown 2 not only gives you a huge chunk of Pacific City to mess around with, it also lets you pre-achieve 10 feats of skill (and luck!) that will carry over to the full game when you load it up come early July. What I realized as I contemplated how I’d manage to ‘kill an enemy with a mounted machine gun while upside-down‘ was that these are all the kinds of Achievements I usually give up on in a game like Crackdown. It’s the very specific tasks that I usually put off until I finish a game but by then another new game has come out and I’ve moved on without thinking twice about how to ‘juggle a vehicle three times in the air in co-op mode‘.

It is kinda sleazy and no one knows yet how it’s going to work — are these 10 individual Achievements in the full game or do they add up to a single ‘demo’ unlock for 100 points? Can you still get these in the full game? Do they just pop up as soon as the game loads? — but I can’t deny that it worked on me. The time constraint put a new spin on an open world game, forcing me to focus on one thing at a time instead of running from whim to whim and it definitely kept me coming back again and again.

Demo Impressions of Late

Afro Samurai? Beaten. Tom Clancy’s HAWX? Old news. Halo Wars? Soooo last week. Yup, I play a lot of games and… oh fie, you caught me! Ok, I play just about any demo that floats across the Marketplace, be it on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, and there’ve been quite a few lately so I thought I’d chime in with some quick impressions.

Afro Samurai
I hope the anime is stupendous because knowing the rich backstory and compelling plight of the characters is the only way I can imagine making it through this game. The art style looks fantastic from the titular afro on Afro’s head to the cartoon meat slices you get a glimpse of as you cleave enemies into pieces. The gameplay, on the other hand, is like Ninja Gaiden stuck in a barrel of molasses in a tar pit. You’ve got the typical weak/heavy attacks to mix up combos with and a slow-mo focus mode but it just never feels very fast, tight, or entertaining. You don’t even get a good view of the gore. I also hear there are topless ninja girls later in the game and even some platforming. There’s only one platform to jump on in the demo and the rigid camera caused me to fall promptly to the ground before I was even sure of where I was. Sorry Surge, or Namco, or Bandai Namco, I think a bit too much time and money was spent on Sam Jackson and not on making this the slick action experience it could’ve been.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX
You can argue that Namco has done absolutely nothing to innovate the arcade flight shooter genre since they perfected it with Ace Combat 2 back in ’97. What you can’t argue is that Ubisoft has done equally little for the genre other than to slap a fresh coat of HD paint on it. The “Assistance Mode” — the game’s only unique hook — is completely useless and utterly disorienting. Whoever thought piloting a plane by squinting at it from several thousand feet away with almost no point of reference to track enemies would be fun should be subjected to a Clockwork Orange style Iron Eagles marathon. Yes, it looks pretty and the controls work well (thanks to Ace Combat’s legendary setup) but like all hopeful heirs to the throne, Project Aces yet again waves the crown just out of reach.

Halo Wars
Playing as Master Chief is still better than being the commander of the entire human resistance. Halo was never a series I’d hoped to play as an RTS, especially not one designed just for a console. The gameplay works well for the skirmish you get in the demo but there’s no way to assign groups of soldiers for fine tuning your strategy. I’d imagine most scenarios are going to play out the same way time and again which was always the fun part about RTS games, going back to try new and stupid strategies. The game does looks great, though, and captures the feel of the Halo-verse with slippery Warthogs plowing over grunts and poetically titled battleships but it’s just not a game I ever needed to play.  Halo fans and RTS advocates shouldn’t take my word for it on this one, though, just grab the demo yourselves.

Resident Evil 5
I think plenty has been said about this one so I’ll keep it short. The ridiculous inventory system and the inability to run-and-gun had me waiting for non-zombies to walk into my wild knife swings while my co-survivor begged for me to spray her in the face with green antiseptic. I was not impressed but word has it that this is a really old demo and that the full game is way better. I’ll reserve my playtime for a day when I’ve finally played Resident Evil 4 first.

Wipeout HD
This is totally the Wipeout I grew up with! Unfortunately, my skills are as rusty as the original model Feiser hoversled because even in the simplest demo race I couldn’t finish above 4th place. It looks fantastic all around and I giggled with geeky glee just looking at the ship models and the Designers Republic-inspired logos but the furious pace of Wipeout may be beyond my aging abilities. Hopefully Sony will put it on sale this Summer. I’d grab that for a few bucks cheaper.

Ether Saga Online, my first MMO addiction?

Prepare for teh C00tness!

Prepare for teh C00tness!

I appreciate games, of all kinds. Sure, I get down on the Wii sometimes, I don’t enjoy RPGs, and I don’t exactly gravitate towards Club Penguin, but I do appreciate that games like these exist and think it’s great that there are people out there loving them. One such non-ShawnS game that What They Play’s John Davison has been talking up on the podcast circuit lately is Ether Saga Online.

It’s an upcoming free-to-play MMO that promises enough substance for casual and core players, a Poke-style pet breeding/raising/trading system, micro transactions for customization, and a colorful art style based around the Chinese legend, Journey to the West. It’s in closed beta at the moment but WTP has 1,000 invites to send out and I thought I’d pass the link along. I’m not expecting to get hooked but I like the look of the game and I’ll try anything that’s free and doesn’t require a subscription.

Afro Samurai Demo on Xbox Live

Just a quick heads up that there’s a 400+ MB demo up on Xbox Live of Afro Samurai right now. Most of you probably missed it while frantically grabbing your virtual copy of The Lost and Damned. Me, I just now saw it while waiting for Katy to pop some popcorn for a few games of Lips.