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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.2    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 500 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM


Tribal Trouble
June 23, 2005 | Marcus Albers
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Real-time strategy (RTS) games are an extremely popular gaming genre, thanks to games like Warcraft and Command and Conquer. In the years since the release of these games, RTS games have been set in almost every imaginable situation, from ancient empires to modern combat to futuristic space combat. Of the games that have come out over the years, some of my favorites have been ones with a medieval or ancient slant. I've been a fan of The Settlers series of games, and of the Myth series. I enjoyed the resource management of the Settlers, along with the cute graphics. The graphics of Myth were what initially attracted me to the series, but I was sucked in by the story and the accessible control scheme.

It's with these games in mind that I came to a game called Tribal Trouble. The freshman release from developer Oddlabs, Tribal Trouble takes the RTS to the tropical isles of the early ages of human exploration. Leif Erikson would feel right at home, had they not gone so completely off-course. The vikings, having had one too many drinks the night before, find themselves far from the lands of northern Europe, and on the beach of a tropical island.

You play as either the defending tribal natives, or as the marauding, but very lost, vikings. The battlefield is one of any number of randomly generated tropical islands, which is a very good way of giving natural boundaries to the playfield without the "invisible walls" that many games have to resort to.

The tribal natives are your stereotypical island natives. These mask-wearing, spear toting warriors are more than a match for the lumbering vikings. You can almost hear the tribal drums and the war calls. The chieftain of the natives brings to the battle a magic brew that can stink the enemy to death, or summon deadly lightning bolts that will strike down vikings and buildings alike. The natives may not seem a match for the mighty vikings, but the native warriors can be deadly accurate with their weapons, which quite often will not allow the vikings to get close enough to do damage.

The vikings, though recovering from the mother of all hangovers, are a feisty bunch of warriors. Complete with horned helmets and a massive girth, these lumbering giants are enough to make any native quiver in his loincloth. The viking chieftain can use his magical horn to stun enemies with a complete lack of musical talent, or he can use it to create a shock-wave that will wipe out both building and warrior. The vikings may not be able to catch a native in a flat-out run, but they can mow them down with their deadly throwing axes.

Gameplay consists of using the viking or native peons that you have been given to start with to build the three main buildings in your arsenal: the quarters, the armory, and the watchtower. The quarters is where your peons will be initially created. Once you have peons, you can dispatch them to either gather supplies, repair buildings, build new buildings, or train as warriors. The quarters is also where you will train your chieftain. It is best to start this process as soon as possible, as it takes quite a bit to finish training the chieftain.

The armory is where your supplies will go to, as it is the place that weapons are made and warriors are trained. Weapons come in three varieties: rock, iron, and chicken. Rock weapons are the most basic of weapons, and do very little damage. They are the easiest to create and you can use large numbers of warriors armed with rock weapons to outnumber some of the stronger warriors. Of course, you cannot win with rocks alone. Iron weapons are more powerful than the rock weapons, but take longer to create. These weapons are very accurate from longer distances, and are very effective standard weapons. However, nothing compares to the chicken weapon. Developed from the tropical chickens that can be found wandering around the island, these weapons have magical qualities that come from the magical beaks of the chickens. These weapons will ricochet off of their victim and hit others in the area, making them the ultimate weapon of destruction when thrown into crowds of enemies.

Once you have your weapons created, it's time to send your army out to conquer the enemy. Using the peons that you sent from the quarters to the armory, you equip them with one of the three available weapons, and make them battle-ready. Once you have warriors on the field, you can do a couple of things with them. You can, of course, send them into battle with the enemy hordes, or you can station some of them in the third type of structure, the watchtower. Each watchtower can hold a warrior, and gives you an important tactical advantage. First, the warrior can through weapons from on high, giving him a larger range. It's best, then, to use your chicken warriors in the watchtowers to give them the best advantage. The second tactical advantage is that the warriors in the watchtowers can warn if their are large groups of enemies moving in on your village. When the warrior in the watchtower engages the enemy, if the watchtower is off-screen, a red arrow will appear pointing in the direction of the battle. You can then dispatch your armies to take care of the uprising.



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