Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Being Retro

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

While we’re on the subject of iPhone gaming, I will just go ahead and confess that the device has practically become my primary game platform. There’s something about the immediacy and even naivety of its games that make them so appealing. They are simple, quick to learn, yet incredibly original and entertaining. It’s what games felt like about two decades ago, remember? Indeed, the iPhone has lured a great deal of independent developers with bright ideas and a lot of passion, and yet, the retro-revival movement we’re currently enjoying is more evident on the iPhone than on any other platform. In fact, it’s the retro styled offerings such as Space Invaders Infinity Gene or geoDefense that are the current standouts of the device.

Why it often occurs that indies are associated with retro games? Is it because they can’t tackle larger projects or they know better? Sometimes, when I sit in front of my dusty Xbox 360, grab a shooter (since there aren’t much choices anyway) and try to cope with 10+ buttons, a dozen combinations, slick modern presentation, bells, whistles, in-your-face-shiny-graphics… sometimes, I really think it’s the latter. Is it because of my age? Or because I belong to an old generation of gamers? Is anybody actually reading this?

Of course, it isn’t reasonable to discuss such a profound subject on a mere update post, so this could be the beginning of a larger article. Feel free to discuss — I know that I’m not alone on this one.

Right, where was I? The iPhone. Loved by many, hated by many. Still, the games keep coming and keep getting better. Recently we had yet two other classic adventures being ported: The Labyrinth Of Time and Secrets Of The Lost Cavern. While they might have been rather average titles in their days, they play really well on the iPhone (keep in mind that Lost Cavern is being released in episodes).

The Labyrinth Of Time

The Labyrinth Of Time

Secrets Of The Lost Cavern

Secrets Of The Lost Cavern

And speaking about the wave of retro-revival, one of my recent favorites is by far Hook Champ. This game is brilliant in concept and, perhaps most importantly, brilliant in its level design. Basically, you swing through caverns with your Indiana Jones-y alter ego by means of perfectly adjusted controls. There’s also the deliciously pixelated graphics, of course. The final levels are insanely difficult though and will only appeal to masochistic gamers. Still, you can’t really go wrong at three bucks and there’s a lite version anyway. Hook Champ, you’re my hero.

iTunes Links: The Labyrinth Of Time, Secrets Of The Lost Cavern, Hook Champ

ScummVM 1.0.0 Is Out!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I can’t believe I missed these news but I haven’t seen any mention aside from their homepage. This outstanding multi-platform engine makes a shiny 1.0 debut with an amazing batch of new and glorious games: the Discworld series, Return To Zork, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, Delphine Software games, AGI support… along of course with the usual LucasArts and Revolution games support. It really is a goldmine for adventure game fans and I even dare to say it’s the best software ever. Really. I’m deadly serious on this one (sorry DOSBox).


Link: ScummVM Homepage

Also, you might want to check out a branch of the project that sadly didn’t make it to the main release which plays Infocom adventures very faithfully. Unfortunately, it only works on Windows right now.

Link: ScummVM Misc

(my, just look at the amazing in-progress engines they got there… makes me feel all giggly)

Transylvania Adventure

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Until now, the Nintendo DS was arguably the best handheld for adventure gamers with a modest but terrific selection of software: the outstanding Phoenix Wright series, Hotel Dusk, Trace Memory and a few others were more than enough to justify giving off the cash for the lovely device. But the tables have turned and now the iPhone/iPod Touch have seriously become the absolute best choice to play adventure games on the go, and this seems to be only the beginning. Those of us who enjoy playing vintage adventures will especially make the most out the platform. While some games already present on the DS such as Myst are on the iPhone as well, several other outstanding classics have been ported to Apple’s device: Beneath A Steel Sky, Simon The Sorcerer, Inherit The Earth, Return To Mysterious Island, the remake of Secret Of Monkey Island and the future looks even brighter as developers keep being lured to the platform (annoying issues with the App Store approval process aside). Whereas adventures on the DS have been waning, their presence keeps extending on the iPhone.

Today, I’m going to bring to your attention a really cute game that sadly got lost amidst the continuing tide of Apps being released each week: Transylvania Adventure. The older ones will surely recognize this primitive text adventure that was initially released for the Apple II by PolarWare and then ported to Commodores, DOS, Amiga and all those vintage systems we all seem to love. The iPhone version is excellent, with plenty of options to play through the game (you can even avoid typing a single word) and overall great production values. The sounds for instance have been entirely reworked and there’s a curiously satisfying feeling to see the gloriously pixelated yet sharp graphics on the small screen. Also, the game can be played both in vertical or landscape modes, so it will really fit your gaming preferences just fine. If you’re fortunate enough to already have an iPhone and like classic adventures, then at one measly dollar this is a must-play.

Transylvania Adventure

iTunes Link: Transylvania Adventure