Mars Miner – Bomberman Style Action/Arcade Game

RetroStyle Games has released a new version of their debut title: Mars Miner. I took a brief look at this game and came up with some ideas and suggestions, on what they could do to improve the product.

Mars Miner is bit difficult to categorize, as it has arcade, action and almost puzzle like elements. Whatever genre it fits, I especially liked the idea of bombing stuff like in Bomberman game. It’s simply fun. Besides doing good job implementing the bombing, the graphics are very well done.

Developer hints regarding the website:

  • I would reconsider different content for the website. Even though they might have several games in the future I think it would be a good idea to show Mars Miner right on the front page (and not just behind clicks). I think showing the game more, and putting less focus on the news might be a good idea.
  • I would also show full game info right away rather than ‘more info’ (because the ‘more info’ page doesn’t seem to have that much more information). This might not be such important, but just came to my mind.
  • This one is important: I would put download/buy buttons much more visible – I think they should be seen right away when somebody arrives on the website. Possibly in several places (like top menu and also on other parts of the website)

Developer hints regarding the game:

  • I liked the graphics very much, but the sound & music couldn’t meet the quality of graphics. Maybe some improvements there?
  • The ‘intro mini game’ added feeling in the game, but was perhaps bit boring. Not sure though if it makes sense to add anything on it though. Perhaps make it bit shorter and so that the plane couldn’t bear so much damage. (This is not so relevant)
  • I played only a few levels, but I could have kind of wished more variety (more different monsters) right from the beginning.

Last but not least, I’ve seen the comments for the first release and I think these guys have done a good job on “listening & polishing”. I’d say they are on good track, and can’t but wish them good luck.

If you are into ‘Bomberman meets arcade/action/puzzle’ kind of gaming, then download free Mars Miner demo.

Virtual Villagers Casual Game Leads The Way

Virtual Villagers

Virtual Villagers is one of the hit games in the gaming portals at the moment. The game graphics are pretty good, the user interface is pretty good, and the game atmosphere is nice. The game mechanism is (technically speaking) simple: you drag & drop and click some buttons, and game continues. Behind the mechanism is hidden a huge database of elements: your villagers can do lots of different stuff, learn new things and so on. When I first tried the game I asked “where’s the actual game” – but I suppose that’s one of the key factors for people playing simulation games. To get to “play God” in games is pleasing in itself, even though there would be missions or even levels in the game. Lesson: having a really fun game is much more important than just having a really great graphics – at least for casual games.

Virtual Villagers – The Lost Children

What happens if you make a hit game? You naturally publish a sequel: the developers continued with Virtual Villagers – The Lost Children. Now they made another Virtual Villagers game, but this time with added elements that continue the epic story. If you try the second part of the game (that’s being sold at full price) you might see that the game mechanism is pretty much the same as in the first game, but they’ve added lots of new elements. This is exactly the way how brands can be used to leverage sales: when people are addicted to your product, you give them more to purchase.

Tilelander – Puzzling Action

I just played Tilelander game demo, which is a nice puzzle game, although it can be played in two modes: puzzle or action. I liked the action style more.

Tilelander’s opponents react to player actions in a “respectful” manner, only moving if the player does so: The player can thus set the pace, playing with careful thinking behind each move or in a furious spree. Tilelander includes over 70 puzzling levels combining a variety of gameplay, from peaceful tile filling and Gauntlet-style maze solving to involved shoot’em’up and end-of-level boss fighting.

Game screenshots and a demo version can be downloaded for free at Ludimate.com. Basically, if you are looking a fun little game, check out Tilelander.

Ocean Media Releases Public Demo – Wants Feedback

Ocean Media has just published their first game’s public demo and reported the need for feedback. To make the offer more interesting, they’ve promised to display your name in the game credits (in case you test the demo & give some proper feedback) .

The demo download is available here (PC/Windows, 6.6 megs). Game website is here.

My own general comments:

  • First I would like to see more screenshots on the website. The game looks so good, so no need to be shy about showing us some pics.
  • I really like their logo in game – has nothing to do with the game, but nevertheless – I like it.
  • I think the idea is actually quite interesting – it’s different twist on match-3 type of games, and I kind of liked it.
  • Graphics were very polished, and the website graphics really lose this battle. The game art is beautiful.

Then some hints & tips for interface & gameplay

  • I had small problems with matching the icons because the icons in the game area were bigger than the icons in the right side.
  • It could be good if the option screen ‘windows’ opened bit faster, and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to click any of the buttons… instead of ‘back’. You could simply click ‘High Scores’, then click ‘Credits’… and click ‘Play’, rather than ‘High Scores’, ‘Back’, ‘Credits’, ‘Back’ etc.
  • Tutorial was okay… but there was bit much info. Would it be possible to show some of the information after each level?
  • It could be nice to have some sort of help if you get stuck. Check out how they do this in Big Kahuna Reef (they show tiny graphical hints on where to place things next)
  • Gameplay issue: I’m not sure if this last comment help: but I managed to solve first 3-4 levels simply by waving my mouse swiftly – and I happened to match the tiles. Don’t know what you can (or even want) do about this though, but just wanted to mention.

Bottom line: I’m sure there’s lots of casual gamers who would like to play this game – it looks very finished already. Good job.

Now, people – check out the game site & download the demo, and give this guy some feedback.

Eets! – A Fun Combination of The Incredible Machine And Lemmings

Eets! is a pretty puzzle game where you control a small creature, and solve levels. The music and art is very well done, and the gameplay is polished from introduction to all aspects of the game. For puzzle fans, this game is a must to test. They say that Eets is a combination of the Incredible machine and Lemmings and I partially agree. While it has some elements with Lemmings, it’s still different. It also has some elements with the Incredible Machine – but personally I’d say it doesn’t remind too much neither of these games – Eets is simply unique in its own way.

Developer hints:
- What can I say… the contests, puzzle maker all make the gaming experience excellent. Good job done.

Buy Online
Download Demo
Website

Enjoy.

Zen Puzzle Garden

Those of you who liked Zen of Sudoku will like this game: Zen Puzzle Garden.

Zen Puzzle Garden has a simple, but brilliant idea: your player character – a monk – needs to rake grass and form shapes. There’s different obstacles such as rocks which must consider when solving the levels. Everyone who likes anything “zen” related are most likely interested in playing the game.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but besides the nice background music and sound effects I like the small graphics details: when leaves drop slowly down the ground, it’s amazingly relaxing just to watch them.

Developer hints:
- I’m addicted to watching those leaves to fall onto ground – excellent detail
- The new level editor / designer is a good tool for those who want to build their own levels
- Maybe some sort online high scores could be added?
- Maybe add more backgrounds or graphics, and let people customize the monk – this is far fetched, but just came to my mind.

People, now: Download demo or Buy

Good Deeds Bring You Good Rewards

Armadillo Run

First I’d like you to check out this fascinating game: Armadillo Run. You can download a demo or buy the game right away.

The idea of the game is simple: you construct a level using building material to make Armadillo get to goal. The game is well done, and it’s fun to watch the physics in action – how the rails move, how the ball moves, and how to use your brain to solve the problems.

If you like bridge building games, or are a fan of games that use physics then check Armadillo Run. Game requires a PC running Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP.

The game itself is fun, but I’d like to add a few tips for the developer:
- Add ‘buy button’ to game menu (for unregistered version)
- Add nag screens to both in the beginning and in the end of the demo
- With some website improvements (such as navigation bar on top, and some other things) I’m sure it could help you make more sales

Good deeds bring you good rewards
Now back to the topic:

One of the reasons I’m mentioning Armadillo is that I’m trying to give them back for what I got. Some days ago I asked newsletter subscribers about the reason how they found GameProducer.net and one guy said:

“I had (in the past few weeks) an email conversation with the developer of Armadillo Run. We were discussing about sales and he pointed me to gameproducer.net for the relevant set of articles.”

See how good deeds bring you good rewards even when you don’t expect them? I published sales stats, folks at Armadillo Run noticed them, somebody was looking for sales info and got directed to gameproducer.net. Now I heard about this and I’m recommending people this fine game. This is a situation where everybody wins: I win by getting traffic, the guy who got here wins because he found sales stats info, Armadillo Run wins by getting traffic, players win by hearing about a great game.

Now, does this always work like this? Is it so that you could be really sneaky and try to make good deeds to get good rewards. I don’t know – maybe some priests know better, but in my experience I have noticed that the more good things you give to others, the more good things come to you.

Now go on, visit Armadillo Run and get a copy of it. Spending few bucks on another fine indie game is crucially important for the developers. And as you know, good deeds bring you good rewards…

More Indie Games – Mini Reviews #2

Earlier I promised to do some mini game reviews. Here’s some of them:

Void War

Download
Buy

Void War is a 3D, first-person space game where you blast moving objects. There is a multiplayer playing option available, but for some reason it didn’t work on my computer. The game looks okay, and is space themed. Those who liky flying spacecrafts and shooting meteorites will play this game.

Developer hints:
- Art is fine, but could be polished (maybe use less different colors, like in title bars or menu buttons etc.)
- The in-game instructions are great, excellent thinking!

Zen of Sudoku

Screenshots
Download

Beautiful Zudoku game. Very relaxing and well done game for zudoku fans. The main idea is same as in Sudoku: Fill all empty squares so that the numbers 1 to 9 appear once in each row, column and 3×3 box. If you like Zudoku, then I’m sure you love this game. (Hint: it’s also inexpensive, only about $13 bucks)

Developer hints:
- I’d suggest adding buy link somewhere in your website (if possible).

Easter Bonus

Download
Buy

As they mention in the website, Easter Bonus is a slick and cute game for those who like match-3 games. I think the game is well done, visuals, menus and so on are okay. I personally don’t like this type of graphics, but that doesn’t mean it would be bad: quite contrary. This sort of bit childish or cartoonish visuals fit nicely for this game.

Developer hints:
- Graphics could be polished.
- Maybe adding a bigger buy button in the menu could be useful (for trial versions)

Fashion Cents

Download
Buy

Dress up dolls in this award-winning fashion game. I tried this game, which is nice – in case you like dressing dolls – but I think there’s some elements which would need to be added or changed to make the game better. I think this game definitely has potential (especially, if you do ‘paint cars’ version for boys…) to be an excellent game. I think there should be tooltips or better demonstration about how to get points. Otherwise it’s bit like random trying – even if you’ve taken a glimpse at the help information. For casual audience everything must be plain simple, right from the beginning. I recommend checking out my developer hints, and I also recommend people to try this game.

Developer hints:
- After installation there should be ‘Play game’ option. Now I had to start looking for the game… and found out that it was installed in directory ‘My game company’ instead of ‘Fashion Cents’.
- I would definitely add nag screens both in the beginning and in the end of the game
- Add tooltips or some very simple instructions (maybe introduce gradually new ways to get points) also in the game’s first levels

Laser Dolphin

Download
Buy

This game’s developer put it quite nicely what the game is all about: “It has dolphins AND lasers. What more could you want?”. My first impression was bit slow downloading – I’m not sure if it hurts sales, but I wanted to mention it. Now – the game itself is nice side-scroller game, and it has dolphins and lasers. What strike to me first was the bit strange control: press SPACE to move towards cursor. Why not change space to right mouse button (or let people customize it) so that people can play the game with their mouse. I’m not a fan of this type of games, but I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with the game. I’m sure 2D shoot’em’up gamers might like the game.

Developer hints:
- Add Right mouse button moving?
- Check out competing side scrollers, and think of what are the best features in those games – then steal them, modify them, brainstorm to make use of the best features in unique way in your game

Cavemen

If you’ve got a Pocket PC then try out Cavemen. I know I haven’t, but nevertheless – here are the game links:

Download
Buy

Blobbit

Blobbit Dash was an executable Jar file – when I tried to launch the game I got an error.

Download

Developer hints:
- I recommend putting a readme.txt file
- Proper download links (no popups)
- Use free installer instead of .zip files.
- Show system requirements right at your website and also in the installer

End of roundup #2
That’s it folks. Feel free to try all these games, and buy them. These guys have worked hard to get pixels and polygons moving on your computer screen – whenever you buy any of these games, you taking another step to support indie gamers.

Mini Reviews #1

Mini reviews are done to present different indie games, and to give you inspiration. You may also get some valuable ideas from different games. I’ve tested each game’s demo, provided a link to the game’s website, given small review, verdict and finally some development suggestions. More mini game reviews will be available in the future, but at the moment I’m not accepting any more games, there’s already several in my queue.

Speedy Solitaire

Very addictive game, definitely worth tryingwebsite

Speedy Solitaire is based on card game Spit. The main idea of the game is to match card that are either one higher or one lower than the cards in the discard pile. Apparently the idea sounds very simple, but it’s strangely addictive game. The visuals are nice, the music is nice, the game idea and execution is very well done. Also the game website is very well done. I have nothing bad to say about this game, besides the fact that I missed a multiplayer experience. If I had to think something bad, I’d say the car theme might not suit best in this type of game. Maybe it’s that I’m not much of a racer, but for some reason it sounded bit far fetched. Anyway, that doesn’t hurt the gaming experience. Maybe we’ll see different skins from Injoy Games in the future?

Developer hints:
- Possibility to play online multiplayer with a friend would be great addition.

Bullet Candy

Nice shooter game, stunning graphics – worth trying if you like arcade gameswebsite

I’m not much of a fan for arcade shooters, so I’m not propably the best person to judge this game – but I try to give my opinion. Bullet Candy is visually stunning shooter game, where the main idea is… well, shoot stuff and avoid others from destroying your plane (or whatever it is). The controls are bit different what you might be used to: you move your plane using keyboard and rotate & shoot using mouse. The interesting – and difficult part – was the fact that when you press key UP, your plane moves up (not forward). Pressing LEFT moves your plane left (doesn’t rotate). I’ve used to move the plane differently so the controls were bit hard for me. Technically the game is well done, and worth trying – especially for those who are fans of this game genre.

Developer hints:
- I noticed a small bug: if you press mouse (anywhere on the menu screen) and move your mouse over a menu item, it gets ‘automatically clicked’. Looks like some sort of mouse flush is missing.
- Definitely add nag screens and explain what I get if I buy, and give links to purchase buttons (in-game etc.) Check out Speedy Solitaire for hints & tips on how to make the demo more sellable.
- Installer instead of a zip file

KGA Golf

A golf game that has potential for a really fun gamewebsite

KGA Golf is a golf game where you pick a club, aim towards the hole and swing. The game is easy to get into, and must please for golf fans. The game has potential, but could use bit nicer visuals and some background music or more sounds to make it more interesting. Also possibility to play hot-seated multiplayer match with a friend could make the game more challenging. It has potential, but the current version is missing something for having a more fun gaming experience. Golf fans will propably like it the way it is. The level editor is a fun idea, and must be something that players enjoy.

Developer hints:
- Hot-seat multiplayer option would be fun
- I’d like to see more field – maybe use right mouse button to scroll the field?
- User interface could be changed a bit: instead of a list for clubs, maybe you could show all clubs (with small images) all the time and choose with one click. The current system needs always two click: first click to open the list, second click to choose – it would be faster to offer 1 click option. Also: do you really need all those clubs?
- Graphics & sounds: consider hiring an artist to make some nice graphics – your game deserves that
- I liked the way you use a ‘buy now’ popup screen that’s visible all the time – good!
- Installer… instead of a zip file

Dr. Lunatic Supreme With Cheese

Crazy brain teaser game, plenty of power-ups, brains and stuff to deal withwebsite

Now here’s a lunatic game… collect brains and candles, stay in shadows – and hammer walls. With crazy sounds. This certainly is a crazy puzzle game. The art looks like it’s done by a child, and the voice actor must have missed some pills – but it works. The gameplay is ok, and there’s plenty of different objects and things to do in the demo. People who love solving puzzles will propably like this game.

Developer hints:
- It’s really hard to tell what could be changed: for example, the water killing animation looks like the guys is running extra fast and it looks crazy. But, if one was to change that graphic, then something would be lost. I find it hard to recommend anything regarding the demo. Maybe add few extra buy nag screens after each level (maybe the dog could tell some crazy reasons about why people should purchase the game.

Nearly Departed

Very nice looking zombie adventure game in developmentwebsite

I made an exception and gave this fine adventure game a mini review – even though the game is not finished. The reason I do this was simply because the game idea, art and execution is well done using the LASSIE scripting engine. I managed to solve few rooms (freaking bum won’t give his card to me…) and the game art looks simply beautiful. The system is smooth and dialogue okay. I recommend people who like adventure games out the game and the scripting engine.

Developer hints:
- I know voices would make the file size massive, but I wanted to bring this out: having voices would be superb
- The inventory system is bit slow in my opinion, it takes time for the inventory to pop up. It could be good if it would be possible to pin the inventory always visible.
- Keep up the good work

Balloon Headed Boy

Well executed platform gamewebsite

Boy with a head that gets big enough to get you flying – this game is platformer game like Mario. Nice graphics, peaceful sound and music – certainly something to please players. This kind of games aren’t my favourites, but Balloon Headed Boy seems to perform well.

Developer hints:
- Not much to suggest, game looked fine, demo looked fine. Good luck with it.

The Butler Did it!

A dynamic detective adventure gamewebsite

This game uses randomly generated crime puzzles for you to solve. It uses adventure game style mechanism, but the game experience is maybe bit too hectic. The music on the background is fast and the detective throws some witty comments – which on the other hand might not suit so well in the game. The game itself is okay, but the it lacks the mysterious ‘something’ to make this a really good game. Maybe it’s the music, user interface interruptions (like ‘this door is closed’ note is displayed on full screen, not something that the just detective says), the graphics, or the slightly unreadable font that could make this game better.

Developer hints:
- Hectic music could be replaced with some more relaxin violin music?
- ‘Door closed’ could be said by the detective, instead of showing full screen not
- Font is quite hard to read, makes it difficult to really enjoy the notes
- The humor might not fit so well – but that’s only my personal opinion. (maybe with more cartoonish graphics they could do okay…)
- Overall, again this game has potential, but it needs some final touches to really make it
- Very good name for the game!