Rad Raygun

When people mock the 80s, they tend to mock synthesizers, tall hair, and movie montages. When games mock the 80s, they joke about how we accepted a lot of shit when it came to video games. Strangely enough, it’s not all that common for games to mock the other big event from the 80s, apart from New Coke of course. By that, I mean the Cold War. Finally someone has stepped up to the plate. Enter Rad Raygun.

I previously hadn’t read up on the game much other than to see that it looked like a Mega Man clone. I haven’t played one of those since Vintage Hero so I was ready to give it a shot.

After a few minutes, it was clear that I was wrong in that it isn’t a Mega Man clone but more of a Mega Man-inspired game. It has some similarities in that you’re a robot with a blaster and that it’s a platformer with boss battles at the end of each stage, but there are many differences that make this title stand apart.

White House Down!

White House Down!

In this trek through 198X, you are Ray Raygun, a robot on a mission to bringing the war Soviets have started back to Russia after they attacked Washington DC. In your adventure which takes you to the Berlin Wall, Chernobyl’s nuclear plant, and the Kremlin, you’ll encounter the cutest little Soviet robots and missiles to destroy in this light-hearted look at the Cold War.

Setting itself apart from Mega Man, rather than copying the abilities of the bosses you defeat, you gain abilities as you find them on the ground such as a slide maneuver to sneak under things, a mid-air moonwalk that allows you to cross gaps, and an aimable cannon shot that helps you reach enemies placed at an angle your blaster has trouble reaching.

Poking fun at the 80s era of video games is a tried and true method to get a few laughs. Right away you’re treated to a joke about how enemies will reappear the instant you backtrack even a few pixels. While typically annoying in the games it’s mocking, it’s not a big deal here because none of the enemies are overly difficult and serves its purpose as an amusing quirk.

There is a fun nod to Tetris while inside the Kremlin where you can actually play the classic game in order to, I assume, gain bonuses to your power-ups. I only assume because while it is a cute nod, unless I’m missing something, controls for this mini-game were brutally difficult in that every few seconds, a piece would fall in a certain location depending on where your character was on the board and which direction he faced. If you want a piece to fall where you are standing, you’re out of luck for there is little you can do to get out-of-the-way before the piece comes crashing down. It would have been nice if the player could control when the piece fell rather than let it be a timed event since a game like Tetris requires careful placement of blocks.

The levels are laid out in a fashion along the same vein of Mega Man with a few key differences.

The game makes it a point to simulate the way stages, as in Mega Man, would “scroll” when you reach the border of an area, but it forgets one thing. Enemies and enemy attacks that occur during the scroll should be forgotten by the game and disappear. Something so seemingly minor in text here comes off as quite an annoyance while playing. I encountered a few areas where an enemy was able to fire homing missiles at me off-screen and I would have to flail about to avoid the attacks.

A Tetris minigame found in Moscow.

A Tetris minigame found in Moscow.

While there is never a dull moment in fighting off the sheer number of baddies in Mega Man, many of the areas in this game are devoid of any life at all. These areas are purely for aesthetic reasons such as, “A cooling tower is tall so we will make it tall in our video game.” This is all fine and dandy but give me something to shoot! No one wants to walk through an empty game where they’re encouraged to kill all the things and there are no things.

I encountered a few bugs along the way but nothing game-breaking and not really worth mentioning other than one that was a bit strange. If backtracking and you cross back through one of the “scroll” areas and were hit while the game scrolled, crossing back through that scroll would cause you to take damage again, even if there were no longer enemies there. While I did die to this once, the game is easy enough and lives are plentiful that it wasn’t anything more than a small annoyance.

It may seem like I’m picking on a number of things here but actually, I had a lot of fun with this title and children of the 80s and those with a little knowledge about the global politics of the era will laugh at the nice touches the devs added to make this title stand out. It’s a cute homage to the time of my youth that, for the most part, does what it tried to do well.

At its cheap price ($1), this is a fun title that you can finish in a short amount of time and I highly recommend it. Between the Tetris area mentioned above, Matryoshka Sputniks, and a lone red balloon floating, there was plenty to make me giggle with delight.

title

Rad Raygun was developed by Trufun Entertainment.

IGTlogo-01For 36 rubles, you can pick up this game and beat up Soviet-era commies with capitalism.

Rad Raygun has been awarded the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.

Deo

Deo is a 3D platformer for the PC that is, for me, reminiscent of games from yesteryear. When I turned on the game, I was reminded of the Playstation 2 days with its soft, bright graphics and even softer music as a backdrop for whatever new 3D world I was about to be roaming around in. This one definitely feels like it took some cues from Spyro the Dragon in graphics and then looked at, well, just about any platformer from that era on collection quests. We were really excited to collect all sorts of shit in those days, weren’t we?

The mushrooms laugh at you when they kill you, which happens often.

The mushrooms laugh at you when they kill you, which happens often.

The story for this game is that a dragon stole your crown and you must get it back. That’s about as good a reason as any for me! I’ve played a bunch of games that had even less going for them. Perhaps it’s nostalgia for a gaming era gone by, but I had hope for this game when I read up on it. Unfortunately, right from the initial boot-up, things went downhill quickly.

Some of the features that are advertised for this game include:

  • Full controller support.
  • Unique input model.
  • The rich set of actions and game mechanics make Deo a truly challenging game for even the most experienced gamers.
  • Featuring a cutting edge “smart” camera system for seamless, dynamical game experience.

The first three can be lumped together, so let’s talk about them first, shall we?

Full controller support. That’s great! No one wants to run around in a 3D platformer that requires quick reflexes with a keyboard if they can help it. Don’t get too excited too quickly, though, because the controller is a huge burden on the menu screens. The smallest movement on the analog stick sends your cursor flying, requiring you to switch to your keyboard when you want to do anything such as go to the options screen or load up a previously started game. It’s so awkward!

In-game movement is not much better, as the smallest nudge on the analog stick registers as applying full force. No! No no no no no. Even Super Mario 64 back in 1996 got this right. Hell, I got this right in my Intro to C# game I made last autumn. When someone asked about movement on Desura’s page for the game, the developers kept insisting it has eight-directional movement, something completely different.

I alt-tab a lot during games to either check emails, post classy things on Twitter, or be distracted by cats on Reddit. Imagine my surprise, then, when I alt-tabbed and came back to the game a moment later to discover that it had completely lost the ability to recognize controllers. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Another promoted feature states the game has “rich actions and game mechanics”. Okay, well, there’s run, jump, glide, and shoot. To their credit, this is over three times the number of actions in Star Runner that I played a while back.

One of the first things you’ll experience when you load up the world is that your weapon is awkward but effective. It’s short-ranged, spreads fireball of sorts, and allows you to hit enemies in an arc which is useful since the controls aren’t all that hot. You can also charge up your fireball, which turns it into a powerful, fireball that shoots straight ahead. However, being that you can’t aim it worth shit, there’s no point in charging it up.

Suggestive feature in the distance.

Suggestive feature in the distance.

In order to progress through the game, you need to gather musical notes in each world’s stages. Hidden in various places, they typically lay encased in large, crystalline monoliths that look like something from bad-dragon.com (not that that’s a bad thing). To reach to the note, you need to touch the dildomonolith to make it dissipate. Don’t stand too close to the object when it’s finished dissipating for it explodes and will kill you. ಠ_ಠ

Another “mechanic” is gathering gems throughout the maps which don’t actually seem to do anything. Coins in Mario games add up to give you extra lives, and rings in Sonic games allow you to be hit without dying, but these gems seem to be there for nothing more than to serve as things to gather that make blips when you pick them up. There are two types of chests that hold crystals: silver ones that are destroyed with by fireball and gold ones that require a key to open but hold the exact same loot as silver chests. The game tries to encourage you to pick up keys, but there’s no point. All you need to do is find musical notes and advance.

The “smart camera” that the description boasts about? It means that you have to control it 95% of the time with the L and R buttons. You are the brains of a camera which, when left to its own devices, has no issue with trying to kill you. Sometimes you’re launched into the air, and where you land is vital to you not being hit by an enemy. What does the camera do? It locks itself under you, giving you no idea where you should try to land to avoid an untimely death. At other times you will turn a corner but the camera angles itself in such a way that it’s impossible for you to know an enemy is waiting to take you out until you’ve memorized its location after dying a few times.

You'll never kill those bats because they don't fly low enough to hit them.

You’ll never kill those bats because they don’t fly low enough to get hit.

The music isn’t atrocious though it, too, has a problem. On occasion, some sounds effects such as the one that plays when you blow up one of the many chests lying around cause the music to restart. Sometimes it restarts twice in the same second!

A lot of passion goes into making games, and I’ve no doubt the brothers who made this gave it their all. I hope these criticisms are taken to heart and consideration is given to improve the game. There’s potential to make it not that bad, but in its current form, it suffers heavily. Unfortunately, the devs seem to have abandoned the project as it is still on version 1.0 and has been out since May 2013.

I like to take my own screenshots when I can, but for Deo I had no choice but to use press kit pictures because none of my screenshots would turn out. If you’d like to see footage of the game and some of its problems, you may rewatch my stream here: Miko Plays “Deo”.

DeoDeo was developed by linman3D.

This game is $13 and I’m going to go find a copy of Spyro to play.

Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender (PC Version)

For new Indie Gamer Chick fans, meet Miko, aka Sabriel, the next Indie Gamer Chick. Heir to my throne. A passionate and talented gamer, and one of my dearest friends. Follow her on Twitter

The world’s milk supplies are running out, and the cats must do something or suffer from the loss of their most precious resource. In a bold, some would say crazy, maneuver, they are taking to the depths of the ocean to mine for milk and save the world.

aquakitty01Ridiculous story, yes, but this arcade shooter is fun to play. Covered by the Indie Gamer Chick herself last July, she describes it perfectly in that it’s a Defender clone both in waves of enemies, a radar to show you where the action is off-camera. And protecting ur mans from being taken away. Here you’re attacked by waves of mechanical enemies who are trying to take you out and trying make off with kitties who are manning (kittying?) the milk pumps that lay at the bottom of the ocean. Once you complete a stage, you’ll head to the map screen which records your high scores and allows you some freedom as to which area you head to next.

aquakitty03There are two game modes: 1) one where your upgrades are automatic after each stage and can restart from the same stage if you die; and 2) one where you are able to choose your upgrade as you collect power-ups within stages but start over from the beginning if you die. I spent some time with both and discovered that I don’t prefer one over the other; each has its place and is fun in its own ways.

In later stages, enemies come at you at a very fast pace which leads to pure chaos. You are, however, rewarded if you can make combos with careful use of explosive fish to blow up enemies. The higher of a chain you can make, the more points you’re rewarded with, and larger chains have the added side effect of making your life easier as you take out massive amounts of enemies at once.

I really love the chiptune music in this game and have even been listening to it outside of the game. You can find the music on SoundCloud here if you’d like to have a listen: https://soundcloud.com/electriccafe/sets/aqua-kitty-milk-mine-defender

aquakitty02This is where I normally rail on some annoying, horrible mechanic that was designed purely to piss me off. I’ve got nothing, really. I like this game a lot, and it’s a great homage the SNES era. The graphics are pretty, the music is awesome, and it felt appropriately difficult on its own merit rather than me fighting the system. I’ve got little but praise for this game and felt it worth the price.

Time and game allowing, I’ve also decided to start recording and posting videos of me playing the games I review as well. If you’re so inclined, you can watch me playing here: Miko playing Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender

Out for PC, 360, and PS Vita, Aqua Kitty—Milk Mine Defender is a cute little arcade shooter that is too good to pass up.

kittylogo

Aqua Kitty—Milk Mine Defender was developed by Tikipod.

IGTlogo-01The game costs $6 to $7 on a multitude of platforms, and I just wrote an article about milk pumps without talking about boobs.

Aqua Kitty is the first game to earn both a Seal of Quality from Miko and Cathy. Congratulations to Tikipod!

This is for Hypership. For Abduction Action! Plus, picture Sweetie with pock marks on her face, blood dripping out of her nose, the stench of death on her, with skulls and crossbones all around the edges saying "not approved for any use besides enhanced interrogation."

The first Miko-Cathy double sealed game!

Ultionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge

Petty revenge, my favorite.

Ultionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge is a SHMUP/platformer (SHMUP-former? former-SHMUP?) where you play as Serena, heroine of the universe, who is out for revenge after being trolled on Spacebook by the Space Prince. After crash landing on his planet, you have to make your way through a number of stages to reach his castle so you may exact revenge.

A normal start.

A normal start.

The game pulls its looks from PC games of the mid-90s—classics such as Jazz Jackrabbit and Duke Nukem. It looks great and the animations are fluid. Regarding animations, the game does have some…suggestive assets that may turn some users onto or off from it. The heroine is quite voluptuous, and the opening sequence takes particular care to emphasize this. She also runs around in a barely-there space suit as she makes her way to the final castle. I felt it was done in a humorous manner, but I can see it being a problem for some.

I want to point out the controls because, to me, they are one of the most important aspects of any game. Ultionus takes time to get used to. The opening stage is your standard space SHMUP, but once you’re on the planet’s surface, things change drastically. One of my largest complaints with this game is also one of the most common complaints I read online, it’s that you can’t fire while moving. The game does try to use part of one stage to get you used to the idea but it’s still jarring once the action starts. If you do stop, you’re unable to keep up with the enemy spawns as you try to clear a path. Most players probably stop at this point but if you master jumping while moving, an action that doesn’t slow you down, you’ll be fine.

She stopped to shoot. Bad idea!

She stopped to shoot. Bad idea!

I played through Ultionus on Normal, and while there were some portions of the game where I died a lot that gave me some trouble, overall the game didn’t feel terribly difficult. You get nine lives and unlimited continues, which makes beating the game a venture that takes maybe a couple of hours your first time.There are a handful of vehicle stages where you are rewarded for how fast you can smash the Fire key which will kill your wrist. I had to take a day’s break to recover after one such stage.

One part of the game made me question the design of its absurd art style the first time I saw it: The Game Over screen depicts a “bad end” scene with the main character bent over, drooling and ass in the air. (NSFW-ish, triggering pic) It caught me off guard and left me feeling awkward.

All in all, I would not recommend this game. I did enjoy parts of it and the ending was satisfying, but the overall length of the game and easy patterns in boss fights left much to be desired.

ultionuslogoUltionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge was developed by Last Dimension. It may also be found on Ouya

$for 9.99 you’ll be able to share this dish served cold.

Solar Flux

Games such as Solar Flux rarely hold my interest for very long, so I was very surprised when I found myself in the last few levels of this 82-stage game.

Hiding from a flare.

Hiding from a flare.

Solar Flux is a space-themed action puzzler not all that unlike Angry Birds or Cut the Rope where you have objectives for each stage and are rewarded with skill stars the better you do. Here you’re saving dying stars by shooting plasma into them. You collect this plasma with your ship, which has limited fuel and which cannot get too close to the stars without the risk of exploding due to the loss of its heat shield.

A fun physics system plays a part in this game which has you holding orbit around planets, coasting around space while trying to use as little of your fuel as possible, hiding behind planets to avoid the intense heat of the stars, and riding the solar waves of the stars as you restore energy to them.

The game’s visuals are gorgeous for a game of this kind and the music is great, definitely feeling appropriate for the environment. The colors of the celestial objects are vibrant and stand out nicely. The music is soft and gives you a feeling of solitude as is fitting with the environment. Nothing looks or sounds cheaply done.

(At this point I should mention that for the most part I played the PC version of the game. I cover the differences between this and the Android version later. In short, they are essentially the same.)

A maze of asteroids.

A maze of asteroids.

All in all, the game isn’t terribly difficult if you’re only interested in seeing each level. If you’re after a full clear, achieving three stars on each level, you have a big challenge ahead of you. In most of these games, you only have one thing in mind: collect all the things or kill all the things with as few flying swine as possible. Solar Flux adds some variety and asks you to perform different tasks for various stages. The game may challenge you by requiring you not to use much fuel, not to lose X amount of your heat shield, or to complete your objective within a time limit.

I zipped through the stages, having only an occasional hang up that took more than a few tries to get around. The graphics are rather pretty, and I felt that the game makes good use of the controller, even though the tooltips suggest one use the keyboard.

I decided to try out the mobile version on my Nexus 5. The download is free; however, you only get a few stages at a time, and you MUST complete all of the stars for what few stages you do have in order to advance. Ads appear between every few missions, but at only a dollar to remove them, it’s worth the price if you find you like the game.

Coming from the PC version to this was incredibly difficult due to the controls; movement of your ship isn’t as intuitive as it is with the controller. It took quite a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but eventually things became fluid.

Between the two versions, I think the desktop version is the better choice both because of how it’s easier to control and because you don’t need to collect all three skill stars in order to advance. However, I do suggest trying out the mobile version first since it’s free. Think of it a trial version.

If you enjoy this type of game, I recommend picking this one up. Should you be one who is not into puzzlers, skip it as there’s probably nothing here that will change your mind.

solarfluxlogoSolar Flux was developed by Firebrand Games.

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen…” – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the subject of space.

IGTlogo-01

Solar Flux has earned has been awarded the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval by Miko.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City

To quote a song from one of my favorite musicals, “The more you love someone, the more you want to kill them.” That’s how I felt about Valdis Story: Abyssal City.

Valdis Story is an action platformer with RPG elements thrown in, not at all unlike Muramasa: The Demon Blade if you’ve played that. You choose a character to play through the game with and complete missions or quests for NPCs. Experience is granted based on monsters you kill, and loot is used to craft items.

This game is pretty.

This game is pretty.

The characters you can access right away are people caught in a war between angels and demons, a war where people forced to fight for one side or the other. There are renegades who are trying to stay out of the conflict, and you had a ship full of them before it crash landed. Now you are trying to figure out just exactly where you are and where your missing crew members may be found.

The graphics and music here are beautiful. Everything looks hand-drawn and is reminiscent of Capcom’s work (which I say as a compliment). I love trekking through each new environment to see what it looks like, and the character art is beautiful. Everything looks like it was carefully created to stand out and to look amazing. The music for each area is really fantastic. I admit, I’m terrible when it comes to talking about music, but I know what I like and I like this. That, too, is a compliment.

With exploration comes special powers, such as wall jump or speed burst, some of the typical fare for such games. Many of your other powers, bonuses, etc. come in the form of a skill tree system that you build upon with each level gained. Examples of what you’ll earn as you make your way down the skill tree are small increases to hit-points, combo attack bonuses, and damage increases.

Skill trees.

Skill trees.

Combat is similar to that of brawlers. You’re able to rack up combos and are graded on how well you do during boss fights. Avoid getting hit or kill the boss quickly, and you’ll gain bonus XP and stats. Melee combat feels pretty good overall and there are strategies to learn the best way to take down each enemy faster.

There is a magic system within the game as well. As you progress you will learn new spells that you are able to assign to your character. They include offensive spells, spells that aid you in reaching things, and defensive spells such as a ray of light, ice block, and restorative shield.

All of the above? That was me gushing to neutral. The following is me getting more and more upset.

Action games typically have an invincibility period built-in for when the player is hit, usually lasting up to a few seconds. This allows them to reposition or try to figure out what their next move will be to overcome an obstacle. Valdis Story doesn’t have that, and it leads to very frustrating situations when a monster shoves you up against the wall and you have no way to fight back, letting them essentially stunlock you until you die and have to resume from your last save point. Little is more frustrating than dying to something when all you can do is flail, hoping your button mashing will do something but ultimately failing.

Another frustration I had was actually something that I stumbled upon by having a ridiculously busy, and unexpected, end of year. If I was able to attack this game all at once over a few days, which I prefer, I wouldn’t have experienced this. The game has no way of reminding you of the controls when you have to put it down for long periods of time. Some of the controls, particularly those for magic, are not intuitive at all. You’re left flailing around, hoping that you’re not forgetting anything important as you move about. The guidance system the game uses to tell you where you need to head next is a bit too vague. For example, “Go west to [location].” The map branches so that there are multiple wests and areas are not labeled, leading to player confusion.

valdisstory_042Controls aren’t always as sharp as they should be for a platformer with boss fights where you need quick movement. One such boss fight had me racing around a room to avoid falling poison clouds while avoiding pits of poison (the fights are thematic). This wouldn’t have been so bad but there were many, many instances of my character refusing to automatically grip ledges as it is supposed to do, causing me to fall into poison. In another fight, you have an onslaught of attacks coming your way, all of which should be avoidable. However, because of how clumsily your character moves when you’re trying to be quick, such an attack will give you one second to respond but the jump you started before the attack takes 1.5 seconds to execute, leaving you completely vulnerable and unable to avoid the incoming damage. I’m not accurately conveying the huge rage fits I was having while screaming at the game. “FUCKING GRAB THE LEDGE!” “THE FUCK? THERE IS LITERALLY NO WAY FOR ME TO AVOID THAT!” “FUUUUUUCK!” It was approaching Angry Video Game Nerd levels.

I loved this game but there are some strong rage-inducing aspects that make me leery about suggesting it. At $15 it’s not a bad commitment and I’m sure they’re working on some updates. Definitely get the soundtrack, however; it’s pretty good.

Final thought, I won’t say that all of my rages above should be fixed but I’d to give a second chance review if the controls are fixed at the very least.

logo_valdisstory

Valdis Story: Abyssal City was developed by Endless Fluff Games.

“Ruv…and hate…, they rike two blothers, who go on a date.” -Avenue Q.

The game’s $15.

Neurokult

I’m not certain if it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but there are plenty of games now where I can only play one stage or level and then need a break. It happened in Hotline Miami, a little bit in Rogue Legacy, and now again in Neurokult. I don’t feel it’s a bad thing, though—just something I don’t think I ever experienced growing up, and it feels strange. The intensity wears me out!

Neurokult is a cyberpunked-themed, fast action puzzler for iOS. Balls of three different colors stream across the screen and you must tap them to send them away before they reach the other side of the screen. In order to remove a ball of a certain color, you must tap a “selector” of sorts on the side of the screen that matches the color of the ball you want to remove. Match the color, press the ball, the ball goes away. To keep this from being too simple, the game is very fast-paced and there are bombs that roll across the screen which will cause a game over if you tap one.
neuro01

I should note that I played this on my iPhone 4S and found that there were a handful of times that I fat-fingered things and hit a bomb. I don’t know this if this is much of an issue on the iPhone 5 (and later) or iPad screens.

You receive bonuses for connecting chains of matching colors. Along with getting more points, completing chains builds up your life meter, something that is there to keep you alive when you miss a ball before it reaches the opposite side of the screen.

In its current form, this game is difficult. By the end of the very first stage you’re already experiencing the above-mentioned intensity as a great number of objects fly across the screen. The feeling was quite daunting at first, and I took a few days’ break from the game after finishing some stages. While discussing some things with the developers, they stated that they are aware of this and are already in the process of creating an easy mode to help players out and keep them coming back. Until that day comes, I’ll give you the same advice that they gave to me: “Stick with it.” It is rewarding, but damn, is it hard.

neuro02The game will change up some things from time to time to catch you off guard and make you think. For example in one stage, the ball that flies across the screen will change color just before you press it, making you go back to the color selector to select a new color to be able to remove it. It gets a bit hectic, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. The above advice about sticking with it worked for me until I reached Stage 9, Kinesthesia. It causes me to have an episode of rageful fury (unlike my normal, happy fury), and ultimately it’s where I had to quit the game for the time being. The change in this level is jarring. Stage 9 is where the colors in the color selector move around. Up until this point in the game, the colors in the color selector stay in the same spot. You come to rely upon on the sense of their location without needing to look where you press (not unlike learning a keyboard). You begin this stage and press where blue had been for eight stages, only to find out that it moved to where red had been the whole time except you didn’t notice because you didn’t think to look. It continues to change at a fairly fast pace, causing you to miss the ball you were going after and letting it fly off the screen, taking away your hit points. By this point in the game, the action is so crazy and fast that it’s a very quick death as you flail about trying to match things up.

Every few stages there are some boss fights. From what I’ve seen so far, these stages boil down to the boss (a larger sprite) bouncing around the screen as you try to clear the playing field. If you touch the boss more than a few times, you lose. The boss fights can be tricky as near the end of their respective stages, they try very hard to get in your way, making for some very close calls where you have to choose between waiting for the boss to move or taking the hit to your life. Once you finish the boss fight, you get a chance to slice and dice it like crazy by sliding your finger across the screen until it dies. It’s a nice little way to relieve the stress of it getting in the way moments before. Seizure warning: The game makes use of bright, flashing white effects against a black background at this point.

Would I recommend this game? Yes. I would. Play it now and muck around with it, and if you get stuck, keep it on your device until you see the update come down that introduces the easier mode. It can be a frustrating experience here and there for now, but it is a fun game.

neurologo

Neurokult was developed by Woodland-Barbarians.

IGTlogo-01Relive your cyberpunk days in the 90s of watching Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic for only $2.

Dungeon of Elements

Dungeon of Elements came across my desk early last week and I thought to myself, “A puzzle game? All right. I’ll play this real quick and have a review out by tomorrow.” Yeah… nope! That wasn’t going to happen. There is much more depth than a few short play-throughs can give you.

This looks familiar and that’s totally alright with me.

Main gameplay is heavily inspired by Dr. Mario. Drop multi-colored pills onto baddies, line things up, baddies are dead. The formula is very familiar and one that most puzzle game fans will be able to jump into right away. I think the game even goes one step further and improves on Dr. Mario a bit as you don’t need to line up pills in a straight line; just connect three like-colored pills in some sort of linked pattern and you’ll kill the baddies. Additionally, not only do you get to kill monsters, you also collect items that you can either equip or use in the game’s crafting system.

As you progress through the story (yes, a story!), you will encounter boss fights to mix things up a bit. For example, one of the first bosses was a giant rat whose rat army would quickly refill the stage as I cleared it out. Another boss was an orc king with an army of orcs that would slowly march toward the top of the screen. Occasionally he’d summon another orc exactly where my pill was falling, causing mayhem as the pill did not go where I had planned. This definitely added some excitement and was a nice change from the level grind. It also gave me a reason to invent more swear words and derogatory slang against orcs which I’m always excited about.

I have a water rod to dowse my fire armor if I get too hot.

I have a water rod to dowse my fire armor if I get too hot.

I mentioned earlier that you can pick up weaponry and armor; these are used to cast special attacks onto the playing field or slow down the fall of the pills. For example, the sweet bo staff skill I have at the moment is an AOE effect that blows up anything in a small area. This is particularly useful when monsters are effectively hiding behind objects on the playfield. Boots temporarily slow the fall of the pills to give you a moment to think about where you want to place them. Admittedly, one could also pause the game because it doesn’t black out the screen when paused, but that’s cheating, and you’d never do that, would you?

Crafting in the game is how you gather better gear and items. It’s an extremely simple system of THING 1 plus THING 2 equals ???. I really hoped you could do stupid things like Dagger + Shortsword = Shortdaggersword, but alas, no such luck; the game makes you do reasonable, logical things like element + weapon = useful thing. Crafting takes a little bit of time to get into because it also requires money that you really don’t have much of at the start. It’s a fun little thing to do during the downtime between rounds, and once you are able to make items, you can sell things you craft for more money than you put into them. Even better, the game actually keeps track of combinations you’ve tried so you don’t have to worry about failed repeats.

I try crafting something that's kind of logical-ish.

I try crafting something that’s kind of logical-ish.

Although there are a few things about the game that are shortcomings, I honestly do not think they take much away from the overall experience. It’s hard to describe without playing it for yourself, but when rotating the pills, they don’t always rotate as they “feel” like they should. As veterans of Dr. Mario will understand, the pills have a predictable way of rotating. The only time this potentially gets in the way is when you’re trying to expertly place a pill into a tight spot, heh heh, and it winds up doing something other than expected.

Item drops were a tad confusing at first because there were so many pieces of gear that had the same stats. I later figured out that there isn’t much of a difference between the items and that their main use is as crafting fodder, but this isn’t obvious for new players.

I wasn’t too keen on linking your Twitter account to the game in order to increase how much loot drops. I don’t like apps posting for me automatically. Thankfully there are some posting options such as “no more than once every 15 minutes” or “only post boss kills,” but it feels both a clever way to get some free advertising and an annoying way to get some free advertising. It’s probably not a bad idea, but irks me. I felt that enough loot dropped for me without linking my account.

Finally, there is one song that plays during the first few stages that is so repetitive, it drove me up the wall. I had to turn the music off and pull up Spotify until I reached a new area. Other than that one song, though, the music is pretty good.

This game is fun and I’m definitely going back to finish it up to try to open up hard mode.

A puzzle game that’s NOT on a mobile device that I’m coming back for? This doesn’t happen much anymore. If you like puzzle games, this one is worth your time.

doelogo

Dungeon of Elements was developed by Frogdice Games.

IGTlogo-01For $10 you, too, can relive the days when your dad wouldn’t let you play Mario 3 because he was addicted to some puzzle game starring Mario, a person I highly doubt has a medical degree.

Star Runner

Have you ever thought you should dig out your old Game Boy and relive some old memories? Have you ever given thought to the idea that garage door openers and their one-button controls should also be able to play video games? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then do I have the game for you: Star Runner.

Their light-hearted advertisement.

Their light-hearted advertisement.

Unfortunately, Star Runner made me realize that there is a definite knack to recreating the Game Boy experience and that the guys at Revolvus do not have it. On the Game Boy you had a directional pad and two buttons to work with to create some fantastic experiences such as Wario Land, Link’s Awakening, and Kirby’s Dream Land. The creators of this game boiled what made the Game Boy great down to something between Tiger Electronics games and playing with a rock.

At the start this game had everything going for it to me: The devs seemed to have a sense of humor in their ad, it was $1, it had a female character, and she had pigtails. (Shut up, it doesn’t take much.) From the description of the game, things sounded like they were going to be great: You run from zombies, you run with parkour ninjas, and you collect pizzas from pizza delivery robots while jumping between planes that are flying in a very unsafe formation. I learned that last bit while attending a school known for its flight program. Hey, how do you know if a student is in aviation? They’ll tell you. (Go UND!)

The game itself is just flat out boring. There is only one thing you can do and that’s jump–jump over obstacles, jump over walls, and jump off the heads of other people. You’d think that with jumping being the only thing you’re able to do in the game, it would be very well refined. Nope. The hit detection when you land on an NPC, something vital to the first third of the game, is so horrible that you will constantly miss and wind up dead very quickly. It’s infuriating when, time after time, you feel as though you should have landed a jump yet wind up as zombie chow.

I tried this game three different times, and every attempt ended in a rage-quit, each caused by frustration at the jumping. My final and most ragey rage-quit happened during the ninja portion of the game. You follow a number of ninjas as they parkour their way over rooftops, timing your jumps with theirs to reach the end of each level. At first this was going better than the zombie area, and I thought that perhaps there was some enjoyment to be found in this title. That feeling faded instantly when I reached a section of the level that was completely obstructed from view, yet I was expected to avoid some obstacle. There was absolutely no way that I could discern when to jump to avoid a death caused by being unable to see my character. At that point it’s not even giving the player a chance, so I turned it off with a huff and promptly deleted the game.

I take it back. Even playing with a rock is more fun than playing this game. At least with a rock you could chuck it at some snobby aviation students.

xboxboxartStar Runner was developed by Revolvus.

At $1, you could buy batteries for your Tiger Electronics game at a discount store.

Cosmic Predator

I chose to play Cosmic Predator to end my short-lived SHMUP September.

This shooter follows the traditional SHMUP format: you pilot a ship (or alien being in this case), fire at enemies, upgrade your ship, and either finish the end boss or die in a blaze of glory.

Killing creatures as a creature while in another creature.

Killing creatures as a creature while in another creature.

In Cosmic Predator you are a creature of some kind, hurtling through space as you try to get the Life Stone back to save what’s left of your people (“the last of your people,” another trope of this genre). As a sort of “fuel” game mechanic, while you’re taking down the evil corporation that took the Life Stone, you are constantly bleeding or something because in order to stay alive you not only need to dodge bullets and scenery, but also drink the blood of your enemies. If your health bar empties completely, your little dude passes out and dies, left floating alone in the cold darkness of space.

The other twist in this game is that upgrades happen at the end of each mission; you get to choose from regular bonuses such as a ball of protection that hovers around you or a powered up shot that is rather self-explanatory. You cannot alter these upgrades one you have selected them, so your decisions will affect gameplay in later stages. There isn’t anything that will outright ruin the experience, though some areas would be easier depending on which upgrade you pick. One of the best quality of life improvements is an upgrade that pulls the blood of enemies you kill to you rather than making you chase it down. When this is your main way to keep being not dead, this is huge.

One major downside to the game as a whole is that there is no native controller support. The keyboard works okay, but until this I hadn’t played a full-fledged game without a controller, unless it was a first-person shooter, in ages; it felt odd to not have this as a built-in option in this day and age. I talked to a friend about this game, and the instant I mentioned the controller thing, he lost his interest in playing.

The game is funny if you look for it.

The game is funny if you look for it.

There are times, particularly during boss fights, when you know that there is no way to defeat a boss before your health bar fades into nothingness and you’re helpless to prevent this. It’s frustrating because the action moves fast enough to where you don’t watch your health meter all that closely and your character stops responding to your movements because he died at some point. Some additional enemies to refill the health meter would be an amazing improvement.

Spoiler alert?

Spoiler alert?

On the positive side, you don’t have a limited number of lives; you can keep going to your heart’s content. Stages are broken up into sections, so if you die you don’t have to go all that far back to reach where you were. On the harder difficulties you will die a lot. In the later parts of the game you’ll find some good humor here and there on the evil corporation’s signs.

The game isn’t bad, really, but it doesn’t make me want to go back for more. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but fans of the genre will likely have fun with this title.

logo

Cosmic Predator was developed by Steel River Games.

For a mere $4 you can help save your people by shooting energy weapons out of your nethers.

%d bloggers like this: