Thursday, March 31, 2011


Viriax is the latest game released by Locomalito, the creator of Hydorah. It is a vertical shooter set inside of a human body where you play a virus attempting to infect the patient. In the game you must jump and swim upwards towards the end of the level, dodging enemies and collecting power-ups. The biggest difference from normal vertical shooters is that moving drains your health, so you must constantly replenish it.

Their are six stages all representing parts of the body you are infecting and after completing any one of them you unlock the special ability that comes with that stage. Each of these stages are quite unique and have special enemies and environmental effects; For example the stomach has a continually rising ocean of acid that you must keep ahead of and the intestines are dark and you can only see a short distance. Additionally, these stages are procedurally generated, making them different every time you attempt them.

It is also worth noting, unlike Hydorah, this game is playable and even beatable (more of less) by people who are not particularly experienced in the shooter genre.

So for anyone who is interested they can check out Viriax here.

As far as I was able to get in a day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mount and Blade

To me Mount and Blade is on a completely different level then most games. It is one of those very unique, and yet still fun games, in league with the more famous Minecraft or (at least to me) the less famous Hammerfight. A truly great game but also one with a lot of room for improvements.

What makes this particular game unique and worth looking into is its combination of personal combat vs. groups of enemies, most notably featuring combat on horses, and the basic tactical control of the troops under your command. The personal combat, while slightly simplistic, is very fun and full of content; You can learn to use a bow, crossbow, spears/pikes/lances, one/two handed swords, maces, and shields, all in many different shapes and sizes. When fighting you have five weapon slots (which must also fit your arrows and bolts), so you have enough room for at least a few weapons. One thing to note is that, at least for pve, the speed of the weapon is far more important then the strength of the weapon because at high levels your internal stats will boost the power to instant kill for most troops anyways. And in combat the movement of your character significantly effects the damage dealt by your strikes, because weapon momentum is a factor in the calculation.

So lets talk a little about the weapons, their strengths and weaknesses and why you might want to use one or the other. The bow far outclasses the crossbow in speed of shooting and mobility while reloading, but is outdone in shear power and distance; And their is also thrown weapons, like knives and javelins, which do not seem to have very much range so I have never bothered with them, but the bonus of saving a equipment slot is nice; When I play I like to devote quite a lot of time and skill points to the bow simply because long range is useful in many situations like avoiding damage in drawn out battles and picking off fast horse opponents. The spears and pikes are particularly interesting weapons in that they are very reliant on momentum, so while they are completely uselessness if you are backing up or right next to enemies, while on a horse they are devastating, but still slow; Their main advantage is their incredible length and power when you are moving fast, and because of this they are the best weapon to use in some situations (meanly verses heavily armoured opponents while on a horse), but because of their slow speed I normally do not bother with them. The one handed weapons, particularly swords, are in my opinion the best general weapon that can be used well in any situation and are still the best possible weapon in many situations; The one handed weapon is fast, allowing you to slaughter quickly, and because it can be paired with a shield offers you a very good defence. Not that the two handed weapons do not have their own uses, I find they can be very useful for defensive situations, because of their long reach.

But even more important then the weapons you will be using is your horse. Your horse allows far improved mobility, speed (to add damage to your weapon strikes), and will even allow you to plough through enemies knocking them over. The horse, like any equipment, comes in many different variants and levels that offer a wide range of abilities. The only complaint I have concerning the horse is its use; Particularly, that it is never used in siege situations and always used in all other battles. I would love to see horses in sieges, sallying forth when the enemy least suspects it, or charging up a siege tower into the enemy defences. And the addition of battle terrain that hampers cavalry (dense forest) or makes them completely unusable (rocky terrain) would be an amazing strategic point and also a fun change.

Battles, as mentioned earlier, are basically you and your army verses another force. While they are hugely fun the one issue I have is the importance of yourself and the lack of strategy. Because of your overwhelming power your character will have only a few hours into the game, the lack of an effective troop moral system in battles, and the small amount of control you have over your troops their is really only one strategy, charge at, and kill as fast as possible, the enemies (mostly ignoring your own troops). This sometimes reaches ridiculous levels like singularly defending a castle against hundreds of enemies by standing on the one entrance ladder into the castle and killing them all personally. What I would love to see is whole groups of enemies running away after particularly successful strategies, instead of the few individuals that were seconds away from death anyways; The ability to set up devastating formations like creating a tight cavalry wedge to smash through a enemy line; And improved AI with the choice to change the strategy of individual troops, so it is not just run towards enemies and hope it does not end up alone and surrounded by them. (Now I don't want it to seem that I am just mindlessly saying that the developers should implement some complex AI system, I have studied AI and have thought about it with respect to Mount and Blade quite a lot and am certain that even a programmer of as little experience as me could easily throw together everything I have mentioned here [and much more] in a short time period).

When not in battles you travel around on a real time Risk-like map, where you travel around looking for battles, trading, or simply travelling to cities or villages to restock, pillage, collect taxes, do some sort of quest, capture it, or recruit people for your army. All of this is done quite well and only really gets annoying late in the game when large armies will get demoralized so easily you will lose troops at an amazing rate and your companions squabbling will reach levels that also have them streaming from your party. Additionally, I have encounters a lot of annoying problems when running a big kingdom. For example even though you will need lots of money to keep a presence in all of your cities tons or money is lost simply because you own a lot of land and if you awarding land to a lord then all other lords get pissed at you that they were not picked, so if you have many lords then overall awarding land to one of them can leave you in the deficit. So basically the game has no end-game, it simply become unplayable.

My mini-reviews of Mount and Blade and Mount and Blade: Warband.
The Mount and Blade website.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dacey in the Dark - Prelude

Dacey in the Dark is a very short graphical adventure game created for the MAGS competition. It is very stylish visually and is mostly all black with a Limbo-ish visual look. Additionally, it has a very mysterious unique story that I cannot wait to hear more of.

Hints and Tips:
Always inspect (Space) all interactive areas and objects, it it needed for many puzzles and to get many items.

My mini-review of Dacey in the Dark.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walkthrough: I Was a Vegas Showgirl

Since I personally had a little trouble getting through I Was a Vegas Showgirl!, could not find any help online, and have never done a walkthrough so I thought it might be fun to do one.

My mini-review of  I Was a Vegas Showgirl!

Space - select, use, talk to
E - skip dialogue, examine
Enter - open Inventory, put away item
Esc - Options

Opening cutscene ending with you outside Stack-O-Lee's Casino Cabaret.

  • Talk to the Olivetti and learn that The Bouncer has taken his camera.
    • Dialogue Tree: Are you a reporter? -- Why'd he take your camera -- Enough about the camera... -- Goodbye, Mr.
  • Talk to The Bouncer to learn how to get to Stack-O-Lee and get Olivetti's camera back.
    • Dialogue Tree: Can I see Mr. Stack-O-Lee? -- I'm a top showgirl -- Do you have that guy's Camera? -- ... he won't stop crying.
  • Give camera back to Olivetti, learn that it needs a new flash.
  • Enter Casino through front door.
  • Take Floodlight (upper left of screen).
  • Exit Casino.
  • Give Floodlight to Olivetti and get Photo of yourself.
  • Walk to right side of Casino (walk right and up), with back Stage Door.
  • Enter Stage Door, and emerge again automatically outside.
  • Walk back to front of Casino (up and left) and then enter Casino.
  • Talk to Drunk to learn about how to dance.
    • Dialog Tree: Why didn't you like my routine? -- Do the Goggle-eyes. -- Do the Dance Macabre -- Do the Crazy Chicken -- Do the Choo-choo -- Do the ol' Bob and Weave.
  • Exit Casino and then go to right side of Casino and enter the Stage Door.
    •  Dialog Tree: Do the Dance Macabre -- Do the Goggle-eyes. --  Do the ol' Bob and Weave. -- Do the Crazy Chicken -- Do the Choo-choo.
  • Back outside the Stage Door walk to front of Casino.
  • Talk to The Bouncer to convince him you are a hit.
    • Dialog Tree: I'm a hit?
  • Give Photo to The Bouncer.
cutscene ending with you inside of Stack-o-Lee's personal suite talking to him.

    • Dialog Tree: May I have a highball?
  • Examine Turntable.
  • Talk to Stack-o-Lee to drink.
  • Talk to Stack-o-Lee again to get him to turn on the music.
    • Dialog Tree: How about some music?
  • Use Panel (down and to the left), talk to entrance, and get Olivetti sent up.
    • Dialog Tree: Press Button 6: Entrance -- Send that reporter up here. -- Don't make me say it twice!

End cutscene and credits.

Losing Endings:
  1. Try to slip drugs into Stack-o-Lee's drink while making him one.
  2. Talk to Black Jack and get Billy Lyons sent up.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Under the Garden

Under the Garden is a great stylish pixelated 2D game with very unique gameplay. To me it is very reminiscent of Minecraft and I would classify it primarily as a wildness survival game with elements of creative sandbox building, a genre that needs to be made into more games. But like Minecraft, Under the Garden suffers from a lack of direction and purpose that will turn off many people (including myself).

In game you cut down trees for wood, mine rocks for items, pick crops and hunt for food, and explore to find items and house pieces. The house pieces are used to build and grow your house and any other structures you want, and can be placed anywhere. Your house, and any other places with fireplaces, serve as waypoints and refuelling stations as you return to them when you die, or simply choose to, and being in them is the only way to refill your health without consuming items.

My mini-review of Under the Garden.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gallery: Warlock Bentspine

My mini-review of Warlock Bentspine.

Gallery: Beeps_and_Blips

My mini-review of Beeps_and_Blips.

Portal and the Games it Inspired

In the lead-up to the release of Portal 2 in April of this year, and simply to celebrate a great game, I though it might be worthwhile to talk about the game that started this wonderful series and the games it inspired.

To start off, Portal is an incredibly fun 3D puzzle platformer with a dark sense of humour given by the artificial intelligence GlaDOS who continually tries to kill you. The puzzles are all some form of platforming while making use of the portal gun; A gun capable of created two portals that allow instantaneous transportation through space. The game also features a wonderful sound track and contains one of the obvious best songs in any OST, the credit song Still Alive.

Portal: The Flash Version is a 2D interpretation without any plot or dialogue, but with the benefit of being a far more challenging game. While it does not have the same humour as the original it is still a great game and I would recommend and fan of Portal or puzzles games to check it out.

The last game I want to talk about is called ASCIIpOrtal (aka ASCII Portal); It is a 2D ASCII graphics interpretation of Portal. It contains the original's humour as well as the puzzle platforming but this time around with more importance given to split second hand-eye coordination and challenge. The result is a deadly challenging game with tons of maps and a healthy fan made map community. The one strike against it is the controls. Since it uses normal typing control, to run you have to hold down the arrow key and wait a second for the key to start repeating. So you are really going to want to change your keyboard options to reduce this lag as much as possible and ramp up the repeat speed.

Mini-reviews of Portal games.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pay What You Want (March 23): Bob Came in Pieces + FantomenK

Just heard via my Yawma email news subscription that Bob Came in Pieces, a game I have reviewed before, and some FantomenK music (chiptune) will be offered in a Pay What You Want sale on March 23 on their Groupee site.

Bob Came in Pieces is not a bad game, but does lack polish. And given that it is at least slightly unique and somewhat fun, you might want to think about grabbing a copy cheap.

Note: I apparently was wrong, I just assumed that since all previous groopee sales were Pay What you Want and they did not mention a price that it was going to be the same but instead it will be $5.