bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Aug 18th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Action RPG, explosions, Space sim, Double Damage

When the first trailer for Rebel Galaxy hit, I knew I wanted it.  In only a few minutes, it spoke of adventure, "negotiation," and great looking combat with cool explosions!  What more could I want?  Funny question, exactly that!

When I first saw the game, I began to have expectations that were perhaps unrealistic.  Not that they were unfounded in any way, but with knowledge gathered solely from previews and trailers (I did not watch a single demo or video review) I knew it would be one of the few games in the action-RPG genre of space sims, and after all, I loved Starpoint Gemini 2, enough to put in more than sixty hours of playtime before I forced myself to walk away (gotta keep on The List).  So naturally, Rebel Galaxy would be right up my alley.  The only thing that worried me was that the game insisted that it was best played with a controller, but hey, different strokes, right?   After all, it was also released on PS4, so we can't expect our couch-based cousins to bust out a keyboard and mouse just to play a game, right?.

Continue reading Rebel Galaxy

Posted on Jan 19th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Top Four, Dying Light, zombie parkour, Ultima, space sim, Diablo

I don't know about y'all, but in late December, the year 2016 didn't feel very memorable.  There were very few games I could even remember playing, so I scrapped the idea of a "Top" list of games and moved on.  However, as I reviewed my post on the "Beaten in 2016" thread, I couldn't help but reconsider this notion.  Pretty much all of the nine games on my list were awesome, and I was somehow able to finish them, despite my severe lack of time.  So, here is my end of year list, but re-written with a new angle - Top Four Games of 2016 I Didn't Blog About (Well, Mostly).

Continue reading Top Four Games of 2016 That I Didn't Blog About - Well, Mostly

Posted on May 3rd 2016 at 09:22:24 PM by (bombatomba)
Posted under CRPG Burnout, Space Sim, No Mans Sky, The Observatory

Pic from

Another Episode of The Observatory (ThOb) is here, meaning that I have more time to waste with y'all, although I would hardly call it wasted.  My boss might, and although he is here with us today, he is in the other room, and since my work is BYoC (bring your own computer), it's all good.  So then, what should we talk about?

Continue reading The Observatory 3 - Burned Out But Ready To Fly?

Posted on Dec 22nd 2012 at 10:27:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Space Sim, Elite, Star Raiders, StarFlight, Star Control, X2, X3, Wing Commander, Privateer, Star Voyager

Hello, everyone.  Like many of you, I was pretty excited to see the Genre restructuring project when it was announced here on RFG.  Once I got a look, I was a little worried.  The Genre that contains many of my favorite games, the Space Sim genre, was absent.  Suggestions and points proved fruitless and I was rebuffed.  It seemed that the Vehicular Combat genre was destined to hold my beloved Space Sim games, no matter how strongly I felt about it.  Once stopped and thought about the situation a bit more, I realized I may have been too hasty.  Why don't you sit down for a moment.  Pull up a chair, and I'll explain where I stand:  Why the Space Sim doesn't work well as a genre, and why I think there should be a bit more clarity.

From this point on I could blab on about early Star Trek games and even Space Wars, but instead I'd like to focus on the two roots of the Space Sim genre, which are Star Raiders and Elite.

Star Raiders was originally released for the Atari 8-bit in 1979.  You piloted a ship, the Atarian fighter, as you attempt to destroy the Zylon fleets before they destroy your space stations.  The ship is controlled from the first-person for combat and hyperspace jumps, and you can switch to a grid map to help navigate between different points.  All you have to do is hyperspace jump from sector to sector, destroying Zylon ships as you go.  The game is fun and very straightforward, and is still very playable (even on the original Atari 8-bit).

While the influence can be felt more on the NES title, Star Voyager, than any other game, the influence can be seen in the LucasArts space combat games (X Wing, Tie Fighter), the main Wing Commander series, and Starlancer.  The focus of such games have always action-oriented, though story elements and character development began creeping in during the early nineties, even as the original "exploration" elements were taken out.  Was this the right decision?  Probably not, in my opinion, but it certainly helped refine the genre.

So while these games are still generically referred to as Space Sim games (sometimes as a Space Combat Sim), they would fit quite neatly in the Vehicular Combat genre (maybe under a Space genre, given that so many of them take place in outer space).

Elite, considered by some to be the first real example of a modern space sim, was released for the BBC Micro and Electron in 1984.  While the game had plenty of stuff to blow up, you could also trade items (the manual often refers to your ship as a trading  vessel) and engage in illegal activities, such as piracy.  There are a total of 8 galaxies, 256 planets located in each galaxy to travel to, each with their own space station (and each randomly generated).  While there is a main story (which in some cases requires you to literally go looking for it), there are also many other side missions and things to do.  You can even skim fuel from the surface of a star!

From there things branched off.  Unlike the games that where influenced by Star Raiders, there are many games in this genre that are not played from the first-person, but rather from a top-down view.  Games such as Sundog, Starflight, and Star Control II, follow this trend.  There are also hybrid games such as Space Rogue.  Later titles include Wing Commander: Privateer, the Freelancer series, the X series, the Evochron series, and many more.  Games such as the Battlecruiser series, Universal Combat, and Dark Star One share some trading elements from Elite, but tend to be more combat related that the others.

Games from this branch also tend to be referred to as Space Sim games, but are usually tagged with something like Trade, or Exploration.  Me, I think the Sandbox is a little bit more accurate, given that freedom of movement and actions are a big part of what you can do (similar to the GTA and Elder Scrolls games).

Now, for those that are willing to endure it, I would like to share my personal journey through the Space Sim genre.  The games included are only games that I have played, and following each synopsis I include what subgenre of Vehicular Combat I think it belongs in: Vehicular Combat (Space) or Vehicular Combat (Sandbox).

Game: Star Voyager
Platform: NES
Year Played: 1990

Star Voyager was the first game I rented, and my first experience with a non-Nintendo created game on the NES.  To those taking notes you'll notice this game bears a very strong resemblance Star Raider (featured above), though certain functions had to be simplified for the NES controller (for the better, in my opinion).   Regardless of that, the game, without a manual, is pretty much impenetrable, and even with guidance it can seem a little too abstract.  You fly around through space, doing hyperspace jumps from area to area, fighting enemies while you search for upgrades to your shields and weapons.  Not much, but still fun.  On a personal level, this was the game that got me into space sim games.  (Thanks for the vid, Crab)

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Space)

Game: Star Trek
Platform: Arcade
Year Played: 1990

This was the first title I sought out after my experience with Star Voyager (at a local arcade called Red Baron).  Oddly enough it was very similar to Star Voyager, though it was very limited in scope (though it takes nothing from the game itself).  The vector graphics are great, however, though it certainly helped that I was a big Star Trek fan.  The game?  You fly around in space, blowing up Klingons with vector phasers.  Good stuff.

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Space)

Game: Star Control II
Platform: DOS
Year Played: 1992

While this game does have a versus combat mode, the main mode is very much a sandbox title.  You follow a human survivor as he gathers up allies to battle the hated Ur-Quan Empire, explore a massive starmap filled to the brim with planets, converse with strange aliens, mine and sell materials, land on planets, and do a bit of ship combat as you progress.  That part is particularly fun, as there are more than ten ships to fly (each representing a particular race), with each ship having a primary and secondary attack option.  What sucked is that my friend who owned Star Control II would never let me play the sandbox mode unless I could beat him in the versus mode (extremely rare).  Nonetheless, this only fueled my fire to go further down the rabbit hole.  Great game. (Skip to 3:13 for the gameplay)

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Sandbox)

Game: Wing Commander
Platform: SNES
Year Played: 1993

In the past this game was called a space sim, though later reclassified as a space combat sim.  It follows the exploit of a group of combat pilots aboard the space carrier Tiger's Claw during the Kilrathi Wars.  While the focus of the game is on space combat, there is quite a bit of story in between missions, allowing you to talk with many your fellow pilots as well as take a few turns on the combat sim machine.  While some compain that the SNES version is dumbed down from the original PC title, I found the simplification of the controls refreshing and much more playable.

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Space) (though can be quite sim-my)

Game: Starflight
Platform: Genesis
Year Played: 1994

A heavily enhanced port of a DOS game released in 1986, Starflight is arguably the most influential game for the Space sim genre outside of Elite.  You hire and train a crew, take control of a derelict space ship from the future, and are tasked with saving the galaxy.  Ahead of you thousands of planets and hundreds of thousands of planets, most of which can be landed on.  From that point the choice is yours:  Do you want to pursue the ends to the story?  There are clues.  Mine for precious minerals to upgrade your ship and lander?  They are out there for the taking.  My last time playing it I mined, upgraded my ship, loaded up with fuel and went off to explore the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

A ton of fun (and the reason I bought a Genesis!).  A game that I still like to play every year or so and still manage to get a ton of play out of.

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Sandbox)

Game: Universal Combat
Platform: PC
Year Played: 2004

Starflight managed to tide me over for almost a decade, but at some point I was hungry for more.  Not just any sim would do, I needed something where I could explore, mine, trade, and fight (if necessary).  A bit of research and I was pointed to a sale at Gamestop for two games promising the deliver.

Focusing on the advertisement, you will find the game promises multiple careers, stories, ships, and a large galaxy with over 1000 points of interest.  Explore, mine, trade, and shoot at stuff.  You can even land on a planet, set your mining vehicle on auto, and just run around like a goof and shoot at stuff.  You can also pilot a massive battlecruiser and attack space stations.  Sounds great, right?  There is one tiny problem.  The game is almost impenetrable from a gamer standpoint.  The foldout Quick Reference chart, which contains a massive amount of information, must be memorized if you are even to fly from planet to planet.  The HUD contains a massive amount of information, requires a military-level mindset to even begin to tackle.  Don't know what the PEP is or why the light is flashing red instead of orange?  You'll have to know to play the damn game.  But that isn't even the games greatest sin, in my eyes.  While options exist to explore, mine, and trade, there simply is no reason to do so, as all there is to do is to fly around, land on stuff, look at stuff, and then piss off an attacking ship and die.  I hate this game.

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Space) (it has sandbox elements, but the focus is on combat alone)

Game: X Series (X2, X3, Terran Conflict, Albion Prelude)
Platform: PC
Year Played: 2005-Current

This series is the reason I am writing this article.  I stumbled across X2 on by accident on a Target clearance rack, and the rest was history.  At first glance this title series might be mistaken for a combat sim with story elements (similar to Wing Commander), but once you start playing (and understanding the game) you start to see different.  While there is a story (and in some cases more than one), the real meat-and-potatoes of this game is in the freedom.  Want to trade?  There is a massive economy and scores of different items to trade with, from wheat and energy cells to illegal items (drugs and slaves).  Explore?  There are over two hundred sectors, connected by jumpgates, some with hidden ships out in the fringes.  Be a police officer?  Get a police license (each of the five races has one) and patrol sectors, earning reward money for blowing up pirates and exposing smugglers.  You can make money just transporting people across sectors (with the right ship setup).  Later on you can assemble entire fleets of ships, organize and hire pilots to do trading runs automatically for you (my main games has nine traders, all doing runs simultaneously), buy and run space stations, and in later games build your own home base and complexes.  This is one of the few series that I will buy on day one of release, confident that I will be satisfied.

Final Verdict: Vehicular Combat (Sandbox)

Currently I am immersing myself in PC games, from the old to the more modern.  Among them are a ton of great looking space sim games, many of which would fall into the "Sandbox" subgenre that I am polling for.  Games such as Sundog, Space Rouge, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Evochron Mercenary are intriguing sandbox-style space games, while DarkStar One and FreeSpace are great Vehicular Combat games.

This is bombatomba's Blog.
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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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