Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stop Online - Battle of Words Review

Stop online! Thank you very much. If I want to play this game I need the human tooooouch.

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: BRHP
  • Publisher: BRHP
  • Release Date: 16 January 2016
  • Time played: 2.2 hours

Here is another game I managed to grab from my number one benefactor of Steam games, Mix-Master – thank you for getting me this game!

Ever played the board game "Scattergories"? Stop Online – Battle of Words is pretty much an online version of this popular party board game from the 1980s; each round of the game players have to write down a word that fits within a category given a particular starting letter (which is determined by a die roll). For example, if the category is "fruit" and the die roll revealed "O" as the starting letter, "orange" would be an acceptable answer. "Onion" would not (as it's a vegetable) and neither would "apple" (since it starts with an "A"). Players are awarded points for acceptable answers in each category. After a certain number of rounds, whoever has the most points, wins the game.

Stop Online – Battle of Words works in a similar way but there are a couple of differences. Firstly, the categories are entirely made up by the player and are not preset categories that you can choose from (as it is with the board game "Scattergories") and secondly, you now have the ability to stop the clock to prevent other players finishing their answers (hence the name of the game).

What I like:


It's Scattergories online

If you like the board game "Scattergories" (which I do) this is a great implementation of the game online. It's quite easy to setup games and invite friends to play.

Clean interface

The game has a mostly clean and intuitive interface.

What I dislike:


Shift+TAB

A minor gripe that can't be helped but you know how when you want to use the keyboard to quickly go through different cells you use the TAB key? Okay, well that works in this. But usually, to go in reverse you have to hit Shift+TAB… and of course when playing a Steam game, hitting Shift+TAB brings up the Steam overlay! This isn't anyone's fault though, it's just I instinctively think if you can TAB why not Shift+TAB?

Answer rating system

Just like any game which relies on players voting on answers, it can be prone to abuse. Groups of friends could potentially gang up on strangers in the game by awarding points to their answers but not the strangers, regardless of whether the answers are correct or not.

Also, everybody are at a different level when it comes to their vocabulary. Sometimes you might know that an answer is correct but if the other players have never heard of the word before, they might award no points for it.

The system isn't perfect but unfortunately I don't think there really is an alternate solution. These kinds of games have to be self-policed just like it is when you play a physical board game.

Nobody plays it

Unfortunately, this is the biggest reason not to play the game (although by me giving you this advice, I am probably further compounding the problem!). After logging into the game multiple times, there's only been one time I've seen another person playing the game and on that one instance, it was a group of three people playing a private game (so I couldn't join them even if I wanted to). Oh, and if nobody is there to play the game with you, you can't play the game at all. It's not like you can play against bots in this due to the fact that categories are up to humans to decide as well as the voting of answers.

This is why I ended up buying a copy for my wife to play the game with me, so I could at least see if it's worth the fuss. Otherwise, this game would've just sat in my Steam library, unplayed, forever. Quite sad really.

Score – 6/10 (Needs more players)


If you and a bunch of friends are really into "Scattergories" but want to play it online, by all means, ignore the rating I've given this game and buy it now! This game was made for you and I suspect if you have enough people, it could be just as much fun as the physical board game, especially if you can chat to each other using TeamSpeak or something similar. Otherwise, the game is simply a waste of money because you won't be able to play the game without another human and from what I've seen, there aren't that many Steam users currently playing this game at the moment. I'd strongly recommend that the developer release maybe a 4-pack since it would encourage sales plus ensure there's automatically some potential opponents for the purchaser.

Is the game worth $4.99 USD?: If this game had enough players playing the game or you have friends who really love the board game "Scattergories" but want to play it online, then yes, definitely. Otherwise, it's a waste.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Stop Online – Battle of Words Steam Store Page ]


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dave Lowe composer of Frontier: Elite II, Starglider and Carrier Command releases new album

Album cover for "A Temporal Shift"

You may remember back in early 2015 that I mentioned Dave Lowe, video game composer on several PC games during the 1980s and early 1990s, and his daughter, Holly Jazz Lowe, launched a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a new album called "A Temporal Shift". This album was to have an orchestral cover of the Frontier: Elite II theme (a personal favourite of mine) as well as covers and reinterpretations of several old, predominantly Amiga game soundtracks. This album is finally complete and is now available for purchase!

There are 10 tracks on the album featuring remakes of music from several games native to the Amiga, Atari ST and ZX Spectrum such as Frontier: Elite II, Starglider, Beneath a Steel Sky, Carrier Command and Midwinter 2.

A full track list is below:

01 Frontier – Theme from "Frontier Elite 2"
02 Games – from "Starglider"
03 Brightest Star – Theme from "StarGlider 2"
04 Beneath A Steel Sky – The title theme from "Beneath a Steel Sky"
05 Enemy in View – from "Frontier Elite 2" Second Theme
06 Just Another Mission – Theme from "Carrier Command"
07 Electric Flag – Theme from "Incredible Shrinking Sphere"
08 The Longest Night – Theme from "Midwinter (Flames of Freedom)"
09 F1 Carrerra – Theme from "F1 Gran Prix"
10 StarBurner – Theme from "Afterburner" + "Starglider"

The soundtrack is available in MP3 and FLAC and costs £15. Physical CDs and vinyl will be available for order further down the track.

I’ve had a quick listen to all the tracks on the album and despite only recognising two of the themes on the album (i.e. the Frontier: Elite II themes) I really enjoyed what I've heard so far – it has a very retro vibe to it but in a good way. I think fans of the Elite series, retro PC gamers and even fans of 80s/90s pop in general will find something to like on this album. There’s even a smattering of what sounds like prog rock!

LINK:
[ Uncle Art - A Temporal Shift Downloads Page ]

Monday, July 25, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #240 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Successful Campaign (Amiga)



Original Soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo

Amiga Soundtrack by: Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson

Now we move on to some marching music that plays whenever you achieve a military victory in Sid Meier's Colonization. Seems appropriate that the name of this track is "Successful Campaign" then :).

This track is from the Amiga version of the game which sounds quite superior to the DOS version, so I'll probably just end up using these tracks instead of the good ol' MIDI tracks of the DOS version :). The original soundtrack was composed by Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo but the Amiga version was composed by Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson (and they're definitely no strangers to composing music for PC games :)).

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #240 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Successful Campaign (Amiga) ]