I'm talking about learning spells, calculating hit points and wading through loads of text. Frankly, I just find traditional RPGs boring. That's just my (admittedly ignorant) opinion and I totally respect that people reading this may have just spat either cornflakes or a Pot Noodle (or both?) all over their computer or phone screen, but I haven't even attempted to play Skies of Arcadia yet because I just know what I'm going to get in that particular package; and I spent about 8 minutes playing Final Fantasy 7 before I removed it from my PlayStation and stuck Alien Trilogy back in. You can take a horse (me) to water (RPGs), but you can't make it drink (play them). Brackets were used in that last metaphor to clarify what I was trying to convey with my cack-handed grasp of wurds and stuff. Keeping that last sentence at the forefront of your cerebellum, allow me to explain that very recently I was made aware of a home brew roguelike RPG that has been ported to the Dreamcast and can be played using an SD Reader.
Powder started life as a Game Boy Advance project and is the brainchild of programmer Jeff Lait. Writing on the Powder website, Jeff explains that the game was borne out of his desire to play a roguelike RPG on his handheld:
"I created POWDER for one simple reason: I wanted a roguelike on my GBA. The standard RPGs were annoying me with endless battle screens against weak enemies to unfold a drug induced plotline. I wanted a game I could just jump into, and start killing things. Having had more hours than I'd care to log playing Nethack, ADOM, and the Diablos, I knew the exact type of game I wanted. The problem was I didn't see anyone publishing it any time soon."
Since the GBA original, Powder has been ported to various other formats including the Nintendo DS, Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Recently though, Dreamcast.es forum admin Indiket successfully translated the source over to the Dreamcast and the source has - rather helpfully - been turned into an SD Reader-compatible ISO file by DCeric so that morons like me can get involved and begin dungeon crawling.
The sheer volume of lore and literature within the game is stunning and what's equally impressive is that it's so well written and humorous. Not laugh-out-loud ROFL funny...just very dry., almost Discworld-esque in places. There's a whole wealth of items and weapons that can be equipped, Gods to pray to and secrets and puzzles to beat. Going back to my opening gambit (where I said I didn't like RPGs, remember?), I have to say that after half an hour of playing Powder I'd totally forgotten that I don't like RPGs. Granted, I was on my second play session having been defeated in battle by a giant rat the first time round (permadeath is alive and kicking here, folks!) but Powder just makes you want to keep playing to see what's though the next door or down the next ladder. There was no sound at all in the version I played but this didn't really detract from the overall experience: I was playing a totally free game and dammit, I was enjoying it.
If you want to give Powder a go, head over to either Dreamcast.es or The Iso Zone for more information. Also be sure to check out Jeff Lait's incredibly detailed guides to the game at the official Powder website here. Special thanks to DCeric for creating the ISO for me and also to Indiket for the conversion work.
|Take heed, neophytes.|