Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Zen and the Art of Swing Copters

I thought you said you were done with this.
This again?

It looks the same, but vertical. 
So, Dong Nguyen made another game. And somebody made a Flash version of it. This should be fun.

Oh dear Cthulhu.
As my subtitles pointed out, Swing Copters is essentially a vertical version of Flappy Bird. With a couple minor changes. The first is the swinging hammers (spike balls in the Flash version) that further impede your endless flight. The other is the control. Instead of jumping every time you tap, Swing Copter (yes, I'm calling him that) moves from side to side. The goal is still the same: get as far as possible.

Beating Swing Copters takes patience. You have to get the rhythm down in order to get past the hammers. Your taps also need to be timed correctly if you don't want to start over. One wrong move, and it's right back to the beginning.

Pfft, please. Since the update, anyone could do that. 
Final Score: 4/10

I kind of like this. It's not exactly what I would call a good game, but it is a decent time waster if you've got nothing better to do. There's a little bit more to the gameplay than its predecessor, but it still lacks substance. There's some actual challenge involved, but the tedium is still present. While there are some improvements, Swing Copters is far from perfect.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Little Pony Bike Racing

So, it’s been awhile since my last update. This time, I actually have an explanation. I went into a soup kitchen, got taken to a town in the middle of nowhere, got chased by a killer burger, and had to do an alien’s taxes. I swear it makes sense in context. 
Sure it does. 
So after I got home from my little misadventure, I needed something to help me unwind. So, I visited Gamesgrow.
Don't remind me. 
You remember Gamesgrow, that site filled with cheap cash-in games that attract clicks by using popular characters. Most of these games were made by people who knew jack shit about the games’ source material, leading to such bizarre scenes as:
Why's he so fat?
Yellow Luigi,
Shouldn't that hat blow away?
Pegasus Applejack,
What's wrong with his face?
And last but not least, Bulgey-Eyed Spongebob.
I have so many questions I can't stand it!
So, I was browsing Gamesgrow, when I came across this. A game where ponies ride bicycles. If you’re anything like me, your first thought is probably something along the lines of, “Why would a pony need a bicycle?” Let’s find out.

Fun Bike racing game between Twilight and Applejack. Choose your favorite character, help her keep balance, through rugged mountain, collect all candy, complete all challenges levels!
Well, at least the background is ni- wait a minute, they stole that from the show, didn't they?
The first thing you’ll notice is the cheap sprite quality. The two playable characters have a peddling animation cycle that noticeably skips frames. The sprites are also a bit fuzzy around the outline. This part is especially confusing because there are in fact high-quality Flash puppets of these characters readily available online. The next thing you’ll notice is Applejack’s eye. How is she supposed to know where she’s going if she’s not looking at the road?
They did. That's stolen artwork. Oh gods, it's Magic Baby all over again. 
Because Applejack is an accident waiting to happen, I’ll be playing as Twilight.
Why does there have to be a pony version of everything?
Wow, this level select screen is amazing. It totally doesn’t look like any other level select screen in any other game. They really put a lot of effort into this.
That rock texture is too good to not be stolen from something. 
What? That can’t be right. I could have sworn I picked Twilight.
Even the volume button is cheap. There is nothing good about this game. 

So, all you have to do to win is hold the up key. That’s it. You can’t lose (as long as you start quickly enough). The only hazard so far are hills that cause mildly-exciting jumps.
A game without good visuals is hardly a game at all. 

Once you get to the finish line, you’ll be greeted with assets stolen from Angry Birds. Depending on the amount of candy you collected, you’ll have a different number of stars on the victory screen. You also get points, woop-dee-doo. Who cares about points?
The background has no consistency. 

As the game progresses, there are more speed bumps, loops and other terrain hazards that slow you and your opponent down.
Most of the assets are stolen. 

The later stages include platforms. In a bike racing game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: tedium and challenge are not the same thing. This is tedious. Also, it’s possible for the bike to glitch through the platform, making the stage unwinnable.
The whole background disappears if you lose! This game is hell!

Final Score: 3/10

I was perfectly willing to forgive the stolen assets, lack of logic in its premise, even the lazy backgrounds. But, the glitches in the later stages kill any chance this game had. If it weren’t for the platform glitches, this would be an okay little time waster. But, the physics in the later stages are just too broken to function. I can’t pass the sixth stage because the bike keeps getting stuck in the platforms. That is inexcusable.
Why, Gamesgrow? Why can't you put effort into your scenery? Why do you hate me?

It sure is good to be back. Say, I can’t help but feel like I’m forgetting something… from long ago…
Yay! A background that doesn't- wait a minute, that's stolen too, isn't it?

…Oh yeah… I was supposed to do that, wasn’t I?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Odd One Out: The Five Worst Puzzles

So... this is my first post in a couple months. I have no good explanation for this.
Judgment... now!
Well, that's not entirely true. I've been reviewing games up for judgment on Newgrounds. You can read the reviews I posted here.
I swear, that leaf is taunting me.
If you clicked that link, you might have noticed that I posted a negative review of a game called Odd One Out: Zebra, citing problems such as fake difficulty, false claims of originality, and most importantly, puzzles with multiple valid answers. Since this game got a higher rating than it deserved, I don't think anyone understood what I meant by 'multiple valid answers'. That, or they just didn't read my review.
I don't like the look on that guy's face.
Take a good look at this. You have three photographs, and one cartoon smiley. The goth girl was the "correct" answer, because she's the only one who isn't cheerful. See, this is a 'one of these things is not like the others'. The goal is to find the one that doesn't belong. The problem is, as you can plainly see, there is more than one valid answer here. This in itself would be fine, except for one thing: I got this question wrong. I selected the smiley, because it was the only one that wasn't a live photo. The smiley was the "wrong" answer, despite being just as valid as the "right" answer.
So far, the green check is my favorite character.
It's the same deal here. True, the other three are larger animals, but the hippo is also the only one that's aquatic.
I doubt that frog would take well to being called a reptile.
Oh, it gets better. Take a good look at this one. Not only is there more than one valid answer, but the explanation at the top is wrong. I shouldn't have to point this out, but frogs are not reptiles, they're amphibians. If you're smart enough to program a Flash game, you should be smart enough to figure that out.
Why is there so little in the background of this game?
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the worst puzzle in the game. Not only is more than one answer valid (Zipper is the only insect), but the explanation for Remy as the correct one has... let's call them issues. In fact, the puzzle as a whole has issues. For one, Remy is not only the only computer-generated character, but also the only Pixar character, and the only one originally from a feature film. On top of that, the game totes itself as being "excellent puzzle intelligent and fun," in those exact words. Having puzzles built around the creator's favorite cartoons is anything but intelligent, far from excellent, and too simplistic to be called fun.
I hate dogs.
Final Score: 2/10

What do I say to something like this? While it does have some clever moments, the game is still filled with poorly-thought-out questions like the one I placed above the final score. If the answer isn't painfully obvious, more than one of them are valid. If your puzzle game is supposed to have a specific correct answer for each puzzle, you cannot have equally-valid options. I get the feeling that whoever designed this thought that having multiple valid answers was somehow adding more challenge. That's not how you do it. Imagine if, say, Portal had a puzzle where there were two ways of completing the test, but only one right way. Two equally valid ways of completing a puzzle, but only one "right" way chosen by the designer. That's not challenge, that's incompetence. This game has all the cleverness of an Annoying Orange Wiki trivia page - that is to say, none.
Gamesgrow doesn't look this cheap.
This should come as a surprise to no one. The user who uploaded this game was called "onlinegamecitycom", and wouldn't you know it, they're a cheap Flash game hosting site. The only difference they have from Gamesgrow and Game4Joy is that their Flash games have been ported to mobile devices. Odd One Out: Zebra on Android. That's an unsettling thought.

Friday, March 7, 2014


...no comment.
Oh. Hello, purple background. How've you been doing?
What's with the text here?
Oh no.
We start off with this guy. He looks like some sort of lobster… lizard… potato… thing. And, as you can see, everything is black and white. On top of that, we get our first problem with the game: every few seconds, it fades to black. I repeat, it fades to black. Meaning you can’t see what you’re doing.
"Ask me what it means! Ask me what it means!"

Boring black background with nothing in it...
So, our protagonist is greeted by the aforementioned omnipotent god being, who brought him to this black void dimension as punishment for some crime. Our protagonist, understandably, takes some issue with this. Meanwhile, the god being keeps telling the protagonist that he’s a monster.
Oh, the text again. At least it's something.
By the way, the stages of the game are titled after the stages of grief. We’ll get back to that a bit later.
Why have a background with nothing in it?
Gameplay-wise, it’s just a basic platformer. Wait, let me rephrase that: it’s just a basic, incompetently-designed platformer. For starters, there are points where you’re supposed to drop down to lower platforms. The problem is, half the time you can’t even see the platforms. There are also moving platforms, which I unfortunately don’t have a screenshot of. In most games, when you land on a moving platform, you move along with it. In Dark, you don’t. You have to carefully follow them. Unless you’re just starting out, there’s no excuse for that!
I'll go insane looking at this background.
Your goal in each level is to reach this gravestone. Again, we’ll get back to that a bit later.
How could you... create such a dull background?
Back to the story (which unfortunately takes up two thirds of the game, because somewhere along the line the game designer forgot that’s what they were making), the omnipotent god being spends the entire game telling the protagonist what a horrible person he is. The problem is, because of omnipotent god being’s tactics in dealing with him, you sympathize with the protagonist, and genuinely want to see him escape the void and, possibly, redeem himself. I’ll explain what the problem with this is, you guessed it, later.
I will die if some actual scenery doesn't show up soon!
Starting in the second level, you start encountering these light beam things that blink on and off. If you touch them, you get sent back to an earlier point. This is a problem because, as I mentioned earlier, it fades to black every few seconds. Meaning you can’t see the obstacles half the time. Do I even need to explain what the problem with this is? Here’s the short version: it’s tedious.
*cough* Must... *cough* *cough* ...pull through... *cough*
And then you get to a point where omnipotent god being starts shouting at the protagonist with plus-sized font. BECAUSE THAT’S A PERFECTLY REASONABLE MANNER OF SPEAKING. Oh, and did I mention we’re supposed to side with the omnipotent god being? At least, that’s what I assume, considering what gets revealed later on.
Need... scenery... *coughcough*
Later on, the protagonist asks why the omnipotent god being can’t just turn back time so the unspecified crime can be undone. If you can read the text on the screenshot, you know how that bargaining attempt turned out. Now, up until this point, the game has had a few problems gameplay-wise, and a few problems story-wise. This part hurts the game’s theme. If the protagonist really was a complete monster, he wouldn’t show any remorse for his actions. Except here, he’s essentially asking for a second chance so he can set things right. But, the omnipotent god being doesn’t offer even the smallest chance of redemption.
Back to the gameplay, the third level adds enemies. That’s it. The level design is still tedious and lazy. Also, this is the level where I was forced to reset the game during my initial playthrough. See, the game temporarily saves your exact position if you touch certain platforms. And, it doesn’t matter where you touch the platform, as long as you’re touching the platform. Which means it’s possible to touch the side, and end up falling to your death over and over again until you reload the page. Again, no excuse.
Man, this omnipotent god being is a dick. He trapped the protagonist in this endless void, and is psychologically tormenting him until the protagonist tells him what he wants to hear. And he never says anything about giving the protagonist a second chance, or even letting him out of the void afterward. What did the protagonist do, anyway?
…Did… did this game just make me sympathize with a child murderer?

Let’s just get this out of the way real quick: no, this does not make the omnipotent god being the good guy. In this story, the way it’s written, there are no good guys. It’s just two jerks having a competition to see who can be the bigger asshole. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the protagonist’s crime. He killed his six-month-old daughter for a poorly-explained reason. He committed a horrible crime, and needs to be put in a prison. Now let’s talk about his punishment. He’s stuck in this endless void for eternity. And, he’s being psychologically tortured by an omnipotent god being. I don’t think that’s a proportional punishment. At most, he should just be given the chair. At least, he should spend some time in a jail cell. He should not spend the rest of forever stuck in a black void of nothingness. Also, remember earlier, when he asked to turn back time and undo his crime? If that was genuine, it means he’s willing to atone for his crime. But, he’s never given that option. I hope you see where I’m going with this.
And then, at the end of the game, he admits he is a monster. Yeah, I don’t think he really meant that. I think he only did that under pressure. Because, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but people will say anything you want them to if you put them under enough pressure!
.....................................I'll be okay...
Final Score: 4/10

The gameplay is meh, but since the game designer forgot he was making a game, I’m not going to focus on that right now. Instead, I’m going to focus on the message it conveyed. I don’t know what the intended message was, but here’s how it came off: don’t fight to redeem yourself, just accept your sins and your punishment, because you can never atone for them. ISN’T THAT A GREAT MESSAGE? The story was poorly-handled, the writing was atrocious, the CAPSLOCK omnipotent god voice is unlikeable, and I ended up sympathizing with the wrong character as a result.

Now I’ll tell you about the gameplay. The level designs are nothing special. Because you get sent back instead of dying, the game can become really tedious really quickly. And that fading to black makes certain sections entirely unpleasant. Yeah, other than that, there’s not a whole lot to talk about in terms of gameplay. That’s because this isn’t a normal game, it’s a pretentious art project that sacrifices gameplay in favor of themes and symbolism.
I'll be okay.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini-Review: Juice Cubes

It's been awhile since I did a Unity game. The last one I did was, I believe, part of the first review I ever did on Embed Hell, back when it was on Tumblr. So, I think I'll do one now.
Was this what you were doing the whole time you were away?
This is Bejewled. I mean, Candy Crush Saga. I mean, Juice Cubes. It's a game created by Rovio, the same company behind Angry Birds.
I've always felt weird about anthropomorphized food...
Just like Angry Birds, Juice Cubes features a set of cute and colorful characters that grab your attention. And, just like Angry Birds, there really isn't a whole lot to say about it other than that.

Final Score: 6/10

It's a Bejewled clone, but with character. Not a whole lot else to say.