My head has been swimming in words for Where We Came From. My hands have been dipped in old games for vital research. This week. Finally. I played. With some modern toys.
The Cat and The Coup
Ah, thank you m'lud for the Alliance of Awesome. Soft, furry Armand from AoA partner Bits'n'Bytes Gaming told me about The Cat and The Coup a little while back. A couple of days ago, he threw me a message telling me it had been released. I knew what he really meant. He meant download it and play it, you fool. So I did. [Update 25 June: Armand has put his own thoughts online.]
If you've got around 20 minutes free, you should too.
The Cat and The Coup, by Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad, covers one particular instance of the West's self-interested meddling in the governance of the Middle East. It explores the coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1952, who was both popular and progressive. I'll admit this wasn't a chapter of history I was familiar with but, thanks to this game, I came away informed. It's the kind of story that makes you angry about the blinkered power games politicians have played in your name. There is a direct line from Mosaddegh's fall to the dangerous posturing between Iran and the West today.
The game is rich with metaphor and I can't say I've cracked the meaning of the entirety of the mechanics and imagery yet, but it's quite engrossing. The Nine Inch Nails track that plays over the endgame is also well-chosen.
There is play here - not a great deal, but enough to persuade me this is a bona-fide game and not an interactive picture book. Enjoy this one for what it is... and learn.
If you're a subscriber to Electron Dance on Twitter, you may have seen this already. From v21 who brought us player-ghost shooter Hell Is Other People comes Cubes. This isn't new, I'm just slow. Just ask my friends about how far I've got through the Mass Effect saga. Anyway, thank StumbleUpon for showing me v21's page. I had to click something. I couldn't just sit there and do nothing.
It's a straightforward 3D Unity game - move mouse, avoid cubes. But it offers Canabalt-style play - zero complexity and a compelling challenge that keeps you coming back. It's fun for blowing away a few minutes. My best survival time is 48s. Good luck.
Vlambeer released Dinosaur Zookeeper yesterday. It's a curious park management game with a vein of humour running through it and also a lot of spurty blood if you're not careful. Sadly, I got a bit bored after a few levels. It's also got that familiar Flash "finished round! now upgrade your weapons/tools/skills" type-thing which seems like a clichéd design choice these days.
But I won't hear a bad word said about Vlambeer though, because they made Super Crate Box - one of those games that trick you into killing yourself because you can't stop chasing shiny weapons. Oh and it really is your fault you get deaded so often.
Oh dear, look it's yet another abstract-puzzle-RTS-shooter hybrid. Fuck me if I've had enough of those. Hang on: what?
The demo is free on Steam. It's definitely interesting. BUT. BUT. The demo, man. It doesn't sell the game too well.
It starts off gently but the difficulty slope is horrendous. After the first few simple levels, suddenly it's knee-deep in DEFEND YOURSELF! and you're not learning anymore, you're blindly shooting all over the place because you haven't the faintest idea what passes for strategy in this strange dimension.
So I'm left wondering if I would really enjoy it because I didn't get a sense of growing mastery over the game. There's no doubt more to it than just trying to move as fast as possible, but that is the gameplay trough I fell into.
Then again, I had similar issues with the Revenge of the Titans demo and that's done very well despite my troubles.
Okay, we're done here. Have a great weekend.