Following Freeware: March 2012 releases
This month you can be a caveman hunting for big game or a ninja searching for a way into a secure temple. Perhaps you’d prefer to visit strange creatures in their own fantasy realm, or be surrounded by odd beings in our own world. Alternatively, you can join a private investigator on a case of stolen antiquities, or find that the life of an assassin is rarely a simple one. All these await you in this month’s round-up of releases from the freeware scene.
UNGA needs MUMBA
Unga be good caveman. Hunt plenty tasty Kaffla for him woman, Nonga. But Nonga no want Kaffla, Nonga want Mumba. Hunt Mumba, no easy task for Unga. Him need companions on hunt. Him also need great sacrifice to mighty god Mota Raganu to win favour for hunt. Him speak to wise man, Araakalo. Seek knowledge of spirit world. Find what please Mota Raganu. Get god to help. Easier task than change mind of him woman.
Tino Bensing’s prehistoric adventure takes a humorous approach to our ancient ancestors. The graphics are a detailed cartoon style reminiscent of Day of the Tentacle-era LucasArts. Unga is a chunky individual, with spindly arms and legs, a bald head and a heavily protruding eyebrow. Other cave dwellers each have their own distinctive look, with some female characters sporting stylish hairdos and jewellery. These characters are all fully animated, with speaking motions in particular matching the tone of the words used. There are also numerous background animations, such as a small cavechild running around the main campground. The opening includes a suitably caveman-like tune with a quieter background piece during play that is also reminiscent of '90s LucasArts. The game is fully voiced to a good standard, with voices well matched to the characters they portray.
As Mumba is a caveman hunting for a woolly elephant, players face a mammoth task in this game. Control is simple point-and-click, with a right-click to look and left-click to interact. The type of interaction available is shown on-screen when you point at a hotspot, including such actions as “worship” for the idol of Mota Raganu. Your first stop will be the village wise man, who will send you to the spirit world. Some surreal but simple puzzling gives you three abstract clues to the sacrifice needed to please the tribe’s god. After this you must travel to various locations, including a high cliff and the river separating you from a neighbouring tribe. Your aim is to locate objects that match the cryptic clues and persuade your fellow tribesmen to assist you in the hunt. Inventory use and dialogue both play their part, with obstacles including a fierce bird guarding its nest and a neighbouring tribesman on a similar quest. The whole adventure is presented in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, especially in the content and delivery of the dialogue.
Unga needs Mumba can be downloaded from the AGS website.
Sara & The Sarcastic Creatures: Episode 4 – Weirdos on a Train
For some time now, coffee shop owner Sara has seen strange creatures wherever she goes. Whilst they seem harmless, their odd sense of humour and tendency to keep her awake at night have proved most annoying. Then her cat, Wasabi, was stolen by goblins and the creatures finally provided some help, guiding her on the catnappers trail. Reunited with her feline companion, she was most surprised to find that it could talk. Now under its direction, Sara sets out on an odd train journey to meet a mysterious stranger. Possessing only a ticket for the cheapest carriage, however, ingenuity will be needed to reach the high-end compartment she seeks.
After two non-adventuring episodes to begin the series, this game from Tucker continues the story started in the third episode. The train setting is presented in a semi-realistic first-person view in shades of black and white, with movement executed in smooth transitions. Against this drab background, the characters and interactive objects are drawn in brighter colours. For humans, these drawings are done in a simplified realistic style, with fully expressive faces. The eponymous sarcastic creatures are by contrast a strange bunch, including monocular octo-blobs and a lion-headed snake. Animation is almost entirely limited to interactions, though there are many such interactions that are not vital to your quest. The train itself provides the main audio backdrop to the journey. Sound effects include victory trills for solving puzzles, plus location-specific sounds such the “music” of a group of instrument-playing creatures in one of the luggage racks.
The over-arching quest is to reach the front of the train and the person you seek. Each carriage requires a different coloured ticket, with each carriage forming a largely self-contained puzzle to obtain the next ticket. Only occasionally is backtracking necessary, the need becoming obvious if the current carriage has been thoroughly inspected. Using simple point-and-click, you will gather and combine items, as well as perform tasks for others in exchange for the required pass. The various creatures sometimes give aid, including a hint for a lock combination, though they are more inclined to mock your efforts. They also form part of some puzzles, such as the musical band keeping a passenger awake. The game also includes a hint system in the form of your cat, who will provide a single clue to the current challenge.
Anaksha Mini Adventures 2: A New Threat
In Santa Lina, Anaksha is a name to be feared among the criminal fraternity. She is an assassin for hire, determined to bring down the criminal scum that threaten the stability of the city. But success in the assassin business requires more than a gun and a scope. Reliable communication is a must, and her old cellphone just won’t cut it anymore. But getting a secure replacement is not as simple as it seems.
This spin-off from Arif Games’ sniping simulation series features a retro look. Control is handled through keyboard, using the cursor keys or WASD for movement and the spacebar to interact with the object or person immediately in front of you. The graphics are done in a classic 8-bit style, with blocky characters and locations. Whilst this can make objects hard to identify from time to time, a quick use of the interact button will usually result in a description of any given item. Your quest will take you to a seedy hotel, a local bar and a XXX cinema. Conversations are conducted by text at the base of the screen, with still character portraits for each line of dialogue that are detailed enough to show expression. The background music is a series of mellow tunes, suited to the noir setting. The game also includes limited sound effects, though unlike the music, these match the retro visual style.
The previous two episodes, Sea of Fire and Quick Stop , represented experiments with the engine rather than full-fledged adventures, but this third episode provides a meaty experience. From simply acquiring a new secure phone, Anaksha will go on to investigate Pixie Dust, a new and deadly drug on the streets. Conversation, exploration and a healthy dose of inventory combination are required if her investigation is to bear fruit. At any given time you will have a single main quest, such as locating the supplier of your new phone. To achieve these you must accomplish a number of sub-quests, usually involving finding and assisting the various locals. Many of these objectives vary from game to game, providing a large amount of replay value. The online save system was not working correctly at time of writing, so I recommend using the manual alternative described in-game. Whilst having some humour, the overall tone of is dark. There is also significant adult content, making this game unsuitable for children.
Harry Quantum 2: Unmasked
Harry Quantum, private investigator, has a new case. The exhibition of Zaztec artefacts has been robbed, with several priceless items stolen. The thief wore the costume of Mexican wrestler Super Burro, and the real wrestler has hired Harry to clear his name. With one of the stolen artefacts familiar to Harry from a previous case , it seems more than a simple theft of antiquities may be happening here.
The ongoing adventures of Turbo Nuke’s easygoing PI continue to be as bizarre as ever. The graphics are once again the brightly coloured and detailed cartoon style of the previous game. Harry himself wears a traditional trench coat and hat, with a big smile almost permanently plastered on his face. Both he and the other characters in the game are all well animated. The locations are also nicely rendered, including Harry’s office, the museum where the crime took place and a remote desert location. Sound consists of a PI-style background tune, with additional effects such as Harry’s footsteps.
The game has a slightly surreal sense of humour. Characters you encounter include a government agent who is a conspiracy nut and a history student in a dinosaur costume. Interaction with the cast will provide clues and items needed to aid your investigation. You will also find yourself rewiring parts of the museum’s systems, deciphering codes, and trying to separate your client from the imposter. There are some references to the previous game, but it is not vital to have played it in order to enjoy this instalment. As a bonus, there is also a challenge to collect 20 Private Investigation Points by taking certain actions not vital to solving the main mystery.
Harry Quantum 2: Unmasked can be played online at Kongregate.
Tony Crazy Escape
At the end of an evening’s successful creation, Tony Toon idly wonders what it would be like to live in his cartoons. Suddenly his wish is granted as he is flung into a fantasy world threatened by an evil wizard. With his magic wand stolen by the villain, the local good wizard is powerless to return him home. It is up to Tony to find a way into the fiend’s castle, defeat him and retrieve the wand if he is to see his cartoon studio again.
Whilst not entirely original, this latest offering from inkagames provides a light but enjoyable challenge. The graphics are designed in the same brightly coloured line-drawn cartoon style used in previous games in the series. The characters are slightly distorted, with oversized heads giving more room for facial expressions, be it Tony’s cheery grin or the grim scowl of a blacksmith. Animations are smoothly done and often equally exaggerated, such as Tony’s fearful crouch when faced with danger. From the quiet pastoral scene at the start, you will make your way through a fantasy-styled forest to the dark interior of the wizard’s castle. The music is a short repetitive loop, which will be familiar to players of inkagames' previous offerings. There are also some limited sound effects.
This game has references to various other game series. Pieces of Link’s equipment from the Zelda games put in an appearance, and there are some floating blocks reminiscent of early Mario games, which produce similar results when hit. This being a magical world, the way forward is often hidden by illusions, with magic and clever inventory use required to proceed. You’ll also interact with a variety of characters, many of whom will be willing to offer help in return for a favour. Some inventory items see re-use, eliminating the one-shot nature of many games. There are a handful of places where you must take action in a short time, though the time given is quite generous. Failure in these can result in a comic death, though an option to restart where you failed as well as a clue to survival is immediately available.
Tony Crazy Escape can be played online at Kongregate.
At the Ogi temple, all is not well. Disturbing rumours have reached your ninja superiors that the master of the temple is acting strangely. Thus they have dispatched you, the Suppa Ninja, to investigate and deal with matters appropriately. With the three apprentices on guard having almost supernatural senses, it will take all your training to penetrate the temple interior. Within lies the truth about the master and the mysterious woman he appears to have taken prisoner.
Made for the espionage-themed February MAGS competition, this Cleanic production proves a short but interesting challenge. The graphics are low-res but effective. Sufficient detail is included to identify such things as the prominent eyes, ears and nose of the apprentices, showing which enhanced sense each possesses. Animations are equally simplistic, with the ninja’s own movements mostly represented as a blur as he zips from place to place. An oriental soundtrack backs up proceedings with a handful of slashing and zooming sounds.
The main puzzle in this short adventure is to get past the three guards. In each case, you must find a way to overload their enhanced sense so that they will no longer be able to detect you. Inventory combination and use on the environment is the key to this task. Once you have gained entry to the temple itself, you face a series of quick-time typing events as you evade attack within the shadowy interior. Failure to beat these results in death, with an immediate option to restart the sequence.
Suppa Ninja can be downloaded from the AGS website.
Other new releases
Not all games are created equal, and freeware games especially come in all shapes and sizes. Not to be overlooked, the following list might also be of interest, though these games may be significantly shorter or less polished, more experimental titles than those detailed above, some perhaps only borderline adventures to begin with.
The Dark Room by ThatsMrRobertson – Can you escape the Dark Room in this surreal choose-your-path quest across Youtube?
Nelly by Blacksquare – Following a butterfly drags Nelly into a nightmare world. There she must embrace strange powers to find a way home.
Never Alone Hotline by Pierrec – When you answer calls on a phone line for the lonely, your clientele prove a diverse and interesting crowd.
The Adventures of Zomboy by Arctic Arcade – Waking up with an odd complexion and a craving for brains, Zomboy must investigate to uncover his past and his destiny.
Raccoon’s Towel by gamezhero – When racoon’s towel is stolen, he must overcome some puzzling challenges to get it back.
Mayan God by BeGamer – Pay homage to the ancient powers to unlock the power of new god.
That’s it for this month. Think we’ve missed a gem or want to tell us about your own game? Then pop in to our Freeware Adventure forum and tell us about it!