Like Duck Guardian One, for example. It plays a whole lot like Lemmings, only instead of Lemmings you have Ducks, and instead of assigning various jobs to the Lemmings, you shoot the ducks with various ‘Rays’ that have different effects, like turning them around or making them jump. Your goal is to get a sufficient amount of them to the safety of the ship on the right side of the screen with minimal casualties.
And that’s pretty much all for this game. Every few levels you get a new gun and the ducks move faster and have more crap to avoid. The game apparently has some kind of ending to it, but I got bored about nine waves in, once I got the freeze ray. After that, there was too much juggling ducks and rays for my taste. Not to mention that I kind of ran out of ducks and my game ended.
No big loss, though. I’m actually pretty confident that I’ve seen everything in this game that I care to. And if I ever change my mind about that, I know where this game lives, so I can blow a few minutes reminding myself of what I thought about it, which wasn’t much.
It’s a pretty regular occurrence, you’ll buy a compilation of old games for your newfangled system because of the awesome game on the front, then when you get it home you realize that in order to get the ‘included games’ number up to a respectable level the developers were kind enough to include some ‘also-rans’. Like Microsoft’s Revenge of Arcade. Check out this box art.
This game compilation should have been called ‘Ms. Pac-Man and Some Other Stuff‘, since Ms. Pac-Man is what most folks are going to buy it for. But you install it… and some other games mysteriously show up on your computer. Then you go to get your Pac on and your mouse slips down a notch and you accidentally click on something else.
The game that I accidentally clicked on was something called Motos. A bizarre little game that I had never heard of before that stars you piloting some kind of ship on a platform. Your goal is to crash into the other… inhabitants of the platforms while they try to do the same to you. The enemies are faster, more maneuverable, hit harder, and more numerous than you, so you definitely have your work cut out for you.
The game is fun for about the length of time it takes you to play it once, so it kind of depends on how skillful your are with your ship maneuvering. But you’re going to see all that you need to see inside of fifteen minutes with it.
I wasn’t that impressed by it, and after playing it twice, just to make sure that it was as mediocre as I thought it was my first time through. It was, so I resolved to be more careful with my mouse clicks in the future.
A few years later, though, and we got a sequel to Unreal Tournament, which a lot of the folks in this area gravitated to, and Quake 3 just kind of fell to the wayside. It’s interesting to me, then, that Unreal Tournament 2K3 actually started to look a whole lot like Quake 3 had.
I actually ended up playing this game a lot less than I had the original Unreal Tournament game. Mostly because I didn’t actually get the game until several months had passed since its release. Then, once I did actually get it, I only played it LAN parties. In fact, I only bought the thing so that I’d have something to do at the LANs. Then, a few months after I finally capitulated and bought the game an incremental sequel with slight tweaks and a few additions was released, Unreal Tournament 2K4.
That was the last straw for me. I refuse to be caught in the ‘buy a new football game every year with updated rosters’ upgrade treadmill. Not only that, but a scant couple of months after I bought 2K3 all the folks at the LANs I went to abandoned it and went to the new darling of first-person shooters. So, not only did I not get into 2K4, I removed 2K3 and resolved to not play it any more if I had to keep upgrading every year.
Another of the games in the After Dark Games collection was a weird little adventure game based on the screensaver that made the company famous, flying toasters.
So how would you make a game about flying toasters?
It turns out that it’d be a pseudo-3D affair that tasks you as the titular toaster in a quest to fly through a house that’s rife with anti-toaster everything, and you have to gather up all of some baby’s discarded toys and then put him, her, or it to bed.
This is actually the most complicated game in the collection. Mostly because it’s kind of hard to navigate your ridiculous toaster through the ridiculous house, collecting crap, and trying to get to the end. It’s not actually all that exciting.
I played this game a little bit, but didn’t ever make it very far into it. Mostly because, compared to the other games in the collection, it was exponentially more complicated than any of the others. It also wasn’t just something you could pick up and have some success for about a minute or so like some of the other ones. In fact, the only times I can remember even starting the thing was either: to see what it was like or because I accidentally clicked on it when I meant to play something else.
In the in-between time after I played Final Fantasy XI and before I played World of Warcraft I got a whiff of another MMORPG that was under development. And since those wacky game developers needs lots of help in the form of real-world testing and feedback, that meant that this game was going to be free to obtain and free to play.
And free is one of my favorite prices.
Now, I don’t really know what the story in the game is supposed to be. Something about some goddess creating some planets, and then some other god wresting control of one of the planets for his own nefarious ends. So she sends out adventurers to the various planets in the solar system to… um… stop him somehow?
After I downloaded the game and went through the character creation process, I couldn’t help but notice how cutesy the game was. Just about all the player characters look like they’re prepubescent kids, and the tutorial island is full of ‘jelly bean’ monsters for you to cut your fighting teeth on.
This is all well and good, but not exactly my cup of a delicious warm beverage.
But I slogged along anyway. I took my training weaponry and my training armor and attacked the training enemies with gusto. But I was mystified by the controls, I had a hard time targeting anything. I was stymied by the dialog boxes, text broke in weird places and didn’t have impeccable grammar.
So, after I finally killed a bagful of jelly beans and made it off the training island, I made it into the world proper, and decided to log out for the day.
Then I never felt compelled to play the game again. It just didn’t do anything for me. The whole thing was kind of ‘blah’ to me. I think the hype around the game was pretty much due to the fact that it was a freebie, and not because it was any kind of ground-breaking thing.
But, I hear that it’s going to be free to play again real soon now, so that’s something going for it, I guess. Even though I don’t think I’m going to take advantage of it.
This is a review that I originally wrote for this site back in 2005 that I also posted on Stage Select.
This Might Have Been the Worst $5 I Ever Spent
Score: 4 /10
(submitted by: basscomm ), 11/29/2005 10:29:45 PM
Do you ever get the feeling when playing a game that the CEO of the company you gave your hard-earned cash to is sitting in his overstuffed office chair laughing maniacally while you try in vain to extract any joy from the steaming pile they shoved in the box? This game makes me feel that way.
I really don’t know what Midnight Outlaw is all about. The two-sided card that came with the game decided to give me hints relating to the install process rather than mention anything about the game I was about to waste my time on. The back of the box proudly proclaims:
“Enter and explosive world where nitrous erupts and rubber burns. You live your life one race at a time and from midnight to dawn, the adrenaline is on. Feel the raw power of your super-charged engine as you punch the accelerator for cash and hard-won respect.”
Sounds sufficiently vague to base a game on.
You have three main activities in this game: you can complete races in the story mode, you can drive around the city gaining ‘fame’, or you can play with your car.
In story mode you will predictably race for various reasons around some random city in Southern California. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter if you win, since you will more often than not clear the mission anyway.
While slogging through the game, I was momentarily distracted from the white-knuckle racing by the streets with no pedestrians and the almost completely indestructable scenery. There is almost nothing in this game that you can damage, and of the stuff you can damage, it doesn’t really matter. Your car can take all the punishment you can dish out and the only negative effects will be that your speed is temporarily reduced to zero miles per hour while the camera pans to an allegedly more interesting angle and if you hit enough stuff your hood will eventually fall off.
Control is horrible. I could have probably gotten better control by plugging a banana into my computer and using that instead of my keyboard. The cars control like elephants on ice skates. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow I go, the car takes its time when it considers your suggestion that you might want it to change direction. Instead, your car will delight in hitting just about every stationary or moving object it can find both on and off the road.
Other cars on the streets are placed in the optimal path around the courses, ensuring collisions. They normally move down the highway at about 3 MPH or are parked… right in the middle of the freeway. But all of that doesn’t really matter, since no matter how damaged your car is, it’ll be fully repaired after the next cutscene.
From what I can tell, the majority of the tracks in this game take place on the same set of roads, just with differing routes sectioned off. They’re not sectioned off in a way that makes sense or is sane. In the races there are large blue triangles indicating the direction you are supposed to go. If you for some reason decide that you want to go some other direction, like turning left instead of right, what looks like a large red plastic square will slide over from the side of the road and impede your progress. The other cars on the road are not affected by these, so I can only assume that my car was built by Superman and the barriers are made from Kryptonite and Lex Luthor is forcing me to race down the roads he chooses.
Thankfully, through the alleged 50+ courses, there is only one song that plays in the background. You are treated to the same BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA-*garbled female voice*-BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA-BOOM-CHA… etc. While I was digging through the sound files for the game, I came across a sound called Silence.wav. It was the best sounding file in the game.
I was never able to figure out what the ‘fame’ was for. I’d get fame for spending my ’scrilla’ on ‘bling’ to put on the car, I’d get fame for completing missions by losing, and I’d get fame for slipping and sliding around corners and managing to not hit anything. I took all the fame I got throughout the game and planted it in a hole I dug out in my back yard. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have a new fame tree out there and I can just go and pick all the fame I want.
Now we all know that people don’t play games like this to experience the driving or the storyline or anything else that could possibly be fun or interesting. They play it for the customization. You can customize your Phat Ride(tm) to the nth degree by selecting such options as hood color and window stickers. Of course the only thing in the shop worth purchasing is ‘Da Boosta’, which is apparently a gauge at the top of your screen labeled ‘NOx’ and lets you press the space bar to access what I like to call Disco Mode. In Disco Mode it looks like the ‘NOx’ gets injected directly into the passenger compartment since the colors go all streaky and I lose the ability to turn left until I crash into something, run out of ‘NOx’, or I “overheat my engine”.
This game is so bad, I need to go and invent a machine that will let me unplay it.
At about the same time that Quake III came out, it was directly competing with another game with roughly the same premise: Unreal Tournament. It came from the Unreal series of games that I never did play, but instead of focusing on some kind of single-player story, this installment was all about the multi-player deathmatch.
In fact, this game is a lot like Quake III. The main differences are that the characters look less ‘chunky’, the selection of weapons is different, and the physics are a little different. Superfans of each game might tell you that there’s more differences than that between them, and they’d be right, but the other differences aren’t really anything you’ll probably care about unless you’re one of those superfans, so they’re really not worth mentioning here.
What I found that was kind of weird was that the people in my area that liked First-Person-Shooter type games would divide themselves into two camps, the UT crowd and the Q3 crowd. I’d go to one LAN party (Pr0ject-X) and Quake III would be the game everyone would be playing, then I’d go to another (AsylumLAN), and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t playing Unreal Tournament. Well, either that or Counter-Strike, which was kind of popular no matter where I went.
But I never really saw the point of being a rabid fan of either game. I liked them both. They were each different enough that I could enjoy each of them in their own way. Which was actually pretty nice since one or the other seemed to rule the roost at the various LAN party events that I would go to.
And even though I played a fair bit of both games, my aim never really appreciably improved. I don’t really know why, but I suspect that, while I played each game for several dozen hours each, had I played each one for several hundred hours, I would have noticed some improvement. But I just didn’t have it in me to invest an amount of time that would qualify as a full-time job to get better at some game, when I had piles of other games sitting around waiting for me to play them.
For a time when I was in middle school I was a member of the Chess Club, and while that didn’t really bring me the fame and adulation that I really wanted, I did have the chance to play a kind of interesting video game version of our chosen pastime.
Battle Chess is actually a pretty humdrum interpretation of the ubiquitous board game. So there’s really nothing to say there. The thing that makes this stand out is the battling. See, in normal mundane Chess you capture a piece and just gets taken off the board. But in Battle Chess the pieces actually fight it out (to the death, even) and the winner captures the square. Not that the battles have any actual bearing on the results or anything. It’s just a silly way to make the game a little more exciting. Well, as exciting as playing Chess on a computer in the early 90s could be, I guess.
I only played Battle Chess one time after school during a Chess Club meeting. And I didn’t even get to finish my match because I had to leave the meeting early. But what I did play I thought to be reasonably entertaining. Mostly because I was never really that good at Chess, but I got to see characters representing my little Chess-guys get brutalized in the name of a fun after-school activity, and that’s a hard thing to accomplish any more.
I played the original World of Warcraft from launch in November of 2004 until June of 2005, and while I liked the game well enough, I just kind of quit for a variety of reasons. Mostly because my schedule didn’t jibe with that of the folks I was playing with, and you can only play a game designed to be played in groups by yourself for so long before boredom sets in. But, years go by and I still keep up on some of the happenings in the game, I occasionally check the forums and look at patch notes, and I get the odd promotional disc begging me to come back.
But I would resist for a long time, mostly because what I didn’t want to happen was that I’d reactivate my account and then really like it, which would mean that I’d have to pony up forty of my dollars for the privilege, which I didn’t really think was cost-effective.
And then, around Thanksgiving last year I found the expansion pack for $20. I looked at it, and passed on it, but I somehow convinced myself that it must have been some kind of sale or something, and couldn’t possibly be twenty dollars forever, and, really, what’s twenty dollars? Twenty dollars is less than I’d pay for a large pizza and some drinks, and even if I get it, I didn’t have to play it, I just would have that option if I get bored one day, right? And then, somehow, the game ended up in my house, on my shelf, waiting for me to play it.
But I’d hang on to it for a while longer, not really convinced that I really wanted to play it, but not convinced that I didn’t want to play it. Remembering that the game was really well put together, and that I had a lot of fun playing what content that I could get through on my own, and I had a free two-week trial with no strings attached that I could play and then cancel, and my character and all my stuff was still there, so I could restart the game with my level 55 mage without actually grinding all that content again. And, then, somehow, after about ten weeks, the game ended up installed on my hard drive and I was in the midst of reactivating my account.
So, after nearly three years of being away from the game I was about to log back in to what would really be a wholly different game.
In the interim from the time that I played the game a whole lot had changed, most of which doesn’t bear going into here. But gamewise lots of stuff was added and changed: Battlegrounds, daily quests, epic mounts, new areas to explore, new races, new classes available to each side, a whole new continent to explore, and about a million little changes.
So I logged in and picked up my character pretty much where I left off, riding my horse through Stormwind toward the bank to see what in the world I thought was worth saving at the time, get my bearings and start adventurin’.
The game was, even with all the changes, more or less how I remembered it. At least the ‘old world’ was. So that made things a little easier to get back into the swing of things and to work off a little bit of the rust. But in the years since I’d played the game my guild had disbanded and all of the people that I had played with had switched factions and servers, so there wasn’t any way I could play with anyone that I knew without rerolling a character on their new-fangled server and then spending copious amounts of time getting his levels up to a respectable level, which didn’t sound too fun.
So I created a new character on their server and on their side of the ‘war’, but I had to make sure that I created one of the new races so that I could see the new starting area. Which, admittedly, looked really good. Then I joined up with all the Old Friends and began his ascent to reach the level seventy(!) plateau that I’d need to get to to play whatever regular content that they all did weekly.
But I also wanted to check out the higher-level content, so I was splitting my time between two servers on completely opposite ends of the WoW spectrum. High-level Alliance solo player, who got guild invites every few minutes (I guess people just see someone in the low 60s without a guild and they figure that she needs some friends), and a low-level Horde character who had a group of buddies that were available sometimes, when they weren’t doing all the Fun Stuff with their high-level ‘Mains’ while I was schlepping along in the lower ranks trying to get up to speed.
And that’s what I did for a couple of months. I got my high-ish level character high enough to see the new continent, Outland. I got to see the front of the titular war. I got to see the new starting area for the new races. I got to see pretty much all of the new stuff. And then the realization that I would have a lot of work to do if I wanted to get my lowbie character up to speed to let him get to the ‘good stuff’. Even with friends that was going to take a while, so I just kind of let my subscription run out after three months.
But, since my characters’ data will be there for the life of the game, if I ever decide to check out the next expansion pack, whenever that comes out, I’ll have a character who can check out most of the new stuff. Of course, I’ll have to wait for it to come down to $20 or less before I even do that, so it may be a while.
It’s weird. I like to think that I have a pretty firm grip on what kinds of games I’ll like. I also like to think that I can see through the layers of crap I find on the various websites and can distill it down to get to the information that I really need. So, for weeks I found information floating around the Internet telling me that Every Extend was a pretty good game, and for some reason, I believed it.
Every Extend is a game about blowing stuff up, which is normally pretty awesome. You slowly travel down a tunnel and have to blow yourself up to destroy the enemies in the tunnel. Each time you blow up costs you a life, but if you take enough enemies with you, then you get an extra life. You continue on like this until you run out of lives.
The game’s original, I’ll give it that. But, unfortunately, in this case, ‘original’ means really boring. I played the game for about five minutes and got extremely bored. I’m not really sure how the folks behind this took all the fun out of recklessly blowing stuff up, but they sure did.
But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Download it and bore yourself if you have five minutes you don’t want back.