A French court decided that, just because something can be used in illegal activities, that thing itself is not illegal. That’s pretty obvious logic. But Nintendo has been hot to get flash carts banned because they enable piracy. But that French court threw out Nintendo’s case.
But I found the second part of the judgement far more interesting–Nintendo shouldn’t restrict development to only proprietary SDKs. This one is less common sense and creates a rather interesting precedent [for French courts, of course]. Nintendo’s Wii SDK, for example, is not expensive but hard to get. So, if there are libraries that someone else has developed that don’t use the Wii SDK, then the French court says that that is okay basically. Yet, I don’t think that’s quite the pandora’s box that it suggests because Nintendo can still find other means to restrict what games are released.
Surprising my kids with new DS games, I read the reviews and picked up Star Wars Battlefront – Elite Squadron. I’ve bought games that have been C games on metacritic but that I have immensely enjoyed, finding more to them than reviewers gave credit for. I’ve now played Elite Squadron for a couple hours, and overall, this isn’t a bad game, but it’s not very challenging, which results in repetition.
When you run into a room, you have to typically clear out the droids. With the auto-aim, you have to do little more than press B because the target automatically switches to another droid as soon as you kill the current target. So far, I’ve no need to use cover or to use the exploding tanks. Part of the problem is that hits do little damage. I’ve dropped grenades on myself and continued to fight, even while getting shot. So, I’ve been able to run into the middle of a bunch of droids and kill them while suffering little damage. But if you want to play it safe, you can slowly enter a room and as soon as you see a droid, start shooting. (Yep, you can shoot off-screen droids.)
And the game has no challenges for key objectives. For example, to open a game, press X at the very obvious terminal. Or press X to set the ship to self-destruct. I’ll take Jedi Alliance‘s puzzles or even Republic Heroes unlocking sequences over this “roll over and surrender” approach. (The problem with Jedi Alliance was that some puzzles had very unclear instructions but were easy after you knew what to do.) I realize Battlefront is an action series, but this isn’t the typical Battlefront game.
The racing sequences are also far too easy. For example, after setting a ship to self-destruct, you have to race back to your ship before the timer ends. I ran, expecting more droids or obstacles. Nothing that interesting. You just run. It’s ridiculously easy. Even with obstacles and droid attacks, the bike racing section was pretty easy as well. Again, Jedi Alliance had more challenging race levels.
As a result, the game has little to slow you down or make you think. And it’s a shame because this could have been better fairly easily–take more damage from hits, don’t give unlimited ammo for most weapons (like, give us a reason to use grenades), add some puzzles. Or design better levels that aren’t the usual room that you clear and move on to clear another room. Hidden areas? Give us reason to use cover or to cycle through all our weapons.
I played the multiplayer only slightly, to get a taste. But I played with bots as I have no friends. But the difference was night and day. 3-5 hits, and my character died, unlike the campaign. I had to use cover and grenades, again, unlike the campaign. Even with the bots, this felt like a different game, closer to Battlefront (though still not there yet). I know multiplayer can be more difficult because you respawn. But there’s no reason that the campaign couldn’t have at least some levels like this–levels where you have to fight through multiple, powerful enemies. Event he boss levels that I have played so far in the campaign weren’t as difficult as the multiplayer.
I’ll continue to play the game, in part to see where the story goes but also to see if it improves. (I actually find the space fights the most entertaining type of level so far, partly because I’ve also been terrible at flight games so there’s a little challenge in that respect.)
Now, my son enjoys the game, but he’s a Star Wars junkie.
Globeil is indeed working on a new version of virtual game maker DS, which I commented on before.
Check his site for more information about the beta version.
It would appear that the new version will allow you to create games on multiple platforms, as Globeil states in the announcement:
VGMDS (Virtual Game Maker) is a program that allow non-programmer people to make easily 2-D games, like RPGs, Action-Rpg (Zelda-Style), Platform (Mario-style) or any 2-D style Game! This version aimed to work on the most common platforms: - PC - Mac - Wii - Xbox 360 - Nintendo DS (low resources) - PSP - And maybe other versions… And will be collaborative, so I mean that users will be able to create their project together, through the internet. Several people developping the same project in the same time ! Of course, multiplayer is OK. The programmation method is new, and will prevent a maximum of bugs, so I want that each functionnality working will work 100% bug-free. I’m programming a demo, that I’ll release to a few beta-testers to improve the project!
I’m not playing homebrew games like I was, but this lot of NEO competition entries has me interested. Smealum’s DawnSeekers looks like an excellent 3D game. If you’re looking for new homebrew to try, go download these and vote.
Also, an interesting new Wii game released this week, Cursed Mountain. I’ve been eyeing this game for a while because it looked like it has atmosphere and a good narrative. It’s not action horror game, like Resident Evil 5, but the pace does pick up after the beginning. The setting and use of Tibetan and Buddhist lore has me the most interested, perhaps. I like the slightly offbeat, different games that might not be a huge hit but that isn’t following the pack. Sometimes, these types of good games are more memorable than the great games.
I started to include just game footage, but this amateur review is good for showing more of the whole game rather than just the beginning.
I’m going to recommend a game to DS owners. It’s not your typical strategy RPG.
Have you had your fill of elves and child-like anime?
Do you like turn-based games?
Do you like NPCs that act like characters?
Do you want a strategy game that’s focused on a squad, not on gathering resources and creating buildings?
Then put on that Ace of Bass or The Jesus & Mary Chain CD, and play some Jagged Alliance on the DS.
The graphics from the 1994 DOS game appear to be tweaked, not overhauled. With no previews, we’re flying blind into this DS port, but we probably know what to expect–a very fun game. The graphics might be difficult for some to get past, and it’s possible that the lack of a grid could cause issues, as it did in Warhammer for the DS. But the core gameplay of the game is solid. It wasn’t a hit of the 90s, but did well enough to bring a sequel.
You have to hire a squad of mercenaries, which is the RPG element of the game. You can purchase weapon upgrades and develop your mercs’ skills. The combat is turn-based, much like that in Fallout and Fallout 2.
But what makes Jagged Alliance different and so enjoyable are the personalities. You see, those mercernaries have personalities, and some don’t get along with others. You can have some even quit or go rogue on you in the middle of combat. So, another aspect of the game is managing these personalities. You might even spend as much time managing your team as fighting the enemy.
It’s not a game for everyone. I tried it when it came out and didn’t like it at first, but in time, I thoroughly enjoyed. If you don’t have a DS, then consider getting it from gog. [or the sequels ja2 and unfinished business--Jagged Alliance 2 is the best of the series].
Several months ago, I tried an earlier version of DS Game Maker. It was good, but just getting through the installation was a pain. A couple of nights ago, I splurged and bought a license to view the whole feature set. And man, I was greatly impressed. Version 2.4 seems much easier to use [because of familiarity?] than v1.0.
I made a cruddy little non-game, and I spent far, far more time working the graphics than adding the controls to move the sprite and add collision effects. There are a few nits with the app; for example, I wished that I could copy and paste actions that were frequently reused. [Perhaps this is my ignorance of programming . . . I almost wished I could create a function with different actions, such as playing a sound, change a variable, and move a sprite, and then call that function each time rather all the individual actions.] Yet, this is a very good tool for creating homebrew, although you should have some basic idea of programming.
James has a great tool in DS Game Maker. You will have to make use of the forums on the DS Game Maker website to get help, but there are good posts there already, as well as this nice sprite overview. If not, James and others are pretty responsive. And version 3.0 is in development, so this app bears watching.
I’m now wishing I had an idea for a little DS game. Even so, I’m having a hard time putting DS Game Maker down.
There have been some very good complex DS homebrew games, such as a Touch of War. But I think there’s a trend for excellent homebrew games: take a simple but entertaining game, and do it very, very well with the ability to add to it. For example, StillAliveDS and Warcraft Tower Defense follow this model, as both offer level editors and ways to get new content to keep the game fresh.
Add to that the very excellent Marble from Noda. The game itself is simple–you have tilt a gameboard to move a marble to its goal, dealing with obstacles along the way. Marble placed third in the Neoflash summer 2008 competition [which StillAliveDS won].
Marble is quite a game, one that you can easily play for a long time. The game has some beautiful textures and backgrounds, and the game physics are really well done. But what is truly impressive is the level editor, in which you can edit the marble, board, and game elements:
Board — Adjust size, border size and width, texture [8 available], and diffuse light color
The kids’ computer has died, so I’m now faced with hours of troubleshooting, which isn’t how I imagined spending my time off this week. The fact that it’s a Shuttle PC makes cannibalizing somewhat difficult.
Fortunately, there’s the ds to play to have some fun. Yes, I’m in the middle of Chrono Trigger, but I’ve taken some time to try some homebrew. Now I loved acromage, but bodom-child’s v0.99 had some problems. So, when cravesoft released Castle Wars v0.9, I knew I had to try it.
The game is based on a card game found in Might & Magic VII. It’s a castle destroying/building game in which you win by either building your castle to 100 points or destroying your opponent’s castle to 0 points. You have a hand of 8 cards that have three different resources–weapons, magic, and bricks. And you have builders, soldiers and magicians that produce these sources. For example, if you have 2 magicians, you gain 2 magic points each hand. Your cards have a variety of effects: building walls or castles, removing resources from your opponent, adding to your resources, and destroying walls or castles.
The graphics are very simplistic, especially compared to Acromage, but it largely works well, offering 3 modes–computer vs human, human vs human, and the enigmatic computer vs computer. I wish it had some difficulty setting as I tend to beat the computer 80-90% of the time. But still, it is enjoyable, and the outcome is never certain. It does have some bugs if you play 2-3 hours of the games, but that very acceptable. Because of the problems with Acromage, Castle Wars is a more than acceptable replacement, and I highly recommend it.
DSKiosk v1.11 is potentially an invaluable tool if you have a lot of DS homebrew. The problem with homebrew is that you can’t always put everything in one directory because some games have to be in the root directory. Plus, it’s always nice to have a graphic interface for selecting games, which is what DSKios offers. From what I can tell, you can use DSKiosk to find all the games on your ds cart and create links to launch those games using thumbnails. You can download thumbnails Kornflexx offers, or the DSKiosk can create thumbnails based on the .nds file.
However, so far, this is theory. When I installed and ran DSKiosk, I got a ‘missing ini file’ error, but I couldn’t resolve it since the download didn’t include such a file. I found and downloaded a version patched for the R4/Simply DS cart, and it started, allowing me to add games. However, when I click a game to start, DSKiosk seemed to hang in a perpetual white screen state.
So, for now, DSKiosk has a few problems to be worked out, but its potential warrants keeping an eye on its progress.
I have a few other DS homebrew games to try out now.
If you’re like me and only have a slot 1 cart for playing homebrew, you’ve been missing out on some good GBA homebrew games. But one of them is not available to play on slot 1 carts. Anguna is a nicely done Zelda-clone adventure/RPG.
You can download the DS port from Nathan Tolbert’s website, as well as read tips and guides. Be sure to look at the readme for the game controls.
This is a well done game, one definitely that you should download and play. The graphics are well done, and the gameplay is solid. If anything, the game might leave you wanting more when you are done. Still, there are lots of hidden items to find, if you think the game is too easy. Anguna definitely is on my ‘keeper’ list. I need to update my zipped file of the best DS homebrew games, and I’ll be adding this one.
Trying to relax in the face of impending deadlines at work and feeling way too behind, I spent some of the Thanksgiving days off getting in some time with a couple of new games. Come December 19 at 7pm, I’m going to begin marathon sessions with these 2 new games, as well as Fable 2. Both are RPGs that are quirky and not your traditional RPG in many ways. Both emphasize fun, have large replay value, and should be approached on their own terms. Besides, who needs dark and brooding for the holidays?
After picking up Chrono Trigger DS last Tuesday before the holidays, I got in a couple of hours with the game. I never played the original, but I was expecting a silly little RPG that is fun. And it is. I can’t help but think of Philip K. Dick as I play the game because, like Dick’s stories, the writing itself, the expressions and the style, is often awkward and unpolished, but the idea of the story is greater than the writing. And, like Dick’s characters, the Chrono characters are often stilted and simplistic, yet there is something memorable about them, something that keeps you interested in them. What really got me was how earlier scenes, actions, and characters in the game were used in the trial scene as evidence of both guilt and innocence. It seemed like a very fresh element, even though the original game was released 13 years ago, the kind of thing that made me think, ‘wow, that was cool.’ Needless to say, this little RPG has pushed aside Fallout 3 for my game time for the holidays.
I have some extra points on goozex, and all the games I have requested have very long waits. So, I decided to try Dokapon Kingdom. I looked at it as a simplified multiplayer RPG that I could play with the kids, replacing the very tired Mario Party 8. When it arrived in the mail, I took a couple of hours to play the solo story mode, and I quickly realized that my assumptions about the game were wrong because Dokapon Kingdom has far depth than I expected. The battles themselves are not complicated [at least, initially] and have some variety, but it’s the board game aspect that really adds to the RPG elements.
I’m reminded of some of the excellent [often German] board games that introduce a certain amount of randomness that doesn’t overwhelm or dictate the game but rather provides opportunities to develop strategies for winning. Along those lines of dynamic play, you are also encouraged to change jobs/classes, either to deal with your opponents or to unlock more jobs.
The goal centers around getting the most gold, but there are many ways of doing that–completing quests, stealing from other players or from NPCs, investing in your towns. When I read how one player used a disguise to look like another player’s avatar and then stole from a merchant, leaving the other player getting blamed for the crime, I was hooked on learning more about the game. I also have found that you can play evil or good, like in most RPGs, but these paths are not overtly part of the game but part of your play style.
The game would great for LAN parties, particularly playing with experienced gamers. I’ve played just a little with the kids, but I think the game works well for them, too. While I understand some of the criticisms of the game, I think it’s much better than the 71 average score on metacritic. It’s a game that could be easy to dismiss as slow and superficial, but if you read stories from people who play it and approach it for what it is rather than it isn’t [as in, a traditional multiplayer RPG], I think you’ll find a great little game.
larahl from Poland is working on a DS homebrew game called Spider DS that is a combination of a platformer and an RPG. It’s a game about a boy who has turned into a spider. As the game progresses, the boy spider gains abilities, like climbing and web slinging. THere’s not much more detail about the game, but even this little bit is titillating. I love the original premise–it’s the kind of game where both the story and the gameplay are interesting. The demo has only a little functionality, enough to see the jumping ability and the changing time of day. I find the platforms a little too small and awkwardly placed, and while the graphics are very basic, it has a quaint feel to it, not unlike some of Jayenkai’s excellent games.
I’m definitely curious to see where larahl takes the game.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about DS homebrew, partly because I’m not seeing as much that is worth downloading. But a couple have been interesting, including one called AlienDS, which is an original FPS that stars zombies . . . no, wait, mutants . . . that’s not it . . . it’s on the tip of my tongue. Dang.
Pac has created a nice little homebrew–the map at the bottom is a motion sensor, showing enemies only when they move. The game has three levels at the moment and one weapon. You can also choose to play with the stylus or the buttons [although it seemed that the buttons worked with the stylus option, too]. Pac used the nitroengine to create the game, for those interested in such development details. The game is pretty fluid, and I like the lighting effects. In the first release, he had too many ammo and health packs, and in the second release, they’re far fewer [perhaps too few]. Because the aliens can crawl on walls and ceilings, I really wanted the ability to use the stylus to look around and aim. Pac admits the game has a number of bugs, but even so, this is a very playable, worthwhile download.
It’s not clear how much Pac will do with this game, but he’s not building a map editor.