Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Duck Guardian One

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Videlectrix is the fictitious video game company that’s referenced on the Homestar Runner web site. Their ‘thing’ is that they create video games in a fairly old style, kind of like Atari 2600 or old DOS-style games.

Like Duck Guardian One, for example. It plays a whole lot like Lemmings, only instead of Lemmings you have Ducks, and instead of assigning various jobs to the Lemmings, you shoot the ducks with various ‘Rays’ that have different effects, like turning them around or making them jump. Your goal is to get a sufficient amount of them to the safety of the ship on the right side of the screen with minimal casualties.

Duck Guardian

And that’s pretty much all for this game. Every few levels you get a new gun and the ducks move faster and have more crap to avoid. The game apparently has some kind of ending to it, but I got bored about nine waves in, once I got the freeze ray. After that, there was too much juggling ducks and rays for my taste. Not to mention that I kind of ran out of ducks and my game ended.

No big loss, though. I’m actually pretty confident that I’ve seen everything in this game that I care to. And if I ever change my mind about that, I know where this game lives, so I can blow a few minutes reminding myself of what I thought about it, which wasn’t much.


Thursday, July 24th, 2008

It’s a pretty regular occurrence, you’ll buy a compilation of old games for your newfangled system because of the awesome game on the front, then when you get it home you realize that in order to get the ‘included games’ number up to a respectable level the developers were kind enough to include some ‘also-rans’. Like Microsoft’s Revenge of Arcade. Check out this box art.

This game compilation should have been called ‘Ms. Pac-Man and Some Other Stuff‘, since Ms. Pac-Man is what most folks are going to buy it for. But you install it… and some other games mysteriously show up on your computer. Then you go to get your Pac on and your mouse slips down a notch and you accidentally click on something else.

The game that I accidentally clicked on was something called Motos. A bizarre little game that I had never heard of before that stars you piloting some kind of ship on a platform. Your goal is to crash into the other… inhabitants of the platforms while they try to do the same to you. The enemies are faster, more maneuverable, hit harder, and more numerous than you, so you definitely have your work cut out for you.

The game is fun for about the length of time it takes you to play it once, so it kind of depends on how skillful your are with your ship maneuvering. But you’re going to see all that you need to see inside of fifteen minutes with it.

I wasn’t that impressed by it, and after playing it twice, just to make sure that it was as mediocre as I thought it was my first time through. It was, so I resolved to be more careful with my mouse clicks in the future.

Unreal Tournament 2K3

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

I never really could decide which game I liked better out of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. It was kind of a false dilemma anyway, so I just kind of played them both… poorly.

A few years later, though, and we got a sequel to Unreal Tournament, which a lot of the folks in this area gravitated to, and Quake 3 just kind of fell to the wayside. It’s interesting to me, then, that Unreal Tournament 2K3 actually started to look a whole lot like Quake 3 had.

I actually ended up playing this game a lot less than I had the original Unreal Tournament game. Mostly because I didn’t actually get the game until several months had passed since its release. Then, once I did actually get it, I only played it LAN parties. In fact, I only bought the thing so that I’d have something to do at the LANs. Then, a few months after I finally capitulated and bought the game an incremental sequel with slight tweaks and a few additions was released, Unreal Tournament 2K4.

That was the last straw for me. I refuse to be caught in the ‘buy a new football game every year with updated rosters’ upgrade treadmill. Not only that, but a scant couple of months after I bought 2K3 all the folks at the LANs I went to abandoned it and went to the new darling of first-person shooters. So, not only did I not get into 2K4, I removed 2K3 and resolved to not play it any more if I had to keep upgrading every year.

Toaster Run

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Another of the games in the After Dark Games collection was a weird little adventure game based on the screensaver that made the company famous, flying toasters.

So how would you make a game about flying toasters?

It turns out that it’d be a pseudo-3D affair that tasks you as the titular toaster in a quest to fly through a house that’s rife with anti-toaster everything, and you have to gather up all of some baby’s discarded toys and then put him, her, or it to bed.

This is actually the most complicated game in the collection. Mostly because it’s kind of hard to navigate your ridiculous toaster through the ridiculous house, collecting crap, and trying to get to the end. It’s not actually all that exciting.

I played this game a little bit, but didn’t ever make it very far into it. Mostly because, compared to the other games in the collection, it was exponentially more complicated than any of the others. It also wasn’t just something you could pick up and have some success for about a minute or so like some of the other ones. In fact, the only times I can remember even starting the thing was either: to see what it was like or because I accidentally clicked on it when I meant to play something else.

R.O.S.E. Online

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

In the in-between time after I played Final Fantasy XI and before I played World of Warcraft I got a whiff of another MMORPG that was under development. And since those wacky game developers needs lots of help in the form of real-world testing and feedback, that meant that this game was going to be free to obtain and free to play.

And free is one of my favorite prices.

Now, I don’t really know what the story in the game is supposed to be. Something about some goddess creating some planets, and then some other god wresting control of one of the planets for his own nefarious ends. So she sends out adventurers to the various planets in the solar system to… um… stop him somehow?

After I downloaded the game and went through the character creation process, I couldn’t help but notice how cutesy the game was. Just about all the player characters look like they’re prepubescent kids, and the tutorial island is full of ‘jelly bean’ monsters for you to cut your fighting teeth on.

This is all well and good, but not exactly my cup of a delicious warm beverage.

But I slogged along anyway. I took my training weaponry and my training armor and attacked the training enemies with gusto. But I was mystified by the controls, I had a hard time targeting anything. I was stymied by the dialog boxes, text broke in weird places and didn’t have impeccable grammar.

So, after I finally killed a bagful of jelly beans and made it off the training island, I made it into the world proper, and decided to log out for the day.

Then I never felt compelled to play the game again. It just didn’t do anything for me. The whole thing was kind of ‘blah’ to me. I think the hype around the game was pretty much due to the fact that it was a freebie, and not because it was any kind of ground-breaking thing.

But, I hear that it’s going to be free to play again real soon now, so that’s something going for it, I guess. Even though I don’t think I’m going to take advantage of it.

Unreal Tournament

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

At about the same time that Quake III came out, it was directly competing with another game with roughly the same premise: Unreal Tournament. It came from the Unreal series of games that I never did play, but instead of focusing on some kind of single-player story, this installment was all about the multi-player deathmatch.

In fact, this game is a lot like Quake III. The main differences are that the characters look less ‘chunky’, the selection of weapons is different, and the physics are a little different. Superfans of each game might tell you that there’s more differences than that between them, and they’d be right, but the other differences aren’t really anything you’ll probably care about unless you’re one of those superfans, so they’re really not worth mentioning here.

What I found that was kind of weird was that the people in my area that liked First-Person-Shooter type games would divide themselves into two camps, the UT crowd and the Q3 crowd. I’d go to one LAN party (Pr0ject-X) and Quake III would be the game everyone would be playing, then I’d go to another (AsylumLAN), and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t playing Unreal Tournament. Well, either that or Counter-Strike, which was kind of popular no matter where I went.

But I never really saw the point of being a rabid fan of either game. I liked them both. They were each different enough that I could enjoy each of them in their own way. Which was actually pretty nice since one or the other seemed to rule the roost at the various LAN party events that I would go to.

And even though I played a fair bit of both games, my aim never really appreciably improved. I don’t really know why, but I suspect that, while I played each game for several dozen hours each, had I played each one for several hundred hours, I would have noticed some improvement. But I just didn’t have it in me to invest an amount of time that would qualify as a full-time job to get better at some game, when I had piles of other games sitting around waiting for me to play them.


Monday, April 7th, 2008

I’m not much of a programmer. I’m familiar with the basics, but couldn’t program a paper bag or my way out of it. But I can appreciate folks wanting to hone their craft by doing challenges.

One of the more impressive challenges that I’ve seen was someone or some group that made a complete game in less than 100K of disk space. A game with music, sound effects, and enemies with (somewhat limited) artificial intelligence in less space than a picture that you might take with your cell phone.


Yeah, the game’s short, and the artificial intelligence isn’t real smart, and the initial load time is kind of long. But it’s a whole game that you can play through in a few minutes, and that only takes a few seconds to download.

Sounds awesome to me!

You can check out the game at its website, here.

Quake III Arena

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Quake II was pretty fun, but I only really played the multiplayer portion, and I know I’m not alone in that. And when the next game in the series finally rolled around it was nothing but multiplayer deathmatch stuff, which I always thought was kind of odd.

Quake III is a game where you go around shooting stuff. It’s apparently the far-flung future, so there are humans, aliens, cyborgs, that kind of thing, all trying to kill each other faster, better, and more efficiently than everyone else. It’s something that I had only experienced as the multiplayer facet of a full game. It was just kind of weird to play it as the focus for a change, and I’m not really sure I liked it better.

I ended up playing this game quite a bit, but never really got very good at it. I just don’t really have the aim for it, or the patience to play the game enough to build up the aim to be very good at it. So why do I continue to play games like this? Mostly because my friends did, and that’s what all the cool kids did at the LAN parties I went to. And if I didn’t play them, there wouldn’t be much to do at the local LAN parties.

Bookworm Adventures

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The original Bookworm game was really fun… if you like words. Which I do. But the game was a little, I dunno, lacking variety, I guess. I mean, you just spell words in the same old library until the library burns down. And, while watching the library burn down is pretty exciting, until you get to that point it’s pretty blah. But, I still invested far too many hours in that game than I probably should have. On the upside, I now know lots of little words that I haven’t actually bothered to find out definitions to. Like ‘qua’.

A few years later I saw that there was an addition to the Bookworm universe, an adventure game of sorts. And since I like words and adventure games, I felt an obligation to give it a once-over.

As it happens you, the titular worm, have to slowly work your way to the right spelling words to vanquish foes. Your goal is to eventually rescue Cassandra, who’s in some kind of trouble or other. It doesn’t really matter much, it’s just a pretext to explain the Greek-themed backgrounds, characters, and monsters.

One of the biggest steps in the right direction for me was the slight change in the way you select letters. In the previous game all of the letters had to be contiguous, which made it much tougher. This time the letters can come from anywhere on the board, which makes it much much easier to smith your words.

Although I only played the demo, I ended up playing it several times over. I just really liked the concept of being able to slaughter waves upon waves of foes by being particularly loquacious and sesquipedalian. Something that I also enjoy quite a bit in real life.

I guess I should probably look at purchasing the full version of the game, but I’m kind of concerned. I mean, I lost more than one evening to the demo. If I get the full version of the game I might miss work for a few days.

But that would be an awesome few days.

Guild Wars

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

I’ve played a couple of MMORPGs over the years, but they’ve all got one thing in common: keep the player playing as long as possible to keep bringing in the monthly fee. Guild Wars is a little different, though. It still features hundreds, possibly thousands of people playing the same game in the same virtual world at the same time, but this one manages to do it without that pesky monthly fee.

Guild Wars really has two parts: story and battling. Story has you going through the epic tale of the kingdom being invaded by the evil Charr. You go through a series of missions designed to move the story along, but what’s kind of weird is that there are cities dotted around the landscape. These cities act as hubs where players can congregate, talk, organize groups, and where you can allocate your skills (more on that in a bit). The giant expanse of countryside between the cities is where you’ll be spending your time doing the missions and generally slaughtering evil, but the thing is that each group gets their own private copy (or ‘instance’) of the area. That way there aren’t folks fighting for resources, and your group gets to experience the story at their own pace.

The game, like other MMORPGs, is focused on getting people in groups and general socializing. So it allows you to take these groups, here called ‘Guilds’ (big surprise, eh?) to do your normal adventuring, but also for intra-guild fighting. And although you can fill up your group with computer-controlled folks for wandering around the countryside and killing things, you need to have people for the Guild battles. I never bothered joining a guild or tweaking my character for Guild combat. Why? Partially because I really only like playing with people I know personally, and I only know one other person who plays this game. Two people make a pretty shabby guild. The other reason is that I found the character customization to be a bit limiting. Early on in the game you have to pick two classes for your character, and each of the two classes comes with a laundry list of skills. And you can only have eight of them at a time. It kind of reminds me of Pok√©mon, where you get a couple of hundred monster choices, but can only use six.

So how does this game remain free? Unlike the ridiculously awful 9 Dragons there aren’t ads plastered all over the place, which is pretty nice. But what the game does have is a periodic ‘content pack’ and ‘expansion pack’ so that every few months you buy access to more game to while away the hours. Though if you buy the content packs every few months, you end up spending about the same that you would with the monthly fees of some other MMORPGs… but of course buying the content packs is totally optional. You can play as long as you like with the bare bones pack, so long as other folks are buying expansions and other goodies to keep the game afloat. And, since the last expansion was released in August of last year, I think there are plenty of folks doing just that.