We Need Another The Lost Vikings Game
The Lost Vikings is a 1992 Super Nintendo game by Blizzard. Yes, that Blizzard. It is an action/puzzle game where you control three Norsemen through caves and spaceships. The challenge comes from applying each of the three Vikings’ unique abilities to the situation you find yourself in. The Lost Vikings and its sequel have a strong challenge level that rewards creative thinking. This combined with a unique sense of humor found within the dialogue sets the stage for an excellent pair of games that Blizzard ought to revisit.
This is a great explanation of a technique that seems so obvious to those with experience (I was raised on Street Fighter II ) but may be baffling to those not already familiar with the concept. Chris Wagar has created an excellent resource; you can expect to see people on the Shoryuken forums linking to his article years from now. I need to step up my game if I want to write something that useful.
In Pursuit of Graphics
Whenever a new generation of video game consoles (or a high-budget PC game looking for some publicity) emerges on the scene, the feature that always gets touted the most is its graphical capability. How many bits? How many polygons on screen? What do the fire and water effects look like? Can you look at the characters’ facial expressions without wanting to form an angry mob to chase them with torches and pitchforks?
When I was younger I used to pride myself in not appearing to care about graphics. Your fancy three dee blast processing gimmicks don’t impress me! I’m not like the shallow sheeple who open their wallets like Pavlov’s consumers whenever a flashy new gizmo screams at them from the magazine ads! In my defense, though, early-mid-90s 3D graphics were immensely ugly and have aged abominably. Compare the best spritework on the SNES or Saturn to the garish mountains of pointy Duplo blocks found in the first entries in the Tomb Raider or Tekken series and it’s obvious that the former is superior. That’s not moronic nostalgia seeping into this article; sometimes the old things actually are better.
What Steam Is; Why It’s a Good Thing
Steam is the extremely popular program created by Valve to sell and play games from a variety of developers. Its intended purpose is to facilitate the running of games and form a helpful community to support its users. For the most part, it does this admirably.
Steam is also a RAM hog, it crashes often, has a confusing interface (try adding a game you have the code for without Googling the process), and every game you play with it is DRM-locked so you can’t ever give it away or resell it. (I put DRM on my two Amazon ebooks, an act of myopic selfishness that I regret. I also regret not writing them better, but that’s another subject.) So why do internet nerds love Steam so much?
You know the drill. Go to Indie Royale in the next three days, buy cheap rad games, support poor struggling game developers. Then keep going back for more because their service is great. Here’s my look at the most recent bundle of six games from five genres:
Cognition Episode 1: The Hangman
Well-written adventure game “thriller” with a cool visual style, written by a King’s Quest devotee. This was the game from the Debut Bundle that got the most attention and space. You play as a detective with an understated psychic intuition as she hunts for the depraved serial killer who murdered her brother three years ago. The main character is a three-dimensional one with more than just typical personality quirks. Erica Reed is a hot-headed but vulnerable human being who wants to conduct peace and bring justice to the wronged, but circumstances are often forced out of her control, leaving her in a frustrated limbo where she is powerless to find the closure she seeks. That’s a great setup for a detective and for an adventure game’s plot.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is comprised of bland stock characters that fail to live up to the high standards set by Erica, though I did enjoy the “gettin’ too old for this shit” senior cop partner. There are also some bits that stretch credulity and (as always with adventure games) some baffling puzzles that draw me out of the experience. But the final product is a good though not excellent story, and one to be commended. This series has a lot of potential; I might even pick up the sequel.
Guest article by Hamilton Clower
Final Fantasy IV DS
A little over a decade ago, I was a starry-eyed high schooler, walking home across the Longfellow bridge, drunk on mental visions of Final Fantasy VII and probably a cola slurpee the size of my head. “You know what would be awesome?” I thought to myself, “If they remade Final Fantasy IV in the same style- with the 3D battles and everything!”
I’m opening with this anecdote partially because it seems to be the proper New Games Journalism way to open a review, and partially to remind us all how amazing it is that this is a real thing that now exists- and one that can be played on a phone, at that!
4chan is a gigantic website for nerds posting nerdly things, including video games. Thanks to 4chan’s anonymity there are some cool things featured on it like vaguely reasonable debates with no pretension or fear of censorship, scans of old magazines previously thought to be lost, or obscure music not available anywhere else on the internet. It’s true that Anonymous has lost its bite when it comes to culture jamming, yet there remains the occasional tidbit of useful data on these boards if you can sort through the heavy cruft.
But 4chan is offensive to everybody, including its deranged users. It’s a puke-worthy, smelly, evil place that you can’t go to without having your retinas gouged by some (totally ironically posted) Sonic the Hedgehog feeder vore futanari DeviantArt masterpiece while a dozen cretins call you a nigger and post anime screenshots with captions also calling you a nigger. If you want to find one of the threads with useful stuff in it? Be prepared for hours amongst the dregs of the internet, and I speak as a battle-hardened web warrior. You could probably tattoo Goatse under my eyelids and I wouldn’t flinch, but 4chan has for the most part repulsed me.
A Review of the Indie Royale “Mash Bundle”
I love these little indie bundles. There’s like ten different ones and they keep having new packages every couple of weeks. Thanks to inflation and joining forces with Steam, video games are cheaper and easier to (legally) acquire than ever before. We’d all be cautious about blowing $20 on a single game we knew nothing about (there’s no way any rich people are reading this), but $5.50 USD for five games? That’s a fantastic deal even if the games turn out to be junk, and they rarely do. And Indie Royale probably has the best record out of any of them.
Epic hybrid turn-based RPG/strategy! OK, with you so far.
Wartune is a flash game that is ostensibly about “epic hybrid turn-based RPG/strategy” but is primarily about clicking on menus to get in-game currency so you can grind faster. It’s a missed opportunity that quite clearly sacrificed quality for money-making gimmicks.
The actual combat is inspired by MMOs or possibly Ogre Battle ; you select your units from a short list (a whopping two available until you hit level 10) and they as well as your character attack automatically. Player input is limited to holding down the 1 key and occasionally another as you use one of your pre-selected skills.
Fights in this game are so hilariously tedious that you have the option (blitz) to get the game to complete dungeons for you in exchange for gold and a waiting period. Even the game’s creators know that its combat is generally unfun and included ways to get around it so you can go back to farming and extraneous stuff. But first, more details about the fighting.
Here’s some junk I wrote a couple of years ago when I was trying to get a job with shoryuken.com. If you thought my current writing sucked enough, you’re in for a treat! Still would like to see more crazy optional stuff in fighting games, though.