The Folks at Apple Are Geniuses

Iíve spent $15 in the last two weeks on the iTunes store for some games for my iPod Touch (phone coming next week!). Fifteen dollars net me six games and every one of them has been amazing. Assassinís Creed and I have had an excellent past. I donít know how Ubisoft did it, but the game on the iPod ($5) is unbelievable. The rest: Mecho Wars, Flight Control, Baseball Superstars 09, and geoDefense.

Monday Madness?

This is going to be a big madness. Due to recent excitement, we’ve got to catch up three weeks worth.

GAME: Gamers With Jobs featured a game a while back called Ether Cannon. It’s Asteroids with pretty visuals, concussion visuals.

PICS: Ever heard of the website PostSecret? Gamers With Jobs (again) started the same thing with games. The Teamfortress 2 pyro is my favorite. Post 1. Post 2.

GAME: Luminara, a much better take on Asteroidsómuch better. Now with trippy visuals, excellent controls, and a catchy soundtrack.

GAME: Do you like the Civilization games? Then you’ll love this FREE, dumbed-down, web-based version. Call it Ikariam. I’ll be sharing the server I’m on eventually.

PICS: Somebody took some screencaps of Metroid Prime 3 and made them 3D. I’ve got some glasses and I’ll admit: awesome. Thanks, Kotaku.

GAME: Audiosurf has recently added some new features. Why do I keep coming back to this game? Oh, yeah, because of allowing me to use my own songs. I don’t have to pay for each and every new song. Zing?

VIDEO: I usually cannot stand watching sportcasters, but somebody at TNT is teh phunny.

GAME: Zombies. That’s all I’m going to say. The Last Stand gets a sequel.

GAME: 1up has the first footage of Gears of War 2. Can you say $60 expansion pack? Sure you can.

GAME: Make your own Ouendan (Elite Beat Agents) clone for the PC. They’ve got video. N-E-A-T.

PICS: Warning! LEGO! I have two excellent posts. These guys have skills we should all have: the Germinated Ruby and the works of Izzo.

Well, the post was not as large as I thought after I weeded out some links I’d like to dedicate time for their own posts.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you about my little renaissance I’ve had with Puzzle Quest. It is the only game I’ve really put some time into this last month while my family and I were (and are) under the weather. Well, it seems as if D3 Publishers of America has finally release information about their pseudo-sequel called Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. This person is excited. Puzzle Quest is the only game I have bought three times: DS, 360, and PC.

If you’ve never played it, get the PC demo. I guarantee, you’ll get it for something. (It’s available everywhere at budget pricing). Kotaku was able to score an interview with the developer and they were able to address some things and find out a little more about the gameplay.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

The round pieces have changed to hexagonal ones and extra challenge has been added by the movement of the hexagons once you have matched up your three or more. Instead of dropping straight down, your columns slide diagonally, and depending on which piece you move, the columns will fill in either from the left or the right. Gravity will have a bearing on the various movements of the pieces as well making you have to think in several directions at once.

One of the things I asked about was whether the AI was going to be improved over the seemingly punishingly difficult AI of the original Puzzle Quest. I was told that the developers had heard players issues and it was something they were working on.

The game is set to be released later this year, and that’s just not soon enough.

Thanks to Kotaku for the pic. Be sure to head there for more info.

Help JoystickLand grow!

Here’s something for a little weekend fun — MyMiniCity. MyMiniCity is like SimCity, but like all web-based games go, is dependent on clicking a link. So the more people that click my City’s link (JoystickLand, of course), the more my city’s population grows. So click once and often!

http://joystickland.myminicity.com/

I am such a sucker for these things. I saw this over a BAPenguin’s blog and couldn’t resist. I had to click through and make my own little city.

It’s fun being the mayor. Let me know if you’ve got a city to take care of!

Update: I just had a big jump in population, now it’s time to increase my industry:

http://joystickland.myminicity.com/ind/

Transportation:

http://joystickland.myminicity.com/tra/

Thanks for the clicks!

GameBook

MEGATONik has a humorous look at some of the “casual” games offered on the Social Super-Network, Facebook.

Of the games they reviewed, I’ve only played WarBook. Probably for a sum total of about eight minutes. It’s a horrible and boring clickfest. One game they didn’t list that I have actually (and tragically) played was Pirates, which I was tricked into playing by WarBook. It’s more confusing and less fun than WB! No thanks.

If your looking for casual gaming or time-wasting (that’s redudant, right?), Kongregate is the place to be.

Timeless List: Warning Forever

Warning ForeverThere are a few games that I keep on my “list”. These are games that no matter what, when I reinstall my OS or upgrade my computer they are the first things to be installed. There’s a criteria that these games have to meet: replayability over more than 18 months, easy to pick up but difficult to master, and cause me to stay up all night on more than two occasions. So far, only two titles make that list, but I’ve now added a third. Last Friday, it met the 18 month requirement.

I introduce you to Warning Forever.

I don’t know what it is about this game that keeps drawing me back to it. It’s perfect for killing some time on a break at work and it’s also great for getting lost in immersive, repetitive gameplay. What makes this shooter unique from most other games is that it’s a game of bosses. Yes, you read that right. There are no wave after wave of peons. Just bosses. More accurately, you could say that it’s a boss that learns.

The player has a certain amount of time to defeat the boss, you’re also penalized for dying. The boss certainly isn’t. Every time you face him, he evolves to best suit your playing style. Keep attacking him from the front and the next evolution you face will have more armor in the front. If he kills you with rockets during one phase, you can be sure that he will have stocked up on more rockets next time around. Basically, he adapts to your strengths and preys on your weaknesses.

This type of responsive AI really causes the player to have to think ahead strategically. Do you widen your attack radius and cause the boss to armor up all over, or do you narrow your attack to certain areas? Do you attack from the side, front, or behind? Maybe you decide to circle the boss? Whatever you do, you get a sense over time that you are playing a real entity. (Which might be a good indicator that you need to stop).

There are nine possible evolution paths with subpaths under each evolution for the boss. This mathimatically tranlastes to fifteen or sixteen levels you face before reaching the end. I’ve only gotten to twelve. Needless to say, it gets intense. It’s also different eact time you play.

The game can be customized is areas of time, lives, and other options such as sudden death. There’s a high score list as well as a neat feature of using your own MP3s for music. For a simplisticly styled game, the vector graphics hold up well, even in this day and age of Geometry Wars style gameplay. The control scheme may turn players off, actually, because it does take three to five playthroughs to get a feel for it. However, it’s a lot like riding a bike. It just simply clicks and you’ll see how intuitive the control really is.

Here’s the best part: it’s FREE. It was programmed by Japanese developer Hikoza T Ohkubo and is available on his website. It’s a small download that’s great for running of a USB stick. Don’t tell the devloper, but if he sold it, I would most definitely pick it up.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the image of which I slightly edited).

BONUS: Be sure to check out Ray Hound as well.

Trebuchet Challenge

Who says games can’t be educational?

trebuchet challenge

I posted a while ago about how I was introduced to the ultimate siege weapon, the trebuchet, by the most excellent Age of Empires 2, Age of Kings. So not only was AoK a blast to play, it was actually teaching me, rather subversively, the nuances of siege weaponry, with historical accuracy. So let the engineering nerd within me tray and subversively teach you the nuances of physics by presenting to you “The Treb Challenge,” from GlobalSpec.com, an engineering search engine I use quite a bit at work.

It’s nothing exciting, a simple trebuchet simulator, but it does a great job of demonstrating Newtonian Physics in a visual and easy-to-understand manner. You’re presented with a basic trebuchet with parameters like projectile mass, counterweight mass, and wind speed, which can be adjusted. With your trebuchet ready to launch, you’re presented with challenges like distance, accuracy, and power. Balancing things like mass, trajectory, and counter-weight is can be challenging but easy to get the hang of.

It’s everything a flash game should be — fun, quick, and mindless. Okay, maybe not that last part. I don’t usually link to flash-based online games because there are better sites for that, but this one piqued the engineer in me and just struck me as something that’s not only a fun little diversion, but can actually be used as a teaching tool.

Imagine that!

Brain push ups.

Someone who doesn’t follow the video game industry as closely as a geek like myself would probably be unaware of the fact that one of the most successful games right now in Japan is a simple game called Brain Training (I’d link the Nintendo Japan site for this game, but it wouldn’t do any good, unless of course you can read Japanese). In fact, it’d be inappropriate to call it a game. It is, in fact, anything but a game.

I just read this piece at Cabel’s Blog LOL (a new blog to me, on the feed list it goes) and it does a great job of both explaining what this game is and how it has taken hold in Japan. While I don’t know if this game will ever see the light of day here in the States (doubtful), I’d love to see games similar to this for us to play.

The whole article is great. Nintendo seems to be coming through on the promise to make games that everyone can play. As Cabel says:

… there are a lot of people who could play video games, but don’t, because the right software isn’t there.

I’d just add “yet” to the end of that sentence.

(There’s more Brain Training items at GameSetWatch)