Scratching the Itch.io: Too Early For Christmas01 Dec 2017 0
It's the first of December and we're sticking to our promise; no Itch.io Roundup Christmas Special! As much as we understand capitalism has this massive grip on us as people almost forcing Christmas down our throats the moment Halloween climbs back into its cave, December 1st is still a tad too early for this particular Scrooge.
Digging up some more Itch.io freebies for our fourth bi-weekly crack at this, we're taking a look at browser-based strategy games you can load up and lose to during your lunch break. We used the lunchbreak excuse with our introductory piece, but some of those titles needed a download and light setup – this time, we're sticking the confines of Edge, Opera, Netscape or whatever browser you kids watch your YouTube and Instagrams on these days. Warning; these games haven't been tested on the above browser. Chrome or bust.
Kicking things off with the blockiest looking strategy game on today's table, Blimper acknowledges one of my most memorable Simpsons moments – Homer mourning the loss of his Duff Blimp tickets after selling them to Barney for a good cause.
Blimper is something of a hybrid strategy game; a mix between arcade shoot em' up and turn-based tactics with a clear aim – reach the X and dig up the treasure. Now, you won't be doing the actual digging yourself (we dug around more than enough already finding these games), but you will have to manage the fuel needed to reach your destination. Your blimp can travel two square in either cardinal direction each turn before calling it quits and sinking into the ocean if you still happen to be up there when it runs dry.
The first stage or two doesn't need more than what you have, but having one of the enemy plane fleets get too close triggers the aforementioned shoot em' up sequence. Take too many hits here and you'll lose a bunch of turns. Destroy a pre-determined amount of them, however, and you'll earn some bonus fuel. You'll want to focus on either avoiding or surviving these ambushes early on, but you'll have to actively seek them out once the distance between your starting position and the treasure grows too wide in later stages. Failing merely resets the stage in question, so there's little risk either way. But completing each will certainly take a mixture of problem solving and agility with the mouse. You can use the good ol' clicker the entire way, but using the Z key to fire is recommended.
Little Warlings [itch.io]
We could probably class this one as a 'clicker' style game, but it actually has an end – however attainable that may be. Low-spec in the same way as Blimper was before it, there's this immediate vibe that we're commanding Lemmings through some dark times. They've been through a lot over the years, but now they just seem to be fighting against their brothers and sisters, taking up more traditional (medieval) arms to shed some blood.
Units range from pikemen and knights to explosive carts that cause a surprisingly loud pop as they tear through both opposition and ally alike. The aim here is to simple overwhelm your AI opponent by spending rapidly accumulating points on each individual unit. So long as you can pay for it, you can summon it; but each spawn puts the rest on a cooldown of varying amounts. It's a little sad that this cooldown is just a choppy revolving circle rather than a precise second count, but you'll learn to make do when you're slamming hotkeys to secure what are essentially lanes on the battlefield. Units are free to be placed where you please, but they'll move forward and slide ever so slightly to meet a nearby target.
Best described to oldies as combat pong or to anime fans as Gohan's Kamehameha showdown against Perfect Cell, you're constantly fighting against the bar places straight in the top centre of the screen. Any unit to fade out of view toward the enemy moves it in your favor, while having enemy units slip through your own defences pushes it back. The campaign isn't more than a few stages long and starts things off with a notably smaller battlefield than the quick-fire Skirmish mode, but they're essentially the same deal. Frantic – especially with the speed turned up – it's the Office-time macro training regime you've always wanted!
And if you thought these browser games already looked out of date back in 2004, get ready for something even more basic – 50 Years! We can't exactly call this text-based as you never need to enter a one-word reply of complicated string yourself, but that's about all you'll see other than a few blocky units slap each around a bit.
50 Years was pieced together in an attempt to shorten the amount of time typically required to complete your average game of Civilization – specifically Civ V in this case. Taking the idea of 'just one more turn' and slapping a firm 50 limit on that age-old formula, here's a fantasy strategy game that doesn't need fancy visuals.
Starting off with a little bit of gold and some peasants, you click through a couple of menus to invest in their gold-harvesting powers. Buildings can be bought to beef up supply counts, unlock new units and generate more gold over time, but it takes a few turns to really get things going. You spend and hire what you can each turn, eventually dipping into wood harvesting and unlocking exotic units like Druids, Exorcists and a Unicorn or two, with randomized enemy units looking to start a fight every now and then. Playing on the easier difficulties was just that, but ramp things up and you'll have a tough time preparing for random encounters while hoping to have enough fighting force left to tackle the option battles you 'scout' over the figurative 50-year campaign.
It's a simple idea that's seemingly deep in practice and goes to show how a bit of text and your imagination can go a long way – just like the founding years of our favourite pastime! The best part about all this comes from the selecting 'Beliefs' when your Faith levels reach a set threshold. Earning bonuses from zombie chickens, turning your Druid into a Tiger or training up an army of unicorns and angels is a great way pass your lunch break, and selling your soul to an unholy chicken just sounds right, you know? If you want a more GUI-heavy version of 50 Years at a price, it made its way to Steam just a few months ago!
And that about wraps things up for this week. Short and sweet, much like the games we covered. Don't hold us to it, but potentially look out for a 'soft visual' theme with our next entry where we'll swap out all these jagged edges for something a little cleaner and more relaxing. After all, sometimes we need to take a break from overworking our brain, and thinking about deep and complex strategies isn't the way to do that unless you're looking to get involved in that Time Commanders program without looking like a fool.