The Obsolete Gamer Show: HAWKEN

We profile the Free-to-play Mech warfare game, HAWKEN sit down with producer, Joshua Clausen (or as he is known to the community CapnJosh) about the acquisition of the game by Reloaded games and the upcoming fixes, changes and improvements to the game.

BTG: Wars and Battles

We take a look at War and Battles, the tabletop inspired warfare game that offers realistic battle scenarios on your Apple and Android Tablets. Before the premiere of the trailer we sat down with some of the makers of the game to talk about their latest trailer for the October War 1973 campaign.

Key Features:

  • Historically Accurate: Each Wars and Battles campaign includes multiple scenarios that accurately portray historical events, including terrain, weather, unit types and characteristics, the state of military technology, modes of warfare, and more.
  • Choose Your Perspective: Oversee the battlefield in 2D, emulating traditional tabletop wargames, or play in 3D mode, mirroring a gorgeous miniatures-like experience.
  • Battle a Tough AI or Your Friends: Face off against a challenging AI opponent or play against friends and other armchair generals online via asynchronous multiplayer.

Wars and Battles is available now as premium title on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for $6.99.

Battlefield 1942 (PC)

battlefield-1942-pc

Developer: Digital Illusions

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: 2002

Awesome little FPS this, many hours of addiction and therapy needed to drag myself away. Even though the game is getting on a bit now, the graphics for one are certainly looking dated I still keep coming back for the odd game now and again, especially multi-player. The main game consists of capturing and controlling certain strategic points on the game map, almost a multiple capture the flag scenario. Once a team captures a point team members can spawn there, however when a team loses control of all of these points they cannot respawn and if all the players are killed the team with no spawn points loses (deep breath).

battlefield-1942-pc

The player can choose to play as either the Allied powers or the Axis powers. The Allies consists of the US, UK, Soviet Union, Canada and the French. The Axis consists of Germany, Japan and Italy. Regardless of which side you chose you’ll get a choice of five different character classes to choose from; Scout, Assault, Medic, Anti-tank, and Engineer. All have certain distinct advantages depending on individual tastes, I tended to stick with Scout and Assault as they move quicker, helpful in making it to the coolest vehicle first or for general running away.

battlefield-1942-pc

Some of my favourite scenarios in this game feature air combat. Let’s be honest, running across the vast maps, especially El Alamein, is a tad boring, driving or flying is much more fun and recommended. The game has a nice choice of vehicles to use and destroy and it’s always satisfying landing that bomb on target or engaging the enemy in a dogfight.

battlefield-1942-pc

Although the game play remains fun (there’s nothing like trying to fly a bomber like a fighter, or seeing the pilot parachuting out of the plane you’re all in) the graphics are  looking a bit naff, and the control system seems slow and clunky, especially if you’ve been sitting there playing something newer and shinier. It’s a game for Sunday afternoon when it’s raining and you’re not in the mood for anything to stressful from the gaming library.

battlefield-1942-pc

Also released were several expansion packs for the original Battlefield 1942 titled; Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome and Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII. Both added various new game play modes and design concepts but in my opinion didn’t really offer anything amazing or new in terms of playability.

I enjoy this game probably more than I should but then I can’t help it. The catchy intro music even has a certain appeal, so much so I even looked up the composer Joel Eriksson for this blog, see his IMDB page here! If any of you have played Dogfight for the Amiga the theme tune gives me the same sense of nostalgia and charm for a game, on its release, I couldn’t put down for 5 minutes without getting the urge to play it again.

Red Baron

Red Baron

What you’re about to read, is an excellent guest post by Bill, who is a blogger for think SMART, that came up with some rather intriguing educational DS games and even a little something for the Wii. Bill lives in Hell’s Kitchen, once game-tested for Dynamix, and was eaten by a Grue many, many times. You can read more of his material here.
Stomping on turtles? Watching gravity win out against science with the help of fire and lead? Barrel rolls? Spinning hedgehogs doing loop-de-loops?
Red Baron

All of them fun, but limited in a sense. In the early 90s, games played out in little capsules. I could win the battle, build the city, save the princess, but it all disappeared the moment I flipped off the computer. Even the occasional game that told a story through the progression of levels felt hollow – there wasn’t much of a world behind whatever obstacles I’d been tasked to overcome. It was like some perverted version of Descartes: I play; therefore, the world exists.

Red Baron

Then along came a little company named Dynamix, a game maker determined to challenge my little philosophy. Red Baron was the first game I can remember that convinced me I was playing inside a “real” video game world, and that my actions had both immediate and broad implications on its future. The world, of course, was the Western Front of WWI. And from the moment you first signed on to join the fight against the German menace, the game kept a clock running on that world. Time crept forward between battles; as you moved along history’s timeline, battles were fought, world leaders met to make big decisions, and the war machine turned out technological advancements like faster planes, or machine guns that wouldn’t overheat as quickly.

Red Baron

Whether or not you got to use those cool new toys depended on how you flew, and Red Baron did a great job of rewarding good play. It kept track of your kills, how many times you’d been shot down, and if you’d managed to down one of Germany’s many “real-world” Aces. Rack up the kills, move into a better aerodrome. Better aerodromes meant better planes, and the chance to fly alongside one of the Allies’ elite Aces. Nothin’ wrong with some smarter AI piloting your wingman.

Red Baron

Between battles, you’d keep up with the “real world” through the game’s newspaper. I can’t tell you how proud I was (or how embarrassed I ought to be, today) when the newspaper’s lead story was on my bravery in shooting down some minor German Ace, or the stoic countenance I’d sported upon receiving my first medal. There was my teenage pride when, mouse in hand and Mountain Dew nearby, I’d read that my squadron’s efforts had led to a break in the lines, or frustration in reading about the Red Baron’s exponential kill-count. The newspaper was a (virtual) tangible anchor for the game’s sense of reality. Brilliant, really.

Red Baron

Reality didn’t begin and end with the in-game world, however. The various flyable planes each had their quirks, strengths and limitations. Guns would jam, often at the worst possible moment. One of the planes’ wings could literally rip off if you banked too hard, too often. You might parachute out of a plane and pray you avoid getting hit with flack.

Then there was the nightmare of your pilot taking a bullet from an enemy machine gun – as you lost blood, you’d begin to black out. Lose too much without finding an aerodrome or crash-landing (and hoping for a sympathetic farmer), adios. Game over. You’d have one last chance to read about your remarkable achievements and regrettable death in the aforementioned newspaper, and that was it. Reality was pretty harsh in WWI.

Red Baron

All of this would be for nothing if the gameplay wasn’t fun; luckily, it was amazing. The dogfights were edge-of-seat serious business, dodging around flack while emptying a machine gun into a zeppelin was the pinnacle of fun gaming. The game stomped its left foot in the muddy history of The Great War and placed its right foot in the shifting ground of an adjustable-reality flight simulator.

Red Baron put its feet down and straddled a line called “Best Game of Its Time,” and I’d dare anyone to try and knock it off.

Which is why I’m confused. It’s a strange phenomenon: Red Baron was – at the very least – the best flying game of its time, if not one of the best flight sims ever. In my opinion, it was the best game to come out around that period of gaming, beating out the likes of Civilization. For whatever reason, however, it’s also a game that today often goes un-remembered when bloggers and game magazines come up with “best of” lists. Strange.

Well, this is my little scream into the ether, for all it’s worth. Red Baron was and is one of the best games ever made, and God help you if you disagree.

1943: The Battle of Midway

1943 - The Battle of Midway

1943: The Battle of Midway

In late 1988, Capcom released a vertically scrolling military-themed shoot-’em-up called 1943: The Battle of Midway, based on a popular arcade machine. How would the home release for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console compare to the stand-up cabinet?

Gameplay

At the risk of spoiling the entire review by getting straight to the point: 1943 set the golden standard for scrolling shooters on the NES. That is the thesis statement at work here, and it is supported by the tight, richly enjoyable gameplay on hand in the cartridge.

1943 - The Battle of Midway

The player controls a P38 fighter plane over the seas by the Midway Islands in the midst of a World War II setting, complete with several types of enemy aircraft with opposing seacraft as well. The B button fires the cannons, while the A button executes a special screen-blasting special attack, at the cost of using up energy. Energy is metered via a counter at the bottom right-hand side of the screen, and costs about 10 to use a special attack, generally speaking. However, it slowly decreases anyway, just from making forward progress, necessitating refills be gained from certain defeated enemy types.

Fortunately, the P38 has quite an armanent at its disposal. Holding the B button for a couple seconds elicits a sound indicating that, upon release of the B button, a more powerful shot will be fired, handing for taking down bigger planes quicker and generally just having at-ready. Pressing A and B together will perform a defensive “loop-de-loop” maneuver to dodge tense situations; perhaps a godsend, considering that the amount of enemy rounds fired and overall on-screen sprites makes this feel like an early “bullet hell” shmup at times.

1943 - The Battle of Midway

In fact, this game is somewhat renowned for its toughness, and the evidence supports the reputation. There are a couple dozen meaty levels to be conquered, each with a boss ship or mini-boss challenge to defeat. While power-ups such as more powerful main gains, multi-directional shot, or even little sidearm ships for additional firepower can be gained, they can also be quickly lost as well.

Getting hit by enemy fire or craft does not instantly kill, unlike in other shooters such as 1943’s predecessor, 1942. But they do whittle away at that energy meter, which gets an amount refilled after each level. Adding to the gameplay complexity is the fact that the protagonist plane is rated on a handful of specifications, such as offensive power, defensive strength to offset damange, special attack strength, maximum energy count, etc. These statistics can be given an extra point at designated battleship stations blown up near the end of a level, in addition to a few being designated at the beginning ot the game, too.

1943 - The Battle of Midway

The player is offered passwords upon death for later entry; that being said, 1943 is still definitely a challenging game. The good news: It is very fun. This is a fast-paced, relentless, thumb-cripplingshooter, offering as much pure action as any other, yet without any of the usual NES hardware issues concerning flickering and showdown.

This game offers a true test, even for shoot-’em fans. The design is tight, the waves approach with just the right mix of anxious panic without seeming completely impossible, and the entirety feels appropriately tense, even desperate, maybe adrenaline-pumping. The projectiles fly fast, there are pleasant little pacing cuts between levels, and points are kept for those old-school arcade-style high-score seekers. In fact, some bonus items occasionally emerge to be picked up for a tidy allotment, such as a cow or strawberry. Seriously.

Graphics

1943 - The Battle of Midway

This game looks fantastic. As mentioned, the flow is quite smooth, quite pleasurably so. The frenetic action is never interrupted by distracting flickering problems or other graphical headaches. The ship designs are sweet, managing to give each craft a distinct flavor, even with the limited number of pixels available for use. The carrier-sized seafaring ships truly feel huge, as the player fights just a portion of them at a time. Medium-sized green planes might drop miniature black planes. The backgrounds are even gorgeous, with a few different scrolling backdrops of oceanic appearance, and the lazy gliding of puffy clouds passing by. Especially considering the relatively early release of this game in the NES life cycle, kudos to Capcom for managing to seemingly master the palette and animation techniques of the resources provided.

Sound

The sound, however, is another matter from visuals entirely. Now, that is not to say that the soundtrack of 1943: The Battle of Midway is terrible or atrocious. No, this is not the case at all. But there are a couple of unfortunate tracks; namely, primarily, the high-pitched wince-worthy nightmare tune that plays whenever the player’s energy level drops to a life-threatening level. There is another background melody that emerges at some points that, although maybe intentionally, manages to offend the senses with a bizarrely arranged minor key, despite the catalogue otherwise showcasing skillful rendering of the available sound channels. The effects themselves are fine enough, giving just enough oomph and noise to support the urgent mood of the game, though not altogether mind-blowing in their delivery.

Originality

1943 - The Battle of Midway

In terms of originality, this game cannot quite be cited as especially visionary, considering that “military-themed vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up” was already pretty much an established sub-genre by the time this cart arrived, which itself is an arcade port. Even in examining the in-game mechanics, there are some nuanced brushstrokes of innovation, but nothing groundbreaking.

But if the formula works, why tweak it too much? This game, 1943, feels like a near-masterful workshop on the shmup trop, a clinic delivered for old-school fans of the scene. To speak on a first-person note, I think the always-decreasing energy meter is a poor design choice that makes more sense in a quarter-sucking arcade than as a home game that shold be encouraging survival and diligent replay, but other than that, there are no major flaws here. This title truly set the bar, and shoots down four stars out of five for its valiant efforts.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.