Posts Tagged ‘GOG’

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Review

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Feature

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Boxart

Developer: Spellbound AG
Publisher: Black Forest Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Desura, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam

Airline Tycoon originally launched in 1998, and despite my own simulator addiction at the time, I was totally unaware of its existence. Instead, my time was split between DinoPark Tycoon and Sim City 2000. Apparently, I was years delayed from the current market. In any case, the ultimate version of Airline Tycoon Deluxe landed in 2003 – again, totally missing me. It appears not having access to the game in my youth has changed perceptions quite a bit.

When looking over fan comments when this title launched on GOG you see tons of excitement over this being the best simulation game ever! I don’t think it’s the best ever, but it is definitely charming and well thought out. You begin as an owner of an airline and, despite CEO status, must basically do all the grunt work as well. Hire staff, chart flight plans, and work with or against the other airline owners are just some of the tasks you’ll need to take care of.

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Feature

And, honestly, it’s overwhelming. Time and time again I found myself wandering the terminal in confusion… but some of that was my own fault. If you do take the time to handle every mission that comes your way first, you’ll be taught some of the basics. In any case, once you do finally get a handle on Airline Tycoon Deluxe it does make more sense – even though there’s still a ton of systems to manage.

I wish I had played Airline Tycoon Deluxe (or the original version) in my youth because it looks exactly like the kind of tycoon simulation that was so awesome at the time. The graphics are wonderful, the music is midi-tastic, and there’s so much room to take on the task of airline owner exactly as you wish. Just, at this point in my life, it seems that there’s a lot of preamble and studying necessary to get to the good parts.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Outlaws Review

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Outlaws Boxart

Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Platform: PC – GOG*

So, westerns have never really been my “thing.” With that said, I’m surprised at how few video games have ventured into that territory considering how perfect a setup the film genre provides for games. Outlaws plants you in the shoes of James, a retired marshal and family man. As is so painfully typical of these storylines, he returns from a routine trip to find his partner, Anna, dying. He also finds the farmhouse aflame and their daughter kidnapped. James must find where she has been taken and enact revenge along the way.

Once you get over how routinely ham-fisted the storyline is, the gameplay proves quite fun. It’s a FPS based off the same game engine used for Star Wars: Dark Forces. Gameplay is super fast and enemies are everywhere. There’s also a bunch of keys strewn about stages to unlock other parts of each. Outlaws definitely feels like an older style FPS, but the setting is what really captured my interest. And, despite the obvious storytelling, the animated cutscenes sell it effectively.

Outlaws Featured

My biggest issue with Outlaws has nothing to do with the game itself, but with my inability to play more than one stage in a single sitting. It causes my motion sickness to flare up immensely (even with head bobbing turned off). There’s just something about this engine. So, take heed if you suffer from motion sickness as well. It’s a shame, really, because I’ve immensely enjoyed the experience otherwise.

Sometimes it does get a bit tedious. You migh happen to forget where the specific locked door you need is. Other times, cruel cowboys will shoot you from areas you’d never even think to check. But in all, Outlaws is a pretty darn refreshing gameplay experience. That’s really weird to say for a title nearly 20 years old, but apparently it holds up just fine!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Toonstruck Review

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Toonstruck Boxart

Developer: Burst Studios
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*

Toonstruck is one of those games that, despite being a fan of adventure games, flew totally under my radar until recently. For whatever reason I kept confusing it for the Cool World video game which doesn’t seem too great. In Toonstruck you play as a cartoon animator named Drew Blanc who is just another cog in the machine. He’s been dreaming of creating a new cartoon for years but the powers that be simply want him to produce more of the same.

On the night of a big assignment things get weird – Drew is magically drawn into a TV set which leads directly to the world of cartoons. There he immediately runs into that dream character of his, Flux, and is tasked with saving Cutopia before being allowed back to the human world. As it turns out, you’ll have to collect 12 different mystery items in order to save anyone. Just like any other point and click adventure this involves chatting up locals, solving puzzles, and doing lots of weird stuff.

Toonstruck Featured

In regards to other puzzle games of the time Toonstruck actually starts out quite easily. Puzzles ramp up in difficulty, but not exclusively. Only puzzles related to combining items stumped me thanks to their fairly rare appearance. The most enjoyable aspect is simply wandering around this cartoon realm and seeing the juxtaposition between cuteness and “reality.” Characters in Cutopia are sweet to a fault, but some still manage to make hilariously pointed insults. Despite the necessary cartoony visuals, this is a game meant primarily for teens/adults.

Some of Toonstruck’s jokes don’t work anymore as they might have in the 90s. A few jabs at types of people fell particularly flat, but most of the time I was in awe of how hilarious the game manages to be. Humor is hard in games, especially if you’ve got slapstick cartoon sensibilities in the mix. Even if it were lacking the star power of Christopher Lloyd (and many esteemed voice actors) Toonstruck would still prove a hit.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Gex Review

Gex Featured

Gex Boxart

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: 3DO, PC – GOG*, PlayStation, Saturn

Gex is one of those games that seems lost to time. As a child I really dug Gex: Enter the Gecko because of its bright worlds themed off real media (cartoons, horror movies, etc). But never before had I played the original Gex. As it turns out, the entire series seems predicated on the notion of jumping into film/television media parody worlds. It’s a fun concept, although the execution is lacking.

One night while Gex is simply watching TV he gets transported to the TV dimension by some evil being named Rez. Once in the world he traipses though increasingly challenging levels all based around genres and locations for films (horror, kung fu, futuristic). Every 2D stage features copious enemies, collectible golden bugs, and lots of ways to die. Like many early 90s platformers it is far more challenging than it seems! The best aspect is how playing as a gecko lets you do things like climb ceilings and walls with ease.

Gex Featured

The biggest issue with Gex is not the inherent challenge but how out of place it feels now. Gex routinely shouts out “witty” one liners in reference to pop culture from around 1994 (when the game first launched on 3DO). Although some of the jokes and references make sense to me, none are particularly funny regardless. Then there are ones that seem completely nonsensical such as Gex grumpily complaining, “when is Grace Jones gonna retire?” What, pray tell, is wrong with Grace Jones?! Weirdly, many of the same lines were reused for 1998’s Enter the Gecko, and they were probably already stale then.

In all, the framing of Gex proves its most interesting aspect. Having a real reason to adventure through thematically different worlds is kind of neat, and each boss proves cool. Gex himself though is grating and his dialogue is a lazy excuse for actual characterization. The platforming is inspired, but the negatives balance out the positives. Instead of being iconic, Gex is just average.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Shovel Knight Review

Shovel Knight Featured

Shovel Knight Boxart

Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Platform:  3DS, Wii U PC – GOG*, Steam

In one of the cuter moments in Kickstarter gaming history, a goofy 2D pixelated platformer by the name of Shovel Knight saw itself funded to 415% of its $75,000 goal. I’d believed the “retro craze” was all over – but gamers proved me wrong! In 2014 Shovel Knight launched and made its way onto many Game of the Year lists. But really, how good could it really be? On the eve of release onto PlayStation platforms I decided it was finally time to give the game a go.

Now, before we get all into this, I do not feel particularly nostalgic about the NES. Instead, my tastes fall more in line with the Atari 2600 – but few folks are capitalizing on that! In any case, Shovel Knight still looks quite a bit like a NES classic and captures much of that same appeal. The platformer is immediately simple to grasp. You’re a blue knight who jumps and hits things with a shovel.

Of course, the game quickly ramps up the difficulty (and ways to play it). After accumulating enough gold you can buy new items and abilities. Or, you can boost the health and magic meters. Gold itself isn’t a scare commodity but upon each death some scatters off in floating money bags. Even so, be careful about reclaiming them the next run as greed can be deadly. For about the first half of the game I found Shovel Knight ridiculously enjoyable.

Shovel Knight Featured

Once things really started to ramp up in difficulty I noticed some issues (either with the game or myself!). My Xbox 360 controller didn’t seem to register inputs upon every button press. Sometimes skill usage simply wouldn’t fire off when needed, or Shovel Knight wouldn’t stop his shovel jumping despite me trying to get out of the maneuver. Every so often I couldn’t even get out a swing with a shovel despite having a perfect shot at a boss. Whey’re they’re “authentic” or not, precise controls should have been implemented by Yacht Club Games.

I appreciate what Shovel Knight is going for and wholeheartedly believe they achieved it. From the awesome chiptune soundtrack to lovely pixelated graphics this looks just like a retro game. Then there’s that simplicity of play which helps to emphasize its excellent platforming. The biggest issue simply appears to be controls which were acting up for me on PC. Given perfect control I’d still probably be awful, but at least feel that every death was entirely my fault!


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Freedom Planet Review

Freedom Planet Featured

Freedom Planet Logo

Developer: GalaxyTrail
Publisher: GalaxyTrail
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

You know, people talk about Sonic the Hedgehog as if it were once a golden standard of 2D platformer. To be fair, the first few titles definitely brought a ton of great gameplay to the table… But they were also incredibly difficult! Freedom Planet is game which completely reveres Sonic, and as such, doesn’t stray far from the formula. You play as one of a team of brightly-colored creatures attempting to collect gems and save the world, all the while going really fast.

Freedom Planet certainly looks the part of a Sega Genesis classic. All the cast members are anthropomorphic animals because “mascots” rule! Enemies are evil because of course they are. Each stage offers copious collectibles and even a few secrets. In keeping with the time, it’s also a very brief game (if you’re skilled). Or, if you’re like me and almost immediately switched to “casual” difficulty.

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My main motivation to swap difficulties was due to a variety of problems inherent with Freedom Planet. The biggest is finicky controls. When playing with my 360 gamepad my character sometimes failed to do as I desired. Instead of jumping up, she’d simply look up. At other times I’d want to jump bouncily from a wall climb only to glide off. This caused tons of problems, especially during boss fights where I’d consistently miss hitting their weak point because of ill-performed jumps.

Another issue is that the game simply overloads itself with enemies later on. Some stages are packed full of monsters and missiles, leaving very little room for error. On the lowest difficulty I safely soaked up tons of hits, at least! Freedom Planet looks fantastic and features a lot of great moments. It just happens to fall into the same trap that Sonic games did of not letting speed be the driving gameplay force. Still, it’s a mostly cool 3 hour ride for those who do appreciate Sonic and its many imitators.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Door Kickers Review

Door Kickers Featured

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Developer: KillHouse Games
Publisher: KillHouse Games
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Police games intrigue me a whole heck of a lot. From Police 911 to S.W.A.T. they’re all just pretty excellent games. Unfortunately for fans of the latter title, there’s been a real lack of super strategic and gritty games since Sierra got eaten/killed/revived. Door Kickers may not be exactly the same, especially given its top-down perspective, but it is excellent in its own right.

In Door Kickers you’re given a huge array of campaigns and basically given free rein to complete them exactly how you want. Each features a different strategic situation to assess. Players plan absolutely every aspect for teams and (hopefully) execute it flawlessly. The top-down perspective gives a great vantage point as players see the entire level map. Of course, actually “seeing” where enemies are requires line of sight confirmation. Until that point areas are hidden.

Door Kickers Featured

Brash players can do well enough in early stages with minimal officer deaths, but not through the entire campaign. Door Kickers is definitely designed with tacticians in mind because those players will reap the greatest rewards. It simply feels good to have a plan work perfectly. Of course, surprises are bound to happen. Modifying plans on the fly to suit changing situations feels damn good, too.

Buying Door Kickers is like unlocking a new gaming obsession. Beat all the missions? Now go back and three-star them while completing all the challenges. After that you can download user-created mods/levels, or heck, make your own. Door Kickers is an excellent strategy game, especially for those of us looking to scratch that S.W.A.T. 4 or Rainbow Six itch.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Tales of Maj’Eyal Review

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured

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Developer: DarkGod
Publisher: DarkGod
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

My first exposure to roguelikes would probably make Rogue fans cry. Instead of following most of the same principles, what I came to know of the genre could be better defined as rogue-lites. In any case, not everything I play falls into that distant genre cousin branch, as Tales of Maj’Eyal proves. This roguelike RPG is incredibly deliberate with turn-based play, variety of challenging enemies, tons of character classes to experiment with, and of course the possibility of permadeath.

Honestly, Tales of Maj’Eyal is quite a lot to take in right from the start. There are tons of classes and different types have their own starting hub worlds. Despite a recognizable top-down and turn-based interface, there’s a lot to get a handle on with a multitude of spell types, enemy powers, and a handful of other systems. But basically, it’s very much like a typical deep RPG wherein you’re able to hone your characters with exacting detail and will always need to be careful while exploring randomly generated dungeons.

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured

Once you digest everything at play here the game really takes off. It’s difficult for me, even on easier settings, but I certainly appreciate that there are multiple options available. If you’re looking for a “hardcore” experience then Tales of Maj’Eyal provides that. If you’re seeking a highly strategic, but not completely hellish game you can get that too. It’s great to see a game of this genre open itself up to a variety of skill levels.

In all, it was a big surprise how much I ended up enjoying this one. There’s so much going on, but the foundation is solid. Roguelike fans looking for something more “classic” than Rogue Legacy and its ilk will definitely find it with Tales of Maj’Eyal.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Grim Fandango Remastered Review

Grim Fandango Remastered Featured

grimfandangoremasteredlogo

Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4 Vita

I have chased the specter of Grim Fandango for years. When it first launched my attention was captivated by magazine articles and photos. I wanted this game – but my computer was not nearly capable enough of running it. Fast forward years until I found a copy at the thrift store… but my computer was far too modern to play it correctly. Finally, Grim Fandango Remastered has given me the chance to play this beloved point and click adventure!

Well, honestly I wish this had happened years ago with the original release and not Remastered. Buuuut… we’ll get to why that is in a moment. First, one must get all the obvious discussion about Grim Fandango out of the way. It tells a phenomenal story with an awesome cast of characters who all exist in El Marrow – the “Land of the Dead.” Manny is a salesman trying to work off his debt by selling travel packages to spirits. Unfortunately, he only ever seems to get lowlives who qualify for super cheap packages. Everything changes when he steals one customer from his coworker and things spiral out of control.

Nearly everything is pitch perfect: the visuals, music, voice acting, and overall story arch are a joy to watch unfold. Some puzzles aren’t particularly logical but this was still a big issue in the 90s. Grim Fandango Remastered leaves most everything alone aside from implementing a new control scheme and giving characters less pixelated bodies. There’s a pretty neat commentary track as well but beyond that it doesn’t feel like enough work to warrant a word like “remastered.”

Grim Fandango Remastered Featured

Then there are the glitches. Oh boy, those glitches (on PC at least) are monumental. I encountered multiple visual glitches as well as game-breaking bugs that would not allow me to progress in three puzzles. Considering the “puzzle logic” in the game, it’s very easy to simply not realize that an integral part of the puzzle isn’t triggering or has suddenly disappeared. Oh, sometimes it freezes too because why not? Here’s hoping a ton of patches arrive soon to sort the game out because right now Grim Fandango Remastered is a mess.

So what is the end result? This is most assuredly a classic game with amazing characters, art, and a multi-year tale but the current release makes it a challenge to enjoy. Some folks out there have played without glitches rearing their ugly head and that’s fantastic! I just wasn’t one of them. Grim Fandango Remastered, as it currently stands, could cause irreversible damage to the original’s reputation.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pathologic Review

Pathologic Featured

Pathologic Boxart

Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher: Ice-Pick Lodge
Platform: PC – GOG*

Pathologic is one of the strangest games I have ever played. This isn’t due to the content, which is entirely understandable, but because its ability to shift from extremely good to annoyingly difficult in the span of playing for a few hours. This is a game that has earned a lot of acclaim over the years – enough to warrant a Kickstarter-funded remake! Even after finally playing it myself it’s hard to distill my complex reaction into a simple “I love/hate it” response.

Certainly, there’s a lot to love about Pathologic. The game allows you to play as one of three characters (third unlocked after a playthrough) entering into a slowly dying town. A plague has swept the area which leaves no one safe – not even you – from its grip. Visually, the world already looks dead with its desaturated browns, blacks, and greys. You hope to help people survive but that’s a massive task to accomplish.

It’s hard enough to save yourself. This is a survival game in the truest sense where you must think three steps ahead for what you need. Food, medicine, and the like are necessities and not just health boosts. If you can’t buy them you can always attempt to barter with townsfolk… or steal their stuff right out of their homes. There’s not a hyper obvious “good/bad” pathway, but characters will react with hostility, fear, or kindness based off what people are saying about you.

Pathologic Featured

The biggest problem with Pathologic is that it does so much to dissuade you from falling deeper into its world. First, the translation is pretty rough which means an English-speaker simply can’t get the full understanding of what’s going on (and may even be confused). The larger issue is the high barrier to entry for surviving in the game very long at all. Then there’s the combat which is primarily a test of patience than skill.

Despite these issues, Pathologic creates one stunning experience. It was far more innovative in 2005 than many games are today. Its experimentation may not have worked out perfectly, but it’s still a game worth playing. Here’s hoping the remake will fix the original issues without destroying its spirit!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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