Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yahtzee, Game Creator

Yahtzee (AKA Ben Croshaw) is a brilliant game critic and creator, among other things. In this article I plan to focus on his work as a game developer. In this field he is probably best known for his Chzo Mythos quadrilogy, which is a point and click adventure game that has received many awards and is considered a must play for all indie game lovers. For the most part heavily story based adventure games are his forte, but he does have some games in many different genres.

The last game Yahtzee released, Trilby: The Art Of Theft, is one of the most gameplay oriented games he ever created. It plays as a simple 2D stealth adventure and is a very fun game. It follows the character Trilby, the protagonist from the Chzo Mythos; But takes place two years before the events of 5 Days a Stranger. In this game he is simply a freewheeling suave thief out to steal as much as possible from the rich.

The Chzo Mythos, also known as the John DeFoe series, is a point and click adventure quadrilogy made up of, in order of release, 5 Days A Stranger, 7 Days A Skeptic, Trilby's Notes, and finally 6 Days A Sacrifice. All of these games have special editions that once cost $5 USD and came with a some additional content like in-game commentary, these special editions are now free. Additionally, it has a few tie-ins from other works of Yahtzee; The previously mentioned Trilby: The Art of Theft, which featured the same character Trilby; And two short stories Trilby and the Ghost and The Expedition. In Trilby and the Ghost, Trilby, is tasked with the exorcism of a friendly ghost and in The Expedition a soldier journeys into Chzo's wasteland and uncovered more details about Chzo. Also, 6 Days a Sacrifice has a prequel text adventure series entitled The Countdown, that were designed to stir up hype for the upcoming game and provide some back-story. This universe, particularity the main series, is a prime example of indie adventure games, the AGS games, and a must play for anyone interested in the genre.

The first game, both chronologically and in order of release, of the Chzo Mythos is 5 Days a Stranger. It won many AGS awards the year it was released and is, of course, a point and click adventure game that tells the story of the gentleman thief Trilby's botched attempt to rob an “abandoned” mansion; He gets in alright, but quickly finds all routes out of the mansion sealed and himself trapped with four strangers by a mysterious and evil force. Trilby and the strangers must find out who or what has trapped them, is it one of them, the only people who seem to be in the house, or someone they have not yet met?

The second game, but last chronologically, 7 Days a Skeptic takes place four hundred years in the future aboard the starship Mephistopheles. The ship discovers an artifact floating in space and takes it aboard. It has a plaque that states that it is the coffin of John DeFoe and to not disturb it. The crew leaves the coffin alone but soon starts to experience strange phenomenon. What follows is a terrifying and bloody survival adventure game.

Trilby's Notes, the third game in the in the Chzo Mythos, and a direct chronological sequel to 5 Days a Stranger puts Trilby back in the spotlight again. By the beginning of this game Trilby has put his thieving business on hold to become a paranormal investigator, and it is as a paranormal investigator that he travels to a small hotel in Wales in the search a strange idol said to contain John DeFoe's soul.

The fourth and final game in the series is 6 Days a Sacrifice, in which you play Theo DaCabe as he tries to run a health inspection of the headquarters of a religion called Optimology. Theo is imprisoned and must find his way out of the building and prevent the cult from getting away with its evil plot. In the run up to the release of 6 Days a Sacrifice three text adventures, called the Countdown series, foreshadowing the events of 6 Days a Sacrifice were released by Yahtzee.

1213 is psychological action platforming adventure game, about an amnesiac research subject. All he knows is that everyday he is taken from his cell and made to run a dangerous obstacle course and called simply by the numbers twelve thirteen by his only human contact, the bespectacled man. But one day the door to his cell falls open and he takes the offered chance to figure out what is happening to him and find a way out. The story of 1213 is separated into three chapters.

Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment is a game that really seems to stretch the capabilities of the AGS engine. It is a surprisingly fully featured space trading simulation on top of a open ended adventure story line.

Yahtzee's one and only FPS, and game mod, Age of Evil is a Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition 1.4/1.5 total conversion mod. It features a totally new comedic story, new graphics, new sound, new levels, and even new weapons and enemies. But most of all it features a new protagonist; But who can take the place of the the most bad ass macho dude ever conceived, a smart-ass British novelist.

The first game released after his “retirement” from game making and a kind-of homage to The Secret of Monkey Island, The Trials of Odysseus Kent is an adventure game designed to be similar to The Secret of Monkey Island. It is about a strange albino treasure hunter who has tracked a long lost treasure to a small village. The Trials of Odysseus Kent is the story of the trials he must first overcome to get at this treasure.

The Rob Blank Trilogy is a series of Sierra-esque adventures by Rob Blanc, a chip shop worker. His adventures begin when he is selected by the High Ones to become the Defender of the Universe. In the first game, Rob Blanc I: Better Days of the Defender of the Universe, he is sent to an alien spaceship to prove his worth by investigating the disappearance of the crew. In Rob Blanc II: Planet of the Pasteurised Pestilence, his trial period successfully passed, Rob is stationed back on Earth until his his ship is finished; But while there Rob and a green haired stranger are mysteriously transported to an alien world, where they must cure a great plague that is enveloping the planet. The third game, Rob Blanc III - The Temporal Terrorists, starts while with Rob and his sidekick Paul, the green haired stranger from the first game, on their spaceship and ready to start defending the universe. They do not have to wait long, as strange copies of people, ships, and even planets unstuck from time are appearing. The governments of the universe do not know what is going on, so they send the Defender of the Universe on a interstellar adventure to figure out what is going on and reverse the damage.

The very first games Yahtzee created, and the games featuring the character from which he draws his alias, are called the Arthur Yahtzee Trilogy. They were released while he was in high school with the first being released in early 1998. The three games, Friday: Death to Arthur Yahtzee, Saturday: Arthur's Odyssey, and Yesterday: The D-Gate, tells the tale of Arthur Yahtzee in his fight against a multidimensional villain.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Just heard that a sequel to Fetus, suteF, is coming out tomorrow. Since my review of Fetus I have grown even more found of the game, so will be checking out this new game.

suteF Concept Art

It also looks like the developer has a bunch of other interesting games, including a prequel to Fetus, Descent. over at his well designed website.

Descent Screenshot

City of Doom - Action 52 Remake

Just heard about a new Action 52 Remake, City of Doom. Some of the past ones have been so good, thought it was worth mentioning this new one.

Have not played it yet, but will when I get the time. But when I first saw a screenshot of the game I really made a good impression on me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aliens vs Predator 2

With the, almost, recent release of Aliens vs Predator (2010) earlier this year, there have been a lot of comparisons to the previous iterations in the series: Aliens vs Predator (1999), Aliens vs Predator 2 and its expansion pack Primal Hunt. I have not given Aliens vs Predator (2010) more then a cursory try, so am not very qualified to say more then that I agree with most of what I have heard. But a statement by Notch summarizes my opinion of it very well: “The original developers totally fail to understand what was good about the first one”.

What I did play a lot of is the multiplayer of Aliens vs Predator 2. It is a top notch FPS, with tons of customizable features, loads of unique content, and great community created mods and maps. It is surprising how well they were able to balance the diverse abilities and gameplay of the three races: Human, Alien, and Predator. They are all very different to play with, which leads to some interesting multiplayer modes. Bottom line, if you are looking for a unique multiplayer FPS you cannot find one much better then this.

The Humans have radar, giving them the general location of all moving creatures in their vicinity; This is really needed because they are by far the most fragile of all the races without the stealth or the armour of either the Aliens or the Predators. But what they do have is excellent well rounded long range weapons of all types. These attributes combines to make them a race best suited to cautious players; Basically if you see the enemy soon enough you have an advantage over them, but stop paying attention and you can be dead before you even know you are in danger.

The Aliens, most notably, can climb on walls, ceilings, and any other surface in a completely free roaming manner; and it is surprising how easy it is to get used to this. This wall climbing allows them to hide in shadow enshrouded clefts in the ceiling or on top of tall towers in outdoor maps, out of view, hopefully, until it is to late. They are also very fast, and of course have powerful melee attacks, and an incredibly long range pounce. And all of its mobility advantages must be used, because unlike the other races it does not have any long range attacks and it cannot even count on shadows or distance to hide them when facing Predators. Because of all of these aspects, Aliens play almost completely different from the Humans; The player wants to be continually moving as fast as they can while in the open, and patience only comes in handy if you want to lay in wait in a good ambush location.

Predators play a very diverse role. verses Humans they are masters of stealth capable of becoming invisible and because of their inferior ranged weaponry they must use this advantage to kill the humans before they are noticed. While verses Aliens their stealth is useless, but their weapons are also very powerful against them; Their energy weapons in particular are very devastating against Aliens, but they even have a head-on melee advantage over them. Predators are capable of many vision modes that include one for each race to bring then into focus and allow the use of guided weaponry. The most unique aspect of the Predators are their energy bars. Many of the Predators weapons and abilities use energy that must be recharged when depleted; This recharging causes them to become very vulnerable for a short time. One of their most surprising abilities is their health recharging ability; At anytime, if they have a enough energy, they can completely restore their heath in exchange for a short period of vulnerability and most of a full store of energy. All of this probably makes them sound completely overpowered, but they are, in my opinion, the hardest to learn how to use proficiently and even harder to master.

Because of all of this diversity and unique gameplay there is quite a lot of interesting multiplayer modes, in addition to the classic modes. I do not even remember most of them, but there are a few that left a strong impression. There is a survival mode that pits a singe Alien against a team of Humans; The catch is that the Alien will continue to respawn when killed but when a Human is killed he responds as a Alien. There is also a similar game where their is one Predator verses a team of Humans, but in this match both teams continue to respawn as normal and do not switch sides.

The last thing I want to touch on is community made content. There are many great fan made mods to improve gameplay and balance, worth checking out but I do not remember any names at this time. Additionally, I believe that official multiplayer servers are no longer running, but through programs like Qtracker people can continue to play against each other online, and a few years ago there was still quite a few fan servers constantly running. But over and above all of these other things I want to talk about custom maps. There are a great many wonderful fan made maps available, most of which are compiled into a single giant map pack, the Ultimate Mappack 2 with its many updates (which I think you have to install if you want to have absolutely everything): 1, 2, 3, 4.

Some of these maps are very fun, and I remember playing one with a very unique and fun gameplay mode many times. Sadly I do not remember the name of the map, but will try to faithfully explain it in the following paragraph. The match starts of with a countdown timer and the players splitting up into two teams: Alien and Human. The Aliens spawn in there underground lair and have infinite lives, but will lose when the timer reaches zero. The Humans start in the front of a military complex with the alien hive just outside and have a set number of lives and must survive until the timer reaches zero. From the alien hive the aliens have two possible routes; The faster but most dangerous is above ground route in which the Aliens must race across a open plain while likely being shoot at by Humans through inaccessible or closeable windows and openings. Alternatively, they can try to tunnel through a specific spot underground and through the initial line of Human defences. The humans when they first start, and throughout the entire game, have to quickly shore up defences, turn on devices, and take extremely cautious and defensible positions. The Humans will likely have to retreat and the map was designed for this, there are many doors and locations that can be quickly locked to slow the Alien advance as well as turrets and other impediments. And throughout the entire map there are multiple routes and defensible places. In general the map gets less defensible the further you retreat inwards, but then the aliens have to cover more ground when they respawn so it kind-of evens out. One of the more interesting Human devices in the complex is in the last defensible location, the command room. This device actually tracks the location of all the Aliens throughout the entire map. All of is this combines to produce a very interesting match on both ends; As an Alien I always felt like the head of a endless horde of unstoppable invaders, while conversely as a Human I was always quite frightened and vulnerable but also extremely satisfied when I was able to set up the perfect defensive location.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Retro-Gaming and Emulation: Super Smash Bros.

Just posted an article about the original Super Smash Bros. game over at the Retro-Gaming and Emulation blog.

It is my favourite multiplayer game of all time, and I think I have even turned my friends off the game by playing it too much.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Retro-Gaming and Emulation: TimeSplitters Future Perfect

Just posted an article about TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. My all time favourite Xbox game, the best FPS I have ever played, and a personal favourite of mine.

In a nutshell, it stands above of all the competition because of all the extra content (including the multiplayer bots), numerous mini-games and challenges, and the hilarious comedy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yawma Pay What You Want Bundle: Aztaka & Miner Wars: 2081

The last, and current, indie game and music bundle with just over 17 hours left to purchase is in my opinion the best bundle of the bunch.

For whatever price you want to set you can get Miner Wars and Aztaka, which both look like interesting and fun games. Additionally, you get songs from both The Balconies and Clothes Make The Man, as well as the OST of both games.

Miner Wars from what I have heard is a kind of open world third person shooter. You fight in a large asteroid field and can destroy and punch holes in anything you see.

Aztaka is 2D action RPG, which I have seen a few times but do not really know much about.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Retro-Gaming and Emulation: Final Fantasy IV - SNES

Just posted a review of Final Fantasy IV over at the Retro-Gaming and Emulation blog.

Basically it is a great game with a epic story and interesting characters.

Oddboxx Released and on Sale

The Oddboxx has been released and is on sale on Steam.
It is currently on 50% off ($12.49 USD) and features all Oddworld games: Abe's Oddysee, Abe's Exoddus, Munch's Oddysee, and Strangers Wrath.

Retro-Gaming and Emulation: Super Punch-Out!!

Just posted for the very first time over at Retro-Gaming and Emulation, an interesting blog about old games that CaptainD was kind enough to give me author status on.

The post was a short review of Super Punch-Out!!, an interesting but repetitive game.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Minecraft Soon to be More Expensive

Just wanted to mention that on December 20 Minecraft will increase from 10 Euros (about $14 USD or CND) to 15 Euros while it leaves alpha behind and enters beta. Additionally, and more importantly, the buyer is no longer guaranteed to get all future updates for free.

Been thinking of doing an article on Minecraft for awhile now, but I do not want to do just another normal review. I Think I have finally come up with a interesting alternative, that really showcases the spirit and most important feature of Minecraft for me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pay What You Want Bundles

Right now a lot of interesting looking pay what you want bundles are running, and I thought I should at least mention them.

Their is of course the sequel to the well known Humble Indie Bundle, aptly named the Humble Indie Bundle 2.
While their are quite a few games in the list that do not quite live up to the first bundle it is still worth checking out (and their has been some talk about additions to the bundle in the future).
  • Braid
  • Cortex Command
  • Machinarium
  • Osmos
  • Revenge of the Titans
Additionally Yawma is running a week long bundle, pay what you want, series of sales starting today, so every few days their is a new bundle of music and games and you only have a short time to act on everyone! Check out the top right corner for the current deal.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Fetus is a simple dark horror physics puzzle platformer. It has nice simplistic visuals, and an ever expanding arsenal of gameplay. While the visuals look perfectly dark and horrific, one thing that I think was missing was matching gameplay. For the most part it is hard to die and it is never in a gruesome way; But this is made up for in multiple other areas. For one the ending is very scary and lives up to the horror visuals. Additionally, the music is top notch and really adds to the experience. One of the more interesting parts of the game for me was that the game never explained anything and you had to figure it out through trial and error. For example, near the beginning of the game you pick up a follower, a ghost called bob. This ghost has a pretty interesting twist to it in my opinion, which is left up to player to figure out and I am not going to wreck the surprise. So while Fetus is not a great game it is a good game.

Edit: as of a few weeks latter I really have to say that Fetus has grown on me, it is a very memorable game that is well worth a play-through.


Featherweight is a short point and click adventure game by Ben304. It is about a war between two factions of what appear to be robots. You start the game in a time of little hope for your side, the war is going badly and no one seems to have the will to even try anymore. A featherweight, a scout unequipped to handle combat situations, from your side is captured and no one will do anything about it except a fellow featherweight Thadd. Against all odds he will attempt to make his way into the enemy encampment and rescue his compatriot, and perhaps bring hope back to his people along the way.

Great 2D graphics.
Very short and lacking in much character building and backstory. It is never explained why Thadd is different and willing to risk his life in a hopeless mission, nor what had recently made him this way or kept him sheltered enough to not have to test his bravery before. Nor is who, what, or why of the factions explained.
A short enjoyable adventure game.
Adventure Game Studio
Release Date:
November 15, 2009
Official Game Web Site:

Zed Dev Post: Potential Monsters Ideas - Atmosphere

Just posted another Zed dev post over at This one is about atmospheric zombies, a zombie designed to add horror atmosphere to the game.

Zed Dev Blog:
Original Post:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Salammbo Game Log (Spoilers)

One of the best features of Salammbo: Battle for Carthage is its log system. As mentioned in my review it records the story of the game, and even contains many pages of story you will never see in a normal play-through. So I thought, for those that missed it, and those that still do not plan on even playing the game, here is the entire story in picture form.

Note: Click the pictures to enlarge them, or they are named using consecutive numbers so by simply manipulating the URL you should be able to view them one by one.

Death Scenes: