Two weeks of games and what do we wind up with? Three voxel-based crafting games and an assortment of shooters. Oh, and a game about a car wash. Well, at least the latter one is original, even if washing cars is right up there with the librarian simulator for the “most riveting game of the year” award. Enjoy the demos!
Armless Octopus Bloody Tentacle Award of the Week
Astral – Mike
Astral is kind of like a real-time version of Risk except with a cosmic backdrop. Each of the planets have glowing satellites that orbit around it, and you have to send the satellites toward other planets to take them over. It has a simple presentation, but the stars and planets really pop out from the stark black background, and the level of strategy involved increased as more planets were thrown into the mix. It does feel a bit slow, at least during the demo, but the fantastic dynamic soundtrack kept me engaged the whole time.
Avatar Deathmatch – Dan
This first-person shooter only features a “roaming mode” in the trial, but I’m still going to recommend it. Why? Mainly because the game looks really nice. A cartoonish presentation and a smooth framerate make running around in the game world an impressive experience. Whether the actual multiplayer combat is worth the price of admission is yet to be seen.
Redshift - Mike
This one should be a no-brainer for fans of shmups. The controls are really solid, and it puts a slight spin on the typical formula by letting you use a slow-mo ability that is reminiscent of the bullet-time effect in Max Payne. Jumping in and out of slow-mo to weave through webs of bullets is actually quite exciting, but it’s a shame the entire game looks like it was made for Virtual Boy. The ruby twist doesn’t ruin the game, but I don’t really see how it’s to its advantage, and it causes a jarring effect where it’s hard to differentiate between your shots and the enemies’ when coming out of slow-mo.
Birth Order – Mike
Birth Order is kind of a side-scrolling shooter by numbers, or rather, colors. You play as this giant metallic purple ship with pointy wings, and as enemies appear on the screen they have a color over their head that corresponds to one of the face buttons. If you hit the proper button, your attack will home in on them and they’ll erupt into a massive explosion of stars. You’d think that might make the game overly easy, but you also die in one hit. It’s a bit different, but it was pretty fun.
Zombie Crossing - Dan
The game has some real potential but is marred in poorly designed controls and interface. The audio can be rather repetitive and annoying as well. So why did we give this trial a “try?” Because it has a real chance at being a lot of fun…you’ll just have to wade through the crap to find it
Cataboom - Taylor
Cataboom is a well executed action platformer. It can be a bit bland, both in visuals and sound, but the gameplay is solid and worth a try.
Escape Hell Prison – Dan – Cancer! This game was so bad, it gave me cancer! AVOID!! It’s….It’s just bad…oh GOD!
Flycatcher – Taylor – A good concept with mostly working controls, but the problems with movement are a bit too glaring. If you’re looking for something different, though, check it out.
Startfighter 2-9 – Dan – The game doesn’t really do anything wrong, but it doesn’t exactly swing for the fences either. It’s a basic dual-stick shooter that moves at a slow enough pace to be considered boring. If you’re looking for a good dual-stick shooter, there are plenty of other quality offerings on the service.
Argh Aliens – Dave – More of a one level prototype than a game, you control a UFO and must land on rooftops to collect humans. Unfortunately it handles quite poorly.
Brittle - Mike – You have to move a guy around a maze while being chased by a plus sign that will kill you in one hit. It’s kind of a puzzle game, but a rather bland one.
Craftimals: Build to the Sun – Mike – This game had a lot going for it with its super cute atmosphere, but all of that evaporated when I started playing. All you do for the entire demo is place blocks progressively higher as you build into the sky like you’re trying to craft a ladder to the heavens. The pics have you crafting a rocket ship, so it’s possible this gets better…
Paper RPG – Taylor – I was hopeful in thinking I might get a pseudo low(er) tech Paper Mario-like game out of Paper RPG. I was wrong. The flow of the game is jarring and unrewarding.
Bit Digger – Dan – Yet another voxel-based game hoping to crash the Minecraft party. The key differences are that Bit Digger features difficult controls and the game world is devoid of anything resembling fun…that’s about it.
Mine4Ever – Dave – The game takes about 90 seconds to load. In addition, it has horrible performance and a lackluster framerate. Other than that, it’s you’re standard voxel-based mining game.
Attanck!3 – Mike – Attanck!3 is the return of the premiere dot-matrix printer-based tank game, replete with confusing, but authentic tank controls.
Car Washer Summer of the Ninja - Mike – I spent this demo spraying a car with water and almost washing it with a sponge. Sadly, I just wasn’t able to figure out how to make that sponge contact the auto. It’s kind of a shame, because the developer clearly spent a lot of time on the art and music, but washing cars just isn’t fun, assuming I could even figure out how to do it.
TuboRocket 4 – Taylor – This is pretty similar to other TurboRocket installments. The controls leave much to be desired and I always felt that II couldn’t see the environments well enough.
CyberDeck – Dave – This is some sort of hacking-based game, and it seems to be on a Windows 95 device. It looks like there is a lot going on here, despite the simple interface, but I just couldn’t figure it out.
Fortress Wars – Mike – I’m probably the last person who should be evaluating voxel-based building games, but with that being said, this demo doesn’t let you actually build anything, and you can only shoot lifeless targets. There are far better crafting games.
Solar Annihilation– Dan – Another game this week with lots of “potential,” but this one ultimately fails to impress. With lackluster mission design, no narrative and frustrating controls this is another title for the “pass” pile.
Rectangle Battle – Taylor – The demo is for 2 players only, but even if it wasn’t, this unnecessarily reductionist combination of shooter and Pong is not worth it.
Jigsaw Jumble – Mike – Hey kids, have you ever put together a jigsaw puzzle? Have you ever played a video game? I think you can figure this one out then.
Transgression - Mike – This is a really simplistic arcade-style game where you ride around on a space hover bike and try and bounce into other bikes to gain chips.
IC4 – Mike – IC4 is a reasonably competent 4-player shmup, but it’s pretty bland to look at and shooting teeny tiny spaceships gets pretty repetitive after only a few minutes.