Tag Archives: TOOM

Slaughter the bourgeois with speed in Proletarian Ninja X

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It’s probably a really good thing that I don’t follow game jams too closely, especially after they end. Instead, I pick up a name or two of an interesting title to check out from some other source (usually Indie Statik), do so, play for a bit, write a thing, and happily move on. Otherwise, these things are like bottomless pits, and you could spend days trying them all out to see which ones click and which ones sink. Truthfully, I had intended to look at more creations from Ludum Dare 26, after enjoying Gods Will Be Watching and TOOM, but then I blinked, and here we are now looking at games from the next game jam session: Ludum Dare 27. Really, where does the time go?

First up is Proletarian Ninja X. It is 1930, and capitalists seem to have taken over Earth. You are the Proletarian Ninja X, and your mission is to kill every single one of them. There’s a problem though; your “kill list” is as long as I am tall, and you only have 10 seconds total to kill all the fat cats in the room. Left-clicking with your mouse moves the ninja and kills a snootypant when next to them, and right-clicking throws a shuriken with deadly intent. All the rich have enlightened cones that show where they are looking, and if they spot you or another dead body, it’s game over. Thankfully, it’s very Super Meat Boy-like in starting you over again quickly, so while you might make many mistakes, it is easy to learn from them.

Everything about Proletarian Ninja X is amazingly polished. Evidently, deepnight has participated in game jams before with many successes, and it shows. In fact, I’ve already played one of their (his? her?) games before: Last Breath from Ludum Dare 22. Anyways, moving the ninja from room to room and over desks is easy and tight, the sound effects are wonderfully pleasing, especially when you kill a rich fella, and the pixelated art style fits very well for all that mass murder. That 10 seconds really makes every action count, and you will quickly learn this, as the difficulty seems to ramp up on like the third room. I got to the fifth room and gave up after failing to chop all those high and mighty to bits fast enough without getting caught. This is no Mark of the Ninja (or even Super Ninja Slash), where you can wait almost indefinitely to make your move, but I think the time restraint forces you to try different tactics and makes that final kill all the more rewarding.

I’m looking forward to popping back into this later, and I could totally see this evolving into a full-fledged title. Though I’d like to see some larger rooms with a longer time limit, maybe 30 seconds or so, just to allow for some hesitation and pre-planning. Either way, really good stuff. Always fun to give the upper class their just desserts.

TOOM, a clickable moment in one man’s nonsensical day

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All right, I’ve given another Ludum Dare 26 game a go. This time, it’s TOOM by Mike Kasprzak and Derek Laufman. Overall, I’d call it pretty slow and highly nonsensical, but still worth your clicks, if only to experience the way the camera works as you move around the screen. Also, it looks fantastic, thanks to solid animation, a phantasmagoric color scheme, and pixels that shine with character, even if many of the items ultimately aren’t used.

In TOOM, you control a generic-looking working man–he’s got a tie and either a name badge or pocket protecter thing going on with his button-down shirt–on what I have to assume is his day off. His apartment consists of one long room, which sits high up in the trees on metal stilts, swaying lightly in the wind. It’s obviously future tech, and so I’m sure no one is worried about large gusts or mindless lumberjacks, but you’d never catch me relaxing way up so high. You can click around on different items in the room, and at the far right end of it is something called a Hyper Tube, which you can’t use just yet. Though not explicitly said, the goal is to use that tube. As you click around and open cabinets and trash cans in search of clues, a few items get added to your inventory. Eventually, after all your hard work–I won’t spoil the step-by-step solution though I will say that not everyone is a fan of frozen friends–you are able to use the Hyper Tube. Cue black screen with the word FIN on it. All in all, took me about ten minutes to get through.

My two biggest problems with TOOM are as follows: 1) the ambient music loops, but not endlessly, cutting back to the beginning of the song in a jarring manner after a minute or two, which even causes the game to stutter for a half-second and 2) the inventory and how to use the items within it was not easy to grok. In fact, I think I just got lucky most of the time, constantly clicking on literally everything I could. Guess I’m use to being able to click an item in the inventory and then click what to use it on. Wanted more, even if it was just a text description, mostly because I’m not sure why that thing that was in the freezer was in the freezer. Fairly small complaints, really.

Even after completing the game, I don’t fully understand its name…wait, is the joke that TOOM backwards is moot, which can mean “of little or no practical value or meaning.” Is that it? If so, I don’t think that’s entirely the case here and the developers might be a bit too hard on themselves, but when your reward for finally figuring out exactly what each item is used for and getting into that Hyper Tube is a fart and toilet flush…well, yeah, it does feel kind of unessential in the long haul.