One thing is for sure . . . the new homebrew games have been streaming out at a very good pace, thanks in part to the competitions. I thought that I would be able to review more of the existing homebrew games by now.
This week offered several pretty solid games. Even though it was released back in 2006, twin isles seems the game that I might play the most of this batch. The puzzle games are aplenty, giving you several choices.
a cup of tea–This is Neoflash comp 07 entry that I somehow missed, but it has been modified in this v8 Renaissance version for the gba-nds competition. This FPS is a completely original 3D game by smealum and lobo. The game starts out with an email asking you to help clear out a church of some vermin, which of course you accept, because you are just that kind of person. The game features no stylus play, and the bottom screen is used to indicate your health . . . a sideways head that reddens as more blood is let. You use the d pad to move, the L and R buttons to strafe, b to jump, and x/a/y to fire.
This is not an easy game. In fact, I had incredible difficulty killing the first creature. The d pad is not a precise way to move, but it seems good enough here. The problem is that I’m shooting the creature, which is moving quickly. Plus, it seems that I have almost no hit points: four hits kill you, which is not many considering how fast they move.
I don’t mind tough or hardcore games, but I think this game is harder for the wrong reasons. A crosshair might help, but right now, I’m unloading my pistol into one creature without killing him. It’s extremely tough to dodge the creatures because of the narrow halls and their speed. Still, this is an interesting game because of the original art, not to mention that the music and sound effects fit the game well. I think the game needs some tweaking [maybe even with difficulty levels?], but it’s worth looking at . . . heck, let me know if you can beat it. I hope they continue to work on the game because I think it has potential one of the best FPS homebrews that isn’t a port.
archon ds–The author of PongDS, exdream has created a clone of the Atari game archon. The idea is that you have an archer and a dragon that fight each other. The game includes single and multiplayer modes, as well as the option to change environments. Unfortunately, while the game loads successfully, pressing the L or R buttons do not attack as they are supposed to. Also, I cannot use the touchscreen, nor can I change the environments. Maybe this is a problem with the M3 Simply, but as far as I can tell, this game isn’t fully functional and isn’t worth downloading at this point. I’ve posted a question to exdream about this, especially since this looks like it could be a very worthwhile game.
black mage dance–There isn’t really much here: you control the dance movements of a Final Fantasy-looking black mage. You can choose from a couple of music tracks, while controlling the mage with d pad and a/b/y/x buttons. The animations are very minimal, and the mage is really too small. He could have had a really cute game here. But it’s not worth downloading as it is.
chain reaction–VirtuaPeanut has created a puzzle game that doesn’t include any help or directions. Unfortunately, a babelfish translation of his game page doesn’t give any more info. You use the stylus to tap one of the devices on the screen, which turns to a different direction, triggering others. Sometimes, the chain reaction is short. Other times, it goes for several minutes. It’s less interesting than it sounds, so don’t download this one.
face fire–Niltrog has submitted this as his first DS game. Given that he is new to programming, this is not bad, and I applaud him for his efforts. You control the face on the left and shoot the AI-controlled face on the right. The game doesn’t really change in anyway, though the target does move around pretty well. But there’s not much here to play. It’s a good first effort, but not worth downloading.
light corridor–Jerome has created a clone of the Amiga game light corridor. The object of the game is pretty simple: You guide a ball through several levels of walls, controlling a square paddle with your stylus and moving through the levels with the L or R button. It’s a 3d game, and the walls are various widths, some of which move. You have three lives/balls to get through the game with.
I never saw any special pickups as I went through, though I played it 4-5 times, getting through about 40 walls once. It’s actually a more interesting game that it sounds. Some music would have helped, as well as bonus objects. The game starts and sounds deceptively easy, but you can easily get to points where either you can’t see what’s coming or you’ve bounced the ball at the wrong time to the wrong place, leaving you unable to knock it to any other wall. The paddle does slide well and gives you some variations on how the ball is hit. However, I didn’t see the velocity of the ball really change.
This might not be your thing, but I think the game is worth downloading.
pegs ds–A prolific contributor to the DS homebrew games, Kukulcan created this simple but well done puzzle game. The goal is to have only peg left in the center of the board. you move pegs by jumping over a peg, which is then removed from the game board.
This is a very polished looking game: the music is a nice addition without being annoying, and the screens and art are excellent. You have a variety of different board setups to play through, so the replay on this game is higher than expected.
Another puzzle that is well done and worth downloading.
shades on–aeridus created this clone in 6 days of the handheld game Lights Out. The object is to flip all the squares to a single color, but clicking one square flips other squares. So, the trick is to flip the right squares in the right order. The game offers 11 different starting patterns or modes, including a cube variation.
The game works without a hitch, but it is vanilla. Personally, this is not my sort of game, but I know some enjoy this type of puzzles. So, give it a try.
twin isles–I recently stumbled across this homebrew which is a civ game with some simcity thrown in. This is yet another good with a good built-in tutorial, using a system of tips that pop up at appropriate moments in the game. As you might expect, you get to research technologies while trying to keep your population happy, mainly by building enough housing and having enough food. I’ve not really seen evidence of military attacks, but the tornadoes that come through tend to cause enough damage to create some momentary unhappiness, at least. From your research, you gain access to evolutions in housing, trade, and food supply.
The game includes several modes:
- Free play: You don’t compete with any other island. You just grow your civilization.
- vs. CPU: Play against the computer which controls another island. The first to reach a population of 100,000 or to destroy the other island first wins.
- Scenarios: Try to complete different goals in the allotted time.
For the most part, Twin Isles plays pretty well, though I could not save my games on the M3: the game seems to be looking for SRAM on the GBA cart. I also kept wishing that I could see the stats on the other island, but I could only see my own. I also noticed that the tornadoes never seemed to affect the other island, and they are rather frequent which really sets you back. A couple of the build options were confusing before I actually built them. For example, you get the ‘war’ option. I thought I would get a ship that I could control. Instead, the ship launched from my island and attacked the other island automatically. Because I couldn’t see the other island’s stats and didn’t have any information about the war option, I wasn’t sure if it was worthwhile: you are not able to do some things while at war.
My biggest complaint, though, was the time. Sometimes, it seemed like research and build options took far too long too complete, so that I would put the DS to side while they completed. It even seemed that sometimes a building could be quick one time and then slower the next. Maybe that was perception.
Nonetheless, there is a bit to like about Twin Isles. The simplified options for research and building make it a strategy game that should be completed fairly quickly. It seems, too, that it’s a civ game that requires you to find the optimal path for developing your island. It’s tempting to compare this to a Touch of War, which has its own civ-building elements, but touch of war is far more combat-driven. Twin Isles is for those [including yours truly] who like less combat. This is a tough game to call, but I believe that it is at least worth a download, even though I think it has enough good points to be a keeper.
zoop–Mariho created this clone of an SNES game. The details of the controls are in the game link, but the gist is that you control a ship in the center of the screen. It starts as one color, and when you shoot at objects of the same color, they disappear, but if you shoot at a different colored object, your ship and the object exchange colors.
It takes a while to get a feel for the game, but it offers a good challenge. It’s not a keeper, but it’s good play. It’s worth downloading and trying out.