[Game: Puzzle Link 2, Yumekobo, 2000]
Integrated Game Goals:

On Yumekobo’s Puzzle Link 2, and the Potential Simplicity of Good Game Design

 

Introduction:

Puzzle Link 2 North American box art - Yumekobo, SNK - tile-matching puzzle game cardsYumekobo’s Puzzle Link titles are not well-known games in America (or maybe anywhere). Besides Puzzle Link having a Japan-only release for the original Neo-Geo Pocket, Puzzle Link and Puzzle Link 2 were released exclusively on a little-known handheld console called the Neo-Geo Pocket ColorPuzzle Link 2 - Yumekobo, SNK - tile-matching puzzle game cards, which was made by SNK. In fact, the North American release of Puzzle Link 2 preceded the console’s discontinuation in America by a mere two months. For today’s article, I’ll be discussing and recommending the sequel—because it is similar to the original, but with a few very important improvements (some of which I’ll detail below).

Although Puzzle Link 2—like its predecessor and like many other Neo-Geo games—was well-received by critics at the time, the combination of its timing and the Neo-Geo Pocket Color’s tiny little share of the North American handheld console market means that the vast majority of gamers in my country have never heard of it, let alone played it.

But I was part of that minority share of the market, and I played it quite a bit when I was younger. And I think more people should know about it, because upon reflecting I figured out what made the gameplay such fun. So I decided to write this article on how Puzzle Link 2 builds compelling puzzle gameplay simply by establishing three complementary, concurrent player goals.

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[Game: Puzzle Link 2, Yumekobo, 2000]
Integrated Game Goals:

On Yumekobo’s Puzzle Link 2, and the Potential Simplicity of Good Game Design

was last modified: May 18th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

{Guest Post} [Game: SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS, KONAMI, 2014]

Blasting into Arcade Rhythm Games:

My Adventures with Sound Voltex and the Church of Rasis

 

Part 1 – Arcade Rhythm Gaming and Sound Voltex Intro:

SOUND VOLTEX Rasis logo image - SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS - SDVX - KONAMI - beginner's guideI find it hard to come to terms with my love of rhythm games from time to time. On one hand, I am drawn to the flashy lights and giant LCD screens with loud music booming from the uniquely shaped machines in the arcade. On the other hand, showing a level of play that is far below those who have been drawing the attentive eyes of the general public hinders my willingness to try something I am not as familiar with. Nonetheless, I can now say with certainty that I can truly enjoy this elusive genre with its seemingly high barrier to entry, thanks to my most recent addiction: Sound Voltex.

Before I continue, I want to give some more background to skeptics of the rhythm game genre that might label me as already part of the target demographic and therefore disregard some of my analysis as not applicable to those that are not familiar with the arcade rhythm gaming scene at all. It is true that before Voltex, I have decent experience with rhythm games in arcades such as Jubeat and Dance Dance Revolution.

However, my first impressions of Sound Voltex were just like anyone else with an aversion to the genre. “This game looks too hard for me,” “There are too many things going on; this is confusing,” “I think I’ll stick to the easy stuff I am used to:” these are the thoughts that raced through my mind while I stood awestruck as one of the spectators of the pros playing before me. Though the main reason I picked up the game was that none of my regular rhythm game fixes existed in the new arcade that opened in my area, a strong grasp of the fundamentals of rhythm games as well as a control scheme that only seems hard on the surface helped to ease me into the intricacies of Voltex, a game that has a lot more depth than what I initially made it out to have.

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{Guest Post} [Game: SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS, KONAMI, 2014]

Blasting into Arcade Rhythm Games:

My Adventures with Sound Voltex and the Church of Rasis

was last modified: July 9th, 2016 by Kevin Su

[Game: LUFTRAUSERS, Vlambeer, 2014]
99 Arcade Luftballons:

3 Major Pros and 2 Minor Cons of Vlambeer’s Bullet Hell Arcade Dogfighter LUFTRAUSERS

 

Introduction:

I am very sparing in my use of lists on this site, and have only written one list article before now (on 5 writing tips that can be derived from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo), but this is not because I necessarily dislike them. They have their place, but they are generally overused.

In the case of LUFTRAUSERS, I have a mixed-yet-positive opinion of the game after the many hours I have spent with it, and would like to use list elements to cordon off the good from the bad. LUFTRAUSERS is a game that offers a great challenge that looks and sounds great, too, and is a stellar title (with only a couple notable exceptions).

LUFTRAUSERS screenshot with normal mode activated - pros and cons - Vlambeer

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[Game: LUFTRAUSERS, Vlambeer, 2014]
99 Arcade Luftballons:

3 Major Pros and 2 Minor Cons of Vlambeer’s Bullet Hell Arcade Dogfighter LUFTRAUSERS

was last modified: June 17th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Super Crate Box, Vlambeer, 2010]
Simple Arcade Innovation:

The Elegant, Ingenious Gameplay of Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box

Introduction:

In the first post of this series, I praised Tribute Games’ much-maligned Wizorb for being a high-quality recent example of a cheap, challenging, arcade-style game. This week I would like to recommend a game which you may not have heard of. It is also in the arcade style, but it is much more challenging and much more cheap. How can it be much more cheap than the $3 title Wizorb, you ask? In fact, this game is completely free. Not free-to-play or freemium, just plain old free. It goes by the name of Super Crate Box, and it is available on Steam right now in exchange for no money.

Super Crate Box is an arcade action game that pits your pixelated player-character against hordes of marching foes, but with one amazing gameplay twist, explained below. The game was developed by Vlambeer, a Dutch team which has risen to prominence in recent years with games like LUFTRAUSERS and Nuclear Throne. And like those later titles, Super Crate Box is a tremendous time-sink, a great challenge, and a lot of fun: now, on to discussing that interesting gameplay quirk.

Super Crate Box Screenshot 1 - Vlambeer

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[Game: Super Crate Box, Vlambeer, 2010]
Simple Arcade Innovation:

The Elegant, Ingenious Gameplay of Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box

was last modified: February 10th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

 

Introduction:

Wizorb, an independently made arcade-style block breaker with light RPG elements, has the lowest aggregate review score of any of the games in my top 25 most played Steam games by almost 20%. Critics accuse the unassuming $3 title of failing to innovate on the block breaker formula, but more heinously (in the realm of video games), they accuse it of being boring.

Now, if Wizorb is indeed a boring, stale offering, it is very curious that it has held my attention for over thirty hours. So what do I see in this game that others are glad to overlook? I see nothing more and nothing less than a prime example of the format of game design and distribution that I would love to see sweep across the entire industry.

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[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

was last modified: March 11th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski