Author Archives: Daniel Cabanas
Available on: PC, PS3; Publisher: Rockin’ Android; Developer: Platine Dispositif; Players: 1 – 2; Released: September 27, 2011 (Steam); ESRB: Everyone; Official Site
The three games, Hitogata Happa, GundeadliGne, and Gundemonium Recollection, each offer several levels of bulletstorms. The main appeal of each game seems to be that the player controls girls dressed in fancy outfits and a comically large shooting weapon. Initially I wasn’t sure whether to expect a female-oriented narrative in which a female is empowered by the use of gun-based implements or a game where I shoot girls. Both options are terrible and shallow theses, and thankfully what I played instead was more sensible: Japanese anime maids (ani-maids) shooting laser bunnies, demon pumpkins, and half-naked cat swordswomen.
Available on: iOS, Mac, PC; Publisher: Telltale Games; Developer: Telltale Games; Players: 1; Released: June 30, 2011; ESRB: Everyone; Official Site
The narrative follows a story left off in a previous Puzzle Agent game: hero Agent Tethers narrates his own story, in which he returns to solve puzzles left unsolved. This is largely the thesis of the narrative, with the gameplay concept being that the player will solve puzzles to uncover clues to an overarching mystery. The quirky narrative and animation style is interesting in a novel way, though the models and animation felt a bit unpolished. Granted, the game is based on Graham Annable’s personal work, which itself is imaginative in a sort of brooding–madness kind of way.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square Enix; Developer: Obsidian Entertainment; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 21, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site
I’ve been a fan of Dungeon Siege since the first game came out, when I was hot in my exploration of swords and magic themed narratives. The open-ended feeling of the character development and geographic design let me spend many hours finding secret places with unknown and powerful monsters hoarding magnificent treasures. Dungeon Siege II heavily redesigned the gameplay to facilitate more linear character development, which at first felt constricting, but turned out to be a clever way to make the player focus on a goal.
Dungeon Siege III focuses the intense white-hot narrative to make an action-oriented RPG that feels less like the original Dungeon Siege than some may be comfortable with, but it is okay; beating up the bad guys is more fun when it is an activity rather than a process.
I really like the Sid Meier’s Civilizations series. Watching an empire grow and flourish because of decisions I made is a unique brand of exhilaration for me, like a simulation of if I were a responsible person. The first Sid Meyer game I played, however, wasn’t one of the Civilization games, but his Alpha Centauri game, which holds sort of the same narrative interest as Armada 2526; when Earth becomes too small a pond for the thrashing aquatic Human fish, a leap must be made from our star to the next, where our spawn will grow to thrash again. The major difference between Armada and Alpha Centauri, though, is that space travel is not a big deal in Armada, nor are the social concepts of living on a different planet a concern to any degree. No, you are in space, and you have to fly your guys to the other stars and make them fight alien spaceships in real-time and blow them up for glorious victory. It is pretty rad.
The appeal of Crazy Machines is strange. The narrative goes that I am at the service of a vaguely professor-ish colleague of popularly referenced smart guys (Einstein, Curie, etc.) and that I often have perform menial chores using engineering elements. Personally, I have never had to consider the proper trajectory that a basketball would have to travel to activate a steam powered hot dog cooker. Turns out that it’s a lot of fun.
Before playing BIT. TRIP FLUX, I didn’t know if there was some narrative history behind the dark rectangular shape as the silent level cut scenes suggest, so when I booted up the game to play a simple rhythm game, I was surprised to find a significant effort in creating a multi-sensory experience that challenges the player in unique ways. The specific things that get challenged most rigorously seem to be the wrists and the eyes, which for players of reflex and other visual rhythm games makes this game probably pretty easy. For me, however, it was three days of harrowing light-juggling exercises and sore wrists. This was only a minor and temporary grievance, as the game provides clever ways for the player to get better.