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The Hollywood Murders: Solve your own Black Dahlia case

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

123141231.jpgThe Hollywood Murders reminds me of those old text adventures like Zork, where you interfaced with the game through pure imagination and commands. However, the Hollywood Murders does have a visual aspect to it. For example, if you pick up your gun, you see a picture of a gun. When you turn on your radio, you see a radio.  Even though the pictures look like simple Clip-Art photos taken from who-knows-where, it is enough to immerse you in the game itself.

The plot of Hollywood Murders is very similar to the movie Black Dahlia, which was a moderate hit in theaters.  In this game, you play Jim Novak, a private investigator based in Los Angeles who is investigating a murder.  It looks like you follow the typical “hard-boiled” detective genre conventions: The seedy office, the cute secretary out front, and, of course, the gun.  In other words, you’re Sam Spade. 

Gameplay is the typical of the text adventures with the “north-south-east-west” commands and the like. Of course, you have the items that you carry around that will eventually come to good use later, etc.  In other words, all the role-playing elements are here.  As usual, all the strategies apply, the looking at everything, the feeling of helplessness, until finally the “a-ha” moment occurs and you solve a puzzle, generally leading to even more puzzles.  (more…)

Star Wars: The Battle For Endor

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

657565.jpgThose of you who were fans of the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter game of the early nineties now have the opportunity to play a version of it for free.  I don’t know if the final battle of Return of the Jedi was ever in the original X-wing game, but you get the chance to play an X-wing fighter pilot with this game. 

Like all Star Wars games, this starts with the traditional scrolling effect.  In then has the great scene where all the fighters, led by Lando in the Millenium Falcon, come flying in.  After leading off the squads, it seems like forever until the game finally begins. 

Once it does, it is a little confusing.  The steering controls are done with the mouse, and you can easily be blown off-course.  Like Yoda says: “Control!  You must learn control!”.  After that, it can be hard to find TIE fighters to shoot down.  However, if you keep heading toward a Star Destroyer, TIE fighters will swarm around you.  Getting them in your crosshairs is difficult, but they usally go down with one hit.  When they do, they tend to spin around like that one fighter did in Empire Strikes Back.  You also have the option of using torpedos to hit your targets.

All in all, I would say the game is a lot of fun.  I’m not certain how far you can go, though.  I mean, can you go into the heart of the Death Star itself?  That would be cool.  I always liked the shot in Jedi when the whole thing falls down, and Lando’s ship barely makes it out.  Even if it doesn’t, I hope there isn’t any Ewoks.

You can get the game here

Diver Down: Misnamed and Odd

Monday, October 30th, 2006

67767565445.jpgDiver Down is an interesting little game that’s kind of a mix of Gauntlet and old-school adventure games.  I’m not really certain why it is called that, because scuba diving doesn’t look involved in any way shape or form.

Diver Down takes place on some mythical continent that I honestly forget the name of.  The beginning has more backstory than the opening sequence of the first Lord of The Rings movie, but is so detailed and uninteresting that it draws you out of the game instead of in.  I think there’s like three separate factions in the souther continent, or island, or something. 

Your main character, who the computer seems to call “Drek” awakes in a dungeon.  This character is a either a partial amnesiac, or total spacecase.  He is covered in blood, and yet somehow has armor on.  For some reason, it never occurs to him to take it off and find the nearest mirror.  Your character meets a guard, who seem to know who you really are.  He, of course, dies before he can give any more information, just like the bad guys on 24.  

The game controls are the simple arrow keys, but I couldn’t get anything past that.  There doesn’t seem to be any in-game instructions, and I’m too lazy to read the “read me” file.  Most games know that they are complex, and should go out of their way to be simple.  In this game, I found a dungeon door that I wanted to open.  I found a set of dungeon keys, but I apparently could not open the door.  Or least, I’m not even sure if I was using it right.  Who knows?  If you play, remember that the Space Bar key opens a menu, and the Alt key ends it.  The Enter key is kind of an “action” key that can do a number of things. 

In short, Diver Down might need to stay there.  The game is far too uninteresting and complicated. However, if you want to give it a shot, you can download it here.

Archaist: Anyone know what’s going on?

Monday, October 30th, 2006

5646447475.jpgThis game I found on a whim, and didn’t take long to download. I didn’t play it long, either. 

Simply put, the game is confusing. Apparently, you are working this four legged spider who can fire missiles.  The back story is that it is the year 8888, and boy, will people laugh when that year rolls around and discovers the future is completely devoid of red spiders who shoot missiles. The back story deals with something about environmental fallout of several wars, or something.  Why is it these complicated games always have even more complicated backstories? 

The controls are very confusing as well. You see, some of the enemies are floating, and you have to hit the up key to jump up in the air to shoot them. Unfortunatley, this up key also increases your speed, so you can’t help but go way fast everytime you jump up. This causes you to hit a wall and explode.  (more…)

5 Days a Stranger

Monday, October 30th, 2006

768686.jpg5 Days a Stranger is a great reminder of the old-school games of 2.5 dimensional gaming. You may not be old enough to remember games like King’s Quest, Space Quest, or other titles from Sierra, but 5 Days a Stranger has the same type of game play. That is, you are a character who can move within a semi 3-D lanscape, interact with items and people, and eventually work your way toward a game goal. 

In the case of 5 Days, you play a cat burglar named Trilby.  The name is more of an alias, really, and you make your living going to places and ripping off valuable goods. This time, you are at the estate of Clearance DaFoe, a rich man who was recently found hung. His wife was also killed as well. Triby’s only goal is to get the goods from the place and go. 

Unfortunately, there is a complication. Once you get in the house, you are locked inside.  It doesn’t look like you’re alone. There are four others trapped inside with you. The question is, can they be trusted? Probably not. I’m not too far in the game as yet, but something tells me they got their secrets. In a way, this game is like being on the show Lost, but it’s all indoors.  (more…)

Zork: Don’t knock it ’til you try it

Friday, October 27th, 2006

123143235.jpgYears ago, when the world of computer games was young, a little computer gaming company created a game called Zork. This game was one of the first text-adventure games.  In other words, the computer told you in text form (no graphics required) where you were, and you were a character in the midst of it. You entered in commands like “North” or “West” or “Down” to go places, and other other basic commands such as “Look at” or “Open” to interact with the environment. You had to use your imagination to see where you were, and your mind to solve the immensely hard puzzles therein. 

In the mid-80’s, these text adventures were the best around, and Zork led the pack.  These games cost you 20-30 bucks back then, but now they are available free online. 

I suggest starting on Zork 1, where you are a character exploring dark caverns. You get to meet a lot of interesting creatures, including a theif, a troll, and a cyclops. You also amass a lot of treasure along the way, which is the whole point of the game. There’s a lot of puzzles to be solved, and some of them are very difficult. There was one which I almost had, but could never get until I got the strategy guide. That was the one obstacle which kept me from solving the game. (more…)

Neko: It’s Dang Neato

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

567564.jpgI have a confession to make.  I hate cats.  I can’t stand the way they have this degree of cuteness that only masks their rebellious, independent nature.  I also hate the way they climb things with their claws and become demons in the presence of yarn.  This is why I avoided downloading Neko, a game where you play a kitten who climbs things and plays with yarn. 

However, Neko has made a cat-lover out of me. This game has everything you would want out of a Mario-style game: cuteness, action, and lots of special moves. When I say cuteness, I mean little kitten cuteness.  The cuteness that dies when a kitten becomes a self-loathing, self-loving cat. I am assuming that the game is named after the main character, so let’s call him Neko.  Your job is to take Neko through these worlds and help save his caged cat friends.  On the way, you encouner snakes, hedgehogs, and other non-cute animals who will try and stop you.  You can stop them with yarn balls.  (That’s right, yarn balls, and I’ll explain more later.)  You also collect little bottles of milk which are kind of like the “coins” of this game.  You can also collect the yarn balls that are used to beat your enemies, and they serve other purposes too.  (more…)

Sentinella: A shooter that is really shot!

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

2342323.jpgSentinella is a game that is so poor it wouldn’t have worked on the old-school Atari 2600. The premise is interesting, though.  You play this robotic tank entity who is programmed to defend a group of humans.  These humans do nothing but wander around in this black field all day, but there are aliens amongst them!  These aliens have infected the humans as well. 

The humans normally give off a blue aura, but if a human and an infected human are within close proximity of each other, they will both glow red.  That’s your cue that one is an alien.  But which one?  Which one?  That’s the tricky part.  To make it even more tricky, if two infected aliens are close to each other, they will give off a blue aura.  So the trick of the game is figuring out who’s human and who’s alien with process-of-elimination tactics, kind of like Minesweeper but in motion.    (more…)

The Wizard’s Castle: Should be more fun

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

The Wizard’s Castle is very similar to a game that I played on my mom’s IBM when I was a lad of fifteen. Games were never good quality back in the early eighties, and we’ve really grown a lot since then.  The Wizard’s Castle is a reminder why computer games grew up.  (more…)

Echo The Mouse: Cheesy Caper (and cheesy gameplay)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Echo the Mouse is a gentle reminder of the days of gaming when there was a time limit. Back then, the whole point is to make your gaming experience was to make it a brief distraction, not like the games of today where it will totally suck you in until you can’t do anything but to defeat “just one more level”.  (more…)

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