Today's review is for Abuse, a gpl'ed sidescroller (surely you know that means the source code is available), with public domain content, which is strange and unusual, and also means the entire game can be downloaded free of charge, here.
The linked page hosts a Windows port of the game, and that is what this review is relevant to, but ports exist for many other operating systems, and if you're running one, you probably know how to use google.
Abuse steals pages from the respective books of Metroid and Contra, and adds mouselook, making it the only 2d platformer I've played that supports (hell, requires) a mouse and keyboard control scheme. This sounds awkward, but mouselook works unexpectedly well in this style of game, and makes Samus and the Contra boys seem like poor marksmen indeed.
While it plays like a hybrid of the two console classics mentioned above, save games are implemented, as are quicksaves, which gives you the option of playing through console style, saving only when the save points come up, or creeping through as though you were playing Quake, saving every few feet. You'll probably end up doing the latter; the difficulty spikes relatively early.
Oh yeah, there's a story: You're the lone survivor (aren't you always?) in a prison taken over by a failed experiment and filled with mutants with laser beams attached to their heads. This is a paraphrasing, but you get the idea. Cue dark, spooky corridors and explosives.
Which sound like explosives should: bang. Sound effects are on point and the music is mostly atmospheric. I believe that with a few exceptions (such as the Super Mario Brothers overworld music), the less you notice the sound in a game, the better it does the job of involving you, and I hardly noticed the sound in Abuse.
Abuse offers network play over TCP/IP, serial cable, modem, or IPX. (Special note to coders: Make a client/server mod for Abuse so we can have 32 player 2d sidescrolling deathmatch! Please? It worked well for zDoom...) Now, all of the above is impressive for a free game, but it also includes a level editor. So you can make your own killing grounds, or even single player levels, if you're lame.
Anyway, Abuse is a little under 3 megs, and packs a whole lot of game. I recommend it. If you're feeling frisky, try the newer version, which adds higher resolution graphics, also linked to at the above page. By the way, I've seen the author of this port post to slashdot a few times, so big ups to you for the fine effort, Jeremy Scott.
update: Abuse actually takes up a little over 9 megs on the old hard disk. The download is less than three megs, though
N is the best Flash game I have ever played, so discard any expectations of objectivity. If you are no longer interested in reading the review, I advise you to form your own opinion by downloading it here.
Everybody else, feel free to continue reading.
As mentioned above, N is written in Flash, and is thus available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, in no particular order. Unlike virtually every other Flash game I've played, the purpose of N is not to display advertisements, or nag you to register; it is an actual videogame. The genre is an old favorite of mine, the 2d platformer, and the difficulty is reminiscent of Contra without the infamous Konami code. This, in spite of the fact that you have infinite lives.
Yes, that's right. Infinite lives. You may continue playing until you give up in frustration. But I get ahead of myself. N puts you in a level, all of which is visible with no scrolling, in the style of Donkey Kong. You are a very well animated Ninja, and your goal is to exit the level within the time limit. There are gold coins, too, and each adds two seconds to your time. So far, par for the course. What sets N apart from the myriad similar games is a physics engine that makes it almost as much fun to kill the ninja as it is to strive for the exit. To my knowledge, it is the first use of ragdoll physics in a 2d game, although if I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll be corrected.
The first few levels are a slow warm up, allowing you to grow comfortable with wall jumping and the additional demands the physics engine adds to controlling the Ninja. On level three, mines show up, and not two long after that... robots, the sworn enemy of all ninjas. The enemy AI is among the best I've seen in such a simple game, and even after you learn its rules, it is still challenging. Not too long after that, the game becomes so demanding you'll find yourself biting back curses like Yosemite Sam with each of your deaths. And those deaths, I'm sorry to say, are your fault. The simple controls (left and right arrows to walk; spacebar to jump) leave no room to blame anyone else, which is a hallmark of many great games.
With over 200 levels, a price of free, and able to fit on a floppy disk, I would say that most Flash-capable computers should be able to find room for N on their hard drive. Note: Go into options and set spacebar as the Jump key. You're only setting yourself up for heartbreak otherwise.
Welcome, and abandon hope. I will be using this journal to document kick ass games that I am playing. As forewarning:
Things I like:
2) Realtime combat, as opposed to turn-based.
3) Cheap things, preferably free.
5) 2d platformers of the old school variety.
Things I don't like:
1) DRM'ed games.
2) EA XXXX '## sports "games"
3) Practically anything from EA.
4) MMORPG's or other games with a monthly fee.
5) 3d games that are 3d for no reason.
Hopefully that gives you a feel for what will be on display here. Now I'm going to get busy reviewing N, so I can change my sig.