Friday, June 22, 2012


Browser Rousers is back on hiatus for a week, as I'm very busy with many exciting things over at Dragomir's Diary. It even has a wiki! That's diversification, y'all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pokemon Tower Defense

It's pretty common for Flash game designers to use existing graphics in their games. Hell, it's common for Flash users PERIOD to use existing graphics. The Pokemon series, with its colourful little sprites and overall high reputation, is one of the most-exploited brand names in this regard. Type in 'pokemon' in Newgrounds' search bar and you'll get hundreds of games and videos using these sprites.
And, uh, most of 'em are pretty bad. That's another characteristic of sprite-stealers: they seldom put a lot of effort into their work.

It is thus with the greatest bewilderment that I express affection for Pokemon Tower Defense, a game that blatantly steals hundreds of sprites from the Pokemon series. As a semi-ugly clone, this title should NOT be anywhere near as popular as it is... but... I just can't stop playing the stupid thing.


The title says it all. Pokemon Tower Defense is a tower defense game featuring pokemon. Each level takes place on a route or in a gym, taken from the game (though redesigned), and you place your various pokemon as 'towers' to defend piles of resources. Typically these are Rare Candies, which play a prominent role in the plot, though other things occasionally take the spotlight. Sounds familiar.

That's where the Pokemon part comes in. Unlike most tower defense games, the towers here are highly customizable. The various pokemon each have four moves, like the game, and they learn more as they level up. You can swap between these moves in-game, resulting in a variety of different effects that will help you defend your stash of candies. You can also move pokemon around in the midst of battle, allowing for some fairly in-depth strategic play.

Also? Evolutions. And TMs. And trading. And secret gifts. And tons of other stuff, all taken from the Pokemon games and slotted into a tower defense title. You can play this game for HOURS and hardly scratch the surface, I kid you not.


Mouse. Not much else to say.


Most of the visuals are pilfered from the Pokemon games, with only a scant few things (mostly in the menus) capable of claiming to be wholly original - and those are fairly uninspired Flash fare. Most of the sprites are larger than they should be, as well, so... on the whole... Pokemon Tower Defense is
kinda ugly.


Stolen from the game. The tunes don't sound quite right when they're not heard through the tinny speakers of a GameBoy.

Challenge Rating

Strategic or not, Pokemon Tower Defense is like most RPGs: levels are king. Once your pokemon get strong enough, they can stonewall just about everything. There are a few stages that require more thought and inventive use of moves, but time and proper pokemon choices will wear 'em down in the end.

There is one SIGNIFICANT problem in regards to challenge that irks the hell out of me: the saving system. Unlike most browser games, Pokemon Tower Defense forces you to create an online profile to save your games. This is nifty in that it allows you to make trades, but it also doesn't save automatically between battles. I've also noticed that saving doesn't always work when done MANUALLY, and I've twice lost my progress because something decided to fuck up. This wouldn't irk me so much if that didn't mean losing, say, over an hour of progress.


Needless to say, the saving system needs a lot of work. It's the main reason I don't have screenshots from LATER in the game, because my advanced teams keep getting wiped from existence.


Fun, fun, fun. Part of me feels like I shouldn't enjoy Pokemon Tower Defense as much as I do. I tend to prefer original creations, as pilfered properties smack of laziness. This game, though... it captures the core elements of the series, distilling them into a thoroughly-playable experience that's easy to learn yet difficult to master.

Especially with the saving system the way it is. (Though maybe it's just me. GRRRR.)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Nan Creatures Extended

I've had a few run-ins with browser games that call for real money of late, with varying levels of enjoyment. It usually depends on the amount of heckling on the part of the programmers: if they ask for money occasionally, and in a surreptitious manner, I don't really mind. As long as I can still play the game for free and not feel guilty, I might consider dropping some extra coin.

Nan Creatures Extended - and I presume the 'extended' just includes more creatures and levels - is another but subtle when asking for money. It is so NOT subtle that it's annoying.


If Nan Creatures has a story, I can't find it. The point is this: you are part of a glorified cock fight, populated by giant creatures whose sole purpose in life is to beat the shit out of each other. Sound familiar? Been done a billion times by now, and with no story to back up the action Nan Creatures is also pretty boring.

This, uh, 'concept' boils down to an RPG system. A maximum of three creatures on either side of the battle lines form up and attack each other. Take out the opposite three monsters in each level and you can move on to the next. Huzzah.

In theory, not horrible. Basic, but not horrible. My primary concern throughout the game was how damned often you're hounded for money. Not that it's quite so overt, but every time you beat a level you're 'recommended' to register on the Nan Games site. Not only that, you're 'recommended' twice after each battle. AND WHENEVER YOU TRY TO UP YOUR MONSTERS' STATS. Jesus, ENOUGH WITH THE MESSAGES.

Sorry. A bit worked up. Needless to say, there is no subtlety here.


Meh. Pretty bland. The monsters don't stand out in any way. Even the god of the monsters (I'm assuming it's a god, anyway) looks rather unremarkable.

Also? When you switch between worlds? Try creating a new arena to fight in. Yeesh.


HERE'S where Nan Creatures stands out from other games. I LOVE the music. Everything is done in rumbling, operatic fashion, which, despite doubtlessly being synthetic, works very well. I'd love to hear the battle music used in some OTHER game. Thumbs up. Buuuuuut, of course, the music is used over and over and OVER again, so even the good stuff is stale after about half an hour.

The sound effects themselves are unremarkable, save for one: the death grunt. EVERY DAMNED MONSTER sounds like some weird surfer dude when they die. What the hell? Couldn't have worked up some artificial roars instead?

Challenge Rating

Nan Creatures is not overtly difficult. It's more plodding than it is tough: most battles can take upwards of ten to fifteen minutes to complete, as enemies will heal faster than you can deal damage. It also takes a hellishly long time to increase your team's level... which I expect is mitigated somewhat if you register. Oh, joy.

My biggest beef came with the move sets. Unlike other RPGs, Nan Creatures uses a rotating set of moves for each creature. Use up one move and another comes in to take its place. Quite often the result of this is a monster that has nothing useful in its repertoire during a given turn. And, sure, you CAN rearrange your moves for maximum potency, but it's an annoying process.


I didn't finish Nan Creatures. I didn't even come close. I will admit this. It strips all of the soul out of RPGs and replaces it with pure, dull grinding. Extended or not, this game ain't very good.


Friday, June 15, 2012


I was, like so many kids of my age, under the delusional impression that Risk is a fun game in my early years. I would sit down with my brother and dad and start up a new game, wide-eyed and spirited... only to hate the whole experience several hours later, because it was STILL GOING. I began to envy those players who had been killed early, as they could at least go do something else.

Dicewars is a little like Risk. Except worse. Consequently, it's a game I will still play from time to time, but I'll never really enjoy the bastard.


As I've more or less suggested, Dicewars is similar to Risk. You begin play on a randomly-generated field of coloured territories, alongside a variety of other players. Your goal is to conquer every country on the board by driving out the opposition. You attack adjacent territories with your dice, you spread your influence, you gain more troops at the end of your turn. Move on to the next player.

Yep. Risk. No cards, no redeployment, no Australia to save your ass... but... Risk. The only difference is the amount of time spent playing, as you can usually complete a game of Dicewars in less than twenty minutes.




Dicewars was programmed in the very early 21st century, so its lackluster graphics can be excused. There's nothing that stands out about the aesthetics.

My complaint? You can't change your army's colour. You're always purple. whyyyyy


The sound of rolling fascinates me.

Challenge Rating

Here we go. The actual content of the review. Is Dicewars challenging?

Yes. Yes it is. In the same way Risk is. You're never really fighting other armies in Dicewars. Instead, you're fighting luck itself. Every strategic decision or brazen maneuver comes down to one thing: a random number generator. If you're lucky, you'll do well. If you're not, you'll die.

Most often, you'll die.

Don't get me wrong! There's a modicum of strategy involved. It's unwise to spread yourself too thin, for example, and it's good to avoid being caught in the middle of three or four warring factions. Proper land management is key. If you don't get the right rolls, though, or if the computer doesn't place your additional armies on BORDER STATES rather than in the bank ranks where they're useless, you're toast.

Also? It is possible to die on the first turn, before you've had a chance to do anything. Random chance. What an arse.

Dicewars would be less annoying if it introduced some additional mechanics. Powers, or surprise additional armies, or the ability to place your OWN BLOODY TROOPS, or... something. I don't know. This game is all about basic, random chance, though, and given its advanced age I doubt any such overhauls are on the drawing board.


Fuck pink. It wins too often.

I'm not a big fan of Dicewars. But I'll keep playing, because I still like to win. I like the look of a single, unified continent, flying tall and proud under the epic colour purple.

I couldn't beat the random number generator today, though, so I can provide no such glorious screenshot. Balls.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I'm all for experimental games. I like seeing what programmers can create, even if the ultimate results are short or lacking in much purpose. I'm willing to invest some time in a brief story, so long as it offers some kind of payoff.

Scraps... doesn't have that great a payoff. And the path to getting to that payoff is, frankly, a pain.


Ever seen the movie WALL-E? If so, you'll get the plot to Scraps. The world has gone to hell: all the humans appear to be dead, victims of their own foolishness... and a whole lotta trash. You, a humble robot, set out in a desolate landscape to find some purpose for yourself.

Yeah. As many people have commented on Newgrounds, Scraps is a darker version of Wall-E, with a robot who more closely resembles Mega Man X in capabilities. The result is a platformer that's DECENT, but, in some respects, quite annoying.


Your robot controls fairly well in Scraps. Again, it reminds me a little of a Mega Man X game, as you can wall-jump merrily up the sides of canyons if you happen to fall. The controlling isn't quite as good as Mega Man, however, 'cause almost ANY time you hit the slightest vertical, your robot will cling - and, then, you'll probably jump in the wrong direction. Blargh.


THIS is where Scraps shines. Visually, it's a great game. The robot could use some sprucin' up, but the environment around him is awesome. The trash is both legion and varied: at various points I'm pretty sure I saw a boat (depicted above), a hippy van, lamps, telephones and ragged quilts. There's a short part inside a cave that's a little boring, but other than that? A visual treat.


Scraps relies primarily on ambient noises and little sound effects. Nothing spectacular, but I'd rather have no song at all than one that's constantly playing and replaying itself (unless it's a damn good song, anyway).

Challenge Rating



Scraps is not a hard game. It's quite short, and there are no enemies to muck up your progress. I might even say it's an easy game, save for one thing:


I'm used to bottomless pits. They've kind of a staple of platforming games. In Scraps, however, they are both unpredictable - like, you really can't tell if you're about to fall to your doom or not - and merciless. How merciless?

You have to start over at the beginning. Merciless.

One misstep and it's BACK TO THE BEGINNING for you. How difficult could it be to restart at, say, the beginning of the screen you're on? Why force players to go back and witness the same threadbare messages about being lonely again? ARGH.


I can appreciate the experimental nature of Scraps. It's not meant to be a full-on, totally-polished game. There are some definite problems with this thing, though, and given the so-so nature of the ending, ehhh... I doubt I'll play it again.


Monday, June 11, 2012

King's Game

Though it wasn't the first game of its kind, Angry Birds was probably the spark that set the tumbling-buildings-game-world afire. Since it appeared on the indie scene a number of similar clones followed in Angry Birds' wake, one of the latest being medieval-themed King's Game.

Lamely-named? Perhaps. Lame as a result, though? Nope.


King's Game is a tale of war. You, the red king, have decided to wage a series of offensive campaigns (or possibly defensive? BOTH SIDES HAVE BUILDINGS) against enemy forces. Sometimes you're doing this to rescue your overly-copious stock of captured fair maidens, but most of the time you just don't like the other side. Let the slaughter begin!

Story? Meh. Barely exists. Game play? Angry Birds clone, but a mutant of the familiar format. King's Game has the same objective as usual: knock down enemy structures with a minimum of projectiles, taking out their troops in the process. The rub HERE is, if you don't knock the enemy down in the first turn, the vile king on the opposite side of the field gets to fire back.

Even worse, he gets the same craaaaaazy ammunition as you. Gasp.


Point, click, drag, release. All you need is a mouse. King's Game is a little more difficult to aim than some other games, as it only shows you the trajectory and power of your last shot, but you'll get used to the mechanic - and the heavier gravity - in a flash.


Simple, goofy-lookin' characters abound in King's Game. Clean, neat… perhaps a little too buxom in the case of the women (bras don't exist in this world?)… overall unremarkable. The game zooms in and out as you aim your projectiles, and the graphics get a liiiiiiittle jaggy at the normal viewing range. Unfortunate.


Standard medieval combat themes for background tunes. Nothing magnificent or original. The game's true audio brilliance lies in the little characters themselves, boasting adorably mischievous little squeaks and squawks in victory and defeat alike.

Challenge Rating

Despite returning enemy fire, King's Game isn’t tough to beat. In order to maximize your score you need to earn crowns, and earning a crown usually requires beating an enemy with a handful shots. With some fidgeting and a bit of luck, this is an easy objective on most levels - especially when you earn an upgrade that gives you an extra shot before the enemy fires back. As of this writing there appears to be an extra set of stages under development, so perhaps the challenge will be expanded. As it stands now, though, the enemy often won't get a shot off before you beat the level. Kinda puts a damper on the extra mechanic.

One thing about the level layout struck me as rather odd, however. The levels are grouped into three categories: basic, rescue, and rush. The first has you crumbling towers, the second requires you to kill all the enemies without killing fair maidens, and the third dispenses with the fair maidens and returns to the original format - though you more or less MUST kill the enemy in one hit to earn a crown. No leeway.

Why's this troublesome? Er… the rush levels are a hell of a lot easier than the rescue levels. I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but, some shuffling might be in order.


King's Game is fun. It's not perfect, but it also doesn't have any debilitating flaws. It should eat up an hour or two of your time, and is enjoyable enough to replay.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Hug Marine

In the far-flung future, there are menaces to the Earth that are so vile that only a super-advanced robot can deal with them. These creatures, pulled from the yawning depths of some hideous black hole, chill the bones of anybody who dare speak their names, for these names are a thousand syllables long and can drive a man mad.

How do we destroy these pestilential menaces?

Hug them. Hug them to death.


You've got one hell of a silly concept, right here. You play the Hug Marine. Over the span of five levels, you are tasked with tracking down and hugging the SHIT out of five different aliens. Presumably these are some wicked bad dudes, but when you find them they're just kinda hanging out, so I guess a hug is all you need to reform 'em.

Or maybe your marine is just friendly with extraterrestrial life. Who knows.

Add it all up, throw in some gameplay, and you've got a platformer. Circumvent a variety of hostile environments and locate the aliens. Each time you find one, you get a little huggy screen, like so:

Aww. Heartwarming. Hug 'em all and the game's over, and you're told to go find someone else to hug. How tender.


Hug Marine's controls are incredibly tight. Like, you'll-have-a-hard-time-dying tight. The game relies on tiny platforms to provide hopping challenge, but your marine's semi-gliding ability whenever he falls off a platform renders even the toughest spots rather moot.


Simplistic. Though the environments of Hug Marine are diverse, each one is also rather sparse. There's a minimum of detail in each one. You'll spend so little time on the game that this approach is understandable.

Also: the Hug Marine. Many people have noted this, and I concur. He looks more like a ninja. Especially the way he runs. No need to change him, just... pointin' it out.


Hug Marine is a surprisingly robust game when it come to the soundtrack. Each level gets its own doom-and-dire ditty. None of them are terribly complex, and I bet an experienced musician could bang something similar in half an hour on GarageBand, but still. I'm totally cool with a separate song for each level. Thumbs up!

Challenge Rating

There are lots of perilous jumps in Hug Marine, but as I mentioned before, the controls make it way too easy to beat. I whipped through the five levels in less than ten minutes without dying once.

Difficulty ain't really the point of Hug Marine, that said. I'm pretty damn certain this game just wants to spread a love of hugging. If so, then, mission accomplished.


Hug Marine is an art game. It's much more EXPANSIVE than your average artsy title, but it still falls into that category. Consequently, it doesn't take long to beat, it doesn't feel like a full experience, and it has a definite message in mind.

Fortunately, that message is to go out into the world and hug people. That's a pretty cool message.

Hug Marine is a fun, goofy oddity. Play it once, beat it, you'll probably be content not to play it again. Either way, kudos to Failnaut for such a quirky idea.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Escape from Puppy Death Factory

What can I say. That's... that's one hell of a name.


Escape From Puppy Death Factory is set in the far-flung future. The remaining puppies of the Earth have been enslaved, and it's up to you, the cannon-slinging corgi K9, to set things right. Relieve the puppies from the burden of captivity!

Yeah, so, it's a retarded plot. It's SUPPOSED to be retarded. Adult Swim games seldom take themselves seriously. Dog fans will get a kick out of the copious numbers of puppies strewn about a hostile landscape...

... and more serious players should enjoy the challenge Escape from Puppy Death Factory presents. Honestly, this is a HARD game (without a walkthrough), and is much more challenging than it appears on the surface. And despite the fact that it looks like a space-shooter similar to the Metroid series (awwww, the puppy looks like Samus), it's the puzzles that will keep your mind thoroughly boggled.


Though it's a puzzler, Escape from Puppy Death Factory is also a platformer, so you need to watch your step. There are lots of enemies and lasers and acid pits and so forth that will send your puppy whizzing back to the last checkpoint. Fortunately, the controls are responsive enough that this won't be a problem.

Your primary puzzle-solving tool is a gun, as you might have guessed. UNLIKE the Metroid series that this game parodies, however, your corgi's gun doesn't kill enemies or blow up blocks. Instead, it swaps K9's position with the object at which it's aimed. This makes for some ingenious methods to get through puzzles, as well as some insidious puzzles in the first place. Again, the controls on the gun are fine...

... with a bit of practice. Expect a lot of trial-and-error.


I really enjoy the visuals in this game. They're crafted into a more cutesy version of Super Metroid. There are also a variety of different environments that aid the exploratory elements of the game, another perfect homage to the exploits of Samus. Overall, two thumbs up.


The music is good. Repetitive, after a while, but there's enough variety that I can forgive and forget. I more enjoyed the synthetic voice that dully sounded whenever I found a puppy.

Challenge Rating

Woof. This game is hard. Even mastering the mechanics isn't necessarily enough to turn Escape from Puppy Death Factory into a breeze. The puzzles are really well done, and though they're often easy with some PRACTICE, getting that far typically requires a lot of head-scratching. Your timing also has to be good, so expect the occasional descent into peril during risky jumps.

Fortunately, you don't have to beat ALL of this game to 'beat' it. Technically you can get an ending just by rescuing a single puppy and returning to your ship. You won't get a greeeeeat ending for doing so, though... and why would you leave any puppies behind? Really, now.


Good game! No overt or game-killing flaws. Escape from Puppy Death Factory might be a little too hard for casual gamers to appreciate, but those with a nose for puzzles will love the death out of this one. Highly recommended.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Villainous - Tower Attack

With all the tower defense games available that force you to fend off enemy troops, I'm surprised it took so long for tower ATTACK games to sprout up. But they have, as of sometime last year, and one of the best of 'em is Villainous. It may be a little short, but Villainous is a great game.


Just look at the title and you'll have a good grasp of what's going on here. You, a cruel magician, want to rule the world. The world isn't so keen on that, so its inhabitants have penned themselves up in fortified cities, using their defensive towers to keep your troops out. Sound familiar? But in reverse?

Yep. That's Villainous. You're the OTHER side of the tower defense equation: you need to deploy troops on a set track and watch as they raid an enemy town. Get enough goblins into the town and you can move on to the next level. Use infamy (the game's currency) to buy upgrades for your troops, as well as purchase new and deadly magical powers.

At first glance, Villainous doesn't sound or seem all that original. And, hell, it's not THAT original once you start playing. Other games have done basically the same thing. What sets Villainous apart is its close attention to balance: it's not disgustingly hard, but the content does increase in difficulty steadily enough that you'll have a rough ride reaching the end. What's more - and I appreciate this most about the game - virtually every unit and spell you get will help you in the end. You don't see that very often in tower games.


Mouse and hot keys. I noticed during slowdown moments that spells didn't go off when triggered, but those moments were rare.


Villainous doesn't stand out visually, nor does it insult the senses. I found it comparable to Warcraft 2, what with all the medieval towers and orcs and all, but a bit cleaner.

Also, my castle is awesome.


Villainous' music is very understated. Unless you jack up the volume you probably won't even notice it in the background. I didn't feel particularly guilty when I shut off the sound and listened to something else.

Challenge Rating

At least to an extent, Villainous encourages failure. You NEED to upgrade to survive some levels, and you earn more infamy when your troops are killed. Expect to repeat maps several times before you earn gold and finish 'em off for good.

Overall, though? Villainous isn't that bad. Like I said before, it's balanced. The learning curve is far from steep, and the upgrades are more than sufficient to cover some of the later challenges - so long as you keep an eye on your game. You can't just let your troops run through the circuit of towers over and over without casting spells each round.


Though it doesn't strike me as the most original game I've ever played, Villainous is a success. It's a great combination of resource allocation and tactics, and should keep most players busy for at least a few hours.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Corporation Inc

Ever wanted all the fun of a mindless, button-pushing desk job in the comfort of your own home? Now you can have it! Corporation Inc can fulfill your every monotonous need, and is guaranteed to be at least a LITTLE more fun than mindless eight-hour-a-day tedium! Joy!


Ever played SimTower before? Corporation Inc is fairly similar, though on more of a micro-managing level. You are the invisible building manager at a button-pushing company (literally, that's all they do), and it's your job to build an office, employ workers, upgrade facilities, provide entertainment, lavish promotions onto employees and otherwise deal with all the nonsense that comes with such a job. Balanced budget ahoy!

Really, that's Corporation Inc in a nutshell. It's a sim. Construct a vertical office and watch as tiny people run in and out all day, completing mindlessly repetitive tasks. I found it quite similar to SimTower, and thus enjoyed the experience. I'm sure others will find it boring. (Which is part of the point, no?)



My only control beef is accurate clicking. Eventually you have so many employees on the screen that's it's difficult to click on the right person, or environment, or whatever. A list for remotely promoting or firing employees would be grand.


This isn't a beautiful game, nor is it an ugly game. Corporation Inc simply is. I appreciate the vacant, hopeless stares of the employees, at least. I can relate. (Also, the idea of a skyhook lifting people through a building is hilarious.)

The big problem here is scope. Once your office gets big enough, you'll have (literally) hundreds of employees running around at the same time. That can be a HUGE drain on system resources. I highly recommend downsizing the graphics to the lowest setting. Particularly if you're a laptop user. (Like me.) The difference is, after a few minutes, negligible.


The music is meh. It fades into the background and vanishes in no time. Whenever people are working you're subjected to the ceaseless clacking of keystrokes, which for ANY computer user is probably heard too often each day anyway. Muted.

Challenge Rating

Corporation Inc scales nicely, depending on the difficulty level. Easy is VERY easy, and Hard is quite hard.

... at least at the beginning. I've had the game running for about half an hour while I've written this review, almost completely unattended, and nothing's gone wrong. On Hard mode, no less.

Corporation Inc's primary problem is a lack of challenge once you squirrel away enough money. Hard starts you with very little, so it can be difficult to keep your employees happy for the first few days. The game's reliance on objectives makes gaining money easier than it initially seems, though, and with enough moolah you can simply hire enough employees to sweep away any difficulties.

(Or, yes, you could promote some of your existing employees to make them more effective. Truth be told, though, new hires solve more problems than promotions. Seemed that way to me, anyway.)

In short? Needs more foul-ups. More things should go wrong in Corporation Inc to improve the difficulty. Your own patience is the only real enemy here.


I'm all for more browser-based sim games, and Corporation Inc is definitely a good start. As it is, though, this title still needs some refining. WAY too easy.