Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did my D&D Tiny Adventurer Just Score?

I've just joined Facebook a few days ago. I've held out so long because I thought I only needed one personal networking site (in case you're curious, mine was Friendster). Turns out I really needed only one: Facebook. It was like love at first sight...

But this post wasn't meant to be a rant about Friendster like that site's a bad ex-girlfriend. No, this is about my only reason for finally getting a Facebook account: to try out the D&D Tiny Adventures app I've heard so many wonderful things about.
So I got the account, and immediately started playing the game. It was easy enough to get into, even if you have no idea what D&D is; you just pick a character out of the eight offered, give him (or her) a name, and your D&D Tiny Adventurer is ready to be sent out on adventures to earn gold (every adventurer wants the shiny, of course), nifty gear (hopefully magical and ones he can equip), and experience points (so he can level up, to tackle on greater adventures).

You don't have to be slaved to your monitor during all these. D&DTA was designed for "sporadic gameplay" (as the designers described it): you pick an adventure and you can come back later to check if it has ended. Each adventure takes a number of encounters--challenges that test your adventurer's various traits and abilities (like his combat prowess or intellect or even his defenses)--and your hero will go through these encounters one by one, at a rate of about 10 minutes in real time. Each time your adventurer completes an encounter, reports posted to provide you with running story updates of what's happened so far.

These are most often amusingly written, like this, the final encounter of the Level 7 adventure, Hidden Shrine of Nahautl:

So did I just score? XD
Hmm. I started out just wanting to post this amusing screenie and ended up doing a review of the app, and this post had gotten quite awkwardly long. Í think I'll have to end it here with the recommendation that this app is not for D&D fans with lots of time to waste; with the "sporadic gameplay" design, everyone with access to these Internets should be playing this.

So get it now, add me as a friend (friends can heal and buff you!), and start leveling up!

Drakensang: Tne Dark Eye

Finally got a copy of this latest PC role-playing game based on the popular German pen-and-paper RPG, Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye). The tabletop game was first published way back in the early '80s but it wasn't until 2003 that it was released in English. Back in the 1990s though, a trilogy of CRPGs called the Realms of Arkania was published, along with English translations of the 3 tie-in novels.

Drakensang ("The River of Time") is thus the fourth CRPG in the Realms of Arkania trilogy, and could have been named as such, but I think SirTech took that license to its grave. 

I'm excited to try this game out. It's Germany's D&D, so to speak. From what little I've read of the actual mechanics, there's a steeper learning curve than D&D, as well as a lot of dice-rolling (3 rolls to make one skill check!). But since there's the game engine to handle all that, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

I think the game finished installing already. Have to play now. More later.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Avernum 5

I've stayed away from the Avernum series since I failed to finish the first installment; finally burned out on the clunky interface and sub-par graphics, then lost interest. I'm a hardcore old-school CRPG fan, but maybe not that much.

Now, several years after, I've returned to Avernum, intending to playing through the fifth in the series. And what a pleasant surprise to see that while it still looks like the same engine, there has definitely been a lot of improvements, particularly in the ease-of-play department: a great tutorial and prologue, online help, streamlined GUI, and fun gameplay.

Avernum 5 definitely addressed most of the negative issues since the first game, opening up the old-school RPG style to a wider audience (i.e. me, hahah). 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sam & Max: Season One

Finally got around to playing Sam & Max: Season One. This time around, the crazy duo is back in a 6-episode adventure that brings a lot to both hardcore and casual adventure gaming fans everywhere.

Installed this baby about a week ago, and now, I've breezed through all six adventures in a mad whirl of week-long gaming.  I think this is the first time in months that a game has managed to keep my hyper-active attention span till completion, so that's something. Granted, each episode can be easily completed within five to six hours, so there's that too.

But still Season One is a solid game: the puzzles are a bit on the easy side (it wasn't until Episode 6 that I began to get stumped, although that could be more from getting tired and not paying much attention than anything else) and the stories are hilarious and entertaining.

Best Episode of Season 1: Episode 5 - Reality 2.0. With its spoof of online gaming and a surprising homage to text-based adventure games along with references to fantasy roleplaying games, this episode stands out as the best out of all six for me.

I'm about to start Season 2 once I've installed it, and I'm also looking forward to playing their classic old game, Hit the Road. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is Infinite Interactive's latest connect-three/role-playing game hybrid, a science fiction follow-up from their previous fantasy offering, Puzzle Quest: Quest of the Warlords.

Instead of a square board, the playing field has been redesigned with hexagonal gems, and the battle system is intended to simulate two ships having a dogfight in space. Different gems power various tech installed on your ship, with blue gems regenerating your Shield energy and mine gems representing direct attacks on the enemy ship. Play continues back and forth with you and the enemy ship alternating turns.

I've just installed it today on my HP notebook running Vista Home Premium, and so far, its working great. It does load a tad slow when you start the program, but maybe my box is to blame partly for that (or, more to the point, Vista is). So far, I've clocked in several hours' worth of play already; this game, like its fantasy predecessor, is quite addicting!

Other things to do include mining, where you attempt to connect a series of three resources before running out of moves; resources can then be sold at ports for money. Ports buy resources at different rates, so you have another "mini-game" trying to find where it is best to sell your Food, Isotope, or Gold cargo. And then there's the stargate hacking minigames, where you need to connect a sequence of gems before the timer runs out; stargates allow access to other star systems, which you'll need to have in order to move around and complete the game's various quests.

There's also several different factions in the game, and your quests and actions alter your score with each faction. Initially, there are four human mega-corporations, but soon enough, relationships with other races and factions, like the Pirates, will also be added and tracked. 

All in all, Galactrix is a solid science fiction RPG with a puzzle combat system, a game that's highly recommended whether you're an RPG fan and/or a puzzle fan, and whether you're a hardcore or a casual gamer.