Posts Tagged ‘Free Games’
Trilby: Art of Theft and Knytt Stories are two games I’ve been playing extensively lately. Both share an exceptional game experience. Trilby: Art of Theft reminds the player of those good old games from the 90’s – addictive and challenging. Knytt Stories takes the player to a dreamworld that reminded me of listening to Death Cab for Cutie, but then in a gaming package.
What makes Trilby such a great game to play then? It aren’t really Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s graphics that blow you away, they’re straight from the 90’s. But the game’s architecture is very well done, everything seems logical and flows over into the next. The purchasing of abilities to make you a better crook (better safecracker, lockpicker) or new moves (roll, hide in shadows) all seem very intiutive and more importantly: I haven’t seen this kind of gameplay in any game, ever. Not convinced? Check out the Trilby: Art of Theft Walkthrough / Rankthrough, which includes video to check out the gameplay, here.
Yes, finally the message has been returned to the medium after the tsunami of bad first person shooters and 3D action adventures in the last years. Repetition of a genre, however, is not something that is “evil” per se. Exceptional narrative in gaming has developed over the past years, with some of my top games being Max Payne, Deus EX and recently Assasins’ Creed. However these games do not, in my opinion, excell in an exceptional game experience. Much like Hollywood productions they share a good story, but are essentially the same format.
Knytt Stories is something totally different. French arthouse movie Amelie is to Hollywood productions as is Knytt Stories to big budget gaming. Under the influence of mood strengthening music, this game has you travelling the beautiful lands of protagonist Knytt, a “small guy with long hair”, and providing you with an experience that is different from so many similar experiences. And yes, it is free! And yes! You can create your own levels! After playing Knytt on my laptop in the train, I found myself thinking about what level I would create with Knytt Stories. It feeds personal creative process outside of virtual space. But even without this, the works of Knytt creator Nifflas are so original and really fuel the imagination, and not just in the sense of narrative… Check out the gameplay in this Knytt Stories Walkthrough of the The Machine level at YouTube.
I’ve tried a lot of the games available for the U3 USB stick, but none of them really seemed to give me the relaxation I needed after a lot of hard work at the campus computers of the University of Amsterdam. And since I’m kind of addicted to my ZSNES Super Nintendo Emulator, I decided to use Package Factory to make a U3 install for it.
It’s very simple. Step one: Download ZSNES Windows version. Step two: drag the zsnes.exe into the Package Factory window. Step three: Choose install from your harddrive from the U3 launchpad. Get yourself a couple of roms and put them on the U3 drive -of course only from SNES games you have in your possession- and you’re set to go! I’ve heard that other emulators (for example GBA) also work.
Also a short update on my personal experience with the Smart Drive. I’ve been using it intensively on campus and besides a sometimes long startup period, it has been very ideal for me. Now I don’t have to use that annoying Internet Explorer anymore, I have Firefox always ready with my personal plugins (del.icio.us, wordpress.com) which is a big advantage. Besides that I use it a lot for syndicating content with my home computer.
Any points of critique? Some, because I think development of the applications is still a bit slow. What I would like to see is more use of programs like Package Factory so people can create their own (freeware) programs from existing ones and post them on the web. This would stimulate the community around the medium.
By the way, It’s good to see prices are going down for the U3 sticks with a higher capacity, because more capacity might mean larger applications and I’m anxious to see what that can bring us.
Earlier I talked about about the free downloadable game Penumbra which I discovered through Gamershell.com, but since then I’ve come across some more pages with good overviews of the free/freeware gaming market. And I don’t mean those crappy Java Tetris clones, but games which are worth a try because of their original approach and effort. Here’s a short list, I’ll keep this updated and if you have any additions just post ’em in the comments.
About: Good thing about this page is the fact that they keep reviews of the games posted. So if a game is really bad, you don’t have to download it first and go through the annoyance of installing and uninstalling. Which is a big plus for this GameHippo over the other websites.
About: The website I check first if I’m looking for a freeware game. Every big release by an indie is on there, a must-bookmark. Hands down.
Home of the Underdogs
About: Although not packed with new releases in freewareland, Home of the Underdogs provides the best of abandonware games. Games from the beginning of videogaming (text adventures), the first 3D shooters, and everything in between. Older games can give you a whole new perspective on gaming in ways of convention, narrative. Retrogaming is cool!
About: Nice website with some good games. Skip through the more than 50 pages of free games and there should be something you like.
About: Added by recommendation, and I must say I enjoyed this website very much. It’s got interviews (check out the interview with the guys from Penumbra), podcasts, messagebaords and two good gameslists. One for online games and one for freeware games, with a total of (as I write this) around 1400 games you can definitely find something here.
About: A website dedicated to posting high quality freeware games. Or as the about section mentions: “The number of freeware games increases every day and often you can’t cope with the huge amount of titles you find when you are googling.” That does sound very familiar when you’re looking for freeware games on the web. Runtime also offers reviews on freeware games, and for gamecreators of freeware games an application form.
About: Not the best, but definitely worth a check if some of the other websites don’t have anything new. I saw a game called Babylon V: I’ve Found Her and tried it, it’s a tough but beautiful game. Definitely worth a try.
About: Well, who doesn’t know Wikipedia? And some people are working on a freeware games list, so why not check it out? It’s good, but still a bit small. So if you have a freeware game that should be added to Wikipedia, don’t be a stranger.
Mobile games for the current mobile phones are becoming somewhat better. But still the games supplied with the phones or the ones you download often feel like cheap ripoffs of real classics, or badly executed new ideas to sell you the phone.
Combining gaming with mobile phones has been tried (see Nokia N-gage), but never really succeeded. So how about looking back to some of the older consoles and use the older technology, but great classic gameplay, for your mobile? There’s nothing like a bit of classic Super Mario on your mobile phone.
Since the coming of the Smartphone, the marriage of the mobile phone and the PDA, there are a lot of new apps coming out including console emulators. Retrogaming is becoming more and more appealing for the Smartphones. Firstly because the gameplay of the old games is often just amazing and secondly the limited specs of the Smartphone still make it possible to run these games pretty well.
You might want to consider trying out one of the free available emulators below. I’ve also added some non-console emulators. They do require some adjusting to your phone and some are work in progress, but you can find all the info you need on these webpages. On the pages you should be able to check if your phone can run it. I’ll keep this list updated, and if you have any additions just let me know. Also let me know if any of the linked developers started charging.
ScummVM SymbianOS: http://www.scummvm.org/downloads.php
Nintendo Gameboy & Gameboy Color
Nintendo NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Nintendo SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
Snes9x UIQ: http://notaz.atspace.com/snes9x_uiq.html
Sega Mastersystem & GameGear
SMS Plus S60: http://ngage.dcemu.co.uk/smspluss60.shtml
Just to see how it performs and how it looks, you can check out these Youtube examples of the performance of the emulators. Of course this differs per phone, just give it a try on your own.
Picodrive (Sega Megadrive) on Motorola Q
PocketNesterPlus (Nintendo NES) on Motorola Q
Vnes (Nintendo NES) on Nokia 6260
Penumbra is a game developed by Frictional Games, and you just have to play it. Download it for free at Frictional Games.
What is so good about Penumbra? Well I’ve not seen a narrative like this in a virtual world before, it’s original and fresh. As I’ve read on some of the Frictional Games messageboards the level of immersion is great. And that for a free game that has some very nice graphics, which are coming from a 3D engine which the studio developed by itself. Another great thing is that it is a FP game, but not with a lot of shooting. Just a truckload of suspense. Check out the trailer for yourself here:
So good free games still exist! I often check the Full Games section at Gamershell to find some very nice games. This way I discovered Warrock, a Battlefield 2 styled FPS which was in Beta testing a while ago but will be back on the 14th of July. But also a nice RPG called The Spirit Engine. Both games are very addictive, so don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Free games can be surprisingly good and they give a fresh perspective on the gaming industry that seems to be stuck in more of the same, already at the beginning of its existence.