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4/5 (54 votes)

Oliver & The Basilisks

Oliver & The Basilisks is a turn-based, strategy, board game where you'll take control of the wizard Oliver. Your goal is to clear each level of basilisks either by using your magic spells or by maneuvering them into each other or into deadly objects. With three modes of game play and up to 14 spells, Oliver & The Basilisks offers a lot of variety.

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22 Comments

Daleks!

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cloud19568 October 14, 2010 10:07 PM

Honestly it's not the best, but still pretty darn good. I did find two things of note that bugged me. One was the feeling you get once you finally get enough magic to teleport away from the horde in a later, only to appear next to a beast. I know it's supposed to be like that, but I thought it's a relatable experience, and it's nothing to the second thing. Ads. Normally I don't mind, but it went too far. The amount of them was excusable, but there seemed to be a bug that mutes the game once the ad is finished. Now the sounds aren't THAT good but it's still better than nothing. Sincerly, cloud of the 19568 variety

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Out of two game restarts and one restart from the menu, I got two ads... for "Saw 3-d," with the sound already on. I wouldn't have minded the ads right there, but I can do without that particular ad, and I can definitely do without the sound.

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I'm looking into getting a version from the sponsor with the interlevel ads turned off for us here at JIG.

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Hi, the author here. First, REALLY sorry about the ads. I'd prefer to release a game with no ads at all, or at most preload ads, but many sponsors make interlevel ads a requirement. Also, really sorry about there being a Saw ad... I didn't know CPMstar had ads for such things. Oliver's a family-friendly game so it's a shame they'd display trailers for R-rated movies. :-(

Glad you liked the game itself, though. Regarding starting at any level, that's an interesting idea. I didn't put in any sort of "continue" feature because it's not the sort of game you beat; it's just about achieving high scores. But many versions of Tetris, for instance, allow starting at a later level. That wouldn't have been a bad idea.

But you shouldn't regard the early levels as easy or boring! They're easy to get through, but it's about beating them as quickly as possible and using as little magic as possible. You score higher the more elegantly you beat a level and more importantly, on Normal and Deluxe mode, the rewards you get (in terms of wand charges and scrolls) are based on your level score... if you want to get really high scores (and 100,000+ is definitely doable), it's all about building up a big pile of scrolls and wand charges in the early levels, and then using them efficiently to clear the later ones.

Anyway, thanks again for the review. I'll be sure to pass on everyone's displeasure with the ads to the sponsor, and reiterate your request to let me make you an ad-free version to use here.

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Me again. I've been trying and failing to find an ad with sound... were you playing here, or at the sponsor's site? I noticed that he was additional ads of his own that play elsewhere on the page, and some of them might have sound. The only ones that are built into the game are the preroll one, and then one that appears in a box with a "CONTINUE" button at the end of each game, after the "GAME OVER" screen and before you're prompted to submit your name for a high score... and as far as I can tell, none of those have sound.

Also, the article mentions "pop-ups." Brad, are you referring to the game over ad, or an actual browser pop-up? If the latter, then there's something funny going on that I'll have to look into.

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Very enjoyable. A bit like the old Seven Seas game from PopCap, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be available any more.

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Talked to the sponsor, who's also been talking to Jay, and we're going to have an ad-free version up here for you soon! (I've sent the SWF to the sponsor, who just has to check it and pass it on to Jay.)

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Thanks Xopods and Jay for addressing the ad issue. I look forward to trying it again -- this seems like a nice expansion on my old favorite "robots."

I also had intrusive A/V ads for a horror movie after each failure. I was playing it here, not at the sponsor's site. I imagine they use IP location to do targeted ads?

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New version is up without ads.

Jochen, of Smiley Gamer, was very accommodating, and I appreciate his willingness to work with us. Thanks also to xopods. :)

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-jS: Thanks for the further info. I'll contact CPMStar to complain about it. I had no idea that they advertised things like horror movies. Like I said, all the ads I saw in testing were silent, and for other games.

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I've gotten to the bottom of the Saw / ads with sound thing. It's a new feature of CPMStar... they've got new "overlay" ads that pay better, but do this kind of thing, and the Saw II ad campaign uses those. Developers are able to toggle overlay ads on and off, but they're enabled by default and it's not made clear that you have a choice.

I've disabled overlay ads for both the preloader and in-game. Apparently the Saw campaign ends after Hallowe'en, so I'll probably turn the preloader overlays back on after that time, but leave the in-game ones off, since those are the ones you're finding obtrusive.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who pointed out this issue, and I'm glad you're all enjoying the game now that we've resolved it. :)

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So... this is a game from the early days of the Mac. I remember playing this on a 128k Mac in 1984. It was called Darleks and featured Dr Who. You teleported and used a sonic screwdriver instead of spells.

This is exactly the same. Nothing different except the artwork.

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@carldec: I wouldn't say nothing is different. I remember Daleks (I bought a Mac in February 1984) and it was far more simplistic than Oliver (at least the version I remember playing), though it does share similar gameplay. (But that's not a bad thing!)

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This game is most certainly and proudly based off of Daleks, or rather Robots, which was the BSD precursor to Daleks. It's a great and underappreciated mechanic.

But this is the "folk process." Old ideas get reused and expanded on as time goes on. Oliver is no more like Daleks than, say, Doom was like Wolfenstein 3D. I took a great old game and tried to expand on it. If you think Oliver doesn't add enough new stuff, try it on Normal or Deluxe mode! Even Simple mode is a little more complex than Daleks, but only a little, which may be why you feel it's just a clone.

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Well said.. the mechanics of the spells, spirits, and "earning" spell credits balance very nicely to make this challenging and unique.

One thing keeps tripping me up.. in the original Robots, you couldn't walk into your death (you could only die by teleporting or waiting). I keep suiciding! :)

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That's a good point, jS. The problem is that in Robots/Daleks, you could always teleport, there was no recharge time or limited uses... if I forbade suicide, then you could get completely stuck. I suppose I could do as you say, and prevent suicidal moves but not suicidal passes, but then veteran players might complain about not being allowed to make a final move before dying that might let them take more basilisks with them. Another thing I thought about was having a warning beep if you try to make a suicidal move, and you have to confirm by hitting the same key again... but then that would be one more thing I'd need to explain to the user. People who ignored the instructions might even think it was a bug.

In any case, you'll find that once you start shooting for the really high scores, you'll end up putting a fair bit of thought into each move (since it's not just about beating the level, but doing it in as few turns, and using as little magic as possible), so the accidental deaths will be less frequent.

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Thanks xopods and Jay! For the record, it looked like the ad I was getting was supposed to have a "Turn sound on" option, but that the sound was automatically on. This may be a problem with my computer/browser, which sometimes behaves oddly. I was playing it here. Anyway, thanks for getting it fixed!

And now, I'm pleased to leave a comment about the game -- anyone got a strategy tip? I'm awful at this. I don't seem to be able to do anything without using magic.

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I don't understand what "Meditate" does. It seems to break out of the turn-based element and let the monsters roam freely. Are you just supposed to click this once you think you can finish out the level by standing still?

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Maybe I'm not as bad as I thought -- I have the fifth-highest score on normal right now.

This was the main thing that works for me:

If you can see that two basilisks are going to run into each other, and you have room to maneuver, you probably want to run in that direction. You can get a lot done dodging around a single rock.

Also,

Use your magic. Don't be shy. I think that the initial setups may often be impossible to beat without magic.

keith -- I think that's the point; the meditation will also stop when an enemy is next to you, so it's also useful if you'll be able to win at that stage (say by stepping around a rock). It gives you a score bonus, if you're going to be able to finish under the time limit.

Nice little game. I fully expect to get wiped off the board soon.

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I should probably make a proper strategy guide at some point. In the meantime, I posted two of the tutorial videos I created for my playtesters on YouTube. Don't know if it'd be against the site rules to post the links here, but you can just do a search for Oliver and the Basilisks and they're the first two results.

Regarding meditation:
I couldn't think of a way to explain it simply in the instructions, so I decided just to let people figure it out. Essentially, it makes you pass repeatedly until you're in danger (with an enemy next to you) or the level's over. If you manage to beat the level in less than the turn target, you get bonus points for meditating. The bonus goes up exponentially... if you manage to meditate for four or five turns straight, it's a significant number of points, which also affects the rewards you get (on Normal or Deluxe).

It's also a convenience thing for experienced players. Once you're behind a rock with all the Basilisks in such a position that they're sure to crash into it, you can just meditate rather than hitting pass repeatedly.

Some tips regarding magic use:

You're right, it's not always possible to beat a level without magic. However, what you want to do is try to avoid using your Wand, so you can build up lots of charges. On Simple, you get a new Scroll every level regardless, so use that liberally, but on Normal and Deluxe what you want to do is treat your Amulet as your "go-to" device. Try putting Lightning or Earthquake in it for the first few levels on Normal and blast it as your first action if there aren't any nearby basilisks lined up for a collision.

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Oh, and a tip about rock placement:

If two basilisks are next to each other, you have some control over exactly where they'll collide. Hard to explain in words, but you'll figure it out. Anyway, if there are already rocks on the board, try to get the basilisks to crash so as to put the rock diagonally adjacent to another rock. This forms a little "bunker." If you get behind that, you only have to worry about basilisks coming in exactly on the diagonal. Like this:


. . . . .
. . X . .
. X O . .
. . . . .

If Oliver is the O here and the X are rocks, and most of the basilisks are above and/or to the left, he's almost entirely safe (assuming no Golems).

You can also make a bunker with one rock and a Stonewall spell, of course.

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