Currently Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Plants, Kings, and Zombies

May 14, 2009

Welcome to the latest edition of Currently Hurling, our semi-regular look at we’re playing here at the Splash Damage World Headquarters. Plants vs Zombies, the latest effort of Professional Productivity Murderers PopCap, and, much like Peggle before it, has people glued to their screens. The other big title in this update is Little King’s Story on the Wii – a rather unique proposition as Tim explains below:

Tim ‘Huntle’ Rose (Production Coordinator):
In the crevices of spare time that can be found around the base of the awesome Team Fortress 2 mountain, I have been feasting on delicious morsels of regency. A mix of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon and real-time strategy, Little King’s Story is cute blend of exploration, city building and fighting and feels right at home on the Wii.

I am having great fun sending my little band of troops into the wilderness killing anything that doesn’t agree with me and dressing my soldiers with little flower hats to help balance the moral dilemma of gathering lebensraum. Fashion and international diplomacy in one game – it doesn’t get better than this! So far, I have defeated a rival monarch, stolen his land, found a beautiful princes hiding in a bottle and built several outdoor hot springs for the leisure and pleasure of my loyal citizens. All hail the King of Alpoko!

Edward ‘BongoBoy’ Stern (Senior Game Designer):
Plants vs Zombies. Damn PopCap. DAMN THEM. Never mind the terrifying catchy music video, ignore entirely their strangely haunting Zombie Temp Worker YouTubery, here and here, it is a hellish hellish game. Under no circumstances should you play it, still less buy it. It’s terrible. You’ll hate it. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING THIS LUNCHBREAK AND ALL I DID WAS WORK OUT HOW TO BEAT THE NIGHT/FOG FLOATING BALLOON ZOMBIES. AAAAARGH. DAAAAAMN YOUUUUU POPCAP! FIRST BEJEWELLED, THEN BOOKWORM ADVENTURES, THEN PEGGLE, AND NOW THIS? DID I ANGER YOU IN SOME WAY? WHY DO YOU DESTROY MY ABILITY TO WORK?

Ahem. Sorry, haven’t been playing any games recently. Can’t help you. But I’m sure my esteemed colleagues have dabbled. Perhaps they’ll be of more help.

Zombies in a pool! Plants vs. Zombies is a rather original take on the tower defense genre.

Neil ‘Exedore’ Alphonso (Lead Level Designer):
I played through Star Wars: The Force Unleashed over the course of a few days, and I was pleasantly surprised. It tends to pick up momentum towards the end, as you’ve had the chance to tailor your character more to your particular playing style and unlocked a bigger variety of moves. I still say though, if I have to kill Jawas, I should get to slay Ewoks!

It’s no coincidence that I’ve recently re-acquired my copy of LEGO Star Wars 2, and also have managed to track down my wandering copy of Fable 2. It’s a bit too long until another great ‘2’ gets re-released, the super awesome Marvel vs Capcom 2

Jamie ‘Fishbus’ Manson (Level Designer):
Ok, I’ve got a confession to make; I thought Popcap couldn’t best Peggle. However I was sorely mistaken and paid the price for it; many, many, MANY hours of my life have been consumed – like loose change to a street drain – to this game. Plants vs. Zombies is to blame, but honestly, the blame is soon forgotten.

Plants vs. Zombies is a simple tower defence-like game, with all the elements that Popcap are infamous for thrown in: Cute graphics, great sounds, fluid motion, a simple interface and that delectable more-ish RPG carrot that dangles in front of you during the whole game, with each 10 minutes of play providing you with a new plant to try, a new puzzle to solve or new biographies to read. I really can’t stress how much time I’ve sunk into this game, let’s just say that the time between Friday and Monday never existed, that would save a lot of trouble from explaining what happened.

It’s 6.99 on Steam, so there’s really no excuse. You can download the demo, but that will only delay the inevitable!

All hail Little King’s Story’s minute regent and his loyal subjects.

Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgwood (CEO and Game Director):
Things are as hectic as ever here at the studio, but where I’ve had any free time I’ve spent it nurturing my first character in Eve Online (on the PC, as if you didn’t know!) or playing Fieldrunners (on the iPhone). I can understand why newbies might have found Eve Online inaccessible… It has the brutality of Ultima Online‘s PvP, the depth of Wikipedia, and feels riskier than the stock market, but these are what make it great for me. I doubt you will find a more friendly (or malicious) community playing any other game.

I’ll admit this might not be a game for MMO-initiates, but if, like me, you think you can list the failings and successes of UO, EQ, AO, AC, DAoC, AC, WoW et al, then get Eve now – you will love it. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, get it anyway; CCP are putting a lot of effort in to reducing the learning curve, and it’s available as a free trial for now too. Jim Rossignol at Rock Paper Shotgun told me I need 500,000,000 isk operating capital to survive. Well I’m at 144m isk and felt wealthy as hell, until I heard that our Senior Designer Paul Saunders has a Carrier worth billions. I can’t wait to get to 0.0 space and see what all the fuss is about.

As for Fieldrunners on the iPhone, I’m proud to say that after 20-30 hours of play, at 6.30am this morning I finally completed Round 100 on hard (yes HARD!) and achieved victory. If you ever enjoyed defending your base in an RTS, then this cute little IGF 2009 award-winning ‘Tower Defense Genre’ game will be a great diversion at £1.79/$2.99.

Dean ‘Deano’ Calver (Lead Programmer):
I’ve put some time in on Little King’s Story on the Wii, which is sort of a cross between Settlers, Animal Crossing and Pikmin. Controlling your citizens indirectly as King (and like all good peasants they do whatever deed you point them to!), you have to conquer the world fighting mutated cows and evil mushrooms while keeping your people happy and watching out for farmers revolts (the sunflowers and radishes rebel against your kind rule!) . Marriage, death and world domination, all in a cute, silly style and full of fun gameplay. All hail King Deano!

Richard ‘Fluffy_gIMp’ Jolly (Media Director):
Unfortunately, I’ve had little time to play much at the moment. I have the new release of Secret Files 2 waiting eagerly on my desk for me to pick it up and play. I too have had a quick exposure to Little King’s Story as Tim kindly lent me his copy for a night – looking forward to getting my teeth into that properly soooooon.

What have you been playing lately and what are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!