Advent Calendar - December 20th.

by PaulEMoz in , , ,

Robotron 2084 (arcade/MAME/everything)

It was really hard coming up with games for these later numbers. I had to get creative in a few cases, bending the rules and possibly even flat-out cheating. Hey, needs must. It didn't help, then, that the person I bought my "20" game from on eBay accidentally posted it to the wrong person. I had my money refunded, but it basically left me up shit creek for the blog.

Still, not to worry. I've said I didn't want to use years wherever possible... but in those cases, I meant the back ends of the years, with games like Tiger Woods 10 or FIFA 11. However, when it comes to futuristic games... I'm going to allow them. And so my fallback for today is the awesome arcade shooter, Robotron 2084.

Things are pretty easy at this point. Don't get used to that.

These days, Robotron 2084 is regarded as a classic. And rightly so - it's not just a brilliant game in its own right, it's also been (and continues to be) the inspiration for any number of modern games, Geometry Wars possibly being the most famous of them. However, I have to say I didn't so much as see one machine back in the arcade heyday, and so I never got to play it in its proper form. I've only ever played it through emulation, which is great, but this is one game that emulation has apparently never got quite right. Maybe one day...

What made Robotron 2084 such a revolution was its twin-stick controls; one stick to move your character, and one to fire in any of eight directions. It's not just clever, it's absolutely essential for this game to work properly. It simply wouldn't be the same if you had to shoot in the direction you're moving... not only that, it would be insanely difficult.

Now that's more like it. Watch where you're walking!

It's hard enough as it is. Right from the off you're overwhelmed by sheer numbers. You do get a bit of a chance to play yourself in... to begin with, you only have slow-moving grunt robots to contend with. Now is the time to get used to the controls in readiness for the imminent assault. And then, there's The Last Human Family to rescue...

Yes, the only silly sods left alive have to go putting themselves in harm's way on every level. Luckily, there are no consequences to their getting wiped out... but saving them gets you valuable bonus points, which all go towards the collection of precious extra lives...

The Brain Wave. Do this right and you can really rack up the points.

And you do need those lives. It's not that difficult a game up to around wave six or seven... but once the tanks are introduced you're in real trouble, and if you get past them then sheer numbers are likely to overwhelm you and bring about your downfall. The number of grunts homing in on you is frightening at times, but the sheer exhiliration you feel when you manage to fight your way through them and come out the other side is something that few other games can match.

When it comes to "zone" games, there aren't many better than Robotron 2084. I never got to play it when it first came out, but I've probably made up for that over the last decade. I've never been very good at it... I know people that can score over a million whereas I'd be happy with 200,000. I've never reached that yet... but I was over the moon to finally reach Wave 10 recently. That might not sound all that great, but you just give it a try and see...

Atomhex (XBox 360 Indie Games)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Another day, another 360 indie shooter.

Atomhex is an indie game, and it's a twin-stick arena shooter. There's a lot of them about, so if you make one, it has to have enough worthwhile features of its own to make it stand out. I would say that Atomhex just about does.

A triple stream of laser death. Handy, with those big atomhexes around.

You control an Asteroids-style ship, and you whizz around the arena, using your other stick to shoot in whichever direction you choose. I'm not sure I like that in this game... because of the shape of the ship, that mode of firing looks wrong. It's the right choice of control method for the game, though... maybe a different design of player ship would have been a better fit.

Atoms and hexes of different colours roam the board. Your objective should be to shoot the shields from the hexes and collect them for points multipliers and different weapons. If hexes bond to an atom, the combination starts firing out harmful enemies of varying types. This is when things start to get hectic...

That's not my high score. That's just insane.

Although this is more dangerous, it's very good for your score, and massive bonuses can be had at this point. Also, it's just more fun when you're barely in control. That said, Atomhex never really clicked with me like I'd expected it to. Still, it's cheap, there's lots to shoot, and there are 100 Awards to unlock, which is nice for an Achievement-deprived indie game. It's certainly worth a punt if arena shooters are your thing.