Thursday, 16 July 2015

Home Alone (1992 Mega Drive review)

When it comes to childhood power fantasies, none come close to beating Home Alone. Sure, some kids may want to be the indestructible Superman, but that's pure fiction. In reality, a kid could theoretically deter a pair of criminals with a set of improvised booby traps in a house they're trying to burgle. The lengthy life experiences of being an adult tells us that in this scenario the child and/or thieves would be killed, but when you're a kid you can buy into the reality of the situation but also not be traumatised by accepting in the Looney Tunes consequences.

Home Alone was of course a 1990 movie directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes in which a kid is left home alone and takes it upon himself to protect his house from two burglars. If you're my age its a classic and when rewatching it last Christmas, I was impressed by how well it held up. It thankfully does well with the cartoon violence without making it a total farce like some other movies. I think it was a hit with kids because it was about a smart, resourceful child out smarting two adults.

Its too bad there was never a good game that let you play this out. Oh wait, there was but nobody ever talks about it. Then I shall talk about it. Home Alone on the Sega Mega Drive developed by Brian A. Rice Inc.

In the Home Alone game you are tasked with not only defending your own home, but an entire neighbourhood from The Wet Bandits, a pair of bumbling burglars. The inclusion of multiple houses obviously differs from the plot of the movie but as an excuse to have more varied locations, I'm fine with it. Besides, you did see them rob other houses in the film.

There are four things you'll be doing in Home Alone in your quest to protect the neighbourhood:

Setting up traps in the different houses, because its not a Home Alone game without that.

Getting between each house on your sled.

Making weapons.

Running around the house to stop the criminals.

Pretty varied stuff for a 16-bit movie tie-in. The objective of the game is to 'survive' 40 minutes of continuous criminal attacks on the 5 neighbourhood houses. You can't permanently defeat The Wet Bandits but you can deter them by filling up the 'pain meter'. Hitting them with traps, weapons and the house hazards will fill it and once full, they'll drop all their loot and leave (only to return later). The Wet Bandits' objective is to break into the houses' safes and take the goods. This is is indicated by the loot gauge and if it fills the house is then 'flooded'. If all the houses are flooded then its game over. Think of each house as a life. Basically you have to keep the loot meter from filling up and you stop it by filling the pain meter. Its an interesting concept for a game and pretty unique for a time where most movie tie-ins were simple platformers. I also find it an enjoyable game to come back to and score attack as you're given a rating at the end. You have to make sure at least one house remains by the time the police arrive. That being said, if you want even a semblance of challenge from this game then you should aim to not lose a single one.

Setting traps is the most obvious thing you'd expect in a Home Alone game. When entering an empty house you're presented with a blueprint and can lay them out. These are the only traps you have for the entire neighbourhood so you got to make sure you spread them out evenly. Unlike all of the other consumable items, you can't collect extra traps- the ones you have have to last. While setting out all the various traps is enjoyable, a lot of them are functionally identical. The marbles, grease, ice, micro machines- uh 'toys' all just make the victim fall over and that's it. I would have liked more varied effects- perhaps the grease could make an area slippery for whoever walks through it. Maybe the marbles could be more spread out over the floor than the other traps. The ice could send the victim careening across the floor and they end up slamming into the wall. Thankfully there are some traps with unique effects. The tacks will slow someone without knocking them down, the blowtorch is unique in that it can only be placed above doorways and the tar, possibly the most useful trap of all, will slow enemies to a crawl. Other than the blowtorch, Kevin can also become victim to them so you've got to be careful when navigating the house. One thing sadly missing are the iconic paint cans. The game features a lot of stairs so why not include them? Oh well.

The next thing you'll become accustomed to is making weapons. This is a fantastic element and adds a lot to the 'kid defence' premise beyond just traps. The game defaults to 'beginner' difficulty and with this on, the game will automatically create weapons for you. At this point I strongly recommend switching to 'expert' mode before you start because beginner has less weapons and traps to play with. Weapons are comprised of 3 elements- a platform, an operator and a type of ammo. Generally speaking, operators and ammo are always linked together whereas your choice of platform changes how the ammo will be used. Cans will make powerful mortars whereas crossbows will make weak yet reliable rifles. Ammo usage, the shooting angle, the amount of pain dealt and the time the enemy is incapacitated all seem to vary with the type of weapon you make. The best weapons are the ones that use rare parts like the sonic boom generator and the flashbulb shotgun. Am I the only person who finds it strange that this gun actually fires a lightbulb rather than creating a flash? All of these weapons will add to the pain meter as well as help you get around Harry and Marv. You get bonus points for varying the types of ammo you use. The results are completely cartoony with some results being pretty out there. Being hit by a ball turns you into a giant ball? What? Needless to say, they didn't digitize Joe Pesci screaming in agony and resisting the urge to call an 8 year old boy a motherfucker.

When you're not in a house, you're in the open world and can freely explore the area between the five houses. Kevin rides along on his battery-powered sledge (does such a thing even exist?) and can freely enter the houses. In fact, The Wet Bandits won't wait for you. You may be out in the open and suddenly see the dreaded loot meter appear. Its then a desperate matter of searching for the house they're in by seeing where their van is parked. Alternatively you can enter the houses at random- if the pain meter appears then you're in the right place. One house in particular parks the van about a god damn mile off the beaten track so like I said, just quickly enter each house to check if they're there or not. You can also ram into the van and you'll bounce off completely unharmed. Never mind attacking grown ups with home made electrical spark guns, whats this about the game teaching kids to ride their battery power sleds into traffic, huh?

One of the game's biggest challenges is the limited ammo. All of the weapon parts, including ammo, is finite, meaning once you've emptied a house, its empty for good. The only place where pickups respawn is in the open neighbourhood where breaking snowmen will provide a random pickup. Chances are you'll at one point run out of ammo and end up desperately scouting the open world for snowmen. Why snowmen contain rubber bands and batteries I have no idea. Elaborate decorations? Actually, speaking of that- snowballs are a type of ammo. Shouldn't you be able to just make them outside? As a last resort you have a BB gun but its incredibly weak and barely keeps Harry and Marv down for a second. This thing uses its own exclusive ammo and yes, it is entirely possible to completely run out of every type of ammo and be utterly defenceless and it sucks, My only advice here is to actually leave the house and grind the snowmen. 'Grind the snowmen'. You really have to ration your ammo in Home Alone, which is something I'll get back to. Oh and you can run out of sled battery which also, really, really sucks because it means you can barely move and its really a matter of luck finding a replacement. The item layout is random with each playthrough so if you're particuarly unlucky you can have a pretty miserable experience where you collect loads of platforms and operators but no ammo to use them. If anything, Home Alone teaches players how to ration their belongings and not be wasteful.

There are 5 different houses, all with different layouts and each one has a unique hazard-

The Mansion
This is Kevin's home and the house he defends in the movie. As such, its the most generic house with 3 long floors. The gimmick here is a spider that crawls around on the ceiling and drops down on any character that wanders by below. I'm guessing its supposed to be Buzz's pet tarantula even though it doesn't really look like it.

Colonial House
This is the tallest building and is protected by, of all things, a ghost. The ghost will wander in through the walls and electrocute anyone that he sees. The ghost is such a powerful force that this is possibly the easiest house to defend and you should save your traps for the others. This is also the only place in the neighbourhood that has bothered with Christmas decorations this year. Shame on these people.

Country House
Like the mansion, this place is generally unremarkable. The hazard, a crazy pissed off cat, is only a threat if you touch it. Its not much of a threat against The Wet Bandits so I suggest using more traps here. Also the image of a cat ripping a child's face off is pretty funny. Thats the type of wholesome family entertainment this game provides.

Old House
This is my favourite level in the game for its gimmick of breakable floors. The floor will randomly open up and send anything to a level down. The funny thing about this is that the game doesn't really do 'falling'. There's no fall damage and there aren't even any animations to support it so when someone falls they just stand perfectly still like its nothing. This also means you can't use falls as a means of hurting Harry and Marv although you can delay them greatly by sending them down, away from an unopened safe. You have to have good reaction times to shoot one of them while they're in mid-jump over a hole but the result looks great, even if the fall doesn't register gameplay-wise (as in they don't get dealt extra pain).

Ultra-Modern House
Definitely the most visually different of the bunch, this smart home is full of silver machines and doohickies and... I have no idea. I like the Jetsons styled tubes that replace the stairs. While I may not know what all these electronic gadgets are supposed to be, I do recognise that its protected by a god damn robot that patrols the house and picks up Harry, Marv or even Kevin to electrocute them. Being the only home with an automated defence system, its pretty easy. Even with this elaborate machine though, a little kid still needs to be there to help. The hell kind of expensive home protection system is this?

Once you enter a house the game becomes a relatively standard platformer. You're free to enter a house even if the criminals aren't there if you want to loot it for stuff. I actually recommend doing this as there's a good chance of running out of ammo early on. The controls are really simple. B fires your weapon and C jumps. If you hold certain directions you can jump in different way like holding up forward for a larger arcing leap, handy for getting over your own traps. I find another good trick is using the big vertical jump to get half way up the stairs. This is a good time saver and don't forget- this whole game is a fight against time. Pressing A drops a tyre. You can then jump on the tyre for a massive bounce but sadly they vanish after a single use. Lots of items are only accessible using tyres. The Old House has a hidden floor (a loft/attic) that is only accessible if you use two tyres. Its definitely worth saving two tyres for all of the goodies up there, just beware of the breaking floor that can send you plummeting back down.

As mentioned, attacking Harry and Marv adds to the pain gauge but you can't actually defeat them. Similarly Harry and Marv cant' 'kill' Kevin because... that would be disturbing. Instead, if you get caught they'll hang you on a coat peg- just like the movie. This may not seem like much of a punishment for getting caught but remember that you're fighting against the clock here. Time wasted on the peg gives them precious time to fill up the loot meter. This is why I think this is great licensed game. They took a simple movie concept, made an original game out of it and made sure to throw in plenty of recognisable moments from the source material.

One of the biggest revelations for me while playing Home Alone was when I managed to fit it into a genre- its a survival horror game. Hear me out. Its got all the elements of the genre. Its got limited ammo you have to carefully conserve. It has an unstoppable antagonist that can stop you instantly. You can only delay and inconvenience this antagonist but your player character is far too weak to permanently stop them. And the game has jumpscares.

Well OK, they're not scary I just find it kind of funny how the restrictive camera can work against you sometimes. A lot of the time I'm cautiously staying away from the edge of the screen, unsure of whether or not Harry or Marv are there. Sometimes you ascend a staircase and BAM they're there. All thats missing is a scare chord.

So in conclusion, Home Alone is a pretty fun game that I just wanted to bring to more people's attention. It definitely has some inspired design elements and the neighbourhood defence thing is pretty unique. My only critiques are minor and given the quality of most movie-based games, its easily forgiven. Actually, its worth noting that this game came out in 1992, two whole years after the movie, which may explain its overall decent quality (this was the same year the film's sequel was released). Its also kind of buggy in spots, particularly in the moments where you kick The Wet Bandits out of the house while delivering a terrible joke based on the weapon you used. The animations don't always play out as they're intended but it just makes the game more appealing to me with its goofiness. Its also not a particularly hard game once you know what you're doing and its not very long either given that every game session is going to be a maximum of 40 minutes,. Home Alone does support repeat playthroughs with its random elements and its scoring system so I encourage everyone to give it a go and bring some sweet, painful kid justice to the neighbourhood.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Dynamite Headdy: An Academic Critical Analysis

Dynamite Headdy is a platform game developed by Treasure in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive.

The unique selling point of the game is the separation of the playable character into two parts- head and body. Headdy’s head is detached from his body and levitates slightly above where his neck should be. The head can be fired short distances in eight by holding the d-pad and pressing B. The 8-way controls are similar to a shooting game such as Contra or Metal Slug. The head travels a short distance before returning to the body. Headdy can combine these with jumping and ducking. A unique selling point is the fact that only Headdy’s body takes damage yet his head does not. The player must use their head for offense while making sure the body avoids harm.
Unlike the similarly designed Rayman, this game justifies Headdy’s detached head by making him a puppet. The whole game world is set up as a theatre show and its aesthetics are designed around this idea so that the player never forgets that the game is a piece of fiction within fiction. The plot of the game, while vague, is still relatively straight forward with an antagonist (Dark Demon) for the melodramatically expressive hero to defeat as one may expect from a pantomime.
 “The most compelling amusement park attractions build upon stories or genre traditions already well known to visitors, allowing them to enter physically into spaces they have visited many times before in their fantasies. Broadly shared genre tradition- designer assumes some assumptions of the player- setting and world” - (Jenkins, 2004)
Presenting a particular immersive aesthetic theme is more difficult on the 16-bit Mega Drive technology than it would be for a modern HD system. While the Mega Drive obviously isn’t incapable of showing a clear and understandable world, it is likely that a player will take most visual representations of objects at face value. Without being explicitly told that a 16-bit cloud is actually a 16-bit painting of a cloud, something else has to make the construction obvious.
“Relatively higher-quality graphical resolution and design/reproduction of sound can increase the extent to which narrative, generic or other contextual frameworks are likely to be in play, giving a stronger sense of the location of gameplay within a particular, realized milieu.” (King & Krzywinska, 2006)
The game resolves this by constantly presenting ‘giveaways’. The set backgrounds are almost always damaged in some way, including torn matte paintings and exposed scaffolding. This damage is required to clearly identify the backgrounds as artificial. The whole world is a stage- for example clouds are held up by frayed ropes. Levels are also referred to in-game as ‘scenes’.

Standard game screen

A manipulation of the above screenshot to remove all set imperfections

The original Japanese version told the story through text dialogue which has been almost entirely removed in the foreign release. The game opens with a dialogue-free overview of the plot. While the character names appear at the bottom, a series of events detail the setup: Robots attack a once peaceful town of toys. Headdy attempts to fight them off but is swiftly captured. Headdy is deemed unfit to enter ‘D.D Imperial World’ and is dumped for incineration. Headdy breaks out and the game begins. Any specifics about the plot in the Western version are hard to determine as it is difficult for the player to differentiate between the events of scripted puppet show and what happens outside of it. The game’s focus on cartoony melodrama still makes the tone clear. (Schell, 2008) states that when balancing the tone of a game, it is acceptable to “give details the imagination can use”. (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004) also explain that “When you are creating a games with less typical narrative experiences, your design task becomes more challenging.” They go on to say that players not initially familiar with a game’s fictive world would rapidly require traits to establish the world. By carrying the visual cues of set stage design the players can quickly grasp that this is not a game world to be taken at face value.  “Narrative descriptors in games include everything from the written introduction to the opening cinematic, from the design of light and sound to the style of the game interface.”
The game features a dijectic HUD in the form of Headdy’s spotlight- the colour of which represents his 16 hit points of energy.This is also reflected in his bowtie. Another spotlight appears on the opposite side for bosses. This is an additional part in forming the consistent game world which (Bjork & Holopainen, 2003) refer to as game patterns. “…game elements are normally also related to one another, thus creating game element configurations.” The game relies on the theatrical references working together to succeed as a whole. “The state of the game is the totality of the game element configuration at any given time.”
The first level has Headdy run away from a robot. Headdy cannot actually be caught by the robot and it isn’t neccesary to destroy the robot to continue. This entirely consequence-free enviroment allows the player to learn the controls without stopping the flow of the action.
“Some games create a space for rehearsal, as well, so that we can make sure we understand our character’s potential moves before we come up against the challenges of navigating narrational space.” (Jenkins, 2004)
Appling this to Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Channel (1997) we can strike a balance between the thrill of running from a robot while avoiding the anxiety of failure. The player can freely learn the controls at this point through experimentation. The Mega Drive controller has only four buttons and a d-pad. This avoids what (Swink, 2009) calls ‘state overwhelming’. Game controls are often tradition bound (Sniderman, 1999) and through the standards of Sega games, B is commonly attack and C is jump (Golden Axe, Splatterhouse 2).
The following threats (a bomb-dropping plane and the first encounter with reoccurring boss Trouble Bruin) are low level challenges that do not require any of the gameplay lessons that appear in the following tutorial level. (Swink, 2009) refers to the cycle of game feel and challenge- new challenges are only introduced once the player has an established understanding of their character’s abilities.

Trouble Bruin in the spotlight

It is Trouble Bruin pushing the backdrop down on Headdy in the very first stage that establishes that the ‘show’ within this game has no fourth wall. The ‘fourth wall is a term taken directly from theatre and references to the ‘wall’ separating the stage and the audience (Bell, 2008).
After Bruin is defeated the player moves onto Scene 2-1 set in a town of toys. The player is given three optional tutorials based on Dynamite Headdy’s three gameplay pillars each of which is represented by a friendly NPC.
Headcase is a small orange smiley face that resides in a box. The box cycles icons representing different power up heads. Hitting Headcase will replace Headdy’s head with the one currently displayed. Each head offers a unique gameplay effect such as Warhead firing out projectiles in eight directions. Most heads can be removed with the A-button or are lost after a set amount of time. Using these heads help with particular bosses and some are required to navigate the environment, most notably Pinhead and Spike Head. To demonstrate the usefulness of Headcase the player is given one to combat a series of toy soldiers.
The second friend/gameplay style is Hangman. Headdy can grab these orange similes with his head and he will hold on as long as the B button is held. Once released Headdy’s body will be pulled up like a rubber band. This is used for fast vertical movement and can be used multiple times in the air. This is tested by a vertical auto-scrolling level that relies on more elaborate moves as it progresses.
The final friend is the angel Beau who points out the weakpoints on bosses. There are many bosses and mini-bosses in Dynamite Headdy which is a trope of developer Treasure (Alien Soldier, Sin & Punishment). This trial requires the player to hit targets establishing the 8-way shooting mechanic. The game features a distinct audio feedback system. An enemy that blocks an attack in some way gives off a metallic ‘ping’ sound whereas actual damage gives a satisfying ‘squish’ noise.
There is very little asset recycling in Dynamite Headdy. Most levels feature unique tilesets and enemies that are only seen on single short stages. Dynamite Headdy’s levels are usually very short and many scenes have the camera static for a boss fight. (Wolf, 2002) claims that a small game space such as this can make combat more intense. The game also features artificial scrolling; backgrounds run in a loop as though the camera is actually static. The player is watching the show from the audience, a form of emergent perspective rarely possible within a strictly 2D system with no Z axis camera movement. As a stage show is similarly viewed from a static perspective this technical limitation of the game feeds directly into its theme.

Still from a Japanese television advert

Dynamite Headdy features a diverse soundtrack which even includes a performance of the Nutcracker March during a boss battle complete with performing orchestra members. The player can hear the audience cheer whenever Headdy completes a level which is an incorporation of the belief of (Schell, 2008) that the game’s direct praise of a player is a form of reward equal with the promise of future powers and challenges.

The limitations of the 16-bit hardware have helped Treasure create a platformer in which every aspect of it contributes strange vivid world and it justifies the unique selling point of the gameplay. “The artists are simultaneously empowered by and restrained by technology, and the engineers are similarly empowered and restrained by art.” (Schell, 2008) The plot of Dynamite Headdy is somewhat weak because of the vagueness of the events that occur but it compensates by presenting the story in a unique setting. “even narratives that do not fit this paradigm draw their meaning from the way they play ironically against our deeply engrained expectations that all narratives are going to be like that.” (Hillis, 1990)


Bell, E. S. (2008). Theories of Performance. Los Angeles: Sage.
Bjork, S., & Holopainen, J. (2003). Games and Design Patterns. Level Up Digital Games Research Conference. Utrecht.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (1997). Optimal Experience. Cambridge University Press.
Hillis, M. (1990). Narrative. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Jenkins, H. (2004). Game Design as Narrative Architecture. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, 670-686.
King, G., & Krzywinska, T. (2006). Tomb Raiders & Space Invaders: Videogame Forms & Contexts. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Schell, J. (2008). The Art of Game Design. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Sniderman, S. (1999). Unwritten Rules. The Life of Games.
Swink, S. (2009). Game Feel. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Wolf, M. (2002). The Medium of the Video Game. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Games Cited

Alien Soldier
Treasure, 1995
Console game
Konami, 1987
Arcade game
Dynamite Headdy
Treasure, 1994
Console game
Golden Axe
Sega, 1989
Arcade game; Console game
Metal Slug
SNK, 1996
Arcade game
Ubisoft, 1995
Console game
Sin & Punishment
Treasure, 2000
Console game
Splatterhouse 2
Namco, 1992
Console game

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mortal Kombat X: First Impressions

Despite feeling a bit jaded nowerdays towards gaming, I can still get hyped for a fighting game. I have mixed feelings on the Mortal Kombat franchise as a whole but was ultimately pleased by its ambitious reboot/remake/sequel/prequel Mortal Kombat in 2011 (not 9) and welcomed MK back as a name that could be taken at least a bit seriously when talking about fighting games. After fixing a broken franchise, can Mortal Kombat X (not 10) make progress when not supported by the nostalgia of a remake?


So the first thing I'll mention is the cinematic presentation. I'm aware this shouldn't be the top priority but this is the first fighting game I've got thats actually been developed for the PS4 and it looks fantastic. The personal intros are brilliant and are exactly the sort of thing I would put in a fighting game if I made one. I know it has nothing to do with the actual gameplay but it really, really helps build the personality of a lot of these characters. They're genuinely well written and pretty witty at times too. Thats right, I actually called the dialogue in a Mortal Kombat game witty! I laughed at a good number of these so props to whoever was hired to write these numerous exchanges. There's also good voice acting across the board (with the exception of Reptile who still sounds like a cartoon character). I also appreciate the cinematic touches. You can tell how the intros work; each character has two different animations depending if they speak first or second. But they work with the camera angles and use of focus so they look more like specially designed cutscenes rather than just canned animations meshing together (which they are). Of all fighting game franchises, Mortal Kombat probably has the biggest production values, and it shows. Every character has at least 3 intros from what I've seen, and this includes mirror matches and some alternative costumes. Thats commitment to a feature right there.


The game is like MK9 but quite a bit faster. The inputs feel a bit more liberal than MK9. Like all the Netherealm games, it uses delayed inputs, meaning you type in the command literally and not as the animation carries out. It takes some getting used to compared to Tekken or Street Fighter, but despite what some people may say- its not in anyway worse, its just different. There's only one big addition and I don't think is a particularity valuable one- the stamina meter is pretty pointless. Maybe I need to get better at the game but I keep forgetting about running altogether. Like MK9, the juggling feels like Tekken but on a 2D plane and with a super meter so I'm happy with what's offered.

I'm currently maining Kitana (Royal Storm), who was also my main in MK9. You can do some pretty liberal combos by stringing her fan lift with the air fan toss. Her defence is really good too with excellent air manoeuvrability and a projectile reflect. If you hold down the button for the reflect then it works against multiple projectiles, as I discovered by bouncing back Jax's double EX projectile. Still, I didn't buy a new game just to play as the same character. I have my eye on a few other characters that seem enjoyable to play- Kano (Commando), Kotal Kahn (Sun God), Sonya (Special Forces). The alternative styles has let the developers have some pretty creative and outlandish styles by having them balanced with more standard options. The differences are pretty substantial in some cases, Kenshi's 'Possessed' variant completely swaps out his special moves list, making him an entirely different character.


Fatalities? I'm so jaded on these I can rarely be bothered with them. The animations are cool the first time but I don't want to sit through them over and over again when progressing through a tower ladder. I'm not saying they're bad- in fact they're probably better than ever- I'm just puzzled why they're considered to be a big selling point for some people. I will say that some of them reach Eternal Champions-levels of disturbing. Its taken MK 20 years but hey, they finally caught up to a so-called 'ripoff'. On the other hand, brutalities are neat reward for doing something specific. I probably like them because they're short.

Story Mode

I enjoyed the story mode. It was never a reason for me to get the game but I was pleasantly surprised when I finally decided to plough through it. It kept my interest better than MK9 which was really just a retread of the events of the original MK Trilogy. I still like how MK9 can be labelled as a sequel, prequel, reboot and remake and they're all accurate. I was rather shocked by the characterisation of Kotal Kahn. The guy isn't just some evil dick and is actually pretty reasonable! Based on how he looks, I never would have guessed that. MK isn't exactly known for having morally ambiguous characters but Kotal isn't a flat out badguy like you'd expect. Any evil stuff he does is more... cultural for Outworld. I'll say now that Kung Jin is a fucking idiot for not recognising this. Kotal is also voiced by Phil LaMarr so he has that going for him too. Probably my favourite of the new cast.

I know it gets bashed a lot but I like MKs silly plots. The odd mashup of Asian (and Azetc?) cultures is part of its appeal to me. Maybe its nostalgia, but I've always got a kick out of its background and setting and maybe I'm odd for liking cutscenes of Outworld politics but it was more interesting than just doing the typical Earthrealm invasion story again. MKX shifts a lot between different time periods. For the purpose of establishing a particular setting, I wish they just stuck with one, the tower mode is a strange mish-mash of old and young characters as a result (like the young Johnny Cage costume meeting the daughter that shouldn't have been born yet).

What don't I like? The characterisation of the new 'young generation' of heroes. Individually they're fine but I think their personalities are a tad too similar to one another. All four of them (Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Takeda and Kung Jin) all have the same smart-ass attitude. Again, this is fine but I don't need all four heroes to fulfil the mouthy cocky role. I get they're all young but being young doesn't mean you're super confident all the time. Why not give Kung Jin more shaolin discipline? Why not have Takeda a bit more repressed because his god damn mother was murdered?

Interestingly, some non-playable characters show up in fights. They're not just reskins, they retain their moves from MK9 and AI has some combos that use them. I don't know if any X-Rays carry over, the CPU never used them in my playthrough. I won't say who these characters are but I will say that Baraka is still booked like a complete jobber. Bottom tier in both gameplay AND story.

Some of the characters that actually are playable also kinda... just show up in the story and don't do much. I was waiting for certain ones to have a big moment, but they never happened. Some Deadly Alliance characters I completely forgot about show up in cutscenes which made me chuckle. Their new designs suggest a potential their lousy debut game immediately cut off.

Oh and its 2015 and developers still think QTEs are still a good idea. Enough of that shit, I just want to enjoy the cutscenes, it shouldn't be a damn reaction exam.

The Final Boss

They certainly did a good job keeping the final boss a secret because I didn't even know the game had an NPC final boss until I stumbled across him. He's the final opponent in both the story mode and the standard ladder towers. I won't say too much in order to preserve that secret but he reminds me a lot of Abyss from Soul Calibur III, both visually and with the voice. I liked Abyss so consider this a positive from me. He's less cheap than Shao Kahn too.

The Krypt

Another surprise- I keep being surprised by the game despite following it pretty closely prior to its release. The whole thing is a vast maze played from a Legend of Grimrock style first-person perspective. Its a real dungeon crawler. Seriously, there's a damn inventory you need to access certain areas. I had some fun running around the different areas, getting the different items to progress. Sadly it doesn't seem to accomplish much. I may be missing something but the final area you can reach seems to have exactly the same shit as the graves where you start. There are also random QTEs that'll give you a heart attack when you first go into this mode not knowing what to expect. You can thank me for that heads up from me. The items you unlock here aren't particularly special, just the same fatality commands, concept art etc you always get. Still, its nice to get some alternative costumes that aren't DLC. Also: the graphics in the krypt are fantastic. Strange praise going on here, but its true.

'Easy Fatalities'

Yeah, speaking of DLC, this is dumb but to be fair, other genres have done this before. The easy fatalities are a consumable item you can pay for with friggin' real money. Its dumb, especially considering you're paying for something that's already available for fake currency (koins) in the krypt. Its common to sell unlock bypasses/cheat codes in games now. Its stupid but with KOFXIII selling individual character colours and the Street Fighter X Tekken gems catastrophe, this isn't that shocking in a modern game. This game clearly cost a lot of money to produce in a still relatively niche genre (??) so I can... sorta... kinda... overlook this? Not really. Whoever buys them is still a friggin' idiot.


The functionality is all over the place for me at the minute. I don't know if its bad netcode, bad servers at launch or my PS4's internet connection. I've had a mixed bag of matches but I've spent most of my time thus far in single player. I'll report back with this once I've had more experience. After being spoilt by the superb quality of Tekken Tag Tournament 2's netcode, I'm not expecting much in this regard.


If MK9 was the series getting back on its feet, then MKX is the series starting to break into a stride. I don't think its a full sprint yet (if this analogy makes any sense) but its getting there. MK9 felt like a remake of the PS1 Mortal Kombat Trilogy, so to me this is the first completely new Mortal Kombat in several years. A big factor in my enjoyment of MKX is that its so different to the Japanese fighting games. It tries different things and has a lot more content (kontent?) than typical ports of arcade games. MK has always done its own thing (for better or worse) and I unlike certain other Western-developed fighting games (cough-skulllgirls-cough) it doesn't just try and emulate Japanese games. Basically, I'm saying I like it a lot and now if you'll excuse me, I'm still trying to pick a main.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Fake World Tournament Results

The Fake World Tournament concluded with with YZeether cleaning up the ranks with the apparently stoppable combination of Strawbelly Jam, Alter Ambia, David Bell and MissingNo. YZeether has won himself 7 Steam games.

The entire event has been archived on YouTube in this playlist.

Thanks to everyone that took part by entering a team and/or joining the stream chat. Its been a lot of fun and I hope to do this again in the future.

Supreme Champion


Worthy Adversary

Buffalo-Slamkovich Bruiser Buds Bro-liance

3rd place tie

Mechy- The counter-counter establishment
Roman5ive5ive- Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo

5th place tie

MelvanaInChains- Grunky Peep
Don Kelexo- The Moonrunner Rejects
Table645- Why Would This be a Team

9th place tie

quartercirclejab- babby’s first mugen
LanceBoyle- The Lance Boyle Power Hour™
djnimrod- Team “Toblerone”
DoctorButler- Beasts McSavage
MightyKombat- The Pricks
NewYorksJoJo- DERSH
Yoshi348 Yoshi’s Dumb Fucking Bullshit

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Fake World Tournament!

The Fake World Tournament is a MUGEN AI tournament where 16 people will make a team of four to participate in CPU fights. The owner of the winning team will win the following Steam games!

·         Surgeon Simulator 2013
·         Frozen Synapse
·         Dead Space
·         Legend of Grimrock
·         Scribblenauts Unlimited
·         Risk of Rain
·         Tower of Guns

The tournament will use a standard ladder system on Challonge. The team fights will be best 2 out of 3 and will be streamed on hitbox at a future date (advanced notice will be given on Tumblr). Footage of the fights will also be saved and uploaded onto my YouTube channel.

Only the first 16 people to send a team will make it into the tournament.
In addition to the list, there is a video that presents a slideshow of the character portraits. Use the video as a reference to check if the Raiden on the list is from either Fatal Fury or Mortal Kombat.


To participate send me a PM on Tumblr using the following template. Character names must be copied + pasted exactly as they appear on the roster list, including the author.

Your credited name:
Team name:
Character 1:
Character 2:
Character 3:
Character 4:


Q: Won't this be horribly unbalanced?
A: Its a Mugen roster of 667 characters, of course it'll be unbalanced.

Q: What’s stopping me from just choosing the most broken characters?
A: Nothing, really. But this tournament is purely for fun and having someone playing solely to win would be kind of lame. Pick characters you like, make a themed team, this is to celebrate the absurd matchups Mugen provides and embrace its dumb unbalanced nature. Besides, you might be surprised exactly who is and is not broken in the roster.

Q: If it’s just for fun then why is there a prize?
A: Because entering and watching a tournament when there’s something material at stake makes it even more fun.

Q: What if I want to critique your roster?
A: Don't. Thanks.

Q: Do all your characters have AI?
A: Most do, not all. Sorry, but it’s virtually impossible for me to separate them. You’ll just have to hope for the best. Note that some characters have had AI patches.

Q: Why does the roster list have typos in it?
A: It’s a long story that involves me not wanting to manually type out the entire thing, one character at a time.

Q: Is there anything that can give me an edge?
A: You can see my roster in action in this playlist. There’s over 13 hours of footage there, so have fun doing research.

Q: When exactly will the tournament be streamed?
A: Depends on how quickly people respond to this and what personal time I can get. I’ll let people know in advance when its happening though.

Q: What if I don’t want the steam games?
A: They’re game codes so feel free to give them to someone.

Q: How do I play? I thought Mugen doesn’t have netplay.

A: Just to make this clear- you’re choosing a team of four characters that’ll be controlled by AI. Its purely a spectator thing.

The Fake World Tournament Roster


Please send your team as a PM on Tumblr using the following template:

Your credited name:
Team name:
Character 1:
Character 2:
Character 3:
Character 4:

Video reference guide

Noob Saibot by OMEGAPSYCHO-MK(Secret
A.B.A by mutelci
ARASHI by ali
AXL by mutelci
Abdul by Nimame
Abobo by ("o")
Abubo by RYO zoos + us
Adelheid by beppu
Adon by ("o")
Ai by Hanyu-maru
Akari by Websta
Albiole by DrKelexo
Alcott by Kamekaze
Alex by GM
Alfred by tora
Alsion3rd by shimon
Alter Amiba by MelvanaInChains + The_None
Amakusa by misao
Amano by abuhachi
Amingo by Kamelcaze
Anakaris by hsiehtm
Ananzi by Andres Borghi
Andrew by ohgaki
Andy by Infinite
Andy by ilcaruga
Angela Belti by DrKelexo
Angus by The_None
Animus by Andres Borghi
Anonym by NS
Another Kyo by Mouser 8180. Byakko
Armgon by Kamelcaze
Ash by Chazzanova at Quickfist
Asura by ahuron
Athena by Websta
Axel Hawk by DarkSide Joe
Axel Stone by Dick Buckus
BJenet by Infinite
B.0rchid by AHRIMANES
BOBBY by Neat Unsou
Baby Bonnie Hood by Baby Bonnie Hood
Balrog by Kamelcaze
Batman by Alucard
Batsu by R@CE AKIR@
Beavis by The_None
Belmont Trusdale by Kamelcaze
Benimaru Nilcaido by Deuce
Bern 8!. Lambda by Hanyu-maru
Big Bear by ("o")
Billy Kane by Infinite
Billy Two Moons by MelvanaInChains
Billy by ikaruga
Birdie by ("o")
Bishamon by E-FRY
Black Widow by ("o")
Blair by Dampir
Blanka by ("o")
Blizzard by The_None
Blodia by GM
Blue Mary by tora
Bootleg Ryu by DrKelexo
Briaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan by Ahuron
Brocken by GM
Bubblun by Gladiacloud
Butt-head by The_None
C.Kidd by DarkSide Joe
CHANG by Ahuron
Cable by Infinite
Cammy by Phantom.of.the.Server
Captain Commando by Splode
Carlos by NS
Carol by Veanko
Chaka by Nimame
Charles by Masukenpu-kunZ
Charlie by Phantom.of.the.Server
Charlotte by misao
Chili N Pepper by The_None
Chinnen by wara
Chizuru 71113 by Sander71113
Chris by Ahuron
Chronos by aol:maniac13
Chun Li by Conversion World - J.Lee
Chun-Li by Jmorphman
Clark by ikaruga
Cody_A by Felicity
Colossus by Felicity
Condor by Kamekaze
Cool by mass
Cpt. Falcon by Kamekaze
Crow by ikaruga
Cyber Akuma by MystikBlaze
Cyborg T-8P by The_None
Cyborg_D-9F by ("o")
Cycloid Omega by Ahuron
Cycloid Sigma by Ahuron
Cyclops by Loganir 8!. VerB6
Dan by Warusaki3
Dan by Warusaki3
Daimon 71113 by Sander71113
Dan by (A05)
Dan by Phantom.of.the.Server
Dante by bugya
Dark Chun-Li by Big Eli King
David Bell by The_None + Balthazar
Death Adder by Mike Obrecht
Deathmasl: by DIKe|eX0
Dee Jay by mmrib
Dee by Gal129
Demitri by vanity13
Devo by Nimame
Dhalsim by Gal129
Diba by MelvanaInChains
Donatello by Dcat Power
Donkey Kong by Exclamation_Question
Donovan by Zelgadis296
Dougster by ("o")
Dr.Doom by Infinite
Dragon Claw by Reu
Drew by (A05)
Duck King by tora
Dudley by Kamekaze
Duo Lon by Chazzanova
E-Terry 71113 by Sancler71113 81 Maximillian J[E]nus
E. Honda by Phantom.of.the.Server
EBE by Masukenpu-kunZ
EDDIE by muteki
EX Rugal by Kamekaze
Eagle by Byakko
Earl by RoySquaclRocks
EarthQuake svc by AcUapan
Earthworm Jim by DrKelexo
Eiji by ikaruga
Electro by Loganir 8!. VerB6
Elena by Umihei
Evil Dan by ilcane87
Evil Ken by Reu
Hanzo by (A05)
Hanzo by Kasumi1030
Haohmaru by Capuchino
Haohmaru by Z Sabre User
Haohmaru by ikaruga
Harima by ("o")
Hashi by Andres Borghi
Hawk by mass
Hayato by Felicity
Heavy D! by Ahuron
Heidern by ikaruga
Hinako by RYO zoos
Hinata Wakaba by Li_Kun & Fervicante
Hiryu by mass
Hokuto by DEMAN
Hol ‘Butt King‘ Funtimes by DrKelexo
Hol horse by y.y
HolHorse by ouchi
Hon-Fu by mouser
Hotaru by GM
Hsien-K0 by Phantom.of.the.Server
Hugo by GM
Hulk by Kamekaze
Hwa Jai by Ahuron
I-N0 by muteki
IGGY by Ga|129
IORO by Error Macro (EMW)
Ibuki by GM
Iceman by Splode
Ingrid by CrazyKoopa
International Karateka by The_None
Iori by Hh
Iori by ikaruga
Ironfist by Ahuron
Ironman by Magus
Ivan Ooze by O Ilusionista
J.P.Po|nareff by Nimame
JAGI by Drowin hokuto
JUSTICE by muteki
Jack Dawson by Exclamation_Question
Jack by NS
Jackie Chan by mass
Jago by Shift b is B
Jamm by mass
Jean Pierre by aclamskie
Jedah by Deuce
Jesse by The_None
Jhun by David Demianoff
Jill by SeanAltly+ DivineWolf
Jimmy by RYO zoos
Jin Kazama by Byakko
Jin smbme by hsiehtm
Jin bros by NRF
Joe Higashi by Byakko
Joe Higashi by ohgaki
Johnny by Shimon
Johnny by muteki
Joker by N61
Jon Talbain by 5p|OC|e
Joseph Joestar by y.y
Joseph by Nimame
Josuke by 220+
Jotaro by Warusaki3
Juggernaut by Splode
Jyashinsai by shimon
Jyubei Yagyu by NRF
Jyuzumaru by Ikaruga
K‘ by ikaruga
K9999 by Silencer 8!. OrochiKOF97
KEN by Kamekaze
KENSHIRO by Drowin bomb
xumo by MASA
KUSANAGI by ikaruga
Kaede by Websta
Kaf Ka by The_None
Kain by Infinite
Kairi by Mr.Karate and Gustavo C. Moraes
Kakyoin Noriaki by Nimame
Kanae by aokmaniac13
Kanji by Silencer
Karin by Phantom.of.the.Server
Karman-Cole by mass
Karnov by aclamskie
Kasumi by KoopaKoot
Kasumi by ikaruga
Kawajiri Kosaku by, ,U,e,a,i
Kazu by The_None
Keith by mouser
Ken 3rd S.G.M. by Renzoku
Ken by GM
Ken by Phantom.of.the.Server & Jmorphman
Kim Kaphwan bylmorphman
Kim Kaphwan bytora
King Lion by Websta
King by N5
Kisarah by mouser
Knuckles by Veanko
Kokesz by Adamlexus
Krang by Dcat Power
Krauser by Infinite
Krauser by ikaruga
Krizalid by Nyankoro
Kula by beppu
Kung Fun Man by MelvanaInChains
Kusanagi by David Demianoff
Kusaregedo by Hh
Ky by muteki
Kyo by Sander71113
Kyo by ikaruga
Kyosuke by Kamekaze
Kyoushirou Senryou by NRF
Laurence by tora
Lee by Hanyu-maru
Leo by Ga|129
Leon by wou
Leonardo by Dcat Power
Leone Abbacchio by amarimono
Li Xiangfei by tora
Licht by Masukenpu-kunX
Lihua by seki-rou
Lilith by misao
Lin by RYO zoos
Lipsyncher by DarkSide Joe
Lord Zedd by DemonLord Of T.M.L.
Lucia Fernandez by On.Off 8!. Fervicante
Lucky by Sander71113
Luke Skywalker by DJ HANNIBALROYCE
Lynn by ikaruga
M.Bison by N-Mario
M.Bison by b54Mario84
M.Bison by Phantom.of.the.Server
MUDMAN by OmegaPsycho
Magaki by jirl
Magneto MVC2ver by Nobuyuki
Mahael by shimon
Major Dutch by ("o")
Makaryudo by DrKelexo
Makoto by NHK
Maraiah by rei
Marco by ahuron
Mari by Duck@ss 81 DJ HANNIBALROYCE
Marrow by Buyog 8!. Ryou Win
Mars People by Websta
Master Huang by l(enshinHimura
Maxima by beppu
Mecha-gorilla by NRF
Mega Man by Felicity
Mexican Typhoon by O Ilusionista
Michael Jordan by Exclamation_Question
Michelangelo by Dcat Power
Micky by N5
Midknight byJuan C3I|0S
Mike Macho Haggar by ("o")
Milan Flare by mass
Ming Ming by XCB
Missing IQ Gomes by ('~b'~)
MissingNo. by The_None
Mizuchi by Websta
Mobo by Roy SquadRocks
Morrigan by Phantom.of.the.Server
Mr. Bear by The_None
Mr. x by SeanAltly
Mr.Big by ikaruga
Mr.HEART by rei
Mr.Karate by CIRIO
Mr.Karate by Warusaki3
Mr.karate2 by beppu
Ms. Fanservice by DrKelexo
Muhammad Ali by Exclamation_Question
Musashi by MelvanaInChains
Muscle Power by GM
NEODIO by jin
Nakoruru by Phantom.of.the.Server
Nameless by Ahuron
Necro by Umihei
Neol(yo 71113 by Sander71113
No-Name by rien
Nool by Gal129
Norimaro by Ahuron
Noroko by Andres Borghi
Number Muncher by DJ HANNIBALROYCE
Omega Red bylwakick
Oni Inomura by Infinite
Orc by ikaruga
Oro by Umihei
Ortega by Dick Buckus
Oswald by ikaruga
Peketo by Andres Borghi
Petshop by rei
Phobos by misao
Pielle by ("o'*)
Poochy by shimon
Possessed Heita by The_None
Potemkin by muteki
Predator by HSR
Prosciutto by amarimono
Psychopath Kyo by DrKelexo
Psylocke by WhiteMagic2002
Pure and Fur by Gladiacloud 8L Beximus
Pyron by vanity13
Q by Umihei
Q-Bee by misao
RANGLE by AnkokuNaitou
REI by ahuron
ROBO-JAM by ukege
ROBO-KY by ukege
Raiden by ("o")
Rainbow Guile by Ikaruga
Ralf by Infinite
Ralf by Vans
Ramda by ikaruga
Ramon by Sander71113
Raphael by Dcat Power
Rasetsumaru by R@CE AKIR@
Rasputin by DarkSide Joe
Rayden by Patrick Ching(Pneophen)
Reject No. 253 by Kamekaze
Remy by Umihei
Ren Idagawa bylango + The_None
Rick Simpsons by ("o")
Rick Strowd by NHK
Rick Taylor by otz-kai
Rikuo by Splode
Rila by DrKeIexo
Robert by Chazzanova
Robo Rock Type-Z by y.y
Robo Rock by y.y
Robo by RoySquadRocks
Roche by mass
Rock by Warusaki3
Rock by ikaruga
Rogue by Splode
Rolento by rei
Roll by hsiehtm
Ronald McDonald by kishio
Rorschach by SeanAlt|y
Rose by varo_hades
Rubber Soul by bad darkness
Ruby Heart by Kamekaze
Rugal by Warusaki3
Ryo by Warusaki3
Ryo by ikaruga
Ryofu by shimon
Ryu by NRF
Ryu by Phantom.of.the.Server
Ryu by Umihei
Ryu by ikaruga
Ryuhi by AnkokuNaitou
SLAYER by muteki
SPY-DAMA by fu-lin
SSF2Xé:‘éw V1 by MASA
SSJ Goku Z2 by Balthazar 8!. Cybaster
Sabretooth by Kamekaze
Sabrewulf by Shift b is B
Sagat by Kamekaze
Sagat by N64Mario84
Sai by Mikita
Saibamen by Balthazar + The_None
Saiki by or2=3
Saisyu by Vans
Saizo by RYO 2005
Saizo by shimon
Sakazaki Ryo by Byakko
Sakura by Phantom.of.the.Server
Sakura by ikaruga
Sandman by McCready 81 Loganir
Sasquatch by Sander71113
Sasuke by ("o")
Scorp by Dick Buckus
Scorpion by Kazmer13
Sean by rei
Segalow by The_None
Senator Lieberman by The_None
Senator by Elecbyte
Sentinel by XsLaught
Sentro by The_None + Balthazar
Setsuna by Orochi Herman
Shadow DIO by Orochi Herman
Shadow DIO by Orochi Herman
Shadow Geist by DEMAN
Shadow Kouma by The_None
Shadow by aokmaniac13
Shaky Jake by MelvanaInChains
Shang Tsung by MelvanaInChains + The_None
Shaq by The_None
Shar-makai by Andres Borghi
Sheen by GM
Shen by ikaruga
Shermie by Anjel
Shimo by ikaruga
Shin Akuma by Phantom.of.the.Server
Shin Akuma by Phantom.of.the.Server
Shin Vega by Kamekaze
Shingo by ikaruga
Shinnosuke Kagami by Orochi Herman
Shion by DrKelexo
Shizumaru by Capuchino
Sho Hayate by ironjw
Sho Kamui by ("o")
ShotoBorg Mk. II by Kamekaze
Shredder by Dcat Power
Shura by GM
Silver Samurai by Corntortillas
Sissy by Chloe
Skate Hunter by Dcat Power
Skaxl Roa by DrKelexo
Sketch Turner by Farengeit
SkulloMania by DEMAN
Skullomania by SeanAltly8LDivineWolf
Slamdunk by The_None
Slash by Inverse
Sodom by Splode
Sol by muteki
Soldier by ikaruga
Bootleg Sonic by Some Guy
Sonic by Veanko
Spider-Man by Kong
Spinal by Shift b is B
Spiral by Luchini
Stingray by Infinite
Storm by WhiteMagic2002
Strawbelly Jam by MelvanaInCha|ns
Street Fighter Is Boring You Idiots by The Doritos Factory
Strider Hiryu by Splode
Suave Dude by Masukenpu-kun
Sub-Zero by Pneophen
Sun Wu Kong by MelvanaInChains
Super Mario by ShinRyoga BL NeOaNkH
Superman by Hannibal/Kal-Elvis and Friends
Syous by JC
Tabasa by NHK
Tails by Veanko
Takuma by Victorys
Tao Jun by Yes
Tengu Gou Hibiki by (unknown)
Terry by GM
Terry by Warusaki3
Terry by ikaruga
Tetsu by XCB
Thanos by -Whip|ash-
The Griffon by GM
Thor by Loganir 81. BlackDragon
Thunder Megazord by Pyrovivi
Tiffany Lords by Fervicante
Tiger by Dick Buckus
Titan The Great by ("o")
Todo by rei
Toelam by RoySquadRocks
Tony Won by mitai dake
Torao Onigawara by NHK
Trident by Keioh
Trigger by mass
Trouble Man by DrKelexo
Tung Fu Rue by Websta
Tusk by Shift b is B
Twelve by rei
Ukyo by intense_mc
Unlucky Glauber by Ahuron
Urien by One Winged Angel
Urien by Umihei
VENOM by muteki
Vanessa by Deuce
Vanilla Ice by Warusaki3
Vega by N64Mario84
Vega by rei
Vegeta Z2 by Balthazar 8!. Cybaster
Vergil by bugya
Vice by OrochiKOF97
Vice by or2=3
Victor by CNGSOFT
Viper by The_None
WERLECK by AnkokuNaitou
Wario by Warner
Washizuka by ikaruga
Well by SeanNot|y
Whip by Hh
White Buffalo by shimon
Wolf by The_None
Wolf by ikaruga
Wolverine by Sander71113
Wonder Woman by Loganir
Wooden_Do|| by Rick
Xavier Pendragon by Keioh and Juan Carlos
Xenomorph by HSR
YAMAZAKI by zzzasd
Yamazaki by Sander71113
Yamazaki by Warusaki3
Yang by Kamekaze
Yashiro by Ahuron
Yun by F|owaGir|
Yun by Umihei
Yun by Warusaki3
Yuri by Phantom.of.the.Server
Yurika Kirishima by Fervicante
Z-Akuma by N64Mario
ZAGI by ukege
ZAPPA by muteki
Zabel by misao
Zangief by Kamekaze
Zangief by Sodonl-IID
Zangief by rei
ZangiefHD by or2=3
Zankuro by misao
Zero by marktwo_ism
alessi by Hh
arina by NHK
baldhead by bad darkness
boss by amarimono
buguu by Masukenpu-kun by NGI
cheng by krunkest404
dan by Warusaki3
dirtyfat by NGI
doppo orochi by tokage
evilmiopinja by NGI
footee by NHK
fungi by Masukenpu-kunZ
gen_an by KusareMiyabi
giano by AIDUZZI
giant by yumehiko
hasshie by Masukenpu-kunZ
judy by NGI
kagemaru by Masukenpu-kun
kangaru by Masukenpu-kun
karla by mass
kiriko by NHK
kou by Ikaruga
kuando by AIDUZZI
kung fu man by N64Mario
michaeljackson by RyuUi SinYongKwon
miopinja by NGI
ninja by Masukenpu-kun
order-sol by muteki
ouyang feng by NGI
peijin-san by Masukenpu-kun
pucca-toppo by Masukenpu-kunZ
pulse-K by Masukenpu-kunZ
rainbow by NGI
rasetsumaru by ali
roomi by ali
santaurus by NGI
shishimaru by ali
silkheart by Masukenpu-kunZ
simple by Masukenpu-kun
sumo by Masukenpu-kun
tamtam by ali
tarochan by Masukenpu-kun
tesse by NHK
trish Una by, ,U,e,a,i
wraith by ("o")
yamazaki by Hh
zantetsu by Nyankoro

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cool Games Showcase: Tabletop Simulator

Tabletop Simulator is one of the most interesting and exciting PC games I've seen in a long time. Its got me rethinking what a digital game is and has potentially limitless depth. I must say that the developers have done a pretty lousy job marketing their own product- there’s a lot more to this than the table flip.

In case you don't know, and the name isn't obvious enough, Tabletop Simulator is a simulator of physical games. Tabletop Sim isn’t really a computer game in the normal sense as the software doesn’t regulate moves, rules and victory conditions. It is indeed less a game and more a tool for playing games.

To play the games you manipulate physics-based objects in the exact same way you’d use a physical table. If you have to move a piece 3 spaces then you must grab the piece with your virtual hand and move it one, two, three spaces. Dice rolls aren’t a random number generator you click on- they’re modelled three-dimensional objects you have to toss across the table- just don’t be over-zealous and pelt them off the table. Actions like that make Tabletop Sim far more immersive than any other digital board game conversions.

Connect 4
The controls are very smartly designed and cover pretty much all of the actions you would want to take when handling dice, models or cards. You can easily flip and rotate anything. If you throw any cards in your direction, they will snap into a hand area, obscuring their faces from the other players. Its smart decisions like this that prevent the virtual hand from becoming too cumbersome to manipulate with a mouse. The devs have succeeded in simplifying the most repetitive actions you’d perform with a board/card game. Some tasks are easier to do in TS than real life like the ability to shuffle cards by just shaking the mouse or the ability to snap placed objects onto a grid. I also must praise the ability to see a close-up of a card at anytime by holding alt. That one feature has probably saved me a ridiculous amount of time moving the camera. There is also controller support that I’m yet to try out myself.

Cards Against Humanity
Tabletop Sim really does just give the players some objects on flat surface. Its up to the humans involved to follow the rules and maintain a semblance of order. In spite of the inclusion of some admin powers, the potential for griefing is great. That is, if you were to play with strangers. In the 30+ hours I’ve played Tabletop Simulator, its always been with a small group of internet buddies with a skype chat running in the background. Its perfectly possible to play games with strangers- there is a standard server browser- but on a personal, social basis, I can’t bring myself to jump into a random server as TS requires chat. Perhaps there are more outgoing people out there than me but if I play a board game then I personally would choose to sit at a table with friends rather than with strangers. This review is now veering in a more personal direction so it would suffice to say that I can’t completely exclude the possibility of using TS as a way of meeting new people. Board games are relatively slow affairs compared to video games and are therefore excellent pastimes for socialising. You can even goof off while waiting for your slow friend, flinging coins in their direction and inflating the size of cards… which is slightly less a ‘simulation’ but its all good, stupid fun.

Boss Monster
Honestly, in reviewing Tabletop Simulator I have to get into the very appeal of board and card games as a whole. The impressive quality of TS is that it can take all of into the digital realm. The two main benefits of this transition are:
  1. You can play board games with your friends across the internet, including the friends you’ll most likely never meet in person.
  2. TS could theoretically offer unlimited games developed by other players all of which are untethered by any restrictions hard-coded into the software.
That second point is a bit of a legal and perhaps even moral issue- so lets elaborate on it. Tabletop Simulator has mod support. This means that anyone can replicate any board game to have ever existed. There are perhaps some that can’t be 100% accurately remade but with custom models there are very few limits. For deckbuilding games such as Magic The Gathering you can independently make a deck in one mod, save it, then carry that across into another game to pit it against an opponent (who is wielding their own custom deck).

Mods that use copyrighted assets are nothing new but these mods let you replicate the game experience as a whole. Imagine LittleBigPlanet let you download the original Super Mario Brothers. Not as a reskin of the floatly Sackboy adventures but as a replication so accurate you might as well be playing the game on a NES emulator. It would be a legal nightmare and the mods of TS very much border on this concept.

I haven’t heard of anything too controversial on the Tabletop Sim front, but that may be because of how relatively obscure it is at the moment. Whether or not these mods do indeed break any laws isn’t my decision to make. As it stands, the issue is whether or not you, the player, have a problem with it . To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with it at all and actually consider the mods to be the main selling point of the product. Perhaps I was wrong about the poor marketing; perhaps the devs chose to hold that particular selling point closer to their chest.

For me, having mods is like having access to an unlimited toy-box and the vast majority of my time has been dedicated to playing copyrighted material (particularly Dominion). To defend the mods (and possibly justify my own use of them) these game are still mere recreations of the real products. One could argue that playing mods may encourage more people to buy the real physical board game. I know my numerous online sessions of Dominion has encouraged me to play more of it in person, which I have done so. I also look forward to buying my next expansion pack soon.

Tabletop Sim also includes some standard copyright-free games such as chess and reversi. There are normal decks of playing cards and given how many games you can play with those alone TS may still be a sound investment without requiring mods. The truly creative may use the mod capabilities to create their own original games. TS may even prove to be an ample testing ground for new board game designs.

Tabletop Simulator is an excellent union of digital games and traditional physical games. It’s a testament to the fact that board games have social qualities that a digital game will never be able to replicate- even if that amounts to nothing more than being able to fling the pieces around like an idiot. It should go without saying at this point but this should not be purchased if you have zero interest in playing with others. Solitaire only goes so far. This is a social game. Buy it with the intention to play with friends. If all of this sounds appealing to you, it may even be worth buying Tabletop Simulator in a pack of 4, as I did. This ensures that you’ll have some people to play with and may even prove to be one of the best gaming purchases you’ve ever made. It did for me.