Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bundle in a Box (PC)

One of the best innovations in the indie games scene, in my opinion, has been the advent of the pay-what-you-want bundle. Usually tied to a charity, these splendid packages offer some of indie gaming's finest efforts wrapped up in a cheap-as-you like package. Often, there are extras thrown in, too. And in saving yourself some money (unless you're rich and/or extremely generous), you can feel all warm and fuzzy in the process.

You're bound to have heard of some of them... Humble Bundle and Indie Royale being among the most prominent.  The latest is called Bundle in a Box, and is just released today.  It's a bit different to the other bundles, in that it has a specific theme to it, rather than just picking a few random titles and throwing them all together.  In this case, the theme is adventure...

I thought that was Cornwall for a minute... (The Sea Will Claim Everything)

Yes, Bundle in a Box brings together some of the most renowned names in the world of the indie adventure game.  And that's great.  But it goes further than that.  It also features the launch of a brand new title... The Sea Will Claim Everything.

The latest release in the Lands of Dream series of adventures, The Sea Will Claim Everything is the first commercial release from Jonas Kyratzes.  If you haven't cottoned on yet, that means all his previous releases are free.  Click on his name and check them out.  They have a very distinctive style.  The Sea Will Claim Everything may be the biggest and most ambitious of Kyratzes' titles yet.  Promising "walls of text" and featuring charming graphics and sound, it's a chilled-out affair where every location is worth exploring.

Christ.  Don't much fancy going in there. (The Sea Will Claim Everything)

If this slice of exclusivity isn't enough to convince you to take the plunge, then maybe some of the other goodies in The Box will do it.  It might help if I actually say a little bit about its other contents, in that case.

Ben There, Dan That! (Special Edition) and Time Gentlemen, Please are here, for starters.  I've put them together because the second of them follows directly on from the first.  They make up the story of Ben and Dan (who are the programmers... I REALLY hope it's an alternative version of their story!), a couple of Magnum PI-loving guys who end up having problems with things like aliens and the whole world dying.  You know, little things like that.  Over the course of the two games, you have to get things back to how they were before that fateful Magnum PI marathon.  They're quirky and funny, and well worth the time of any point-and-clicker.

That's OK, anything for a mate. (Time Gentlemen, Please)

1893: A World's Fair Mystery is billed as "an interactive adventure into Chicago history".  It's similar to an old-school adventure, using text and archival photographs to construct a fictional diamond robbery at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  It's almost ten years old now, but I've never seen it anywhere else before now, and if you hanker after bygone days then this could be right up your alley.

The final game in the "standard edition" of the Bundle In A Box is the now-fabled Gemini Rue.  Programmed by a one-man team, namely Josh Nuernberger, it's a science fiction epic set on a faraway planet.  Graphically, it brings to mind classics such as Beneath A Steel Sky, and its complicated storyline and Blade-Runner-esque leanings make it one of the most interesting adventure games released in any year that begins with a '2'.

That would be the decent thing to do. But we're not decent. (Gemini Rue)

There's more, if you're feeling flush.  Pay more than the average and you'll get two more games, The Shivah and Metal Dead.  The Shivah is a classically-styled point-and-click adventure with traditional Lucasarts-esque graphics... the twist is in the plot, where you play a Rabbi who, on the verge of having to close his synagogue due to a lack of funds, receives a large inheritance.  But is there something sinister behind this turn of events?  Metal Dead is pretty much the polar opposite, as  you play a couple of heavy metal fans who, having crashed their car outside a medical facility, have to use what brains they have to survive a zombie apocalypse.  It's kind of like Wayne's World of the Dead.

As ever, there are more treats in the bundle that will be "unlocked", sales depending.  And one lucky indie developer stands to make some serious cash toward their next project... for every 15,000 bundles sold, $2,000 will be added to a pot and awarded by ballot, once the sales have ended.  It's a great way of helping potentially struggling developers to get a possible masterpiece out to the public.

Tell you what, you're not wrong. (The Shivah)

But the biggest winners out of the deal will hopefully be the charity that it supports.  Perivolaki is a Greek organisation - The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family.  A non-profit organisation that helps to treat mentally ill children and support their families, it's a cause that can use any extra help it can get.  We gamers are always quick to throw our spare cash towards good causes, especially when we're getting a pile of awesome games for our trouble.

If the games, the charity or both sound like the sort of thing you'd like to get behind, then go and visit Bundle in a Box.  As is often the way with these things, the website is taking a bit of a hammering after its launch.  But bookmark it, bear with it and do your bit when you can.  With a deal like this, everybody wins.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hypercircuit (Commodore 64)

I've been a bit stuck for things to write about lately.  Not that I haven't got lots of possible subjects; it's just that it's been hard to gather my focus sufficiently to nail something down.  And I've been dipping in and out of a number of games, enjoying playing them but not really giving them enough time to justify writing about them.

Mmmm, look at all those lovely points to be had...

Lately, I've been mulling over the idea of writing a retro book.  I've had some good feedback about the idea, too.  That's added a bit of a spring to my step, and this write-up has really come about as a result of that.  While I was pulling together all my thoughts, ideas and plans and read a few old ZZAP! 64 magazines, I realised that I had never played Chris Butler's Hypercircuit.  And so, I decided to put that right.

Hypercircuit was Chris Butler's first Commodore 64 game.  A follow-up to a game he'd programmed on the BBC called Transistor's Revenge, it saw you miniaturised and placed inside a Commodore 64, using a tiny fighter craft to destroy marauding enemies that are intent on damaging the computer's circuit boards.  How dare they?

Am I awesome, or what?

You can't just go rampaging wherever you like in your quest, though... that would cause more harm than good.  Instead, you have to manoeuvre your way around using the wiring on the circuit board.  You have to be careful, though, as those dangerous enemies could lurk around any corner...

So, Hypercircuit is a shoot 'em up, then.  It's presented in classic arcade fashion, with your enemies and their points values set out on the title screen.  And although the gameplay is nothing like it, it's clearly inspired (at least in part) by Defender in the way its bad guys behave.  If you're going to borrow from something, borrow from the best.

Things that need to be shot.

It's not a bad little game, when all is said and done.  It has a few little problems; the screen size is too small, the music gets annoying, there are times when you'll be trundling around a seemingly empty level.  Oh, and it's a bit predictable.  But it's still quite enjoyable to play, in the chase for a high score.  That said, it was improved and refined immeasurably for Chris Butler's next game, Z.  Still, it was a nice introduction to the C64 for Chris Butler, who would go on to have a very interesting career on the machine...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Giveaway - Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 (PC)

I know, I know, I haven't written much lately.  I've been in a bit of a funk, and in the meantime I've had other ideas buzzing about, which I mentioned last time I did actually write something.  I need to gather a bit of focus.  I will.

In the meantime, you might have noticed that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 was released this week.  But what if you haven't played Episode 1 yet?  Well, I'm giving away one copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 for the PC, through the medium of Steam.  If you'd like to try and win, just leave a comment after this post telling me what you think of my new banner...

See you soon!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

What the hell am I doing?

OK, so April was a bit of a washout... not just weather-wise, but for A Gamer Forever Voyaging.  It was more like A Gamer Who Sat Down For A Nice Rest During His Voyage.  Bit rubbish, really.  Sorry.

So, what have I been doing?  Lots, actually.  I was working on a number of things for Way of the Rodent, for one. I think you're going to particularly like one of the things I've done, when it's took me ages, though...  I have actually played a few games, too.  Asura's Wrath and Need for Speed: The Run have fallen to my gaming hand over the past month.  I may well write something about those in the coming days... both are worthy of my thoughts, for various reasons...

One more thing I've been kicking around and looking into is the possibility of writing a book.  With Kickstarter getting everyone's creative juices flowing, I've wondered if there's any possibility of using something similar to get a project I've had in mind for years off the ground a last.  But to be honest, I wouldn't need money for ages.  I'd have to actually get the content together first.

I'm not sure where that's going.  It's still up in the air in my own mind.  The idea I have is, I believe, a good one (and it involves retro games)... I think it would cover ground that's previously untrodden as far as games books go.

But we'll see.  It would be tricky, and a mighty undertaking.  But if I could get people on board, it could take off and be awesome.

In the meantime, the poor old blog has been a bit neglected.  Sorry about that.  I'll do my best to make it up to anyone that cares, this month.  I might even have a games giveaway or two, so stay tuned...