Has it really been five weeks since I started writing this column? How time flies in the land of the free, eh? From Siamese twin combat to a sprinter with little control over his legs, it's been an interesting ride through the weirder nooks and crannies of the games industry. Usually when people write intros like this it's with a “but that was then and this is the end of the road.” Not this time. I just couldn't think of anything better this week. On with the games then.
A typing game where there's a spelling mistake on the main menu? OK, it doesn't necessarily inspire confidence, but that's what you're presented with when you first load up QWERTY Warriors. It's ideal for the office, if you can keep the sound off. Typing a lot makes you look like you're doing work, instead of defeating enemies approaching your stationary gun-wielding character by correctly spelling out the words underneath them. It starts off slowly, three-letter enemies emerging occasionally. Soon, your foes are streaming towards you, chipping away at your health while you frantically hammer away at the keys.
Power-ups provide momentary respite, with 'detonate' killing all on-screen enemies and 'fullhealth' doing what it says on the tin. And that's it. Type until your fingers fall off or your health reaches zero. Like any typing game, it's compelling stuff in a basic fashion. See if you can beat my score of 58280 on Medium, with a 98% accuracy average.
Glorg ditches the keyboard completely and focuses entirely on one button only, the left mouse one, to be precise. It's a dungeon crawler and loot collecting RPG game at heart, but one that's been stripped of everything bar that singular button.
It's more of a proof of concept than an attempt to create a great game, designed to demonstrate that even the most sophisticated genres can be turned into simplistic fare. A case for simplifying games or an example of why they shouldn't be? Or just a swipe at the foundations of our beloved hobby?
When you find enemies, combat involves clicking quickly to block and charging your own strikes up to varying degrees to inflict damage. Once you've cleared all the rooms, you go up to the next level and start again. Music is provided by the guy who did Super Meat Boy's tunes and the visuals are cute and cuddly, your Leela-esque main character an adventuring cyclops. It's worth a bash, but not necessarily one you'll ever come back to.
Everyone wants to advance in life, nobody more so than the main character in PixelJam's latest Corporate Climber. He cares so much, he's perfectly willing to die for his dream, which is a good thing as his office block is filled with a plethora of traps and perilous situations.
To climb the corporate ladder and rule the business planet, you've got to get to the elevator and literally move up in the world. Starting off naked in the basement, your first task is to get promoted to Sewage Surveyor by jumping over rats and entering the opposite elevator, where an effluent operative's uniform awaits.
As you progress, you begin to realise that this thing is tough. You'll die, a lot, but it'll take you less than an hour to finish if you persevere. There's also a level skip function if you decide to come back later and give it another shot. Delivered with the usual sense of humour that punctuates PixelJam's stuff, it's an amusing little affair. Why not make that grab for personal glory yourself by trying it out?
It's getting a bit of press now, so what better time than the present to discuss Super Crate Box, the game with the name suspiciously similar to one about meat. You know the one I mean. Anyway, you, as a bewigged (I think, he might just have big eyebrows) square character, have to avoid and/or kill enemies on a simple one-screen platform game affair, while collecting crates, hence the name.
It's very addictive, but it's also very hard and can be immensely frustrating. It makes up for all this with a raft of cool weapons and devices to use against your green block-y foes, although you score not by killing but simply by collecting the titular crates. It's tough, frustrating but ultimately a good laugh.
Finally, this week's classic freeware pick is another of Foddy's works, Little Master Cricket. You can even buy it for the iPod touch and the iPhone, if you want to branch out into the land of using money to pay for goods and services for a while.
Like most of Foddy's games, it's all about physics. Your gangly batsman needs to fend off an unlimited supply of bouncers, googlies and other devilish deliveries without getting his stumps uprooted or smacking the ball into the areas marked with yellow and black lines. Runs are awarded for hitting certain areas and the faster you score, the bigger the multiplier you get is.
So, you could play safe and just dab deliveries away for singles, but you'll take ages to get a big score. Take the risk, whack the ball for six, and you get the reward. Sometimes the batsman doesn't respond properly to your mouse movements, and at other times you'll accidentally swing backwards and smash the ball onto your stumps, but in general this is a fiendishly addictive time-waster that has been doing the “You've gotta play this!” e-mail recommendation rounds for many years. Get that wood in your hand and give those balls a good walloping, that's what I say!