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A Scrambled Egg
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 PostSun Feb 14, 2021 1:57 pm
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Thank you! I agree that the battle themes don't really fit right now, I'm planning on replacing both when 8bit finishes some more tracks.

Yeah the tonal dissonance in the two Surlaw bits is intentional and it's building to something. I hope I can pull it all of in a satisfying way once it all comes together.

I'm open to any more suggestions for making battles more visually interesting, I know that's a weak point. I'd love to be able to use slower animations in battle and randomize captions. That actually gives me an idea; how would it feel if the caption only played the first time an attack was used? That wouldn't be too tough to set to with tags. Could even have that be an option players could turn on/off.
Super Walrus Land: Mouth Words Edition
Metal Slime
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 PostSun Feb 14, 2021 8:05 pm
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Eh, the captions are fine, and it's really just my personal preference for attack names there.

But yeah, I'm glad to hear that the battle tracks are placeholders. I actually really like some of the area themes [Beta City, the shrines], so hopefully the final battles themes are stuff I can vibe with.
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Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSun Feb 21, 2021 4:09 am
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I've been wanting to play all the games, but I played AAA again first to refresh my memory of it as I wrote down some of the logical slips going into several things in it that just didn't at all turn out as intended or worse, did but were bad ideas. Came back to this thread to double check the time limit because I've been really stressed out for the past...well forever, actually, but it's gotten a lot worse since near the end of October.

Luckily the next game alphabetically is Axe Cop, but for some reason something about me seems to resonate with really rough, trashy OHR experiences from the early days more than the literally professional quality a lot of our community has been putting out lately.
Remeber: God made you special and he loves you very much. Bye!
Metal Slime
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 PostMon Feb 22, 2021 4:40 am
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bloodledger0005.png
The infamous barrier to playing the actual game.
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The results of attempting the highly dangerous 'YOLO' strat.
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That's fair.
The other ones

Gonna be short since time's coming up. Also slightly falling asleep writing these so beware.

Blood Ledger

This all feels a bit irrelevant considering the game's apparently going to get a severe overhaul at some point in the future, but...

This is a stealth action game where you throw rocks [neat] and have to wolf down bread in order to run [a bit annoying and superfluous feeling]. It having smooth movement and character [singular] animation, lighting details, rock throwing, and NPCs with their own patrol paths in the OHR is all extremely impressive, so props for that.
I really like the atmosphere of that first tutorial area, as well as the dungeon where the game starts for real. It's nice to be able to mess around and get used to the general controls in a very safe [but moody] place, and the dungeon itself ramps up nicely [though I called it a night after failing the second tripwire room].
You know what? I'm going to go out of my way and say that I like a lot of the graphics. The trees and town area as a whole are questionable, but the animated grass in the tutorial area, as well as the dungeon area itself, are very moody and lend themselves well to setting the sort of mood that works well in this genre.
You know what doesn't help set the mood? That gravestone puzzle you have to solve in order to get into the actual game. I think you said you were going to remove it or greatly alter it, but I have to judge on the version I played. The rest of the game's reasonably good at conveying what you're meant to be doing, but not here, and I spent a good while looking around for the real entrance to the dungeon before eventually complaining on discord.
I'll mention throwing rocks again. It's worlds away from Tim-Tim's rock throwing, in that they're actually fit for purpose. Good job.

7/10

Katja's Abyss

On one hand, this isn't an RPG. On the other hand, making the OHR do very non-RPG things has been somewhat of a staple of the community, and for the last HOT OHR I'm fine with making an exception.

On the game itself: it's a very neat minesweeper variant where you can disarm and harvest the mines, and are somewhat required to do so, and I can get behind that. There's a few units to play around with, enemies to spice up the mine defusing, and a bunch of missions with varying objectives [and also an endless mode I haven't tried out yet]. All in all, it's a neat and fun strategy game, even if turtling up and being very cautious with your units feels like the best strategy most of the time.

9/10

Tough Girl Gina

TGG is very much an RPG, but it isn't anything like most OHR RPGs, and goes about setting itself up with an aesthetic I can totally gel with. As for the game itself, though...

I'm of two minds with this:

1. This is a deliberately old-school game, down to the ratchet scrolling of the map and a bunch of relevant character and world information being on a black UI at all times. Gina has lo-fi yells whenever she picks up an item, levels up, etc., and it works great to give her more character. Battles don't really feel like traditional OHR battles, despite clearly being done with them, and there's stuff like luring fairies to come join your party via sweets being done within them.
There's also a overall neat 80s computer vibe to all the graphics. Details are sparse and almost always functionally relevant, text sticks around at the top of the screen after it's been said, and at night it all fades into greyscale, which I'm assuming also has actual gameplay implications. I was totally fine wandering around lost for a while, poking my head into various places.

2. And, unfortunately, that's where I have to switch gears. TGG has some mechanical issues, first among them is that where you can transition between screens can be hard to tell at times. The area outside the fairy queen's place is a good example. The first place you're meant to go - a dungeon - is meant to be easily visible if you head right after heading out of the castle, but the actual point at which you can transition between screens isn't marked at all. I was wandering around wondering what I was overlooking for a while, and it took me looking at the readme's walkthrough to figure out where to go.
This lack of real help from the game itself is a bit of a wider trend. The NPCs all feel connected to Gina in some way, sure, but the catch is that most of their dialogue don't really help you,the player, all that much. There are some hints regarding how to best a certain enemy that'll give you trouble at some point, but by then it's too late, and you've missed your chance for the players to expect NPCs to help them out at all.
Also you have to make booze in order to sleep and regain energy [There's an energy system, as well as a Guts meter that plays a bit alongside it. If I made an effort to actually explain the games upfront instead of in disconnected pieces I'd have mentioned that earlier.] before getting the lighter, and if you make a mistake and drink the one I remember you can find you made your life a good bit harder.

Sitting in the middle [...so after those two halves], is the crafting system. It's neat, but I'd like it a bit more if you got that list of recipes ingame, just greyed out in the crafting menu if you didn't have the ingredients. Not even knowing what you can and can't make is a bit of a pain, but I can totally see why you'd go this way and not show information you couldn't act on in the moment.

I get the impression that this game would instantly go up a point if you included an image of the main map alongside the game itself [as well as that crafting list in a format that feels less cheaty], since that's what games of the age this one is tended to do, as far as I'm aware. For now, though...

7/10

False Skies

it's neat

9/10
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Slime Knight
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 PostFri Feb 26, 2021 6:12 am
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I was a bit overly generous with my review scores this year. Def some cream of the crop games this year.

Alliterative Abbreviated Adventure
Score 2/10

It meets all the standards you expect from Nate; old school dnd/fantasy references flavors, that one 8bit sprite pack, ect.
- Character's default actions were things like "steal" instead of attack
- It's really just not a very fun game.

Axe Cop
Score 10/10

+ Combat feels well balanced
+ Has a very charming gbc style and music
+ The fuse box minigame was pretty fun
- Dungeons are a bit too long

Blood Ledger
5/10

I think my main problem with the game has to do with the tutorial area. The player is given all this information overload about commands, buttons, and others just to not really apply it outside the tutorial and forget it all while trying to solve the graveyard puzzle. Fix up the beginning parts and this game could easily be at least a 7/8.
+ It's a unique idea
- Story is kind of boring. Maybe it gets better later but nothing about it really grips me.
- The graveyard puzzle blows.

Christmas Stars
3/10

I liked Christmas Stars back when I played it during... I dunno, it came out around Christmas I think? It's cute and fun, like a children's book told in OHR form. I like it, however the only reason I gave it a low score here is it doesn't really work with this contest.
+ I honestly like this game for what it is, it just doesn't fit in the contest
+ It's complete
- Only one battle, and is less than half an hour

False Skies
10/10

+ Fixes my complaints the first time around (the huge faces in battle, characters looking too samey)
+ Lots of classes to choose from, like a much more unironic fennecs with more depth

Forgetmenot
9/10

+ Looks good, atmospheric
- Ends kind of upbruptly, unless I got a bad ending and didn't realize it
- Wish it was longer

Gay Savage
8/10

When I saw this game on the gamelist, I downloaded it and played it right away. It might not look great, but there's a hell of a lot of charm here. The game plays more like a classic point and click adventure game combined with an rpg, complete with hand-drawn (mouse drawn) backdrops. There's also some pretty neat body horror lategame, and I'm of the opinion that rudimentary graphics make that kind of nightmare fuel scarier since your brain is filling in the gaps. It's rough around the edges, but if there's a true 'heart' of the ohr it's here, for better and worse.
+ Fun world
+ Game might not look artistically great, but it's a unique and congruent style and I respect that
- A bit obtuse about where to go next, but then again that's how adventure games work
- Hard to know where to go, maybe put some help arrows at the teleports ala FF7?
- The fact you have to play that wierd minigame to get money and healing items with no 'inns' sucks

Katja's Abyss
10/10

+ Designs for the units and enemies are really nice
+ I liked the level without the new unit generator, it felt like there was more at stake since you couldn't just make more miners and stuff
- Can get kind of tedious on the later levels where every square is a mine and you're just diffusing every space assuming there's a mine since there's really no downside to it besides possibly losing a few energy points

Slimes World
2/10

+ Nice character creator
+ World map looks nice
- Incomplete
- No really, it's beyond incomplete. Most of the time in-game is spent pointlessly cutting down trees and mining rocks

Tim-Tim 2
7/10

Tim-tim 2 is a pretty solid platforming game. I don't really have anything bad to say about it, it's a pretty standard platforming game.

Tough Girl Gina
7/10

+ Looks and sounds nice
+ Does a lot of neat things like the hud, scrolling map, ect
- It's vague on where to go even after talking to everyone

TutOHRial
7/10

It fulfills it's purpose as a tutorial well. Only concern I have is if you miss a textbox you have to reload the save or open the game in the editor and read it. Unfortunately, the game gets super wordy and there's a lot of pointless monologuing about design philosophies that probably should be saved until the learner has got the basics down first. Basically, this game's text is like the owl from Zelda 64, but he doesn't repeat himself. That might be fine in some other games, but this is a teaching tool so the text here should be under closer scrutiny than the text in say, Vikings or Gay Savage.
+ Does a good job as a tutorial
+ Learners are able to customize the party they are making with palletes and such rather than Nate being like "You WILL make a theif who looks like this with this color pallete", this gives players a sense of pride and individuality going foreward.
- Too much monologuing when the game is meant for people learning the basics. Perhaps Nathan should open up a neocities page and post articles about his gamedev ideas on it?
- Can't go back if you miss a text box

Vikings of Midgard
10/10

Vikings is still as good as I remember it, and this new edition seems to clean up a lot of the things I found 'loose' in the older versions. The game does suffer a bit from the fact that it's over a decade old. It lacks a lot of the fancy slicework we see in games nowadays, and is full of dusty old memes dug out of grandmawoo's crawlspace. Memes nonwithstanding I don't really care for those fancy effects anyways so whatever. It also feels a lot more lighthearted than before? I don't know if that's just me getting older and not playing this game as a teenager, honestly.
+ Freki is best ohr girl
+ Some of the best of the best OHR game graphics
+ Characters are lovable and fun
- Put the memes back in grandma's crawlspace

Walthros Renewal
10/10

+ Bright world with likeable characters
+ The dissonance between 'Classic?' Summoner Surlaw and Renewal's Surlaw is a nice meta-narrative
- Fight music is dull

Xoo
5/10

+ Looks cool and has neat things to see
- Entire game is just... walking around with no real risk and reward or skill
the quirky recurring villian of the ohr community
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri Feb 26, 2021 10:00 pm
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Thanks for the votes.

You all have nine days left to wrap it up.

Tick tock.
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Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSat Feb 27, 2021 12:01 am
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Here are my scores and extensive, verbose reviews.

AAA: 5
Aim stat make me angy.

Axe Cop: 10
Chop chop chop.

Blood Ledger: 7
Sneaky boy not reached potential. Throw rock poorly.

Christmas Stars: 5
Short and sweet. Bizarre true ending.

False Skies: 10
Highly polished. Lots of options.

Forget-Me-Not: 8
Pretty flowers. More polish.

Gay Savage: 6
Good adventure game. Questionable rpg. Weed joke.

Katja's Abyss: 9
this is literally the best game I've ever made

Tim-tim 2: 7
He jump good. Throw rock poorly.

Tough Girl Gina: 8
Tough game. Girl... game. Aesthetic masterpiece. Gina game.

Slimesworld: 2
Not enough! Want more!

Vikings: 10
Actually feels good to play.

Walthros: 9
Fantastic dialogue & non-combat mechanics. Make frens Smile

Xoo: Xafari: 9
Feels like what Pokemon should be.
My pronouns are they/them
Ps. I love my wife
Slime Knight
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 PostSat Feb 27, 2021 8:44 pm
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I am so sorry for the graveyard puzzle xD

cheat key: east, west, north
Do you make love with the same urgency you make games?
Slime Knight
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 PostSat Feb 27, 2021 8:52 pm
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playthrough here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kef_jTQziUw&feature=youtu.be
Do you make love with the same urgency you make games?
Slime Knight
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 PostSun Feb 28, 2021 5:30 am
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It's not so much that it sucks, it's more that after a dense tutorial we should be using the skills we learned so they can be concretely set in our brains.
the quirky recurring villian of the ohr community
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostWed Mar 03, 2021 2:49 pm
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[secret bonus livestream]
Tonight (Wednesday March 3rd) I'll be reading out every text box of Nathan Karr's TutOHRial on my livestream channel. ( https://www.twitch.tv/achinlabs )
Haven't decided on an exact time yet but it'll be somewhere in the window of like 6 PM to 10 PM Central Time.
If you're on the Slime Salad discord then you'll know for sure when I go live.
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri Mar 05, 2021 7:10 pm
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I've been bugging people in Discord, but voting ends this Sunday! Be sure to vote. This is the last and best Heart of the OHR we've ever had. Enough of us have streamed the games if you don't wanna play but maybe sat in on those, like how Pepsi did with Xeno if it helps you.
Check out Red Triangle Games!
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSat Mar 06, 2021 4:26 pm
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voted.png
I cast my vote today. It was a long and thoughtful process. My thanks to all of you who entered, I ended up walking away with some games that I'm genuinely enthusiastic about getting back to playing. Definitely recommending some of these to my friends. Without spoiling my exact vote numbers, here's my list of personal ranks, from greatest to not-as-great-est. [Along with a special accolade for each, which I'll explain later when I write more detailed reviews]
    1. Axe Cop [Crazy Awesome]
    2. Katja's Abyss Tactics [Pineapple Pizza]
    3. Vikings of Midgard [Yggdrasil]
    4. False Skies [Deep Mine]
    5. Walthros Renewal [Big Lens]
    6. Blood Ledger [Army of One]
    7. Forget-me-Not [Golden Chocolate]
    8. Tim-Tim 2 The Almighty Gnome [Bull's-Eye]
    9. Gay Savage and the Enigma Rip [Locrian Harmony]
    10. Xoo Xeno Xafari [Buffet Line]
    11. Tough Girl Gina [2meIRL4meIRL]
    12. TutOHRial [Community Service]
    13. Christmas Stars [Warm Fuzzies]
    14. Slimes World [Menu Mirth]
    15. Alliterative Abbreviated Adventure [Microscope]
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSat Mar 06, 2021 10:34 pm
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Hey Folks,

I have a feeling that everyone who planned to submit ratings this year has done so already, but just in case there are stragglers out there, you've got just today and tomorrow left to get your scores in.

I should once again reiterate that the competition is ultra-fierce this year, and your score will almost certainly shift positions around, so whatever your opinion, it not only matters, but it will probably change the final outcome (with a few entrenched exceptions), so as I've been saying from the start, you don't know how this is going to turn out until voting closes.

That said, I'll be checking for votes one last time on Monday to make sure I didn't miss anyone over the weekend. So, you have all day Sunday to wrap it up and tick off whatever scores you haven't yet submitted (relevant to those of you who have been trickling your scores in and haven't gotten to every game.)

Hint: Three of you submitted votes that did not include TutOHRial, and one of you still needs three games to complete your list. You aren't required to finish all fifteen games, but if that's your goal, then double-check if you're one of the ones who hasn't finished yet.

So, what happens Monday?

In contests past, I'd spend a day compiling averages, sorting out rankings, coming up with goofy descriptions and achievements, gathering screenshots, and looking for someone to host the results. Once I could get a host and confirm the quality of the presentation, I'd post the link and let you all enjoy the results for the few minutes it might take to read through it all.

I did it this way because it was the only way I could get the results out my preferred way.

But this year will be different, sort of.

On Monday sometime, I'll be contacting the top three winners personally to tell them their positions. I think they should know first.

On Tuesday (or after all three top place winners confirm they've gotten their notices), I'll publish the ranking results in this thread. That way the rest of you will know how you placed and prize holders can contact winners as needed. It'll be plain and straightforward and unglamourous, but you'll know how your game placed. That'll be my remedy to keep you all from waiting too long to find out how you did.

But...

Where's the fun presentation I always do at the end of this? What about the achievements and the fuzzy descriptions and the statistics and the scores?

So, that's where things get a bit different this year.

As I said, normally I send the results to a host, and that person will post the chart and everything. That's because I didn't have my own website to host it.

This year, I have one. But I'm still building it, and I won't have it ready for the public this week, and probably not this month. And I know that none of you will want to wait until April or May to find out how you placed. But I still want to give you guys the usual presentation because that's part of what makes Heart of the OHR fun to host.

So, you'll find out your placement by Tuesday, but I won't be publishing the scores until the website goes live and the Heart of the OHR page is built and ready.

(And I won't be spoiling the scores, either, so don't bother asking. If you want to know how you rated, you'll have to check out the Heart of the OHR page once I've built and published it.)

Because this is probably the last Heart of the OHR for a while (if not the last ever), I think it's time to bring all six contests together into one place and create a full retrospective of its history and impact. I'd also like to have short Zoom interviews with any previous winner who's still in contact (and if any of you know how to contact the older winners like JSH357 or Harlock who don't come around here much anymore, it would be nice if you could point them to this comment in case they want to participate).

So, that's the plan.

I want to thank you all once again for participating and voting and for being cool about this contest and its legacy. It's been a good run, but sometimes the horse needs a nap, and Heart of the OHR is ready to lie down for a while.

That all said, I hope to have something to show by May.

Oh! And if any of you have the original T-shirt lying around, could you PM me a photo of it? I never got one myself.
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 PostSun Mar 07, 2021 6:35 pm
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walthrosrenewal0000.png
I know you can't fix it, man. Here's hoping for a better tomorrow!
GaySavage0002.PNG
It's not always clear where you can or can't go.
axecop0002.png
I am stealing this line.
aaa0024.png
While I didn't set out to send a specific message with this game, I didn't shy away from letting my worldview shine through.
Before I go back through the thread and read everyone else's feedback on AAA and TutOHRial, I would like to thank the academy our fine community for the lovely eighteen years I've passively or actively participated in it and our many ups and downs.

For any game that has both a free demo and a paid version, my review is based on the demo version. Some of you gentlemen have been so generous as to offer me free copies of your professional games, and for this I am grateful; right now my main concerns are time and opportunity cost, so I just don't feel I have time to play the full things regardless of if I wanted to or not.

Alliterative Abbreviated Adventure
My thoughts on this game aren't very deep because the game's concept and implementation weren't very deep either.

I was originally going to make the game entirely as an excuse to use the obsolete predecessor to Fnrrf's 8-bit graphics set when I found out this is where those walkabout sprites you always get when you make a new game came from. (Seriously though, why three walkabouts but not the tileset, corresponding hero graphics, any enemy graphics, etc. if the point was to make it easier to start a new game or to test things? The current default new game settings are just actively worse than they were before.)

Initially I was going to make the game consist of nothing but one-screeen rooms, including all the dungeon levels. Early on, James posted the script for Zelda-style scrolling, so I threw that in so I could test it out and see what (if anything) I'd need to change; I found some interesting edge cases and overall consider it a success as a tech demo and as a game made using the old, incomplete graphics set.

The game's plot is of course a pretty transparent excuse plot. I wanted to keep it short and simple, make the game more about exploring the tiny world rather than about exploring character motivations or whatever; flavor things like the price differences for the same goods in different towns, how those towns are populated, and so on were my priority for worldbuilding. The other islands shown on the world map during the intro are cameos from other game projects I've made, some of which are still in development and others are abandoned; the locations themselves might wind up re-used.

Since there were only two sprites suitable for non-boss monsters (the skeleton bird and the ghost), I decided to import a bunch of the ones I had left over from OHRodents and other projects, which of course leaned the monster variety heavily toward rats (and undead, because undead are my favorite variety of enemies).

A lot of things only exist in the game because there were sprites for them available (like the broom and mop, which I intentionally made into shoddy weapons but added one sidequest that calls for them to justify their existence). The whole game was made that way, basically; import a sprite, then justify or explain its existence.

I still love that random loot script I repurposed from TutOHRial and Vore Day RPG.

The huge number of different status conditions (and their names) were derived from discussions on the board about the old Global Text Strings for things like "Insane" and "Paralysis"; thus, because the magic system was going to have a lot of focus on buffing and debuffing, I made the party's mage primarily an enchantress rather than the usual elementalist.

This might not be clear, but above all else in this game's combat it's status conditions that are supposed to be the star - your characters have stats telling you the % of successfully inflicting or resisting status conditions, almost every enemy uses at least one status-afflicting move, and there are magic rings that do literally nothing but block one or two such conditions. The main mage is an enchantress rather than an elementalist or whatever to emphasise this. Many monsters are designed to have some of their better stats absolutely crushed by these afflictions, being weak to them elementally. All the common healing items are meant to give quite significant stat bonuses as well; jerky not only restores HP to the user, but also raises the Power stat (thus making both physical attacks and direct damage spells stronger); candy recovers MP faster than the enchantress's Recharge action and also boosts Speed; mint and ginseng cure status effects and also boost important stats like Accuracy and Affliction. Being overly used to consumables that do nothing but sit in your pocket because MP is easy to recharge and healing spells are everywhere is probably the second strongest trip-up for players.

The biggest, of course, is that you can't literally just hold down the spacebar and have all four heroes do physical attacks varying from "literally the best" (warrior) to "basically worthless" (enchantress); each hero's default action is their class's main gimmick (Attack for the warrior, stealing items and thus getting the party more consumable stat boosts and spell scrolls for the thief, banishing undead enemies for the cleric, and concentrating to refill MP for the enchantress; action economy is the only real limit on how much MP she has). The Thief and Cleric can also attack, but not as well as a Warrior (unless you actively give the warrior a defense-heavy low-offense build) and the Enchantress doesn't use physical attacks at all. All four heroes have a Defend command, which raises their Evasion stat by some ridiculous number like 100 or 200 for a duration of two turns; this is the key to keeping characters alive, including weighing the value of going attack-attack-attack on the warrior or having him defend-attack-attack-defend. Some of the monsters have this option as well - I likely made it too frequent, but attack spells bypass it.

Melee attacks auto-target the first valid enemy while anything with a range on it (elemental spells, throwing javelins or axes, whatever) is allowed to select a target. Taking away the choice to target enemies standing in the back row with your close-quarters weapons does not, in fact, make this a "de-facto spacebar masher" - restricting options this way actually makes the game more tactical, not less so.

My favorite NPC names are in Abrakazzam, and I really like the song I picked for it; this is called Zira Zira, and I found it in a listing of what I was informed were public domain music back in I want to say 2004 or so, but have great difficulty finding in searches thanks to the name of a minor Disney villain. I can't confirm easily that it is a traditional Ethiopian folk tune and is in the public domain, but regardless of its origins and legal status I love it. It can get a little annoying for NPCs to walk behind the upper parts of buildings and palm trees at times, I won't deny it; I do generally prefer overhead tiles to getting really specific with tile layering though, especially if the latter would require me to modify sprites I got elsewhere instead of drawing my own from the beginning with plans for layering in the first place. The Overhead mark in the passability map is just a lot simpler and easier than layers, even if less nuanced.

Definitely a lot of the equipment brings too large of stat penalties (or the heroes don't naturally rise in accuracy, evasion, and affliction as quickly as I should have made them; the whole point was to have a balancing act between using high powered gear at lower levels at the cost of accuracy while still having some meaningful differences at higher levels). It's basically the same system I was using in Trytuges but slightly more generous; clearly not enough more generous, though. I should probably at minimum double the accuracy bonuses on things like the Sniper Ring and Offense Ring.

"But why put a club and a buckler in the player's inventory at the start if the warrior has a club as his default weapon?" - because the other three heroes can also use the club and the buckler can be put in the weapon slot or the shield slot, and also be used by all four heroes; the point is, everyone starts out equipped with the same basic defensive stuff (+1 DEF each to all four armor slots) and you can weigh the pros and cons of giving them more power or defense for less accuracy (a penalty that also gets canceled out with leveling up).

Another thing is that there are three usable towns in the game, and all have shops with varying buying and selling prices or fees for their basic services. Small as it is, this world has both supply and demand for flavor reasons and, if you take the time to figure it out, even a couple ways to make a profit. Were I to do it again, of course, I'd make use of all those tiles in the same town, place it on one of the coasts of the island, and make it span multiple screens; there are multiple towns, effectively, because there were multiple town tilesets within the single tileset I started from. The story would've been a bit different as a result (the heroes would've all been from the town or all be recently arrived travelers from elsewhere instead of each being from a different one of the four towns, Garlandorf would be an impending threat but not have literally destroyed a city yet, things like that).

At minimum one of the weapons is bugged out and literally couldn't hit at all; it uses the dummy attack meant to artificially inflate enemies' miss chance instead of the default melee attack. The whole thing is unpolished, lacks difficulty in areas where I intended challenge, and is harder than intended in others (apparently someone got softlocked against a Shade, somehow? I was certain they had a basic attack and not just spells). It's uneven and I can't hold it against anyone to find it unenjoyable. I find the writing pretty fun, but gameplay wise it really didn't come together. Apparently the revive point in one of the towns didn't have its harm tile damage assigned properly, turning Santa from a lifesaver in the otherwise-abandoned town to a troll.

Basically, I'm afraid I trusted players to learn and experiment with the game's systems too much and even still, a couple of things wound up flat out not working as intended which would definitely undermine trust that every one of these things had a conscious design decision behind it. So this game, short and simple as it is, suffers from being over-designed and having a few small oversights.

I'm giving it a 3/10, and that's being generous moslty because I think a handful of NPCs (the last two bosses, Dragonogard, one or two others per town) are really fun or funny and the graphics (which I didn't even make most of) look excellent. They'd probably look better if I used one of my 16 color palettes instead of the one packed into the Import folder though.

Axe Cop
I've intentionally avoided the thread on Axe Cop's development the same way I did for Kaiju Big Battel and for the same reason; I want to go into it as blind as possible to see what the OHR pros do with an actual game license. Like Big Battel, I was familiar with the IP before going in; I know a lot more about Axe Cop than I ever did about Big Battel, though, and much clearer expectations for its tone.

The title screen impresses me right away. I didn't have enough time to read the entire copyright disclaimer splash page before it advanced, but like the FBI warning on DVDs and VHS tapes, this sort of thing isn't really there to be read, but to assert that all the valid information was presented in case anyone tries any funny business with unauthorized copying. The title screen itslf looks great, with very fitting music (evokes Beverly Hills Cop).

Save Slot A and Save Slot B? What's this about even slightly restricting anything in a game from the engine's default? How very dare! Hahah, just kidding, file select screen looks great and I don't use more than one save anyway aside from testing games I make.

The first couple of screens of the intro auto-advanced either exactly as quickly as I read them or a little faster. The shorter ones (Axe Cop picking up the axe and declaring he needs a partner) actually gave me a couple seconds to appreciate the art. And on the subject of the art, I really am at a loss for words; I can't fault a single thing visually, it goes several steps above and beyond what's needed, like Axe Cop twirling his axe and holding it up, the extra colors to keep its appearance accurate, and so forth. The thing looks like a Game Boy color, which for me at least is the nostalgic look for RPGs (as the first several I played were early GBC games like Pokemon Yellow and the Dragon Warrior multicart).

Playing around in the good guy headquarters I find that Axe Cop prefers chopping things up with his axe to merely investigating them and giving flavor text; this is in character, funny, and plays a nice little animation. He's also picky about whether he'll look into a filing cabinet from the south instead of west or east; I get the logic of this, hopefully it's more tutorializing for other interactions being direction-sensitive later. One thing that was a real surprise was that after walking a couple spaces, Axe Cop broke out into a sprint; this really caught me off guard. Is this a convenience feature to make it easier to traverse large areas? Honestly after trying to explore the rest of the area I find these sudden shifts in my movement speed jarring and hard to control; a dedicated run key/toggle might've been harder to find on accident but it'd also have been harder to accidentally trigger when I'm not interested in breaking out into a dead sprint? I keep overshooting things I want to look at because the character bursts into a sprint one tile before the place I wanted to stop moving.

A lot of menus seem to interact only with the Enter and Escape keys, not with Space or Alt which I generally use by preference. It feels a little jarring to open one menu by selecting it with the space bar, then be unable to select something within it unless I switch to using enter.

Entering the Land of Volcanoes, a signboard helpfully informs me of the automatic sprint feature, then puts in an obstacle where it's relevant (apparently you'll jump over certain gaps if you're sprinting and your character has a special stat high enough). Impressive as this is, bursting into a sprint still feels innately jarring and dissatisfactory.

Very interestingly, a treasure chest (or present) is placed next to what looks like a walkable rock and an impassible one. The walkable-looking rock turns out to still be an obstruction, but the other rock is colored a little different from the background elements; I check it and Axe Cop smashes it, clearing the path to the collectible. This is a very well designed interaction for an optional healing item; the present being bright white and deep blue also makes it immediately eye-catching in the volcano area.

And just in case someone misses out on learning that this was breakable, right across the first gap are some more breakable rocks in the way of advancement and a sign stating that they are breakable; anyone whose curiosity was not sufficient enough to intuitively chop the rock blocking the chest can then go back and get it after learning this particular rock is breakable. Feels a little redundant and I'm still not sold on the sprint/jump, but it's a nice extra layer of tutorial and there isn't an NPC halting my progress and forcing me to read the sign.

An OHR game where normal attacks make your MP recharge for use of your special attacks? I've seen this setup before quite a few times. Oh cool, forward-facing battle screen! I played around with the characters' special moves.

Axe Cop's dialog about being unable to read the sign from the wrong side is pretty funny. Okay, that was enough to sell me on the necessity of direction-sensitive interaction!

Oh wow, that menu sound - just noticed how much it sounds like Mega Man 3's weapon menu sound. Nice touch, that's one of my favorite games. Party order menu still only interacting with Enter and not Space...I'll have a hard time getting used to that.

I love the first dinosaur enemies being BRONTOSAURUSes because for a long, long time that was pushed as a real thing, then it was discovered to be a hoax made by combining the fossils of multiple sauropod species, then in the past decade or so another species of sauropod was discovered and scientists named it...after a long-discredited hoax fossil. That'd be like naming a newly discovered type of ape Piltdown Man (of course several still-living animals are named for fictional monsters - the fairy fly, pellican, panther, and komodo dragon to name a few). And this game being based around the imagination of a small child, it's entirely fitting that a dinosaur that only ever existed in cartoons and public school text books gets prominently featured as the first mook enemy.

After traversing the area a lot at full sprint, it feels more like the movement controls were designed first and then the place was made large in order for them to come into play than anything else. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy this, but I'd probably have preferred a smaller area and more consistent walking speed. The presentation of the game is completely spot-on and the battles are really fun, but both map navigation and menu navigation feel a little off.

Honestly I'm giving the game a 9/10, which will likely be the highest score I pass out in this contest. Deep down I feel like basically every time I've rated games in previous contests I've gone out of my way to be extra nice and hand out higher scores than I really "feel" either because I'm trying to mentally compare them to the normal output of the OHRRPGCE and similar RPG making programs or because they hit one of my specific hyper-likes. I find a few small faults here and entire features that clearly had a lot of thought, effort, and care put into them but which I find off-putting.

Blood Ledger
First thing the game did was start me in fullscreen instead of windowed. I needed to go into multiple layers of options menu to change it to a window so I could write my impressions in my Notepad file. The music sounds good and ominous, but I've known for a while its aesthetic was not going to sit well with me; everything on the title screen and main menu is shades of dark gray and dark, desaturated red for the true edgelord experience. The "default", "dark", and "brighter" settings all look basically interchangeable, and setting it to the highest ("Check Your Prescription") mocks me while still being mostly samey dark grays, just with enough contrast that the lightest grays can be meaningfully distinguished from the darkest.

Starting a new game I am shown four palette swaps of the same blurry humanoid walking in place; Widow, wearing mostly black with some minor red accents; Recluse, wearing nothing but different shades of brown; Blood, an inversion of Widow with red as the main color and black as the secondary; and Huntsman, wearing dark green with brown. As green is the second-best color and the one most different from the others, this is the one I will be going with. Bena also commented during a stream that my use of semicolons makes me untrustworthy; the truth is simply that I know how to use them so I'd might as well do so, and I will not apologize for this in any way.

I'm thrust into a dark, rainy place consisting of blurry brown bricks, blurry brown wood catwalks, blurry grayish-green gravel or grass, what seems to be mild rain, and my blurry green man. The character has complicated and rather smooth walking animations and doesn't move in full tiles. I walk towards the faded edge of the wall I'm standing on and red text appears over my character saying "I have to warn them" - warn who and of what? I probably have to play further to find out.

I'm sure to a lot of people the more-than-two-frames walking animation, relatively realistic proportions of the characters, and smooth movement within tiles is very impressive. I'm pretty hard to wow with spectacle though, and that's always caused a lot of friction surrounding my opinions on design and aesthetics. I will compliment the game's tile work in that I can tell what's the walkable top side of a structure and what's blocking wall made of the same material at a glance. Clearly a lot of work has gone into making very detailed graphics that no matter how good they are at being what they try to be, I will not enjoy looking at them.

I step onto a dark cyan cross and circle thing icon on the ground (only relatively light or bright in any way compared to its dismal and dreary surroundings) and it tells me the W key will let me move the camera around to get a look at things. When doing so, my character's movements aren't locked and everything goes black and white; when everything was already dark and desaturated, this doesn't really help in any way for scouting.

Downstairs there is a switch with a very picky hitbox. It generously glows up from "super dark gray statue of a thumb" to "normal dark gray statue of a thumb" when I'm within reach of and facing toward it so it can be activated; it's a significant and helpful brightness shift. The vertical version of the obstructing wall is hard to see or interpret as it's so narrow and basically the same colors as the floors, while the passable version is the lighter end of dark gray used by the switch when it can be interacted with.

The dark cyan "glow spots" or whatever they're supposed to be continue giving me basic tutorials of the controls for a while. The character continues to use what looks like a run animation while "sneaking" at a much slower speed and the same running animation if holding down another key to move faster; if there's any difference, it's too subtle for me to take note of it.

I spend a few minutes interacting with a tripline (which can be diagonal as you move around to set it, but can only be placed either perfectly vertical or horizontal). I trip on it the instant I set it, getting a prompt that says "step lightly". The tripline seems to serve no purpose aside from instantly colliding with the player character immediately upon being set.

The game has a complicated set of running turning into sprinting and only being able to jump while sprinting. My dark brown stamina meter over in the lower right corner slowly depletes to dark purple-brown.

I walk into the next room and the main character begins talking to a black silhouette next to a torch floating magically above a tree stump. Text boxes only advance with the enter key. They babble about some coming war and the bark and seeds of a tree or something. Main character seems to be getting blamed for the enemies finding the location of his homeland and banished instantly instead of being allowed to help defend it, told that he's not of the same kind as them, and I have to go back to the upper side of the bridge where I started, which now has giant blurry dark gray arrows drawn on it. The detection for when switches can be activated seems pickier than before, like I was just getting lucky with my character placement before.

Next cutscene informs me via text that the character was immediately found by the enemies, surrendered, and had his entire inventory taken away, then escaped. That might've been interesting to depict in gameplay or visually. Abrupt scene change into a merely moderately dim village; had this been what was on display when I was choosing the visual settings instead of the title screen, I might've considered going with a brightness of 3 instead of 4.

I get more narration about the character making friends with an NPC overlaid on top of him standing still by himself in the middle of a road. The town is huge and seemingly devoid of life; a bunch of buildings, road, and lawns, a loaf of bread abandoned in a cart in the street, but no people anywhere to be seen and most the buildings don't even have doors.

On the far north there's a castle with a couple of cloaked guards and a grave site full of cartoony-looking high contrast headstones with thick black outlines. For some reason, these headstones that visually pop can't be read, but the duller-ones scattered around with cracks on them and dark gray outlines near the gray-green grass adjacent to them in tone can be read (wouldn't the fresh and crisp stones be easier to read than the ones covered in huge cracks going all over?)

Having played around for about forty minutes, I decided I've had enough and quit.

3/10. It's like everything I didn't like about the movement controls in Axe Cop, only that's the game's whole focus. Extra points are for the music, the clear amount of care and effort, and acknowledgement that the graphics are of a high detail quality even if it's really hard to see or understand them. Basically, I hate this game but I don't think it's bad, just designed as the total antithesis of what I think of as fun.

Burpin' Bros
I'm going into this expecting something stupid and uncomplicated, hoping to be amused. There's a groovy jingle playing on the title screen, reminding me of Commodore 64 games; the title screen itself has a big cartoony sickly green cloud with the game's title written in it and the bottom corners occupied by interesting looking cartoon animals. I'm not sure what they are, but they exude personality.

The main characters have nice brief descriptions; Cool Guy likes breakfast for dinner and hates cooking for himself while Rude Dude likes sad, moody music and hates the status quo. Between this, his sunglasses, and his whiskers I definitely identify a lot more with this brown mohawk-having mammal so that's who I'm going to play as.

And not for the first time in OHR history, I'm surprised with a Bubble Bobble clone! Don't Eat Soap is still a chart topper all these years later, but it's nice to get another one since Bubble Bobble was a great game and its mechanics seem to replicate fairly well in the OHR for some reason.

I had a couple weird glitches happen, like my character passing through a doughnut I couldn't grab before the level advance animation started and getting points for it anyway, or one time when I killed two enemies at once and only one piece of food appeared. I couldn't figure out how to beat level 11; all the enemies were on the opposite side of a thick wall I couldn't pass through, and I couldn't make bubbles to jump on since no matter where I stood or which direction I faced, they'd go too far to stay on my side so I could jump on them. Maybe if I sat around a while and waited patiently for the enemies to break free of the bubbles I was trapping them in from all the way across the screen and kill them once they were on my side of the field, I'd have eventually won. Did the game break because I still had a powerup from an earlier level or something?

The graphics are all charming and pleasant to look at, the levels have funny names, and on the whole I can say I just find it fun to play. I'm giving it an easy 6/10.

Christmas Stars
Bad Santa in Axe Cop, Santa as a friendly NPC in AAA and this game here...plenty of Christmas Spirit to go around, eh? It's funny when a particular round of HotOHR has a widely shared theme spanning multiple games, completely by coincidence, like pirates in 2018 and berries in 2016.

Title screen is a simple MSPaint pencil tool affair; Christmas drawn in single pixel width green and Stars in red. The dot of the I in Christmas is a more detailed drawing of a star; reminds me of the starfish badniks in Metropolis Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Title screen had no music, but the intro cutscene has a pretty groovy retro game soundtrack, reminds me fondly of the music I heard made by remixing sound effects from the Game Genie password screen.

A cute little hermit crab is walking back and forth inside of an aquarium with an orange star like the one on the title screen next to the fake cave. The starfish becomes curious about the light at the surface of the water, then the game begins; the starfish is the player character.

I accidentally get an alternate ending by checking out the inside of the aquarium cave decoration before heading to the surface. It's amusing and there really wasn't any progress to lose since the intro was only one textbox long.

Heading to the surface and wait...was this supposed to be a real ocean and not a home aquarium next to a Christmas tree? The presentation of the frame surrounding the gameplay screen has me confused.

Heading towards a Christmas fir tree inexplicably planted on the beach and surrounded by tiny brick walls, the next screen gives me an abrubt shift to a similarly synthetic but significantly more chilled out and relaxed song. There's a tiny ladder up against the trunk of the tree, scaled to a starfish. I need to climb it twice because the top of the ladder is a teleport to a view of the same ladder on the same tree from a different perspective.

I see what looks like a mole and go to check him out. He makes an observation that the Christmas tree's light display must be quite intense for his near-blind mole eyes to register that it's happening. Definite props for making the mole look instantly readable at a glance as a mole.

The owl on the next screen, on the other hand...doesn't look like an owl to me. I thought he was a worm that was lit on fire or a slice of toast or a demon or something.

I'm going to assume that checking the Christmas light and going to bed without talking to the hermit crab would give another alternate ending, given how short this game is.

The game's graphics are really nice; cute and simple with few criticisms I could offer. In fact, the door linking between maps caused more weirdness than anything with the graphics themselves. This experience was brief, altogether pleasant, but basically bereft of substance; I'm giving it a mildly positive 6/10 with a special note that I think it's one of the nicest-looking games in the contest from a graphics standpoint.

False Sky
Thinking back on how I voted on this game's placement in previous contests, Union Tour, and the like was one of the big things that made me really rethink how much I've tried to force positivity in my reviews and ratings in the past. In an attempt not to come across as rude or needlessly antagonistic, I wound up over-correcting and rating things I personally don't like much more highly than my honest assessment felt they deserved. At the same time, I feel stress and anxiety basically any time I post my honest opinions or beliefs on ANYTHING, and actively avoid some sites for days, weeks, or months at a time out of anxiety and not wanting to escalate things any further.

Honestly I think this is the best-looking game Feen has put out to date. The tiles are more visually complex than suit my tastes, but the sprites are all crisp and readable and I really love the look of the Noisy Bat enemy. Things are all leaning heavily towards the desaturated and low-contrast side, but there's distinct use of colors and both light and dark elements. The only visual critique I have is it took me a lot of looking to find the save point book in the base since it just looked like a decorative brown table to me, not like a point of interest important to interact with.

The game's intro seems to be completely different from the last version of this I played, and for the better. A lot less talking before getting thrown into the tutorial dungeon. I remember it coming after a whole lot of uneventful chatter, a tutorial on the class system, building a party, then more cutscenes...now it just asks me to choose my character's gender, appearance, and name and tells me to go to the ruins.

I'm glad the slow start has been fixed. I'm comfortable giving it a 6/10. Not something I'm at all interested in coming back to and playing casually but it seems to be a good game and it hits that nostalgia button with its Game Boy Color aesthetic. I don't know if I rated a previous version of the game higher, because in hindsight I think the last version I played was more like a 4 edging into a 5; this is a marked improvement and, due to differences of taste, could never be something I'd truly love without compromizing the artist's vision.

Forget Me Not
Another game I'm going into blind. Title screen is mostly dark, desaturated purple but I can read the texture of the wooden floor panels as what they are. Some moody, downbeat piano music plays in the background with a mildly sad looking little girl holding a pot of light blue flowers. To me, this sends a lot of red flags that this is going to be something artsy and melancholic.

Z to accept and X to decline instead of the normal Use/Menu keys? Only reason I could see to do this is if the movement is also custom scripted...oh no.

In Wales there was a huge ugly blob of unreadable desaturated dark grays, cyans, and purples. The in-game font is a dark cream color with a soft purple on the bottom half of each letter, and the letters aren't of equal width to each other. All the hopes I had in what little promise the title screen showed have been dashed two textboxes into the game's intro.

I'm relieved, a little, a couple textboxes later. The game still looks mildly unpleasant, but a lot more like what I'd expect from the title screen; dark purple wood floor of a creepy, dimly lit mansion. There's a ring of light surrounding the player character, an effect I've always wanted to achieve in the engine for exploring dark dungeons. Graphically I'd say the work on the sprites and tiles are one notch above Blood Ledger from variety of detail and clarity, then two more for knowing there's such a thing as light colors at all. It still feels like an inordinate amount of work went into re-creating basic features of the engine just slightly differently (interact key, text boxes, movement, save screen).

A flower threatens to eat the protagonist, then apologizes and refers to her as queen, which the girl is confused by. Amnesia, I'm guessing. Pansy's puns are mildly amusing.

Honestly, I don't like this game but I don't feel like it hates me. 5/10; mildly unpleasant to me, feels like it needlessly reinvents the wheel, probably fun to the kind of people who like dimly lit and moody pieces and slow walking back and forth between puzzle setpieces.

Gay Savage
With a name like "Gay Savage and the Enigma Rip" I expect something silly and lighthearted; the off-kilter font of unevenly sized lowercase letters, bouncy default OHR music, and art that looks like it was drawn in MSPaint and intentionally not colored in completely all add up to that effect. I'm a little frustrated at it opening up in full screen mode, making it harder to immediately write down my impressions.

When the game describes how the city of Shittsville is pretty ordinary and got struck by a comet, it really sank in how difficult this font is to read even for one or two sentence textboxes. I'm probably going to glaze over most of its humor just because it's physically difficult to read. It's a lot worse when there's no box under the text, but even with a textbox it's hard to read.

The eponymous "Gay Savage" is apparently a girl with short hair. If the dialog didn't explicitly inform me she was female, I'd have assumed she was just a scrawny man.

I love the messy, non-tiled look of the maps and how they still consist mostly of flat colors. The exact opposite of Blood Ledger, I'd say; it's badly drawn but looks nice and is easy on the eyes instead of being technically competent but straining and unpleasant.

After playing the game for 29 minutes and some change, I wind up stuck. There's a minigame of trying to catch cans in a trash bag which I can't beat because other garbage collides with me, cans spawning between other random junk, and there's no hit tolerance; anything that isn't a can destroys the trash bag. Another minigame of playing a space game on a computer; looks fine, but I can't not be hit by asteroids, nor can I find a space cadet or whatever lost somewhere out in the vast vacuum of space. There's a locked door in one room an NPC who complains of having dropped a key in a toilet in another, but the floor between me and the toilet is blocked off by invisible walls for some reason. The janitor who joined my party mentioned men in black taking away all the store's groceries but talking to the one man in black outside doesn't lead anywhere.

I'm giving this game a 4/10 with a special note that it made me laugh and have a good time for what it was. I'd probably have given it a 5 or 6 if I could've gotten any farther.

Kajta's Abyss
I don't know how much has been updated since the last time I tried to play this, but I remember it softlocking on the tutorial and its mechanics not being at all clear or intuitive. I'd build vehicles, mine walls that sometimes exploded and destroyed my mining vehicles but sometimes didn't, "upgrade" vehicles in ways that made them lose their previous functionality and weren't intuitively even the same general archetype, and run out of finite resources. During the times when enemies were onscreen and I had functional battle vehicles, the tactical combat was fun and intuitive. I know it started out as Minesweeper Tactics, but IME Minesweeper on anything but the lowest difficulty is luck-based rather than skill-based.

So I'll give the game's tutorial level another quick try.

...This tutorial is vastly better than the old one was, like it's night and day how the mechanics are actually explained. If I actually make it to the end of the tutorial level without softlocking, I'll give this game an easy "most improved" award.

So even though I played the tutorial level, the "introductory level" still has some character telling me how to do things, and even using the [e] overlay button and trying to solve where it's safe to mine...the wall still exploded and destroyed my digging machine. I try this several times and it still only ever feels like luck if my digger explodes no matter how much deliberation I put into trying to figure out where it is or isn't safe. In fact it seems to be exactly the tutorial that softlocked on me when I tried playing the game months ago and for the same reasons.

Yet again, no matter how impressive the tech of the scripting is that goes into making it, the game just isn't any fun. 4/10.

Slimes World
I start with a nice title screen showing a planet half shadowed out and a slime sprite on top of the game's name as a dramatic background song plays.

First I get a choice of my slime's gender. Interesting, you'd expect slimes of all things to reproduce asexually. I respect the game's bold decision to display a binary choice of gender.

After choosing a male slime I'm given a choice of being red, green, or blue. Blue is the best color, but is it the best choice for the game? The game tells me there are differences based on the color I choose, but gives me no information as to what the differences are.

Classes are all clearly named - Archer, Mage, Warrior, Thief, and Healer. As there's no generalist/red mage/bard type of option, I go with Healer. Next I'm given a choice of five deities; I go with the one that lets me use Accuracy as an attack stat and a bonus to Speed. If the game is active-time, there's basically nothing more important than a good Speed stat while if it's turn-based, breaking speed ties or going first can make a huge difference over the course of an adventure.

This seems like a pretty straightforward RPG with a few added subsystems. I'm going to guess the characters are all slimes mostly because slimes are easy to draw and it doesn't look as jarring to see exact duplicate characters as it would be were they human/elf/dwarf or mouse/cat/dog than they are as red slime/green slime/blue slime. It's an effect that works pretty well and the sprites are nicely drawn.

Some of the random townspeople NPCs have no text boxes and the shades of green for the grass floor tile and the leaves of the tree tile are a bit too close together and kinda blur. Otherwise the grahpics are great. I love the newbie town being named Nubi Village; this is the kind of wordplay I can get behind and makes me wonder if any of the other oddly specific names I've seen are similarly jokey and I just didn't pick up on them; the best wordplay is the kind that takes a while to figure out.

One NPC looks to be intended as a shopkeeper and greatly resembles Mr. Triangle, only a lot more rounded because he's a slime. An argument could also be made for a cyclopean mushroom or the umbrella yokai, but us OHR devs love referencing each other's games.

I talk to a random NPC and he says "Let's spar", I get no choice and am made to fight two green slimes. They each take off about 35% of my HP per turn and take more than one hit to beat, and my combat screen doesn't include the spells or special abilities my class and deity of choice are supposed to give. Even if I could heal infinitely, I'd only break even and keep myself from dying. As soon as I lose, the game spontaneously exits out entirely. As I had no chance to save, I'd have to go through the entire character generation process all over again.

I'm giving the game a 4/10. A lot's clearly gone into it and the presentation is nice, but too many of the options on offer are broken or incomplete.

Tim-Tim 2
I fondly remember the first Tim-Tim The Mighty Gnome - it was a fun little platformer with some janky edges due to its nature as a platformer coded in an RPG editor, but was better than most platformers made in the engine before it.

This sort of thing is fascinating to me. Games this heavy on custom scripting are an extreme mixed bag - always more work to make than a straightforward RPG, probably usually a lot more difficult than learning to use a different game engine for another genre, maybe sometimes just barely easier than learning an actual programming language and making what you actually want from scratch. Sometimes such things are actually satisfying to play - such as the first Tim-Tim and even more so Don't Eat Soap.

Usually it's when people pour lots of effort into scripting just barely different versions of RPG features that already exist natively instead of refining the balance within said features that I find these ambitious projects more baffling and less fun; the RPG combat is probably the main reason I've never taken the time to actually finish playing Hati's Bizarre Adventure, and changes to basic navigation left me deeply soured on several games in this very contest.

The game starts out very pleasant; it fullscreens on me automatically, making it harder for me to write my review, but it gives a nice little recap of the previous game, then has a domestic scene with Tim-Tim and his fiancee Tiff in a cave they plan on using as a home; Tim-Tim is asked to pick up the loose stones, letting the player learn for himself how the jumping, attack, and movement work. The wholesome homemaking is interrupted by a horrid hand reaching out of a portal and kidnapping Tiff, kicking off the adventure to rescue her. Whoever did this is in for a world of hurt; you don't mess with a mighty gnome!

Book cases and the like that prompt a green arrow to appear above his head to interact. Pressing up to interact might be an issue if I had a controller, but A) dialog boxes don't lock Tim-Tim's movement and B) I'm playing with a keyboard anyway so the up arrow it's a lot harder to accidentally register two different directions at once (this is also why up is an acceptable, though not preferable, control for jumping on a PC platformer but not a good idea for a console platformer). All the text is appropriately snappy, brief, and clear - good for an RPG and crucial for an action game.

Having access to both throwing rocks and the lightning spell early on demonstrate good differences in power and projectile trajectory. Renewable HP and MP recovers at certain fixed places in the levels fix the main issue I had with the resource management of the first Tim-Tim game - it was easy to use up your MP with your attacks and not have mana potions on the ground nearby.

As soon as I get to the dwarf settlement, I have a textbox where "then" is accidentally used instead of "than". This sort of thing wouldn't be worth commenting on unless it stood out as an exception to the otherwise well written text. Hearing dwarves talk about dinosaurs rather than referring to them as dragons amuses me a little just out of being a bit unexpected, but it's completely appropriate; "dinosaur" is just a recently invented word for "dragon", coined out of words of a dead language, because the fossilized remains of dragons were discovered after "enlightened" people had dismissed them as entirely fictional due to centuries of the game of telephone with storytelling tradition exaggerating them to ridiculous or entirely impossible forms. When a dinosaur spits fire in particular, it's definitely a dragon.

The game's music and graphics are excellent, as are many of the sound effect choices. For some reason, though, no sound cue plays when I grab an HP or MP upgrade or large coin which spawns upon opening a chest; was this an oversight? It seems they could have used the same sound effects as the smaller coins/heal droplets as a placeholder at least. And after I beat the first boss, he drops a letter and instead of the frog speaking, I get a prompt of Tiff asking what the letter is. Try as I might, I can't interact with the letter.

There's also a little weirdness with the Escape key to open the inventory menu, Z to select the quit option, and then enter to confirm the choice to quit. I'm feeling a strong 8/10 energy from Tim-Tim 2. It's a great game with a little room to get even greater.

Tough Girl Gina
Was written as "Tough Girl Ninja" in my initial notes but the file name says "Tough Girl Gina" - not sure how that happened. This is the last game I truly go into blind and play for myself.

Yet another fullscreen only game with no option to switch to a window; this is going to be a chore to write a review for. The title screen has the eponymous Gina pacing back and forth in front of a spotlight.
Name: Gina
Job: Get Tough That's not a job, miss.
Height: Not tall enough Wait, there's a threshold for that on girls or is it just a joke about insecurity? I hear about guys being "too short" all the time, but not anyone saying it of women; quite often it's even treated as a compliment or actively sought out attribute.
Weight: Private I.E. "I'm heavier than I'd like to admit"
Age: Just a Number I.E. "I'm okay with dating someone far outside an appropriate age range"
Blood Type: Hot Blooded "I have anger management issues"; can definitely relate.
Religion: Losing It "I'm stressed out and don't have deeply rooted faith"
Status: Single And Hating It "Lonely and desperate for affection"; can definitely relate, I've been there most of my adult life, and in an unhealthy codependent relationship with someone manupulating me for much of what remains.

The game makes some simple beeping sounds that remind me of ZZT and other old DOS games; once I actually start playing, the graphics and music also remind me of that old early 90s free PC game aesthetic. Gina has voice lines, which were quite unexpected but feel fitting. Everything looks pretty clear, and a combination of the HUD and the way the screen transitions when you walk to the edge both remind me of Hydlide.

Gina's got herself a stabby knife to stab at things with the Q key. Despite the tile based movement everything feels pretty snappy and responsive; I've had a lot of issues with action RPGs of this style made in the OHR engine before. I'm still baffled as to why someone would want to plotscript a genre like that or a platformer in HamsterSpeak instead of using a different engine aside from a personal challenge or a comforting familiarity with Custom's textbox and graphics editors; but what matters isn't whether the decision makes sense, but whether the execution plays comfortably, which at least before running into enemies I can say it does.

The game has a pretty interesting little crafting system going on with the random junk you can find on the ground like twigs, rocks, mushrooms, and grass. Even more interesting is what appears to be the default battle engine popping up as random encounters, but making extensive use of interface shenanigans to make all options appear on the same box, but only when usable instead of spell/item lists. Working with the engine's strengths instead of against them and then using them in an unexpected way that conveniences the player - now THAT is the kind of unusual I like!

I die and a fairy gives me a fairy party member and a quest to rescue more fairies. I run around some more, killing goons, talking to NPCs (including some variety of clergyman who says God doesn't approve of fairies) , collecting and crafting random junk. I find a couple dungeons but don't explore them right away, look around for a save option literally anywhere and can't find it. There's a LOAD option on the game menu but it just takes me to the title screen without saving my progress.

There's a few minor times where the interface doesn't interact as intended, like opening up the crafting menu and still being able to make Gina stab the air with her knife. I'm giving this a 6/10.

Walthros Renewal
I've had a mild like of Walthros since the first time I played it. The original version had a lot of weird and silly things - the traps of "too many main characters, not enough time to give real development and spotlight to all of them, many wind up both mechanically and narratively pointless inclusions" and "requires some outside knowledge of the creator's earlier work, which might not even exist online" (the Sky Fliers being a trio is supposed to be important, but Gulob literally felt like a minor afterthought; the plot's structure introduces an evil version of the trio like an hour or two before you meet the good Gulob and add him to your already-bloated team) definitely reared their heads, but its balance was mostly okay (lending more to "combat is boring" than "combat is frustratingly hard"), its graphics were passable and readable, its music choices were solid, and the few heroes to actually be memorable for their personalities (Salom, Super Walrus Man, Dinosaur Giant, Rice) or fun to play (Bob, Sombra, Super Walrus Man, Dinosaur Giant, Rice, Blueberry) definitely stood out as well written and/or balanced.

There's a reason Surlaw has been able to basically make this into an in-community franchise with sequels, self-parody (Walthrus and Gato Suico), and spinoffs all over the place. And like many franchises nearing two decades old, it was ripe for a remake of its original breakout piece. Surlaw is great at character design and character writing, and whether a game's tone is irreverent (Gato Suico making jokes about futanari porn and STDs), lightheartedly silly (Stinkmace telling the backstory of Dinosaur Triple and having a silly fable about a hare who lost his glasses completely unrelated to the main characters as its opening), or serious and dramatic (the original Walthros), the character interactions have always been the best part.

I've largely avoided the development thread for this game for the same reasons I did Axe Cop and Kaiju Big Battel; I wanted to go into the experience as unspoiled as I could be. Here I am, a day before the voting deadline (6th Mar 2021), and I haven't even opened the game up yet. I'd have preferred to find time to space out my playthroughs and reviews of the games for the contest more instead of doing them all in literally the week of the deadline, but I've had a lot of other things on my plate. I still plan to give this game a fair shake.

Opening up, the game has a rather large window and a simple but very effective title screen consisting mostly of blue (the best color). There's options of Continue, Load Game, and New Game; I can't see Continue meaning much unless there's some sort of quicksave or autosave feature. Considering I know Surlaw to have always been an advocate for letting the player save anywhere instead of using save points or overworld only saving, I expect not to run into the trouble a couple other games have given me this year of leaving me unable to even find where to save.

After a very brief line of intro text, we are shown the interior of a spaceship being manned by some purple blobby humanoid things with scarecrow-like faces of various sizes. The game makes heavy use of the engine's newfound ability to display larger sprites than the default; Surlaw (a yellow fish wearing a red cape) and Lancoven (a winged seal wearing a tie and missing an eye) burst into the scene explosively. Both characters are level 20, these are the surnames of the familiar main duo of the franchise, and this scene is marked as "final days of the war" so this is either a beginning in media res with some near-endgame action to get the player hooked...or a flashback to the fathers of our respective heroes to set up things to come, since the appearances are slightly different from how they're usually designed. And just as expected, I can even save during this prologue - cool guy, Bob Surlaw.

The combat is basically what you'd expect; by the numbers OHRRPGCE engine combat with fairly high numbers (about 2000 HP per hero and 400 points of damage per attack). The boss of the first room (Boogeymajor) reminds me of Grimace in terms of general body shape and coloration, a character I know the creator to be fond of. The room afterward has a cyborg shark, who looks pretty cool.

Deciding to heal up the characters after battle, I run into a pretty funny interaction of these very large sprites and out of battle healing; nothing the developer can fix, but the characters overlap and even go partially offscreen when choosing who to heal. I can only hope we get better support for nonstandard hero sizes and screen resolution down the line.

The scene ends with Surlaw throwing his sword into a giant glowing crystal and causing a bunch of explosions to end the war. 50,000 years later...either time travel or I was off by a few generations on my second guess. Whatever the case, we have Bob Surlaw, a much happier and friendlier-looking fish in a gray cape, doing some stretches before checking in for work. I wander around the dig site, talk to Bob's friends, inspect their mining equipment and notes, and generally have a good time listening to the background music.

After a brief cutscene and right before a fight breaks out, I'm prompted with a difficulty selection mode. I have a hard time choosing which of the three I want; I go for the casual "Story Mode" difficulty because it will allow me to cover ground quicker, even though I generally prefer my RPGs more on the difficult side. Funny thing, the "Story Mode" selection seems to have turned what looked like 3 enemies on the map into a combat encounter with only one of them; I guess the price I pay for focusing more on the story and less on the fighting is to get more story/gameplay segregation.

Somehow opening my menu after Bob's first fight and before talking to Dr. Pescado resulted in getting stuck on the menu, unable to close it with Alt or Escape. I was able to fix this in a few seconds by saving and loading.

It's always a nice touch when the NPCs of the town the hero is from recognize him already. I like a lot of the NPCs scattered around; Sunglasses Kid's sunglasses don't seem to be connected and look more like sun contacts if anything.

Then when I was in the clothing store, after closing out the equip menu, all the menu text remained onscreen for a second after the boxes disappeared; hitting the alt key again closed that out.

Cycle of Putridity is a cute little Space Invaders clone.

At an hour and twenty minutes of just the intro and exploring the starting town, I comfortably give this game an 8/10 All the little loving details bring the experience together, but it just isn't gripping me right now. There's a couple minor glitches, but maybe not even enouogh to count for a whole point. I can't go back and change my scores for previous contests but I like Walthros Renewal more than I liked Kaiju Big Battel.

Xoo: Xeno Xafari
I decided to take up the offer to watch Zippy's video playthrough of the game and form an impression based on that. There's three playable characters, each listed as having two likes and two dislikes (I like most of the things any of them like, esp. if you swap out Rubia's "Her boyfriend" for the equivalent on me, "His girlfriend") and share four dislikes out of the six total for the characters (getting up early, talking to people, school, sports fans). So basically all three playable characters sound very relatable to me, whether or not they actually exhibit any of these traits when you actually play. It looks like there's multiple clothing options for each, and Constance's at least all begin with the letter F.

The graphics are bright and clear. It definitely looks like a game someone would pay in order to play. The Betel Nut sounds like all downsides to me; gets you high and turns your spit red? No thanks. Looks like there's no option not to eat it, either.

This game seems to be making really good use of the large writing space of textboxes. When I heard "rugbear" my first thought was bugbear, my second was rugby football, and then I read the rest of the description and laughed; that's a pretty interesting design for a predator.

The gameplay loop looks pretty fun. A game of pure exploration and upgrading with no combat. I like a lot of the flavor text and during Zippy's quick scroll through the list of species I saw a few community references. With the caveat that I haven't actually played it myself, I'm giving it a 7/10 which is two points higher than it'd have gotten if I'd simply abstained from voting altogether.
Remeber: God made you special and he loves you very much. Bye!
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