Apr 12, 2010

Three indie game reviews in one handy post

Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso

Mr Smoozles is an anthropomorphic cat. Nothing to shout about, I know, except he's an anthropomorphic cat starring in his very own web cartoon and a creation of Broken Sword and Beneath a Steel Sky writer/artist Steve Ince, meaning he's a pretty smart cat indeed. Mr Smoozles goes Nutso, on the other hand, is quite obviously the game of said smart cat, which also happens to be a rather brilliant, humorous and particularly cartoony arcade adventure by -again- Steve Ince, sporting a preposterous plot about alien invaders, parallel realities, more anthropomorphic cats and mind control.

The game plays like a simplified adventure with some light arcade elements and mostly demands that the player solves simple puzzles, embarks on a few fetch-quests, avoids the rampaging Mr Smoozles and a few other enemies, explores the impressively detailed game world and generally stays alive. Nothing too demanding really, but excellent -if a tiny bit repetitive- fun dressed up with some lovely graphics and a suitably retro soundtrack. Oh, and do expect some brilliant and at times elaborate easter eggs, as well as more than a few references and nods to Revolution games.

You can (should, really) buy a copy and/or download the demo over here.

Galcon Fusion

Deep yet incredibly simple strategy games have been a firm favourite of mine ever since I spent eight hours waiting for a ship and playing Advance Wars. Happily Galcon Fusion doesn't have to be played under dire circumstances to be enjoyed and is probably one of the best games of this sort the PC has to offer. It really is simple to learn, incredibly addictive and an absolute bastard to master. All the player has to do, you see, is click on a planet and then click on another planet, and a fleet will leave the first and attack or strengthen the second. That's the basic gameplay mechanic and it only gets marginally more complex, as you learn that fleets can also be clicked on and that the mouse-wheel is a most lethal space war weapon.

Getting to grips with the whole thing and taking on multiple opponents in a variety of scenarios is -initially- a simple and extremely enjoyable experience. Try going for the game's challenging bits and online multiplayer masters though, and you'll discover the huge difference between simply enjoying and actually mastering Galcon Fusion. Can't find fault with it really, though truth be said it's not a game for everyone. Smart retro-visuals are quite nice too, though what should really impress retro lovers is the text-only mode of the thing.

Find out more, look at the iPhone version and give it a try here.

Grid Runner Revolution

When Grid Runner first appeared on the VIC-20 it was nothing more than a great but a simple and quite unassuming little budget game. Now, over 20 years later, Jeff Minter, the game's original creator, has evolved it into the absolute shmup extravaganza, complete with tons of levels, fluffy sheepies, amazing pyrotechnics, eye-melting visuals, an ear-melting soundtrack, many extras and that quirky Llamasoft humour. Oh, and some finely tuned shmup gameplay with some brilliant touches, that even manages to subtly innovate. Losing a life, for a example, can be mitigated by picking up a nice sheep, whereas each life is represented by a different ship (not sheep, mind) with unique features.

What's more, the (almost) original VIC-20 and C64 versions of the game have also been included, as well as an excellent Thrust-like game mode, online leaderbards and a wealth of other features, that make it an essential purchase. Yes, even people that don't really like shoot-'em-ups will enjoy this one. It really is excellent, and the free demo will easily convinve you.

To get a copy of Grid Runner Revolution (and of course the equally brilliant Space Giraffe) and all of Llamasoft's now freely available classic games just follow this woolly link.

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