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David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

Author:
David Brown
Category:
Features
Tags:
Browser games, Free Play, PC games

David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

It's Sunday morning, I overslept and now it's time to play some freeware games. Today, you see, I don't want to play freeware games, not at all. But you, you slavering pack of wild dogs baying for the blood and sweat of indie developers, you demand it of me. So I must obey, your humble servant. But it won't stop me calling you a bunch of ****ers for it, though.

Right, so you want games? Here, have Legends of Kong, which doesn't look like it has anything to do with giant monkeys or that female wrestler out of TNA. But is this Kong awesome or is it just sitting around stripping the leaves off twigs? (Actually it seems to be a tribute to Kongregate.)

You've been sent to deal with an 'incident' by the CEO of an international arms company, so naturally you don't get given any weapons until you buy them. I mean, come on, you're on a top secret, deadly serious mission but that won't stop them refusing to provide you with the tools you need to complete it. That's capitalism for you.

David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

But anyway, once you get into the fight, armed only with your bare fists, it turns out to be a flick-screen action-platformer. Enemies have been mind-controlled by an unknown force and you and a cowardly robot buddy have to descend into the maelstrom and kick ass in the name of international gun peddling.

On the way you find other 'survivors' of the madness, who can be recruited into your motley band of outcasts. Each has a speciality, like Mojo the gun nut. If you control them you get more of a bonus when you finish the level, but you can also lose them forever if they die. If you use your main character, he never perma-dies, but he also gets less of a bonus for finishing levels.

Even though I was in a rotten mood coming into it, this has won me over. It's got a lot of depth considering and has what might be described as 'slow-paced platform action' to please the cack-handed like your correspondent here. It does get more challenging as you go on, but it's not like Super Meat Boy or anything.

As an interlude between the first and second games in our weekly round-up, have a look at this, the first sequel to a game we've featured in these pages. Rebuild 2 is the follow-up to, curiously, Rebuild 1, which we glanced at here.

I'm not going to go through it all again, as it's basically the same thing, just with a variety of tweaks and updates. Still worth a play for those who didn't sink themselves into the first, though.

David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

Now, after two games in which you use a lot of buttons, here's one where you use a single solitary one. Gauge involves pressing the space bar a lot.

What you've got to do is hammer the bar to keep the titular gauge within some red bars to get points. Touch them and you die, horribly and miserably. Let the bar dwindle into nothing and you also die.

To be honest, this is really boring. Some one button games can be a great laugh, packing a lot of complexity into such a simple mechanism. This isn't one of them. It's designed for stylistic and conceptual reasons rather than to deliver 'fun' and for that it gets the fabled and only just now made up Cowpat of the Week award. Avoid.

This one looks a bit more interesting. The Play is about a stage director trying to get a ragtag cast of pseudo-intellectuals and fops (i.e. actors) to come together and put on the best damn dress rehearsal they can. So, luvvies, how does this take place in the world of gaming?

David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

All you have to do is follow the links to see what happens, Choose Your Own Adventure-style. As one Mr Ainsley M. Warrington, you direct your four-strong cast and crew via the choices you make. Text comes up, you choose the link that moves you forward, not all of them formed into an obvious choice. The first one you get is between a question from an actor or the actor's name. What happens when you click the name? Only one way to find out.

Some of them just describe the situation without moving the story on, while others branch you into different, er, branches. As regular readers know, I much prefer this sort of thing to a tedious art game about chasing a dog or 'finding the meaning behind the giant pixellated cock' or whatever. Call me old school (or worse) but a healthy text life is good. So, while this isn't exciting or pretentious (well, not that much) it's still good for a time waste in an easily hideable browser tab.

If you want some more works of 'interactive fiction', why not also check out Patanoir and The Binary to save me having to basically say the same thing about those two as I did about The Play. Or you can go to the Interactive Fiction Competition website for even more.

David Brown's Free Play | In Which We Learn How To Direct A Play

That's probably enough for now, but let's have one more quickie behind the platforming bike shed before departing, red-faced and out of breath. Mega Mash isn't about the fascinating world of crushed potatoes, but is instead a semi-tribute to old 8-bit cartridge games.

It's really quite excellent, seguing between all sorts of retro gaming genres, tipping its hat to plenty of big-name titles as well. For example, you start off as a bunny jumping around in a suspiciously Mario-esque environment, then you jump off the screen into an R-Type mode for a bit, then back to the bunny to complete the level.

It's very clever, bits of levels being divided up into space or bunny bits, and what's also interesting is that shooting from the space ship back into the bunny world can blow up enemies or rocks. Worth playing just to see in what ways the two wildly different genres can be combined for puzzling effect.

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