Friday, December 30, 2011

Where is 2012?

I wanted to review at least one game that pertains to the upcoming New Year (hell, by the time most of you read this it WILL be 2012), but I never thought I'd actually find something.

And then I discovered Where is 2012? on Newgrounds, and, hey. Mission complete. But is it worth playing?


Where is 2012? plays host to a fairly simple plot. Pesky little 2012 has run off somewhere, and Santa Claus - aka you - has to track the year down so things can proceed as normal. Short, cute, to the point. Find that year. I like it.

Beyond that, Where is 2012? is a platformer puzzle game. You must search Santa's homestead for switches and presents and all sorts of stuff. Pretty basic, but good enough overall.


Where is 2012? is a platformer, as mentioned, and so all you need do is wander about using the arrow keys. Up jumps, down interacts with the environment. The controls are nice and tight, and you should have very little trouble guiding Santa around his home - and beyond.


The visuals are the real treat in Where is 2012?. The entire game looks as though it has been painted onto a water colour background, with only a single room shown on each canvas, like so:

The effect is really neat, and though the environments are generally static they're all pretty enough to make exploration enjoyable. I found the journey more entertaining than the conclusion, just 'cause there's lots to look at.


Where is 2012? has only one song, and it's a subdued piece that blends into the background. Appropriate for the game, yes, and perfect for a calm winter scene, but nothing ground-breaking. That said, it also never offends the ears, so why mute?

Challenge Rating

Where is 2012? is not meant to be a difficult game. Even taking one semi-brain-busting puzzle and a few less-than-obvious passages into account, locating the errant year shouldn't take more than fifteen or twenty minutes. I don't believe Where is 2012? was MEANT to be terribly hard, though, and any more difficulty would have diluted the cutesy conclusion.


Where is 2012? is nifty. Not innovative, not crazy fun, just... nifty. It's a nice little way to introduce yourself to 2012, and could easily be changed later for subsequent years. (Don't see why tracking down 2013 will be any different.)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brave Kings

I find Brave Kings to be one of the most aptly-named browser games out there, 'cause you'd need some serious spheres to sit in the midst of ramshackle castles, smiling, while some invisible dude takes potshots at you.

Maybe the game should be called Crazy Kings instead.


Brave Kings has no story to speak of, and closely emulates a number of similar destruction games, most notably Angry Birds. (Though as far as I know, Angry Birds didn't come first in the genre.) Your goal is simple enough: kill the enemy king, and his various knights, by firing siege weapons at their fortifications. Kill all the enemies and you move on to the next area. If you frequent browser games, you've seen Brave Kings' like many times before.


Brave Kings is a drag-and-release game. Hold down the mouse button to prep your weapon, then release - after aiming, of course - to fire either an arrow, a stone or a cannonball. Angles play an important role in Brave Kings, so make sure you look over the scene carefully before loosing your limited ammo stores.

The controls in Brave Kings are pretty solid, given that they're so simple. I have only one gripe: occasionally the pointer went a little wild, aiming my weapon in the absolute wrong direction. Since resetting a level requires only a click, though, this isn't a huge problem.


Nothing special. Every level looks pretty much the same, aside from different building configurations, and all of the construction pieces recur over and over. The visuals do the job.

That said, I did take GREAT delight in the little characters. They don't look terribly creative, true, but they have the ability to follow your shots with their eyes - and when you get close to killing one, they get all fretful and gasp:

I never get tired of that expression.


Brave Kings has no music. Instead it relies on sound effects to get its point across, and though most of them are fairly hum-drum, I will again point out that the gasps of the kings, not to mention their death groans, are just perfect.

Challenge Rating

Brave Kings isn't terribly difficult, nor is it terribly long. You probably won't need more than an hour to puzzle your way through the game, and demolition experts may be able to lick the game's twenty levels in a matter of minutes despite the sometimes-capricious nature of the physics engine. There's not enough different between this formula and those of other, similar games to force a learning curve.

This does not mean, of course, that Brave Kings isn't tricky, nor fun. Its base formula just isn't terribly innovative. Take it for what it is.


Good, solid, predictable fun. Brave Kings is a great way to spend an hour, and you'll probably take great delight in squashing kings over and over. Basic, but I approve anyway.


(Note: There's also a Players Pack available, complete with new levels - and music. Should probably play this one instead if you want a more complete experience.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Flash programmers have, for several years now, been struggling with fitting every gaming niche into the frame of a browser, and from what I've seen fighting games usually prove the most problematic. There's just something about frantic one-on-one combat that doesn't translate well to a browser game.

FvF is another such game to make this dangerous foray. Has it succeeded? Er... probably not in the way that was intended.


FvF has, as far as I can tell, no story. The premise pits two furries (hence FvF, I'd imagine) against each other in mortal combat. Beat the critter on the opposite side of the screen into pulp and you can move on to another. If you've ever played Street Fighter or King of Fighters or any such game, you'll understand what's happening here in an instant.

The fact that there's no discernible story hurts FvF. Granted, most fighting games are ABOUT fighting, but there's usually at least a token amount of lore behind the characters. Given the colourful cast of interesting characters you'd think FvF might have SOMETHING, but... oh well?


FvF is much more complex than the average browser game in terms of control, and understandably so - just hitting the attack button over and over would get pretty tiresome. Consequently you can execute a series of rather crazy combo attacks and defensive measures with a fairly small number of buttons, which is much appreciated. The tutorial piles a few too many moves on top from the get-go, though practice will help you learn 'em all eventually.

So, yes, the controls are good. The PROBLEM stems from this game's laggy nature. Unless you have a fairly powerful computer - which, given my laptop, I don't - the controls will seem both incredibly unresponsive and, with enough input, self-powering. At one point I sat and watched my character run through about two dozen moves without any input from myself, because the game was still catching up to my commands. (Fortunately, the end result was a victory. Somehow.)


FvF's graphics are by far its strongest aspect. The screenshots don't look BAD, but they also don't do the game justice. You need to see FvF in motion to understand the true art behind this game, as the characters are incredibly fluid in their movements and really fun to watch in action, even if they are slowed by lag. I especially liked the energy weapons.

That said, I think the intense visuals play a big part in making FvF laggy. There's too much going on in each scene for Flash to properly process unless you're using a strong computer.


FvF's music is kinda shunted to the background, the result of which is a soundtrack you'll probably ignore. It's not bad - some rocking battle tunes, stringed together throughout the levels - but it's hardly memorable.


Yep, you can do two player combat on FvF. I didn't have a second player, so I couldn't test this mode, but I can see a big problem: neither player is allowed to use the arrow keys to control their character. Two players using only the letter keys to run around and attack is gonna get damn cramped in a hurry, regardless of the size of your keyboard. (Good luck on my tiny little Mac.)

Challenge Rating

FvF isn't that difficult a fighting game, even on higher difficulty levels. The ability to dash makes avoiding attacks fairly easy, especially if your machine lags, and it's quite easy to catch enemies with devastating attacks that can drain a lot of energy in a hurry. It's a good fighting game for beginners who want to cut their teeth on the genre.

The REAL challenge of FvF, for those of us using not-so-great laptops or PCs, is putting up with the lag. This game is just too much for Flash to handle. Consequently...


... FvF shouldn't BE a browser game.

There's a lot of potential in FvF. It can be a REALLY fun title, given the proper platform. Flash, however, isn't the way to run this game, and will just give it a black eye before it has a chance to properly prove itself.

My recommendation? Turn it into a downloadable title. The Xbox, Wii and PS3 could all do FvF proper justice, as could an independent executable engine. That way the programmer could expand the combat options and earn FvF some well-deserved money.

I probably won't play FvF again as it is. Watching my character fight without hitting any buttons is really frustrating. Port this sucker to a different platform, though, and I'll be happy to partake.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Greens Survive

Green. Red. What makes one better than the other? Why should one live while the other dies? You'd think this question might be addressed in a game like Greens Survive.

It isn't. And, in the end, that might be the best way to go - if you start to question the value of red too much, you may never actually beat this game.


Greens Survive (the name is actually 'Greens Survive Only When Reds Die', but that's kinda long) is a story of planetary marooning. The greens and the reds have been stranded on a foreign planet, and they need to get home utilizing interplanetary portals of some kind. We'll call them 'doors'.

There is, however, one major problem: the doors will ONLY open when all of the reds are dead. Destroyed. Gone. Even worse, the reds will instantly kill the greens upon touch. Your job, then, is to mangle every red astronaut on a given level, and then safely guide the greens to the exit door.

Why this is so is, unfortunately, never addressed in the game. Beyond a rather scant introduction no reason for this red hating is ever given, which is a shame because this game could be made much deeper if it included at least a brief glimpse into this odd mixture of puzzling and chromatic worth. But, hey, at least we got a nifty play mechanic out of the idea.


Greens Survive is a platforming game. Using the arrow or WASD keys you must guide your little spacemen through a variety of dangerous locales, usually filled with monsters who will gladly eat your little dudes. Running and jumping is, in and of itself, a piece of cake.

Like so many browser games, of course, Greens Survive has one major caveat: all of the guys on one screen move according to your controls, albeit in different places. Consequently, while you may be leading one guy safely over a pit, another might be leaping right into the MIDDLE of another pit. This is okay if the guy is red, but all too often they're green. You'll have to split your attention an awful lot.

Overall, this control scheme works. There are no major hitches with the running and jumping, and though I did occasionally run into the problem of one or more guys on the screen not jumping when given a command these incidents were very few and far between.


Greens Survive is fairly basic. The greens and the reds are only really demarcated through the colours of their visors, and otherwise blend into a black-dominated game with some pretty gradient backgrounds. The environments were somewhat bland as a consequence, and could have used more detail to really spice up the game.


This game is composed entirely of one tune, and it's... okay. Kinda generic. I'd describe it as a somewhat-harrowing, somewhat-hopeful sci fi ballad, and though you've never heard it before playing the game you've also probably heard it a thousand times. Suitable enough, I suppose.

Challenge Rating

Though it's confusing as hell at first, Greens Survive is NOT a terribly difficult game. So long as you can split your attention even moderately well, you can play this puzzler. Its difficulty slopes upward at an even pace, and the learning curve is never too steep to prevent progression. I'd say it's an excellent choice for beginner puzzle players who want to work on their timing and challenge solving skills.

For expert puzzlers, however, Greens Survive probably won't be enough of a trial to prove truly satisfying. The puzzles are good, yes, but they're also easy to figure out after a couple tries. If you want an extreme challenge, look elsewhere.


Greens Survive is a slightly above average game. It boasts a great concept, one I'd love to see fully developed and reused, but this execution isn't quite inspired enough to make the most of the idea. Give Greens Survive a deeper, more thought-provoking sequel and I'll be all over it. Right now, though? Eh. S'okay.


Monday, December 26, 2011


Not a ton of time today, so I'm reviewing a short artsy game. Loved! It is, despite the name, not a very happy title - though it does get you thinking.


Loved calls itself a short story, but you might be hard pressed to puzzle out the actual plot. What APPEARS to be happening is this: you, a blobby little monochrome creature of undetermined origin, are subjected to the capricious demands of an unseen, unknown presence. This presence asks questions of you and tells you to do certain things, and how you react to these requests changes your very landscape. If you comply like a good little slave, the world resolves into something approaching detailed normalcy, like so:

If, however, you consistently ignore what's being asked - and you're typically told to jump into spikes or hold still during lethal situations, so you'll probably WANT to hold true to your own decisions - the world becomes indistinct and pixelated, like so:

Your actions also have some bearing on how the game ends, so playing it a few times is a good idea if you want to get the whole plot out in the open. (Though you'll never quite understand what's going on.)

Beyond the story? Loved is a platformer, straight and simple. Avoid problem areas.


As a platformer, Loved requires precise controls. And, yeah, for the most part it delivers. There is the occasional tendency for the controls to carry you a bit too far on jumps, thanks to over-sensitivity, but the sheer number of save points littered throughout the game - not to mention its already short duration - makes this not much of a problem at all.


There's not a hell of a lot to see in Loved, as the world is, even at its clearest, still a series of black-and-white silhouettes. The jarring changes depending on how you progress are pretty neat, though, and even when the game is reduced to long corridors of glowing boxes, it still looks pretty neat.


Loved sports a one-track musical accompaniment, and it's not so much a song as a haunting tone that's half Gregorian chant and half scream. Difficult to describe, and not terribly pleasant, though it suits the themes of Loved rather well.

Challenge Rating

Loved isn't a difficult game. On your first play through you shouldn't require more than ten minutes to get through the various traps, especially if you ignore the demands of the over-voice. Subsequent plays will become easier and easier. Seeing everything there is to see in Loved won't take more than an hour at most, and probably less for solid platforming players.

Difficulty is, that said, not necessarily the point of Loved. It instead seeks to leave its players with a message about the nature of love... whatever that may be. Probably not a pleasant one for most people, though ever open to interpretation.


Loved is an art game. What can I say? Its aims are not those of traditional games, and it often tries to force you to do things you wouldn't normally do. It's still fun to play, and will, if nothing else, kill twenty minutes of your time.


Friday, December 23, 2011


Life. Death. Everything in-between. All constant concerns for we poor mortals - but what if we could transcend all three, in a sense, and cross between the boundaries with ease? And solve puzzles in the process?

Yeah, that's more or less Verge for you.


Verge doesn't have an easily-identifiable plot, but the snippets you get to start give you a good idea of what's going on: you're dead. Or you are, at least, not quite alive - and following on the tracks of an angel who's always just out of reach, you need to proceed through various levels and find your way... somewhere.

You quickly discover, however, that in order to proceed you need to kill yourself. Repeatedly. In doing so you're whisked to a strange underworld - literally, it's UNDER the level you're currently in - where gravity is reversed and turtle-like beasts look to drain your vitality. You can move between these worlds of life and death by jumping through water, and indeed doing so is necessary to complete almost every level in the game. Using death as a game mechanic isn't totally original, but I don't think I've quite seen it used in this manner before, which is a definite plus.

Besides that? Switches. Timers. Baddies every now and then. It's a standard platform puzzler, albeit one with a deeper story than average. (You need to collect EVERYTHING to get the true story.)


The controls in Verge constitute my biggest gripe by far. They aren't TERRIBLE, but they're far from spot-on. I had a lot of trouble sticking landings that would have been easy in other games, and my little guy wasn't nearly as responsive as I would have liked. The game is beatable, yes, but it's a lot more frustrating than necessary. (I hate those stupid boxes.)


Verge is another of those 16-bit era games that I love playing so much. It boasts some rather neat sprites, even if they do lean towards simplicity, and the environment is placidly foreboding - perfect for the subject matter. I especially liked the sudden conversions between the two worlds, especially near the end of the game when such changes get even creepier than usual.


Another game with a rather sparse soundtrack, Verge, but I don't mind. The primary song that plays during the levels is a haunting piano-and-woodwind melody that's neither intrusive nor repetitive; it just becomes a normal part of the scenery. I don't think I'd ever mute the game. Beyond that, the last song you come across, right near the end of Verge - if you can CALL it a song, it's more like mad ramblings of some unknown man - is downright bizarre. Well done.

Challenge Rating

Verge isn't a long game. It took me about twenty minutes to beat my first play through, even with the problematic controls, and shouldn't take anyone else much longer. There are few levels, which is good - I think piling too much on top would have detracted from the experience.

What I appreciate most about Verge's difficulty is that it slowly rises without getting too tough, too fast. You have more than enough time to practice the game's mechanics before you reach the end, and then once you get there you need to use some strong deductive skills, along with your knowledge, to ascend to victory. I'll emphasize here that you really REALLY need to work on your jumping to get through Verge, though I won't say why. You'll understand. (Really.)


My gripes about the controls aside, Verge is an excellent game. It carries a strong artistic message backed by a great set of play mechanics, and is just long enough to appreciate without dragging out the plot. Highly recommended.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


No bones about it, there are some pretty weird browser games out there. The freedom to create whatever one wants, without financial obligations or creative expectations, has led to some bizarre creations - and not all of them are good.

FIVE/5 is straddling the border between odd and normal, at least for me. I honestly don't know if I like this game or not. Either way, though, I can freely admit that it's bloody strange - but in a still playable way.


FIVE/5 borders on artistic, so the game's exact purpose isn't TOTALLY clear, but the intro cut scene is more or less self-explanatory: you've been shot. You have five minutes to live. Fail to overcome the hurdles to survival and, well, you're toast.

What hurdles? Ahh, that's the strange part. Shortly after the shooting you're warped into a bizarre realm of intersecting tunnels which you can change to your liking. Do so correctly and you can collect keys to open up more such tunnels, expanding the possibilities for new paths. Do this enough times and you'll get through just fine. (Maybe.)

There is, of course, one rule that makes this a hell of a lot more difficult. Changing the tunnels around is done on a four-by-four grid, like so:

Whenever you're going for a key, you need to ensure that every tunnel links up in a row. Otherwise, your guy will hit dead ends whenever he tries to move from one screen to the next. This is incredibly difficult to manage, especially in the later puzzles, as even one little tunnel left out of order will result in failure.

Oh, and did I mention you have to do all this in five minutes? Hence the name of the game? The timer pauses whenever you're on the map screen, granted, but that's still not a lot of time for running through the maze once you've figured out a puzzle.


FIVE/5 is both a platformer and a point-and-click puzzler, but you can calmly switch between your mouse and your keyboard when paused, so that's no biggie. And, overall, the mouse proves no problem for navigation.

I was more annoying in FIVE/5 by the keyboard setup. I am not a fan of movement through ASDF, and you're forced to use those keys to navigate. An option to switch the control scheme, or at least move the jump button, would've been a plus.


FIVE/5 is a monochromatic game. It loves its blacks, greys and whites, to the point that you'll have to watch flashing patterns of all three no matter which screen you're on. This is striking at first, though after a while it started to hurt my eyes. Have mercy, FIVE/5.

I'd also point out that the map screen, though useful for assembling puzzles, is not terribly helpful when determining what's contained inside a particular set of tunnels. The keys and your little guy are so small that it's hard to tell what's in a given chunk of maze without zooming in, and that wastes precious time. (I will admit, however, that the flashing in miniature while you're on the map screen was a nice touch.)


As this is a title where extremes are the norm, the music in FIVE/5, though repetitive, is really well done. The game's sole track is a powerful violin and cello piece that's about as sinister as anything you'll find in a video game. And since the game THEORETICALLY only takes five minutes, you have little reason to turn the music off. (In theory, of course, the game takes a lot longer than that. Expect to mute after twenty minutes or so, no matter how good the music may be.)

Challenge Rating

FIVE/5 is FREAKING HARD. That talk about extremes? It wasn't an exaggeration. Not only are you given very little guidance in what needs to be done, but once you figure out how the game actually works you'll have a devil of a time completing the various puzzles. It is do-able, but not without a lot of tinkering and trial-and-error. Don't expect to complete FIVE/5 on your first try, it just ain't happening.

I wouldn't be quite so adverse to the challenge FIVE/5 presents if it provided more of an explanation. I can understand if a platformer or a shooter doesn't give a tutorial, but a puzzle game like this? Don't expect happy players. I'd also point out, as one gamer did on Newgrounds, that putting a hint on successful navigation in the Author Description rather than in the game itself is not a great idea. What if FIVE/5 ends up on some other website (inevitable)? New players won't have a clue what to do.


The idea behind FIVE/5 is really neat, and the execution is... interesting... but this browser game needs some more polish. It's just not user friendly enough to be truly enjoyable for the average gamer. Hardcore thinkers who hate being held by the hand will love this game, but irritation is otherwise inevitable.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snow Drift

I will grant you that Snow Drift is not necessarily a Christmas game. It's snowy, however, so it's damn near close enough that I'm gonna review it anyway, especially since I don't see a speck of snow out my window as I write. Need a bit of the white stuff in my life, whether it comes packaged with Santa or not.


Snow Drift's concept is simple, 'cause as far as I can tell, there's no story whatsoever in the game. You are a happy-looking yeti who likes to drift on ice, and you do so at the expense of everything else around you. No wonder your fellow wildlife wants to bring you down.

I guess a game like Snow Drift doesn't REALLY need a story, though I bet having one, even something small, would have enriched the end package. Needless to say, however, the purpose of Snow Drift is survival. You slide your way through a bunch of levels using your yeti muscles and quick reflexes. You can only slide on ice, and sliding is the only way to defeat enemies, so circumventing dangers is often more perilous than it sounds.


For the most part, Snow Drift operates as promised. Arrow keys for guidance, hold down to slide on ice, hit up to jump and to stop sliding. Nice and simple - only every now and then you'll find your movements going awry. The programming's not flawless, and since you're often over endless pits cheap deaths abound.

Though this doesn't necessarily fall into the realm of controls, I should also note that hit detection isn't always one hundred percent in Snow Drift, especially near spikes. Your jumps need to be absolutely perfect to succeed most of the time.


Snow Drift is a nicely-polished game graphically. The aesthetics are seamless, simple and fun, and not a single enemy that I ever encountered looked more threatening than, say, a cuddly polar bear. I especially liked the yeti itself, a bouncy, carefree soul with a funny cocksure stance. Good protagonist.


Snow Drift employs a small handful of techno beats that are appropriately cheerful, but not quite what I'd expect of a game in the North Pole. They're also repeated over and over, so, um, off goes the music, no matter how good it is.

Challenge Rating

Snow Drift is pretty hard, both for good and bad reasons. It's a difficult game thanks to some solid level layouts, but it's also difficult because player control isn't as tight as it could be.

My biggest gripe, however, stemmed from the camera. Unlike in most platforming games Snow Drift's camera tends to swing around wildly, to the point that you'll often have to make blind jumps between platforms and hope for the best. A fixed camera would have been much better.


Snow Drift is a good game marred by problematic execution. I don't think it would take many tweaks to turn Snow Drift into a much better game, which, as far as browser titles go, should be pretty dang easy.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Infectonator: Christmas Edition

We here at Browser Rousers believe in the celebrating of all major holidays... including my birthday, hence skipping yesterday... and so it would be remiss of us not to play a Christmas game.

A normal Christmas game? Of course not. Infectonator!


Infectonator was a normal game before it became a Christmas title, and so I imagine the original game plays more or less the same as the Christmas version. You are, for lack of better identification, the embodiment of a horrifying zombie disease that turns normal humans into ravenous undead creatures. What fun! Playing as the disease you need to proceed through various levels, spreading the goodness to more and more people.

The caveat? Well, you only get to spread the virus once per level. After that your placement dictates the spread of the virus, and whether or not you'll catch everyone before your zombies die out. You don't get a TON of control, though you can purchase grenades to expedite the killing. (Didn't know viruses COULD buy stuff.)

And the Christmas factor? There are two things: first, the game is graphically Christmasy. There are various small Christmas references, and every now and then you'll see Santa wandering around. Second, you have less than a month to get through every level before the game ends. That means, yes, you have a limited number of tries before the game goes kaput and you have to start over.


Point, click. It'd be criminal if Infectonator got any simpler.


Infectonator is a few years old, so I'll cut it a little slack in the graphics department. It's not BAD. It's just... not great, either. The visuals won't blow anyone over. You can, at the very least, tell what every sprite is meant to represent, and that's good enough, right?


Christmasy song followed by zombie horror music. Rinse, repeat. Infectonator doesn't get too fancy with its tunes, but they're appropriate to the game's themes, so I won't complain. They are, if nothing else, better than the average Christmas songs you hear while in a mall this time of the year.

Challenge Rating

Infectonator is a little too easy for my tastes. Granted, you have a limited number of 'lives' before the game trounces your butt, but you get a ton of money during that time - more than enough to max out your virus' potential and make it an unstoppable killing machine. Some levels breeze by after a single click and a few seconds of waiting. There ARE things that can stop your virus, of course - distance and gun-toting meanies being the foremost factors - but a few grenades is more than enough to cover the problem areas.

I think what made Infectonator a little too easy was the fact that you get money for getting achievements. Cut back on that and the overall game should become more challenging.


I'm not gaga over Infectonator: Christmas Edition, but it should be enough to stave any zombie cravings. And, hey, it never hurts to make a season-inappropriate game.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Day off.

Today... is not my birthday. But it's the day I'm using to celebrate said birthday. So no review today. I am exercising my rights as a human being with birthdays.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cave Story

I've noticed, since starting Browser Rousers, that I'm slowly moving away from JUST browser-only games. Please indulge me in this.

Today's example? Cave Story! Yes, everyone and their mother has probably played it now - it's on the Wii and the DSi, for pete's sake - but I just had to review it after finally sitting down and committing to the thing. Turns out I couldn't put it down 'til I'd beaten it.

... twice.


Cave Story is a plot-intensive game, despite its status as a platforming shooter. The details get complex, but I'll try to sum up in a paragraph:

You are a robot. You wake up inside a floating island, your brain scrambled and memories gone, and discover that the indigenous population - fluffy white creatures called Mimigas - are being terrorized by a man known only as 'The Doctor', who forces them into servitude. Being a naturally heroic sort of robot you agree to help the Mimigas oust the Doctor and restore peace to their home.

Is it really that simple? Of course not. Cave Story LOOKS cutesy, but its plot is surprisingly adult, involving a lot of murder and evil plots and generally bad stuff. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of humour, but it's not a kiddy game.

Beyond that, Cave Story is a platformer. You have a gun, you run around killing stuff with that gun. You get more guns, along with items that will help you progress. It's all good.


Cave Story ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES precision controls. I do not jest. It doesn't start off terribly difficult, but about halfway through the game you'll start taking a lot of damage if you don't plant your landings properly.

And, uh, Cave Story is... not bad. I guess. The controls are designed in such a way that your little robot has a tendency to drift a little on landings, and he doesn't move terribly fast. I wouldn't mind these two facts so much if he ALWAYS went the way you want him to, but in some cases - particularly when using the Booster - he doesn't always respond as needed. You get a fair amount of health so this isn't so bad, but you'll probably curse the robot for not heeding commands on many occasions.

That said, there is one REALLY nice thing in your favour: hit detection. I've noticed that enemy fire has to hit the core of your robot's body to really stick. In most cases projectiles can soar right through your head without doing damage. Take advantage of this generosity whenever possible.


Considering it was created half a decade ago, Cave Story holds up nicely. The sprites are cutely basic, true, but that's only true of the small guys - the bosses in Cave Story generally look quite cool. There are also numerous zones for you to explore, providing unique tile sets each time. Much appreciated. I have no complaints about Cave Story's visuals.


Dynamic and loud. Cave Story does suit its music to the surrounding atmosphere, yes, but in general this game goes for blaring and bombastic in its tunes. There's lots of variation, that said, and it all works. I especially enjoyed Balrog's music, because that meant Balrog was in the room, and he's always amusing. (You'll learn who he is if you play the game. Look for the soap bar with legs.)

Challenge Rating

Cave Story is one of those awesome games with multiple ways to play, though you probably won't realize as such on your first go. The easy path through the game is obvious, and appropriately easy(ish)... but it won't net you all of the content. You need to answer questions differently to play through the whole game, including two secret areas that are INCREDIBLY difficult.

The fact that you determine your difficulty through playing is both good and bad. It's good in that players are rewarded for curiosity and replay - but it's bad in that a single decision will completely change your destiny near the end. In short, if you miss something just once, you'll muck up your ending and not have a chance to go back. You have to do everything EXACTLY RIGHT to see everything Cave Story has to offer, and often that EXACTLY RIGHT is time sensitive. More chances for redeeming your play through would be ideal.

Or? Even better? Multiple save files. The one, and only one, kinda sucks.


Cave Story is a lot of fun. The game play and story are both worthy of a full-fledged, pay-for-me game (and you can do that now), and there's enough content to warrant multiple play-throughs. Just one tip for the unwary: if you wanna save your pal Curly, prepare for a hell of a game. You've been warned.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


Eee! Exploration game, exploration game! I'd been combing the best of 2010 Newgrounds archives when I came across REDDER, and I must admit that, a few small things aside, it does indeed belong among such auspicious company. It's a good game. Not as good as Endeavor, perhaps, but still pretty damn fun.


REDDER's the result of, more or less, an error in fuel calculation. You play a tiny astronaut whose ship has been forced to land on a dangerous planet, and in order to escape again you need to collect an assortment of colourful gems that will power your ship. Story done. That was painless.

So, yeah, there's no huge or interesting plot behind REDDER. It's a lot like Insidia, a similar exploratory platformer that sees you stuck on an alien planet. I'd argue that REDDER is the better game, however, mainly because it's got more variety and provides a larger, more difficult adventure.


REDDER is a more or less slick game when it comes to controls. It's very simple: use the arrow keys to run and jump. While jumping, keep holding onto the up key to float further upward, defying gravity for a few precious seconds. This little feature provides your spaceman with a greater measure of control over his jumps, which makes it possible to bypass some otherwise suicidal traps.

Are the controls perfect? Nope, unfortunately not. REDDER will operate properly 95 percent of the time. That last five has a tendency to put you places where you don't want to be, resulting in a few unwarranted deaths on my part. Save points spring up often in REDDER, though, so it's not a big deal.


REDDER is, at least to my eyes, as close to a chibi version of Metroid as you're going to get. It provides a huge, nice, varied world to explore, with a lot of different tile sets that neatly break up any monotony that might set in. The deeper you get, the neater the game looks.

Problem? Yes, unfortunately, there's a slight problem: the graphics are, er, screwy. I don't know if this was intentional or not - probably not - but the more crystals you collect, the more prone the tiles are to randomly transform into the wrong thing, like so:

These problems are fairly small, and won't stop you from completing the game, but they CAN prove a little jarring when the landscape begins to randomly transform around you.


There are no ambient sound effects in REDDER as far as I can tell, and the music is industrial-grade beats accompanied by sci-fi work on a keyboard. It's not bad, but it gets old after a while. A little variation between areas, perhaps? You need to listen to this tune for a long time, after all.

Challenge Rating

Thanks to the constant save points and a handy map, REDDER isn't THAT tough. There are a few tricky spots where you need to zip between cannon blasts and patrolling robots, sure, but one or two tries is usually enough to circumvent these challenges. The real difficulty lies in the length, as you need to run through a hell of a lot of areas to beat REDDER, and some of the mazes may prove tricky enough to stymie some players into defeat.


The glitches aside, REDDER is an excellent title. Anyone with a strong case of wanderlust will happily get lost in this massive labyrinth for at least an hour, if not longer.