Liitmeis

Bomberman Noir is a top-down action puzzle game by Team Li… Lei… Lee… Litmy… these guys, in which a shady-looking neon fellow intends to escape a collapsed mine the American way: By planting sticks of dynamite everywhere until the problem is solved. It seems simple at first, but trust me, there are things within those walls you don’t want to set free.

Such as the common stoner.

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You have an infinite stock of dynamite, but you start conditioned by the reach of their explosion and the number of sticks you can plant at the same time. Soon, shopkeepers become available for you to buy upgrades from, such as a miracle-cure sandwich.

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Is that sign drawing a landscape?

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I find little to say about Dick Tracy Buried Alive, other than it is a well-balanced game that succeeds at giving you that little spark of competitive anger after a neon dragon has dismembered you to bits for the tenth time. The strategy is similar to Bomberman, except the environment keeps you a bit on edge and requires a tad more forethought, but not too much. You definitely don’t want to bomb a wall that contains an invincible self-replicating flesh-eating fungus, for example, but if you feel like doing a mad dash for the exit, by all means, plant dynamite until you’re either surrounded by gold or monsters.

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I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I’ll soon be out of limbs.

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The levels are randomly generated, which by this time is probably to be expected of every game on the planet that happens to be made of levels. The fact that Eat Fruits allows you to plan your own plan, if you will, is probably its strongest asset. Its simple premise would get tiresome too soon if not for the fact that there is no wrong way of playing it. Awake sleeping monstrosities to kill for gold, or play it safe and spend hours hacking away at bedrock to ensure your passage remains unnoticed (you know, with dynamite).

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Be vewy vewy qu- Is that PONG?

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Speaking of tiresome, let’s talk about the music. Darkneth Ith Coming features the first children’s choir I’ve ever heard with a generalized lisp, and 90% of the levels had that very same track playing over and over and over again. I got that “darkneth ith coming,” if that’s what they’re singing. Did you lock front-toothless kids in a basement to record that single line? Granted, I didn’t get to world 2 out of pure (healthy) frustration, but if a couple of levels in world 1 already had a different theme, I would say you need more music in your soundtrack, or at least some balance in what music you attribute to which levels. This would be way less noticeable if the game had sound effects at all. The only thing you will ever hear during gameplay is the music, and that will draw even more attention to a soundtrack that isn’t discrete enough to compensate for its limitations.

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Dear diary: JACKPOT

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Audio flaws aside, Bombersnake remains a simple, yet solid game. Works as advertised, does what it says it does, play like it says it plays. Besides singleplayer, it features a co-op multiplayer mode, and a custom level creator in which you can set various parameters, say, map size, percentage of specific blocks to appear, presence or absence of a merchant, abrupt ending of a review, etc.

6/10

Cortex Command

I'm guessing that planet is pretty small, if I can see the elevation of a single peak and the outlines of individual trees...

Cortés 2099, by Data Realms, is a 2D shooter mixed with some strategic turn-based elements in which space mining companies fight for the control of precious resources, much like a 22nd century gold rush, if you will. We are greeted at the title screen by the only planet we will ever see and by a sci-fi score, nothing out of this world (haha, j0k3), but it suits the experience. The best way to describe Terminator Attacks! is by reading the reports of one of those mining companies, RAM OVERLOAD, which in 2072 decided it had had enough of this blogging bullshit and publicly stated “screw you, guys, I’m gonna go dig for gold on other planets.”

We're in a gold rush, but this gentleman can go first, because he is player 1.

We’re on a gold rush, but this gentleman can go first, because he is player 1.

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The moment we decided to land on one of the mining sites (those shiny dots on the planet’s surface, presumably because there’s so much gold there it can be seen from space), a rival company decided to do the exact same thing, on the exact same site. “Dem bastards!” we said, and lo, they now had a name.

They came, they saw, they opened a can of whoop-ass on us, they probably came multiple times later from all the gold they inhaled off the desert’s surface, and so RAM OVERLOAD had to admit defeat. This was, however, in the sands of the Burraki Desert, the shiny dot to the west. There was another place to the east, the Dvorak Caves, and that’s where we crossed paths again with Dem Bastards.

Flying dicks, fossilized turd-tentacles? I shall name thee Freudlandia.

Flying dicks? Fossilized turd-tentacles? I shall name thee Freudlandia.

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So, in Gold Huffing, humanity no longer inhabits their own bodies. Instead, it transplants its brain into a robotic body which can also control other robots telepathically. Only one robot can be controlled at a time, but they also have an AI able to follow simple commands… from your cerebral cortex. Get it? Get it?

Ahem, in a nutshell, if, during an expedition to a mining site, that little pink brain-in-a-vat-on-a-body gets blown to pieces, you’re done. You have a total of 10 available brains in a campaign, which for the purposes of this game we will ignore as belonging to human beings with a past, a life, probably a family, ambitions, aspirations, hopes, dreams, etc. They should have read the fine print.

As I was saying, we crossed paths with Dem Bastards in the Dvorak Caves, and this time our marksbots managed to shoot the enemy’s brains out (literally) before they did, which is in essence the whole point of the game.

The planet’s two mining sites were now evenly distributed between RAM OVERLOAD and Dem Bastards. Sounds nice, fair and square, right? Fuck them, I want EVERYTHING!

Well, shit.

Well, shit.

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We failed spectacularly at trying to take over their base, which had been fortified by now, since they distributed their funds between this and trying to take over the Dvorak Caves in the previous turn. Every turn you get a chance to distribute funds between expeditions, building (thank heavens for auto-build), and planetary surface scanning. I recommend you never overlook the latter, lest you fancy landing at the bottom of a cliff, or on a sharp peak. The AI doesn’t fuck around in Tripping At Every Pixel, so get ready for some serious resistance.

When it comes to invasions, however, I’m either pretty good at defending myself or the AI decides to enter retard mode. Dem Bastards decided to do the exact same thing and take the Dvorak Caves from RAM OVERLOAD, the result was humiliating (for them).

I keep seeing the red icons as big fat zeroes, and now you can't unsee it.

I keep seeing the red icons as big fat zeroes, and now you can’t unsee it.

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So, nothing chang- Oh but what’s that? A third mining site? Psyche! RAM OVERLOAD victoriously crushes the brain of its rival and claims the Metankora Highlands for itself. With double the income, we’re bound to take over their base easily.

Here I come to Rambo the shit out of you, bitc-

Here I come to Rambo the shit out of you, bitc-

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-ohhh... snap.

-ohhh… snap.

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Yes, it’s the same dune. Our adventurous brain-in-a-vat-in-a-body probably rolled down the dune more than it had time to walk. The obvious retaliation is easy to foresee, and the next five turns can be summed up with the following picture:

Except instead of cats it’s soulless corporations, instead of paddles it’s money, instead of ping pong balls it’s brains, instead of a table it’s a planet, instead of…

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They came to us, we blew them to pieces, we went to them, they blew us to pieces, repeat ad infinitum. Eventually, however, private 3V3RYM0M3N71L1V315460NY entered the stupidest backdoor ever built, took out all the guards in his/her/its way (except for Laurel and Hardy up there) and reached the enemy’s brain.

Headshot! Is there any other?

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The moral of this story is never nail your brain to the ceiling. Nothing good can come of that.

Now, you might be thinking “this looks like an awesome game!” You would be correct, in theory. There are little things that make this more frustrating than fun.

The most glaring issue was that every single fucking pixel of terrain can make you trip, block your path, or prevent your jetpacking up a shaft (which, by the way, only works at top speed if you have no guns… and no legs). And it’s not just the pixels, it’s the movement itself. The puppetry, the controls, the weight, etc. The kind of quick thinking that Hasta La Vista Brainy requires is definitely not compatible with very buggy movement and puppetry systems. “Oh but it’s not a bug! It’s a feature! Because the physics syst-” Screw the physics system. A game has to FLOW first and foremost. If your movement is being hampered to a bothersome degree of frustration, your physics/movement relation is weak. This isn’t QWOP. We’re supposed to be focusing on shooting, digging and defending bunkers, not on whether our robot is able to put one foot in front of the other.

Granted, the website clearly states that this is an alpha. It has been out as such for a long time. Movement, however, is a basic function that in my opinion should be tweaked before anything else. If the flow of the game does not improve, I’m afraid that despite all the neat features and ideas to be added, the final version will still feel like I’m trying to wrestle out of a quicksand pit every time I take a step forward.

4/10

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News: January Roundup

superflat world’s NEW GAME+ Back On Its Feet

As far as new’s year’s resolutions go, this is a very nice one. Jasper Byrne, creator of Lone Survivor, had had something up his sleeve for a while, and then decided to abandon the project altogether like a total bitch.

However, little he knows that I have my ways of getting people back on track, if you know what I mean, so I sent him a couple of my old friends to deal with the situation, see, ‘cuz that’s the kind of friend I am, even if I’m really not, he doesn’t know who I am, and we have never actually met.

So you should all thank my massively effective ego for coming up with this brilliant scheme and send me any offerings you might think appropriate.

If you love me enough, you’ll know where my fabulous self resides.

Seriously though, good on you, Jasper. Hope you keep the ball rolling to the end and get some of your brain’s awesomeness out into the open world.

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Faster Than Light At GDC And More

This brilliant game sure deserves the shitload of prizes and nominations it received, so it is no surprise that it will appear at GDC.

Subset Games have, however, announced some plans for the next weeks, which include trying to bring Faster Than Light to the tablets. It’s more of a test than a certainty, they say, but tablet-owners now have permission to gaze into the starry horizon over the ocean, dreamily, before the future either comes to bless them with bright, fluffy rewards of unparalleled joy for their patience, or crashing down on them like the gritty, unforgiving tissue of reality it is made of.

Also something about limited edition Kickstarter posters, the art book, and the official instruction manual.

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Hitbox Team’s Spire

Remember Dustforce? No? Go die in a fire.

Hitbox Team, the people behind Dustforce, are working on what could be best described as a procedurally generated reverse Legend of Grimrock that works like Quake, looks like Wind Waker, and is sprinkled with the tears of angels.

Seriously, if it’s really going to be like they say it will (famous last words), I want this so much.

Just read.

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Almost Human Teases With Screenshots

Elderly neighbours complain of indecent behaviour.

Nah, but after a basic sum up of how much Legend of Grimrocked (see what I did there? I’m so clever I’ll wake up dead someday), they just leave us with these two pictures as examples of some “new exciting things we’ve been working on.”

Sure seems like Grimrock to me.

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Mewgenics and Ridiculon

Dat xylophrenia.

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Little Inferno on iPad

Tomorrow Corporation are pleased to announce that you will soon be able to burn your iPad in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an iPad you can burn in a Little Inferno in an…

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News: Humble Indie Bundle 7

Attention gamers, here comes the Humbugle Indie Bahndle 7! Get it while the world doesn’t end, you ungrateful goblins.

For any price above jack shit you can have Snapshot, The Binding of Isaac + Wrath of the Lamb, Closure and Shank 2, along with Indie Game: The Movie, while supporting EFF and Child’s Play Charity.

In case you are the lucky owner of a capital superior to $6, you may want to renounce your limo ride to work and, in the true spirit of advent, dispose of said amount to also get Legend of Grimrock and Dungeon Defenders included in your bundle. Because nothing says “I’m a good kid” better than paying six bucks for six whole games and telling the old diabetes-ridden cookie-muncher you can do your shopping properly now that you’re a grown-up.

That’s for the striped socks thirteen years ago, you fat bastard.

Also, every game you get comes with its soundtrack.

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A Nation of Wind

Beanland.

Too easy a prey for fart puns.

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Some games are good mashups. Some aren’t. This one isn’t.

It’s not really about what genres are mixed, it’s more about how, and that’s where Flying Fartresses constantly misses the point.

The game begins after a very short ellipsis-obsessed intro that couldn’t be vaguer if it tried. Something something something clouds, something something something broken capital, something something something reunite people, and it’s as elucidating as it gets.

If you make a little effort, you can hear Christopher Walken narrating.

With a little effort, you can hear it in Christopher Walken’s voice.

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But we’re not here for the story. We don’t need it right away, it adds to the mystery. This is, after all, supposed to be an engaging experience of both strategic planning, city-building and action, right?

Wrong.

After a briefly informative tutorial, we appear as HMS Satan’s Bathtub amidst floating chunks of land, some as little moldy turds that can be pushed around for no apparent reason, others as big, solid, floating generic-RPG-overworld-meets-Minecraft continents. So solid, in fact, that a flying ship is unable to go over or below them. Go figure.

What is this "third dimension" you speak of? Heresy, I say!

What is this “third dimension” you speak of? Heresy, I say!

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In order to proceed through Flying Orange Penis,we’re supposed to take control of several obelisks by building temples to the four elements around them. Why? Dunno. But you can see right there a temple to Flatula, god of wind, gas, beans, and cheap lowbrow humor. So, why don’t we just build them temples and get on with it? Because we need resources. Farms supply food, forests wood, mountains stone, villages money, and all that jazz.

Seems straightforward. Plant a bunch of buildings, wait for their daily outcome, and… Hey, where’s my resources? And what are these balloons floating towards… Oh, I have to fly by the buildings to collect the resources? I see. Well, that would be interesting if the ship didn’t steer like a fucking walrus having a stroke on a skateboard. In addition to my having to go all the way around the islands because a vehicle capable of flight seems to have forgotten the notion of altitude, SS Poodle Dick’s controls are not only incredibly clunky, but the ship also takes ages to accelerate, assuming it hasn’t suddenly stopped because of a stray pixel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but even if there are movement upgrades along the way (I didn’t go very far, for fear of damaging my sanity), I don’t think “shitty controls at the beginning” is recommended anywhere as a game feature.

Why did I even get in here?

Why did I even get in here?

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It gets worse.

Where would a strategy game be without enemies? Random creatures of all kinds come through strange rifts, or whatever they’re called, along with some weird eggs we’re advised to take to safety and “hatch with food.” I’m sorry, I don’t feed food, thank you. If anything, I’d hatch them FOR food. At any rate, in the style of arcade shooters, we’re supposed to prevent these monsters from destroying our colonies, the defense capabilities of which are equal to jack shit. Ok, fine, there are turrets and walls, but that’s like expecting machine guns on top of the World Trade Center to have prevented 9/11. Most of the time, we need to roam around the entire map to check for attacks of various sorts, while hoping that our hard work hasn’t been pulverized by a dragon or eaten by giant ants. This is especially annoying at the beginning, when we might not be able to afford enough lighthouses to warn us of hostilities should we not be around a particular bit of floating ground.

This, however, is not the issue. The issue is directly connected to Titanic’s little brother, Tiny Tit, having awkward controls and being only one ship. Because when you have colonies sprawling all over a map, are thinking about how to optimize the output of your buildings, and counting the resources you need for expansion (a system which, by the way, could use some color coding for when you have enough or not), there is nothing better for your blood pressure than to be needed at three different places at the same time, having to decide which is both more important and more doomed at the moment, and having to fly there on a motherfucking manatee on drugs.

That’s exactly how it feels. It doesn’t feel like you’re commandeering a ship. It doesn’t feel like your empire is being attacked and you need a preemptive strategic thinking. It doesn’t feel like you’re amounting to anything. It feels like you’ve just heard a noise in the kitchen at 3 AM, you get up from the bed half-conscious and clumsily stumble down the stairs with a pair of scissors in your hands, hoping that when you trip, if you trip the right way, you’ll land on the burglar and stab him wherever.

It’s panic. Panic and an encouragement not to multitasking, but to ADHD, surrounded by a fluffy layer of boredom and frustrating controls.

Many ways to express your despair.

It does offer you many ways of expressing your despair.

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Also, the music, by Saskrotch, needs a lot more variety. A 2-minute loop that is repetitive in itself will drive anyone insane while playing what is supposed to have RTS elements.

My problem with Flight of the Cockords is that it constantly succeeds at frustrating any attempt at enjoying it. I just didn’t manage to go on for much longer. Maybe I’m a bad strategist. Maybe I’m acting like someone who can’t bear with a steep learning curve, but first consider that despite all of its hardships, I manage to enjoy Dwarf Fortress, for example. Granted, I used a graphics pack and didn’t go far yet, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get addictive. This doesn’t. This gets tiresome. After completing one level, the last thing on my mind is to go over the same thing.

Yes, I know, it’s just Jameson Wilkins making the game. I am in no way demeaning the work put into this, which is also visually gorgeous (never have I been betrayed so strongly by such nice visuals), but rather the final result. I know there’s turrets you can tow to strategic places, for example. There’s ways of getting around some of the problems I mentioned. But why is the way there so confusing? Where’s the little pull, the kick out of it? Many games are even fun to lose, why isn’t this one? Because the base itself is flawed: Too sprawled a game, too clunky controls. With those two core aspects fixed, this can go from exasperating brainfuck to addictive masterpiece. Right now, it remains the former.

3/10

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SSTTP: Red Rogue

Illegally-Inclined Far-Leftist, for the politically correct.

Illegally-Inclined Far-Leftist, for the politically correct.

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Isn’t it funny how I keep reviewing stuff that isn’t shown on the right sidebar as being played or to be reviewed?

Yeah…

Everything Bleeds is a Sidescrolling Roguelike Dungeon Crawler by Aaron Steed in which a rogue explores a dungeon with her anorexic boyfriend, naively hoping not to die at some point.

There isn’t much to say, except that it’s fun, flows very well and is moderately addictive. The controls are just right, and the effective menu takes just a bit to get used to. I cannot understand for the life of me, however, why is down for entering doors and up for picking objects that are on the ground. I mean, I can… You usually go DOWN the dungeon, and pick UP objects, but someone must have slept through the whole history of sidescrollers to not remember that “up goes in doors.” I’m sure it has already become a reflex to most of us, and by us I mean me, my brain, and my fingers.

Not sure if Sinatra, Krueger, Jackson or Jones.

Not sure if Sinatra, Krueger, Jackson or Jones.

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I noticed, however, that if you go up the first flight of stairs you come down from, you appear at the overworld, where apparently you can hit some magical wheel of XP and level up silly-nilly. What’s the deal with that? It strikes me as a rather heavy flaw, if you ask me, unless the dungeon’s first level then adapts to your level 99 rogue and blocks the way with some bloated draconic fatass you’ll have to defeat with your magical bare fists of rogueness.

Something I like a lot about Fedora is what I like to call bump-death. Just keep walking against your enemies and the rogue will attack them on contact, just like… she’s on her…

The blood everywhere now makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE.

It seems simple at first, but then some random writing on the walls will provide you with strategic tips, like how falling on top of enemies stuns them for a while. I also noticed that a situation where moving towards the stationary monster is better for you than a mutual convergence, amidst other things.

How I fixed the up and down issue.

How I fixed the up and down issue.

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Screeching Sewers doesn’t exactly have music per se, rather some sinister environmental texture by Nathan Gallardo akin to a mix of microphones being raped in several creative ways. It works wonders for the immersion.

I guess my strongest complaint is that the limited colour palette makes me tire of the game faster than, say, something like Spelunky. Other than that, it’s brilliantly executed, and a real steal for exactly $0.

7/10

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Newsbits

King Arthur’s Gold Premium Account Giveaway

The people over at KAG have 25 Premium Accounts to be given “seemingly at random.” All you have to do is post here!

If the game were anything expensive, I’d probably wish I hadn’t bought it before if I knew this would happen. Is it me, or do we all just have to wait for giveaways or $1 bundles to get special treatment as far as indie games are concerned?

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Teleglitch

I don’t know about you, but this looks pretty damn cool to me.

First, it looked like it was just going to be another top-down shooter like many around, but then the radial field of vision caught my interest. Then the apparent sleekness of the movement, shots, and explosions, and the eery silent hum of the environment combined with the tension anyone would feel while being chased by a giant octopus really made it stand out.

This isn’t a review, though, yet. Just some first thoughts. I’ll be sure to give it a whirl at some point.

By the way, it’s out. You can get the demo or the full thing.

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Newsbits

Advent of Indies

Christmas calendars just got upgraded from candy to indie games. Every day a new freebie, along with another game to be won. If they could send you some chocolate along with it, it would be perfect.

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Mega Man 25th Anniversary Fan Game

A Mega Man game by Team Reaverbot is due to come out soon. The trailer sure looks promising.

The game’s soundtrack, by Orie Falconer, is already available here, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t mimic the style pretty well.

I propose an alternate title for the game: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Capcom!

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