Category Archives: Reviews

Droid Assault a winner in Game Tunnel 2008 awards

2008 Action Game of the Year

Droid Assault recently picked up 4th place in Game Tunnel’s 2008 Action Game of the Year awards, making it our third in the Action Game category.

For those not familiar with the Game Tunnel Game of the Year Awards this is the 6th year they’ve been running, an always entertaining review of the very best Indie games in a range of categories – action, sport, sim, rpg, puzzle, adventure and strategy – always worth checking out for the odd gem you might have missed. Cheers Russell!

Game Tunnel Gold for Droid Assault

Droid Assault picked up a Gold Award in the Game Tunnel June Monthly Round-Up, as did Ultratron and Titan Attacks when they were reviewed, making it our 3rd Gold Award in a row. Oddlabs’ Tribal Trouble also got gold, so that’s all the games we currently feature 🙂

We were just pipped to the post this month by Jon Mak’s Everyday Shooter, which I’ve yet to play as there’s no free demo and I’ve got a feeling it’s not going to work on my old laptop. Bah. Were pretty chuffed anyway with joint 2nd in a month which featured some big games – new releases from Rake in Grass, Grubby Games, Pi Eye Games, the follow up to Gumboy Crazy Adventures and the Penny Arcade Adventures game. This month also sees a welcome return to the panel format, which is always a good read, even when Cas isn’t on the panel stirring things up.

Reviewing Games on Gametunnel

You may or may not have noticed that I now review games on GameTunnel’s monthly roundup nowadays. As usual I’ve been kicking up controversy with my reviewing style and outrageous review scores (2 out of 10! He can’t be serious!)

Well, I think I ought to set the record straight on the review thing as it’s spawned numerous grumpy decisions around the internet.

Gametunnel uses a marks-out-of-ten review system for the monthly round up, which I’m not a great fan of anyway. It’s got some advantages but mostly disadvantages in my humble opinion, mostly being that very rarely does anyone ever score anything much below 5, and also that scores just aren’t consistent from one reviewer to the next or even for one month to the next.

I wanted to make the marks out of ten system work for me, and be consistently reliable so that I could look at a game and know that I’d always rate it the same. And let’s be clear here, it is my opinion, not anyone elses, so I can justifiably come up with any score I want for a game, just like everyone else does,.

So here’s the scheme I settled upon:

  • 1 point if the game installs and runs painlessly
  • 1 point if it doesn’t crash or go wrong in some way at all
  • 1 point if it’s slickly presented
  • 1 point if it’s original
  • 1 point if I think the graphics are good
  • 1 point if I think the sounds and music are good
  • 1 point if I think the overall style is good
  • 1 point if I enjoyed playing it
  • 1 point if I wanted to play it some more later on even though I didn’t have to
  • 1 point if I’d actually buy the game either for me or for someone else

Now, I’m very lenient about my ratings for graphics and sound and style. Style is a combination of graphics, sound, presentation and gameplay which is where the whole thing comes together to create a consistent and immersive experience.

The first three points a game can earn are very objective. It’s not much to ask that a game installs fine and doesn’t crash, and that it presents you with clear and concise options and menus to let you start playing.

The graphics, sounds, and style are subjective but as I say, I am very lenient and have a critical eye for what works and what doesn’t. That’s why Lexaloffle’s Chocolate Castle, with its simplistic 16-bit style unantialised 640×480 graphics gets a point but Magi didn’t: Magi has nice icons but very weak particle effects and sprites which just don’t seem to work.

Then there are the absolutely totally subjective points of whether I actually enjoyed playing the game or not, and whether I wanted to play more than I had to for the purposes of a review, and whether I felt like actually buying the game. And mostly this comes down to plain old whether I like the game, not if I think someone else might like it. That’s the whole point of it being me that’s reviewing the game instead of someone else.

But the end result is a scale that works from 1 to 10 consistently. You know what you have to do to get 10/10 from me. It won’t be very easy at all, of course, but at least it means that if a game gets 10/10 from me I don’t think it could really do any better!

Someone set us up the Ac!dbomb

Hey all, Shinji here. As you may remember, there was a preview of Ac!dbomb by Vertigo Games on that other site about a month ago. Well… they finished it. As soon as I noticed this, one download and six hours later, I started writing this review. So….

Ac!dbomb is an odd mix of the gameplay of Minesweeper and the Metal Gear Ac!d style (MGA being a card game hybrid of the famous Metal Gear Solid series for the PSP). Basically you’re a bomb technician who uses a software program to defuse bombs in real time. Using SDUs (or beams of light) you need to pick out and mark pistons from the remaining dummy tiles. In Minesweeper terms, fine the bad spaces before time runs out.

Now this is a very nifty concept, but like anything it could get old quickly. Unlike the demo, there are a variety of bombs, each with their own rules, such a temperatures to watch out for (hard), or ones that are unstable that can only be marked on the pistons (extremely hard), then ones that scramble themselves after a set period of time (stab someone in the eye frustrating).

Gameplay is fantastic, along with levels that unlock with more and more that are completed, and gradually introducing new bomb types, and the occasional boss (yes, bosses in a puzzle game). Also, the piston positions are randomized, so you can play levels over and over again and never have the same bomb twice, putting the replay value through the roof. Top that off with an editor (which you unlock after a bit) for custom levels, and challenge levels afterwards (with unlock rewards).

Controls work quite well. You use the number pad to move your SDUs around (not the arrows, make a point of using the number pad for when you have 3 SDUs) and the mouse to mark. One possible feature that could help moving the SDUs is to have them wrap around the edges (moving down at the bottom and having it bring to the top). Also, the ability to define if left or right mouse does the marking would be great, plus a marked piston can be tricky to undo, especially if under the gun.

The graphics and sound are perfect and spot on with two minor exceptions. The visuals are great, looking just like a computer program without ripping off Tron for once. Phasing backgrounds, tiles lighting up in sliding patterns, it’s all very nice. And the style is consistant throughout. The only gripe I have is with the sound. There are a myriad of music clips, all of which work great, from general gameplay to a special set for when time is running out to really put on pressure. However, when one sample ends and another picks up, the game will hiccup a minor amount. Also, the piston marking noise in the demo was far superior. That might sound trivial… but you hear that sound a lot.

Two final mentions are that there is a minigame of sorts that you can unlock with is quite good. But also, be sure to read the manual. It’s quite a gem, with some great writing – it looks and reads just like a goverment safety manual.

More praise for Ultratron has reviewed Ultratron and once again they like our stuff! Which is always great.

I especially like the review format at GameVortex. No stupid percentage ratings, not even an “out of five stars” score, not even a silly gold/silver/bronze award. Just a review, and a well-written one at that. The beauty of proper reviews like this is that they make you actually read the review instead of scanning for the final score and then letting that colour your interpretation of the review before you’ve even read a word. <Edit> Actually it seems they do have a stupid percentage rating! (It got 90%). It’s just so small and irrelevant I didn’t notice it. Ah well, there goes my rant.

We are going to do some more reviews soon. Poor old TIGsource looks dead as a dodo. Trouble is it takes quite a lot of effort to do quality reviews and I’ve got precious little time…

She loves me…

Gamevortext has reviewed Alien Flux, only 3 years too late 🙂 But at least it’s a favourable review.

Flux is the thinking man’s shooter. Probably the most rewarding experience of all our games I’d say, if you persevere to master it.

Another Review – Strange Adventures in Infinite Space

I stumbled across Strange Adventures in Infinite Space (SAIS) almost by accident last year whilst hunting for a simple distraction that I could reward myself with inbetween bouts of working. I was tired of the tedium of card games and disappointed with every single shoot-em-up I tried for one reason or another.

The Digital Eel website promised much from SAIS. It claimed to be original. It claimed to be fun. It claimed to last a mere 10 minutes or so. In short, it couldn’t have sounded more interesting. It was a tiny download, and a painless install.

SAIS is essentially a 10-minute exploration of the galaxy, and has a unique blend of boardgame strategy with realtime space dogfights. You’ve got to make it round the galaxy and visit as many planets as possible, plunder them of riches, and defeat any angry aliens that get in the way.

Many of the things you pick up are useful equipment and can be bolted on to your ship to help you explore the galaxy more efficiently, or give you a greater edge in combat. Many of the items have hidden or unexpected powers. Much of the fun in the game comes from discovering them and finding out what they do. Sometimes it can take quite some time to figure out what something does.

The ultimate aim of the game is to return home before your time is up, and sell your loot to score points and achieve status amongst your peers.

Right from the very beginning, SAIS is an aural and visual treat. The 2D graphics have a beautiful, unique style to them, and convey the game to you simply and attractively. It takes all of 2 minutes to forget all the advances in 3D technology and become immersed.

The sound effects and little loops are funny, catchy, clever, and cool. Everything that needs a sound has a sound, and they gel together perfectly. In fact this may be one of the few games where I’ve been more impressed by the sound than the graphics.

But riding on the audio-visuals is the most addictive game since NetHack.

After you’ve played a few times and got the hang of what you’re doing, it is very, very difficult to not just have “one more go”. The trouble is, the games only take a few minutes, so you always figure on having a little bit of time left for another one. My small distraction turned into a big distraction. I suspect I’ve spent more time playing SAIS than I spent playing the original Doom now if I added it all up. This is why SAIS represents such excellent value for money.

If SAIS is so addictive because it’s fun and short, the excellent replay value comes because it’s so varied. Every game is random, and every game is completely different. There are only a finite number of things in the game, and not all of them appear in every game, but they can interact in some surprising and usually amusing ways. The clever mix of strategy and realtime dogfighting keeps the action fast-paced and interesting too.

And even now, a year after I first played SAIS, I still have the odd go when I’m trying to avoid work.

There are now some mods available for free for SAIS which add new artifacts and gameplay and have extended its life even more.


  • Small installation
  • Incredibly addictive
  • Great replay value with highly varied gameplay
  • Good fun delivered in nice short bites
  • Nice graphics, great sound


  • Incredibly addictive 🙂
  • Now superceded by Weird Worlds (more on that later)
  • In fact, I can’t really think of any cons

Review – Gridrunner++

While rummaging around on my harddisk I discovered this old review of Gridrunner++ from Llamasoft. Seemed a shame not to have it online any more so here it is again. Maybe Chaz can dig up the pictures and put them in.

I have long been a fan of Jeff Minter’s Llamasoft games from the early 80s. Sadly the last game I played by Jeff was Andes Attack on the Atari ST, a great Defender game with plenty of fur. Since then he’s been off doing strange things on consoles, and I’ve never been interested in owning a console.

GridRunner++ appeared quietly on the scene in 2002. It’s the third in a small series of games designed for the PocketPC but playable on an ordinary PC too (Hovver Bovver and Deflex being the other two). However, GR++ never got ported to the PocketPC, and remains a PC only game.

GR++ is a pure reflex shoot-em-up game, controlled entirely with the mouse, and played in a small but resizable window. It’s loosely based on the original GridRunner but updated with smoother gameplay and nicer graphics, and some great sound effects.

The aim of the game is to shoot everything, collect sheep, and survive. Highscores are where it’s at, but a lot of people will almost as surely be delighted to see the next level to find out what zany aliens await on it, which has always been a Llamasoft hallmark.

To aid you in your zapping, you can collect sheep which float down the screen now and again. Each sheep gives you a bit of extra firepower fore and aft, and increases a score multiplier. Scoring more points means gaining more lives so that’s all well and good.

If you collect 10 sheep you get the “Pill”, which is a bizarre googly-eyed sheepoid which whizzes around the screen knocking off aliens as it goes. You can excite the Pill by shooting it a few times, and then it goes bezerk, wiping out aliens with wild abandon.

If things get really tight, you can fire the SheepieZapper with the right mouse button. This is a zap-ray thing which blasts out from your ship and hits the nearest aliens in all directions for a few seconds. It gets recharged every level.

GR++ starts off fairly simply but gets difficult pretty quick. I confess that my best is only level 34 and it’s taken some time to get there. Some of the levels are considerably harder than others, and they’re not necessarily in order of difficulty, although the general difficulty gets harder and harder as the game progresses.

To avoid major stumbling blocks the game remembers the point when you were doing best (had the most number of lives at the start of a level). You have the option of resuming from this point instead of starting all over again.

The game plays absolutely smoothly, and the pulsing psychedelic colours that are Minter’s trademark soon lure you into that strange place called The Zone. This is where your peripheral vision darkens, and the only thing you can see is the game. Your hands feel distant yet directly connected to the spaceship under your control; you are immersed in fast-twitch reactions. It can be a very absorbing experience that somehow manages to relax you at the same time as making you concentrate intensely.

On the other hand, you might find it tediously boring and uninteresting. If you’re not into this kind of game, you’re unlikely to change your mind if you play GR++. It’s a tried and trusted theme, and although it’s highly original, it’s still an old-school shoot-em-up.

A particularly nice feature of the game is that it is unintrusive to start, play, and stop. It’s absolutely tiny – it loads in a second, doesn’t fiddle with your monitor settings, and closes immediately when you whack the close button. This makes it an ideal bit of lunchtime stress relief.

So – it’s fun to play, easy to pick up and put down, and pleasantly mesmerizing. This, coupled with its ridiculously low price, makes it one of the best-value games available for the PC.


  • Tiny download, tiny installation
  • Very good value for money
  • Addictive, mesmerizing, intense, relaxing
  • Great sound, lovely particle effects


  • Gets difficult quickly
  • Can get stuck on difficult levels for a long, long, time
  • Mouse cursor remains visible over the game window – a little distracting
  • Pure shoot-em-ups are not to everyone’s taste