Tanglewood

I haven’t written anything for a while, because I haven’t played anything for a while. Work and social life has taken up most of my time and energy, so I’ve not been able to play anything substantial for a while. However, I’d like to put the spotlight on a Kickstarter project I’ve backed this week, then I’ll be back to regular updates next week.

Full disclosure: I am friends with the man behind the Tanglewood game, Matt Phillips – however, I have accepted no gifts for this post and I have backed the Kickstarter project with my own money.

Tanglewood is a homebrew game being built for the Sega Mega Drive – some might think the mark had been missed now, but there is a great community behind the system and its games. Since the project was announced, it’s been picked up by sites such as Kotaku, Destructoid, Nintendo Life and more!

There is a tech demo of Tanglewood available on its website and I’d recommend playing it while you have the chance; it’s a platformer game, in the vein of The Lion King, with a lot of challenge behind it. You play as Nymn, a fox-like creature separated from their pack after the sun sets, and you have to find somewhere safe to spend the night.

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Nymn and a Fuzzl

After dark, terrible creatures roam the forest, including the menacing Djakk monsters which will hunt Nymn down for dinner. Nymn must use skills of evasion, special abilities, traps and trickery to defeat these predators.

At the moment, only the first three levels are available to try but they bring you into the world of Tanglewood and give a taste of some of the puzzles to come. You’ll find Fuzzls hidden in the world, who will bestow special powers upon you if you can move them back to their nests.

The world of Tanglewood is wonderful to behold – during the day, it is bright and colourful with Fuzzls dotting the branches in their own bright hue. The transition through to night is brilliant and then you notice how foreboding the forest really is, scared to push forward into the jaws of the Djakk.

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Nymn flees from a monstrous Djakk

 

What makes Tanglewood all the more impressive is the work behind it – Matt is building the game in pure 68000 assembly language, using original development tools. I wouldn’t begin to know where to start with programming, my job only requires SQL, but I’ve been assured that it’s not easy! It has taken Matt three years to get to this point, starting with applying basic movements to a Sonic sprite and tracking every step on his blog.

Tanglewood is currently on Kickstarter, with over 400 backers and £27,572 raised – if you pop over there, you can nab a version of the game on an original cartridge, as well as receiving regular updates from Matt – there have been additions to the team behind Tanglewood, including freezedream as the Sound Designer, Composer and Character Designer/Animator Adoru C. and Matthew Weekes, who was Environment Artist on Freedom Planet!

For more information on Tanglewood, please check out the official site. If you like what you see, please head over to the Kickstarter page and donate to Matt and this beautiful game.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

In the world of nerdism, you’d be hard pushed to place anything above Lord of the Rings as ‘the nerdiest thing ever’ – a rich, detailed world that essentially defined fantasy genre, that has entertained generations of readers. It should be the perfect setting for a game, probably the best fantasy game you can imagine, but designers have stumbled while bringing Middle-earth to life. Lord of the Rings Online was, thankfully, the last time I had a go at becoming a Hobbit and going on an adventure.

In September 2014, Monolith Productions took a shot at the Middle-earth mythos with Shadow of Mordor. The first that a lot of people saw was a gameplay video that was very reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, with a focus on stealth, sneaky kills and free-running; there were some other controversies there as well, through some shady actions on Warner Brothers’ part, but we’ll leave that to Google to remember.

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Evolve: Stage 2

Whenever I see a game becoming over-hyped, I can’t help but think “you are going to fail and it will be hilarious”. A few big launches have turned out this way and I can’t help but think I have a pretty awesome superpower. One day in the future, I’ll talk about the remnants of Wildstar, Elder Scrolls Online and SimCity, but today I will focus on Evolve.

Or, as it has been rebranded now – Evolve: Stage 2.

Evolve immediately turned me off at announcement, when the developers seemed to spend more of their time plugging the downloadable content as opposed to actually programming their game – granted, the downloadable content made up 95% of the game, so maybe they just had a lot of spare time. Monster packs, hunters, weapons, all sorts of shill were thrown up on websites and at conventions as a way to entice their audience – the game was a shopfront for a load of assets they were throwing together.

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World of Warcraft: Legion

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a big Blizzard fan, so as soon as I found out the release date for World of Warcraft’s sixth expansion I took a week off from work to play it. Legion was a revitalisation for the MMO with a lot of hopes pinned on its success, considering the mediocre reception of Warlords of Draenor. A long and winding story has been laid in the last couple of expansions, now coming to a head with the Burning Legion setting their sights on Azeroth.

From the beginning, we are on the back foot: the first scenario takes place on the Broken Shore, a massive effort from both factions to push the Legion back before the invasion even begins. We barely make it out alive, with major losses to both sides and distrust sewn back into the Alliance and the Horde.

After we realise the extent of the Legion’s power – which included Invasions throughout Azeroth during the pre-patch questline – Khadgar decides to take the fight to the Legion, magically teleporting these willing adventurers and an entire city to the Broken Isles.

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GTA Online

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a write-off, with unexpected circumstances preventing anything substantial from being posted. I’ve also been dropping in and out of different games in that time, thanks to a new group of friends with a hugely varied Steam library between us.

A lot of time has been spent in the impressively criminal state of San Andreas, where up to 30 maniacs armed to the teeth can cause havoc across the city of Los Santos (and surrounding areas). For the longest time, I’d created a guy who looked scarily similar to me and took after my greatest trait: staying inside for fear of being murdered. However, with the occasional support of a group of slightly less insane people, I’ve ventured into the world and committed a whole lot of crime.

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Guest Post: Overwatch

I’m happy to announce that this week, we have a guest post from a friend of mine – Aidan Parr! This is an unprecedented change and I can only assume he wants all of my ‘fame’ and ‘money’, but I’ll let it slide (this time). So, for your reading pleasure, please enjoy Aidan’s review of Overwatch on the PS4!

Having your own flat is full of little freedoms that you don’t expect, little freedoms that mean spending a large portion of your monthly income for the next 30 years on your mortgage seems slightly more worth it. These little freedoms include not having to queue for the shower in the morning, having pop-tarts for dinner, and having your own internet connection.

You see, this internet connection, this marvellous fibre optic connection, means online gaming is actually worthwhile for the first time in my life. I don’t have lag, I don’t have to wait seven hundred and thirty two hours for a PlayStation update to download (now it’s an even two hundred hours, seriously Sony, what’s up with that?) and it means I can try Overwatch.

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Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark: Survival Evolved might seem like your run of the mill sandbox survival games, but it has dinosaurs! I had all too easily passed over Ark when it had first come out as another offshoot of the survival simulation genre, which I could easily experience by booting up Minecraft. However, it was on the Steam Summer Sale so I thought I’d give it a shot.

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Olgrey / youtube.com

You wake up on an island, with a loud and unskippable cutscene, looking at a thing embedded in your arm. Don’t worry if you missed it first time though because it plays every time you have to respawn which, if you’re as bad at surviving as I apparently am, you’ll do a lot. As per survival sim tradition, your first objective as a newly awoken test subject in the wild is to punch a tree for some wood, pick up some stones and fashion some sort of crude tool so you can hatchet trees instead!

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