Sat Dec 06 2008 10:21 Game Roundup: DS Homebrew Edition:
I'm kind of disappointed with the state of DS homebrew games. Admittedly the DS is hostile territory for homebrew, which limits the audience somewhat. It reminds me of the state of Linux gaming in the early 2000s which led me to start doing the Games Roundups in the first place, and the underlying reason in both cases is probably the small audience. In fact, some of the same games from back then are showing up on the DS, like DSBill, which probably works better on the DS than XBill does with the mouse.
Anyway, I went through the games section of ndshb.com, or another site much like it, dumped a bunch of games on my mini-SD card, and played them (or tried to) over the course of several plane flights. I'm pretty sure it wasn't ndshb.com, actually, which means I could do another one of these. Anyway, here are the games I was 1) able to get working and 2) entertained by. My list includes helpful hints like WHAT THE POINT OF THE GAME IS, a tidbit sometimes omitted from official game documentation.
- robotfindskitten ds: still the acme of human achievement.
- As mentioned earlier, Portal ripoff StillAliveDS is still the champ of DS homebrew. Remember, drag and throw to move a crate!
- As with Linux in the early 2000s (and today, I guess), a lot of homebrew DS games are clones of preexisting games. Unfortunately they're often clones of lame games, like Simon or Same Game. One exception is Lemmings DS, which takes a good game that feels right under the DS pointer and does a faithful port of it. Bonus: includes levels from all the Lemmings spin-offs in one game.
- Plus, physics simulation clones! There's a "World of Sand DS" that doesn't seem to have an official site. If only World of Sand could somehow be combined with World of Goo. And Pocket Physics is a Crayon Physics clone that is an immense amount of fun.
- Grafoon is a gravity game that omits the gravity but leaves in place the cave, the spaceship, and the dying if your sprite enters the vicinity of any wall sprite. It took me a while to figure it out, but read the official website instead of whatever list of games I was using and you'll see quickly that your job is to act as a taxi service for the "Hobbels", collecting them all and discharging them on the red platform. I still find it frustrating to control the spaceship, but it's a fun game.
- The Linux version of the Roguelike POWDER was reviewed in a 2007 Game Roundup. It's about the same on the DS as it was on Linux.
- ASCII WAR, aka ASCII WARS (official site is gone) is a very interesting idea for a Roguelike--you're actually hunting down rogue ASCII characters in a computer's memory--but it's not well-adapted to the DS. You could do a Roguelike with a super-stripped-down action set, or a Roguelike like POWDER where the actions are available as icons on the touch screen. Or you could even do a Roguelike in which the touch screen displayed a keyboard, though it would be annoying. But in ASCII WAR[S] you have to bring up the keyboard by hitting R! Otherwise there's nothing on the bottom screen! Oh well.
- Anguna (did you mean: angina?) is a Zelda-type game that just doesn't have enough stuff to bear comparison with a real Zelda game. It starts off well enough with a dungeon escape scenario but when you get into the overworld it's pretty sparse. This is something that could be fixed just by adding more stuff to make each overworld screen unique, so I'm not saying you shouldn't check out Anguna.
- Meteora is an action game where you and the computer basically throw space junk at each other. After playing the tutorial I knew what was going on, but I couldn't wear down the computer's shields in a real game. Worth further study, I think.
- Warcraft: Tower Defense is the first "tower defense" game I ever played. I've avoided such classics as Desktop Tower Defense because of all the people who posted to their weblogs about how much time they'd wasted playing tower defense games. But an airplane trip is a welcome opportunity to waste huge amounts of time, so I fired it up. It turns out I'm not very good at tower defense games, so I was unable to waste very much time on it. I can tell this is a good game though.
A second round of reviews coming eventually.
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