Posts Tagged ‘online game’

I had a lovely review planned for today for a game called A Tale of Colours that one of my friends pointed me at…then I found a new game from PETA. Its a parody of the Pokemon series, set up to be a serious game. I’m going to preface this whole review with the fact that I’m going to do everything in my power to objectively review this game for its merits as a socio-political persuasive game, but I feel I should mention that I love Pokemon, I eat meat and I tend to view PETA as a touch crazy. With that disclaimer noted, lets head into the game.

The Pokemon franchise is based around the idea of letting kids capture little creatures and then breed and battle them. It was based off the childhood of the creator, catching bugs and studying them. But enough is enough, says PETA! We cannot allow children to have fun by caging helpless animals and forcing them to fight each other. They created a Pokemon style game where you play as the Pokemon. Unlike other games, the Pokemon are fighting their trainers and trying to spread the word about the fact that this violence hurts them and that they have feelings too.

As with other PETA games, the game play includes rewards which are videos showing the harm to animals caused by humans. The idea is to indoctrinate the players. The problem is that the games are geared for children and they tend to be far too over the top to actually convince most kids. I tend to find that scare tactics just leave kids having nightmares, not actually changing their attitudes towards anything.

The biggest problem with this game as a persuasive game is that any kid who has actually played the Pokemon games knows that the main character wins because they love their Pokemon and bond with them. The professors are always in favor of treating Pokemon with kindness and even your Rival learns their lesson in the end. So basically, PETA made a game to try to teach the same message the Pokemon games are actually teaching….

Only they made it ludicrous and over the top. Wait…I forgot. Attempting to review objectively. Uh…uh… The art lends itself well to the persuasive game style they’re going for. They make frequent allusions to the actual games, enough to make it feel properly in-world. But the characters are all being portrayed as completely psychotic killers, such as their portrayal of Ash Ketchum.

Pokemon is a fun game for kids about getting along, making friends, playing outside and exploring. Pokemon Black and Blue is a parody of that trying to show that the Pokemon world teaches kids to be violent and uncaring towards animals. I believe they are rather wide of their mark. As with their other persuasive games, they’ve gone so far in trying to prove their argument that it comes off as deluded ramblings. Their game has no bugs, which is nice, and the graphics are well done for their purpose. I award Pokemon Black and Blue 1 out of 5 hearts. I’m really not sure what else to say…I think I might have nightmares.

If you’re interested in playing Pokemon Black and Blue, you can find it here, along with links to the other PETA games.

Any thoughts about Pokemon Black and Blue? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Pheus and Mor

Posted: September 24, 2012 in 4.5 Hearts
Tags: , , ,

Ah, the puzzle platformer, a truly wonderful genre. A puzzle platformer is any game where getting to the other side of the level involves more than just jumping on your enemies, usually involving complex puzzles, levers and such. In Pheus and Mor, the player controls a boy named Pheus and his dog, Mor. In each level the player has to get both of them to the door. The controls are simple enough, WASD for one character and the arrows for the other. The puzzles, storyline and graphics are what make this game truly awesome.

The graphics are really clean and crisp, simple and cute. In the first set of levels, everything is really bright and fun, then things started to get dark. I’m only about half way through, but I’m starting to suspect that the main character might be dead. Its a really crazy feeling. I love the difficulty of the levels, but also that I can go slowly and really think about how its all playing out. Every 4 levels or so, you get another panel in the comic that is the story of the game, letting you slowly fill the pieces in.

One of the hardest things about Pheus and Mor is navigating the puzzles while controlling two characters. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, for example Pheus is very light and can’t break things and Mor can’t jump. My only complaint so far is that I’ve figured out I need to collect the keys to open the big door in the middle of the room, and I can’t go back to re-try the level where I didn’t get the key but know there is one. Hopefully when I finish the others, I can go back and get it.

Over all, this is a very well made game with an excellent way of slowly revealing the plot and a wonderful mechanic. The art style really adds to the entire experience. I’m absolutely hooked and just want to keep playing. I expect to be sad when its done. I award Pheus and Mor 4.5 out of 5 hearts.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

If you’re interested in playing Pheus and Mor, you can find it here on Kongregate.

Haven and Hearth is an multiplayer survival game with some basis in Slavic and Germanic folklore. The basic idea is that you start in the wilderness with a fire and some basic survival skills and as you gathering things and learn about the environment, you gain points which are used to increase your skills and learn new ones. There are a lot of skills and its takes a lot of effort to get all of them.

Along with learning new skills, there are some skills which can be improved by spending learning points. There are also base attributes which affect how the use of your various skills works. The world is huge, though sparsely populated. I live in a small hearthland with 4 other players, sharing the work of getting to the more advanced technology and skills. As you can probably guess from my character sheet and land, I’m the farmer. I also take care of some of the livestock.

There are some inherent problems with Haven & Hearth. Since every item is a node with a limited amount of an item, you might come across a really large mud flat with no clay or a tree with no branches. There is also a really serious lag problem stemming from their network setup.

Haven & Hearth has a lot going for it, with a wide variety of skills and ways to play the game. You can be a nomad, a thief, a farmer, a merchant, a village leader, pretty much anything you can imagine. There’s a lot to explore too. One of my favorite features is the Hearth Secret which allows people to come into the world in the same area as their friends instead of a random place in the world. Overall, it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what it will be like when it finally come out of alpha. I award Haven & Hearth 4 out of 5 hearts. Handle that lag problem and you’ve got something awesome here.

4/5 Hearts

 

If you’re interested in playing Haven & Hearth, you can find it here and its completely free.

 

 

Do you enjoy the boss fights in old arcade games but could do without the rest of the content? Then you should consider trying Boss Slayer. The basic idea of of Boss Slayer is that there are 10 spaceships coming and you get 12 attempts to take them all out. You get to keep the money you earn while fighting them and you can upgrade your ship to try to combat the menace.

The controls are simple, the graphics bring back memories of the days of Space Invaders and Galaga, and even the sound reminds me of a bygone era of arcades and games that were simple, innocent fun. The game itself is quite hard at first, though with some practice and using the in-game store to purchase upgrades it is very much a winnable game. They included 2 different control schemes. The first is the basic keyboard based controls and the second is mouse based. They also included an easy mode where you get as long as you want to defeat the 10 alien spaceships. Through the course of the levels there are two different kind of Pick Ups, money which is used to purchase upgrades and hearts which give you extra lives.

I found Boss Slayer to be a very fun and challenging game. I really appreciate a game with an interesting premise, good execution and a good level of difficulty. I award Boss Slayer 4 out of 5 hearts. Well done.

4/5 Hearts

If you are interested in playing Boss Slayer, you can fine it here on Kongregate.

Logic Puzzles

Posted: June 4, 2012 in 4 Hearts
Tags: ,

And here’s something completely out of left field. You know those puzzle books you can get for like $5 in the grocery store? They’re in the magazine aisle. They have these puzzles in them that a lot of people love called logic puzzles. These are actually a specific type of puzzle where you use some kind of chart and a list of clues and figure out what’s going on in the story. Usually they involve a lot of people doing fairly similar things, like buying plants or owning pets or both. The problem is that those books usually offer maybe 3 or 4 of those puzzles. I would love to find a book that is just those. So I went on the hunt. Turns out they exist online.

Logic puzzles are a time honored tradition for puzzle lovers. They involve a lot of thinking and, understandably, require logic. For those of you who have never played one before, tradition dictates that a circle is put where the answer is correct and an X where the answer is wrong and they are solved using the following kind of grid. The clues will also generally omit 1 item from each category of item. It can take a while to solve some of the puzzles, and for the harder ones you may have to take a guess in order to solve them.

The clues generally speaking look something like this.

Now then, to the specifics of the Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles. You can register for the site and it keeps track of your scores on various puzzles and you can compete for the high score on each given puzzle. The puzzles themselves are randomly generated, and you can access puzzles you’ve tried before but didn’t finish on your scores page. The difficulty of puzzles is also randomly determined, so you may end up finding some really hard ones. I found the set up of the site to be very simple, but very nice. It was very easy to use and very enjoyable. I award the Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles a 4 out of 5 hearts.

4/5 Hearts

If you would like to try out these logic puzzles, you can find them here.

Bubble Tanks 3 is yet another installment in the Bubble Tanks series by HeroInteractive. The basic idea of these games is that you’re controlling a tank made of bubbles and fighting other little bubbles for control of the big bubble territories that you live in. You kill other bubbles and absorb them to become bigger and more powerful, but if you get hit too much, you lose your upgrades until you have enough bubble stuff to get them again. The controls are simple enough, and pretty much standard. WASD to move around and mouse to aim and fire. What is nice is that if you don’t like that, the controls are customizable in the settings.

This tank here is reasonably advanced.

As you progress, fighting various types of tanks of various difficulties and slaughtering what appear to be unarmed bubbles, you can choose to either use of the pre-made tank upgrades or customize your own. The customization screen was a little confusing at first, but once you figure it out, it was quite nice to have that level of control over my tank’s appearance and weaponry. The main thing that confused me is the GP score, which stands for Gun Points (I’m pretty sure). GP is actually the current gun score of your tank, with max GP, the tiny text under it, being the amount of GP you can have. What this means is that you can keep adding guns until you hit the max GP value. I had assumed they were a type of upgrade points I had to spend that would go down. Once I figured that out, it made a lot more sense. My major complaint is that loading the tanks seemed to take an unbelievably long time, and my computer is not slow. However, I have been told that if you unselect all the download options and just use custom tanks, it moves much faster.

The game starts a little slowly, giving you some room to figure out the controls and get used to shooting, and to get some upgrades before you go after the bigger tanks. The fights get pretty hard as you get larger, because its harder to dodge their weapon fire.

Bubble Tanks 3 is a fun little top down shooter. I enjoyed playing it and suggest you try it out. It has a very nice level of customization. It has some lag issues due to the amount of content, but that is a normal enough trade off. I award Bubble Tanks 3 a 3.5 out of 5 hearts and suggest that you try it out.

If you would like to try out Bubble Tanks 3, you can find it here.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make video games? Playing games leads to modding which leads to making your own, its a wonderful process that more people should experience. That’s why today I’m bringing you Stencyl. Stencyl is a development suite for creating Flash, iOS and Android games, and if you have the pro version you can also create Desktop Mac and PC games. The engine is designed for 2D games, but that’s what most people want in a Flash game, right? One of my favorite parts is that they include a feature called StencylForge which is an online hosting of various game assets such as characters, backgrounds, environment building tools and even pre-coded behaviors so that you can learn at your own pace. This is great for kids or people who want to get into game design but don’t have the strong programming background. It also includes example games so you can get an idea how a lot of classic mechanics are done.

One of the great features of Stencyl is the forums. There are tons of people on there willing to help out newbies. Another great thing is that it includes the Kongregate, Mochi and Newgrounds API so you can connect to their score boards and give achievements. Speaking of Kongregate, There are tons of tutorials and forum posts about Stencyl and how to use it. For some of those tutorials, you can go here:

Here’s a code block that handles two different types of collisions: the player with an enemy or the player with a coin pick-up. But you can also choose to write real code if you want to. The interface for building scenes is just as simple. They made everything very drag and drop and friendly.

If you’re interested in learning the concepts behind game design and even starting to make your own games that you can upload to a real gaming site and get feedback from people, you should consider trying out Stencyl. Stencyl is available for Linux, Mac and PC and can be downloaded here. I am thoroughly enjoying using it and can’t suggest it enough. I award Stencyl a 5 out of 5 hearts for wonderful software, community and game design teaching.