Friday, November 23, 2007

Nifflas Stories

In case you've missed the buzz, Nifflas has produced his third masterpiece. This time with a fabulous level editor/creator, Nifflas' newest creation is not one game, but many. Each a world potentially as large as the one we encountered in Knytt, the "stories" in Knytt Stories are captivating, eerie expanses that will draw you in and only let you go once you've mastered them.

The free download of the game client and editor comes with a tutorial plus a large level entitled "The Machine". Also available for download are five other levels made by Niffilas himself and a third-party expansion pack with levels designed by some of the beta testers. All in all, there are eleven full worlds to explore (plus the tutorial) once you download all of the expansions listed on Nifflas's site. With an editor as easy and fun to use as the one included with the game, I'm sure that there'll be even more worlds to explore as time goes on. In any case, Knytt Stories is hands down the best game that Nifflas has come up with yet. Check out this great game by following the link to his site in the link dump to the right.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Don't Drop the Narbacular

About a week ago, a buddy of mine got the Orange Box. While I don't generally like first-person shooters, there have been some exceptions. I did love the magical and ranged combat in Morrowind and I'm quite enthused about the combat system for the upcoming MMORPG, Age of Conan. Neither of these games really capture what most people enjoy about FPSers, namely fast and furious fragging.

As you can image, Team Fortress really didn't trip my trigger. While Halflife was better than a lot of other FPSers of its time, even HL:2 didn't really do much for me. What did wow and amaze me was a happy little shooter that, well... isn't really a shooter at all.

Challenging, smart, and downright funny, Portal deserves to win an award this year. Perhaps a trophy. Or a pizza. Or at least a pizza trophy.

The team of people Valve Software hired to create Portal previously wrote games under the cooperate moniker Nuclear Monkey Software. In looking at Nuclear Monkey's main project, it's easy to see where the concept for Portal came from.

The concept of Narbacular Drop is the same as portal: open an orange portal, then open a blue portal, then travel through one to exit out the other. At its core, it's a puzzle game. You have to find the right place to create portals to move objects, flip switches, and avoid dangers.

Narbacular Drop is set in a classic fantasy setting and has "classic" graphics, but the element that makes Portal a great game is there in Narbacular Drop too. It's a free download from Nuclear Monkey's website and there are many free mods that give additional levels and cool new features. Check out this gem of a freeware game by clicking its link to the right.


Why play it? The puzzles with portals cause you to have to think differently. Innovative gameplay is always a reason to give a game a try.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Let's get awesome!

I don't own a Wii, though I wish I did. When I do end up buying one, the first game I plan on buying is Super Paper Mario. What a great twist on the classic platformer! The Wii aside, a new indie game for the PC has burst into my sphere of awareness. Competing for the title of "unreleased game that Tony will trade his car for", Fez has joined Aquaria in this regard. To quote one poster on the Fez forums of The Independent Gamer : "It’s a whole different beast from Super Paper Mario. A different, AWESOME beast."

Not only does the gameplay look great, the music is a spectacular throwback to my childhood video gaming experiences. Think of me what you will, but it never occurred to me that people made music like this for a living. It's a whole new scene that I'm going to have to explore a bit more. For now, enjoy the video and get pumped about another really cool looking game! Like all the rest, keep up with news about Fez by following the link to your right.

UPDATE!: Fez recently won the award for Excellence in Visual Art at the 2008 Indie Games festival! Go Kokoromi!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Where the Paramecia Flow Like Wine

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an article about the current revolution in video gaming to simplify. FlOw certainly does this and does it beautifully. You start your life as a short, multi-cellular worm and dive deep into the drop of water that is your home in search of food. As you eat, your body evolves, allowing you to move faster and eat more. As you descend into the water droplet and eat the final organism, you split off a piece of yourself and start the game anew as a different, single-celled creature.

Providing hours of chompy, evolutionary fun, flOw hits the mark. According to Casual Gameplay, flOw was Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark's masters of fine arts thesis at the University of Southern California. I certainly hope that they graduated with honors after a masterpiece like this one.

Enough reading. More playing! Check it out in the link dump to the right.


Why play it? It's games like this that keep me sifting through all of the crap that's out there. On the days where I think "If I have to look at one more add for Adventure Quest, I'll kill ever last game designer out there!", I'll think of flOw and be at peace with the universe. Thank you Nicholas and Jenova. Thank you.

Monday, July 23, 2007


So, I've been debating for some time now on which Orisinal game(s) to post about. Well, I'm taking the easy way out and just tossing you all a link to You can't make me pick a favorite! You can't!

If you could, it might be "Bugs". Or if I'm in the mood for a puzzle game, I'd probably pick "Bauns". You know, "Roperunner" is pretty damn fun too once you get the hang of the control scheme. Gah! How can so many great games come from one mind?

There's also a rather nifty eCard maker down toward the bottom of the page that allows you to arrange flowers and then send off your unique arrangement for that special occasion. Yes, that one. Aren't you glad I reminded you?


Why play it? Erm, don't I mean "Why play them?" Well, play them because they are fun. Play them because they are cute. Play them because they are both extremely challenging and extremely gorgeous. To put it simply, Ferry's games are what all Flash artists should strive toward making. And you should strive toward the link to on the right.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chalk another up for Konjak!

I really enjoyed Konjak's game Noitu Love and was briefly amused with his simple (yet infuriating!) puzzle game called Tripline. Chalk, on the other hand, is in a category by itself.

Chalk is polished. Looking like something you'd buy for the Nintendo DS, this freeware gem amassed 14,000 downloads in one week. The play style is similar to a scrolling shooter, but even that comparison is kind of a stretch. Control is all done with a mouse, but if you have a PC with a touch screen, that's when this game really shines.

There's not really a story to this game per se, but you control a school girl (teacher?) who's got a magic piece of chalk. You have to defeat enimes by drawing lines with this chalk between them and the bulletts that they shoot. You can also destroy barriers and such in the same manner.

I'm not quite sure how the creator came up with a concept like that, but it's pure genious. Follow the link on the left and try it out.


Why play it? It's an innovative concept and you're an innovative player. It's also fun. You like fun, right?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Mid-Knytt Snack

I'm always searching for good games. Heck, this blog is all about the gems I've found online. I found two such gems in a little corner of the Internet that belongs to Nifflas. At their most basic level, "Within a Deep Forest" and "Knytt" are throwbacks to a time when hopping from platform to platform was what playing video games meant. What sets Nifflas's games apart from the rest is their mood.

In both games, the mood is similar. It's this odd sense of desolation mixed with freedom that I've only experienced in dreams. When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I had a reoccurring dream in which I was completely alone. I don't mean "alone" like my parents had left me somewhere. In my dreams, I woke up one morning to find that everyone in the world, as far as I could tell, had vanished completely and, once I had walked around for a bit, I knew that they were never going to return. However, these dreams were not nightmares. They had this sense to them that I now had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. With this responsibly came a sense of freedom.

The main characters aren't actually alone in these games. There are creatures that roam about, but they are certainly not your typical video-game monsters. For the most part, they're benign. These monsters don't typically interact with the main character; they are just going about their business as if you're not bouncing around or scaling walls in front of them. They are little more than interesting background props. The lack of interaction with other characters, along with the dreamlike ambient music, only serves to reinforce the mood of beautiful isolation.

These games are platformers; but they're platformers with a heavy dose of "Myst"-style exploration poured into them. Though the graphics are pretty simple, both of Nifflas' games stand out as stark dreamscapes of twisting tunnels and odd rock formations. All in all, these games are really quite spectacular. Follow the link and check them out for yourself.


Why play it? These are the only platformers that I can describe as "haunting" and not feel too cheesy about using that adjective. This is one of them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

We were the first that ever burst; Into that silent sea.

I don't know that I've ever been quite so excited about an upcoming game as I am about Aquaria. It's not yet released, but I've been following the boards at closely ever since Alec and Derek decided to enter it in to the Independent Games Festival. They won the grand prize and it's easy to see why.

Aquaria is beautiful. From the rich 2-D landscapes to the wonderful voice-acting, what I've heard and seen from the trailers just leaves me with spindles all over my skin. Every trailer that I've seen makes the animation and control look ultra-fluid, much like the ocean in which the main character is living.

The story appears to center around Naija, a young mer-girl who awakes without her memory in the vast ocean world of Aquaria. Watch the trailer on the website to see more. Your guess is as good as mine on how the story will unfold, but I can assure you one thing; with the amount of care that Derek and Alec have put into this game, it's going to be spectacular.

One of the things that excites me the most is that the inspiration for this game comes from three of my all-time favorite games -- Metroid, Zelda, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. If you're in to pigeonholing games, I suppose that Aquaria falls under the category of "action adventure". From reading the blog and message boards on Bit-Blot, it sounds like there's a lot of exploration involved also. With the fluidity of the control scheme and the rich, hand-drawn graphics, I have a feeling that the exploration of Aquaria alone is going to be more fun than half of the games out on the market now.

Check out the link to Aquaria and marvel at it for a while. Hopefully you'll become as hopelessly addicted to a game you've never even played yet as I have. I'm just here to share the love.


Why play it? Well, you can't. Not yet at least. When they release Aquaria, it'll be plain to see why.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

...and the greatest of these is Loathe.

I was not impressed the first time I tried Kingdom of Loathing. My first impression of KoL was that it has terrible graphics, a clunky interface, and that the whole game is nothing but a big spoof. How can a game that's one big running gag about roleplaying have any staying power?

Spoof it may be, yet after playing out my first day in the game, this little web-based, turn-based MMORPG has really grown on me. KoL is pure genius. The art may be bad, but it's intentionally so. The interface may be clunky, but you can navigate around well enough. The wit and wordplay of the item descriptions alone pulled this one ahead of many other MMORPGs out there. Jick (the creator) is hilarious. He's successfully created a game that mocks all other RPGs while still being completely engrossing.

The first thing that KoL reminded me of was a goofy card game I discovered at GenCon back in 2000 called Munchkin. I'm not sure if Jick got his original inspiration from Munchkin, but KoL certainly feels a lot like an pre-pubescent game of D&D.

The Kingdom of Loathing isn't just laughs though. This game has some rather interesting features. Every character level up to level 13 has its own quest associated with it. After you've finished your level 13 quest, you can continue to level up and go about your business. With levels comes more powerful spells and the ability to fight more powerful monsters. However, many players choose to Ascend, allowing them to save one of their skills from that life and start over again with a new class at lvl 1. Ascending also allows you to up the difficulty of the game, giving you better rewards upon finishing that Ascension. A typical ascension takes about 2 weeks of game play, but many people have it down to a science and have ascended within 2 days. It's all a pretty nifty system that keeps the game interesting.

KoL is completely free to play. It operates on donations and, yes, donors do get in-game benefits. For every $10 you donate, you get a "Mr. Accessory". This is a fairly powerful item in itself, but you can also use Mr. Accessories at Mr. Store to buy various items, including familiars and special items that change every month. As in many games that run on donations, you can get some really cool stuff as a donating member. However, Jick has made sure that items gained from donating will never unbalance the game. I've never felt like I'm at a disadvantage because I don't have the most current item of the month, yet I still drool over them and can't wait to see what's in store (Mr. Store, that is) for next month.

I'm just finishing my first Ascension in the Kingdom. It's been a good run and I think I'll be playing this game for a while. I've added a widget (or whatsit or whatchamacallit... fascomis?) to the side of this page with in-game contact info for various MMORPGs that I'm playing. If you'd like to chat, message me in game. I'll be happy to explain the ropes to you.

No beggars though. Beggar.


Why play it? KoL is free to play and is an engaging romp through a fantasy setting...that's full of stick-figures. Happiness.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tibia - The Siren's Opening Verse

In my opening post, I mentioned a little game called Tibia. Like a first love, I briefly thought that this could be the one for me. Though I was grossly mistaken on the "One" status of Tibia (it's really quite embarrassing), it is quite an enjoyable little game. CipSoft, the creators of Tibia seem to have added quite a few more features to it since I last time I played.

Like many free-to-play games, Tibia is full of the usual riffraff. Scammers, and "rotflmao-omg-lolz ^_^" noobs are a dime a dozen. The graphics aren't the best and the control scheme is a little counter-intuitive. However, there's a pretty nice new player training system that gets you on your feet pretty quickly. You start off on the newbie island where there are quests to complete and monsters to slay. Everything you do there prepares you for your eventual decision to leave the noobie island for the mainland and picking a character class. One of the other things I really like about Tibia is the fact that there are many multi-lingual people. On an average day, I generally see English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French spoken. I like to see that in an online game. It proves that this game really does have a world-wide fan base.

While tibia didn't hold my attention like some other RPGs have done, it's still worth taking a look at. I've added a link to Tibia in the right-hand, "MMORPG Links" bar. Check it out already!


Why play it? These days, there are a lot of games out there that offer what Tibia has. Play Tibia if you're looking for a more retro feel to your MMORPG without losing too many of the features that the others offer.