Our second entry in this indie game month is a tower defense game by Studio Eres entitled Immortal Defense. I use the phrase "tower defense" lightly here, as while marketed as such, (Immortal Defense – a Tower Defense game), the creators only borrowed the genre basics and strived for much more than tower defense game #481.
In case you aren't familiar with tower defense, it is a strategy gametype where the player is thrown into a fairly large, relatively open area with start and end points. As a level begins, waves of mindless enemies trickle from the start point and make their way to the exit. It is your job to place towers in strategic locations to hold off this onslaught. Resources and available towers are limited at the start, but increase as you kill enemies and as time progresses. Tower types are somewhat varied but usually have characteristics such as single shot vs multishot vs cone vs aoe, perhaps the ability to slow/freeze, and varying ranges from poking distance to full screen. The roots behind the genre have been around for a while but seems to have really taken off over the lifespan of Warcraft III. The mod creation tool led itself perfectly to creating tower defense games and many people were soon spending hours blowing up hordes of mindless drones. Following the huge success of these games, tower defense soon spread beyond mods to more easily accessible flash games and even standalones such as Defense Grid (on XBLA/Steam), and that's where we are now.
Time for the third annual First Hour Super Bowl pre-enactment! With the big game just two days away, we play the upcoming Super Bowl match-up with a football video game. Now, we could play something fancy like Madden 2010, but that's no fun (literally), so we'll be playing one of the most entertaining football games of all-time: NFL Blitz on the Nintendo 64. I have a ton of great memories of this game, mostly of last second comebacks and aggressive rubber band A.I.
In 2008 and 2009, we played the Super Bowl with Tecmo Super Bowl, the epitome of classic sports gaming. NFL Blitz has some weird limitations though, you can't actually pick who you want to play against, so the only way I could match up the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints was to start a season. Thankfully, the two teams met in only the fourth game that season, so I was able to sneak a few practice rounds in. Unfortunately, this means I was only able to play the match-up once, instead of a best of three like I usually would. But like I said, the computer will simply not allow a blow-out to occur, so the game will be close no matter what side I play on.
So here we go, first we'll do a quick look at how the teams matched up back in the days of NFL Blitz (console versions were released in 1998) and then we'll play the game. In very un-Blitz-like fashion, we'll be playing the game with six minute quarters! The default quarter length is two minutes.
Post-game update: Blitz sadly fails to come through. Not only was the final score not 87-79, but the Saints won! Maybe next year!
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the latest in the revered Legend of Zelda series. I doubt anyone needs an introduction to this series, so I won't give one.
Spirit Tracks is on the Nintendo DS, and is a direct sequel to 2007's Phantom Hourglass. The controls have remained mostly the same, with a few refinements that I'll get into later.
Spirit Tracks follows the story set out by Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. It's now a hundred years later and everything is settled in the new land, with Zelda as the princess. Link is training to become an engineer (get it? Training?) when suddenly bad things happen and Link is the only one who can fix them. We've heard it all before, right? Maybe all except the train part. But this time, Zelda has had her body stolen, and she travels with Link in spirit form. She acts both as fairy companion a la Navi (although much less intrusive), and she doubles as a giant-sword-wielding, invincible suit of armor. Zelda can possess Phantoms and you can control her, in a new twist to the Zelda series. So for those of you clamoring for a playable Zelda character, this is as close as you can (and probably ever will) come.
GameTrailers.com has recently launched a new feature called Hour One, a "brand new show that gives you the first hour of an upcoming or newly released game." Sounds a bit familiar! GameTrailers.com joins the ranks of yours truly, Games for Lunch, and Kotaku Australia in focusing on the first hour of a video game.
I was enthused when I found out that Kotaku Australia has written a few of them, but with GameTrailers.com jumping into the fray, things just got serious! Of course, they're going for more of the video experience than an actual review of the game, but I believe it legitimizes the importance of the first hour of video games even more. It's really great to see more and more reputable sites jumping on the first hour train.
Zombie games are gaming's latest craze gone wild. With the popularity of zombie shooter Left 4 Dead at its peak, Call of Duty: World at War featuring a Nazi zombie mode, and old classics like Zombies Ate My Neighbors being re-released on the Virtual Console, a zombie outbreak is as ripe of setting as ever. Independent developer Sean Maher has brought the classic hobby of mowing down zombies to the iPhone now with Dead Panic, a tactical zombie shooter. Dead Panic is light on story, but heavy on difficult scenarios for your soldiers to survive. The premise is simple: strategically place your soldiers, and let loose horde.
Dead Panic is our first indie game review of 2010, we'll be featuring five more indie-developed games throughout the month of February. Dead Panic is available on the Apple App Store right now for the very reasonable price of $1.99.
For the second year running, The First Hour will celebrate the independent developer by focusing on indie games! We've got six great games lined up from a variety of developers for a variety of platforms. I'm really excited to show off what these guys can do. If you'd like to get a head start on the action, here are the six games:
Welcome to the first episode of the First Hour podcast! In this premier episode, Paul and Greg discuss the site's origins, discuss The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and argue about the Nintendo 64's library of games.
Please leave us your feedback! We've been listening to podcasts for years but this is our first time actually producing one.
Plok Title Jam - Mazedude
Mass Effect 2. It is only the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. It is only the biggest release so far in 2010, and might be for the entire year. It is only... Mass Effect 2.
All right, I'll come back down to earth for a bit. I will admit, I am very excited for this game. I haven't been this hyped for a game since Majora's Mask. But I will try not to let it interfere with my duty as an amateur video game reviewer to answer the burning question: Would I keep playing? (spoilers: YES!)
Mass Effect 2 is the latest science fiction action/shooter/RPG hybrid from BioWare. The game picks up a few years after the first Mass Effect closed with Commander Shepard still in the starring role. The original galaxy threat is still at large, but is taking a backseat to a much more pressing and immediate menace. One of the game's big features is the ability to import your Shepard from save files from the first game. This is one of the reasons I beat the original six different times with four different Shepards. Maybe a bit excessive, but I was just preparing myself for the full experience come January 26, 2010.
So here we go, the first hour of Mass Effect 2. I will be creating a brand new character for the experience. If you're interested in checking out all of our other Mass Effect series content, we've got a ton of it.
Heavenly Sword is the latest PS3 exclusive title from developers Ninja Theory. They are a relatively new and smaller development house based in Cambridge, England. Originally founded under the name Just Add Monsters, their only previous project was an unrelated original Xbox exclusive entitled Kung Fu Chaos. Released in 2007, Heavenly Sword was hyped as displaying an example of what the PS3 was truly capable of.
The game follows the story of Nariko as she comes face to face with the prophecy of her people, a prophecy that may lead to victory over an opposing army but will almost surely end in her death. According to the story, Nariko’s clan has possession of The Heavenly Sword, a gift left behind by a warrior deity who once wielded the sword to protect them. It is now their sworn duty to protect the sword and to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Legend has it that any mortal who wields the sword will be granted amazing powers in combat, enabling them to slay armies, but will succumb to it’s power by eventually being cursed and dying a horrible death. The prophecy further says a male warrior will be born on a special day with the power to wield the sword. But on that prophetic day, the very feminine Nariko is born instead.
This is the first of a few roundtable debates planned covering the last decade of video games spanning 2000 through 2009. For today, three of the writers at the First Hour gave their opinion on what the best Legend of Zelda game of the decade was. This was not simple, considering there were three major console iterations along with many portables games, released across five systems. Here are Greg, Mike, and Paul's picks for the best Zelda game of the decade, ordered by their release.
Eligible games are: Majora's Mask, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords Adventures, The Wind Waker, The Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks.