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April 21, 2011

The Cool

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 04:45

The Cool doesn't need weapons: he IS a weapon.

There is a guy called The Cool. He’s so hardcore that not even death can stop him from doing his thing. In fact, two shady characters called “The Streets” and “The Game” try to arrange this guy’s untimely demise, but he’s purely unstoppable. He may have been dead for a little bit, but it’s not too long before he rises from the grave and seeks vengeance against his killers. Quite frankly, you do not want The Cool for an enemy.

The story of this un-killable ex-hustler is told in a little Flash game called The Cool. Players take control of The Cool and guide him through a series of old-school street battles reminiscent of retro games like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and Battletoads. But The Cool isn’t the only one to rise from the dead: there are plenty of zombies who would love nothing more than to send him straight back to the grave. And of course, The Cool must eventually engage in boss fights against “The Streets” and “The Game.”

The gameplay is fairly shallow: there are a few attacks, and a couple combo moves. Use the arrow keys on your computer keyboard to move, and A, S, and D for your attacks. You can press all three to unleash a super combo, but you are only able to do this a few times. I would recommend saving these for the boss fights.

But forget the gameplay. One of the things that makes The Cool stand out is its unique art style. The characters in this game look great, and are placed against a very stylized city backdrop. Even the game window is pimped out with cool little decorations that make this a tasty piece of eye candy.

And to top it all off, The Cool features a great hip-hop soundtrack by Lupe Fiasco. (In fact, this whole game is a concept piece based off Lupe Fiasco’s album, which is also titled The Cool.) These songs are a lot of fun to listen to, and contain plenty of lyrical references to video games and gothic literature. Yes, they definitely create the perfect vibe that brings a whole lot of energy to this little zombie brawler.

The Cool is a 2D street-fighter game that looks and sounds absolutely amazing. Even after the gameplay starts to get old, Lupe Fiasco’s tunes will tickle your ears and keep you coming back.

They call this chick "The Streets." She will mess you up.

The Cool


Raise from the dead, beat up zombies, and get revenge on those who killed you.

Game: The Cool | Developer: Custom Logic

March 16, 2011

Clarence’s Big Chance

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 06:22

An ugly old man hanging out in his attic in his whitey-tighties. This is just sad.

If you want some positive affirmation, this game is not the place to look for it.

Clarence has absolutely nothing going for him. He’s fat, ugly, smells bad, has a boring job, and has never had a girlfriend. This is all about to change. Well, not really. He’ll still be fat and ugly, and will still have the same old boring job. But he is about to embark on his first date ever, since he met a woman online and told her a bunch of lies in order to get her to go out with him. And this is where Clarence’s Big Chance begins.

Ok. I’m going to be honest. I read the description and expected this game to be one of those dating sims. I ended up playing it anyway, and what I discovered was an incredible retro gaming experience, slathered in awesome sauce and topped with a really snarky sense of humor.

Clarence’s Big Chance is a massive 2D side-scrolling platformer, in which Clarence’s daily routine is filled with jumping, dodging, and vintage gaming references. You must help him get dressed, which means old Clarence will spend the beginning portion of the game in his whitey-tighties. Ew.

Clarence also must eat breakfast, requiring him to get into a fridge (which is actually a portal to a gigantic frozen dimension) for cereal, and then get milk from the inside of a gigantic oven filled with flying rotisserie chicken.

Do not ever buy this brand of toothpaste. Seriously.

Yeah, this game is beyond weird. But those of us who grew up in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming remember a time when oddness was pretty much expected from our games. We had classics like ToeJam and Earl and Earthworm Jim. Ahh, those days were golden.

There are signposts that are there to guide you through the game, but mostly they just poke fun of how hopeless poor Clarence is. My favorite lets you know you can gain extra height when jumping on beds. It puts it like this: “You can bounce on beds, you know! Hold SPACE while jumping on them to bounce higher into the sky, like some kind of extremely ugly eagle which is a virgin. And fat. So very fat.” So harsh, yet so hilarious!

Clarence’s Big Chance features inside jokes that long-time gamers will appreciate. For example, the plumbers have black mustaches (Mario, anyone?) Burglars even wear green helmets that they retreat inside of once you stomp on their heads (so much like the koopas from Super Mario Bros.)

To top it off, this game has a great soundtrack. It may get a little repetitive eventually, but these songs are extremely well-written homages that sound exactly like they were written in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. Perfect for a game like this.

And this game is seriously huge. It features at least as much gameplay as the original Super Mario Bros. And it’s absolutely free.

If you didn’t get to experience what gaming was like in the early 1990s, I feel a bit sorry for you. But Clarence’s Big Chance pretty much sums up the experience as well as any game could. Seriously. If you like retro games at all, do not miss this one.

Sure, Clarence is still making bad choices. But thank God he's finally wearing clothes!

Clarence’s Big Chance


Help Clarence to not screw up his big date in this throwback to the gaming goodness of yesteryear.

Game: Clarence’s Big Chance | Developer: Psuedolonewolf

February 18, 2011

The Unfair Platformer

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 05:35

All veteran gamers should know by now that this sign is a lie.

We don’t like to admit it, but I think gamers actually enjoy being lied to by our games. This may explain the success of games that mess with our heads like Portal does.

The Unfair Platformer is a game that lies a lot. There are signs scattered about that will often mislead you, but not all the time. In fact, I actually died quite a few times by deliberately disobeying the instructions on these signs. Besides the lying signs, there are blocks that disappear when you try to walk on them, other blocks that appear when you least expect it, and spikes that pop out of the ground if you get too close. Expect to find yourself jumping only to be blocked by an obstacle you didn’t see, falling through trapdoors, and getting impaled by spikes in the places you most expect to be safe.

This game will frustrate you. It’s perfect for those looking for a challenge.

If you get tired of dying at the hands of the completely unfair level designs, you are given the option to off yourself. How nice.

The graphics are nothing to marvel at; there isn’t a whole lot of detail or style. I’m not even sure if the protagonist is male or female, in fact.

And the music is ripped off from Sonic the Hedgehog. No, it’s not a track that sounds similar to the music from Sonic, it actually is the music from Sonic. And it plays on an endless loop, so it will get annoying. Since the music was blatantly stolen, it seems strange to me that the game only uses one song. If stealing one song is okay, why not rip off some more to make the game feel less repetitive?

Even though the music is stolen and the visuals are bland, The Unfair Platformer is still pretty addictive. Completing a level gives you such a feeling of accomplishment that you won’t hesitate to begin the next stage. After dying 50+ times, you’ll tell yourself you’ll be done as soon as you actually finish the level, and of course you wind up starting the next one regardless.

Sure, games like Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV are difficult. But to some extent, they play by the rules. The Unfair Platformer takes delight in forcing you to make decisions that quickly lead to your untimely death. Play it only if you enjoy very difficult games.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one to have been smashed by this large boulder.

The Unfair Platformer


A platformer that doesn’t like to play fair.

Game: The Unfair Platformer| Developer: Eggys Games

February 16, 2011


Filed under: Action & Shooter, Arcade & Retro, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 06:00

I am finding that more and more I like games that are built on the idea of rhythm. After Audio Surf, I have been looking into games that are not just tools for making your own music, but games that are run on that kind of idea. That you should be able to incorporate your own style and choices of music into your gaming experience. I am sure it is obvious why but I just feel like, though major companies are not picking it up yet, this is the next step in big games. It is a kind of customization that goes further than just picking what color hair or which set of features you want with your adventure. It is about adding something that is uniquely you to a pastime. That is why I was so excited when I found the rhythm game called BIT.TRIP Beat.

Now, while I believe that the aforementioned perk is important I also understand that in order to be a good game it has to stand on its own. That means that no matter how much rhythm you put into a game, if it sucks it sucks. Luckily, for me, BIT.TRIP Beat was just as fun in practice as it was in theory.

In case the title does not give it away, the game is another one of those throwback games. It incorporates a lot of the older game aspects and puts a modern twist on old ideas. I, Personally, am thrilled by most of these efforts and this game was no different. The Bit style of artwork is fun and encouraging. The game is classified as “casual” and “action” on Steam but I am going to go ahead and include “arcade” with my own review, just because it has that kind of classic feel to it.

The game is not just that, though. It is a bunch of pretty colors and fantastic sounds, but on top of that, it has more substance. It is filled with classic style boss battles. In addition, it has a few rather intense cut scenes, which I was not expecting at all when I picked this one up.

Overall, this is a game that goes above and beyond my expectations. It is sophisticated in a very laid-back kind of way, presenting itself as one thing and then wowing you with a completely different charm than you ever expected. It takes greatness and tacks onto it. This is a real crowd pleaser.

P.S. I just wanted to add that I didn’t realize that this company also does quite a few other games that I didn’t realize were…Indie. I’m not sure if this company still counts as an Indie developer with that kind of resume, but they’re worth checking out, still. Very impressive work.



I love it when a good game comes together.

Game: Bit. TRIP BEAT | Developer: Aksys Games

February 15, 2011

Moby Dick – The Video Game

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, WindowsJosh @ 07:19

Sure, you begin the game as a harmless little guy...

Moby Dick – The Video Game is based off the famous novel by Herman Melville. Sort of. Okay, just barely. There is a big white whale, but I guess the similarities end there.

The premise is that you take control of a whale and wreak havoc on sailors. When you begin the game, you are quite small. You’ll have difficulties rocking even the weakest boats. As you eat sailors and fish, your maximum health will increase, and so will your size. And with your size comes the ability to jump higher out of the water, so ultimately you’ll be able to snack on seagulls. And even aliens!

The control scheme is deliciously simple. Just move your mouse in the direction you want your whale to move, and left click if you want to boost. You’ll want to be careful with the boost, though, because you can only use it when your boost meter is full.

Besides the boost meter, there are three bars you will want to keep your eyes on. First is the health meter, which lets you know the percentage of health you have left. (Your maximum health is constantly increasing, but the size of the health bar itself doesn’t grow.) Second there is air bar, since whales are air-breathing mammals. (Yes, it’s science.) Last is the hunger meter, letting you keep tabs on the whale’s appetite. The hunger bar and the air bar are both constantly draining. Refill the air bar by popping your head above the surface, and refill your hunger bar by eating things. If either the air bar or the hunger bar drains completely, your health bar will start draining and you’ll get a warning on the screen. Once your health is completely gone, the game ends and your score is added up. Oh, and there are quite a few achievements to unlock, so you’ll have to play quite a few rounds before earning all of them.

The music is a pirate-themed accordion tune, which fits the atmosphere of the game brilliantly. And the quaint graphics are a nice touch.

If you need to do a book report on Moby Dick, Moby Dick – The Video Game is probably not going to help you out much. But if you want to eat sailors and sink ships, then this game is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

...But you will eventually grow large enough to destroy entire ships!

Moby Dick – The Video Game


A sailor-eating adventure that is just barely based off the classic Herman Melville novel.

Game: Moby Dick – The Video Game | Developer: Camaleonyco, Sballteam, and SMilesInDaHat

February 3, 2011


Where to now?


Sometimes it seems like the platformer is a limited medium. You jump around in a 2D environment and you either have to blast enemies while conserving ammo, or you solve problems. Endeavor challenges that notion.


There is nothing special about the controls. Arrow keys move and climb. X jumps. Remain calm. You’ll notice that there is a blue bar at the top of the screen. You’ll also notice that whenever you jump, that blue bar shrinks. Well, that thing represents your endurance. You can only jump so many times before you run out of steam. Your endurance (as well as jump height) can be increased by running into sweet little flowers.

Quite honestly, all you can really do in this game is wander around until you have exhausted your limits. There are certain places that you can’t escape without leveling up enough, and there are certain spots where, if you screw up, you fall to the bottom of the screen. Brutal.

Thanks a lot buddy.

All told, you are a mountain dwarf who is searching for treasure after your father has died. Along the way you will run into others of your species, who rarely help you. This is a journey you must make on your own.


This game obviously has a retro-styling to it. However, with many games that use the 8-bit background, you are not slapped in the face by it. Often times, you feel contained by it. Not so in this case. The sense of scope that is achieved by this game is simply astounding. And sometimes you have to sit back, after jumping and climbing mountains and revel in how far you’ve piloted your little guy.

You all know I am a fan of developers who can build ‘big’ games with simple engines. This is a paradigm.

Final Verdict

Great game. It is casual, but you will find yourself hooked right from the get-go. You’ll want to get over that pass. You’ll want to meet the next surly dwarf. You’ll revel in the muted pastels. Enjoy.



A dwarf copes with the loss of his father. By searching for treasure.

Game: Endeavor | Developer: Zillix

January 22, 2011


Filed under: Arcade & Retro, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 05:33

In the beginning, you can't even see.

If I had to describe K.O.L.M. in one word, I would say “poignant.” It’s the story of a robot who awakens helpless in a dangerous world. He cannot jump, can barely walk, and can hardly even see. And as much as he tries to please his mother, she only has harsh words for him. I can honestly say this game made me a little sad.

One of the first messages you see in this game tells you to put on headphones. I’m glad I heeded this advice, because the soundwork in the game is brilliant. The music is soft, melodic, and surreal. It’s a perfect fit for what you are experiencing as you push the little robot through puzzle after puzzle.

The gameplay is Metroid-ish. As you progress through the game, you find yourself unable to get to certain areas. Later on, you will acquire new abilities that will grant you the ability to reach some of these areas, so you will find yourself going back to explore passages and rooms you couldn’t quite figure out how to get to. Some of the skills you will learn are jump, double-jump, dash, duck, and photon cannon.

While at first it’s the atmosphere that draws you in, eventually you will come to realize that the plot is extremely intriguing as well. The robot is constantly trying to make his mother happy, yet she grows more and more distant as he gets more powerful. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but this tension actually brings the story to a mind-blowing conclusion. Let me just say that the end of this game gets pretty intense.

And he's jumping...

K.O.L.M. has a very interesting look. It is seen entirely through security camera footage. The cameras are constantly distorting the image and getting static interference. Every time you move from one screen to the next, a digital marker pops up letting you know which camera you are viewing. This draws you even deeper into the world, as you can never be quite sure whose perspective you are viewing this strange world through.

K.O.L.M. is a great little Flash game with a very well-put-together atmosphere and a clever storyline. If you like puzzle-platformers at all, give this one a spin.

This room has a yellow Matrixy thing going on...



A Metroid-esque puzzle-platformer.

Game: K.O.L.M. | Developer: Armor Games

January 19, 2011

I Am an Insane Rogue AI

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 05:36

Killer robots make for some good fun.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a psychotic AI that can use computers to take over the world, then you are in luck. Nerdook’s newest hit I Am an Insane Rogue AI allows you to do just that, one building at a time. There are two methods by which you can accomplish global domination: the violent way or the peaceful way.

Your goal is to hack into every computer in each building, then hack the mainframe. While you don’t exist in physical form (you are just AI, after all), you can use your influence on anything electronic. That means you can distract people by making the phones ring, turn on and off lights, and lock doors. But more importantly, you can take over security robots, and some of those robots are armed.

The violence escalates pretty fast. Once you have one killer robot on the loose, suddenly you need to command the gun turret so it doesn’t shoot your robot. Then you have security bots trying to take out the gun turret, so you take control of those too. It’s quite easy to turn a whole building into a robot killing spree.

Purchase new skills between levels.

But if you prefer a more peaceful approach, that’s fine. Since you can lock doors, you can often keep intruders away while you hack into computers. Of course, this takes a little more patience, and will bring in less money in the end.

And money is good, because you use it to purchase upgrades. And these upgrades are awesome. One of the most interesting upgrades available is the ability to send a message over the speakers on a particular floor – you just type whatever you want into a box and you’ll actually hear the AI say it. This makes the people on that floor start to panic. There are plenty of other purchasable¬† skills too: you’ll be able to release clouds of poison gas, turn corpses into zombies, create portals, and let loose heavily-armed cyborgs, just to name a few. With so much destruction at your fingertips, you may want to think twice about that whole passifism thing.

The music fits perfectly, but it’s rather un-Nerdook like. If you are used to the more melodic tunes in games like Monster Slayers and Vertical Drop Heroes, then you’ll be somewhat surprised to hear music so dark and ominous. But the whole tone of the game is darker than Nerdook’s usual style. In fact, with all the psychotic AI ranting, I suspect he was strongly influenced by Portal.

I Am an Insane Rogue AI is free, and it’s incredibly addictive. It’s a wonderful addition to Nerdook’s rapidly growing list of awesome games.

Zombies, cyborgs, and hacked computers... this really is the end of the world.

I Am an Insane Rogue AI


Be the computer. Kill the humans.

Game: I Am an Insane Rogue AI | Developer: Nerdook

January 15, 2011

Hanna in a Choppa

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Arcade & Retro, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 08:46

You are helped by the incredibly encouraging messages written across each level.

Hanna in a Choppa is a unique flier game, made almost completely of two colors, in which you take control of a helicopter piloted by a girl named Hanna. use the directional keys to move around and spacebar to deploy the winch. If you are especially talented, you can even do flips. Just don’t bump too many walls or you will crash, and you’ll have to start the level over again.

The beauty of the whole thing is the amount of creativity packed into each and every level. You will end up dodging fans, herding sheep, rescuing drowning sailors, and even baking a cake. And if the levels aren’t hard enough for you, you can earn a “Fast Flight” bonus for finishing a level within a specific time limit and a “Perfect Flight” bonus for finishing a level without bumping into anything. There is even a list of achievements you can occupy yourself with while flying around. However, after completing the game, I felt that it only scratched the surface of its true potential. And that’s not because it wasn’t good; it’s actually because it’s too creative. Almost every level has such a bizarre concept behind it that I felt like the developers must have had dozens more ideas for this game that we never got to see.

This is one convoluted level map!

Of course, that’s not saying there is anything wrong with this game. I started playing it at around 2:30 AM, and I wouldn’t let myself go to sleep until I had finished it. I couldn’t leave it alone.

The visual style is so incredibly simple that it’s hard not to marvel at it. It mainly uses two colors: black and orange, with a splash of white thrown in here and there. I am astounded by how much was able to be done with this minimalistic look. And the music fits perfectly. It’s this sort of soothing, yet somehow chaotic ditty that seems to match the spastic nature of the game. And it will probably get stuck in your head.

Hanna in a Choppa is a game that won me over with its unique look, and then kept me hooked through 21 insanely creative levels. I just wish that it were longer. In fact, I hope they either make a sequel, add a level pack, or introduce a level editor so we creative gamers can take a crack at building obstacles for the lovely Hanna.

Believe me, this level is not easy!

Hanna in a Choppa


A nifty puzzler about a girl and her choppa.

Game: Hanna in a Choppa | Developer: deeperbeige

January 9, 2011

Kaleidoscope Reef

Filed under: Arcade & Retro, Education, Free, Other, Puzzle & Casual, Simulation, WindowsJosh @ 09:16

Kaleidoscope Reef is home to some weird-looking creatures.

Kaleidoscope Reef is a little Flash game with an interesting premise: you must help rebuild a coral reef that was destroyed in an oil spill. You plant coral, then try to feed it plankton so it grows big, strong, and pretty. However, you must bat away the predatory fish that want to eat your plankton and destroy your coral. You will see little bubble-like objects floating gently from above. Use your mouse to move these around and stick them to a rock so they can begin growing. Of course, some of the rocks are covered in oil and you must clean them off before any polyps will attach themselves.

Some polyps are very picky about what they’ll eat, so you’ll have to watch which color the plankton is. Some colors will be poisonous to certain polyps, while others will be full of plankton-nutrient goodness. But if you happen to be colorblind, there is no need to fret. There is an option that gives you shape-based hints to help you match the food with its proper consumer.

If this game teaches you one lesson, it's that floaty red skulls are bad.

You progress through a series of levels, each one increasing in difficulty. The final level has you battle a giant oil blob of a boss who will definitely be a problem for reef enthusiasts. And once you finish the story mode, you unlock aquarium mode, which is basically an endless battle against predatory fish and octopi while you try to see how far you can expand your own personal reef. If the regular game isn’t challenging enough for you, aquarium mode is probably more up your alley.

Kaleidoscope Reef was made by the same people who brought you Anika’s Odyssey, and there are a few similarities. The biggest one is the colorful and detailed artwork. While not quite as fantastical as Anika’s Odyssey, Kaleidoscope Reef still manages to maintain that signature look that made Anika’s Odyssey so much fun to look at.

Kaleidoscope Reef is a creative, coral-reef-saving piece of entertainment. While it may not challenge hardcore gamers, it’s definitely a fun way to kill an hour or two. And the aquarium mode may even keep you coming back. Let’s hope Trickysheep never stops making games!

This guy spews oil and belches poison. He's pretty much the wort possible thing for a coral reef.

Kaleidoscope Reef


Regrow the coral reef to push back the oil spill.

Game: Kaleidoscope Reef | Developer: Trickysheep

January 4, 2011

Super Meat Boy

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Arcade & Retro, Macintosh, Windows, XBox — Tags: Josh @ 08:02

Meat Boy Fail.

OK, I’m sure everyone already knows how great Super Meat Boy is by now. So I’m going to skip right to the part where I explain why it’s so great.

First of all, there’s the cartoonish visual appeal. From the second you turn the thing on, it promises to be a delightful experience with it’s bright colors and fun artwork. The characters are goofy-looking, yet slightly off, in a way that is remarkably appealing. These aren’t your Saturday morning cartoon characters; they are the outcasts of the cartoon scene. And that makes them interesting, gives them dimension. Just looking at these oddities makes you want to hang out with them.

Next up: the music. Super Meat Boy’s soundtrack is brilliant. The Hell music (yes, you must jump and dash your way through Hell) is one of the best songs to ever be in a video game. And I mean that.

So much blood!

The level design is perfect. It begins fairly easy, but very rapidly increases in difficulty until it is downright brutal. You will need extremely precise timing and complete mastery of Meat Boy’s jumping, sticking, and wall-sliding. But the control scheme is airtight. You will feel you have complete control. And that means that when you die – and you will die a lot – you will know you did so because you messed up, not because the controls weren’t precise enough.

Of course, this brings me to my one piece of criticism. Super Meat Boy’s PC launch was a disaster. The game launched with a damaged control scheme, and only supported one controller type. I won’t go into this any further, since I covered it pretty well in this article, but Team Meat was quick to respond. Within two days, the problem was fixed, multiple controller models were supported, and to somewhat make it up to loyal fans, a new character was added to the lineup via a brand new cheat code unveiled on the official Super Meat Boy website.

This may be Hell for Super Meat Boy, but it's gaming Heaven!

Team Meat truly turned the game’s biggest flaw into a positive thing. The amount of dedication to ensuring this game works like it should is incredible. The biggest video game releases don’t even get their bugs worked out this quickly.

And one more thing. Super Meat Boy pays tribute to decades of gaming. The developers obviously grew up playing and loving video games. If I even began to list some of the examples of clever homages this game makes to other games, this review would grow as uncontrollably and wildly as that plant from The Little Shop of Horrors. So I’ll just leave it alone and let you discover these tidbits on your own.

Super Meat Boy is amazing. Just go buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

Just a couple more saw blades. You can do it, Meat Boy!

Super Meat Boy


Good meaty retro fun.

Game: Super Meat Boy | Developer: Team Meat

January 1, 2011


Filed under: Arcade & Retro, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 08:23

Tidalis was a bit of a surprise for me. Because of the simple set up, I was not expecting much for the game. I assumed that, because it looked like so many of the bubble popping, color matching, vanishing lines games that I’ve played in the past that it would pretty much be the same dance, only to a different tune. The best part about playing Indie games is that you never really know what you are going to get. You should never allow your previous experiences to taint your perception. That is the lesson I was reminded of, thanks to this seemingly simple but wonderful game.

The set up for this game is familiar. You have a backdrop of almost see-through squares and then on top of it you have a number of blocks. Only, these blocks are actually arrows. Now, my first inclination here was to try to switch the blocks around but that is not the goal here. Instead, you have to repurpose the direction of the arrows on those blocks so that when you click one the light that shoots out of it can follow the direction of the arrows all the way to the end of your block line. Sounds simple, right? No, it does not. Once you knock out one line of arrow-blocks, they fall and the light continues. The game is sort of a speed puzzle. It is addictive, glorious, frustrating fun.

I got so excited about the game play I skipped my usual “feel” paragraph. The aesthetics of games I play are usually the most important thing about them. The question I ask myself every time I sit down to write one of these reviews is the same every time: How does this game make me feel? Well, the game is lovely. It is all soft colors and glorious music. The chimes that sing when you activate a line of color are wonderful. It is as if the game was designed to stroke your brain and really make you want to continue playing. It’s, in a single word, lovely.

This game was masterfully done. It is put together with care and consideration. On one hand, it is soothing and fun to play, a real joy. On the other it’s challenging and wonderfully frustrating, the kind of game that makes you strive to do better in order to conquer it. This is the kind of game that I hope Indie Developers all around the world look to. It does not try too hard, brings it’s “A” game and caused this reviewer to rethink her assumptions about the block game.



A chorus of ooo’s and aah’s!

Game: Tidalis | Developer: Arcen Games

December 18, 2010


Well, I suppose a badly damaged ship is better than a non-intact one.

VVVVVV is a game that brings a nostalgic tear to my eye. It’s the exact sort of game I grew up playing, so I can relate to it. I fully understand what it is trying to accomplish, and not only is it successful at this, it is executed brilliantly and beautifully.

The premise is simple: you take control of the captain of a damaged spaceship and try to find the five other crew members who have been scattered across the ship (all of whom have names beginning with the letter V.) Instead of jumping, you have the ability to reverse the direction of gravity at will. So you will spend about half your time upside-down.

Now let’s talk about the difficulty. This game is hard. ridiculously hard. Now, when it comes to platform games, I’m not so shabby. But before I played this game for a single hour, I had managed to rack up over 600 deaths (yes, the game keeps track.) That’s over 10 deaths per minute. That means I died at least once every six seconds. And if you think that’s bad, by the time I hit the three hour mark I was getting close to 2,000. The gravity-reversal gameplay style is a little awkward at first. I guarantee you will find yourself attempting to jump over and over again, only to be hurled feet-first toward the ceiling. But you will eventually get used to it. And when you do, a brand new world of vintage gaming opens up to you.

I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I died here.

But with VVVVVV, the difficulty isn’t a flaw. In fact, it is part of the charm. You may die a lot, but you have an unlimited supply of lives and you respawn almost instantly at the last checkpoint you hit. The checkpoints are close enough together that dying won’t ever set you back very far.

Any vintage gamer will tell you that these graphics are beautiful. 8-bit simplicity. None of this 3d engine, virtual world bullcrap. And the soundtrack is so good that just thinking about it makes me start to sweat with excitement. Yeah, it gets a little repetitive after a while, but you’ll probably be swearing too loudly to hear it since you will be dying so much. If you do manage to keep yourself composed without being completely overtaken with fits of nerdrage, you will be treated to a delectable orchestra of 8-bit melodies.

If you grew up playing 8-bit NES games and long for a time when gameplay was king, VVVVVV is perfect. OK, let me restate that without the unnecessary modifying phrases: VVVVVV is perfect.

Spikes and platforms. Spikes and platforms.



An unnecessarily brutal 8-bit platformer.

Game: VVVVVV | Developer: Distractionware

November 29, 2010

MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction

Watch out for that Missile!

MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction

I am not usually a fan of playing ‘remixes’ of old classics. MAD is an exception. In short, you’re about to experience a slick ‘Missile Command’ upgrade with awesome graphics, music and a new upgrade system.


This is Missile Command. I am not going to tell you how to play it. In fact, there is a comprehensive tutorial that lasts all of two steps. That’s the mark of a great game. It is simple to explain.

As you blow up missiles, you get resources. These, naturally, can be spent on upgrades. What sort of upgrades? You ask. Well, see those buildings that surround you? They each have a special talent. Some provide extra firepower. Others provide time slowing capabilities.

On top of that, you can spend resources to upgrade your missile refresh rate or increase your shields. Spend your resources wisely. Things get hairy fast. Like your Mom.



The aesthetics have been drastically improved. First, I left the music on. It is awesome and really adds to the dystopian feel. It is orchestral with weird choral stuff over top of it. Yeah, it gets repeditive, but that is the whole point of this game. You have to get really good at doing the same thing over and over.

The graphics are swell too. The missiles are well rendered, and your buldings are really cool looking. Your HUD is very grungy but clean at the same time. That’s basically what the future is going to be like, basically.

Very clean, very pleasing to the eye. There’s no background in the sky, so all you have to worry about is blasting missiles out of the sky.

Final Verdict

There’s something about Missile Command. Old school games truly tested your skill. How? You got one simple task, and your job was to perform it perfectly. Many have called Missile Command ‘the perfect game’ because you must plan ahead by conserving ammo, but it also relies on your dexterity.

MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction


Missile Command 2.0

Game: Mutually Assured Destruction | Developer: Kongregate

November 26, 2010

Final Ninja Zero

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 07:49

If he didn't have stealth abilities, he wouldn't be a ninja, now would he?

Quite some time ago, I reviewed a game called Final Ninja. (If you never read the review, you can do so here.) It was a fantastic retro-style platformer with a lot of ninja action. Well, it appears there is a prequel. Final Ninja Zero takes place forty years before the events of the first game.

This round, Takeshi is fresh out of combat academy and is embarking on his first mission. Oh yeah, and apparently he works for a huge corporation. But I suppose he’s too young to know better.

This prequel uses the exact same control scheme as the original. This is actually a good thing; there’s no need to fix controls that aren’t broken. However, Takeshi has some new tricks up his sleeve (which oddly he must have forgotten about sometime during the forty years that take place between these two games.) Remember those nasty mines that floated around and exploded when you got too close to them? This time, Takeshi can take control of them. Yeah, that’s right, you get to fly giant explosive devices around, destroying generators and blowing your enemies to bits. It’s great fun! Another new trick is the ability to take on the appearance of mad scientists for twenty seconds at a time. You can just scoot on past all the lasers and bad guys; no one’s going to attack a mad scientist in his own lab!

Argh! Snipers!

Of course, the enemies have some new tricks as well. While the snipers in the first Final Ninja game weren’t all that tough, this time they are robotic. They have infrared sensors (so Takeshi can’t use stealth to dodge them) and they have a much improved range. These things will relentlessly follow you all the way through an entire level if you neglect to take them out right away.

All of these little extra touches ensure that you won’t feel like you are playing the same game over again.

And if you are worried about the difficulty level, don’t worry. Final Ninja Zero is at least almost as hard as the original. I still found myself swearing at my computer time and time again.

Final Ninja Zero takes the formula that works so well for its predecessor and adds some nifty bells and whistles. If you enjoyed Final Ninja, then this prequel is not to be missed.

What's worse than evil scientists? Clones of evil scientists!

Final Ninja Zero


A prequel to the sweet ninja action Flash game.

Game: Final Ninja Zero | Developer: Nitrome

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