Saturday, February 10, 2007

Download of the week: Invalid Tangram (PC)

Yet another shooter? Yes, but this time with Tetris-esque elements. Invalid Tangram is a 2D game that's part vertical shooter and part puzzle. The design, programming, and art were all done by Josh Szepietowski in 2005, and uses vector rendering to produce its original graphics. Invalid Tangram was chosen as one of ten Student Showcase Finalists out of more than 100 entrants in the 2007 Independent Games Festival, and is well worth a look.

Click here to download Invalid Tangram (1 MB).

Friday, February 9, 2007

Internet game of the week: Polarity (Flash)

Ikaruga, once hailed as one of the hardest shooters ever, has a less aggravated cousin: Polarity (Stimunation Games). Gameplay is essentially the same as its Japanese relative. It's a top-down shooter with red and blue enemies. You control a ship that can switch between these two colors for both offensive and defensive advantages.

Polarity was in fact commissioned for Wrigley's Candystand website and advertises Eclipse gum.
God bless product placement.

Click here to waste a few minutes on Polarity (flash version).

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Download of the week: Knytt (PC)

Featured as "Internet Game of the Month" in Edge #172 (February), Swedish creator Nifflas, known for his Within a Deep Forest outing, has created Knytt, which is more of the same pixelated 2D goodness and superb music Deep Forest offered. It's a pure, minimalistic platform game that suggests exploration rather than the ordinary challenges of traditional platformers.

Knytt is free, and you can download it (19 MB) here.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Review: Final Fantasy III (DS)

I can't understand why everyone is complaining about Final Fantasy III (Square Enix). It's a remake, a makeover. It's not supposed to be mind-numbingly good and set the standard for games to come. Instead, it is as much a homage to the old Famicom version as it is to the heritage of old-school role playing games.

The story involves villagers in trouble, dames in distress, evil counselors, four orphans and four magic crystals. It has pretty graphics and well-written, entertaining dialogue. What more could you ask for?

FFIII is also a technical achievement, with vivid colors and lovely rendered characters. However, it makes little use of the dual screens. The top screen is blank for most of the time, and the obvious choice would've been to put a dungeon map or at least the rather dull world map up there. On a more positive note, I'm actually using the stylus! There are a few other issues that mar the experience, as well. FFIII, being old-school, is almost devoid of side quests. And when you think you've found one, there is no way to keep track of the quests - not even a logbook where to actually read all the important conversations you skipped through to get to the action.

The game doesn't hold you by the hand at all and can be frustratingly difficult at times. If enemy battles are generally quite easy and tend to get repetitive, the opposite can be said about the bosses: behemoths of hit points, capable of taking out your entire party within two or three turns. The lack of checkpoints or the ability to save before encountering a boss is therefore sometimes hard to forgive.
And so, Final Fantasy III is everything it should be. It's not a let-down. It's a polished, linear and time-consuming RPG, complete with level-grinding, random encounters and clich├ęs.