Tag Archives: Blade Runner

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: G-Police

When I think of Colony Wars, I think of G-Police. Conversely, when I think of G-Police, I also think of Colony Wars. Which I’ve already covered via this blog post tag, sadly. Though I do have a retail copy of Colony Wars: Vengeance somewhere among my small collection of PlayStation 1 games, though I don’t know if it better than the original. I hope to try it out…one day. Anyways, the two simulation shooters for the PlayStation 1 share the same space in my brain, and that space is the zone designated to sci-fi games where you pilot a futuristic spaceship of sorts. I have to imagine that I traded both in at the same time, forever marking one of the darkest days in the history of me.

G-Police takes place in 2097, when most of Earth’s resources are depleted. Because of this, humanity is beginning to form colonies on other worlds. So, basically, our future future. You are a man named Slater, a member of the futuristic government taskforce known as the G-Police. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that stands for governmental-police. Or maybe grassfed. His role is to maintain order on Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons, as well as discover the truth behind his sister’s mysterious death. Because there has to be something else driving him forward besides him driving forward his g-copcar after criminals. I honestly don’t remember much of this murder mystery plot, as I was more strangely focused on doing cop-like things, such as escorting people to safety and…uh, other tasks.

Speaking of Slater’s g-copcar, it’s actually a vertical take-off and landing aircraft called the Havoc. You end up piloting this VTOL piece during the game’s various missions. Some missions require the gun-ship to drop bombs on enemies below while others are straightforward dogfighting sessions. Other mission objectives include escorting ally ground units, preventing smuggling, bomb disposal, and scanning for suspect vehicles. Sounds like there were 35 missions in total, as well as a bonus training mode, but I definitely never beat G-Police, just like how I never beat the original Colony Wars. I did, however, play their early levels over and over again because I enjoyed them that much. Also, the difficulty ramps up quickly.

I do remember the Havoc being a pain to control though. Every button on the PlayStation 1 controller was used to maneuver the heavy-as-heavy-gets thing. You could thrust forwards, backwards, up, and down, as expected, and you could also hold your altitude by holding the upward and downward thrusts. This was ultimately tricky on the original PS1 controller, but vital for making it through the missions in one healthy, whole piece. Unfortunately, and this was just kind of before its time, you were not able to move left or right without turning, what we now know as strafing. I have this really strong memory of lowering the Havoc to street level and watching citizens and vehicles going about their way.

That said, the Havoc had weapons. The selection was robust and expanded as you progressed through the missions. Missiles were your main mode of enforcing the law, with a good balance between strength and tracking enemies on the map. Locking on to objects also scanned them, with some missions requiring you to look for contraband cargo and the like. I enjoyed these, and this is one of the earlier signs that I preferred less violent gameplay means when possible, which is why I’d always lean towards stealth over guns blazing in the years to come. Certain missions also outfitted you with special items, ranging from bombs that can perform an EMP blast to shut down fleeing vehicles or a flare launcher to mark a location for SWAT teams on the ground to move in on. Y’know, cop stuff.

G-Police was heavily inspired by Blade Runner, but I didn’t know that at the time I bought it. Why? Well, I didn’t end up seeing Blade Runner until only a handful of years ago. I know, I know–my bad. There’s plenty of futuristic city stuff to eat up, like advertising blimps, hovercars, and neon lights. Lots of green and orange-red in your HUD, which is pretty close to what it is like in Descent, though I’m only now making that connection. You could also pull the camera out and play from a different perspective, but I mainly stuck to the first-person, inside-the-Havoc view. Graphically, G-Police was not a stunner, with a dark, oppressive environment and pop-up around every corner, but the thwumping techno-driven soundtrack helped alleviate some of these limitations.

However, in the end, G-Police was another take on the Colony Wars experience, and that was enough for me to hand over my hard-earned cash from washing cars and watering lawns and procure a copy. Alas, I never got to see it all the way through before giving it up for in-store credit, but I still remember its earliness fondly. I should find a full YouTube playthrough of it for my next marathon drawing session.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

The future is full of cyborg diseases and neon adverts in Among Thorns

gd final impressions among thorns screenshot 01

I am weak to small games with big ambition. Like Limbo, which was a perfunctory action-puzzle platformer that attempted to tell a story of loss and uncertainty with next to no words. Or Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, what with its exploration based around different phases of the actual moon. I think we can add Among Thorns to this mental list of mine. It reminds me a bit of A Landlord’s Dream, which also came from the AGS community and was brimming with grand ideas, littered with the kind of far-reaching sci-fi concepts that flesh out a futuristic world to make it feel livable instantly. However, Matt Frith’s pixel art here is a whole lot less grainy, having that clean, sterile feel to it that can only be attained in an era of synthetic body upgrades, and the puzzles are not as obtuse.

Among Thorns was created specifically for MAGS, which is a monthly competition for all amateur adventure game makers, last month. January 2016 for those that can’t figure it out. I think voting is still going on, though I have high hopes for it doing well among its competitors. The theme was Black Death, and Among Thorns certainly covers that aspect with its Necronite disease, which only seems to affect the people in this world that have begun to augment their bodies.

Among Thorns‘ driving force is slight, but gets things going right away. You almost don’t have time to finish your noodle cup before the plot starts popping in. Anyways, you play as a young woman named Cora who ends up taking a shady job from her boss Lentii to investigate a dude named Cordell Jann, as he may or may not have a cure for Necronite. Yup, that sentenced contained a lot of science fiction-appropriate names. Now, getting to Jann’s apartment is no hop and skip over, and most of the game involves puzzling your way past roadblocks, like the cops. Once you’re inside Jann’s place, there’s more to do and discover, but I won’t spoil any of that here.

Gameplay doesn’t try to do anything wild and crazily unorthodox for the point-and-click adventuring genre. You have an inventory on the left side of the screen, can collect items, converse with people and things, and solve puzzles logically, using your brain and whatever is in your pockets. That’s fine. It’s a short little game, and, for me, this was all about seeing what was next. The more neon signs my eyes could eat up, the better. I mean, we all love Blade Runner, right? This is very much Blade Runner-inspired. There’s a small amount of pixel hunting to do, and this task can be hard to accomplish when there is so much already on the screen to gawk at. I’m still always looking for that balance of easier to find things to interactive with versus actually playing detective screen to screen.

Though Cora does complete her job by the time credits roll, the story ends in a cliffhanger-esque fashion, leaving me hungry for more and wondering what happens next. Clearly, time was an issue, and this is more a prologue than complete project. Among Thorns is certainly capable of carrying a full-fledged story and campaign, and I’d love to learn more about Cora herself and why she prefers to live off the grid and what struggles that entails. Until then, I’ll probably check out some of Matt Frith’s other work over at the AGS community.

Nothing works properly for Abel the Stringshaper in A Landlord’s Dream

a landlord's dream screenshot 01

It only takes three screens to tell the story of A Landlord’s Dream, but, for a Monthly Adventure Game Studio Competition (MAGS) entry, this is all it needs. Amazingly, there’s a world here, cyberpunky and mysterious and sparkling with inspiration, not that far off from dystopian Los Angeles from Blade Runner or the futuristic, augmented Detroit from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It may not be entirely fleshed out in every instance, but there’s a lot to digest, with plenty of room to grow and become something bigger. Certainly, the conspiracy goes deeper than just the landlord.

A Landlord’s Dream comes to us from LostTrainDude, and this is the first game of his or her portfolio that I’ve touched, but I suspect I’ll dip back into some older work, such as A Night That Wouldn’t End, which is an intriguing title to start. Anyways, this short hop around a building is about Abel Lowen, a Stringshaper and sleepy band member, who is awoken in the middle of the night by his apartment’s alarm clock on the fritz. Once he’s finally up and at ’em, Lowen realizes that almost nothing technological seems to be working properly–not his phone, not his alarm system, and certainly not his implants, the ones that power his musical talents. Venturing out into the hallway, he quickly sees that he’s not the only one experiencing problems.

Gameplay is your standard point-and-click adventuring stuff. You can left click to use/interact with items and right click to learn about them. Lowen has an inventory too, though you won’t hold very much over the course of three screens. Inside your inventory, you can examine objects further or click on them to use on whatever person, place, or thing you desire. In terms of puzzles, they are mostly logical, though I got stuck for a bit on how to create a distraction despite having the idea down; eventually, I just tried every combination of items until something happened, which did not make me feel smart, only frustrated.

A couple of other nitpicks I ran into with A Landlord’s Dream. Technically, there is some pixel hunting for some of the tinier items or interactive spots, such as using the cell phone on the door alarm, and the game ends with the UI still accessible during the end credits sequence. Small quibbles, but they are there nonetheless.

I’m usually not the sort that replays point-and-click adventure games, but if this one got reworked a bit and lengthened in all the right areas (more screens, more info about implants, more characters to chat with), I’d be down for helping delirious men with prophet-driven hallucinations and scaring cats to create distractions again. I don’t know, but something about the grainy pixel art of this digital world really resonates with me.