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David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

David Brown
Free Play, Freeware games, Man In A Gap, PC games, Ring 27, Tealy Orangey, Z Type, Zombie Home Run

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap
Slim pickings this week, fellow cheapskates. It seems the indie developers have failed to emerge from their hidey holes, leaving only a few scraps here and there for us to forage on. So it is then that we find ourselves battling zombies once again, entering a world of just two colours, yearning to stand in holes in the ground, and hammering the keys with relish.

The undead are everywhere, an argument that they're present in far too many games, films etc. left for another day. For now, let's just concentrate on Zombie Home Run for now, a game where you batter zombies with a baseball bat for eternity.

First thing you'll want to do is turn off the music, incidentally, before cracking on with the undead thwacking action. Once that's done, you'll discover that it's a very simplistic game. Zombies stream down from the top of the baseball pitch and you have to prevent them from exiting through the bottom.

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

Using the mouse to move horizontally from side to side, you press the Z and X keys to swing your large bat. The primary goal is purely to survive, but there's an added coin collection aspect involving hitting zombies into each other. Because, as everyone knows, the living dead are made from gold coins.

There's a storyline to be followed as your batsman exits the baseball stadium in search of survivors and the answer to why zombies are running amok. It's unlikely to grab your attention though and really ZHR is just one to spend a few minutes on and then leave.

Luckily, there are only 7 levels to plough through and it's very easy, so there's no harm in getting all the way through to the end to find out the dastardly secret behind the undead invasion.

We like game names that describe the action contained within, and so Man in Gap was an obvious choice for this column. You're a man and you stand in a gap. That's it.

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

Of course, if you fail to stand in the gap, you get crushed to death. Putting the metallic soundtrack to one side for now, you control a stick figure with the arrow keys, given a couple of seconds to guess where the safest place in a level is.

Usually there are two safe gaps to choose from, although on later levels it can get trickier to determine where they are. Each level is easiest to visualise if you imagine two rows of teeth with two missing.

Your task is to stand in those gaps and so avoid a hideous squashed death. It's a compelling experience and one that's worth trying out, even if it is incredibly limited and you'll never come back to it after the initial play.

Typing games are fun, even if nobody really enjoys typing. We can all do it though, so it seems natural to play them. It does sometimes seem a bit of waste of time playing things like Z-Type and it's not the best example of the genre, if one is being honest.

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

It doesn't really give you any reason to play for extended periods. No points total is in evidence – if there is one, it's hidden away – and there's no reward for progression bar being able to say you got to level X. As if anyone would care where you got to.

It looks fairly swish, with laser beams firing from your craft whenever a correct letter is hit and there being a nice blue vibe to the background, but this can't paper over the rather dull cracks. For it to work, rewards for good play need to be offered. At the time of writing, it's not worth even a curious glance.

Penultimately, it's a Japanese retro shooter to be savoured. Colourful and frenetic, Ring -27 is your typical scrolling arcade blaster, a spaceship shooting constant hordes of other spaceships and then bigger ones at set intervals.

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

It's hard to miss the target when creating a game to this template, and Ring -27 is a fair bit of fun. However, it does seem a little boxed in, with your ship quite slow to manoeuvre around the very small space allowed.

It's very easy to get hit by enemy fire simply because you've got very few places to move to in order to avoid it. Having said that, your correspondent knows he's not exactly a master at these types of things, so is fairly willing to be lenient with the difficulty level issue.

There's a couple of different modes to play in that affect what abilities you have from the start, plus there's plenty of power-ups to collect – even if you'll not necessarily have any idea what they do. All in all, a decent effort and certainly it has more style and excitement to it than Z-Type.

Finally, Tealy & Orangey involves controlling two balls on two levels at the same time. One is blue (or Teal) and one is orange, and they can only be harmed by objects of their own colour.

David Brown's Free Play: Baseball Zombies and Minding The Gap

At first, everything in their levels is the same colour, but at some points the balls can enter the other coloured section where they are safe (until dangerous objects start appearing of their own colour).

Spikes and lasers will be the main cause of your death and while the concept of dual control of objects in the same place at the same time isn't an original one, it's well implemented here and, as such, the puzzles are intriguing.

Things do get pretty tricky pretty early, but it's not for a good while that it becomes too frustrating. It's just a question of keeping an eye on both balls, as the vicar once said to the choirboy.

That's your lot for this week. The football hasn't gone well this week, so I'm off for a bit of an old cry. Toodles.

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