Some really rather good games this week! Play with clouds, blow up aliens, and devour the world!
By Joel Durham Jr. | Dec. 14, 2006
Maybe some games should. Maybe the notorious Extreme Paintbrawl should have been called Shipped Before it was Finished: Pixelated Dork Sim. Maybe DOOM should have been titled Killing Demons -- Your Lifelong Obsession. Prey might have been called Sort of Worth the Wait, But the Wall Walking Might Make You Puke from Motion Sickness.
To describe itself as really rather good is more or less admitting that the game isn't sublime; it won't change gaming forever, and it won't create a fan base that rivals that of Elvis Presley. It's still, however, a pretty darn good game that'll entertain you for many hours, and it's a bargain (because it's free). You can't beat that.
This got me thinking: Isn't there a whole ton of products that might be described as really rather good? That's kind of how I feel about peanut butter. Peanut butter, even your favorite brand, will never be the absolute perfect food. It's not a perfectly cooked, bacon-wrapped filet of beef. Peanut butter is immensely satisfying, however, when there's nothing else around for lunch. It's hardly the ultimate food, but it is really rather good. If I marketed a peanut butter product, I'd call it "Really Rather Good Bread Spread."
Then there are airport hotels. As a writer, I do a bit of traveling, and I usually end up booked at a hotel near the airport. These are not luxury hotels that you'd stay in for your honeymoon, and they're not quaint little bed and breakfast places that you like to stop at when you take a couple weeks to drive up the coast. Airport hotels have semi-comfortable beds, they're mostly soundproofed so you don't hear planes landing all night, and the room service, while overpriced, provides good burgers. Most airport hotels are really rather good, but you wouldn't want to live in them. My hotel would be called "Really Rather Good Place to Sleep when You're Here on Business."
I feel exactly the same way about Tron, the movie. It was billed as the ultimate computer experience -- the world inside computers where man has never been or something like that. It turned out to be a satisfying adventure movie, kinda dumb in some parts, but you've got to admit the disc battles and the light cycles were amazingly cool. It wasn't The Godfather or Brazil or Apocalypse Now, but it was a really rather good flick. My kid digs it. Had I produced Tron, I'd have called it A Really Rather Good Film with Cool Action Scenes Inside Computers.
So there you go. Really Rather Good Battles in Space represents the most honest advertising I've ever seen. Play it. Enjoy it. It's really rather good. So is Tasty Planet, where you get to be a weird little organism that devours everything around it. I'd describe Cloud as something better than really rather good, but you be the judge.
Really Rather Good Battles in Space
Lots of people (see credits in the readme file)
License: Free (open source).
Requirements: Windows or Linux; 800MHz CPU; 128MB RAM; 16MB graphics card; sound card recommended.
So I raved about this game's honesty in advertising. What's it all about? Judging from the look of the game, I'd say that a bunch of people who like bugs a lot built some spaceships and went to war against aliens. Why not?
If you watch Battlestar Galactica, you can think of this game as almost like a sim of the space battles in that awesome show. When you start a mission in RRGBIS, you usually have a bunch of big capital ships, each of which contains a few squadrons of fighters and bombers, which are very tiny.
When you encounter the enemy fleet, you should launch bombers with fighter escorts to take them out. Capital ships don't stand a chance against a mess of bombers, and bombers easily get blown to bits by fighters. The action is hectic, and as the captain of the fleet, you don't have a lot of control over what goes on out in space. You tell your ships where to go, whom to attack, and then hope for the best.
That doesn't mean there isn't room for tactics in RRGBIS. Should you save your fighters to take out enemy bombers before they blow up your fleet? Should you launch a bomber squadron immediately upon contact with the enemy? There's a real rock-paper-scissors thing going on, and you have to outguess the AI to survive.
RRGBIS is open source and free for use. Check out the site for details, and enjoy. It's not the ultimate space sim, but it is really rather good.
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