[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

 

Introduction:

I have previously written, on more than one occasion, about games with simple premises or gimmicky attributes, which succeed due to the high quality of their execution. Today I would like to talk about a game with a great, interesting premise that fails due to the low quality of its actual design and execution. Pixel Piracy, a pirate-based RTS RPG with roguelike elements, is a game that was in an abysmal state at launch, but which has come a long way since then; the problem is that it has come nowhere near far enough, and does not seem likely to ever do so.

One of my biggest problems with the game is that its most grievous flaws are not apparent to the player until after a few hours in-game. In fact, Pixel Piracy is almost enjoyable, if a little repetitive, for almost half of its campaign. At that point, however, the small cracks widen into crevices, into which fall all of your hopes of ever completing the game with a positive opinion of it. I have completed the main campaign, and it was no easy task to do so (although the gameplay is easy as cake, the game’s technical problems and repetitive design made progress difficult). Now let me discourage you from doing the same.

Pixel Piracy screenshot visual effects comparison - Quadro Delta - negative review - criticism

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[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

was last modified: March 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Volvox, Neotenia, 2015]
A Natural Selection:

On the Strong Core Gameplay and Puzzle Design in Neotenia’s Volvox

 

Volvox, an indie puzzle game developed by the small Italian team Neotenia, was one of the bold (or unfortunate) few to have a release in the weeks directly preceding a Steam Winter sale, which seem every bit as capable of eclipsing new Steam releases as they were prior to the sales’ recent regrettable-but-understandable format changes.

Volvox‘s store page boasts 250 levels in its campaign (and accordingly 60 hours of entertainment), which had me both intrigued and wary. A promise of that much content makes me wonder if the quality keeps up throughout, and whether it strays at times into repetition. As you can probably tell from the title of the article, my concerns were laid to rest; let me tell you how and why.

Volvox screenshot with cutscene sequence - Neotenia - difficult puzzle game Continue reading

[Game: Volvox, Neotenia, 2015]
A Natural Selection:

On the Strong Core Gameplay and Puzzle Design in Neotenia’s Volvox

was last modified: March 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

Introduction:

It often happens on this site that I set out to write a simple article and realize after I begin that I just have a lot to say about the subject. It happened when I explained a central theme of The Death of Ivan Ilyich; it happened when I analyzed Steven Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and it happened in your previous Mid-week Mission post, on LUFTRAUSERS. Today I want to rectify my last review’s rambling by actually writing a simple article about a relatively new indie game, Crypt of the NecroDancer by Brace Yourself Games. Let’s see how I do.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a 2-D top-down rhythm-based roguelike. Right off the bat, if you’re anything like me then you’re wary of a genre mash-up that seems to have most of its justification in being a quirky gimmick rather than being a well-reasoned basis for gameplay. But I’m now almost 25 hours into my experience of NecroDancer, and I’m ready to start singing its praises (preferably as a duet with the game’s vocally gifted merchant NPC).

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[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

was last modified: April 23rd, 2023 by Daniel Podgorski

[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).

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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: August 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games, 2014]
As From a Time Machine:

How Shovel Knight Embraces and then Rises Above its Capacity for Nostalgia

 

Introduction:

Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight is a game whose Kickstarter campaign‘s success may be attributable to, above other merits, nostalgia for the NES era of games whose aesthetics and gameplay Shovel Knight promised to deliver. It’s a winning formula, and one on which many other projects have been happy to capitalize: sell the gaming population its own childhood.

Such projects, often full of wry nods toward and inside jokes from NES and SNES titles, wear the clothes of classics. They have pixel art as a matter of convention, and scrolling text as a matter of principle. But Shovel Knight is a special game, because it does not merely wear the clothes of the classics; it is a classic, every bit as deserving of acclaim and status as are the titles whose trappings got it funded.

Shovel Knight screenshot with NPC village - nostalgia - Yacht Club Games

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[Game: Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games, 2014]
As From a Time Machine:

How Shovel Knight Embraces and then Rises Above its Capacity for Nostalgia

was last modified: December 21st, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski