Game-related ramblings.

Month: October 2012

Indie Time: Moustache King Adventure

My wrist has recovered enough to allow me to play two-handed games again! I’m playing a few at the moment, but I’m not ready to write about them yet, so I wasn’t sure what to post about. Then I played Moustache King Adventure.

Moustache King Adventure was an entry in the latest A Game By Its Cover competition, in which developers must make a game based on a fake game cartridge (in this case, it was this cartridge). The first A Game By Its Cover competition was hosted over at Tigsource (an indie games site run by Derek Yu, of Spelunky fame), and brought us such classics as Cat Poke and Under the Garden (which is, incidentally, getting a full-blown sequel called Under the Ocean). It seems that the A Game By Its Cover competition has since spun out on its own, with a dedicated website and everything. In this second contest, entrants had one month to make their games from scratch, so most of the games are simple and short. Moustache King Adventure is no exception, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It also has 400% more moustaches than the average game.

Roguelike Highlights: Iter Vehemens Ad Necem

New readers may wish to read my introduction to roguelikes first. Also, know that you can click on the screenshots for larger versions.

“Iter vehemens ad necem” is a Latin phrase meaning “a violent road to death”. The game Iter Vehemens ad Necem, known as IVAN for short, is a roguelike that is aptly named. Most roguelikes are hard, and end with the player’s death the vast majority of the time, but IVAN takes a special, cruel pleasure in killing the player in the most violent ways possible. A typical session might see you get caught in a spider’s web, poisoned by said spider, and left to die slowly, vomiting the whole time. Or you might get stuck in a bear trap and assaulted by a zombie that gives you leprosy, so you must watch helplessly as your limbs fall off, until the leg with the trap on it falls off, which frees you… but then you have to try and roll around without limbs and eventually starve to death. Or a kamikaze dwarf might detonate next to you, causing the wands you’re carrying to explode, blowing your arms and head off and leaving your corpse to dissolve slowly in a cloud of acid rain.

Sound like fun?

You Shouldn’t Play Vigil: Blood Bitterness

Okay. I bought Vigil: Blood Bitterness several years ago for about $1 during a super-sale, which saw the entire Meridian4 catalog going for very cheap. I checked out the sale for Shadowgrounds (which is an excellent game) but decided to browse the rest of the catalog, and Vigil: Blood Bitterness caught my attention due to its stark black and white visual style. The description implied a point-and-click adventure game, set in a strange futuristic world with a dark and forboding atmosphere. I decided it was worth $1 to check it out, but then I promptly got distracted by all sorts of other games, and only got around to trying it recently.

I actually played it before I injured my wrist, but given that it is entirely controlled with the mouse you could easily play it with one hand. But you shouldn’t.

Roguelike-like: FTL

Readers who are unfamiliar with roguelikes may wish to read my introduction on the subject first.

It seems that everyone in the world is playing FTL. It’s one of the first Kickstarter games to be finished (although it was already under development before its Kickstarter campaign), and it’s captured everyone’s imagination. It’s easy to see why: a spaceship management game, which has the player shunting power to different systems and frantically ordering crew-members to put out fires, all while making Faster Than Light (FTL, get it?) jumps to escape the rebel fleet, is something we don’t usually see. The roguelike elements — the randomized encounters and brutal difficulty that force the player to try and try again — seal the deal. Best of all, it can easily be played with one hand, being almost entirely mouse-controlled. The only key needed is the spacebar, for pausing the action to issue orders, and if you’re like me you even go to the trouble of mapping that to a spare button on the mouse [EDIT: I had to use my programmable mouse to do this; the game does not actually allow for remapping controls] for a true one-handed experience (if you’re not like me, it’s OK; reaching over to the spacebar with one hand is still very easy).

Most who have written about FTL focus on the great player-generated stories it facilitates. Here’s one example; here’s another. Since I’ve already done that extensively for my favorite roguelike, I won’t take that approach here. Instead I’m going to talk about FTL’s design, and why I think it works so well.

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