PEGBRJE: Nine Nines and Space Duet
We… finished 18? How?
Nine Nines is a procedural tower defense game made by Badjano Entertainment, an indie studio association that operates out of Brazil. Within this bite-sized title, players will be attempting to defend their little sci-fi base node against waves of terrifying vehicles, all with the intention of destroying themselves to destroy the base.
Nine Nines fits in to the relatively standard category of tower defenses in which a maze is constructed for enemies to snake their way through and the player erects and upgrades towers to, well, defend. In this, players are given 6 towers to utilize, each unique and available from the beginning for a set price and are relatively easy to understand. Cannon towers fire upon the enemy constantly, while Tesla coils zap multiple for minimal damage. Lasers fire powerful single shots, while mortars do the same but in an area of effect. The freezing tower slows down the vehicles, while the Anti-Air turret has a massive range, but can only target flying vehicles. Sounds easy, but that’s by design; understanding a turret’s capabilities as fast as possible is important to place them optimally, and much of a tower defense’s gameplay is more centred around the maze itself and the enemies that populate it. For this title, the game is actually built procedurally utilizing the Voroni diagram, which is why every map has an odd geometric sizing to its lanes. This means that every attempt at a different campaign level will not only be different, but the vehicle’s pathing might not be as obvious as expected. Some lanes will be generated connected to others or with a loop, which may allow for the vehicles to get caught in a bit of a loop; before anyone asks, yes of course I abused that. Due to the procedural generation, level balance becomes difficult as it completely hinders on how well the map is laid out in comparison to the base location. Some runs will be easily set up and completed a few minutes in, others may require constant changes due to speed increases.
With varying difficult levels to try out, Nine Nines definitely offers a lot of possibility and defensive gameplay. The campaign features a bunch of regions, but as they are all procedurally generated it is mostly an aesthetic change than anything, while Endless mode gives exactly that; a never-ending horde. It isn’t a massive title, but it utilizes its strengths in mathematics-based map creation quite effectively. If you are in the market for introducing some new players to tower defenses, this might be a good place to start thanks to its simplicity.
Space Duet is a space dogfighting duel title made by Matthew Alan Estock, an indie developer based out of the United States. In this small shooty shooty, players will be pit against either an AI or their friend to see which pilot can navigate gravity better.
There aren’t many controls needed to get the hang of Space Duet, with movement and shooting be the primary two and a ‘warp’ dash being the special ability to leap forward slightly. Simply shoot the opponent with a space bullet, and the round ends; simple, yeah? The stage, however, is what causes these simplistic movements to become difficult for the centre is where the gravity is. Directions become difficult to understand, for turning can cause the ship to go in oval loops when the goal was to simply turn around. Moving ‘forward’ isn’t all that cut and dry either, with the directional ‘up’ being the thruster utilized to gain some sense of simplicity and normalcy. Bullets follow this pattern as well, but instead of remaining to clip a ship from behind it disappears after a short while to keep the stage clutter free. This gravitational pull is what creates the chaotic gameplay, for it is just as much a struggle against the gravity and movement itself as it is against the opponent. Thing is, players are rewarded for their struggles; points can be showered on to players who dodge bullets, have near misses against enemy ships, and many other reasons. It’s not just about defeating the enemy, but defeating them with style.
Space Duet isn’t a large game, only containing Arcade (AI) and Versus (PvP) game modes to play around in. Since it’s a first to three deaths, games don’t last that long — especially if you don’t get a hang of the controls. Once you do, however, it becomes this fun little title about slingshotting around a black hole just to fire a single bullet to defeat your enemies. It won’t appeal to everyone, but I’d encourage anyone looking to settle disputes but can’t go to space in to try this out.
Play randomly generated map 0 through 999,999,999 or try to beat 3 stars out of 20 maps on the campaign of this tower…