Bat Country, Free Arcade Shooting Game
A helicopter based arcade shooter, Bat Country caught my eye for reasons that are probably obvious to anyone between 30 and 300. Forget your hopes of Fear and Loathing though, there's no fear or loathing here, just giant bats and weird bombs that apparently resist the forces of gravity.
You can hurl bombs in 'no bomb release areas' (the very existence which is just silly and entirely inconsistent) by jerking your mouse forward and then releasing a bomb with the space bar. The bomb takes on the acceleration of the helicopter and flies off exactly parallel to the ground. Pressing space bar again will detonate it.
Another feature of the improbable physics is the fact that after a bomb is released it doesn't maintain a static position in the game (and therefore get left behind in the side scrolling action as you continue to pilot your helicopter onward) no, instead it maintains its position wherever it was left. Drop a bomb in the middle of the screen and it will stay there, floating mindlessly in the middle of the screen until such time as you deign to detonate it.
Though my comments so far sound scathing, I actually rather enjoy this game. There's a very pleasant 80's Broderbund feel to it, which always pleases my gaming senses and the controls do what they're supposed to do, even if what they're supposed to do isn't always what you expect. There's also a decent soundtrack, which, when combined with the red and black tableau in which the game is played goes a long way to creating an atmosphere that I don't feel remiss in calling 'quite enjoyable.'
In some respects, the gameplay is as challenging or relaxing as you want to make it. It's not essential to kill every bat you see, they don't chase you so much as fly towards you on a predetermined path, which makes it possible to miss a few without missing out on any of the game. Most of the time you kill bats, occasionally you'll encounter giant black Pacmen type creatures, which can also be avoided with the greatest of ease.
Another positive for the game is the nice way it is weighted between enjoyment and difficulty. So many games are simply frustrating die fests, but Bat Country allows you a significant amount of mouse spamming and helicopter hurling before it sends you back to try it all again. (Yes, I am discussing this as if I, the player, am a mere helpless wisp caught up in the mechanics of the game, that should tell you something about something important.)
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