You Won’t Get Sand In Your Shoes

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     Near the end of the 16-bit era, a small Japanese developer named Pandora’s Box delighted role-playing game enthusiasts with Arabian Nights for the Super Famicom. We westerners were not nearly as delighted since it never made it overseas. Not surprising, since the Nintendo 64 was just months away from release. Many gamers were already spending their cash on the bevy of other next-generation games that were flooding store shelves. American publishers in the 90’s were hesitant to release RPGs to begin with and definitely not niche ones like this without a big name to back them up.

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     For the most part, it’s the standard RPG fare: turn-based battles, casting magic, using skills, equipping weapons, you know the score. The exception is the cards you find during the game. Relax, it’s not Yu-Gi-Oh. You’re not summoning anything. The cards come in nine assorted flavors of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Tree, Moon, Light, Dark, and Steel. There are five cards for every type and each one causes a different effect on the battlefield from adding an element to your attacks to causing critical hits with certainty. In addition to the gameplay you’d expect, these cards add a new level of strategy and you’ll be needing the help because this game’s difficulty is without mercy for the ill-prepared.

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     As for the story you are Shukran, a cute young woman who stumbles across a ring imprisoning a djinn. He can’t be free of the spell until he grants 1000 wishes. Shokran’s wish is the very last one and a hefty, selfless wish at that — Bring peace to the land. So being the new owner of the ring she journeys along with her new companion as he cleanses the land of its ills. It’s worth noting that even with the cliche story, the characters are remarkably well developed, sympathetic and memorable.


     Overall it’s nothing completely new or particularly original but the basics are in place and done right. The detailed graphics are bursting with color and the music is catchy and modern while retaining the style expected from a game with “Arabia” in its title. Definitely check out LostTemplar’s translation as a lot of time and work went into this game both from the translation team and the original developer.

Is that *THE* Pac-Man? It is!

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Last October independent developer JMRante gifted us Windows users with his tribute to all things Pac-Man with the release of The Pac-Man. It combines the old with the new in that it combines the play of the classic with the look and feel of the yellow puck’s new adventures like Tengen’s Pac-Mania.

In The Pac-Man our “sphero” (someone must now kill me) has to travel to a legendary island to continue his endless gluttony, but strange entities are afoot. Stop. Send. Seriously that’s all there is. What did you expect? Herman Melville? Really that’s more than you need. All you need to know is that the game is pick up and play easy for anyone to jump right into and enjoy. There’s over 70 levels to complete of increasing difficulty and they’re arranged on a map screen a la Super Mario 3.

Can’t really beat the price, since it’s freeware. You need to sign up for IndieDB but you should anyway since it’s a fantastic site for what’s new in the indie gaming world. Check it out, download, play, have fun. You have nothing to lose except the rest of the night trying to beat just one more level!

Minecraft in Space? Infinite Pixels!

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Mincraft is good. It’s like some kind of digital drug to those prone to its voxelated charms. However it’s just one huge world. Imagine being able to build supply depots, mining facilities, space stations and explore many many planets where you can mine from and build.


That’s Infinite Pixels and the promise it shows is quite definitely infinite. Frozen Studios has put together an indiegogo funding campaign to kick things off. The incentive packages range from $12 which includes the full game and alpha access, up to $525 which grants you the privilege of naming a solar system! Pretty slick I must say.

In the words of LeVar Burton: You Don’t Have To Take My Word For It, check out the alpha trailer:


You can also visit the official Frozen Studios site to keep fully abreast of Infinite Pixels’ development.

Load Your Trebuchets

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We’ve all been there: The sun’s rising and you have to go to sleep and wake up in less time than it takes to dry clothes. You want to go to sleep because let’s face it — you’re damn tired, but you can’t because there’s still a 17th-century European monarch drawing breath behind the brick wall you’ve been lobbing rocks at all night. Come on Prince Albert, bite it so I can pretend to sleep.

Crush the Castle 2 is Armor Game’s sequel to their sleeper hit from last summer. It delivers the same satisfying physics-based mayhem people with too much time on their hands have come to love (this time with a nice dose of Wilhelm scream for good measure).

The gameplay couldn’t be simpler: You click once to start your trebuchet moving, then again to release its load (there’s a joke in there somewhere). The point of the game is to successfully bring various structures down on top of kings, queens, guards etc. in as few tries as possible. You start out only being able to fling logs but as you progress the game adds new ammunition types like steel shells, bombs, and acid vials. At the same time, the levels become more complex and will require the use of your entire arsenal. Also there’s achievements if you’re into that sort of thing.

I downloaded the first game for my iPod Touch last summer and I still go back to it even after acquiring gold medals on every stage. I’ve played a lot of other launch-crap-at-other-crap type games like Angry Birds or Fragger but unlike these titles Ctc offers the use of any ammunition you’ve unlocked. This small distinction adds a measure of freedom but also strategy, forcing the player to really get to know how each projectile works. This is especially important for those who wish to get gold medals because almost every stage’s gold requirement is one turn. These freedoms along with the more realistic aesthetic is why Crush the Castle is still my go-to title when I’m bored. Not to say it isn’t fantastic but get real, you don’t set time aside to play casual games. Unless you do. I don’t.

Ctc2 also has a level creator and a massive online community chock full of people’s creations, so the fun is really endless. If there’s one gripe I have with this iteration it’s that it feels significantly easier than its predecessor. This might be due to it having additional ammunition types but I didn’t have any trouble getting golds in every level and trust me I suck at everything.

So set some time aside for Crush the Castle 2 or if you haven’t already give the first game a shot. Also keep your eyes peeled for this title’s inevitable iOS release.

Your Colon Will Thank You

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Do you enjoy hitting yourself in the face with a shovel? No? Well what if it induced an earth-shattering orgasm? Super Meat Boy is kind of like that.

…without the embarrassing emergency room trip.

Okay— think about the hardest platformer you’ve ever played. Now remove frustration due to crappy hit detection or poor controls. Add in a kick ass soundtrack and you’ll still be a few miles of awesome away from the slow-roasted badassery that is Super Meat Boy.

Team Meat’s flagship title is the updated successor to Meat Boy which is a free flash game on Newgrounds. “Why pay $15 for this when I can play it for free online?” Because this one is super you fart-wrangler. It’s not for the faint of heart as it offers a plethora of levels tougher than the chewiest gristle (especially the “dark” levels which are thankfully optional). To top it off before each new set of levels players are treated to short cutscenes that nod to classic game franchises of the 80’s and 90’s. Scrumptious!

Exceptional gameplay built on a sharply original concept with killer level design, air-tight controls and just enough difficulty to have most players stumped but not so hard as to send them into a homicidal rampage.

Super Meat Boy is available now on XBox Live for 1200 Microsoft Points, Windows via Steam or Direct2Drive for $15 and will soon be released on Nintendo’s WiiWare and MacOS. If you are ready for a challenge and love a good platformer you owe it to yourself to play Super Meat Boy.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’m going for seconds.

Surgeon Generals Warning

May cause: frustration, difficulty sleeping, wallet leakage, inability to keep track of time, urgent urination, an increase in snack food consumption, and an occasional feeling of euphoria.

Gameine is all about video games. Specifically those video games that suck you in, take over your life, steal all your money, probe your anus and tell the judge you aren’t fit to operate a motor vehicle OH GOD I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE WHY CAN’T I FINISH THIS LEVEL??

Ahem. So this is about the games that continue to play on the backs of your eyelids when you’re trying to sleep. I’m going to root out all the narcotic games and point anyone reading this in their direction for instant gratification.

At least you won’t get track marks or a bloody nose.

Possibly the munchies though.