Thursday, June 14, 2012

City Buildin' War Games!

So today I came home early from school and OH WAIT NO I DIDN'T because I spent 5 hours straight trying to figure out how to change the palette colors of an OpenGL texture (the cars) for Super Sprint and utterly failed (trust me, I tried everything).  No, just doing the glColor3ub() thing doesn't work--it makes the entire car radiate these ugly diffuse lighting hues.  What a piece of crap.

So anyway, there's this huge gaming story that blew up on Reddit.  Some of you have heard already.  Some guy played the same Civilization 2 file for 10 years.  Apparently, you can't sit idle and let the AI auto-pilot your nation--you gotta make every move on your own (that's brutal).  And way into the future, it's been nothing but incessant war between the Celts, the Vikings, and the Americans.  It lasted for 1500 years and all they would do is nuke each other.  At first, I thought "oh this is cool," but now it has its own subreddit.  It's as if this guy stumbled upon his own version of 1984 or War Games.  Oh well, if you stick to ANY saved game for a decade, you deserve props.

See my friends, now THAT'S EMERGENT GAMEPLAY!!!  If you don't go to FIEA, you won't get it.

But Civilization 2 the point of this post.  I know very little about the Civilization series (you guys say "boooooo") but it does make me think because I like these kind of tile-based building/strategy games.  I'd go as far as to say that aside from racing games, strategy games of this sort would be one of my top choices for projects.  But NO FACEBOOK GAMES like Farmville or that crap--we're talkin' real serious games here.

Hasty transition to Advance Wars, a series of games for Nintendo handheld consoles.  Is it like Civilization?  I guess it is!  This is probably my favorite Nintendo IP (write it down, people, Eric actually loves a Nintendo game).  Played the heck out of all the games back in the day.  It was good old fun.

In case you know nothing about Advance Wars (made by Intelligent Systems), it's a turn-based war game in which you build various units like infantry, tanks, artillery, naval, and aircraft units.  They each have their own strengths, costs, and weaknesses.  You also get to choose from many different commanding officers AKA CO's (the guys you see above) which have unique skills and special abilities.  It gets much more complicated but that's the quickest explanation I can come up with.

Now this is Advance Wars: Dual Strike, the third entry in the series (sort of...if you don't include all the Famicom Wars for Japanese-only old-school Nintendo consoles).  Here, I like what they did with a multitude of things.  The units you see on screen are still cartoony and colorful as usual.  There's more units, characters, and maps than ever before.

But the game had a ton of problems--mainly that the balancing in the game just plain sucked.  Some characters were just plain overpowered (looking at Colin, Grit, & Kanbei as the main offenders) while others just didn't make they ran out of unique powers to give to CO's (like Koal...who gains a 10% damage bonus for units on roads...okay?).  Also, it was too lucrative to spam infantry (which clutter the map and can overtake cities & serve as meatshields) and air units were still superior to naval units.  Also, there was only room for three custom maps.  In other words, Intelligent Systems should've gone back to the drawing board and polished the heck out of it.  Seriously, there are fan-made ROM patches out there which balance the units & CO powers, something that the actual devs hastily glazed over.

But anyway, Intelligent Systems went back to the drawing board...and they completely overhauled Advance Wars.  The next game was called Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.

Simply because the Advance Wars series had reached a breaking point with Dual Strike (too many units, too many CO's, balance was out of whack), they killed off everything and brought about this new "theme," one that actually resembles a real war.  The "story" with this one is that meteor strikes kill 90% of the Earth's population (whether it's the previous AW world, we'll never know) and only a few survivors fight each other in an EPIC WAR GAME TO THE DEATH.  Before it was like, "Oh no, we lost, but at least we still have our friendship!"  Much, much different.

Days of Ruin did a lot of things right gameplay wise.  They balanced existing units and brought about new ones such as the bike infantry, the flare gun, the anti-tank, and the crop duster planes.  They also expanded the number of custom map slots to 50 (wow, finally!) and added Wi-Fi online play.  So what's there to hate about this game?

Oh, I's not as COLORFUL as the previous Advance Wars???  While the new cast of characters is okay, the serious tone was a far cry from the old AW games.  The units/sprites aren't as cartoonish as before.  It just doesn't feel at home.  There's no blue skies in this game.  The game's hues feel more faded out--not even in a Sonic CD bad future kind of way--it's just bleak.  Bear in mind this is the same studio that made Fire Emblem so of course they would elevate Advance Wars to match the tone of that game and not the other way around.

This is my opinion of course.  Some will say the new Advance Wars look is appropriate but I have a tendency to err towards happy games over gritty/depressing ones.  Days of Ruin came out in 2008 and odds are if Nintendo decides to revisit the franchise, the next one will be just like Days of Ruin as well--in other words, the old characters/world is dead.  That sucks.  Though I don't know how anything from Days of Ruin can compete with something like this:


BTW, if you want to play Advance Wars online, check out this site.  Play Advance Wars games on your browser.  Also features the old CO's/units and up to 16 players in one game!

That's all I have to say about that.  There's also one more strategy game I'd like to talk about and it actually has to do with building cities!  No, not SimCity.  This is Monopoly Tycoon.

This is a multiplayer RTS (sort of) game unlike most others I've seen.  It has very little to do with Monopoly or the other Tycoon games.  It's more like an elaborate version of Lemonade Stand.  Here, you and up to five other players are given a blank city with spaces named after Monopoly properties.  You drag & drop various types of businesses in an attempt to gain more customers & sales than the other players.  It's a cut-throat game in that all the actions happen in real-time as you stave off other players from getting in your space.  Sell the right type of goods at the right prices in the right locations to gain the upper hand.  Also try building apartments and buying property leases (including railroads and utilities) via auctions for great benefits such as property tax and the ability to build hotels, parks, and other players' businesses.

Guess who uploaded this video?  ME.  EDIT: To "win" the game, you have to meet some money-related condition like "First to make $100,000 total assets."  As you can see here, to make money, you need to spend money.  You can go up to $10,000 in debt and hope to make it back in scores.  However, if you remain in the red for more than 24 hours, you go bankrupt and lose the game.  So you gotta live on the edge of bankruptcy to get ahead!

I must admit I was skeptical of the game's quality at first but I became engrossed in it in no time.  There's more depth than meets the eye but the problem is the game can move at a sluggish pace since if you're not building stuff or tweaking variables, you're just passively looking by as customers buy stuff with the little katching sounds ringing in the background which is cool so no harm done.  The main problem with the game is that the AI is dumb as bricks, there's no one online playing (find that one player AFK in the GameSpy lobby), among a few other petty issues that would whoosh right over your heads.

BTW, the music in the game is pretty cool.  The game goes from the 30's to the 90's over time.  Not only do new business arise over time but the music changes as well.  All the game's music does a great job of capturing their respective time period.  Swing music in the 40's, synthesizers in the 80's, crap dubstep in the 90's, this is great.  The 70's theme is my favorite though:

I also uploaded these clips too, thank me very much.

This is one game I hope gets another shot but it's very unlikely at this point.  Sort of...I heard SimCity 5 will have up to 16 player simultaneous online play?  I presume it'll be competitive like Monopoly Tycoon (or cooperative, whatever floats your boat) but I have my doubts...this it ELECTRONIC ARTS we're talking about so the likelihood of me picking SC5 up any time soon is very slim.

Anyway, I could talk about more tile-based games.  Like SimTower, that was awesome (already covered that a long time ago).  But once again, it's super-late and there's no other games I feel like talking about more than these two.  ADIOS.