the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Flee Buster

Flee Buster

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

The Ludum Dare October Challenge 2011 is on! In honor of the second year of the October Challenge, Gaming on the House will be spending the month celebrating some exciting games that have come from Ludum Dare competitions past. You can learn more about the Ludum Dare by visiting www.ludumdare.com.

Flee Buster

Wario’s not the only one who can microgame

Genre: 3-in-1 platforming flying bouncing… thing
Link to Game: http://chevyray.com/art/ld21/5/FleeBuster_512.swf
Game Info: Created by ChevyRay (within 48 hours!) for Ludum Dare 21 in August 2011, placing 1st overall, and 2nd in fun. The theme for Ludum Dare 19 was “Escape.

Have you ever gotten bored playing the same old game over and over? Have you ever played a platformer while wishing you were doing something else in between?  Have you ever thought, “I’m tired of flying around in this rocket ship… I wish I was a frog?” Well, that last one may be a bit specific, but all the same, this would be the game for you!

Let’s face it; we’re overexposed to stimulation. Every day, our attention spans get a little bit shorter, and our patience grows a little bit thinner, largely attributable to the increase in our reliance on new media technologies (or so Neil Postman would have you believe). Applying this way of thinking to the evolution of video games, we see that single concept experiences commonly found on the Atari 2600 decades ago just don’t cut it anymore, as their repetitive nature in utilizing minimal control mechanics begin to wear on the player’s interest in continuing further.

But does that twitch gameplay of yester-year still have a place in today’s gaming landscape? Undoubtedly yes; it’s not like those experiences aren’t still a blast; they just need to be taken in moderation in order to avoid the mundane. Flee Buster does this, but still manages to do so only utilizing the arrow keys for control. How? Because Flee Buster is technically three games in one.

Clean cup, move down!

Flee Buster offers three unique areas of play; a human running from a UFO, a rocket ship navigating a maze, and a frog hopping higher and higher. The catch is that the game cycles through each of them, only allowing you to progress further within each for about 10 seconds at a time. One second you are jumping over spikes and collecting orbs as the human, and the next, you’re the rocket in an all-range mode setup being chased by a bunch of moody Pac-Man cubes. Each area has it’s own chasing elements to urge you to keep going, and each has its own set of hazards to avoid. By breaking up the action into timed segments, and introducing more elements into the worlds as they progress, the game maintains player interest before anything starts to grow too stale.

The color palette is also fascinating to observe. While the graphics are very simple with just a solid color over black, the colors cycle from level to level throughout, and invert when certain objects (the UFO tractor beam, for example) pass through them.

Frogger meets Kid Icarus

Of the three games, I would say the frog poses the most difficult, as its maneuverability proves the most challenging. The frog can only move left to right while in mid-jump, calling for players to think out several jumps in advance. Personally, I enjoyed the rocket ship sections the most, as I enjoy how the layout of the pickups call for swooping arcs that are well adjust for the arrow keys, however they each are enjoyable, and their combined efforts make for some truly addictive gameplay.

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