Category Archives: Arcade

REVIEW: Bopscotch

For all its many bright, colorful levels, numerous ‘costume changes’, and ball-shaped characters leaping throughout, Bopscotch ($2.99) is still an endless runner. Well, I suppose if you want to get technical, it’s an endless bouncer. There’s no ‘jumping’, per se. At any rate, you’re still stuck on auto-run, testing your reflexes and overcoming the same obstacles / hazards you’ve dodged and ‘cheated death’ from thousands of times over1.

And yet, ‘bouncing’ your way through each stage brings a subtle variation to the formula that is both mildly-refreshing and annoyingly-perverse. More on that later, first the details. Bopscotch features an assortment of customizable ball avatars2, called ‘boppers’, and offers up over 90 stages of well-designed— and yes, occasionally frustration-fueled— deathtraps and spikes, sprinkling in some additional tricks as you go along, like sudden speed changes, one-way signs, and breakable floors / ceilings to open up new paths.

You’re gathering candy as you go (which equates to your score), but the goal is, as always, misleadingly-simple: reach the exit of each level unscathed, and move on to the next. Of course, that objective and its cheery visuals are a lie; this is a masochistic endless runner, and you’re going to die, my friend. A lot. Instant retries are unlimited, natch, and there is the Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket’, a single-use item that is occasionally handed out, and which permits you to skip the current stage in exchange.

Which you may need. Rather than traverse the game’s many dangers the old-fashioned way, Bopscotch‘s round-ish fellows are quite good at bouncing, forcing an entirely-different method of of movement and timing on the player. In addition to allowing more space to line up jumps, you can also tweak your speed on land and in the air, which is vital to crossing some gaps and ‘threading the needle’ between spikes. The tutorial level gives you the basics, but you’ll still need a bit of time to adjust to Bopscotch‘s particular cadence, if you will.

Bopscotch - Screen

Can be more complicated than it looks.

That adjustment is mostly painless, mind you, but it does throw a wrench into the traditional machine of understanding endless runners. The levels themselves are pre-set sequences, fun to figure out but built to be completed in a certain way, one that requires nigh-perfect timing on your part. Given the genre the game belongs to, you can expect to replay some stages over and over, along with all the colorful language that results from it.

In that way, Bopscotch is no different than something like, say, The Impossible Game. Clever idea and ‘ball cosplay’ aside, it’s designed to frustrate over long periods of time. You’ll find ample challenge and more than ample content (besides the 90+ level ‘Adventure’ mode, there’s a two-player local race option), but you still have to know what you’re getting yourself into. Proceed from there.


  1. Only to die a thousand deaths more in the next level or game. Vicious circle, Life’s a Bitch, [insert hopeless fatalism here], etc. 
  2. Knights, Teachers, Mummies, and the like; change your color, or swap out hats and shirts as you please, with new items unlocked for completing a series of levels. Hardly in-depth stuff, but hey, it’s fun for the dress-up crowd. 
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REVIEW: BLASTEROIDS

First off, if you find you have even a passing interest in BLASTEROIDS ($1.00) before reading this review, by all means, go and download DeadKings. BLASTEROIDS is a featured minigame there (along with Checkers & Breakout), and DeadKings is an excellent game that throws in everything but the castle sink. You’ll pay the same price, and you get about 575%1 more game. No need to thank me.

BLASTEROIDS - Screen

For everyone else still here reading this, BLASTEROIDS is a stand-alone title that is… you guessed it, an Asteroids clone. It plays exactly how you remember it, and the vector graphics are as tidy (albeit simplistic) today as they were in the halcyon days of 1980s arcades. You control a triangle-shaped ship, and you are able to spin 360 degrees and thrust forward. Large asteroids lumber into view, which you then shoot, breaking them into smaller asteroids, avoiding the resulting pieces while continuing to destroy them all. Then you advance to the next round, and pad your score some more.

There are some added perks to the game, including skin-saving bombs that will destroy all tiny asteroids on-screen, or a shield that can absorb collision damage (so long as you don’t thrust straight into a big asteroid, it will take a few hits). You can also earn extra ships / bombs at different point plateaus.

While the gameplay undoubtedly was cutting edge for its time, and ate up thousands of quarters in said arcades, its brand of action isn’t nearly as addictive in modern times. That’s not Asteroids‘ fault, mind you, we’ve simply moved on to bigger experiences.  Exacerbating that problem here is the fact that BLASTEROIDS doesn’t have a online leaderboard, or even record high scores for that matter. You could argue that the game itself is the ‘reward’, but again, modern palettes may demand something more substantial.

BLASTEROIDS - Screen2

There’s not much else to say about the game that a flash version can’t do just the same, and nothing left to sort, save for which of the three camps you fall into. Either you have a nostalgic itch that needs scratching ( …I did. I hadn’t played Asteroids in years before this), you’ve never played Asteroids before2, or you have no interest in revisiting the umpteenth homage to a verified classic.

Whatever group you identify with, BLASTEROIDS doesn’t judge, just merely exists as a reminder that Asteroids existed before it. That reminder will cost you a dollar3.


  1. Yes, it’s a made up percentage. But so is just about every other statistic you read on the internet. And anyway, I’m not lying about the amount of content you’ll find in DeadKings. It’s seriously like a ton of stuff. Fun stuff. 
  2. Blasphemous! 
  3. Or consider your purchase a ‘Thank You’ to developer Big Corporation for the awesome DeadKings

REVIEW: Impossiball

Two paddles, one ball1. The most simple formula in gaming. A lot of indie developers that are just starting out probably start out with that very formula. It’s easy, but nowhere near ‘unique’. No matter what name you give your version, Pong is still Pong. You can add your own style of paddle, design the strangest ‘ball’ you want, Pong is still Pong. It’s a classic, yes, perhaps even the classic; the game that moved the goalposts forward and got us to where we are today. Yet, any way you want to slice it, Dark Duo‘s Impossiball ($1.00) is still Pong.

Well, Pong with ‘500 balls onscreen at once’ Pong, that is. Why so many balls? Because they can. Because we have the technology. Because subtlety is overrated. Impossiball‘s setup is nothing new; bare backgrounds, one paddle on each side of the screen (two can play locally, or there’s always the very clever AI), moving vertically, with you defending your end of the zone. Your paddle can also be angled, giving you some control over the ricochet, and how you’ll attack and / or defend. Again, nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Then there’s that whole ‘500 balls’ thing to start off each round.

As in Golf, your first swing makes all the difference, and determines how that particular round is going to end up. Ditto for Impossiball. The more balls you keep in play initially, the more pressure you put on your opponent to return that volley. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to miss quite a bit2, but that number naturally decreases as the match goes on, until you’ve whittled it down to a manageable amount. From there, standard rules apply.

Impossiball - Screen

There are a total of six powerups you can scoop up, too, that can help tilt the odds in your favor, albeit temporarily. These include the typical ‘lengthen your paddle’3, slow down / speed up tricks, and, for maximum frustration (especially at the beginning of a round), inverted controls. Depending on your chosen score limit / skill, games can last five minutes or twenty minutes.

Still, Pong is still Pong, and once the novelty of the 500-ball opening volley wears off, you’re left with the same formula that’s been done to death. Impossiball can absolutely be entertaining if you’ve got a friend nearby, but solo, you won’t get much mileage out of it.

 


  1. I’m talking about the game, not some obscure sexual fetish. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  2. The best strategy I found was to start your paddle in the middle, then slide up at an angle as the balls drift in. You’ll still miss half, but you’ll also send a couple hundred balls straight at your opponent’s face! …Don’t even think it. Get your mind out of the gutter. 
  3. Seriously, I’m talking about the game, not slang for something else. Get. Your. Mind. …out of the gutter. 

REVIEW: DELTA

Stuff like hermitgames‘ DELTA1 ($2.99) should really come labeled with a pair of warnings. The first is good news up front; the game is a fully-addictive arcade racer, has that ‘one more try’ quality that plenty of games aspire to but most don’t ultimately achieve. The second is not as good, and potentially hazardous to your health; DELTA is an all-out audio / visual assault on your respective senses. If you’re sensitive to pulsating lights and shapes in the slightest, or get motion sickness easily, it’s probably best to avoid the game entirely rather than take a chance.

Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer aside, the game is a sound-based first-person racer with trippy visuals. That’s just generic phrasing by me. In actuality, DELTA is like someone’s Tron-inspired acid trip through the trench sequence in the original Star Wars, running back to back with the ‘stargate’ sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dipped in a psychedelic rainbow, all while some Daft Punk / Aphex Twin-type music plays in the background2. It’s that busy!

Things move pretty fast, flashing and morphing and spinning as you whiz by, and the somewhat procedurally-generated courses you race on mean you can’t just memorize layouts to win. I say ‘somewhat’, as the tracks in DELTA are comprised of inter-connected ‘rooms’, aligned randomly. While you will eventually adjust to the hazardous walls (one hit = death, natch) and camera style in any given ‘room’, the corridor between can lead into a random layout each time, presenting a new race on each attempt. And you’ll be ‘attempting’ quite a bit; you’ll have to twitch your way through this one, my friend.

You can choose from a total of three race ‘classes’: 120, 144, and 180. Each features its own visual design and music (the soundtrack is slightly interactive, modified with every triangle-shaped ‘delta’ you pick up along the way). While the default race is unlocked from the start, you’ve got to earn access to the latter two ‘tracks’ by reaching a preset distance marker in one continuous run. That total distance is, in essence, your score. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward racer. Your chief objective is to survive and / or reach the end of the stage, with a ‘reward’3 unlocked for completing all three.

DELTA - Screen

You can almost taste the colors, man.

The game’s excellent and eclectic graphics match the developer’s previous efforts, but those same novel visuals can work against the quickened gameplay in DELTA. Given the shifting nature of the rooms, and the constant pyrotechnics / flashing, it’s super easy to lose track of where you are and what you’re looking at. Throw in an occasionally-spinning camera, and ‘suddenly steering yourself straight into a wall that you quite literally didn’t see coming’ becomes totally plausible. The gameplay, too, can be its own worse enemy, as I literally felt fatigued at playing it for longer than an hour at a time.

That last bit can be mostly chalked up to late nights and eyestrain, though it’s certainly worth the mention, depending on how you plan to play. Consider it a challenge on several levels then, beyond the atypical difficulty of the navigation itself. So long as you don’t stare at your screen for too long, DELTA is plenty tough, and plenty fun.


  1. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  2. No embellishment. None. 
  3. And don’t bother asking me what that reward is, as I’m in no immediate danger of finishing the third track. 

REVIEW: G-Men

It’s not the most glamorous job, and the stench has got to be unbelievable, but certainly garbagemen have to be considered among the unsung heroes of the world. They’re not curing diseases or inventing new forms of space travel, sure, but consider this ‘what-if’ for a second; a world without garbagemen. Huh? Huh? Yeah, we’d have a world that looks and smells a whole lot like Delhi. And no offense to India, but that would be bad. Really bad. So that’s why I always give a wave to to those guys when I see them. Partially out of respect, but mostly to clear the air1.

G-Men - Screen

While praise for their contributions is always in short supply, it’s even rarer to see garbagemen represented favorably in the media. Sure, we were blessed with the Charlie Sheen / Emilio Estevez gem Men At Work2, but video games have largely been overlooked. That is, until now.  G-Men ($1.00) makes it possible for everyone to experience the joy and the wonder (and the questionable ‘juices’ that reside in the bottom of the bin) of being a garbage collector.

Sort of. G-Men is more of an MS Paint-style arcade collectathon than a simulator or ‘thank you’ to garbage folk. The game starts you out on foot, walking down the street to pick up bags while avoiding some obstacles and passing motorists. You’re on a time limit, of course, and are tasked with collecting a set number of bags. Meet your quota, and you’re given a pickup truck to haul trash with. The process repeats, adding a few other hazards / enemies, with you eventually building yourself up to a full-fledged garbage truck— the crown jewel of waste management! How exciting!

G-Men - Screen2

Too bad the game is the digital equivalent of it’s chosen subject; pure trash. The idea behind G-Men is thin, the gameplay even more so, but neither is what condemns the game to be metaphorically dumped in a metaphorical landfill. Rather, it’s the completely ridiculous hit detection. Even when you’re clearly out of the path of an oncoming car or obstacle, you will take damage. On foot, it’s instant death and especially annoying, but even in a truck with semi-limited health, avoiding hits is a matter of luck instead of fair spacing.

As such, the game makes it essentially impossible for you to get anywhere consistently. That glaring fault, taken together with the child-simple visuals and rock bottom basic gameplay, and you’d have to wonder why developer Generation Why Studios3 even bothered to release such an untested, unwarranted mess on the marketplace. I can’t see the reason. G-Men is outright terrible, and should be taken out to the curb and disposed of.


(EDIT 9/1: An update for the game has been released that fixes some of the hit detection problems. While objects that pass over your ‘head’ no longer cause damage, the range of cars / obstacles that run near your ‘feet’ is still ridiculously out of whack.)


  1. Sorry. There was really no way I could resist that old joke. 
  2. It’s a guilty pleasure, and Keith David is hilarious in the film as well. Look, a wild trailer appears! 
  3. And really, why create such a terrible game, Generation Why?