Sunday, April 6, 2008

GTK Slash'EM

Fun name: Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic is what you would think it would be after decoding that acronym. It's another rogue-like game based on the Nethack source. Technically, it's based on the SLASH source which was in turn based on the Nethack source, but you know what I mean.

After I figured out how to make the graphics work (hint: it's under 'Options' not 'Preferences') it got a lot more playable. Not because I can't decode ASCII, just because the default font-size was really small at 1024x768 in its tiny little window. It has the option to use a 'big tile' tileset as well as a 'big 3d tile' set, which is nice because I don't really like the fact that the Nethack visual tile-set is as itty-bitty as the regular ole' ASCII at high resolutions.

They look as good as anything did that was shareware for Windows in the early 90s: specifically, they don't look any better than Castle of the Winds. No big deal. If you're into rogue-likes you could care less what it looks like. The 3D tileset is a bit confusing to look at, because it's not actually 3D, it's just tiles that are drawn to look 3D, and so you move like a sprite that's not 3D in a 3D world, and it... yeah, it just looks awkward. I can't recommend it. The 'big tiles' one is great, though.

Mostly, this just plays like a rogue-like. For specific differences between this one and Nethack, see the website, but there are a few extra classes and races, as well as that 'Extended Magic', whatever that is. According to the Wikipedia entry, there's been some cross-pollination with new ideas from Slash'EM being incorporated into Nethack. That's gotta be the highest form of compliment in the rogue-like community.

I found it harder than Nethack; I didn't make it off of the first dungeon level in my first four attempts. This was partially due to the fact that I was playing classes I'd never played with before, but mostly it was due to the fact that Slash'EM defaults to having you pick up everything you walk over, so I kept getting encumbered and not being able to move or defend myself while I tried to unload whatever object it was that had pushed me over the edge.

Most annoying feature? It accepts the arrow-keys for movement, but for inputting directions for commands, it demands the 'only used in frickin' rogue-like games' set of directional keys employing the 'k' and 'h' and whatever keys that I can never remember. I like to play rogue-likes (well, actually I don't) with my right hand remaining over the arrow keys while I deal with everything else with my left hand and too often I was having to change that up. Every other rogue-like I've played accepted the arrow-keys' directions at all stages.

I could go on another rant about how much I hate rogue-likes and why, but there's no reason. This seems like a fairly fleshed-out experience that differs from Nethack mostly in esoteric ways that only the experienced rogue-like gamer will notice, or even reach. I'd recommend it mostly on the basis of the larger tile-set, compared to Nethack, as it makes it easier on the eyes for extended playing.

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