old-school

Review: Moon Chronicles – Episode 1 (3DS eShop)

I have fond memories of spending endless hours playing early home console first-person shooter (FPS) titles. We’re talking Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake, here – classic corridors, horrific monsters and ever more powerful guns to earn as you play.

While the industry today has taken the genre to new (and different) heights with giant leaps in technology and online competitive gaming, I do think there will always be room to return to the classics. Moon’s developer, Renegade Kid, is no stranger to retro-themed games, with its superb Mutant Mudds acting as a love letter to old-school platforming souls. Moon Chronicles, meanwhile, is a sci-fi throwback designed just for those looking for a shot of that FPS nostalgia. [Review Score: 3.5/5 Stars]

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Freeware Focus: Undercroft (iOS)

Undercroft might have started its life off as a paid app on the iOS Marketplace, but it’s absolutely free today. It’s one of the best apps on the marketplace and entirely worthy of anyone’s time. Coming from the talented team at Jagex Games Studio – the same team who brought the wildly popular RuneScape to life – Undercroft harkens back to the days of old, bringing forth an old-school first-person turn-based RPG dungeon crawler game play style that’s sure to scratch any genre fans itch.

With notable titles in the genre that many assumed would die creeping up over the past few years (i.e. Legend of Grimrock, Paper Sorcerer, Might and Magic X), maybe you’ve wondered what these games are all about, and haven’t wanted to take the risk? Tile-based RPG titles are not a norm in this modern age of the industry and when gamers today think of “old-school” and “hardcore” games, to many these games are instantly near inaccessible due to the extreme difficulty in their game play. Undercroft is a solid entry point for today’s gamers, as it does a superb job of easing the player into the world and its unique play style.

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Early Impressions: Coldfire Keep (iOS); Old-School Dungeon Crawling at the Fingertips

Cresent Moon Games’ titles are no stranger to my iOS devices. From the The Elder Scrolls-inspired open world action/RPG, Ravensword: Shadowlands – followed by its much improved sequel, Aralon: Sword and Shadow – to the charming one-touch icy racing found in Slingshot Racing, I’ve become increasingly aware of this developer/publisher’s mobile releases. It comes as no surprise that when I found that it has crashed a first-person, turn-based old-school dungeon crawler on the iOS Marketplace, I dove right in head first without giving it a second thought.

I’m only a handful of hours into this beautiful retro game, but I thought that I’d drop some early impression of it here at Tired Gamer; and no, I didn’t fall asleep playing it – I actually turned it off before taking a nap, thank you very much. Anyhow, if you’re a fan the old (now archaic) style of these games, you’ll fit right in here. It comes as no surprise that the game quickly swipes you off to create your team of four, before plunging you straight into the game’s world. There you’ll find it is one that was once riddled with feral beast that haunt the lands. Upon you’re arrival, the talk of the town is that there’s been an attack by these beast once again, which brings back memories of when an ancient wizard created a portal and sucked them all down into a dungeon for the preservation of the world – this keep is known as Coldfire Keep. Has this portal been reopened after all these years?

Of course it has! But, the story caught my attention very quickly and upon arriving at the keep, you surprisingly find that it’s inhabited by humans that have an inn and a shop to restock supplies. Apparently, explorers have been using a magical item to escape the dungeon after using a portal that was designed by someone called “The Builder.” There’s talk many riches in the in the lower, beast ridden levels of the keep and there’s some kind of magical item below that can teleport those willing to brave the dangers back to safety when in trouble. Yet, talk is, so many who go below don’t return – and you just have to jump right in!

Delving into the dungeon, the touch controls initially feel problematic. Directional swiping moves you through the dungeon, with a two finger swipe left/right handling the strafing and a pinch being used to look up and down. At first, I didn’t realize that both fingers needed to be held together for the game to read my strafing inputs properly, which was problematic, but thereafter it hasn’t failed me since. Picking up items currently has a bug in the code, so you have to tap them repeatedly, which is annoying, but the developer has promised an update is quickly coming. There’s also the option for the standard on-screen buttons control scheme, but the buttons are so small that I found them unusable, before returning to the touch controls. Controller support is available and probably the best method of use, but I’ve not dropped the cash on a controller yet, so I can’t speak to that method. Getting used to the touch controls had me moving through the dungeon with ease after a bit of practice though, so I really have little complaints here, aside from the bug in the item pick-ups, of course.

Fighting enemies is handled by tapping small on-screen buttons below each of your team members’ on-screen portrait, which are permanent parts of the on-screen display. It’s archaic and lacks feedback, but somehow that builds to the game’s charm for me – this indie game is clearly meant to be rough around the edges. The dungeon’s are dank and beautiful in the gorgeous Retina display, while still retaining a retro feel. I found myself adsorbed into the game so fast that it actually shocked me, before the game crashed on me. I had forgotten about the tiny on-screen buttons and learning curve of the controls by then – I having a great time – until this jarring happening took place. Thankfully, the game saves frequently and I was right back where I left off in a few minutes. Thing is, 20-30 minutes later it happened again, and then again. Yep, even playing on an iPhone 5, there’s clearly several chinks in the armor that need to be beaten out, which I have absolutely no doubt that they will be very soon.

So, should you make the $4.99 USD investment to delve into Coldfire Keep? With the bugs that are currently at play in these dungeons, I think you’re better off taking a nap at the moment. I’ll be watching the updates carefully and diving back in soon after. If all is well, it looks like Coldfire Keep will keep me crawling for the whole 10 hours it promises thereafter. I’ll let you know soon thereafter if all is well.