Archive for the ‘PC’ Category

SimCity 4 / Rush Hour

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

The games in the SimCity series have steadily gotten more and more complicated. I understand it’s because the superfans of the series really like micromanaging every aspect of their little simulated people’s lives. So you keep getting more and more things that you can do, which means that you have more and more things to think about as you’re mayoring in your city. First you have to create appropriate zones, then you have to give them power, then they want water, then they want roads, then they want highways, then they want a place to stash their trash, and etc., etc., etc. Your Sims are very needy.

And you, as mayor have to do absolutely everything by yourself, while listening to your advisors, of course. Or you could do what I did and completely ignore them, build the city however you want, and then watch as nobody moves in, you run out of money and the game ends.

But assuming you do manage to make a city that people want to live in you have gobs of information at your fingertips, hidden away in all kinds of menus. You can see where the traffic’s congested the most, you can see who does and doesn’t have water service, or how your rating as mayor is, or where the crime is, or where sphere of influence is for the various schools in your city, or lots more stuff.

The game is really just more of a refinement of SimCity 3000, which was a refinement of SimCity 2000, which was a refinement of the original game. And each time they make a new iteration of the game, they pile on more stuff to do and to manage, which is fine for the really hardcore city manager types, but kind of overwhelming for a neophyte. Heck, it was a lot for me to handle, and I’m an old hand at Simming around.

However, there were two things in particular that I did think were kind of neat about this game. First was that if you had a copy of The Sims on your computer, you could have one of your Sims from that game move into your city and tell you what he or she thinks of it. Then you kind follow what they do throughout the days and such. Kind of an interesting crossover.

The other thing, though, is the inclusion of Rush Hour. Rush Hour is essentially an expansion to the base SimCity 4 game that allows you as mayor to drive around your city to do silly little missions. The missions are pretty lame, and the vehicles are pretty well uncontrollable, but it kind of gives you some insight into how brilliantly or, in my case, how poorly the roads in your fair city are laid out.

There was just so much to do in this game that after about a dozen or so hours into it, tweaking the settings for the trash, the water, the police, the education system, zoning for more properties, poring over traffic density maps, stomping out fires, and so on, I just kind of got a case of ‘minutiae overload’ and I put the game up on the shelf in indefinite hiatus.

Yeti Sports Seal Bounce

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The original Yeti Sports game was pretty dumb, but I guess some people liked it for some reason. Maybe it was because of the insipidly simple gameplay, because there wasn’t a whole lot of skill involved. But it was received well enough that it got some sequels, which added some wrinkles to the yeti-penguin relationship.

One of these is Seal Bounce, a little time-waster that has you, as the yeti, tossing penguins upward in a neverending vertical chasm. Along the walls are seals that will give a little boost if the penguin hits them, you have five chances to make the penguins go as high as you can, and your score is totaled at the end.

Seal Bounce

Since your yeti is on a moving ice-platform thing floating on water, your angle shifts constantly, couple that with the way he winds up to hurl the birds and you have a recipe for not being able to consistently do anything the same way two times in a row, so it pretty much boils down to luck, and playing a game like this long enough to get five lucky penguin tosses in a row didn’t really seem like a good use of my time.

Helicopter Game

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Helicopter Game is one of those silly little Flash games that makes the rounds every so often. This one’s really, really simple, though. You have a helicopter inexorably flying to the right through a cave of sorts. The cave is filled with obstacles, and you have to try to avoid hitting them. The only control you have is to make the heli go up (gravity makes it go down). As you go along you get points, and the goal is to get a high score. See? Simple!

helicopter game

The further you get in the cave, the more it constricts and the faster it throws obstacles at you. You only get one shot to make it, hit anything and it’s game over.

I played this game for roughly twenty minutes and then haven’t really thought about it again until today. So if you have twenty minutes that you don’t need anymore, you could do worse than playing this game.

You could do better, too.

Enemy Territory Quake Wars

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

I liked other games in the Quake series, even though I wasn’t very good at them. So when I found a game in the series that I hadn’t really heard all that much about on clearance at my local department store I snapped it up.

Turns out, though, that this game is a little different than the other games that I’d played. This one is a team-based shooting game. Basically, you take one of the sides from the games, the humans or the Stroggs, and compete in various maps to complete a series of objectives.

I played this game for a couple of hours, but I just don’t get in to this kind of game for three reasons: my aim’s not that good, I don’t want to play an objective-based game with people I don’t know and, I find that completing objectives makes my FPS overly complicated.

I guess I should pay more attention to the games I buy, even if they are cheaper than $10. But I’m a sucker for good graphics, and occasionally compelling box art. And it’s good to play games that I don’t like once in a while, partially to reinforce that I still don’t like them, but also to possibly play something good that I’d have otherwise passed up.


Monday, April 7th, 2008

I’m not much of a programmer. I’m familiar with the basics, but couldn’t program a paper bag or my way out of it. But I can appreciate folks wanting to hone their craft by doing challenges.

One of the more impressive challenges that I’ve seen was someone or some group that made a complete game in less than 100K of disk space. A game with music, sound effects, and enemies with (somewhat limited) artificial intelligence in less space than a picture that you might take with your cell phone.


Yeah, the game’s short, and the artificial intelligence isn’t real smart, and the initial load time is kind of long. But it’s a whole game that you can play through in a few minutes, and that only takes a few seconds to download.

Sounds awesome to me!

You can check out the game at its website, here.

Rainbow Islands – The Story of Bubble Bobble 2

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Bubble Bobble was a bit of an oddball game. Not because of the barely comprehensible storyline, but because of the way it screwed with you.

The sequel, I should have guessed, likes to screw with you just as much… perhaps more. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

It stars the two dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, now restored to their little boy forms. They have to make use of their magical rainbows to kill enemies and work their way to the top of a series of islands. Then you go on to the next one.

But the game, it screws with you!

See, kill enemies, work your way to the top of the stage, kill the boss, go on to the next stage. Pretty straightforward, right? Now you might notice that occasionally a jewel will appear, one for each color of the rainbow. Collect them all and get a bonus. Now, if you collect them all in the color order of the rainbow (Roy G. Biv) then you get a super bonus, get to bypass the boss of the level, and get a super gem. You have to get all the super gems to complete the game properly. But they appear randomly, right? No, no they don’t!


See, you need to carve up the screen into seven vertical slices. When you kill an enemy it flies through the air and the seventh of the screen that it lands in will determine the color of gem that will appear. You need to skillfully kill the enemies and collect the gems and then work your way to the door at the top of the stage to access the secret stages and to see the ending properly. Where does the game tell you this? Nowhere! At least nowhere that I was able to divine.

Man, this game screws with you big time!

I’m jealous…

Quake III Arena

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Quake II was pretty fun, but I only really played the multiplayer portion, and I know I’m not alone in that. And when the next game in the series finally rolled around it was nothing but multiplayer deathmatch stuff, which I always thought was kind of odd.

Quake III is a game where you go around shooting stuff. It’s apparently the far-flung future, so there are humans, aliens, cyborgs, that kind of thing, all trying to kill each other faster, better, and more efficiently than everyone else. It’s something that I had only experienced as the multiplayer facet of a full game. It was just kind of weird to play it as the focus for a change, and I’m not really sure I liked it better.

I ended up playing this game quite a bit, but never really got very good at it. I just don’t really have the aim for it, or the patience to play the game enough to build up the aim to be very good at it. So why do I continue to play games like this? Mostly because my friends did, and that’s what all the cool kids did at the LAN parties I went to. And if I didn’t play them, there wouldn’t be much to do at the local LAN parties.

Bookworm Adventures

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The original Bookworm game was really fun… if you like words. Which I do. But the game was a little, I dunno, lacking variety, I guess. I mean, you just spell words in the same old library until the library burns down. And, while watching the library burn down is pretty exciting, until you get to that point it’s pretty blah. But, I still invested far too many hours in that game than I probably should have. On the upside, I now know lots of little words that I haven’t actually bothered to find out definitions to. Like ‘qua’.

A few years later I saw that there was an addition to the Bookworm universe, an adventure game of sorts. And since I like words and adventure games, I felt an obligation to give it a once-over.

As it happens you, the titular worm, have to slowly work your way to the right spelling words to vanquish foes. Your goal is to eventually rescue Cassandra, who’s in some kind of trouble or other. It doesn’t really matter much, it’s just a pretext to explain the Greek-themed backgrounds, characters, and monsters.

One of the biggest steps in the right direction for me was the slight change in the way you select letters. In the previous game all of the letters had to be contiguous, which made it much tougher. This time the letters can come from anywhere on the board, which makes it much much easier to smith your words.

Although I only played the demo, I ended up playing it several times over. I just really liked the concept of being able to slaughter waves upon waves of foes by being particularly loquacious and sesquipedalian. Something that I also enjoy quite a bit in real life.

I guess I should probably look at purchasing the full version of the game, but I’m kind of concerned. I mean, I lost more than one evening to the demo. If I get the full version of the game I might miss work for a few days.

But that would be an awesome few days.

Pearls Before Swine

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Pearls Before Swine is a silly little Flash game that made the rounds a few years ago, but has kind of disappeared.

It’s really simple, it’s based on the game Nim. The gist of the game is this: you have three rows of pearls. You and the computer player take turns taking as many as you’d like from any one row, and the one who takes the last one loses.

Pearls Before Swine

It’s that simple… and it’s that hard. Unless you have a firm grasp of the rules of Nim, you’re going to lose at this game a lot. And then you have to put up with the actually kind of annoying laughter from your opponent. But if you win… oh man. I won’t spoil it for you.

You can try your hand at it here. But I wouldn’t budget more than about 10 minutes for it.

The Typing of the Dead

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The House of the Dead 2 was a pretty good game. But along the way someone somewhere had the bright idea to combine the gory zombie shooting game with a typing tutor.

That might have been one of the best ideas ever had by anyone.

The game was already borderline ridiculous anyway, and this game is identical to its predecessor in every way… with a few exceptions. Instead of guns your guys have giant Dreamcast systems strapped to their backs and keyboards strapped to their fronts. They need these because the zombies that assault you have letters, words, and phrases welded to their fronts. You have to type the phrase on your ‘Dream-Blaster’ to neutralize the threat. The stronger the enemy, the longer and more complex the words and phrases are, and you’ll eventually work your way up to full sentences. Some are relatively normal, but some… I just don’t have the words.

The spectacularly entertaining horrendous voice acting is intact, which is a relief. Most of the enemies have been retrofitted to have pop hammers and lollipops instead of axes and such of the previous game, which just adds to the silliness. And sprinkled through the levels are powerups for big-headed zombie mode. It’s all just silly enough to be a really good game.

Typing of the Dead

This is one of the few games that I bought more than once on purpose. It seems to be ridiculously rare, but I stumbled over a copy for my Dreamcast, so I picked it up. And then a few months later I found a copy of the PC version (which seems to be even rarer) at one of my local toy stores when it went out of business, so I snapped it up as well. I spent a lot of time playing with both versions, so it was totally worth it.

And, as an upside, it made me a better typist, and it was a game I wanted to play. So, chew on that Mavis Beacon.