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Multiplayer Game Reviews

May 4, 2011

Desktop Dungeons

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Free, Macintosh, WindowsTaylorLF @ 04:10

Desktop Dungeons is a rather simple game at first glance. Select your race, class, and dungeon map and let the game generate a small, top down 8 bit dungeon. Typically these dungeons are so small that they can be completed in 5-10 minutes, making it a perfect game that you can simply just quickly play and put down, and since it runs in a window that can be easily minimized it’s a perfect tool for wasting time at work (Note: I in no way encourage game playing on the clock, I am in no way responsible for you getting your butt fired by playing this at work.) Then it hits you, the level is randomly generated. Meaning you can get stuck between two higher level monsters with no chance except to just rush, die, and generate another dungeon.

You will die, a lot. It’s not a question of difficulty as it is of placement and luck so there’s really no getting better at the game then it is just lucking out on a good random generator. There are plenty of tricks and strategies built up that people have shared which are sort of helpful but in the end it really just comes down to “Do I have enough -blank- to make it through?” Blank could be space, low level monsters that you can level up on, item finds, etc. There are shrines to various deities you can worship which give you various perks depending on what kind of deity they are, but you’ll realize soon enough that only a handful are consistently helpful, some are situational at best, and others are to be avoided unless you want to make things harder on yourself. There are also scattered potions that restore either your health or mana, which you will need. There’s also gold to be had and you can luck out and find a decent store that will sell you something relevant, or a store that really doesn’t help much.

So what’s the whole point of this game? To throw yourself at it enough times to get a nice placement, bring your tiny guy up to level 10 and defeat the end boss of that level, hoping you have enough potions to survive. You manage to beat a level, you can unlock various things. There are new classes, levels, things like that. On the plus side exploring the black areas of the dungeon you haven’t seen yet restores part of your health and mana but of course that only lasts until you have nothing else to see.

There are spells to help you out. Basic stuff that damages an enemy, to others that blow up a part of a wall so you can pass, to spells that summon a monster of your level in case you need that bit of grind, but the problem is once again with placement. You might get nothing, you might find them all but since you can only hold 4 some are wasted. It shares what’s pretty much the problem with most of the game.

The graphics are a more detailed version of 8-bit sprites. Everything from the layout, monsters, hero, all screams of an old school dungeon feel. No real music to speak of, just sound bites for various actions.

Overall, the appeal of Desktop Dungeons is in its difficulty but also in its quick simplicity. Most of said difficulty comes from the random placement of objects. As I mentioned earlier, you will die a lot. The whole point is that the games are so short at times you can just load up another and try again and hope you get different results. The only thing keeping that from being the definition of insanity is the fact that the dungeons are randomized.

Note: At the time of this review, Desktop Dungeons is freeware. Whether the new version they’re working on will be for sale or continue to be free is not known.

Desktop Dungeons

 ★★★☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
Keep going, you might luck out.

Game: Desktop Dungeons | Developer: QCF Design

April 27, 2011

Coil

Filed under: Free, Other, WindowsNina S. @ 05:31

I realized after twenty minutes of staring at a blank page that Coil wasn’t a fantastic game. In fact, it’s not really even much of a game at all. I’m assuming that it was an attempt at some kind of artistic work but mostly it was creepy. That’s all I can say, really. I wrote a few notes while I was playing it and I really should just scan them and put them up as a screenshot because they explain the game in a nutshell: it’s creepy.

The music is creepy, the art is creepy, even the words that are set up on a black screen between the gameplay chunks are creepy.
First off, the game doesn’t tell you what to do. There are no instructions, so you’re just kind of winging it through this bizarre world of squishy things. As for the story, I can only tell you my interpretation of what the developers were trying to tell you. It’s not pretty, so you might want to go ahead and stop reading right now, if you have a weak constitution.
Still here? Okay, so, the story is full of creepy dialogue and what I can only say is the freakiest rendition of the human reproductive system I’ve ever seen. The words make it sound like we’re listening to a rapist talk to his victim, whom he impregnated. I know, that’s a mouthful and I would never say it lightly, but I played the game through four and a half times (the game is only about ten minutes long) and I got the same impression every single time. Maybe I’m wrong, I hope I am. I don’t want to think that someone would actually make a game about that but what do I know? It is what it is.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s pretty freaky, even though it’s mildly pretty thanks to bright colors and the like. I also want to point out that the game was free when I played it. Still wouldn’t pass it around, but I’m sure someone out there would enjoy it. If it were just an artistic piece without the dialogue I might have been able to stomach it.
P.S. Just for good measure, I’m going to add the Developer comments to the end of this review. That way you can judge for yourself between what I got out of the game and what they meant for it.

Coil is an experimental “autobiographical” game that plays out more like a song or painting then an actual “game”. I was basically trying to create an experience that put the player into an open minded space and let them question not only what the game was about, but what a game can actually be.
Coil uses mouse movements only, no keys or clicking is involved at all.

Coil

 ★½☆☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★☆☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
A thin line between creepy and artistic.

Game: Coil | Developer: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl

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

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Raise from the dead, beat up zombies, and get revenge on those who killed you.

Game: The Cool | Developer: Custom Logic

April 13, 2011

Sprout

Filed under: Android, Free, Macintosh, Puzzle & Casual, Windows — Tags: Josh @ 05:05

A little seed pod dreams of becoming a coconut. His goals are quite lofty for a seed pod, I would say.

Sprout is a puzzle game about a tiny seed pod. This little guy is pretty much the Mega Man of the seed world: he can take on the powers and abilities of other seeds he comes into contact with along his journey. There are four plants from which he gains these powers: coconuts allow him to roll down hills, dandelion seeds allow him to blow in the wind, beanstalks allow him to scale steep cliffs, and apples will attract wild animals. In order to progress through the game, players must decide which of these abilities will keep the little guy moving toward his goal. And what sort of goal could possibly motivate a seed pod? Well, the answer is simple: he wants to find the mighty oak tree and gain the power of the acorn.

This is such a simple concept, but it actually allows for some decent puzzles. In fact, there are a few places that will really force you to be creative in order to keep moving.

There's going to be a bird fight over these apples, I reckon.

Sprout has a hand-drawn look that puts players in the proper mood for enjoying this game, and the ambient water sounds seem to compliment this nicely. However, I feel like there could have been a soft instrumental music track that kicked in somewhere during the game to mix things up a bit. The game sounds fine as it is, mind you, but the right music could have possibly enhanced the experience.

Another small complaint I have is with one of the puzzles in particular – the bridge puzzle. The solution to this puzzle is to perform a certain set of actions four times in a row, yet there is no visual change until after the second time the player successfully completes these actions. This means that after the first time, it’s impossible for the player to tell that the correct sequence has been performed. This particular puzzle would be greatly improved if instead of having to perform these actions four times, the player was only required to perform them three times, each time resulting in a specific visual change letting players know they are on the right track.

Sprout is also very short. If you know all the right choices, you could easily finish the game in under five minutes. Yet some of the puzzles are difficult enough that it will most likely take quite a bit longer to get though. In fact, I would argue that the game is the perfect length: it has a fair variety of puzzles without becoming repetitive.

Despite its few small flaws, Sprout is a very clever point-and-click puzzler. And since you can take it on the go with the Kongregate Arcade app for Android devices, it’s the perfect way to kill some time while away from home.

There are four abilities to help this little guy on his voyage.

Sprout

 ★★★½☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Take on the role of a tiny little seed pod on a quest to find the mighty oak tree.

Game: Sprout | Developer: Custom Logic

April 1, 2011

Cityville

Filed under: Free, Girl's Choice, Macintosh, Other, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 04:12

If you spend any time at all on Facebook I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Cityville. It’s an extremely popular game and if you’re not willing to block it you probably get tons of insistent invites from it. I like Facebook games. Well, I like to try them. I’m pretty picky and with the plethora of games offered I feel like I should only dedicate any of my time to the really good ones. If you’re like me you might not be willing to jump into the game head first. Well, here is a review to help you decide if Cityville is the kind of game you’d like.

Now, right from the beginning, let me go ahead and say this. Cityville has a lot of the faults that can be annoying with the typical Facebook game. You  have a set amount of energy and once it’s gone, you’re stuck. You have to wait for it to fill up or buy/accumulate energy packs to continue your game. There is a lot of lag in the game, though it’s manageable. Also, it’s one of those games where you really do need friends. You need them to send you crap, you need them to set up buildings, you need them for everything. This is my biggest complaint because I use my Facebook for family and friends. I don’t want to have to invite twenty strangers to our inner circles in order to play a game.

Even with that being said, of those kinds of games, this is probably one of the best. You’re not just sitting around pushing one button and “leveling up.” Instead, this game takes all of the best aspects of the bigger name social games and adds into one big game. You can farm, decorate, build up your city, and gather money. It has quests and is updated frequently. Besides that, if you’re not too annoyed by the system, there are millions of people playing this game. If it’s not in the top three played games I’d be surprised. So, there is a big pool of people to pull from, if you need more people in your game.

Cityville is a good game. I’ll say that. It’s a good place to go for a while every day and burn hours. It’s a game that’s easy to get addicted to, which may or may not be a good thing, but it’s fun. If you’re willing to look pass the standard annoyances, it’s the cream of the crop.

Cityville

 ★★★¾☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★★½☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Facebook game, for better and worse.

Game: Cityville | Developer: Zynga

March 28, 2011

Aleph One

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Linux, Macintosh, WindowsHeath @ 05:15

Excuse me Sir!

Aleph One

Were you a Mac-gamer 12 years ago? Are you interested in playing the spiritual ancestor of the Halo Series? Then it’s time, dear friend, to download and enjoy Aleph One and play through all the Marathon Games that you can eat.

How This Works:

So you don’t just download the game Marathon. You have to download the Aleph One runtime and then download the files for each game you want to play. Don’t worry, this is 100% legal. Bungie released the source code for it a long time ago, so you’re good. This also means there are tons of user-created maps and scenarios.

There are installers for Mac, Windows and Linux. So, everyone gets their fair try. Trust me, it’s a good time.

Gameplay

You are the last defender of the space station ‘Marathon’. Aliens are trying to take over, but you, and your guns and wits, are standing between them. You relive the battles that have happened in the past by logging into computers and seeing what the A.I. has to say. Seriously, the plot is what makes this a great great game.

Why yes, sports fan, those are double shotguns.

You have to figure out mazes, shoot aliens and flip switches and stuff. On top of that, the music is, in the words of my girlfriend ‘tripping me out’. This game is a sensory delight. You will look up from your screen and realize you have just lost hours of your life, and you couldn’t be happier.

Technical

There’s no jump. Get used to it. You’ll be happier in the long run. This makes certain levels very frustrating. Every Marathon player has been at that point where they’re staring at a hole in the wall, within striking distance of the end, and you would be totally fine if you had a jump but no.

You have a motion detector, a map and a comprehensive readout of ammo and guns. Despite this, the aliens will kill you. Do not despair. Oh yeah, it doesn’t save after every level (there aren’t really levels, only transport points) so even if you finish a level, you still have to save.

Multiplayer

The single player was great, the Multiplayer was epic. Even today it sets the standard for quality online interactions. Seriously, this is LAN party material if I ever saw it. I used to play it before school. God my life was sad.

Final Verdict

Really? Do I really have to give a final verdict for one of the best games that has ever been released? Judge for yourself.

Aleph One

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Shoot aliens. Be confused by the A.I.

Game: Aleph One | Developer: Bungie

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

 ★★★★¾ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
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

March 13, 2011

Corporation Inc

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Simulation, WindowsHeath @ 05:48

Excelsior

Corporation Inc.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to build a button pushing company from the ground to a multi-level, money earning machine. You do this by hiring, upgrading and not-sucking.

Gameplay

If you’ve played SimTower, this will seem familiar. However, there are some crucial differences. First, you place offices that are blank slates. Each office has 4 slots, each slot holds an employee. You click a certain employee from the menu and place him at a desk.

Your basic employee is a worker. A worker presses a button. At the base level, every time he presses a button, you get a dollar in revenue. Now, you can hire a supervisor who walks around, smacking workers in the head. After that the worker works harder. Now, if you want to leverage that money, then you can hire some accountants. Each one earns 5% more per push of each worker.

workworkworkworkworkwork

Would you imagine that getting hit on the head would improve moral? No, it doesn’t. You have to worry about your workers’ happiness. For every 20 employees, you get a cat. Cats improve happiness. You can also buy HR employees that do something or something.

You’ll also need to hire janitors and researchers. Janitors clean during the night so your employees don’t get mad. Researchers, well, research. The game technically ends when you have completed the tech tree. So, yeah, invest in reasearchers.

Technical

Beyond the placing of employees this is a pretty complex game. You can upgrade office space. On top of that you have to worry about transportation (you can install a firepole or a skyhook or even a vacuum tube). Unlike SimTower there isn’t a limited # of elevator shafts so go crazy. Seriously you can have tubes right next to each other. You can’t see anything though so I wouldn’t recommend that.

In the end, this game is all about balance. You can even show off your towers to other people. You know what I found out from that? All towers look alike and are boring.

Final Verdict

Great game. It has a pause button and you can change time so this really feels like you are god. Enjoy it because it makes businessing seem like it is really easy.

Corporation Inc

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
{GAME COMMENT}

Game: Corporation Inc | Developer: JCooney

March 10, 2011

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Android, Free, WindowsJosh @ 09:22

This hamster has some sweet upside-down ninja moves.

If you can read a game title like Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots and not immediately do whatever it takes to get your hands on the game, I don’t know what kind of horrible person you are. Hamsters are cute, Ninjas are awesome, robots are just plain cool, and all of them together should be nothing short of incredible. Unfortunately, Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots proves that even a formula doused with this much awesome sauce can yeild a slightly uninspired result.

Sure, this game has all the pieces you’ve come to expect from the genius called Nerdook: cute cartoony characters, a clever sense of humor, and music that may not be the greatest ever but is certainly catchy and sets the perfect mood. However, the gameplay is sadly shallow, especially after following I Am an Insane Rogue AI. I know Nerdook’s games are usually pretty simple, but this one feels even more stripped down than usual – to the point where it ceases to be interesting.

Robots require logical explanations every step of the way.

The basic premise is that the Insane Rogue AI (from I Am an Insane Rogue AI, in case it wasn’t immediately obvious) has already killed all the humans and taken over the world. The task of bringing it back under the control of non-AI beings falls into the hands of hamsters. Hamsters who are trained in the ninja arts.

Robots parachute from the sky, and by clicking them you send the little ninja hamster to attack. You earn points by collecting sushi, which you can spend on upgrades for your cute little guy, making him an even better ninja. At the end of each stage, after taking down a number of waves of bots – a number which increases every level – you must fight a boss that looks like a silhouette water tower with a single red eye.

Bottom line: had this been built by anyone else, I may have given it higher marks. But Nerdook generally puts out such awesome and addictive titles that Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots set my expectations pretty high. It’s not a bad game by any means, but we all know that Nerdook can do better. Perhaps this game was designed specifically to be compatible with Kongregate’s new Android app, and that may have been stifling to its true potential. (To be honest, the game is actually more fun on an Android device than it is on a computer screen.) But don’t feel too badly about skipping this one, unless you absolutely must know how the whole Insane Rogue AI taking over the world thing ends.

Nerdook still holds a special place in my heart, though, and I eagerly look forward to his next masterpiece.

The Sushi Chef tries to inform you of the differences between reality and the video game world. This is so you don't send your pet hamster to a terrible death by dressing it up like a ninja and sending it after an army of killer robots.

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
The game is called Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots. Seriously. What more do you need to know?

Game: Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots | Developer: Nerdook

March 8, 2011

Uncharted Waters Online

I'm looking for a quest!

Uncharted Waters

If you are from East Asia, then you have probably heard of and lost your life to this game. If you are from the West, you have probably been waiting to dedicate your life to sailing around in a boat.

Gameplay

Uncharted Waters takes place during the Age of Exploration; when real men sewed jewels into their frocks, women were earthy and children had grease on their faces. In this game you can adventure, be a soldier or trade.

Although it’s boat based, there are sea-areas, land-areas and towns. You can also choose to be English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese or Venician. You also get to choose whether they are adventurer, merchant or a soldier. These classes aren’t binding, but it’s going to be a hassle if you want to change them.

Like in Civilization, each nation has its own perks, I won’t go into them, but there is a fair amount of similarity between the real life versions and the on-line versions.

Better luck next time sucker!

You click where you want to move. Double clicking turns your ship in a certain direction. Like all good MMORPG’s there is an area where you can accept quests. Once you finish them, you report back and collect your reward. If you’re too far away, you can get a female to report back for you, which is suh-weeeeeet.

Technical

This game was first released in 1995 (the normal version) and has been On-line since 2005 in Asia. It is only this year that us stinking Americans had access to it. Honestly, you can’t tell that we’re half a decade behind. The arena is sprawling, and, although you can take quests and stuff, you’re on your own for most of it.

It’s smooth and the controls are super easy. Seriously, I am almost always stymied by basic controls, and I had no problem here. It’s not too bad to look at either.

Multiplayer

Yes, there is PVP. PVP is awesome. Seriously, it’s boat battles. You can outfit your boat to ram other people.

You can also trade, and there is a chat client that is pretty slick. You don’t really need to be on a team or be part of an alliance to make it in this game. Like a rake in the ages of yor, you can stake your claim in the open ocean, feel the wind in your hair and bask in the ethereal glow of pixelated piratical bliss.

Uncharted Waters Online

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Boat MMORPG in the time of the Renaissance.

Game: Uncharted Waters Online | Developer: KOEI

March 7, 2011

Geek Mind

Filed under: Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:00

Why yes, I have played Lemmings. Thanks for asking.

I have to admit, I love trivia. I mean I LOVE it. Embarrassingly so. And, as you can probably tell, I love video games as well. So what better way to celebrate my love for both of those things than with a trivia video game about other video games.

Geek Mind isn’t exactly a trivia game, I suppose, but it’s close enough that I really can’t think of a better category for it.

The premise is simple: there are 60 seconds on the clock. You are given a single screenshot (or a piece of cover art in some cases) from a random video game, and you must type the title of the game. If you get the answer right, you get some points and some time added to your clock. In the beginning, correct answers are worth 100 points and 10 seconds. (One restriction: the clock will never exceed 60 seconds. So if you get a correct answer at 56 seconds, you will only earn 4 seconds.) However, as your score increases, so does the difficulty. You will gain more points per correct answer, but you will also gain less time. And if you are stuck, you can either get a hint or skip the image completely, but skipping an image will subtract 25 points from your score and burn precious seconds as the next image loads up.

Trust me. I know my ducks.

For as simple as it is, this is an incredibly addictive experience. Every I increased my high score, I had to play one more round to increase it even more. And every time I lost, I had to play one more game in order to not feel so bad about losing. So, as you can imagine, “one more game” became “dozens more games” very quickly.

There are a few things that really impressed me about Geek Mind. First of all, no matter how many times I played through this game, I was always given at least some images I hadn’t seen before. Sure, there will be repeats once you’ve played long enough, but there will almost always be new ones. (Trust me, I put quite a bit of time into this one.) Secondly, there were always multiple ways to write an answer that would give you a correct score. For example, Final Fantasy VII can also be written as Final Fantasy 7, and Grand Theft Auto can be written as GTA. However, you must know how to spell each game title, and most of the time you must know which number the game is in a series. (Take Bomberman, for example. Typing Bomberman will not count as a correct answer if the game is Bomberman 2.)

If you think you know a lot about video games, Geek Mind is here to prove you wrong or right. It includes the mega hits of yesteryear and today, as well as some obscure indies, so even the brainiest gamer will be challenged. (Seriously. Expect to name everything from Pong to Red Dead Redemption.) But be warned: if you’re anything like me, you will definitely spend an incredible deal of time on this one.

I admit. I only added this photo to show off my score. I am a gaming genius.

Geek Mind

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
View a screenshot; name the game it comes from.

Game: Geek Mind | Developer: Dom2D

February 26, 2011

Treadmillasaurus Rex

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 09:20

Spin time! Hooray! Wait, is that good?

If you could bring dinosaurs back from extinction, like in the film Jurassic Park, what would you do with them? If you said, “Put them on a treadmill, have a disco party, and add Wheel-of-Fortune-type mini-games,” then boy do I ever have a game for you.

Treadmillasaurs Rex is a game in which you play as the T-rex, pretty much the king of the dinosaurs. Awesome, right? Well… Not really, since this entire game is spent on a treadmill.

Personally, if I were a T-rex, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stand for this kind of treatment. I mean, being forced to run on a treadmill while dodging spike balls and lasers really sounds pretty un-T-rex-like. I’d much rather be out trashing buildings and brawling with my mortal enemy the triceratops. Or maybe some velociraptors or something.

Spikes. The fastest way to re-extinct-ify the T-rex.

“But wait,” you say. “This isn’t just any old treadmill. It’s a party treadmill!”

True. I suppose Treadmillasaurus Rex features a party treadmill. And there is a Wheel-of-Awesome which spins every now and again. But that wheel is filled with some pretty nasty things. Some of the things listed on this wheel are “right laser” and “left laser,” which move the lasers that confine you even closer. And “wind” just causes there to be more resistance. Every once in a while, you power up with “party +1″ and “confetti +1,” but those things are hard to enjoy when you are running for your life. But at least you get to count the amount of calories this poor creature is burning. (Yes, this game actually makes me feel sorry for the T-rex, that poor old king of the terrible lizards.)

Quite frankly, Treadmillasaurus Rex was designed for one specific type of person. Fortunately, I’ve never met that type of person. That is to say, if you are a normal person who is into normal things, skip this game. If you have fun dressing up animals and forcing them into extremely strict workout regimens, you might actually get some satisfaction from this. You sick freak.

It's a calorie-burnin' party up in here!

Treadmillasaurus Rex

 ★★☆☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★½☆☆ 
You managed to bring a T-rex back from extinction and this is what you do with it?

Game: Treadmillasaurus Rex| Developer: Armor Games

February 23, 2011

ImmorTall

Filed under: Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:02

Guide the humans through this war-torn landscape.

Giving a numbered rating to a game like ImmorTall is always difficult. ImmorTall contains almost no gameplay, yet is still a beautiful piece of art with a deep message and a poignant story. On the one hand, this game knows exactly what it wants to do and simply does it brilliantly. On the other hand, besides the fact that players have very limited control over one of the characters, this is really just a flash movie that plays out in a matter of minutes. Yet those few minutes are incredibly powerful. If I give this game high marks, readers might be disappointed when the game ends so quickly. But a low score really would undermine the emotional impact this game actually has. A medium score would suggest that ImmorTall is mediocre, which simply is not true.

So ultimately, I decided to judge this game based on how well it presents itself. The silhouette-based visual style looks great, and the wide aspect ratio sets up the perfect frame for the details. The music completes this scene, meshing wonderfully with the look and the story of the game. I decided to give ImmorTall some high marks, with a low score in the ”gameplay” category. That seems fair to me.

A crashed alien pod. How interesting...

The story in ImmorTall is intriguing. Players take command of a tiny alien who has crash landed on Earth. This little guy is given some food and grows pretty tall, also becoming invincible. Or so it seems. The alien meets some some humans that treat him kindly, and when war comes to the home of these people, the alien protects them by standing in front of the bullets.

The story is brief but asks some serious questions about humanity and war. Sure, we love to glorify warfare in video games, but this video game challenges that. What is the point of all this fighting? Who are the real winners and losers in this war? Sure, these questions are hardly new, but the video game is a rare medium to ask them.

ImmorTall is painfully short and offers very little control or in-game rewards, yet packs an emotional wallop and a gorgeously simplistic visual style. You don’t really play ImmorTall so much as you experience it. True enjoyment comes from sitting back and soaking it in, pondering its message long after the game is finished.

Bottom line: go play ImmorTall. It’s only a few minutes in length, so making time for this one shouldn’t be a problem.

"He seems friendly enough. Feed him an apple!"

ImmorTall

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A story about an alien and his new human friends.

Game: ImmorTall | Developer: Pixelante

February 21, 2011

Zombie Minesweeper

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:10

These bunnies bite.

If you are anything like me and love a good puzzle game, then it’s probably fair to say you’ve played Minesweeper. And if you haven’t, you should definitely check it out. It’s a neat little game that comes pre-installed on most Windows systems and features an almost Tetris-like addictive style of gameplay.

So how could you possibly improve on this classic desktop game? You add zombies.

Zombie Minesweeper places a frightened girl smack dab in the middle of a minefield and then throws hordes of zombies at her. Players must steer her to safety. In the classic Minesweeper tradition, you are guided by numbers on the ground that let you know how many mines are nearby. In order to understand how the numbers work, you must think of the ground as a series of tiles. Each number tells you how many tiles touching the numbered tile contain mines. Confusing? Fire up your own Minesweeper game and play a few rounds. It will all make sense.

One strange thing I noticed about this game is that instead of human zombies, Zombie Minesweeper contains animal zombies. There are snails, rabbits, and even bears in zombie form, all trying to feast on this poor little girl’s brains. Even more random: zombie mushrooms.

Oh my gosh, this looks like the end.

There are powerups scattered about each field, each adding its own strategic twist on the game. Mine detectors let you expose large areas at once, and are best put to use in those situations where you aren’t exactly sure where the next mine is located. There are bombs and shotgun shells that allow you to fight back, but quantities are very limited. You must choose wisely when to shoot and when to run.

For those of you who like options, there are two different gameplay modes. Speed play is much heavier on zombies and powerups, with a few mines to mess things up for you. Puzzle play has a lot more mines, but fewer zombies and powerups.

Picking the music for this game must have been hard. Puzzle games tend to work the best with somewhat soothing tunes that help you think, while running from zombies generally calls for something more adrenaline-pumping. Zombie Minesweeper uses a track that is the perfect mix of the two worlds. This ditty has a slower tempo and some very puzzle-enhancing bells, while it is backed with a distorted electric guitar. I was very impressed with how absolutely perfect this music was for this game.

The only thing I didn’t like about this game was that it only contains eight levels: four in each mode. But the fact that the mine placement is randomly generated each round keeps these levels feeling fresh for a very long time.

Zombie Minesweeper is so addictive that it made me forget about the pizza I was cooking. Kitchen fire aside, I freakin’ love this game.

This glowing flower is pretty much the only thing on this field not trying to kill you.

Zombie Minesweeper

 ★★★★½ 

Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
The addictive puzzle gameplay of Minesweeper… with zombies.

Game: Zombie Minesweeper | Developer: Frogtoss

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

 ★★★☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★½☆☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A platformer that doesn’t like to play fair.

Game: The Unfair Platformer| Developer: Eggys Games

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