Friday, December 05, 2008

First, an announcement: I've added tags to the posts. Each post is tagged with Kongregate, the game name, and then a general tag with the category. Most of the tags should be pretty obvious (e.g. "turn-based strategy"), though a few perhaps require further explanation. I use "survival shooter" to refer to the particular subset of shooters where you have to defend yourself and/or a target from unending waves of enemies, and often have breaks between waves to buy upgrades and various more powerful weapons. I also had a tough time coming up with a good term for games which I could call real-time strategy if that term weren't already used for a much more specific genre -- in the end, I settled on "action strategy", which is not an ideal term, but it was the best I could do. My definition of "puzzle" is also much more restrictive than Kongregate's -- any game which requires a high degree of dexterity (e.g., colorfill) doesn't count as a puzzle game in my classification. I also ended up with "action" as an extremely broad catchall category (including most shooters not classified in the "survival shooter" category) -- maybe I should subdivide it further at some point.

Anyway, on to today's game:

G-Virus: Episode I

G-Virus is the third-place entry in the Shootorial contest, and by this point, I'm getting very glad there are only five winners overall, since I'm getting pretty bored with these games. G-Virus is basically exactly the same game as the Shootorial except with nicer graphics and a few minor gameplay changes, but certainly nothing to make it interesting enough for me to want to play it for any length of time.

So, the biologically problematic premise of G-Virus is that you're a virus fighting your way through a body. But you're a good virus (hence the G, apparently), destroying other viruses and rescuing cells. You shoot at the other viruses, which shoot at you; from time to time there's a really big enemy virus. There's an extremely unintuitive health bar at the top, and you can recover health by picking up red blood cells from destroyed enemy viruses (like I said, biologically problematic). The game doesn't have levels per se, but there is a progress bar indicating your progress through the level, and when it fills your firepower is increased.

Anyway, the game is pretty difficult, so I only got through a level and a half or so (not helped by the enemies that can shoot you from offscreen), but I really didn't see any need to keep playing, because there just wasn't much interesting about the gameplay. The graphics are colorful and cartoony (why do all of the viruses and cells have eyes, exactly?), the sound effects are pretty basic, and the background music is not very good -- it's not even really music so much as background sound effects. The English is also terrible -- clearly this is yet another game written by a non-native English speaker who didn't think it would be a good idea to have a native English speaker at least look at the game before releasing it. This is kind of frustrating.

Overall, G-Virus is simply not an interesting game. I suppose it does a good job on incrementally improving on the Shootorial, but the Shootorial isn't an interesting game (nor is it really designed to be; it's just a way to teach you to use Flash). I was kind of disappointed by the results, but maybe in retrospect I shouldn't have been, since after all the contest was for beginning programmers, and if you're supposed to model your game on a very elementary shooter, you're going to end up with a bunch of elementary shooters.

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