Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If I Were a Bad Demoman, I Wouldn't Be Sittin' Here Discussin' It With Ya, Now Would I?

I just realized that I have five icons for demos of games sitting on my desktop, all in a row. Let's discuss, shall we? Left to right, then...

Brainpipe - link
Synopsis (in 10 words): Guide the eyeball down the speedy tube and go insane...?
What I Think of It: The subtitle for this game is "A Plunge to Unhumanity". The website suggests that this game does some weird things to your brain (the terribly photoshopped tabloid-esque pictures are worth a look). Yet somehow, all this game is is a fly-through-the-tunnel-and-dodge-the-obstacles game. The visuals are gorgeous and the sounds go well with the experience, but the fact that they're trying to make this game seem like it's some sort of brain-altering experience just... I dunno. The effect they're trying to get really doesn't work by slapping on pseudo-psychological terms.
Will I Buy It? No. The demo only lets you start from the beginning of two levels, and I can't beat the third to see if anything interesting happens, but it's enough to show you that it's just another tunnel-flying game. It's pretty, but not worth the dough.

Yosumin! - link
Synopsis: Meet quotas by eliminating boxes of similar shapes by corners.
What I Think of It: Oh dear, you've got to love Japanese-based games and their ability to slap smiley faces on everything and suddenly make them seem 180% more appealing. Yosumin is definitely fun, although it's not the first time I've seen the game mechanic of finding quadrilaterals with corners of the same color in a grid. So it doesn't get the novel points, but it definitely gets the ear candy points for having one of my favorite music loop soundtracks I've heard in a game in a while.
Will I Buy It: Still trying to decide. The hour-long demo was quite enticing, although I'm not sure if it'll really be worth the money in the later stages. If nothing else though, be sure to check out JohnB's review on JiG for this game. There's even a link to an online version to try out (if you're willing to blindly click Japanese until things work).

Flock! - link
Synopsis: Aliens guide rubbery sheep to ship in beautiful patchwork land.
What I Think of It: This game and I got off on the wrong foot. Initially, the controls were terribly confusing and frustrating, as I thought you had to move the UFO around the level using the mouse, which was a pain, since it never went where you wanted it to go. On a later play, I realized the keyboard could be used to control it as well, but my attitudes toward this game were already tainted. Flock!'s patchworky-quilty style is very nice to look at, in an almost Wallace and Grommit sort of way. The demo was only three levels, so I'm not sure how much this game has to offer in the way of "physics puzzles" (so far it's just been move and push), so I'm sure it's got potential, but...
Will I Buy It? I'm leaning towards to no. Maybe this game is great, but my initial experience left a very foul taste in my mouth, and I'm not sure I want to shell out the money for this one either. It does have fantastic production values though, so you have to give them credit for that.

Cogs - link
Synopsis: Slide tiles around to make strange contraptions run. And again.
What I Think of It: Be warned, this game is for sliding puzzle enthusiasts. If you've never been able to solve those sliding-tile puzzles you picked up at the dentist's office as a kid, I'd recommend staying away from this one. I'll give you a moment to scroll down if you wish. Still here? Okay. Cogs is all about sliding tiles with gears and pipes and other fun stuff on them to power little machines of sorts. Surprisingly, you can really stretch the concept of sliding puzzles, by putting different requirements for time, number of moves, and even throw in wicked variations (two-sided sliding puzzles, pseudo-3D sliding puzzles, etc.). The sounds and graphics make you feel like you're playing inside Big Ben, which is pretty neat, but in the end, it really is a sliding puzzle, times I-don't-know-how-many.
Will I Buy It? Surprisingly, the jury's still out on this one. It's a cheaper title, and I do kinda enjoy sliding puzzles, but the ~10 level demo really wasn't enough for me to know whether I'd like it later on or not. This is a prime example of a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when demos only give you samples of initial, easy puzzles. I could whip through those pretty easily, but will it ever get harder later on? Could you maybe show us the X1 puzzles in demos, like levels 1, 11, 21, 31, etc.?

I-Fluid (or spelling variants) - link
Synopsis: Guide a drop of water, with heavy emphasis on physics.
What I Think of It: I'm going to spoil the ending right now and tell you that I'm working on writing up the review for this one. It's got very impressive visuals, accurate physics, and it's European. Hooray culture! I do make sure to outline several painful faults in the review, which are: 1. Awkward controls, 2. Crazy camera, 3. Hit detection problems, and 3.5 (since it primarily occurs on only one level), Questionable AI. But as much as I want to hate this game, it's got a lot of replay value, and the challenges get quite tricky later on.
Will I Buy It? Already did. (For those curious, the icon for the full version is two to the right and up one.) And for only $10.25 (I guess it depends on the Euro/Dollar exchange rate on the day you buy it, the list price was $9.99), it's really quite a well-produced game. It's pretty large though (the 3-level demo is 125MB), and you'll likely encounter some things to nit-pick over, but it's still worth a go.

Well, that's that, then. I should probably mention that I think (I think) that all of these games are acquirable on Steam, although I tried to find links to outside sources.

Potential future blog topics:
--The aftermath of a party game. Another flop, but one that justifies the creation of the post category, "delicious failures".
--A ridiculously long essay/tutorial on Picross strategy, variants, and resources.
--A video tutorial on a favorite internet meme prank.

Phone lines are now open! And remember, which one I do next will greatly depend on how much money you bribe me with.

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