Saturday, June 21, 2008

Today, a three-pack to make up for nothing yesterday.


RotaZion is a game with a very simple concept, with one twist. (You might notice that I use this description, or variations of it, pretty often. There's a good reason -- you don't want to make a game which is exactly like some game that already exists; who would want to play something that's just another version of Breakout? On the other hand, inventing an entirely new genre is a difficult task; not that many Flash game designers haven't tried, but not many have succeeded. So a lot of the games which are successful are ones that take a well-established format and add something to make it unique. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.)

Anyway, rotaZion is a pretty canonical "dodger". You're confronted with an undersea minefield, and your job is to dodge the mines and stay alive as long as possible. A few various powerups, which give you points, slow things down, or make you temporarily invincible, occasionally drift by. The one twist in rotaZion is that your vehicle is a rotating bar (hence the name, I guess). Occasionally this allows you to pull off nifty maneuvers; when your bar is just in the right position you can evade the miners, but more often you'll end up with the bar in the wrong position and crash.

Ultimately, this isn't really enough of a twist to make the game terribly interesting. The music and sounds are both functional but forgettable, and so there was really no incentive to keep playing after I reached the requisite number of points for a badge.

Bubbles 2

In contrast to what I said above, Bubbles 2 doesn't really have a twist. It's an entirely straightforward dodger: you collect bubbles to get points, avoid mines which make you die and end your game, and that's about it. As you collect more bubbles, you yourself become larger, so the game becomes harder quite rapidly, meaning that your typical game is probably less than a minute.

The one distinguishing feature of Bubbles 2 is the variety of powerups, ranging from the straightforward (for example, invincibility) to the offbeat (for instance, Noir, which makes everything a high-contrast black and red, which is actually quite useful for picking up bubbles against the background). However, the short amount of time each game lasts means that whether you end up with great powerups or less useful ones is pretty much a total crapshoot. Also, really, you don't end up playing the game long enough to remember what each powerup is and how it does (or at least I didn't).

The music is pretty well-suited for the average game length, but I doubt it would survive as the music for a longer game. The sound effects are pretty much what you would expect. Overall, this is a fun game to mess around with for a couple of minutes, but I imagine it would have a hard time holding anyone's interest for any longer than that.

Bubble Tanks

And here's the third in our serving of bubble-themed games. Unlike the other two, Bubble Tanks is a shooter with pretty traditional controls (keyboard to move, mouse to shoot). Each screen comprises a single bubble battlefield; moving off the edge of the screen (in any direction) takes you to a new bubble with new enemies. The central concept in Bubble Tanks is that popping your enemies creates a bunch of bubbles which you can pick up and add to your own tank, while being hit by enemy fire will knock bubbles off of your own tank. As your tank grows larger, your gun becomes more and more powerful, which is good because you'll face more and more powerful enemies.

The problem with Bubble Tanks (like the other two) is that it simply doesn't have enough to hold your attention for long. There's not that many different kinds of enemies, and they're mostly differentiated by their size rather than anything else, so the action pretty quickly becomes repetitive. You can't even really die, since if you lose your last extra bubble you're simply ejected into the nearest safe battlefield. Once you've taken the boss down (or a boss -- it seems like there's a lot of them floating around, though you only need to defeat one to get the badge) there's not really much incentive to keep playing.

The music and sounds are both somewhat below average, as the music gets repetitive very quickly and the sounds are kind of annoying. Overall, it's a quick way to get a 15-point badge, but like the other two, there's really no reason to go back to it once you've gotten the badge.

No comments: