Qaudropus Rampage

I’ve taken up the excellent indie mobile title (and product of the 7-day roguelike challenge) Quadropus Rampage. It’s an all-around excellent title, with some hilarious content, solid gameplay, and excellent replayability. It’s free to play, with in-app purchases, and one of few cases where I’ve made an IAP in order to support the developers.

I haven’t been playing long, and I haven’t beaten it, but I thought I’d toss out a few tips, tricks, and strategies I’ve learned along the way.


  • Attack has longer range than you think, and different weapons have different ranges.
  • Hold down attack to get a spin attack, that damages all enemies around you. You’ll end up turned about 60 degrees counter-clockwise from the direction you were facing when you started the spin. 
  • Note that the spin attack deals less damage than your normal attack. Note also that you still get the normal attack triggered by pressing the attack button, in order to charge up the attack. This means you can strike, holding down the button, then release, to get a quick one-two combo. Practice the timing of holding down the attack button, it can make a huge difference in crowded maps.
  • Smash attack does a ton of damage in a radius similar to the spin attack (farther with upgrades & masteries), as well as knocking enemies back (and possibly off ledges.)
  • Dodge lets you move over empty spaces and even off the edges of the map. You can hold down the dodge button to continue flying around the map until you release it.
  • Bubble gives you a temporary shield that blocks all damage until it expires.
  • Bingo flings himself toward a random nearby enemy every few seconds. If there are enemies grouped together, or in a line, he will damage every enemy he passes through. He does a lot of damage, and can crit.
  • The Rage meter (top of the screen) fills up as you deal damage to enemies, and rapidly depletes over time. If it gets to full, you enter a Rampage, dealing bonus damage and taking reduced damage from enemies. In order to enter a rampage, you’ll have to continuously dish out damage long enough to fill the meter before it starts to fall. This gets easier with more upgrades, and at lower depths (when there are more enemies to work with.)
  • Most levels I start by dodging into the middle of the map, trying to lure as many enemies as possible into a central area, then I smash attack to take out as many as I can at once, and knock the rest away from me to get some breathing room.
  • Dodging toward an enemy and then attacking is an excellent way to deal damage without taking any yourself. You can dodge in, attack, and dodge back out if the attack isn’t enough to kill.
  • Against large enemies, you can always run up, bubble, and hack away at them continuously until the bubble expires, then dodge away.
  • Heartfish move pretty slowly, but they do follow you. If you’re in trouble, dodge toward them to grab them, or bubble then dodge so you can grab them without dying on the way. If you’re at or near full health, dodge away from them toward your enemies, to avoid picking them up until you actually need them.
  • The most important weapon stats are health and damage; everything else is nice, but not nearly as important. Weapon size also plays a part, but generally speaking, just look for weapons where the top two stats (damage and health) are green (better than what you have now.) Learn to swap weapons quickly in the midst of a melee when you find  a better weapon.
  • Depth charges are excellent tools, but can be difficult to use properly. They always appear at the edges/corners of the map, so often the best technique is to dodge off the edge of the map, come at the depth charge from the far side, then smack it toward your enemies. The same basic techniques for the depth charges apply to Bingo’s ball as well.
  • If you smash attack off the edge or through a hole, you’ll land in the next depth with a smash attack. If you have the mastery upgrade that refreshes your smash attack cooldown on each depth, you’ll land with a smash attack and no cooldown. This makes it a viable strategy, if you end a level with full health and full smash, to smash off the edge of the map, destroy what you can when you land, dodge off toward another group of enemies, and smash attack again. At later depths, this is almost certain to trigger a rampage, letting you clean up the level in no time.


  • Strength, Vitality, and Smash are the most important skills; invest in these first. I did it round-robin in that order (Strength 1, Vitality 1, Smash 1, Strength 2, etc.) and it worked well for me.
  • Next most important are probably Bingo and Bubble, in that order.
  • Rampage isn’t the least important, however, it doesn’t really come into play until the lower depths, and until you’ve got the other skills levelled up enough.
  • Keep in mind what upgrade you want next and how much it costs; you can pause mid-game and buy the upgrade as soon as you can afford it. You aren’t limited to purchasing upgrades between games.
  • Masteries are a combination of upgrade and achievement. When you hit a certain goal, the mastery will be unlocked, and you’ll get the option of two upgrades for each mastery, which you can switch between at any time (including mid-game).
  • Any time you get an achievement while playing, it’s a good idea to pause, go into the character screen, and choose an upgrade for that mastery, to gain the bonus as soon as possible (neither option is selected by default, you must select one yourself to gain any benefit.)
  • Keep in mind that you can switch mastery bonuses mid-game as well if you need to. I’ve not run into a situation where this would be needed.
  • Many of the masteries will happen when they happen, but most can be achieved with considered action. I strongly recommend picking a mastery and focusing on it during your gameplay; for example, focus on using your smash attack as often as possible until you get that mastery, or focus on dodging over and over and over until you get that mastery, and so on.
  • None of the mastery bonuses are game-changing, but many are very good, and the combination of a few of them, plus some upgrades, quickly make the first few depths a cakewalk.
  • You can have two pets active at a time, not including Bingo. Bingo is always active, and does not count as a pet. Likewise, the Bingo upgrades don’t affect your other pets.
  • I’ve only used Cy and Saww, but both have been very effective for me, though I’m considering swapping Cy for Smiles.
  • It doesn’t seem like there’s a significant imbalance between them, I think it’s mainly a matter of personal preference and play style.
  • Don’t bother purchasing anything from Grubby until you’ve maxed out all the upgrades. Your orbs are better spent there. You’re very unlikely to beat the game without maxed upgrades, no matter how many fancy items you pick up from Grubby.
  • Many of the artifacts just give a 20% increase to damage to a particular type of enemy. These are nice, but not worth paying orbs for to buy them from Grubby.
  • The best artifacts, in my experience, are Heartfish Food, Fountain Pen, Bingarang, Forn Orb, Third Eye, Bermuda Triangle, Bingo Unchained, Spiked Collar, Star Biscuit, Embiggener, Urchin Spines, Gorgo’s Shovel, and particularly Lucky Coin (free resurrection!).
  • Don’t waste your orbs on buying weapons from Grubby unless a) it’s ridiculously better than anything you’ve seen at your current depth, and/or b) you’re within two depths of facing off against Pete. The rest of the time, it’s just not worthwhile unless you have so many orbs you don’t care any more.

  • You can purchase orbs (for buying upgrades and buying items from Grubby in game) and dubloons (for buying pets and resurrections) in the in-app store. These are relatively cheap compared to most games with similar freemium models.
  • Any purchase will earn you a new starting weapon that’s significantly better than the starting tennis racket; in fact, if you make a purchase, your new starting weapon will last you the first several depths easily.
  • Don’t waste your dubloons on unlocking masteries; they generally aren’t worth what they cost in dubloons, especially since you can earn them through playing anyway.
Synergies: some things just work particularly well in combination. For example:
  • All Dodge upgrades, Saww, Flurry upgrade from Quick mastery, Inksplosion upgrade from Nimble mastery, and Fountain Pen: dodge to kill. You cause an explosion (dealing damage and causing knockback) when you start a dodge, you get bonus damage when you end a dodge, and both you and your pet deal damage during a dodge.
  • All Rampage upgrades, either upgrade from the Brawler mastery, Supple Crits upgrade from the Hulk mastery, Bingarang, Forn Orb, Eye Patch, and Third Eye: ultimate rampage. You shoot lasers out of your face. Bingo shoots lasers out of his face. He does this while spinning continuously around the map until the rampage ends. And you rampage more often.What’s not to love? If you take Pain Tolerance from Brawler, and have some or all of the above dodge stuff, you can indiscriminately fly around the map lasering everything in sight while taking reduced damage. Alternatively, take the I’m Always Angry upgrade to rampage more often.
  • Saww, Smiles, Bingarang, Forn Orb, Bingo Unchained, Spiked Collar, Star Biscuit, and Urchin Spines: let the pets do the work. Park yourself in an urchin for safety, dodging briefly to keep Saww going.

Video Game Business Models

I see an opportunity, particularly for indie game developers, in developing new business models for sellings games. There are currently three predominant business models in the gaming industry:

  1. The major retail model: release a game for $60 in major retail outlets, with a huge marketing push, looking for a big launch week payout. Steadily lower the retail price by $5 or $10 a couple of times a year as it ages, until it eventually ends up in the $10 bargain bin. In the meantime, release DLC or expansions to try to get more money out of existing players, and raise the total cost for those buying the game late for $20 at retail up to or above the original $60 price tag.
  2. The subscription model: the game itself is cheap or free, but players must pay a monthly fee (usually around $15) to play the game. This is most common in the MMO genre, but can be seen elsewhere as well.
  3. The “freemium” model: the game itself is free, but players pay for in-game items, bonuses, avatars, skins, or other unlockable content, on a per-item basis. This is most commonly done with a points system, where players buy points with cash, and then spend the points on in-game items. This is particularly popular with mobile games, but is fairly widespread in general.
All three have found great success with the big game publishing houses, and the last one has found a good deal of success for indie game developers. But that last option doesn’t work with all game types, and has two possible outcomes: either all the purchasable content is purely aesthetic, and doesn’t seem worth paying for, or it offers real in-game advantages, and gives players the option to “pay to win”, leaving those who can’t or don’t pay feeling unfairly handicapped.
I think there’s another option waiting in the wings, however; I call it the value model, for lack of a better term, and it works something like this: release a game at a very low price point, and do the exact opposite of the major retail model. Players can purchase the game at any time and gain access to all content, past, present, and future. As content is added through updates and expansions, the price goes up accordingly with value. This has several effects on the sales dynamic:
  • For indie developers, releasing at an initial low price point can help to boost sales when a large marketing budget is unavailable, and help to fund further development. It’s also easier to sell a game at a lower price point before it gets popular, and easier to set a higher price point as popularity increases.
  • For players, it helps to avoid feeling like they’re being swindled, or continuously squeezed for more money; they know up front what they’re paying, they know what they’re getting right away, and if it’s worth it, then whatever content (which is free for them) is a welcome bonus.
  • From a marketing perspective, it gives the opportunity for a reverse discount: if you announce ahead of time that new content will be released (and therefor the price will be going up), it can push people to make the purchase (to lock in the lower price while guaranteeing the upcoming content) the same way a true discount would, without actually having to lower the price. The price is effectively reduced because prospective buyers are aware that the price is about to increase.
Does anyone know of any examples of such a model being used for games? I’ve seen it occasionally in game content (e.g. Unity assets and the like), but I don’t think I’ve seen it for a public game release. I’d be happy to hear thoughts on the subject in the comments!

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition (Wii)

I got The Godfather: Blackhand Edition for the Wii for my birthday, and I’m totally hooked – and, after borrowing the game for a day, so is my best friend: he ran out and bought his own copy, after holding mine hostage for a few days. It’s all the best qualities of Monopoly and Grand Theft Auto, set in the The Godfather, with the Wii controls allowing you to literally beat the pulp out of business owners with a baseball bat while extorting them for cash, and physically tossing people over balconies for bonus points.

Yes, it’s that kind of game. Yes, it’s not for kids. Yes, it’s on the Wii. And yes, it’s damned addictive.

The game smoothly mixes a wide array of sandboxing opportunities, including extorting businesses, setting off mob wars, robbing banks, taking on hit contracts, and so on, with a deep plotline that follows the story of the films. You start as a young gangster on hard times, dealing with a bad crowd. Luca Brasi comes to your aid, and initiates you into the Corleone family with a few tutorial missions. Then, it’s up to you to take on any of the many “business opportunities” throughout the city, or continue to advance the main plot. The game lets you delay the main plot as long as you want between missions, letting you set the pace the entire time.

The graphics aren’t stunning, but they definitely get the job done. It’s enough for suspension of disbelief, particularly for fans of the films. Having not seen them for many many years, playing the game now makes me want to watch the movies again – and then play the game again from the beginning.

All in all, I’d give it a solid 8/10, and a definite recommendation to anyone that enjoys a little digital bloodshed in the morning.

Wii Sports (Wii)

Well, well, well. Look what we have here. I did Excite Truck, and failed to hit Wii Sports first. Wii Sports, that game which had me up for 6 hours after receiving my midnight Wii.

Wii Sports is a very simplistic party game, in which caricatures you create (Mii’s) play, well, sports. You can play Tennis (by swinging the controller like a racket), Baseball (by swinging the controller like a bat), Bowling (by swinging the controller like you’re throwing a bowling ball), Golf (by swinging the controller like a golf club), and Boxing (by swinging the controller and nunchuk like, well, fists.) If that sounds like a lot of swinging, well, it is.

The game also includes a Practice mode that offers 3 training modes for each of the 5 games, for a total of 15 training modes. Power Bowling is particularly entertaining, challenging you to see how many pins you can knock down with a single throw; each of 10 tries, a new row of pins is added, such that for your final toss, you’re trying to knock down 91 pins at once. The practice modes have to be unlocked one by one, with only one mode for each sport available to begin with. However, no particular level of success is required to unlock the next mode – you need only play one mode once before going on to the next.

Last but not least, it includes Wii Fitness, which gives you a random sampling of 3 of the practice modes that you have unlocked, and uses your performance to judge your “Wii Fitness Age”, on a scale of 20 (best) to 80 (worst). I’m 23. The first time I tried it I was 74 years old, the next time I was 78 years old, then 41 years old, and yesterday, 31 years old. I find it makes a big difference which events it gives you – I do particularly well at the tennis events, so when I get all 3 tennis events for my test, I do very well.

The games are decent single-player, and allow you to increase your score in each game by defeating AI opponents. You start with 0 score, and work your way up to 1000 (Pro) and beyond. The real fun in the title comes from multiplayer; it’s a great party game, for players and observers. One of the nice touches is in hotseat games like bowling or golf, the controller chimes when it’s your turn – so if you take your controller with you to get a drink, you won’t miss anything.

The games themselves are a little hit-or-miss. Personally, I find Tennis and Bowling to be highly addictive, Baseball to be mediocre, and Boxing and Golf to be downright lousy. Boxing has control issues; the motion sensing just never works like you expect it to, giving you little control of your on-screen avatar’s actions. Golf, well – I’m not a big golf fan to begin with, but the way they used the motion control just doesn’t work well for me. Maybe a “real” golfing title will make better use of the motion detection.

Baseball is fine, but too simplistic; you can bat and you can pitch, and everything else is handled automatically, making it purely a game of motions. It’s fine as a motion-challenge game, but it’s really not baseball.

Tennis and bowling are both excellent, and they’re both games you can really get into with a group of 2 to 4, or even more. A particularly great game for company that’s new to the Wii, and you want to introduce them to it with something simple and straightforward, but still fun to play.

Excite Truck (Wii)

Excite Truck is one of Wii’s big launch titles, one of several racers to hit shelves on launch day. The others are GT Pro Series, Need for Speed: Carbon, and Monster 4×4. GT Pro and NfS both strive for realism; Excite Truck and Monster both go for a more cartoony style.

Excite Truck throws realism right out the window, in fact, going for more of a Burnout-style high-flying, big-smashing, star-collecting racer. Like burnout, nearly everything you do earns you from one to five stars – drifts, air, tree runs (almost, but not quite, hitting trees), truck smashes (hitting your competitors), and so on. While you get a bonus for placing well in the race, what actually determines your success in single-player, or the winner in multi-player, is your star count.

The races take place in various fictional locations in various real countries. The single-player game is organized into 4 ranks (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum), each with 4-5 races. Each race, your number of stars grants you a rating of D to S, D being worst, A being second best, and S being best. If you complete all races in a rank with a B or better, you gain access to the next rank. If you complete all races in all ranks with an S rating, you gain access to the “Super Excite” difficulty. At seemingly random intervals you gain new vehicles, and if you get enough wins or enough S ratings with a particular vehicle, you gain a new paint job for that vehicle.

There are 19 tracks and 10 trucks in total, all of them available for single- and multi-player. There is also a tutorial mode which does a good job of walking you through all of the various tricks you can perform in order to get the most stars possible.

The single-player game is fun, but brief. I would have liked to see more tracks, more ranks, and more vehicles. But, all in all, it’s definitely a good racer if you liked the Burnout series and are looking for a first racer to try on the Wii platform. The controls are solid, as is the gameplay – the only thing really lacking is in depth and in multiplayer.

Multiplayer is limited to two human players. That’s it. No CPU opponents, no 3 or 4 player races. Just you and one opponent, trying to get the most stars. If you win 1st place, you don’t get the 50-star bonus you’d get in singleplayer; you get a 15-star bonus, plus one star per second until your opponent crosses the finish line. This can get very frustrating when racing a less-skilled player, because you’ll find they win the majority of the time. I’m serious. You’ll be racing through the whole level, hitting every jump and every ring, doing air spins like there’s no tomorrow, you beat them soundly, there’s even a scare at the end that they might be disqualified completely for being 30 seconds behind you. Then they cross the finish with 2 seconds to go, after recovering from the 90th crash into a tree, and – what’s this? They’ve won.

Why? Well, if you examine the scores at the end, a beginning player will tend to get a lot of drifts, because they’re overcompensating their steering. This leads into getting a lot of tree runs, because they’re often flailing wildly off the track. Then, of course, they hit a tree – and every crash earns you another star. Some balancing of this system is sorely needed.

Multiplayer is still a blast, however, and I’ve played in groups of half a dozen all waiting patiently to play the winner. It’s highly addictive, and it’s a lot of fun. I’m not dissappointed at all by the title – I’m just anxiously awaiting an ET2 with more tracks, more trucks, a more balanced point system, and a drastically improved multiplayer – at the very least, 2-4 player multiplayer, with the game filling out the 6-racer lineup with CPU opponents. I don’t even need online play, but it would certainly be a nice touch.

The game’s soundtrack is a tiring generic rock lineup, reminiscent of the SNES’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing (another great game, BTW, and one I hope to see on VC soon). Luckily, if you’ve got an SD card, you can fill it up with MP3s, pop it in the Wii, and replace the soundtrack with those. I’m really hoping more games add a similar feature, and wishing Nintendo would go ahead and add a Music Channel to the Wii allowing you to play music from an SD card, MP3 CD, or standard audio CD, with visualisations. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

All in all, Excite Truck is a solid title, particularly for anyone looking for a Burnout-esque racer on Wii.

Wii, by Nintendo

Nintendo’s latest console has finally arrived, and it’s a doozy. It’s low on horsepower, sparse on features, and desperately lacking in online capability. However, it’s full of innovation, and the game lineup is solid.

When you first hook up the Wii, you’ve got the unit itself, the Sensor Bar, a power cable, and an RCA A/V cable. The sensor bar can be placed at the top or bottom of the screen, but must be level with the floor and centered horizontally to the TV screen. Useless trivia: the Sensor Bar is not a sensor, it is in fact the origin of the IR pulse. The sensor is in the Wii Remote, granting the device various rewards.

Then you’ve got the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The Wii Remote is a heck of a gadget: motion and tilt sensing, bluetooth wireless, a speaker, an IR sensor, and a rumble pack. You can connect up to four at once for four-player action, and each one has a set of lights indicating which player it is. The nunchuk attaches to the Wii Remote via cable, and has its own motion and tilt sensor, an analog stick, and a couple of buttons (but sadly, no rumble.) Both devices fit comfortably in my (fairly large) hands, and have been just as comfortable to everyone I’ve handed them to. I’d also like to note that playing without your hands tied together is far more comfortable than any controller I’ve ever used, and a very welcome change.

The next wireless function is in the internet connection. When you start up the Wii, your settings panel allows you to set up the wireless connection to receive firmware updates, game updates, Mii’s (more on them later), and to download content from the Wii Shopping Channel.

The settings also provide for switching between 480i and 480p, 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen, and Mono/Stereo/Surround sound, settings which affect all Wii games used with the unit. You can also set the sensor bar position (above or below the TV), and adjust the “Sensor Bar Sensitivity” – I put this in quotes because you are actually, of course, adjusting the sensitivity of the IR sensor in the Wii Remotes. This isn’t like the sensitivity in your mouse settings – it’s the raw IR sensitivity of the camera. You can reduce the sensitivity to try to eliminate the effects of high glare, or increase the sensitivity to account for a greater-than-normal playing distance.

The system also includes the Wii Message Board, which is a bit of a mixed bag. I was hoping for something vaguely resembling Xbox Live’s Achievements to but fit in there somewhere, but alas. It’s basically just a log of how much you play your games (sometimes an unwelcome one), and a way to leave messages for other users of that Wii. You can also send messages to other Wii units via the internet connection, though I have yet to get this to work.

Then there’s the Mii channel. Herein you can make a vaguely anime-esque 3D caricature of yourself and others; you can also share these with other Wii users, and use them as avitars when playing Wii Sports and (theoretically) other, future games. While this is a neat feature, I’d like to see it expanded in future updates with more options and a wider range of customizability. You can also copy your Mii to your Wii Remote, take it to another unit, and use your Mii on that unit with that remote. An interesting feature, but only slightly, since only Wii Sports currently makes any use of Mii’s.

Weather, News, and Web channels are in the works, but have not been released yet. Current announcements put all 3 being released by the end of January.

Speaking of things that haven’t been released yet, let’s talk about online for a moment. There isn’t any. You can download old games and play them by virtual console, but there’s no online multiplayer until next year, there’s no games making use of WiiConnect24 (which lets the Wii stay connected to the internet even in standby mode) until Elebits comes out “during the launch window”. I’m very disappointed. And it doesn’t end there. The unit doesn’t support DVD or CD playback either, though a revision has been announced for Japan only for 2007 to add DVD playback.

The graphics are… so-so. I’ve seen the 360 in hi-def, and while it’s impressive, I’m not one to see games as being all about the visuals. I got the Wii for the controller, and I’m happy with the tradeoff. But be prepared, because the games aren’t exactly gorgeous. Most fit their theme well, and games like Zelda: Twilight Princess are graphically impressive, just not on the scale of the 360 or PS3. So, if you’re looking for grandiose graphics, move on; if you’re looking for something new, I highly recommend the Nintendo Wii, for any one, any age, girls and boys alike. It’s a great system for solo and even better for multiplayer (as long as you’re all in the same room together.)

All in all, I’m very happy with mine.