Monday, February 4, 2008


We've got another Combat-clone her, but Balder2d is a really solid one. In its own words, it's a "Zero gravity 2D shooter". The interesting gimmick that differentiates it from its forebears is that you can't accelerate or decelerate - you can only stick to walls, or rebound from walls. So if you want to change direction, you have to hit a wall, stick to it, then push off from it. You can charge your push, allowing for variability in speed.

It works well as a mechanic, being simple to comprehend but difficult to master. The game is over when the maximum score is reached (points are scored by shooting the other players), the time runs out, or only one player has any lives left. The game rules are customizable, so you can pick which of these you want to be game-ending; the default is any of the three.

There are a number of maps available with a fresh install, which make for vastly differing gameplay experiences (this term has come under attack on RPS, the best-written gaming blog on the internets, so to clarify: I mean the way the game plays - how you maneuver and what strategies are effective). The system for creating custom levels is very simple; basically you just create two graphic files.

Flaws of note: not really a flaw, but a sorely needed feature, is network multi-player. Any game of this type needs to be multiplayer via network to realize its full potential. You can crowd around a single keyboard, but that's never ideal. Joystick/pad support would also be nice, though the keyboard controls are fine. And finally, it wouldn't remap the controls; when I tried to assign movement to awsd instead of the arrow keys, it just didn't recognize the input. Could have been user-error, but I was doing what seemed obvious.

The graphics are nice, and the display seemed to scale to the size of the .PNG file that made up the level, in full-screen mode, so smaller levels = bigger players. The soundtrack is soothing and atmospheric and the sound-design as far as effects go is solidly done.

Another win for Linux gamers. It seems that the open-source really excels at re-creating variations of Atari classics. And nothing else, so far, which sucks for me, but if you still derive joy from those games, more power to ya.


Jordan said...

I just edited the config file by hand. /home/user/.balder2d.conf

Devlocke said...

Fair enough, but if they're gonna have the option to configure it within the program, it should work. :)