Chains Review

March 16, 2009
Chains for Windows PC

Chains for Windows PC

Chains features vector graphics and physics driven stages

Chains features vector graphics and physics driven stages

Review by Meg

Game by 2Dengine

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Gameplay: 9
Graphics: 8
Sound: 3
Appeal: 8

Final: 89%

Grade: B

The goal of Chains is to connect 3 or more bubbles of a matching color, a pretty typical puzzle game goal. Matching colors to pop bubbles is hardly new, but what separates Chains from Puzzle Bobble, Snood, Bejeweled or even bilging on Puzzle Pirates, is the special bubble physics of Chains. Falling bubbles interact with each other, bouncing or pushing each other into different places, so they’re not just falling into obvious spots. It’s simoultaneously relaxing to watch and more challenging to play.

Gameplay: The best games have simple rules and complex challenges. Chains has some of the simplest rules in puzzle games, just match three or more balls. You could explain the rules to a new player in a minute, but that doesn’t mean the game is easy or childish. There are endless ways to change and refine your strategy.

Each level of Chains presents a different challenge, like making the longest chain possible, racing the clock to get a certain number of bubbles cleared, and so forth. In Exact Change, bubbles of different sizes have weighted values, and players need to create a chain worth exactly the specified amount. In The Stream, bubbles are falling down a river and must be cleared quickly enough to keep the river from backing up. In Coathanger, bubbles fall onto a precariously balanced coathanger, spilling off the heavier side. Using that simple mechanic of clicking three or more bubbles to clear them, players have to adapt
their strategy to each new challenge.

Graphics: On Gravity, bubbles are attracted to a midscreen center of gravity, unless they collide with another bubble. This level is almost hypnotic. Overall, the bubble physics were amazing.

Each level consists of a dynamic pattern of bubbles in front of a
static background graphic. I don’t know what is going on with the
vaguely floral designs in the background, though. They do add
psychadelic decor to the magenta, yellow and lime bubbles, but the
game doesn’t really have a cohesive look or feel.

Sound/Music: Um… no. I shut the sound off pretty early on because
the theme music was annoying and repetitive. Or was that because I played the game too long? Some puzzles were perfect for playing on the phone, so you’ll probably want the music off anyway so your clients think they’ve got your undivided attention.

Lasting Appeal: With so many puzzle games, it’s hard for one to stand out. I think the variety of difficulty levels and different challenges makes it easy to find either a relaxing game for a quick break or a frustratingly difficult puzzle. You’ll be playing this at least until the next puzzle game comes along.

Check it out for a fun puzzle game… but don’t bother with the sound.


Space War Commander Preview

March 14, 2009

Space War Commander is a “Real Time Real Strategy” game where you attempt to conquer the galaxy and eradicate the destroyers of mankind. The game was just released at the beginning of 2009. “Real Time Real Strategy” is Dreamspike’s way of emphasizing the strategy elements of the game; honestly it doesn’t make much sense since the game can be paused at any time and played more like a turn-based strategy game.

Space War Commander has retro/16-bit graphics and sound. It definitely looks like it belongs on the Sega Genesis… this is a good thing for nostalgics, but bad for most gamers of 2009. The vacant music and minimalist sound works for this space title, but the graphics and pixel art could be better. It doesn’t help that there is little to no animation in the game. Ships appear as icons in the galaxy and float from planet to planet. Battles consist of red dots flying between ships. The gameplay is definitely only for the strategy enthusiast. I found the menus overly cumbersome, but there’s certainly a lot of stats, ships, planets, etc. to track.

Space War Commander is certainly not for everyone. It’s a heavily stat-tracking and strategy focused game. The controls are simple enough to learn, but the menu system and overall presentation could use a lot of work. I think Space War Commander could be a success with the strategy crowd if a Graphic Designer were to update the visuals and improve the user interface. As it stands, it’s just not refined enough to compete in the commercial space.

Developer Profile: Alex of Dreamspike

March 12, 2009

Name: Alex Kutsenok
Studio: Dreamspike
Game Titles: The Quest, Space War Commander
Fav Indie Game: FastCrawl
Fav Retro Game: Battle Arena Toshinden
Best Current Gen Game: Star Chamber
Best Game Console Ever: Playstation 1

What is the best game of all time and why?
Everquest is the best game of all time so far. It was atmospheric and also very difficult to succeed in, so success really meant something. I’ve played that game for about 4 months, which is the most time I’ve ever spent on a single game.

What is the goal of your indie game studio?
We want to make original games that force the player to think like never before. Our games are hard but oh-so-rewarding when you succeed in them. We feel like games should be about player creativity and thought, and not about reflexes or doing anything repetitive.

Why did you start developing indie games?
I’ve been making games all my life. Card games, board games, role-playing games, and so on. Computer games are better because I know someone will actually play them! My first game was The Quest, a graphical role-playing game. I started receiving fan mail when I was 17 years-old, and I knew there was no turning back after that.

What is the biggest mistake you have made as a game developer?
Not listening to testers as much as I should. Often, there is such a temptation to just stick with the way things are because so much time was spent on designing and implementing a particular feature. However, if the testers say it’s broken or bad…they are right.

What has been your biggest success?
Finishing Space War Commander. This has been the biggest project I’ve ever been involved in; it took a lot of patience and work to put everything together. Also, I am very proud of the gameplay, which is quite original, simple to get into, and most importantly…fun!

Hello world!

March 12, 2009

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Preview: Space Exploration: Serpens Sector

March 8, 2009

Serpen’s Sector is a space sci-fi RPG by Metal Beetle. The game focuses on exploring the long abandoned Serpen’s Sector of space. Encounters and discoveries are randomized and each game is different and relatively short (you are given 200 days to explore as much as you can). The gameplay is very rudimentary and involves simply clicking your choices and navigating the map. The story and your space discoveries are all presented via text and static pictures. The graphics are all static and there is no real animation or action to keep you attention. The basic mechanics of this game are too simplistic and repetitive to warrant anyone getting involved in the story of this game. Luckily, Metal Beetle is planning on releasing the main game for free which is a wise choice. For those who really loved old text-based adventure games, keep a watch out for Serpen’s Sector. Other gamers will probably want to stay away.

Preview: Osmos

March 5, 2009

Osmos, by Hemisphere Games, is nominated for 3 2009 IGF awards including the Seumas McNally Grand Prize Design. The game is an interesting fusion of asteroids and flOw. You control a little amoeba ball called a ‘mote’ that can thrust itself by firing some of its own mass in the opposite direction. Your objective is to absorb other motes…this is only possible if your mote is bigger than the other (a la flOw). The controls and thrust of the world are very similar to asteroids…once you start going one way, you won’t stop till you slow yourself down. The game offers a nice serene ambient soundtrack and dreamlike graphics. All in all it’s a well executed game that I think lacks the variety to take the grand prize. Still, the game is only in alpha and certainly one to watch.

Submit Your Own Game Review

March 3, 2009

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Issue 3 Now Available!

February 15, 2009

Here’s a late valentine’s day present, IGM issue 3 is now available. This issue is our largest yet and features tons of indie game reviews! We review the 2008 IGF grand prize winner: Crayon Physics, Blast robots to bits in Droid Assault, Kick our way to stardom with New Star Soccer 4, Built a Kingdom in Kingdom for Keflings, and more!
Buy the Issue Sent to your Door (US, CAN, UK)
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Buy it on Zinio

Free Flash Game: Closure

February 5, 2009
Closure by Tyler Glaiel & Jon Schubbe
Closure is a very interesting platformer with a unique art style. The game is entirely black & white and its visuals are reminiscent of drawings on a chalkboard. The gameplay itself is pretty interesting and unique. It has the general mechanics of any platformer, but it experiments with light & dark…basically if you can see it – it exists….if you can’t see it…then you’re falling to your doom. It is certainly a novel experiment with the typical platform formula.
Rating: Check it Out.

Improtu Ad Contest Winner

February 4, 2009

We ran a 24 hour contest for indie developers to get a free full page ad in our next issue. The winner is Roto Adventures (above). The ad made me smile and was humorous, so it had to be the winner. That’s a wrap on issue 3. It should be available 2/15/09.