Game Review #13

Dragon Quest IX

Dragon Quest IX is the ninth game of the Dragon Quest series.  It is an RPG game on the DS. This game begins in the Observatory, the floating kingdom where the angelic beings called Celestrians, including the main protagonist, reside. The main character begins as the guardian who has just undertaken protection of Angel Falls, a human village. The Celestrians have been trying for some time to move into the God’s Land. However, before they can leave, they require a fruit called the fygg. The fruit is very rare and Yggdrasil the “World Tree” it grows on must be empowered with benevolessence, which is spiritual energy that can only be obtained by helping people in Protectorate, the world of mortals.

By helping and protecting Angel Falls and earning the gratitude of its people, the main character obtains enough benevolessence for the World Tree to produce the fyggs. Just as the Starflight Express that will take the angels to the kingdom of God arrives, the Observatory is attacked from below by a mysterious and powerful force. The force scatters the assembled angels and knocks the fyggs, the Starflight Express, and the main character down to the Protectorate. The main character awakens without wings or a halo and finds he has been rescued from the base of the waterfall in Angel Falls.

Battle is conducted from a combination of first and third-person perspectives. The character plans his or her attack from a first person perspective, selecting which opponents to target (including the ability to target specific monsters in a single group) and then switches to a moving third-person view to watch the main character’s party and the monsters battle for the round. Combat includes a combo system available both to players and monsters. When two or more identical attacks are performed consecutively on the same opponent the attack damage increases by a multiplier. A two-hit combo receives a 1.2x multiplier, a three-hit combo a 1.5x multiplier, and a four-hit combo a 2.0x multiplier. Experience points earned from battle are divided amongst all party members based on level, higher level characters receive a greater share of the experience points than lower level characters.

Each playable character has a vocation that determines his or her stat increases per level, usable weapons and armor, and spells. Six vocations are available early in the game: warrior, mage, priest, martial artist, thief and minstrel. An additional six classes (armamentalist, ranger, gladiator, sage, paladin, and luminary) can be unlocked through successful completion of quests. The protagonist starts as a minstrel, and when additional party members first become available, they can be created with any unlocked vocation. The ability to change a character’s active vocation can be unlocked through gameplay. Characters have separate levels and experience totals for each vocation, and a character’s stats and spells are based on his or her active vocation. The game also includes a skill system similar to the one in Dragon Quest VIII, each vocation has five skills: one skill exclusive to the vocation, three weapon skills shared with one or more other vocations, and either Shield or Fisticuffs, an unarmed attack. As characters gain levels, they obtain skill points, which can be spent to increase any of the current vocation’s skills Whenever the points invested in a skill reach a certain threshold, a new ability (active command) or trait (passive bonus) is gained, with the 10th and final ability or trait gained at 100 points. In the case of weapon skills, the 100 point trait allows a character to use the relevant weapon with any vocation, while the 100 point shield trait allows any vocation to use shields. Abilities and trait which have been gained through the skill system are carried over to other vocations, as are unspent skill points.

There is so much more to the game, but you should play it to find out!

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Game Update #3

So this week we need to have our digital prototype done.  We have something that resembles a game.  It works, just not very well.  I tried to schedule a meeting with the powerhouse, but am  yet to receive confirmation.  I was hoping to get the perspective issues fixed before class, but it looks like we are just going to present our “falling from the sky” game.  Ugh! I really want to get this game looking like it should, I just don’t know how to do it and every time I research something it is in AS1, or just something that I don’t understand.  Without help from the powerhouse, I have done almost all that I can as far as the code for this game goes.  I think we took a big risk going for the head tracking on this game, and it turned out okay, but that alone doesn’t make it a good game.  I would really like to see this game become more detailed and advanced.  Not having taken a Flash course before this really makes things difficult.  I feel that this project would work really well if we were paired with someone from a Flash class.  We could design it, and they could code it.  Since this is a more design based class, that would seem to be more appropriate.  Still, given the skill sets and time restraints that our group had, I think that so far we have produced a decent product.

… I mean… the game works, right?!

Game Review #12

World’s Fastest Drummer

This week I chose to review the game World’s Fastest Drummer.  Usually, I review games that I have played before and I am excited about, however, this week I decided to pick a random game off of AddictingGames.com and give it a spin.

This game doesn’t have much of a narrative.  It starts out with just showing you a picture of a kid named Bobby and telling you through text that he likes to hit drums.  You are then put into the game and you see Bobby hitting a practice pad.  There are also a set of drum sticks closer to the screen, which one would assume are  yours and you must hit the drum… only one problem… how do you do that?  At first I hit the space bar.  No luck.  Then, I tried the arrow keys.  Still nothing.  After smashing the keyboard out of frustration, I noticed that the sticks moved.  Success!  Now, how did I do that?  After a little exploration, I found that the ‘A’ and ‘L’ keys moved the left and right sticks, respectively.  Now I can play!

After destroying Bobby in his bedroom drum-off, I moved on to face a “real” drummer.  The scene moved to a rock drummer warming up for a concert.  He was no match for my button-mashing skills.  After easily making him cry in defeat, I went on to face a kid on the street.  Who knows why.

At this point, I was over the game.  Smashing two keys continuously can only be entertaining for so long.  Core mechanic fail.

This game is essentially just a race against the clock.  You need to hit the drum a certain amount of times in a limited time to pass each level.  The needed number of hits goes up by 100 each level.  Exciting? No.

Overall, this game was fun for about 8 minutes.  If you like mashing buttons, then this game is for you, otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Game Update #2

This week we worked on the graphics for our game.  This was particularly difficult because we were still struggling with deciding between a 3d view or a 2d view.  In the end we decided that we should try to make it 2d, but come from a focal point on the stage, so that it has a 3d feel.  We designed our graphics this way, and we hope that we can re-code the actionscript and tilt the stage on its z-axis.  Once we get the graphics to fit this idea, we should be well on our way to getting this game finished.  The head tracking and hit tests are working.  This seems to be the last major step until we play test.  If we are unable to get the 3d feel to work, we may go back to 2d and have the objects come from the top of the screen.

Game Review #11

NBA Jam (NES)

NBA Jam is a basketball arcade game developed by Midway in 1993.  It became unexpectedly popular after its release.  NBA Jam features 2-on-2 basketball.  It was one of the first real playable basketball arcade games, and was also one of the first sports games to feature NBA-licensed teams and players, and their real digitized likenesses.

A key feature of NBA Jam was the exaggerated nature of the play.  Players jumped many times above their own height, making slam dunks that defied both human capabilities and the laws of physics. There were no fouls, free throws, or violations except goaltending and 24 second violations. This meant the player was able to freely shove or elbow his opponent out of the way. Additionally, the game had an “on fire” feature, where if one player made three baskets in a row, he would become “on fire” and have unlimited turbo, no goaltending, and increased shooting ability, until the other team scored (or the player had scored four consecutive baskets while “on fire”).

The game is filled with easter eggs, special features and players activated by initials or button/joystick combinations. For example, pressing A five times and right five times on any Sega Genesis controller would activate ‘Super Clean Floors’. This feature would cause characters to fall if they ran too fast or changed direction too quickly. And players could enter special codes to unlock hidden players, ranging from US President Bill Clinton to Hugo the Charlotte Hornets mascot. Early versions of the sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, allowed players to put in codes that allowed people to play as characters from Mortal Kombat, but the NBA, uneasy over the controversies surrounding Mortal Kombat‘s levels of violence, forced Midway to remove these characters in later updates.

In certain subcultures, the phrases “He’s heating up,” “He’s on fire,” and “Boomshakalaka!” have entered into common usage.  The phrases, as in the game, are used to describe someone doing something successfully multiple times.  The original expression, “on fire,” was used for any player who scored three baskets in a row.  As he started shooting/dunking while on fire, the ball would become flaming, and burn the net as he scored. The effect only wore off if the opposite team scored.  The term “on fire,” has become prevalent in other games, including popular college drinking games.

For fun, here is a list of more NBA phrases:

  • “Boom-shaka-laka!”
  • “The Monster Jam!”
  • “Jams it in!”
  • “A spectacular dunk!”
  • “Intercepted!”
  • “Wild Shot!”
  • “Slam-a-jamma!”
  • “From Downtown!”
  • “For Three!”
  • “He’s on fire!”
  • “Get that outta here!”
  • “Baseline leaner!!”
  • “Welcome to the zoo!”
  • “From long range!”
  • “Grabs the rebound!”
  • “The nail in the coffin!”
  • “Whoomp, there it is!”
  • “Puts up a brick!”
  • “Can’t buy a bucket!”
  • “Is it the shoes?!?”
  • “Count it”
  • “Razzle Dazzle”

Playing this game is simple.  The Genesis controllers only really had 4 buttons other than the D-Pad; A, B, C, and Start.  You had the abilities to move, jump, shoot, turbo, and block.  In order to dunk, all  you had to do was run up to the hoop and hold the shoot button.  Simple enough?

NBA Jam is all about the enjoyment of playing.  It is an over-the-top arcade game where almost anything is possible, even that full court shot with 0.1 seconds left in the game (which always seems to go in).

Battle Bears/Benjamin Vu Questions

1.  What computer language did you program Battle Bears in?

2.  Why is there no health/damage meter actually displayed?  After watching videos, I saw that the sandbags are health indicators, but that wasn’t very clear while playing it.

3.  How often do you plan to release new content for the game, or is it done?

4.  … so, why bears?

5.  What would you say was the proudest moment in your career so far?

6.  What is one thing you would like to do before you retire?

Project So Far #2

After presenting our game ideas in class and receiving feedback, I felt as though we were on the right track.  Our game is simple, but that is our exact goal.  We want to make a straight-forward and clean cut game.  We are going to try and make it so the user isn’t confused as to what they are required to do to play our game, and they can get immersed in it easily.

Our task this week was to create a physical model of our game.  After much thought and deliberation, we set out the make our physical model as good of a representation of how our game would actually work as we could.  It felt like a grown-up version of  arts and crafts time, but we are happy with the end result.  Compared to the art work of our storyboards, our physical model is a vast improvement.

So far, I am very happy with how our group is working together and with how the game is progressing.  We also have the basic ideas for the Action Script worked out, and we will hopefully get them working soon.