The RPS Bargain Bucket: Bionic Puzzles

By Lewie Procter on February 20th, 2010 at 12:05 pm.


Amazing, these are PC games that you can actually play without having a direct connection to the publishers central mainframe active the entire time. What will they think of next? For more cut-price gaming, get yourselves over to SavyGamer. Bargain Bucket time!

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords – £2.99/€4.99/$4.99
I accidentally missed this offer last week, silly me. Good thing it is still available now. I played this on the DS, but I imagine that the PC version has the advantage of not being able to fit under your pillow, and thus won’t keep you up til 3am quite so easily. Puzzle Quest is proof that numbers are good. It takes a rubbish casual game designed for you Mum, adds a bunch of numbers to it, and then it becomes something completely different. Structurally, you have experience, RPG style attributes and spells, but then combat is bejeweled. The AI sort of cheats. Well, I’m not sure if it does cheat, but it certainly feels like the AI cheats, but that only really serves to sweeten the taste of victory. Demo here.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed – £4.85/€5.52/$7.50
The best thing about the rubbish 3D Bionic Commando reboot is that they also did an awesome 2D remake of the original game! It’s not just a remake either, there’s lots of new things too! There’s 2 player co-op, shiny new graphics, and delicious self-referential humour. It’s probably best you know what you are letting yourself in for here though, the difficulty is from the NES school of thinking. You get three lives to get through each level, and if you don’ make it, it’s back to the start. This means that you are going to have to learn the levels by replaying them until you can complete them without dieing. It works, the game is obviously designed like that, but it can be a bit jarring to some players. I’ve had a good look, and can’t find a demo. Anyone?

Shattered Horizon – £7.49/€9.99/$9.99
A game from the future. Or at least, that is how interface makes it look like. These days most console ports are good enough in most aspects, but Shattered Horizon feels like a proper PC game. As Jim pointed out the other day, this is completely free to play this weekend, it’s just had a bunch of new lunar levels added in, and is half price. I think I would have preferred to have paid twice as much and got a single player campaign too, I often just feel overwhelmed being flung straight into multiplayer games with other humans trying to kill me with their guns. If you want to try it out this weekend, it should just be in your Steam games list already. RPS coverage here. WARNING: You need a DX10 OS (Vista/7) and DX10 card to play this.

Beyond Divinity + Divine Divinity – £5.16/€5.97/$7.98
Or you can get just one of them individually at a lesser discount. Never played these, sorry.

Deal of the week
Peggle Nights – Free
Like all good drug dealers know, make the first hit free and they’ll be back for more. In that spirit Popcap are letting people get Peggle Nights for free. I’m not quite sure they realise the implications of their actions here, with the global economy in the ‘below average’ condition it is in now, I really don’t think the millions of people-hours spent guiding balls towards pegs to get points is really a sensible use of our time as a species. They aren’t quite giving it away for free, if you sign up for a PopCap Passport (perhaps with a dummy email address), you then get a free copy to gift to anyone you want (perhaps yourself). The download is about one Peggle. Giddy RPS words here.

For more bargains, head to SavyGamer.co.uk.

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60 Comments »

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  1. Dominic White says:

    New Bionic Commando? Rubbish? It wasn’t earthshatteringly great, but it was a fun weekend rental romp. The main problem with it was that the plot might as well have been written by Rob Liefield – it felt like all the worst excesses of 90s 2XTREMEHARDCORE comics crammed into one game.

    But yeah, BC: Rearmed is excellent and everyone should buy it. It’s also far, far easier than the NES original, and has an easy mode that takes away the worst of the big drops and spikes, so if you still can’t beat it now, just be aware that there were 8-year-old kids back in the day who were quantifiably far better than you.

    • lhzr says:

      yeah, the story was cheesy, but the same can be said about the original story and the one from BC Rearmed, so I don’t see this as a valid point against the it. having deadly radiation instead of invisible walls was annoying, but not THAT big of a deal either.
      most importantly the gameplay was fun. not the shooting, that was the secondary mechanic anyway, but the swinging around. the game was full of exhilarating moments that left me with a smile on my face and propelling myself forward by jumping backwards and swinging from the ledge that I just stood on was amazing.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Pretty much my thoughts. I’d go as far as saying that the core mechanics were really quite solid in BC3D.

      As for BC:R, I agree it’s excellent. I disagree that it’s easier, though. The NES version is more grindy, but that’s about it. The smarter enemies and lower health give the difficulty a decent boost. The weapon selection is also better balanced, there’s more to them than powering through everything with the rocket launcher. The Albatross is also far more of a bastard than anything in the NES version.

  2. monkehhh says:

    I completed Bionic Commando: Rearmed by proxy (ie. my flatmate did, and I watched) – highly recommended.

    Shattered Horizon is fun, the servers were a bit barren but this weekend has picked things up a lot. The stats are usually at http://stats.shatteredhorizon.com/stats/api/networkStatistics.action – the numbers are players online, servers online and total matches played respectively. And http://stats.shatteredhorizon.com/stats/playerStatistics.action?playerId=44301 is me :) When they’re working anyway.

  3. JesusKristov says:

    For Peggle, you needn’t bother with a fake email. I signed up and gifted the game to the same email address, and the site didn’t kick up a fuss at all.

    • FunkyLlama says:

      Yeah, but aren’t you now subscribed to their newsletter? :{

  4. SF Legend says:

    Game’s you don’t need to be constantly online for? It’ll never catch on.

  5. ChaK_ says:

    I thought the new bionic was fun.

    But then I sometimes like shitty games ^^

  6. Pemptus says:

    Bionic Commando : Rearmed is totally ace. The lack of a jump button is pretty jarring at first, but once you get to grips (ha!) with the bionic arm, you fling around beautifully and smoothly.

    Puzzle Quest is the best game on the planet, but everyone knows that already, of course.

  7. Andy says:

    I’m pleased about the return of the Peggle-as-size gag.

  8. Dominic White says:

    Also, here is a super-great trailer for BC: Rearmed for anyone not convinced by the glowing praise elsewhere:
    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/european-trailer-bionic-commando/40467

    And yes, it is a platform game without a jump button. That’s what makes it unique/fun. You start out kinda hamfistedly blundering your way through the game, but by the end you’re passing half a level at a time without ever touching the ground. Grappling hooks are FUN.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Divine Divinity is a fun hack & slash game.

    Now, off I go to download one peggle worth of peggle.

    • MadMatty says:

      Divine Divinity is great, its got a ton of handmade quests, open-ended gameplay and is just plain fun. Havent tried the sequel Beyond Divinity, which i´ve heard is not so good.

    • MadMatty says:

      The Divinity games have been available for 5 $ / 2,5 Euro each, on Impulse for quite a while.
      http://www.impulsedriven.com

    • Vlidi says:

      But Impulse doesn’t have the great soundtracks and the two novels :D ! And the soundtracks are really, really great.

  10. invisiblejesus says:

    Bionic Commando Rearmed really is awesome. As said above, the lack of a jump button is a plus in this case, it opens up a really unique style of play that’s only been sort of hinted at by other platformers. If the thief was your favorite character in Trine, this game is made for you. And of course, if the thief was not your favorite character in Trine then you are a dirty philistine with no soul, marking time until your miserable demise and inevitable plunge into the very special hell that exists just for people like you.

    Cliff Notes version: check out Bionic Commando Rearmed or spend eternity in hell. Just so we’re clear.

  11. Rinox says:

    Don’t buy Beyond Divinity – it’s just not good enough. But by all means, get Divine Divinity if you like an RPG with an intricate character development system, witty dialogues, a ton of charm and diablo-style combat. Worth it.

    • Vlidi says:

      I loved Beyond Divinity. Really. It has nothing to do with Divine, and I can understand that people won’t like it. But it deserves a try. It’s different, more dungeon crawling-oriented than Divine, with a plot which takes too much time to be set, and a change in the skill system that some people didn’t like.
      But I never understood those who think it’s too difficult. They often say that the Prison Guards are unbeatable in the beginning. But it was designed like that, and the Dark Knight tells us how we can avoid them.

  12. pkt-zer0 says:

    Two things to note (BLATANT PLUG INCOMING):
    – BC:R only supports XInput gamepads natively (i.e. X360 pads), and you can’t map the right analog stick otherwise, which you’ll need for the final boss. That’s what I set out to solve with improving an X360 emulator, you can find current versions of it in the member submissions over at TocaEdit, or an older version the official Bionic Commando forums.
    – I also started working on a level editor for the game. Unfinished due to lack of interest (the PC fanbase for BC:R seems rather small, unfortunately), but it’s open source. If anyone is interested having it finished, or even finishing it themselves, you can find it over on the official forums, here.

    And a third thing I forgot. BC:R has no demo beyond the pirated versions. Just emulating the NES original sold me on the game, so if you feel less guilty that way, that’s also an option.

  13. jjdeu says:

    I really like to try BC: rearmed, but it’s charging me more than 10 euro’s instead of the 5 euro’s you listed above. Anyone else got this problem?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Shows up as 11€ here as well. I’m guessing it’s just the usual European pricing shenanigans? The game’s still worth that much (and more) if you ask me, but you might as well just get it anywhere else at that point.

    • jjdeu says:

      It’s on steam for 8.99 euro. Nice discount direct2drive!

    • Xocrates says:

      Try to set your region for US. D2D is silly enough that if a game is set as available worldwide that usually works. I’ve used that technique to get Red Faction Guerrilla from the US and Bioshock 2 from the UK and didn’t have any problems.

    • LewieP says:

      Sorry, I thought that if I linked to the USA store it would take you straight there, but I guess it isn’t?

  14. Katsumoto says:

    Been playing a fair bit of Shattered Horizon this weekend and am really quite hooked. As i’ve said elsewhere, word for word, it’s like a rather late videogame adaption of Moonraker, the worst Roger Moore Bond film (or is that View to a Kill?). It’s a shame it got such lukewarm reviews, though I suppose I can understand why. There are only 8 or so maps, 1 basic weapon and three special grenades. But that doesn’t concern me (Admiral!).

  15. bill says:

    Already got peggle nights a few days ago, but i’m too scared to install it!

  16. Xocrates says:

    Aye, Bionic Commando Rearmed is a lot of fun, although the controls take a bit to get used to.

    Tip: You can accumulate lives above the customary 3 by going back to certain levels as lives respawn (although they may only do so after you die. Not sure). I used this to go into the final level with about 10 lives (and lost over half of them. Keep in mind that I already knew most of the level by heart)

    I’m a bit divided over Shattered Horizon. Yes, it can be loads of fun, but I fear once the novelty wears off there will be little reason to go back to it. Although right now my main justification is that I already spent way too much money in games this month.

  17. Heliocentric says:

    Lewie should have been more clear. The rearmed price is from the usa site. Its available world except japan and german or something for $7.50. Or roughly €5 amirite?

    • LewieP says:

      Correct, I just took the $7.50 and converted it to the other formats, since it is cheapest to get it from the USA D2D

  18. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Puzzle Quest doesn’t cheat. The chap who coded it said as much. What it does is play the odds with drops, and a player can do the same thing with the same or better results- human pattern making psychology does the rest. Heck, I bet the computer thinks I cheat.

    • LewieP says:

      Yeah, I guess I know that it doesn’t cheat, but it certainly does feel like it is cheating, which as far as players are concerned it is basically the same thing.

      The reason I think that it is a problem for puzzle quest is that bejeweled is the type of task that computers are excellent at, whereas people aren’t as good at parsing the whole grid in an instant.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      For the most part, the computer is a lousy tactician, and often ignores the most beneficial moves. It doesn’t have that much ability to see ahead except, I think, when figuring out if making a space near the top is likely to give it skulls or an extra turn. I learned how be watching it. Once you learn to spot patterns that have a chance of making an easy four for the computer’s next turn you can learn to counter it by just not dropping stuff in that area, or by actively breaking it.

  19. Cpt. Sqweky says:

    Divine Divinity is a great, is somewhat flawed game. However it’s good enough both in story and gameplay that its flaws don’t matter. Beyond Divinity is an okay pseudo sequel with a very good storyline, but MUCH BIGGER flaws and terrible voice acting. (Ugh, the voice acting is just… SO BAD.)
    Anyway, I would suggest anyone who likes Diablo-style RPGs get Divine Divinity, and anyone who really liked the storyline also get Beyond Divinity. Just don’t expect BD to be as good as DD.

  20. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Yes, I also recommend BC: Rearmed. Fantastic little game, with only a small number of annoyances which were leftovers from the original (I’m actually fine with not jumping, since vertical motion is still a possibility: it’s the treasure hunting for acess cards into new areas that’s a bit grating), but it is, by and far, a stellar game. Much better than the “new” BC game which isn’t rubbish but is “merely” good enough.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, BC: Rearmed is a game I’d reccomend to anybody. It’s just something you have to own, and easily one of the best retro remakes/updates ever made.

      The new Bionic Commando is something I’d reccomend as a rental, or if you can get it for £10-15 in a second-hand bin, that’s fine too.

  21. Bob says:

    Can’t install Peggle Nights due to some drm crap, going by the site I have to go to another page and install some activeX (more hidden drm?)and get a new code to get it working! No wonder people pirate games, is it too much to just be able to play the game?

    • Mac says:

      Oh dear – you have gone DRM Crazy!!!

      ActiveX is a framework for defining reusable software components that perform a particular function or a set of functions in Microsoft Windows in a way that is independent of the programming language used to implement them. A software application can then be composed from one or more of these components in order to provide its functionality.[1]

      It was introduced in 1996 by Microsoft as a development of its Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies and it is commonly used in its Windows operating system, although the technology itself is not tied to it.

      Many Microsoft Windows applications — including many of those from Microsoft itself, such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Windows Media Player — use ActiveX controls to build their feature-set and also encapsulate their own functionality as ActiveX controls which can then be embedded into other applications. Internet Explorer also allows embedding ActiveX controls onto web pages.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ActiveX

  22. Brulleks says:

    @Bob

    Yup. I’ve got exactly the same problem. Install game, launch it and it asks me to enter your order code. Do that, get told that it hasn’t worked, and then lectured on making sure that I have a working internet connection etc. Which obviously I f**king well do as I’ve just downloaded two emails and the game itself in order to install it.

    So go to the support page, which tells me if I can’t register I have to go another page to do it, install their Active X shite, which then tells me that it’s all hunky dory and the game’s been registered and will work fine.

    Go back to game – no difference. Still asks for registration code, still refuses to register it.

    Bloody glad I bought the original Peggle through Steam , and that this was only a free download. I’d be gnashing my teeth on Popcap bone if I’d actually put any money toward this service.

    • Brulleks says:

      Addendum: It’s now telling me that I’ve used up all my registrations for the game, despite never having successfully registered it.

      Just goes to show that the adage is true: Beware geeks bearing gifts.

    • Urthman says:

      I had this same problem. Sent an e-mail to PopCap support.

  23. Fumarole says:

    Free Peggle! Thanks again RPS.

  24. PopCrap says:

    Order Code it’s not working!!

  25. cyrenic says:

    Also having issues with the peggle nights promotion. I’ve sent an email to their support to see what they say.

    Has anyone successfully gotten the peggle nights thing to work?

  26. Bob says:

    Peggle nights still not working, and this is meant to be a free gift, you give to people to show how good their games are! lol Bet if I looked on google I could have it running in 5mins

  27. Vinraith says:

    For folks in the US, GoGamer has Anno 1404 and its new expansion Venice on sale for $20 apiece, shipped box copies. Anno 1404’s obnoxious Tages DRM was removed in the 1.1 patch, I confess I don’t know what DRM Venice has (although it doesn’t appear to be afflicted with Ubi’s “online all the time or fuck you” crap).

  28. theSeekerr says:

    I had no issues with the Peggle thing – just entered the code and away it went. So there you go – it is meant to work.

  29. Mithent says:

    All went fine for me, and no requests to install ActiveX controls or anything (I’m not using IE).

  30. ManaTree says:

    BC: Rearmed is lovely. I’m not normally a platformer person, but it looks fantastic and it’s a piece of history, for slightly cheaper than I got it. Worth it.

    I was able to get Peggle Nights successfully. Browser problems, perhaps? I was using Chrome. Those errors sound very browser-y.

    There’s a patch coming up very soon that will fix up Divine Divinity quite a bit. I hear it’s quite good. It’s sitting on my hard drive like a sad puppy though. Get it from GOG! They’re sweet.

    [attempttoprovokediscussionaboutDRM]OH HEY LOOK, PEGGLE AND DD HAVE NO DRM LULZ.[/attempttoprovokediscussionaboutDRM]

  31. Bob says:

    @Mac All I know about ActiveX is that it was used to install spyware crap years ago, so now I don’t bother going anywhere near any of them! Why should I have to?

  32. terry says:

    It’s bizarre how every time Puzzle Quest comes up the words “AI” and “cheat” appear, and the programmer’s debunking of it just seems to have fuelled the fire :-)

    FWIW I think it cheats too!

    • Heliocentric says:

      Its a bloody neural net, what need does it have to cheat when it can detect not only pair but combos instantly. And with a table of all possible colour occurence to mathematically calculate a perfect move… How can you hope to defeat a perfect immortal machine?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      So what you’re saying is, we need to keep it far away from any computer with Department of Defense access?

  33. PHeMoX says:

    One thing about Bionic Commando: Re-armed though… it’s incredibly annoying to see you will have to start the entire level over whenever you die three times. This means you will play the same stuff a whole lot, as it can be a quite unforgiving game.

    Not saying this is necessarily bad, but it’s really not as smooth as it could be. It feels a bit like that 3D-ish sidescroller Castlevania game on the PSP. Simply not as smooth as a 2D version would be.

    I do like the overall style and graphics of Bionic Commando Re-armed a LOT though. The isometric 3D parts of the game are awesome as well.

  34. Risingson says:

    Two strange advices for Puzzle Quest that somewhat helped me (though it’s more a supersticious move than tactics): line up, if there are no great moves, vertical matches, and as up as possible. And grind.

    Yes, I also had problems with my ds next to my bed.