Saturday, 18 September 2010

Hardcore Players Only: I Wanna Be The Guy

I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: Game is an indy freeware game famous for its absurd level of difficulty. Taking the role of The Kid, who is some caped boy with a mean pistol on a suicidal quest to become The Guy. Run, gun and jump your way through game designer Kayin's gauntlet of unforseeable traps, barely avoidable spikes and the famous 'death cherries' (apples) that fall upwards. The experience is made even more maddening by the fact that one hit from anything that moves means instant death. This is not for the faint hearted and to quote and old Royal Navy slogan. 99.99% need not apply. 

This is how artwork is done people 

From the starting point, you can explore many routes none of which are particularly easy and all of which can be explored from the get go as apparently, upgrades are extraneous and only make things easier. You will notice (if you can even beat the first couple of screens) many locations and hazards from various games of the 16-bit era and most of the music and sprites are directly hacked from games like Metroid, Megaman etc. Speaking of Megaman, the game requires you defeat six bosses before allowing entry in to final lair of The Guy, which in itself consists of many screens which even after memorising all of the 'surprise hazards' take a great degree of skill to conquer. 

The difficulty levels mainly govern the frequency of the save points in the game, ranging from Impossible (no saves) to Medium (many saves, all of which read 'WUSS' instead of 'SAVE' and The Kid wears a big poncey pink ribbon at all times to add further insult) but the actual screens themselves maintain a consistent level of difficulty. 

If a group of your friends start playing this be warned that there will be severe bragging rights earned by those that complete their quest and become The Guy. If you've Beaten the Bear (see last post) it is now time for you to Be The Guy. Do you have what it takes?

Friday, 17 September 2010

Great Free Online Flash RPGs

A lot of people cite Square's Final Fantasy 7 as being one of these benchmark RPGs to compare all other contenders to but FF7 has one fatal flaw. You can't click a tab anywhere in the entire game and check your Facebook before clicking another tab to return to the game. The following three not only allow you to do this, but are all solidly enjoyable games, each with their own distinctive and often humorous styles.

Most recently released is Epic Battle Fantasy 3. Now if you have experienced either EBF 1 or 2 then please those forget those experiences now. The previous two games in this series saw you progress linearly through fight after fight with no exploration, character levelling and you started off with every kickass magic spell and summon in the game from the get go. This time you have to properly earn all your strength with levels, AP to buy skills with and the whole upgradin' shabang.

In this third release you take control of Matt (some kinda pirate), Natalie (a magic wielding girl with boobs that jiggle when you click on them, yep) and Lance (a soldier of sorts and the final boss in the previous game) on a quest to defeat some demon that looks a lot like the Aeon Anima from Final Fantasy X that drains away the party's magic and skills in the opening scenes. This goes to explain why the adventurers start off as proper Lv 1. noob warriors in this game. Great!

This time there is a full blown map to explore with treasure chests to open, monsters you have to approach to battle (no random encounters here) and sidequests which consist entirely of bringing X amount of Y items to person Z in return for Prize A. There are minigames, a bestiary to fill and medals to collect for the compulsive gamers out there and four levels of difficulty to master should you want the extra challenge. Oh yeah and don't forget the clickable jiggle boobs. They are also there too.

Combat is essentially "We make our moves first and then you make yours" and the rest is standard RPG fare. The graphics are nice and cartoony and the whole game makes fun of itself with constant references to various internet memes and RPG tropes. Basically the whole thing looks and feels like it was designed by a 15 year old and it's up to you whether you find all that annoying or not but the game itself is pretty solid. Enjoy!

Next up is something of a big deal. Indie programmer pseudolonewolf has created a series of SNES-like RPG's called Mardek. So far there are 3 chapters on the web and a planned series of 8 altogether. The very cool thing is that as long as you play each of the games sequentially on the same website and don't delete your cookies and whatnot it is possible to finish one chapter and carry over all your stats, items and data from one chapter to the next which is unique in the world of Flash gaming as far as I am aware and it works brilliantly. If you want to play the first instalment go here.

Now be informed that although the first game is relatively short the following two chapters boast about 30 hours plus gameplay and plenty more depth. During exploration the interface is very much in the realm of Super Nintendo graphics and it pulls this off well and everything looks very clean and polished for a free game. The battles ditch this graphics style and offer more detailed sprites for enemies and heroes during combat. This RPG comes complete with more satisfying sidequests than Epic Battle Fantasy and offers a greater depth of tactics and storyline. The game even allows you a chance to skip random encounters when you 'grow out of them' stats wise so the game progresses at a good pace.

The narrative revolves around a little medievalish village boy called Mardek who encounters a being from outer space called Rohoph that has fled from his own people. Residing inside the body of Mardek, Rohoph stays with him as he grows up to be a full blown royal soldier and that's when Rohoph's 'people' catch up with him. Anything else would be telling so I'll let you get on with it. Mardek's style does include some self referential RPG - trope stuff like the 'Sidequest Priest' and characters that are fully aware that they are useless NPCs consigned to walk backwards and forwards. However the tone of the game is serious enough and gets the daft-serious balance bang on. Worth your time but it is a meaty one so be warned.

I now draw your attention to Sonny and it's sequel which can be played independently. As the blurb text warns you, this game puts you in control of the eponymous zombie. You're not sure how you became a zombie or even how you died in the first place but there you are, on a boat, undead and being hunted down by the living and it's just your luck that instead of curious horny tweenage zombie fodder coming to explore your spooky location, it's a bunch of highly trained soldiers with nasty weapons. Sod's Law.

With the help of tutorial NPC Louis the Blind you escape the boat and go on a quest to well, stay alive for want of a better word. The game progresses linearly from battle to battle with the option to shop, equip stuff, save and take part in level grinding battles if you need the exp. There's an interesting buff/debuff system which allows various conditions to be stacked on one another (e.g. "Double Poison") and debuff heals/buff breaks work on a Last In First Out basis so if you "Regenerate HP Every Turn" yourself three times and an opponent's debuff technique is good for only two debuffs, you still have the very first one left over and active. It works very well and I've not seen it elsewhere.

Each turn your characters can choose from eight equipped skills. These skills can be bought with point that come with every level and skills are arranged in a 'skills tree' which means that you can't buy a skill on a given branch unless you have bought all the skills preceeding it on the branch. If you make bad decisions or your character would simply be better off in a certain fight having a whole new skillset, you are able to claim back all your spent points and have a do-over a certain number of times a day. 

Most of these skills require some of your limited supply of 'Focus Points' in order to use and there is a 'cooldown time' for most skills which can be somewhat circumvented by equipping a skill multiple times (there are limits there too though) and the main strategical problems revolve around timing which skills you use and precisely when you use them. No good having a 'block attack' skill in cooldown when you are expecting a huge attack from an enemy next turn.

The annoying things about this game are that equipping your character can be very fiddly and annoying, your companions in the party act on their own which sometimes can lead to their daft moves leaving you in a bad situation. Also this game is not ideal for slower connections as the game can suffer massive slowdown which really makes the game a chore to play and watch. However the battle mechanics work well enough and there is some good voice acting in it which makes the three story chapters plus the bonus fourth chapter playable enough to keep you interested for that length of time. Worth a go if you've tried everything else.          
Phew! With that I leave you to the 70+ hours of time wasting RPG fare on offer here!