Posts by: Mike Nowak

Review: 868-HACK

calm


So young and happy and full of possibilities.

There’s a colloquialism amongst some fans of the kinds of games that Michael Brough, creator of 868-HACK, releases: Brough-like. It’s playful but perhaps a little disingenuous. While it can be a matter of pride to have your games classified under their own unique umbrella, that simplification does disservice to the spectrum of genres through which Michael Brough works. There’s great variety and it’s impossible to summarize the whole oeuvre into one genre but, and with a big underlined but, if we were to use this label at least once in our lives we’d use it here because 868-HACK is probably the most Brough-like game yet and it’s spectacular.

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Review: Rymdkapsel

By Europe.

The final, inevitable, countdown.

Pull out Tangerine Dream’s 1974 Phaedra LP, place it on the turntable, put on some nice ear encompassing headphones, and space out to the slow strategies of Rymdkapsel.

On first load it’s easy to see why Martin Jonasson’s creation was given an honourary nod for design in the 2013 IGF. The isometric space station that you’re tasked to build floats above a slowly rotating star field in full flat shaded glory. A small population of busy-bodied white rectangles carry geometric resources to construction site outlines of single purpose rooms. The colours are bright and make it easy to visualize how everything is pieced together and how well they’re functioning. On the bottom is a menu that shows what all your minions are doing and allows you to assign them a task, and on the top are the rooms you can build and how much they cost. A red progress bar fills ominously.

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Tiberium Snores: freemium Command & Conquer bores the App Store

Spare a thought for poor Nowak. Whenever some vaguely interesting freemium monstrosity shows up in limited Canadian release, I oblige him to throw himself right into its maw. I’m going to sic him on that awful-looking Ghostbusters game next. — Owen
Where's like, the tanks and stuff?

Everyone’s favorite part of C&C: mineral harvesting. That is your favorite part, right?

Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is a new entry in the once-great C&C RTS series, but as with most such large publisher related-by-name-only freemium releases it plays exactly as you’d imagine. Yes, that bad. It’s available in Canada right now in what the developer would consider a small market soft release but what I, as a Canadian App Store user, would consider a punishment for some unspecified national crime. It was released as a browser game last year, but EA apparently felt unfulfilled knowing that there was more suffering they could inflict upon the world.

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Mine your business: Ionage is a new vein of tower defense

Attack or mine resources… by attacking.

Owen might be at war with tower defense games, but having spent a little time with the alpha of Android TD Ionage, I think it might be worth a truce.

Ionage puts you at the helm of an orbital asteroid mining platform, onto which you can place turrets, or towers, some of which can be defensive but beyond that superficial influence, Ionage really does play more like an RTS than a stock TD game. The main differentiator is that instead of simply defending against a mindless onslaught of random enemies, here you’re building an orbital platform with the goal of supplanting any competing platforms. Your opponent is an equal, able to expand just as you do, competing for the few extra resources you can mine from nearby asteroids. The conflict is more direct and more strategic as a result.

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Down but not out: Partia keeps on improving

Make haist to helpe me.

Maybe I didn’t have the best of times with Partia when I reviewed it back in December [it did lead to PT's first front page animated gif - ed.], but I did honestly hope that it would do well enough to warrant upgrading as the foundation that it was built on was solid. There aren’t many RPGs of that style on iOS except for a couple of old console ports, one of which is – how should I say this?  - Squaresoft priced, and there’s no chance that Partia’s spiritual antecedent, Nintendo’s Fire Emblem, is going to legally grace the App Store anytime soon. Partia is the closest we have to something new along those lines.

The good news is that Partia did reach number one on the RPG charts. The bad news is that it was in Angola, with a total of one sale. Sales in larger markets have been OK and developer Imago is being very open about their numbers on their weblog, revealing a grand tally somewhere north of 1500 copies. Imago’s Dustin K tells me that it is not nearly enough to be profitable, and this will likely delay further development, but as it is a personal passion project he assures me development will likely resume and a much improved Partia 2 should come one day.

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Belated IGF notes: rymdkapsel and 7 Grand Steps

The reactor is heavily cubed.

We mentioned the Independent Games Festival finalists last week but there’s a more couple games that deserve elaboration. The first is rymdkapsel. Maybe Owen didn’t mention it because he couldn’t spell it. [I never learned to read! - ed.] An honourary mention for IGF’s “Excellence in Design”, Martin Jonasson’s rymdkapsel is a self-described slow, meditative strategy game wherein you manage a space station. The abstracted isometric flat-colour style, reminiscent of Mobigame’s Edge, is wonderful and ends up looking like something on a Star Trek: The Next Generation LCARS display. That appeals.

These monoliths are influenced from SimEarth, right?

I contacted Martin Jonasson and he provided the attached screenshots but couldn’t promise a release date. He told me “it’ll be as soon as I can make it” which I’ll loosely interpret as “sometime within this quarter, maybe.” We’ll have more word as its release nears. His latest teaser video is embedded below.

7 Grand Steps, an IGF honourary mention for narrative, is hard to classify. It’s a game in which you craft the story, and history, of a family across the ages by moving characters along a mechanical coin operated wheel. A demo is currently available for Mac and PC. When asked about a potential tablet release, which I think would befit the game’s interface, the developer said “if the game is successful on Windows and Macintosh, we will pursue iOS and Android ports.”

Turtle Power: TurtleStrike announced for iOS and Android

Turtles and bombs and missiles and I don’t know what’s going on.

We honestly don’t have much to go on here apart from the marketing copy on their site but the Czech developers of TurtleStrike claim to be very avid gamers looking to make something that would satisfy the most persnickety of players. They also claim to be very angry.

That rage has generated all the right sell points though: simultaneous turn-based (much like RoboRally, or the previously mentioned Clairvoyance, TurtleStrike has both players decide their actions at the same time); free to play but not unbalanced towards IAP purchasers; tiered ranking system; multi-platform; and tournaments with cash prizes. Sound good to me. We’ve placed the developer on our radar and hopefully there’ll be something more substantial to say before their early 2013 release.

As an aside, the devs have a pinterest of “Great Mobile Tabletop Games” that is quite extensive and targeted straight at our hearts.