Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lazy Review #6


I saw that Filler was rated pretty well so I snagged the demo. I've seen games with similar concepts before but never tried them (I can be a bit of a graphics snob sometimes, and shapes don't excite me). Well, it's a pretty slick mechanic packed full of addictive qualities. You have to create enough spheres to fill the screen 2/3rds full. If a little red ball hits your sphere when you're trying to grow it, it pops. Also, your spheres slowly shrink after you create them, which adds a sense of urgency to create spheres quickly.

It's easy to grasp and it's hard to stop. Well for 20 minutes or so I was hooked. Then I kind of grew tired of the difficulty progression which just seems to add one more red ball each level. Eh. So my fun level sort of plateaued. The funny part is that even if you just let the game idle, it makes for a better screensaver than many of the screensaver apps. Wait that might be true of all games. I better stop this tangent here.

Overall, I do like the mechanic and while the graphics are pretty basic and unexciting they are crisp and sensible. I can imagine a similar mechanic could be greatly expanded upon and made much more interesting and long lasting. Have a try at the demo (at least) to see what you think of the overall concept.

Graviton AI

At first glance I thought this sidescrolling ship shooter had tons of appeal. I saw what looked to be a customizable ship, 3D graphics, explosions, and lots of guns. Yes it does seem to have all of those things, which is cool. I like the idea of a spaceport where you can upgrade your ship and the 3D graphics do allow for some neat little cut scenes and overall depth to the action.

Upon playing though, there are some missteps. There's a good amount of text thrown at you and I had sit and stare at the controls for a good minute before I felt comfortable with getting started.

So I jumped in and was confronted with a very messy bullet hell. All sorts of stuff is immediately thrown in your face. There are many bullets, some very hard to see, all different shapes, sizes, angles, and speeds. There are lots of enemies advancing in different ways. The HUD was hard to read, very complex looking, and I had no chance of reading anything while trying to avoid the craziness. I couldn't tell what I was firing but it seemed to be finite because my guns kept getting weaker. And the SFX were mashed up, messy, and grating on the ears. It's not for anyone expecting a pleasent learning curve or a laid-back shooter - I'll say that much.

I never lasted more than about 1 minute, gave it 6 good tries and then threw in the towel. I'd love to know if anyone with some top-notch shmup skillzzz can get through the first level.

Avatar Drop

Ahhhh, casual goodness - playful violence - a combo made in XBLIG heaven. We're seeing more avatar use in XBLIGs and this one is a simple but fun approach. You basically control your avatar as you fall downward, bouncing off balls and trying to score points by getting through rings.

The controls are simple and the ragdoll physics add a good deal of hilarity as your avatar wildly flops about. A nice inclusion is the use of a sort of "cartwheel" maneuver that allows you to spin heavily in either direction. This can launch you laterally and sometimes upwards which helps you to snag more points.

It's pretty enjoyable by yourself for a decent amount of time, but it's obviously way better with friends - watching each other fall violently while trying to get through rings first. I believe we will see more games like this where we get to beat the heck out of our avatars. And I am looking forward to that.


  1. I tried Filler and it is well made but I just did not have that much fun with it after about 5 minutes. It requires more patience than I have.

  2. "I believe we will see more games like this where we get to beat the heck out of our avatars." I don't suppose that's too likely, depending on what you define as "beat the heck out of". This is because Avatars have a special terms of use agreement that forbids developers from portraying anything beyond slapstick violence, probably with good reason.

  3. I hear yah Anon - yeah I am refering to other forms of slapsticky stuff. I'd personally to tumble mine down a steep cliff. :)