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Star Guard — an Old-School Platformer Done Right 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the 39-deaths-i-am-terrible dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Rock, Paper, Shotgun points out a new game called Star Guard, a Flash-based platformer for Mac and PC that's a throwback to the early days of computer gaming, yet still entertaining. They describe it thus: 'Its greatest strength, to my mind, is throwing out the old-school traditions of difficulty. It does certainly get tricky, requiring the platformer standbys of carefully timed jumps and learning enemy patterns — there's something of a Metroid vibe to it. But you don't get punished for failing to meet one of its challenges — you're just plunged a few feet back to most recent checkpoint, and carry on. Lives are not finite, but the small mound of green pixels that mark your corpses are a maudlin testament to your ineptitude. However, death is useful — I ritually found myself sending in a suicide spaceman, taking out an enemy or a mine so that the path was clear for my next go. ... However, it doesn't leave people who pride themselves on their gaming skill, and demand their games to be hard, out in the cold. At the end of each level, your score alters dramatically depending on how many times you died.'"
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Star Guard — an Old-School Platformer Done Right

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  • Iji (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I found an old style game called Iji [remar.se] about a year ago and it's fantastic, even compared to modern games. It reminds me a bit of Flashback, which was one of my favourites back in the early 90s.
  • There's old-school and then there's too-old-school.

    I'm not one to usually say this, but the graphics really do look dated (what is that, CGA graphics flashback?), as well as the gameplay and sound effects (almost sounds like the simple PC speaker that we got rid of a long time ago, thank you very much).

    This game seems boring at best. And why compile the damn thing for PC and Mac? Why not just embed the damn Flash game into the webpage itself?

    • Perhaps the whole goal was to make a GOOD game, regardless how shitty the graphics are...
      • by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:36PM (#29704199) Homepage Journal

        If you want to see a good game with simple graphics, look at http://www.canabalt.com/ [canabalt.com].

        Damn thing only has 6 colors and yet it looks amazing.

        As for being a good game, watching the video sure doesn't makes me want to play it, and I've started playing videogames in the Atari 2006 era so I'm not biased against old-school games (Night Stalker on Intellivision is a good game, for reference).

        • by chrisG23 (812077)
          I don't mean to get into an argument, but why don't you try to actually play the game and then see if you like it. I just tried canabalt at your recommendation. I see what you mean by the art style in that game, but I found it to be not fun for me. Of course everyone else enjoys games differently for different reasons, so why criticize a game for its graphics, especially one that you have not played?

          I found starguard to be funner, I felt like playing it longer than canabalt when I tried both games out jus
        • by Tolkien (664315)

          I tried this game out after seeing your post and it suffers from the same fucking retarded UI problem inherent in every fast-paced flash game that uses the mouse. The fucking right-mouse-button-bringing-up-the-flash-menu was my #1 killer. When will people learn? Argh.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        >>>the graphics really do look dated (what is that, CGA graphics flashback?), as well as the gameplay and sound effects (almost sounds like the simple PC speaker that we got rid of a long time ago, thank you very much).
        >>>

        Wrong on both points. CGA was only 4 colors and the PC speaker just went "beep". Starguard's hires multi-color graphics look similar to an 8-bit computer (Atari or Commodore) while the aural effects sound like they were sampled from an old Atari console (1977). And

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by c6gunner (950153)

          Wrong on both points. CGA was only 4 colors

          Built around the Motorola MC6845 display controller, the CGA card featured several graphics and text modes. The highest resolution of any mode was 640×200, and the highest color depth supported was 4-bit (16 colors). [wikipedia.org]

          and the PC speaker just went "beep".

          A PC speaker generates waveforms using the Programmable Interval Timer.[citation needed] The PC speaker was often used in very innovative ways to create the impression of polyphonic music or sound effects [wikipedia.org] within computer games of its era, such as the LucasArts series of adventure games

          • by Wildcat J (552122)

            Built around the Motorola MC6845 display controller, the CGA card featured several graphics and text modes. The highest resolution of any mode was 640×200, and the highest color depth supported was 4-bit (16 colors). [wikipedia.org]

            That's technically true, but for all practical purposes, you got four colors and liked them. From your Wikipedia link, the 16 color mode was a special trick from 80x25 text mode. I played a lot of games on a CGA monitor--to this day, those godawful palettes are burned into

            • by Dwedit (232252)

              I've only seen two games use the CGA 160x100 16 color mode:
              Moon Bugs, and some breakout clone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by scaryjohn (120394)

      I haven't tried to play it yet, but I would give two thumbs up to the CGA color scheme if they'd used the CGA palate: #55ff55 instead of #00ff00, et c. As someone who played old timey games on old timey hardware, seeing the VGA palate in retro games or in emulators always throws me off.

    • by mikael (484) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @02:29PM (#29704961)

      Perhaps it is the simplicity of the graphics and sound - all those DOS games didn't use more than a handful of commands to interact with the screen (draw points, draw lines, draw circles/eliipses, fill circles/ellipses, paste pixelmap), and the sound command (which directly set the frequency of the speaker).

      You might just find that PC's still have the speaker built in - I found out that when keeping the [Shift] key pressed for more than eight seconds, then there was a Frogger type sound and something called Speed-Keys popped up.

      Take away the Dolby surround sound, the 24-bit HD framebuffer with motion-capture character animation and most games would probably have the same gameplay as these DOS games. Though, there are better Flash games

      Super Mario 63 [newgrounds.com] is a Flash version of the Super Mario platform games.

      Crazy Planets [playfish.com] is a missile type game based on the curvature of a planet, rather than a simple grid

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>I'm not one to usually say this, but the graphics really do look dated

      That's why God invented Shadow Complex. It's an old-school game with surprisingly pleasant graphics.

    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      I watched the video and can only say MY HEAD HURTS!
  • by flajann (658201) <flajann.linuxbloke@com> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:25PM (#29704125) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why they would specify "Mac or PC" with a Flash game. It ran on my Linux system just fine. They had me thinking it wouldn't work under Linux for some reason (and I do know of some Flash apps that crap out under Linux!)
    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:38PM (#29704207) Homepage Journal

      If it's really a Flash game then why embed a stupid video on the webpage instead of the game itself?

      • Because it's vitally important to show filthy Linux users how much more advanced the graphics are than what they're used to and then stop them playing it.

    • by Sardak (773761)

      I don't know why they would specify "Mac or PC" with a Flash game. It ran on my Linux system just fine. They had me thinking it wouldn't work under Linux for some reason (and I do know of some Flash apps that crap out under Linux!)

      You seem to be confusing "PC" with "Windows".

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rliden (1473185)

        If you're going to be that broad with the definition of "PC" then Mac would fit in that category as well since it's also a personal computer. It's pretty much accepted slang that PC means Windows when describing OS versions.

        • by Sardak (773761)
          You're right about "PC" encompassing Mac as well. My main point is that the description should have been "for Mac OS and Windows" in the way most people seem to have taken it, or "for PC" to be more general and accurate. Whatever happened to using the correct terminology to describe things? "PC" is not an operating system. If "PC" is synonymous with "Windows", then would you consider IBM's PC-DOS to be an early version of Windows?
          • by rliden (1473185)

            No of course I don't consider PC-DOS an early version of Windows. I also didn't decide that PC is often used as slang for Windows. I was just pointing out it's not really a confusing tag for most people.

          • (sigh)

            "PC" is just an abbreviation for "IBM PC-compatible" and that has been the language convention since the mid-80s. Commodore v. IBM PC. Amiga v. PC. Macintosh (or Mac) v. PC. You weren't born yesterday and should know that PC and Mac are just abbreviations (unless you actually were born recently).

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          Not really - the narrower definition still referred to a particular standard of hardware - i.e., derived from IBM compatibles, but exclusing other hardware such as old Macs and Amigas. So arguably I'd say Macs are still included under this definition (since now they do use the same hardware - x86, graphics, PCI etc), and also, this definition still includes other OSs that might run on PCs.

          It's true that "PC or Mac" is used by some people, but I don't think that means it makes any more sense. You might as we

          • >>>So arguably I'd say Macs are still included under this definition

            Macs are not "IBM PC compatibles". They don't have the same BIOS, and also they evolved from a different genesis (Motorola 68000) than today's IBM PC/Wintel machines (8088) which have a direct lineage to that old machine.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Especially since the "Mac version" is just a Zip archive containing an HTML file with the Flash game embedded. What's the difference to the PC version, then?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SharpFang (651121)

      Wait, you used it on Linux/x86?
      Well, then it's a PC. They never said "Windows".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vexorian (959249)
      Did you somehow happen to be running your Linux on a PC?
      • by flajann (658201)
        Usually when they say, "PC", they really mean Windows. Just saying that it is a Flash game is sufficient.
  • Spelunky (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Allicorn (175921) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:29PM (#29704163) Homepage

    http://www.spelunkyworld.com/ [spelunkyworld.com]

    Utterly unforgiving, cute, fascinating, free, old-school platformer.

    (windows only sadly)

  • ...for the Slashdot Count! it haaaaaas been Slash'dotted! ;)

    (for the layman, the site is down, don't bother visiting it today, wait until the traffic heat is over - then try again!)

  • Kind of weird the instructions say "best played with a gamepad" when it doesn't actually work with a gamepad... brilliant.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Does it take keyboard input? Decent gamepads (like my Saitek P880) come with software that make gamepad buttons emulate keystrokes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        That's retarded. The OS supports game controllers (you know, without making them pretend to be keyboards), Flash can definitely make use of the OS support, since I've used other Flash apps that do it. So the point is, this fucking game recommends you use a fucking gamepad, and gamepads don't fucking work. That's all there is too it.

        It's great that you have a gamepad that can pretend to be a keyboard, so you can work-around the fact that the developers of this game are fucking retards. Congratulations to you

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by Nimey (114278)

          Got sand in your vagina, sweetie?

        • by jack2000 (1178961)
          You don't actually need a gamepad that has the functionality to imitate keystrokes.
          There are programs for that. On another point of view: Why wasn't this already an option in the way OSes handle gamepads?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PyroMosh (287149)

      I too was rather irked at that. But there are lots of gamepad to keyboard emulators out there.

      For instance, Xpadder [softpedia.com]. That one doesn't even require any kind of install. Just run it, configure it the way you like, and play.

  • How shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:56PM (#29704341)

    yet still entertaining

    Shockingly, we played games in the 8-bit era just as obsessively as the current generation plays games in the present day. Still more shockingly, we enjoyed the hell out of them without spending a lot of time thinking about how much better the graphics would be in twenty or thirty years.

    This isn't a getoffmylawn post, though I'm sure someone will react that way. The graphics in the current games are pretty impressive; I'm often amazed at how good each new round of games looks. But as a great many gamers who weren't born until well after that 8-bit (or, for that matter, 16-bit) era will readily complain, there are still a lot of genuinely awful but visually impressive games out there. As with software generally, presentation can enhance functionality, but cannot replace it. And, of course, when it comes to games, functionality is enjoyability.

    Good games are good games. Better technology can sometimes add to them and sometimes not, if the various attempts to "upgrade" Pac-Man with 3D graphics are any indication. Play the games that are fun, and leave the marketroids to bloviate about their benchmarks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Garrett Fox (970174)
      "presentation can enhance functionality, but cannot replace it."

      That's the key part. The game advertised in the article seems like it rejected that advice on the theory, "Oldschool games focused more on gameplay, so let's go out of our way to make it look primitive instead of getting some halfway-decent graphics and sound." Ie., decent graphics and solid gameplay aren't mutually exclusive.

      I nominate Cave Story [cavestory.org] (freeware) as an example of classic Metroid/Castlevania-style gameplay done right in the mode
      • Plus, it's (eventually) coming to Wiiware, with quadruple the graphics resolution.

        (enhanced graphics/music is toggleable)

  • by richtaur (1234738) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:18PM (#29704467) Homepage
    I'm not bitching here, I promise: I am legitimately curious. I've played dozens of games like this and I know people who make games like this who would LOVE to get their game on Slashdot.

    So what am I missing? How is this different or unique enough to justify a Slashdot posting? ... Anybody?
    • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:47PM (#29704619)
      Plus, it's not even written that well. The control scheme (which is never explained) makes sense only on QWERTY keyboards and can't be changed and the game occasionally freezes (but that might just be the incredibly buggy "MAC 10,0,32,18" Flash player). The "PC" and "Mac" versions appear to be identical in everything but name and neither is a native binary.

      I have no idea why this was considered newsworthy, it's just bad.
      • by Sparton (1358159)

        The control scheme (which is never explained) makes sense only on QWERTY keyboards and can't be changed [...]

        Press "k". It says so in the instructions (which is in the same root folder as the *exe file).

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          I guess I'm too pampered by other Flash games, which usually have the instructions inside the game. Even though the game does have a keyboard setup, not having it available as a menu item and not offering instructions in-game is really weak in comparison to most Flash games.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      1. Editor needs something to put on the front page, surveys what's in the queue, and decides we haven't had a games story for a while. Poof.

      2. Editor gets bribed. As an editor myself, I can certainly say that it works. Sometimes the bribe is shockingly small. I smell bribery all over Slashdot's consistently odd choice of articles. It's like living in 1975 and watching Betty Ford stagger around and not really understanding what's the problem, yet you know something just ain't right.

  • "Rock, Paper, Shotgun points out a new game called Star Guard, a Flash-based platformer for Mac and PC that's a throwback to the early days of computer gaming

    It does certainly get tricky, requiring the platformer standbys of carefully timed jumps and learning enemy patterns -- there's something of a Metroid vibe to it.

    And people wonder why Hollywood keeps going back to same ol' same ol'.

  • Is a retarded flash game news now ? Seriously, wtf is news worthy about this game ? I have 100's of games like this from 30 years ago.
  • I watched the video, and it clearly showed how Web applications are still slow. I had Java applets working and deployed in industrial applications by 1997, but they were slow. Flash is somewhat quicker, but why is everything in JavaScript?

    It is 2009. We are almost have 15 years of mass customer acceptance of the Web Browser. Why isn't the web at least at World of Warcraft level of graphics? Crysis level of graphics? Able to run super-pi? quickly?

    When are web applications going to exceed the speed of

    • by Tumbleweed (3706)

      It is 2009. We are almost have 15 years of mass customer acceptance of the Web Browser. Why isn't the web at least at World of Warcraft level of graphics? Crysis level of graphics? Able to run super-pi? quickly?

      Current versions of non-IE browsers have VERY fast JS, and WebGL has been added to dev versions of both Firefox and WebKit. Yes, this has taken WAY too long, but we're within sight of a whole new Web experience. HTML5/Canvas/Video/SVG, etc., will make it 'a whole new paradigm'. Except for IE users,

    • by kalirion (728907)

      It is 2009. We are almost have 15 years of mass customer acceptance of the Web Browser. Why isn't the web at least at World of Warcraft level of graphics? Crysis level of graphics? Able to run super-pi? quickly?

      How many gigs of textures do WoW and crysis have? You really think you could put that on a web page?

  • I'd also recommend Moneyseize [kongregate.com]. Conceptually, very simple. However, the levels become insanely difficult. Similar to Star Guard you have unlimited lives, and since each level is only a single screen dying never sets you back significantly. Of course, it might sometimes take a few hundred tries to get past that single screen.
  • if this game was amazing, I wouldn't ask this, but what has this to do with "stuff that matters"? it's just a pretty lame game - no innovative ideas, no innovative gameplay (like in "this is the only level"), not very funny concept (like "fantasy telemarketer"), no sweet sweet violence (like "barbarian onslaught") - just plain NOTHING interesting about it

    I just don't see what this game "finally gets right" - IMHO its is like tons of other games, just with worse graphics...

    PLUS i have to say, that I fi
  • I downloaded it, couldn't figure out the controls, stopped playing. There are thousands of shitty Flash games on the web. At least those ones don't make you download a .zip file.
  • Grab a dictionary, look up 'entertainment'. This game pissed me off beyond what is reasonable. It's ABSOLUTE BASTARD hard and frustrating even in normal mode, and the fight at the end is impossible. Fuck it. A game is entertainment, and you're supposed to be able to ENJOY IT. I think I'll go play some Samurai Spirits Zero with my cabinet turned up to Level-8 instead, Sankuro's INVINCIBLE SELF-HEALING CHEAP INSTANT BULLSHIT is less frustrating than this, and I ALREADY want to kill people over THAT. (Al

  • Homestarrunner [homestarrunner.com] has one of the best pixellated, beeps-for-sounds, games available on the net.

    And yes, they are in flash, and you can play them right in the webpage. Much humorous in-game reference too. Try "Trogdor".

  • is easily "I Wanna Be the Guy". Check it out, it is crazy http://kayin.pyoko.org/iwbtg/ [pyoko.org]

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