Owlboy – Compatibility

Owlboy Title Screen

Owlboy Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Operating System: Any Linux variant with glibc 2.15 or greater.
Processor: Any dual core processor 32-bit or 64-bit
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: OpenGL 3.0 or greater supported
Hard Disk: 600 MB required

SDL_GameController devices fully supported

macOS

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7.5 or greater.
Processor: Any dual core processor 32-bit or 64-bit
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: OpenGL 3.0 or greater supported
Hard Disk: 600 MB required

SDL_GameController devices fully supported

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7 or greater
Processor: Any dual core processor 32-bit or 64-bit
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video: DirectX 10 capable graphics card required. DirectX must be version 9.0c or greater.
Hard Disk: 600 MB required

Windows 10

This game was designed for and seems to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

Owlboy – Linux, Mac OS X 10.13, Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Owlboy Title Screen

Owlboy Title Screen

Owlboy is a puzzle, platformer, two-dimensional free movement shooter released in 2016 for the Steam platform. It was developed and published by D-Pad Studio. With a rich though linear storyline like you might find in a JRPG, Owlboy blends many genres and integrates game mechanics from many types of games.

Owlboy follows the adventures of a mute owl by the name of Otis. Given Otis’ disability, he is bullied by his peers and has a hard time living up to the standards of the town leaders. Overcoming disability and standing up to bullying may turn out to be a theme throughout the game.

The game begins with the player flying around the village of Vellie getting to know the villagers and serving as a look out for pirates. The villagers inform Otis of a troublemaker who has been plaguing the town. Eventually the player explores to the point where the bully owls frighten and intimidate Otis. The local tinkerer named Geddy comes to Otis’ defense and they team up to explore together. At that point Geddy becomes part of the player’s party and Otis can pick up Geddy to fly him around.

Pew Pew, Take that Troublemaker!

Pew Pew, Take that Troublemaker!

Otis flies around using the W, A, S, D keys. Geddy has a pea shooter than can be used to shoot at enemies and objects. It is particularly effective when shooting anything that is wooden. The player uses the mouse to aim and the left mouse button to fire. Most of the game controls are well labeled on screen whenever they may be used to interact with the environment.

After all of the villagers have been greeted and another owl has been saved from bullying, Otis and Geddy encounter the town troublemaker and chase him down to a cave where the real game begins. The first area is fairly simple to navigate and serves as a tutorial to help the player learn all of the game mechanics and get used to the style of puzzle solving that will be expected later.

Spin to Break Rock, Not Wood

Spin to Break Rock, Not Wood

Geddy can be picked up and flown around and is useful for firing on enemies. His pea shooter kills most enemies I have encountered thus far and annihilates dry old tree trunks. When not carrying Geddy, Otis can use a spin attack that can only stun enemies, but can also be used to break rocks which are impervious to the Geddy’s pea shooter. It is in this area that the player learns the strengths and weaknesses of each character’s abilities. Similar to Super Mario Bros. 2, health is boosted and restored in Owlboy by pulling produce out of the ground and eating it. Whenever I have encountered something growing out of the ground, I have found it best to go ahead and eat it to get a larger health bar.

The First Boss

The First Boss

The first boss wasn’t as easy as I tend to expect a boss to be immediately following a tutorial. There was a good deal of trial and error as I worked to determine which character needed to fire in what way in order to cause the boss damage. I don’t recall seeing any health bar for the boss to indicate how much damage was being dealt, nor was there any particular difference that I could detect in the flashes that came from shooting the boss with Geddy’s pea shooter and using Otis’ spin attack.

It eventually became clear however that the first boss had armor in the front that could not be penetrated. It that had to be kicked off using Otis’ spin attack from behind. Then once the armor was off, Otis’ had to be carrying Geddy in order to shoot the boss with the pea shooter. Once I figured out the pattern, defeating the boss wasn’t at all hard, but definitely provided evidence for an interesting game going forward.

Throwing Geddy into a stone wall. This is fun.

Throwing Geddy into a stone wall. This is fun.

Upon defeating the boss, the player gains an artifact that allows them to press a button to transport Geddy to Otis’ location from wherever he happens to be. This is an extremely helpful mechanic as I was worried about losing him throughout most of the game leading up to the first boss. In many games any companion received must usually be handled with care. In Owlboy it appears you can slam Geddy against any wall or throw him off cliffs with great comedic slapstick relief and he will come back with no issue. Geddy looks fragile, but he can take a real beating.

Once Otis and Geddy get back to town after chasing the troublemaker and defeating the boss, they find the village riddled with pirates. The pirates seize an artifact that will help them attack the capital of Advent and they leave to do so. Otis’ mentor Asio leaves with the village professor to warn those at the capital while Otis and Geddy are tasked with going to the ancient Owl Temple to discover if there is a way to defeat the pirate fleet with the old owl technology.

Sky Pirates!

Sky Pirates!

Owlboy’s graphic style is reminiscent of 32-bit platformers released in the mid to late 1990s. The parallax looks phenomenal. The sound is what I would expect and suites the story. In many ways Owlboy is a typical puzzle platformer that delivers everything I would expect in a predictable manner. But just when I guess where I think it is going, it has so far surprised me with a little twist here or extra unexpected depth there. This also seems to be a good title for adolescents. The content so far seems safe while the challenge provided is worthy and not too easy. The game is rated E10+ by the ESRB, so I’ll leave that to parents to decide. I certainly have enjoyed playing Owlboy thus far, and look forward to continuing the adventures of Otis and Geddy again soon.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game – Nintendo Wii Game First Impressions

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Title Screen

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Title Screen

To make up for her having to play through Cocoto Magic Circus last night, tonight my wife and I pulled out Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game for Nintendo Wii. It was released in 2011. It was developed by Traveler’s Tales and published by Disney Interactive Studios.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game follows the formula of most Lego games. The game seems to attempt to recreate the film it is based on scene by scene in a sort of parody: switching things up where necessary for younger audiences, to make the Lego blocks work with what is happening on screen, or just to make things more comedic for the audience. It really feels like you are replaying the movie in Lego blocks. The first four movies are represented, so it looks like there is no shortage of adventure awaiting us as we complete this game.

The split screen mechanics work well. Someone was playing as the dog in the lower left.

The split screen mechanics work well. Someone was playing as the dog in the lower left.

What made Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game a good title for us to play is that it is fully two-player cooperative. A second player can drop in and out of the game at any time by pressing the “+” button on their wiimote. Players can change which character they wish to play within the current scene by pressing the “c” button on the nunchuck. This is a fantastic game for two players to spend several hours having fun enjoying a single game together.

Captain Jack Sparrow using his compass.

Captain Jack Sparrow using his compass.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game will let you be a team player or a jerk backstabber. Friendly fire is turned on by default, so hitting your fellow player will cause them to take damage. I haven’t checked if there is an option to turn off friendly fire, I need to look into that. True to her competitive form, my wife would hit me to knock me away from getting “her” treasure. The treasure totals collected will show up separately during the level, but they get combined at the end of the level. This game is truly a cooperative gaming experience, so there’s no need to be mean.

Choose between Pirates of the Caribbean movies to play through in port.

Choose between Pirates of the Caribbean movies to play through in port.

Sometimes I’ll get into an area in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game where I am scratching my head, unsure what to do next to progress in the level. I have therefore constructed a formula for progression that has served me quite well when working through a new area in this game’s levels.

1. Kill all enemies in the area. Make sure all damage that can be levied toward you is neutralized.

2. Examine the environment for things that can be built. Many environments are strewn with random Lego pieces that can be put together to create an item that is necessary to progress further in the level. Pressing the “Z” button puts pieces together. If you are stuck, walk around pressing the “Z” button.

3. Run around and look for items that show either a “c” button above them or a picture of another character that is required for you to play as in order to use that item. There were several things we had to do that required controlling a dog, or that could only be done by a specific character like Captain Jack Sparrow.

4. Use Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass to find anything that might be necessary in the area, dig for it, and use it.

We are commandeering this vessel. It's the nautical term.

We are commandeering this vessel. It’s the nautical term.

So far, the gameplay in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game has been very linear, but the game does not always hold the players hand and tell them exactly what they should do next. I think the game creators struck a refreshingly good balance between creating a challenging, fun experience and guiding players appropriately in how to play their game. After beating the first level, access to the beginning levels in all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies are unlocked, and the player can travel from the port to the current available level in any of those movies.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Game Disc

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Game Disc

Quite the contrast to last night’s game, my wife wants us to complete and stream our progress in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game. I have had quite a bit of fun with it myself thus far. Obviously this would be a good title for children; the ESRB recommends this title for ages 10 and above. But I would also say this is a fun title for adults that want to play a nice relaxing game at the end of a day where they would like to enjoy only a moderate, light mental challenge while they laugh, have fun, and are entertained.

Cocoto Magic Circus – Nintendo Wii Game Review

Cocoto Magic Circus Title Screen

Cocoto Magic Circus Title Screen

This is the worst game ever. I hate this game! It’s so stupid! – my wife.

Cocoto Magic Circus is a light-gun mini-game shooter released for the Nintendo Wii in 2008. It was developed by Neko Entertainment and published by Conspiracy Entertainment. It follows the same classic formula of many of the light-gun mini-game shooters of the era. The game case boasts, “40 mini-games, each more original than the last!” All of the games are point and shoot with lots of similar patterns strewn throughout all of them making the advertising deceptive at best.

Cocoto Magic Circus was not a new game when it came out on the Nintendo Wii. It debuted on the Playstation 2 where it was played with the GunCon light gun. Since the Nintendo Wii was the ideal console for this type of shooter, it makes sense that Cocoto Magic Circus might be re-released for the system.

Save Fairy from the spiders before she's eaten!

Save Fairy from the spiders before she’s eaten!

The beginning cutscene handily tells the backstory without any words. Four monster-looking friends: Cocoto, Baggy, Neuro, and Shiny, according to the game manual, and their friend Fairy who is a pixie, meet a clown in the woods. He looks creepy as all get-out, but instead of running away they stick around to be friendly with him. The clown kidnaps Fairy, and the others race to help rescue her. Theoretically the objective of the game is to rescue Fairy by shooting her captors in the various mini-games. While some mini-games had us shooting bad guys to keep them away from Fairy, there was no point at the end of any mode of gameplay where Fairy ever regained her freedom that I noticed. The competing monsters would just hop up on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place stands at the end of the game to show how they placed in the Tournament or Duel modes.

This is air hockey... with guns. This shouldn't be a mini-game, but a full featured title.

This is air hockey… with guns. This shouldn’t be a mini-game, but a full featured title.

There are three multiplayer modes: Arcade, Tournament, and Duel. In arcade mode, one or two players play simultaneously and cooperatively until they run out of lives. Lives may be replenished in periodic bonus rounds. Tournament mode is a little bit of a misnomer that actually means hot seat in the case of Cocoto Magic Circus. In tournament mode players pass around one controller and play the mini-games one player at a time competitively. Some mini-games actually lend themselves to this mode of play better, especially for players who are less experienced with aiming a wiimote. This mode allows 2, 3, or 4 players to play. Duel mode allows 2 or 4 players to play competitively and simultaneously for a set number of games.

Try not to shoot Fairy in the face. Oops, instant mini-game over.

Try not to shoot Fairy in the face. Oops, instant mini-game over.

As I alluded earlier, some of the mini-games can be rather frustrating when playing simultaneously with another player. There are a handful of mini-games where all players are aiming at the same target and they only are given one shot to hit it. If all miss, the mini-game is failed. If an opponent hits the target first, the mini-game ends and you won’t get a chance to hit it as well. Then at the end of this short “mini-game,” the player who hit the target is awarded a large number of points for the round and the other players receive nothing. I felt like this happened more frequently than it should have, keeping the game from being well balanced. For this reason I am not sure this game would be very high on my list for Wii games to pull out in a party setting. It seems like the kind of game that is just begging for an argument to break out. My wife argued and screamed about how unfair the game was. I couldn’t understand why the ESRB rated this game for players 10+. There are no unsavory themes that I could find that a 7-year old couldn’t handle. Perhaps the frustration/unfairness issues were a factor?

Cocoto Magic Circus Game Disc

Cocoto Magic Circus Game Disc

Cocoto Magic Circus is a fine game for practicing accuracy with the wiimotes on the Nintendo Wii, but out of all of the similar light-gun games I have played on the Wii, this one is actually my least favorite. It’s just more blah than fun. That combined with the fact that my opponent was yelling at the television the entire time we played made me want to put Cocoto Magic Circus back on the shelf for awhile.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! – Compatibility

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows

Operating System: Windows 7/10, must be 64-bit
Processor: Dual Core 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better, DirectX 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive: 1GB

System Requirements – Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
Processor: Dual Core 2.5GHz
Memory 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better
Hard Drive: 1GB

System Requirements – Linux

Operating System: Linux or SteamOS
Processor: Dual Core 2.5GHz
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better
Hard Drive: 1GB

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! is a title released on Valve’s Steam platform in 2016 by Two Tribes. In it you play as a space scavenger, named Roughshot, aboard a small one-man spider-like spacecraft shooting alien robots, and making daft maneuvers to escape dangerous situations. The player can level up the weapons, armor, and special abilities of their spacecraft. But there is much more to RIVE than a simple action title with RPG elements.

The voice acting in RIVE is phenomenal. Mark Dodson does the honors, and it’s really easy to feel for the character. I felt myself getting excited every time Roughshot would get excited about something in the game. The script is tongue-in-cheek, but feels well prepared. RIVE begins with an explosion that wakes Roughshot. He has to punch his on-board computer to get everything to come back on-line so he can pilot his craft. I suppose being out in deep space will wear on you over time; he really likes to talk to himself throughout the levels.

Felt like playing Asteroids in the beginning.

Felt like playing Asteroids in the beginning.

Spanning multiple genres, I would say RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! most closely resembles an arcade shooter, given the way it tracks high scores and throws the player into some heavy action at most every turn. The game starts with an allusion to Atari’s Asteroids, but then turns into more of a platformer soon after when the player enters an environment with gravity.

Expect to die, a lot.

Expect to die, a lot.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! certainly lives up to its name. Expect to die in this game, a lot. This is the kind of game where practice makes perfect. It’s also the kind of game where you can showcase your skill. The points you score under hard mode are added to the global leaderboard. Based on your score you can see how you rank with other players in their global ranking. There are also challenges to complete that get unlocked once you’ve completed the first mission. Challenges have levels of bronze, silver, and gold based on their difficulty.

Roughshot shoots off fireworks when you complete a mission.

Roughshot shoots off fireworks when you complete a mission.

Another thing you will need to get used to is the harshness of the sound effects. Crunching and scraping metal is common fair for RIVE. Playing this game feels like operating heavy machinery. My wife thought she was hearing thunder outside until she realized it was my game play making the noise. If this kind of noise is not up your alley, one thing I’ve found I enjoy doing with many shooters like RIVE is to mute the volume and have a catchy, rhythmic Spotify playlist playing on my stereo receiver in the background. You won’t necessarily hear enemies sneak up on you, but given that you die and start over a lot in RIVE, I’m not sure that matters. As I said earlier it is nice to hear Roughshot’s voice, but all of his words are subtitled, so you won’t be missing any plot points by hitting that mute button.

I hacked this sweet nurse drone.

I hacked this sweet nurse drone.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! shows itself to be a fantastic shooter and platformer plus so much more. If you are a fan of action and explosions, then this is a perfect game for you. At the time this article was published, RIVE was included as part of the Humble Very Positive Bundle 2 on HumbleBundle.com and will be for another 11 days. If you liked what you read about this game in this first impressions article, go to HumbleBundle.com, and you can get a deal on this game and donate to a charity as well if you like.