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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Here's a slightly more polished version of the competition version of cactus' Akuchizoku. It might still have some smaller bugs and is a bit rough on the edges, but probably worth a try for fans of retro graphics and music, as well as shmup freaks.

The demo features three levels and three different pilots, two difficulty levels and two modes of gameplay. The difficulty adjusts the amount of bosses and enemies you get to battle, so those who whimp out will miss a lot of content.

There is a gameplay video of the first level available here, which can be used as a guide on how to beat the difficult bosses. The controls can be a bit complex for the various pilots, read an explanation of how to play here.

Worth noting is that you can't select pilot in story mode, while you can instantly access any level and pilot in free play mode.

Music as always by the excellent John Marwin, and the great effects provided by Aaron Kurtz.

Name: Akuchizoku
Developer: cactus
Category: Shoot 'em up
Type: Demo
Click here to download

Labels: ,

Anonymous Melly said at 10/04/2007 03:08:00 PM:  
Now that's a damn fine game right there. Not perfect, but it's only got some flaws and they are probably nitpicks of mine.

I love the presentation. It feels like what the Atari developers would do if they could cram more stuff in the cartridges. The controls are responsive, and all the different strategies and play styles of the three pilots make playing with each of them an unique experience. The game's awfully hard for first timers, but it thankfully just restarts the level automatically when you run out of lives, not interrupting the flow and allowing most players to eventually get through the levels. Not to mention the plot is just crazy awesome (emphasis on the 'crazy') and makes the game be instantly recognizeable as a Cactus game.

Now, for the issues.

First is the fact that each ship's collision box is not apparent. Especially when trying to dodge tight-packed bullet sprays it's very hard to know where you can be hit, especially since there is no way to know how big the box is.
Another is how enemy bullets are just not contrasting enough to stand out and blend way too easily with all the crap going on in the screen.
Then we have how the game is heavily relyiant on the surprise element for its difficulty. With how often you'll restart the levels, you'll eventually figure out all the enemy patterns and all those pushover bosses quickly become a cakewalk, often without any special weapons used.
There are also the coins. What is their purpose? I can't see a score or anything, and they don't seem to affect anything gameplay-wise.

The game's still crazy fun. I might just get the full thing.
Anonymous Melly said at 10/04/2007 03:09:00 PM:  
Also, the link leads to the Substitute game. Fix plz. :P
Anonymous Golds said at 10/04/2007 03:15:00 PM:  
This game looks fantastic. cactus is my hero.
Anonymous cactus said at 10/04/2007 03:28:00 PM:  
Thanks for the great feedback, Melly!

I tried to make the hitbox visible for all the pilots, but it's not very apparent.

Chopper - Wind shield
Skullguy - Arm
Chick - Middle segment/penis shaft

I can't do much about the blood having bad contrast in the first level. Except maybe have it blink a bit or something, but it'd look weird. I think most of my games favour stylistic choices over practical choices when it comes to visibillity of things. Dunno if that's good or bad :P

The coins are supposed to give you a highscore, but I ended up short on time, so I couldn't manage to get that into the game. The HUD is terrible, as well. It's gonna be a lot nicer in the final version.
Anonymous Melly said at 10/04/2007 03:37:00 PM:  
By the way, forgot to mention the music makes me feel fuzzy...

In my pants.
Blogger Dominic White said at 10/04/2007 03:53:00 PM:  
I'm pretty much seconding everything Melly said. This is a great little game that could use a tiny bit more tuning.. but this IS a work-in-progress demo, and if it's this good now, the final build should be fantastic.

Keep up the good work, Cactus. Probably your best game so far, and given that I really like your other stuff, that's pretty much frothing praise.

Definitely getting the full thing.. In fact, I recall donating to this very blog a while back, and apparently that included - in part - the full version of this anyway. So there. You've got my money - spend it well, you mad bastard!
Blogger Tim said at 10/04/2007 04:55:00 PM:  
I've already paid cactus - he will send you guys an email when the game is done. But feel free to donate more. :D


Last I heard from him, he's working on at least seven or eight more freeware games. ;)
Anonymous ssfsx17 said at 10/04/2007 05:15:00 PM:  
I'm having a tough time figuring out how to use the woman effectively. She seems like she could potentially have the strongest attacking power of them all, much like the Attractor from Clean Asia. The skull man may actually be the easiest one to survive with for newbies, since two of his modes can block enemy bullets.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 10/04/2007 05:26:00 PM:  
Wow, point me to where I can donate for this game.

I must have it.
Blogger Nate said at 10/04/2007 05:50:00 PM:  
Oop, gotta transfer some money to Paypal then
Blogger Nate said at 10/04/2007 05:54:00 PM:  
Strange, as it's layed out on Tim's blog, I replied to Tim before he told me what to do.

Anyways, funds transfering, it'll be about 3 or 4 days cactus, but you'll be getting my pre-order cash soon enough!
Blogger Tim said at 10/04/2007 06:00:00 PM:  
Details on Akuchizoku's web site (click on Enter, then Buy button):

Send at least USD $1 using PayPal to:


(but try to send at least $5, or buy five copies if you want, since paypal deducts nearly half of $1 as fee)

Preorders only currently, since the game isn't finished. The full version will be sent to you when it's done.

If you don't have PayPal and still want the game, you can send an email to cactus for 'special arrangements'. ;)

If there is enough preorders, I believe cactus will make a sequel?
Anonymous Melly said at 10/04/2007 06:05:00 PM:  
My thoughts on the characters:

The helicopter: The most standard run-of-the-mill craft, its options trail the ship and fire bullets, its got limited missiles and a focused special. Probably the easiest to figure out.

The skullman: The most unique character for me. His option-ramming attack is, I think, the most powerful unlimited attack of the three when you have all options condensed, making gameplay with him a very agreesive, but effective one if you use that. Also versatile with other attack types. Probably for balance he has no limited weapons. Can be very hard to grasp because of how he controls.

The cockrocket: The best to fire at odd angles and against straight lines of enemies. Her limited lasers also fire rapidly, allowing you to quickly take down the most annoying enemies you save it for.

I love how differently they all control, though you MIGHT want to place a short tutorial mode. It's not that necessary, though.
Anonymous cactus said at 10/04/2007 06:25:00 PM:  
NO SEQUELS! This game may be a labour of love, but all I can remember right now is pain, sweat and tears. And it's not even over yet. Also, I found it very limiting and tedious to simulate low resolutions (although I like the results).

I'm glad you like the Skullman, Melly. I wasn't sure I had nailed him all too well.

Oh, and I'd love some donations. I spend a few hours everyday making games, and I really want to keep doing it. So don't force me to go get a job... :P