Sunday, June 13, 2010

Off the windshield

Today, I'm writing in a different way than I used to. Instead of just taking one game and talking about it in a detailed, perhaps even prolonged way, I just picked three games I like and wrote about all of them in 30 words and some sidenotes for those who are interested in the title further described. This number may or may not vary depending on how well it'll work when writing about other games, but so far it seems to me as a good idea. So here's my first "Off the windshield" article, including following titles:

-Final Ninja Zero The prequel to Final Ninja keeps all the features from the first episode, such as a swinging rope or shurikens, and adds in a few new elements to improve it.

The previous Final Ninja game already enabled the player to make the protagonist Takeshi invisible as well, and the obligatory ninja skills, such as wall jumping and hanging from ceilings are included too. Some novelties that have been added also let you steer small flying robots and along the way you'll even need to apply disguise.

Screenshots: 1 2 3 4 5

-Dust Dust gives players the chance to take the term "sandbox gameplay" literally. You have the ability to spread all kinds of particles, for instance seeds, explosives, laser, clone or acid.

Furthermore, you can place two player controlled stick figures, which can create whatever they touch, along with enemies, or just load a level made by someone else saved online. Feel free to experiment, as there is no goal set, the whole game is about creating. Think of a 2d Minecraft, but with a whole lot of more explosions and chemical reactions.

Knytt Stories This is a minimalistic jump'n'run with collectible abilities, such as a floating umbrella, wall-climbing or ghost vision. What's so unusual about it? You can't kill any of your enemies.

Instead, you'll have to avoid them by either being faster than they are, or becoming invisible and placing a hologram of yourself which they will think is the real you. The best thing about the game is its atmosphere, that changes from scenario to scenario, just like the music does in this open-world game that comes with a level editor. The author also created a few installable add-on levels, which are also free to download and provide a few hours of gameplay more.

Screenshots: 1 2 3

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Shift series

There are only a few flash games that prove good enough for
multiple sequels, and keep providing the same quality. In the game
series Shift, you take the role of a more or less average guy,
whose only objective is to escape the experimentational course he
somehow landed in.
That alone sounds unspectacular, but there's (literally) a twist in
the gameplay that will motivate you on your way to freedom. The very special
feature I'm talking about is the ability to invert platforms and space, changing the level to its exact opposite, or modifying gravity by touching little arrows.
So much said, let's go on to the reason why you're being captured
four times in a row, forced to escape over and over again.


Shift 1: Similarly to the highly popular puzzle platformer game
Portal, you're playing as a subject, testing a new form of
movement. The biggest difference is that you don't teleport, but
change platforms to empty space and space into platforms by
changing your colour from black to white or the other way. Also, just like in Portal, you're promised some reward for completing the
"test", though the humorous comments you find in some levels should make
you suspicious about it.

Shift 2: Once again, you're left alone in a surreal black and white
test chamber, with the task of finding the exit. However, there
are some smaller changes to the storyline: this time you play as a
woman, and there's a not-so-secret alternative ending.

Shift 3: This time the alternative endings might reveal some
information about what happened to the previous test subjects,
and who's behind all this. In this episode you
get to play not only with your usual numbered subject, but there's
also an unlockable character. I don't want to spoil the surprise
though, so only highlight the following letters if you really want to
know who it is. The secret character is: Mel Gibson

Shift 4: After you successfully escape the experimenteer's lab,
you get attacked by a giant space squid and crash land on a
seemingly abandoned planet. To survive, you must not only find a
way out of every room, but also look for your companions who got
lost in the crash.


Shift 1:
In the very first puzzle platformer adventure of the
series you get introduced to the game's core mechanics and learn
to control your character using his rather unusual ability.

Shift 2: Some major improvements have been made comparing to
the first game in both level design and gameplay elements. You
newly discover some strange arrows that make you able to change
the direction of the gravity. This proves very useful, since many
keys are placed quite inconveniently.

Shift 3: In addition to the new things in part two, in Shift 3 you
find a PDA that shows a minimap in the right lower corner. The
reason you need this is, that, unlike in previous episodes, this time
you have to make choices which way you want to go.

Shift 4: In the last installment of the series you get to control
multiple characters in the same level. You can switch between
them by pressing Ctrl. For some new puzzles you need to place
everyone just where they have to be, making getting out of a room
a lot more difficult than in any of the previous games. There are
only two things that can help you play this part through: lots of
patience, or a walkthrough.

Further info

-In Shift 2 you get an extra award for beating the evil title
-Shift 3 has an unlockable character that you get after beating
the story mode. The levels you play with this character are nearly
the same, but he has a different storyline.
-If you're stuck, look up one of these walkthrough videos:
-Already beaten the game but still want more? Try some of the
player made levels in Shift 2, 3 or 4, or a very similar game
called Yin Yang.


The Shift series has gone a long way to become what it is now, but
it always kept things as puzzling as possible. Especially the newer
episodes stay challenging in every and each level. Anyone who
wants to put their grey matter to a test of confusing hallways full
of spikes and gravity shifting devices will find at least some of
the Shift games appealing, and the crazy story comes as a reward
for those who patiently play the games through.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Somewhere in a secret headqurtaer in the Antarctic...

Sidescrolling shooters are usually known for weapons, bullet-dodging and hordes of different enemies. While Intrusion does have all these features, it adds another element to the game: ragdoll-like physics. This makes it harder to jump away and avoid being shot, but it's just so much fun to see your opponents fly around when hit. During the game you'll fight soldiers, robots, helicopters and even get to try a huge robot with a machinegun and infinite grenades.

Story of Intrusion

Your rocket lands inside of an arctic place full of enemy soldiers and exploding mechanical pigs, you have to kill some giant robots, you get hit by a train, fight on that train, shot up in the sky and shoot down lots of enemies on your way. Ya' know, just the usual plot.

Gameplay of Intrusion

As I already said there's some physics involved in this game, which, on one hand, makes things a little more exciting, but your character becomes very slow and a bit more difficult to control. It takes some practice to figure out how to move best and plan forward to balance your weaknesses. By the way, you control your nameless soldier with WASD, change weapons with 1,2,3 and 4, and aim with the mouse.
At this point I have to say something about the graphics: it keeps getting better during the whole game! Even though the first level's plain icy deserts aren't very spectacular, you'll soon see what I mean. Detailed sky and backgrounds that look like a photo, just like the whole scenery make everything look better than most flash shooters do. Also, spectacular cutscenes and big bosses prevent the game from getting boring or repetitive.

Intrusion provides a normal and an easy mode, and a list of every chapter you have played through which you're then free to choose from. All in all Intrusion is a reasonably difficult game, but never completely unfair. Some boss attacks are a little overpowered in my opinion, but that's what makes a boss fight interesting I guess. Of course there are multiple checkpoints in every level, so you don't have to start from the beginning every time you die.
Since I took more screenshots than usual and there's really not much more left to say about the gameplay, I'll end this part now with the facts that missiles can be shot, enemies have the ability to shoot and walk through crates and you can climb and swing on ropes, but you'll figure that out while playing the game anyways.

Further info

-The blaster can shoot through some platforms and multiple enemies, this is especially useful when many weak opponents attack you or when you're fighting the worm-like boss in the second level.
-You can only dodge the worm's lasers if you move close enough to his head, if you're too far away he'll easily hit you.
-You can get out of the giant robot in the fourth level by holding down and pressing jump. You should do this to collect weapons and health on the way.
-Jumping around is not always the best choice, since you can hardly control your character in the air. Try ducking or taking cover instead, keeping a low profile is sometimes the only thing you can do.


If you're looking for a challenging and good looking game, you'll probably like Intrusion. This game has it all: graphics, physics and huge robots. One of the best run n guns you'll find on the net.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everybody was little fightiiing...

I think it's safe to say that the golden age of side-scrolling fighting games has ended with the SNES and Sega Genesis losing their popularity. Maybe you have stumbled upon a few remakes or emulations, but considering how many great one-on-one beat em ups (which I also really like) have been released for consoles recently, it's also clearly to see that big developers don't care for the sidescrolling kind of the genre much anymore. Luckily, freeware games are known for reviving games that were thought of as long forgotten, and Little Fighter 2 is a great example for this.

Story of Little Fighter 2

Although it contains a Stage mode, Little Fighter 2 doesn't have a story, but if you really want to see the game's characters in an animation, you should check the fan-made flash animation series: Little Fighter Alpha.

Gameplay of Little Fighter 2

In LF2 you control a fighter, each with different abilities, for instance, while Woody can teleport away from his enemies, or Rudolf, the ninja (quite an odd way to call a ninja, isn't it?) can transform into people he touched or clone himself, Freeze has the ability to throw iceballs on his opponents that capture them inside an iceblock. In a close combat characters usually use chains of punches and kicks, but there are some special skills that you can use right next to your opponent too. Most special attacks cost mana points that regenerate over time.
The thing I love most about sidescrolling fighting games is, that even though you can play against each other competitively, most game modes allow you to cooperate with other players, fighting together against hordes of enemies, or if your friends don't feel like playing you can set computer teammates that you can even give commands like come, move or stay.

Little Fighter 2 combines this with a great selection of different characters, there's a total of 23 characters you can choose from, 10 you can play with from the beginning and 13 you have to unlock by playing the stages (or type in a simple cheat ;)) though 8 of them are rather playable minions you'll meet along the game. All characters have different strengths and weaknesses, and a few can even change to someone else or fusion with a teammate so feel free to experiment for a while before jumping into a game. Surprisingly, you can also unlock the boss, Julian. This character is undoubtedly the strongest of all, to be honest fighting with him against a standard character would be unfair, but in LF2 you can team up with multiple companions and balance the match. Joining a team is also possible in the stage mode, but the number of players will affect the number of enemies you have to beat, but of course the AI of your opponents can be changed in the difficulty settings.

The basic controls are simple, you move with the arrow keys, plus there's a button each for attack, jump, and block, but you can configurate the buttons which is especially convenient if you want to play with more people on the same keyboard. The special skills are activated by pressing the defense button, a direction and then attack or jump. You can look up the entire moves list on the official site, there's also a link to it in the control settings menu, or download the guide which includes the Firzen fusional technique too and explains things a little more detailed.
As I already mentioned, in LF2 you can play with or against many opponents, controlled either by a player or by the computer. This makes new game modes possible like the battle, where two players choose each an entire army to fight with. Furthermore, in the game you'll find several weapons like baseball bats, crates, stones or scythes. You can also throw these, so use them wisely.

Another great thing is the possibility of recording matches. All you have to do is clicking the turn the recording button in the recording info menu and all of your matches that you play will be saved. Then, you can play these back anytime, or share them with anyone who has the same version of LF2 by sending the text file with the data of your recording. And if that's still not enough, you can try creating your own character with the help of some template files especially made for this purpose. If you don't have the patience to do this yourself, look up the Little Fighter forums, there should be plenty of characters ready to download.

Further info

-Most energy balls can be hit back.
-If Firen and Freeze run towards each other while both have less than 1/3 of their energy, after a huge explosion the combine into Firzen and one of the players take control over him.
-Louis can change into LouisEX if he has less than 1/3 of his life, in this form he takes off his armor but gets a spear. LouisEX has a different moves list from Luis' and he's also faster, plus running through people will hit them since he holds his spear in front of him. This can also help you hit back energy balls.
-After his Strike attack (D, down, A) the character called Deep can do a Leap Attack (D, up, J, A). This will hit the airborne opponent guaranteedly. Davis has a similar combination, except he uses his normal melee combo to hit the enemy in the air.
-John's Energy Shield can also be used as an attack if you opponent touches it.
-In the stage mode you can save some characters lying tied up in levels. These will fight with you.


Little Fighter 2 combines elements from sidescrolling beat em ups with Dragonball-like characters and techniques and lots of modes for one or more players, mixing all into an extremely fun fighting game easy enogh for anyone to jump in and play, while it still leaves enough free room for exploring new combos or even new forms of some characters. Anyone who likes fighting games of any kind and doesn't get irritated by plain levels or the lack of a story should give it a try.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Games for pros: Varia (freeware)

Top-down shoot em ups, or short SHMUPs usually take place in space, with the objective of shooting down alien spaceships with your devastating lasers. Varia is very similar to these typical games, with a little difference that you're not on the way to a foreign planet, but into the core of a computer.
This unusual setting has a great influence on the graphics style, giving the game a futuristic neon-look.

Gameplay of Varia

There are three basic elements you'll find in most shoot em ups: flying, shooting, and upgrades. You move with the cursor keys, shoot with Z, X puts you into slow mode and freezes options and C lets you discard an ability picked up with your options (more on that later). You can also use the slow mode to dodge bullets. Let's get to the upgrade system.
The way to get them and the powerups themselves are very similar to those in the popular arena shooter Fraxy. To get a powerup you have to shoot down a certain type of enemy, after it's destroyed 3 bonuses appear and you're free to choose whichever you like.
-The red powerup increases the number of bullets you can simultaneously fire with your basic gun.
-Green ones give you a shield (not accumultative)
-Yellow adds an option (a green floating orb, similar to the ones in the NES classic Gradius) that follows your ship and has the ability to absorb an enemy projectile and copy it. More on that later

-If you can stay long enough in between these upgrades you'll get all of the above. Otherwise the rest disappears once you picked one of them.

You can own a maximum of 4 options and 4 upgrades for your vulcan gun at the same time. To use an option make it touch an enemy projectile. Once it absorbs the shot it'll copy that enemy's ability. Simple, round bullets are the most common in the game, they're not too strong but don't be afraid to pick them up, you can discard abilities absorbed by options by pressing C. You can collect most kinds of projectiles this way, but some enemies, especially bosses have weapons thats bullets can't be absorbed.
Shields protect you from a shot, you can't use multiple shields at a time. If you die all your upgrades will appear on the screen, you only have to collect them again. Weapons absorbed by your options will be lost though, so be careful not to die when you can't find strong weapons.
There's also an in-game tutorial that explains the basics fairly well, if you have any difficulties take a look at it.

Further info

-Staying in the middle of the powerups dropped by some ships in order to get all of the upgrades is a lot easier in the slow mode. You activate this by pressing X. This will also keep your orbs in the same place related to your ship, which makes collecting new weapons a lot easier, too.
-Bosses usually consist of multiple parts that can be destroyed seperately. Always go for the one first that you find hardest to dodge.
-You can discard any unwanted weapons you picked up with your option by pressing C. If you have multiple options you can select another one by pressing up or down.
-You can use an empty option as a shield if you freeze it right in front of your ship. Beware of projectiles that cannot be absorbed though!


Varia is a fast (and with only 5 levels maybe a bit too short) action shooter with many great features, some known from other similar games, but a few very innovative ones too. Tricky bosses and lots of different abilities you can collect from your enemies make the game fun and give it a good value of replayability. Higher difficulty settings might be frustrating for casual players, but offer real experts just the challenge they'd expect. The flashy and even spectacular effects manage to make a distinction to other games with this common graphics style.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stupid real world stunt idea = brilliant videogame idea

Flying as far as you can while buying upgrades to get even further, just to earn money that you can spend on even more upgrades to...
-I guess at this point you get the idea- is a very popular core game mechanics in flash games.
Shopping Cart Hero 2 is exactly this kind of game, with some new features in comparison to its first part, ranging from surprisingly funny to absolutely unreal.

Gameplay of Shopping Cart Hero 2

In the beginning you don't have too much to do- roll down a hill using the arrow keys and some
timing, maybe do a few simple tricks in the air and roll as far as you can. But after you gained some money and invested it in new items for your cart everything becomes a little more exciting. While buying better wheels for your cart, or even putting rockets on its side increases the maximum height and distance you can reach, strange objects like a baseball bat, a sombrero,
or a dumpster instead of your normal cart enable certain tricks or give you special attributes
that help you in many different (and often absurd) ways.

The controls are easy in the beginning, but become more and more complicated once you have bought some new stunts and items to use. Different combinations trigger tricks like a mid-air handstand, wheelies, or, if you have the required things, you can even try hanggliding or diving into an underground cave with your dumpster.

New features in Shopping Cart Hero 2

While Shopping Cart Hero was only slightly longer than an average coffebreak game, Shopping Cart Hero 2 is packed full of extras that make it a lot longer. First of all, there are a whole lot more upgrades besides the normal wheels, rockets and a few tricks, I have already mentioned some of the craziest things you can buy in the previous section.
Another novelty in the game are the boss fights. There are two enemies you have to beat using different carts and other helpful objects, both attacking in a different way. While the giant earthworm uses bombs that you have to hit back in order to beat him, and makes his cave bumpy to make you fall, the second boss, the monkey throws bananas at you out of his gorilla hot-air balloon and during the fight against him you also have to avoid bombs placed on the clouds (you can also hit them with your bat just like the bananas).
There are 2 new types of carts, a dumpster and a golden one. You need these to start the bossfights. Notice that you will need the "dumpster dive" stunt too in order to fight the worm, and you can only fight against the monkey after you purchased the hang glider for the golden cart.

Further info

List of upgrades:
-Round Wheels -> Rubber Wheels -> Racing Wheels
-Rockets -> Rockets #2 -> Rockets #3 -> Rockets #4 (requires Dumpster)
-Groupie -> Two Groupies -> Full Harem
-Football Helmet
-Propeller Beanie Hat
-Baseball Bat
-Solid Gold Cart

-Up-N-Out Flip
-Handstand Wheelie
-Pole Vault (requires Baseball Bat)
-Dumpster Dive (requires Dumpster and Baseball Bat)
-Hang Glider (requires Solid Gold Cart and Baseball Bat)

*Hint* When on the ground use the baseball bat to hit coconuts and plants, you get rewards for coconut juggles and there's some money hidden in the grass.


Shopping Cart Hero 2 is a lot longer lasting game than the previous SCH, and with a bunch of new available things in the shop also a lot more fun. Boss fights and some new tricks were added, giving the game a bigger variety of gameplay elements and the graphics are also slightly improved. Only bad thing I have to mention is that you need some patience in the beginning, before being able to earn enough money for bigger upgrades, but once that phase is over Shopping Cart Hero 2 is simply addicting.

Japanese gameshow as flash game

Have you ever wanted to put on hilarious safety suits, run through mud and all kinds of humiliating obstacles, just to press a red button on time? No? Doesn't surprise me at all, but luckily, you don't have to, thanks to the new flash game Ching Chong Beautiful.
It's basically an interactive parody of those crazy japanese gameshows where the contestants have to make it through an even crazier obstacle course, while their time is running out, which is easier said than done. You'll most probably fall on your face a couple of times before collecting all fishhead-boxes and reaching the goal, but that's not all, every time you fall you'll hear the crowd laughing about you, or, in case you avoid being hit, they let you know how much they wanted to see you stumble over that rock with a loud "aawww...".

Story of Ching Chong Beautiful

Just like you'd expect from a game of this kind, the story isn't too relevant. All you have to know is that you enter this gameshow because bad people have kidnapped your brother and want a special kind of championship horse. Which, all by coincidence, happens to be the prize for the winner of the show.

Gameplay of Ching Chong Beautiful

The controls are simple, you use the arrow keys to move, S to jump and A to run, but there are some more complicated actions like wallruns or slides.
You can choose between three difficulties, though the hardest isn't recommended for anyone. At all. The game can be really frustrating, even on lower difficulties, simply because one mistake can cost you so much time that you have to start again. This happened to me frequently on levels where you can fall really deep and have to climb back to continue.
On the other hand, seeing your character's clumsy moves and how he crashes into walls is
sometimes actually funny, and hearing him scream with his high-pitched voice is just hilarious.
Enjoying your own character's mistakes is very rare in games thats objective is getting to the end of the level as fast as possible.
If I had to pick one thing in Ching Chong Beautiful that I liked the most, it would be its humor. It has a wonderfully weird atmosphere, combined with a protagonist that's the exact opposite of the usual cool-guy with big muscles. However, some might find certain things in the game offensive (or simply annoying) that was ment to be a joke.

Further info

-There are no real upgrades, but you can unlock different helmets and scarfs that you'll find in the trophies section.
-There are 6 areas, each containing 6 levels, except for the last one which consists of only one big tower.
-When almost falling down an edge press the other direction repeatedly to regain your balance.


Ching Chong Beautiful is a game not everyone will like, but I recommend everyone to try it and not to give up after the first level, because once you get the hang of it, it's a lot of fun, while
it stays challenging and diverse until the end.