Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Angry Birds: completed!

Three stars on all levels, all golden eggs found and starred. I must admit that I had to resort to a search to find out what order to play the sound test in in order to get the star. It was hardly intuitive.

The latest update to the game brought with it Game Center support, and achievements. I've got a fair few, but there are others that require you to get over a certain total score on groups of levels. That just seems too much hard work now - but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a brilliant game, ideal for wasting time on the commute ... or just about anywhere.


Last Tuesday evening, I looked at Twitter and Facebook and UGVM after getting my phone to connect to the hotel's WiFi network. The idea was to have an early night, but it was anything but. Dreadful news crept around the Internet, that Owen Allaway had collapsed at home and had been rushed to hospital. Not long after, the news was that he had died.

I've known Owen for over ten years. I never met him, but I know him far better than I know many other people. We were in almost daily contact over that time, via UGVM, via RLLMUK, online gaming on Xbox Live, and even by email. Owen often played games in much the same way I do - in short bursts, looking for a minute's worth of fun at a time. He played about fifty times as many games as I do, admittedly, but we shared many favourites - Peggle, Crazy Taxi, Angry Birds, Bangai-O, Outrun 2, Crackdown, EDF, and most obviously, Mr Driller. We had a number of discussions over the fine points of drilling strategy, and which was the best version. We were pretty evenly matched in terms of high scores, and we even played Mr Driller Online against each other a couple of times, despite the hurdles the game made us overcome to get it working.

Owen was positive about so many things. He would look for the best in games - innovations, clever work-arounds, style - and was forgiving of bugs or glitches (other than developers not implementing an invert look function on the Y-axis). One of the last games he played and was enthusiastic about was Sonic the Hedgehog 4, when he rallied against the RLLMUK hoardes to say that he was having a good time. His enjoyment was infectious - many people relied on his postings in the iPhone games thread to guide their purchases. A number of us bought Mirror's Edge on the iPhone at the weekend, and it's every bit as good as he said.

He will be missed. He touched hundreds of people online in various fora, and made the world better for them, and more specifically for me. A week later, and his legacy is everywhere. Words With Friends has his name listed at the top of my recently completed games. Google Reader is full of his blog postings - it's amazing he managed to play any games at all, given the amount he wrote about them. He'll remain on my Xbox Live friends list, and many of his high scores will never be beaten. Every time I play Peggle Nights I remember how excited he was to see that the Peggle iPhone app had been updated. I completed the adventure mode for him.

Bye Owen. I hope that wherever you are, Mr Driller: Drill Land is available in English.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Colour Cross: fundamentally flawed

Colour Cross is a picross-type game, with numerous colours per puzzle and no blank spaces on the board. You solve one colour at a time, with each building up to help you solve the overall puzzle. It's difficult to explain; given that it cost a whole £4 in HMV, I recommend you try it yourself.

Or don't. One fundamental rule of picross games is that there is no point at which you should have to guess - unless you are able to quickly see if you've gone down the wrong path.  Colour Cross does this all too often, and while at the moment the puzzles are small enough that I am able to return down a path, I fear this may not be the case forever.