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Ludum Dare 45 Reviews

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It's been a while, but Ludum Dare 45 - Oct 2019 is going on, so I want to return to my habit of reviewing a few games!

My grading style is fairly lenient. Many games have difficult levels, but I like it when games have at least a couple starter levels so that you don't wash out in seven seconds or such.

Let's see!

To warm up!

Coinbold introduced me to the Pico-8, designed to mimic Atari era games, purposely nearing the rough specs of that time.

Coinbold is a charming little proof of concept. You only need to collect three coins to win, and you get some nice 4 channel music at the end.

I'm rating this as a Specs Check for your computer - sound check, arrow keys working, et.

LD Page is here.

Game Link for the browser is here:

Mouser had the idea to link to the Pico 8 page.

Tower Defense!

I have a soft spot for the LD versions of Tower Defense.

This time the theme is hysterical, since we had an Emoji movie. The emoji's want to take over your phone!

Rated Phoenix Easy. One of my house rules for radomized Tower Defense is I'm quite fine restarting the game to get the important elements. So clearly the Dragon is sky high the best item in the game. It's a solid (and only) shooter.

It's harder to know what the others do. The Castle just seems like a blocker, then a lot of waves can get around it but the Turtle is supposed to slow the things down.

Presumably the FireBreather should singe and weaken them but there's no hp bars so you can't tell. There's also a Teddy bear, equally obscure.


- The emoji animation is smooth, but the placement is modular, so place the first dragon either 6 or 8 spaces from your home base. They have quite a range. Otherwise you might get jammed up getting formations.

- The other assistants make good re-routers, so you can position them off center in various ways to force the emoji armies to herd back around into the dragon fire. Apparently they are in fact slow shooters and not inert, but still the Dragon is the most powerful.

- The big boss at the end really does take a lot of beating! But it's quite bulky and slow, so boxing it in completely near the front works quite well.

Great simple sprites and you do have to take a bit of care not to get sloppy. Also, it might nudge up a difficulty level if you don't get a dragon first pick and want to play it hardstyle.

Also, it's one of those games that after you win, you can try one more round to try to make art with the sprite patterns in pretty formations. :)

LD Page:

Game page:


The Howler

An interactive version of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

LD Page

Game Link:

- ----------------------------


Pleasant little mini Sim where you grow (hopefullly!) a large tree.

The control are pretty simple as long as you get off the ground (pun!) by rememebering SPACE BAR grows the branch segment. It's easy to try to click the mouse or random keys.

Very simple ecology, though with a couple of fancy formulas. It's pretty balanced, but it gets a rating of Phoenix Easy-Plus because of a couple of traps.

You start off with a fixed supply of energy, and growing branches costs 50 energy. You can make leaves for free per se, though it seems it does take extra water. So at the base level, grow a bunch of branches, make leaves, so that it replenishes energy, and you need a threshold of 200 to make it rain.

There are only 2 pathways per branch and making leaves finishes off a branch, so some kind of wide base is recommended. Depending on how wide you start off, optimal seems to be about 7-9 nodes or so.

Tips -

- The Water counter is not steady paced! So especially later on, when you think you're cruising, it can race down and you have to hurry to make rain! This has destroyed two big trees so far! Then it slows down. Not sure if this is a feature! Also, a few times it really looked like my water was above zero but then it became game over.

- It's pretty easy to hit steady state, a little care in the beginning should do it. But I am beginning to think the final goal is to really make a fleshed out nice tree! I aesthetically went for a trunk in the beginning, thugh it's not required, but a V-shaped tree just looked ugly.

- The second thing earning the Plus is the branch design. Some variant of a binary splitting pattern is going on, with some unclear formula of when it widens branches (after making leaves!) so although the camera can move, I am trying for a single screen pic.

- It's a sim game, so it DOES take a couple hours if you are really going for a large tree. Turns out it can multi task the branches, so at first you can't see through the delay box, but then once you hit cruise zone you can build multiple branches at once, but I recommend surveying for a minute every few branches because of the quick water counter, and also to see your design after the boxes go away.

- There is no pause, I think, not counting things like shifting OS focus out.

- As is, the graphics are pretty nice once you start to get going. There is no gravity, so I have experimented with growing my branches partly upside down to work on fleshing out the tree.

I'll try to post a screen shot if I can get a really nice one!

LD Page:

Game Page:

For a screenshot, disclaimer - it's not completely right out of the game. I built half the tree, then mirrored and cropped it. The program doesn't really reward trunks, and I was getting fatigued from all the restarts!

But since I can't draw at all, it's still rather neat! I am a loose player - so I just considered my editing like an artist trimming the canvas or paper.


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