Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Internet game of the week: Platform (Flash)

I got an email from Lewis Mitchell, creator of Platform, last week. Somehow I assumed that it was a new project, and that there was only one level at hand. Seems it's been official for the last 17 weeks. That means, since it's an episodic web game, that there are 17 levels available for you at the moment. I haven't had the time to play all of them, but they seem to draw some inspiration from SNES classic The Lost Vikings and other puzzle platformers. It's got traps. I love traps. I suggest you give it a try.

Here's a link to the Platform archives.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Retro game of the week: Pro Wrestling (NES)

Pro Wrestling was released back in 1986, as the first wrestling game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I'm sure everyone who ever came across that console have fond memories of it. The game featured only six wrestlers; Fighter Haybusa, Star Man, Kin Corn Karn, The Amazon, Giant Panther, and, of course, King Slender. They were all noteworthy. Still, Star Man is the one you remember most vividly and the one you always wanted to play, more than anything. The two-player mode had more replay value than most other games, and the fact that it isn't available on the Virtual Console network is beyond me. I hope Nintendo will come to their senses soon and release it.

Play it in your browser by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Download of the week: Sword of Fargoal (PC/MAC)

I'm gonna do a couple of RPG posts this week, I think. First out is a remake of classic dungeon crawl Sword of Fargoal, originally published in 1983 through a Silicon Valley company called Epyx, famous for pioneering adventure games such as Temple of Apshai and others. If you haven't tried it already, it's basic hack and slash: Exploration, red potions, fireball traps and experience points.

Click here to download Sword of Fargoal for PC, and here for MAC.

Internet game of the week: Average Shoveler (Flash)

This is really something else. Since we've stumbled upon other intriguing non-games, I thought you might be interested in this. Inspired by the graphic layout of Leisure Suit Larry (1987), Average Shoveler is an online game of sorts. The location is East Village, New York. It is snowing. Each flake of snow contains an image taken live from news/politics/sport/entertainment web channels, while people tell you top stories gathered from same sources. Now, while information seeps into your brain, your only alternative is to shovel it away, saving your life from the daily soft bombing of information overload. There is no way to win. While your are experiencing a fictional environment, you are playing with feedback (text and images) coming from the real world. It's weird. Check it out.

Click here to "play" Average Shoveler.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Retro game of the week: Hammer of the Gods (PC)

Hammer of the Gods is a turn-based strategy game published in 1994, developed by New World Computing for DOS. The events of the game take place in the Viking age, but steeped in a generic fantasy setting to make us feel more at home. The goal of the game is to build an empire through expansionism while completing a set of goals, specified by the gods of Norse mythology. Victory conditions are different for each of the four races present in the game (the usual suspects) - Humans, Elves, Trolls and Dwarves. In order to complete Odin's final quest, the Humans must possess magic weapons, the Elves must control a fixed percentage of the population, the Trolls must build a large army and the Dwarves must own a large amount of gold.

Beside capturing (grey) neutral cities, British bastions and churches are also scattered across the Civilization-inspired map. I don't remember any resource handling, but maybe you could fill me in? Anyway, when attacking a city, the combat mode is similar to that of Heroes of Might and Magic. An interesting feature of the battles is that every unit has the possibility of parrying a blow, which, according to some, made combat less predictable. It's also quite capable of irritating the hell out of you. But who plays defensive, anyway? It's all or nothing. Hammer of the Gods also featured basic diplomacy, a random map generator and some decent multiplayer options.

The game disappeared quickly from store shelves (weak marketing campaign being one of the culprits), but Hammer of the Gods is, to the few who enjoyed it back in 1995, one of the most underrated strategy games.

Download it here. I reckon you'll need DOSbox to run it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Internet game of the week: Toxic (Flash)

Toxic is a game by Nitrome, who are also responsible for hook-shot favorite Frost Bite and other nice pixel games. Lay bombs, blow stuff up, find your way.

Click here to play Toxic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Download of the week: Banana Nababa (PC)

Time for some flimsy boss battles. Banana Nababa (formerly known as Boss Arena) is actually all about boss encounters, as you ascend a tower, facing the horrors lurking on each floor. There's a total of six bosses to defeat, and it's quite difficult. Given, I couldn't do it. That's nothing new, though. Arrow keys to move, F to jump, D to attack, and Space to toggle weapon. It has great music too, by the way.

Download it by clicking here (direct link, 2.5 MB).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Internet game of the week: Transmigration (Flash)

You really have to play this to understand what I'm talking about. It's a high-paced, side-scrolling animation/shooter with a great upbeat soundtrack to boost. What's it about? I don't know. But how often do you get to play a game where you can be a dragon, a shark, a puma, and a bunch of fish? That's right.

Click here to play Transmigration.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Random Encounters: Resident Evil 5 (360/PS3)

A current debate has surged since the release of the Resident Evil 5
trailer, post E3 2007. When I saw it, I knew the setting of the game and the ethnicity therein was going to be a problem. Most people did. Now, since I've developed a craving for more comments on the posts published, I'd like to make a serious attempt at a discussion. Retro gaming and social commentary. Can't fail, right?

It's perhaps the most predictable debate in video game history then, in a time when the UK bans Manhunt 2
. A few newspapers has cared to address it, for example The Village Voice, and an African blog, which found it very offensive. The most troubling aspect of the game seems to be the setting, known, even to this day and through history, as the "dark continent". The other problem being that the protagonist is a white man who arrives at a ravaged continent to cure it of its plague, liberate its people, fight the virus and not getting infected himself. The AIDS connection is obvious in this case, making the decision to set it upon African soil a politically charged one. Changing the main character could perhaps smooth things over, and so would relocating the setting.

To get an outside opinion, I showed the trailer to a friend who isn't interested in video games at all. She reacted strongly to its graphic nature. Not only is it too much like current events and in poor taste politically, she argued, but the realistic graphics are also a huge problem. And so we stumble dangerously close to the old debate of photo-realism...
With some luck, I hope Capcom try to emphasise the exploitation and problems of the African continent, merging it with the plot, and, as the trailer doesn't reveal any plot structures, that it merely looks bad right now because so little information about the game has been released.

Watch the trailer.
Is shooting life-like African villagers taking it a step too far? Could Capcom get away with relocating the setting to (for example) Haiti, and why? Is this even worth arguing about? Share your thoughts.