Mento's May Mastery: Day 06: SPAZ

I'm starting to think that I probably shouldn't have set this precedent for May Mastery where I wax lyrical about not a whole lot before starting the game analysis portion of the day's happenings. There's going to be thirty-one of these (Steam willing), and I'm bound to run out of stuff to say long before then.

What I could do is talk about this week's Old Games Show, which has just concluded, and the three games that were highlighted this episode:

  • The Ken Griffey Jr game was a wash, given I have zero interest in baseball much like the rest of the world outside of the US and Japan, but I am responsible for that disturbing header image currently used by its wiki page.
  • Glover was for me, as it was for Drew, a frequent rental back in the day. For whatever reason, in the PAL region N64 games were released expensive and stayed that way forever, excepting the many risible license games that no mercantile establishment could sell otherwise (I have a copy of Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt somewhere, so let it be said that I have a discerning eye for quality). Most games I would rent once and then hope that they would some day drop in price: Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 eventually did, to my delight, but Banjo-Tooie just sat there as a permanent £50 purchase until the local Game store simply tossed the thing (I imagine) to make room for all its new PS2/Xbox/Dreamcast games. Anyway, Glover toed the line between "I'll have to buy this at some point" and "this is awful, I won't touch this again", hence the multiple rentals.
  • Buck Bumble, unlike the two others, sits proudly in my collection. That DnB, man. Second only to The Beatles.

SPAZ: Space Pirates and Zombies

No Caption Provided

So I think I could be forgiven for assuming SPAZ was a standard space trading/mining game before I got to finally play it. It certainly looks that way from looking at the thing, with your little ships flying around to mine for ore, take down enemy ships in space battles and dock with space stations to take on quests and buy new upgrades. It has all those things in spades, but what it also has is an overarching plot, a developmental tree that builds as the player progresses towards the completion of the plot (which I appreciate, because being rudderless in these types of endless freedom games tends to cause burn out a lot sooner) and an effective armada of ships with a mothership at the core of it all. In a sense, the game is not unlike Star Control 2, with its core Precursor starship and the many starfighters that make up its retinue. Of course, I haven't seen any goofy aliens or much in the way of dialogue trees, but there's certainly been a lot to do.

The game simplifies matters by reducing the game's resources to essentially three currencies: Rez, a powerful and malleable "super" element that powers pretty much everything, your standard Eezo/Spice Melange/Unobtainium ersatz and chief resource for buying items and crafting new ships; data, which you receive from downed enemies and completing quests and acts as the game's XP equivalent; and goons, which are essentially expendable redshirts that crew the various ships you send out and are considered distinct from the "important" characters who presumably cannot be killed outside of a cutscene. There's also blueprints: these are vital for constructing new ships and new ship parts (there's some degree of customization) though they usually come with a level cap and high price tag. The player's ship is always followed by any other ships you may have created, who follow a few AI routines based on whether you're mining for Rez or fighting off encroaching enemy vessels, and the battles tend to feel more like proper tactical skirmishes between groups rather than straightforward one-on-one encounters. (There's a tactics heading in the pause menu that gives you details of the enemies in the area, and lets you decide how to tackle them as a group.)

I imagine finding all the blueprints for these will keep me busy (though I'm a little ahead of this screenshot at least).
I imagine finding all the blueprints for these will keep me busy (though I'm a little ahead of this screenshot at least).

I realize everyone and their grandmother has already played this game, and it's going to take a lot longer than three days to get anywhere with it (this may be another twofer if I can't find more to say about it after tomorrow's cosmic sojourn), but I'm impressed with what I've seen so far. The last one of these I played was Starscape which, while competent enough, wasn't quite as polished or engrossing as this game has been.

I will say that this game's sense of humor is pretty terrible though. Not UnEpic bad, per se, but still kinda cringeworthy. Lots of dumb jokes over the space radio that get repeated ad nauseum, and you get exchanges like the one below far too frequently for my liking. I hope the writing/gags improve later, but then the game's hi-larious name really doesn't inspire much confidence. (But then, it's not really the focus either.)

This game LOVES the word
This game LOVES the word "turd". I'm guessing it was written by Norm McDonald as Burt Reynolds.
Day 01: I Have No Mouth, and I Must ScreamDay 11: MiasmataDay 21: Magrunner: Dark Pulse
Day 02: I Have No Mouth, and I Must ScreamDay 12: BotaniculaDay 22: Magrunner: Dark Pulse
Day 03: I Have No Mouth, and I Must ScreamDay 13: BotaniculaDay 23: The Nightmare Cooperative & Lilly Looking Through
Day 04: Life of PixelDay 14: Shantae: Risky's RevengeDay 24: Cook, Serve, Delicious!
Day 05: Life of PixelDay 15: Bit Dungeon IIDay 25: Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Day 06: SPAZDay 16: Stick it to the Man!Day 26: Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Day 07: SPAZDay 17: NaissanceEDay 27: Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Day 08: NightSkyDay 18: The SwapperDay 28: The Banner Saga
Day 09: The RoomDay 19: ClaireDay 29: The Banner Saga
Day 10: Ultionus: A Tale of Petty RevengeDay 20: DokuroDay 30: The Banner Saga
Finale: Papers, Please