Ropor has already had a bit of coverage as it’s been available since before the competition entries were officially unleashed onto all of the interwebs. Still, for such a cracking game, too much hype can’t possibly be a bad thing, so let’s zerg forth with today’s Roundup! It comes courtesy of Tom Beaumont – his debut retro release as far as I’m aware – and if this is a good indication of his standard of work then I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Ropor - the main menuRopor - swing that rope, baby!Ropor - mmmmm... pineapples

The objective sounds simple. Doesn’t it always, though? Swing your robot around the various rope points on each level to collect various pieces of fruit, then leave through the warp gate which appears. Now for the catch: the swing points and fruits are usually some inconvenient distance apart, so just hanging around will get you nowhere. To progress you’ll have to use the inertia of your swings to throw yourself in the right direction and hope you got the trajectory right to either pick the fruit up or latch on to another swing point. Plenty of things can go wrong – hitting a laser wall or falling out of the bottom of the play area will both cause you to lose a life, and on later levels some of the swing points will only let your robotic hero latch on to them for a matter of seconds before disappearing, leaving you with a sudden sinking feeling as gravity does its worst.

Because Ropor was entered into the Game for Helen category of the Retro Remakes competition there’s a wide selection of options to make it playable for folks of any skill level. The controls are “one switch”, meaning you need only use one key or button to play, so that’s a doddle – there’s a selection of levels across all difficulty levels, too, and it’s even possible to reduce the speed of the game if you find it too fast, or to show helpful information about what trajectory you will take after letting go of a swing point. My only constructive criticism is a lack of music, but in the scale of things that’s hardly a big deal.

I’m certain that this entry will win some prizes, at the very least for being a judge’s pick. It’s my favourite out of all the games I’ve tried so far – I highly recommend you give it a go, too!

Links: No homepage available
Download: from the Retro Remakes competition listing

For this latest Roundup entry thanks go to Matt Pilz, aka xCept, who brings us this remake of the decidedly Japanese NES hit, Kickle Cubicle. Is everyone sitting confortably? Then let’s begin…

You control Kickle, a fairly well built chap whose job is to collect all of the magic bags on each screen so he can move on. What could be inside these bags? They probably contain the concentrated essence of all human knowledge, or the finely ground remains of some incredibly rare and powerful being… or perhaps it’s actually sugar, as he’s run out and can’t bear to drink a cup of tea without. Aaaanyway, not all of the bags are easy to reach, and there will almost always be a gap somewhere to block your movement. Luckily Kickle has a remarkable special power of being able to breath ice, so by turning wandering enemies into frozen blocks, he can push the cubes into the chilly waters to create a bridge.

KickleC - is it a rabbit, or a bear?KickleC - the world map for Garden LandKickleC - a level from the Fruit Land in all its glory

Now, I want to make it absolutely clear that I think KickleC is put together very well, and although there are one or two flaws to be polished out there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying the game as it stands. The biggest let-down is the lack of sound or music inside the game, but the author only omitted this due to the RR compo’s time limit. You’re free to make some suitable sounds yourself – you may wish to refer to this very helpful webpage for ideas :D The gameplay is quite addictive and the keyboard controls can be redefined if you wish, so all is well there.

Graphically, though, it jangles my nerves a bit when 3D is used in an instance where good ol’ 2D would do the job just as well. This is one such instance. It’s not badly done as the screenshots above show – xCept has kept up the good standard he used in another of his remakes, Bombzuka [link] – but honestly, with some half-decent sprites and pixel graphics, I’d have liked this game more.

08/01/09 Edit: Version 1.1 of KickleC is now available from its homepage, adding full sound and music to the game as well as a selection of bug fixes. Thanks Matt!

Links: KickleC homepage

Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year from Zolyx!

I was initially going to do a Roundup on Monuments of Mars, but then I thought – “Hang on a minute, that’d be three platform games in a row. No good!” :P

So, instead, here we have Revenge of the Punched Tape. It’s a fairly simple game but one that is carefully crafted and seems pleasantly free of rough edges and bugs. Well, except for a sentient worm-like piece of punched tape, but I’ll get to that properly in a minute. This Russian RRC2008 entry comes from VladiKuz who also made Rise Out – The Remake (listed here about half way down the page) for the 2006 compo. Last time he got some decidedly average ratings, so will Revenge be any better?

Revenge of the Punched Tape - the main menuRevenge of the Punched Tape - run or be perforated!

Crazy plotline alert! Somewhere, in a computer far, far in the past, a strip of vicious punched tape is trying to take revenge against the integrated circuit world for stealing all its glory. As such, it’s after all the data it can find to lengthen itself and ultimately crush every microchip that stands against it! Enter our twin heroes, RAM and ROM, who have to collect enough of the same data (in the form of floppy disks, cassettes, EEPROM chips and other mysteriously “futuristic” components) to advance from the current level to the next. All the while they must avoid the snake-like tape as it winds its way around the twisty pathways. The tape is remarkably deadly and will be breathing down your electronic neck before you have chance to say “Sinclair ZX Spectrum”, but you can drop an obstacle behind you every so often to keep it at a safe distance.

Presentation-wise things are good. The visuals are tidy and colourful, the music is alright and sounds effects do exactly what they say on the tin. Unfortunately the one big problem I can see with Revenge is the lack of any sort of password system or way to save your progress, so you’ll need to be persistent to complete all the levels.

To sum up, there is nothing that elevates the game beyond a “just above average” rating, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep you coming back for another go. Worth playing for some decent arcade-style entertainment.

Links: No homepage available
Download: from the Retro Remakes competition listing

I watched the first public preview video for Owlboy yesterday after it got a mention on the IndieGames blog and Destructoid. Having not known about it before then, this took me by surprise…

I absolutely love the music – heroic and sweeping with a great mix of 8-bit blippiness and orchestral accompaniment, something any modern indie game would be proud of. The sprites and pixel artwork is superb, too. Even at this early stage a lot of polish is showing already, so I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on this!

Check out the D-Pad Studio homepage for the dev team’s news.

Hmm. Despite a lot of people saying that Saboteur! and its sequel were brilliant games for their time, they kinda passed me by. Playing Mini-Saboteur gave me a chance to see what I missed… or not, as the case may be :P

FatSeagal has become quite well known for his miniaturised remakes and he’s executed the idea well. As you may be able to tell from the screenshots [below], the layout of the secret base you must infiltrate has stayed pretty much the same except that everything is in small-o-vision and, subsequently, you have a much wider view of your surroundings. The graphics are small but perfectly formed, and the sound effects are unremarkable.

Mini-Saboteur - that's a lot of cratesMini-Saboteur - get the secret tape and run!

A selection of difficulty levels allows everyone to jump in and the improved guard AI will probably give even seasoned veterans a run for their money. However, their intelligence isn’t flawless: at one point I ended up with about four or five guards trying to take down my ninja (who was minding his own business on some stairs at the time), and for all their kicking, punching and grunting, they didn’t make a single scratch on my black-suited hero – they seemed to be just outside melee attack range. Perhaps this particular ninja saboteur has enemy-deflecting forcefields? :D

Unfortunately I can’t say that I found Mini-Saboteur to be much fun, but I think that’s purely because of my apathy of the original game. There’s too much running about and getting lost and wondering where the hell you’re supposed to go for my taste. If you’re a fan of the original, give this a whirl; you’ll probably enjoy it. Otherwise… well, “meh” just about says it for me, I think :)

Links: No homepage available
Download: from the Retro Remakes competition listing

Wahey! It’s The New Zealand Story all over again!

From Auckland Game Works comes this remake of Taito‘s 1988 arcade platformer, featuring a lively cast of wildlife including snails, hedgehogs, sharks, pukekos and lots of cuddly kiwis. The story goes that one day a mad alien sheep in a flying saucer kidnaps all of Nik the Kiwi’s friends. Feeling that this isn’t very sporting behaviour even for a space sheep, he sets off to rescue them. Zany, eh? Look, this is New Zealand, and they’re all a bit bonkers over there, so show some sympathy ;)

The Kiwi's Tale - arrows away!The Kiwi's Tale - a long way to go yet...

The Kiwi’s Tale sticks faithfully to the gameplay of the original. Control your kiwi, armed with a bow and arrow, and rescue all of the prisoners scattered about the maze-like platform levels. There’s a colourful variety of locations to adventure through with plenty of humorous touches, and the levels that I’ve played so far have been nicely designed and pleasantly challenging. The controls are responsive either using keyboard or gamepad, and the audio is particularly well done, with lots of larger-than-life sound effects and several fitting music tracks. My only complaint is that graphically the game is a little inconsistent – some sprites and backdrops are done better than others. Having said that, the overall quality is good, and you could argue this minor niggle only adds to the game’s retro charm.

There are a good few hours of enjoyment to be had here and I’d definitely recommend The Kiwi’s Tale as a worthwhile game to play through for all the family!

Links: Earok.net :: Auckland Game Works
Download: from Earok.net :: from the Retro Remakes competition listing

Retro Remakes Competition 2008

Perfect! Just in time for all of us to have a nice, comfy playthrough before Christmas, the 2008 Retro Remakes competition entries are now available to download! A big congratulatory slap on the back must go to everyone who got something together during the three months of coding time, and special thanks to the RR staff for braving the piles of paperwork and getting it all organised.

A quick note, though. Keep in mind that RR‘s bandwidth is limited and goes through the roof at times like this, so try to avoid hitting refresh every couple of seconds if the page isn’t loading for you. Go have a nice cup of tea, perhaps with some digestive biscuits (or even ginger nuts if you’re so inclined), then try again :)

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to make time to have a proper hands-on with a few of the entries. Blast Passage, Mini Saboteur, The Kiwi’s Tale and Revenge of the Punched Tape immediately catch my eye – Retroman and Cosmic Prison Commando might get a look too. Bonus points for the most bizarre combination of two 8-bit games has to go to Tetroid, however… it’s Metroid, with Tetris blocks in it! What on earth is going on there?!

On a closing note, this is the second time that (for various reasons) I didn’t have chance to put an entry in for the compo myself so I’m a little sad, but come hell or high water it will be third time lucky when – indeed, if – the competition rolls around again!

Until next time… let’s retro! :P