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22May/080

Flash Retro Game Showcase #3: May 22, 2008

This week we micro-review 5 more retro inspired games for your playing pleasure. We are starting to see some distinct genres emerge in these lists, and this week starts with one that we previewed with last week's Asteroids' Revenge: The "deconstructive, ironic, turn-the-table genre". We follow that up with several modern takes on old classics, and end with a new game inspired by an old classic. Also, the troubling (to me anyway) trend of not respecting copyrights and intellectual property continues as well. Anyway, here we go!

Anti Pac-Man

anti-pac man

Another "turn the tables" game like Asteroid's Revenge. I like these kinds of alternative takes on classic games. This one poses quite a challenge as you try to catch Pac-Man playing the ghosts. I'm still not sure how Namco would feel about the I.P. use here, and I think devs need to be careful about it.

Breakout - Voyager

Breakout Voyager

So this started out looking like a "pass-over" Breakout remake, but I kept playing through 3 levels, so it must have "something". The sound FX meld with the music in a compelling way. Also, the "flashing" bricks are a  nice added game play element. By the time I finished playing I was impressed with the game design. The technicals are a bit "off", but only a "Breakout" nerd like me will notice. However, I still contend that devs need to stop naming these games after real world titles, especially if they plan to make money off them. The I.P. police might be here shortly, and you don't want to get caught using someone else's' trademarks.

Jetpac 2

Jetpac 2

Another Terry Paton extravaganza. This time it's a cross between Joust and Blueprint. Fly around, pick-up the pieces to your ship, build it, and fly away. It has Apple IIe sounds to boot. Very well done.

Gyrustakee

Gyrusstakee

Terry Paton does Gyruss. Curiously, the game is just as hard as the arcade game that inspired it. I like seeing retro games built that are based on more obscure coin-ops. It makes me believe that people have a longer attention span that I've been led to believe. Again though, using the name "Gyruss" might be an issue. I would have figured out the inspiration even if it did not have the full name of classic game in the title, and I think others would have done the same.

Purp

Purp

This is the kind of retro game I'd like to see more of. It might be "inspired" by Pac-Man, but that is as far as it goes. It looks retro, sounds retro, plays retro, but is in and of itself, a unique game. Plus, there really is no I.P. infringement. The maze scrolls, and you must move through it, avoiding the baddies and "eating" the dots. Simple and classic, but refreshing. It does a good job of not aping the source too closely.

That's it for this week.  Next week we'll be back with another set of games.  We've settled in on Thursday as the launch day for this column, and we will try to make it a regular feature.

22May/080

Has the age of free, hosted, multi-player Flash game servers arrived?

There are two services on the horizon for Flash game developers that could be complete game-changers for the viral Flash game industry. 

Both Come2Play and Nonoba will soon open up their multi-player game APIs to developers so they can create and host multiplayer games for free.  This is great news for anyone who has wanted to dabble in multi-player, but could niether find hosting, or afford their own socket server.

Come2Play has their 1.1 API available right now.  It includes both a Client and Server-Side API, but the server side API is actually a HTTP pass through to code that lives on your own server.  This seems a bit weird, but could work.  It just would not be able to handle anything beyond turn-based games.   Their example is "Tic-Tac-Toe", which should be a signal to the type of game-play you can achieve with their systm.  Still, turn-based is better than nothing, and they do offer a rev share and have a 2.0 API on the horizon.

Nonoba's API on the other hand, looks far more promising, at least technically.  They claim to support real-time games (i.e racing, asteroids) and, plus they offer chat, lobbies, achievements, etc.   In fact, their feature-set looks remarkably similar to Electroserver 4.  I'm anxious to get my hands on it so I can give it a test drive.  Right now, Nonobo is is beta (they have announced a June release).  On the down-side, while they do offer  contests, they have not announced a rev-share.  This may or may not mean you can use Mochiads or GameJacket with your games. 

We've applied for the Nonoba beta, and if we get in (or when it comes out of beta in June), we will start reporting our progress here and maybe even start adding tutorials.

   
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