Showing posts with label scrolling shooter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scrolling shooter. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

bit Dungeon, Spaceship, Farm and Grow

Today's Browser Rousers takes place as I watch I, Robot! The entry has next to nothing to do with that fact, but I thought I'd point it out. Decent movie. Nothing fantastic.

First up: a point-and-click dungeon crawler! Weird combo.

bit Dungeon

You and your wife have been kidnapped and locked in a dungeon. She's presumably helpless (haven't beaten the game yet), you presumably aren't. Save her with a mass of swordplay clicking reminiscent of Legend of Zelda. Interesting concept, though the action can be awkward with the wrong device, and the interface is a little basic. No saving? Boo.


Usually in space shooters you're a human protecting the motherland against aliens. In Spaceship, you're an alien fending off humans. (I think. Story's sparse.) Fun, relatively basic side-scrolling shooter, a little slower-paced than other, similar games, with lotsa pretty backgrounds and funky ships. I love the art style.

Ever created a farm in a video game? Yes? Well, do it again anyway. Farm and Grow dispenses with cutesy graphics and conversations with town folk for pure farming strategy. Labour your days away in this simplistic-looking but surprisingly complex sim. No tutorial, so you'll have to learn as you go.

Alllllll done! Bit busy today, so I only did three. I'll toss an extra one on Wednesday. See ya then!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In my experience, people don't really hate pixels. If anything, pixel LOVE is more the order of the day, as retro gaming has been slowly but surely coming back in big ways. (Hell, most browser games kinda RELY on pixels, and generally do so to critical acclaim.)

But not here. Here, in Pixelhate, you abhor pixels. You must, for destroying them is your all-consuming purpose.


Pixelhate is a scrolling shooter title. You, the little yellow fighter pictured above, are placed on a vertically-scrolling screen filled with baddies, like so:

And, just like any game of this kind, you need to weave around and destroy as many enemies as you can before succumbing to their attacks. A classic arcade shooter - and at its core, that's all Pixelhate is: a shooter. Nothing REALLY innovative about it.

The catch? Well, this game has a weird sense of humour. As mentioned it hates pixels, and consequently your attacks chip away pixels one at a time. As a result you may wind up fighting enemies who look like this before they actually blow up:

Yes, that ragged mass of yellow in the north IS an enemy. (And, yes, those are the Pac-Man ghosts. The ragged mass is Pac-Man... just... not lookin' so good.) The fact that the enemies get ripped apart bit by bit is both neat and frustrating, because it can prevent them from shooting back... but it may also mean that one or two little pixels will be left floating around, barely noticeable, that will kill your ship on contact.

Beyond all this, you also get weapon upgrades (purely to your guns) and shields that will protect you from taking accidental dings. That's the sum of Pixelhate.


Very easy: move your mouse around. The ship will follow. The only big problem comes from steering too far, for if your mouse leaves the Flash window, your ship will fly wildly out of control - and probably smash into something.

My major gripe, and I don't even know if I SHOULD gripe about this, stems from firing. It's not difficult to do, mind - just hold down the mouse button - but every time you do, you start to overheat your weapons. Do so sufficiently and your rate of fire will drop to almost nothing until your guns run dry. This is doubtless a conscious choice to keep the game from being too easy, but I got killed too many times from sheer bad luck because my weapons decided to crap out at a bad moment. (Though you could argue that I should have paced myself, as well.)


Pixelhate is one step up from Atari but one or two steps down from SNES or Sega Genesis. It's pretty, but in an extremely simplified way - which makes sense since it's all about pixels. I personally like the overall aesthetic, though the repetitive, uniform backgrounds are boring after a while.

What I really appreciated in Pixelhate was the incorporation of retro icons, such as the Pac-Man above or the Atari symbol below:

Both of which, I might add, are bosses. It's nice to see references that aren't hidden in frantic action, particularly since most players wouldn't stand a chance in hell of catching smaller easter eggs if they were hidden in the game.


The music in Pixelhate is space shooter fare, which is to say, weird alien sound effects. Not especially impressive. That said, the music is accompanied by a male and female voice, both computerized, who comment on the on-screen action and bring a great deal of charm to the game...

... that is, until you reach the later levels. Hearing the female voice tell you every time you collect a shield upgrade that shields are for weaklings - and you get the upgrades CONSTANTLY, so she's always jabbering - is really irritating. Mute, mute, mute.

Challenge Rating

Pixelhate is not that difficult. If you didn't have shields it would be near-impossible, but since they fly out of enemies all the time you'll have no trouble zipping through massive crowds of enemies. Consequently, reaching the final stage - 7 - can be accomplished after just a few practice runs.

What makes this game so weird is that, at least on the Newgrounds version that I played (which I assume is THE version of the game), it craps out halfway through stage 7. The game will freeze, and there's no way to fix it. And though I thought at first that it might just be my computer, glances at the comments lead me to believe that it's intentional. I suspect this is a reference to the infamous 'kill screens' of the old Atari-era gaming systems, though it's hard to say without input from the programmer.


Pixelhate is pretty dang fun. Anyone who ever owned an Atari - I can raise my hand there - will appreciate its adherence to old-style gaming; and everyone else, well... they'll get a fairly solid shooter with a bizarre sense of humour. Just, ah, be careful swinging that mouse around.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Frantic Frigates

Frantic Frigates is far from the best browser game I've ever played. There are more innovative, more artistically successful, more outright FUN games out there.

But I haven't played ANY of them nearly as long as I played Frantic Frigates. Why? Very simple answer: it's stupidly addictive, and just frustrating enough that it kept me hooked. For, uh, too many hours.


You're a pirate. You don't like other pirates. Or sharks. You kill everything that comes near your ship.

... yep.

With a game like Frantic Frigates, you don't need a plot. You just need an objective: blow the ever-loving shite out of anything that comes near your pirate ship. You're especially good at this because your ship automatically fires on anything that comes close - you just have to worry about steering. Go as long as you can, fighting through massive waves of enemies and three bosses on a large plane of water, until you die.

On the first go through, this concept is pretty boring. It's not until you die and start AGAIN that the game becomes novel, as you begin with slightly more money to upgrade your ship the second time through - and the better you do on subsequent attempts to beat the game, the more money you have to start. Consequently, the game gets easier and easier, you get farther and farther, and your determination to see everything there is, to beat every last pirate, grows with each attempt. (Did for me, anyway.)


Frantic Frigates couldn't be a simpler game to learn when it comes to controls, as the ship shoots on its own. All YOU have to do is make sure you don't stray into enemies with the mouse. This is as easy to do with a track pad as it is a proper mouse, so this is one of those rare games which you can play on a laptop, on its own, with no detriment to your skill.

Does that mean the controls are easy to MASTER? Noooo. The game gets pretty damn frantic (hence the name), to the point that the screen is literally filled with enemy bullets by the end:

I died getting that screenshot for you. I hope you all appreciate that.

My only complaint about the controls comes whenever you accidentally move your mouse off the screen, as your boat is (usually) screwed thereafter. Would locking the mouse ONTO the screen for the duration of the game be possible?


Frantic Frigates is not that impressive graphically, as the ships are all pretty damn generic. That said it's still pretty enough to look at, as the animation is smooth and without any significant visual glitches. Unfortunately the action also slows down significantly when there are a ton of bullets flying about on the screen, which... actually that's kinda helpful for the later battles. Still, lagging can be a pain, so you'll need a powerful computer to prevent full slowdown.


Sea shanties. The whole lot. Nothing terribly impressive - the music that plays the majority of the time sounds like it's been pulled straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean and tweaked a little bit to avoid lawsuits - but it's appropriate.

Challenge Rating

You'll see the above screen a lot. A LOT.

Frantic Frigates is hard. That's probably the main reason I played for so long - I became obsessed with beating the damn thing. (Still haven't, as of this writing. SO CLOSE) It's similar to old scrolling shooters like Gradius and R-Type in that there's very little margin for error, and one little foul up will spell your doom. Very frustrating... and enough that the game drives you into Zen-esque periods of near meditation where you don't think about what you're doing, you just DO.

Surprisingly, however, your early forays into Frantic Frigates will challenge you most via the upgrade system. It's wonderfully implemented in that you can only have a certain number of upgrades per game, and by upgrading certain elements of your ship - say, your firepower or speed - you lose out in others. Discovering which elements best suit your play style is key to overall victory. (I find treasure to be vitally important for gaining levels and more starting money, but that's just me.)


If you're going to play Frantic Frigates - and you should, it's pretty fun - set aside a few hours to do so. Once you start, you won't want to stop until you down that goddamned ghost frigate and beat the game.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear piratical horns calling my name.