Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robot Climb (by Time) Review

Game: Robot Climb
Genre: Platform
Creator: Time
Tool: FlashPunk

Time's first Flash game (ever) has challenged and frustrated almost every gamer who has had the chance to play it. With challenging elements such as bombs, spikes, flying baddies, and "wompers" (my name for them), this game has an interesting twist to it -- none of the baddies can kill you. Instead, they push you around and try to make you fall.

The entire game is based on the idea of scaling a tower to the maximum heights (I've heard of some mythical place high up called "space," but never made it there yet myself). While games have done this before, none have ever (in my opinion) done it so smoothly. The game is completely randomly generated, an amazing feat in of itself with this being Time's first ever game created with FlashPunk. The game is procedurally generated very smoothly (meaning it's created as the game goes by, since technically it goes on forever); and the tileset is nice and clean.

The robot in the game (that you control) has a variety of special abilities. The first, and probably the most used, is the wall jump. Wall jump allows you to slide and launch over and up (and away) using the wall. Thus, as you can imagine, wall jump is very useful for getting past difficult areas. Still, wall jump is pretty common in platform games. That's where 'crawl-hanging' (my official title for it) comes in handy. If you jump up into a block and hold the up arrow key, you will be able to hang onto the block(s) and move left and right to get to the desired area. That, in combination with wall jumping, would seem to be enough. But that's not it. Your little robot also can create an explosion around himself, in order to either kill baddies in the area or clear away some blocks. But be warned, sometimes you can blow up all the blocks underneath you as well, and plummet to your death.

On top of all this, there's the fact he didn't just use room wrapping (walking off the left side of the screen to pop out on the right); instead he used "parallax" scrolling, which, put simply, makes the game wrap without stopping the camera when it hits the border. It may seem like a small thing, but because of it you get the illusion that the tower truly never ends. Indeed, though -- it doesn't.

The effects, although simple, are well done and make the game just that much more interesting (effects being the falling leaves, the storm blowing baddies around, etc). However, there are a few things I think could still be changed / added. The first one is the storm. It pushes the baddies and leaves around, but the main purpose should have been to increase the difficulty by pushing the robot (player) around. Also, I think that the game could look much better if some of the corner tiles had a smooth edge in order to look a bit more realistic and less boxy (and not as aligned to a grid).

A couple more things I think should be changed: the black outline around the tiles also makes them look too blocky, and the background tiles for when blocks have been blown up is too light colored and doesn't have enough variety. If they were darkened a bit and maybe some texture was added (cracks, rust, etc) the visual would be much better. Also, another minor thing that could be added would be everything (blocks, background, the robot, baddies; everything) could darken during a storm, adding another small but nice visual to the game.

I enjoyed playing Robot Climb to the max, despite being pretty horrible at it (you can see my low scores in all the screenshots). The unique elements, and even the not so unique ones, make for a fun little game to pass time. The only real complaint I have, besides some graphics which I mentioned earlier, would be that the hanging grass tile loads late at times, jumping onto the screen awkwardly. I highly recommend that you play this game for yourself, as I doubt you will be able to put it down for a long time to come.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ode to Food

I had to write an ode today for my English class. I enjoy writing some poems, but this one was ... well, just read it. This poem is definitely the cheesiest one (literally) that I've written. Still, it might make you laugh. My teacher said to "write about something that has deep meaning to you" and I think I hit home :).

Ode to Food
March 24, 2010

The sound of the sizzling food
In the frying pan sounds so good.
Oh the smelly aroma, oh the taste.
The feeling of biting into tomato paste.
When I go with a friend to Moe’s,
We both like to buy giant burritos:
Huge piles of junk stocked full
With sweets that make our eyes dull.
Nothing is better than eating some grub,
Nothing; not even sitting in a bathtub.
Although the water at McDonald’s sits
Out and tastes like plastic, causing fits,
The food there is next to none,
With cheap burgers wrapped up in a bun.
The feel of the grease dripping off your chin
Like little ants crawling down a trash bin.
You can eat coleslaw in food or alone;
I hope in the future I can own
All the coleslaw I will ever need,
Maybe even invent a coleslaw seed.
The millions I could make and the coleslaw
I could eat; it’d be hanging out my jaw!
It would be a mess; that’s why we grow
Bun trees for buns to wipe up, though.
But oh, though I try so hard to see
A coleslaw seed, there’s no seed for me.
Still, food is one of the greatest creations,
Everyone should have it; all the nations!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quietus Review

Quietus (by Time)

Most indie gamers and developers have heard and played Matt Thorson’s games before, which consist of difficult reflex action and jumping to avoid hitting the spikes. Time’s newest project, a Flash game titled Quietus, is here to rival some of Mr. Thorson’s best works. With 18 levels at this time, and many, many enemies to avoid (spikes, lava, worms, ghosts, demons, stompers, etc), this game is made to challenge even those who consider themselves hardcore reflex gamers.

The graphics are a stunning retro – not too much, but at the same time enough to show off some cool style. The effects (when the flying red creatures splash; when the worm jumps) are nicely done and show off a polished touch that most developers fail to think of creating, or even succeed in adding. The little details that are visible in each and every wall block, displaying interesting runes, added some depth and uniqueness to the game. The rustic feel of actually being where you’re character is trying to survive is undeniable.

One thing that some may argue about, but I believe to be the best part of the entire game: the gameplay difficulty. There aren’t enough games on the internet at this quality that also requires this level of precise timing. There are some levels, a couple of them being levels 6 and 9, that required such precision it’s crazy that Time could even calculate that all in. In level 6 you need to hop down quick, bounce off the green blob, avoid the little worms, wait for the spike to go by, and then run before the other spike comes around and the flying red demons jump and trap you. In level 9, which, being farther along in the game is much harder, has an even longer portion where you need to constantly be aware. You can’t just focus on bits of the level, you have to examine the entire thing so when you get passed a hard part to another part, you don’t just die and go “What happened?!”. Although the level order (according to difficulty) is still a little bit wacked, the game itself delivers and not too many people should care right now about the organization, since the game isn’t completed yet.

The sound effects are decent enough; definitely retro, but with no music at this time there isn’t much to say about the audio this game has to offer the player. However, I doubt the player will be thinking about sound effects much when they get trapped once again by a couple spikes.

One of the things Quietus has done exceedingly well is tell its story. The story obviously hasn’t been finished being created yet, but already just by seeing the graphic at the beginning and the short animation of the character falling you know the eerie story behind the game.

Overall, Quietus will definitely leave a lasting impression on anyone who plays it. If you haven’t beaten the game, there’s that urge to beat it because … well, just so you can say you beat the game. The difficulty could be raised a bit, as well as the level order moved around, but generally Quietus did what it was made to do – entertain. The gameplay at this point could take an intermediate reflex platform gamer about 45 minutes or so to beat, with the less experienced taking much longer. If Time can succeed in adding some more features—which I’m sure he will—and a lot more levels, this game will reach new heights.


(edited by turboRamble, on March 24, 2010)

Wordpress Problem

I've created a website here, what (in a way) I hope to be only temporary, as Wordpress is currently not functioning (viewing, to be exact) correctly. Hopefully the problem with Wordpress will be fixed, but if not I'll have to move everything over to this Blogger website.