Category Archives: Games

Operation Smash Closed Beta

Metroidvania – a genre I love since childhood. One of my first games was Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of time, no Metroidvania, but no one can deny the similarities.

I had the honor to test a new indie Metroidvania: Operation Smash.
Although the game currently has closed beta status it is very polished. There are a few bugs I encountered and 1) they were pretty minor 2) I am sure the developer will fix them before the release.

The game has a lovely (16 bit) retro look. The first actual gameplay image I saw was promising:

The first Scene

The first Scene

Personally I like this style – very charming and polished!
After this scene you are forced to go straight into action and can immediately begin exploring.
The controls are simple and very accessible if one is familiar with platformers: Move left and right, one button for jumping, another for swinging your weapon (a hammer). I like to play these kind of games with gamepads if possible. Configuration of said gamepad was very easy. The one thing that may be a bit unfamiliar when starting out is the “floaty” gravity – you slide a lot, but that strange feeling vanishes after about 10 minutes of gameplay, in fact I found it somewhat appropriate later on.

Enemies will of course try to harm you, generally they have 2 ways of doing so:
a) They touch you
b) They shoot at you
But you are lucky! The hammer not only is a powerful melee weapon, but can deflect shots as well. A handy defense.

Learn to defend yourself!

Learn to defend yourself!

And you will need to defend yourself often.
As this game is a typical Metroidvania you will explore. In this game you will explore a lot, because the map not only is huge, but has an astonishing amount of environmental diversity. You will venture through caves, fiery hot lava caves etc. (I don’t want to spoil anything). And there is a lot to explore. Many upgrades can be found, and almost every hidden path has some sort of reward. You will also backtrack a lot, revisit a lot of areas you have previously been to, but that does not matter: Your new abilities will be able to let you access areas you could not access before. This game is a true Metroidvania with a ton of secrets to find! Sometimes the game teases you, shows you stuff you cannot reach yet.



All in all the gameplay is rewarding. The only thing I missed while playing were boss encounters. As far as I can tell the only time you have to fight, your enemies will be the default cannon fodder. But the game manages to position them in a very challenging manner. You will have to struggle to get to various locations! That’s great and I personally like the level of challenge the game provides.

So.. controls.. graphics.. gameplay.. all of them are done very well. So what’s missing?
Ah yes, the sound.
The soundtrack is amazing. It helps the whole atmosphere of the game a lot, but can also be enjoyed as music alone! The soundeffects are fine as well, maybe generic at times, but the developer promised he would redo/add new sounds!

All in all this game has a very high level of polish and is fun to play, the atmosphere is great, the music is wow, so what can I say? If you like metroidvanias you should keep an eye on this fine game. Oh, and you can also vote on the game on Steam Greenlight. I am certainly looking forward to playing the whole experience once it is released in its final form.


Indirect Competitive Games

I grew up with a N64, so besides the standard singleplayer blockbusters (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Mario64) and some minor, but also enjoyable games(BLUB), there were 2 multiplayer games that really stood out for me. Of course the first would be Mario Kart 64. I played this game a lot, especially with my family. It’s the kind of game that appeals to almost every person, gamer or not. The problem for my family was, that I would win almost every round, I would somehow manage to win even if against the odds, but hey: I was the one with training 😀

The other game was Super Smash Bros. Opposed to the racer mentioned above my family did not really enjoy this game, but my friends did for sure! The game just had every character or item we loved from other games, and our heroes could fight each other? That had to be awesome! Unfortunately the game was not my own and I could only borrow it for short amounts of time. The time it was in my possesion was filled with many, many afternoons batteling my friends.
So a few years later I picked up a gamecube and no I did not get Luigi’s Mansion as my first game, but: Super Smash Bros Melee. And we played it like madmen, we trained, we battled against each other for hours and hours, we played many 99 lives matches, and overall we had very balanced skill. It was the game we could play anytime, in any condition.

Later on, at the time a wii found the way to our home, Super Smash Brothers Brawl took over it’s ancestors legacy.

Both of these games have some sort of direct competition. The outcome was not only relative to the skill and mindset of the participants that faced each other at a specific time (and of course also luck), but as well es recognizing each others strategy and adapting the play styles that were most suited. And it was awesome!

Things have changed in the last few years: there are a lot of reason why I cannot meet up with friends as often as in school years. Online gaming is also often a problem, because everyone has to be available at the exact same time, which happens not as often as everyone would like it to. Another aspect is that if you are not in the same room as your friends, you cannot shout/curse at each other; a huge factor why I enjoy mutliplayer games so much.
If I meet with friends, it’s also easier to just play a coop game (they are awesome as well), because skill differences do not matter as much and everyone is able to spend some fun hours. Trine/Trine2 and Dungeon Defenders may be good examples.

Eventually I found an alternative for myself. A great way of having an exciting head-to-head competition, even if not at the same place or even the same time, is playing another kind of game, the kind with highscores. Everyone can play like/when/where he/she chooses, but there is still the aspect of comparision, and integral part of every competition.
This may be the reason why the games I created so far (and also the two featured on this site) have highscores and are kinda arcadey. I want my friends to duel. I want to duel my friends. I want to shout/hear “Maaan, you are THE WORST! It’s harder to beat a baby!” when we meet the next time.
And that simple fact may be the reason why I (among other genres) enjoy arcade games so much.