GBAtemp Recommends #61: NetHack

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Hadrian, Dec 25, 2012.

Dec 25, 2012
    • Former Staff

    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    Welcome to the 61st issue of the GBAtemp Recommends Revival Project! This project is a weekly feature where we share our favourite games and applications with you. The titles we recommend may be "old school" games, a piece of Homebrew, a ROM hack, sleeper hits, an application, etc, but one thing's for certain, we think they are fantastic and deserve your attention!

    GBAtemp Recommends!

    NetHack
    Written by Rydian

    [IMG]

    NetHack is a roguelike dungeon crawler game that's over 25 years old, but still under active development (in one way or another). The game stands out for two main reasons, one of them being that death is permanent. People have played the game for years without a win. This is a game where pretty much everything is trying to kill you, even peaceful or tame creatures can be goaded into killing you if you anger them. Stealing from shops is a bad idea if you're still weak, don't kick your pet, etc.

    This concept extends well beyond the entities, however. Unlike many other games, NetHack has no qualms about letting you kill yourself on accident using various game mechanics. A cockatrice corpse will stone creatures on contact so players will sometimes put on gloves and wield one as a weapon... but if you're carrying too much and fall down the stairs, there's a chance you'll touch it yourself. Find a scroll of genocide and decide to genocide dwarves, forgetting you're playing as a dwarf, and it's game over. Find an intelligent artefact weapon of the opposite alignment, and it might blast away those last few HP in retaliation when you try to wield it.

    The second thing that makes NetHack special is the level of interaction and how much the game keeps track of. While it's easy to find all sorts of workarounds or simple tactics to victory in other games, NetHack has a mantra; "The DevTeam Thinks Of Everything". For example if you're blind and moving around, the game states that you feel items on the floor instead of just looking at them, so you know what you just walked over. Unfortunately this message isn't kidding: moving over a cockatrice corpse while blind (and not wearing gloves) will teach you that much. Have you obtained the magical breathing property somehow, so you don't need to breathe? Well, that can help you eat huge corpses without choking and walk under water, but it's still not going to save you from a cursed amulet of strangulation which will instead cut off the blood supply to your brain. Found out that putting on a towel makes you blind, and taking it off makes you see again? Well if you get blinded through some other mechanic and try that trick, the game tells you "you're still blind" after removing the towel. Pretty much any scenario you can think of, the DevTeam has thought of it first, and has coded a reaction (or at least a unique message) for it.

    With the entire game conspiring to kill you, how can you survive? Thankfully, the game does not run real-time. Outside of certain scenarios (e.g. when you're unconscious), the game is reactionary, and the game time only moves forward when you take an action. This allows you to take all the time you need to think of your next move. Cornered by monsters and need to take a bit to decide whether to zap that unknown wand at the monster or try to run for it? Take all the time you need to think it out.

    Identifying items is a big part of gameplay. Ever notice how, in other video games, characters seem to inherently know the properties of all items at a glance? In NetHack, each role starts out knowing some things about related items, but the majority of magical properties need to be identified. After all, if you zap a wand at a monster and instead of harming it, it makes it invisible, you're in trouble. While a scroll or spell of identify is usually the best choice, that's not always available, and you'll need to take certain actions. For example if you engrave something in the dust and then zap a wand at it to find the engraving vanished, the wand is either teleport, make invisible, or cancellation. While it's tempting to simply try to use all sorts of items to find what they are, that's not the best idea. The blessed/uncursed/cursed status of items plays a big part, sometimes with snarky results. If you drink that Potion Of Gain Level and it's actually cursed it'll move you back up a dungeon level instead, cursed weapons and armour will get stuck to you, etc.

    "So why haven't I heard of it?", I hear you ask. The answer is likely the graphics. In today's realm of ultra-realistic games, one whose default graphics are made of ASCII art doesn't command instant respect. The game's natural form is a grid of text characters on the screen. This is partially what has allowed the game to be ported to so many systems, and even allows the game to be played over Telnet with any vanilla client (such as the client included with Windows). Fear not, most ports also have a "tiles" form, which uses graphics to represent objects.
    If you're looking for a game with a challenge, a game that actually reacts to your unique actions, and a game you can play on over 10 operating systems and counting, try out Nethack.

    Download:

    [IMG] Official Releases
    [IMG] Unofficial Ports
    [IMG] Alternate GUIs
    [IMG] NetHack Website

    Genre: Roguelike
    Release Year: 1987
    Developer: The NetHack DevTeam
    Published by:The NetHack DevTeam
    Released For: MS-Dos, can be played on pretty much most hacked/open systems

    If you enjoyed this weeks edition of GBAtemp Recommends! please leave a comment in the thread. This helps us monitor feedback and ensures we keep posting these articles in the future.

    If you would also like to write a GBAtemp Recommends! article, let me know.
    ATMB, DaggerV, Qtis and 2 others like this.


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    raulpica With your drill, thrust to the sky!

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    I love NetHack, especially the PSP port since most shortcuts are really intuitive and there isn't almost any resourcing to menus :wub: You can pretty much do everything in a single action. Really really good port :yay:

    The iPhone versions aren't that intuitive either, only the SLASH'EM version is usable for (kinda) long playthrus.
    DS1 likes this.
    • Former Staff

    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

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    For the record, I dislike this game.
    shakirmoledina likes this.
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    Qtis Grey Knight Tech-Priest

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    Played it a long time ago, but rarely do anymore. Still, a few of my friends pour hours into this game weekly, just to get killed by something pretty obvious :D
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    chartube12 New Member

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    When I first saw the tomb stone on the right, I thought Rydian had been killed by a mail bomb lol.
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    ferofax End of the World

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    Played it, but not to a great extent. I guess I was distracted, of sorts, but I really wanted to get into the game. And so I got hooked on Powder instead. Simpler, but easier to get into. I sunk probably a thousand or so hours into that damn game.
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    Ritsuki Cast in the name of God, Ye not guilty

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    I'm going to try it now since I can't sleep, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to give up after 2-3 deaths :D
  1. buyme3
    This message by buyme3 has been removed from public view by Depravo, Dec 26, 2012.
    Dec 26, 2012
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    DS1 伝説の雀士

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    I love any and all rogue-likes, but Powder was easier for me to get into. I'll have to check out the PSP version raulpica suggested.
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    Todderbert New Member

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    DCSS was my first roguelike, love it! got into ADOM a bit and Angband. Also played powder, Shiren the wanderer, and the Etrian games on my DS. I have have yet to play nethack though.
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    ouch123 New Member

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    This looks really neat, actually. For some reason I find myself liking the 2D tile-based GUIs the most. Might give this a shot sometime, when I'm willing to be met with frustration and disappointment.
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Though it certainly does not work that way for everybody in many ways it is the deaths that make the game/genre what it is. I would probably even go so far as to say it is as vital a mechanic as being able to attack, failing that consider it like games where you have to throw dice and how boring they get should you be able to throw perfect dice every time.

    On a different note *echoes the "whoo Powder" sentiment*.
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    Wabsta you fight like a dairy farmer

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    If people want to get into roguelikes but dislike this or for example Powder, you could try Dungeons of Dredmor.
    That's a great roguelike but with awesome handdrawn graphics.


    Note: This is an older version of the game

    And it's only €2.49 atm for the complete pack: http://store.steampowered.com/app/98800/?snr=1_7_suggest__13

    It's a great game with lots of humor to get into the roguelike genre :)
    Nojoy and ferofax like this.
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    Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    Wabsta likes this.
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    shakirmoledina Legend

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    I really disliked these kinds of games not because of the game itself but because they tried squeezing graphics for even a dos game.
    It's a great concept but I get irritated.
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    DaggerV Archmagi of the Emerald Moon

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    This, Castlevania Rogue-like, Doom Rogue-like, and Dwarf Fortress have gotten a huge fraction of my life put into them. +1 this thing :)
    • Former Staff

    Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    i did not know about castlevania rogue like. i just looked up doomrl and i see it has graphics now!



    -another world
    DaggerV likes this.
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    ATMB New Member

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    I just read about it on tvtropes, and 2 days later... it's featured on gbatemp recommends!

    A coincidence that means "YOU HAVE TO PLAY IT!"
    • Reporter

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Though I will certainly not discourage you from trying them ATMB I dare say most of the people in/responsible for this thread will talk your ear off about roguelikes given half the chance (certainly many posting here are familiar to me from previous discussions on the matter).

    If we are doing things that could almost be such games I do feel the need to mention The Dark Spire on the DS. Thanks for the other suggestions as well- other than FTL I had not moved outside the hack/nethack and powder circles for a little while. Rather nicely it seems many developers are considering adding, for want of a better term, roguelike elements to their games which might not work for all but in my estimation has the potential to do for games I might like to play what "RPG elements" did for other styles of gameplay.
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    DS1 伝説の雀士

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    Not to argue, but more to discuss - I would hardly put Dark Spire in the same category. Dark Spire is a dungeon crawler through and through; specific character builds will lead to success, while all others mean failure in 99.9% of cases. Roguelikes are more dynamic, each playthrough is a unique experience, and you gain true experience through death - rather than arbitrary numbers and grinding. This is true of the 'purer' rogue-likes like Nethack, as well as hybrids and derivatives like Shiren or Baroque. All I learn through death in a dungeon crawler is that I spent 8 hours putting points into useless skills.
  2. buyme32
    This message by buyme32 has been removed from public view by GeekyGuy, Dec 28, 2012.
    Dec 28, 2012
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    ProtoKun7 GBAtemp Time Lord Regenerations: 2

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