Garth Chouteau: PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo

Name: Garth Chouteau

Profession:VP of Public Relations

Company: PopCap Games

Favorite Classic Game: Having grown up in the age of mega-arcades, I have a number of ‘favorites’ including Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Gravitar and Major Havoc; I’d have to go with Major Havoc as my overall favorite… (I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve also played way more than my share of lots of ‘kiddie’ games like Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Island, Liquid Kids etc., along with many obscure games such as Psychic Five (incredible), Baluba-louk no Densetsu, et al. Heck, I played Death Race at a fast food joint in Ashland, Oregon in 1976, before they took it off the market!

Quote: Because it’s unique and multi-faceted. Major Havoc was/is really several games in one….it had elements of Phoenix, I Robot, and Lunar Lander in the ‘mini-game’ segments that preceded each new planet/space station that effectively represented a ‘level’ of the game. It had a small Breakout clone at the ‘interstitial’ screen through which you could not only earn extra lives, but also enter warp codes that would allow you to skip ahead to later levels, thereby saving time and quarters. And finally, the main gameplay – actually descending into the nuclear reactor on each planet/space station, fighting your way to the reactor core, setting it off and dashing back to your ship – was incredibly fun and exciting. The realistic gravity combined with simple input/controls and increasingly tough obstacles/enemies made it a really well-rounded game that was nearly impossible to complete (I never did) but great fun to play, over and over again.

 

Unfortunately Major Havoc doesn’t really translate to other platforms; it really requires the ‘spinner knob’ control found in the cabinet conversion port of the game (whereby an old Tempest cabinet would be used with the Major Havoc ROM)… so playing Major Havoc on a Playstation or Xbox or PC via MAME doesn’t come close to the original experience. Anyone got an original Major Havoc cabinet conversion for sale? I’m in the market!

Bejeweled

Bejeweled screenshot
Bejeweled screenshot

Bejeweled review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Another classic puzzle game for the masses.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

This is a pure, straight up puzzle game.

The point of the game consists of getting 3 or more of one jewel type connected in a row or column and then the game eliminates it. When that happens more jewels drop in taking up the same amount of space from the top of the screen. The more jewels you make disappear at a time, the more points you get.

There are two game modes, one that is the normal mode and the time mode.

Under the normal mode, you have unlimited time and you have to fill up the bottom bar in order to go to the next stage/level. I find this one to be more laid back and strategic.

Time mode gets pretty hectic. You are still trying to get as many in a row/column as possible but the bar at the bottom is going down constantly. You still have to fill the bar up to move on to the next level, which will make the game harder as the time bar will go down faster.

The point to leveling up is that the higher the level, the higher the score multiplier is for any combos you do. In other words, you will get more points per jewel that disappears.

Fun Factor:

This is a simple game yet it’s very entertaining. I prefer the normal (stategic) game mode the most as opposed to the hectic time mode. This game will keep you interested and it’s a great way to wake up and put your thinking cap on. The game might seem simple but there are subtle strategies for you to learn once you’ve played a bunch of games in a row.

This game keeps my interest as far as puzzle games go and I’m sure you will feel the same. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The more you play the game, the harder it gets. It might not necessarily seem like it but you will find yourself more limited with initial combos once the new level spawns. Overall, if you find the game too easy, you can simply play it in time mode, which is much harder.

You start each game at level 1 and there is no way to artificially manipulate this, so you will go through the same difficulty curve every time. The higher the level you go higher then chance you have of dying simply from running out of moves. Once that happens, it’s game over and there is no continue.

I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

You can opt out to play the game online for free from the Popcap games website or you can buy the game for a few dollars.

The version that I played/own I got through Steam for $1-2 when it was on sale and I bought a huge package of PopCap Games. The link to the version I reviewed is the following (through Steam):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/3350/

You can play the free version through this link:

PopCap Games for Free

They sell Bejeweled there and it’s sequels as well. Most sell for $8-12, for PC and handheld systems/phones.

Considering the replayability value of the game, it’s worth at least getting the basic game or even playing the free ones through a web browser. Since the game is basically free or within the price of a budget title, the game gets a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

This game is VERY addictive. Considering I was going to replay Civilization 4 for the billionth time to submit a review and I’ve been just playing this game over and over, I would say it’s VERY replayable (addictive).

Other than to be a great time killer, for me the replayability comes into trying to one up my old high scores.

The game helps me think about my strategies within the game and real life problems while I play it, so it’s relaxing and that keeps me playing often.

Replayability gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are simple but they are enough for this game. The best sound effect is the robotic voice of the announcer which makes it sound like an old video game. Sound gets a score of 5 out of 10.

Music:

The music for the version I played, Bejeweled Deluxe sounds like classic amiga mod music and a lot like the music of other games that also use MOD files such as Uplink. It has a very oldskool feel and I always love that. There is one song for each game mode and it loops over and over but that keeps me focused. You can always lower the volume if it bothers you and play an external mp3 file if you want by alt-tabbing.

I enjoy the songs in the game. I think Music deserves a score of 8 out of 10. Some people might want more than 2 songs for the whole game.

Graphics:

The graphics are pretty spartan but this game is designed to run on any computer and not require a lot of money in hardware invested. The graphics look like enhanced c64 or Amiga graphics. I don’t expect a game like this to go all out on graphics as people will play it for it’s puzzle aspect, not to look at eye candy. Graphics get a score of 5 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed after 30 hours of gameplay. I would declare it’s pretty rock solid. I’ve never seen the logic of the game get stuck in any game either. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Controls don’t get simpler than this game. You just left click on what jewel you want to shift and left click on the destination. The jewel will either move up, left, right, or down (not diagonal moves allowed). Once that happens, the game calculates what stuff disappears and you keep playing. It can’t get any simpler than that. Anybody can pretty much play this game. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Any version of this game run perfect on any computer, phone, hand held, etc. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I got this and a bunch of other games through the Steam sale they had in December 2009. Although I know you can play the games for free on the website, since I find them very entertaining, I didn’t mind paying for them and getting the versions that had the enhanced music/graphics.

These are the kinds of games I’ve been playing whenever I take a break from playing a big game.

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo
PopCap Games logo

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

If you love puzzle games and specifically free ones then visit the website of PopCap Games and have fun! Some of my favorites are Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Big Money, Chuzzle, and Bejeweled. These games might seem simple but they are the kind of games that improve your logic skills.

The website for Popcap Games is the following: http://www.popcap.com/

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review

Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!
Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of Silkworm!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

The first thing that I thought of when I first played this game was that it was based on Silkworm (the mode where you play the jeep). This game takes that action but multiplies it by a factor of 20.

You take the role of the Atomic Tank, the free world’s last hope versus the red scare. The Ruskies/Commies took over most of the world and the only hope for the Americans is for you to blitz their countries in an alternate reality kind of Red Dawn kind of way and blow their home armies to smithereens.

The game is really simple. You are a tank with unlimited ammo finding a horde of helicopters, other land vehicles, fighters, bombers, blimps, killer satellites, and BOSSES. This is a traditional arcade game in every sense.

You get upgrades depending on the game mode and some on the go such as faster movement speed, faster rate of fire for the main cannon, higher DPS, and spread shot upgrades. You get on the field upgrades via white helicopters that drop them for you (which you’re not supposed to kill). The two special weapons are the mega laser and the nuke. The mega laser comes in 4 parts, being dropped after you killed a good amount of enemies. You need to catch the drops before they hit the ground (for the mega laser only) or else they shatter on the ground. Once you get that puppy built you basically scorch ANYTHING they send or shoot against you. The nuke is like your holy grail weapon. You simply activate it and everything on the screen that’s a hostile simply evaporates (even bullets, missiles, and energy balls). Regarding big upgrades they are: a defensive sphere that takes hits for you, a guided missile, a laser cannon upgrade (the best), unguided rockets (2nd best), flak cannon, and homing bouncing lightning (3rd best). There are 3 levels of upgrades for each.

Other than skill keeping you alive, your tank has an energy shield that comes in red, yellow, green, indicating how strong the shield is. Each strength takes one full hit of a weapon for you. Once your shield is gone if you get hit once by anything, say goodnight.

There are two game modes, Campaign and Survival. Campaign consists of playing though 19 different missions (half of them recycle only MUCH harder), with a boss at the end of each, and an upgrade you get to pick (and can respec later if needed) awarded after the boss is dead and the stage is over. You get 3 total lives in Campaign mode and the game saves automatically at the end of the last stage you beat. You can respec your tank build should you need to before replaying the last stage that got you killed. Survival starts you out with a pea shooter and you simply must survive as long as possible while collecting upgrades.

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) is available on PC, PS 3, and Xbox 360.

The following is a video of the first two levels to the campaign game being played:

Fun Factor:

This game is a ton of fun to play because it keeps your attention going as you try to evade enemy weapon fire and focus on unleashed barrages of heavy anti-aircraft fire worth of utter destruction. It’s still simple enough of a game that you can still play it while sleepy and the game will actually probably wake you up or maybe frustrate you (for some players).

This is my kind of arcade game and it reminds me a lot of playing games on c64, amiga, the NES, and SNES. Not only does it remind me of Silkworm but a little bit of Master Blaster from the NES.

Arcade games are fun. Really good arcade games are a TON of fun. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty Versatility:

In Heavy Weapon, there is no way to set the difficulty. For the campaign game, for the 19 missions, you will get hard and easy missions depending on how you have your atomic tank specced out and whether the mission itself is hard or not and whether the boss is a cakewalk or a real challenge. The survival mode will continue to get harder no matter what, the longer you survive.

Overall, this game is quite challenging and it took me about a week playing the game on and off to beat the campaign game. The survival mode is the mode I play the most now and it is the most challenging since they make you start with no upgrades and upgrade drops are random. Overall, the Difficulty Versatility of this game gets a 7 out of 10.

Value:

If you get the game from the Popcap games website they sell it for $20, which is not the best price. You can get it via Steam for $10 and that’s totally worth the price of admission, to me. The link to the Steam version is: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3410/

The console versions sell about the same price via their stores. For $10, an arcade game with a good replayability that IS fun, and many many hours of game play, you can’t go wrong. I give Value a score of 9 out of 10.

Replayability:

The campaign mode can get easy, especially if you have beat it already. One basically learns all the attack patterns and spawn combinations for groups of enemies and after countless times of dying, you already know how to counter most attacks. The game still does require pure gaming skill. That mode is still worth checking out for its fun factor and the upgrades you get at the end of each level.

Survival mode is a blast if you want to see if you are making any development as far as your skill goes as the game keeps track via a highscore table your top 10 longest survival times (time, not score matters here).

Heavy Weapon is a easy game to pick up and drop so it is highly replayable if you like old skool arcade style games. I give Replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

This is certainly a game where if you put the volume all the way up, you will probably play better. There are so many audio ques you can get of oncoming attacks that you want to be warned and the explosions get addictive. All the sound effects are great! Even the announcer that sounds like an old 80s arcade game gives the game a retro feel that’s classic!

If you want to have a real treat keep playing the game collecting the parts for the mega laser. The sound of hearing it fry any target instantly and seeing them just pop is simply amazing! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a a limited number of songs. The main menu has a fake 80s hairband rock ballad that sounds real but so cheesy. I still love it. The main song sounds like a military march and it has a good beat and keeps a great mood going of “the commies are coming!” The rest of the music in the game are short tunes but they keep the atmosphere of the game constant. It just wants to make you play the game even more. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10 simply because of the lack of more music. What’s there is great though!

Graphics:

This is a budget title so you shouldn’t expect much but I found the art of the game really neat, especially all the fake Stalin statues in the background. The graphics are really neat and kind of remind me of playing Project X and Disposable Hero on the Amiga. It seems like a lot of love was put into this game based on how humorous some of the graphics are. I give Graphics a score of 10 out of 10 for what the game is.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve never had any crashes with the game, not even while ALT-TABbing via the PC version. The game is SOLID. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For the PC version, the controls get some getting used to, at least at first. They are simple but some of that simplicity can get you killed. Basically, the tank will move in the direction you have the mouse pointed at. Left mouse button shoots and the only other button is the right mouse button for the nuke.

Because the tank will move towards where you are shooting (especially annoying when you have the flak cannon upgrade which will blow up around the cursor only), you need to be careful that the tank is not driving towards oncoming enemy projectiles or that it doesn’t ram any of the enemies that instakill you.

The controls are simple but they make the game challenging. That can be kind of fun but some people will find it annoying. I give Controls a score of 6 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs perfectly on any PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I’ve only had it lag slightly while running about 10 programs in the background but it hardly ever happens. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I first played this game when we were at my friend Frank’s house and we downloaded the demo via the PS3 Store just to check out some new games. We played the living crap out of the demo, and even that was fun. When I found that they were selling this on Steam I didn’t hesitate to buy it on the spot since I remember how challenging the demo was. I’ve been playing this game for about 2 months and I still find it entertaining.