8bitrocket.com
24Nov/080

The 56k Connection : PigRace Review

The 56k Connection : PigRace Review
http://www.picasogames.com/games/pigrace
By PicasoGames

Today we go to the farm - it's time to race and your pig is
entered.

PigRace is an easy, good-looking game that involves navigating your
piggy through various obstacles to get to each level's finish
line.  Using the tried and true Frogger-ish motif the player
uses the up and down arrow keys to move the piggy in one of three
lanes, and pressing the space bar causes the piggy to jump. 
There are objects to pick up such as acorns, carrots and apples and
there are things to avoid such cows, bales of hay, mud puddles, logs,
pumpkins and small ponds.  

Pig Race

It starts out verrrry easy and lulls a player into feeling superior,
but as the levels progress more and more obstacles are added until your
piggy is jumping sliding and ricocheting all over the course. 
And if your little piggy crashes into an object, there is a cute cut
screen that shows him splayed out, head spinning with
'headache stars'.  More than once I
reached up and rubbed my own forehead when my piggy crashed, bashed or
tripped headlong into a puddle or the side of a cow.  If your
piggy crashes you lose a life which is represented as a heart on the
screen ' the game starts out giving by giving you only one
heart but don't worry ' there are plenty of hearts
scattered around the course for your piggy to pick up and add to
it's longevity.  I had 10 hearts at one point and
then around level 15 or 16 I lost them all ' due to the added
enemy of renegade rabbits running directly at my piggy and kamikaze
ducks-flying overhead.  Your piggy has to jump over the
rabbits and NOT jump when the ducks pass by.

What I liked:  Randomness of levels.  With some games
if you die on a level and have to repeat it, the level will be exactly
the same and so by repetition the player will learn where all the
objects to be avoided are and can triumph.  Not with PigRace,
when you die on, say, level 16 (because you had to jump over a rabid
rabbit and got smacked in the face by a low flying duck,) and you have
to do the level over, (aargh) the objects, good and bad will not be in
the same places.  It keeps the game level fresh and a player
won't feel like they'll never get past some
stagnate set of obstacles that has only one solution.  
I also really liked the level-winning screen with it's
'hoo-raaah' and the
'yeee-ha's'.  When your piggy
has accumulated a certain number of points during a level you hear,
'YEE-HA!' in the background ' made me
laugh every time.

What I wish was better:  Little things, not much. 
PicasoGames recently uploaded this game and I believe these were just
a couple of things that were overlooked ' like it is with all
new games or games in development, just a couple of teeny tiny
incomplete entities.  

First, after a certain number of levels completed you are supposed to
get a trophy.  But when that time comes,  the game
goes to a cut-screen and a blank cartoon wooden sign pops up with
absolutely nothing on it, next to the sign is a box to click that says
'skip'.  Now I'm sure that that
cartoon wooden sign was supposed to show my hard earned trophy, but it
just showed nothing ' and I felt strangely like
I'd been somewhat ripped off.  Hey!  I
worked for that trophy!  Let me see it!  Ahh well, I
suppose I won't be too traumatized to continue to
play.  I'm sure this is something that the creators
of PigRace know about and will fix in later
versions. 

Editor's note: After talking to Alex of PicasoGames, he explained that this is an inter-level ad and not a problem with the game.

 Second are just a few grammatical
faux-pas such as using the word 'to' when it should
be 'two' on some of the informational screens and
small things like that, that give the game a sort-of beta-esque
feel.  But nothing dramatic, no big glitches or programming
problems ' nothing that should stop anyone from going and
trying out this cute little game.   

But I cannot stress this enough ' Make sure your piggy avoids
those racing rabbit, flying duck, mud puddle combos or he's
in for a killer headache!

17Nov/080

The 56K Connection: Fisherboy review.

Fisher Boy,  http://www.box10.com/fisher-boy.html

California wildfires have caused more than 60,000 people to be
evacuated from their homes and we've had 3 days of constant
television coverage of the devastation.  Although
I'm not in
any imminent danger, soot and ash is flying through the air covering
everything with a layer whitish gray flakes, the sky is glowing
yellowy-orange and the news reports are telling us to try not to
'breathe' too much.

So I'm going deep-sea fishing.

At the start of Fisher Boy the player is given a harpoon: 
which
is classified as 'Basic Weapon:  Turtle
Class'. 
As play progresses the player is able to go to the Weapon Shop and buy
upgrades and better weapons.    The player
picks a name
and it is listed at the top of the screen with the blunt title of
'Fish Killer' underneath.  This was my
first
indication that persons to whom English is not their first language may
have created this game.  I love funky translations.

As the player starts the adventure, a map of ocean and islands rolls
out, by clicking on the red dot ('select spot to
go')
you're ready.  I also know this because the screen
told me,
'YOO. BURN YOUR SPIRIT!' ' Which I
interpreted to
mean, 'It's time to start your adventure, go have a
jolly
'ol time'.  

Fisher Boy

By using the A & D keys the player moves the Fisher Boy left
and
right, by using the S & W keys the player moves Fisher Boy up
and
down.  Pressing the 'E' key, will pause
the game and
pressing the 'Q' key does something described as
'PRESS Q TO ALTER QUALITY'.  Feeling
adventurous, I
pressed the 'Q' key several times.  It
didn't
seem to do anything other than squish the playing screen sideways about
a millimeter.  Obviously I do not understand quality but my
Fisher
Boy did just fine with out it.

Fisher Boy is geared out with mask, red trunks and weapon and the idea
is to use the letter keys to move and the mouse to aim and
fire. 
On each level there is a particular number of fish that the player has
to harpoon before moving on.  The playing screen is cute and
clutter-free; a small dock, a strip of sky and clouds with an
occasional seagull fly-by are in the top quarter and the rest of the
screen is ocean.  

The First level is kind of a tutorial.  There are bunches of
little fish to aim at and one shark.  Fisher Boy has a limited
amount of air  ('O2') and must rise to the
surface
periodically or he passes out - or as the game says,
'YOU'VE FAINTED'.  I love that,
no stress,
Fisher Boy doesn't drown, he just faints and you have to
start
the level over.  

Other things that steal your air are sharks.  No man-eating
with
these guys, they just bump into Fisher Boy, he lets out a squeal and
the shark steals your oxygen.  However, if Fisher Boy is at
the
surface getting air, the shark just passes by, it doesn't
even
nip at Fisher Boy's toes, just floats on by.  The
only thing
that seems to piss off a shark is hitting it with your wimpy
harpoon.  I'm guessing that later on, with a better
weapon,
the player may be able to kill the sharks - but not at the beginning of
the game.  By hitting a shark it will make a bee-line over to
where Fisher Boy is an basically sit on him and suck out all his air.
 

Fisher Boy moves around the screen easily and his animation of his body
and kicking legs is fantastic.  It really looks like
he's
gliding through the water like a pro 'Fish Killer'.
 

Once a level is finished, a player can move on to the next spot on the
map or go to the Weapon Store to buy, sell or upgrade.  Each
weapon has a rating for Strength; to make your shots stronger, Agility;
for a shorter reload time and uh, Brutality; which is described as,
'More arrows in one shot! More brutal!' '
Okay, I
guess it's accurate in that you do get more arrows, but
nothing
in Fisher Boy could really be described as
'brutal'.  

Fisher Boy qualifies as a game that will be very low on a
player's stress meter; there isn't even a time
limit. 
The player has unlimited shots and can take as much time as they want
to shoot and aim and even swim around with the fishies, as long as they
don't bump into the air-sucking sharks.  As the
levels
progress, there are less small fish and jelly fish to shoot and more
larger fish that require multiple shots and will try to suck your O2 if
you give them a chance.  All in all this game is easy,
addictive
and interesting ' but won't satisfy hard-core
gamers who
need shock, stress and danger fed to them through an intravenous tube
for ultimate satisfaction.  In other words, it's MY
type of
game. 

9Nov/080

The 56K Connection: Olive War ' Attack 1: Veggies from above review.

The 56K Connection: Olive War ' Attack 1: Veggies from above review.

Editors Note: Marz Nolte is the newest 8bitrocket editorial team member. She brings a much needed female voice to the pages of this site. And yes, she does really only have a 56K modem.

Olive War ' Attack 1: Veggies from above.
thecodezone.com or http://www.stoneagegames.com/games/412/

I like all kinds of games; puzzles, adventure, shoot-'ems or strategy, it all depends on my mood. But sometimes, a good description is all I need to try one on line.

'You are an olive with a gun, the latest in a long and proud line of heavily armed condiments, and the planet Salad Bar is under attack from evil flying vegetables, ''

Yes!
I know that this will be a Space Invaders type of thing, but hey, an olive with a gun? Evil veggies? I gotta try that.

Well first off you are an olive, a green one to be exact, but you have no gun. Your little olive body shoots pimento pieces at the falling veggies. Secondly there seems to be little indication that you've actually 'hit' the falling veggies on the first level, because they don't explode or disappear. Like Space Invaders you move left and right by the arrow keys and pummeling the space bar flings the pimento projectiles. Unlike Space Invaders, an olive is oval and rocks on its axis, so by using the arrow keys a player can shoot at various angles to annihilate the veggies instead of just shooting straight up in the air.

Level 2 brings on a strictly carrot invasion. Singularly or in bunches, the carrots have a satisfying pop and disappear when hit. This level warns of MIRV or 'Multiple Independent Re-Entry Vegetables'' heh. Or in other words the carrot bunches split and fall independently when hit.

Level 3 is the last level and is replete with Armored Artichokes. The Artichokes are a bit like the space rocks in 'Asteroids' it takes a few shots to kill them, as they only get smaller and fling off in different directions each time they're hit.

Needless to say Olive War is a 'cute game', it might even qualify as a 'friggin cute game', if they continue to make more levels. I liked Olive War, there is not much to it right now, and those veggies need to explode on level one, but it looks really promising and I look forward to new and exciting chapters from Planet Salad Bar.

Lastly, but no less importantly, my deepest apologies to 'the stick', as referenced in my review of 'Body Ladder' because according Ben Dobbin, Associated Press writer November 7th 2008, 'The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child's imagination, landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday along with the Baby Doll and the skateboard.'

Wow, National Toy Hall of Fame, that's bit-time! I had no idea 'the stick' had so much political power. Congratulations on finally being recognized for the exciting instrument of play that you are. But you still suck at killing zombies. No offense.

5Nov/080

The 56k Connection : Body Ladder Review

The 56k Connection : Body Ladder Review

Editors Note: Marz Nolte joins the 8bitrocket editorial team with the first of her sure to be insightful look at the world of casual games. Marz has bee an avid gamer ever since she helped Steve and Jeff's parents buy them an Atari 2600 in the early 80's. She brings a much needed female voice to the pages of this site and we look forward to many more reviews and editorials from her in the future. And yes, she does really only have a 56K modem.

This morning we toddle along at a rousing 42.6k, which is irritating when you're trying to view the last Opus strip.

No amount of begging, pleading or bribes can persuade my service provider to actually provide DSL service to my area. Oh sure, if I want to cough up bricks of gold bullion every month they'd be happy to sell me a gigantic cable package with bells and whistles and all the internet speed, phone options, tv and (oh boy) billable porno I can stomach ' but no. I figure there must be others like myself that by necessity or choice must flounder around with a dial up.

So, ' Welcome to The 56k Connection. The one stop shop for all your slow connection game playing reviews.

Today we start with 'Body Ladder' http://www.addictinggames.com/bodyladder.html or MoFunZone.com
Download @ 42.6k = 7 mins.

I like a simple game statement. 'Stack Zombie Bodies!' Plain and right to the point, tells me everything I need to know. Plus MoFunZone games have a cute load-up screen, a little line drawing of a guy chucking garbage out of what looks like a city street manhole. It's nice when the company making the game thinks about things like that. I like to see something interesting when I'm waiting for the game to load.

It starts off with a cheery little tune, explaining minimally, that your character is to kill the zombies with Psy power until you get a weapon and then stack the bodies and climb. I realize suddenly that that is all the instruction that you're going to get, either figure it out or the stick zombies march out from both sides of the screen, start grabbing at you and flinging chunks of your flesh off till you die with a 'splat'. The only thing that differentiates you, the zombie killer from the actual zombies is that you get a jaunty little Abraham Lincoln top hat. So Abe and me set out to rid the town of the menacing zombie hoard.

The music is unobtrusive, which is nice, and can be turned off, which is nicer. You don't want to miss the sound quality is of the splats, power-ups, bombs and thuds, which are simple and well done. The graphics are a brilliant mixture of stick-cartoon color with black & white in the playing area.

Your mouse control is a black cross hair and the object is to place the cross hairs over each of the zombie's heads and click to use whatever weapon you have to 'splat-kill' the evil buggers. The splat-kill will create a pile of dead, bloody stick zombies that Abe climbs in his attempts to escape the onslaught. Arrow keys move Abe left and right. The up arrow key causes Abe to jump up in the air and the down arrow key will drop a bomb and blow up any enemies within it's range. It fairly simplistic, but those zombies are quicker than you might think and they can climb up the bodies of their fallen comrades to avenge and rip you to shreds.

The game begins with Abe only having Psy Power.
Psy power is like a psychic mind bomb and Abe can target zombies from anywhere and blast them to smithereens. Unfortunately you only get 10 shots and then Abe runs out of psychic juice and has to rely on his first (of several) weapons- a stick.

The stick is like, well, a stick. It's just not the most efficient tool to use to kill zombies. I've seen a lot of zombie movies and I've hardly ever seen a stick used, but a stick is what you get. Using the stick Abe must forgo the distance combat of the Psy power and get up close and personal, again trying to bash the zombies in the head, climb the bodies and reach the top of the screen.

Every once in a while help will fall from the sky. (Wouldn't that be nice if it happened in every day life?) The glowing word 'psy' will float down and if Abe can get to it before it disappears he gets an invincibility glow around him and he can go bash heads without fear of losing too much of flesh and dying. Also glowing red plus signs (universal sign of health) float down upping Abe's health quotient. And don't forget the down arrow key bombs. A well-timed bomb can really help in a pinch.

As Abe eradicates the zombies they flop over and 'die' or more accurately they become inactive, because lets face it, zombies by their very nature, are already dead. Strategically Abe must kill the zombies with the climbing in mind. Piling up bodies willy-nilly will not help him climb higher and since they drop down where they 'die', an overall pattern should be kept in mind to create a zombie body ladder. The higher Abe climbs the better weapons he gets and believe me, you want to get past the 'stick' weapon.

Abe climbs the bloody inert carcasses to reach his ultimate goal of ' uh, reaching the top of the screen? I don't know, I haven't gotten there yet. Maybe Abe will be airlifted out of this god-forsaken town, or maybe he will win some commendation from the zombie fighters union (ZFU) and be dropped into another zombie-infested city and continue to fight the good fight.

Addictive? Oh yes. This is a good one for imagining the zombies are irritating co-workers or upper management. You literally beat and climb the dead bodies to reach the top. It's the American way.

   
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