Tag Archives: Ho-Hum Games

REVIEW: Avatar Stealth

Indies are traditionally bite-sized servings, so it makes sense that an indie would take for its main subject the ancillary, often-overlooked side / tutorial modes in bigger games. Specifically adapted in this case, Metal Gear‘s VR training missions. Well, to a point, minus gadgets, weapons, or cardboard boxes. Avatar Stealth (80 MSP) is a sneaking mission.

That my avatar is currently dressed as Corvo from Dishonored is not only a testament to my impeccable taste in game characters, but befitting for a game based on the tenants of stealth. Sadly, none of the gruesome takedowns or special abilities from that game (or any other espionage-laden title, for that matter) are present in Avatar Stealth. As stated, your only option in a pinch is to hide and pray your sorry avatar’s ass off that you’re not caught.

Avatar Stealth - Screen

Much like the venerable Solid Snake, your avatar can crawl into tight spaces and hug walls / objects in the environment, which shields you from sentries’ eyes and allows a view to the goal so that you can plan your route. Visually, it matches its inspiration almost sight cone for sight cone, splashing neon and wireframes over everything, including helpful color-coordinated lighting in the likely event you draw unwanted attention to yourself (yellow = hide / don’t move, red = you’re fucked).

The game will automatically create random levels for you, or you can tinker with the generator yourself in Customization mode, which will give you a more tailored experience. You can freely change the size and layout of rooms, as well as how many guards will patrol and how much they can see. While this (possibly) takes some of the mystery and challenge out of the game, it is a secondary choice for practice runs or for those who prefer not to leave their fates up to an A.I. to decide.

Avatar Stealth - Screen2

Once the game is in motion, the idea works, mostly. The guards’ line of sight is clearly represented, as is the sound your movement makes (pro-tip: running isn’t a good option). The mini-map is invaluable. Ironically, given the source material, the camera is not as cooperative. You’ll be fixing it more than you’d like, usually when you least have the time for it. It’s particularly bothersome when peering around corners, as your avatar can accidentally come ‘unglued’ from whatever surface you’re attached to, stepping right out into the open. And once you’re spotted, it’s a short chase then game over, no retries, even in VR.

Those issues and frustrations knock it from the top-shelf, but the randomly-generated levels and customization options keep the sneaking fresh-ish, most of the time. Avatar Stealth may be an imperfect impersonation, a cheap stand-in, but that’s not such a terrible thing.

REVIEW: Guppy: Collects! 2

If you’re here looking for the quick fix of a sloth-like guppy and adorable cat sounds, you’ve clicked into the right review. Ladies and gents, I give you the punctuationally-unwieldy (a stop: then excitment! then 2) reflex-tester Guppy: Collects! 2 (80 MSP).

It’s a type popular on handhelds and phones with touch screens, and the quality varies wildly from time-waster to legitimately-addicting. Conscious of that limited gameplay, music is playing a bigger role, as are storylines(!?). It’s seeing a revival of sorts as far as interest from me; I’m eager to try out Rhythm Thief and Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy on the 3DS, which is two more than what was on my to-do list this time last year.

Guppy: Collects! 2 doesn’t throw any Hail Mary passes or take any risks though. The music is good, but it’s not about the rhythm. It’s a rank and file reflex game— think speed inputting, reading skills are a definite plus. It’s also a sequel, supposedly. I can’t find the original or any trace of it from developer Ho-Hum Games. Unless it ratted someone out to the Feds, relocated to Alaska and changed its name, it’s like it never existed. (Edit: The developer has since informed me that Guppy’s origins must remain secret for now.)

Guppy likes to collect everything along a set line, and in a few locales, such as a supermarket and a cemetery. I’m not sure why. Guppy don’t say. I guess it’s sort of like Katamari but without the bizarre plot and growing spurts. The gameplay is simplistic. There’s combinations of buttons and pad directions over each item. Complete the corresponding instructions and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You have a ticking clock to keep you moving, and four mistakes as lives (with the cats, shouldn’t it be nine apiece, times three, for twenty-seven?) to gamble with. The controls governing this are pretty tight, so any mistakes made will be your own instead of bad input or the timing being off.

In addition to local highscores, there’s outfits awarded periodically for Guppy, but they’re equipped randomly from stage to stage. To its benefit, the game does prod you into having another go at it for a little while, but it’s not a deep adventure. I saw all the backgrounds, heard all the music, and unlocked every alternate costume (a total of 26) in under half an hour. Not a minute of it was boring, mind you, but there’s nothing else holding your interest afterward aside from besting previous scores.

I’ve been noncommittal lately, and that extends to Guppy: Collects! 2. I didn’t feel like the dollar or my time was wasted. I wasn’t exactly left with any sense of terrific worth, either. Adrenaline junkies and cat enthusiasts (they go hand-in-hand, you know) will find more here to like, methinks.