Are arcade-style games dead?
Take a classic such as Robotron; Would a similar game have any place in the marketplace today? Well, I like to think they do still have a place. We have reviewed quite a few of what I would call ‘arcade-style games‘ like The Binding of Isaac or Enter the Gungeon.
Independent Finnish developers Housemarque have been making such arcade-style games since the early 1990’s and recently I read their blog, with sadness in my heart, when they declared that Arcade is Dead.
The title does seem a bit generic, so I’ll clarify.
When I’m talking about a ‘multiplayer (with friends)’ game, I’m talking about a game that can be played as a single player game quite easily — It’s designed in such a way that one person can progress normally. But the design is also in place to make the experience infinitely enhanced with the addition of your friends playing with you, either as allies, enemies or neutral parties (Read: Potential backstabbers).
So how about starting with a game where a friend can go through all three of those positions?
Sid Meier’s Civilization V (or Civ 5 for short) is a 4X strategy game1 where the end goal is “to build a civilisation that will stand the test of time”. You do this through various means — Researching new technology, developing your culture to build social policies and, when it comes to it, nuking the ever loving hell out of anyone who wrongs you.
Playing Civ 5 with friends is an interesting experience, to say the least. You can act amicable at first, sharing embassies, helping each other out through simple trade and maybe killing some barbarians, with the threats being only very vague and passive-aggressive in nature…
…then you’ve declared war on every AI player and your friend, just so you can say you’re at war with everyone.
Those are just the two far points of the spectrum of evil deeds during multiplayer in Civ 5 — You’ve also got imposing taxes on your friends to use your borders, or giving salt after a brutal war to, well, rub salt in the wound and — possibly the most brutal act your friends can commit — of nuking your capital city into the dirt when you’re playing as Venice, so that the only city you have left standing is a little city state that has nothing in it.
Salty? Me? No.
As much as I’d like to ramble on about when you get backstabbed by an ally, even during all-out war, I still have this element of joy flowing through me. Thinking about what move my friend will make next; what soldiers may be coming out from behind the frontlines; are the frontlines just a ploy to distract me? Combining that with all the previously mentioned elements, Civ 5 is a multiplayer game that can consume literal hours with a group of good people.
And now, to give my editor flashbacks.
Ahh… only a few people are going to get that, and that makes me happy.
Terraria should be familiar to quite a few people reading this, due to its similarities to Minecraft and how both games shared a good amount of popularity during 2011.
The advantages of Terraria come in the form of more of a set structure, with more armour tiers to advance through, biomes becoming harder as the game progresses and an incredibly diverse selection of boss fights.
As someone who has spent a small time…
…playing Terraria, I can vouch that the game has a veritable gold mine of possibilities for multiplayer.
Of course you can progress normally by gathering materials and building a large castle, all to slowly carve your way up to the Moon Lord, the Cthulhu inspired final boss.
However there are also options for PvP modes, with plenty of maps available online to download for these purposes, alongside inventory/character editors so all your friends are as powerful as each other, regardless of whether you use a mage, fighter or ranger build.
A random game to play in multiplayer that I made up involves mining. You get a Spelunker Potion (which reveals ores and treasures with a glow for a brief time), a Teleportation Potion (which teleports the player character randomly once around the map) and a high level pickaxe/drill.
The objective? Mine as much as you can before the Spelunker potion runs out. The person with the most ores and treasure wins. Simple, yet surprisingly competitive.
With the previous two games, the amount of players in a single session can go up to sixteen and even higher. The next game is a bit smaller by contrast, on a scale as grand as the starry sky.
Being one of the more obscure multiplayer titles to pick, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky, is a JRPG developed by Level-5 and released for the Nintendo DS. The game follows the classic four person party composed of different classes with different abilities, going through a large open world completing quests, delving into dungeons and battling giant spear wielding cucumbers.
The difference here is that the four-person party doesn’t have to be party members recruited at a tavern. They can be your friends in local multiplayer (recruiting these at a tavern is optional).
DQ:IX handled multiplayer through a drop-in, drop-out system. In the main hub tavern of the game, there is a portal which you use to start connection with nearby DS systems, either opening your world to other players or trying to find the world of your friends.
This system is downright amazing — and honestly I believe it’s the best way to play the game, even during the campaign.
Sure, it is possible to soft sequence break your own world, by going into a friends world with more towns open and buying the better equipment there.
But that ignores how ridiculously fun and satisfying it can get exploring the world as an actual party; the conversation you share in real life being the snarky comments actual adventurers would have in the face of monsters.
Martial Artist, Armamentalist, Luminary and a healer character from that persons own party made up my band of adventurers, meeting up on the weekends to take on the harder bosses…
…only to take up a lot of turn time using an attack with a pointlessly long animation, which, at the end of the day, didn’t even do that much better damage than a regular attack.
That’s been my summary of a few multiplayer games I’ve enjoyed over my life. I’ll admit, I don’t play these with other people much these days, so a lot of my thoughts and ideas are from pure memory.
But that’s the point of playing games with your friends; creating the memories that last.
Be it sitting in a living room, making sure not to move too far away so the DS infrared connection doesn’t break, sitting in bed as suggesting Terraria as a game night idea goes horribly wrong, even to the people who prefer tabletop, gathered round a table playing Magic and D&D for hours on end.
We’re all geeks here, building a community around these sorts of things is why we’re here.
Thanks for reading, this was a good article to write because it reminded me of a lot of good times in my life, if you’re one of those people who I shared that time with, thank you. Got any multiplayer stories you’d like to tell? Or maybe you’ve got a game in mind which is just perfect for this kind of multiplayer? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.
Team17 have been at it for years and years, having released some great titles, but most notable are their Worms franchise. Worms Reloaded might be my favourite Worms title ever released and this review is going to look at it without the rose-tinted glasses. It’s time to get critical on this classic, so join Timlah as we look through the full wormage and prepare to fight for the lives of our wriggly companions in some garden warfare.
You play Daniel, general geek and nerd who while playing a DnD game with his friends goes to the loo and somehow finds himself in an alternate universe actually taking part in a real RPG. His body is possessed by a shadow demon who is unable to take control of Daniel and becomes trapped inside his body.
I picked up UnEpic during a sale for $1.99 USD (who buys things full price anyway) as I was curious as to what it was like. When you start the game you get to choose what sort of experience you would like, either with or without swear words. Now I’m not against swearing in games, but I appreciate the option to not have them. I decided to opt for it for my play through, but actually I quickly regretted it. Not because the swear words offended me, but they feel forced and felt as if they merely were implemented to add to the “humour”. I use the word humour in quotations for a very specific reason; I am sure that the dialogue between Daniel and his new shadow co-traveller is funny, if your 14 years old, but for me they really added nothing to the game at all. I’m not against toilet humour (and there seems to be a lot of it here), but toilet humour only works given the right circumstance. Conkers Bad Fur Day is a game that was full of toilet humour but also quite enjoyable at the same time.
The game itself is a cross between an RPG and a jump and run, where Daniel runs through the castle that he has found himself in. Your main goal is to survive each room killing any enemies, surviving traps and lighting torches in order to fulfil the various quests that you find along the way. Whilst doing so you gain experience points for killing enemies and lighting all the torches in the room. In some rooms, you will find chests with loot in and even some side quests that can distract you along the way. With every major level, you gain six points that can help you customise what specialities Daniel has. Putting some points into a ranged attack is generally a good idea, as I found that later on there are some enemies you can only reach with spells or arrows. There is no point here in being a full on tank and the rogue backstabbing ability is a welcome addition but did not really change your play style that much. To enable you to move around the castle a bit faster you can open up shortcut gateways that take you to a central room. These are really useful for getting to and from a save point which to begin with there is only one until you solve some of the quests to open up more. The game does autosave, but there is no indication of when you pass one of these checkpoints which I found quite irritating.
Once you open up a bit more of the map you get a boss battle, which was fun, but is too few and far between from my experience. You spend a lot more time running around the castle trying to find the relevant items needed to complete the next mini-quest so that you can get on with the main quest. If you’re going to play UnEpic I have one major piece of advice for you, make good use of the note making function on the map, there were a few times where I had finished one of the quests but I could not remember for the life of me where I got it from, so spent the next hour or so re-visiting most of the rooms I had gone to in order to find where I cash it in. The game does allow you to keep track of what is left to find in the quest and whilst I don’t expect it to tell me where to get the pieces to the puzzle, I did expect it to guide me back to the quest source. UnEpic does have multiplayer capabilities all hooked up through Steam, which I have not been able to test out.I had a conversation with Timlah to see if he thought it might be a fun to do a video series of it. He had tried it before and thought it to be “dull” which I was disappointed to hear but something in me still wants to test it out a little.
Visually the game looks okay being sprite based is good for this sort of game but it does nothing really special or endearing to make it stand out. The audio is quite nice, footsteps have a hearty echo at first but could do with changing based upon the environment. This is going to be one of those games I have got so far and I find myself having no real desire to go any further. I’m sure there is more hilarity to be had between Daniel and his companion but it would help if I found any of it actually funny. If I had finished it then I would certainly not bother with a second play through. So I’m afraid it will most likely sit on my Steam shelf gathering dust. It was certainly worth what I paid for it in the sale and I would happily pay a bit more but not much more.
Let us know if you have played UnEpic and what you thought of it. Did you manage to play the multiplayer? Do you think Timlah is right? Tell us what you think in the comments section or via Reddit, FaceBook or Twitter
Multiplayer games are a staple in the video game industry, as a way to interact with others through the medium… Or just to show someone how l33t you are. However in recent years, a lot of multiplayer games have changed how they are played. No longer are we playing games of healthy competition, but more games are out there to show that you’re better for having played them longer than someone else. Join me as I take a look back through multiplayer games of old and how modern games tackle the communication between people.
We’ll begin by taking a trip down memory lane, or for many of us, a year before we were even conceived. In the early 1970s, the first ever Pong consoles were released to the general public and people were buying them by the boat load. Well okay, perhaps not quite a boat load of them, but people all over were willing to get their hands on a way to interact with their television sets in more than a typical watch the broadcast way. They wanted to play Pong, a game that was only available in the arcades prior, in their home with their own friends without having to take change to play on the machines.
Whilst Pong was all well and good, it was just the first in a long line of easy games to pick up and play. We started to get games like Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, even games like Tetris supported more than one player after a while, for a little bit of competitive gaming between friends and family. But by the time the SNES was out, most of these simple two player games started to dwindle in favour for more complex, trickier to play single player games. Sure action games and fighting games were still popular enough to have two player modes, but games were already making their way into RPGs and more.
Now this isn’t to say that multiplayer games disappeared, but they had to evolve and adapt. Over time, we went on to playing less random action/adventure games, less platformers and more into shooters. These games were more like Quake and Unreal. Around the same sort of time, the PS1 came out and even more single player games came out. Games along the lines of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. In the case of Crash, this was a platformer that did away with multiplayer all together, in favour of a more in depth story in the game. It’s not a traditional platformer, but it still is one. Hey, at the end of the PS1 years, my favourite RPG of all time came out: Final Fantasy IX. No main Final Fantasy game had done multiplayer at this point.
So shooters were the thing that really kept multiplayer going for a period of time, but then around the 2000s, the long standing MMORPG World of Warcraft came out. It’s incredible to think that next year the WoW community will have the Burning Legion to defeat in World of Warcraft. MMORPGs weren’t new… I was very accustomed to playing games such as Dark Ages of Camelot and City of Heroes at this point… But now the RPG genre was being more innovative and more involving of multiplayer, but really, this was a different way to play: This was about working together to defeat huge enemies, or fighting one another in intense battles. These are games of numbers, the more numbers you have, the better you do is the general rule of thumb.
Now we’ve got the indie scene, a thriving community with countless fun games to play. Since I got my OUYA last year, I have played many cool multiplayer games, such as Amazing Frog? and Hidden In Plain Sight (which is also on Steam). These games have brought back the sense of fun, the sense of pure silly gameplay along with a little bit of competitive nature and in some cases: skill of the game. But whilst multiplayer games never left us, it sure feels now that we’ve got a more diverse library of games out there. Now there are games for those who want to invest plenty of time, as well as games which you just put on at a party. What’s your earliest memory of a multiplayer game? Share your favourite multiplayer games in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
P.S: If you are ever in doubt about a good multiplayer game to get into, consider getting a fighting game or a shooter. Those generally are multiplayer. If you want something a bit different, for fighting check out Guilty Gear, for the characters are so outlandish, you end up falling for each and every one of them. I personally like using Bridget and Faust as my guys. For FPS, I implore you to play the Unreal Tournament games. Those are my personal picks for franchises!
A while back we spoke to the wonderful team of The Dangerous Kitchen about their upcoming spicy party game, De Mambo. The Dangerous Kitchen have been hard at work since then and have released a Kickstarter Campaign!
Having had the pleasure of playing this game for myself, where The Dangerous Kitchen utterly trounced me at their own game (Which is a good thing, right..?!) I can say with certainty that the cost of the game at Kickstarter prices is entirely justified. It felt like it was a solid party game back then and I’d have happily paid more than £6.99 for it. I’ve paid more for other games which have been disappointing to date.
They’re looking for just £15,000 which is a reasonable amount to expect. As of the time of writing, there’s just 25 days remaining on this project and they’ve already raised more than £6,000. Below are some screenshots from the latest demo, which you can play for free.
I’d urge you to at least check out their campaign. They’ve got a great selection of swag and hey, you get that warm fuzzy feeling for helping out. De Mambo features:
- Fast Paced Action
- Local Multiplayer
- Supports up to 4 people.
- Potential to make Online Multiplayer too based on the Kickstarter Campaigns success.
- Single Player
- Awesome music
- More Mambo than you can shake your fist at.
Also, as a personal aside, it seems the team are either a fan of a really oft-heard of film that I really like, or are just aware of it… As they linked this video in one of their Kickstarter Campaign questions.
Do you know of any party games similar to this one? Does anything about this game interest or dissuade you from helping them reach their funding goal? Let us know in the comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter.