Tumiki Fighters - Infective Meme, or Addicting Game?
Several days ago I saw this game linked to on the geek mecca of Slashdot.org. After many feverish hours of play, I release upon you my review! muahaha. Abstract: Basically fun, but could use some improvements in terms of game mechanics. Extremely addicting and difficult.
My hands are shaking, I'm sweating, and I'm hoping this article doesn't come out in an incomprehensible blur. Why?
I'm writing it inbetween my Tumiki fixes, that's why. I cannot explain the addictive properties of this game. Personally, I find it more fun than Ikaruga - if different. Indeed, the author has made a different game with a play mode similar to that of Ikaruga. Tumiki, however, is an entirely different monster to handle. The old adage holds true here: easy to play, difficult to master. The controls are simple. Arrow keys (or the traditional WSAD layout) to move your ship, a fire button, and a "hold" button. The fire button and hold button are located in pairs around the keyboard - z and x, . and /, 0 and . on the numpad, left-ctrl and left-alt, etc. When you move your ship vertically, it tilts in that direction - pressing and holding the "hold" key will lock your ship at an angle, at the expense of slowing your movement.
Your ship fires a traditional steady stream of bullets. This is where the traditional mechanics end. Once you shoot an enemy out of the air, if you collide with the falling blocks, they will "stick" to your fighter. This provides you with an attatchment which fires the stuck enemy's firing pattern automatically. The down-side, of course, is that your footprint is now that much bigger, and the enemy bullets are that much more difficult for you to dodge. Part of the trick of this game is getting them to stick in the right orientation - they spin as they fall, and if you collide at the wrong time, you could end up with a totally useless block shooting behind you. You get points every time you pick up an enemy, and recurring points every time the enemy block fires. At 100,000 and 300,000 points you get an extra life, so points are important.
The graphics are beautiful and abstract, calling to mind brightly colored childrens toys. Various two-dimensional polygons represent your fighter, the enemy fighters, and the bullets you both are shooting at each other. The music is addicting and fun, if a little repetitive - it's better than the 15 second chiptune loops on older shmups, that's for sure. It all fits the setting very well.
This game harks to a time when games were played in arcades, where when someone tries for the top score a crowd gathers around watching. It truly is difficult; in several days I have yet to pass stage 2 more than once, and once passed died quite horribly to the hordes of enemies in stage 3. This brings me to two points that would make the game much more fun: currently when your conglomerate of enemy ships is hit, they all collapse and fall like a house made of playing cards. It would be better, I think, if only the enemy hit by the bullet would fall off of the cluster around your ship. In this way, a skilled player could get rid of extra room formed by mis-directed enemies stuck on. The other is difficulty settings - it would be nice to chose a "beginner" mode and a "difficult" mode - the beginner mode gives you extra lives more often (perhaps at 50,000 points, 100,000 points, 150,000 points, etc), while the difficult mode is set as is - 100,000 and 300,000 and that's it.
At one point I was pondering how a stage select mode could make the game more fun, but the jury is still out on that. There seem to be very few levels to Tumiki Fighters, and being able to select a stage once the previous is beaten would shorten and somehow cheapen the game.
Overall, it is a classic in the making - an addictive and masochistically difficult game that still ends up being fun. It's a small download, rated at about 5mb. Grab it from the official page, and enjoy your shooter!
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