Saturday, March 29, 2008

An update at last...

Alright, I guess I did kind of start letting this place languish a bit...but it wasn't for lack of gaming for once.

So without further ado, here's a bunch of mini-reviews of crazy indie games I've been playing lately:

Rom Check Fail
Rom Check Fail from Farbs looks at what might happen if somehow the ROM data from a bunch of old 8-bit games became corrupted and...merged.

A level might start with Link having to do battle with Windows 3.1 screensavers with the music from Bubble Bobble playing in the background then suddenly switch to the Space Invaders cannon firing at Goombas.

Also, the characters you control retain their abilities and limitations from the original games. For example, Pacman can go anywhere, but needs to eat his white pill before he can devour the bad guys, while the Space Invaders cannon can only move left and right and fire upwards.

It makes the game a little annoying when you're Pacman about to eat the last ghost then suddenly become the Space Invaders cannon and can't get the dude because he's behind you...

But it's a free download from, and a pretty fun waste of time, so I guess I can't complain excessively.

Fedora Spade

Ah, yes, I downloaded this one right away after reading a Phoenix Wright comparison because, well, Phoenix Wright is awesome.

Unfortunately what I got (from the first episode, anyway) was a really bad rip-off of the courtroom game. While the game play interface is lifted from Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, the gameplay is almost identical to Phoenix Wright but with awful dialogue and none of the Asian charm.

That said, I am glad I didn't give up immediately and also grabbed episodes 2 and 3, since they were a significant improvement. In the next episodes, Fedora Spade actually gains some plot and not a bad one at that. There's a lot of travelling to locations to gather clues and while sometimes the way the pieces fit is pretty obvious, other times it does require some actual thought (or maybe it didn't, but I felt smart!)

Though, episode 3 did have one really annoying sequence where I could not figure out what to do to make the story advance...eventually it did move ahead, but I still don't know what I did to make it happen. I swore, I'd found every piece of evidence possible and talked to everyone about everything...alas.

Fedora Spade is a free download from RPGCreations.


1213 is the creation of Ben "Yathzee" Crowshaw, best known as the venom-spewing reviewer of Zero Punctuation fame.

But when he's not trashing other people's games, he's also making his own.

1213 opens with a fairly cliche storyline, guy wakes up in a cell with no memory...somehow gets out of his cell and gets a gun and goes on a rampage to escape.

However, ignoring that the basic premise is fairly played out, the writing in this game is actually fairly astounding. The story is mostly told through finding the journals of employees of the facility on various computers, but right from the beginning, it's obvious something twisted is going on.

Admittedly, I was expecting it to build up to more cliches, but no...the game actually twists in some directions I wasn't expecting at all, leading up to one of the most shocking endings I've ever encountered in a video game.

Great writing aside, the actual gameplay isn't much to write home about. It's a platform shooter with a few stealth elements, but unfortunately there are many issues. Jumping is annoying since unless you jump from exactly the right location, you're probably going to end up splattered on the floor below.

There's a lot of jumping and grabbing platforms above, but again, positioning has to be exact, which can again lead to certain doom when you're running away from a fast moving security drone. Also, collision detection isn't very well executed so even a slight touch of one of said security drones leads to be zapped, usually to death.

Finally, while there are supposed to be stealth sequences, they won't work very well since the guards you're trying to avoid usually only look in the opposite direction for one second, leaving you almost no time to get by undetected.

Still, leaving the issues alone, 1213 is probably the best game I've played lately. It's downloadable from Fully Ramblomatic.