Chap Hai - Way Of The Dragon


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PatrickchaphaiComing out of Wildsnake Software, from the chilled steppes of Russia, comes an entry into our 4th Casual Gameplay competition: Chap Hai - Way Of The Dragon.

What is the "Way Of The Dragon"? Does it involve superhuman martial arts, or maybe a method of braising reptile meat? Actually, it involves flicking marbles at each other. It's Zen baby.

The game plays like the smooth trickle of a stream, always changing and always the same. You click-hold on the red marble, a white arrow appears that represents what that marble's velocity will be when you release your hold. Pulling back increases the force of your sling, and moving the mouse left and right adjusts the angle. The goal is to use the red marble to knock all the yellow marbles off the board, the catch is, you must achieve this in a certain number of shots, and without sending the red marble off the board. Marble columns and walls offer both obstructions and ricochet points, adding complexity to the physics equation. As the game progresses, you'll be required to put your intuitive, Zen-like grasp of physics to the test as you bounce away multiple marbles in a single shot.

Analysis: This is the kind of game that Ian Bogost might have had in mind when he suggested that some games should be a relaxing, "lean back" experience, instead of an intense "lean foward experience". The gameplay is turn-based, entirely deterministic, and therefore entirely owned by your precise judgements and gestures. It is tightly programmed and polished, and you can tell it's from a country that produces highly rigorous programming talent. The only fault with it, which is unfortunately a major one, is the design decision to limit the number of replays. If any developers haven't gotten the memo about the Arcade-age ending and the Internet-age replacing it, you've got it now. The tension of being limited in your exploration of the physics in each level almost completely ruins the purity that the game otherwise provides. And to think, if only you had infinite lives inner peace would be yours.

If the twin dragons don't call out to your very DNA, then let me persuade you:

Play Chap Hai - Way Of The Dragon

62 Comments

Love it. :)

I've been waiting for an enhanced version of Shuffle forever, and now I got it.

Thanks a lot, Andy!

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Anonymous October 9, 2007 3:24 PM

I like this but it's just a slightly re-jigged different graphics version of shuffle? Not original at all?

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Anyone got any help for level 2.3? To be so early in the game, it's ridiculously hard.

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This game is excellent! I like how if you mess up (which I do - a lot) you can just click to skip the losing message and get right back into it. Looks nice too and is just challenging enough to keep me playing it.

The only minor thing is that I'm not very good at judging the distance the ball will go if its not to hit anything- but that's down to practice and being familiar with the power bar. Well done to everyone involved!

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uncle coyote October 9, 2007 4:00 PM

this is by far my favorite entry in this competition so far... a great feel, and beautifully wrought. i am looking forward to playing it at length when i get home and i don't have to play with the mute button on.
nice one... maybe i should call myself coyote-san for this game... yeah, yeah, that's the ticket };-{)

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Well, I guess with so many games ones favorites are bound to get knocked down a little, but I don't feel so bad about this one. Perfect physics, great sounds (and I don't mind that there is no background music here, partly because so many have had over-repetitive short loops) a fairly good difficulty increase (there were a couple that had me stuck occasionally) and exceptional style. The gameplay is such that you can just play through the levels (which there are quite a few) but then you HAVE to work on how to keep the ball on for each one. Not to mention later levels where you can finish in less than the suggested number of shots. My new number one.

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Woohoo - rank 13 :-)

Shuffle was a favourite of mine, so predictably I'm enjoying this one. Level 3.4 really cost me a lot of lives though - must do better next attempt!

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NotSoWize October 9, 2007 6:00 PM

Hmmm . . . my first impression is that it got awfully tough awfully fast. I love Shuffle, and so far I'm not liking this nearly as well. Still, it is a great use of ball physics, and if I compare it with other games in this competition instead of Shuffle it comes out very well.

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Easily the highest production values of any game so far. Not the most creative entry, but everything about it is so polished and professional, I wouldn't feel bad if it won the competition. Wildsnake probably doesn't NEED to win the competition, since they're apparently making pro-quality games already, but this is as good as casual game design gets.

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I don't envy Jay for having to pick a winner this year. There have been a bunch of terrific entries and this game is certainly one of them. Beautifully done graphically and very challenging. The wavy woodlike background adds to the difficulty of eyeing up your shot (as opposed to a solid background like a pool table would have). Nice touch!

Ike - For level 2.3

you have to hit the yellow ball on the left on its right side, so that the red ball caroms into the top yellow ball.

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Very nicely produced game, with a good steady ramp up in difficulty. with 10 lives left after level 3.2, i used 9 of them on 3.3, and beat 3.4 with my one and only shot. i'll definitely be coming back for more. the ball physics are spot on and i really can't find any weaknesses with this game.

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I lost more than my red marble playing this.

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spazticdrummer October 9, 2007 9:12 PM

I didnt like how you had a limited ammount of retries. I see how it makes you plan more carefully, but it leaves barely any room for accidents.

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This game is very nicely done, but to be honest I'm not all that impressed. It's a rather mundane and predictable interpretation of the theme, and it's something we've all seen before. I'm kind of surprised that some people here think it's the best we've seen yet. I can think of probably a half dozen games (at least) in this competition that, while perhaps not as polished, showed more creativity and uniqueness. But to each his own.

Not to say that it isn't very polished, or that it isn't enjoyable, but my reaction can be summed up in one simple word: meh*.

*an expression of indifference, "the verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders" (from urbandictionary.com).

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Kellyhalia October 9, 2007 11:22 PM

"my first impression is that it got awfully tough awfully fast"

I agree!!
Although, I seem to be bad at a lot of games on this site, so... yeah ;-D

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eyepersonic October 10, 2007 12:01 AM

I thought nicotine was addictive until i met mr chap & mr shuffle!
i didn't knew shuffle before so i am twice addicted now!

yes mr chap is not completly original..
..but its a clever simple twist from mr shuffle hey?

and its soo addictive aswell..

ah these games are marblelous !

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Suho -

Considering how many of the creative and original entries in this competition are frustrating to play due to a lack of polish, I appreciate the occasional game that takes a mundane concept and simply makes it work really well.

That said, it didn't really grip me either. I just wanted to nod to the craftsmanship that went into it.

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Um, how do you activate the jump-directly-to-level feature? It only lets me start from the first level, even though I've won the first five or so levels.

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Every stage consist of 7 levels. All stages become open for you to start with when you solve them.

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Psychotronic: You have a good point there. It is indeed refreshing to come across a game with no bugs or other issues that might hinder. Chap Hai does deserve kudos for its craftsmanship. My expression of indifference was targeted at the underlying gameplay rather than than the production values and overall quality of the game.

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Some real-life games just don't translate well to the computer screen and I think this is one of 'em.

If the easy level was made super-easy perhaps a player would have time to learn how the ball moves and reacts creating a nicer learning curve. Extend a travel line from the end of the arrow showing exactly where the ball is going to go and carom to. Keep a ghost image of the previous shot on the screen so I'm not repeating exactly the same attempt again and again trying to get the angle adjusted just a hair. Or perhaps add a readout on the side with angle and power readings for me to keep track.

Sure, the graphics are marvelous and the whole thing looks beautiful. I just lost interest after the third or fourth level.

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This is one of those addictive/infuriating games that you just can't stop playing!

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Shuffle is one of my alltime favourites, so of course I'm happy to see it back!

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Well, I was trying to decide which version of Shuffle I like more, the original one or this - and decided that I like both of them for different reasons, so it's a draw :)

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16170 for the first try... Gonna be better, for sure :)

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Do i understand that there are 12*7=84 levels altogether? Gonna keep me busy for some time, no doubt :)

Right now I've just started the 4.* levels and must have used all my luck-allocation for my whole life... Have been left without any replay possibilities at least 5 times so far, still survived somehow :)

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I think I prefer Shuffle because Shuffle feels more free-wheeling. With both sides moving, there's more strategic depth and always the chance that the computer player might mess up to counter one of your errors.

In this game, the need for constant precision combined with the limited number of attempts is brutal. I'd like to see a system where you lose points each time you fire the marble, so you have a bonus for perfect play but no need to redo a hard level because the level after it is even harder.

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I just discovered the "Continue Saved Game" selection at the bottom of the Stage Selection screen will bring you to the stage and level you were at when you QUIT a game (ie: close the window). Although there is no "Save and Quit" button, this serves the same purpose.

I wish I had known this when I had 146460 points and 20+ balls left on stage 8.4, and was tired of playing!

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flyboy698 Author Profile Page October 14, 2007 5:12 PM

I can't seem to get past 11.2. Any suggestions?

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Wow, flyboy698!
Level 11.2 - you've done a lot in the game! Pretty exciting!!!

Now back to your question. My answer is devided on two sections:
1. The level could be solved by shot shown on the picture - http://www.flasssh.com/image/temp/11_2_solved.jpg

2. I've spend good half a day on this. I'll try to find another possible ways to solve the level. But if that above is only one we'll probably either replace the level by something else or make it easier.

Thanks a lot for your question!!!

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grr... 11.2 is hard and that shot doesnt work!

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I passed 11.2 once. Usually I use my 'pass' on it.
The one time I did beat it, was on the first try so I had a bunch of turns left over. Of course on 11.3 which usually is pretty easy, I wasted almost all my replays.
I'm stuck on 11.5 or 11.6 the one with the platform in the middle. Made it there with about 5 replays one time and blew them all.
Too hard for 2nd level of the level imo.
I'm going to try the above method.
http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/6563/chairh0.jpg

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Finished the game :) :)
Level 12 is much easier than 11.

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@bazaaa - Andy's method for 11.2 worked for me one time but I just went through about 35 balls without success. Tough level indeed. I'd like to see them remove the bottom ball and keep everything else the same. That would be challenge enough :-)

Also, what did you mean by "Usually I use my 'pass' on it"? Is there a way to skip a round?

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yes there is the pass level button that you can use once per level I found out :)

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@bazaaa - I don't see any "pass level" button. Would you care to share the secret?

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Pardon guys and gals!

Yep, "Pass" button was added after game was already submitted to the competition. You can pass one level per stage with that button.
And tricky ones who found the clue probably just played the version at our www.flasssh.com website. LOL
We made eaiser that "terrible" 11.2 level in our version too.

We don't support the idea of delivering the updated version to the competition - Sorry! We just don't think this is fair. But you are always welcome to play it at our website.

Thanks a lot to everyone for your feedback about the game! It's increadible support to our efforts.
You all are awesome!

PS Yep bazaaa. I believe your way could work there too. ;)

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oh i was playing the one off mousebreaker.com it lets you skip a round each level.

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@bazaaa - Thanks for the tip!
@Andy - Thanks for the followup and additional info. Hopefully Jay will get the updated version here now that the competition is over. It's a terrific game Andy. Best of luck to you.

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Anonymous October 21, 2007 2:14 AM

11.3. Help!!

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Anonymous - Assuming that 11.3 is the same on Jay's link here as it is on Andy's website (www.flasssh.com):

You bounce your red ball off of the left jade wall to hit the yellow ball through the opening on the right. It doesn't take a lot of force, so just hit it hard enough to get it through.

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I have gone through the entire game and been stymied at 11.2 many times now. I'm not interested in a pass. Just a level that is possible complete. I tried the methods posted here - probably approaching 200 times - without success.

The design jump from 10.6 to 10.7 is great. The change to making it a 'stop-and-think' game is well received. But 11.2 plays like it's the final, most challenging level of all time - a title that should be reserved for the final level (when the dragon is slain?).

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Anonymous November 5, 2007 2:21 PM

Help => 11.6!

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cant get past 10.7!!!

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"It is tightly programmed and polished, you can't quite tell it's from Russia"

I'm not Russian, but if I'd see an article talking like this about my own country, it would be a major turn-off from this site. It's offensive the same way the following phrase would be considered offensive by many Americans, and rightly so:

"By the surprising amount of tolerance and intelligent thoughts, you can't tell that this game is actually American-made."

I'm sure JIG knows better than to do cheap stereotyping like this. :-)

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Thanks, SiamJai. I agree. I didn't catch that. Fixed. :)

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I think the Russian comment was intended as a compliment; it was just awkwardly phrased. The dominant phrase was "You can't quite tell it's from Russia, but you can tell it's from a country that produces highly rigorous programming talent." Meaning that Russia would be one of those countries. The "It is tightly programmed and polished," part should have been a separate sentence.

/grammar_nerd

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Thanks, Psychotronic. I believe that's what I inferred when I made an editing pass-through before publishing.

I think it sounds better now without the Russian reference. :)

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I don't mind either way. I'm just salvaging Patrick's good name :)

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Thanks Jay for fixing that - it looks so much nicer now! :-)

Psychotronic: I re-read your explanation a few times until I understood the difference in meaning, and I think I got it now. Thanks! Now I see that Patrick meant it in a good way, and I'm glad that Jay's correction conveys that meaning more clearly. ;-)

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The link at the end of the article (as opposed to the link from the graphic) goes to the powder game instead of the marble game....

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Thanks. Fixed.

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Wow a lot of critics in here. I really hope you guys are so critical because you are game makers, otherwise i dont get it. I like this game a lot.

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RandomGameplayer February 12, 2008 10:34 PM

What, you think only game makers know what makes a good game?

Game makers should listen more to those that play their games and less to what they want to make themselves.

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Wath's the trick with level 10.7
Please anybody can help me.........there 2 shots
for 4 balls.

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for 10.7 you just hit the very center (maybe just a little bit to the left of the center) of the closest ball, then the red ball will bounce to hit the ball in the up-left corner.

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For 11.3 (and some others)

Always use the dragon that is shown on the board ... you can target your ball using it. Like on 11.3 I make sure that the point of my arrow "touches" one of the pointy things in the dragon's neck. That way I always shoot right the first try. Check it out for other levels too! (like 12.1)

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bibine00 Author Profile Page April 11, 2008 3:36 AM

For 10.7 There's somebody to tell me , with four balls and two shots ??? How to past this level?.....Please I need your help...To dspair :-(

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stuck on level 12.....so near but yet so far

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Woohoo. completed....now I can get on with some work! 12.5 is horribly difficult but the rest of level 12 is quite disappointingly easy....

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Anyone got a good shot for 11.7? I can't seem to get there with too many lives left, so I don't get to try too many times..

Top game though!

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