Category Archives: Reviews

Gratuitous Space Battles

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: GSB is to the RTS what Champsionship Manager is to football games. Just in case you didn’t get the reference, Championship Manager’s that odd football game in which you don’t actually get to play any football. All the player does is move their footballers around team assignments, pick the colour of their shorts and organize the after-parties. The actual game of football is taken care of automatically so the player, when the actual game kicks off, just sits and watches. The difference between this and Gratuitous Space Battles is: instead of injury-faking girly men, it’s really space ships with lasers and missiles and fire and death. I know which of the two I’d rather be watching.

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You may not realise it, but you’ve probably heard of Eufloria already. It made waves as a finalist in this year’s IGF Festival under the moniker of “Dyson”, and for all the reasons you’d expect. It has striking minimalist watercolour-styled graphics, beautifully atmospheric music and sound, and procedurally-generated assets. What really catches your attention, however, is its premise. It’s a real-time strategy game, where you create space colonies using trees.

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Picture a world where people don’t exist. Okay, they do exist, but they’re not people, they’re robots (so not really people, then, but you know what I mean.). In this world, the peop- er, robots go about their daily lives, doing…robot-y things like, um…okay, you know what, forget the highfaluting introduction. Stop reading this inane drivel and go buy this game.

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World Train Royale

I once baked a really awesome Oreo cake. It took a whole afternoon of some serious baking, and I even pulled in a couple of friends to help me do it. Going through each step, I feverishly awaited the moment when I could sink my teeth into the decadent and sinful combination of chocolate in chocolate, topped with chocolate, filled with chocolate and served with a side of chocolate.

It ended up being a huge mess.

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The Samorost Games

In light of the recent Machinarium release, it seems only fitting that we pay due attention to the Samorost games, a pair of Flash gems from the same developers. And as cliché as this may sound, that little white-capped gnome and his quirky adventures have pretty much revolutionised the way we view game art and atmosphere.

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Grappling Hook

Ninjas have them. Batman has one. Bionic commandos have one too. They’re grappling hooks and they are throwy, shooty, swingy good fun. They’re also nothing new in games. The afore-mentioned Bionic Commando could not jump at all and relied on his grappling arm to grab ledges and swing around the place like a crazy cybernetic monkey-man, all this as far back as pre-3D 1987.

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There have been many games that would have ended up on the “games that kicked my ass”-pile if I hadn’t taken to keeping a notepad beside my grubby keyboard. After spending a fair number of hours on them, and even aided by walkthroughs, many old point-n-click adventure games and interactive fiction titles would often leave me struggling to remember what to do next after loading up an earlier saved game.

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Silent Conversation

It would seem that I’ve somewhat made a name for myself around her for being the wordy, story dude – because every time something pops up involving stories, epic narrative tales and, well, words in general, it gets passed on to me. Luckily, I really do enjoy these kinds of things, and that’s why I got a kick out of Silent Conversation.

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ShellBlast HD

So. Hot on the heels of my previous ShellBlast review comes this humble opinion of its new, Xbox-based cousin: ShellBlast HD. Vertigo Games was kind enough to supply me with a review copy for this sprightly bugger, so of course I latched onto it .

And hey, guess what? It’s just as good as the original. Continue reading


Ed: Yo Nandrew, where’s that ShellBlast review you promised me? You’re already a day late.

Me: Ah, er, bad news. I haven’t written it yet. I’ve been banging my head against this level 30 nuke defusal for most of the afternoon, and as far as I know I’ve still got oxidation and time-bombs to unlock.

Ed: What? Put the damn game down and get on with your writeup already!

Me: I’ll start it as soon as possible, I promise. I just wanna clear these next few levels first …

Ed: Grrrr …

Ed: (starts ticking)


Me: (throws a chaff grenade at Ed, defuses him, saves the day and progresses to the next level)

The short version: ShellBlast is a bomb defusal game which actually makes you feel like you’re defusing bombs. This is awesome. Continue reading

Cortex Command

Now in development for roughly eight years, Cortex Command is already quite a familiar feature in the mindscape of many gamers. It is a hard one to ignore with its colourful graphics, spiffy tunes and very surprising chaotic outbursts – for example, your heavily armoured heavy-weapons supersoldier may well be disarmed by a lowly unfinished skeletal clone’s lucky pistol shot, a level of detail displayed by very few other games. And these are no random events: the game’s impressive physics engine ensures that everything exists as matter that can influence its surroundings, right down to gore, spent ammo clips and empty bullet caps.

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Heed is odd. From the moment you start the game up, you get the feeling that it’s definitely not your cookie-cutter point ‘n’ click adventure. Maybe it’s the surreal backgrounds and stylized art, or perhaps it’s the bizarre and moody background music (containing remixed samples from late-19th-century folk music). Either way, Heed feels quite surreal, and it only gets more so as you play.

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Use Boxmen

Everything about Use Boxmen says ‘happy.’ The music sparkles in the background, what simple narration exists in the game is silly and smile-inducing and the characters ooze charm out whatever wazoo they might have in their deformed crayoned bodies. It would be such a great setup for a bit of coffee break relaxation. Such a pity then, that it isn’t. What we have here is a deceptive little piece of software designed purely to lure in unsuspecting gamers with its friendly demeanor, and then savagely drop them into some of the most challenging puzzles ever to involve mass stickman slaughter.

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Time Gentlemen, Please!

Last week, the editor brought to my attention a neat little adventure game called Ben There, Dan That!which was making its own little waves in the adventure game pool, at no cost at all. I was also directed to the fact that, as a result of adventure gamers going “OMFGWTF THAT WAS AWESOME!”, creators Zombie-Cow decided to follow up the, admittedly mini-, adventure with a full-scale release (read: sequel) – Time Gentlemen, Please!

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Ben There, Dan That!

Are you sick of hearing the now clichéd ‘Adventures games are dead’ whenever fond memories of LucasArts and Sierra classics are shared? Even worse, are you sick of saying it? Because, like all overused maxims, this one also has that shred of truth that led to its conception, but it also led to a whole bunch of developers striving to prove it false.

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