Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Option Monster (PC)

This was going to be a post about all the stuff on volume thirteen of the PC Disc Station series, but for some reason, after searching all my hard drives and storage devices, I could only find an incomplete set of files for it, from whence this game was the only one i could get working. Nor could I go and re-download the disc image, since some malodourous vermin has seen fit to conspire against Underground Gamer, probably the most important resource there has ever been in preserving obscure games and their related ephemera. Luckily, I do seem to have most of the later volumes in their entirety.
Anyway, on to the game itself. There are three main qualities the PC Disc Station games tend to have in common: they're often very short, feature a score system centred around defeating multiple enemies at once and they also tend to have beautifully crafted pixel graphics.
The game takes place over three worlds, each of which contains five or six stages. The stages are all top-down mazes full of enemies, who must be dispatched by throwing your titular option monster at them.
The monster bounces off the walls (but not enemies), and after a few seconds will return to you. Obviously, the way to play is to ensure that the monster bounces around as much of the screen and hits as many enemies as possible with each throw, ensuring the maximum score.
There are power-ups on each stage, revealed when the option monster travels over them. The two main types of power-up are "non-stop", which temporarily exends the amount of time your monster can spend bouncing around the screen, and "+1", which gives you an extra monster to throw around.
As I've said before about Disc Station games, Option Monster is a lot of fun to play, the only problem being its extreme shortness, leaving interesting mechanics and ideas never to be expanded on.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Dharma Doujou (Arcade)

Dharma Doujou (or should it be "dojo"?) is a puzzle game based on a traditional Japanese children's game called Daruma Otoshi, in which a Daruma doll is placed atop a stack of coloured wooden blocks, which the player must attempt to knock away using a small hammer without letting the tower fall over.
Dharma Doujou combines this with the usual matching colours puzzle game mechanic. Each stage starts with numerous towers of blocks, Daruma dolls and other items, and the player, in the guise of a huge-eyebrowed
hammer-wielding monk, must knock away all the blocks to clear the stage.
When swinging at a row of blocks, the leftmost block of that row is knocked into a chamber beneath the playing field. When this chamber is full, if all the blocks in it are the same, they disappear, if not, they rise up to make a new bottom row in the playfield. At the start of the game, the chamber holds three blocks, though this increases by one every couple of stages.
There are two ways to lose the game: either run out of time, or allow one of the block towers to reach the top of the screen. The time limit, rather than being represented by a traditional clock, is shown by a creature
(the creature, along with the difficulty, changes every two stages and so far I've seen a crab, an oni and a pair of koinobori.) climbing towards a finish line in the top-left corner of the screen.
I highly recommend this game. Though it gets very difficult very quickly, it's also satisfying and fun to play as well as addictive. The developer/manufacturer Metro has made a few interesting arcade games, so expect me to be writing about those too in the future.