Posts tagged Gaming

Boxer

Time to go retro

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Things have been a little dry on the gaming front. If you’re currently a little bored, waiting for a few releases later this year and are starting to show a little grey hair – I may just have a solution for you.

Boxer

Haul out your old original games (yes, I realise some of them may be on 5 1/4″ or 3 1/2″ disks) pop them into your CD-ROM drive, drag them onto the Boxer import screen and you’re good to go.

If you’ve lost your original disks, you can always head over to abandonware and download a copy. They’ve been good enough to keep a backup for you, for just such an eventuality.

There is just so much to choose from. Over the past few weeks I started and completed classics like: Space Quest 1, Monkey Island 1, Monkey Island 2, Police Quest 1, Prince of Persia, Rogue, Montezuma’s Revenge, The Lost Vikings, Dune 2, the list goes on. If I’m totally honest, I haven’t really finished them all yet. Games were hard back then !

The cherry on top for me was finding an original Roland MT-32 sound module on Gumtree.

Roland MT-32

I’d heard about these when I was playing these games on my old 286/386/486 back in the day, but no-one that I knew owned one. In fact in the USA they were selling for $550. I vaguely recall what the games sounded like on the PC speaker and later on my Creative Labs Sound Blaster Pro, but the first time I fired up Monkey Island 2 on the Roland, I was blown away. This is what the games were supposed to sound like back then. It’s almost worth playing all these games just to listen to the soundtracks you were missing out on.

I realise that finding one of these babies is easier said than done, so our good friend Alun Bestor (the developer of Boxer) has included MT-32 emulation into the app. All you need to do is download the MT-32 ROM’s (which some kind folks out on the Intertubes have made available) and you’re like 90% there. I have told myself that there is no way that emulation can be as good as the well aged black box on my desk.

As the ARS review says, “the only ugly thing about Boxer is not using it.”

Batman Arkham City

You want to visit Arkham City

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(10/10)

“The batcomputer is none too frisky today, Batman.” – Robin

Batman Arkham City

I remember how I felt before I started playing Batman Arkham Asylym. I wasn’t excited. In fact, I was ready for another poor job at trying to recreate a part of the DC super-hero world. Ready to cringe as happy childhood memories of reading comics were destroyed with every click of the “A” button.

But it didn’t happen. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The game was brilliant and brought a bunch of new concepts and gameplay tactics to the fore. It made me smile.

I was moderately excited about Arkham City, but I was pretty confident that it would just be more of the same. I didn’t pre-order it. Then some of my mates got it. Then the Metacritic reviews started coming out and I knew I was missing out.

I rushed out and bought a copy. I haven’t looked back.

It’s dark and it’s fantastic. In every way. The level of detail in the world that has been created is mind boggling. Inclusion of almost every villain that Batman has every faced in a single game wrapped up in a single coherent story is a feat in itself.

The gameplay and control dynamics are also extremely polished. I haven’t wanted to throw my controller at my TV once yet. Some of my friends apparently have, but they have co-ordination issues.

I haven’t finished the game yet, but it looks set to keep me busy for quite some time. Especially if you decide to tackle all the side missions and to finish the Catwoman part of the game as well.

Bravo lads. I’ll pre-order the next one.

Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies

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(9/10)
Everyone knows that everything is better with zombies. Plants vs. Zombies is no exception.

Plants vs. Zombies

This 28MB download from Popcap games will ensure that from now on, you won’t have a minute of boredom while sitting in from of your computer.

Essentially, instead of shotguns and chainsaws repelling hordes of the brain eating undead, you make clever use of your green fingers and some rather obviously genetically mutated plants to build a line of defense between them and your back door (and sometimes your chimney).

As you progress you build up an arsenal of flora that each have their own special abilities. I’m particularly fond of the cherry bomb that leaves the undead charred and with a look of bewilderment on their faces. The levels also get progressively more challenging requiring you to choose your green army carefully. Once you’ve found your groove for a particular level you shouldn’t have too much difficulty keeping the zombies at bay.

Plants vs. Zombies comes with a number of additional game modes (like survival, puzzle, zen garden, etc) that provide many hours of additional play if you are still craving for more once you have completed the adventure mode.

My only comment to improve the game would be to make adventure mode longer, or to unlock some kind of uber adventure mode once you’ve completed it the first time. Well, maybe survival is kinda like that. Anyway, I digress.

@simondingle chose it as his pick of the week on last weeks zatechshow as well. Surely two people can’t be wrong…

Stop reading and just go and get it !

It’s available on Windows, Mac, iPhone and in your browser and will only cost you R185.

Download Plants vs Zombies here – or they will eat your brains !

Just what WoW needed: Dungeon Finder

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I am by no stretch of the imagination the worlds most avvid World of Warcraft player, but I’ve dabbled a little and when I have nothing exciting to play on my Xbox 360 it’s a great filler. A monthly subscription will also only cost you just over R100, which is great if you’re a little strapped for cash and can’t fork out R700 for a new 360 game.

One of the only issues I had with WoW as a casual player was that I couldn’t really complete any of the dungeons, or instances, as I didn’t really know anyone else that played they game. At least not anyone that was playing on the same realm and from the same faction. Once you start getting to the higher levels this becomes a real problem as it becomes more and more difficult to be rewarded with decent items from questing and general slaughter.

I didn’t play WoW for a number of months and I didn’t really track the new features added with the patches, but on loading it for the first time in ages (after a few hefty patch downloads) I noticed a new icon on the toolbar – Dungeon Finder.

wow-df-1.jpeg Dungeon Finder (DF) lets you pick a specific or random dungeon, allows you to choose your role in the group (tank, healer, DPS, etc) and then drops you into a queue until it has assembled an appropriately sized group with the necessary skills and then drops you all into the start of the instance. You don’t need to spend time traveling to the entrance, which is a great time saver and means you don’t have to find them on your own. You complete the dungeon with your group and then you can choose to either run to the exit and continue from there or you can use the “Teleport out of dungeon” feature to end up where you were before you were teleported into the instance.

Another great feature of DF is that it works across realms. So the group making is done centrally across all (well, most I suspect) the realms so you will almost always find a group. The longest I’ve waited for a group is about 20 minutes, but in the evenings it generally takes less than a minute. While you are waiting for your group to be assembled you can continue questing or whatever you were busy with. Once your group is ready you will be greeted with the friendly screen letting you know that you are about to start and what your role in the group is.

wow-df-2.jpeg

For me, DF added something that completely changes my WoW experience. In fact, I can’t stop playing it. If you don’t have a large group of friends that play WoW and you were annoyed that you couldn’t tackle the instances on your own, DF is for you. Pay for another month and give it a try, you won’t regret it. Your social life will however take a noticeable plunge. Welcome back to Azeroth.

wow-df-3.jpeg

Bioshock 2 coming in a special edition

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I’m not usually one for special editions and fancy box sets, well not recently anyway. I may have purchased the Gears of War box set and the Forza 2 one and maybe one or two others, but that’s all. Promise.

The Bioshock 2 special edition looks pretty awesome. Probably full of stuff that I will only ever look at once, but how can I resist something that has an LP in it ? I’ll have to go and buy a USB turntable somewhere for the ultimate Bioshock fan (geek) experience.

bioshock2seSo it’s official: there will be a Bioshock 2 special edition. With the upcoming release of Bioshock 2 there’s been much speculation and guesswork about if there would be a special edition, and more importantly, what would be in it. Well, the wait is over.

The official announcement came out today on The Cult of Rapture. The special edition will come in a 13×13″ premium package with special art on the slipcase and the cover of the box. Inside the box, you’ll find three posters featuring vintage ads from Rapture, a LP with the orchestral score from the original Bioshock, a CD with the Bioshock 2 score, an 164 page hardbound artbook, and the Bioshock 2 game.

The special edition will be released on February 9th, 2010 for $99.00 on the Xbox 360 and PS3. The PC version will be $89.00. All three versions will be limited to a single production run.

(Via CrunchGear.)

Commodore 64 emulator for the iPhone

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(7/10)

C64-icon.pngAfter some initial hiccups with getting (and keeping) the application in the iTunes App Store, Manomio are back with C64 (iTunes link) and 8 free games.

At first you may find yourself questioning your sanity, but after dropping £2.99 in the iTunes store and playing one of the old classics, you’ll be pulled right back to you gaming roots.

Now maybe it was just because I was stuck on a two hour flight and had nothing else to do after I had finished reading my Stuff Magazine, but after playing Dragons Den for 10 minutes, I just couldn’t stop. It was clear that my life depended on me getting to the next level. I had my headphones plugged in and turned up loud to allow the 8 bit beeps and boops to be enjoyed at their optimum monaural magnificence. The people on either side of me clearly thinking that there was a crazy man bashing some ancient technology with his thumbs about to go postal on the flight.

The control system allows for a joystick and a single button – that is all we needed back in the day. You can also orientate the the phone in portrait or landscape to either have a view of said button and joystick or not. Playing the game fullscreen in landscape was my choice as the additional screen real estate made everything that much bigger. The only problem is that with this orientation your thumbs can block out some of the graphics. Nothing serious though.

The emulator is responsive and tracks your finger movements for the joystick and copious amounts of button mashing pretty well. I’d give the app a higher rating, but at the moment the games library is a little limited. When they release more content and they say they will, there is a change that this little gem could deserve an 8 or maybe even a nine.

C64-screen.jpgIf you can still remember loading games on that beige C64 tape drive and waiting hours just to get to the good part, you’ll love how your old favourites now load instantly !

Check out the video below to see what you’re missing out on.

Borderlands – conquer it with your friends

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(7/10)

I’m still not sure about Borderlands. I can’t really fault the game. The graphics are great, it makes me laugh and it’s built from the ground up for online co-op. It walks a fine line between a FPS and RPG, probably my two favorite genres, but there still just seems to be something missing. I’m probably only about 25% of the way through the game, almost all of which has been done with at least one buddy in co-op, but I haven’t had that, “I must lock myself in the house and play this until the neighbors complain about the smell” feeling.

borderlands-box

The story is also pretty cool. You are searching for a mythical vault that is packed with alien technology and secrets. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find that ! As with most RPG’s, you start off with miserable stats, miserable weapons, miserable everything really. You progress through the first 15 levels is pretty quick and if you spend your money wisely you can amass a fairly decent arsenal especially if you get lucky with one of the “daily specials” at the vending machines.

borderlands-crew

If I had my life over, I would probably wait to pick it up second hand, it is however a great way spend all night chatting to your buddies and making alien heads explode with your sniper rifle. Doesn’t really get much better than that.

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game

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I love seeing stuff like this !

East and West Africa collaborating on game and then distributing it via the App Store. More of the same guys. Keep it up.

Maybe for their next project we can temporarily relocate them to the Silicon Cape ?

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game: “

There aren’t a lot of African gamers, as would be expected due to the general lack of access to gaming technology and platforms in Africa, relative to other parts of the world. There are even fewer game developers on the continent. Due to being a gamer myself, I like to keep track of this as much as possible, and it’s always fun to announce a new one.

iWarrior - an African iPhone gameiWarrior is an iPhone game (iTunes link), created by the cross-Afrian team of Kenyan Wesley Kirinya and Ghanaian Eyram Tawia of Leti Games. It’s a unique top-down shooter game that utilizes the iPhone’s inbuilt accelerometer to both move and shoot. Your goal: protect your village, livestock and garden from the incoming marauding animals.

It’s a great first-effort from the team, and I believe it’s the first game created by a team in Africa. This itself is a much more difficult task than what many might expect. Just to get an iTunes account and a way to be be paid for your application is a challenge due to Apple’s inbuilt prejudice against Africa (they’re not alone in this, as many other platforms, like PayPal’s or Google Checkout’s are the same). That seems like a dramatic statement to make, but I ask you to stay your judgment until you’ve walked in the shoes of an African programmer.

Gameplay
I’m not an exceptionally talented twitch gamer, so I found the unique movement plus shooting actions hard to come to terms with. However, as I played it longer, I found myself slowly figuring it out and getting better at it. Thankfully, the team has built in a completely different way to play using your finger to slide and tap, you can move and shoot. So, for the accelerometer-challenged (like me) there’s another option. :)

iWarrior also allows you to play your own music while playing the game. This might seem small, but it’s something a lot of game maker’s overlook, and it’s a lot more fun than listening to the same repetitious in-game music.

The game costs $2.99, which is a little steep for new games on the iPhone. For many reasons the costs of most applications (games or otherwise) on the App Store have been driven to about 99cents. So, it takes either a really big name or an app that has hard to replicate features in order to break past $1.99 and sell a lot. In the team’s defense, it’s difficult for them to download paid games to test and see if they compare to their own prior to putting it on the market (again, due to them being in Africa).

Graphics
The graphics are okay. I’m a stickler on this type of thing though, and I go for either over-the-top quality or simplicity. Examples of this is comparing Fieldrunners to Doodle Jump, both excellent graphically, yet with completely different aesthetics.

iPhone game design - fieldrunners vs doodle jump

So, I’m going to ding the team on this part of the game. This, after a lengthy discussion in Ghana with Eyram over the difficulties of finding quality digital artists. It’s not an easy thing to do, the best designers aren’t digitally literate, with a few exceptions. So, you get great sketching and painting, but few can put that into vector graphics, 3d or even Photoshop.

Though the challenge is high, we live in a digitally connected world where top quality digital artists from Asia and Eastern Europe can be found to do the work at acceptable rates. There are other options, and a game can be made or broken on looks alone.

Summary

iWarrior is an excellent first game on the iPhone platform from two highly talented and creative African game developers. I expect that there will be a lot of good games, and other applications, coming from this team over time – both on the iPhone and other platforms. It’s a game to be proud of and one that I hope a lot of others will buy.

(Via White African.)

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