Dropship

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Dropship (free)

It still feels a bit of a cheat putting Dropship in here because it’s still every bit the straight up fantastic portable take on Thrust with absolutely non-shit controls that it ever was and it still, playing it again just before writing this, holds up every bit as well as you’d hope.

It may not have the intricate and subtly evil level design of X-Out’s Win/Mac/XBLIG tour de force Gravitron and it may not be as accomplished as Wiebo’s Thrust Xtreme but it deserves to be spoken of in the same breath. Thrust is a game that, when done well, is fairly close to game perfection. Dropship takes it there and on a touchscreen to boot. And now it’s free. so that’s OK.

If you have an iThing and you have a fondness for arcade games and you don’t own Dropship, you should really consider remedying that.

Down the back of the sofa. (Intro)

Due to having to spend a rather silly amount of time stuck with an iDevice to supply the majority of my gaming needs (alongside my friendly neighbourhood Vita anyway), I sort of got round to thinking that with the rate of videogame releases it’s so much easier for games to get lost down the back of the sofa that didn’t really deserve to get lost down the back of the sofa with one of these things.

Which is kinda disappointing! I mean there’s games that maybe if you’ve been around a fair while you’ll be fully aware of but it’s all so transient and made more so by the way the App Store is now (rather horribly) structured. Are you making a million a day with your ARPU, LTC, PCCU, RIP, NOB metric-enhanced F2P child exploitation machine? Sorry did I say child I meant so say whale, sorry, sorry, sorry. This app store is for you, y’know? If not, you’re consigned to the outer hell of a couple of not really rotated often feature slots and hello, it’s the new releases for a week, sorry old games. Maybe occasionally someone might mention an older game but in the main, down the sofa the game goes. It’s all new new new and this is how we like it because, I dunno, where was I? My attention span’s not what it used to be. Who are you again?

Naturally it’s not a problem unique to iOS, other stores share it to a lesser or greater degree and it’s almost unavoidable. But! Other stores do at least, from time to time, try and give older things a bump up. Maybe it’s a Steam sale, maybe it’s a massive store discount for a day, it’s only really iOS that loses stuff down the sofa -by design-. So what can we do to keep games from getting lost down the sofa? We can mention them, right? Keep them alive via the power of actually talking about them and saying “you know, I like this game”.

I’ll start it off tomorrow, OK? Now bear in mind that as some of these are old, they might be a little bit on the messier side, maybe they’re iPod/Phone only, maybe the loading times are a little bit WTF due to cramming stuff under carrier limits for those extra sales, maybe they’re clinging to the now deceased OpenFeint where other games found themselves GameCenter’d to the hilt but they’re worth your time and they don’t deserve to get lost down the sofa. That’s what matters here.

And until we learn to respect our recent game history more, let’s keep talking about these things and mentioning them.

Tomorrow, I’ll run ten games on iOS that don’t deserve this fate, feel free to keep this sort of thing going, y’know? Let’s keep games alive.

Penny Arcade

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No, not that one. Not on here. Not ever.

Just a heads up for anyone out and about around Liverpool before the 9th of August. There’s a lovely little Penny Arcade tucked into one of the little units off the Bluecoat until then.

You can nip in and get your fortune told, have the future of your love life predicted or have a game of soccer. Or see what the butler saw. (Hint: it wasn’t Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick) Or just have a go on one of the many ping that ball around and hope for the best games. Which, honestly, I bloody love to bits. Why aren’t there more virtual repros of stuff like this? I know it’s not the same but honestly, like with the old Ballywoo (a no longer available repro of Ballyhoo) on iOS, I’m a sucker for stuff like this. Love it. Happily, it took me over half an hour before I could swing my kid back out the door as well. I’ve got him well trained.

So err yeah, Penny Arcade at the Bluecoat, Liverpool until August 9th. Go there!

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G-force

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Not so much finished as “put a bow on it and run away”, the at least it works and there’s a version out there of the game that got away from me, G-Force.

I’d love to revisit it someday and do it the justice it deserves but for now, here’s a tidied up what could have been, 20 levels of two dimensional Tempesting from my past.

Turns out, it’s still great fun so enjoy.

Chillaxian

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This is great. Madgarden manages to bring the gallery shooter to iOS and not only makes touch controls work well but man, the game is a fantastic could-well-have-existed job too.

Which is fab for a couple of reasons, mainly that there isn’t really any great gallery shooters out for iOS, more so ones that work without having to rag out the iCade but also because it’s just the sort of thing I’ve been hankering for. I mean, I say there isn’t many good ones on iOS but there simply isn’t many good ones made at all so yeah. PC wise, I can only think of Space Cabbage and Deadeye that stand alone without resorting to faff-in-games as a crutch. iOS, I’m drawing a complete blank so more like this, really.

And do pay attention to the controls that manage the whole auto fire stuff without you feeling like you’ve lost control. Exemplary stuff, essentially.

Grab the iOS version here and the Windows version here.

Experiment Twelve

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There’s a point during one of the episodes of Experiment Twelve I just sat back, grinning at the screen in front of me. The chapter had come to a close, I’d gone in to this one with the sort of frowny face I reserve for “oh, not one of these, I’m so tired of these” things. It’s a face I probably wear way too often these days, y’know? Minutes later, broken. Forget it. The videogame has won. Not just a grin, applause. Have some of that. Cheeky little thing, marvellous little thing.

Videogames, eh? They keep doing this. Every time you think “Ah, I’ve had enough” they sneak up on you and just do something wonderful, something that reminds you why you play the bloody things in the first place. Experiment Twelve is a reminder. It’s a reminder of why videogames are fantastic. It’s also a reminder of what incredible talent we’ve got making games right now. Honestly, twelve people here on top of their game. Twelve people, twelve episodes of one whole thing, a videogame something. Each episode taking no more than 3 days to put together. Bang them all together and this, this thing is what pops out the other end.

This is videogames through the lens of developers you know, developers you soon will know. It perhaps isn’t the breadth of talent to show off all corners and all comers but it’s a fair starter for ten (or twelve as the case may be). Maybe next time, right? Anyway, it’s rough around the edges, the time constraints around its development positively demand that but it’s not shit something out, move along. There’s care here. The videogame as craft.

Experiment Twelve is a snapshot in time, an EP, a miniseries, a window. It’s smart, it’s dumb, it’s ugly, it’s beautiful, it’s a thing. Play it.

Weird to think that we’re still on the ascendant. Videogames! We’re doing OK. Lets keep doing better though. Never stop with that, right?

Futuridium

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It’s Uridium! From the future! And in HOLY WILL YOU LOOK AT HOW THAT LOOKS-o-vision. Sort of. It’s Uridium as score attack from the future. Or something like that.

Look, it’s Futuridium. That’s what it is. Look at this video:

PC/Mac here and free to download and enjoy. Via the ever wonderful RGCD.

Dragon’s Castle

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Talking of the good and the bad of videogames (seamless, right?), it strikes me that long ago a few people really worked out how to salvage the utter guff pants that is Dragon’s Lair from its reaction based cartoon hell and when you think about it, it’s quite the genius thing.

What you do is you take everything out from Dragon’s Lair and replace it with something entirely different.

Amazing work, people! You’re doing it for humanity and we salute you. Keep it up.

Dragon’s Castle is a remake of one of these games and it’s available to download by clicking this link and reading a bit.

The Chaos Engine

In not technically a remake corner, Mastertronic have teased a new release of the oft nostalgia-face-remembered Miggy action adventure game The Chaos Engine. Notably, unlike most for sale remakes or re-imaginings this is more of a restoration. Reports in from Rezzed at the weekend appear to point to this very much being the Amiga version you all fondly/don’t fondly remember.

Which, I think, is pretty important and I’d love to see more games given this treatment. Especially when it comes to stuff like Amiga titles where emulation is, yes. Let’s just say that Amiga emulation can be a thing that’s decidedly not for most humans. Plus, of course, there’s always that official thing and the hope that someone somewhere down the line involved in the creation of the original gets a bit of a shout and hopefully some wonga thrown at them too. It all goes towards the “stopping games getting lost down the back of the sofa in the future” fund, y’know?

The thing I appreciate most about the restoration approach is that it’s not about fixing flaws or problems as remakes often are, it’s simply “here is the game, this is what it is” and it helps keeps both the good and the bad about videogames visible. I think that’s a fairly crucial thing to be doing, especially as we descend ever deeper down into the “weren’t old games wonderful?” pit.

It’s £7 and if nothing else, that art! THAT ART.

Spike Dislike 2

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There’s this thing that goes around game dev circles about finishing your game. Not in the “getting to the end of it” sense that most of us all know and love, that’d be too simple. It’s sort of a short hand for explore ALL the things and then call it a wrap. So y’know, can you rinse everything valuable out of a mechanic etc…

Well, good news. Spike Dislike 2 explores all the things and calls it a wrap. To be fair, it pretty much did that in Spike Dislike 1 where Jayenkai ably rinsed the jump over/under the spike thing really fast to get a big number going up first time round. Spike Dislike 2 laughs at the idea of merely finishing something in this sort of sense, no, we’re out the other side here and Jay is kicking videogame sand in your face screaming HAVE IT, TAKE IT, HERE IS ALL THE THINGS I THOUGHT UP AND ONE OF THEM CONTAINS A BEE. A BEE DAMMIT. HAVE A BEE.

A bee.

And a boat.

And a basketball.

And hats.

I know, you’re sitting there now reading this looking at me funny but Spike Dislike 2 is a really tremendously marvellous thing. It takes this one simple idea, jump over/under spikes fast for big numbers and stretches it, painlessly, across so many different modes that I can’t even be arsed trying to tally up how many are in there. When you get bored of just jumping over spikes, why not change into a sheep and jump over some fences? Why not get in a boat and avoid some seagulls? Why not try it with 3 lives? Why not try it with just one and you’re out? Why not be a bee because bees are for everyone? And why not make it so utterly playable, so utterly compulsive that you’ll call Jay all the names under the sun for making something that’s twitchy levels of fantastic?

Yes, why not?

And then, fuck it all, let’s have some hats. You can put a hat on your balls in this game. A hat on your balls. I put a beanie hat on mine, it’s very snug and warm.

Spike Dislike 2 is one of my favourite things I’ve played lots of this year. It is, have no doubts, not a good looking game but it is a videogame in the purest of pure senses and it is all the things a videogame doing the thing it does could be and then some more because no-one gives a fuck. No-one can stop Jay from adding a boat and seagull mode short of chopping his hands off and really, who’d want to anyway if this is the end result?

Spike Dislike 2 is fantastic. Get it. It’s 69p on the app store and absurdly entertaining. Other versions are available.

Jumping Jack

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One of the first games I ever really fell in love with, Jumping Jack is a simple but fiendish little thing. Albert Ball’s “jump through the lines” simulator is still great fun today and it’s nice to see another remake of it. (Retrospec are clearly slipping, they’ve not put a new version out since 2002. DISAPPOINTED. I was expecting Activision levels of franchising here. JackBLOPS 2:Jack Harder or something.)

Albert’s making this sort of thing these days which y’know, is one of the many many reasons why PC gaming is an amazing place. Just having stuff like this able to exist is enough to bring a smile to my face.

Anyway, Jumping Jack is available in Flash (and yes, the joke does not get wasted there) and if you fancy it in the palm of your hand on Android for less than a quid. Huzzah.

And a grand welcome back to the making games fold to Andy there. His presence has been missed.

Grid Space Shooter

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Unfortunately I’ve packed up my 360 into a drawer at the moment so can’t bring you many thoughts about Grid Space Shooter other than “man, that looks right up my street”. Coming recommended by the ever lovely (and incredibly talented) Mr Fouts is more than enough for me to throw this up on the front page.

It’s 80 Fake Moonpoints because Microsoft are *still* being stupid and using fake money. Thanks Microsoft. Thicrosoft. And it’s here.

All the zeros

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10,000,000 is one of those funny games where I just do not have a clue what genre to describe it as and I’ve been mulling it over for, ooooh, a few minutes and have settled on, “A side viewed rogue-like cross bred with Bejewelled”.

I’ve completed this now twice (go me). Once on my iPhone and once on the PC so I’ve also purchased it twice! But in saying that I don’t really know what I like about it other than it’s relaxing and occasionally frustrating when you’re being hammered by the evil things.

It’s not even an especially difficult game to complete though and you’ll likely beat in within a couple of hours if not quicker. However, for a game you can pick up and play for a few minutes or an hour it’s great! If only it lasted longer! You can’t name your game 10,000,000 (You shouldn’t bloody name your game 10,000,000 anyhoo) and not have it last for ages and ages and ages!

Anyway grab it off your iThing’s AppStore or from Steam – It’s good, honest! It kept me occupied round Mrs Stompy’s parents house over Christmas.

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O.

One of the things I’m really thankful for right now is the resurgence of games for humans. For a while it seemed as if single device/screen multiplayer games were going the way of the dodo or relegated to the AAA staples of OH LOOK SHOOTY MAN DEATHMATCH or OH LOOK DRIVEY CAR FAST. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve sunk a metric enormo-number of hours into both of these things (Split/Second is still my split screen racer of choice when I can’t get my Daytona fix, fact fans) and they’re great.

But y’know, they’re very much games for people who wot play games and know only games and in the same way that as much as I love Ribena I don’t want to exist solely on Ribena for the rest of my life, I want to play more than that with other humans. I know I’m a grown up and there’s always sexing and stuff but there are times this is rather inappropriate and maybe something else is in order.

Nintendo sorta helped usher in the new games for humans with Wii Sports a tad (otherwise known as “that game I got a dead arm from” but that’s a long story involving “bumps for the loser”) and over the past year or so we’ve seen a select few really start pushing this fun with people thing again. Which is great. We’ve seen everything from abstractions of sports to invented sports to physical play stuff and even the shouting of techno gobbledegook. Non deathmatch and car going fast multiplayer is back in. Playing things with other real humans in the same room as you is a thing again. It’s a bit like everyone gathering around the old 2600 to play Combat or something but without having to play Combat or something. Probably.

Anyway, so last night I sat down to play O. with Mrs B. Could I get her to play a car going fast game or a deathmatch game? No, I could not. Could I get her to play a game where you grab and sling virtual balls around? Yes, yes, I could. With no questions asked either. Well, except for “what do you do?” but a quick “grab the balls you want, throw the balls you don’t want at me” covered that and we were off. Two people, one iPad, one game of O. – five fingers almost lost.

It didn’t take long before Mrs B realised that the absolute best tactics to use in O. aren’t necessarily the ones that take place on the screen but rather physically disabling the other player in some way. Within less than a minute, she’s holding one of my hands up to my face whilst continuing to grab balls leaving me with just one free arm to play with and yes, this will not stop me from playing. I may be nearly 40 but I’m still the kind of person who’ll crack up laughing when Mrs B yells “if you touch my pink I’ll break your arm” over the sofa, equally it’s hard not to raise a smile over “don’t you dare touch my blue balls” *insert Roger Moore eyebrow raise* and that’s sorta O. really. It’s a game for humans. No press T to talk when the person is sat there, JUST THERE and probably has hold of your little finger.

O. is a couple of quid on the App Store. It’s fab.

Stealth Bastard Deluxe

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Otherwise known as the game I wanted to be playing instead of trying to prop this site up with some bits of straw and a plank but that’s OK. There’s still time. I *love* Stealth Bastard and the Deluxe version lives up to its name. My only complaint would have been it not following the ODHNC rules for sequels but I’m assured that the game does seek to address this.

Just kinda sad I missed the Steam sales so I could recommend you go and buy it cheaper BUT it’s still worth every single penny of the six-ish Earth pounds it costs now.

[edit] And lo, from 6pm tonight (19th Jan, date fans) for 24 hours, Stealth Bastard Deluxe is on the Steam Daily Deals – grab it!

Details and shopping stuff here.

*Official Die Hard Naming Convention wherein the second game must always be called SOMETHING HARDER

Guide The Light

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…and to wrap up tonight’s iOS-fest, Guide The Light.

Short version: it’s Deflektor in a pyramid.
Long version: YOU FIENDS, YOU BROKE MY BRAINBONCE. With Deflektor, in a pyramid. With lots of extra bits and bobs to boot.
Longer version: Yeah, my toilet stops became a lot longer, thanks.

Guide your explorer around as he falls into traps, free the little fella from the traps using mirrors and oh, you know how this all works by now. You guide the light, silly.

Lode Runner Classic

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Whilst we’re still on an iOS tip, two more before I forget.

Out last night and again, something I’ve not had a chance to play yet so if you’ve bought it already do let me know how it is, it’s Lode Runner Classic. What looks like a fairly faithful take on Lode Runner avoiding some of the abuses the poor series has seen in recent times. Although I’ll admit, as ever with iOS platform games that require fairly good reflexes, I’m a bit worried as to how the controls perform.

HOWEVER! At least this time, we won’t need an enormous code sheet just to run the game, eh? Yes, Software Projects, I still haven’t forgiven you for that utterly absurd 20 page code sheet. Nearly 30 years, NO FORGIVENESS. I still hate you.

Also in Android and Windows phone flavours. Website here with all the links.