Babel Rising Review

Babel Rising Review

Jan 4, 2012

Would you imagine that it’s possible to make a game about a God smiting humans as fast as possible without it being tasteless? Well, the team at Bulkypix took that challenge and have succeeded. Babel Rising is daring in concept, cute and hilarious in execution — pun intended.

In Babel Rising you play as a god, and the humans over which you rule have had enough. As in the biblical story of Babel, they decide to build a tower up to the heavens, to meet with you and ask what the deal is with life, the universe, and everything. But, you are a vengeful god and want none of that. So the goal of the game is to kill the humans before they can build their tower high enough to reach you in the sky. You have a variety of mystical powers at your disposal, all reminiscent of those events which we refer to as Acts of God. There is Lightning, Wind, Flood, a Rain of Fire, and Earthquakes. These all take varying amounts of time to load, you so must be strategic in your use of them. There is however also the Finger of God, which you can use to smite the humans one at a time. A simple tap and the little builder falls apart bloodlessly. Each of the other attacks have a specific gesture that commands it, and there is finally a bonus attack where you can destroy a level of the tower with one blast from the god’s eye. And again, you would assume that a game like this would verge into tasteless territory, but I’d have to say that your mileage on that will vary. The tiny humans are cute and merely look surprised when they fall apart or are swept away by a wave.

The developers have also made sure that the game will not get old quickly. There are four modes of play, and each is different. Classic is the version I mentioned above. Divine is the same game, but now Lightning is your fastest power, and you have the new power of the Burning Bush (lighting it sets the nearest humans on fire). The next option is Fury, and this time the workers are immune from some attacks, depending on their type. They are actually meant to be damned souls trying to escape from Hell, which explains why they might be resistant to lightning. And the final mode is Campaign. Each stage sets you with a specific goal to complete before you can advance to the next. An example is a countdown clock during which you have to smite as many humans as you can. You can also earn coins which you use to increase the strength and range of your attacks.

The coolest thing about the game, in my opinion, is the simple fact that no matter what the humans will get to the top. The game will just fill the screen with builders until the point that you simply cannot stop them from building. You can become incredibly skilled at slowing them down with your weapon use, but no matter what, the humans will eventually reach the top. Rather than being discouraging, it is instead exciting as you see how long you can hold them off for.

The game is a little buggy at times. On a few occasions it has thrown so many little men at me that it can’t render its own handiwork and freezes. I’ve lost entire game files to that error; the men were all frozen in place and I was unable to kill them. I was forced to begin a new game to get around it. very frustrating. In fact, as I was playing the game while writing this review the game froze and even after I exited, the music continued to play. It was a bit eerie, hearing the little builders continuing their word behind the scenes.

Grabatron – Review

Grabatron – Review

Dec 16, 2011

Retro nostalgia never seems to get old. No matter how advanced video game technology becomes there will always be a place in our hearts for old-school art and stories. At first glance Grabatron seems designed to tug on those heart strings by appealing to both a love of 80’s arcade games, and old 50’s space monster movies. The music is an interesting mix of that old UFO “oooooOOOOOOoo” musical saw tone (you know what I’m talking about), and that 8-bit sound that never dies in popularity. And the graphical style is also a nice nod to the 80’s era games that did so well in arcades. But look closer and you’ll see that Grabatron is more than just a knock-off or an homage. It’s a really entertaining game in its own right, and the graphics are actually quite captivating. But more than all of that it is hilarious!

You play a UFO/alien that I must assume is actually named Grabatron. It’s not actually clear if the UFO is piloted or sentient, but it definitely has glowing evil red eyes, and a maniacal laugh (especially when it is killing civilians). It even mutters its own name from time to time, which is awesomely creepy. Grabatron is your standard flying saucer shape, but all dark metal and sharp edges, as though the spaceship from Flight Of The Navigator went bad. And it has this giant claw, for grabbing, hence the name. Grabatron loved nothing more than to fly around rural towns, hurling objects around with the claw, or snatching up farm animals and people, and squishing the ones it doesn’t decide to abduct. The controls are fairly simple; it uses the tilt sensors to steer in four directions, tapping anywhere on the screen drops the claw, and swiping will cause the claw to throw whatever it has in its grasp. There are power-ups in the form of advanced armour and bigger claws, and abducting lifeforms will restore your health. There are mini missions to gain point bonuses, such as abducting a set number of Cows or Farmers or Rednecks.

But it’s not all fun and cow-hurling, there are enemies to contend with. Local farmers and police are armed with guns, the rednecks are armed with beer bottles (that they hurl from atop their trailer homes) and the government is armed with some pretty serious weaponry. You’ll be faced with helicoptors, RPGs, and SAMs. But luckily for you, any one of those can be disabled with a well-aimed boulder or truck. And just to make things even more interesting you can get bonuses for killing opponents in style. Take that giant concrete doughnut sign off the roof of the diner, roll it down the road, and watch the points rack up as the tiny humans squish like water balloons.

This game makes me laugh the whole time I am playing. I know that it’s wrong to enjoy throwing sheep into cliffs so much, but it’s the same sort of dark humour that makes games like GTA so popular. Every time Grabaton makes his digitally distorted chuckle while devouring a farmer, it makes me laugh too. The game is fun both for the wanton destruction, but also for actually challenging yourself to the larger goals (destroy a nuclear power plant!)

I only encountered one issue while playing, and it was sudden and very powerful lag at one point when I was pretty far into the level. I ended up having to exit the game to get around it, and it took me out of my grove a bit. But once it was sorted out I went back to human-tossing fun and everything was fine.

Fruit Roll Review

Fruit Roll Review

Nov 30, 2011

I love a game that has instructions in the title. Fruit Roll is a game wherein you are a piece of fruit, rolling along. As you go you collect stars and roll over opponents. It’s fantastically straight-forward – you don’t even control the speed or direction of the rolling. It’s very charming in its simplicity, and another favourite for playing on the bus.

Fruit Roll has no plot, but it really doesn’t need one. As mentioned, you play as a piece of fruit, and each stage begins with you rolling across the screen. You cannot stop rolling, but you are able to jump. Jumping allows you to target and collect stars along the path. There are various other (non-sentient) fruit along the path and collecting them has benefits. There are different obstacles/enemies along the way, and the type of fruit you are determines whether or not rolling into them will knock them off the screen or cause you to come to a teary-eyed halt. Collecting three fruit of the same kind is a combo and not only will you change into that fruit, but a giant, rampaging version of that fruit. You’ll destroy everything in your path and have a much better shot at grabbing stars since you’re four times your regular size. The combo will run out however and you will return to your original fruit size. Each level becomes more difficult as the incline down which you’re rolling increases and so you roll much faster and with less control over your movements – one wrong jump could send you flying into the hands of an angry monkey and end your turn abruptly.

I really like this game for its lack of story. The fruit does have and needs no motivation to run over the caterpillars and red frogs in its path. Snagging the stars as you fly across the screen is rather addictive, like the coins in Mario, and is motivation enough.

Running into an opponent that you are not classed to knock off screen causes you to “die” and you are back to the first stage with none of your stars to show for it. This is the game’s real weak spot, as the only gameplay mode you begin with is Adventure (continuous play). There is apparently a mini-game mode, but it can only be reached by collecting 10,000 stars. This would happen soon enough if dying didn’t completely erase your store of stars each time. At a certain point this can become frustrating enough that it dampens the enthusiasm needed to keep rolling along. The game is fun, but needs more reasons to keep coming back.