Tag Archives: GameBoy Jam 3

2017 Game Review Haiku, #39 – The Evil With Us

Monsters left and right
Grind out gold, better your knife
Only upgrade knife

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

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It takes a princess to save a knight in The Tale of Kelda

gd impressions the tale of kelda

Don’t you hate it when, in the middle of spinning and swirling and dancing with your one true love in some fantasy-quality grassy field, a ferocious monster snatches away your significant only, leaving you standing there, burning for justice and revenge? I know I do. And so does Kelda, the star of The Tale of Kelda, which was another high-up-on-the-list entry, in terms of votes, for the GameBoy Jam 3 from last year–yes, I’m still nibbling away at it–of which I’ve also tried out two other strong contenders in the names of Roguelight and Meowgical Tower.

The Tale of Kelda, from Sinextra Game Studio and which obviously has no obvious connection with The Legend of Zelda (obviously), is an action platformer, starring the princess herself, which would make Anita Sarkeesian quite proud. It kind of reminds me of when Jade, a journalist, was sent to rescue Double H, an armored soldier, who was kidnapped by the evildoers in Beyond Good & Evil. If only we can get a true take on this notion from Nintendo with the Mario series, and no, sorry, Super Princess Peach was not the best effort, given that most of her power-ups rely on emotions, like joy and rage. Y’know, because all women are emotional.

Moving right along, Kelda deals in simple actions: moving left and right, jumping, double jumping, slashing with her sword, and charging up a magic projectile. That’s it. You’ll use all of these skills to complete each level, with the level’s end identified by a road sign and an arrow to follow. You have five hearts, and a set number of magic spell uses, though killing enemies and breaking pots will reveal extra pick-ups to refill those meters. All in all, it’s a straightforward experience, with little challenge, though there is something extremely satisfying about slashing a skeleton archer to death before it can loose an arrow your way. The platforming is rudimentary and never really tasks with you anything too challenging, but it gets the job done.

A few quibbles, of course. Kelda occasionally would land on the edge of a platform, and she’d sort of get stuck in-between the geometry. I never felt truly confident leaping to another ledge and slashing at an enemy awaiting me there. Lastly, I was able to cheese the final boss by standing in one spot and perfectly timing four or five magic projectiles in a row. Oh wells. This is a jam game, after all, and still a solid stab at the theme and all its limitations.

I have a few more entries from GameBoy Jam 3 downloaded to look at, though I will never experience all 239 creations. Certainly not at my pace, at least. Regardless, stay tuned for more retro-themed adventures and my avant-garde thoughts on ’em. Long live princesses.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #21 – The Tale of Kelda

2015 games completed gd the tale of kelda

Dragon takes your knight
Jump, slash, charge your magic blasts
Good to be princess

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Use Roguelight’s arrows sparingly to beat the dark

roguelight gd impressions 62407

Here’s another product from GameBoy Jam 3, of which I previously covered Meowgical Tower. In fact, this one, this aptly named Roguelight by Daniel Linsson, with audio from Jonathon Tree, is the jam’s big blindin’ star, ranked #1 by those that did all the actual voting. Not me, I only come around after all that’s done, like a hungry dog sniffing at trashcans, searching for the half-nibbled filet mignon that someone was too full to finish. To keep with that odd metaphor, this is a tasty meal, like a big, endless bowl of black pepper potato chips–you can’t just have one.

As far as I can tell, Roguelight is all mechanics, no story. Which is fine, because the mechanics are tied together in an extremely addicting way that you will quickly not care why this young woman is venturing deeper down into the darkness. You will only grow greedier, pushing her forward and downward and further from the surface. See, the deeper you travel, the darker it gets, and you only have a limited number of arrows to light the way. You can use your arrows to light lanterns, but you might also need them to defeat enemies; the choices ultimately mean life or death, stopping or going.

Your first few runs in Roguelight will be pitiful. Mine were. It’s planned that way. As you go further down, you can collect coins, which are used to purchase upgrades for the protagonist’s health, quiver of arrows, jumping abilities, and so on. Here’s the trick; you can only access this shop screen after you die, meaning you can’t upgrade to the good stuff for a while, but each individual upgrade will help you on the next run, allowing you to go further and gather more money. I highly recommend going for the perks that grant you extra coins from lighting lanterns and killing enemies, since those are tasks you’ll be doing anyway. It seems like each new run is randomly generated, though it is hard to tell in spots since, one, it is covered in darkness and, two, many tile sets are re-used. The furthest I ventured was around level 4, so who knows.

That said, I found the game’s single song soundtrack tiring, as it is mostly a drum beat with some electronic beats surrounding it. Toss in the tinny jump sound effect that our leading lady does with every leap, and…well, it’s not a joy to listen to. Thankfully, the clink of an arrow piercing an enemy and producing coins is joyful.

Roguelight obediently sticks to the jam’s rules, meaning it looks like a GameBoy-era title. If only, right? Sure, this is probably illusions of grandeur, but that system needs to come back to power; that, or all these amazing little gems need to be noticed by Nintendo and put on the 3DS eShop for a buck or two each. With Roguelight, it’s the kind of game that encourages replaying and marathoning for a good while, returning to it after your batteries are recharged. Perhaps a stronger story or goal could help push players further below, but really, this is solid, addicting fun as is.

See the light by downloading a free copy of Roguelight right over this a-way.

Meowgical Tower covers some fur-miliar adventuring ground

meowgical tower 62442

I have to imagine that, for anyone new to reading Grinding Down, this blog is a bit all over the map. In the past few posts alone, I’ve talked about an old PlayStation 1 car combat-limned racer, a game all things DLC, my latest progress on replaying Suikoden II, finally getting around to Botanicula, with a few additional posts about tiny, indie, very far off the radar titles that are more about exploration than gameplay mechanics. In many ways, I’m kind of a cat; I move about the gaming industry at my own pace and course, taking great interest in various things along the way while ignoring others. Sometimes it’s a stuffed mouse to chase, and other times it’s a piece of food I carried over by the couch and forgot to previously eat. This analogy got weird.

Which brings us to Meowgical Tower, created by Neon Deity Games for GameBoy Jam 3, a happening that happened back in August 2014. The rules for the jam were simple though I couldn’t even make a sandwich out of these guidelines, but then again I’m no coder:

  1. The aim of GBJam is to create a GameBoy themed game
  2. All assets must be created during the duration of the Jam
  3. Keep in the original GameBoy screen resolution of 160px x 144px
  4. Use only 4 colors in your game

I think Meowgical Tower covers all those requirements. It stars Catte, an intrepid, inquisitive cat. While out adventuring one evening, Catte must take shelter inside a rather ominous tower to avoid getting wet from a sudden rainstorm. Unfortunately, this tower holds secrets, as well as danger, behind every door.

You use the arrow keys to move in four directions, the X key to inspect or advance text, Z to attack or meow if you are weaponless, and Space to paws…er, pause the game. Pretty simple stuff, and you’ll explore rooms that feel ripped right from a Legend of Zelda dungeon of old. What I found neat is that the key or levers you pick up act like weapons, but only until you use them; then it’s back to being a meowy, defenseless kitty cat.

All this exploration eventually leads to a single, three-step final boss fight. With who, you ask? The Labradoom Deceiver, naturally, which is accompanied by an amusing Borderlands style title card. There’s a pattern to learn with this boss, and it took me a few tries before I realized I had to be patient with my attacks, because trying to rush him for damage after gaining a key/lever meant instant death for the bold, brave Catte. After you take down the Labradoom Deceiver, you get a short cutscene that seems to say this was all done for…well, I’ll let you decide on that.

My two biggest gripes for Meowgical Tower are that you can’t attack diagonally, but your enemies can, which means you have to position yourself just right to make contact. Also, to enter a door, you really have to go at it square-on, otherwise you’ll hit its doorframe and get locked in the “push” animation, often taking damage from an enemy following up behind Catte. Knowing those two critiques is important when viewing my final statistics:

Deaths: 9
Game Time: 21:48

Right. This is just one of many, many entries for GameBoy Jam 3. You can play it online so long as you have Unity installed, for zero dollars. I’d like to check out some other creations from the jam, but with around 240 in total out there, it just might not ever happen. After all, I am a cat, and cats do what cats wanna do; you can’t change their minds.