Not that they were much of a software house after giving up on point-n-click adventures, but it’s a loss nonetheless.
Fingersoft’s Hill Climb Racing was one part of the finnish trifecta a couple of weeks ago: then a finnish game was on top of the three categories in the Appstore (most downloads for free [this game] and paid [Angry Birds Star Wars] games and most revenue generated [Clash of Clans]). The other two are pretty famous on their own, but Hill Climb Racing took pretty much everybody by surprise.
It’s a simple game with plenty of meat below a simplistic surface, there’s a lot more on offer than initially seems.
The objective of the game is simple, drive as far as you can, without succumbing to the twin hazards of a tricky track and a limited gasoline supply. And the track is indeed tricky – a two-dimensional hilly road that quickly gets challenging. The challenge needs to be tackled both with skill and with vehicular improvements (more powerful engine and such). And behind the first track and vehicle lie several more.
The controls match the game. There’s just two virtual pedals –
Despite an initial appearance that Hill Climb Racer is yet another IAP-monster, the need to purchase coins subsides fast once the track set on Moon opens – in the lighter gravity the jumps and flips quickly generate a seriously positive cash flow.
As individual games are short, this is a very good casual timekiller.
There’s awesome, and there’s this retro-grooving take of a page not found-page.
The second expansion adds a two new dimensions to the game: trade and repeated turns.
Some city tiles now provide trade symbols, and the player who hoards the most by the end of game gets ten points for each majority. The trick here is that the trade symbols are awarded to the player who completes a city, even if he has no meeples within.
A player may also place a builder meeple on a road or city – and whenever he grows the structure where the builder assists, he gets to pick and play a second tile.
The third addition, a pig meeple that boosts the scoring on a field, is more limited in scope to these two.
Both change the flow of the game quite a bit, and especially in games that use both expansions the scores tend to run high. In some ten games the AI has proven a bit fragile, the personalities that have been reliable high-scorers (count and countess) no longer rule the land as they have used to.
Like its somewhat simpler predecessor that went unreviewed here, this expansion is heavily recommended, even if its gamecenter achievements are very much on the boring side (and pretty much demand a few games against a local opponent that lets the wookiee win).
The first book I read this year was Anna Anthropy’s Rise of Videogame Zinesters.
It’s a short book on a very good topic: democratization of videogame creation.
In the age of expensive, publisher-driven, minimum-risk AAA games, there’s clearly a niche for interesting, topical alternatives written by a minimal team.
And that’s exactly what this book promotes: an era when videogames have been taken back from the few big publishers, when the barrier of entry has been lowered and the barrier of discovery kept really low symmetrically.
However, behind the admirable aims, the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired. Currently the outlook of gaming is far from the bleak present laid out in the initial chapter – the indie games movement has significantly expanded frontiers, and the era of the appstores has eliminated the need to court publishers for an audience. Even the basic premise “games are for white males interested in shooting each other in the face” is increasingly less valid even in the mainstream – apart from the annual Call of Duty-dose (and its colleagues), it’s quite a varied world out there (especially outside the consoles where both development and distribution costs are orders of magnitude lower).
The answer to the dearth of interesting games is for the gamers to create new ones and distribute them.
Certainly a noble target, and the author both describes quite a few tools to get started with as well as laying out her own experiences.
The former is an eclectic selection – it covers the obvious (Scratch and a few commercial toolkits), not-so-obvious (Inform and Twine) and downright awkward (ZZT, which doesn’t even run in modern machines without emulation). The role of programming (and even understanding the basics of the art) is not really described that well (and a golden opportunity for tools like Processing is missed altogether).
As is the latter – the author’s quite keen on highlighting the queer (her word, not mine) agenda of her games thus far. But in quite shallow fashion, she doesn’t describe how she crafted the games, but lays out her biography via them.
The book is short and quickly read.
It provokes the reader in many ways.
And while hardly a real manifesto for changing the industry, it’s definitely a worthy read.
A long piece about the rise and fall of the arcade, by the Verge, which has quickly evolved into the finest technology news site that is complemented with occasional pieces of slow journalism.
Playing L.A. Noire with a grandfather (a grandfather that was a cop in Los Angeles back in the late forties).
The verdict: intoxicatingly authentic, but wrong on many details.
Venus Patrol is a “video game culture” site created by Brandon Boyer, the guy who ran the much-appreciated (and terminated too soon) Offworld at Boingboing.
The answer is simple: go beyond television.
New York Times’ article on casual gaming is seven pages long, and contains an awesome easter egg in the form of Asteroids that is not confined to just the game frame.
Matt Rix’s Trainyard was one of the very first games I purchased for the iPad, and one that I still enjoy occasionally.
Trainyard is a puzzle game where the aim is to build tracks to get various train engines to their destinations. The goal is complicated by the color requirements of the trains – the trains change color upon crossing each other and this ability is needed on most of the non-trivial levels.
The game itself is accompanied with a large and well-behaving community, where solutions to various levels are debated and optimized relentlessly in addition to members competing to create new content for the game. After all, the engine itself is simple, but stretches to very complex demands.
The user interface is exquisitely smooth, the difficulty curve pleasantly inclined and all in all the game’s been worth way more than its three dollar asking price.
And with a site explaining the theory and practice of track arrangement, it’s even easier to become a track-laying monster in the matter of a few well-spent hours.
EA blatantly left out the n-gage rendition of SSX in the history of the franchise.
Not that it’s much good, but an omission is an omission.
The last steps between the second and final installments of the Mass Effect trilogy have been rather misguided.
Arrival, the bridging piece of DLC leading into the third game manages to forget everything that made the games worthwhile. It is a single character shoot-em-up with far too limited control over events. Gave up in disgust, my action chops were clearly inadequate to finish the repetitive firefights.
Deception, the fourth novel of the sequence introduces a new author. Drew Karpyshyn’s original trilogy went beyond expectations in providing insight into the universe. William C. Dietz’s take is peculiar to say the least, prompting guesses that it was written after no exposure to the vividly realized world. The fan reception has been so violently hostile that the publisher has announced it will rectify the worst offenses in future editions. Which, obviously, doesn’t do anything for the people who have already purchased the novel.
Red Lynx’s 1000 Heroz is a game that lasts a thousand days. At least.
The game is updated with new content daily, and thus there will be close to three years worth of new playing for the princely sum of a euro.
1000 Heroz is a simple game – the task is to guide the daily character (everybody has a quasi-historical name) from start to goal across a scrolling playing field as fast as possible. The journey is mostly against the geography – there are very few mobile elements on screen. The controls are simple as well, just three virtual buttons on screen – left, right and jump (where the duration of the flight is determined by the length of the press).
The games does not vary that much, the levels are pretty much the same – and the only goals are the twin times that mark silver and gold level of accomplishment. The former tends to be moderately reachable (though some levels put up a sizable fight), the latter sometimes trivial or behind a seriously optimized romp with no false steps allowed.
1000 Heroz pulls in new content daily. And the update cycle has been subverted for a good purpose already once.
Apple finally starts eliminating fake content from Appstore.
Haven’t had any issues with such, but they were flagrant indeed.
Pinball Arcade, an extensible collection of pinball tables from multiple eras is set to hit iOS devices on Thursday.
Sadly, the web page is more or less useless, and the description and updates are available on Facebook only.
The game ships with four tables, with more to be released as DLC on a monthly interval.
The visuals are impressive, but as usual, a pinball game either lives or dies on how it feels.
Zynga accused of a total copy-job by a three man company.
A reference would be nice, but even without, the idea of majority of console games getting played just once is downright scary.
The big new license for Lego is now public: to promote the release of the Hobbit films (and the Tolkien-franchise in general) The One Ring will be borne by a minifigure.
And color me very surprised indeed, if the license is not supported by a series of video games as well.
This just seems to be the near-perfect representation of everything that is wrong with gaming these days.
Indeed: in-application purchase madness, a whole new social single-purpose network on top of a weird one-touch interface.
retropelit.fi, for the local retrogaming community.
The reviews are on the short side, but it is nice to see the good old games featured on the ever-expanding list.
Played it a little on DS, but didn’t get too much into it.
While the vocabulary is awesome, the sandbox is a little too limited to be really captivating.
The distilled edition on the ipad certainly could be worth a peek. After all, this is a game well-equipped to be enjoyed in small doses on the sofa.
I’ve been persistently resistent to any learning to play the guitar.
Now, with two games to assist in becoming the latter-day-yngwie of Nöykkiö, it’s perhaps time to give the six-stringer a second shot.
In the electronic corner: Rocksmith, whose arrival in Europe has been delayed indefinitely by a lawsuit by a british band with the same name. The song list is impressively varied – and contains a couple of seventies classics that’d be nice in the repertoire indeed.
In the acoustic corner: Wildchords by Ovelin. The finnish iOS application has stormed into the appstore, but the website contains preciously little information about the actual content.
So perhaps it’s time to get not one, but two guitars into the HQ soon.
Level-5 has announced Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, the first game to appear outside the confines of Nintendo’s handhelds.
Details are scarce, and the trailer ratest a good eight+ on the impenetrability scale.