Archives for : Platformers

Starseed Pilgrim Review

Okay, so I fumbled onto Starseed Pilgrim, created by Droqen, on Steam. I thought, that looks neat and picked it up on a whim. I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but man am I glad I got myself into it. Since I first started playing I thought this is so neat, a game that doesn’t tell me what I’m expected to do, only the basic foundation of the gameplay mechanics. It reminded me of the first time I played Minecraft way back in early alpha before the person who got me to play it told me how to build something. I just ran broke and stacked stuff and went, hmm and then wondered what else I could do.

So, here are the basic mechanics in simplest of terms, you learn this in about 2 seconds into the game. You have the directional keys and the space bar for seed usage. Up makes you jump down will break a block below you and the side buttons will make you run to the side or break a block to the side if necessary. Some things might change in some ways but you are meant to figure that out as you come to it.

You get a bunch of seeds and they each work differently as well as interact differently depending on how you use them. Most of them do seem to follow some pattern to their behavior, but on that I say figure it out. That is a big part of the game. Explore, experiment, learn from your actions, and do it again. Everything in the game seems to have a point and that includes the void as well.

I honestly love finding and figuring out new stuff in this game. I am also positive that I am far from truly understanding what is going on or what point it may have. The exploration is grand, the little messages or poetic notes left to discover most likely have some meaning when put together in some proper order. I refuse to go any further into what may be found as the more you know the less enjoyable I feel this game would be.

I do admit I introduced the game to someone else, who seemed less than enthused by the initial learning aspect of the game. They wanted a end goal or direction to head in.  As far as end goal goes I couldn’t give one becuase I don’t know what the end is. What I did see was how this game is a good game to pick up play and put down to play again later.

I give Starseed Pilgrim a 4 out of 5, it is good fun if you are willing to let it grow on you.

Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆ 

Defy Gravity Review

Defy Gravity by Fish Factory Games for the XBLIG and PC is an interesting platformer. By means of manipulating gravity with your only weapon like device you must traverse the ancient alien ruins for something to save mankind. What this something is, you’ll have to play to find out. For the purpose of this review I used the Xbox Live indie game version.

When you start the game you are presented with 2 options, Continue or New Game. Not much going on as far as a menu system. The gameplay for Defy Gravity is pretty simple in concept, but has its challenges in doing what you really want to do. Thankfully there are many check points in the game. So when you screw up at least you’re not going back to the start of the level. You create Gravity wells and Anti-gravity wells to maneuver through the stage you may be moving a platform you are standing on or moving enemies into other directions. If your gravity shield is off, you will be pulled or pushed by your wells also.

You’ll face a few different obstacles along your way. Your most common obstacle is the electric lines. These act as futuristic spikes in this platformer. You have enemies, but they don’t really come after you, so they are more like moving spike balls. You can move them around by using gravity to pull or push them into different directions. There are 3 platform types as well; movable, falling and solid. The movable ones are moved by, yep you guessed it, your gravity gun. The object is to reach the door at the end of a stage.

Starting off this game is really quite fun, and you can get the hang of the gravity objects pretty quickly. It also feels like a good platformer. Sadly it quickly loses it’s platforming feel as you are forced to figure out how to play each level. It really becomes a puzzle game and much slower, as this element comes more to the fore front. Before you know it your struggling to make it through the next set of obstacles to reach another checkpoint.

Visually you won’t be stunned. Unless you are stunned by the monotony of the stages. Each one looking the same. Your Metroidish looking character gets no upgrades and all things retain about 3 colors, black, grey and more grey. Okay so there is the red electric lines and some gold enemies and platforms but it doesn’t do enough to make the game stand out in anyway. The music isn’t anything impressive either.

Playing wise I don’t think it would lure many into replaying this game. I liked this game a lot at first, but the more I played the more it bored me. I would without a doubt recommend getting the trial first. I also recommend playing it a few times before deciding whether you want to buy this game.

I rate this game a 2 out of 5, It’s just not very fun in the long run.

I Accidentally… In Space! Ep1 Review

Did you ever what would you get if you compressed Space Invaders and a platformer? Well, wonder no more. It has been done, thanks to Lethal Martini GamesI Accidentally… In Space! Ep1 for XBLIG is exactly that. A vertical platformer facing off against waves of enemies. This game had my engine running before it was even released, so here is it’s review.

Why don’t we start off with the story. Basically you’ve been hired to collect a bunch of gems. A mine was blown up and the gems went every where and the Diemos aliens covet these gems. So they are protecting them. Strapped with a cannon to your waste you are sent to destroy the aliens and recover the gems they are hoarding. That is how Episode 1: Hostile Hustle begins.

How will you do this? Well, by shooting straight up at them while climbing the platforms and collecting the gems and power-ups. The game plays with some simple and easy to use mechanics, Jump, Shoot with RT or use your special ammo with LT and the directional to move about. It is a very straight forward game, making the game play easy to get used to and go. This does not mean the game is easy though.

There are 6 methods/difficulties to play. You have 3 rapid fire modes: Easy, Normal and Hard. You also have 3 precision modes, Insane being the hardest. The difference between the difficulties and modes are in some ways slight and others a bit more intense. For instance between the 3 difficulties in both modes the a yellow bar that rises as you climb rises far more slowly in the harder modes allowing you to fall much farther down than you would on easy. Another difference is platforms and traps. On easy there are no disappearing reappearing platforms, this is not the case on normal and hard. The main difference between precision mode and the normal mode is in precision mode your shots deal more damage but fire at a far slower rate, while in rapid fire mode you shoot a lot faster but it takes multiple hits to take out an alien. For me this made both modes feel about the same to me in time playing to beat any given stage.

Now the game is not as simple as climbing platforms and shooting down waves of aliens. There are traps and many annoying obstacles to really give it that platformer feel. You’ll run into spike platforms that raise and lower, paralyzing beams, fireballs being shot from the sides, and spike balls bouncing down the platforms to smack you down. There are also blowers that push you off platforms as well as platforms that keep vanishing and reappearing. Not to mention the gems power-ups and more platforms appearing as you take out more aliens in the wave. You can’t just make a dash for the top in any stage you need to shoot aliens to make more platforms appear.

This is important for many reasons, not only do the platforms allow you to climb to the end of the stage. They also increase your multiplier for the points you earn by taking out an alien. The higher up you are the more points they’re worth. Which is why the yellow line is nice since it prevents you from falling to the bottom of a stage. As I said though it doesn’t rise as quickly in normal and hard as it does in easy. The power-ups that appear can increase your normal fire to 3 shots at once or give you secondary weapons. The secondary weapons are, Lazer, Spread, and big bomb. You can also pick up a shield to help you out. On normal you will need this.

The game has 6 levels and then a final boss level. On easy the game is actually pretty easy, but normal feels like a drastic jump to me. So be ready to die a lot and although you have infinite continues and the ability to save the game and come back to it later, it always starts you off at the begining of the level. The boss fight is neat since it changes up the gameplay a bit, making for an interesting final level.

Some added benifits to this game is it’s ability to save multiple games. It also has a local leaderboard, I know. I wish it was global as well. Oh well maybe in Episode 2. There is also an accomplishments you can earn in the game.

I wasn’t really impressed by the graphics or music, but I didn’t feel it deterred from the games lure. The game is good and the concept felt like a fresh take to me. When you press 2 genre’s together you sometimes end up with trash, that was not the case here.

This quality game is easy to play, fun and has some addictive elements. If your into playing all the modes and difficulties and trying to get all the accomplishments you will really get your moneys worth, that’s for sure.

I give this a 4 out of 5. The game is great but I really think playing the demo first is the way to go with this one.

Legend of Fae, Sky Princess and Valdis Story Review

Endless Fluff is an indie PC game studio that has created two small games that are free to download and play and now has released their main title for sale. Since the two smaller games (Nimbus Sky Princess and Valdis Story) will be short reviews while Legend of Fae the game they are selling is larger, I decided to do this review with all three games together.

Nimbus Sky Princess is a shoot-em up released for free on their site. This little game is cute in ways as you fly horizontally shooting down enemy ships. The ship designs are nice looking. The game features power-ups and health packs to repair your ship as well as get better firepower. With boss ships to fight as well as common enemies the game is nicely done. This games biggest downside is it’s viewable size. There is no option to full screen the game or even enlarge the screen any. Now this wouldn’t be so bad if the screens default wasn’t so small. The plus size is it is a pretty good game and it is free. So download it and give it a shot

Ratings wise I give Nimbus Sky Princess a 3 out of 5, but as a free pc game trying it out doesn’t hurt anything.

Valdis Story is the second short fluff game. This game is a platformer action rpg for the pc. Though this game is a free game created by Endless Fluff I was completely surprised at how in depth the game really is. In this game a war between Angels and Demons is taking place and you play a character who develops both angelic and demonic powers. As you play you level up by grabbing experience balls dropped by enemies slain. Your skills level independently as well. Now to get you started in the game when you gain new abilities it will tell you how to use the new abilities and what they do.

The artwork is beautiful and the gameplay is smooth. Note when starting this game, press the “D” key for your enter button on the menu screen which allows you to play this game on three difficulty settings.. I’ll run down the key commands for you. “Q” is for bringing up the inventory/menu system. “D” is your attack key, “S” is your block key, the “Space bar” is your jump button and your directional keys are just that. Press F4 to full screen this game and enjoy this great game and its good soundtrack. Valdis Story supports save points and although they may call this game a short fluff it is definitely a game that will eat up a number of hours playing.

Valdis Story is definitely a 5 out of 5 in my book and being a free game it’s one no pc gamer should pass up.

Now on to the headline title, Legend of Fae. If you are into RPGs and Puzzle Games then this is definitely a game you should be taking a look at. This game has a fun story line divided into chapters and the chapters are separated into small levels. It is definitely worth trying out the demo. It’s a little hard to explain exactly how this game plays.

You make matches of 3 or more orbs vertically or horizontally this shatters those orbs and adds mana or magic power to that elemental meter. When an elemental  meter fills up the elemental will appear at the top of the screen where the battle is taking place. You can then click on the enemy to target and the elemental to make the magic attack. Their is more options available, but this is the most basic of battle premises. As you go on you will be able to upgrade the elementals’ spells that they use as well as give yourself new power options like healing using mana energy. Even between fights you can keep making orb matches to power up as well as walk through the stage.

All the while a nice little story unfolds around you. This game is pretty in depth with attacks that will involve combining elementals to make stronger attacks, upgrading your abilities as well as unlocking more pages in a book that talks about the enemies you’ve fought. You can replay any stage you’ve played already and try to beat the expert points and the expert time to not only beat the stage but to have it get a check mark. The check marked stages really only seem to be for your benefit in knowing that you have beat it with the record time.

I’ve completed all of chapter one myself and with the amount of abilities still left to unlock it appears that there would have to be a decent amount of stages just to come close to allowing you to gain most of the abilities. With Valdis Story being considered a short game, Legend of Fae seems to be decently packed for it’s play. I was quickly drawn into this interesting RPG and played for many hours just to complete the first Chapter.

It’s asking price may seem high at 14.99 USD for digital download and 11.90 USD more if you want a CD Copy of the game. But considering how much many games on XBLA go for the asking price isn’t anything all that far fetched. The unique combination of gameplay mechanics makes this game definitely worth the downloading the demo.

I give Legend of Fae a 4 out of 5 in my opinion. I think this game is definitely a worthy addition to a pc gamers collection, but with its price tag I think it may be a little odd for some peoples taste. So check out their site give the demo a run and while your there pick up Nimbus Sky Princess and Valdis Story as well.

Avatar Ninja! Review

Milkstone StudiosAvatar Ninja! is a constantly running platformer. Your Ninja training begins here. Amongst all the different XBLIG Avatar games out there, this one has stayed on top downloads for a while. Sadly there won’t be any ninja fighting in this game though.

Avatar Ninja starts you off running and you’ll need to do three things to make it as far as you can. Jump over the logs, Slide under the Spike balls held up in the air by parachute/balloons and finally break the boards with your throwing stars. You’re a ninja in training running on water and this is your test. Now to understand what makes this game good, well go into the gameplay.

The game sounds simple enough, but it is challenging. You have to keep your timing with the A button, you are running on water and you have to keep pressing it. Your X button is used to jump over the floating logs. You use your B button to slide under those floating Spike balls. You use your Y button to throw the throwing stars at the signs to break them. You have to keep running and not run into the obstacles, as you run you’ll be picking up those Asian coin things as well as scrolls that offer different effects. What makes it hard is you will continue to run faster and the obstacles will become more varied as you go.

One level flows right into the next level never stopping between them. So you just keep going and racking up points to put you higher on the leaderboard. The game is single player only, but that doesn’t really stop the fun. This is just one of those games you keep coming back to, just to prove you can do better. Although it isn’t one that you’ll probably play for hours, more like a couple run throughs now and a couple more in a day or two.

My complaints are the lack of variety to the type of obstacles and the sheer repetitiveness of the game. I’m hooked more by the aspect of beating my last score.

I liked this game and I give it a 4 out of 5. This game is not for everyone though, but it works for me. I recommend you try the trial first.

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES Review

8 bit Fanatics creates platforming pain in Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES. I say this in the best of ways. 1000 SPIKES is retro gaming in a great way. If you miss those days of playing a game for hours only to still be struggling on the same stage. This game is like that. It starts you with 1000 lives and that isn’t to be nice, it’s because you’ll need them.

This platformer is for the true gamer. You play as Aban Hawkins a guy who looks a lot like Indiana Jones and you are a treasure hunter. The subtitle under the main title is “The Temple of the Dead mourns the living” and I think that says a lot. This game sets out to kill you, a lot. Every stage you beat is a testament to your gaming skill. The graphics are that of an old Nintendo game, and it really works to set the mood.

What you’ll find in the 1000 Spikes are a whole lot of traps. Obviously you have the spikes from the ceiling, floor and walls. You have darts that are shot at you. The always expected falling platforms and disintigrating platforms combined with flamethrowers, even fireballs from the lava floor. The game is broken out into worlds or sections as you start on 1-1. Every 5 levels lead to a satisfying 6 stage which is nothing more than grabbing the key to the next set of 5 challenging stages. After you beat a set of levels you will gain back a bunch of lives. 50 after the first set, then 100 after the second set and so on.

If you are easily agitated by a challenge then you might want to run from this game. Otherwise grab your controller, you have three basic moves; Jump, High Jump and shoot. The controls handle well and feel comfortable. Every stage is as much a platformer as a puzzle. Every time you get past one part of the stage you will find another trap lying in wait. You must grab the key on the stage then reach the exit. The game does provide the option to skip stages, but only a limited number of stages can be skipped. I don’t recommend this since each stage is a little harder than the last. So skipping a stage may get you past your current frustration, but takes away that satisfying feeling of accomplishment you get by completing the stage.

The game offers a save and exit or just exit without save feature. I have used this, after getting to a certain point I had to stop playing saved on exit. So you can always come back and if you accomplish nothing exit without saving. Aban Hawkins is a game that really sets out to challenge you, and does so completely in a completely enjoyable way. Yes you will get frustrated, but it stands out against modern games that have a tendency of being easier than its predecessors.

I give this game a 5 out of 5, but leave you with the warning that this is not an easy game and good luck getting to the final boss, even I haven’t gotten there.

Star Dash Review

Star Dash is an avatar platformer by Rascal Haven. The goal of the game is to complete the stage picking up enough stars to rack up points. In Star Dash you are competing with 3 things; the clock, the vertical scrolling screen and your last previous score.

Star Dash has two modes, solo and multiplayer. In solo mode you start at level 1 and try to make it to level 100. You can also go to the high score menu and select any stage from 1 to 100, even if you haven’t beaten the stages before that level. This is a pretty cool feature for gamers like me. I don’t have the time or the skill to play from level 1 to 100. The ability to jump to whatever stage I want is great and you will also see the current global scores before you select the stage to play. So if you are big on beating other peoples scores this makes it easy to find the stages where someone has a higher score than you and just play those. Granted it would take a bit of time if you’re looking at the high scores of all 100 stages. This option is only available to single player though.

Now in multiplayer mode you and up to 3 other local players will go head to head against the clock to reach the finish line of the stage. In multiplayer mode you start on level 1 and work your way up. Sorry no picking the level in this mode. Hopefully they will put out an update that allows this. I know I got bored playing the first couple stages over and over again. In multiplayer mode all players share the same screen so what one player does effects all players. In multiplayer mode it is still all about the final score. So if your opponent is grabbing up all the stars even if you reach the finish line first they will probably still win the stage.

The way a level works is fairly simple. The screen begins scrolling up and if you fall below the screen you lose and have to start over, unless your playing multiplayer mode. In multiplayer mode you will just respawn a  little higher on the stage. Your objective is to pick up stars, which are worth different points depending on the color of the star. Time increases which are worth points and increase the clock time. The clock time is another way you can lose, you run out of time and everyone loses. There are triangles you can pick up that will slowdown the screen advancement or even reverse it for a very short time. There are also green multipliers that fill a bar above your head. Once it is full you can activate it and it will double the point value of the stars collected while the bar is drained. Once someone reaches the end of the stage the stage ends for everyone and scores are tallied. Your score will not be counted for the global score board if you are playing multiplayer.

Like most platformers you have a few different things you’ll come across on the stages. There are platforms that are like solid brick and you can only jump on to them from the side. There are also the platforms that you can jump onto from directly below them. Some of platforms appear and disappear so timing is really important when crossing those platforms. There are springs to launch you to higher platforms as well as switches that open blocked paths to continue climbing and you can never forget the treadmill platforms. So all in all Star Dash is a platformer that has all the common themes of standard platformers.

Knowing all that there are some downsides to this game. The first of which in my opinion was that something just seemed so off with the controls. I felt like I was sliding on ice platforms at times because I would just press over a little and it seemed like I would move a lot, not to mention the jumps quickly get distant. This distance requires precise jumping from the edge and I just couldn’t seem to get timing correctly with this. Almost every really distant jump I would miss the first time, and it wasn’t just my sad gameplay. I had another person try the game and they also felt that these jumps required you to jump from the very edge of one platform to reach the other. With the movement being so fast you just end up falling off the platform jumping to late or jumping to early and falling to your doom.

Between all the good and the negative I give the game a 3 out of 5. Download the trial if you’re a platformer lover.

Vertigo Review

Vertigo the game; not the wonderful Alfred Hitchcock movie, created by Run Jump Duck Entertainment is an evil speed game. It’s a lot like parkour or freerunning in game form and it is not easy.

Now I’m going to admit that when it comes to time based games I’m horrible. This game just made me look sad. I keep getting crushed on the 3rd stage. Let’s move on though Vertigo’s game play is simple, if you can time things properly. You use the left stick for movement and the A button for jumping and activating speed bursts and check points.

The object of the game is to get from the start of a stage to the end of it within a very short time. You’ll need to hit a lot of speed bursts, slide under signs and burst through building windows to make it. Missing the wrong speed boost can hurt so much.

Every stage you beat unlocks it for “Instant Action” mode and “Play” Mode which has a time trial and checkpoint mode as well as supports multiple players. So you need to beat campaign mode to unlock the stages as well as the different characters you can play as. That way you and your local friends can have some diversity in the stages playable.

Your time is kept on a leaderboard that allows you to type in any name or defaults to Player 1. I wasn’t impressed with the leaderboard, but visually the game is really nice and well designed from the stages I played. Even the story line for the campaign is a nice touch, but I do have some issues with the game.

First, It needs the option to just skip the whole conversation at the beginning of as stage. Every time you have to restart the stage because you failed to make the time you have to listen to it again. Yes you can press a button to speed it up by repeatedly tapping it, but a one button press would be so much nicer.

Second, I think the A button being both the jump button and the boost button is just really bad thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I was a second too soon or too late for the boost and ended up jumping because I missed it. If the boost was triggered by the RT button instead of the A button it would be a lot better. Especially since a jump at the wrong time can cause you to smack into a sign or wall slows you down a whole lot more than missing the boost.

If they split the one button into two and allowed a quick skip option for the text you have to see over and over again, I would be rating this game a 4 out of 5.

Sadly the way it is I give it a 3 out of 5.