Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Wire Hang Redux

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Wire Hang Redux is supposedly a remake of the original Wire Hang game, at least that’s what the website says. I never really heard of it until I heard of this game, so we’ll accept that.

The game is a little weird. You have to use your grapple to ascend a never ending sky full of floating platforms. The higher you go, the more points you get. You also get bonuses if you make your grapple line longer or recover (fall just off the bottom of the screen and then save yourself), but you also risk falling off the bottom of the screen and losing the game. You only get one life, so that becomes fairly important.

wire hang redux

I like this game because it’s simple to control, you only use the left mouse button; it can be picked up quickly, you can learn to play in minutes; and it will run on just about any computer that will also run Windows (sorry Mac guys, Linux Guys, and the two Sun users out there). If you’ve got a few minutes to burn you might want to give the game a shot, and you can do that here.

Moto Racer

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

I don’t really get into most racing games, especially the ones that strive for realism. Of course, I don’t really know if Moto Racer is realistic or not, my knowledge of motorcycle racing is limited to what I’ve been able to glean from those reality shows where people crash a lot. Nevertheless, I played this game a bit because I had just gotten one of my first 3D video cards for my PC (a lovely Riva TNT card), and it was packed in to show off what 3D could look like.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I’m really bad at racing virtual motorcycles.

Shortly after I played this game I got really bored playing it the ‘right’ way. So I started driving around the courses and seeing how fast I could go before I crashed. Then I bought Final Fantasy VIII. And then I never played this game again.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

When the CD-ROM medium was still the new technology, folks wondered how developers would be able to fill up so much space. The answer, more often than not, seemed to be with video clips. And with video clips the content is pretty limited.

This game is about trying to break into the stand-up comedy business. A more noble goal there isn’t! But it’s not going to be easy. See, comedy’s all about timing, they say. So you have to try and weasel your way up the comedy ladder and schmooze with patrons of the comedy club you’re working in. “How?” you may ask. Easy! Click on them!

What you end up doing in this game is clicking on someone, then they’ll give you a little monologue that’s supposed to be funny. Then, assuming you clicked on the right person, you’ll get a comedy item. Get all the items and you get your big break! Talk to someone out of sequence and you get sent to the basement where you get to play some game or other to get back on the first floor and try again.

This game is a pretty big waste of time. If you do decide to play it for some reason, though, I can tell you that the game is mercifully short. This game is so bad that the only media I can find is some that I created myself, but I promise this game exists, and isn’t really worth your time.

World of Warcraft

Friday, January 4th, 2008

I mentioned that I played Final Fantasy XI for a time. I really liked the concept, but ran into some issues. Mostly going to school full time, working full time at a retail store in the evenings, and trying to not fail catastrophically at either of those things. This left precious little time to play games of any sort, much less games that take a massive time investment. So, after I shelved my character, I realized that it would be a scant couple of months before the next new hot thing in massively multiplayer online role playing games was getting much much nearer to completion than I was aware of.

So I did some digging, signed up for the ‘open beta’ and gave the game a try.

And I liked what I saw.

World of Warcraft follows the story laid down in the Warcraft series and picks up just after the conclusion of III. But it’s nothing like other games in the series. You, an adventurer, have decided to venture out into the world. What do you do? Well, quite a bit. You can slay monsters, craft and sell items, do quests, socialize, or some combination of those. And there are thousands upon thousands (though now millions) of other people doing the same thing in the same game world. It’s pretty crazy to think about.

What makes this game a bit more accessible than Final Fantasy XI is that it’s quite a bit more friendly to the casual player, the solo player, and the casual solo player. There’s plenty of cooperative content, too, but if you’ve only got a bit of time at odd hours to squeeze in like I did, then this game might be for you.

I invested a lot of time into this game, but my odd schedule meant that the group of regulars I played with often were unavailable, so I did most of it solo. And a game like this has a certain amount of fun for the soloers, but that wears thin after a while.

I played in a few ‘pick up groups’ to lengthen the game’s appeal, but I had a bit of trouble finding folks that I could deal with. I’ve mentioned before that I like playing multiplayer games like this, even though I don’t really like using them to make new friends; I prefer to play with people that I know in real life. So, after about eight months, I retired my character. I still keep up with the game a bit, with the happenings and the changes. The game now only partially resembles the game I left, so I hear the call to come back occasionally. And since Blizzard’s character retention policy is quite a bit less restrictive than Square’s is for their MMO offering, I may try it again someday.

Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

A few months after I bought the original Warcraft III I played through most of the single-player mode, in between savage beatings at multi-player. The story actually gets kind of interesting. It deals with the rise and corruption of a young prince and the world-altering consequences of his actions. It’s pretty typical Greek tragedy stuff. The Frozen Throne picks up pretty well where the original game left off, you, in control of the corrupt prince scheming with a more powerful entity in a ridiculously circuitous plan to get even more powerful.

I had a hard time following the story after a while, but I got the highlights.

The game is pretty well identical to the base game, but just with more. Which is the whole point of an expansion, I guess. It also closes the story arc started in the first game, answers some questions, and raises still more.

Oh, there’s gobs more added to the story, I can’t hope to convey it all in the space I have here. But this game also really shines in the multi-player arena, just like the base game did. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get this game primarily so I could enhance my multi-player experience. Although I still took my losses straight up the poop chute, I still got my money out of it.

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I never actually played Warcraft II, even though I did play and like the original game. I suppose that’s because II looked like it was very similar to the first game, and I didn’t think it was worth my time.

Several years later, I was working with a gentleman who was affiliated with a large Blizzard fansite. As such, he had access to the beta of Warcraft III, which he brought over and demoed at a LAN party I threw at my house. I was then immediately interested in the series again.

Warcraft III, like its progenitor, is a strategy game in which you and your opponents all work in real time. This is to say, you don’t take turns. So it really tests your speed, reflexes, and ability to change strategies on the fly. And once you get really good, it can get a little tough to follow what’s going on.

The story in this game is far more fleshed out and in depth than it was back in the Orcs and Humans days. In fact, you could just play through the single-player mode and get quite a lot out of the experience.

Although the single player mode of this game is pretty good, I really spent my time playing (and losing horribly) multiplayer games. Trying to out think, outmaneuver, and out strategize an actual person is usually pretty tough. And though it turns out that I’m really bad at it, I still enjoyed it. I also was intrigued by the seemingly endless possible strategies. Even though I never really executed them, I still liked watching other people do them, which is some kind of victory, right?

Quake II

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Quake II follows the story of Quake, a game I’ve still never played. I understand, however, that Quake is very similar to Doom, another game that I haven’t played, but am at least somewhat familiar with.

Quake II is about aliens and you killing aliens with a variety of large guns. To be honest, I don’t know any more than that. I never actually played the single-player version of this game. I was only in it for the multiplayer.

I really only played this game to test out the network in my apartment. My roommate and I had just discovered networking and needed some way to try it out. Other than the Internet connection sharing. That’s boring. Running virtual avatars around virtual rooms filled with virtual explodey things on the other hand. Way more fun.

Sam & Max: Season One

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I came kind of late to the PC gaming party, so although I had heard of Sam & Max, I had never actually spent any time with the games. As a result of that, the characters just kind of hung around in the back of my mind and were briefly brought back to the forefront by an announcement at E3 in 2006 that some new games in the series were being produced and distributed by GameTap. But, since my experiences with GameTap were less than extraordinary I kind of forgot about the series’s resurrection, even though I knew it was purchasable online. Months later and my local Best Buy has a copy of the complete ‘Season One’ collection for less than is available from the developers, and I suddenly remembered that I wanted to try it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game, since I hadn’t so much seen any of the other games in action, I went in pretty well blind. Turns out that this game is kind of a throwback. It’s a point-and-click adventure game. They’ve kind of fallen out of style these days, so if you’re not familiar with the genre, I’ll try to explain. Using only the mouse, you click on things to make your character do or say things. What you have to do is find the right things to click on at the right times to move the story along. It sounds kind of boring on the surface, and I usually don’t get in to them too much, but I gave this one a chance.

The game is broken up into six ‘episodes’ that were released throughout 2007. The idea being that the game can be released in bite-size chunks throughout the year. Since they’re short they can be developed quickly, released relatively often, and purchased reasonably cheaply.

So the episodes themselves are each about the titular heroes, a giant dog and a rabbit-thing with an aggression problem, trying to solve a series of cases involving hypnosis. They do this through a unique style of private-eyeing (a.k.a. ‘Freelance Police’) which typically involves deduction, reasoning, wordplay, and large firearms. What you’re really doing is wandering around the game space pointing, clicking on things, occasionally picking up things, and then using things, all in an effort to find the correct combination of person, place, thing, and time to advance the plot.

You don’t play a game like this for the compelling gameplay, the complex puzzles, or the razor-sharp platforming elements. You play it to experience the dialog, to see the well-crafted story. Thankfully this game has that in spades. It’s reasonably entertaining, and voiced competently. It compels you to play just to see or hear what kind of things are going to happen next. It’s rarely what you expect, which definitely adds to the fun. The only complaint I can come up with is that occasionally it’s very unclear what to do next. Though I only got stuck about three times those three times really kind of sucked some of the fun out of the experience. Though, for this kind of game, it’s a lot better than I usually do. And I was able to see this game through to the end in about nine hours. I’d say that was definitely worth my $20.

Alien Disco Safari

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

It would appear at first glance that I’m a huge sucker. I see a game on the shelf called Alien Disco Safari that I can just sense is going to be awful. Then I see a price tag of $6 and I start to think that the game might be hilariously awful and might be worth $6.

Turns out that this time the game isn’t actually awful. It’s not great, either, but it’s not awful.

The story doesn’t make any sense, something about a space probe got sent out to deep space with the sum of human information. Aliens found it and really liked the disco music, so they came to Earth and invaded. You have been charged with taking them out.

You do this with various forms of heavy weaponry in two kinds of stages: action stages and ship stages. Action stages just feature some kind of scene where aliens run around aimlessly. You have to shoot them, and various other targets, to get points. Get enough points in the time limit and you clear the level. In the ship stages you have several ships that fly overhead. You have to shoot down the ships to get points. Get enough points within the time limit (and don’t miss more than 5 ships) and you clear the level. It’s all pretty easy since the aliens don’t shoot back at you, so all you have to worry about it shooting and hitting things.

I can’t say that this game is great, but for a $6 game with a goofy title, it was better than I expected it to be. I ended up playing about halfway through the game before I got tired of it, but it’s decent enough that I might pick it up again someday. Or just any time I feel the need to shoot a few hundred cartoon aliens.

Final Fantasy VIII

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

If there’s one good thing about the games in the Final Fantasy series it’s that even though there are 12ish games in the series, you generally don’t have to have played the previous installments to enjoy them. Each game is its own self-contained story, with some similarities thrown in so that you know it’s still Final Fantasy. So even if you, like me, couldn’t wrap your head completely around Final Fantasy VII you don’t need to do so to play VIII.

The story in this game is also quite convoluted and confusing, and I know I’m going to misremember and misinterpret some of it, but here’s what I can recall: You start out with Squall who’s a pointlessly rebellious guy in a military academy. He’s eventually sent, along with some of his classmates, on a mission to assassinate the ’sorceress’. The Sorceress is the latest in a line of sorceresses that have ill-defined magical powers and pass them down to some random girl every generation. The ragtag group of people, it happens, are all orphans that grew up together, at an orphanage run by what would become the current sorceress (and whose husband is headmaster of one of the military academies), but they don’t remember any of this because they have amnesia. Amnesia brought on by using powerful summoned creatures known as Guardian Forces. So the assassination attempt fails and two things happen: Squall’s new girlfriend becomes the new sorceress and a sorceress at some point in the future decides to do something called ‘time compression’ that makes all moments in time happen simultaneously. Oh, and there’s a side plot involving some guy whose daughter has the ability to send minds back in time to experience things, and things you do while in the past will influence the future.

Got all that?

Gameplay wise, it’s a lot like other Final Fantasy games. You run around fighting bizarre monsters while working your way to the next plot point. Where it differs is in how it handles stats.

Role Playing games are all about stats. Your stats determine your worth. Health Points dictate how much damage you can take before you die, Strength determines how hard you can hit, and so on. Typically, in a Final Fantasy game, you also have Magic Points. Each spell you have costs a certain amount of points to cast, and these come out of your pool. In this game, the developers have dispensed with this system in favor of the junction system. To gain magic spells in this game, you have to ‘draw’ them out of your enemies or from random points throughout the world. You then attach to your various stats for boosts. You are then immediately faced with a conundrum. The magic spells are typically some of your best attack and support avenues, and if you use the ones you have you decrease your stats. And an RPG character with sub-par stats is a pretty lame character.

The other problem has to do with the Guardian Force creatures. You use these creatures for extremely powerful attacks, but the attacks take a long time to play out. I fully understand that every time you do the attack that it always plays out to do the damage, but I would have loved the ability to skip them, especially when I got the longer ones.

Sure, they look cool the first couple dozen times you see them, but after seeing the same Guardian Force do the same minute-plus attack a hundred or more times, you just quit using them, opting for the slower, but much more interactive, mundane battle.

I’m the only person that I know that has actually finished this game, but I never felt compelled to play through it a second time. Or to complete any of the optional sidequests to fully understand the story. In fact, toward the end the it began to feel more like a chore than a game.

This would also be the last game in the series proper that I would play (not including Final Fantasy XI) since it was the last Final Fantasy game that would come out on the PC. Had IX, X, X-2, or XII come out for the PC, I’d have probably given them a shot. Not all of us own Playstation consoles, you know.