I hope there are some people who remember Anna Kournikova’s Smash Court Tennis. Stay with me, it’s all relevant. There was a mode called Smash Tennis in which the tennis ball would randomly explode. The aim was to try and get the ball to explode on the opponents side of the court and it was glorious. It was a great party game that resulted in countless hours of fun.
Lethal League reminds me a little of Smash Tennis. Described as a projectile fighting game the aim of Lethal League is to hit your opponent with a ball. That’s it. Pretty simple eh? Well there is a little more to it but that is the basic premise of the game. Indie development studio Team Reptile are no strangers to the fighting game genre. Founded in 2011 they made a name for themselves with the game Megabyte Punch released just over a year ago.
Each match takes place on a stage much like most fighting games. The player can move anywhere on the stage and while they can strike at their opponent it doesn’t really do anything. Instead the player must try to hit the opponent with the ball that is bouncing around the stage. There’s only a few things the player can do. Strike the ball and control the direction it goes after the strike. Bunt the ball which just knocks it up in front of you to help line up a better shot. If the power meter is filled you can also use your character’s special move to help strike your opponent.
Each time you hit the ball it speeds up and this is where the real tactics of the game come in. I tried out the training mode which just allows you to spend time hitting the ball. Eventually the speed of the ball can get up to one million (one million what it doesn’t say). At this point the screen went completely white and the ball was moving at a blindingly fast speed.
In an actual match the speed of the ball is unlikely to go beyond 300 (or maybe I’m just bad) but that is still very fast. One tactic I have seen i quite a few matches is not to let your opponent get to the ball while you build it’s momentum up. You can then strike it with your special when it’s fast enough and it becomes very difficult for your opponent to return it before being hit.
There are six stages in Lethal League and five playable characters, each of which comes with their own signature special move.
Team Reptile went with a heavily aliased cartoon look for Lethal League. The colours are vibrant but care has been taken to make sure the backgrounds do not interfere with what’s going on in the foreground.
There is a single player challenge mode in the game which pits the player against ever more difficult opponents until they run out of lives or beat the last challenge. That said, the main focus of the game is in the multiplayer. For the more competitive player there is online matchmaking where you can face off in a one vs one or free for all with up to 4 players. There is also an offline splitscreen mode again for up to 4 players which offers one vs one, team and free for all matches.
I did get the chance to play Lethal League at a friend’s party recently. It works very well as a party game offering short action filled matches so everyone can have a shot.
The music in Lethal League is hip hop and house inspired. Each stage comes with it’s own bangin’ tune to keep you revved up during the match. I did have one issue with the music and that is the tune used in the menus. It is just a simple beat that loops over and over. I can’t quite put my finger on it but something about it started to annoy me. I ended up turning the music right down so I didn’t have to listen to it for 5 minutes while waiting for an online match.
All in all I had a good experience with Lethal League. The game is simple to get to grips with but complex enough that it can be challenging. While writing this review there has been another stability update to help with matchmaking in online matches. With matches taking 10 – 15 minutes at the most Lethal League is a good way to spend downtime between other games and it is perfect for parties.
4 balls of fire out of 5
In reply to: Kevin Lynch wrote a new post, Pure Heavy Prepared: World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.” is exactly what I said to my mum the night […] View
Is it bad to feel a bit jealous when reading these WoW articles. Sounds like you guys had some amazing fun playing together.
Alec asks how hard can a two decade old game hit you in the nostalgia? Z is about to find out.
Z is a re-release of the classic Bitmap Brothers RTS originally released way back in 1996. There are writers here at CalmDownTom who are younger than this game. This release, developed by TickTock Games and published by Kiss Ltd, hit Steam and GoG on the 5th of July for the frugal price of £4.99. The Z release comes just a few weeks ahead of Z: Steel Soldiers which is due out on the 26th of July.
The re-release is almost a carbon copy of the original game just dusted off and made to work with modern computer hardware. There will be no scrambling around trying to figure out what your IRQ and DMA numbers are.
Z is a fast paced RTS focused on territory capture and unit building. There is no base building aspect to the game as all the factories are already present on the map when it loads. You start each map with your main fort and a smattering of units which need to be quickly sent out to capture neighbouring territories. Once a territory has been captured, by sending a unit to its flag, any factories in that territory will start churning out units. The units each factory makes can be changed though not all factories can make all types of units.
After this each map is mostly about gaining a numbers advantage on your opponent. You can do this by paying attention to what units your opponent has and building units to counter those. Alternatively you can try to rush all the territories and hope you end up with more units at the end of it.
As is the norm with the RTS genre, Z eases you into the game by limiting what units you can produce for the first few maps. It quickly expands to allow you to build the six types of robot and a myriad of different vehicles.
Graphically nothing has changed in this re-release. The game looks pretty much exactly like I remember all those years ago. A testament to the graphic design of the original is that the units are still clearly distinguishable making the lack of a graphical upgrade a non-issue.
The big let down for Z is its control scheme. For some dastardly reason the game makes you right click and drag to select units then left click to give the unit an order. This is the opposite of the usual RTS convention and it gets irritating when trying to quickly respond to an enemies movements. Also annoying is the indeterminate speed with which the screen scrolls when moving the mouse to the edge of the visible map. It is either painfully slow or blindingly fast making you miss the point on the map you were aiming for.
Another annoyance is the lack of any multiplayer support as the re-release is singleplayer only with just the original 20 maps to choose from.
Z did hit me right in the nostalgia by including the original cut scenes from the 1996 version. Part of the allure of the original was the humor found in these videos. The cut scenes, shown in between each map, showed the loveable red robots Allan and Brad as they traveled between missions. These obnoxious robots and their run-ins with commander Zod provide some comic relief while preparing for the next mission. Back when I first played Z in the late 90s these FMV sequences looked amazing, I remember wondering how the graphics could get any better.
Z doesn’t hold a candle to modern day RTS games with their fancy graphics and their mechanical depth. It is, however, a nostalgia filled blast from the past that made me look back with my rose tinted glasses at a simpler time. For a fiver it’s just about worth it for a trip down memory lane. For those who have never played Z it is a look back at a fun RTS from almost two decades ago.
3 right in the nostalgias out of 5
Alec is on a mission to explore a strange new world. To seek out new life and new civilizations
Lifeless Planet is the brainchild of David Board from Stage 2 Studios. The game was funded by kickstarter raising just over double the goal amount. Stage 2 Studios have a background in video production and interactive design with a large number of TV commercials, websites and interactive media under their belts. This, however, appears to be their first foray into the commercial games market.
Lifeless planet is a 3rd person action-adventure game set on a barren planet. You play as an unnamed astronaut on a mission to a planet in search of life. The game begins with you waking up after crash landing on the planet, it appears to be completely barren. While searching for the other crew members you stumble across a deserted Russian outpost and begin to find clues about what happened to all the people who used to live here. The suspense is increased when a strange woman begins to follow you around as you search for more information.
The game is all about the story and exploration. There are some magnificent views in the large open spaces of the outside world. This really does contribute to the feeling of helplessness as you trudge alone through these vast landscapes. Then there are the indoor areas which give a sense of claustrophobia compared the outside areas. Music is used sparingly and to great effect to amplify the tension of exploring certain areas.
There is a puzzle solving element to the game. This usually consists of finding a way around or through an object. Finding switches, moving objects with a robotic arm or destroying walls with some dynamite you conveniently found nearby. There is one section where your jetpack boosters become supercharged and you have to time boosts to reach other areas. This was a lot of fun as you leap off a cliff and soar over the deep valleys below hoping you’ve timed the boosts correctly and don’t plummet to your death.
Lifeless planet has a captivating story, I for one can’t wait for the full release to see where that story goes. The fact that it was developed by a single person just makes it all the more impressive. Lifeless Planet is released on June 6th on Steam, other leading digital retailers and in selected UK stores.