Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Demos: Skydrift and Hamilton's Great Adventure

Skydrift Use the boost to chase!

What does one call a racing game that has weapons and power-ups, à la Mario Kart, but that only features airplanes? It can’t be a kart racer, the closest genre that I can relate it to. Kart flyer doesn’t make sense either. Arcade air-race? That seems closer. It's tough.

No matter. Skydrift is a racing game where you pilot a small WW2 era-esque aircraft and are assisted by power-ups which you fly through. The game also features a boost system which fills based upon the stunts that you perform, such as passing through narrow rock formations or flying close to the ground.

The power-ups are standard fare for this type of game. Guns, missiles, shields, repair, mines, and an EMP burst round out the arsenal available to players. Adding onto this is the fact that players can store two such items at a time, and if they collect a power-up they already have, the strength of it is increased. The storage/power-up system adds some nice touches to the item system.

The game feels very similar in execution to how Koei’s initial trailers for Fatal Inertia made me feel. Although this game isn’t nearly as fast as Fatal Inertia is, you do fly, which is more than Fatal Inertia can claim.

This was a very appealing demo, and I’d highly suggest you check it out if it seems like the sort of thing you'd be into.
Hamilton’s Great Adventure That's really just an opinion

I’m not sure what to label this game. I’m going to resort to the label of a puzzle game.  You play as the eponymous Hamilton and you adventure through a tiled puzzle area, navigating towards the goal. The key to navigating to that goal is figuring out the particular trick to the level, which makes it a puzzle game.

Hamilton is joined by a bird companion who has complete and unrestrained movement. The bird can collect certain tokens that are scattered around the map and flip switches that are out of Hamilton’s reach. The tokens can only be picked up by the bird.

The tokens don’t seem to play any role that I was able to discern in the short time that I spent with the demo. As best as I could tell, they only served as some way to boost your score or have a completion percentage to goad gullible players into playing the game more.

The seemingly useless tokens actually irritated me so much that I turned off the demo. Since the bird’s movement was unconstrained, nothing prevented it from starting each level by collecting every token available. I had mindless collecting in games. I got tired of it during the Nintendo 64 era and I don’t wish to return to it.

I didn’t play the demo fully, which is a terrible thing. If I’m so irked by the demo that I don’t want to finish it, there is no way in hell that I’m going to spend money on the game itself.  Maybe the bird gameplay fleshes out as the game develops, but I wasn’t motivated to stick around to see if it did. 

I should probably give it a second chance to see if it fleshes out, but I just can't get motivated to.