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Leo Loikkanen's blog

8:49 AM on 01.02.2010

Review: Spandex Force (Mac/Win/Lin)

A couple of days ago, i got my new Visa Electron card with it's re-newed security codes, and Verified By Visa Service. As a result, i've been able to use that to buy stuff online, buying a couple of albums off iTunes (The Meteors, Teengenerate, The Residents, Deuces Wild and Guitar Wolf) as well as a few games fro my mac (Gish and Spandex Force).

I accidentally discivered Spandex Force whilst looking at my feeds at my google reader account. I noted that i hadn't heard about Spandex Force before, and the Puzzle/RPG/Action game hybrid seemed really really interesting. Well, i went to the site Located here and bought it faster you could say "Well i'll be a cat strangled country singer".

To be fair, the story's not bad either. in the "cutscenes" you'll witness some honest funny and witty writing, unless you're skipping the dialogue in order to complete the next mission, gaining power, fame and wealth.


The gameplay is similar to Puzzle Kingdoms with a twist. Instead of having that click and switch gameplay, it also has Click and slide (similar to Chuzzle) and Click And Drag (similar to Sega Swirl). The gameplay differs from mission to mission, where you earn clues to get to the boss battle, reputation to level up, and money to upgrade your base. Upgrading your base allows you to monitor a bigger area of crimes, and also opens up new minigames that you can play to earn reputation, money or clues.

I am glad that the game incorporates 3 ways of playing the kind of Bejeweled clones that there are on the internet. It gives variation and removes the "oh, if only i could do THIS instead of doing THAT" effect that you might have when playing a game like Bewejeled.

You can also buy new superpowers from the gypsy lady (no joke, she's really a gypsy) or buffs from the fisher man that will allow you to gain more money or clues etc. from any given round. The only thing bad about these buffs is that they're fairly expensive, and you'll rather use the money to improve your base than giving your player avatar a cool looking knife.

Graphics and Sound

To be fair, i am not a big fan of anime, so i really don't feel annoyed or pleased about the fact that the character graphics in the game are drawn in an animesque style. sure, it looks great, and i'm impressed about the fact that there have been a lot of time spent in doing the character graphics. The background graphics during the puzzles are clearly photographs that have been thrown a few Photoshop brushstroke filters. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, it gives the game a flavour of it's own, but i feel like there might've been more time used to create the backgrounds.

The Soundtrack is pretty great! There are real instruments used to make the musical bits and it shows. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear a dramatic trumpet or a paino whilst you're battling against hardboiled criminals in order to advance to the next chapter. I am happy that the music has also been a great area of focus.

Should i Buy it?

It depends: do you like Puzzle Kingdoms with different gameplay methods and do you have extra 10 bucks to spend? If you do, i'd say yes. It's not one of those games that you'll play 10 hours in one sitting, but it is one of those games that keeps pulling you back. It's addictive, and the variation of the gameplay styles between the missions gives you something to keep coming back to the game. Note that the boss battles are in the bejeweled style of game play, but you can only do damage when you collect enough mind power and speed tokens (I.e. the goddamn enemy can only do damage if he has enough power tokes to activate an attack). There's also a small glitch in the boss battles that'll easilly give you the upper hand of the game, if you're into that sort of thing. Besides, 10 bucks isn't that much. If you like Bejeweled and the RPG aspects of Puzzle Quest, then this game is for you.

price: 9.99 dorrals, or about 7 euros

Platforms: Macintosh (tested on 10.6.2, works ok), Windows and Linux   read

10:56 AM on 12.28.2009

Love/Hate: Multiplayer games

Being a kid from the 90s, I never really got into multiplayer games. I knew that it was something that true hardcore elite geeks would do with their friends, with their high-falutin' Pentium 2s and copies of StarCraft. Not me, i was happily playing with my Sega Genesis, in the middle of a platformers. Fast Forward to the 00s, when multiplayer games seem to become (at least here) a big deal. Soon people were hooking up their Xboxes and whatnots to the internet, and playing against real human beings.

I love the idea of multiplayer games, and the social status that they come with. With multiplayer games, you and your friends can live between large distances and still come together every week to kick some nazi ass, or go through the dragon's cave, searching for that +infinity robe that will surely make everything all right. It also gives you more challenge over the bots that regularly play against you, as now you're fighting against humans, with real human reflexes. Surely it means you'll have a greater challenge?

Yes and no, what if you're fighting against some....unpleasant individual, whose reason to stay alive is to play multiplayer games all day long, searching for noobs to humiliate and destroy in a round of "King Of The Hill"? Or, what if you're playing against some member of the youth, who just activated his 48 hour Xbox Gold account, and insists that you don't mute your headset? Damn those people annoy me.

If you're a social person who has managed to gain friends from multiplayer games, then it should be ok! There are people you know and respect, who are willing to have a game of Team Fortress 2 or Halo, and enjoy the experience of actually being able to play together and enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling that you get when you KNOW that you have a life outside videogames, as well as friends, who are well-balanced.

But let's say that you're feeling like practicing against unknown people, and get stuck with the team from hell. I'll let you imagine what that group might be.




Done Yet?


Now, it might be that these people haven't understood the etiquette of online play, and project the personality that of a anonymous fuckwit. "I shall frag him for his sins" you think, and the ringing in your ears still hasn't subsided when you're ready to go to bed.

I am not saying that online playing is bad, it's a good oppurtunity to meet people from forgein lands that you might ever be able to visit otherwise. Who knows, maybe between the long hours you spend fraggin noobs and capturing flags, you'll be able to gain a new, wonderful and valuable friendship. Of course, that doesn't mean that there are people in online games, that you'd never want to meet real life. It might be that the veil of anonymity makes them behave the way they do, or they just might be like that in real life.

All in all i'd say that if you're willing to at least try online multiplayer games, do so. I'm far too anti-social to play with people i've never met before, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do that either. Go on, give it a shot. Maybe you'll find your future wife through a heated game of Deathmatch.

Stranger things have happened.   read

12:46 PM on 12.27.2009

Gaming On the Mac: Why it's Important

The people will see the title to this blog post and think: "Gaming on the mac? Everyone knows that there are no games for the mac, lol newb". To these people i say: "You are wrong, there actually are a lot of games for the mac. Even the Penny Arcade Adventures was ported to the mac, along with Braid, Emberwind, Aquaria and World Of Goo". "So?", they'll say. "Mac hasn't got nearly as much as games as the PC does. Sure it gets some ports from the AAA titles, but aside from the indie creations and smaller venues of games, there aren't really any good, proper, often released channels of games for the mac to speak of".

Please amuse me for a moment, as i try to go through the statements, and counter them. While it is true, that there aren't nearly as much games for the mac as there are for the PC, that does not mean, that the Mac is a barren wasteland when it comes to gaming. Many indie developers (Like 2D Boy and the guys who made Emberwind) have ported their games for the mac and released them at the same time with the Wintel versions, causing the field of possible income to rise more dramatically than what it would've been if it had just been released for the Wintel Platform (please note that i use the Term Wintel to refer computers with the Intel Chipset running windows on top of them, as PC Still means Personal Computer).

The indies understand, that the people owning macs are more likely to buy the stuff they want, than going to some P2P site, hoping that someone has shoddily wrapped the next big gaming blockbuster to Cider, and released it for all the people to share. Buying the game they'll support the developer, as well as letting them know that Yes, there are people that are willing to pay for their products, if they're released for the mac as well. If they own a console, like the Nintendo Wii, PS3, or Xbox360 (Doubtful if they're Hardcore Mac fanboys...), i'm sure that they'll resolve in buying the game via the console's marketplace, if a port of the game for the mac does not exist, or the Mac is used for some hardcore working.

Some companies, like EA, do release their stuff (or the big big names of their stuff) to the Mac platform as well. Dragon Age: Origins is getting a Ciderized version of itself to the Mac, as did Spore and Sims 3. Whilst this is a good thing for the people who also want to play games on their Macs and iPhones, it's also a bit of a downfall. As it's released with Cider, it means that the mac's native technologies are not being used to enhance the performance of the game itself. Also with cider, it's possible that there are bugs ranging from gameplay issues to graphical glitches, that will further downplay the enjoyment of the person playing the game. Of Course, the mac is still too small of a marketshare, that native porting isn't that profitable from a financial standpoint. Sure, they could use the man-hours to port the game to the Mac, allowing it to use CoreAudio, Grand Central and CoreGraphics, but will it be worth it, if 10,000 people will buy it, compared to the millions of people with Wintel Machines?

OF course, the companies releasing these products are big big companies, and have to please their shareholders, whilst making profit from the products that they sell. The indies escape this responsibility, as they're mainly working for themselves at STarbucks, or somewhere LIKE Starbucks, without having the pressure to make profit looming above their heads (that is, if they still got a dayjob). I do say that the support of the mac platform gives more benefit to the programmers as well. As the Mac is so tightly controlled, there are less hardware configurations to take into account whilst programming, thus shortening the time before it can be released. This can be one of the points why people should release more stuff for the mac.

This is all i got to say about the subject. If you got any thoughts, or you know something important that i might've missed, please leave the feedback to the comments below.

Thank you for reading.   read

5:17 PM on 12.26.2009

Gaming On A Mac: Good, Bad, Ugly


I did a slight trolling post where i proudly proclaimed to have stolen a copy of Torchlight for the mac. I admit that i did a bad thing, and i am fully aware that i was guilty of a crime. That said, i used an FTP server to make sure that only i would get it, whereas using P2P technologies, i'd be "sharing" it to other deadbeats with no money.

Now, that said, i still intend to buy it. I got the illegal version to try it out, and after trying it out, i have removed it, and await with a bated breath that the mac version will be completed (I already topped my PayPal account with 20 dorrals, which in euros is very little).

I am not trying to glamorize crime, nor trying to make myself some kind of "noble" robin hood. Hoever, whilst i have money for a copy of Torchlight, i do not have enough money for a new PC. I do have a PC, but it's specs are far too dated for it to run Torchlight, and i don't think i should upgrade it, as my mother uses it for her web-browsing and email business. If i were to upgrade my PC, the price of being able to play the game would be at like 100 euros, at the lowest cost, which i think is really stupid considering that I have a modern mac with darn good specs to run torchlight on.

Ever since i first heard that Torchlight was going to be released on the mac, i was elevated: Finally something nice i can play on my computer, without having to STAND the mocking of the PC people. I'll also have to spend far less money on the game, as i do not need to buy a new GFX card or RAM to get the damn thing working on my PC (THis MacBook Pro was won at this demoparty in finland). In the lieu of waiting, i've already bought Defcon: Everybody Dies, Horder of Orcs, World of Goo, Bejeweled 2, Bullet Candy 1 and 2, and Irukandji.

My frustration stems from the fact that mac ports tend to take longer that the PC side of things. You'd think that the lack of shaders would make the development faster, but apparently it doesn't seem to help much. I do want Torchlight tobe ported for the mac as soon as possible, because i too want to experience (fully) the enjoyment and fun that the PC people are able to enjoy.

let's recap

1. I am no glamorizing crime.

2. I DO feel guilty about what i did

3. I'm ready to buy the mac version as it comes out

4. Removed the pirated version.

5. used FTP

6. Not willing to buy new hardware for the PC just to play new games, as my mac is far better compatible for that.

7. I am a member of Pirate Party Finland.

8. i'm paying less what the americans are for TOrchlight (when it comes out.)

9. People should think about these things.   read

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