Elona is a delicious and free little graphical roguelike RPG for Windows. It’s lightweight, attractive enough and has a delicious sense of humour.
Technically, the game is Japanese, and the art-style reflects that, with cute anime styling, but the game offers English as an option, and by and large the translation is superb – with only occasional grammatical and typographical problems.
Roguelike games are often rather unforgiving or monoquests. Elona breaks from those traditions and gives you an open world to play around in, and allows you to evade death with only relatively minor penalties (some dropped equipment and lost cash, and after level 6, some experience-point loss).
I’ve got a bit of a history with Ghostbusters, the film by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.
I was working in film marketing and PR at the time, wrestling a startup towards commercial viability. The cinema-release was staggered across some months, in various Australian locations, and I must have sat down and seen the film, in the cinemas, at least 60 or 70 times as a result.
The 1980s were a pretty good era for films that didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the film resonated rather strongly with audiences of the time. Off a 30 million dollar budget in 1984, the film raked in an easy 290 million dollars in cinemas, and another 132 million in rentals, never mind network syndication later on, DVD sales and all of that. The second film, Ghostbusters II, while considered by some to be something of a disappointment, still managed to do almost as well.
After more than 20 years, there’s talk of a third film – a changing-of-the-guard piece, with strong hopes of landing Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse/etc) in a major role – but in the meantime, Aykroyd and Ramis have put together a new part to the story, in the form of a video game, developed in conjunction with Terminal Reality.
I’m crouching in the dark. I have a flashlight, but I dare not turn it on. I’m trying to keep quiet, and huddle close to my inadequate cover. I can hear the creature growl softly as it gets closer. Will it see me? I don’t dare look, because I know I’ll panic and it will be on me in an instant. I steal quick glances at it, then huddle behind the crate to calm down, like a kid hiding under a blanket from the monster under the bed.
Is it a dog? It’s might be some kind of a dog. I dare not face it. Maybe it was a dog … once. I don’t know what it is now.
I don’t dare move. The sound of its feet stops. It sniffs the air and growls softly, a bit like a dog, but something is very… wrong about the sound. It snuffles and I think I hear it move away. I steal a terrified glance. It’s moving away from me now. I creep as fast as I dare into a cross tunnel, and head for where I think the store-rooms are. Anywhere is better than here, right?
That puts Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout 3, et al) under the same banner as ID Software (Doom, Quake, all of that), plus the PR bonus of having John Carmack on the mantlepiece.
Definitely a feather in the cap for Zenimax, who now have a stable of some of the strongest brands and two of the top games development studios.
The Earth has become overpopulated. Cities just grow up and up and ground-level is something that most people — the lucky ones — never get near. Even the rundown and decrepit levels just below the clean, shiny, and urbane upper-city are the turf of the homeless, the hopeless, the diseased and the gangers. And things get just get worse further down.
But there’s something brewing. Something calling. A piece of the past that refuses to sleep.
Core Design, which was established in 1988, is a design studio I think of fondly, although the studio is essentially gone these days. The name is still the property of Eidos Interactive who acquired them as a part of CentreGold back in 1996. Core Design was responsible for Tomb Raider, but Project Eden was probably their finest PC game.
You can still find Project Eden in game-store budget bins for just a few dollars (skip the console version, the PC version is vastly superior, as usual). The game scored above average reviews, except for Computer Gaming World who gave it a miserable 1.5 out of 5. CGW’s influence was fairly widespread then, and coupled with some launch bugs and an astonishing lack of advertising, Project Eden barely sold through at retail despite shipping a lot of copies, making it one of the best games that you’ve never played.