Crane Wars

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: June 16th, 2009

Crane Wars, the eighth and latest web game from Phoenix-based Flashbang Studios, is now playable on Blurst, continuing their proud lineage of fun, funky, free, and (often) physics-based games. Crane Wars is a game of dueling construction sites, and the classic battle of Union vs. Scab. Using the crane, stack your buildings high before funding runs out, but beware of sabotage (or should I say scabotage, ho ho). As with other Flashbang games, it starts with this simple, clever mechanic, but quickly turns to madness, with burning rubble covering the ground, trucks flying through the air, and so on.

This post took hours to write cuz I couldn’t stop playing it. You too may play it right here.

Oh yeah! Excellent music by the similarly excellent Alec Holowka. It quite reminds me of Rare’s games on the N64… must be the tuba?

  • BMcC

    I claim all credit/abuse for coining “scabotage.”

  • Tuba

    Must be.

  • BMcC

    Yes, must.

    A CORRECTION: “Scabotage” is used in-game. So yeah, best game ever.

  • BMcC

    Haha, I’m glad you got that out of the way.

  • anothergol

    Don’t know what to say about Flashbang games, I find them all technically perfect, but quite boring. This one again is very well done, and still boring..

    It’s like when Jetpack Brontosaurus came out, pretty much at the same time as Pixeljam’s Dinorun. That was a perfect example of a very well made game that couldn’t match the fun of a game that could almost have ran on a C64.

  • Impossible


  • PHeMoX

    Hahaha awesome.

    But I actually agree, this title has a good concept, but the controls are too far off. Probably has to do with the perspective thing and getting controls to work with that accurately, but it doesn’t quite work.

    I haven’t played that much yet, but it has a difficulty that depends a bit too much on physics quirks.

  • avoidobject

    Is there a standalone version?

  • Raptor-Owl

    I like raptors and owls and stuff. Cranes just aren’t as cool.

  • BMcC

    The controls work quite well once you’re used to them. Currently I’m rank #38 and have got every achievement. And I’m (not so) secretly REALLY BAD at games.

  • MisterX

    Frankly, I also think that while the game is done very well and feels quite polished, it isn’t that much fun. I felt the same about Blush, which has a great atmosphere and all, but the gameplay doesn’t seem to fit very much and generally isn’t too interesting.

    I wouldn’t know what the “problem” would be exactly, I certainly wouldn’t say you guys aren’t capable of making fun games, especially Offroad Velociraptor Safari is great. Maybe you should just take more time making each game, as I could imagine that the time for coming up with and refining a compelling game concept is a little low when you still have to spend much time creating and polishing the technical aspects. Surely, I’d be more interesting in less frequent game releases, but more that I’ll actually play for a longer time and more often, especially when they are that well done :)

  • Ezuku

    Agree, the controls feel a bit off. Perhaps being able to manually adjust the height the crane is at would help, I found it a little tricky to pop stuff on top of other stuff.

    And I dunno, this game really needs a two-player version. And the ability to play as the scamps. Yay.

  • aeiowu

    Do your best to get past the steeper learning curve here. I mean this is TigSource folks, hard difficulty courses through our veins, does it not?

    Because the game relies heavily on a pretty realistic physical simulation there’s a real feel to be had for the crane. I admit, it’s frustrating, but it’s all part of what makes this game pretty engaging. If the crane were easier to control, sure more people would probably get into it. But as it stands now, the people that have the patience to work through it and embrace the controls will be rewarded that much more for it.

    Also, RPSs John Walker had a similar reaction in his recent post,

    Matthew, Steve and Ben sounded off in a cordial fashion as any respectable gentleman would. I thought Matthew’s assessment of the expectations of free games was spot-on and plays a role in the reaction to this game.

    I do think John’s comments are valid, but also (as all things are) it’s really a matter of taste. To be honest, this is probably my favorite Blurst game to date. I’ll be going back to it to perfect my skills because I know there’s sizable room for improvement.

    ps. does anyone else think scab was modeled after swink?

  • UltimateWalrus

    5th place! :3=

    This game is great… I liked Blush, too. I don’t think the controls for those games are too unresponsive. Part of the game is figuring out how to finesse the controls.

  • Ik

    It’s almost too simplistic. Stacking blocks to make buildings really isn’t much fun, especially when the game is quite forgiving. You can slap the segments down wildly off the mark and they’ll all line up when you’ve capped the building. It’s almost a waste of physics.

    And, yeah, the controls are sluggish and annoying. The scabs are throwing cars around and I can’t even swing a block towards their site.

  • BMcC

    What? Of course you can!

  • BMcC

    Believe in yourself, Ik.

  • Eclipse

    Fun fact:
    I’m proud to be maybe the one that inspired this game XD

    During Blush launch we were all waiting the release of the game on Flashbang’s video chat and one of the team was playing with a toy crane while waiting the others to fix some bugs.
    We were waiting for too long so i started a joke writing stuff like “Blush is cancelled, the new game is Crane wars” and so on.. and some of the team giggled to the joke :D Then all the chat started to think about a game about a crane and stuff like that

  • Eclipse

    uhm it was Ben if i remember well :D

  • JamesGecko

    @Ik: The game becomes unbelievably more fun when you realize that holding down spacebar is essentially “fling stuff at the scabs” mode.

  • Malasdair

    Flashbang are pretty much the best at what they do, and Crane Wars is not an exception to this in any way.

    I wish Paper Moon still had a 3-D glasses option, but still!

  • Flamebait

    I think I’d like this if the controls were completely different.

  • Flamebait

    ^ That wasn’t meant to be a quick snarky comment, I must’ve somehow hit tab then enter. To clarify, this is literally the hardest game I’ve ever played. If the controls were at a lower level, such as manipulation of the crane rotation, arm length, and hook height, I’d be able to get into it, because the rest of the game seems pretty awesome.

  • aeiowu

    @flamebait haha seriously? The hardest game you’ve ever played? Kid Icarus? Megaman 2? Commandos? Sexy Hiking?

    Crane Wars isn’t even close to as hard as those, besides it’s a timed/points game. To “win” you just keep the game open! ;)

  • Flamebait

    ^ I don’t tend to play punishingly difficult games. What I meant was I can’t even play it compotently, whereas with other games that are too hard for me, I just can’t play well enough. I realize it’s a timed game.

  • dg-studio

    I don’t care if the game is hard to play
    seeing the physics is enough to me to enjoy it.

  • strong

    i really enjoyed this game. you need to think less of building things and more of having mad crane flinging wars with the scab and preventing anything they do, because that’s the most fun bit to me.

    using the right mouse button to lower the hook would be cool, but i think the maddening destruction you make while playing is part of the fun of the game.

    i’ve loved all of blurst’s games so far except jetpack brontosaurus. that one i didn’t dig for some reason.

  • Joe

    My bosum buddy Tim Langell invented this concept back in the 90’s and he’s gonna sue you for ripping him off, you nutty nutbags!

  • Tom

    I’m Tom (no relation to Tim) and I have to agree with Joe. Tim’s going to sue you nutty nutters like a nut in a blender and that’s my professional legally opinion.

  • AmnEn

    Sadly can’t play the game properly. I can’t change views (it just doesn’t accept the keypress) and instead the view randomly shifts around every once in a while. Especially annoying if this prevents you from building a tower cause your viewport is showing you the buildings to the left. Oo

  • PHeMoX

    @BMcC: Perhaps you are simply more patient than I am, as the faster I want to accomplish things in the game, the worse the controls get.

    Because it’s a time based game, I really think this is annoying.

    Compared to say Velociraptor Safari, this game truly is less enjoyable when it comes to it’s controls. (I like the humor though and art style is great as always).

  • Paul Jeffries

    If they’d just spent a little more time on this, this would have been a really good game. However, they didn’t, and it isn’t.

  • strong

    this game really needs a mode where you have no time limit

    but that’s true for every flashbang game ever.

  • s0ffex

    it needs bullet time so you can avoid cars scabs threw also multiplayer mmo style

  • Icarus9

    WTF s0ffex? WTF?

  • PHeMoX

    @34 / 35:

    Actually it wouldn’t be a bad idea to expand on the ‘make a building with a crane’ thing and turn it into something a bit more like Sim City Online.

    Build cities next to other people’s cities, move your crane (perhaps on fixed places to keep it feasible to make), throw stuff to people online.

    Could be a hell of a lot of fun!

    I also sort of agree that some of their games need a ‘practice’ mode where there’s no time limit. On the other hand, their games have always been about achieving a high-score anyway.

    I’d love to see a Blurst / Flashbang game where they are telling an RPG story though. It would be FRESH!