Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ray-Hound Review

The game I have chosen to review is call Ray-Hound. It was created by Hikoza T. Ohkubo and is a free game you can find here. The reason I chose to play this game and review it is because one of my other classes has it as a free play game of the week and decided that I was already going to play it, I might as well review it for 112-85 also.

The concepts and mechanics of Ray-Hound are extremely unique in that I have never had the opportunity to play a game with the emphasis placed on winning or succeeding by using physics and/or trajectories. When I say using physics and trajectories, I understand that all games are based off of that to some extent, but this game relies on it as one of it's main game play mechanics. The game starts in it's “paused” position (Fig 1)

(Fig. 1)

and after you click to start the game you are instantly transported to the beginning of the game (Fig 2)

(Fig. 2)

Almost immediately you understand how to move (not explained, but with experimentation), you use the mouse to control your direction & speed. If you build up enough speed by moving forward you begin to boost yourself, you can tell you are boosting because the front of your ship will change to a “boost” image (Fig. 3)

(Fig. 3)

this will also help you avoid and return fire from enemies, this will be expanded upon in detail later in the review. One of the other things you notice right off the gate is how to use your force field, this is accomplished by left mouse clicking, this is also the games other main game play mechanic. (Fig. 4)

(Fig. 4)

The final aspect I will talk about under Gameplay is how to return the rockets that have been fired at you. One thing that sets this game apart from other games is that you can't start firing rockets as soon as you start playing, in fact, you never fire your own rockets at any point in the game. Your enemies fire rockets at you (Fig. 5)

(Fig. 5)

and the object of this game is to return the rockets fired at you back at your enemy's using your force field. If you can do this successfully and complete the level, time is added to the timer and allows you to play longer, acquiring more points, increasing your score. If you are touched by one of the enemy rockets, -10 seconds is subtracted from your timer, your timer starts with 180 seconds.

The graphics in this game are unique and fitting for the game. They do not crowd the screen by being the wrong size or so small that you have a hard time seeing them. There are 5 major graphics I found. There where 2 minor graphics I also found.


1. Your space ship – this is easily controlled by the mouse.

2. Your space ship (boost) – this is a bit harder to control because you are going faster.

3. Your space ship (Force Field) – you can stay still or move around with you FF active.

4. Your enemy – you can't do anything directly to them, only send back the rockets fired at you with your force field.

5. Your enemy's rockets – you can avoid them or return them with your force field


1. Background
2. Score / Timer / Enemy's remaining

One of the major let downs of this game is that there are NO sounds at all. There is no background music either. It would have been easy to throw in a little .midi file for explosion of the enemy's and or the main space ship and or a small .midi file for the firing of rockets in addition to level changes, they should play some type of transition music.
Another small addition I think that could have made the game better is to have some kind of background track that is set to repeat, nothing to much or repetitive but just something that lets you know you are still alive.

This was another part of the game I thought was lacking. There is no story line what so ever! It would've been nice to know why it is that we are fighting those enemy's.
If I were to develop the story line it would go something like this; a cut scene that shows you running to your ship, I would keep the animation simple to go along with the game play graphics, and in the background you see missiles heading toward you. You are able to jump in your ship just in time to get away, but one of the rockets hits you and damages your shooting system leading to the reason you are having to use the enemy's rockets against him. It would be simple but it would also be a good way to start out the game instead of just setting you in the middle of all of those bad guys.

Learning Curve / Control Scheme
I have decided to put the two of these concepts together because there is no tutorial or button break down that I could find and the readme.txt is in another language.
You are dropped into the middle of battle as soon as the game starts. Nothing telling you how to move or fire. My first (and I assume most people's) idea is to move the mouse and see what happens. It works! I was able to gather that you move the mouse to move around the map but still had no idea that you can bounce enemy's rockets off of a boosted rocket. The way I found this out was by trying to get away from one of the rockets and colliding head on with another rocket, it bounced it off of me and into the enemy.
The next idea I had was to right click and left click to see what they did. Right click paused the game, allowing you to adjust the boost speed and resume. The left mouse button created some type of force field, but I still could not figure out how to fire back at them. Only until I was ready to give up did I realize that by “catching” the rockets with your force field you could return them at the enemy by timing it correctly and letting go of the field to send it flying back at them.
There are three main buttons / controls that are used in this game and not one of them is explained to you. It would've been nice to have a break down of the controls on the first screen before it started, something simple would have been fine, but on the other hand it is kind of fun figuring out what is what, but for the mass population I would guess they do not find this fun and would have quit the game before they had a chance to understand it.
To sum it up, the learning curve for such a simple, unique game was extremely high.

Point Scale

+5 of 5 for original content and cutting edge concepts
+3 of 5 for graphics, HUD, animations, background, sound
+3 of 5 for playability
+5 of 5 for portability, meaning that this would be a good choice to put on a phone, PDA, etc...
+1 of 5 for instructions, learning curve
+0 of 5 for story line

I would would give this game 17 points out of 30.

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