Monthly Archives: July 2018

Noir: A Shadowy Thriller Adventure category

Title screen from Noir: A Shadowy Thriller

Private eye Jack Slayton kept a file on Charles Winthrop, a philanthropist with something to hide. Winthrop’s prize horse Pegasus died, and Slayton suspected an insurance scam. In his notes, he mused, “I’ve had a few horses die on me too, usually in the stretch.” He has the voice of a stock hardboiled detective, cracking a stereotypical case of corrupt wealth, working on a nondescript street in Los Angeles.

As far as Noir: A Shadowy Thriller is concerned, that’s perfect.

Like the name implies, the game is a tribute to the noir genre, the idealized version that pop culture remembers – stories about a gumshoe drifting through decadent clubs and dim alleyways, swept up in the city’s rotten underbelly. For a CD-ROM game especially, it’s a feat of tone and setting. » Read more about Noir: A Shadowy Thriller

Lexi-Cross Board category

Title screen from Lexi-Cross

Lexi-Cross puts cyborgs and aliens on a 1970s game show. Without the futuristic touches, it might as well be an adaptation of The $10,000 Pyramid.

The game begins in an audition interview with a television producer. When the game show starts, it opens on a shot from the studio audience, an “ON AIR” light blinking as the cameras move into place. The vaguely David Hasselhoff-looking host, with a perm and a half-metal face, stands in front of an angular, beige set while the program’s brassy theme music plays. The game manual looks like a fake TV Guide, complete with ads for pay-per-view boxing and Chinese takeout. Lexi-Cross fully commits to the features of both the format and the era, transplanted into a future when there’s still broadcast television and primetime game shows.

It also copies the rules of 1970s game shows, and it inherits their pacing, for good and bad. » Read more about Lexi-Cross

Control Monger Shooter category

Title screen from Control Monger

Control Monger was free, and then it was gone.

The game was a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter, one of many from the early-to-mid 2000s. Developed at accelerated speed by a group of volunteers, it was released for free in 2005. A few years later, the official website went silent, and the game and its community gradually disappeared.

It has a few clever ideas, incorporating territory control and base defense into the usual first-person shooter template. But to find out what this game was actually like, I had to play it with other people.

Last week, I invited a group of friends and readers to play two hours of Control Monger to get a feel for how it works with a big crowd. (The game can support up to 255 players, which would be a disaster, so we stuck with the default size of 16.) Since it’s unlikely that another large group will get together to play this game, I want to go into detail discussing our thoughts on the game’s strengths, weaknesses, and balance. And to learn more about its development, I contacted Clyde Bielss, one of Control Monger‘s producers. » Read more about Control Monger