I knew when I woke up this afternoon that today was a day for monkeying about. Which is not to say I flung excrement from the balcony; nay, that is exclusively a Wednesday activity.

Instead, I booted up the latest beta copy of Adventure Apes and the Mayan Mystery; made by Canadian lone-gun ScaryPotato using GameMaker, it’s a free monkeytroidvania title featuring bitsy pixel graphics, powerups and convoluted Mayan ruins filled with … crustacean-bots, piranhas, a devious eagle, et al. Continue reading

Excellent news, and just in time for my bicentennial post! Those Machiavellian fellows over at Spooky Squid have pulled the ol’ switcharoo on the Xblock, abandoning Microsoft’s system and opting instead to vent their upcoming arcade horror game They Bleed Pixels on Steam. Which is obviously a very clever thing to have done. Oh, jubilance! Continue reading

Franz Ferdinand poster croppedWar, like playing silly buggers, is something best confined to the frame of a computer screen. And if you’re looking for silly-bugger warfare, why, you’d be pressed hard to look farther than Positech’s Gratuitous Tank Battles.

GTB is pretty thoroughly like and yet unlike its spiritual predecessor, Gratuitous Space Battles. You’re on earth instead of the yawning eye sockets of the universe, exchanging fire with crunching, mechanical brutes of riveted steel instead of the seething insects of interstellar death.

That is to say, you’ve got to stop some bastard’s big, gruesome machines and cannon fodder from getting through some tunnels, and you’ve got to shove your own gruesome machines and cannon fodder through some tunnels while some BASTARD tries to stop you.

So it’s tower defence and offence all wrapped up in a bow. A smoking, ragged bow that’s been used as a garrotte. It’s fucking hard, is what I’m saying. But this frustration is mitigated by the fact that you can make magenta mechs.

But I’m getting yonder of myself. Continue reading

SFXT screenshot 7

I am of that dwindling breed who played the very first Street Fighter, when it hit that long-lost version of the arcade that was kept both warm and smelling of bed time by the adjacent laundromat. I also played the first Tekken, at one of those gaming nexuses parents use to occupy their children while they gamble away the mortgage.

I have a long and nostalgic history of losing miserably at both these franchises. Losing at either is a distinctly different experience, and I was sceptical at the thought of smooshing them together; Street Fighter is all firebally and whoosh, whereas Tekken has Eddy. I had visions of a game more redolent of mystery meat a la Blanka than a tight, cohesive brutality machine.

Thankfully, I was wrong. Continue reading


Nostalgia, you bastard of bastards. You’re always out there, hermit-crabbing about in the smell of old perfume or the jingle of that ad that used to play just before MacGyver got creative with pudding spoons and twine.

And this is a good year for nostalgia, which for me bites hardest in game form. For one, Wasteland is making a comeback, which is such stupendous news I may actually start to consider religion. But it’s not just Wasteland. It’s also Shadowrun. And Space Quest. And Leisure Suit Larry. And… Continue reading

Games like A Valley Without Wind pose a conundrum for me.

It’s a stunning proposal, see: an infinite world, filled with infinite possibilities, challenges and content. It’s the gaming grail, and it’s rather often that an intrepid group of developers set out to raid the tomb that holds it.

Sometimes they come back. Continue reading

I like my pixels big and meaty. Not pong racket meaty, mind you – just meaty enough to see. Um. Like minced meaty. It’s a throwback from having spent my formative years in 16 bits.

I doubly especially like to rain smite upon pixels such as those aforementioned. Another 16-bit-induced dementia, no doubt, and one amply catered to by the low-fi takedown of the Serious Sam franchise that is The Random Encounter. Continue reading

I once tried to hone a toothbrush into a shank to be proud of, but I figured I was getting ahead of myself. And indeed, I have never eaten prison food.

I do have this morbid fascination with prisons, though. What do all those hardened convicts get up to? Really get up to, I mean. Aside from needlepoint, gang rape and garrotting. Dear, I hope I’m not being stereotypical. (Actually, being South African, I think I’m painting a picture of flowers and possibly a bunny that is mauve of hue.) Continue reading

Pirates aren’t what they used to be. For one, the originals are all dead, which is probably for the best. I don’t think they’d get on with climate change and the demise of polar bears. Then again, they’d be a surefire hit on Twitter. Oh, it’s a dilemma.

I’m actually experiencing a classic double bind of similar magnitude: download the IGF Pirate Kart or save my precious bandwidth for Youtube videos of cats and Fighting Trousers?

Dash it all. The Pirate Kart looks so racy, so backstreet geek, so very full of free games that are almost certain to be inexplicable. On the other hook, Fighting Trousers. I also have those IF Comp entries to consider, but my body is already racked by Fucking Parser Syndrome, which is like a bout of specialised Tourette’s.

There is only one solution:

One word: Legend.

Not enough for you? Here’s two more, then: of Grimrock.

Now that we’ve got the requisite suspense out of the way, please look away while I salivate helplessly. I have a syrupy spot for old-fashioned dungeon crawlers, especially when they’re new-fangled, and Legend of Grimrock is tolchocking me directly in the nostalgia sac.

Details of the game’s magic system have arisen, and they’re looking very… runic. But in a good way! I happen to loathe runes in general, owing to a childhood mishap with Vikings, but it seems Grimrock’s take on the matter will allow for some neat combinatorial combat cake. (I say cake not merely for its alliterative benefit, but for its deep symbolic value.) Continue reading