PEGBRJE: Chipmonk! and Hero Generations

Oh I am not doing well here, am I.

Chipmonk! is an arcade beat ’em up adventure made by Niemi Bros Entertainment, a duo of brothers making games in a retro style. For this title, players are brought back to the arcade sidescrolling action era to help three chipmunk reacquire their land’s stolen food — all through brute force.

Within this tale, players will select one of the three chipmunk named Grey, Cheeks and Red in order to battle through stages of enemies. To do so, players are armed with numerous yet straightforward skills to defeat the hordes of enemies that will be coming their way. The most simple is the attack, which can be repeatedly used to create different combo’ed attacks depending on the button timings. I was able to sometimes do a one two punch with a kick, other times pick up and throw the enemy at another. I couldn’t always tell how, but I knew I was able. To avoid incoming damage from those dastardly gray squirrels, players can employ the dodge to move either side to side, or deeper in to the map. As this is a retro-stylized title, the characters are 2D within a 3D environment, so players are considered 2D in terms of portrait and location but can move in the 3D space. It makes attacking a tad difficult at times — which isn’t unfamiliar — but also means that moving is the next best way to dodge outside of the button. Players can also jump to give them some height, which alters their attacking moveset to give more cool aerial attacks instead. Finally is the screen clearing move fueled by mushrooms to use as a last resort, shown by the bar underneath the acorn-stylized health bar. Just having a single mushroom of three will allow for this move to activate, immobilizing the player as blue death rains from the sky to damage enemies. It’s a fantastic move to utilize in a pinch, but can only be refueled during certain sections of a stage where flies arrive to annoy our protagonist.

This sounds relatively simple, but it’s the simplicity that makes it so easy to pick up — especially with the plethora of options and game modes available. As standard for this style of title, players can double up with a friend to play local co-operatively to beat up squirrels and animals together, and since the three protagonists have different play styles it allows for some customization in who wants to play as which chipmunk. There are also a bunch of different modes, even ones added recently within their 2.0 update that came out a few days ago. Adventure allows for players to explore the world across multiple stages to fight for the freedom of their food, while Onslaught pits them against endless waves of enemies until they die. If one is tired of fighting computer players, Duel gives the ability to fight in a 1v1 grudge match if one so wishes. Per the update, scoring on the leaderboard unlocks the Revengeance mode, which adds another 8 stages to explore and fight through for fun.

There’s much more to Chipmonk! within it’s pixelated aesthetic, and doesn’t even mention the clean sound design offered — the differentiating between the knock out hits and standard hits was a nice touch when dealing with such long knocked down animations. Anyone looking for a nice visit in to a faithful adaptation of older beat em ups will definitely want to check this one out and have a great time beating up everything along the way.

We’re going on an ADVENTURE

Hero Generations is an expansive rpg management simulation (I think) made by Heart Shaped Games, an indie studio out of the United States founded by two industry veterans in Scott Brodie and Kate Brodie. Within this vast landscape, players are forging their own path to become great heroes by slaying monsters, battling other heroes, clearing dungeons, and finding loot. Except this isn’t about one hero, really; it’s about creating a legacy.

This is going to be a wild ride of explanations so bear with me, alright?

The goal of Hero Generations is to create a hero that is able to take on the world, complete all of the quests laid out for them and rid the world of evil. Thing is, this cannot be completed within a singular life time, not at first. Instead, players will need to pass the torch to their child as the next generation of heroes in order to continue on the path and succeed where they failed. So how does it actually work in practice? Well, each move a player performs is a year off of their lifespan, forcing each decision to be impactful so that as much can be accomplished as possible, and there is a lot to do. Players can explore, build up towns with external facilities, destroy monsters, recover artifacts, or clear out forests for cash and fame. As they explore, milestones will be reached in a players life that will evolve them in to a new part of their life. Some of these natural progressions are good, such as adulthood and middle age granting bonus strength in combat, while exceeding in to elder territory can have some seriously negative effects in multiple areas. When the player is ready, they can enter a town and locate a mate in order to have a child to whom will carry the torch.

This process is an entire system on its own, for the record. Upon finding a mate, the current hero is retired to raise the upcoming child, and a card system is brought up. Depending on the two heroes that have copulated, the number of cards that the player gets to flip changes with the older a mate is the fewer cards. These cards effectively represent the genetic and childhood of the new hero, for it will determine every bonus to their start possible. This includes traits (augments represented by items worn, max 2), starting money, lifespan surplus, strength and extra combat damage. I immediately got a similar feeling to the last time I played Spore, where the goal is to have as many favorable traits as possible while understanding that one cannot always control what stats a character can get. When complete, the new hero sets out in to the world — except it’s covered in fog of war again, for it has been sixteen years since the last adventure and the world may have changed.

To get far with this second generation, players will need to realize that while there are quests to complete, the game is more focused on how each individual wishes to actually complete them. For some this means to explore new realms and gather new friends, while many others would rather gain combat prowess and defeat the enemies of old. To do this, players simply need to enter a square being held by a monster or hero and begin combat. Now there are three stats to worry about in combat; strength, combat damage, and lifespan. Strength is the attribute that gives the maximum ‘roll’ that a player can do — think of it as an attack dice in a TTRPG. Both enemy and player roll their die, and which ever number is biggest wins, meaning that a player with a Strength of 30 will have a better time against an enemy with a 15 (theoretically). The winner then gets to hit the other with their combat damage against their life span, and combat ends. This is by far the most finnicky of the systems, for the randomness can completely ruin a combat encounter if contingency plans are not prepared. For reference, I took on a boss with 60 Strength with my 65, and I never won a single encounter out of my 8 attempts. So, just remember that combat won’t always go well.

If I had to give Hero Generations a descriptor that could easily translate to others how it feels to play, I’d say that it’s a fully fleshed out Spore Creature/Tribal phase RPG where the world changes as we do. Each iteration of hero is not only different thanks to the traits that they acquire, but they force the player to realize that the same playstyle cannot work for every hero if the aptitude isn’t there. Running around trying to kill things with a hero proficient in building and exploration is a surefire way to end that hero’s life, but also short sighted in their possibility. What does a hero want in life if not to gain fame? Perhaps wisdom of the world through exploration, or wealth to create generational stability for the surrounding towns. Then there’s the question of the other heroes that players encounter and defat for fame, as they too are doing what the player is attempting; to create a legacy of their own.

There’s so much more about Hero Generations to talk about, yet at the same time it feels difficult to give a brief overview of everything due to just how massive the title is. From city management and upkeep over the generations, to the multiple realms that players can explore to the magical items that can be acquired, there’s just too much going on within to give it an apt overview. Not everything lands as smoothly — some hero generations can feel really bad if enemies surround the land and nothing can be done — but that comes within the nature of a procedurally generated world. Depending on your hero and your luck, this game could last 15 minutes or 15 hours and feel like the same amount of time. If you are looking for a truly expansive title that captures the magic of generational exploration, this is your ticket to world building.

Links 4 days

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Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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