Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Command and Conquer: The Web App?

C&C HTML5 Screencap
The defining Real-Time Strategy game, Command & Conquer, is in the process of being rendered entirely in HTML5 for use on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Originally released in 1995, Westwood Studio’s epic game of strategic unit control and base-building ripped into the strategy gaming market with a vengeance. Since it’s inception, the C&C franchise has seen the release of nearly 20 sequels and spin-off games, fleshing out the universe’ lore as well as inspiring many other developers to follow an RTS format for their games.
Looking to bring this once-popular game to the masses again, the enlightened Aditya Ravi Shankar has begun the project, keeping all copyrights intact, with a promise to “Take this game as far as possible.” I have personally sunk some time into the game and, while the HTML version remains unfinished, its core is truly C&C.
From the website:
“This is a recreation of the original Command and Conquer, Real Time Strategy game entirely in HTML5 and Javascript… My goal is to take this game as far as possible – Add more units, optimize the code, add better AI and multiplayer games. You would be able to come to this page, find a random partner and start playing!!”
Find the game here:
Aditya’s personal webspace is found here:
Official C&C website:

Thank you Shankar, we’re watching you!
** Originally posted on **

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Final Fantasy Origins: Old News in a New Package

These Square-Enix titles have been released in many formats over the years. This latest iteration, being from the PS1 era, remains my favourite version because nearly every single aspect has been modernized and beautified. Final Fantasy Origins comes packaged with updated versions of Final Fantasy I and II. Updated, that is, from their original Nintendo Entertainment System counterparts. If you enjoyed the original games on the NES or Wonderswan all those years ago, you will not be disappointed with these fairly faithful remakes.
Now, when I say this is a fairly faithful remake, I lie. This iteration has updated graphics, sound, and functionality. NES purists might have a hard time with the beautifully rendered cutscenes and Super Nintendo-style in-game sprites and landscapes. The audio has more channels, so the music is much more than it was. Also, while Final Fantasy retains it’s hardcore difficulty, it also introduced a new ‘easy mode’ which reduced the toughness of the enemies you face. Final Fantasy II includes a collectible feature so that you can be even more completist about your playthrough.
My point is that they feel similar to the originals. That feeling of satisfaction in gaining your new, shiny, very expensive armour remains the same. When you level your mage’s stamina in FFII without having her die a million times in the process, that feeling of accomplishment speaks directly to the old school of console RPGs. That’s what makes the most recent distribution of these legacy titles appealing for the older gamers out there who have the experience of playing these games with a rectangular, grey controller.
I’ve got a more comprehensive list of the more important changes from the originals which have been included in this package of games. They are as follows:

Final Fantasy I

  • Updated graphics and audio. Raising the bar for Final Fantasy remakes to include full FMV cutscenes and Super Nintendo quality in-game graphics, user interface, and audio.
  • An optional auto-retargetting ability has been added so that characters do not try to swipe at dead enemies anymore. This can be reverted back to the original mode under settings.
  • Stores sell good in bulk. No more clamping down the A button and walking away for 20 minutes to buy 99 potions!
  • Descriptions of items and equipment are available. Meaning you don’t need to guess if a particular sword is more powerful than your current weapon before buying and equipping it.
  • Items are stored in a common item menu, rather than on individual characters.
  • Some musical scores have been replaced with entirely new original scores.
  • The game can be saved anywhere via a temporary save state. Going to an Inn or using tents and sleeping bags are still the only way to permanently save to the virtual memory card.
  • Optional Easy Mode makes leveling quicker, and enemies easier to beat.
  • The entire text has been re-translated and expanded from the original Japanese. This helped me a lot to clarify some plot points and reminded me more easily about some of the spell effects (ie. Xfer is now Dispel.)
  • Collectible encyclopedia of monsters, geographic locations, and items is available through the title menu.
  • Various bugs breaking certain spells and armour have been fixed.
  • You can run!

Final Fantasy II

  • Updated graphics and audio. While FFII was updated graphically from the original already, this distribution updates the game in a similar way to FFI, seen above.
  • Some scores have been replaced with entirely new original scores. This is especially obvious in combat with bosses. There was, in the original, a standard “boss score,” which has been replaced by unique pieces of music for each boss.
  • The maximum number if items you can hold has been increased.
  • Items are described in menu for ease of use.
  • Collectible encyclopedia of of monsters, concept artwork, enemies, and geographic locations is available.
  • You can run!
In fact, the only problems I can find are very slight. That is, the graphics and sound, while updated from their original 8-bit splendor, are still not up to FFXIII-2 standards. But then again, this particular distribution is nearly ten years old, so that’s like comparing night and day. Also, some of the new added functionality detracts from the toughness of the games, which are part of why I played them in the first place. This last is countered by nearly all of the newer additions being optional, so it’s a non-issue.
In conclusion, both long-time fans of the series and current-gen initiates can find an incredibly cache of value in Final Fantasy Origins. With its classic gameplay and feel, as well as it’s modernized and accessible functionality, there isn’t a whole lot that can be used as fodder against this distribution by the Final Fantasy fanboys and fangirls out there. I had a hard time tearing myself away from the quest of the lightbearers to write this review, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.
On my way to see Bahamut now, wish me luck!
** Originally posted at **

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Final Fantasy Origins Available on PSN

** Originally posted at **

One of the longest running console RPG franchises bring us back to it’s roots with a new distribution of Final Fantasy Origins. Containing both Final Fantasy and the follow-up, Final Fantasy II, it’s a great deal at $9.99. I remember seeing this particular disc in game stores for $60 and up, I also remember thinking “I need this game!”
This package of games is completely reworked from their original forms on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and is arguably the best, most fully functional version available. Released nearly a decade ago the original FFO has been tuned- and gussied-up with cutscenes and a graphical overhaul to bring the style of the games more closely in line with the original concept art and functionality that we are used to in modern RPGs.
This new digital distribution of FFO propagates Sony’s Winter of RPGs promotion, which saw the release of Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy V on PSN. Let it be said that this is the only time that I am glad that.. Winter is coming.

Crusader Kings II: Greed in the House of the King

** Originally posted at **
Following the tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins trailer series, Paradox Interactive has released another satirical video. The  flailing king featured in every trailer is slowly becoming head-canon  as he endearingly fails at everything he does. I believe he survives through an aura of sheer luck, but I have no proof of that.
This particular trailer recreates one moment of gameplay which I experienced and it plays out almost exactly the same. There may have been more explicit language on my part, though the twisted scheme at the end is very accurate.
Read our preview of Crusader Kings II here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Lands HD Screenshots

** Originally posted on **

Have you ever wanted an app so horror-inducing that it dements the mind and perverts the soul? Have you ever wanted to play a game based on the award-winning Chaosism Call of Cthulhu tabletop role-playing system right in the palm of your hand? Have you been wanting a new tactical turn-based RPG for a portable format? Well it’s coming January 30th and it’s entitled Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Lands.

Set in World War I, you play as a group of investigators and soldiers pitted against, you guessed it, a cult bent on using the anguish and fear of the state of the Theatre of War to open the gates to another dimension. The story screams H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote the Cthulhu mythos and upon who’s works this game is inspired.
Initially to be released on iPhone and iPod formats, indie developer Red Wasp Designs also intends to create versions for the iPad, Android, PC and consoles. The game has been developed in co-operation with Chaosism, so I’m hoping that the basic gameplay mechanics feel authentic and similar to their tabletop counterpart.
Along with this announcement came several HD screenshots to whet our appetites for facing our fears and beating down betentacled fish-men. From what can be told of the screenshots, the game looks like it will implement a gridless tactical combat system with a fairly simple list of what can be done on each combat round, as well as a sanity system. A post by the designers relieves any fears I had about this game having a broken sanity system (as nearly all of these systems are in video games) and leaves me interested to see how their’s actually works within the game.
But instead of telling you, why don’t I just show you?