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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rymden, Shadow Tag, Just A Cell

Today's three games are so wildly different from one another that the theme is difference. Yes, that's it. Difference.

Rymden


Perhaps the strangest space shooter I've ever played, Rymden is unabashedly Swedish. Pilot your crazy ship through increasingly difficult waves of space enemies, firing off special weapons and beating down bosses as you go. The game is littered with references to Sweden throughout, and, to people from North America (hi!), is probably impenetrably bizarre. Fun bizarre, but bizarre. A bit repetitive, but, frankly, that's what the creator was going for. Mission accomplished.

Shadow Tag


The simple act of going from your house to your car should not be anywhere as creepy as this. Shadow Tag has you navigating hedge mazes in the night, pursued by weird little children who 'only want to play with you'. Your only ally is your flashlight, and even it will go out after a while. Though not out-and-out scary, Shadow Tag IS quite unnerving - you're not fast, the children are annoyingly good at following you through the maze, and they'll talk to you while they hunt. Fuuuuuucked uuuuuuup. (And fantastic.)

Just A Cell


Eat. Evolve. Survive. Rhyme. These four things are important to a successful game of Just A Cell. Starting off as a single-cell organism you eat other creatures and steadily build your way up to the top of the food chain. A fun game, but two pieces of advice: a.) Stay away from the walls, you'll get killed by bigger creatures if you sit there blindly; and b.) DO NOT PLAY THIS IF YOU SUFFER FROM EPILEPSY. Seriously. There are a lot of flashing colours when you om another creature, especially in the later levels.

Next up: an entry I've been saving for close to two weeks, now, because I keep finding other games I want to review. Until then!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wilt: Exordium, Medieval Shark, Monster Saga

Introduction? Nay. Unnecessary. Off we go!

Wilt: Exordium


Jon, your daughter is in trouble. (Or is she your daughter?) Save her in a nightmarish landscape... or don't. Who knows exactly what's happening in this little game, as it's supposedly part of a larger adventure to come later in 2012. I enjoyed the experience overall, short though it may have been - but the programmers reeeeeeeally need to work on the controls. Precision jumping is a pain in the ass in Wilt.



Shark.

SHARK.

SHAAAAAAARK

I don't feel that any of these games need an explanation. It's more of the same silly, murderous fun. This time with a jester's hat.

Monster Saga


You are a child, blasted into a strange land full of monsters and dominated by a tyrant. Free the kingdom with your own band of mighty warriors! Or something!

I dunno. Monster Saga's got rather an oddly generic story. The visuals compensate for the narrative, however, and the game play is decently fun. Train monsters and send them out to battle other monsters. It's unfortunate that you have nooooo say at all in how the battles turn out once they've started, but it's not difficult to blaze through most of them with sufficient prep. A decent game, albeit glitchy and easy.

Prediction: next week will feature more Halloween games. I can sense this happening, somehow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Infectonator 2, WorldBox 2, Endless War 6

Infectonator 2


I've been waiting for an Infectonator sequel for a while, now, and I was more than pleased with the results. Your goal is still the same: eliminate the world with a horrifying zombie virus. The scope of the game has increased dramatically, however, with TONS more levels, a lot of upgrades, much-improved graphics, and a better sense of humour. There's almost no point in playing the original Infectonator anymore, as number two is better in virtually every way.

WorldBox


WorldBox isn't so much a game as it is a simple simulator. You have a world, you can build more of a world. Or take it away. Or other stuff. This is basically a very limited version of a Sim game with few consequences if you lose. It's not that great, but it appears to be a base for something a hell of a lot better, and I look forward to whatever it might create in the future.

Endless War 6


You are tank. You blow shit up. That about does it for Endless War 6, like the previous games. There is OTHER stuff to consider, of course, but it boils down to mashing your opponents. I haven't played the previous games in the series, but I like this one, if for no other reason, for the fact that you get to drive alongside a bunch of other troops. You're part of a coordinated whole, and that's pretty cool.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rot Gut, Days of Blood, Dude and Zombies

Ever feel like drawing some blood? You probably shouldn't, not in real life, but that's what video games are for. Playing out those epic fantasies that would get us arrested. Prepare for a triple dose of brutality in today's recommendations!



Woefully few browser games sport a film noir tone, and that may be because the rest were waiting for Rot Gut to show 'em how it's done. Featuring a 1920s prohibition-style story of murder and intrigue, Rot Gut is a hop-and-bop, shoot-em-up style game that brings back fond memories of the NES and SNES. The controls are great, the weapons a lot of fun, and it's just challenging enough to enjoy without tearing your hair out. Also, tiny cigarette being the only source of colour is a great idea.

Days of Blood


Evil cultists need a virgin sacrifice to power their dark magicks, and you're just the knight to make sure that doesn't happen. (Would be nice to see an inversion of this tired trope and have a FEMALE knight rescue a MALE virgin, but, oh well.) Lotsa back and forth killing, here, while you protect the poor woman from stabby cultists. A bit repetitive, and unforgiving in its timing (get it EXACTLY RIGHT each time or you dieeeeee), but still fun.

Dude and Zombies



Today's first two games were pretty damned bloody; seemed only right to make it a triumvirate and play a game about zombies. Your car has broken down in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, and you need to put it back together before the zombie hordes overwhelm you. Blast their heads off with a variety of guns while fixing your car. Good, upgradeable fun, though once you have a fully automatic machine gun of the highest calibre, it's pretty easy.

Next week: perhaps some cuddly games. Yes?

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!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boss Slayer

Boss Slayer is my kinda game for one reason, and one reason alone: I like fighting bosses. I LOVE fighting bosses. I love it so much that I generally play video games TO fight the bosses. The legwork in-between? Eh, just an annoying warmup.

Boss Slayer disposes with all that irritating middle stuff. It's just bosses. And, thus, it's pretty good. Not amazing, but good.


Concept

If only other games were so straight to the point. Summary: ten evil alien warships have arrived at Earth. Objective: blow 'em up in twelve days, before Earth is destroyed. Huzzah! Plot's done.

Boss Slayer is a vertical shoot-em-up (shmup). More than that, though, it's part of the 'bullet hell' sub genre, and for good reason: every screen is absolutely teeming with incoming enemy gunfire. It's a more forgiving game in that you get a lot more health than the average shmup, but the bullets... the bullets are still a sight to behold when they start flying. Frightening.

But only at first. Boss Slayer is unique in that you gather money with each progression through the bosses. Gather enough and you can purchase upgrades for your ship after you die. These upgrades make your ship substantially tougher... not to mention crazy on the firepower. Bosses that caused you some trouble at first will die before they're fully on the screen by the end of the game. Plow through all ten bosses in one go and you win.

Simple? Yeah, a little. In this case, however, I don't think expanding the concept would help much. It's a neat idea, even if the result is a game that won't last terribly long. The fact that it measures the amount of days you took to kill all ten bosses will probably appeal to competitive gamers who want to get a lower number than everyone else. (If somebody ever manages to do it in one day, they are certifiably insane.)


Controls

Boss Slayer's ship fires constantly and automatically, so all you need to do is worry about steering. The game allows you to pick between mouse or arrows at the beginning: I tried out both, and though they're about even, I still prefer arrows. Either way, the controls are tight.

Graphics

The visuals won't blow anyone out of the water. Though they have some neat designs, the ships in Boss Slayer look a liiiiittle too simplistic. Some more detail would be appreciated. Nothing about the aesthetics should offend anyone, though, and once the bosses start firing you won't care what they look like anyway.


Sound

Two songs: rapid action and between-mission, quasi elevator music. The midi nature of the tracks is a nice throwback to the retro titles upon which this game is built, but they're otherwise unremarkable.

Challenge Rating

The name 'bullet hell' is somewhat misleading in the case of Boss Slayer. It's not that difficult to beat all ten bosses before the twelve days are up: their firing patterns are more simplistic than they look, so long as you don't move overly much, and your ship becomes SO STRONG that slaughter is inevitable. Don't go too crazy and you shouldn't have a rough time of it.

... unless, of course, you decide not to upgrade your ship to maximum. I personally think that's a BAD idea, but... some people are mad like that...


Conclusion?

Boss Slayer probably won't last much longer than ten or fifteen minutes for the average player, but they'll be a fun few minutes. This goes highly recommended to shmup fans.

PLAY BOSS SLAYER

Friday, May 4, 2012

Johnny Upgrade

Upgrades are a staple of most video games. Makes sense, too - your character should be rewarded with expanded powers as he or she plows through increasingly difficult areas. But what if you could do almost nothing WITHOUT upgrades? What, indeed, if purchasing upgrades was necessary for your hero to perform the most rudimentary tasks?

Welcome to Johnny Upgrade.


Concept

Johnny Upgrade is a superhero. Some evil boss thing has invaded his world, and he needs to drive it, and its fiendish minions, away. Problem is, Johnny Upgrade begins his life UTTERLY INCAPABLE of doing anything. He can't walk, he can't jump, he can't take more than one hit, hell, he can't live longer than roughly three seconds before exploding. Tough life, has Johnny Upgrade.

What's a lad to do in this situation? Duh. Upgrade. The game is based upon the premise that, every time Johnny dies, the player is taken to a shop screen for upgrading Johnny's abilities. Gather enough coins on each play-through and Johnny will ultimately be able to double jump, take five hits worth of damage, dash at incredible speeds and use a blaster to zap his foes.

This, of course, means that you have to die. A lot.


Controls

Johnny steers via the arrow keys or ADW. Eventually the Space bar will allow Johnny to fire his gun. Nice and easy, and Johnny is extremely responsive to player input. You shouldn't have any difficulty with cheap deaths... once you've upgraded Johnny, that is.


Graphics

Immediately after I began playing, Johnny Upgrade reminded me of an old SNES game called Captain Novolin. Upon FURTHER investigation, they don't look the same at all, aside from a slight similarity between the two title characters. I do not think Johnny Upgrade is diabetic, though that could explain his exploding fits.

All that is a ROUNDABOUT WAY OF SAYING that Johnny Upgrade looks like an SNES game. A really good SNES game. The visuals were great. It's a shame they're the same each time you play through, but, oh well.

Sound

Not much to say here. You get a small handful tunes, none of which are terribly memorable. I liked the boss song best, which is best suited to a sinister discotheque. Sound effects beyond the music are the usual range of explosions and hearty grunts.


Challenge Rating

Johnny Upgrade should take anywhere between ten and twenty minutes to complete. There's only one level, and once you've upgraded Johnny to action star status not even the boss is terribly challenging. I would like to see this concept expanded upon in some fashion, because this game seems more like a solid base for something greater than a true stand-alone title.

Conclusion?

Johnny Upgrade is a fun, playable platformer that you'll likely shred and forget within the span of half an hour. Worth playing, but not likely to make a massive impression on anybody.

PLAY JOHNNY UPGRADE

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pirateers

Pirates are one of those reliable elements that will, without fail, draw attention to a product. The roguish mystique that lies behind the whole pirate thing pretty much ensures an audience. That doesn't ensure that the product itself will be worth playing, however.

Pirateers skirts the edges of good quality and bad. It's not horrible, but it sure ain't fantastic.


Concept

Pirates are well-known for their unslakable greed, and the same can be said of the scurvy dogs in Pirateers. They want loot, and they want a lot of it. In these seas there's one prize that's sought above all others: a fabled Eye, split into five pieces, which is said to give its user unlimited riches.

Or something.

The story sounds like it should be promising. It's not, really. The Eye pieces just provide a laborious route to the last boss. Gathering them is no different than any other quest in Pirateers, nor even more difficult. Even if the plot was of interest, it's so riddled with spelling mistakes and time-worn cliches that the fun is sucked out of the experience. Blech.

Anyway. Plot aside, Pirateers is an RPG-esque shooter. You captain a ship of pirates, you steer it about and steal booty, you gather bounties, you blow up other ships. Huzzah.


Controls

Ugh. Pirateers is a damned slow game, and the controls are the mastermind behind the lull. I understand that sailing ships were neither swift nor spry by modern standards, but this is a video game. These ships don't HAVE to act realistically - but they do. Every battle is reduced to a slow, laborious circle around the enemy ships, firing whenever the cannons are primed. Hell, to make things even easier you can stop your boat in front of the other ship and just fire while they flail uselessly against your hull.

I'll be fair. The controls aren't glitchy or horribly problematic. The programming's fine. They're just SO DANG SLOW.


Graphics

Pirateers looks... okay. For a bird's eye view-type shooter, you get what you'd expect: shots of ships patrolling the water. Shrug? Not much to say. Nothing fantastically or offensive about most of the game.

My problem, then? The mugshots. The horribly disproportionate avatars. I guess the artist was trying to be stylistic, but, no. They're just ugly. And weird. And... not... done.


Sound

Pirates of the Caribbean Lite, that's Pirateers. A scant selection of songs, none of them the least bit memorable. Sound effects are equally negligible. Unimpressive audio overall.

Challenge Rating

Pirateers starts off a little too difficult than it should. You can upgrade your ship to boost its speed, reload time and overall cannon power, among other things, but you need money to do that - and your ship is a piece of crap at first. Expect to flounder in poverty for a few days until you can figure out how to properly aim your ship.

After that? Easy. The ships are generally the same throughout, and even though you'll face a few new attack methods none of them are surprising or difficult to overcome. Circle, circle, circle.

... and then you hit the last boss. And it's WAY too hard, because a) your ship can't even come close to reacting quickly enough, and b) nothing you've fought up to that point even REMOTELY prepares you for what it can do. Dodging through waves of enemy fire with your slow-ass vessel? Bullshit, I say!


Conclusion?

Pirateers is not a very good game. The amount of time it takes to play is nowhere near equal to the amount of fun it provides, which is not much. There's so much dull repetition that I'd be surprised if many people last out the full experience. If you DO plan on playing, at least visit the Armor Games website, as you'll gain access to a slightly faster ship. Better than the bucket you'd receive anywhere else.

PLAY PIRATEERS

Friday, February 17, 2012

10 Bullets

I fully recognize that I should probably be focusing my efforts on browser games that are relatively robust, ie. they're more than just a single gimmick. Every now and then I feel obliged to write an overly-long review for something tiny, however, and 10 Bullets is the perfect choice for just such a review. So there.


Concept

10 Bullets is a shooter. You play the role of a robotic, ground-based defense system, aimed to the sky and set to kill. Ships are zipping by overhead, and you need to shoot 'em down.

And you only have ten bullets. Obviously.

That's pretty much all there is to 10 Bullets. Wait until a ship comes in your range, then hit the SPACE key to fire a bullet. If you hit the ship it will blow up, sending debris in two directions. Manage to hit another ship with that debris and the next will explode into three pieces... then four... then five, six, seven... you get the idea. You want to chain as many exploding ships together as possible.

As far as concepts go, this one's pretty damn basic. Fun for a couple minutes, sure, but it gets mindless in no time. Best suited as a mini game attachment for a larger title? Maybe so.

Controls

Does your computer have a SPACE bar? Yes? You're good.


Graphics

Nothing special. The ships, and particularly your gun, are rather ill-defined. (Seriously, I can't figure out what the gun is supposed to look like.) Some variety in the ships would be cool.

Sound

A single techno song, playing over and over. This game is damn short, but I muted my computer in a hurry - I'm not a fan of this kind of music. Most players probably won't react so violently, however.


Challenge Rating

10 Bullets is a teensy bit trickier than it sounds. True, the game's out of your hands as soon as the bullet leaves the barrel of your gun, but you can control the initial explosions to an extent with proper timing. Make sure there are lots of ships flying along a single line, and more incoming on the adjacent lines, before you fire. This should maximize the damage done and raise your combo bonuses as high as possible.

In the end, though, yeah, you can't control what'll happen. Some explosion combos carry on for long minutes; some peter out after two or three hits. This game is luck at play.


Conclusion?

Once you hit over a hundred destroyed ships, you'll probably close 10 Bullets and play something else. I probably should have done that rather than write this review, but, there you are. For what it is, 10 Bullets is glitchless and well-executed - it's just as bare-bones a game as you're likely to find.

PLAY 10 BULLETS

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elephant Quest

I've never played an exploratory RPG featuring an elephant. I've never played one where the elephant is the lead character. And I've CERTAINLY never played one where the elephant is surrounded by laser beams.

Today, though, all these things... all of these things have been fulfilled. And I feel a little richer for the experience. Thank you, Elephant Quest, thank you.


Concept

Life in the world of elephants has gone to HELL. Wooly, the ultimate in pachyderm bullies, has stolen your hat. Never one to simply lay down and give in, you must traverse the lands in search of Wooly and get that damn hat back. (And why wouldn't you, it's a nice hat.)

That is the ultimate goal of Elephant Quest: find Wooly and force him into submission. Before you get there, though, your little elephant must face a slew of obstacles, ranging from tricky platforms to bloodthirsty enemies to other troubled elephants in need of assistance. Combining all three elements results in an exploratory game similar to Metroid or Castlevania... or, for fans of browser games, Endeavor... with a suffusion of RPG leveling that resembles Final Fantasy X for some extra kick.

And talking elephants.

And lasers.

And... well, lots of weird stuff, I'll be honest.


Controls

Elephant Quest's controls are both simple and complex - but only at first. Moving your elephant is as easy as using the arrow keys or WASD. What complicates matters is the inclusion of mouse controls, allowing you to aim your laser using the mouse pointer. This is difficult to do only for a few minutes, though - splitting your brain between the two is eventually a piece of cake.

I had little trouble with the controls themselves, aside from a few problematic jumps (resulting in annoyance, not death). No, the controls in Elephant Quest only become troublesome when your elephant collects too much stuff and everything becomes laggy, which I'll detail below.

Graphics

Elephant Quest is a visually basic game. The environments are all colourfully cartoony, and I'm glad that there are several different tilesets for the mazes.

I was less wowed by the sprites. The elephants are fine, and the weapons that float about you are good enough (I especially like the tiny elephant minions), but the enemies... they're a bit lacking. There's variety, yes, but none of them screamed originality, and after a while they get somewhat repetitive. And the one enemy I DID like, the Tank, didn't show up very often. So... take what you can get, I guess? At least it's not a long game.

There is, however, a snag alongside the simplicity. Whenever your elephant completes a task or purchases a particular upgrade, it usually gains a weapon that helps it fight. This is nice at first, but the weapons stack - to the point that you're boasting a rather ridiculous array of combat options by the end:


Yep, everything floating around my blue elephant fires a laser. Yeesh.

I don't MIND this tag-along armory - hell, it's kinda funny - but my computer does, and after a while Elephant Quest got pretty damn slow with all the tiny elephants and tanks and enemy birds and nonsense flying about. Still wasn't HARD, but the lag? Substantial. Expect your final battle with Wooly to be a trifle on the slow side if you're using a laptop.

Sound

Elephant Quest is a relatively low-key in its music, boasting a nice variety of tunes that don't obstruct the game in any great way. Nice background selection... if a teensy bit inappropriate at times. The music for the cloud area didn't seem to fit its surroundings at all.


Challenge Rating

Elephant Quest shouldn't take more than an hour to complete, an perhaps another half hour to complete in its entirety. There's a decent amount of side stuff you don't NEED to cover to beat the game, and given the fairly predictable pattern of the final boss, the extra experience points aren't a requirement for victory.

In short, yeah, Elephant Quest ain't that hard.

I'd chalk the ease of victory up to the leveling system more than anything. It's relatively easy to earn levels in Elephant Quest, and they power your elephant up in very short fashion, regardless of the path of upgrades you choose to take. The sheer number of lasers pointed at enemies by the end is ridiculous, especially if you go for minions. And who wouldn't?

Tack on a Game + option and some fairly small, easy-to-navigate areas and you've got a game that's more for exploratory beginners and novices than hardcore players. This doesn't make Elephant Quest any less fun, mind, making it the perfect choice for somebody who's bored over a lunch hour.


Conclusion?

This review probably sounded more negative than positive, which is an unfair assessment. I liked Elephant Quest. It's an enjoyable romp through a goofy, expansive land, with a wholly sufficient number of tasks to complete on the way to the conclusion. Well worth playing, overall - just do so on a more powerful computer.


PLAY ELEPHANT QUEST

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Zombies In Your Backyard

Though they're essentially harbingers of the apocalypse and, thus, to be avoided at all costs, zombies have become rather popular. And, in the case of most zombie-based video games, your task is to KILL the undead buggers - as much as you can kill something that's more or less already dead. Zombies In Your Backyard embodies the best of this gung-ho mentality.


Concept

Like so many zombie movies before it, Zombies In Your Backyard focuses on a) massive hordes of flesh-eating zombies and b) a single survivor who's waiting for rescue, in this case in the form of a helicopter. Unlike most zombie movies, though, he truly IS alone until help comes - and he's stuck in a house that's woefully under-barricaded for a horrendous ten days.

Yep. It's zombies. Stuck in one spot, protecting a house that consists of a little eating area, two sets of stairs and a front and back lawn, you need to blow zombies away as they run in to eat your little dude. Kill enough zombies and you'll earn money to buy new weapons, ammo and health from... who knows. Who cares. It's all good.


Controls

Because you're being constantly bombarded by zombies on all sides (which is, fortunately, just two sides), controls are pretty damn important in Zombies In Your Backyard. Mess up a few too many times and you're toast.

I was moderately frustrated by the control scheme used in this game. It pairs WASD and a mouse to move around and fire, and that in and of itself wasn't troublesome - until you brought in more weapons. You can change your equipped weapon by hitting 1 to 6 on the keyboard, and I was CONSTANTLY hitting those numbers by accident while trying to jump or otherwise move around. I would've preferred a little more distance between movement and weapon changing.

Other than that, the controls worked well enough. My aiming reticule went wonky a few times while tracking zombies, but that's to be expected when you combine a mouse and a Flash game.


Graphics

Zombies In Your Backyard is okay. It has some nice, smooth animations, and the layout of the stage isn't bad, given the purpose of the game, but... there's no variety. At all. You're always stuck in your house, fighting wave after wave of the same three zombie types. The game isn't long, so this is hardly a huge issue, though the visuals do get a teensy bit tedious by the tenth day. Give the same zombie types different coloured shirts for some variety, perhaps?

Sound

The same song loops throughout the duration of Zombies In Your Backyard, and it's an ominous horror-esque bass tune that I can fully appreciate. And, again, the game shouldn't take more than twenty minutes to complete, so you don't really need other tracks. There's also a deep, sinister voice that booms out at the beginning of each level, adding a nice level of doom-and-gloom cheese to a solid zombie homage.


Challenge Rating

Given the amount of health you have and the fact that you can double jump, Zombies In Your Backyard isn't TOO hard. The key is making sure that you properly distribute your ammo between levels, using the right weapons against the right enemies. I liked that every gun (except perhaps the handgun, which petered out after the first five levels) remained consistently useful throughout the game, as ammo stores on each level are limited.

I would argue, however, that Zombies In Your Backyard is anticlimactic. By the time you reach the end of the game you have access to the powerful minigun which has a disgusting amount of ammo, enough that the rest of the guns are thoroughly outclassed. The tenth day should not be as easy as it is, and given the length of the levels and the size of the waves you pretty much need the minigun to survive. The balance was perfect up to that point - what happened?


Conclusion?

Zombies In Your Backyard is a good time waster for a lunch break. It's tough but not unreasonably so, and sports enough polish to warrant a good review. The game is especially impressive in that it's the first Flash venture released by programmer Schulles, and I look forward to his future submissions.

PLAY ZOMBIES IN YOUR BACKYARD

Monday, January 2, 2012

Outpost:Haven

I have yet to find a browser game that's really scary. Granted, I've watched a lot of horror movies so that's difficult for a work of fiction to DO, but there still hasn't been one that's really tugged at my nerves. (Gyossait comes kinda close, but it's more unnerving than outright scary.)

Outpost:Haven still doesn't quite hit that level of fright I'd love to see in a browser game. It does, however, come far closer than anything else I've played.


Concept

Outpost:Haven is sci-fi horror in typical good form, and part of a genre I've enjoyed for many years. If you like futuristic monster movies, you can probably predict the plot: something has gone wrong at a space station, marines are sent in to deal with the problem, they discover a whole lot of alien nasties. Time to get the hell out, discovering in the process what happened to the original residents of the station via journal entries and abandoned communiques.

Outpost:Haven's story is solid. It's not really original, granted, but the fact that there IS a story behind what could otherwise be an excellent no-brain shooter is much appreciated. The writing could use a bit of editing - there are some unsuccessful attempts to use 'big' words, and the script is fraught with typos - but none of these bothered me too much.

Story aside, Outpost:Haven is a bird's eye view shooter. You move around the darkened space station with a gun, limited ammo and the desire to not open the next door, because there are probably aliens waiting to swarm you on the other side. What fun!


Controls

Because the aliens show you absolutely no mercy in Outpost:Haven, it pays to have some solid controls - and so long as you're using a proper keyboard and a mouse, you'll be fine. The keys control the movement of your character and the menus, while your mouse covers direction and firing your weapon. The combination works well, and the fact that there are no less than three different sets of keys for moving your marine is much appreciated, as not everyone wants to use arrow keys or WASD. My only beef with the controls stemmed from one of the menus popping up whenever I tried to take a screenshot, and covering THAT base isn't the concern of the programmer. Two thumbs up.


Graphics

As an overhead horror game, Outpost:Haven is at a natural disadvantage compared to first- or third-person games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill for generating scares. Monsters just aren't as frightening when you're seeing them wiggle towards you from a great distance, and especially not if you can see them before you even go into a room.

That said, Outpost:Haven still achieves some rather amazing things in terms of scares, thanks primarily to its setting and tight control over lighting. Most of the space station is plunged in darkness, and the lights that DO help you wander around are... limited, to say the least. Consequently, you really don't know what's coming in most cases until it's almost on top of you...


... and the times that you DO know something is there, it unnerves the hell out of you, 'cause you can't do anything until you get close enough. (Yes, those are eyes. Yes, they follow you as you move around. That's freaky, man.)

What especially impressed me about Outpost:Haven's visuals was the attention to detail. The space station was meticulously constructed, with tons of little environmental and atmospheric details thrown in to help hide the aliens. For example, you might run across a burst steam pipe in the halls - and while you're busy looking at it, you'll be ambushed by monsters. Excellent diversionary tactic that ups the difficulty a notch.

My primary problem with the game's graphics lies in the aliens. They ARE unnerving as they wander around in the darkness, but once they come out to play their static nature renders them less-than-impressive. A bit more animation in the enemies, especially if they're given writhing, bizarre limbs that reach out to grab you, would really increase the freak out factor.


Sound

Spooky though your surroundings may be, it's the sound that really makes Outpost:Haven a worthwhile horror experience. Like so many good horror games in the past, Outpost:Haven doesn't rely on background music - instead, it uses ambient sounds and the bloodthirsty snarls of aliens to bring the game to life. You KNOW enemies are coming when you open a door and hear them growl... you just don't always know where they are.

I would, however, caution players against having their speakers set too high before playing. Between the roars and the gunfire, Outpost:Haven is VERY loud during moments of action.

Challenge Rating

Outpost:Haven is neither too difficult nor too hard. It does skew a little towards challenging in that you can have your health drained rather easily, but there's enough health and ammo strewn about the space station that it's hardly an insurmountable adventure. There are also stations where you can purchase new ammo, weapons and upgrades, so keep your eyes open and you'll be fine.

There is one problem I have with the difficulty, however, and it works more in the player's favour. Because the levels are covered in moveable objects - crates, chairs, desks, that sorta thing - it's easy to take cover from aliens... and, in some cases, to get them stuck on said cover as the baddies to scramble over to you. Get a clear shot while an alien's jammed on the edge of a box and killing the thing will be a piece of cake. I wouldn't mind seeing a little more path finding programming that guides the enemies around obstacles in a more intelligent manner.


Conclusion?

Outpost:Haven is an excellent browser game with problems that can PROBABLY be addressed easily in subsequent releases. There aren't many browser games that are anywhere near this ambitious, and consequently I'd highly recommend giving this title a whirl. Its attention to proper horror storytelling and game play is too delicious to miss.

PLAY OUTPOST:HAVEN

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.


Concept

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.


Controls

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.


Graphics

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.


Sound

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.


Conclusion?

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.

PLAY CAVE STORY