RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 17th 2010 at 01:34:35 PM by (slackur)
Posted under Warning Forever, Video Games, Reviews, Gaming

As my game reviews of Small Worlds and Limbo have shown, I have a strong appreciation for a minimalist approach that focuses on just one or two key concepts, thus reflecting a represented idea's pure form.  At first glance, it would seem that the shmup field (shoot-'em-up, space shooter, vertical/horizontal scroller, etc) seems to be one of the few classic genres still so relatively simple in concept and execution that to remove any more staple components would dilute the concept to a dull tedium. The barest form (Space Invaders, Asteroids) can be difficult to return to after introducing in-depth layers (Ikaruga, Cave bullet-hell survival, unique scoring methodology.)  The oldest are fun for classic nostalgia and score contests, sure, but even Galaga had to layer a bit more complexity over Galaxian to become an industry stalwart.

Cue Hikoza T. Ohkubo's Warning Forever.  A freeware PC shmup from 2003, Warning Forever is a perfect example of a talented 'indie' developer that refined a concept into a simple game with more polish, gameplay, and pure addictive quality than the import-heavy genre had seen in years.  And to this day, it remains an incredibly fun testament to stripping down a game concept and just keeping what works.

In Warning Forever, there is only your ship avatar and a never-ending stream of boss ships, one at a time.  180 seconds on the clock.  Each boss ship has various destroyable compartments and weapons.  A destroyed boss ship core grants the player another 30 seconds added to the timer, and every player ship lost costs 20 seconds.  No power-ups, no alternate player ships, and only one vulcan-like cannon on the player ship that can either dumb-fire forward or switch to a swiveling fire arc that moves opposite of the direction the player moves.  The goal is as simple as it is intuitive: survive as long as possible.

While the initial setup is not really extraordinary, after destroying a few boss ships something notable occurs.  If you blow up the front of the ship, the next one has more armor on the front.  Killed by a missile launcher on the last boss?  The next one will be bristling with missile pods.  As each boss ship is destroyed, an artificial process of natural selection will enable the next to better counter your attack method. 

In other words, when this-

Becomes THIS, its YOUR fault.

Soon, players will be targeting specific areas during different fights, knowing how to customize their own battles in reverse.  Instead of the player ship advancing and leveling in specified directions, the enemy is growing in power against the player's attack methods.  While the game includes a button for slow and precise ship movement for delicate dodging, and the hit box on the player ship constitutes a single pixel, the computer will eventually overcompensate its weakness and conquer you.  At least, until next game.

The player has a fire control that allows the angle of attack to sweep across the dark void around the two opposing ships, as well as widen the spread or focus the shots into a targeted area by moving towards or away. Warning Forever removes the level-up weapon structure common in these games and focuses entirely on a player's movement, precision, and tactically surgical strikes.  The less-is-more approach drops the over-the-top arcade-frantic nature without loosing any of the intensity. 

The vector-like graphics and simplistic, retro style sounds give the game a clean, sharp impression.  No frills beyond some humble particle effects, Warning Forever nonetheless shows artistic design in the subtle polish that displays Hikware's commitment to an excellent, complete game belying its quiet origins.

It will also run on any PC computer you can still turn on without waking up a hamster on a treadmill or inserting a floppy disc the size of a pizza.  Even if shmups have never interested you, the price of admission alone and the ease of which it can be installed and played on anything smarter than a Ti-99 is reason enough to give it a whirl.

If you are like me, your poor consoles and Starcrafts and Warcrafts and house-on-fire might take a back seat for a few minutes or hours as that familiar warning klaxon starts blaring...

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Looks very very cool.

I love that the game rebuilds itself to try and take away your advantage over it and increase any advantages it might already have over you.

It would be pretty amazing if a developer(indie or otherwise) could take this idea of simplistic art/music/gameplay and combine it with the complex "behind the scenes" work to make the games AI truely intuitive so that every time you played it would make itself a little smarter than you. The ultimate strategic shooter Smiley

"There had to be one battle in which they didn't know what we could do. Now your work begins."
I haven't got round to playing this yet but looks pretty cool, have you played battleships forever which this based on yet?
Looks great and it's FREE! Cheesy

It kind of comes down to carefully decided preference for me.  Battleships Forever is a remarkable real-time tactics freeware game, and equally (RE:dangerously) addictive.  I can already burn hours on a bite-sized shooter; my family would mourn if I allow myself to get hooked on another RTT. ;p

In other words, Battleships Forever is also highly recommended.

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