SuperCollider

REVIEW: SuperCollider

SuperCollider ($1.00) seems like the end result of a feverish Red Bull1 weekend and a marathon session spent in Microsoft Paint. Between the ‘loud’ backgrounds and the cringe-worthy visual style, I can’t think of any other explanation. It would certainly explain the attention given to the design and gameplay (or lack thereof), which feels ‘rushed’ and without any kind of iterative refinement.

SuperCollider - Screen

A platformer that plays more like a timed race, SuperCollider stars a nameless female science experiment gone wrong / right, on the run from the spelling-challenged crew of G-Tonw.  Each level starts with ‘Here, have a plot sequence’, some swearing and / or misogynistic banter, and then its off to races, fighting (if you consider ‘running into’ enemies to equal combat) featureless, grayed-out foot soliders and other assorted baddies, in a mad rush— er, brisk walk, I mean— to reach the exit before your declining health reaches zero.

Your HP functions as the vital ‘seconds’ ticking off the clock as you go, with the levels gradually becoming longer and more maze-like. You can earn a scant amount of health back by defeating foes, but the real key to finishing subsequent stages is in acquiring permanent boosts to your HP and / or running speed, via powerups peppered throughout the maps. It’s not a bad system, in terms of ‘Risk vs. Reward’ for the player to weigh out, but it’s implemented piss-poor.

SuperCollider - Screen2

Don’t ask the how or why a shark is shooting out of a solid floor. Best not to dwell on such things.

Most of the upgrades are placed in out-of-the-way nooks, the path not always immediately clear or certain at first glance. A few of them might even be considered ‘trolls’, egging you on to reach them, only for you to discover— after the fact, natch— that you won’t have enough time to reach the exit. And with no checkpoints or continues to erase a fatal mistake, you really won’t want to sit through the terrible writing or mosey through the same stages again.

Nor should you. What potential the game has to entertain is wasted on bland visuals, even blander storytelling, and gameplay that punishes more than it enables. Despite the urgency the game goes to great lengths to stress, SuperCollider is ultimately just like its enemies— featureless and dull.


  1. The energy drink, of course, not an actual bull. Those things are dangerous in high quantities. Red Bull, that is, not an actual bull. 
About these ads
The Party

REVIEW: The Party

The Party ($1.00) is dreadful stuff. I probably could have used a better lead-in to that statement, but I figured it was best to get it right out there in the least amount of time, ‘time’ being something that The Party doesn’t do too well with. Team Shuriken‘s newest pseudo text adventure drops most of the requisite tits and / or any semblance of character development, and instead focuses on a college party that quickly gets out of hand. Sort of.

The Party - Screen

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time this happened to me…

You see, as soon as this party is, quote, ‘getting started’, it ends. That’s right, the game just ends, ten minutes in. All you get is a smarmy / smug ‘Congratulations!’— as if you’ve accomplished some great task— and an invitation to drop another dollar if and when the second chapter is released (and given the developer’s track record for finishing what it starts, you could be waiting indefinitely). I could leave things right here and let us both get on with our lives like The Party never happened, but I suppose I should give some specifics.

After Bro’s1 computer gets fried, he decides to give his buddy Spencer a call to lament the loss. Spencer’s solution is to throw a party, but Bro isn’t feeling it. Also, they know like zero girls between the two of them. Doesn’t matter. Spencer is hell-bent on throwing this party with— or without— Bro’s approval. To do so, he needs to assemble a group of ‘babes’ by guilt-tripping them into coming, and this sets up the primary ‘guesswork’ in The Party. It’s the same trial-and-error stuff you’ve come to expect, mixed with some light animation work and the obvious choices that will instantly ‘game over’ you, even if they might be worth a chuckle.

The Party - Screen2

Once Spencer has gathered the girls, he goes to Bro’s apartment, only to have a group of college dudes show up. Turns out they were expecting hot chicks at this party. The group is instead dismayed to find out they’ve come to a full-on sausage fest, so Bro and Spencer get themselves tossed out of their own party. You skip to a ‘few hours later’, after Bro has supposedly been The Hangover2-ed (new ‘haircut’ and all), and this is when the game ends.

Lucky for you, I’ve essentially laid out the game in abridged form here, so there’s no reason for you curious types to even download it. Sadly, it seems that for every small step Team Shuriken takes forward, it has to take one giant leap backward3. The Party certainly resets any recent progress I’ve given them credit for. Ugh.


  1. I’m sure he has a name, but ‘Bro’ is the only title that Spencer ever calls him by. Also, ‘Bro’ is the same dude at the desk from Venus Explorer. In fact, maybe that’s the ‘game’ that fries Bro’s computer in The Party. I don’t have any clever remark for this, I just like the possible continuity and thought you’d like to know. 
  2. And if we’re talking The Hangover films here, Part II is clearly the best one. It beats the abysmal third act by miles and miles, and it’s funnier than the original because it uses those same jokes from the first film to better comedic effect with already-established characters and situations. This doesn’t have anything to do with the game, by the way, I’m just sayin’. 
  3. Did I just use the Neil Armstrong quote to describe Team Shuriken’s game catalog? Sorry, Neil. 
Amazing Princess Sarah

REVIEW: Amazing Princess Sarah

For years now, the 2D Castlevanias (and, of course, all the Castlevania-likes) have been struggling with a pretty significant part of their gameplay— how to make the constant overworld battles with whatever evil dungeon / cave / castle’s numerous foot soldiers interesting1, and keep players engaged between boss fights and story events. Lucky for us all, Haruneko‘s Amazing Princess Sarah ($1.00) might have just solved that problem, and it might’ve become one of my favorite action / platformers in the process.

The game shares some similarities with one of the developer’s earlier releases, Akane the Kunoichi, but whereas that was a more traditional platformer with traditional mechanics, Amazing Princess Sarah is a deliberate crawl, a slugfest for every inch of ground, from one end of the stage to the other. You don’t play the game as much as you just survive, as it cleverly reinvents the in-between stuff and makes the end bosses almost a secondary concern.

Don’t let the generous cleavage fool you; Sarah is one tough chick. After her father— also the King— is kidnapped by a demonic party, led by a horned boss known as Lilith, she sets out to tramp through a series of increasingly-difficult (and increasingly-longer) castles to retrieve him. These fortresses follow the platformer mold… in theoryplenty of enemies, some challenging jumps onto narrow (and sometimes disappearing) ledges, all concluding with the requisite boss encounter. In action, it plays completely different.

While Sarah has a normal blade attack that does adequate harm, her real skill lies in her unnatural strength; strength that allows her to hoist up the bodies of her slain enemies, and chuck them into oncoming threats for massive damage.2 Nice parlor trick, that. It’s also key to dealing with the unending parade of baddies, wiping out the more dangerous foes and / or trying to combo the rest to fall like dominoes. It’s hard to explain in words, but trust me, when it’s done right, it’s awesome, and really satisfying.

Choosing the right corpse for the job is important3, as most of them will have their own weight, properties, and effects. A bird can be tossed farther, but does less damage, while a bomber’s body will naturally explode upon contact. Ditto for other enemies and effects, like archers (split into arrows) and firebrands (waves of traveling flames). Depending on how you line up your ‘corpse attacks’, you can score several kills at once, helping you to level up and increase your overall health. This too, is vitally-important, as you’ll need the extra hitpoints to advance from checkpoint to checkpoint, the space between clogged with more and more enemies and hazards.

Amazing Princess Sarah - Screen

In fact, despite their epic size and decent challenge, the bosses do become secondary. Being chased by a giant spider or fighting a demon with sexy legs (… don’t ask) somehow provokes less tension than simply getting through a tiny stretch of one castle. This can either be a very good thing, or a very frustrating thing, depending on your view. While the controls are generally excellent, and the difficulty never felt unfair or too over-the-top, be forewarned— there are some tricky sequences (a vertical corridor near the end, comprised entirely of disappearing platforms and lined with archers that cause knockback, proved especially maddening).

You’ll certainly get your money’s worth, though, as you have to play through the game several times to actually ‘beat’ it, a process that will doubtlessly run you several dozen hours in length. Considering one playthrough will take you about five hours, finishing all seven(!) game modes4 to fight the true final boss will require serious dedication. But time and difficulty be damned, I say! With its clever re-imagining of basic stage design— and the inventive use of corpses— Amazing Princess Sarah is a challenging (and absolute) must-play.5


  1.  Part of that blandness with the combat is offset by ‘exploration’, and the old Metroidvania trick: slowly giving you access to new items and weapons to keep you motivated and moving forward. 
  2.  I’ve seen this compared to the idea behind Mischief Makers, Treasure‘s platformer on the N64. 
  3.  Something very wrong about seeing that line written out. 
  4.  With some neat variables to up the challenge, like your own ghost following you around the level, causing damage on contact, or ‘Drunk Princess’, a mode that messes with the camera. 
  5. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
Halloween Scream 2

REVIEW: Halloween Scream 2

A long time ago, in a galaxy… uh, exactly like this one, actually, text-based adventure games were the extent of the world’s interactive entertainment possibilities. There were no such things as high-definition graphics, procedurally-generated everything, or decent animation, really. If you wanted to experience a story, you had to click through screens of semi-descriptive text and essentially create that story yourself, imagining the environments and the characters that occupied them. Halloween Scream 21 ($1.00) is a throwback to that bygone era.

Halloween Scream 2 - Screen

Nothing ‘screams’ excitement like a visit to a stuffy museum.

And it probably should have stayed there. Halloween Scream 2 is all-text on repeating stock photo backgrounds, a ‘choose your own adventure’ game without the ‘choose your adventure’ part. The story— a continuing yarn about a girl vampire seeking to end the curse on her family’s bloodline— is a mostly linear one. Her travels to find an ancient amulet and avoid a mysterious foe take her through the heart of Europe, with stops in England, France, and Germany.

Breaks for puzzles typically ask you to find a certain item or tool, or click through an old-school, North / East / South / West-type exploration segment (you may even need to draw your own map on notebook paper to keep track of things; how older-school is that?). Those same bits may be the cause of some frustration. While the route you need to take to progress the story isn’t exactly hard to see, the clues and conditions that need to be met may not be as obvious. If you’re not the patient sort, this’ll likely devolve into clicking on every available option until you hear the requisite ‘chime’ of an important detail being discovered.

Halloween Scream 2 - Screen 2

You’ll notice ‘A bit of enjoyment’ isn’t part of this inventory.

That linear format and the ‘only one solution’ gameplay don’t help matters, as the only branching paths lead to some sort of end, with you returning you to the last checkpoint (and possibly having to run through a puzzle or item sequence again). And while the story in Halloween Scream 2 isn’t half-bad in summation, a handful of spelling errors and story inconsistencies (a French-speaking desk clerk in a German hotel, for instance) may take you out of the narrative.

Even that’s less likely to bother you, if you have any interest in what Halloween Scream 2 is selling. It’s clearly a niche game for a niche audience, meant for those strange connoisseurs of text-heavy passages and trial-and-error puzzle-solving. For the majority of us, however, this trip down Gaming’s memory lane to ‘the simpler times’ would be better off left in the past.


  1. Yeah, little early for the holiday, I know. Hey, not my fault. I didn’t release the game in July! Take it up with management! 

‘Dead War’ Features Zombies, Guns, Tactics

Two out of those three features guarantees a certain amount of success on XBLIG, so adding some actual ‘thinking’ to the mix is a welcome bonus! Above is a playthrough from the first chapter of Dead War, developer Bandana Games’ upcoming squad shooter.

Due to be executed that day, a death row inmate instead finds herself in the middle of a zombie… incident. How convenient! The good news is (well, aside from being ‘not dead’), you’ll get to mow down plenty of undead as you search for answers and try to curb the outbreak. You’ll do this on your own during some stretches, while at other times, you can recruit others— and their firepower— to help you.

Thankfully, the game looks to break up some of the ‘shooter monotony’ by giving you plenty of objectives (both optional and story-based) to tackle. Between that and the potential for some tactical firefights, Dead War just might convince the world it needs another game about zombies.

.

Dead War is simply ‘coming soon’ to Xbox Live Indie Games. You can follow the developer on Twitter here, or keep an eye on the development blog here.

Reviews and News for Xbox Live Indie Games

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 513 other followers