ROM Check Fail! (PC)

March 30, 2008

Demented and exhilarating.

Feel like playing Asteroids and Gauntlet at the same time? Or perhaps Zelda mashed up with Super Mario? Well, today is your lucky day.
ROM Check Fail!
is a competent (and demented) arcade mash-up and retrospective at the same time, forcing you to play at least two classics at the time, merged together and unified in awesome ways. Confusing for sure, but I’m pretty sure your nerdy brain will be able to handle it.

Download ROM Check Fail! by clicking here. (via Independent Gaming)

Darwinia+ confirmed for Live

March 27, 2008

Survival of the Flattest.

Introversion has confirmed that Darwinia, along with multiplayer version Multiwinia, is coming to Xbox Live this Fall. Now, if you’re still unfamiliar with Darwinia, I suggest you download the demo (Windows, Mac, whatever) for an invigorating take on the RTS-formulae. Since Xbox Live is an cesspool of old mediocre games presented in slightly newer fabric (Track & Field aside), I’m sidling in with Joystiq, suggesting someone get to work on that DEFCON port already. It’s the most obvious thing ever, really.

Questionaut (Flash)

March 17, 2008

Just lovely.

I don’t think there’s anyone out there who didn’t love Samorost. Now, Czech developer Amanita Design has put together a game of learning for the BBC, called Questionaut. It’s brilliant. Across eight stages, you answer questions on different subjects (like physics, mathematics and biology) in order to progress to the next level. Wonderful art, engaging puzzles, fantastic music. I really couldn’t recommend this enough.

Click here to play Questionaut (BBC link).

Slipping into Oblivion (Gaming and guilt)

March 16, 2008

Where art thou, Blackroot Lair?

I’m slipping into The Shivering Isles once again, and it scares the hell out of me. It’s that special place you don’t want to go, but you know you have to. I can have a thousand things to do one day, only to catch a glimpse of my console, and minutes later I trawl any given dungeon in search of some kind of meaning. At the time of writing, Oblivion has siphoned over 100 hours from my life, leaving me with at least two unfinished essays and countless of broken promises. Still, it lures me back to its continental sprawl of real-estate, caverns and angst.
The scale of this game is ever frightening, as it seems impenetrable even to the experienced explorer. In addition to the bewildering vastness, you’re constantly knee-deep in books and conversations covering everything from politics and religion to flora and fauna –
but you’ll learn how to ignore all that soon enough.

But I’m missing the point. I’m guessing you’re all very aware of what Oblivion is capable of. Which leads me to this: When did it become a chore to play games? Do you get the feeling that sitting down with your favourite RPG has become a serious undertaking, and often,
a guilt-inducing addiction? Do games demand too much effort these days, are they too expansive, or do you revel in gameplay ad infinitum? What game is responsible for your social ruin? Was it always like this? How am I supposed to manage my character and the real me at the same time? You know, go to work, have coffee with friends, finish off that essay and still have time to wander aimlessly through the realms of Dementia and Mania, which, I guess, isn’t too far from where I live anyway. Which reminds me, I really need to find Blackroot Lair…

Kriegspiel (Mac/PC)

March 13, 2008

Cut-out mountains and cavalry. Beautiful.

In January 1977, the French Situationist Guy Debord founded the Society for Strategic and Historical Games. The Society had an immediate goal: to produce Kriegspiel, a game of war that Debord had already designed in his head years before. The game was played by two opposing players on a game board of 500 squares arranged in rows of 20 by 25 squares. Now, developer RSG has recently released a computer edition of Kriegspiel. This version is an attempt to translate Debord’s game to the contemporary landscape without interfering with the simplicity and depth of the original creation. Essentially a board game played top-down or in 3D mode, Kriegspiel is very impressive, not only visually. Unfortunately, there is currently no single-player mode, no computer opponent – which makes it online only. Enjoy!

Download it for Mac and PC here.

Eno and Wright on Generative Systems

March 11, 2008

The father of ambient music, and some other guy.

This is really something. I watched some of it yesterday, and I recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in interactive media, games, or music. Brian Eno and Will Wright discuss games, music and everything in between at a seminar organised by The Long Now Foundation in June 2006. Click here to watch the video (1:38:40). Highly recommended! (via Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Review: Brothers In Arms (DS)

March 8, 2008

2/5. Dawson’s irritated.

This game has been awarded with high scores overall, and as the last person alive to ever review this game (I was always a late bloomer) and, apparently, one of the last sane reviewers around, I’ll try to explain why almost all before me are incorrect.

Brothers In Arms for the Nintendo DS starts out really nice. Graphics certainly impress, you can use cover, the Nazis scream at you in actual German, and the grenade-throwing is especially well implemented. Now, as you progress through early levels, you have high expectations of what’s ahead, but that sweet anticipation is soon muddled by a few too many problems. For starters, controls are unresponsive and imprecise, the cover system turns out to be sluggish and poorly executed, and the initial awe inspired by the graphics soon wears thin. Bugs and framerate issues appear so frequently that you begin to wonder if this game was such a good idea after all. To have a plane dip at me at 8 frames per second really doesn’t impress me that much, neither does breaking through a wall with a tank when there’s no sound to punctuate and accentuate the destruction you’re witnessing on screen. In such situations, the most apparent flaw of Brothers In Arms is becomes crystal clear: It’s so maxed out, so determined to bring the other consoles alarm and audiovisual overload to the DS, that it shoots itself in the foot while attempting to do so.

However, the vehicle driving sections deserves mentioning alone, since they are so amped up that it feels like going snowboarding on landscape-coloured snow, really messed up on drugs (any kind of substance where you gnash your teeth into small, sharp splinters), with a World War going on somewhere in the lift area. Oh yeah, and there are Nazis everywhere in the slopes, taking aim, but they can’t hit you, because you’re moving too fast. Good times, indeed.