What better way to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart(s) than playing one of the oldest and best freeware local multiplayer deathmatch games, Liero? Released in 1998 by Finnish programmer Joosa Riekkinen, Liero quickly became a cult classic for its slick controls, destructible terrain, and numerous diverse weapons. Although the original source code was lost, fans have released a number of successful clones and remakes, such as NiL and Gusanos.
Last year, however, a new, “official” version of Liero was released, 1.36. Although not developed by Joosa Riekkinen, Liero 1.36 is more or less an exact simulation of the original and has received the creator’s blessing to use the name. This update runs “on almost any OS”, fixes the few bugs that were present in Liero 1.33, and also adds a host of welcome features, such as post-game stats and an enjoyable new mode, called “Hold a Zone”, where players must claim and protect small zones for a specified period of time.
The AI is also significantly improved, making single-player Liero a viable way to play for the first time. So even if you’re your own Valentine today there’s no reason why you can’t also enjoy the sweet sounds of bleeding worms violently grunting amidst hails of Zimms, Mini-Nukes, Banana Bombs, and other classic weapons.
Frozen Endzone entered public beta toward the end of last year. This futuresport uses the same turn-based system that was implemented so well in Frozen Synapse, the creator’s first game – instead of players taking discrete turns, there is a planning phase before both players’ moves are executed simultaneously. The sport behind Frozen Endzone bears some small resemblance to American football, with robotic athletes running and passing a ball to reach the endzone, although obstacles (both hand-crafted and randomly-generated) are present on the field.
Mode 7 is planning all the single and multiplayer features that are expected of such a title, but are counting on a successful beta period to help them achieve these goals. So if this type of game sounds like your thing, you should take a look – the developers clearly know what they’re doing with fast-paced tactics titles.
After what seems like forever on the exhibition circuit, Mark “messhof” Essen’s fighting game Nidhogg has been finally released, on Steam. In it, two players face off in a fencing duel across one of four surreal arenas. Death is temporary, but comes swiftly and gives the other player a brief opportunity to race towards the “goal-zone”, thereby winning the match (and receiving the honor of being devoured by a dragon). Early versions of the game let you attack, parry, jump, and throw your sword, but the release adds some new moves, like sweep kicks and jumping off walls.
Nidhogg offers local and online multiplayer, a single-player mode, and a tournament mode that supports 3-8 local players. The dynamic soundtrack is by electronic musician Daedalus.
You play a samurai wielding a sword and a gun in a small arena, and the first player to 10 kills wins. The fast paced gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who has played Towerfall’s versus mode, though Samurai Gunn is more focused on close-ranged combat as your bullets are limited and easily deflected.
There’s not a great deal of content for the 15 dollar price tag, with nothing but the basic versus mode and a co-operative survival mode. However, the game has a great deal of polish put in to it and part of the fun is discovering the subtler mechanics, like changing stances or playing dead– or just tapping the up button in the post-game scoring to make it look like your character is laughing.
The game also has phenomenal sound design, with excellent music by Doseone (which was released as an EP with added vocals), and a different voice for each character.
Playing the beta for Santa Ragione’s upcoming indie title, MirrorMoon EP, I am immediately reminded of another game of space exploration, Noctis. Like that spiritual predecessor, MirrorMoon EP sees players drifting aimlessly from star system to star system in a shared, procedurally-generated “galaxy,” exploring planets littered with strange features and mysterious ruins. A bit of multiplayer flair is added by the ability for players to name any system that they are the first to explore – a designation that will be seen by any other players exploring that galaxy. Throw in a bit of the zen-like feel of Proteus and an interactive cockpit that draws inspiration from the infamous controller from Steel Battalion, and I quickly found myself entirely immersed in this gem of a game.
Scheduled for release on September 4th, MirrorMoon EP is currently in beta (available for a discounted pre-order price of $8.99USD), providing players with a tutorial level from the planned single-player “Side A” and thousand-system galaxies on the multiplayer “Side B.” Santa Ragione have ensured that the game will procedurally create new galaxies as needed so that there will always be new systems to explore, and they are also actively using player feedback from the beta to shape the gameplay and puzzles encountered throughout the game. So why not check it out and let them know what you think?
[This is a guest post by phubans.]
Here’s a guest review for Mercenary Kings. I even made a video to go with it!
Mercenary Kings is simply amazing. You can always tell when you like a game – you start playing it and spend the next 8~ hours continuing to play it. It’s that good. When I started out, I did the online co-op with a few friends over a Skype call, playing on my TV with a gamepad for the full experience. Co-op was great, but I kept playing for hours after everyone else left, completely immersed in the level of depth the game had to offer.
Let me just say that this game seems to have ticked all the right boxes. It goes without saying that a game featuring the awesome art and animation of Paul Robertson is going to look great, but beyond that it even feels great; the feedback couldn’t be better. The music is also one of the game’s strong points, with driving, energetic tunes that will have you humming along. But as great as it looks, sounds, and plays, I think the most compelling feature of the game is the weapon crafting system.
As you play the game, enemies and chests will drop common, uncommon, and rare materials. Back at base camp you can use these to craft weapons, armor, and accessory upgrades. But it isn’t as simple as upgrading your gun to level 2. Perhaps the greatest aspect of Mercenary Kings is that every part of your gun is customizable – the receiver, the barrel, the stock, the magazine, etc. Using this system you can mix and match to create one of thousands of unique possible combinations.
The game also features a rank system where you’ll rank up by completing various missions, including scenarios like hostage rescue, scavenger hunts for materials, and simply neutralizing or capturing enemies and bosses. Completing some missions will unlock new NPCs to interact with as well new missions, areas, and weapon parts to craft.
If RPG elements aren’t enough to sell a Metal Slug-type game for you, then it’s probably not your cup of tea, but as far as games in this genre go, this one is pretty great and easily one of the best games I’ve played so far in 2013. For fans of the Contra and Metal Slug series who also enjoy high-level weapon customization and RPG elements, this game is most certainly a must buy.
Coinciding with the retail release of the OUYA today is the release of Matt Thorson’s TowerFall, a 4-player versus platformer that is being hailed as the console’s “killer app” on websites like Penny Arcade Report. In the game, each player controls an archer and the goal is to slay your opponents with arrows. Power-ups such as bomb arrows, shields, and wings add variety to the matches, which take place in one of 70 single-screen arenas. The focus is on local multiplayer, but TowerFall does include single-player challenges where you have to destroy dummy targets in a certain amount of time.
Currently, TowerFall is an OUYA exclusive, although Matt has expressed interest in a PC port somewhere down the road. The game’s graphics are by Studio Miniboss (Deep Dungeons of Doom) and the soundtrack is by Alec Holowka (Aquaria).
Skulls of the Shogun was released today on XBLA and Windows 8/Surface/Phone. Inspired by fast-paced tactics titles like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, Skulls promises relatively deep and engaging decision-making based around a simple ruleset and a limited number of units (7 total, including the singular General unit). Also, the game eschews grid-based, menu-based movement – instead, players move their units within a circle that represents the maximum distance they can travel each turn.
On top of a “15-hour” singleplayer campaign and hotseat local multiplayer, Skulls of the Shogun also offers an online multiplayer mode can be played between platforms.
Desperate Gods is an open source “digital board game” developed by Wolfire Games for Fuck This Jam, a week-and-a-half-long game jam based around making games in genres you generally dislike. In his design overview, Wolfire’s David Rosen describes how he enjoys board games but feels that their video game counterparts lack a lot of what makes them fun. Check out the video above to see how he and artist Aubrey Serr tried to overcome these problems while developing a unique board game from the ground up.
Described as an “experimental, winner-generated arcade roguelike”, Mercury is a simple dungeon crawl that allows the two top-scoring players at the end of each 4-day cycle to permanently add something new to it. Released as beta last month, the game began with only one monster, item, and class, but has since been expanded by the leading players in its community. There’s also a Chaos Mode, which allows anyone to add new entities to the game at any time (this is an easy way to see how the creation system works).
Combat is handled like any other roguelike: you deal and receive damage by stepping into an enemy’s tile. The scoring system, however, is based around killing bosses for multipliers and clearing a floor of monsters for a large point bonus. The player also has to manage a finite pool of actions that is only replenished by descending to the next floor.
Mercury was created by James Lantz, with artwork by his father Frank Lantz (Drop7). Since the game’s in beta, it’s still being worked on actively – in his latest blog post, James says that future updates may allow players to create private servers.
(Source: Jason Rohrer)