Community Games Round-Up: Second Go Around + An Interview With Trino Team!
So, it’s been about a month and a half. Initial response to the Community Games Round-Up wasn’t anything to write home about, and then Ryan Rigney over at Blend Games got involved. Here is a link to my N4G article, and here is a link to Rigney’s. You can look at the temperatures of those two submissions, mine ending at 20 degrees, and Ryan’s ending at 249. So needless to say, thank you Ryan, I really do appreciate it.
So here we are, at the beginning of another round up. Which games will be deserving of your dollars this time? And which ones will go the way of Rocket Fart? A harrowing question indeed. These are done in no particular order, well scratch that, they’re done in alphabetical order for ease of tracking. I hope you enjoy this edition of: The Community Games Round-Up!
A Robot’s Conundrum
In the time after Wall-E, I expect more adorable robots.
Call me shallow, but this robot is far from adorable.
You know those puzzle games you can find all across the internet that require a Ph. D and three days straight of thinking to figure out? If you make one single mistake near the back end of one of the levels you’ll be forced to restart from the very begininning. Well, A Robot’s Conundrum is kind of like those games. I wouldn’t say it’s Ph. D in physics hard, but it does feature one shot puzzles that require you not mess up, lest you be forced to restart.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to transport a barrel from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen. You are a little box shaped robot whom can push, fly (for a limited amount of time) and fire lasers either slightly to the left and down, or slightly to the right and down. What’s that called? Diagonally. Anyways there’s light blue blocks, and solid blue blocks, and you can shoot through the light blue blocks. That’s about the gist of it really. If the barrell falls too far on the way down, it breaks, and if it gets stuck, you restart. Pretty standard stuff.
Recommendation: Ignore – There’s plenty of games like this on the internet, and you may even be able to find something a little bit easier on the eyes.
Ahem, umm… what?
Initial Impressions: Well, I liked the menu, and that’s a fact you can take to the bank and exchange for an opinion. That opinion being that the menu is really quite possibly one of the best I’ve seen in any of these XNA games. Really, it is quite good. That’s not to say that the menu is better than the game itself, unless of course it is. Let’s have a look.
Mid-Game Impressions: If they spent that much time making a menu of high quality, then by god, the game must be genius. I can either destroy the city, or protect the city. Going with my inherently paternal nature (I do own a dog), I opt to protect the city. I’ve read the tutorial and know that there’s flags I can lay down for back up, so I’m pretty sure I’m ready. I then enter into a 3D world, and I sigh, because I much preferred the menu.
As a protector I’m supposed to catch these terrorist dudes, and since all terrorists wear backpacks, it’s fairly easy to see them. The only problem is that the back up isn’t immediate, and the terrorists are just as fast as me. They can enter buildings and come out the back, while I’m forced to run around to the other side.
Backpack = Terrorist. It’s true, this is why it’s difficult to pick out a terrorist at school.
Final Impressions: Playing as the terrorist was a bit more fun, and I did enjoy bringing down buildings. Once I found a suitable buliding to destroy, it was just a matter of running inside and performing a quicktime event. This planted a bomb, and I just leave and press A. Presto, no more building. Of course you’ve got to keep on your toes, because just coming out of a building can be hazardous, and it was at this time that I realized I must just have been a crappy protector. Oh well.
Recommendation: Ignore – While playing as the terrorist was a bit more fun, neither that, nor the menu are enough to save this game from being a skip.
Dude, there’s a book right behind you. Just turn around. JUST LOOK!
From the get go I can tell this is going to be an artsy game. Perhaps one that requires a certain level of thought. I’m okay with that. Immediatly after starting the game I find that I’m in a house. I am fairly tall and brooding boy, with my hands in my pockets and a perpetual downward gaze. There’s a key under a table to the right, and a door with an angry guy (or gal, who knows) on the other side. I go to open the door and, surprise, it’s locked. Quite the conundrum here. After some experimentation with button presses, I manage to pick up the key and put it in the door. The guard comes in and issues me my weekly allowance. As you’ve probably guessed, this is an adventure game.
Within my brief play time I come across a church with with a priest whom requires my assistance in removing a cat from atop his organ, and I also come across a rather angry farmer who threatened to call the guards on me if I stepped into his field. I found a man who was tired of “The same old Gangster novels” and it was here I learned that this evidently takes place in a world where gangsters and castles co-exist. Very interesting indeed. Perhaps the highlight of my time in Clover was when I stood in the well for just a bit too long and got arrested. Soon after this I stopped.
Recommendation: Try It- From what I played I can’t fault it. It had interesting characters, and who knows where it all could have ended up?
All the fun of a Rubik’s Cube, without the cube.
Cubix can be summed up in three words. Intangible Rubik’s Cube. I can’t solve a Rubik’s Cube to save my life, so the last thing I’m gonna do is play with on a TV screen. Honestly, the game does nothing that could not already be achieved with a real Rubiks Cube and a clock. There’s in game awards, but who’s going to see them? Why not just solve a Rubik’s Cube in front of your friends? Or your family? Or some random people, they’d probably think it was pretty cool.
This game doesn’t even appeal to an actual Rubik’s Cube enthusiest. Why use an Xbox 360’s controller when it’s so much easier to use the real thing. Perhaps its only merit is that it is cheaper than an actual Rubik’s Cube, but what happens when you want to play it elsewhere? You simply cannot. Either way, go with the real thing for your Cube action.
Recommendation: Ignore It – Honestly, just drop the extra cash to play with a real one.
There’s 8 boats on screen, and two more coming in from the south.
Can it be done? I submit that it cannot.
It could’ve been great. I’ll start off by saying that. Now let me backpeddle a little, because it could have been good. Not great, but good at least. I like the concept at its basic level. The concept of Dock ‘Em is to guide three different types of ships to their three different docks. You do this by targeting the ships, and then dragging a path for them to follow to their docks. It starts off easy, but as you continue playing more and more ships appear (still just the three types) and they may begin to cross paths.
The way to lose at the game if for a collision to happen. Perhaps a collision with another boat, or perhaps a collision with the land. It was fun, I’ll give it that, but what it loses points for is variety. There is no indication of different levels to be found. Just one level, and three ship types. That means that if you buy the game, you’re stuck playing the same (non randomly generated) map from here until eternity, and that’s why it could have been good. Not great, but good.
Recommendation: Try It – Just like Solaris from the last Round-Up, this is a game that you can probably enjoy in the 10 minute increments that the demo provides.
Terrible farm location. Just Terrible.
Now, as a rule, I don’t often play games where I’m something as lowly as a sheep. So imagine my dismay when I found that I would be playing Grav Sheep. Now imagine my uplifted spirits when I discovered that I would be playing as a sheep herding dog. Ha ha, these lowly barnyard animals will bend to my will. The superior intelligence of my sheep dog mind will completely obliterate any preconcieved notion that they, the sheep, had about escape. Domination, thy name be DOG! Or perhaps I’m reading too much into this, it is getting late.
And of course it takes place in space, which ups the ante. Though I don’t understand why the dog has to wear a space helmet while the sheep don’t even explode. The lack of oxygen seems to leave them unphased as well. Perhaps the makers of Grav Sheep know something we don’t? But I digress. In Grav Sheep you are tasked with herding a group of sheep into little areas. You have a fuel gauge which will deplete, as will your health if you so much as think of touching the sides of the levels. The sheep run away from you, and I can’t help but be reminded of another game by the monicker of Flock!. Though I like this game more than Flock! because I can actually control it.
Constant gravity shifts will keep you on your toes.
As you go on the levels get bigger, and the challenge ramps up accordingly. There’s keys to be found, as well as decoys which can be used to keep the sheep away from areas in which they don’t belong. My main complaint would have to be how lazy the sheep are about getting away. Sometimes they’ll find their way into a corner, and you’ll almost be forced into ramming into the corner (resulting in a loss of health) just to get them out. It can be quite frustrating at times.
Recommendation: Try It – If you were hoping Flock! would be great, but were a bit dissappointed, then this may be the game for you. It’s not as pretty to look at, but gameplay’s what matters most. Right?
Is that a naked dude in a bubble?
Also known as sacriligous dodgeball, Hieronymus Bash, heretofore known as HB, pits those from heaven and those from hell against each other. This, I did not know when I decided to download it. Now I don’t honestly care what your beliefs are, but if you have any reservations about throwing a rubber ball at an angel, or about a little devil threatening to throw a dodgeball at a certain Lordly figure, you may want to avoid this game.
I on the other have no reservations about anything, so I just hopped right in. After choosing my favorite colored angel (wouldn’t you like to know), I believed I was on my way. Not so fast, said nothing, this is strictly a multiplayer game. Uh oh, but there is no one here for me to play with. Sounds like trouble to me Cap’n. I do have a second controller though, so I did the responsible thing and set it up for me to play against a non-moving opponent. Not quite like the real thing, but I have integrity, so I was going to play this game no matter what.
Passion of the Christ 2: Dodge This
So I switched sides (the demons seemed more appropriate this time), and went to work pelting the innocent angel with dodgeballs. The controls were easy enough, and after three straight shots to the angels face, I became huge. Also there was a pentagram behind me. I threw the final shot to the angel, and off his ghost went to who knows where. Probably heaven, but maybe hell because he failed.
Recommendation: Try It – I say go for it. There’s no A.I., but if you have a couple of friends (three friends that is) who are willing to play something that may or may not be in the Bible (perhaps near the back), it could most definitely be a blast.
The key problem here is that I want to listen to purple, but I’m stuck with green.
Jammer is a hard game to play on an Xbox controller. Though let’s not just limit it to that. Jammer would be hard to play on any controller, except perhaps the one controller it was meant for, and that would be a Guitar peripheral. I unfortunatly sold my Guitar Hero game a while back, and therefore cannot test this theory. The description says it may be used, so I assume the creator made the game with the intention of it being used, or has at least had some level of success using it with the game.
Jammer is a rythm game that only requires three buttons. The X, the A, and the B (though the B button may be supplemented with the Right Trigger). As the notes come down, you have to press buttons in time with the beat. Once you do this enough, you win. What I truly like about Jammer is the fact that it allows you to choose how the song will be heard. As the notes fall, you will often be met with more than one choice of which group of notes you want to take. This not only allows you to choose your own difficulty level, but the music is dependent on what you play, and that’s pretty cool.
Recommendation: Try It – Especially if you have a Guitar controller, I’d like to hear if it works well or not. If you have a gamepad, I’d recommend skipping it altogether. It’s an original concept, but the notes are too small to hit with any true accuracy.
Math Sniper 3D
Yes, it does look like a school. Good observation. I’m frightened as well.
Me: When will math ever help me in real life?
Teacher: Well, what if you want to become a math teacher?
Me: Well… I don’t.
Teacher: I see. Perhaps you would like to become an architect?
Me: Nope, not really.
Teacher: A programmer? A designer of some sort? A calculator tester?
Me: Nope, nope, and maybe, but probably not.
Teacher: Well what about a sniper? As you know, snipers are given their “marks” through a series of hard to decipher codes like 2 + 2, or 4 x 4.
You’d best know your times tables if you even want to THINK about shooting somebody
Me: I’m intrigued.
Teacher: Yes, and everyone has a designated number stamped to their face. Like yours is 12.
Me: But I don’t have a number stamped…
Teacher: Quiet! And then I, the sniper will solve the math problem, and then dependent on what the answer is, I will choose my victim.
Me: You’re scaring me.
Teacher: (Takes out sniper rifle) Okay, my first mission. 2 x 6. Do you know what 2 x 6 is?
Me: I don’t want to answer.
Teacher: Too late, I already know.
Background Music: Duh duh duhhhhhhh
Math Sniper Movie Tagline: What’s YOUR number?
Recommendation: Try It – I like math games like this, so if you’re not a math person, you should probably skip it. It’s as simple as that though, solve the problem and find your mark. Shoot and repeat. You can pick what types of problems are given, and even the number range. The trial only lets you do 2 + 2 though, so you’ll have to decide on your own whether to buy it.
Yes, title screens are more important than a picture of the actual game.
Shoot ’em ups, or Shmup’s as they are affectionatly called by their fans, have always been a gray area of gaming for me. While I can appreciate the skill that they require, I rarely find myself playing them and it’s an even rarer event when I find myself enjoying them. Pellmell managed to surprise me in this way by providing a Shmup that I actually enjoyed, and I attribute this to the fact that the protaganist has a health bar.
Call me a wimp if you must, but I can’t stand the fact that one hit in most Shmups is enough to kill me. In fact, it is this fact that has turned me off them for the most part. I understand it’s “hard core” and such what and so forth, but sometimes I just want to have fun, and painstakingly memorizing patterns just so I can play a game isn’t fun. Pellmell offers a nice middlground by providing the player with a health bar, and at most I’ve only found one health pack on any one level. Things got pretty hectic, so I can’t say for sure, but I believe some of the levels had no health packs what so ever.
You’re the red dude just in front of the explosion. You can even jump. Yay!
Of course, this also makes the game more forgiving. A quick minded person, and or an avid gamer should have little to no problem with most of what Pellmell throws at them, let alone a full fledged Shmup veteran. Pellmell claims to offer more than 100 levels, awards, and there’s even cooperative play.
Recommendation: Try It – If you’re like me and don’t like the “Hardcore” Shmups, rejoice, for an everyman’s Shmup has arrived. Give it a go, you’ll probably enjoy yourself.
Reflex Turbo 3
Reflex Turbo 3 is not, as I initially suspected, the third in a trilogy of games called Reflex Turbo. Nay, Reflex Turbo 3 is in fact 3 “games” that test you in various areas of video game prowess. Of course by prowess I mean how long you can hold a button, how fast you can press a button once, and how fast you can repeatedly press a button.
The first game asks you to hold down on the A button and aim a turret. This is supposed to test your accuracy, but when you’re shooting three bullets at once in a shotgun spray like fashion, accuracy has little to no meaning. Throw in three of your friends if you want to sit there and play forever, because with four people it’s an almost impossible game to lose.
KILL KILL KILL…. Asteroids…
The second game tests your reflexes by making sure you can press the A button when a sound goes off. The sound is something akin to what a gong wrapped in a blanket would make, so good luck picking it out against the background music. Alternativly, you can see whether or not you’re better than your friends at pressing a sequence of buttons faster. Perfect for those times when you just can’t decide who’s the best at quicktime events.
Only art of the highest caliber is allowed
The final challenge features you as a chicken (maybe) tapping the A button as fast as you can in an attempt to reach the finish line first. Putting hurdles in your path and increasing the track length are two of the options provided to prolong your misery. You can also set it so you must hit A and X alternativly in order to run, but I found this only made my chicken have seizures along the path. The computer chicken runs like lightning right out of the gate, and though I consider myself to be a fairly competent button presser, I have nothing on that chicken. I will forever be ashamed.
It’s exactly as interesting as it looks
Recommendation: Skip It – This game aims to offer a means to better yourself at various gaming tasks. But why not play an actual game then?
When lines of light explode, you know something serious is going down.
This game is difficult. I can honestly say that. It requires fast reflexes and some rote pattern memerization. You play as Green Line. He’s a character with a lot of spunk whom is very likable because you are him. You’re playing against Red Line. He’s mean and evil and want’s you to fail. I know this because he is red. Together you race across mazes of levels at something akin to maybe 10 mph, and all you have to do is avoid stuff. Of course, if you want to you can throw in some other colors too if you have some friends, but because I wanted to keep the integrity of my reviews top notch, and because nobody was available, I played against the A.I.. Don’t judge me.
As you make your way along the treacherous path, you’ll also find red and green arrows. Green arrows, much like Green Line, are good. They make you go faster. Red arrows are bad, and they make you go slower. If you hit an object, you lose energy. Run out of energy, and Green Line dies. Fret not however, for spread across the levels or energy bars that you can run Green Line through in order to collect more energy. Energy also acts as your booster, but if you use too much, Green Line may die, so choose your timing accordingly.
Recommendation: Try It – It really is that simple, but StreamLine has a certain addictive quality that I find hard to shake. It’s not a truly trial and error process because it’s possible to make it through the levels in one try if you’re a fast enough thinker, and it’s hard to get frustrated when you do fail because of how fast it all is. Definitely worth a try.
Isn’t he adorable…ish?
Hmm… odd how this turned out. I set out today planning on playing these in alphabetical order. I would review each, and skip reviewing those that I believed would be worthy of a purchase. How lucky then, that it turned out I wouldn’t have to go through any such artificial revue process, for I have come across that game last. As it turns out, Trino is worthy of your hard earned money, and here’s why.
Trino is wonderful to look at. Truly, it is a testament to what can be done with simple graphics to make a beautiful game. Remember those menu’s I was talking about for Chalked? Well, while I still think they’re just tops, something must be said for the simplicity that Trino brings to the table. It has our lone protaganist off to the side, rendered in all of its 3D glory. Of course, the only thing to do is to start playing.
It really is a great looking game
You see Trino is an alien, and he’s up against the Nanites. A malevolent group of nano-robots whom have imprisoned Trino for his powers. What are Trino’s powers you ask? Well, triangles of course. Now before you go on and on about how terrible of a power that is, you must realize that these triangles can trap and destroy your enemies. Yeah, not sounding so bad now, huh?
The first map is a predictable rectangle, and all I was told to do was to capture the enemies. Simple enough. You lay down each point of the triangles seperatly and choosing when to deploy your final point is key. As I got more adept, I earned a power to create a fourth point, turning my triangles into rectangles or squares or even rhombii if I so desired. This allowed for better combo choices as I progressed. You will find enemies that glow various colors as well. Destroy the glowing green ones to collect green orbs which fill up the corners of whatever shape you are currently trapped in. Seeing as I was in a rectangle I only had to collect four. After that I was allowed to connect all four corners using my crafty ability and I finished the level.
The levels increase in difficulty and extravagance as you go on
Green isn’t the only orb type though, no. There’s the standard Red orbs which provide you with extra points. The more difficult the enemy, the bigger the orb produced, and the more points you get. Blue orbs will show up every couple of levels in the beginning to give you experience which will add to the amount of triangles little Trino can create. You’ll know that your in for another triangle when the amount of corners on a level is one higher than the amount of points you can lay down. Yellow orbs will give you one extra life, and purple orbs will allow you to set off a bomb Geometry Wars style.
As your abilities grow in power, so too do your enemies grow in numbers and in strength. The first level was filled merely with little floating jellyfish like enemies. The jellyfish don’t honestly care about what your doing, and will only continue to show up as obstacles in your path. The first true enemy you find is shaped a bit like a stealth bomber, and will activly seek you out in an attempt to end your existence. By far, my least favorite enemy would have to be a small brown bug looking enemy whom is rather crafty in that it will avoid the sides of your triangles like the plague. You’ll have to be smart, and fast in order to capture him.
Now THAT’S a boss fight
The game is split into three chapters, each of which shows how Trino evolves over time. At the begining of each chapter you are back at one triangle, and you must re-earn all of your old power ups. This of course had the added twist of lulling me into a false sense of security. Where I believed I had finally managed to master an enemy, I was thrown back into square one and forced to deal with an assault of the very foes I was completly decimating 5 minutes ago. Each chapter is 15 levels long, with a boss battle at the tail end. I liked this kind of progression, because each chapter is something like a harder difficulty level, though with 15 completely different shaped levels.
In all honesty, I completed the first chapter, left for a day, and came back ready to tackle chapter 2. Unfortunatly, I got completely destroyed by the new challenge. I was upset, because just the day before I had mastered the game, and now here I was, only a day later, and I felt like I haden’t played a video game in 3 months. I was upset, but then I realized I was having too much fun to care, and I went about mastering it all over again.
Recommendation: Buy It – I have played Geometry Wars before, and I have played Jezz Ball before, but I have never played a mix of the two. I would go so far as to say the Trino is a better game than Geometry Wars, because as opposed to pure spray and pray, Trino asks you to plan ahead. Yes, you can lay down triangles with reckless abandon, but the true fun is in trapping your enemies and creating combos for that high score. $5 is nothing for a game like Trino.
Bonus: An Interview with Trino Team!
Note: Text in gray are my questions.
All other colored text are responses from different members of the team. Enjoy!
Trino 4 Weeks Into Production
Tep: It is quite funny to remember how we came up with triangle trapping mechanic in Trino. Originally, some of us had an idea about enclosing enemies in a circle. However, we thought that using a triangle rather than circle might be easier to implement. So, we chose triangle. We did not have any reference to particular game, we just thought about that. We later found similarties in other games like the drawing mechanic from 80s coin-op arcade “Quantum”.
In addition, we played a lot of games as research and we had inspirations from games like Geometry Wars, Everyday Shooter and Trauma Center. As a result, we are able to evolve the current gameplay with various systems such as “closing the map”, “item system”, “combo system”, just like the current Trino as you see now.
Tep: TrinoTeam worked for two full school semesters and sparingly in summer. That adds up approximately to 8 months. The team began work in January 2008 and released Trino in May 2009.
8 Weeks In
11 Weeks In
Tep: Well, we did not really cut ideas from the final version of Trino. Undoubtedly, ( we have a lot of ideas that do not make it to the final version as it is not appropriate or we do not have enough time to do it. )–maybe no? Some examples are speed boost, achievement system, a type of enemy that eats the energy on the corner points, etc2.
( We had a lot of cool ideas such as speed boost, other enemy types, and achievement system. However, due to the whole gameplay and our time budget, the team had decided to throw away some enemy ideas)
( We also made several adjustments to the game design. ) One month and half before we release Trino, a big change to the level design was made. Initially, our plan was to create four chapters gameplay in the full game. After a big playtest in mid March, we got lots of feedback that people want to have more levels in each chapter. Since making one new chapter requires a lot of time to build new assets, the team decided to cut down 4 chapters into 3, and add more levels into each chapter. For example, at some point, we planned to have 4 chapters with 6 levels each totaling 24 levels. However, we later decided to make only 3 chapters but with 16 levels each chapter totaling 48 levels. We were glad we made that adjustment ^^.
Linhan: We had to made some adjustments rather than cuttings. Actually, we added a lot of features which are not in our plan. The final version of Trino indeed exceeds our own expectation.
Tep: We receive a lot of feedback from players and we are trying very hard to respond those feedback. Apart from that, you can say we are taking a break 😉
Linhan: We had such a good time developing Trino with all team members. We know each other very well during the passing 2 years. We enjoy making games, and hope to work together again if there’s any opportunity.
Trino as it is today
So here we are at the end of another Community Games Round-Up. So, what did you think? Was it too contrived? Should I be more serious? Less serious? Any comments or questions will be allowed (except spam). Good bye, and thanks for reading.