It's a mixture of reviews and news this week, as there are some important bits of information to share, but don't worry, you'll still get your weekly fix of free-to-play fun, starting with a Japanese combat-strategy, er, thing.
Called Samegame Fighter, it sees your hero having to defeat enemies via the medium of object matching. You know, just how like David beat Goliath when he matched three slingshots and his opponent couldn't find three helmets on the same grid. Games = just like real life.
Joking aside, you have a number of options when you step up to the grid. Match weapons and you deal damage to your foe, green potions to restore your own lost health and blue shields to provide yourself with defence. The strength of your attack can be boosted with the collection of fireballs, which will also boost any other item you collect as well. However, match fireballs twice in a row and you lose the effect of your previous set.
The creatures you go up again, one after the other, have different levels of toughness and ability, so some will be hard to take down but weak in attack, while others will be able to ignore the effects of your armour and wound you regardless of how strong your shields are, so you'll need to plan your strategy accordingly. For example, your first enemy gets one attack for every three you have, and although each strike does five base damage, you should be able to take it out easily just by focusing on matching weapons exclusively. The second enemy can do seven base damage, so you'll need to consider defence for the first time. It also has three shields-worth of defence, so your own attacks will need to be stronger. You'll also need to consider boosting your attacks with fireballs too. The third enemy has no defence, but attacks every turn like you do.
As you can tell, there's quite a bit of strategy to this, more so than many other match-and-fight games. It's well worth giving it a shot.
SpyParty isn't a game you can play now, but it is interesting enough for me to mention as one to look out for in the future. Essentially, you can either be a target or a sniper looking in through the window at you.
The idea is that if you're the target, you have to try to blend in with the NPCs and not act conspicuously. If you do, the player doing the sniping will know who you are and be able to win by taking your face off with a bullet. As the spy, you have to also perform tasks while still remaining undetected, with a tell-tale red sniper dot dancing around the screen keeping you on edge.
Now, sadly, it seems this may well cost money to play, but it seems it'll be worth it. The $15 you'd pay to get in on the early beta currently running (or scheduled to run, depending on when you read this) will serve as your pre-order purchase too. So yeah, it's not free but it is worth keeping an eye on.
Moving back onto the free stuff, we have a Mortal Kombat-inspired punch-'em-up called King of the Streets. Weighing in at around 100 megs as a download, there are 8 characters to choose from and it feels very much like Midway's classic spine removal simulator.
The visuals are decent for a freeware fighter and there are the usual story, Vs and training modes to plough through. Story mode is where most of the action will take place, unless you've got a friend who'll give it a go with you.
Each character has a story and a reason behind their entry into this competition, strangely being held in New Zealand. Jinx, the only female character, is a cop who's trying to track down a criminal (who's also in the competition) while Nifo is a Samoan from the wrong side of the Auckland tracks. He also has a penchant for crushing peoples' skulls with a massive hammer.
It's simple stuff, traditional Kombat-style, er, combat. Most special moves involve the usual down-roll-to-direction techniques and rubbish players, like me, will always forget to block. There's a question about the collision detection and how the moves on the screen don't necessarily indicate where your character needs to be to connect with a shot.
The AI is also stupidly handy with the throws and veers between not doing anything to obliterating you with lightning-fast combos. There's a nice touch on some levels where you can be tossed through the scenery and down onto a new part of it.
So yeah, it's a satisfactory enough experience and the finishing moves are pleasingly over the top and gory. It's not worth a 100 meg download though, to be honest, and it could probably have worked better in a browser.
Another piece of news now. If you remember Zombie Cow's Privates you'll be pleased to hear there's some free DLC for the game, a new level to play through and a new character to play as.
The new character's mission is to rescue the heroes of the vanilla game as a new STI attempts to cause trouble. The whole level is appropriately set in a penis too.