Following Freeware - March 2016 releases

Following Freeware - March 2016
Following Freeware - March 2016

This month horror fans can experience a new take on the Dracula story, or visit an oddly familiar unsettling locale known as Rabbit Hill. Sequels abound, with a medieval cop starting a new investigation, a treasure-hunter exploring the cave of the bird men, a world of Caos resumes its new tale and an overweight superhero taking on a new challenge. Finally, for those seeking a more gentle adventure, you can judge an otherworldly art competition or help two small larvae survive in their new home. All these await in this month’s round-up of releases from the freeware scene.

Steve's Selections

The Amazing Adventures of Fatman: Episode 1 - Intergalactic Indigestion

Out in deep space, the ferocious Taberians are pursuing Zalarg, Defender of the Galaxy. Seeking refuge, Zalarg descends to planet Earth. Meanwhile, down in the Fatcave, the rotund superhero named Fatman is just stirring from his slumbers. When he’s alerted to an alarm at the town Sewage Works, Fatman fears his old adversary Toxicman is up to his old tricks. For the flabby fighter of crime, there is no time to lose. Well, maybe a little time to lose. You can’t go fighting crime without having a bit of unhealthy breakfast first.

Having not been heard from since way back in 2003, Socko Entertainment’s obese superhero takes to the streets once again in Intergalactic Indigestion, the first “amazing adventure” of a proposed new episodic series. The graphics have a distinctly comic style with bright colours and bold lines. You start in Fatman’s subterranean hideout, where the sleek-looking Fatcomputer contrasts with his more slovenly living quarters. This adventure will take players to a farm, an electronics store and even into outer space. Fatman is modelled after a similar-sounding superhero, but his girth stretches his costume to expose his vast stomach. Both he and the other game characters, including the humanoid felines the Taberians, are smoothly animated. There are no voice-overs, but the action is backed up by a dramatic soundtrack befitting the adventures of a mighty superhero (of sorts).

Fatman is controlled entirely by mouse. Simply clicking on the screen causes him to move to that location if possible. Walking to the edge of the screen takes you to a new screen if one is available, though there are no indicators either way. In the top left of the screen are three large action icons, for look, interact and talk. Along the bottom appear the inventory items you’ve gathered on your quest. Both action icons and objects can be used on the environment and each other by dragging them to an appropriate place on screen, though without any hotspot indicators to denote possible interactions. After the initial quest to feed his grumbling tummy, our portly hero finds his investigations thwarted by the local UFO guard. You must proceed to find distractions for this alien-fearing crew, gathering and using a variety of esoteric objects. Later you find yourself prisoner of hostile aliens and must find cunning ways to disable their systems. The whole thing is presented with a humour that satirises the traditional superhero comic genre.

The Amazing Adventures of Fatman: Intergalactic Indigestion can be downloaded via the Socko Entertainment Facebook page or directly from their Dropbox account. The game is also available for a small fee for Android devices at Google Play.


The Master of Time

Studying late for her pharmacist course, a young lady falls asleep at her desk. While she slumbers, a mysterious force swoops in through the window. Briefly turning her to pure thought, this force transports her to the Gontagura Inn, located between wakefulness and sleep. This odd location is playing host to the yearly competition of the six Masters, who collect dreams and images related to their spheres of interest. Feeling his collection was overlooked in the judging last year, the Master of Contemplation has stolen and hidden the Master of Time’s Japanese zodiac. As an independent person, the young lady is tasked with not only gathering the zodiac, but judging this year’s contest as well.

Koomori’s adventure The Master of Time presents a more genteel challenge than most. The presentation is a mixture of first- and third-person, displayed in a slideshow format. The art style is realistic in tone overall, but heavily influenced by classic Japanese culture. The masters all wear kimonos and some have hair styled in ponytails. The inn itself is adorned with sliding doors and bamboo. The art you examine as part of the collections adopt the same style, including a warrior in full traditional armour contemplating his life. There is limited animation, largely consisting of scenes fading between two states. A gentle piano piece fits in well with the tranquil feel of the inn.

Interaction is done through simple left-click, with arrows indicating exits when doors are not visible on screen. The art pieces the Masters have gathered are sentient, allowing the main character to converse with them. These dialogues are presented entirely in text, and there is a significant amount of reading to be done. Most depictions require a problem to be resolved, such as a pig endangered by an eagle swooping to pick it up. You will find yourself travelling back and forth, as the solutions to problems often reside in other collections. An on-screen button gives you access to your inventory, from which you can select collected items for use. A separate button also allows you to view the zodiac to see what pieces you have collected from the various artworks along the way. Once you have completed the zodiac, the game is concluded by returning to the Masters and passing your final judgement.

The Master of Time can be played online at Newgrounds.


Medieval Cop 2: The True Monster

When a man is found dead in a restaurant toilet, the culprit seems obvious. Surely the small dragon found poised over his blood-stained body must have done the evil deed. The dragon is soon captured and sentenced to be put to death for its crime. Only Inspector Dregg, dragged out of his sick bed, has doubts about the dragon’s guilt. Searching out overlooked bits of evidence and finding odd discrepancies in the witness testimony, he starts to put things together. Can he prove his case before the innocent beast is slain?

In Medieval Cop 2: The True Monster, VasantJ continues the tale of diligent but unpopular policeman Dregg. Whilst not vital to understanding this game, the previous episode introduced the characters and set up what appears to be an ongoing story arc. The presentation is a top-down view reminiscent of classic role-playing games, but with plenty of detail. Dregg starts in the log cabin home of his sister, but soon moves on to the restaurant with a pipe organ in one corner and ornate pillars flanking the entrance. Characters are presented as small figures, though each are distinctively dressed. During dialogue, more detailed head and shoulder portraits are shown of the characters speaking. These are realistically presented, though exhibiting some flamboyant hairstyle and clothing. The soundtrack includes a variety of music suited to the action, from the slow stately tune of the court to dramatic pieces backing confrontations.

Control is handled through the keyboard. Cursor keys move the protagonist around, whilst Z makes him try to interact with nearby objects. When facing an object or person with whom Dregg can interact, a marker appears to show an action is possible. X calls up a menu, which includes brief details of evidence collected in your investigation. You will need to thoroughly search the area and talk to all those present to get the full picture of what has happened. At certain points in the game you will also confront other characters. These segments are presented in a side view in the style of a role-playing game battle. To challenge your opponent you select an option from a multiple choice menu. Pick too many incorrect answers and your challenge will be dismissed, ending the game. The immediate mystery is self-contained, but a closing cutscene indicates these events are intended to be part of a much larger story.

Medieval Cop 2: The True Monster can be played online at Kongregate.

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