Posts Tagged ‘1.0’

Terror in Christmas Town Review

Terror in Christmas Town Featured

Terror in Christmas Town Logo

Developer: Michael Zerbo
Publisher: Michael Zerbo
Platform: PC – Direct

Back when DOOM was huge everyone wanted to jump in on the shooter craze. Pie in the Sky was a program which let users create their own 3D FPS titles. One game that utilized this software went by the name of Terror in Christmas Town. As the name implies, it is a shooter but with a Christmas theme.

Although there are elves, seals, and Eskimos dotting the landscape, there are also bunches of mean bears out to get you. How do you stop them? Simply pick up a shotgun or a rocket launcher! Because this is a game based around a holiday, however, using these weapons doesn’t render a big, bloody mess. Instead, the bears turn into smiling snowmen. Your own health is represented by a melting snowman. It’s kind of cute/creepy.

Terror in Christmas Town Featured

The game plays like what you would expect from a DOOM clone, except it has a more robust inventory system. But beyond that, it’s a pretty dull experience. There was no audio in game when I played, although there was an initial sound clip upon loading the game, so I’m not sure what that means. But without any sound at all, the experience is far lonelier. It’s also annoying to not hear bears roar or something to know that one has suddenly snuck up behind you.

Terror in Christmas Town is an interesting effort but there’s not much to it. The Christmas theme at least makes it stand out against other Pie in the Sky-made games, but why play it when you can just grab the genuine artifact?


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine Review

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine Featured

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine Boxart

Developer: Himalaya Studios
Publisher: Himalaya Studios
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, IndieGameStand, Zodiac

Even though most gamers seem to have forgotten adventure games existed until recently, developers have continued to make them year after year. There are a great many classic point and click adventures from the 80s and 90s but there are also those made in the past ten years. Some don’t quite stack up while others are actually quite good. Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine initially came out in 2007 but has since been granted an Enhanced Edition. Regardless of the edition, Al Emmo is skippable.

As the title implies, this is a game about a guy named Al Emmo. He’s 42, lives with his parents, and is a virgin. If you ignore the parents bit he’s practically an alternate Larry Laffer. Perhaps facsimile would be the better way to describe him. Although he hits most of the same beats, Al is not likeable in any sense because he is devoid of any true kindness. He carries out his tasks while whining and does some messed up stuff in the process. Instead of simply laughing at his antics, I cringed. By the end, Al’s quest leads him down some interesting paths but it’s not worth the journey.

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine Featured

Perhaps the problem isn’t so much with Al but with the humor of The Lost Dutchman’s Mine as a whole. Including a transphobic incident masquerading as a joke in the first five minutes was certainly not the way to get my attention, at least. As the game proceeds, there are only more problematic jokes issued left and right related to women, sex workers, and Native Americans. To top it all off, the joke I had hoped would be thrown away at the very start was brought back on multiple occasions as a requisite plot point. The concept of a “man” dressing “as a woman” being ridiculous was apparently too hilarious to pass up a second and third jab. No, I’m sorry, but it’s not funny at all.

“But what about the gameplay?!” cry adventure game fans. It doesn’t amount to anything special either. The best features of the game is that it’s hard to die (and may be impossible?). This is no Sierra adventure. Even so, The Lost Dutchman’s Mine manages to be an almost stereotypical point and click experience. The story follows Al as he falls in love in Western town and seeks to get the lady’s attention. As a suave man has already made her acquaintance, it proves difficult for him. Everyone in the game has tasks for you and they spell them out directly. No matter what, there are always new puzzles to solve. Most aren’t particularly interesting, although some manage to be unique. For as long as the experience takes to build up though it feels like much of this could have been removed. It serves more as padding than truly entertaining quests.

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine Screenshot

The game has received a few upgrades for the enhanced version. A new voice actor does his best to squeak away like Al, and does so in a slightly less annoying fashion. Cutscenes have also been changed from their original CG graphics to 2D animation. The animation isn’t particularly fantastic, but it does look better than the original CG art. All the same, Al retains a 3D model when wandering around the hand-painted style 2D town. It’s an unfortunate clash of art types because the backdrops are actually quite good.

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine is an adventure game that functions as intended. I experienced no glitches and could solve each puzzle. However, it is a puerile adventure that should be easy to ignore. I know the developer can do better as they have proven themselves to in the past. Unfortunately, this is not an example of their skill.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Montague’s Mount Review

Montague's Mount Featured

Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

Montague's Mount Featured

Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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R.I.P. Review

RIP

RIP Boxart
Developer:
Elephant Games
Publisher:
Meridian4
Platform:
PC

When I first encountered RIP it was while installing various games from my Steam catalog. I’d never actually heard of the game before, nor did I remember buying it. Regardless, the name seemed interesting to me and as such I decided to give it a shot.

RIP is a very retro-styled game. While playing, it felt like the game was actually from the early 90s. As it turns out though it came out in 2006. Either way, it’s a top-down shooter with a focus on throwing as many enemies at you as possible. Unlike other shooters of this type though you are unable to move. Instead you’re basically an upgradeable turret which can shoot 360 degrees around itself.

RIP

There are forty levels and nothing really changes aside from the backdrop as well as the configuration of explosive barrels around the area. Otherwise, you’re going to be playing dozens of same-y levels. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as some people really dig this sort of gameplay. It’s not my thing, but I enjoyed it all the same. On easy, the game is manageable but is probably more infuriating if you try for harder difficulties.

The game isn’t particularly recommended unless you are in dire need of top-down shooters. There are currently two other games in the series, RIP 2: Strike Back and RIP 3: The Last Hero, which are probably better investments anyway.


Score: 1

1  out of 5 alpacas


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Beat’n Groovy Review

Beat'n Groovy Featured

Beat'n Groovy Boxart

Developer: Voltex
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Konami is the undisputed king when it comes to rhythm/music games as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, outside of DDR, they have really squandered the Bemani label in the West. With tons of bankable properties, they instead continually release misguided versions of their classics to supposedly appeal to American tastes. They create awful, old-looking versions that no one is interested in.

Such is the case with Beat’n Groovy. The game itself is modeled strongly after the successful (and Japanese-only) Pop’n Music. Okay, Pop’n saw US release on Wii but it was one of those bastardized versions. This game is played by using a 3 or 5 button layout to hit keys as they fall down the screen. It’s easy enough, and the standard model for Beatmania as well.

Beat'n Groovy Featured

The problems come in when you look at the paltry songlist – only 9 tracks in all. There may be downloadable content available, but people would only be interested in buying that if the base property is sound. It isn’t. Sure, the play is still adequately Pop’n style, but the music they selected was extremely poor. Most of it sounds like the early days of Bemani, and some of the tracks (as far as I could tell) are legitimate Bemani properties. But if you’re trying to appeal to the US then you’ve got to make a “modern” tracklist that appeals to current tastes.

Check out the demo if you’re set on having a Western version of Pop’n but this is probably the worst version you could get. It’s a shame, because if Konami could ever have success via a non-DDR rhythm game then they might be willing to put actual effort into others.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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