Entries Tagged as 'video games'

A Buncha Free Games, Vol. I

I’m mostly interested in writing about Things Worth Having, which make up for their cost in improved Quality of Life. I usually mean high-quality every-day objects when I say that but there’s also a bunch of intangible data worth having. Some people even give it away. Data (i.e. software) takes up no space, so when someone gives a piece of software away, it’s hard not to see it as Worth Having, even if it sucks. At first glance that’s how the math comes out. The cost, however, is the time you spend using it. And it is in that spirit that I give you A Buncha Free Games, Volume I.

Capt. Forever
I’m now officially belaboring this point, but it’s just so good. And now that Capt. Successor is out, you can play the original for free. Now. NOW. (Read the rest later, damn you. That link will open in a new tab.)

Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari)
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When Darwinia+ finally comes out I’ll try and explain how much I hate genre-boundaries, because I hate them. Books, music, films, and games that transgress and can’t be classified are lots more fun. Cave Story is a fast, pixelated platformer with RPG-ish NPC development, a nice big inventory, and a story that just goes on and on. (Disclosure: I haven’t completed a single game in this post because they’re all so satisfyingly long.) My point is that if you haven’t played it before, you haven’t played it before. Its not Mario or Metroid, Duke Nukem (THE FIRST ONE) or Commander Keen. It’s cute, the music’s excellent, and the controls are flawless. It’s clearly a labor of love by the author, and you can download it for free and keep it forever. I think you should.
Win – Mac – Linux

Knytt
03 Knytt
Every bit as atmospheric as Canabalt, but not nearly as intense. Well, that’s not fair. The little Knytt got abducted by an incompetent alien and now has to fix the broken spaceship without help. It’s a quiet, beautiful puzzle platform/adventure-thing that is massively cute in a way that makes the solitude of crawling around alone on an alien world seem all the more dire. Again, it’s an ingenious labor of love and totally downloadable, along with its extensible successor, Knytt Stories.
Win – and I run it on my CrunchBang Linux netbook through Wine

Monuments of Mars
Monumentsofmars
This game is so old! Do you even know what CGA graphics are? It’s amazing what you can do with two bits-per-pixel, provided they’re the right two bits. These ones give you Black, Red, Orange, and Green. Monuments of Mars is my favorite exploration of just how much awesome can be gleaned from four colors, and I just found out that all four chapters have been released into the public domain.
YOUR COMPUTER CAN’T RUN THIS GAME! You need to get DOSBOX first so you both can pretend it’s 1992.

ZZT
zzt
I know, I’m trying to run you over with my time machine. ZZT is another absurd blast-from-the-past. Think 4 colors looks primitive? ZZT is all ASCII characters. We care because Tim Sweeney released it almost 20 years ago, and now is still Head Morlock behind the Unreal Engine, which runs Mass Effect, BioShock, Dead Space, Gears of War, Borderlands, Mirror’s Edge, Deus Ex… It all started with ridiculous DOS text characters. In all seriousness, you don’t have to play this game, but it did have a really slick scripting system that made it really easy to build mods. The level editors in Lode Runner and Boulder Dash didn’t hold a candle.
DOSBOX

You should be playing Captain Forever

Go to captainforever.com, read what Capt. Farbs has to say, pay your $15, and strap in because space is the terrifying place.

Quickly, you will find yourself at the helm of the dinkiest little ship ever loosed on The Great Emptiness Between The Stars. Lost and alone, you’ll be both relieved and frightened when a message buoy slides into view with a pile of spare parts and the message that other nearby vessels “may resort to piracy” in desperation born of some unexplained disaster.

Grab the chunks of armor, thrusters, and lasers. Dock them to your tiny pod (“The Nemesis”) and run like hell, because that message was the truth. For no apparent reason, everyone is coming for you. Assemble your makeshift warship cleverly, fly deftly, and you’ll find that taking out the command modules of enemy vessels releases new and improved bits to tack onto your own. Carefully consider your targets and improve your hardware gradually. Get in over your head and all that hard-won junk will get blown to bits. Soak up too much enemy fire with your module and, well…

Captain Forever is mercenary space combat, distilled. The graphics are perfectly simple, with all the iconic straightforwardness of a War-Room tactical display. There is no character-building, no tech tree, and no economy. The control scheme is as old as I am and as familiar as a favorite chair. Don’t let me mislead you, though: there is no comfort to be had here. The increasing pressure of more, faster Asteroids in each successive level had nothing on a message buoy zooming up with the cheerful alert that you’ve spent too much time dicking with your gear. The pirates have noticed you, they’re en route, and your pants are way, way down.

Get shot up without any protection and you’ll learn The Terrible Secret of Space: The Nemesis can’t be destroyed. It simply obliterates EVERYTHING nearby and then regenerates. Limited lives may have made Capt. Forever’s forebears aggravating quarter-munchers, but you’ll long for the cold embrace of death in deep space when the game’s never over.

YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE: the fact that I’m telling you to pay $15 for a Flash game with no demo. I also can’t seem to get mouse-scrollwheel-zooming to work on my Mac. Huh.

The good news is that the $15 gets you out of paying $20 when the REAL game is released and this Flash game becomes the demo. This is an Indy Game Development experiment wherein an unemployed developer gets to keep eating and paying rent while he polishes something great, and I support it. If that’s not enough reason for you, hold on until the full release and try it then.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: excellent neo-classic arcade game design, through and through. It looks great, sounds great, and plays great. It underscores over and over the kind of quality that can be created by a lone craftsman when technological ambition is kept in check.

And when you need a break, want to do something free, or feel that there still isn’t enough awesome minimalism in your life, go play Canabalt.

Why Does This Sound Familiar? – Preparing for the Apocolypse.

Whenever I have a bad day or something just throws me off, what do I do? I shoot zombies. I feel more confident when I do. When I can’t afford more bullets, a new machete, or more canned food; virtually annihilating zombies takes the edge off. If this sounds familiar, let me know.

It’s an RPG, Weight Watcher style!

In the world of video games and unhealthy lives styles one particular company has figured it out.  A recent article that I read on WIRED analyzed and compared the Weight Watchers online dieting tool to an RPG.

After my own personal stint with WW online and an avid RPG gamer, I would have to whole-heartily agree with him.  Maybe that is why it was personally successful because I am attracted to that type of gaming which made WW fun and easy for me.  It was interactive and I could see my progress laid out right in front of me.  It was designed to reward when I did something positive and get me back on track when I did something harmful to my success.  We all know that losing weight is not easy and it can be mundane.  I think in the ever-emerging generation of gamers and pc oriented life-styles Weight Watchers has developed something that innovates that mentality.

“Think about it. As with an RPG, you roll a virtual character, manage your inventory and resources, and try to achieve a goal. Weight Watchers’ points function precisely like hit points; each bite of food does damage until you’ve used up your daily amount, so you sleep and start all over again. Play well and you level up — by losing weight! And the more you play it, the more you discover interesting combinations of the rules that aren’t apparent at first. Hey, if I eat a fruit-granola breakfast and an egg-and-romaine lunch, I’ll have enough points to survive a greasy hamburger dinner for a treat!

Even the Weight Watchers web tool is amazingly game like. It has the poke-around-and-see-what-happens elegance you see in really good RPG game screens. Accidentally snack on a candy bar and ruin your meal plan for the day? No worries: Just go into the database and see what spells — whoops, I mean foods — you can still use with your remaining points.

And those 35 extra points you get every week? They’re like a special buff or potion — a last-ditch save when you’re on the ropes.”

-Clive Thompson, WIRED

I am not sure I could have explained it better myself having previously used WW online tool site and currently living in a RPG world; I think he nailed the tail right on the donkey!  I am curious to see just where this might take us with other daily tasks and challenges.  I have yet to check out Wii Fit, which I hear is changing peoples’ lives globally.  I happen to know someone that swears by it and looks fantastic since they got it.  Technology is an incredible and utterly fascinating track to be a part of.  Besides, those bandwagons always have the best rides!

link to article