Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Paper Kids

OK, let's not bullshit ourselves. It's called Paper Kids, but we all know this is Paperboy. People of a certain age will remember Paperboy. Hell, it was a popular game, everyone must have heard of it.

Yeah, well, if you were a big fan of Paperboy (like me), prepare to have all your great memories trod upon by this plodding, boring excuse for a tribute.

At first, it looks promising. Everything is there: the paperboy (I mean, paperkid), the letterboxes, the random obstacles. And it looks nice too - all primary colours and bright tones. So what's the problem? Maybe the fact that it's so fucking slow.

The objective of Level 1 is to get five newspapers into letterboxes. Well I did it - and I'm still less than half way through the level. Now what do I do? I keep cycling at an incredibly slow pace and deliver more newspapers.

And that's another thing that annoys me - all you do is deliver the papers. Remember how you could score bonus points in Paperboy by throwing newspapers through the windows of people who don't subscribe to your paper or by knocking down passers-by? Well you can't do any of that in Paper Kids. The original Paperboy has been stripped down to a single objective of getting the newspapers right into the letterboxes. And it's not like that's hard - you're moving so slowly that you get the hang of it very quickly.

There are bonuses, of course. Extra lives, just in case you were stupid enough to cycle into a pothole, and extra newspapers, just in case you felt like even less of a challenge.

Oh wow, I did it! I did it, just like a fucking chimpanzee could do it, it's that easy. So then we go on to Level 2, and there's really no point in me showing you screenshots because it's the same shit as before. Maybe there's more stuff that really poses no risk, but that's it. And when the fuck will it speed up?

To get a shot of what it looks like to crash, I had to purposefully cycle into the pavement. And I was so bored, I enjoyed it. At least it meant I didn't have to throw newspapers for five seconds.

OK, I know the original Paperboy featured lots of newspaper chucking too, but it had little extras like the obstacle course between each level and the fact that you could go fast. I'm sorry that I keep coming back to it, but seriously, seriously - this game is incredibly slow.

How about that - 18 succesful hits and not a single miss. I was never this good on the original, partly because I was a child, and partly because it was challenging! Paper Kids is just boring - a horrible cycle of plodding, uninspired gameplay.

By the time I got to Level 3, I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to see what happened if I missed too many letterboxes. So I started missing on purpose. And do you know what happened?

Nothing. Nothing happened. The little paper kid just kept going, oblivious to the fact that he had just fucked up.

I'd had enough. I started throwing newspapers at random, laughing maniacally as I cycled headlong into traffic cones, parked cars and the pavement. I just wanted it to end. And that's how I came across a little glitch. You see, after crashing, you're put back on the bike and you flash for a few seconds, so that you're momentarily invincible. If you cycle up onto the pavement in this state, you can ride your bike across the houses and lawns.

Unfortunately, it only works until you hit concrete, then you get sent back out onto the street. What's most depressing is that this glitch is the most interesting part of the game. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find something for today's review, but then along came this piece of crap down the sewer line, so thanks to the developers for helping me update the blog. Oh, and thanks for ruining the childhood memories of my more innocent game playing days. Look, it's not hard to download a Spectrum or Amstrad ROM and just play the old Paperboy. Why waste your time on this poor copy when the original is still so good?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nitro Platform

Once again, I review a game that isn't entirely bad, but sure as hell isn't all that good. Today it's Nitro Platform, a game that likes to keep things simple - very simple.

In Nitro Platform, you play a rectangle that has to run around a series of single screen levels collecting stars.

This is gaming in 2008. But hey, at least it's good to see at least one of the Pong paddles is still finding work. There are two modes, Normal and High Score. Let's take a look at Normal Mode first.

The sheer simplicity of the game means at least you can play an arcade platformer without having to learn eighteen different button combinations so that you can assault your foes with the Eternal Sky Hammer of Burning Fury, or some other awkwardly named made up karate move. No, here, you just move a rectangle around and collect a few dozen stars. You also have to avoid the occasional exploding block. Pieces of platform will explode at random intervals and are best avoided. But if this is the worst you have to deal with then there's not much to worry about. As long as you can avoid falling through the holes in the floor you should be perfectly fine. You also have three lives with which to play and it saves after every level, so if the exploding blocks prevent anyone from finishing this game I'd be very fucking surprised.

The game doesn't look half-bad, but there's no escaping the fact that the levels are all practically the same. The only thing that changes is the rate at which blocks explode, but like I already stated, this is not the challenge the developers thought it was and you're usually on the other side of the screen when it happens anyway.

They really went wild on Level 5 though - every colour in the rainbow. I suppose the challenge here is trying to tell the normal red blocks from the ones that are about to explode. Here's a clue - they're a different shade of red and just look like blank squares.

And then that's it - that is Normal Mode. To some, its brevity might be a virtue, but to me it just smacks of laziness, especially as every level is the same God damn thing.

High Score Mode allows you to play on a variety of levels (like it matters) in an attempt to collect as many stars as possible before you get blown up or fall through a crack in the floor. So, long story short, it's the same as Normal Mode except it never ends.

Whereas Normal Mode is so short as to be almost non-existant, High Score mode can potentially last for as long as it takes for all of the blocks to explode. And since we've already played through Normal Mode, this gets real old, real fast.

So, Nitro Platform - it could be worse, but then so could my dental hygiene and no one's cutting me any slack for that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chon's Boxes

I must admit, I did kind of like Chon's Boxes. Of course, I liked it better when it was called Chip's Challenge and I played it on my Amstrad 464+. Strange, really - here we are fifteen or twenty years later and the game's graphics have actually deteriorated with age.

But whatever. Chon's Boxes is a simple (or is that "special") puzzle game. You play a great hero called Chon:

Chon has an evil nemesis called Chan:

We know he's evil because half of his body is shrouded in shadow. Anyway, Chan has kidnapped Chon's girlfriend Chun (while the developers have alienated anyone who can't pronounce "ch" sounds correctly.) He has hidden her away in his tower, and Chon must sally forth and rescue her, as all heroes do. Unfortunately, Chan has sought to stop Chon from finding his love, blocking his path with the insurmountable obstacles that are... WOODEN BOXES!!

I am way too sober to enjoy this game.

Gee, I have to move these boxes out of the way so I can get to the door. How will I cope with such a brain bender of a puzzle?

Pretty easily. But then, that was only the first level. The only problem is, most of the levels are like this. Oh, don't get me wrong, some will prove a little challenging, but more often than not you'll figure out how to get through in less than a minute.

So you go through each room in this seemingly endless tower (it certainly didn't look that big from the outside) pushing boxes around. That's it. There's nothing else. Get through one room full of boxes:

And you'll be confronted by another room with slightly more boxes:

And so on and so forth until the end of time. I didn't come across any monsters or guards. I didn't get caught in any pits or traps. All that I had to contend with was room after room of boxes, and if Chan is supposed to be my nemesis, I could expect a little more effort. I mean, Chon is a boxer and a ninja and everything. Either Chan has an unhealthy fascination with large wooden containers, or he's exploiting the fact that Chon's parents were killed in a freak accident involving a crate of oranges and a spider monkey.

On the bright side, each level has its own code, so you won't have to play the same level twice. Indeed, you could just put in the code above and skip the first ten levels completely. Hey, don't say I never give my readers anything.

It wasn't until Level 11 that I got stumped. I stared at those boxes for minutes but I couldn't see how to get through them.

Obviously, as you can see, I fucked up here. But it's no biggy; the guys at Raptware were kind enough to include a restart button. The only problem with restarting is that it costs you a life, and you've only got three lives.

So let me get this straight - I have only three chances to get through a level before I have to go through the hassle of going back to the main menu and entering the level code? What happens if I don't remember the code? I have to start on a level I already completed, or worse, at the very beginning again. What a crock!

I suppose I can see the good qualities of Chon's Boxes. At least it won't keep you stuck in the first few levels until you reach the point of hysteria. But where's the satisfaction in breezing through a game? And why the sudden upswing on the learning curve? On top of that, the game just looks poor. There wasn't a whole lot of work put into the animation or the art design, and it shows. Chon looks like the younger, nerdier cousin of a Dragonball Z character, and the others don't fare much better. The controls are simple - just use the directional buttons to move around - but the big yellow pointer is pretty much pointless, no pun intended.

Chon's Boxes is like vanilla ice cream - it's all right, but you can't help but wish for something more. Actually scratch that - Chon's Boxes is nothing like vanilla ice cream. It may be boring but at least vanilla ice cream is satisfying. Chon's Boxes is like, I don't know, paper, or something - totally without substance and guaranteed to make you feel bad.

Don't ask me where the food analogy came from - I just needed a decent way to end the review. I'm going to stop now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Catapult Animal

Let's be clear here: it's not "Animal Catapult." That would have made too much sense. No, the game is called Catapult Animal. And I suppose it sort of works, as the idea is to, well, fire small animals from a catapult.

Catapult Animal's major weakness is that it's not Kitten Cannon, the standard by which all games based around animal cruelty are measured. the difference in Catapult Animal is that you don't have to confine your violent tendencies towards cats. If you hate dogs and/or rabbits, this game will no doubt cheer you up.

Each animal has its own special strengths, but I didn't really notice much of a difference. And since when did clouds become a bonus? I figured the only way to find out was by launching a few cats.

How about that? Turns out they are useless. A little white line moves up and down the meter, adding extra power or extra height depending on when you press the launch button. And what a great looking button it is - you can sit there and pretend to be the leader of the free world, a shit-eating grin on your face as your finger hovers over the button and Alzheimer's starts to eat away at the brain you never used anyway, you decrepit old bastard!

... Oh, I'm sorry, wrong blog.

I don't think it needs pointing out, but I'll take note of it anyway - that's a terrible drawing of a cat. I've seen better work from five-year-olds. I suppose I shouldn't bitch. After all, I'm no artist. But then, I'm also not uploading derivative catapult games to the internet.

Trampolines and giant industrial fans(?) keep your pet going, which is handy because these animals don't bounce very well. Much like in real life.

Now this is depressing - the dog looks even worse than the cat. It looks like a cross between a cocker spaniel and a retard, so perhaps launching this affront to God from a catapult is the right thing to do. However, it was while playing with the dog that I came across the glitch. I had heard about this but hadn't experienced it until I was getting the screenshots together.

The dog landed on top of a fan, which sent him flying off. But for whatever reason, the dog shot into the air like a fucking rocket! My score shot up exponentially, and was in the trillions before the little mongrel finally came to rest.

1,520,470,555,300 points. I think if you were to tally up the score for every game I've ever played in my entire life, the result would still be less than this. It is, without doubt, the greatest single score I have ever received.

Or it was, until the glitch occurred again!

Shit yeah! Of course, these scores pale in comparison to the one guy over at the Addicting Games website who scored 5.5394210174635e+22 (or 5,539,421,017,463,500,000,000. I wasn't even aware this number existed.) Stuff like that makes up for the fact that the rabbit looks like a weird donkey creature.

However, you don't have to wait for a glitch to get a good score in this game. There are enough trampolines and fans to keep your animal in the air for well over half an hour, which is, quite frankly, nuts. But why not give it a go? The worst that can happen is that you'll want to kick your monitor in after three minutes of the game music, a horrible dance pop loop that burrows into your skull and can only be removed by constant blasts of Slayer straight to the eardrums. At least Kitten Cannon uses Daft Punk.

My suggestion is to play this game once, because no other game will give you the opportunity to jump up and down yelling, "Fifteen trillion points! YEAH!" Then do yourself a favour and walk away. Animal abuse has never been this boring.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adult Games


What with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I would take time to think about the guys and girls (but mainly guys) who won't be getting Valentines this year and who will probably spend most of the day in their underwear trying in vain to get off to poorly drawn Sonic The Hedgehog hentai (oh, I wish I was joking.) The truth is, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of adult games on the net, and the vast majority of them are bad. I mean, really bad. I'd call them garbage if that wasn't such an insult to actual garbage. I could spend every post for the next three years reviewing a shitty adult game, but I decided to just look at five right now. Note that these aren't the worst of the worst, but they are incredibly bad.

Now, I don't believe in censorship, but obviously I couldn't just post images of ugly middle-aged women in various states of undress. Fortunately, most of the screenshots have no nudity, but for those that do, I have concealed the really rude parts with this guy:

OK, let's do this thing. And where better to start than with the old reliable dress-up game? A perfect example of the subgenre at its shittiest is this:

You remember Shania Twain, right? She was that country singer who was incredibly popular for eight minutes about a decade ago? You don't? Oh.

What makes Dress-Up Shania Twain different from other crap dress-up games is that if you click on carefully hidden spots (here's a clue - there are three of them) you get to hear a .WAV file of a failed pornstar unenthusiastically trying to sound horny. Well, if that's the attitude you're going to have, it's no wonder you're doing voiceover jobs for third-rate sex games.

The dress-up game has always confused me - surely the average horndog wants to take clothes off the woman, not put them on. I decided that the most perverse thing to do would be if I put all of the available outfits on fake nude Shania at one time.

Oh yeah, she's so hot right now... mainly because she's wearing six layers of clothing.

Another popular pick among the horny and alone is the "erotic animation." Now there's really only one type of "erotic animation" that actually works, and that's the type that doesn't take itself too seriously. When Bitches Bitch (classy) tries hard but ultimately fails. It's not terrible - the only problem is the quality of the animation.

Oh, wait, that might be a bigger problem than I imagined, seeing as how it's a cartoon. I don't have any other shots of the animation because I really didn't want to sit through a protracted fight scene, then some awful dialogue, followed by badly animated sex. The only memorable part of this cartoon comes at the very end. The fox-man creature, having killed a dozen gangsters and banged the three "bitches," rats them out to the big boss - apparently they were supposed to have fox-man's back, and the boss was pissed off about the gunfight. The boss rewards him with a large-breasted green woman. Fox-man is just about to blow when the boss informs him that, "She has AIDS!"

Best. Line. Ever.

The problem with many sex games is that you're so focused on the game that you don't get to enjoy any of the sex. Naughty Dances is a perfect example of this. The concept is simple - this chick is going to dance and you have to strip her. How are you going to do that?

Yeah, that's right - you're going to play Dance Dance Revolution!

OK, so let me get this straight - I can either focus on pressing the right buttons and miss the stripping, or I can focus on the girl and miss too many arrows, thereby ensuring she never gets naked? I think it was Wordsworth who put it best when he said, "That's total bullshit!"

On top of that, the game is actually really challenging. If you're a DDR whizkid then you might be fine, but most regular guys will be using their hands for other things.

So yeah, if you move your fingers fast enough you can eventually get her down to her birthday suit, at which point she asks if you want to have sex. Well, gee, honey, I would, but these blisters on my fingers are preventing any kind of self-pleasure. Maybe next time you won't make me play a fucking arcade game before you take your clothes off.

OK, I want to take a moment to look at more niche titles. Without wanting to sound racist or xenophobic, most of these titles come from Japan, and many of them involve twelve-year-old girls with large breasts sitting in toilet cubicles. However, the following game is not from Japan. As far as I can tell, it's from Spain, and it's made me rethink any plans of visiting Madrid.

It appears that this game is only known as Lola And Popy. I don't have any screenshots, and I really don't think I need them. It should be pretty clear to most people what this title involves. For those of you who still aren't sure, the object is to click the mouse at the right moment so that the horse jumps over fences. If the horse clears the jump, Lola will remove an item of clothing. Get far enough and Lola will perform... acts with the horse. I'm already on thin ice with this blog, no doubt, so I won't go any further. Suffice to say, this is not a game for everyone.

From the bizarre to the educational, now, with Map Strip!

OK, first of all, without wanting to cause offence to these two women - I'm sure they're very nice people - they are not attractive. Over the years I've had crushes on various women with all sorts of body sizes and types, but these women do absolutely nothing for me whatsoever. If I was thirteen and failing Geography class, I'm sure they could get me to pay attention. But I'm about ten years too old to find this game as anything other than a chance to brush up on my geography skills.

Pick whichever of the two desperate forty-year-old models you find most appealing, and then watch as they slowly, slowly strip for you. All you have to do is correctly point out the location of a specific country. I'd like to point out something else, if I may - why is she writing about human development if this is a geography quiz? You know, it's the little things that make a game.

I think this is what they call titillation (hee hee!... Oh, what?) It's just a shame that none of this is the least bit attractive to me, or I probably would have found the game a little more enjoyable. What can I say - I've never met a teacher with a tattoo running up her calf.

I thought it was just called "Russia" now? Guess that shows how educated I am. Clearly I am nowhere near the level of the geographical genius getting her tits out in an online game.

This is Miss Marie, from the Hard level. Except it's not hard; it's just the same God damn thing again. I know I should probably shut up and just watch Miss Marie do her thing with that metre stick, but I have a girlfriend and I don't have to pretend I find this arousing.

Are we horny yet? The answer is "No." This is the sort of pose your friend Darren's mother takes when she desperately wants you to find her attractive, but it's too late because Kev's mum once made the two of you breakfast wearing a dressing gown and she's much better looking than Darren's mum ever was.

This picture is disturbing with or without the screaming head. Map Strip is the perfect example of why adult games don't work. I don't believe that anyone seriously gets off to these things. Who's going to sit down and play Map Strip when they could just watch some internet porn instead? Or better yet, why not turn off the computer and make up the images yourself? Let's face it, no one knows what gets your engine running better than you do. Is a little imagination too much to ask?

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day.