Small Worlds is a free platformer created in Flash by David Shute for the JayIsGames.com Casual Game Design Competition. A piece of pixel art constitutes each level, and it must be explored to be revealed. Leap — then look.
There was a time when it was acceptable for a game’s sprites and animations to be crude, its fonts illegible, and its puzzles and plot absurd. That was the best anyone could do at the time, and now these games are looked back on as charming, but also as products of a bygone era: something lost in the wake of big budgets, polygons, and bump-mapping. Enter: Zombie Cow Studios with Ben There, Dan That!, a free comedic adventure game designed in the classic Lucas Arts style that gamers have grown to miss.
The British stars of Ben There, Dan That! are its own creators, Ben Ward and Dan Marshall. In the real world, Dan handles the coding, the art, and co-writes along with Ben. Within the game, Ben does almost all the heavy lifting while Dan keeps him company, offers funny asides, and stands by for when such erudite tasks as flipping light switches need managing. The latter of which, admittedly, is infrequent; in this particular adventure, Ben and Dan visit a number of parallel realities, most of which are well-lit. What these realities lack in their demand for light fixture manipulation, they make up for in such anomalies as an ever-displaced London skyline, soccer hooligans, zombies, and tolerance for wanton murder.
While non-paying customers lose access to some upper tier items, they’ll no longer have an ad eating up screen real estate. I logged in to get a look at the new shadows (they look great) and about half of my items were ineffectual, but I think losing the ad is a fair compromise. Besides, I wouldn’t sweat five dollars per month if I were to play regularly again.
Third party Wii titles are a dime a dozen. Many don’t succeed, mostly due to quality, but also in no small part due to underexposure and Nintendo’s failure to properly promote them. A couple recent examples are Zack & Wiki and Boom Blox. Fun, well executed games that just didn’t have very stellar sales. One game I am hoping will not fall by the wayside is the Wii version of De Blob. You may remember this as one of the first cheap games featured here as Downloadable Suicide.
In my original article I mentioned that THQ is bringing it to Wii and DS sometime in 2008. The Wii version dropped a week or two ago and seems to have been met with critical success. It’s currently the 17th highest ranked Wii game on Metacritic with an average score of 82. Worthplaying gave it a 90 and said “It is a rare game that can appeal equally well to both the casual and hardcore crowds, yet de Blob does just that.”. EuroGamer had a grim comment that I hope won’t turn out to be true, “Probably the best and worst thing about de Blob is that it’s got ‘Destined For Cult Status’ written all over it.” GamePlayer felt De Blob worthy of a perfect 10 saying that it is “The first third-party Wii game that would have Mr Miyamoto bowing in awed respect.” Nice.
Reviews aside, the purpose of this post is simply to remind you about De Blob and its roots as a student project on the PC. While the breadth of its gameplay has evolved significantly during its transition to the Wii, its whimsical spirit and aesthetics appear to have stayed intact. Check it out on PC and consider giving it a look if you happen to own a Wii. The DS version looks like it’s going to bake a bit longer before it’s ready for consumption; it’s the version that I’ll be giving a try.
I’ve played Trials 2: Second Edition for well over four hours, cumulatively. In fact, this week alone I have played for just over five. I keep finding myself coming back to Trials 2 because the developer, Redlynx, seems pretty intent on keeping it up-to-date and filled with brand new content in the form of free updates. Since I first posted my original Trials 2 article, it has been patched twice from 1.06 to 1.07, and finally this last week to 1.08. With these updates comes engine improvements and optimizations, stability tweaks and most importantly, new downloadable tracks.
Version 1.08 of Trials 2 was delivered on September 18th with netbooks like the ASUS Eeepc and MSI Wind in mind, featuring a slew of graphics engine updates including a low graphics mode and VRAM usage optimizations. Trials 2 has also been certified for triple-display gameplay at resolutions up to 5040×1050 (somebody do that and send us pictures). Additionally, 14 new tracks were added for free. As a result of the graphics engine additions, changes and optimzations, Trials 2 also has a new set of minimum recommended system requirements. Those revised requirements as well as the rest of the lengthy 1.08 patch notes can be viewed at the official Trials 2: Second Edition forums.
In spite of rumors of its impending demise, Dungeon Runners – a free-to-play MMORPG featured here at DoSu – continues to be supported by the remaining developers of NCSoft Austin. A major update was released today that adds guilds (called “posses”), player blogs (pages that track character progress similar to the service that SOE offers for their games), as well as several engine updates, including a refinement of their shader system and the addition of specular lighting. Full patch notes are available at the game’s official website.
Free Software Tips
This is a continually updated list of recommended free software by DoSu writers for your Windows PC. We try new software all the time and these are the ones we personally use and recommend. If you have any further suggestions, we want to hear it!
- Mozilla FireFox 3.6 — the default choice, lots of extensions, good support
- Opera 10 — our preferred browser, great built-in features, customization and interface
- Google Chrome 4.0 — streamlined interface built from the ground up for the new web
- Gmail — can be used as a POP3 and IMAP client too
- Windows Live Mail — a surprisingly good e-mail client (really!). support for hotmail.
- Thunderbird — customizable (the latest version looks neat, but i haven’t tried it)
- HiJack This — tool that displays and allows you to delete auto-starting applications that are not listed elsewhere in Windows tools (msconfig, services.msc)
- Microsoft Security Essentials — has great new virus detection rate, some of the same old AV practices but not that bad
- Your Brain (I can’t find a link for this *wink*)
- Irfanview — image viewer & browser.
- Check out Google’s Picasa or Windows Live Gallery for photo gallery viewing
- IZArc — the power of 7zip with a much nicer interface
- Infrarecorder — general burning application (don’t use currently)
- CDBurnerXP — another good general burning application (don’t use currently)
- ImgBurn — specializes in burning and creating data images
- µTorrent — hands down the best torrent application
- MediaMonkey — great library, light player.
- Process Explorer — view & manage detailed process information.
- CCleaner — clear up hard drive space, clean registry, manage start-up & uninstall software.
- WizMouse — Enables use of mouse-wheel on unfocused windows. (can cause problems in some games, requiring you to disable it during those times)
- Hamachi — easy to use virtual private network.
- FileZilla — handles file transfers using the FTP.
- Daemon Tools — CD/DVD discs emulation.
- Peer Block — an IP blocker to protect your privacy on P2P
- Foxit Reader — light-weight and fast PDF reader.
- Notepad ++ — great text/code editor