Mandarth’s Cavern
Danger – reading this blog can be fatally addictive.

Jan
06

I was once told by a girl that I work with that by the fifth date she could tell me everything there was to know about the man, and would then dump them accordingly. Despite the fact that she was a bitch and would probably rather enjoy watching people burn barrels of puppies, kittens and copies of Left 4 Dead, I thought it might be rather interesting, as this is my 5th review, for myself to take a quick look in on the way I look at games. And not surprisingly, a few trends have popped up.

The first is that, at least when it comes to indie games, I am quite a social gamer. Games that are small enough and easy enough to play on a laptop during a lecture are almost always designed to be played around others, and as such I frown upon those games that, rather like the New South Wales Government, don’t seem to care about the people. The other main trend I have noticed is that, almost exactly like a strange man with a fetish for librarians, I can’t resist Spectacles. A game that incorporates these two factors has made it in my book. Of course there are other things that make a game, such as the gameplay or the sound direction, but there is something about playing a game that produces what I like to call ‘Holy Crap!’ moments: the point when all the people watching around you spontaneously cry out in surprise because of what is now entering into the game space. Warning Forever had them, in Burning Sand 2 you could make them, N loved them and Attack of the Killer Swarm was built on them. So now, without further ado, let us meet game number 5- Blight Warrior.

Blight warrior is a small, simple game made by a man named Jetro Lauha and, like many of my favorite Indie Games, was found on that marvelous website “Experimentalgameplay.com.” Based around generic shooter conventions, the idea of the game is to use your suspiciously sperm shaped object to shoot removers into the Blight to make it disappear. Remove enough Blight, and you advance to the next level. The game space itself is circular and as you move you pivot around the edge of said space, shooting your removers inwards on the dastardly blight. However, there are a few items that make this game far more than just a generic shooter.

Frantic, Fantastic, Fun

Blight Warrior: Frantic, Fantastic, Fun

The first is the games grounding in a certain type of algorithm called “Diffusion Limited Aggregation” which acts akin to a random event generator. The blight itself randomly spreads outwards like a virus, creating different tendrils and branches, its ultimate goal to reach the edge of the map, thus making you loose. As all of this is done as random, this means two things. One, each level is unique, an important factor in any game. Two, even if you replay a level, its not going to be the same. You cant train for this game by playing one level over and over again to you know just where all the blight is going to spread and when it will stretch outwards. Every bullet changes the construction of the blight, and thus changes the entire progress of the algorithm.

A second feature, and one that I think possibly makes this game so fun, is the random events that I like to call ‘Spikes.’ Essentially, this is when the blight, seemingly passive and slow moving, simply begins to grow like mad in one particular area, forcing you to completely reassess the way that you were playing the game. These spikes can range from occurring in one localised area to THE ENTIRE SCREEN! This is the centre of this games ‘Holy Fuck’ moments. It turns a level where a degree of concentration is needed into a level where you are going to need to be on Speed to successfullydestroy all of the blight. Here is a tip:Play this game with at least one person with you to spot the spikes. I did with my good web slave friend Jeremy and it really enhances the playing experience. After a while (Say level 7 where it begins to get hectic) you tend to stop feeling like you are playing a game, and more like the last bastion for earths defence, manning the last cannon between the enemy and the survivors, holding back waves and waves of ravenous aliens/zombies/Pauly Shore clones, with your partner yelling “SPIKE AT 2 O’CLOCK! OVER GROWTH AT 6!”

Do Not Let The Blight Grow This Big. Especialy On Level One.

Do Not Let The Blight Grow This Big. Especially On Level One.

Or Maybe I Just Have An Over Active Imagination…

There is another element that makes the gameplay more frantic, and that is the inclusion of limited ammunition. You begin each level with a certain amount of ammo, Say 20 bullets. As you deplete you cache, it slowly recharges, around one bullet every 3 seconds. However, large amounts of Ammo can be won at once by removing large sections of blight in one shot, which is done by shooting a tendril that is not crossed with another tendril, and is thus not reinforced. The More blight that is removed, the more bullets received. In the opening levels, where the blight is not as thick, and is not as fast growing, this is easy. However in later levels you will soon find yourself making desperate decisions whether to  fire your remaining ammunition into one fast growing tendril, or to leave it to go and replenish your ammo on the other side of the screen where there are un-guarded tendrils, and running the risk of having the original tendril spike at a very inconvenient time.

All this gameplay is backed up by a solid founding in music and graphics. The music chosen for the game is a dark techno beat, which, for some unknown reason, made me feel like was in a large, damp cavern. Luckily, it actually works. The slow and dark nature of the music, no matter how slow, actually adds to the frantic gameplay element and then suits the times when you have to make tactical decisions. The sound effects are ok, and are adequate for the game, just don’t blame me if you get annoyed by the repeated noise of your blight removal gun.

Squiggles Never Looked So Sexy

Squiggles Never Looked So Sexy

Luckily the graphical quality of the game is fantastic. In short, the game looks beautiful. In Long, The game looks very beautiful. In Review, the coloured neon glow of the blight makes it feel alive and pulsating, like an alien entity. Each level has a different combination of colours, lending each wave a distinctive style, and ensuring that not only is this game addictive to play, but that your eyes will have a visual orgasm every time you play. Quite simply, the game looks as beautiful in places as something you might find on a current generation console. Another element of the graphics of this game is the fact that everything seems to be moving. The blight slightly twitches and wriggles, your gun pulsates inwards and outwards. Apart from giving some people mild motion sickness, this serves to make you believe that you are not just shooting some squiggly neon lines, but a living, evil thing.

So that, my friends, is Blight Warrior. Its addictive gameplay is something of a paradox at times, requiring you to have a twitchy finger along with a tactical mind, two elements that often don’t go well together, but are better than Body Chocolate and Super Models in this context. The gameplay is also re-inforced by solid sound design, and fantastic graphics, making this a game that is a must play, at least around friends show you can show off just how good it looks.

Mandarth Out!

 

Tips for Playing

  • Stock up on ammo, but don’t be too stingy as ammunition doesn’t carry over from each level.
  • For best results, play with others and take turns in playing.
  • Do not kill almost all of a tendril but leave one small section when you are done with that area, especially if it is near the screen. Its only one spike away from being twice as big as before and taking you down.

Mandarth’s Challenge

Here is another easy one. Get to level 11. Sounds simple huh?

Download Blight Warrior Here!

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Dec
06
Before I begin, we better get some small scruples out of the way. Yes, I know that I have not exactly kept to my promise of posting once a week. This is mainly due to Work, University Study and something that I like to call The ‘Mass Effect,’ whereby improbable amounts of detail suck you into a game for a period deemed longer than logically survivable. However, as University has now broken for the year, Work is not as frequent and I have finally killed every Geth in the known universe it is probably time to jump back on the proverbial horse and start riding down Procrastination Lane once more.

In Part One of the Starcraft Retrospective, we discussed the more functional aspects of a game; that being Units, Construction and Movement. This final part, however, will focus more on the Aesthetics of the game: The Story, The Sound and The Visuals. So lets take this final look into that game the set the benchmark for Frantic RTS gaming: Starcraft.

Depending on the overall genre of a game (RTS, FPS, RPG and so on) the story plays a variety of different roles, and in each it is given a different level of importance. In a FPS game for example, the story does not have to be as strong, as it usually takes a back seat to the ability to use a Rocket Launcher as an Anal Probe. You don’t Need character development in an FPS, so the story does not provide any (Just look at Unreal Tournament Series, Doom 3 and Painkiller). This is obviously not the case in the magical world of RPG’s, where, by its very essence of being a Role Playing Game, a strong plot is needed to support the character being played and to help the player into feeling like they are part of the games universe, and not just destroying it.

When considering the importance and type of story in an RTS game however, a few problems crop up. In most traditional RTS games there is one feature that is absent from the genre that is seen in most others: The presence of a Main character. I know that in cut-scenes the NPCs will refer to you personally, but it is in no specific way. You are never acknowledged by a name, simply as Commander, or General or My Lord and this is only in cut scenes. As for the actual game play sections of an RTS, you control a number of faceless expendable units and lets face it, do you really care if one of your units dies, and Not because he or she is powerful?

This, however, doesn’t mean an RTS game can get away with having no story at all. Perhaps in times gone past it could be done, when all the story that was required from a game was ‘Jump on Things, Defeat Turtle Dragon, Save Princess’, but nowadays gamers are increasingly asking the question that has been asked so many times by Up-themselves Actors to their directors- “Its all very well for me to kill Caesar, but whats my motivation?” No longer can the answer simply be ‘Because they are Evil;’ a grounds for conflict must be set for a player to feel a real desire to help their army to victory, barring the reward of finishing a level. So, in the RTS genre, the story must provide motivation and detail, without using personal motives. What they must create is what can be called a Universal Narrative- the story of the games universe. This includes political motivation, back story for each of the races, not the characters, and detail regarding interactions between races. What this does is that it shows the player why one race hates (Or Allies) with another, why the others should (or should not) be destroyed and just why there may be a gigantic double barrelled tank covered in spikes in your army. Another trick that an RTS story must perform is one that is rather similar to the term ‘Double-Think’ from George Orwell’s book 1984, that being The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in ones mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed.”While the player is playing as one race they are ‘conditioned’ to accept the values of that race, and hate all others. However, when the player changes race they have to acknowledge the values of the race they were just playing and at the same time disavow them for the values of the race they are now fighting as, one that they previously thought was bad. Admittedly, this is not exactly the same but you see where i’m coming from.

I am happy to say that Starcraft performs all of these tasks. A large expansive universe has been created, with a great mythos surrounding each of the races. For those not familiar with the plot of the two Starcraft games, I will not try and summarise it. Its much to long and big, and in many ways unique to the developers, Blizzard. That’s what makes the Starcraft universe so immersing, the story is expansive and continues on between races. Unlike the Command and Conquer series, where each campaign plays through the same events as the others, just from a different viewpoint, the plot of Starcraft is Progressive. For example, the second campaign of Starcraft: Brood war is performed from the perspective of the Terran. At the end of this campaign, you successfully take control of a new Zerg Overmind and break the control of Kerrigan, the Queen of the Zerg, over all the Zerg in the universe. The third campaign, played as the Zerg, you are attempting to get the Zerg back under the control of Kerrigan. This flow of plot makes the game great to follow and forms the game into an actual story, rather than a number of identical missions. This has the effect of making you want to keep playing, not only to aid the cause of your race, but to hear the next part of the story.

A Protoss Briefing Room

A Protoss Briefing Room

This story is delivered in a number of ways. The first is through mission briefings. At the beginning of each mission you enter something of a virtual Communication room, with screens showing video feeds of each of the main characters. The briefing takes the form of conversation and orders given by these characters, and attempts to serve the purpose of making the player feel as if they are actually there in the council, and that they are an integral part of the decision to either attack or aid a faction. However, it ends up becoming slightly cheesy. Often when some of the characters curse Kerrigan after she destroys another colony or planet they usually come off sounding like they are channeling William Shatner yelling “KHAAAAAAANNNNN!” To add to the cheesiness, all the characters, in traditional RTS style, refer to you either as Commander, Executor or Cerebrate, depending on the race you are playing as. Despite these minor scruples, the over all form of the mission briefings work rather well.

The Second way that they story is conveyed is through the use of Animated Cut Scenes. In true Blizzard style, these are all of the highest order, an in some cases you could actually imagine these scenes cropping up in an animated film. In other words, they are extremely detailed and intricate, and an obvious amount of time has gone into making them. The only unfortunate thing about all of this is that they don’t appear more often, the cut scenes all ways being reserved for the most highly charged moments of the game, such as the fire cleansing of AN ENTIRE PLANET.

The Third is in the gameplay itself. Here, when the story needs to be told or advanced, the game takes control of everything. All production and battle stops and the camera is re-directed to the area where an in game sequence is played out. They don’t often play much of a role in proceedings, and usually only involve one character talking to another character, and then one of those characters double crossing the other, dying or running away. Some of these sequences try to add plot twists, where another character shows up and double crosses the others, dies or then runs away again, but it ends up playing out like an intergalactic version of “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” Some missions also have points where if you take one action over another, the next level that you play will be altered to match your decision. This is to give the impression of free choice and a realistic world where your actions have consequences, but it fails as  the level after the ‘altered’ level is back to the same as it would have been before. Luckily, these free choice options only appear between 3-5 times in both the games.

Starcraft Set The Standard For In Game Cut Scenes

Starcraft Set The Standard For In Game Cut Scenes

I know that it seems that this entire time I have spent my words simply bagging out the plot of Starcraft like a gaming equivalent of a thin person paying out a fat person with a cupcake, but the truth is that even if the person is fat, his cupcake is awesome. In other words, though the delivery of the story is flawed, corney and puffed up, the story itself is a beautiful mix of sprinkles, chocolate and cream. It is massive, continuous and has some genuine twists in it. Each of the characters, despite some shocking dialogue, seems real, and you really do hate it when they die. And in a massive kudos to Blizzard (Spoiler Alert) at the end of Brood War, HUMANS DON’T WIN, forcing the player to question the belief that maybe we aren’t as crash hot as we thought we were in the first place.

And now onto sound. Its good.

Ok, I should probably elaborate. The Starcraft series seemed to be the one of the first RTS games of its time to acknowledge just how much a good sound track can do for a game. So instead of the soundtrack simply being a world of horrific techno anthems, designed to ‘Pump you Up’, the score of the game, though electronic, is on par with music you would find in a Film or on Television. And there isn’t just two or three songs that are on a loop but dozens, as each race has its own set of music that fits in with its playing and aesthetic style. Sure, the music has not risen to such iconic status such as ‘Hell March’ from the Red Alert Series, but each track is easily recognisable and goes beyond simply being a gimmicky song- they become part of the landscapes itself.

The Sound Effects of the game are also top notch, and once again it is in the detail that this game shines. Starcraft could have got away with the generic noises, such as a Loud Bang when the tanks fire, or the sound of a machine gun when any bullets are let loose. However, the noises are different for each character. The sound of the Machine gun firing on the Goliath Mech is very different to the machine gun the Marines use. The talons of a Zergling swish differently to the talons of an Ultralisk. And every thing in the game makes sounds. There are different sounds for producing different units, for the spawning of units, to get them to stop, attack, move, fire on their own troops. Its a veritable sound designers wet dream. Ok, maybe not that good, but its still fair to say that a lot of thought went into the sound design. Blizzard also employs their other trade mark, unit phrases. Each unit in the game has a number of different sayings or phrases, and if you click on them enough, they begin to spout a number of new comedic phrases, many of them either political or pop culture references. Many would say that these serve no point, but I like to think that it shows that Blizzard Cares about its players. You know, until they invented World of Warcraft that is.

I have one minor annoyance, one that links into the visual design of the game as well, and it is an annoyance that is not just in Starcraft, but is a staple of any RTS game. It seems that the factions of Starcraft,  like any of the races in an RTS game, live in this hyper streamlined dystopian universe, not unlike Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World,where it appears that only a specific kind of person can perform a certain job, and was brought up to perform it from birth. In Starcraft, this is not as much of an issue with the Zerg (As they are Animals) or with the Protoss (Because they may actually be like that) but in the world of the Terran it appears that only Hot Russian Women can fly Valkyries, only Fat German Men can pilot Battle Cruisers and only Men who’s parents are also cousins can become Marines. Its almost entertaining watching a squad of same looking Marines run towards the enemy, all yelling the same warcrys and then dying in exactly the same way. It could only be better if the Dueling Banjos from Deliverance were playing in the back ground.

When I say visuals I do not mean Graphics. It would be stupid for me to Critique graphics in this day and age, as it has now been around a Decade since the game hit stores. When I say Visuals I mean the style of the game. Do things look the same? Are they Appropriate for the genre? What detail is there? Starcraft is a game that receives a nice big tick of approval in almost all of these areas. An A -, not an A +. The units are varied, look fantastic (Even after the best part of a Decade) and most importantly all look different. You don’t ever enter into a situation where you find yourself looking at the Terran Marine and the Terran Fire Bat, and having trouble distinguishing which one is which, despite the fact that they are both similar units of size and shape. Each race, not only plays different, but looks different as well, each with little visual effects for their race, such as the muzzle flare of a machine gun, the plasma discharge of an energy weapon or the toxic spit of a Zerg Hydralisk.

Muzzle Flashes, Blood Splatters and Gas Plumes- The Detail In Starcraft Was Extensive For Its Time

Muzzle Flashes, Blood Splatters and Gas Plumes- The Detail In Starcraft Was Extensive For Its Time

Where the visual design of this game falls from being an A + to an A- is in the maps themselves. It is often the case that you will find every map taking place on one of 4 main terrains- Lush Green Jungle Map, Dark Alien World Map, Deserted Wasteland Map and Volcanic Hell Hole Map, with an occasional look in by Silver Metal Facility Map and Space Platform Map (Essentially Silver Metal Facility Map without walls or some floor). Seeing as, in the campaign, multiple maps can take place on the same planet, one after another, playing on the same deserted volcanic tile set can get a tad boring, leaving it up to the design of the map itself to make the world seem interesting.

It is nigh on impossible to rate or give a definitive score to Starcraft, something I never like to do in the first place. It has many different features and areas that some may love and others may hate. What can be said of it is this- its a decent game. It has superb units, both in function and design, and construction is fun and varied between each of the race, allowing a player to develop a specific playing style, or have their playing style catered to. It has a great story, one that is occasionally let down by poor delivery. The sound design for this game is Nigh on perfect, with sounds and music not only being plentiful but meaningful, rather than just a side note. However, Unit Movement is, at its worst, fundamentally flawed, to the point of being Game Breaking, and the maps sufferer from a big case of the Sameys. That being said, many new game designers should take a leaf out of Starcraft’s book about what it takes to make a well made, entertaining and engaging RTS experience. Hell, 43 Million Koreans cant be wrong!

Can they?

Mandarth Out!

Oct
18

When a Game Analyst says the Word “Starcraft,” two things generally happen. Around 10 million Koreans have something akin to an orgasm, and many readers immediately groan in expectation of a love letter with about as much depth as George Bush’s grasp of the English Language. Well rest easy my friends, as this is nothing of the sort. Consider this an in depth Post Mortem of a game that, for starters, became so popular that it elevated some of its players to superstar status, and one that is soon to be replaced by a (Some say) better model. By no means is this going to be a complete slam of the game, but neither will it be a love letter. This will attempt to be an unbiased analysis. And seeing as there is so much to look at, the analysis will be in 2 parts. So, here is part one with an look at the units, movement and Base/Unit construction of the game that wooed a nation- “Starcraft”

 

In the view of the author, the units of a game are perhaps the most important part of an RTS game. It is a reality that RTS games have been produced that have not contained base or unit construction, or detailed combat, or movement, or even, for that matter, a plot. It is a fact, however, that an RTS game could not exist without a comprehensive list of units to control, and could not be successful if these units were not interesting, varied and balanced between factions. “Starcraft: Brood War” (1998) by Blizzard Entertainment has been widely acclaimed for containing some of the most diverse, interesting and, most importantly, balanced units ever seen in an RTS game. Each of the three races present a multitude of not only interesting, but different, units. This difference is present in a number of areas. To begin with, all these units look unique. As the races provided are so different to each other, this is necessary. Not only do these units look different, but they perform differently, such as being a ranged unit or Melee.

 

The Terran- Glorified Starship Troopers, Just without the Guilt and Nudity

The Terran- Glorified Starship Troopers, Just without the Guilt and Nudity

 

 

A second difference is the different functions that each unit has between the different races. The Terran contains units specially designed for mobility, durability and range. Something that should also be discussed at this point is the so called ‘Support’ unit, the unit that provides either positive or negative effects to a team. The Terran only have one of these units. Many other units have special powers to make them perform better or to hinder the enemy, such as the Stim pack for Infantry and the Wraiths Cloaking ability, but the Science Vessel is the only unit that is dedicated specifically to this purpose. This sets aside the Terran Race as a faction with emphasis on mobility and force.

 

Now we consider the Zerg as a comparison to the Terran, a faction with completely opposite tactical advantages: Speed, guerilla tactics and superiority in numbers. This difference can be seen by comparing the two basic units of these races, the Marine and the Zergling. The Marine can fire from a distance, and has the Stim Pack Ability, making it apt for eliminating Melee units. Now let us compare this to the Zergling (the base unit of the Zerg), a weak melee unit, that can be easily be killed before it reaches its desired target. One on one, the Zergling would meet a quick end. However, we must now look at the units ‘context.’ Zerglings are built two at a time, increasing numbers against an enemy. The Zergling, along with most of the Zerg’s units, can burrow underground and become invisible, allowing it to ambush enemies. What is the point of ranged superiority when a melee unit appears right beside you? Couple this with upgrades that allow the Zergling to become faster and have a greater attack speed and we have a formidable unit, in the right circumstances. The trend of fast, tactical strikes is continued through out all of the units in this Faction, and turns the Zerg into something of a guerilla faction, the proverbial Che Guevara of Space. Special mention should also go to the Zerg Overlord. Not only does this unit act as a transport after a number of upgrades, but also functions as the way of increasing the unit cap of this race, as opposed to a building.

 

The Zerg- Because Who Doesn't Love Swarms of Things?

The Zerg- Because Who Doesn't Love Swarms of Things?

 

 

The Protoss units are also unique. This faction focuses on a smaller number of very strong, slow units and as such is a race more inclined to the tactic of ‘Steamrolling.’ The Protoss are all about the endgame, producing a number of units focused on annihilating the enemy in one fell swoop. This faction is not about defense, rather crippling attacks, as can be seen in their own ‘support’ units where almost every support power concerns offence. As can be seen above, the three factions of “Starcraft” contain a massive amount of variation, not only in game play styles, but in the game play itself.

 

A final word must be said on balance. Starcraft” has managed to balance both races and units exceptionally well, ensuring that one race is not more powerful than the other. A common way that an RTS becomes unbalanced is the production of so called “Super Units.” This is a unit in each of the factions that, once a player unlocks its production, renders all other units before it superfluous, simply because it is so powerful. Luckily for Blizzard, this too has been avoided. There are powerful units in each race, such as the Protoss Carrier, but they are never truly safe as in each of the other factions there is a counter in the form of a weaker unit. This ensures that right up until the end of a game, you will still be using the basic units you began with.

 

Though the units of a game are perhaps the most important aspect of an RTS game, they are complimented by a number of other features, the most important being unit movement. Units need to effectively and intelligently maneuver to a required destination. This is an area where “Starcraft” falls flat. First, let us discuss the effectiveness of unit movement. To Blizzard’s credit, the units’ move where you tell them to. They always make it to their destination, unless the path has been blocked by the enemy. However, it the notion of effective movement is ignored. When the squad is asked to move to a destination, they do so in single file. When attacking an enemy group or base this quickly raises a problem: is it a good thing to send a squad of units, say Zerglings, perhaps the weakest offensive unit in the game, one at a time into the enemy guns? The answer is a resounding no, and this movement flaw has the effect of making one of the main tactics of two of the “Starcraft” races almost pointless, “safety in numbers”, and in the case of the Zerg, defeats the purpose of having a ‘swarm’ of units to overpower superior weapons.

 

Next is the notion of Intelligent unit movement. This was also a problem. The following are a list of examples where the intelligence of the movement system was sub-par. Other units do not have the presence of mind to move out of the way when others are trying to get past, the player must do that as well. If a squad is asked to attack an item, and while they are moving to get there that item is destroyed, the squad will simply stop wherever they are rather than continue on to the destination, even if the destination is a battle where their assistance is needed. If moving units to a destination, and on the way they are ambushed by the enemy, the units will not have the presence of mind to fight back, even if their path is now blocked by the enemy. In all of inside missions, which contain multiple levels, most units will find it difficult to make it up stairs, even if this act is vital to the success of the mission. Couple this with the inability to place units in formations, and there are some very serious problems with the movement system of “Starcraft: Broodwar.”

 

The third most integral aspect of an RTS is base and unit construction. Here is an area which “Starcraft: Broodwar” gains much ground. The base construction system is implemented well, and is actually varied across the three factions. The Terran build bases in a traditional RTS style: 1 constructor building 1 building, and no restrictions on where it is placed. The Terran also have the ability to make the majority of their buildings fly to other locations once built. The Protoss, however, can only build in the area of effect of a pylon, and each constructor can build multiple buildings at once, as once construction is begun, the building self constructs. The Zerg are even more different. They can only build on an area known as the creep, which must be extended by the building of creep colonies. In this style, the constructor unit becomes the building, thus sacrificing itself.

 

The Protoss- We're Bored, Its Time To Fuck You Up!

The Protoss- We're Bored, Its Time to Fuck You Up!

 

 

The way units are built is also an area where “Starcraft” does well. In both the Terran and Protoss Factions, units are built from specialized buildings. The more buildings, the more units you can build at once. A problem with this system is that you may only queue 5 units for constructions at a time, per building. This is not useful if you require a constant stream of units. The Zerg, however, build units completely differently. All units are built from one building and can be built up to three at a time from ‘larvae.’ However, once a set of units are built, the player must wait for the larvae to regenerate before they may build again. This leads to tactical advantages and disadvantages. They can produce a greater number of units faster than other factions, but can not produce a constant stream, an ability useful if your base is being attacked.

 

Well so far we have covered the Units, Movement and Base/Unit production of ‘Starcraft.’ Stay tuned for Part 2!

Oct
14

In the many years that I have been combing the Internet in search of ways to pointlessly waste time, it is no surprise that I have stumbled upon more than a few proverbial Meccas of Procrastination. Perhaps the most interesting of these that I have found would be a little website called ‘The Experimental Gameplay Project.’ The premise of this site is rather simple. Occasionally the masters of the website will challenge those game developers on the site to make a small game in a limited number of days (For arguments sake lets say 5 for now), based on one overriding theme. For example, past themes have included Gravity and Water. However, perhaps my favourite theme, and indeed an area that is near and dear to my heart, was Swarms. I just simply love the concept of this. In any game, whether it be RTS, FPS or RPG, usually my only tactic is to find either the best or the weakest unit/weapon around and attack with them/it en-mass. In Starcraft, it was the Zergling. In Command and Conquer 3, it was the Buzzers. In UT2004, it was the Dual Enforcers. So, today I present to you the latest in Swarm Gameplay!

‘Attack of the Killer Swarm’ is a small game created by one of the Experimental Gameplay Project’s top designers, Kyle Gabler. If you like this game, you are sure to like some of his others which you can also find on this and other websites. It is not a particularly in depth game. There are no real set challenges. There isn’t any coherent character or levels. What there is is a Whole lot of Fun. There are only 3 points that you are required to know to play this game:

  1. You are the swarm
  2. You dislike humans
  3. Kill them

Using your mouse you direct you swarm of….Things around the screen, attacking the humans below. To kill them you must use your Swarmtastic power to fling them as high into the air as possible and watch them splatter mercilessly as fast as possible upon the ground. This simplistic gameplay is what has made this game so accessible. unlike other games that i have reviewed, such as N, it requires no practice or in depth mastery of the game. All you have to do is drag your mouse to move The Swarm, and kill. As there are not actually many parts of this game to look at I think it would be appropriate to look at what makes this game so god damn fun!

The Greatest Instructions in a Game. Ever.

The Greatest Instructions in a Game. Ever.

First there is the actual look of the game. To compensate for the fact that this game was made in only 1 Day (HOLY SHIT!) it has opted out of attempting to look like a miniature Crysis and has gone for a more retro, artistic feel. The game is set against an old picture of a city, its browns and greys perfectly complementing the blacks and reds of the characters of the game. The main visual feature of this game is, of course, The Swarm itself, and boy has it been done to a tee. This game contains some of the best swarm physics I have ever witnessed. Dragging The Swarm across the screen will result in a realistic breaking of the swarm until you stop, at which point all of the little bits of the entity will rush towards the centre of the cursor faster and more eloquently than a Drunk to a Kebab shop. When it settles, you believe that each small particle of The Swarm is vigilantly trying to work its way closer to the centre. Perhaps one of my favourite touches is the ability for the small parts of The Swarm to suck the blood right out of its victims. It serves absolutely no purpose except to provide a colour contrast and to fulfil the sick fantasies of those out there who enjoy torturing their kill before flinging it into the air. I do praise the decision to leave the humans that you kill faceless. This opens up the game to a wider audience, all those looking for a challenge, rather than those slightly more violent gamers who want to imagine someone else in the shoes of the victim.

Swarms are Beautiful Things

Swarms are Beautiful Things

Now onto sound. Two words- Hilariously Perfect. The Soundtrack for the game is absolutely spot on. There is one song on repeat, a classical piece by the composer Shostakovich. This turns a fun game into a comedic affair, as the strains of a classical score are mixed with the sound of cartoony screaming and the sound of splattering stick people. A lesser game designer could have easily got away with leaving all of the smaller sounds out and still ended up with a good game, but Gabler goes that extra mile. As such, when The Swarm moves, we hear its whooshing rush. Each person screams individually as you attack them. There are varying sounds of splaterfication, ranging from the small squirt of a body compacting to a fully fledged atomic bomb sound as the velocity of the falling victim gets faster. Each of these elements only serve to enhance the gameplay even more.

And now a short word on gameplay. “Attack of the Killer Swarm” appeals to one of humanities most basic instincts to make it fun and addictive- Competition. The game is endless: each level you are given around 15 humans to toy with. When they are all dead, you are given another 15 and so on. What the challenge of this game is is to see how fast you can get these pawns to hit the ground. This competition is fueled by a series of counters in the top right of the screen detailing your Fastest Splatter Velocity, your Average Splatter Velocity and your Total Splatter Velocity. As there are no online leaderboards or high score lists, this game encourages you to challenge yourself to beat you own record. This game, like Warning Forever, is great to play around others. The classical music, mixed with screaming and the simple fact you are killing endless hoards of defenceless businessmen induces, at the very least a grin and a sense of demonic enjoyment and at most a cacophony of laughter as person after person hits the ground (I should use Cacophony more often!). Many a time I have been playing this game with friends, taking it in turns to beat each others top score, or to see who can get the best sounding rhythm of splatters.

BOOM!

BOOM!

“Attack of the Killer Swarm” is one of those games that will be pulled out at any occasion, the sort that you will show to your friends or simply just fire up to kill a minute or two. Its simple premise means that any one with fingers can play, its addictive gameplay means that they will play for a long time trying to get that elusive high velocity score and its small touches, such as music and sound, will mean that they will have fun doing it. This is simply a game that is an absolute pleasure to play

Mandarth Out

Tips for playing

  • The best results come from when The Swarm is at its tightest. Move it slowly.
  • Try bringing down a balled up Swarm slowly on top of a person.
  • Try to get the splatter sounds into some sort of rhythmic pattern. It sounds fantastic.

Mandarth’s Challenge

Ok, this one is fairly simple. My best score was a velocity of 208. Try and beat it!

Download from here!

Oct
04

I am a rather fickle person, often prone from jumping from one game to the next, leaving the one I was just playing stranded like a obese person at the bottom of a slightly steep flight of stairs. However,every so often a game comes along that I will continue to play forever. The sort of game that if I am ever bored while working, or have a few minutes free time, will always be number one on my list of pointless time-wasting things to do. Over the years, there has only been 4 of these games for me: Grand Theft Auto-San Andreas, Unreal Tournament 2004, Black and N. Seeing as three of these games involve stylised Hyper Violence, I imagine that at this point the Sesame Street Song “One of These Things is Not Like the Others…” is being played loudly in the back of your mind. So, if you will, please turn of the proverbial orchestra and let me explain myself.

N is the sort of game that I could play for hours. If ever I should be doing work, I play N instead. If, at 3am, I have still yet to start an essay that is due in 6 hours, I turn straight to N for distraction. If I ever begin the realise that I am about as far removed from attractive single women that would date me as Michael Jackson is from the Wiggles, N arrives to comfort me. You probably don’t know where I’m going with this, and probably neither do I, except to say that this entire paragraph is a lead up to a rather blunt statement that I think we can all appreciate and understand: N Is Good. Very Good In-fact. So with out further ado, lets get into the facts.

N, created and designed by Metanet Software, is of a genre I class as Puzzle-Platforming-Action, and shares a similar feel to such older games as Jetpack and Lode Runner. This game does something different to most of the games that I review as it attempts to add a story (*COUGH*) to explain away the stupidity of the setting. You play as a small, apparently malnourished, Ninja who suffers from a bizarre disease that I like to call Kleptomanic-Mortitis, meaning that all the bones in our hero will will spontaneously break out of sheer greed after 90 seconds if he doesn’t steal small pieces of gold. You are thus tasked with ensuring that he completes a series of obstacle riddled levels, stealing so much treasure that it would put a Middle Eastern Dictator to shame. That’s it. But hey, you can afford to have a story as weak and hastily thrown together as the Last Indiana Jones Film when you have game play this fun and addictive (Can you say ‘Desperate Grab for Cash’ Mr Lucas?).

Game play is set in a series of bizarre rooms filled with everything from roving laser eyes to electrified robots. Playing as your ninja, your main objective is to navigate these obstacles to reach the switch to open the door for the end of the level. However, grabbing as much gold as you can should also be of concern. The Game is split up into 100 episodes, each containing 5 levels (That’s 500 levels!). When you begin the first level of an episode, a clock begins to count down from 90 seconds. Each bit of gold increases your time by 2 seconds. That might not seem like much, but it all adds up. But here’s the trick: The time in which you finish a level is then carried over to the next. For example, if i finished the first level with 40 seconds to spare, I would then have 40 seconds to complete the next level. The same is true if i had 200 seconds to spare. Now, the first 20 or so episodes are easy enough to complete because gold offers itself as freely to the player as a drunk girl at a university bar, but pretty soon you will find yourself going out of the way to get gold, to give you those few precious extra seconds in the next level.

Our Brave Hero Clambers Up The Wall To Eternal Glory. Or Certain Death...

Our Brave Hero Clambers Up The Wall To Eternal Glory. Or Certain Death...

The path to the end of each level is always strewn with challenges, and as such your Narky little Ninja has an extensive repertoire of acrobatic skills. He can run ridiculously fast, jump half a level in a single bound, survive great falls, wall jump, wall slide and other skills of sheer unbridled ninja awesomeness. All of these moves are very easy to pull off and, in the hands of an experienced player, these skills can make for some amazing game play moments, such as recklessly jumping around a level, stealing hundreds of bits of gold, as you are chased by 6 heat seeking missiles. But don’t worry all those new comers! As there are 500 official levels, the learning curve is perfect to get into the swing of things. This doesn’t meant the game is easy though. Far from it actually. It just means that by the time it becomes keyboard breaking, frustratingly hard, you will know all the moves to help you finish. You might think that a game that causes people to have compulsive strokes over the sheer difficulty of a level might not be a good game at all, but N seems to have this little spark that keeps you replaying the level again and again till you get it right, even if you cant feel the left side of your face afterwards. Oh, and for all you crybabies out there that cant handle the pressure of making a precise jump through a minefield while being shot at by Gauss guns with only 7 seconds to go before death, there is an option to turn off the timer. But be warned, your score will not be registered, and the episode will not show up as being completed, simply ‘finished.’

A word on level design must now be said. In fact, lets go for 2: Expansively Varied. Over the 500 official levels, there was never a time that I came across a level that was the same as one of the others that came before it. Each episode brings something new to the table, whether it be a race against floating eyes or rocket launcher dodging fun. Levels cycle between situations where it is simply a race against the clock, to precision movement based tasks, to obstacle avoidance challenges to caves shaped like the face of Che Guevara. I have been playing this game for around a year now, and I am still finding new levels that I haven’t seen before. There is simply that many.

If this Isn't a Varied Level, I Don't Know What Is!

If This Isn't A Varied Level I Don't Know What Is!

Now, notice how before I said there were 500 Official Levels. If you didn’t catch on, that means that there is unofficial levels as well. The game itself comes with around 50 of the best user created levels around. These present even more types of game play, such as experimental levels. I recommend you check out those marked DDA levels, or Don’t Do Anything. All you have to to is click start and enjoy the ride. Some of them are so Fiendishly Clever, they deserve the capital letters I just gave them. All these levels don’t come from nowhere, they come from the in game level editor that is surprisingly easy to use. Anything you see in the game can be made in the editor as it contains every block, every enemy, every trap and every obstacle that you have beaten in the game. I admit that it could be a bit more streamlined, but hey, the games Free! The addition of user created levels, and the ability to make and share levels with your friends, makes this game extremely re-playable.

Don't Be Afraid To Try A Risky Move, Even If It Does Involve Jumping Towards A Forest Of Death Mines...

Don't Be Afraid To Try A Risky Move, Even If It Does Involve Jumping Towards A Forest Of Mines...

So, this is my love letter to N. Some may hate it, may find it too difficult. But I say its fine the way it is. It has everything you could possibly look for in a time waster: Hundreds of levels, Challenges, a degree of difficulty, its fun to play, it has ninjas and ‘bitchin’ ninja moves, almost infinite re-playability and the ability to create your own levels. It could only be greater if there were Pirates. It offers something for any type of time waster. Enjoy a challenge? Play N. Want a platform-esqe gaming experience that has more challenge than the staples, such as Mario? Play N. Are you the freak that likes to make their own creations and show them to ‘The World,’ rather than actually play the game? Play N. And Get out of the basement and get some Sunlight you freakish Vampire.

Mandarth Out!

Tips for Playing.

  • As with Warning Forever, You will Die. Get over it.
  • Don’t be afraid to attempt a risky move, but don’t be to hasty either. The penalty is usually a one way trip to Explody McFucked Up-Ville
  • Hesitation usually gets you killed
  • Please, do not break your computers in frustration
  • Look out for N’s Sequel, N+, available to download from Xbox Live.
  • If you make any levels, post them as word documents in the comments. Then ‘The World’ can enjoy them. Just get a tan.

Mandarth’s Challenge

  • Here’s a tricky one. Go to the User Created Levels and find the level Called ‘Brain N-Bolism.’ Its under the category ‘V-Hard.’ Finish this and you are the proverbial Jesus of N. Or you don’t have a life…

Download N From Here!

Sep
27

Before I go any further into this review I thought I might settle a potential problem that some may have with this game. After playing it, it is quite probable that Someone would say “Mandarth, you Sexual Dynamo! Burning Sand 2 isn’t a game at all, rather more like a tool or a fun program,” and then go off ridiculously pleased with themselves as if they had just singlehandely proved that gravity was a CIA plot to keep us on earth just that bit longer. So, In a pre-emptive strike that even America would be proud of, I say this back. A game is a very loose term, probably best described as “An activity, with specified goals and boundaries, engaged in by one or more people for the merriment of said persons.” Seeing as this definition also encompasses Burglary, Participating in KKK rituals and enjoying anything by Pauly Shore, you can see what I mean by ‘loose’ definition. So let my provide my own, one that perhaps applies more to electronic games than any other: “An Activity from which enjoyment is derived, achievements achieved, and time wasted.” Yes, I know it’s shocking, but you try and come up with something better. And on that note I can only say 2 other things:

  1. Many of the ‘games’ that this Blog shall review could be said to be merely applications. However, the fun comes from designing your own challenges and experimenting with the tools that it has to offer.
  2. If you cant take it, Piss off.

So now onto this weeks review!

 

Burning Sand 2, created by Max Nagl, is a small application that I came across when searching for “Free online Sandbox Games.” Discovering a website called “Fallingsandgame.com” I was presented with a number of different applications, all dealing with the same premise: Particles. Yes, Particles.  Rather than being as interesting as a Year 9 Science lesson, these games provided perhaps one of the most varied, unique and enjoyable timewasting experiences I have found so far. Each was based on a simple system. . The Premise is this: you begin with a blank screen and then through a series of icons, you place certain elements (Such as oil or water, each represented by different coloured falling piecesof sand) in the space and watch them interact. For example, placing oil to fall, and holding fire beneath it, would set the oil on fire and create a small explosion. There were many variations on this site, each catering to a different taste, such as ecology (Plants, seeds, dirt and water interactions) or Explosions (Fire andevery type of explosive imaginable), but the most popular of all of these was ‘Burning Sand 2.’ This is because it takes all of the features of the other applications and rolls them into one streamlined game.

 

The amount of options that Burning Sand 2 offers is fantastic. You can chose from a total of 5 different element categories- Earth Tools, Water Tools, Fire Tools, Nature Tools and Gas Tools. In each of these categories contains at least 5 other elements each with its own properties. Each of these tools can be selected and spawned into the game space in a variety of different shapes and sizes. “Wait a second Mandarth,” you may say, “I’ve put an element into the game space and, despite being a beautiful display of particle physics in a game engine, this act is as boring as a re-run of Scrubs!” To this I would reply “You’ve missed the entire point of the game you twat! …. And Scrubs is Awesome.” The whole fun of this game comes by treating it as a combination of Paint, The Incredible Machine and CERN. The whole point is to watch what happens when the elements interact, an activity that occurs with remarkable similarity to the real world. For example- if i was to line the bottom of the screen with a source of fire (Sources are places where an element never stops being created) and on to it pour a whole bunch of water, the first water to hit would turn into steam until the fire was overwhelmed. Then it would heat up, then boil and eventually turn to a new element-Steam. If you added salt to this, the water would turn into salt water and wouldn’t boil as fast. Another example- Setting fire to the element of wood would burn slower than if you set fire to the plant element, and the burning of the wood would leave another new element-Ash.

Many things explode in Burning Sand 2...

Many things explode in Burning Sand 2...

Quite a bit of the fun in this game comes from creating real world scenarios, and then watching what happens when you destroy the living crap out of them. I made a small ecosystem, complete with a forest, ocean, tectonic plates, rain and dinosaurs made out of fireworks, then gained immense pleasure from playing god by releasing a meteor storm upon the entire mess.

The game itself is very easy to deal with. Each of the elemental categoriesis set out under a banner of symbols so even if you cant read you can still pretty much understand what will catch fire and what will blow up. There are a ridiculous number of options to play with a well, ranging from the size and type of brush used to the direction and strength of gravity. You are given 3 different ways to play the game: Sandbox, Mods and Levels. However, there are only 2 poorly conceived levels, and though the Mods for the game may keep you interested for a while, the only purpose they serve is to reinforce the awesomeness you could be achieving by playing in the sand box.

In a whimsical note to all those people who, rather than playing a game, enjoy modding it you shall be pleased to know that this game is very modifiable and a multitude of different alterations can be made fairly easily.

An Example of A mod made with Burning Sand 2

An Example of A mod made with Burning Sand 2

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Burning Sand 2, my official Number 2 Post, and also my official 2nd favourite time waster. Tune in next week for Number 1!

Mandarth Out!

 

Tips for Playing

  • Run the game in full screen
  • Go nuts with your imagination
  • Experiment with different combinations of elements to see what happens.
  • If you need to get rid of something quickly, place the question mark element (?) under the X category and see what happens. However, i challenge you to get rid of it once its placed…

Mandarth’s Challenge

Attempt to create a chain reaction that lasts for over 10 minutes. For example, have water released onto fire, which turns into steam, which destroys the plants above it, which releases acid and so on. Post how long you got in the comments!

Download Here!

Burning Sand 2 Download Link. Scroll down the page to Download!

Sep
20

Hello, deviousJem here, Lord Mandarths web slave friend who set up his blog.

First off, congratulations on stumbling across the coolest new site on the ‘tubes.  Mandarth’s Cavern has the potential to go off with an absolute bang, create a lot of fun, and help a lot of people in the joyous art of procrastination.

Secondly, and this is very important, tell your friends about this blog. Ideally, we want to see lots of discussion about the games and what you think of them in the comments. Download, Play, Comment; pretty easy, savvy?

Thirdly, because we are using wordpress, which is awesome, you can subscribe to the RSS for instant updates whenever we add to the blog.  Click the RSS ticker in you address bar (look up) or click here for the direct link.  Also, because we’re using wordpress, downtime on this website should be at a minimum.

Finally, enjoy.  Hope you have fun, and please remember, don’t feed the Night Walrus.

Cheers,

deviousJem

Sep
20

As this is my first official post, I thought i better come out swinging with one of my personal favourites. And so i present to you “Warning Forever!” This game, created by Hikoza T Ohkubo under the name of his ‘Company’ Hikware, is probably best described as the bastard offspring of old fashioned fixed shooter games like ‘Alpha Core’ and borrows heavily from this genre. There are many things that it does differently however. Unlike the games of old, you are not confronted by wave after wave of increasingly powerful enemies to reach a boss. Unlike the games of old, you do not upgrade your weapon at all: your ship only containing one weapon that can fire in any direction you wish, at either a wide or concentrated spread. Instead, every wave takes the form of a single boss. That’s it. Just one guy. Now that might seem pretty simple (After all, its just one guy) but here is where all the fun of the game comes from. The first boss is very simple, aptly named the Pure Heart, and consists only of 8 weapons and 5 destroyable pieces, Including the core. However, depending on the way you destroy this first boss, the next one will compensate for the weakness of its predecessor by either increasing the armour of the sections that you destroyed or adding more weapons that are designed to stop you from using a similar strategy, this process repeating for each boss you destroy. For example, if you simply didn’t move, it will deploy massive lasers or wide spread cannon fire, forcing you to run out of the way. On the flip side, if you moved around and liked to dodge cannon fire, it will place more weapons like seeking missile launchers.

Now, with added weapons requires added space to place them.  As such, from around level 10 onwards, the bosses become more outrageous and convoluted than the Hair of a Japanese RPG character. Eventually they get so massive that it cant even fit all of it’s body on the screen at once. In essence, what we have here is a game that Learns how you play and provides an adequate challenge to compensate.

Meet the Pure Heart, the Decepivly Simple first Boss...

Meet the Pure Heart, the Decepivly Simple first Boss...

However, pretty soon, you get Monsters like this one.

However, pretty soon, you get Monsters like this one.

So, now a Little word on game play. If I was asked to describe it in two words, they would most definitely be “Addictively Insane.” The game has a way of simply sucking you into its world as you destroy Boss after boss. The game play is frantic, and there is never a time when you will not be screaming around the screen in your pathetically tiny ship running away from missiles, or cannon fire, or the boss itself. The ability to direct your fire is a good addition, and is absolutely necessary to be able to completely destroy some most of the later Enemies. There are two options of fire, the directable concentrated stream, or the wide spread shot that only goes forwards, but you will (And should) never use the second one. Its pointless. You will die if you stand still. Simple as that.

This game also comes with a number of extra features that enhance its re-playability factor. You can chose from a number of game modes, each presenting a different challenge. First is the basic mode, called 180 Seconds. Here you are given 180 seconds to get as far as you can. Each boss you destroy adds an additional 30 seconds. Each time you die, 20 seconds is taken away. The second game mode is Three Ships. You are given unlimited time and 3 lives to kill as many bosses as possible, with an extra life being awarded for every 100 sections of Enemy you blast. There are also 5 Minute Attack and Sudden Death game modes, along with the nifty feature to create a custom game mode of your own. Another good feature is the ability to watch a video replay of the last time you played the game. Not only does this mean you can study where you went wrong when playing, but you can show the absolutely Fucked Up enemies to your friends. And Trust Me, You Will Want To. This is a fantastic game to play with a crowd of people around you, as each time you finish a level will bring cheers from your fans, and each time the next boss reveals itself will be accompanied by laughter and cries of “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!”

“Warning Forever” is destined to become a classic among any fan of either Indie Games or frantic shoot-em-ups. The Games ability to adapt its fighting style to your particular taste of combat ensures that every time you play, you will see something different, experience something new, and get blown up by a different combinations of lasers, cannons and missiles. In the end though, I cant really tell you about this game. What I have seen is completely different to what you will. So all I really can say is “Download this now, and see why I just crapped on for 848 words!”

Mandarth Out!

Tips for Playing

  • Dont Stop Moving.
  • If you destroy a piece closer to the body, all those other pieces attached to it will explode as well.
  • You will Die. Get Over It.

Mandarth’s Challenge

Play this game on a custom mode where you have infinite lives and the timer set to 999. See how Far you can get. I have only managed to get to level 27 before time runs out!

Download from Here!

dlcount.cgi?product=wf

Sep
18

A Wise Man once said that it is perhaps better to live alone, to keep all the intertwining machinations of the mind inside, to never show the world that which you love for fear of being struck down and having your passions corrupted from within you. That man was a Fuckwit. Whats the point of having an ambition if you don’t show it to others? What will you become? A Wise Man probably, but that’s beside the point. The point is, I’m not the type to not show an ambition to others, whether it be boxing children or setting fire to ferrets. It just so happens that my passion is for Games. Not just Games, but inventive games. I’m not talking Halo inventive (Because who ever thought of firing a gun in a game before?), I’m talking about Games that do something out of the ordinary, that play with a concept that hasn’t been thought of, to use a technology that is radically new. So, Welcome to Mandarth’s Cavern, the container for the proverbial pile of treasure that is Intuitive Gaming, once Hoarded over by, and lovingly stolen from, the Great Green Dragon that is the Internet. So without further ado, our wanky mission statement! This Site now exists for Four sole purposes:

Number One- To provide you with a constant stream of intuitive, addictive, entertaining and original indie games that I, LORD MANDARTH, have collected from the vast regions of the Internet. Yes. Vast.

Number Two- To not only provide occasional game reviews, both of Mainstream and Independent games, but to provide in-depth studies of these games to see in detail what exactly the game has going for it, what it doesn’t, and possibly where the hell it went so God Damn Wrong.

Number Three- To provide snippets of News regarding the gaming world.

Number Four- To Provide a space where I can pointlessly ramble.

So here’s how its going to work people!

Every Week, I will endeavour to place either a copy, or a link to, a new and unique game, posting along with it an analysis of the game itself. Feel free to post back if you disagree or agree with any of the comments I make on any of the games. Most likely you will be completely Ignored, but have fun trying!

Stay Tuned for Official Post Number One!

Lord Mandarth, Guardian of the Frogtapus

Hail the Frogtapus, the Almighty God of Randomness

Hail the Frogtapus, the Almighty God of Randomness

Jun
28

Many things these days, such as films, television shows and books are often preluded by the phrase “On Acid” if they are meant to be some form of wacky or crazy. The thing is, they don’t often live up to these high expectations. “Hole in the Wall” was not the ‘Tetris on Acid’ surprise that the television guru’s promised, rather a show that wallowed in its own filth like an obese American with a bad case of Swine Flu. However, I can confidently say, without a doubt, that Plasma Pong is indeed ‘Pong on Acid.’

Plasma Effects

This game, though not without its bad points, is the sort of game that you will whip out to show your friends quickly before class or a meeting. Something that you will play in your spare time. Any time. The game is, in essence, a direct clone of Pong- the object being to push a small non-descript ball past the opponents bat to score points, each level becoming progressively harder. However, this version differs in a few ways. By clicking and holding down the left mouse button you can spew forth a stream of molten plasma to propel the ball towards the enemy. Be mindful that they are doing the same, and so your plasma will intermix and form currents that you should try to take advantage of if you want to succeed in this game. However, be warned: that task is by no means easy. Most people will simply just be content to play the game by just holding down the plasma button and going nuts. And indeed you can do that. It’s a very valid strategy.

Using the Vacuum Power

Using the Vacuum Power

Also, by clicking and holding down the right button you can create a Plasma Vacuum that can be used to attract the ball to your paddle. Beware though- this fail safe isn’t as reliable as you would think. Use it sooner rather than later.

The graphics in this game are quite remarkable. The plasma effects of each level are quite literally state of the art. Running this game on a high end computer, despite the games minuscule 6 megabyte size, is a must so you can simply see all the wondrous particle effects in their true splendor. Colours and patterns dance around the screen like something from an addict’s wet dream. It really is quite beautiful at times. The plasma effects are so beautiful at points I found myself forgetting I was playing a game and actually lost lives because I was looking at the pretty colours and not the ball. Luckily for all those who are easily distracted, press F1 during the game to be able to simply play around with all the plasma effects and lighting tools. It really is quite a show.

The music of this game provides something extra to this game- Atmosphere. The music starts off slow and in a tone that can be described by using no other word but Epic. Guitars, violins and ominous chanting will do that to a gamer. However, whenever you complete a level, the speed of the music goes up a tad, along with the pitch. This means that by level 15 you are being egged on by a bunch of cracked up squirrels. And you know what: that pumps you up even more than the slower chanting!

No, Seriously, Look at the Pretty Colours!

No, Seriously, Look at the Pretty Colours!

This is a great timewasting experience. Play it for 5 minutes to show your friends and marvel at the pretty colours. Play it for 10 minutes to waste some of your boring but valuable time. Play it for 20 to try and get past the games ridiculously punishing difficultly level. Just take this one word of advice- Do Not Play This Game On Acid!

Mandarth Out!

Tips for Playing:

  • No, seriously, Don’t Play This On Acid
  • Try to interpret where the Plasma currents will take the ball
  • Do not get distracted by the pretty colours

Mandarth’s Challenge:

Nice and simple today. Get past level 20. Have fun!

Download Here!

Jan
30

… two new players on the U.S. Political scene

presidentjembama2

Thanks to Obamicon.me