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03 January 2008

Orcs & Elves For NDS

Orcs & Elves is an RPG for the Nintendo DS. The game, originally published for game play on mobile phones, is a turn-based dungeon crawl experience. The game is very simple but entertaining, available for $20.

In Orcs & Elves, you play an elf who is on a quest to free some dead dwarven king. Or something like that. On your quest your most important ally is your talking wand (no, not that kind, the magic firing kind). Ah, who really cares about the story line? This game is straight forward, walk left, turn right, open a door, pull a lever, kill lots of enemies. If you are looking for challenging puzzles skip this title. if you are looking for detailed strategy in encounters, skip this title. If you enjoyed The Bard's Tale on your C64, check it out.

Game play is very simple, you use the d-pad to move and you can do everything using the control keys. Sometimes the stylus comes in handy, but it is not really required. The game has three difficulty settings. I played the game in 'normal' mode (my usual mode of play) and I found it extremely simple. It took about 6.5 hours to complete the entire game. I think I used my saved games once or twice to recover from death, mainly because I was too lazy to pay attention to what was going on in the game (I usually play while doing other things). At normal level, the amount of potions (healing, offensive and defensive effects) and ammunition is staggering. On its 'difficult' setting, I actually have to pay attention to what I am doing. I suggest you start out in the difficult mode if you are easily disappointed by the short game play. I know I felt a bit cheated when I found out I paid $20 for 6 hours of play, compared to what I paid for, e.g. Puzzle Quest (subject of another post, even though I finished the game a while back).

Orcs & Elves is a great game if you like turn based dungeon crawls. I know a lot of players hate turn based games, but I actually love them. With turn based games, there is no need to constantly look for the “pause” button because I need to pay attention to something else. I often interrupt play so I can focus on a good scene in the movie I am watching, so I can check the arrival time of my bus, or so I can check out my girlfriend :)

Buy Orcs & Elves

22:01:24 - 01/03/08 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 6 [+/-]

09 December 2007

Vegas, Here I Come

Thanks to Sinterklaas, I now have everything I need to practice for a visit to Vegas.

(And no, this isn't some spammer trying to interest you in poker, it is an actual blog post.)

17:18:14 - 12/09/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 9 [+/-]

30 October 2007

Boring Intros Of DS Games

Don't get me wrong, I love my Nintendo DS. I like the games I own and even some I don't own (yet). But really, why do so many games (mostly action, rpg, this is less true for the puzzle games) start out with a 10 minute/50-click introductory story? It seems as if every game has five characters that need introducing, and the entire storyline has to be explained before you get to any kind of action.

Long game introductions are nothing new. Many PC games do the same, but those have one advantage: more text fits on the screen, so you need less clicks to get to the game. Whatever happened to introducing the story line and important characters as the game goes on? Even if this much information is required at the beginning, do developers really expect people to remember all of it?

The long intros are particularly bad when you want to get a quick idea of what a game is like. When I first see a game, I want to experience the game play to see if it will be any fun. Needing five minutes before I can actually play is kind of off-putting. But then, maybe I'm just too picky and most people like these long-winded intros.

21:15:00 - 10/30/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 1 [+/-]

21 August 2007

Gleemax Screenshots

Apparently (hey, I wasn't there, so I'll just go on what I read online), Wizards of the Coast previewed the upcoming Gleemax site for gamers at Gen Con. Going by the screenshots they put online, it looks pretty much like other social sites, but aimed at gamers.

At the moment, I am not really involved in too many actual gaming events with real life friends. But perhaps it will still be interesting to get an account anyway. To have a place to list all my games (past and present), both online and offline. There is talk of a public alpha. As soon as I can get an account for a beta (or alpha, for that matter) test, I plan to give it a try.

21:28:32 - 08/21/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 3 [+/-]

23 July 2007

Nervous Brickdown: Breakout-like Game For DS

When I was younger, I used to love playing Arkanoid on my C64 and Amiga. After moving away from those machines, I kind of lost touch with the games. Now I found an alternative to play on the Nintendo DS: Nervous Brickdown.

In Nervous Brickdown, the player controls a little bat at the bottom of the screen. The bat is used to hit a little ball that flies over the screen, top to bottom. Hitting it with the bat causes the ball to go up. Missing the ball results in a loss of life. The object of the game is to move the ball so it hits bricks on screen. As each brick is hit, it will explode. Once all bricks are cleared, you advance to the next level.

Basic game play is extremely simple to understand, but executing it is quite a different matter. The DS game version is not very hard to play. It may take a couple of tries on some screens, but most of the time it is easy to clear a screen. The hardest part was getting used to the controls. You see, the DS uses the stylus for controls. Which means you have to move your bat around using the stylus instead of the controller's buttons. The game also uses other DS-specific controls, like the microphone. Some levels feature ghost characters and you get rid of them by blowing onto the controller. This creates a gust of wind which moves the ghosts. Weird. Imagine playing this on the train or in public :)

The game levels are grouped together and each group has a kind of “end boss” to beat. Those can be more tricky than the regular levels.

Overall, this game is great way to pass time. It isn't too hard, but has enough levels to keep me busy for quite some time. The game just came out in the US and will make it to Europe soon. Definitely worth the $30 price tag.

Buy Nervous Brickdown

20:13:41 - 07/23/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 2 [+/-]

04 July 2007

Help, I Can't Defend Myself

All over the web I read about Desktop Tower Defense and how addictive it was. Surely that can't be true? Let's give it a try. Huh? I've been playing this for an hour? What happened?

That was more or less what happened last night, when I finally gave in and decided to see what the fuzz is all about. Desktop Tower Defense is incredibly easy to get into, hard to stop. You have to prevent “creeps” from crossing the screen. One wave of creeps travels horizontally, one wave vertically. To kill creeps, you can buy towers from a selection of 6. Each tower has its own price, each its own powers (some fire quickly, some slowly but with more power, some are good against flying creeps). Yes, the towers shoot stuff at the creeps to kill them. Killing creeps gets you money to buy more defenses. Set up your line of defense and make sure creeps don't make it to the other side of the screen. Simple. Yet incredibly complex in choices. Do you buy many towers that fire low caliber pellets, or one tower that fires off a massive missile? You have to find your own mix and it can take a while before you figure out what you like best.

One thing that comes in quite handy and that I didn't notice during the first game: each tower has a square base, and the non-flying creeps move around the base. So if you line up a bunch of towers, you can turn the field into a maze, to confuse creeps and to make sure it takes more time for them to cross the screen. More time = more receptive to your projectiles.

I hope this post hasn't wet your appetite for this game. Because if it has, I can't be held responsible for the consequences. :)

22:06:15 - 07/04/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 1 [+/-]

25 June 2007

Gleemax ARG

When I mentioned the Gleemax site, I basically thought it was too bare to be interesting enough. I still consider the site incredibly lacking in useful content. I don't see how it will be the home of gamers this way.

Part of the Gleemax thing is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG, don't worry, I had to look it up too). Basically, by participating on the Gleemax forums, people play kind of a role-playing game in real life. Through the game, they can also learn more about the philosophies and ideas behind the entire Gleemax thing. That's all nice and well, but I don't really care for the background. What I do care about, is that this experience comes with puzzles. Sometimes hard ones.

Through a number of puzzles and tasks, participants in this virtual scavenger hunt can learn more about the Gleemax experience. Puzzles range from receiving scrambled words in emails, to deciphering the tones of a sound file and converting them to a phone number. All puzzles that are currently known are listed in a wiki. There may be tons of other puzzles out there that simply haven't been recognized as challenges yet. Trying to solve some of the puzzles is quite entertaining, even though it sucks up a lot of time.

At this moment, I think there is one big flaw in the Gleemax ARG and puzzle situation: not enough participants and a risk of the campaign dying soon due to lack of involvement. The number of people active at decrypting the puzzles is small, and as a result the odds of beating a puzzle aren't too good either. A strong mix of people and skills seems required to solve all puzzles. Some hints would be good too, but those are very limited.

Having looked at some puzzles and after following some of the forum posts, I am a bit disappointed in the participation by the Gleemax character and the amount of information handed out. Yes, there are some very crafty challenges, but once they are out there, that seems to be it. Not much new is coming out, and it looks like the current challenges will go unsolved for a while. With nobody having any clue whether or not “this is it”, that can quickly lead to people losing interest. In the meantime, I occasionally reread a puzzle to see if I can come up with a brilliant idea.

21:42:58 - 06/25/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 3 [+/-]

17 June 2007

Gleemax, MySpace For Gamers?

Wizards of the Coast (WotC, owned by Hasbro) has started a site that apparently wants to be the community site for gamers. Kind of like a MySpace for gamers, both players of offline and online games, it seems. is the site where it should all happen. Right now the site is still quite bare. Some posts, some forums, but that's about it. Disappointing and risky, in my opinion. I might be interested in a site that focuses on gamers. I'd need something to keep me interested though. An empty site doesn't appeal to me. Why should I come back to check it out? It would have been smarter to wait until there would be lots of content. Get people hooked on the site right away.

A site aimed at being the one stop for gamers, I would expect “members” and “profiles” sections where players can tell us all about their hobbies. Which games they play, their favorite D&D characters, favorite Magic the Gathering decks (hey, WotC owns those games) and similar things. Perhaps this will be added in the future. For now, the site is something I may visit on a weekly basis, just to see how things change. It'll be interesting to see if it picks up and if people actually use it. Once there is something to use besides the forums.

13:10:03 - 06/17/07 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 6 [+/-]

22 December 2006

Flash Games

It is the season again. Time for merry family gatherings and happy times. Ahem. Well, if you're into that kind of stuff. If you'd rather stay home and play some fun games, I may have just the sites for you.

Although I am not sure if I mentioned this before (probably not), it can't hurt to mention Miniclip again. Many flash games, including multi-player ones. [Source]

If you are into creating your own flash games, Kongregate is probably more up your alley. At this community site, members can play and rate games that were uploaded by other members. So if you create your own flash games, you can get some free exposure and feedback for the games. The site has just opened, but it already has a couple of games. I like what I saw of Orbox B and Blang. [Source]

Kongregate is a social site and it has all kinds of plans for people to earn points and spend them. No clue whether that will be any fun, but I do like to find new games from time to time. Time wasters that don't take hours to play. And with developers uploading their own games, you can find even more games trough links posted by people. Orbox B for example links to ArcadeCabin with lots of other games, although I didn't look at these. Ok, one more then ... GameGum which I didn't try either.

Happy gaming ...

21:40:42 - 12/22/06 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 4 [+/-]

15 June 2006

Momir Basic In MTGO

I have played Magic the Gathering (product site /Wikipedia) since the Revised edition set came out, which was back in 1994. Yes, I'm old and I should be a much better player after 12 years of play time, but I'm still just an average player.

For years I played with friends in fun Friday, Saturday, even weekday nights. Then we all moved away and I was stuck with a wish to play but little opportunity. Along came Magic Online. As I have mentioned before, I had some reservations about it, but it turned out to be a great experience. Now I get my “weekly” Magic fix online. Magic the Gathering Online (MTGO) is great fun. But now it has become even more fun. [Read More!]

22:38:47 - 06/15/06 - RB - Category: Gaming - No Trackbacks - karma: 4 [+/-]
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