Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Fun vs unfun

In spite of some serious problems we're currently dealing with, some silly April Fool's jokes brought a smile to my face today. For example:
  • Zoids are released in the Netherlands (ZoidFans list)
  • Stackless Perl (comp.lang.python)
  • PEP 313, adding roman number literals to the language (comp.lang.python)
  • The George Foreman iGrill, with USB connection (Thinkgeek, via Slashdot)
  • An "evil bit" will be added to TCP/IP packets (via Slashdot)
  • New whitespace-only programming language (via Slashdot)
  • MetaFilter looks like Google
  • CPAN looks like a weird hobbyist page with collections of scripts
  • Raid on KaZaA users in the Netherlands (FokZine)
OK, I guess you had to be there... :-) There were other attempts, that were not so funny, like the supposed release of Enlightenment 1.0, free software hits back when detecting a DoS attack, article about Windows XP as a secure OS, etc. These were either too obvious or too obscure. The drawback is that it's sometimes difficult to tell the real news from the jokes... is Peter Jackson going to remake King Kong or not? :)

In other news, and this is not a joke: There has been an explosion at DSM, a large Dutch chemical company. It used to be one of our major customers, back in the day when I worked at Info Vision (which was acquired by CSS later). Most of us regularly had to go there.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-01 13:21:01   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

Review: Gauntlet: Dark Legacy

(Playstation 2, 1-4 players, action)

This game is great fun! It goes way, way back to the old school -- I remember versions of Gauntlet for the Commodore 64 and MSX. The 2002 version is souped up with 3D graphics, special effects, soundtrack, etc, but the principle of the game remains the same.

And it's not a very complex principle. Wander through mazes, kill monsters, pick up treasure. That's all. Doesn't sound like a very deep game, huh? But it's fun to play and has remarkable lastability.

First of all, you pick a character (or each player picks a character, in multiplayer mode; players cooperate rather than fight each other). This can be a warrior, wizard, archer, etc, all with different stats and pros and cons, you know the routine. The choice of character greatly influences how the game is played... a magic-user has to do things differently than a warrior. Tackling the same levels with a different character may require a whole new strategy.

From the main screen, you enter worlds (e.g. mountains, castle, tower, etc) which have different levels. They start out easy, but of course get increasingly difficult; not just by adding more and stronger monsters, but also by adding traps, dangerous situations (falling rocks, fire from walls and the ground, etc), and more puzzles. (A "puzzle" is really not much more than some switches revealing hidden areas, or secret walls.)

In spite of its simplicity, the game is quite addictive. There's always something new to explore: new items, powerful weapons, cool powerups, badass monsters, treasure chests with surprises. (Usually the chests contain loot or food, but sometimes it's a bomb or poison!) There's lots of goodies to look out for as well; you cannot advance to the higher worlds until you collect a certain number of crystals (and other items); defeating bosses is easier when you have certain powerful artifacts; etc. And in general, you'll want to keep your health high by picking up food, and you'll want treasure to buy nifty things in the "store". So you search for food, keys to the treasure chests, open barrels, and so on.

As for monsters, we start out with zombies, ghosts, nasty bugs, goblins, etc. Those are easy to deal with, but soon you'll encounter creatures that shoot at you, throw bombs, do a suicide strike, and worse. There's a "Death" guy that drains life from you; there are dragons and grim reapers that do substantial damage; there's large trolls. And then the bosses, which are traditionally found in the final levels. They often take a special strategy to deal with (and a *lot* of life), just shooting at them won't do much good.

Gauntlet is said to be even more fun in multiplayer mode, and indeed it adds a twist... you have to help each other out. Selfish players that collect a vast booty while their partner defeats the monsters and takes all the damage, will be disappointed quick... if the other player dies, they're on their own to deal with everything; OTOH, if the other player survives, they will take all the experience points and gain levels much quicker. So a bit of cooperation will get you further.

All in all, a game that will have you come back for more.

Score: 8

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-03-29 00:55:43   {link}
Categories: games

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