There are two kinds of Gamers in this world.
There are smegheads, and there are smegless wo… No. That isn’t it, is it? wrong article.
There are those who buy FIFA 200[0-9] year upon year upon year upon year, and there are those who complain about EA releasing the same game year upon year upon year upon year with little to no changes. Those who see the destructive power of a megacorp shooting down every good idea because it’s not a surefire moneymaker. Who tried to shoot The Sims out of the sky before being surprised when it became a global success (And so, in response, shot down Sim Mars) and shot down Simsville (which was a new game) for Sims 2 (which wasn’t). The most annoying one is probably the canceling of Dungeon Keeper III (And the shutdown of Bullfrog Studios, who were making it), because they felt it would clash with recently-purchased Westwood Studios’ Command and Conquer series (Westwood have since also been shot down, the team is now making Lord Of The Rings Real-time Strategy games). Few people in the games industry seem to be really innovating. Few, in this case, meaning Will Wright, Nintendo, a host of amateur coders and Introversion Software.
Introversion Software style themselves as “The last of the bedroom coders”. They are a small company making incredibly original games. The two games they have released so far are Uplink, A computer cracker simulator, and Darwinia, a… er… Retro Cannon-Fodder-like lemmingsesque Viruslike digital dreamscape. If I was still writing Top5 I’d describe it as a “Save-em-up” but that completely misses the point. One of the problems with reviewing the game was that it didn’t fit into anything you’d seen before, and at the same time referred to lots of things you have seen before.
The unit of Darwinia is the Program. You can, to start with, run three programs at once. Programs can be Squads or Engineers (Again, to start with), in This screenshot (Which is of a level called “Containment”) those bright red arrow things are viruses. They writhe around the landscape like the snakes from, well, Snake. You shoot them (Left mouse button to go to that point, right mouse button to shoot at that point, like Cannon Fodder was) and they squeak and die (They make a noise like a party blowout thing when they die. It’s vaguely creepy), and you shoot things, and you rescue the Darwinians, and… and…
That’s not the point, really. The game is possibly the single most original thing released this year (With the possible exception of Katamari Damacy), it’s being sold in shops as well as online, it comes for Windows, Linux and OS X (It’s got an official Linux release. We need to encourage this.)
That’s not it either, though. The game originally came out with something of a weird control system, where you went between programs with Alt-tab and killed them off with Alt-F4, created new squads by drawing a triangle and this kind of thing. Windows crossed with Black & White, really. This was one of the things it was criticised for in the reviews, and a barrier to being a really big game.
So they fixed it. The latest 1.3 patch puts in (and by default, on) a new icon based control system. There is now no excuse. Try it, then Buy it, or if you ever complain that nobody does anything original ever again, I will hit you with sticks until you regret it.
Oh, and it’s pretty.