Zack and Gillman attack the newest and strangest release of recent weeks, Goat Simulator. To make matters even stranger they throw in a handful of mods to see if they can throw off the balance a tad bit. This week ends up being a slightly short experience, but that said how long can you really hand a man pretending to be a goat?
If there is one thing that you can’t keep apart it is life long best friends. Gillman takes a long and deep breath and decides that the best thing that he can do to appease Nick is play DoTA 2, at the very least once. Maybe that way in the future he will stop bringing it up. Don’t worry, we have the standard brand of humor here too.
DoTA clones, or Lord Management games if you are in the know, are kind of hard to talk about in general. In general they are highly polished, high skill based, and are based around an almost insurmountable learning curve. History has not been favorable to these kinds of games, as most of the time they are more classified in what they change for the worse from the core formula. While this has led to a kind of stagnation in the emerging genre it hasn’t entirely snuffed out interesting ideas as Forge changes the action from overhead and feeling like a WarCraft mod to feeling more like a first person shooter.
Far from the first game to attempt some of the innovations— persistent levels, first person perspective, and a fantasy setting have been done a handful of times before—there is definitely a pace that sets Forge apart from the rest of the genre. Something akin to the break neck speed of Unreal, down to the inclusion of wall jumps, the game feels less plotting and skill administration as in a League of Legends match and more about movement not giving others a clear shot; more like Call of Duty.
The inherit problem with any of these games is the depth, required learning curve, and eventual problems with the community. For the most part it would be like jumping into a tennis match with someone who is globally ranked while one is still trying to figure out the rules; the problem is basically that there are expectations from both ends that are not going to be met in a satisfactory way. Even though I am not against a game being solely multiplayer it seems that message has been taken to mean that there doesn’t need to be any way to get any player simply past the functional use of controls phase of a skill set.
There is nothing wrong with Forge; as a matter of fact it does some very interesting things with controls and perspective of play for the genre. The problems come from the language that is commonplace to communicate the experience to the player in this type of game. For people that already understand the flow, skill reset, and roles of most types of classes in this game it honestly proves to be an interesting diversion from the standard entries. The issue isn’t that it doesn’t do enough different from the games that came before it, and probably inspired sections of it, the problem is that it doesn’t do enough to change anything that was keeping people away from that type of experience.
Once, late at night I commented to a friend of mine that being half asleep appeared to be the perfect condition for playing Magical Drop. Between the bright colors and frantic, sometimes impossible to keep up with, pace it just seemed to be something that my ready to sleep mind was kind of enjoying a ton. Being a mixture of most block matching games and seemingly endless insanity might also have also been a contributing factor.
The core mechanic of the game is to pull ever descending blocks from one column and put them in another with a matching set of three or more. This causes the matched blocks to disappear, which can result in anything from a desperate move to prevent the pillars from crushing you to a screen clearing combo. The movement speed of everything, from the character switching the blocks to the descending bricks themselves, seems to be way to fast to understand at first; after about an hour of playing the game, though, the first couple rounds against the computer manage to feel kind of slow.
The problems with the game entirely comes from the fact that it seems buggy. When I first got the game there was an issue with it recognizing my controller, and seeing as how all of the in-game information had decided that it was going to display in German and German only it was mildly difficult to fix. After digging through the install directory I managed to fix the problems myself, although that is something that I don’t see many people bothering to do. When the game was patched on release these problems were fixed, but replaced with the game defaulting to Japanese and needing to be changed in the settings. While a more manageable bug it was still annoying to go through.
Bugs aside I do have to point out that the game does a terrible job of having anything resembling a functional tutorial. Mix in the fact that the game is difficult to learn on easy, and doesn’t even begin to introduce all of the core mechanics unless played on normal or harder, and you end up with something that is an interesting experience but hard to break through the shell of. This is, off course, before even mentioning the characters in the game that play as if they were in Puzzle Bobble instead of any of the other characters, because I am still not entirely sure their finer mechanics after several hours of play.
Magical Drop is far from a perfect release, as anyone who is going to battle with any of the bugs will tell you. The real problems, though, come from the fact that the game is more complicated than it appears to give itself credit for. It might be easy just to say that this game is just for fans, but the truth is that anyone with a passing interest in this genre will find something to like inside—even if that is just pure insanity. For 10 dollars Magical Drop V is something worthwhile to have in your Steam list, even if the first two hours is spent figuring out how to get it running and how to fundamentally play it.
There is a large amount of joy that can be garnered from playing a game that you thought wasn’t going to be that great, but finding out that it is actually kind of amazing. That was exactly the case with Tales from Space: Mutant Blob Attacks—mainly that it simply showed up for review; also the odd title didn’t really help promote confidence in the unknown. The game ended up being some kind of odd mix between a puzzle game, Katamari Damacy, and a platformer—a combination that comes together way better in practice than it ever could on paper.
The game stars some kind of amorphous blob that grows simply through the act of absorbing things that it comes into contact with, a la Katamari. Scattered throughout the levels are random hazards, normally in the way of either spikes or lasers that need to be avoided as to not take damage and be forced to replay that section of the level. Most of the avoidance takes place in the form of some light puzzle solving, moving platforms into place or miscellaneous objects to make jumps possible. Keep in mind that all of this is happening on a 2D plane.
The most interesting aspect of the puzzle solving revolves around the frequent use of the mouse to move objects around in the environment, most interestingly to turn the blob into a projectile that flies across giant gaps. The downside to this interesting interaction is that it makes the game go from something that can be played with a controller to something that involves sitting up and playing around with a mouse every couple of minutes or so.
What really drives this game from something that would be a quick, enjoyable, and probably forgettable gameplay session is the games art style and amazing sense of humor. Pretty much everything from the original Gameboy, with a more classic 16-bit look on the throwback levels, to Portal and more recent games get nods throughout the game—mostly in the form of billboards on the background of the town that the blob is destroying. Probably one of my personal favorite things about the game is that there are no qualms about the fact that every human the blob comes into contact with is eaten and made part of the continuing death machine—something that I always kind of felt was skimmed over with Katamari.
The game sells on Steam for 8 dollars, which is only an issue because it seems like an odd price to ask for something. While the experience might be short there are certain moments in the game, from the news reports of impending doom to the nods at gaming in general, which simply make it enjoyable from start to finish. The game itself is very easy to recommend to anyone who is interested on gaming on a PC. Honestly this game has made it painfully clear that DrinkBox Studios might be a company that can output some rather interesting games in the future, as well as the one that is out right now.