Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I often find myself trolling from one classic game download to the next modern game trailer to a Flash game. Having not been a gamer for the golden age, or whatever you think the period should be called from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, I often download full games in about 20 seconds and then play a few levels. And then sometimes I find even older games and download them in 2 seconds.

A couple days ago I ran across Karateka, a game by Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia. Clearly the precursor of POP, Karateka has the player moving a ninja forward through a flat environment and a wave of opposing ninjas. Like a typical fighting game you have movement and then keys for upward, straight, and down kicks and punches. Finally, there is one more button to switch your character from running to fighting stance. Your goal is to move forward and rescue your love at the end. So simple, and yet pretty enjoyable.

In terms of gameplay it was very simple and I never really felt much depth to the combat, but the simplicity of the presentation made it all work. You've got arrows at the bottom showing your health and your direction while whichever ninja you're currently battling has the same health arrows. Anytime you defeat a ninja your health returns to full and you can run forward until you hit the next ninja. Just be careful not to still be in running mode when they attack or it's game over. My fascination with the game ended, however, when suddenly a gate fell on me as I ran forward under it. No warning, just spikes falling on me. The revenge of old games and their arbitrary deathtraps! I decided then that I didn't care for my pixelated love enough to fight through the hordes again.

And I found out about this game because apparently Karateka shall be returning in next-gen form sometime in the future with Mechner at the helm.

the original Karateka

the new news

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Pox on me

So here I am, once again finding myself a couple months past posting. This is a tendency that I must correct. I did not realize that Trackmania sucked up that much of my time. I got pretty far in, but now, being without a computer of my own, I have turned to an online ccg by the name of Pox Nora. Partly the allure was joining the ranks of co-workers who play, but having had the opportunity to go through a few games, I think it is definitely an interesting ordeal.

There is always a bit of me that rebels at purchasing better cards, but I also have to admit that
I was an avid Star Wars CCG player for a few of my younger years. So here we are in a game that gives you 20 card decks (with cards having recharge rates after death/use) and, the kicker, an actual playing field with which to spread out and battle. It's definitely a fun system, though I am still coming to terms with the various abilities and perks that each unit has. The frustrating element of the game for me is that, though the entire system is basically supported via browser, I feel as if the whole interface was built somewhat poorly. Information in regard to actual decks and strategy and spells and such seem all to be very spread out.

The buddy system is also clearly unfinished, as it really doesn't allow much to be done. In the end, it seems that the game itself has quite a lot of potential, but much could be done about presenting information in a clear and logical manner. For example, when any action is taken by anything in the game, any tooltip you have floated open is then closed. Simple things could make the whole interface simply cleaner. Which is all too bad, since the actual artistic element is about as high as it could be. Beautiful art adorn the cards and make the whole game feel very rich. It has many factions, lots of depth to strategies, a quick pace via timer-constrained turns. So many good things. You really just have to get past the interface.