Jan 30, 2008

Llamasoft still hairy, cuddly, madly inventive and caring about you after all those years...

Space Giraffe by LLamasoftJeff Minter, founder and glorious chairman of LLamasoft, should have been born 20 years before he actually came to be, but, alas, the gods were cruel and mankind lost another chance. Still, the Yak's (for that is our brave leader's much loved nickname) amazing creativity, odd sense of humour, game design talent and all-around surrealism have made gaming so much more interesting. And better. Much better. Even on the exceedingly mainstream Xbox 360 apparently. No, really, have a look at Space Giraffe.

But, let's be frank here. How many of you Xboxers could truly appreciate such a gift eh? Less than 40,000 apparently, but I'm not shocked. In fact, I actually thought so... You uncaring console lot after all let the Atari Jaguar die (horribly). Despite Tempest 2000. Tsk.
Jeff Minter Attack of the Mutant CamelsThen again, the way I see it, LLamasoft was never really meant for the console boys. The dozens of classic computer games it has been coming up with for the past 25 (or is it more?) years are all the proof I need. Games like Revenge of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner ++, Hover Bovver, Sheep in Space and of course LLamatron. Brilliant and wacky games, that you dearest retro gaming nostalgics and curious aesthetes can now play for free. Courtesy of LLamasoft. Simply follow this link and start downloading every Yak created 8- and 16-bit game ever. Further downloads for the truly obsessed can be found over at MEDWAYPVB.

Oh, and before you visit the excellent resource that is the Llamasoft Archive, which you must, know that you will probably need some emulators to run the games mentioned above. So, uhm, here you go... Try WinUAE (Amiga), Steem (Atari ST), Xformer 2000 (Atari 8-bit), Pfau Zeh (Vic-20), CCS64 (C64), WinEMU (C16) and Spectaculator (ZX Spectrum).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Matthew Smith in glorious video, the TI 99/4A, Monty's Xmas Special, retro gaming archive

Jan 24, 2008

Exceedingly Arousing Resonance Screenshots

Never thought I'd live to see the likes of them, but apparently they are here and they are beautiful in all their 2D glory. Oh, and for the thickies out there, they are the first screenshots of Resonance ever released and they are eloquently showing off quite a few of the -obviously varied, obviously beautiful- locations from the forthcoming indie adventure of the same name. Brilliant, right? Find out more at the xii games blog.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: DeathSpank, Monkey Island Uncut, Lovecraft's Commonplace Book Project, more on Resonance

Jan 22, 2008

2007 spawned (at least) 20 brilliant freeware adventure games

Tim, the physical manifestation of the collective indie gaming voice, has gone and been nice all over the place again. Now, you be nice to yourselves and have a look at the man's brilliant Best Freeware Adventure Games 2007 selection. You'll thank me for pointing it out, him for actually... err... selecting it and the Indie Games blog for being both indie and bloggy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: DeathSpank, re: Resonance, the Indy Adventure Games guide, Textfyre

Jan 17, 2008

100 excellent free games in bloom

Let a thousand flowers bloom. Let a 1000 indie developers come up with brilliant freebies and, being the sensible sort you are, let me pick 100 of the best freeware games around for your downloading pleasure, with the added twist of focusing on the rather more contemporary releases. Oh, and as best is quite subjective, we don't have to argue about it, do we? Anyway. No more ado. Here they are:

Glorious Adventure Games

What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed: The only adventure game featuring two stories for you to simultaneously enjoy. Also, a triumph of innovation that sadly lacks in the naked ladies department, but more than makes up for it with its taxing puzzles and super secret ending.

Sam & Max - Abe Lincoln must die: A complete Telltale S&M episode. For free. For real.

Poizoned Mind: Adult, text heavy, hilarious and smart like a smart thing.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms: A Sierra/Lucasarts hybrid of a faerie-tale.

Penumbra: Polished, short, first person, scary. Also an adventure.

Chivalry is not Dead: It's a point-and-click story-game-thingie instead.

Fate by Numbers: The most impressive (and probably only) FMV adventure of the decade.

King's Quest III: 256-colours VGA remake of the Roberta Williams classic.

Prodigal: Epic horror; the AGS way.

Snowblind Aces: Interactive fiction at its best and the winner of the Text The Halls compo.

Shoot-'em-ups (aka shmups)

Prototype 2: One of my all time favorite shmups, an obvious R-Type descendant and a game to spoil you with options. Happily sports lovely 2D graphics and some shockingly frenetic side-scrolling action. Oh, yes, it's though.

Return to Sector 9: The runner-up...

Fraxy: Fast, furious and including a level-editor too.

Echoes: Not unlike Geometry Wars, is it?

Warning Forever: Unlike anything you've ever played.

Tumiki Fighters: Grab it for free before it hits the Wii.

Fractal Fighter: Black & white vertical shooting fun.

Platformers and their hybrids

Knytt Stories: Simple mechanics, excellent music, lovely pixel art graphics, smart puzzles and a brilliant editor that guarantees tons of new levels make this lovely indie offering a necessary download. Obviously an instant cult classic.

Cave Story: Retro-styled graphics, fantastic mechanics, lovable music.

Space Barnacle: A simpler, cuter and quite funnier Metroid.

Final Vision: The Space Barnacle of Castlevania.

Polychromatic Funk Monkey: Tile based platforming at its best.

Platform: Episodic platform gaming is indeed possible.

Ninjah: Fast paced speedrunning with ninjas.

Secret Meryo Chronicles: It's Maryo not Mario, mind you.

Iwanaga: Classic horizontal-scrolling stuff-shooting ...uh... stuff.

La Mulana: Like a difficult 8-bit game running on a super charged PC. Huge.

A Game with a Kitty 2: Darkside Adventures: Simply brilliant.

Lovely Retro Remakes

Jet Set Willy Online: The true reason behind the creation of the Internet and the best MMO experience I've ever had, JSWO can accommodate up to 16 players in a variety of demented platform gaming modes. Includes every room from JSW and JSW 2 and a ton of surreal brilliant new ones for added hours of fun.

Hurrican: A shiny Turrican remake with Hurrican in it.

Monty's Christmas Special: A mole in an Santa outfit. Also a painfully difficult jumping around/collecting stuff affair.

Wizball: A shmup that's totally unlike Geometry Wars. Sports a bouncing ball that shoots.

Cybernoid: Another fine shmup.

Typhoon 2001: An excellent Tempest remake.

G-Force: An excellent remake of a Tempest remake.

Tubopac: A remake of Sierra's Oils Well.

Karate Champ: Obvious.

RunOut: Cunningly named Out Run remake.

MunchMates: Like Pac-Man only a remake of Munchman.

Strategy Games of all kinds

Command & Conquer 95: It's the full version on two whole CDs, it is. Shockingly it's one of the best and most influential RTS pc games too and -should you be wise enough to grab it- you wont sleep 'till you beat it.

Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon: Self explanatory and classic. Click on the free full game button.

UFO: Alien Invasion: X-Com in 3D. Probably better, definitely impressive.

Invade Earth: The digital equivalent of Risk 2210 A.D.

Battleships Forever: RTS in space, where -apparently- no one can hear you click.

MegaMek: A BattleTech remake.

Battle for Wesnoth: Turn-based fantasy fun in 16 glorious bits.

C-evo: Empire building with the AI to match.

Transcendence: Nethack meets Star Control. Lovely.

Intellectual First Person Shooters

Cube 2: Sauerbraten: It's got its own graphics and physics engine and looks all shiny and next-gen. Easily the technically most impressive FPS around and one that seems to have been created with oldschool gamers in mind. Fast and simple both in single and in multi-player mode.

F.E.A.R. Combat: The not particularly terrifying but absolutely brilliant multiplayer bit of FEAR.

The World of Padman: Colourful cartoon shooting action.

The Secrets of Manes: Dark & straightforward.

Empyreal Nocturne: Too weird to be an FPS, but it does use the WASD keys.

OpenArena: Standalone FPS based on the Quake III engine.

Arcade-adventure action thingies

OnEscapee: Obviously inspired by Another World, this is classic arcade-adventure gaming at its best and appropriately a commercial PC remake/update of an Amiga game now released as freeware. Smart puzzles, difficult fighting scenes, amazing animation and some brilliant art are the chief reasons you have to download it.

Tribly: Art of Theft: Yahtzee's excellently stealthy steal-'em-up.

Tempo: Directly from Latin America, brilliant and a rare chance to play a psychic on a wheelchair.

Sunset Runner or The Suspiciously Long Train: Run on the train, avoid the obstacles and make merry in 256x256 resolution.

One Must Fall 2097: Beat-'em-up the way you did back in the 90s.

Dot Fighters: Beat-'em-up again.

Beats of Rage: Yes! Another beat-'em-up!

Garden Gnome Carnage: Dispicable!

Role Playing Games of the SFW kind

Runesword II: A classic CRPG designed to appeal to us pen & paper RPGers. Runesword II features turn-based strategic combat, 50+ skills, races and several full-length adventures & worlds. Plus a completely flexible game construction set/world maker.

Last Scenario: Polished decently sized Japanese-style RPGing on the PC.

The Griffon Legend: Done in FreeBasic! No, really.

Ark 22: Almost like a 16-bit Zelda.

Shadowflare Episode 1: Very Diablo and very good-looking.

Star Wars: Bloodlines: Almost like Ark 22 but with Yoda in it.

Mono: Oops wrong mono apparently... Anyway, it's nice though not an RPG...

Zangband: One of the best and most beautiful roguelikes around.

The Kingdom of Loathing: Funny.

Unique weirdlings

De Blob: Quite a bit like Katamari, only freeware and running on your PC. De Blob, developed by nine art students, is visually impressive, technically proficient, aesthetically perfect and amazing fun. It will probably soon appear on the Wii too.

Dwarf Fortress: The best ASCII game you'll ever play. Ever. And it's not a rogue-like either.

Passage: Heartbreakingly realistic.

Pac-Txt: Pac-Man meets Zork and things get silly and almost fun.

Dark Signs: Simulated hacking. Just like simulated eating but with computers.

100-in-1 Klik 'n' Play Pirate Kart: This is Madness! Sparta too.

Flight Gear: A complete flight simulator in its completist glory. Hardcore.

Frets on Fire: A Guitar Hero clone. Softcore.

Chalk: Draw yourselves out of 6 deviously smart levels.

Puzzlers to... err... puzzle you

Deadly Rooms of Death (DROD): Architect's Edition: Think deep, turn, point your sword, move wisely and try to survive in those lovely colorful dungeons. Excellent humour, fiendish puzzles and uncountable sleepless nights await you.

Mondo Medicals: Obscure, brilliant and a rarely first person puzzle game.

At the Carnival: CGA-style retro graphics, unique ideas and a healthy dose of humour make this puzzle games collection a must-download.

Avalanche: Ok, it's a web game, but it's just brilliant. Too addictive too.

Gesundheit: Action-puzzlers are great. Gesundheit is even greater. And more beautiful.

Mr. Heart Loves You Very Much: Mazes and physics. Mazes and physics.

Block Attack: A Columns clone.

SubTerra: Extremely varied puzzles and mazes all in 2D.

Massive MORPGs

Dungeon Runners: Too good to be free, really, and easily on par with the World of Warcraft behemoth. Also plays like a wackier online version of Diablo and you don't have to give up your life either.

Discworld MUD: A Multi-User Dungeon based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

Anarchy Online: Yes, the classic sci-fi MMORPG. Again.

A Tale in the Desert 3: Sophisticated and civilized. Not for the average cretin.

The Endless Forest: Be a stag.

Regnum Online: A decent 3D fantasy RPG. Of the MMO kind of course.

Planeshift: An almost finished MMORPG or an extended though promising tech demo?

And finally, some Mods

Ultima V Lazarus: This is Ultima V reborn in the guise of the best Dungeon Siege mod imaginable. Expect an amazing CRPG stroll through a beautiful rendition of Britannia, tons of quests, interesting characters, a tedious plot and lovely fantasy combat.

Introspect: Unreal Tournament without guns. Unreal Tournament for the tormented artist.

Minerva Metstasis: Excellent, mysterious, single player and a Half Life 2 mod.

Flipside: Half Life 2 on drugs. Happy drugs.

Project Revolution: It's Starcraft in 3D and does what the tin says.

Warhammer Total War: Just like Warhammer with miniatures only without them.

Related @ Gnomes Lair: 60 hand-picked free games, Commercial Games gone Freeware, free CRPGs, free games archive

Jan 16, 2008

The Player! The Player!

YES! More good news for the pervy lot reading this humblest of lairs. The Player, the only online magazine I know of that can deal with mainstream gaming the way only a true chap would, is back. Download issue 9 via this very direct link without spending a penny and savor each and every one of its 52 pages.

Issue highlights include a Sports Interactive interview, some highly arousing Football Manager Live info, a 3DO retrospective, reviews of Mass Effect and Mercury Meltdown Revolution and the Online Safari feature.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Adventure Lantern Dec. 2007, Age of Decadence, Jet Set Will and the rise of the video game patch

Jan 10, 2008

Ron Gilbert & Clayton Kauzlaric present DeathSpank

DeathChaseWhy, pinch my nipples and spank my ass (figuratively speaking if you'd be so kind; I'm far too old for the fetish scene and I think my head hurts too), but Monkey Island god Ron Gilbert is absolutely back in the game designing business with a game he's been working on for almost four years and he's not alone. The surrealy talented Clayton Kauzlaric is with him and so are Canadian publishing heroes Hothead games. As for the game, well, it's the same mysterious project Mr. Gilbert has been mentioning over at his blog and pitching to publishers for ages, though this time around it's got a lovely name too: DeathSpank.

Ahhh.. DeathSpank. I absolutely adore the sound of it and the fact that its based on them lovely Grumpy Gamer comics. I'm quite fond of the idea behind it too, you know, as it's the first humorous adventure RPG hybrid since Steve Meretzky's excellent Super Hero League of Hoboken and the first game ever to be described as Monkey Island meets Diablo. Oh, and it's gonna be episodic too. Also coming soonish. Happy happy days...

For further info you can read the official Hothead announcement, read Ron Gilbert's own post, try Mr. Clayton's take on the subject or even wait for the game's website to get some content.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Monkey Island Uncut, Lurking Horror retro review, the Penny Arcade game, Linus & Samorost

Jan 5, 2008

Matthew Smith gaming in Full Motion Video

Yes, that was a video featuring Matthew Smith himself and quite a bit of Manic Miner too. Exciting, huh? Well, I'm excited. Very. Anyway. For further truths regarding this quite mysterious legend, oh beloved ZX Spectrum fanatics, click here, whereas to begin watching the man talk at the CG Expo try this linky link or to further practice your reading skills try the reddoor.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the Jet Set Willy patch, RGCD, Monty's Christmas Special, Lurking Horror retro review