Tag Archive for online games

Play It: Orange Roulette and Last Guardian

On this edition of Play It, we look at two static shooter games that are worth a try for online gamers looking for something a little out of the norm.

First up is Orange Roulette. This is a dark and disturbing static shooter about an anthropomorphic orange forced to play a series of Russian Roulette games to earn his freedom from jail. The style of the game is undeniable. The content is questionable but surprisingly engaging.

orangeroulette Play It: Orange Roulette and Last Guardian

What would you do to break out of prison in Orange Roulette?

What sells the game is the level of suspense. You only have three possible moves in a turn: spin the wheel, shoot yourself, or shoot your opponent. The entire time, the two competing oranges are eyeing each other up, grimacing, or losing their minds. One of them will be pulp on the walls of the jail. The other might get to walk out alive. I never thought I could empathize with a piece of fruit. Now I know I just hadn’t been forced in the right circumstances.

The downside to the game is the randomly generated stages. The constantly shifting story–each time you lose, you basically get a new identical orange with a variant storyline–is intriguing. The inability to know for sure what the pace of the match is becomes frustrating. It’s not like you can memorize the sequence of events and play to the end. It changes every time.

It’s a tense and quick diversion that’s worth a look if you can handle the subject matter.

The second game is Last Guardian. This is a bit more traditional only in its framing as a tower defense game. You are an archer defending the castle from wave after wave of mythical beasts.

lastguardian Play It: Orange Roulette and Last Guardian

Think before you loose your arrows in Last Guardian

The novelty comes in the mechanics. This is not a “close enough” shooting game. Placement and power will are the difference between a high scoring headshot against a flying dragon or losing the kingdom. Though you only use the mouse, the combination of power and angle seems unlimited in the game.

Then you start to upgrade your arsenal. Will you focus on better arrows for stronger attacks? Faster reloads so you can take more shots? Or will you spend your experience on magical spells that call upon mythological creatures to defend the gate while you aim for trickier shots?

There is no right or wrong strategy because no method is easier than any other. That’s the novelty of the game. You can’t go wrong unless you don’t experiment with how to shoot the arrow. Everything else is at the mercy of a very tight and balanced game design.

What do you think? Will you be giving either game a shot? Orange Roulette is a bigger draw for me, but I do like dark content. Share your opinions below.

Play It: Dead Pixel

Looking for an easy time waster? Try Dead Pixel from Rzook over at Newgrounds. It is a point and click puzzle game that anyone can play with ease. I recommend wiping off your monitor before you start. No reason.

deadpixelfeature 300x224 Play It: Dead Pixel

In Dead Pixel, all you need to do is click the tiny square that's slighly off-color from the other tiny squares.

The object of Dead Pixel is to pick out the discolored pixel on the computer screen in the game. Click right and you earn points. Click wrong and you lose life. It’s all fun and games until you realize that the faster you click, the more points you earn. Then the pixels start getting smaller, the color differences more slight, and your ability to discern which dot of green on a screen filled with green is the wrong shade of green diminishes.

It’s a surprisingly fun online game that you could pick up as a quick distraction during the day. That’s why you should Play It. Not every game needs to be a marathon and a marathon of Dead Pixel might have a negative impact on your eye and mental health.

Have you checked out Dead Pixel yet? Know of any other new puzzle games of interest? Sound off below. Love to hear from you.

Play It: Happy Dead Friends

On this edition of Play It, we look at a creepy and cute online puzzle game about making friends.

Happy Dead Friends is a cool little linking puzzle game from rhinogames on Newgrounds. The goal is simple. You have a series of hexagon maps filled with sad zombies. The only way to make them happy is to make them all hold hands. Each zombie must be connected to another zombie with all of their open hands.

happydeadfriends Play It: Happy Dead Friends

A happy zombie is a safe zombie.

It seems simple until you realize that these zombies have more than two arms and choose the darnedest places to hang out. Why would a zombie chain himself against a rock so he can’t make friends behind him?

Instead of just making increasingly strange maps, Happy Dead Friends starts introducing other undead creatures. Zombies will move their arms automatically to complete links. Skeletons, however, must be manipulated to make friends. They’re a little stiff. This keeps the gameplay fresh and challenging without overwhelming the screen with too many monsters to link too soon.

The goal of the game is to complete the chains in as few moves as possible. You can earn up to three gold skulls for each completed stage. The game is more forgiving as the levels advance, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate a stage with 10+ creatures that just don’t seem to add up. The challenge is fun, not frustrating, and that’s what makes this game work.

The sound design is quite unobtrusive for a modern puzzle game. Too often, sound design in a puzzle game is an endlessly looping synth track to set the mood. Those games normally leave me searching for the mute button in a minute. Happy Dead Friends only uses select moans, groans, and a synth ta-da effect at the end of a stage to set the mood. It works. You are messing around with monsters. Why would there be pretty music or lots of bells and whistles? I don’t recall zombies being the best conversationalists.

For providing a solid puzzle with lots of challenges and a creepy/cute aesthetic, Happy Dead Friends is a game you should check out. There’s something to be said for pick up and play games that are easy to understand. Games are meant to be fun. If you can’t play them without wanting to throw your computer out the window, what’s the point?. This is one of the fun for anyone games.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: Dys4ia

On this edition of Play It, we look at a deeply personal biographical game. The experience is all about using the form of video games to create a sense of familiarity with a less discussed subject.

Dys4ia has been getting a lot of press, for better or worse. The concept receives praise even if the execution has been criticized. I’m willing to argue that issues that people have with control and style are an essential part of the gameplay process.

dys4iasir Play It: Dys4ia

Anne Anthropy's story is her own, but she does introduce these struggles to a wider audience.

Anne Anthropy, aka Auntie Pixelante, makes art games. Dys4ia is her online video game memoir. Anne is a trans woman who faced a lot of struggles to transition from medical, psychological, and social perspectives. She stresses that Dys4ia is not a reflection of every transgender person in the world.

That last statement is the key to understanding and appreciating Dys4ia for what it is meant to be. It is a computer simulation of one woman’s life experience. The fact that Anthropy is willing and able to share her individual story at this level of detail and receive positive attention is reason enough for people to play this game. She is not a statistic or novelty. She is a person whose story deserves to be told.

dys4iafitting Play It: Dys4ia

No matter how hard you try, you just won't fit in at the start of Dys4ia.

Dys4ia is broken into four levels, each comprised of multiple mini games. These include tasks such as fitting an odd shaped peg into a too small hole, avoiding detection in a public restroom, and keeping your blood pressure down while a doctor lectures you on you why you aren’t a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy. The controls are explained onscreen before each task and you advance in the game no matter what happens.

This last element, the automatic advancement, is the one that has created the most controversy in discussions of the game. Is Dys4ia still a game if you can’t lose? Should it just be called a simulation or interactive video instead?

There are a number of reasons why I believe this is a narrow-minded view of video games. For one thing, there have been big video game titles in the past where you can do every task right and still fail in the end. It’s an intentional decision on the part of the game makers to create a novel experience. Why can’t the opposite also be considered a valid strategy to tell the same story? I feel like some games could benefit from a more realistic view of the world. No one ever succeeds at everything they try, so why should a game based in reality be discounted for reflecting that?

Second, just because you fail the task the first time and advance doesn’t mean that it serves the story to do the task again immediately. The structure of Dys4ia is built on the conceit of challenges and setbacks. Just because you fail the first time does not mean you won’t try again later. It just means that you might need more experience to know how to best handle a situation in the future.

dys4iatest Play It: Dys4ia

Is it a traditional game? Why not? Because you can fail and move on?

Most importantly, this game is Anne Anthropy’s experience. She knew that she was going to transition no matter what. She faced setbacks and challenges that she learned to overcome. She was going to finish her journey no matter what. The only way for that mindset to truly be shown in a video game was to have the game move on whether you were ready or not.

The result of this auto-advancement in Dys4ia is a beautiful and memorable game experience. It will be hard to shake off Anne Anthropy’s story after you finish. Best of all, you, too, will most likely be compelled to share the game experience. Anne may not represent the experience of all transgender people in the world, but she is giving the actual experience of transition an accessible voice.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: Ace Pilot

On this edition of Play It, we look at an ambitious game that manages to look great, have a story, and handle well.

Ace Pilot is an overhead shooter with a great look to it. The gameplay is all well and good, but the look of the game and storytelling is the star. You play as an ace pilot in an intergalactic fleet. You have been tasked with stopping the invasion of Kim Jong Krill on an uninhabited moon.

acepilotgameplay Play It: Ace Pilot

Simple controls do not mean simple gameplay in Ace Pilot.

The controls work. They’re not anything to write home about, but they’re efficient. You aim your ship with the mouse, fire with the left button, speed up/slow down with W/S, and quickly dodge left/right with A/D. You quickly gain access to other weapons as the story advances.

The draw of Ace Pilot is the quality of animation and storytelling. It’s beautiful for an online only game. It makes great use of perspective, has strong character design, and really captures the feel of fantasy space art. The game also isn’t afraid of color, which is a nice change for a shooter.

acepilot Play It: Ace Pilot

Just look at the art of Ace Pilot. Beautiful.

More importantly, there’s a good story going on here. It’s funny–if a little crass at times–and it keeps you playing. The game is so sure of its story concept and your desire to keep playing that you will have an opportunity to finish each stage. Your computer tech shows up to fix your downed ship every time it can’t fly anymore. Once you clear the stage, you’re right back into the great cut scenes.

If Ace Pilot were just an online video, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The story works because you get to play a part in it. Let’s face it: a wisecracking captain fighting an evil empire is nothing new. An online overhead shooter that actually focuses on a fully animated story is a novelty.

Ace Pilot takes a bit of strategy to get through the levels and the difficulty ramps up with each stage. It’s easy enough to understand that anyone could pick up and play, but hard enough that more experienced games will feel some challenge as the it goes on.

For having a whole lot of style and a focus on storytelling, Ace Pilot is a game you should play.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: Burrito Bison Revenge

On this edition of Play It, we look at a sequel to a cannon launch game that sets itself apart with style and execution.

Burrito Bison Revenge is a new Adult Swim game from Juicy Beast Studio. It is a sequel to Burrito Bison, a cannon launch game where an evil band of gummi bears kidnapped a luchador and forced him to wrestle against their strongest candy opponents. Burrito Bison used the ropes in the ring to launch himself to freedom, bouncing on the terrified gummi bears and acquiring power-ups until he smashed through the walls to freedom.

burritobisonrevenge Play It: Burrito Bison Revenge

Burrito Bison returns for more gummi action

The sequel picks up right where the last game ended. Burrito Bison realizes that his wallet fell out during his epic escape from Candy Land and now he must return to claim his money. The gummi bears have regrouped, acquiring amazing new technology, such as Nyan Cats, propeller hats, and open top police cruisers. You launch Burrito Bison again and again, earning money to purchase upgrades to speed, bounciness, and overall toughness. Along the way, you take down as many villainous pastel candies as you can.

The controls are the same as almost every other cannon launch game: one button. Here, it’s the left mouse button. You click to launch Burrito Bison in the ring and to activate his powers. When you add on rockets, you click while he’s descending to activate. When you catch a bouncing gummi or propeller hat gummi, you click at the right time to send Burrito Bison skyward.

For a cannon launch game, Burrito Bison Revenge has a lot of replay power. The further you go, the more madcap it gets. Police gummis with red and green hats start swarming the stage trying to thwart your escape. Gummis filled with cash float lower and lower. And if you build up enough momentum, you might rise above the clouds, where you plummet to the earth as a bomb of cotton candy, destroying everything that comes close to touching you. All of these actions can trigger achievements that have to be unlocked in a certain order. Just because there’s an achievement for breaking through a wall doesn’t mean you earn it the first time if it’s not one of the active achievements.

What Burrito Bison Revenge has going for it is a lot of style. It’s cute and funny. The sound design is just right, making the destruction of the gummis sound innocent and cartoonish. It’s a sweet game built on a random stage engine that requires more strategy than random clicks on the screen to do well.

Burrito Bison Revenge is a fun time killer. You can play it for one launch, a handful of launches, or hours of launches. Once you recover you wallet, you unlock Survival mode, which is an endless nighttime stage of gummi destruction. The more you play Survival mode, the faster you can go in the Start! mode. The faster you go in Start! mode, the more achievements you unlock. The more achievements you unlock, the more money you earn for upgrades. It’s easy to see how you can be sucked into a cycle of playing.

For clean, stylish, and family friendly gameplay, Burrito Bison Revenge is worth playing.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is an online puzzle-rpg from the BBC. In it, you become the Doctor’s newest companion. Time shards have been scattered all over the universe, causing massive interruptions in day to day life. The Doctor gives you a sonic screwdriver and sends you out into the various worlds to retrieve the shards.

doctorwhoworldsintime Play It: Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

The Doctor gives you a mission in Worlds in Time

The controls are a combination of mouse and keyboard. The mouse is used for navigation and task assignment in your party, while the keyboard pops up occasionally during the different puzzles you solve.

Each task in the Doctor Who universe is associated with a different kind of puzzle. From lock-picking to circuit blasting, interviewing locals to combat, everything you do is accomplished through fast puzzle solving.

The puzzles are familiar to gaming fans. There are variations of Breakout, Bejeweled, Pipeline, and Tetris, among others. The fun comes from the variety of puzzle styles and the constantly ramped up difficulty.

By the second stage, your three person party could have to solve five puzzles at the same time. You can only work on one puzzle at a time. That means you have to hop around from task to task with great speed like the Doctor himself. Solving a puzzle does not mean the task is complete, either. You’re filling a meter that lets you know when the task is complete.

doctorwhoworldsintimepuzzle Play It: Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

Familiar puzzles with new twists in Doctor Who: Worlds of Time

The RPG elements are well thought out and implemented. It’s not a hardcore RPG with an elaborate system of classes and balances. As you level up, you earn coins and other key objects to improve your sonic screwdriver. You then arrange the possible upgrades inside a hex-grid. Presumably, you will reach a level where you have to remove upgrades to put in more pertinent upgrades.

There are more casual elements, as well. The TARDIS provides you with an empty room that you can decorate with the money you earn in the game. You also start out wearing plain pajamas but can purchase any number of Doctor Who-inspired clothing and accessories to spruce up your character.

Perhaps the best part is the casual online multiplayer. For each mission, you can add team members to your roster. You meet them in an open square environment and invite them to join you on your mission. If you don’t add real life teammates, the game will provide you with a full roster for the mission.

Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is a strong online puzzle-rpg that will appeal to Doctor Who fans and other casual gamers. That is why Sketchy Details says to play it.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: Musaic Box

Musaic Box is a new music/puzzle/point and click game from Badim at Newgrounds. The concept is quite refreshing for music games. Essentially, you are building music square by square in a music box.

Your grandfather has left you clues all over his house that will lead you to your birthday present. He’s a great musician and it becomes your job to piece his music back together. Some is written on scraps of paper, while other parts are hidden in paintings, projections from lampshades, and in his precious instrument collection. Once you get the sheet music copied down, you have to arrange the song to fit in the music box.

musaicboxgame Play It: Musaic Box

The song is completed in Musaic Box.

The point and click element leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a lot of text for some objects and absolutely nothing for others. The only way to know if you’re clicking on something that can be interacted with is if text pops up or music is revealed. It’s an annoyance that detracts from the gameplay elements that make Musaic Box worth playing.

The joy of Musaic Box is the music puzzles. The songs are arranged in three to four different parts that can only fit together in one correct sequence. There are visual cues–verging on Gregorian chant notation–that can help you put the song together melodically. There’s also a simple rule that must be followed. Each column can only feature one of each musical color.

It becomes a matter of trial and error. The reddish-pink color is always the melody. When you click on the pieces, they play whatever part of the arrangement they represent. Will you try to line up the melody pieces before putting them in the box? Try different combinations of puzzle pieces based on the shape of the box? Abuse the hint system that only tells you if the pieces are in the right musical order, not whether they’re in their appropriate puzzle slot? Or some combination of the above? There is no right way to play and some puzzles can be stacked together in different ways and still be correct.

The songs are all public domain numbers, like “Aloha ‘Oe” or “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” However, the arrangements are quite clever. “Alouette” becomes a bouncy cartoon anthem filled with interesting counter point. “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” becomes a fast rock track with screeching guitars. The further you go in the game, the more elaborate and inventive the arrangements become.

You don’t need to be a trained musician to have fun with this game. It’s very user friendly and rewarding. Aside from the random nature of the point and click elements, it just makes sense. Grit your teeth and get through the exploration of the rooms to have fun building music piece by piece.

For doing something new and interesting, Musaic Box joins the ever-growing recommendation of online games called Play It.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Play It: The Visitor Returns 2011

ClickShake Games have done it again. In a new sequel to their game The Visitor, they have completely changed the gameplay mechanics to keep a novel little title fresh and interesting.

In The Visitor games, you play as a pink parasite from outer space. You are driven by hunger and eat every living creature you come across. However, to tackle critters much larger than you, you have to have the right abilities. Good thing you absorb the characteristic traits of any creature you eat and grow in size with each feeding.

thevisitorreturns2011 Play It: The Visitor Returns 2011

Using a variety of clickable objects, you must consume the raccoon in The Visitor Returns 2011.

In a welcome change from the looser overhead adventure game format, The Visitor Returns 2011 transitions into a point-and-click puzzle game. You need to figure out the correct sequence of actions to get the upper hand. Otherwise, you will be destroyed instantly.

The puzzles are clever. Only the first stage (pictured above) relies on a blink and you’ll miss it bit of interactivity. The rest of the game does not overstay its welcome. In five scenarios, you reach the credits. The final stage has six possible solutions sure to please any gore fan. Better than that, the visitor actually retains all of his abilities in this game. You’ll need them in the final stage.

I’ll gladly add The Visitor Returns 2011 to the Play It series at Sketchy Details. It’s short, it’s clever, and it’s fun. You can get to the game at Newgrounds.

Play It: Words and Physics

On this edition of Play It, we look at a novel spin on a well-worn physics puzzle engine.

Words and Physics is a new online puzzle game from Turbo Nuke/keyboi available at Newgrounds. The objective is obvious to online puzzle fans: knock the target object off it’s platform by any means necessary. How Words and Physics is in the conceit of the game itself: it’s text-based puzzles.

wordsandphysics Play It: Words and Physics

Play It: Love’s Cadence

Sometimes, a video game succeeds in spite of its flaws. On this edition of Play It, we’ll take look at an art game that works so well thematically that it succeeds in its author’s intent.

Love’s Cadence is an online platformer/art game from Red Harvest. You play as Cadence, a young woman, pursuing Dirk, the man she loves. She’ll climb over mountains, jump through pits, and follows any lead she can for her feelings. Her heart is her guide and no amount of logical thinking or warning will stop her.

The first thing that sets Love’s Cadence apart from other art games is the platforming element. This isn’t a WASD/arrow keys control scheme just thrown in to be called a game. Actually negotiating platforms and puzzles is integral to the story. Life or death is the greatest stake in the game and being able to fail repeatedly to reach that ideal life only helps the narrative of the game. The controls are not as precise as they should be, but neither is any ideal romance. There will be problems and being able to miss something important because of a minor slip-up only enhances that.

lovescadence Play It: Loves Cadence

Play It: Lab of the Dead

Lab of the Dead is an online zombie simulation/mystery game. You play as scientist Allen C. Tyler, a man who wound up in an underground military complex shortly before the zombie apocalypse escalated to nuclear destruction. He has tasked himself with discovering the cause and cure for transformation into a zombie.

The gameplay is strictly point and click. You have a series of items at your disposal to hand over, feed, or attack your zombie subject with. Your job is to quantify the reactions and alter the subject’s mood, hunger, and humanity to elicit different results. You also have to research upgrades to your facilities, new objects to test, new research methodologies, and what happened to the previous scientist examining the zombies.

As repetitive as the gameplay is, there is something compelling about this grotesque simulation game from Evil-Dog at Newgrounds. (warning: image of deteriorating zombie after the break)

Play It: Cursed Treasure (Candystand)

I like a good tower defense game. One of the better ones I’ve encountered in a few weeks is Candystand’s Cursed Treasure. It is not a particularly innovative tower defense game, but it’s so well made that it becomes a must play game for fans of this genre.

In a narrative twist (not a novel one, but a rare one), you are playing as the bad guy. You must defend your five precious jewels from the hoards of heroes trying to earn fame. You build temples (flames), crypts (heat seeking projectiles), and dens (arrows) on varied terrain to destroy the heroes before they touch your gems. Lose all five gems and you’ve failed the level.

Unlike traditional tower defense games, Cursed Treasure is broken into different levels. Each level has multiple waves of enemies. Your goal is to build up experience to upgrade your buildings and spells to better deal with the increased difficulty curve. This could be upgrading the speed of the weapon, magical properties of the weapon, strength of a spell, or penalties for heroes who get too close to the gems. The game is balanced enough that even doing the minimum upgrade on a certain element is enough to make a noticeable difference. You’ll reach a point where if you don’t upgrade, you can’t progress any further. The stages are incidental to the need to constantly improve your arsenal

Play It: Titan Launch Retaliation

You are a warrior. You’re about to have your lunch outside when a giant bird steals it. This is unacceptable. You require revenge. And you will get it with a sword, a grappling hook, and a seemingly unending field of Titans*.

Titan Launch Retaliation is a new game from Berzerk Studio on Adult Swim’s website. This takes the launch the [animal] games to a whole new level of absurdity. Instead of shooting a turtle out of a cannon or a frog in a rocket ship, you are jumping off the edge of a cliff and stabbing your way through the air. Every creature you kill gives you a boost of energy to jump further until you hit a more complicated boss. Those require multiple hits to kill. Your ultimate goal is to get back your lunch.

The controls are simple even if the game is difficult due to random generation of monsters. All you need is the mouse and the space bar to navigate the menus. In the game itself, you just need the space bar or the left mouse button. This launches you off the cliff, shoots your grappling hook into smaller enemies, and slays the larger beasts.

titanrelaunch Play It: Titan Launch Retaliation