Saturday, August 14, 2010

Frogatto & Friends Review

Taking a break from my usual posts about Hypershift, time to review a game that has just entered the PC and iPhone scene.

Frogatto and Friends is a wondrous little game about the adventures of a cute little frog. It has the nostalgic feel of an old school game, yet it plays like a modern platformer, with its own unique twists and surprises. It has little bits of popular classic games, like Super Metroid, Zelda, Kirby, and Super Mario Brothers, lovingly and cleverly woven into the gameplay. So cleverly, in fact, that the game would feel incomplete without those nifty extras.

The graphics are spectacular, being mostly pixel art. The only complaint I have is that the water areas have graphical issues, primarily that the tiles don't cut off but instead there are blocky shapes surrounding the edges of every little pool. I can understand their reasoning, however -- they wanted to release it rather than continue to be stuck in development, fixing every little glitch and obsessing over every detail until losing interest and moving on with life. Considering that it's a free game, at least on PC, this one little thing wasn't much of a problem for me. I'll happily put up with it until a patch is released, or until I beat the game, whichever comes first.

The music fits well and is extremely good. It isn't distracting, but when you notice it it's always a good feeling, it just adds that little extra touch and reminds you how much time and effort was put into this game.

Gameplay is varied and interesting; the primary reason for this is the RPG aspect, whereby you can collect coins and purchase upgrades for Frogatto.

All in all, a great little game that is filled with hours of enjoyment. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 2, 2010


This past week was an interesting first week at my new job. Thus, I've been getting adjusted to the time schedule of 9-hour days (a programmer's life for you). This has left me with little overlap between "time I feel like working on Hypershift" and "time available to work on Hypershift." Thus, the late update today and lack of major progress to note.

But behold! Good news is still to come. I've been getting some help with graphical and sound design from a college buddy, and things may be coming along slowly, but at least there is some progress. The hope is that I'll have more time to spend on my own stuff this week (aka Hypershift) rather than trying to even out my sleep schedule. Anyway, enough about that. On to more details about the game!

First, I'll discuss more about the towers in Hypershift. There will be 12 of them, with another six map objects to choose from (which, some behave like towers, they're just a lot more expensive) giving you 18 total tower-object-things to choose from. But there's a catch--depending on how many dimensions are being used, not all the towers will be available. Each dimension gives you access to two more towers and one map object (if the map object can be found on that particular map, anyway). There are also two basic towers available in every level. Let's go into more detail on those.

The Gun Tower, which shoots your basic bullets, is a far cry from most of the other towers in Hypershift. First of all, it can fire in any dimension, since it's gray. Normally, a tower will disappear and become useless in its own dimension (a black tower on a black background, for instance). But not the Gun Tower! It'll do its job 24/7, regardless of which dimension you're viewing. On the other hand, even the Gun Tower can't fire at creeps it can't see. Another downside to the Gun Tower is that, unlike most other towers, it uses up mass instead of energy. Those bullets have to come from somewhere, don't they? It basically takes a hunk of mass, slices bullet-sized pieces from it, and lobs them at creeps. Luckily, it doesn't use mass too fast, unless you upgrade it, that is.

The next all-dimension tower (also gray) is the Power Tower. Aptly named, it provides you a slight boost in energy regeneration, which is stackable. Thus, the more Power Towers you build, the faster your energy will replenish. It powers itself, obviously, and also fires lightning at enemies, which can hit multiple creeps simultaneously! Now if that isn't a useful tower, I don't know what is.

Those might seem useful, but their firepower is much weaker than that of the other towers, though they also cost less mass in exchange. Some examples of other towers include the Dark Tower (useless in the dark dimension) whose shots can sometimes paralyze creeps, and the Delta Tower, which sprays creeps with radioactive matter that makes them visible in any dimension for a short time.

Last but not least, I'll tell you about some of the game's unlockables. In addition to the campaign mode (which remember, contains 12 unique campaigns), there will be three bonus game modes to unlock; one for beating any campaign on each difficulty level. What are these game modes, you ask? One is the arcade mode, which is a timed mode that picks a random map, and you have to destroy as many creeps as possible in the given time. This mode has three dimensions available, making it moderately difficult. You'll just have to wonder what the other two modes will be...