Swords & Soldiers

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Ronimo Games releases prototype for cancelled console project

Ronimo Games releases prototype for cancelled console project

Snowball Earth would have featured yetis and robot doggies.

Ronimo Games is the Dutch studio behind cartoony chaos such as Swords & Soldiers and this year's hectic MOBA Awesomenauts. Before working on either of those titles, however, the team sank a year into an intriguing action game called Snowball Earth - and now that it's long since cancelled, they're releasing the demo for free via torrent.

Back in 2007, Snowball Earth was planned as a Wii or Xbox 360 game, and, according to Ronimo, it tells the story of "a robot boy who thinks he accidentally started the last ice age." Don't sweat it, kid; we've all been there. With that on his conscience, he's been sent back to the frozen planet to try and thaw the place out - with the help of his robot doggies, naturally.

What he discovers down on the surface is a touching tale of betrayal and revenge, centring on an unscrupulous refrigerator manufacturer that's been hawking its wares to the local yetis. More importantly, you get to tool around some chunky, colourful 3D environments, banishing winter and restoring life to the world. It's basically the kind of thing Al Gore dreams about every night.

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Download Games Roundup

Download Games Roundup

Swords! Tanks! Dreams! Crime! Polynomial!

It's one of those weeks, again, where the best that the download gaming sector has to offer is just too damned good. Games like Costume Quest and Super Meat Boy provide the kind of must-have experiences that absolutely demand the focus of a full review. If for whatever reason you don't think these type of games have the same gravity as a boxed game, at least check out the trial.

According to Foundation 9, Xbox Live is already "past tipping point", with around 30 per cent of consumers online and buying download titles. And that figure is only going to rise over the next few years. Elsewhere, you've got the likes of Valve boasting about 30 million accounts on Steam, and Blitz predicting a digital-only future for the next round of consoles.

When it comes to this week's crop, though, it's another healthy one, mixed with some inevitable rejects that sully the good name of the good ship download. Remember, we're here to warn you off the bad as well as celebrate the good.

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Indies not sold on Kinect

Trials HD, Darwinia+ crews speak out.

Following news that Microsoft will soon be releasing Kinect development tools to independent studios, Eurogamer has asked a number of indies whether they are interested in developing for Kinect.

Swords & Soldiers

Swords & Soldiers

Flat-pack RTS.

When Mario popped from 2D to 3D it was as if we had previously only seen him through a glass darkly, but now could see him in full. Sure, his pixel moustache was at last rendered in polygons, offering us a more vivid portrait of the plumber than we'd yet known. But far more than that, the added dimension gave Miyamoto's venerable mechanics room to flex and unfurl, revealing their full, unrestrained potential for the very first time. Never before had we experienced the platform game in such terms, and never again could it be the same again.

The real-time strategy genre, by contrast, has never enjoyed the sort of epiphany that platformers underwent with the release of Mario 64. Ever since Herzog Zwei, they've always been viewed from a top-down perspective, units moving to and fro over a map in a race to dominate the opposing force. As a result, the transition from sprite to polygon was irrelevant to the genre's underlying systems, which have remained largely constant from hardware generation to generation.

As such, Swords & Soldiers, a side-scrolling RTS game, is a regression back to a formative period that never was, imagining what the genre might have looked like had it started life as Super Mario Bros. Viewed sideways on, its mechanics have been necessarily compressed and flattened to focus only on the core elements of the modern RTS title. That's not to say the game is regressive or overly simplistic. Ronimo Games, the Dutch studio best known for the freeware version of de Blob, press the game's nose hard against the boundaries they've imposed for it, extrapolating on their core ideas in interesting, creative ways over the game's 30 core missions. But it's a focused game, one that trims the fat from the form to present a familiar yet novel experience quite unlike any other.

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Future WiiWare Games: Top Ten

Log goes to Frankfurt and waggles himself silly.

I've just got back from an exciting four-hour holiday in Germany. I went to Frankfurt, where I was guided into a room full of televisions and allowed to play some of WiiWare's upcoming titles.