Friday, 8 February 2013

Back to Boken

I felt bad about the terse assessment of Superhero League of Hoboken yesterday, so I thought I'd briefly revisit it today. My excuse is that I wrote it in the middle of something else, so I wasn't really feeling it at the time.

So, a little more about the game. In it, you play a team of superheroes with rather rubbish abilities (e.g. the ability to eat spicy food without any side effects, or the ability to fold road maps). You start off with a team of 4 heroes (from a pool of 6), and over the course of the game new heroes join your league and your team roster expands, so by the end you have 8 (or 9...can't remember) slots to fill from a selection of weird and wonderful characters. The mission structure is kind of unique, each 'level' you have five missions, and once you complete all five (the last of which is always foiling big bad guy's current plan) then your league level increases and you get the next set of five missions (along with a new character slot and another 'rest'). You travel around a map of New York, fighting bad guys and solving these missions. When you encounter enemies, the screen switches to a view of the monsters and you have a fairly traditional fight with them (except they have comedy descriptions and make amusing comments every time you hit them). There are also special locations on the map - villages, warlord's mansions, the Statue of Liberty, etc. - where your team can enter and the game switches to a more traditional adventure game interface where you'll need to sweep the screen with your mouse looking for things to interact with. You have a full inventory, so you can pick things up or use objects on other objects. I thought the game combined these two styles pretty well, and it was fun to explore the map and discover the new locations. There was a map in the manual that gave the basic locations of the villages, so it wasn't too hard to navigate around. The most difficult bit to me was the subways. You find subway passes throughout the game that allow you to travel on the different subway lines you come across, but nothing ever tells you where each line goes, and those lines sometimes go to other, off-map locations that are essential to your quest. So, one quest has you going to Philadelphia, but you have absolutely no idea which subway will take you to Philadelphia, so you have to travel around the map trying all of the subways until you find the right coloured line. In fact, that particular quest was even worse because the subway pass that you need was a random drop from a battle. This meant that I had to keep travelling around fighting random battles until I found it (and don't forget that once you've fought a certain number of battles on a map screen the random battles stop, so you have to travel to a different map screen with more difficult enemies and fight them...). So anyway, that part of the game was annoying. The other thing that I found annoying was that there are times (quite a few times) where you have to perform the same action numerous times before it has an effect. I hate things like that. For example, you might have to go to a location and wait for something to happen. There is a Wait command in the interface, so you go to the place and hit Wait... Nothing happens. You click it again... Nothing happens. And again. And again, until at last the event you were waiting for takes place. What is the point of that? If I go somewhere and I click Wait, then have me wait until the event happens, don't make me hit Wait five times without giving me any indication that I'm doing the right thing. Grrr. Anyway, even with those annoying faults, I thought that the game in general was good fun and pretty amusing in parts. Oh, the ending screen was pretty rubbish, though. I did take a screen grab of it, but it's not worth posting it here. Just imagine the previous grab of the game, but with a small grey box over it saying "The End". That was it. There was also the promise of a sequel, but that never happened, as far as I'm aware.

So, Capone. I gave it a quick blast, but it's just a very basic, very early light gun game. The camera pans along the street and bad guys pop up from windows, and you proceed to shoot said bad guys in the face with your pistol (or tommy gun, if you have it). I played through four or five levels, and nothing happened except the bad guys got faster and shot me more. Actually, there was one slight change when one level was set in a warehouse full of TNT boxes, and if I shot one of those by mistake then the place exploded, but otherwise it was still pop-up pirate. I don't think I'm going to take it any further, it's not hugely fun and I can't see it becoming any more fun. Onwards...

Next up on the randometer is...Startopia! This should be fun. It's one of those light-hearted management sims in the same vein as Theme Park or Theme Hospital (and it's made by ex-Bullfroggers), but this one's set on a space station. I'll definitely switch to the series for a bit of UFO love now, but I'm looking forward to this one.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Hobo-Ken!

Well, I finished that one up quick. It was a nice blast of fun - a light-hearted RPG with simple adventure game elements. It was written by Steve Meretzky who did a bunch of comedy adventure games. This is the first of his I've played, but there are a bunch of them to come. And it was fun, so I'm looking forward to them. For a light, little known RPG, it had some nice features - even just simple little things like automatically equipping the best stuff, which I wish more games did. There were random battles, but once you'd done a certain amount of them on each map screen they stopped for good, so it didn't take too long to clear the entire map of random battles which allowed me to get on with the adventure game aspects without too many interruptions. The heroes were funny, the monsters were funny...I would have said more about it, but I rushed through it so quickly that it's gone from my memory already!

Next up on the randometer is...Big Sea: The Better One Will Win! Never heard of it. Sounds like it's a German merchant trading game, but with a side helping of fantasy stuff. Could be interesting, but I'm not sure I'll stick with it for long.

...and a quick install later reveals the whole thing to be in German. I know I did German A-Level, but it's not helping me much here. I had a quick try, but I couldn't get anywhere. On to the next one...spinning the randometer now...it's Capone! Apparently it was the first light gun game for the Amiga, and it was remade to use the mouse on PC. No idea what it's going to be like.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Back from crusade

For some strange, masochistic reason, I went back and finished Space Crusade. The remaining missions didn't take *that* long, so it wasn't as much of a chore as I thought it might be. It wasn't until the final mission that the difficulty really ramped up (although I did kill myself once more along the way by getting sucked out of an airlock. Idiot.). Even the final mission wasn't that bad, but that was partly because of some door abuse.  If you close a door whilst an enemy is standing in it then the enemy is squashed and killed. It's not normally that much of an advantage because you have to be standing next to a door to operate it. However, there is a random event card that gives you the ability to open and close doors at will throughout the entire level and for the remainder of the mission. By some amazing stroke of luck, this event happened right at the beginning of the final mission, and I must have killed half of the aliens simply by remotely closing doors they were standing under, even though they were half-way across the map. It was beautiful. What wasn't quite so beautiful was the ending. That ugly mug you see in the screenshot was it. Well, technically, that's the ending you get for any successful mission, but that was all I got at the end as well (and a promotion in rank...but what was the point in that?). Ho hum.

Onwards! The next game up on the randometer is...Superhero League of Hoboken! I don't really know much about this one, but it sounds interesting. An adventure/RPG hybrid that's set in a surreal post-apocalyptic version of earth where you control a bunch of superheroes out to save the world. I might even give it a quick look before moving on to UFO.

Oh, and in other exciting news, I passed the first test of resolve to not buy a game this year! Half-minute Hero was on sale on Steam for only 2.37, and I wanted it sooooo much. However, I managed to stamp on the rising cobra of temptation and defeat the tyranny of Gabe Newell's rampaging electrical behemoth. Ummm, anyway, I didn't buy a game. Yay me.

Friday, 1 February 2013

BZZZZZTT*

...and not long after publishing that post, the washing machine decided to blow up, shorting out the fuseboard and killing my computer. Had I saved my progress in Space Crusade? No I hadn't (in my defence, the save mechanic is kind of fiddly). Ugh. Can I be bothered to go back and replay all those levels? I'm not sure. Needless to say, it's going to take a while longer than I originally planned to finish it now. Bah!

Coming up zeroes

I'm on my way through Space Crusade. I'm not sure this is the one we used to play at school, that might have been Space Hulk, but it's a very similar concept. Space Hulk (of which there is a computer game coming up) had a more complex turn system where your marines could go on overwatch, etc., whereas Space Crusade simply has you taking your turn (moving and attacking) and only responding to enemies if they melee attack you. There are three space marine teams you can take on each mission. I think this would make it quite fun multiplayer, but I find it's not worth taking them all out in single player because it slows the whole game down too much. So I find myself sticking with the Blood Angels in my campaign (your commander gains experience as you complete missions, so you want to stick with the same team once you've made your choice).

You control a squad of four marines and a commander. The marines only have 1 hitpoint each, while the commander has 6, so there's a bit of strategy involved with taking care of your expendable dudes while at the same time keeping your commander protected (the marines are ultimately expendable, the commander is not). The marines also have a choice of different weapon and equipment loadouts, and there are some event cards you can play to help you out on your missions. This does provide an extra layer of strategy, I guess, but I found myself using the same loadout every time once I'd found one I liked. There is some variety among the missions, but not enough variety that it makes me change which weapons/equipment I take with me.

It all feels very true to the board game but, as I say, this is an earlier version to the one I played, so I can't be 100% sure of that. A couple of terminology updates from last time - they're 'bolters', but there are also bolt pistols, no sign of bolt rifles, though. Also, in this game the aliens are called soulsuckers, not genestealers, which is weird. They must have not quite decided on the name at this point, as it's definitely genestealers in all later games. Needless to say, genestealer is a much better name! Anyway, back to the title of this post and one annoying (for me) aspect of this game's adherence to the board game; you have to roll dice to attack and defend. I don't know if it's just my usual board game dice roll curse, or if the computer cheats, but man do I roll a lot of zeroes! My commander has a power sword and power glove, which give him 4 attack dice in melee. I also have a piece of equipment that allows me to reroll one of those dice, so that's effectively five dice, and I must come up with all zeroes about 30% of the time. It really is quite ridiculous how often it happens, and it slows the game down a heck of a lot. Luckily (if you can call it that) it seems to come up much more often when I'm attacking than when I'm defending and counter-attacking, so I seem to kill the majority of the orks and gretchins when they attack me rather than vice versa. Ah well, gets the job done, I suppose. I'm making pretty good progress with the missions, so I reckon I'll be able to polish this one off soon, maybe even lunchtime today, but definitely over the weekend if I get a minute. The level of difficulty feels about right - it's challenging, but not impossible (even with the questionable dice rolls). My stupidest death so far was on a mission where I had to open an airlock and then escape. I ended my turn next to the airlock (with my commander!) and rather dumbly decided to open it. Needless to say at the start of the following turn my commander was immediately whisked out into deep space. Idiot!