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The Great Indie Game Review Project: We're not dead yet!

Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Games and Technology
The Great Indie Game Review Project


Wha? But wasn't there just a th-
Yes there was, Mr. Disembodies Audience. Nothing against Digger Dude, but his schedule did not allow for him to meet the lofty goals of this project. It seems he underestimated his workload and as a result progress on the thread lagged. That combined with me wanting to take the thread in a different direction culminated in a new thread.

All content is protected under the Creative Commons License


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License


Indie Game Review Project Wiki

Admins
Tonberry King
evilmrhenry

Now that that's over with, on to the thread!

What are the goals of the Project?
  • To seek out and review all independently developed games.
  • To recognize great Indie developers and games.
  • To draw attention to and contribute to the Indie community.
  • To contribute to our own community, hurray!

To put is simply you need to find Indie games, review them, and then distribute them.

How to I find them?

There are dozens of sites that catalog freeware and retail Indie games but we recommend these sites:
You are free to pick which game you want to review. Reviewing a game that's already been reviewed is allowed but not encouraged. Please check the Wiki to make sure a game hasn't already been claimed or reviewed. Do not review a game you have helped develop. If you're having trouble selecting a game you may use the random feature on freeware.remakes.org and select one from the results. You may also ask an admin for a recommendation.

While the original goal of reviewing every game in freeware.remakes.org is still important, it's no longer first priority. It is strongly encouraged that you try retail Indie games. You may pull games from Xbox Live Arcade, Wiiware (No Virtual Console games please), and PSN Store.

How do I review them?

Reviews are not required to follow a particular format or be a certain length. However, it is recommended that you follow these general guidelines.

For Freeware Games:
Reviews should be at least three short paragraphs
The first paragraph should provide details and explanation of the game.
The second paragraph should say what is good about the game
The final paragraph should explain what is bad about the game.
At the end of each review you must either give it a :^: or :v: score which indicates whether or not it's worth playing
If you feel that you can't stick to the three paragraph format you may add or or remove paragraphs. Remember that these are only guidelines.
For Retail Indie Games:
Reviews must be comprehensive
A score from a five-point scale must be given at the end of the review:
  • 1=Awful
  • 2=Poor
  • 3=Average
  • 4=Exceptional
  • 5=Excellent
Difficulty and value can be factored into the score but should also be detailed in the body of the review
If your game is part of digital service such as Xbox Live Arcade include which service you bought it from and how many points it was (Ex: XBLA, 800 points)

Please include the game’s version number and the beginning of the review. All reviews must give a general idea of how long the game. Please beat the game to completion. If you're playing a game with no ending, play it until you feel you've seen everything the game has to offer. The game length should be placed at the beginning of the review along with the version number. You may add images and links to your review, but they may get formatted differently for the Wiki

We don’t expect you all to be English majors but we do expect you to use proper grammar and spelling in all your reviews. Want to write like the Pros? Check http://www.igja.org/guide/index.php/Main_Page for a style guide on how to make your reviews better. This will be especially useful.

For more information on how all of this translates to the wiki go to http://indiegamereviewproject.wikidot.com/help

How do I distribute my review?

Your reviews are protected under the Creative Commons License. The admins pledge not to give away your reviews without your knowledge or permission. You are responsible for getting your review out there. Please post your review in the thread and Wiki as soon as you're done with it.

For more information on joining the wiki go to http://indiegamereviewproject.wikidot.com/system:join. You must understand the rules of the Creative Commons License before joining. Send an admin your Wikidot username and you’ll be added to the project. A invite will be sent to your wiki account. You only need to accept it to join.

Contributors:
1. Rorus Raz
2. Raslin
3. Speakeasy
4. Defrag
5. ZackShilling
6. Sorenson
7. Tonberry King
8. Seuve
9. vhzod
10. Gorilla Salad
11. ben0207
12. Sprocket Floss
13. Sceptre
14. Yarr
15. Campion
16. Szechuanosaurus
17. Page-
18. Mullitt The Wise
19. suadeo
20. harvest
21. evilmrhenry
22. Vann Diras
23. OremLK
24. reach42


I now give you the first reviews:

ProtoType
ptypeafh5.jpg

The award-winning ProtoType is a horizontal-scrolling shmup for Windows by Dark Castle Software. Taking its cues from the likes of R-Type and Gradius, ProtoType puts the player in the role of humanity's last hope against an invading alien horde. The game's level is about ten minutes long, but newcomers should expect to spend much longer practicing before finishing it.

ProtoType is full of stuff to shoot, especially on the higher difficulties. Enemy patterns are generally simple, but the way they interlock will always keep the player mobile. Well-placed checkpoints and powerups take some of the sting out of dying, while cheats and bonus features add fun and longevity. Solid level design includes good mix of small spaces and open areas. Mowing down a screenfull of enemies with the omni directional Plasma or Magma weapons feels satisfying and empowering.

However, even on the easiest difficulty, ProtoType is hard. The ship's somewhat slippery control can change a near-miss into a collision. Controlling the ship's weapon pod can be difficult and dangerous, but is necessary for success. Some of the weapons feel awkward and underpowered. Its single stage is long and scrolls slowly by. Players should not expect to finish the game on the first try.
:^:
http://xout.blackened-interactive.com/ProtoType.html

By harvest

Prototype II
prototyp2sd3.png

http://xout.blackened-interactive.com/dump/new/ShmupDev4.zip

Dark Castle Software's ProtoType II is a deliberately paced horizontal-scrolling shmup for Windows. Four different ships are available to choose from, each with different attributes and features. The game's three levels showcase varied environments and challenges, and the large bosses and smooth animation caps each level in a tense battle. Some scenes allow for dozens of on-screen enemies in a way not usually seen in this style of slow-paced shooter. The easiest difficulty should provide a couple of hours of gameplay, with the harder ones significantly increasing the time to beat the game.

ProtoType II scores over the previous game in nearly every aspect. Autofire is a welcome feature, as is the ability to change the ship's speed. The ships' weapon systems can be customized at the start of the game, letting players develop their own style of fighter. The weapon pod absorbs bullets and is is fully detatchable from the ship, providing remote firepower in hard-to-reach areas. Graphics are coherent and polished, and the post-processing effects are tasteful and appropriate.

There are some problems though. While easier than its predecessor, ProtoType II is still a difficult game to master, even on the easiest difficulty setting. The removal of the shield feature increases the difficulty, as does game's propensity to drop mechs out of the sky right on top of the player. This can make for some frustrating times when first trying the game. Aside from difficulty, there seems to be a bug with the high-score display, making it count backwards from a very large number instead of talling your score properly. The ships' hitboxes are hard to identify, resulting in more deaths and frustration than the previous game.
:^:
By harvest

Polarity
1530518374efbffe2774ozx0.jpg

http://www.etc.cmu.edu/projects/igf/

Polarity is a Windows platformer that gets its job done with the help of magnetic fields. A short game that can be completed in under 20 minutes, it nevertheless features some remarkable original gameplay. The nameless protagonist must navigate a deadly maze of traps using his only tool, a magnetic suit. The player can control the polarity and intensity of the magnetism and use it in interesing ways to push or pull objects, walk on walls and celiengs, and boost past dangerous electrified walls and floors.

The controls in Polarity are simple and intuitive. The default settings have the Xbox 360 controller in mind, and the game is enhanced by using it. The onscreen tutorial never take the player out of the action, instead, prompting the player to overcome new obstacles. Frequent checkpoints make death virtually painless, and interesting puzzles keep the gameplay fresh the whole way through.

Unfortunately the game is both very easy and very short. Its focus on ease of use overshadows what could have been even more engaging gameplay, and the player is rarely truly challenged.
:^:
By harvest

Hurdler
505733162d888a8e5d0oup7.png

http://www.thegamespage.com/tgp5/games.php?section=mustdl&game=hurdler

Hurdler, by KNPMASTER and MasterRaichu, is a simple action puzzler. The game is presented in a narrow window on the screen, one level at a time. The objective is to get the hurdler over every obstacle between the starting point and the yellow baloon. He automatically starts running forward when the level starts so you have to think and act quick, or he dies in suitably gory fashion.

Hurdler's minimalistic graphics are charming and easy on the eyes. Similarly the subtle musical background fills the aural space nicely. Successfully completed levels are less than 30 seconds long, so progress is quick (until you get stuck). The controls are precise and responsive, although there is no gamepad support. Onscreen prompts quickly teach you about the hurdler's various jumps, so no tutorial or manual is necessary.

Pixel-perfect accuracy is required in many of Hurdler's levels, making some nearly impossible without using up many lives. There are no continues, so when you (literally) hit a brick wall it's back to square one. At random intervals you will be killed by a bird that files across the screen, which you have seemingly no way to avoid.
:^:
By harvest

100 Invaders
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“Short”
Version played was 024, time played was about half-hour (I did finish the game). The basis of this game is somewhat similar to Space Invaders; you start each level looking at around 6 to 12 invaders, who you then shoot. The twist here is that the invaders you shoot come back in a larger, meaner form. The one type of powerup gives you more firepower, and lets you move farther up the screen.

Pros: Thankfully, the controls and hit detection are good. This is easy to mess up in this type of game, but they work well here. In fact, all of the basic gameplay is quite well done. There are just the right amount of concepts to balance, and the difficulty is appropriate.

Flaws: First, the requirements are rather optimistic. They list an 800mhz cpu, but on my 1.6ghz pc there were still noticeable framerate problems once the screen started filling up with enemies. While the game is never unplayable, the 800mhz minimum seems somewhat low. Also of note is that while the game starts off in windowed mode, hitting alt (to transfer power to your next life) will bring up the window menu as well. (This is not a problem in fullscreen mode, but is still a rather odd bug. Of course, the keys are not remappable.) Finally, having the (unskippable) credits display after every level is somewhat annoying. (There are 3 levels, by the way.)
:v:
By evilmrhenry

Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment
gfwscrn3cq0.gif

“Cool”
Version played was 1.1.3, time played was about 6 hours (I did finish the game). Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment is an attempt to merge an elite-type game to an adventure game. While you'll do the standard "Visit exotic places, meet interesting people and use items on them", you travel from location to location using your spaceship, while doing a bit of trading (and piracy) on the side.

Pros: First and foremost, the story works well. The humor is funny, and the drama is dramatic. Some puzzles are "non-obvious", but there's nothing that made me tear my hair out. While I have issues with the implementation of the space-based gameplay, in the end, it adds something to the game that glossing over that part wouldn't. Finally, the use of redshirts is an interesting solution to the issue of death in adventure games.

Flaws: The problems with this game are almost entirely with the space-travel part. For starters, it takes far too many clicks to perform the standard "sell your cargo, buy new cargo, and refuel your ship" procedure. This may not seem like a big deal, but after you spend half the game doing exactly that, it starts to become tiresome. Also, there are a few sections where you need to buy an expensive inventory item to continue with the plot; this gives a definite feeling that the space portions are just there to pad out the game.
:^:
By evilmrhenry



TGIGRP Needs You

Are you creative? Like Indie games? Know a thing or two about web design? We need YOU to become one of our lauded Admins! Your tasks include designing a logo for our project and making sigs for the Admins. We also require your skills to make the Wiki even better. Contact Tonberry King if you are interested.

Tonberry King on
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    harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I approve of this message :)

    It would be a good idea to link to this style guide. http://www.igja.org/guide/index.php/Main_Page

    It's awesome for helping you keep thing coherent when writing about video games.

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    I approve of this message :)

    It would be a good idea to link to this style guide. http://www.igja.org/guide/index.php/Main_Page

    It's awesome for helping you keep thing coherent when writing about video games.
    Added. Thanks.
    As you can see the OP is still being worked on. If you want to suggest any improvements go ahead.

    Reviewers! Now's your chance to post your reviews. Remember that you can PM me your reviews if you are busy.

    Tonberry King on
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    Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Oh man. Reading those reviews makes me feel like a total donk. I wrote way too much in my reviews. Even after editing them they're much longer than 3 paragraphs. Guess I have some more work to do.

    Page- on
    Competitive Gaming and Writing Blog Updated in October: "Song (and Story) of the Day"
    Anyone want to beta read a paranormal mystery novella? Here's your chance.
    stream
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Page- wrote: »
    Oh man. Reading those reviews makes me feel like a total donk. I wrote way too much in my reviews. Even after editing them they're much longer than 3 paragraphs. Guess I have some more work to do.
    Remember that they don't have to be a certain length. Just try to stick to three paragraphs and make sure that all the important info. is where it's supposed to be. You may use three very long paragraphs ;-).

    Tonberry King on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Absorb
    473091566a5e73d69e1ort9.png

    Absorb is a unique SHMUP set in the R-Type universe. You play as a Light Bydo. A new addition to the rampaging alien menace, the Light Bydo has no weapons of it's own, but can absorb nearly any type of energy directed at it. Once absorbed, the LB can then fire it back out at its enemies.

    It's an interesting concept -- a SHMUP-type game in which you can't actually attack. The controls are as tight as they should be, and the concept works well enough in principal. After a few quick deaths you'll understand the defensive nature of the game and adjust. In fact, with some work the game could actually be a lot of fun.

    There are some problems, though. First, no matter how much or how little you absorb, you fire it out all at once. So you can't absorb a dozen shots and then kill a dozen enemies; you'll fire the whole lot at the first thing you see. Which is the second problem; the game chooses your targets for you. Usually this isn't a problem, but it's not all that uncommon for you to blow your load on an enemy you're not even fighting, or to be unable to properly target the thing you actually want to shoot. The third, and greatest, problem, is the control scheme. Absorb is a top-down, free-roaming game, which works fine when you're controlling the LB, because it has no front or back. But in the last couple of Challenge levels you control a traditional R-Type fighter. The tilt and strafe control scheme just doesn't work, making the levels much harder than they need to be.

    The version of Absorb available is a mid-alpha build, and has many of the bugs such early versions have. Graphical glitches are the harshest, with disappearing, or flat out invisible shots becoming a problem in later stages. There isn't much content, either. A Challenge mode offers 21 levels that show off various enemies, and at the end gives you a chance to pilot some old R-Type ships, and a Survival mode that sets you against stages full of randomly generated enemies until you die. A story mode is "in the works," but I can't find a website or a date, so who knows when they're coming.
    :v:
    By Page-

    Edit:
    A7Xpg
    344345177483db2fce6oeb1.gif

    You control a small, blue-green craft, which you navigate through the tight confines of a black rectangle. Your task is to pick up little gold diamonds that appear randomly within your box, and avoid the multicoloured enemies who also appear randomly within your box. Pick up a certain amount and you'll move on to the next stage, fail to pick up all the gold diamonds withing the time limit and you lose a life. This part of the game is simple, but it won't get you a high score. That's where your boost comes in. Boosting will more than double your speed, which is sometimes needed to avoid enemies that are faster than you. It can also cause enemies directly behind you to swerve away. But those are just the icing; the main use of the boost button is to fill your power meter at the bottom of the screen. Whenever you hit a gold diamond while boosting you get more points, and a little charge to your power meter. Boost into enough gold diamonds in the same stage and you'll become invincible and can ram your ship into the enemies for massive points. The amount of charge you get, and the extra points you get depend on the speed of your craft when it hits the diamonds. The boost abilitiy isn't unlimited, but the cooldown is very short, so you can use it in bursts without fear of running out. Later stages will have your rectangle shrink, and enemies speed up. And, as in Pac-Man, your invincibility won't last as long.

    Good: A mix of those old Snake games and Pac-Man, A7Xpg is a simple concept executed fairly well. Each game only takes a few minutes to play. Controls are tight.

    Bad: Enemies appear at random, which means that once and a while they'll appear right in front of you, giving you no time to move. Some of the smaller stages are very tricky.
    :^:
    By Page-

    Block v1.30
    45099548783c48146b3oil2.jpg

    An Arkanoid clone, Block has a few unique features that help set it apart from the rest of the Breakout games around. Arkanoid took place in deep space, as you might remember if you've ever seen the game's intro. This influenced the gameplay, and most every other Breakout game that came after used zero gravity as the standard. Your ball goes from the bottom of the screen to the top, over and over again, and actually speeds up over time. Block's twist is that gravity does exist. Your balls are constantly pulled to the bottom of the screen, so they wont be bouncing all over the place. To counter this, your paddle can move up and down slightly, with the effect of a flipper in a pinball game. You can speed balls back up if they're not getting high enough, and you can cushion faster balls to slow them down. Also different from most other games in the genre is the way your lives work. In Block you get 8 balls at the start of a level and you can shoot them out whenever you want, so you can have them all in play at once if you want. Once you lose them all you have to start the level over.

    Powerups are a grab bag. Standards like wider paddle and shorter paddle are around, but there are auto-win powerups, too, like fullscreen paddle and unlimited balls. The most interesting powerup is reverse gravity, which makes the balls bounce against the ceiling for a limited time. The blocks are mostly standard, but there's an interesting gravity block, that will push your balls away and make a level much harder. There are only 2 game modes: Time Attack and Free Mode. Time Attack has you go through all 50 levels of the game as fast as you can, with unlimited lives. Free Mode, which is only unlocked once Time Attack has been beaten, let's you pick any of the stages so you can try and beat your old time.

    There are problems with the game's physics. You can't angle balls off the paddle like you can in most Breakouts, so it's not uncommon for a ball to get stuck in a pattern that you can't break. Add gravity blocks and forced movement arrows and there'll be many times where you're forced to restart a level because all your balls are stuck. In the end, Block has some good ideas, but the execution is lacking. Only 2 game modes, the second of which is just a retread, don't offer much variety, or challenge. The emphasis is on puzzle, but many of the levels are gimmes. You can easily run through Time Attack in 30 minutes, more if you get unlucky with your powerups, and after that the only thing left to do is try and beat your times on each stage.
    :v:
    By Page-

    Tonberry King on
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    evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    To clarify, the spelling and grammar level we're looking for is basically what's in use at penny-arcade. (Actually, a little bit higher; just double-check everything, and you should be fine.)

    evilmrhenry on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Front Line
    3440781503ee0c16de9orx8.jpg

    A Japanese platform/shooter hybrid that plays roughly like a combination of Soldat and Metal Slug. Once you've started the game you take control of a blue stick figure armed with 4 guns and a supply of hand grenades. Your get points for traveling into purple stick figure territory and killing purple soldiers on the way. You're armed with 4 weapons, a shield, and hand grenades. Except for the pistol, all your weapons need to have ammo purchased for them using your points, which adds a bit of strategy.

    Good: Takes less than 5 seconds to learn. Controls are good, mouse is accurate. Killing stick figures is always a good time.

    Bad: The helicopter is kind of strange. The shield is more of a hindrance than a help most of the time.
    :^:
    Controls: Japanese freeware focusses on ZXCV. In Frontline Z is move back, X is shield, C is move forward, Space throws a grenade, left click to shoot, right click to reload. Mouse is used for aiming, buying, and switching weapons. Tab pauses the game, and Esc quits to desktop.

    Jaywalker

    A neat little game that has you control a disembodied head while trying to cause traffic accidents. Use the arrow keys to move in front of cars and get them to swerve into traffic lights or each other, cause multiple crashes in succession to rack up combo points. Not a whole lot going on, but it's a quick 5 minutes of fun.

    Where this game really shines is the soundtrack. Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre? Yes please.

    On the downside, the crash mechanic isn't very intuitive. It can be hard to judge where to place yourself to get the cars to swerve in the right direction, or to swerve at all.
    :^:

    -By Page

    Tonberry King on
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    Mullitt The WiseMullitt The Wise Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Oh wow, I never got a PM from the last thread so I assumed I wasn't chosen to review a game.
    I guess I'll download one and have a review in the next few days.

    Mullitt The Wise on
    balloonssig.jpg
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    Vann DirasVann Diras Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    hey hey, looks like I'm part of this now. I'll start a game soon and get a review up.

    Vann Diras on
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    Sprocket FlossSprocket Floss Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I violate the 3-paragraph rule for some of these games. It just isn't always possible to write 3 paragraphs on a game that last for 3 minutes.
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    There really isn't much to say about A Small World. You're a green mophead who discovers the rotten truth about the god his village worships and has to escape a horrible dungeon full of powerups to alert everyone.

    This demo is probably 10 minutes long, has an interesting story, cute graphics and staple platforming bonuses to your health and jump ability.

    The mophead can be sluggish at times. He tends to freeze in whatever direction you last fired rather than having his weapon return to the forward position and it's difficult to fire turn-around shots in the air. The enemies tend to move in patterns that put them just out of reach of your bullets which is enough to make this short demo a slight challenge at times.

    Can't really recommend it given the thousand other games yet to be played. :v:

    ---
    mrheart.png

    In Mr. Heart Loves you Very Much you play a small, loping bean who needs to be reunited with the heart icon on each level. The game's "catch" is that you can push parts of the level into the surrounding black space and rebuild the level. This also allows you to create platforms by introducing the black space behind the tile you pushed. Generally, any piece that can be moved, can do so in all directions since the level can be rotated and some puzzle solutions will make use of the influence of gravity

    The only real problem is its length (it was made for the Gamma256 design contest, which also unearthed Passage). It is a fantastic premise stretched across just 10 short levels but I'd recommend them to anybody. :^:

    ---
    psychosmnium.PNG

    Psychosomnium is a short platformer by Cactus who seems to release a new game every hour or so. It is a counfounding tour of the dream of one "Jimmy" and making progress often requires the use of some lateral thinking. What is certain is that the dream is in disarray and this means bad news for the world's bizarre characters.

    It's funny, cute but mostly strange and your actions in this world will only make it feel more so. Since it clocks in at 10 minutes long or thereabouts it's controlled enough that there aren't any real complaints other than perhaps some obscurity with the puzzles. It's more than worth the small time investment. :^:

    ---

    Decontrologic is a very short wireframe adventure by Cactus. Your goal is to fix the air conditioning and make off with a bag of money. So at heart it really is like all adventure games. It manages to squeeze some humour into its short length, notably in the form of a totally irrelevant intelligence test that fails to test anything. There isn't a lot more to say about it other than that it could probably be beaten in a couple of minutes. Difficult to recommend it given how incredibly short it is :v:

    ---
    2128536452_5f0287f772_o.png

    Minishooter RS ("Right Scroll") is a brilliant side-scrolling shmup that everyone ought to be made aware of, especially those who never got into the genre. It has several unique and quirky ships to unlock, branching paths, unlockable minigames (table tennis!), several modes of play (including a boss practice) and an immediacy that makes it incredibly addictive.

    It follows the Gradius/Parodius formula with a sense of humour lying somewhere in the middle but I felt this game's pacing suited me much more. Each level is divided into hectic but quite brief parts, the scenery and enemy craft change rapidly, the amount of bosses is tremendous and all the sprites are brilliantly designed. Each ship has 2 modes of attack (tapping or holding the fire button) and a dash button and you can expect each of these functions to do dramatically different things depending on the ship you use.

    This game is much easier than Gradius or Parodius. You're given a generous amount of health, plus the ability to restart from any previously visited level and, unfortunately, some of the ships are a little imbalanced.

    I would be honestly surprised to discover a freeware game in this project that surpasses this. :^:

    ---
    gamma256_2.jpg

    Another entry to Gamma256 is StandardBits, which represents an adventure game at an extreme level of abstraction. It is a very stylish, low-resolution light show that is strangely compelling and urges you on just to see what spectacle is in the next screen. Everything you'd expect to find in a typical adventure game is here though reduced to basic shapes. Companions join you as semi-transparent squares and swirl around you destroying enemies, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Enemies range from a few roving pixels to giant 2-colour metroid-like crabs. Harmless citizens dart back and forth in groups and the landscape often contains visible traps and obstacles designed to kill you in several ways.

    Inexplicable deaths do tend to break up the fun every now and then, mostly when you transition to a new screen but save areas are fequent and your character (a pixel) moves very quickly. Some screens also teleport you to faraway locations which is a nuisance at times.

    It's a strangely endearing game where your greatest reward for exploration is just finding unusual rooms. :^:

    Sprocket Floss on
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    evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I.C.E.:
    (Time played was about half an hour. (I gave up on the hard difficulty; I know when I'm outmatched.) Competition version was played.) After playing I.C.E., the best way to describe it is a "Western Bullet-Hell Shooter". While there are many bullet-hell shooters, (shooting games that involve dodging hundreds of bullets at once) they are mostly Japanese in origin. This makes this game somewhat of an oddity, but still enjoyable by shooter fans. (For the curious, the difference lies mostly in the art style. Mostly.)

    The Bad: First, the big problem. when ducking into the water, the spray is drawn on top of your ship. This proves "troublesome" when the intersection of your ship with a bullet will cause your untimely demise. The standard in this genre is to draw your ship on top of everything for a Very Good Reason, and this game misses that. Also, there's only three levels, (two in story mode, and one in bullet-hell mode) so you'll run out of content quickly. (The eternal curse of competition games.) Finally, some of the bullet patterns are a bit "unfair", especially considering that your sidekick's fire is slightly unpredictable, making it harder to quickly take down enemies. Not a big deal, all things considered, but you will be dying more often than you might think, based on your skill level.

    The Good: In a refreshing twist, there's actually an easy mode. If you've never played any bullet-hell games, this is a good way to get your feet wet. The graphics, sound, and music are also well-done, especially for a competition game.
    -evilmrhenry

    evilmrhenry on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    A few of you have been asking about the three paragraph format for freeware reviews. I added a bit on the OP that reiterates what the wiki says.
    It is not absolutely required that freeware reviews be three paragraphs. Those are only the recommended guidelines. You may add or remove paragraphs if you wish.

    While I'm here I'll clear up another bit of confusion. We're still taking reviewers. Go here to learn about joining. It's quick and painless.

    Tonberry King on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Kudos: Rock Legend
    Developed by: Positech Games (Cliff Harris, or cliffski here)
    Cost: $22.95
    Length: Sandbox-style unlimited play, 1-2 hours for each scored playthrough

    Kudos: Rock Legend is a turn-based sim game taking cues from games such as The Sims and others. In Rock Legend, your goal is to take your rock band from obscurity to fame and fortune.

    rocklegendreview1tl2.th.jpg rocklegendreview3ce9.th.jpg rocklegendreview2hz4.th.jpg

    How is it played?

    Rock Legend begins with the selection and customization of your character. After that, you have to hire bandmates for the different positions in your band, each of whom have different strengths and weaknesses; a bassist with the Ambitious and Photogenic traits, for example, will work hard and look good when you eventually start making TV appearances. You have to be careful when putting together your band, though, because they can start fighting and arguing with each other if you choose poorly.

    Unlike most sim games, Rock Legend is a turn-based game, so you always have plenty of time to think about your actions. Despite this, the game remains as fast-paced as you want it to be, since taking an action ends your turn. Actions vary from writing songs to rehearsing with your band to promoting your upcoming gigs. They sometimes take the form of short, generally fun minigames, but just as often they immediately present you with a result and let you get on with the game.

    What's the appeal?

    Rock Legend is an addictive experience; your success depends on how well you manage your money, keep your band members happy, motivated, and harmonious, and keep pushing forward with your career by signing on for new gigs and promoting your band. You also have to write good songs (a fun puzzle minigame) and keep your band skillful and rehearsed.

    There's a surprising amount of strategy involved; it rarely feels like the game is forcing you to do menial tasks, and the many different elements to balance make it feel like everything you do is worthwhile. And when you start getting the big arena gigs, record deals, and TV appearances, it definitely feels good.

    Each game takes place over 5 years, which for me usually translates to 1-2 hours of gameplay. But as each game is scored on both your fame and fortune, and it's unlikely that you'll do very well on your first game or two, it's fun to go back through and try for a better score. The many options and strategies make replaying fun, so you'll probably get many hours of fun out of the game. Rock Legend also allows you to keep playing after the five year mark in an unlimited sandbox-type mode, if you enjoy that sort of thing.

    It can't be all good.

    Rock Legend is an entirely dialog-driven game, meaning that all of the gameplay takes place on menus and such. Some people may not like this style of gameplay. That said, these menus generally look nice and have good art to go with them, though in a few places, they look a little rough around the edges.

    While the game features some good music, and the songs fit the game well, they repeat very often. So you may end up disabling the music after awhile.

    Should I buy it?


    If you like sim games, absolutely. It's a lot of fun. You can try out the demo first to see if you like it. My wife and I both enjoy the game and found it well worth the cost.

    What's the score?

    4/5 stars.

    ---

    Note to tonberry & co.: It's giving me a permission error when I try to create the new page for the review on the wiki, so I can't post it up there unfortunately.

    OremLK on
    My zombie survival life simulator They Don't Sleep is out now on Steam if you want to check it out.
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Ahh, our first Indie game review. Very nice. I'll see what I can do about the wiki problem.

    Tonberry King on
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    evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    OremLK wrote: »
    Note to tonberry & co.: It's giving me a permission error when I try to create the new page for the review on the wiki, so I can't post it up there unfortunately.

    That's because you're not a member of the wiki. Create an account on wikidot, then PM it to either me or Tonberry.

    evilmrhenry on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    OremLK wrote: »
    Note to tonberry & co.: It's giving me a permission error when I try to create the new page for the review on the wiki, so I can't post it up there unfortunately.

    That's because you're not a member of the wiki. Create an account on wikidot, then PM it to either me or Tonberry.
    Or better yet accept the invite I gave you yesterday :P Once you're on, the review should be accepted.

    Tonberry King on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Ah, it didn't notify me I'd been invited. Had no idea I had to accept an invitation, never used Wikidot before. Maybe that should be mentioned in the OP?

    Edit: Okay, I think I've got it all handled and formatted pretty much correctly. Sorry for the trouble.

    OremLK on
    My zombie survival life simulator They Don't Sleep is out now on Steam if you want to check it out.
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    SueveSueve Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    i'm gonnna review "the cleaner"

    why?

    because i dowloaded it on a whim, and its awesome.

    Sueve on
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    Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I've got 2 games done and ready to write up, and another almost done. I think I'll have time to finish 2 reviews tomorrow.

    Page- on
    Competitive Gaming and Writing Blog Updated in October: "Song (and Story) of the Day"
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    If anybody wants a free review copy of my game Core Fighter, I'll give one out to the first person who PMs me. You have to have reviewed a game for the Project though. (You can review one now and then PM me if you want.)

    OremLK on
    My zombie survival life simulator They Don't Sleep is out now on Steam if you want to check it out.
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    Mullitt The WiseMullitt The Wise Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    exolon.jpg
    Version 1.03, Time spent playing: 2 hours (did not complete).
    Exolon DX is a very simple 2D shooter remake set on some futuristic planet where moons explode on every horizon and satellite dishes block every path. The player controls a space man armed with a laser, a rocket and an upgradeable power suit and must blast his/her way through dozens of screens of enemies. There are no complex puzzles, just straightforward shooting/dodging, and the occasional platform jumping.

    The Positives: The presentation is very professional. Besides the main character's stiff movement animations, all the sprites are very colorful and wonderfully animated. The backgrounds in particular are impressive. A moving starfield with different planets and moons adorn each screen, making the game world much more alive than it's 8-bit predecessor. The sound is also very well done, with a nice, upbeat techno soundtrack and fittingly retro sound effects.

    The Negatives:
    A quote from the game's readme sums up the experience pretty well:
    "If you've run out of rockets, wait around for a kind Baiter to [kill] you. That might be a bit of a game design faux pas these days, but tough titty."
    Don't let the game's looks fool you, it plays exactly like an 8-bit shooter. While not always a bad thing, it is here. Every screen is filled with enemies that shoot unavoidable bullets (there are some that seemed to me you had to be killed by), or just stay either too high or low for you to hit, but in just the right place for you to not be able to pass. Your rockets are also completely useless against enemies, as they can only be used to take out buildings (vice versa with lasers). Explosions caused by your rockets may look nice, but they often conceal enemies that were unhittable when flying behind the building you just destroyed.
    The game falls apart when it's trying to be a platformer, too. Your little spaceman can barely jump 6 inches into the air, but covers a surprising amount of ground in front of him, making it very, very hard to judge where you are going to land. Memorization of the levels is key here, and beating the game on pure reactionary skill is pretty much impossible.
    Once you do run out of all your lives (you will), you get a game over screen and the game shuts down. Yup, if you want to play again, you have to re-open the program.

    The game is rooted in archaic design that was abandoned for a reason. Some games have an old-school, timeless charm, but this is not one of them. Exolon DX is not poorly made, it's just outdated and too faithful of a remake to recommend to anyone not looking for a prettied up 80's shooter.
    I give this a :v:.

    Mullitt The Wise on
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    Vann DirasVann Diras Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    This is a short review that I probably won't add to the wiki due to its nature.

    A Game With a Kitty (Ver 1.4)

    I will admit upfront that not only did I not complete this game, I rather blatantly didn't get very far. I'll explain that in just a bit, but first I'll explain the basics of this rather charming platformer.

    kittyscreen1.jpg

    A Game With a Kitty, as its title may suggest, is a game in which as you play as the above pictured kitty. At least, it would appear to be some sort of feline creature, and even though its evolutionary origins are dubious at best, we'll chalk that up to the game's style, which graphically AGWaK has plenty of. It's charming, adorable protagonist is comparable to Kirby, though I will say it doesn't pull off the style as beautifully (But Kirby's been around how long now?). Musically the game is somewhat aggravating. And by aggravating, I mean that the music the game pushes out is better left unheard. The portion of the game I managed to play was done so with the sound off at all times except the first ten minutes wherein I began to understand how terrible the music was. Sadly, the game offers no options whatsoever so I was forced to simply turn off my speakers and hum a nice tune to myself.

    Now, to the meat of this game, the gameplay. AGWaK is your standard platforming affair; it tries nothing inventive or creative with it's approach, opting rather to beat the Mario horse as hard as possible. Your cute little kitten personification will run, jump, and land on top of enemies as you proceed through levels laid out in a Super Mario World fashion, gaining new moves as you go along such as climbing, charging, a 'hat glide', and running even faster and therefor jumping higher. In order to get these skills, you must collect coins (called Shillings) in order to purchase them from NPCs conveniently placed right next to where you need to use them. Yes, in order to progress through the game, you must grind for money. In a Mario-style platformer. I'm not sure when this seemed to be a good idea, but it is not. It is tedious, and not at all fun. Especially when the level design is either obnoxiously unoriginal or annoying frustrating.

    Playing through the game, my issues arose at the point where you gain the climbing skill. This was maybe 30 minutes in, and I had already gained the sprinting skill, so I must assume that this game is exceedingly short. I won't count that against it though, since even short experiences can be great ones. Back to the point, I approached the wise looking NPC with coin in hand (Lucky day!) and purchased the climbing skill. Just beyond I see a wall that I must, indeed, climb to proceed. Taking the directions given to me by the NPC and in the game's FAQ, I attempt to climb. No luck. For the life of me, this goddamn kitten will not go up that wall. This proceeds for another 10 minutes of checking online, looking over the FAQ and countless climbing attempts on different areas. It is at that point that I decided I would just write my review.

    To be honest, I can't be too hard on AGWaK. The FAQ tells me that this is the creator's first complete game, and for that he has done well. The graphics are cute and varied. They create an interesting world to roam through and you pounce on unsuspected enemies and loot them of their money bags. The platforming gameplay, despite being uninventive and bland, does its job exceedingly well with spot on controls. Sadly, I really cannot recommend the game, especially considering the apparent bug (?) with climbing that makes the game unable to be completed. It's a nice effort, but compared to what the indie scene has to offer, I'm forced to give it a big

    :v:

    kittyscreen2.jpg
    Climb, dammit!

    Vann Diras on
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    Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Hum, I played AGWaK some, but put it on the backburner when I saw you got the review job. I also didn't really like it, but I thought maybe I hadn't got far enough, or it wasn't for me. Maybe the sequel is better?

    I dig get past the climbing part, as far as I remember, but I don't remember the gliding.

    Page- on
    Competitive Gaming and Writing Blog Updated in October: "Song (and Story) of the Day"
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    Vann DirasVann Diras Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Really? For the life of me I CANNOT make climbing work. I've tried all combinations of keys and wizardry.

    Vann Diras on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Cottage of Doom

    cottagedbu8.png

    Version 1.0. Played for about 1.5 hours.

    A not-so-serious little romp through classic B-movie territory. While visiting a cottage deep in the forest, you and your friends are suddenly assaulted by the walking dead. With no expectation of survival, you take up your shotgun, board up your doors, and start exacting your revenge. You must protect your 4 roomed cottage by quickly repairing doors and windows, blocking off exits, and cleaning up straggling zombies with your shotgun. You buddy drops furniture down from the second floor, which you can use to block entrances or cannibalize for extra ammo and wood. That's really all there is to this game.

    The Good: The game doesn't take itself seriously. Zombies don't just moan, they mutter "Gru, gru," which is both ridiculous and awesome. The graphics are bright and blocky pixels that are functional and charming.

    The Bad: Everything is done with the mouse, but the controls are a little clunky. Right click is used for both attacking and interacting with the environment, but the distances aren't always clear, a right click to break a table might fire the shotgun instead, wasting precious ammo. Worse, the crosshair used for firing the shotgun doesn't make it obvious where the blast will be fired, making the slaughter of the undead much harder than it should be. And there's no ending: you just run around killing zombies until you die, which kind of defeats the point of all the survival options, since you only get points for killing, and not for living longer. In the end, the game is decent for a couple playthroughs, but there's no reason to keep at it.
    :v:
    By Page-

    Blocksum

    s1cg0.jpg

    English Version 1.0.8. Played for about 2 hours.

    With the bottom-to-top scrolling blocks and free-roaming cursor of Tetris Attacks and the block merging of Super Puzzle Fighter, but with the colours replaced by numbers, Blocksum takes a unique look at a classic puzzle genre. The simple in-game tutorial will get you started by telling you how to combine different numbered blocks to make larger numbers, and how to group them so that they disappear. That's basically all you need to know. Numbers will start off low, with 1s and 2s, then balloon, until there are many 7s and 8s. Basic adding skills are a must for successful play.

    The Good: A fresh and simple puzzle game that keeps you thinking. Pleasing effects and interface. An online scoreboard, though good luck cracking the top 50.

    The Bad: Only one game mode, which is the equivalent a "Normal" mode in Tetris, though it does end after 10 levels, and let's you keep playing during the credits to pad your score. Some sort of multiplayer would be really, really nice.
    :^:
    By Page-

    Tonberry King on
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    Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Yup, just played it again to confirm. Jump into a wall and press toward it to grab on and start climbing. Works for me.

    Page- on
    Competitive Gaming and Writing Blog Updated in October: "Song (and Story) of the Day"
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    Vann DirasVann Diras Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    After playing the game once more, I figured out why I was unable to climb. Turns out that you have to press over again once near the wall. I was just holding the button to no success.

    I doubt my opinion of the game will change with further exploring, but I'll give it some more time.

    Vann Diras on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Core Fighter

    184810ssqy5.jpg

    Core Fighter is a top down 2D action game that has you pilot one of 3 different fighters through 10 levels, shooting down various robotic and alien enemies along the way.

    To start, there are aspects of the game that I like a lot. The simple WASD and mouse controls work well. I fully endorse this control scheme for any top down action game, and wouldn't mind a few more SHMUPS to use it, either.

    But I'm afraid that my praise for the game stops there.

    The setting for the game seems to be a space station of some sort. Story elements are either absent or ambiguous enough to not matter. After spending 5 levels shooting drone fighters, the game starts tossing in gurgling aliens before moving into space for one awkward, invisible-walled level, and then moving into some sort of cave, where the drones all but disappear. The single clue given is the word "HELP" burned into the floor of the space station, but there's never any indication of who wrote it. An intricate story isn't important in this type of game, but it's always nice to know why one side is shooting at the other, and why robot drones and aliens are working together to take down one little fighter.

    The little fighter in question comes in 3 different forms: Light, Medium, and Heavy. Each plays different enough from the others to set them apart. Light has the speed to actually be able to dodge and outrun enemies, Heavy has enough shield to stand and fight without trouble, and Medium is a decent mixture of the two. This is fine for a game on the Normal difficulty, but on Hard the Heavy ship's extra shields don't help it as much as the speed the Light and Normal ships have would.

    Besides cosmetic and speed differences the fighters are all the same. They start with the same basic machine gun and rocket armaments and have access to the same weapon and upgrades shop, and though the upgrades available to each class are slightly different, they're all drawn from the same basic pool. The different weapons and upgrades are unlocked by finding special computer terminals scattered through each level, and bought with energy received for killing enemies. Some of the weapons carry over into new games, making the search for these special terminals more and more pointless with each playthrough. The upgrades themselves are all very basic. Improved speed, improved handling, better shields, etc.

    The weapons are another matter. There are four primary weapons, each with 3 levels of power. There's the rapid fire machine gun, the spread shot Frag Cannon, the piercing Drill Beam, and the single shot Mass Driver. Each level of power adds to the damage output and ammo cost of the weapon. There are also a few secondary weapons: two different rockets, and some mines. The rockets come in basic and heavy, and the mines are mostly useless, since getting the enemies to chase you so they run over the mines isn't nearly as effective as just shooting rockets at them. You can only have one primary and one secondary weapon at a time, which is really too bad because some weapons are more useful than others in certain situations, and it would be nice to be able to carry more than one primary at a time. At the very least it would save on ammo.

    Which brings up the next problem: the ammo system. Secondary ammo replenishes automatically over time, which is fine, but primary ammo has to be bought, or received randomly from killing enemies. Problem is, there isn't enough of it to go around. By the time level 2 weapons are available the ammo drain is so great that there's a constant need to go back to the shops scattered randomly throughout each level and buy more. It's disappointing when the game demands constant backtracking to buy more ammo after every couple of fights.

    And the backtracking is constant. Besides the need to buy ammo, there's the the way the levels are set up. Eight out of the ten stages are nothing but key hunts, requiring searches for a computer terminal that will unlock a force field, or clear out a blocked mine shaft, and the backtracking is always there. That there's no map only compounds the problem. The stages aren't overly large, but the near featureless corridors all look just about the same, so even though getting lost isn't a big problem, constant wrong turns are.

    The ship has a shield that quickly replenishes when not under stress, a la Halo, taking away much of the difficulty. Most of the enemy encounters are small and isolated, which would usually mean they're designed for attrition, but since the player will just have full shields again by the time they meet the next enemy there's no danger at all. There are a pair of abilities available that drain the shield while active: afterburners, which are a simple speed boost, are nice to have for going back through areas that have already been cleared of enemies, and a cloak, which is really just a way to save ammo; an attack made from a cloaked state will reveal the ship but also grant a temporary damage boost. It also takes a large chunk out of the shields, making it useless against encounters with more than 2 enemies. It doesn't work with rockets, which is a shame.

    The game has a decent foundation, but there's nothing interesting built on it. As it is, nothing here justifies the $8 price tag. The first playthrough might take an hour, but after that the game can be zipped through in half that time, and with nothing new to see or do to even justify additional plays. There's some sort of achievement feature that let's you know when you've done things like "beat a level in under 3 minutes," or "kill 50 enemies without dying," but they're lost when you start a new game and don't seem to do anything besides. There are even a few achievements that can't be unlocked until the game is over, but there's no way to ever see if the requirements have been met. It's a useless feature that just adds another mystery.

    All Core Fighter really needs to be good are more things to do. More levels, more enemies, more weapons and upgrades. Hopefully there'll be a sequel that delivers on Core Fighter's potential.

    2/5

    By Page-

    So is Wii Ware coming out tomorrow? I've heard both March and May release dates. Which is it?

    Tonberry King on
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    cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Christmas-Man!Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    cooljammer00 on
    steam_sig.png

    3DS Friend Code: 2165-6448-8348 www.Twitch.TV/cooljammer00
    Battle.Net: JohnDarc#1203 Origin/UPlay: CoolJammer00
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Ahh so there hasn't been any reviews in a while. I don't mean to be pushy, but I want to get a general idea of what everyone's doing. As always I want to make sure people are happy and productive :P

    If there's anyone around here currently living in Japan may I suggest trying out some of the recently released Wii Ware games. We'd probably get a chance to have some of the first reviews for those games.

    tcooljammer00: Haven't tried that one yet. Looks interesting. Hopefully someone picks it up. Of course if you're willing to write a short review that's always welcome.

    Tonberry King on
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    Sprocket FlossSprocket Floss Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'm trying to finish "Gamma Bros" and "Fuck Space". God damn I suck at shooters.

    Sprocket Floss on
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    reach42reach42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'll try ROM check fail if noone else wants/claims it.

    reach42 on
    reach42.png
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'm going to start doing some reviews myself soon. La Mulana seems to be fairly infamous so I'll take that one. If anyone has been working on this beast in the meantime you can still submit your review later. Of course if you wanted to be first you now have my anemic schedule to compete with.

    I might also return to my original assignment, Knytt Stories. What little I played of it showed enormous potential.

    Rom Check Fail is yours, reach.

    Tonberry King on
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    reach42reach42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    reviews written and being updated with pictures.

    reach42 on
    reach42.png
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    Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I finished Gamma Bros. a while ago. It's a fun game. I've been busy with some other stuff, but I'll see if I can't get a few done soon.

    Page- on
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    reach42reach42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    so what's going on with this.

    reach42 on
    reach42.png
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    reach42 wrote: »
    so what's going on with this.
    What's going on with what?

    People are still playing their games. I started La Mulana and it is really unforgiving, but I'm enjoying it.

    Tonberry King on
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Gamma Bros. 1.04. Played for about 1.5 hours.

    screenshotgammazt3.jpg

    Gamma Bros. is a wonderful little 8-bit throwback, combining aspects of classic Midway games into a 4-direction shooter. Players take control of the brothers and help them get home in time for dinner, battling through multiple levels of patterned enemy attackers as they commute home from their space station orbiting Jupiter. The game's tag-team, multiderectional gameplay is simple and addictive. There's a password system that let's you continue from the last level you played.

    Pros: The levels are long, the boss battles are nice. The weapon power-up system is good, and rewards solid play, while the the tag-team dynamic between the two brothers is a nice alternative to a standard Lives system. The enemy patterns are varied, with a few standing out.

    Cons: The final boss is a bit of a let-down, and the game is quite easy on Normal difficulty.

    :^:

    By Page-

    Edit: Just barely makes my h-scroll. Let me know if it's a problem.

    Tonberry King on
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    reach42reach42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    well my ROM check Fail review is up on the website, but appears to be hiding.

    just search the title.

    reach42 on
    reach42.png
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    Tonberry KingTonberry King Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    reach42 wrote: »
    well my ROM check Fail review is up on the website, but appears to be hiding.

    just search the title.
    I see it, and it's perfect.

    I'm not quite sure what's going on with the page not showing up, but if it's bothering you, PM evilmrhenry for some technical advise. I'm sure he'll be willing to give some help. If you want to get your review some more attention you can post it in the thread.

    Keep up the good work.

    Tonberry King on
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