Review

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Reviews of software, hardware and everything in-between.
Bill Loguidice's picture

Archon:Classic for PC - Quick Impressions

I finally got around to playing my Steam copy of Archon:Classic on my PC over the weekend, a game I had bought when there was a sale on it several months back (good news: it's still a reasonable $9.99). I used an Xbox 360 controller to play the game, which, while playable with a keyboard, is only for Apple II die-hards. Or masochists. In any case, to put it simply, this is exactly the Archon remake/update we were always hoping for, particularly after being crushed by the travesty of Archon Ultra - which never felt right, despite being from the original developers - and games like Wrath Unleashed, which unnecessarily made everything 3D, including the board.

This is Archon in its purest form, 2D, with combat that feels exactly like it did back in the game's 8-bit heyday, which any original fan will tell you is absolutely key to the experience. What's nice is that after the developers of Archon:Classic tuned the game to perfection, they also added in features and modes from all the other versions of the game (secondary attacks, different boards, etc.), and even some additional modes, like concurrent four player, that really enhance the game tremendously. While I haven't tried every mode and feature - yet - according to the trailer, you can even replace the modern visuals with the classic sprites, a fact that I didn't even notice considering the myriad of options to choose from:

Matt Barton's picture

Kvetching on Dragon Age II

X, Y, A, A, B, etc.X, Y, A, A, B, etc.I've always been a bit divided on Bioware's games after they abandoned their compromising "real time with pause" gameplay and sacrificed their babies to the god of Twitch. If you listen to some people, they would have been doing this all along, but the technology of the time wouldn't allow it (rubbish). The real goal here is to cater to the widest possible demographic, which everyone seems to think means focusing on spectacle and instant gratification (look, mommie, this button makes him chop!). The only concessions to adults is usually some vague notion of "difficult choices" you have to make at a dialog tree or two, and perhaps a lot of boring text here and there that you can find and read if you're so inclined. You know you've come a long ways down a dark road when the closest thing you get to the tabletop experience is clicking through (not reading) a dozen such screens of text and earning an Xbox Live achievement about being "learned."

But anyway, back to Dragon Age 2. I was one of those poor bastards who actually pre-ordered the collector's edition. I sprang for the PC version, which was apparently a mistake. Still, while I was probably more frustrated by the combat and party AI than anything else, I did enjoy other parts of the game, particularly the characters. Yeah, I know it's a bad when the thing I like most about a CRPG is the drama.

Matt Barton's picture

Review of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries)

Everybody here knows how much I love Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series. These are great adventure games with fun characters and charming atmosphere. Her Interactive has recently expanded its offerings to Apple's mobile line, starting with a game called Shadow Ranch, currently $2 for iPhone/iPod and $5 for iPad, which is in HD (holy cow, I'm jealous). I recently completed the game on my iPhone 4, and am pleased to say it's a fun game that's quite distinctive from its desktop predecessor. I don't think Her Interactive (HI) has really tapped the full potential of the platform, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Matt Barton's picture

Gnome's Lair Interviews Mike Rose, author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play

Our good friend Konstantinos of Gnome's Lair has posted an interview with Mike Rose, author of the upcoming book 250 Indie Games You Must Play. The book and the author sound great! I think this will definitely be a must-have for all of us interested in truly innovative game development. Perhaps it's a bit controversial, but I really like the fact that he focused on PC/Mac indie games, and every game in the book will play on a modern PC. That's of course good news for anyone who's worried that a particular title will is unavailable on their available platforms (I'm actually quite curious about what notable indie titles are NOT available on PC or Mac). The book is also sprinkled with quotations from designers and developers and boasts color screenshots. Please buy the book using the link to the left to support Armchair Arcade.
Nathaniel Tolbert's picture

Champions Online - Free for all - Thoughts and opinions

Champions OnlineChampions OnlineHello everyone! Long time no post. First thing's first I can happily say, that I have completed my degree and graduated as of March 1st, 2011. It's just my first computer science degree and there are two more I am after so I will start on them soon.

So as many people know about a month or so ago, Atari and Cryptic games announced that they were turning Champions Online in to a free to play game. After my final ended last Wednesday and I actually had time to sit down and check it out, I thought I might share my thoughts and opinions on my playtime so far.

The game is based on the a tabletop role playing game of the same name, Champions. It uses the same attributes in game as in the table top game but it doesn't seem to influence characters as much as it does in the tabletop game. It takes place in a fictional city, I believe in Canada called Millennium City. You play the typical role of super hero extraordinaire. Your mission? To defeat all the bad guys that are running amok in Millennium City. Now I cannot say much about plot line as I have only played about 10 hours worth of game time, making it to the paltry level of 11. But I shall start with the graphics set of this review first.

GAMEBOX-first look

My gamebox arrived a few days ago and I fnally got to take a look. It was shipped from Hong Kong and arrived in its orginal packagewrapped in a bubble envelope. Not the best packageing, but it arrived looking great. The box has cardboard deviders to keep the pieces in place.

Chip Hageman's picture

Quick Peeks: DuoTris

Quick Peeks[ JAN . 26 . 2011 ]
This week we take a look at a creative take on the "Match Three Blocks" theme. There's certainly a glut of these games out there, but this titles changes things up in one important respect- You're playing the game in real time on two playfields at once.

Colored blocks enter from the top and bottom of the screen and head towards the center. You must arrange them into groups of three or more of the same color in order to clear them. The active blocks on either side of the game grid may be swapped by pressing control or space.. but only if they haven't touched any other blocks. Certain blocks also contain power-up's that can be either good or bad. Experimentation is key. :)

Interesting game.. perhaps too busy for my own personal taste.. but worth a try. The official website for the game is here, although it appears the game file is completely offline.

Anyway, I've decided to host the game myself, so download it and give it a try.

-Chip

Here is a gameplay video, courtesy of Pixel Prospector:

Chip Hageman's picture

Quick Peeks: Tubopac

Quick Peeks[ JAN . 19 . 2011 ]
This week we take a look at a smashing PC remake of the classic computer game Oil's Well. This game was known for it's intense and somewhat frustrating game-play style. It had a very prominent risk/reward system that was almost unmatched, and led to quite a few controllers meeting an untimely demise.
Chip Hageman's picture

Quick Peeks: Pong Machine (C64)

Quick Peeks[ JAN . 12 . 2011 ]
 
Atari PongI remember back in 1976 when my father came home with Atari Pong... We hooked it up straight away on the TV set in the kitchen and just played the hell out of it. Only being five, I didn't quite get the hours in on it that my older siblings did, but I still logged quite a few.

Who would have thought that something so damned simple could hold your attention for so long? Simply put, it was a new technology that really foreshadowed the possibility of what was about to come. And it didn't take long.. Atari 2600, Fairchild Channel F, Bally Astrocade, Intellivision, Odyssey 2... all of these systems owe their existence, at least in part, to the financial success of Atari Pong... and conceptually to the Magnavox Odyssey by Ralph H. Baer and, of course, Willy Higinbotham for his oscilloscope rendition of Tennis for Two.

Chip Hageman's picture

Online gallery of Commodore 64 artwork.

c64pixels.com

I've been checking out a ton of Commodore 64 related sites recently and came across this little gem: C64 Pixels. The website is archiving and cataloging all of the C64 artwork it can get a hold of, and it looks fairly well organized. All of the artwork is broken down by year, format and artist.

If you're a fan of C64 pixel art and don't want the hassle of firing up an emulator or viewing these on actual hardware, then this site is a dead simple alternative to getting your pixel art fix.

-Chip

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