Friday 19 December 2014

The art of Ikaruga 斑鳩

Whilst I obviously think the most important trait of a good game is beautiful game-play, having great visuals is a very close second. 

In fact, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a huge graphics whore, who will often dismiss otherwise playable games due to sub-par art direction. Even though I have chosen to live as an avid gamer, life is still too short to be playing games that aren't awesome in every way.

Friday 5 December 2014

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Screenshots from «Geometry Wars» are woefully inadequate at communicating why it's such an awesomely delightful game. You need to see it move in order to fully "get it" and you must play it for yourself in order to fully grasp its brilliance.

«Geometry Wars» originated as a mini-game you could play within «Project Gotham Racing 2» on the Xbox. It was a fast, hypnotic, neon coloured SHMUP best described as a re-imagining of the classic «Robotron: 2084» arcade game. It was later re-released as a standalone title and one of the earliest downloadable Xbox Live Arcade titles for the Xbox 360.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Legend of Grimrock II

Props to the illustrator for nailing the visual style of a 1980s book cover by Larry Elmore

In 2012, Finnish indie developers: "Almost Human" released «Legend of Grimrock», a game based on design principles that haven't been popular since back when computers operated with only 16 bits. And it was awesome! Thus proving that old game mechanics can still be viable as long as they are implemented with confidence, care and good production value.

«Legend of Grimrock II» follows the same template, but is larger and more ambitious than its predecessor. As in the first game, you take control of a quartet of prisoners who are fighting for their lives in a labyrinth full of enemies, traps and puzzles. But whereas the first game unfolded entirely inside a mountain with a huge but fairly linear cave, the sequel takes place in a more open and diverse island setting.

Monday 3 November 2014

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

Despite the fact that I love the 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) genre, I have never really gotten properly invested in the «Civilization» series. 

Partly because I find the entertainment value of games diminishing as the plot approaches the reality we actually live in. But also because my sense of immersion is slightly disrupted when as a virtual warlord in ancient Greece, I encounter George Washington - complete with the silly wig - accompanied by an army of scantily clad savages armed with sharp sticks.

In «Beyond Earth» this type of silliness is not an issue, as the game takes place in a future where the main characters are fictitious and the technological level is so advanced that it primarilly contains things which haven't been invented yet.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Strider Hiryu, the secondmost awesome ninja of the 80s

Japanese arcade games were awesome back in the late 80s. One of the biggest and most prolific manufacturers of such games was Capcom, a company which occasionally would partner up with external creative talent during the design process.

One of these partnerships was with manga artist collective Moto Kikaku, a joint venture which resulted in a six part manga and two games about a ninja organisation called «Strider», focusing on the group's youngest Class-A ranked operative: Strider Hiryu.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

I was never particularly fond of «World of Warcraft», but have greatly enjoyed the other games set in the «Warcraft» universe. For instance, once when I was a young but poor student, I survived through a whole Easter vacation with nothing but water, bread baked from edible stuff I found in a cupboard and «Warcraft II» as my only sustenance.

The newest branch on the «Warcraft» family tree is «Hearthstone», a digital collectible card-game which has been out for Mac and PC for a while now and just had its worldwide iPad release.

Unlike most attempts at translating card-games into a digital format - which sometimes work, but usually just makes you yearn to play with real cards - «Hearthstone» was designed for the screen from the get-go.