Friday, 28 February 2014

Nidhogg (PC)

Nidhogg, like its name, is really odd and almost indescribable because it genuinely is unique. The game plays similar to PSX classic Bushido Blade but in a 2D environment. You get stabbed once and your character dies but unlike the aforementioned Bushido Blade, another one pops up in his place to continue the fight. It plays almost like a brutal version of tag, the person who kills first becomes the one able to pass to the next screen, should the victim return the favour he can then proceed to the opposite side.

It's a tricky concept to get across verbally (or in written word at least) but basically you stab, run, hope not to get stabbed, throw your sword, arrive at next screen and repeat until you pass all the screens and are ultimately eaten by the titular Nidhogg - and all while the other player is attempting to do the same. As you can imagine this leads to some insanely quick matches - or ones that seem to go back and forth for ages, depending on how equally matched you and your opponent are - but this is all part of the fun as Nidhogg has such fluid and enjoyable mechanics that any drawn out battles are tense yet massive achievements when won.

Krunel (ZX Spectrum)

The ZX Spectrum is like the 8-Bit equivalent of one of those local punk bands stuck touring the toilet-circuit; it might not be the prettiest or the best sounding act, but the Speccy at least has a spark of independence, defiantly strutting about the stage with its garish palette, ludicrous colour clash and glitchy sounding soundchip. And hey, I love me some punk.

Krunel from, is a simple Puyo-Puyo style puzzle game that neither deviates from the classic formula nor has any stand-out features (other than being a new 21st century game running on arcane hardware). Really, there's no reason for it to exist, but this is a Spectrum we're talking about here - and Speccy developers just do whatever they like.

Ouya Console (Android)

The Ouya received a lot of press following its official post-Kickstarter launch last year, most of which can (at best) be described as a luke-warm reception to an over-hyped and often misunderstood product. Let's face it – the Ouya was never going to and never will change the world of gaming; almost a year down the line from the initial developer units being sent out, their 'revolution' is still no closer to happening.

However, what has happened over the past nine months or so is this; a ton of system updates that have greatly improved the console. We've seen much needed proper USB support added, incremental optimisations, store redesigns, overscan options and many, many bug fixes. And most importantly, earlier this month the completely broken 'sandbox' system was removed and replaced with a far more sensible, ordered list of new releases. Finally, everyone launching a game on Ouya gets a period of exposure on the discover store – which is what the platform was supposed to be all about in the first place.

With these updates to the console considered, here at RGCD I've decided to give the Ouya a no-nonsense, honest review of how the console performs in its current state, and give an insight as to what it can offer – other than being a dedicated Towerfall machine.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Neon Shadow (Android/iOS/Ouya)

Neon Shadow was comfortably one of the most anticipated post-launch releases to date on the Ouya. Initially trailered before the crowd-funded console was even released, Ouya fans have been eager for a high-quality First-Person Shooter to hit their TV screens without having to resort to emulators and side-loading.

And coming with a two-player co-operative mode and online multiplayer, Neon Shadow is certainly packing a lot of heat for its generously low $4.99 asking price.

The Speccies (ZX Spectrum)

I do love a good puzzler. In fact, I am famous among friends for my penchant for puzzle games due to the fact that as a child I named my first pet, a diminutive Russian hamster, after Taito's 'Puzznic', a tile based logic game that I played for many hours on my Sinclair Spectrum. I am aware of how tragic this makes my life appear, but Puzznic did seem like a cute name for the little fur-ball at the time. It has been a while since I came across a really good brainteaser on the Spectrum, but this new offering from Tardis Remakes has definitely been testing the ol' grey matter.

It was probably worth Tardis porting this game to the 48k Spectrum for the inspired name-change alone. The Brainies, presumably so-called as the cute creatures are little more than massive heads with tiny feet stuck on, have been rechristened as The Speccies. Oh-so-appropriate for a Spectrum remake of a game that never made it on to the machine on its original release in the early 1990s. The little critters don't actually wear spectacles, however, which seems to me a missed opportunity.

Intake (PC/Mac)

Cipher Prime Studios has really carved a niche for themselves with their games that heavily incorporate bright, colorful neon-tinged design with smartly blended musical elements. For example, I'm a huge fan of Fractal, an exquisitely crafted, intense puzzler. The studio has really upped their game with their newest release, Intake, which hearkens back to the sweaty days of score attacking in the local arcade machine, if the local arcade machine housed a blend of heavy dubstep fused to a shooter on acid dressed up as Dr. Mario.

Meganoid 2: Grandpa's Chronicles (Android/Linux/Mac/iOS/PC)

If Gunslugs was Orange Pixel's take on the side-scrolling run 'n' gun genre, and Heroes of Loot their take on Gauntlet for the mobile generation, then Meganoid 2 is their reimagining of the Rick Dangerous franchise, updated for the modern age with many shorter levels rather than fewer, longer ones. Oh, and with a bit of Super Meat Boy masochism thrown in for good measure.

Taking place in an anonymous, cavernous underground location, each level challenges you to find the hidden treasure and make it to the exit alive as quickly as possible. The game is designed so that while you can successfully complete a level in just a few seconds, it will take many attempts to work out all the patterns of the traps to complete it with all three goals reached (completing the level, doing it within the time limit and finding the treasure).

Sgt. Helmet Training Day (NES/ZX Spectrum)

You have to hand it to the Mojon Twins, those chaps turn out more ZX Spectrum games than Ocean did in the 80s. The Twins have some seriously durable code magic at work as their engines seem to lend themselves to whatever devious design they throw at them.

Sgt. Helmet Training Day is a fine example of them rising to a challenge, as from what I can understand (via Google translate) this game is a direct retaliation to the claims the Mojon Twins 'don't do run n' gun'. I must admit when I think back through their titles I can recall plenty of maze games and floaty platformers, so some of my assumptions still stand but I'll go into that later on.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Project '88 (Android/iOS)

Every once in a while I dig up some hidden, buried gem on the App Store that really glistens with gaming goodness. The sad thing is that many of these titles, especially the paid ones, will likely fade into obscurity faster than a Tesla blows up when driving over something. As such, I feel it's my duty to share apps like this from time to time, especially those that are chock-full of retro goodness like Project '88.

Routagames' Project '88 is at its core an endless runner, and admittedly doesn't bring much that's new to the genre. Players pilot a very polygonal little ship soaring on a brightly colored track that appears to be mounted in a psychedelic tunnel of sorts. The craft is controlled via the touch screen (or tilt mechanic), similar to Terry Cavanagh's Super Hexagon, with the addition of a 'jump' feature that allows the craft to flip vertically across the screen to traverse gaps.