Fluidity for WiiWare

Fluidity on Nintendo’s WiiWare may be best game I’ve played all year. My only criticism is that the plot is thin – the main character is a puddle, supporting cast is a book and the enemies are flaming slugs made of ink. However, Fluidity is a puzzle game. The plot doesn’t need to be strong, the puzzles do. I’ve only played for 2 and half hours so far, but in that time no two puzzles were alike.

Swords and Soldiers for WiiWare

Thor, from Swords & Soldiers

I’ve been playing Swords and Soldiers on Nintendo WiiWare for the past week so. It’s billed as a “Sidescrolling, 2D Realtime Strategy game”, where the player takes control of one of 3 different factions: the Aztecs, the Vikings, or the Chinese. The generalization of real world races comes across as slightly racist at times, but Romino Games wasn’t going for accuracy. According to their February 8th press release:

“We’ve done plenty of research into the historic background of the three factions. And then we threw all of it out of the window, but made up some entertaining bits which seemed sort of more fun. Finally, we added some other totally irrelevant funny bits about hot sauce and bolted them on for maximum absurdity.”

And therein lies the first element of the game’s charm. It’s goofy and offbeat humor are less offensive then the cartoons I grew up with 20 years ago. The game’s lingo speaks to a younger generation of internet uses without alienating other games. There are achievements names like “4 the Horde!”, “RickRolled” and Viking’s saying “nom nom” as they eat barbecued meat.

The second element is the seemingly limited control you have over the on screen action. The player has 3 methods of interacting with the game:

  1. Building Units
  2. Casting Spells
  3. Choosing Paths – certain levels only

When you build a unit, it immediately starts marching towards the enemy base. Arrow sign post You can’t make it wait for more units, and you can’t have it speed up or slow down to keep pace with other unit types. This necessitates building just the right unit at just the right time, especially when resources are limited. For most of the spells you can cast, you’ll have to to choose a target. On certain levels you click an arrow to direct your troops to take either the high road or the low road. Often this doesn’t matter at all, but it can be used strategically to bypass the opponent’s forces, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

Initially such limited controls seems like they would make the game boring. Indeed, a player can button-mash their way through the Viking campaign as they get used to creating different types of units, upgrading, and casting spells. The Aztec campaign, which I have yet to complete, offers much more challenge, with many stages requiring well-timed spells and units and I imagine that the Chinese campaign will only offer more varied and exciting game play.

My bottom line: For the hours of fun an varied gameplay Swords & Soldiers offers, it’s well worth the $10.

Healadin Guides

Paladin IconI’ve been playing a Holy Paladin in World of Warcraft for several years now, with time off between the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. Since hitting level 80 and getting into heroic instances, I’ve been trying to absorb the collective wisdom of paladins holier then myself, in order to become the best healer I can be.

I started off with the Holy Paladin Guide at elitistjerks.com, based off recommendations by the folks at The Instance podcast. The Elitist Jerks guide goes into great detail about each tool in a holy paladin’s arsenal, plus it covers glyphs, consumables (potions and food), add-ons and talent builds. It focuses on where you want your holy paladin to end up, so parts of it may be out of reach if you’ve just hit 80, but the talent builds and glyphs are easy and inexpensive ways to boost your healing as soon, or even before you hit level 80.

The second guide, which I only recently discovered, is Paladincraft.net‘s Pre-Raid Gear List for Paladins, specifically their Holy Gear Guide. As the name implies, this guide gives you some very basic guidelines for what stats a holy paladin will need to get into level 80 raids, and then lists gear that will help you meet that criteria, arranged by slot, along with where to acquire each piece and suggested enchants. This guide is great because it helps someone new to level 80 focus on which heroics to run and which reputation to grind as they build up to raiding.

As far as caveats go, searching for the Elitist Jerk’s guide always leads me to an old version of the post, but the latest is stickied in the Elitist Jerk’s Paladin class mechanics forum. Also, much of the information that I linked directly to may be out of date as soon as Patch 3.1 drops. Consider yourself warned.

A Boy and His Blob (Wii)

One of my most cherished, and most lent, NES cartridges was A Boy and His Blob. In the game the player controls a boy, who is aided by a blob like creature. The blob can assume different forms depending on the flavor of jelly bean he is fed. Together they explore the sewers, gathering enough treasure to purchase yet more jellybeans and vitamins that they use to poison the evil emperor of Blobolonia, freeing it’s people from his merciless rein.

I was excited to learn (from Joystiq via GoNintendo via Nintendo Power)that a new Wii Boy and His Blob was in development by WayForward Technologies. I was ecstatic when I saw the artwork as I’m a big fan of the hand-drawn art stye. There aren’t really any details beyond what’s in Nintendo Power, but I look forward to hearing more about this game and hopefully purchasing it.

Desktop Tower Defense

Desktop Tower Defense

./ linked to this article on the most addicting flash games available. I can’t vouch for any other then Desktop Tower Defense, which is the most instantly-addicting flash game that I’ve ever played. Like all good flash games, it only takes a few minutes understand the mechanics, but you’ll quickly be challenging yourself to beat your own score and those of others. I’d write more, but I’m still trying to get all the way through a medium-difficulty game without losing a life.

Half Life 2 Episode 2 and Portal shipping (downloading) October 9th

Although the official website is severely lacking in the details department, I was excited to see Joystiq reporting today that Half Life 2 Episode 2 and Portal (along with Team Fortress 2, which I don’t really care about) will be available on game developer Valve‘s Steam service on October 9th, 2007. The games will also be available on PS3 and Xbox 360 (both of which I also don’t care about). My interest in Half Life started with the stunning visuals and phsyics engine, but I was drawn in by the story. I played through Half Life: Source to see how the mess at Black Mesa started and then played Episode 1 as soon as it was available. Episode 1 leaves you hanging just as much as the end of Half Life 2 does, so I’m sure I’ll have to play through episode 2 just to see what happens next.

Portal, on the other hand, I’ll play to see how it’s perversion of physics plays out. The trailer (see below) generated a lot of buzz when it was first released, and it looks like it could be lots and lots of fun. I’ve marked my calendar with the release date, but 4 months can be a long time. Based on Valve’s past performance, I’m sad to say that I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pushed back in 2008.

Nintendo Revolution – for the faint of heart

The fine folks over at Engadget(One of my twice daily work reads) and Joystiq did an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the genius behind the Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong franchises, to name a few. They asked him questions, mostly about Nintendogs, but the one thing that that came out of this interview that was still left up to speculation up until now was the existence of a traditional or “classic” controller for the Revolution. In Miyamoto’s own words:

From our perspective the Revolution controller is the new controller, everything else is now the classic controller. And with this expansion, you’ll be able to have a classic controller that expands the functionality of the core unit. … We’ve got something that would be very similar in style and form to the Wave Bird already complete. … We’ve retained all the functionality of the classic-style controller, so that people who are familiar with games and familiar with that style of game play are going to be able to have the types of experiences that they’re expecting, on top of all of these new experiences that they’ve never imagined before.

Nintendo Revolution, Shigeru Miyamoto