Gratuitous Space Battles – “Parasites” Expansion Pack Released

Had enough laser blasting, missile launching, shield penetrating fun in Gratuitous Space Battles yet?  No?  Good!

Want a new race, new ship designs, weapons, equipment, and other cool bonuses?   Yes?  Excellent!

Positech Games has just released the latest Expansion Pack for GSB featuring The Parasites.  Keep reading for more info on what you’ll get with this new expansion.

What the Expansion Pack Contains:

  • – 10 New ships. 4 Cruisers 3 Frigates and 3 fighters, all in a new graphical style by the same artist who did the original GSB artwork. The parasite ships have multiple translucent sections in varying colors, coming accross as classy, expensive, but also not to be messed with…
  • – 3 New ship equipment:  The flak cannon is a cruiser weapon designed to target enemy fighter swarms. The cannon ahs an ‘area-of-effect’ damage as well as hitting the target ship. The Plasma slinger is a small but ultra-high-rate-of-fire plasma torpedo weapon. This is the first plasma weapon that can have multiple torpedoes in flight at the same time. The missile revenge scrambler is a whole new type of ECM weapon that actually sends missile back to attack the ship that launched them, rather thamn just scrambling their guidance systems.
  • – New ship bonuses. The parasites build these ships to last. Most of the new hulls have both integrity and armor bonuses. The parasites aren’t so good on the shields front, but they make up for it with stronger armor.
  • – 1 New Scenario. One new map for you to fight against the parasites, and to use in online challenges. Obviously you can use the race in fighting any existing maps, from any other DLC or the base game.

You can pick up the Parasites Expansion Pack for $5.99.  Be sure to check out Positech’s other sim-style strategy games while you’re there!

Browser based RPG – “Misfortune”

It’s pretty amazing how far web browser games have come.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m blown away by how detailed these games are becoming.  Browser based games are no longer limited to being dumbed down versions of larger games.  You’ll find Puzzle games, Action platformers, Point-and-Click Adventures, Bullet-Hell Shmups, and even fully fleshed out Role-Playing Games.

Not all of these browser games are equal in quality mind you.  Some, like the recent Wonderputt, that I enjoyed and also reviewed, show just how great a browser based game can be when given lots of spit and polish.  Though the gameplay was straight forward the presentation was excellent.

Misfortune, developed by Loadingames, happens to be another one of those titles that shares similarities in quality with high production values, excellent presentation, and fairly straight forward gameplay.  Unlike Wonderputt though, Misfortune is a full fledged RPG with a lot of that same polish and extra level of care.  (Click these images below!)

 

From the newsletter:

Misfortune is a steampunk RPG browser
game. In the game you follow the protagonist, as he finds himself marooned on an unfamiliar island, in a strange and violent town called Rodnia.
The game is intended to be a “casual” RPG, to be played for 20-30 minutes at a time. However, unlike many other casual RPG games, the main emphasis of Misfortune is the plot. As the game progresses, acomplex story unfolds, including multiple plot-lines that intertwine together.
The entire game is hand drawn by a children’s book illustrator, which gives it a unique appearance.

I have only played it for a few minutes thus far, but my first impressions definitely leave me wanting to explore the game and it’s story even further.  The graphics and art are definitely professionally done while the music is ambient and subtle, but also suitable.  It’s played from a first person perspective and feels very much like the classic Bard’s Tale and Eye of the Beholder series of games, only it has a very unique story that doesn’t copy the standard D&D setting or script.

Here’s an amusing quote straight from the game’s website:

In ‘Misfortune’ you find yourself alone in a strange city, struggling to survive. Collect exotic items, combat mysterious monsters, save people in danger… Oh, you’ve already done all that before? Well, if this for some strange reason isn’t enough for you, you can also solve murder mysteries, unite lovers, get into a cursing match with a parrot and discover strange and unbelievable truths about the town of Rodnia.

Some interesting stuff to be sure.  Misfortune definitely has it’s own distinct look, feel, and style even though it shares mechanics and other similarities with classic first person RPG’s.  It isn’t very difficult to get into either and from what I’ve played so far it feels like it could be played by Casual gamers but also appreciated by Hardcore gamers for it’s classic first person RPG feel.

The game is still in the Beta stages while the developers at Loadingames work out the bugs and kinks.  You can still play the game though by signing-up and creating an account at the Misfortune website.

I’m looking forward to diving back into the game and exploring the game more deeply.  So hopefully I’ll have a full review of the game in the not-so-distant-future.

You can check out and play the current Beta version of Misfortune by going to the Loadingames website over here.

Cardinal Quest – Review

Cardinal Quest

developed by Ido Yehieli

Cardinal Quest website

Cardinal Quest is a lot like your classic Roguelike, only simplified.  You’ll explore the depths of a dark, dank dungeon, on a quest to destroy the evil Minotaur known as Asterion.  Along the way you’ll battle the many minions of this den while searching for more powerful weapons, armor, spells, and various other forms of loot.  It’s a formula that gamers who are familiar with Roguelikes will immediately recognize.  However, unlike most roguelikes, Cardinal Quest is made so that gamers can simply pick-up and play it.  You won’t find the same amount of depth as other games in the genre, but that’s alright because there is still an addictive quality to the exploration, combat, and treasure hunting, giving it a much more arcade like feel.

Their are only 3 classes to choose from including a Fighter, Thief, and Wizard.  Each class plays in a slightly different way.  All of the classes have a unique skill to start with, but throughout the quest each can find various skills or powers to aid them.  Some of these skills crossover no matter which class you’re playing.  Obviously, the Fighter is your strong, tank-like, character class who prefers to move headlong into battle.  The Thief is more adept at evasion and trickery, showing of their quick moves.  The Wizard is the master of magic utilizing spells taking enemies out at a distance rather than risk getting up close and personal.

The gameplay is very easy to get into.  Controlling your character can be done using either the mouse or keyboard.  Physical combat simply requires that you run into your enemy, while casting offensive spells is as simple as clicking on the spell of your choice from a list of spells you’ve obtained and then selecting an enemy.  Each class can also buff themselves up with some spells and skills, making them stronger, faster, and ultimately harder to kill.  Speaking of which, there are lots of different monsters to contend with and figuring out when to fight or flee is very important in any roguelike, this includes Cardinal Quest as well.

The graphics are intentionally retro and inspired by classic games.  They’re pixelated and blocky but they also have detail to them.  It all looks like something straight out of the NES or early PC library of RPG games.  Most roguelikes use Ascii characters for graphics, and while a roguelike doesn’t necessarily need good graphics to be enjoyable, it’s nice to have a colorful tileset with some nice detail and yet that familiar retro feel.

The music and sound are very good.  The audio is more modern and up to date than the graphics but it’s inclusion is very effective for the overall presentation of the game.  For the most part, the sounds are low-key but they add a fair bit of flavor to this classicly styled Roguelike.

Conclusion:
Cardinal Quest isn’t a deep adventure game, even when compared to most other roguelikes.  This also means it’s very easy to get into and less frustrating when your character does die.  It’s a game you can pick up and play in relatively short bursts of time.  The dungeon is randomized making it easy to enjoy multiple playthru’s.  It may not have that depth of a hardcore roguelike, but it does have the addictive quality of combat, loot drops, and exploration.  The version of Cardinal Quest that I played still didn’t have a highscore table or online leaderboards integrated into the game yet, which is a bit of a letdown.  Having leaderboards would definitely add to the replay value and overall addictiveness.  Hopefully we’ll see this feature added in the near future.  If you’re a fan of D&D, Roguelikes, and classic games like Gauntlet then I recommend you check out Cardinal Quest.  There’s a demo available and the full game is very affordable at $4.45 and well worth the value.

You can play the demo in your browser at the developers website or on Kongregate.  If you like what you see, then be sure to purchase the full game here.  It’s also available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms!

New Release – Six Gun Saga by Cryptic Comet

Howdy Pardner!

If you’re like me and you love some good ol’fashioned turn based strategy occasionally mixed into your gaming, then you’ll be happy to know that Cryptic Comet has released their latest Turn Based Strategy Game titled Six Gun Saga.   It’s not your typical strategy game though, this little dawgie is set in the Wild West!  <Spittooooon!>  (I actually made the sound effect of a spittoon, with my mouth, while writing this – god help us all!)

Cryptic Comet is known for making Turn Based Strategy Games, such as their flagship game set in a post apocalyptic world titled Armageddon Empires, and the darker but uniquely satisfying Solium Infernum as well.  We’re talking about games that can keep you coming back for months, not just hours.  There is a tremendous amount of depth and atmosphere to each game, and Six Gun Saga seems to be just as intriguing.

Some features:

“Six Gun Saga is a turn based strategy game set in the Wild West.  Players assume the role of one of seven Bosses vying for control of a fictitious no-name town.

It’s All About The Choices…..

The Good Ones…..
Hire the meanest and toughest dudes to fight your battles.

The Bad Ones….
Keep you books balanced by cashing in cards that you would really like to use another way.

And The Ugly Ones…..
Send your posses out to claim Victory Points from story cards that seem hopeless without an ace (or two) in the hole.”

There’s a demo available for all you wood-be, womp’em, stomp’em, shit-kickin, cowboys (or cowgirls) out there!  I haven’t given the game a try yet but with a little luck I’ll be able to rustle up a review in the not so distant future.  Be sure to check out Six Gun Saga and the Cryptic Comet website by following this trail right here!

Be sure to check out my old review of Armageddon Empires if you enjoy Turn Based Strategy games.

Why you won’t find Minecraft on Steam…

Minecraft?  What’s that?

Some of you may have heard about a little indie game that’s been played, bought, modded, and spread around the internet faster than a swarm of starving locusts.  Of course, that game is Minecraft.  I myself purchased Minecraft (rather smartly I suppose) back when it was still in it’s “Alpha” stage of development.  The game still isn’t quite finished yet, but now that the game is progressing through it’s Beta stages, Minecraft has had a surge of increased interest from the general public and has grown even more in popularity.

Not bad for an indie game.  One that has over 12 million registered users (that’s six zeros after the 12!), of which over 3.2 million have actually purchased the game (more than 3,200,000!).  On an average day, Minecraft sells close to 10 thousand copies (10,000!!).  As I write this information down I wouldn’t be surprised if another 50 people bought the game!  There goes another one…  oh see, and another one!

Just check out this awesome fan made trailer for Minecraft if you don’t have a clue of what I’m talking about!

The creator of Minecraft, Markus Persson (also known as “Notch”), has been working on Minecraft full-time, and even with his success, it doesn’t look as if he’ll be slowing down any time soon.  Yes, now everybody and their mother (in the gaming industry) want a piece of “Notch” and his Minecraft intellectual property.  However, as tempting as any offer might be, Notch has always kept his integrity and hasn’t forgotten where he comes from and how he got here.  I think it’s fair to say that Markus is a pretty rad guy.

One of the big questions that people keep asking though, is why won’t he put Minecraft up on Steam?  It’s obviously the most popular gaming site for digital downloads, with an enormous library and featuring more games than there is time to play them in a single lifespan.  Notch himself loves the digital distribution service, so why not add his game to Steam?  Here’s a little excerpt from his answer on the subject:

At PAX, I got asked why we’re not on Steam with Minecraft, and I had to answer the question straight out for the first time. So I’ll repeat what I said on here, because openess is awesome.

Steam is the best digital distribution platform I’ve ever seen. I’ve spent incredible amounts of money on it, and I own a crazy amount of games on it.

But..

Being on Steam limits a lot of what we’re allowed to do with the game, and how we’re allowed to talk to our users.

Personally, I agree that Steam is the best digital distribution platform (IMHO).  However, I have no problem buying games from an indie developer or their website either, as long as they accept PayPal as a form of payment.  Having access to a digital distribution site (where they keep your billing info so you don’t have to enter it numerous times), makes buying games online a convenient and efficient way to purchase, keep track of, and play your games.  With that said, there are some limitations.  Some of these limitations are pointed out in an honest response at Notch’s Blog.  Be sure to read the full Blog post regarding why Minecraft isn’t up on Steam over here, where Notch posts his Blogs, aptly named “The Word of Notch“.   🙂

Bastion – Game Review

Bastion

developed by Supergiant Games

Games I’ve enjoyed over the years evoke a part of my childhood that I remember most fondly.  Perhaps, it’s because I was fortunate enough to grow up during a time where imagination and “free fun” weren’t quite obsolete.  As I was growing up and started playing more involving story driven games, I was able to immerse myself into them by using my imagination while I was playing.  To me, this is where gaming has always been at its best.  The ability to lose oneself to the story while taking part in the adventure is probably the pinnacle of gaming experiences.  It doesn’t really matter what type of game it is, as long as you feel like you’re becoming completely engrossed in the game.  This connection is how I felt while playing Bastion, a game that reminds me of my youth and everything I love about the adventures in gaming.

The World of Caelondia has been destroyed, splintered and fragmented, leaving remnants of it’s former lands floating listlessly through the sky.  An apocalyptic event known only as The Calamity is the cause of this devestation.  Yet, through all of the destruction, there is still hope.  And, it is with the end that the story begins.  You play the part of the hero known only as The Kid.  The Kid wakes up on one of the floating platforms, confused but sets out with conviction to find out what has happened.  Seemingly alone, The Kid begins his journey for the Bastion, a place where the people of Caelondia would have fled during such a catastrophe.

Bastion is a hack-and-slash Action / RPG at it’s core, but it is also a world rich with character and imagination.  The story alone will draw you in, and on top of being an amazing game there are some elements to Bastion that you simply won’t find in other games.  There’s the narrator for example.  A wise old man who narrates your adventures as they are happening.  Then there’s the way the world of Bastion is shaped as you travel through it.  The ground literally raises up to form new trails and pathways as you set off to explore and restore the Bastion.  Explaining how these elements work in Bastion simply isn’t enough though.  You have to see it in action to truly appreciate how special these mechanics are.

I’ve only played the PC version of Bastion but I can tell you that controlling The Kid is painless and relatively simple.  You have the choice of using a mouse, keyboard, or gamepad.  Each can be customized to your liking.  I found all of the controls to be responsive and intuitive, but as usual my personal preference with this sort of game is the gamepad. Walking, attacking, blocking, dodging, and using special moves or items are very easy to accomplish.  This is important because you’ll be using all of these tricks and tools frequently.  Bastion is your more thoughtful hack-and-slash type game.  Blocking and evading enemy attacks, as well as deciding whether to attack up close or from a distance are key to your success.  Not only will you have to pay attention to your enemies, but also your surroundings.  Falling off the edge of the world will cost you a bit of health.  Thankfully, you aren’t punished very badly when this happens though.

On your quest to rebuild the Bastion you’ll also pick up new weapons, items, and materials which can be used to upgrade your equipment.  Along the way you’ll discover the equivalent of item shops and armories which allow you to exchange your current equipment, upgrade a particular weapon, or simply buy new items.  There’s a level of depth and imagination to each of these gameplay elements making Bastion a very distinct game in the Action / RPG genre.

The graphics in Bastion are extremely good.  A fun game doesn’t have to have great graphics to be fun, but having such slick visual design can only improve the experience in a game this entertaining.  Bastion looks like it was made by a Triple-A multimillion dollar game studio.  The game is played from an isometric point of view, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a tremendous amount of detail in the characters, enemies, and numerous backgrounds throughout the game.  It’s all very sharply drawn, animated, and vibrant.  Even the areas of the game that feel dark or abandoned are colorful and filled with rich detail and atmosphere.

The sound quality is equally amazing.  The music and sound fx do a great job immersing the player into Bastion.  However, the biggest and most brilliant feature in Bastion‘s sound design comes from the Narrator.  His voice alone is unforgettable, and having him tell the story as it’s being played out is no small feat.  It sounds like a simple idea, but it’s never been done before, not with real voiceovers, and not in a way that has the Narrator actually reacting to the players actions.

Conclusion:
Bastion is a journey for all gamers with a healthy imagination and a sense of adventure.  Whether you miss those imaginative games from your youth or you simply want an Action / RPG with a memorable story and gameplay to match, you should definitely pick up Bastion.  The gameplay is accessible but challenging enough to feel rewarding.  It’s an experience that consists of equal parts style and substance, and it should be in every avid gamers library whether they’re young or old.  It would have been impossible to make a game like Bastion all those years ago, during the golden age of gaming. But, everything that made those old games entertaining, significant, and fun, can be found flowing through every facet of Bastion.

Bastion is now available on PC and can be purchased through Steam.  Console owners can pick it up on their Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade.
Buy it for the system of your choice, but be sure not to pass up this gem!