Showing posts with label rts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rts. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We return!

Yep, after months of procrastinating and work on other projects (I swear it's ACTUALLY the latter), I'm back...

... but the format's gonna change. I've got so much stuff going on that I don't have the time for full-on reviews anymore. That's kind of a lie, admittedly, but they eat up time I need to devote to other stuff. I still love playing browser-based games, though... and will do so whether I review 'em or not...

SO HERE'S THE DEAL! Rather than force myself to do reviews I'd rather avoid, I'm gonna turn Browser Rousers into a recommendations website. I play Flash games, I tell you which ones I enjoyed the most. Three times a week - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I think - I'll post a list of four games I enjoyed, and a brief blurb on why. You play yourselves, you enjoy. Sound good?

Off we go, then, with our first entry!

Unnatural Selection

Another of those glorious Ludum Dare 48 challenge pieces, Unnatural Selection is kind of an RTS. Your little monster controller dude has to create an orb by gathering crystals, and he protects said orb with a horde of obedient monsters that swirl around him. Could use a bit more strategy, but overall a fairly good game, especially since it was made in 48 hours.

Escape from the Very Bad Planet

Why's it so bad? I have no idea! You don't stop to ask these questions! Run for your liiiiiiiiife

Fun side-scrolling shooter game. Collect money while dodging obstacles on your way to the end of a course. Get blown up, buy upgrades, become stronger. Eventually reach the end of the course and escape the Very Bad Planet. Mildly addictive, especially with those flashy retro visuals.

Nemonuri Tower

Climb tower. Avoid buzz saws. Get points. Climb faster. Die! Then start over. Yay! Not much more to say about this one; it's simplistic, but addictive. The control scheme's annoying at first, but you get used to it. I enjoy the jaunty tune in the background more than anything else in this game.

Reign of Centipede

Centipedes? Ruling the world?! I DON'T FUCKING THINK SO. A combination of platform shooting and real-time strategy, here, all dedicated to the destruction of those bastardly insects (though some of them are QUESTIONABLY centipedes at best). Lots of fun, if a bit easy... though I've only played the first level of five, so I'm sure it gets harder.

That's all for today. Back on Friday! I promise!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nano Kingdoms

Browser-based RTS games are slowly becoming an enjoyable alternative to full on, company-backed titles of the same genre. It'll be a while before I can play something like Starcraft from my browser, true, but there are good steps in the right direction.

Does Nano Kingdoms go down the proper path? Yes. Kinda. More or less.


Long ago, in the distant world of Nano Kingdom (shocking!), a father and a son are caught in the midst of a disagreement. Unfortunately, said father and said son are the king and a prince of a powerful nation - and the son's decision to turn to evil has drawn the realm's many heroes to his side. The only hero left, a brave paladin, must set out and beat the various generals back onto the side of good, and then do the same to the evil Alexander.

Truth be told, Nano Kingdoms has a really weird plot. I'm not at all sure WHY some of the heroes swapped sides, when the son is plainly as evil as evil can be. What's more, there's a plot twist right at the end that jumps out with very little foreshadowing or explanation. Very awkward, very... meh. It probably doesn't help that most of the tale is told in stunted, grammatically-incorrect English. Hire an editor, y'all! It would polish your game so much!

(I can help! I do editings!)

Anyway. Story aside, Nano Kingdoms is an RTS. Two castles, yours and your opponent's, are set up on opposite sides of a flat field. As resources pile in your base you need to upgrade buildings and send out troops to defend your fortifications and flatten those of your foe. Reduce the opposite stronghold's HP to zero and you win. Have that happen to you... well, guess what happens.

That's not all, however. Each time you complete a stage (save for the last two) your opponent becomes a selectable hero, each with two magical powers to aid your troops. This lends some diversity to battle, and can vastly change dire situations for the better. Nothing new to an RTS, but special powers are always fun, right?


Huzzah for a mouse!

The only comment I can offer on the control front is the ease of sending out troops. Whenever you want to keep them reined in, click the Shield (defense) button. If you want an attack, click the Sword. Very simple to manage, and ideal for a browser game.


Nano Kingdom's visuals are perhaps its strongest element. Despite being such a small game, it offers a neat range of art, from nifty battlegrounds to stylish character art to good cut scene offerings. The special combat moves are particularly cool, and really spruce up each battle. The sprites could use more detail, but overdoing them might also slow down the game, so... shrug? Nano Kingdom is miraculously un-laggy for an RTS, so there's probably a reason for little detail.


Epic marchiiiiiing

Nano Kingdoms has good enough music, but, like so many browser games, it relies overly much on a very small handful of tunes. Even though the game doesn't last a really long time, the music grows stale in a hurry.

Challenge Rating

Nano Kingdoms is not hard. It's not EASY, but it's not hard. Your special powers are often game-breakers, turning somewhat challenging battles into utter routs. And while it's true that your foes ALSO have powers, they'll seldom use them as often as you'll use yours. Overwhelming magical force always wins the day. The only truly difficult battle is the very last one. (If you can't beat it, try using the elf. His speed spell propelled me to a six-ish minute victory.)

I'm fine with the difficulty level. What I'd rather see is a longer game. Nano Kingdoms takes about half an hour to beat, which is pretty fast for even a browser-based RTS. It was clearly designed with a sequel in mind, perhaps to the detriment of this first game.


Fun. Not amazing, but fun. Nano Kingdoms is a good time-waster, and it's got enough enjoyment packed into its guts for one or two playthroughs. Add more levels and it might just be a keeper.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Castle Commander

I've noticed in the last year that there seem to be a whole lot more RTS games available for browser-based consumption. This makes me happy, as I adore the RTS genre, and always get a kick out of obliterating an opponent with huge armies.

Castle Commander tickles that urge to a degree. Not as much as I would like, perhaps, but enough that I'd play it again in the future. Probably.


Bad mojo has befallen the kingdom of Davana. The land is sinking, and with the king dead the various factions have fallen to civil war. You, the king's heir, need to reunite the kingdom under a single rule (duh, yours) and grant your people the land they so desperately need by stealing from other people. What a nice fellow you are.

This plot boils down to a series of RTS maps. In each map you start with one or more castles, and you need to lead your constantly-spawning troops to victory against the enemy by stealing various fortifications along the way. Conquer every castle on a particular map and you'll move on to the next, gaining some prize money that you can spend on spells to make the whole process smoother.


Browser programmers have long struggled to create RTS games with convincing controls, and Castle Commander continues to hit the same potholes as developers in the past. The majority of the game is controlled by mouse: click on a unit and you now control it. Click and drag over several units and you control all of them. Click on a destination and they'll go there, fighting everything on the way.

Where's the problem? Well, it's twofold:

- First, clicking doesn't always work. USUALLY it does, every now and then your troops will wind up heading in exactly the wrong direction. Given the swiftness of the levels this is a very bad thing.

- And, second, you can't unclick. Once you've selected troops, you'd best pick a place for the to go. This is also true of accidentally clicking spells, as you're now forced to cast to move on and do something else.

The resulting experience isn't terribly problematic, but it's irksome. Still some work needed here.


Castle Commander is visually run-of-the-mill. Everything's cartoony. Nice cartoony, but cartoony nevertheless. I appreciate that they tried to vary the game's presentation with four different sets of soldiers and a few different environments for you to fight on, but overall there's a lot of repetition in this game.


Epic, thundering soundtrack, which for the most part is rather generic. Not bad, not terribly good. I will make one concession to the happy acoustic tune that plays whenever you enter the store, however - I've been listening to it strum as I write this review. Never gets old.

Challenge Rating

This is the area where RTS browser games always seem to stumble. Is Castle Commander difficult? I say, no, it's not hard at all.

I'll admit that I had to restart levels once or twice. If you don't move swiftly to take castles, you'll get trounced by the enemy. There's some strategy in knowing which castles to conquer first, and which defensive positions to hold before you stream out into the wider world to complete the level. But, uh, there's one thing... or one set of things... that makes Castle Commander consistently easy: the spells.

I'm fine with extra powers in RTS games. Having them in Castle Commander is nothing new. It IS problematic, however, that the spells are so damned powerful. Take Bloodlust, for example: it hits a group of your troops with extra speed and attack strength, allowing them to plow through enemies with greater ease. This spell is SO GOOD that this same group, especially if you decide to heal 'em along the way, can take out three or four enemy groups of equal number before dying. That's a ridiculous boost in strength, and it lasts for a fair while.

(Don't even get me started on Infection. Stealing enemy units as they emerge from an enemy castle, thereby conquering the castle in the process, is well past the unfair line.)

My suggestion? Tone down the spells. Force players to choose between two or three per map. Or, to make things really interesting, allow the computers to use a few spells of their own. Castle Commander will otherwise prove too easy a game to be memorable.


Don't get me wrong, I had fun playing Castle Commander. It was a good way to waste half an hour. In general, though, I prefer RTS games that last LONGER than half an hour, and Castle Commander... yeah... yeeeeeah.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kingdom Rush

Of all the gaming genres that online play has more or less created, few are quite so infamous or frustrating as tower defense games. They're tons of fun, sure, but you usually get thwomped in the end no matter how good you are.

Kingdom Rush is, I think, an attempt to get around that fact by introducing a more balanced tower defense experience. And, for the most part, it's pretty successful - though it's also still damn hard.


Kingdom Rush is the tale of a kingdom under siege. Monsters are emerging from all nooks and crannies of the globe, and they're bent on bringing civilization down. Hard. Your job is to protect the weak and helpless from these marauding bastards utilizing a combination of towers, troops and well-wielded mysticism. The story is surprisingly extensive, though because it's set up purely in text you'll probably ignore all of the lore. A shame, but, shrug.

So, yeah, Kingdom Rush a tower defense game. Construct your towers, kill oncoming enemies as they wind their way down predetermined paths. What sets Kingdom Rush apart from other such titles, however - at least for me, perhaps I'm just behind the times - is that you have troops. You can create towers that deploy little soldiers who will rush out and engage the enemy, complete with life bars of their own. In this sense Kingdom Rush is a little bit RTS, though not so much that you'll ever forget the primary genre.

Does this troop deployment inclusion work? Absolutely. Though you don't have nearly as much control over your men as you would in a traditional RTS, the ability to lead troops around their tower and engage enemies who have otherwise escaped is an excellent idea. If nothing else it breaks up the sometimes monotonous nature of tower defense games.


Point and click. There's really nothing to be said about Kingdom Rush's controls other than they work.


Kingdom Rush boasts relatively pretty graphics. Each level looks different from the last, and the deeper you get into the kingdom the more the backgrounds change, moving from lush greenery to winter fields to hideous wastelands. I'm glad the programmers saw fit to shift the layout significantly, giving the game a sense of progress and depth that suits the back story.

I am not, however, terribly wowed by the units themselves. Because Kingdom Rush can have so many units on the screen at once, they're all really, really tiny, and consequently there's almost no detail to any of 'em. You have a general sense of what you're looking at, and that's about it. Hardly offensive, and probably practical given the scope of the enemy armies, but... what can I say? It's a visually basic game.


Kingdom Rush's music doesn't bowl me over, as it consists of the usual dramatic, epic medieval stuff I've heard a billion times before in video games, movies, television shows and so on. It's good for what it is, though, and doesn't get overly repetitive or tiresome, since it just kinda fades into the background while you're playing. No big complaints.

What I DID appreciate sound-wise was the voiceovers. Kingdom Rush's units talk, and they talk often - and the voice actors are actually pretty good at what they do. The dialogue is relatively clever, and everything sounds crisp and spot-on appropriate to the setting. Any browser game willing to go this distance to snag fans is A-OK in my book.

Challenge Rating

Here's the kicker. Does Kingdom Rush fit into its genre? Is it a difficult game?

In a word, yes. In four words, more or less, yes.

Kingdom Rush isn't quite a beginner's introduction to the tower defense genre, nor is it hard enough to stand toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. It is a happy medium, a game that gets gradually harder and harder at a steady pace that the average gamer will surely appreciate. I sure as hell do, for though I have experience with tower defense games, I'm no expert.

The only thing that bugged me, given my work schedule, is how long it can take to play. The enemy units are pretty bloody slow as they wind around the map. This is out of pure necessity, as too hectic a pace would make the game near impossible, but an option to speed up the frame rate during moments of sure victory would've been nice.


Good game! Kingdom Rush is a good game. It has a few niggling flaws here and there, but they're not nearly enough to detract from the experience as a whole. I highly recommend Kingdom Rush for tower defense fans, especially if you're willing to sink some cash into a browser title - there's more than enough robustness padding Kingdom Rush's game play to warrant dropping a few dollars for the premium content.