Once more we delve into the wonders that are the ‘Bundles in A Box’. I honestly can’t recommend these enough, dirt cheap and some games you won’t find anywhere else!
The Cerebral Bundle is the fifth bundle by Bundle In A Box following the succesful Adventure, Deep Space, Cerebral and Eclectic Delights bundles. Also, bundle! And proper indie games! For cheap!
- 11 brilliant DRM-free indie games (and extras) for the price of your choice; 7 as a pay-what-you-want offering, four more if you beat the average price.
- Super Tower Rush (Windows/Desura): frantic and gloriously pixel-arted arcade platformer.
- Hacker Evolution Untold (Windows/Linux/Mac/Steam/Desura): deep, sci-fi, hacking simulation.
- Pixelry (Windows/Desura). Experience the artful cruelty jousting!
- All four Blackwell ghostly adventure games! (Windows/Steam)
- Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement (Steam).
- Hacker Evolution Duality (Windows/Mac/Linux/Steam/Desura): dystopian, sci-fi, open world hacking.
- The original and highly moddable Hacker Evolution(Windows/Steam/Desura).
- Secret of the Magic Crystals (Windows/Mac/Steam): horse breed and race with the best of them.
- Eclectic selection of to-be-unlocked extras including soundtracks, wallpapers and artwork.
- Exclusive content for the forthcoming Droidscape: Basilica mobile game.
- The top 3 contributors will win a Collector’s Edition mouse and mouse pad by Razer worth $110 each.
- Support a charity that is actually important: The Australian Red Cross.
- Support indie devs directly via the Indie Dev Grant. 15$ go to the grant for every 100 bundles sold.
Vast responsibility is yours, when you host a Minecraft server…
You just have to hold off filling people’s houses with TNT and setting traps around their farms. So far, I have stopped myself from being such a tyrant.
Here is a small sample of the world I have created.
My longest friendship started because of an Amiga. More properly, it was sealed because of an Amiga, it started because I wanted to play his Mario Game watch! It was trading games, playing co-op and being one of a few Amiga loyalists that really helped solidify our being ‘buddies’.
Chooie’s Amiga 500 was the same model as mine, and I think we bought it at roughly the same time, but it was shared between SIX people, not three. That it was able to last as long as it did impresses me. So many hands covered in mud and cookies pushing and pulling disks, touching the monitor and sticking forks in to remove jammed disks.
The hours we’d spend in front of it playing Wings, Dune II, Civilization, Boulderdash, Sim City and Lemmings probably add up to the thousands. The Gold Box AD&D games were also commonly visited on his Amiga, from the fantastic Pools of Radiance to the repetitive and cut back Treasures of the Savage Frontier, the Role playing game remains a favourite of ours.
I remember Chooie’s Amiga loaded more quietly than my mine, but was louder than my uncle’s Amiga. Such idiosyncrasies made each Amiga more than just a carbon copy of someone elses. I was prompted to recall these memories when I was helping move some furniture at his mother’s house when I noticed it, outside, in a pile of discarded objects. It didn’t look very well, and from what I gathered, no longer worked. I’m glad to have my Amiga, safely stored at my parents, but I know you can’t save everything. Although I have spoken about the Amiga in general a great deal, this Amiga had a special place in starting my most enduring friendship.
It will be missed.
Having obsessively researched the wild and wonderful world of indie gaming, Bundle In A Box returns and is proud to present the Eclectic Delights bundle. It’s a fine assortment of 9 delightful, quite frankly excellent and truly indie offerings everyone can enjoy for the most reasonable price of “pay-what-you-want”!
The Eclectic Delights bundle is the third bundle by Bundle In A Box following the succesful Adventure and Deep Space bundles. Also, bundle! And proper indie games! For cheap!
I’ve had a lot of fun with the previous bundles! Also how else can you get multiple games for less than $10?
Nine (now, ELEVEN!) brilliant DRM-free indie games and extras worth over $65 for the price of your choice; 5 as a pay-what-you-want offering, four more if you beat the average price.
- Delve Deeper (PC): the endlessly replayable and quite wonderful adventure/strategy offering by Lunar Giant, complete with all its DLC (Treasures and Tunnels, Grattis Grottos)
- War of the Human Tanks (PC). Frantic strategic battles in a story-driven and most original game.
- Eversion (PC/Mac). Cutely disturbing platformer with Lovecraftian references.
- FMV gaming is far from dead as action/rhythm/fighter Stay Dead (PC/Mac) effortlessly and most emphatically proves.
- The excessively surreal and deeply indie horror offering The 4th Wall (PC).
- Fibrillation (PC). From Russia. With horror.
- The Adventures of Shuggy (PC): an excellent, retro-inspired platformer that isn’t afraid to experiment with new ideas.
- Mystery point-and-click adventure Shadows on the Vatican (PC) in both HD and regular flavours.
- Retro-tastique and actually hillarious Flibble (PC); a shiny new maze-action game.
- Exclusive pre-order of the soon-to-be-released Shadows on the Vatican, Act 2!
- Musical, procedural 3D platformer Skylight.
- Exclusive Droidscape: Basilica content for the soon-to-be-released mobile action puzzler.
- Eclectic selection of extras including soundtracks and digital comic books.
- Support a charity that is actually important: The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family.
- Support indie devs directly via the Indie Dev Grant.
Last year I put up a piece I wrote for the War in the Pacific let’s play I’ve read. I thought it was time for a complete story. This is battle that raged for nearly eighteen months (in-game and real-time, as the player is doing one turn per day). It was a titanic struggle and I really enjoyed going back through the thread and working out the casualties and major events.
On February 18 1942, 33,000 Chinese infantry smashed the defenses of the heavily entrenched Japanese who’d held the city since 1938. Ever since the Chinese have dug in and driving back wave after wave of enemy assaults. The greatest threat to the Chinese came on the 28th of February, when 66,000 élite Japanese troops, with 600 guns and 50 vehicles in support smashed into 54,000 dug in Chinese conscripts and 300 guns.
This was the bloodiest day early in the battle of Sinyang, with 6,728 (2707 Japanese, and 4021 Chinese) troops dying in the span of a few hours. All Chinese fortifications were smashed aside, and the city seemed poised to fall, and more Chinese soldiers died on this day than any other day of the Battle for Sinyang. However, the Japanese could not capitalize on this success. Almost four hundred of their elite squads were destroyed or disabled, compared to only 200 squads being put out of action on the side of the Chinese (although their non-combat units suffered heavily).
The Japanese never mounted a full on assault on the city again that year – the stubborn Chinese defenders became true heroes of the pacific overnight. In other places, entire armies were surrendering wholesale to the Japanese onslaught, but at Sinyang the previously unstopped Imperial Army had been ground to a halt. Japanese honor prevented them from pulling back from the blasted out city, but they would never mass a large formation of troops to attack as they did on the 28th of February.
There were 100,000 Japanese troops in the vicinity of Sinyang during mid-March, these were never massed for an all out assault to try and pry the city back. Japanese honor prevented them from backing down, but the battlefield situation prevented them from actually committing to a large assault. Chinese offensives elsewhere meant that any major defeat at Sinyang would result in losses the Japanese couldn’t afford. The large Chinese concentration in the city meant that the Japanese couldn’t leave even if they wanted to, or they’d risk a breakout from an army of battle hardened, blood thirsty Chinese veterans, further splitting their forces.
So, constant small assaults, never rising above 20,000 men (less than half the number of defenders) were launched throughout 1942, with horrendous losses. The Japanese killed more defenders than they lost only 5 times in the months of assaults, and many times lost entire thirds of the attacking force.
Fighting continued sporadically into 1943. The Chinese thinking on many occasions that they had the numbers, attacked the Japanese positions. It ended in disaster and in November ’42 alone the Chinese lost nearly 20,000 men to the Japanese’s 4,000. It resumed again in January, with losses being even further in Japan’s favour.
Similar results in February and May of 1943 led the Japanese to launch several attacks in June. June 10th had the Japanese break through the Chinese defenses and threatening to cut the railway line. However the Japanese attack petered out and stopped.
The battle lulled until August, with only one major attack by the Chinese in June. After a preparatory bombardment, the Chinese launched their last attack on the 21st of August 1943. After initial setbacks and heavy casualties (10,000 killed, wounded and captured in 3 days) the battle shifted on the 26th as Chinese reserves breached into the Japanese supply areas. A massive encirclement ensued with few being captured. By the 2nd of September the Japanese had been expelled from Sinyang. The day before the Japanese surrender was the bloodiest in the battle, 11,000 Japanese casualties were inflicted, many of the deaths when the Chinese detonated mines underneath the Japanese lines. Fewer than 700 Chinese were reported killed, wounded or missing on this day.
It had been a brutal 5 years for the civilian population. Nearly one in three had died in course of the occupation, with many being killed in the nearly eighteen months of fighting.
I think most of you long time readers know I’m a collector. Since I’m an only child, it’s been very easy for myself to amass far too many toys, games and books than I could ever hope to make full use of. I’m sure it’s the same with many people, although my housemates (and long-term friends) travel very light. When we all moved into this house, all of their things came in one car. When it came to myself, it took nearly 4 full carloads and six months later I’m still bringing in the occasional box or bag of stuff.
I have been known to buy games, SOLELY for their covers. Pretty ridiculous right? I don’t often bend to the collectors urge anymore. I find artificial ‘collectors editions’ to be very uninspiring, offering very little in anything really collectible. There are a few exceptions, but generally art books and figurines are good, anything else is usually not worth your time. The games that I bought for their covers weren’t special editions of any sort, their only ‘special’ quality was that they were Japanese.
The covers of Japanese games are generally better than those of their US or European and it has been the case since Japan came into the game making scene. There are plenty of famous examples, of excellent Japanese covers and… lesser artwork for the rest of the world.
The first of this little indulgence was Zero Mission, the Gameboy Advance remake of the original Metroid. It has a very dark, heavily stylised and classic rule of thirds cover. This also shows how out-of-the-way the branding is for this game, you can hardly see it is a GBA game. Good art but maybe it isn’t the best for marketing.
The American cover below uses much clearer Gameboy Advance branding, taking up a full 5th of the cover. While the artwork is good, it doesn’t look like a front cover of a game.
I played and finished my Japanese Zero mission with few issues. Surprisingly, the game was almost all in English, with only some Japanese menus and subtitles during the cut-scenes.
The other two games I bought were ones I barely played. F-Zero was really hard (and I can’t read Japanese) and Mega Man Zero 2 had a REALLY long unskippable opening scene and was also really hard. I got sick of watching the intro over and over when I died right near the start, so I gave up.
I think these both look great. The American version of the F-Zero box has the Gameboy Advance branding covering up the character on the left. I guess America and Europe didn’t think they were that important. Megaman Zero 2’s cover is a bit messier but I think is a nice piece of art. The American version of this cover, only features Megaman in front of a blue background… very generic.
I’m glad that at least for a while, game covers were worth collecting for their own sake. Japanese Super Nintendo (Super Famicom) had excellent art work as well. The US/European always featured much more obvious branding/logos. Japanese Gameboy Advance boxes are essentially smaller versions of the Super Nintendo ones, so it really is trying to get back to something I missed. I managed to find these on Play-Asia for less than $20 all together. I mean I love this stuff, but I’m not going to go into debt for it.
Unlike certain Kubrick collectors I know.
If only the GBA intro was this elaborate!
I did some unboxing this week. The very notion of getting something new in the mail, opening it and finally getting THAT THING, is a very appealing one to me, and most people I’d imagine. In the past I have been disappointed by my eBay Amiga acquisitions, partly from my own misreading of the description and from the seller failing to mention that some items were almost entirely covered in pen. This week though, disappointment was not in the box.
I don’t often browse eBay for Amiga items, because of one obvious and one not so obvious reason. It can get very expensive, chasing Amiga games down the rabbit hole of collecting. So I resolved with myself only to fill the gaps in my original collection and not just grab any old thing that pops up. There were a number of games I wanted in my Amiga youth that I was never able to get, and I’ll probably make a list sometime. Regardless, two of these are now in my clutches.
The first I saw, Knights of the Sky is a flight simulator set in the First World War. A few posts ago I was talking about Wings, which despite being set in the same era and being a flight sim, has almost nothing in common with Knights of the Sky. KOTS. is not a restrictive mission based game, but is set in a dynamic map with a full campaign. During a mission you can technically fly anywhere in the Flanders front, but you’d run out of fuel before that could happen. It is a much prettier and much more detailed game than Wings, especially since the
damage to your own plane isn’t always in the same places. Wings was a story driven arcade game with a flight simulator section. KOTS was a fully fledged flight sim, where you can choose your plane, pilot, and again unlike Wings, play as the Germans.
My experience playing it was very limited, only with a demo disk that came with an issue of Amiga Power. However while you couldn’t play any real missions, it did allow a free flight mission where you could run into enemy planes, bomb their airfields and crash hilariously. Usually after about half an hour of flying you’d lose your engine power from enemy fire. It was rare to get shot down and crash, so you’d
end up rolling along the ground trying to get back to your airfield as an automobile.
What I ended up getting from eBay was an amazing trip back in time, all of it in near flawless condition. I don’t think anything had been thrown out since purchase, and there were even two backup copies of both disks! Best of all, it came with its receipt. Typical Harvey Norman super expensive pricing $80, from 9th Sept, 1992. A month’s wage!
I’m very happy with this find, and it will find its place somewhere near the top of my eventual Amiga museum. Somewhere in between Cannon Fodder and Monkey Island.
Later this week I’ll post up the other game I got, which is ALMOST as exciting.
Last year, I told a story about a coincidence. A character controlled by both myself and my dad, not created by us in any way, sharing my father’s birthday. A character who would have turned 100 just the week before we finished the very game of which he was the star.
That game was Wings. After that rather melodramatic and long-winded buildup, I promise you there will be no more beating around the proverbial bush. Wings is a loose flight sim/arcade game. The majority of the gameplay is set in the cockpit of some fairly generic looking WWI Biplane (it is never stated explicitly) with the player at the helm. What is unusual about this is that the pilot of the plane sits in front of where the camera is, so you can see the back and sides of his head during the action. Rather than this getting in the way as you might think, it was very useful, as his head will usually look at the nearest enemy plane, letting you find it much more easily.
The game is a Cinemaware production, a company well known for their ‘Silver Screen’ themed games, that is to say, they were games that were played through the guise of watching a 1920s silent film, complete with dialogue cards and film grain during the cutscenes and a soundtrack that feels layered over the game.
The game is fairly evenly divided into three different mission types, Patrols, Strafing and Bombing. In reverse order Bombing is the most fun, least common of the three modes. It’s a basic vertical scrolling shooter, the twist being that you’re controlling a Great War plane. Rather than a zippy spacecraft like in Raiden or even Galaga, your aeroplane is sluggish and you can’t just move out-of-the-way of German plane at a whim. Shooting down german aircraft is dangerous and not really worth it, since they are all ‘unconfirmed’. Confirmed kills, which add to your total, only count in the patrol missions, probably so you couldn’t accumlate five or six kills in a few minutes. But shooting down planes is not the goal of these missions, and before you begin you’re given a photograph of your target with some crude circles drawn around it. Depending on the size of the target your plane is given a certain amount of bombs, no more than ten if I remember rightly. Hit the target(s) mission success, miss them, or get shot down (no matter if you hit the target or not) you fail. Bombing missions were fun, simple and always over too quickly.
I don’t want to go into Strafing runs, as the 2nd most common and least enjoyable of the three sections. Controlling the plane from an isometric view, you have to either shoot soldiers (running around taking pot shots at your plane), destroy a convoy (which would probably consisted of 10% of all automobiles used by German during the war) or, worst of all strafing the train. ‘Bullets bounce off trains’ is a quotation from the game itself. A quote from the character you’re controlling, writing in his diary about how much he hates strafing missions. Yeah, he’s got a point. They’d be passable if they weren’t so LONG. So very frustrating when you spend what seemed like fifteen minutes strafing a train, only to have failed the mission because you only destroyed 49% of it. Dad and I did NOT look forward to these.
Finally, the most common and really the heart and soul of the game are the Patrol missions. These are the most like a flight sim, where the goal is to shoot down all the enemy planes you meet. If the time runs out, one of the planes gets away, or you get shot down the mission is a failure. Damage to your own plane always happens in the same places in the same order: A few bullets along the wings, then you lose one of your guns. Then a bullet will hit your engine, disabling your plane and allowing you to crash-land. If you’re unlucky, after this a stream of bullet holes can appear behind your pilot and you lose control of the plane as he slumps forward. However once or twice this happened, the plane crashed and I got the mission failed screen and not, YOU ARE DEAD. It was only after a few months of playing the game that I noticed it tracked a number of skills and abilities. Your pilots stamina would start at Lead Belly and work its way up to Steel Fortress (after many missions) at which point you could survive a head on collision. However after surviving the value would be greatly reduced, so you’d have to build up again before regaining your invincibility. Other skills improve your marksmanship, ability to unjam your guns and your planes responsiveness.
Wings was an astoundingly difficult game when I was a ten year old, and it took my friend and I several weeks of practice before either of us were able to shoot down a plane and NOT die in the attempt. After a few short months though, the challenge had diminished, and while death could strike the unlucky, it was almost impossible not to become the greatest flying ace of all time. Everytime.
I recently gave Rise of Flight a try, but it was quite crashy on me. Oh well, the search for the perfect game continues.