Sunday, 11 May 2008

Review: Game Board (tileset)

Author: T-boned T-raex T. Teupac
Year: Likely 1999 or 2000
Genre: Tileset
Filename: Game board.j2t
Download: J2O

Update (July 2009): It turns out this tileset is actually on j2o, albeit with a different name and version. Seems it got uploaded without me noticing. I've updated the download link to point to it. The rest of the review has been unedited, and refers to the original version.

What? I'm reviewing a tileset? And who the hell is T-boned T-raex T. Teupac? What kind of name is that?

While I have no idea what could possess someone to pick a name like that, I do have a good reason why I have decided to do this review. Simply put, this is a very good tileset. It's a bit hard to use, and not perfect, but it also happens to have a great theme, and has a few features which are almost completely unique to it. And to top it all off, I can guarantee that almost none of you have ever seen this tileset, or even heard of it.

My memory is foggy as to how I even came into possession of this tileset. I've looked on the archives of Jazz2city, and it's not there. It's definitely not on Jazz2online, since the tileset predates that site. I also checked the archives of universejazz, a website that existed for a short time after J2C went down and before J2O went up. It's not there either. So where the hell did I get it? I'd actually like to know this, because it came with a very good example level which I have unfortunately lost. The example level was the whole reason I wanted to find it and do this review, but since I could only find the tileset, I now have to settle with reviewing the tileset alone. Note that a lot of the information I have about using this tileset comes from that example level; thankfully, my memory isn't that foggy.

Most of the tiles in Game Board take the form of a pseudo-3d chessboard, complete with a few pawns and even a queen that you can place on it. The background takes the form of a bunch of mountains made up of playing cards. There are also tiles that you can use to build fortresses out of dice, and houses of cards. All of it looks good too. What this means is Game Board is a good looking tileset that has things that no other tileset does, with a theme that is almost completely unique. If there was a textbook definition of "good tileset", it would probably include those points.

The tileset also has a few things which are not exactly related to the theme, but are cool anyway. For example, it has a few tiles of slimy goo you can place on the ground. By putting a vine event on top of that, you can make it so bits of the floor are sticky. You can step on them and jump on them fine, but you can't walk or run on them. If you have ever played Donkey Kong Country 2, remember the beehive levels with the sticky ground? It works exactly the same way here.

Another thing this tileset has is multicoloured pits of water. Some of the colours are pretty useless, but what makes it interesting is that it is possible to animate the water so that it goes from blue (normal) to red (hot). Using the right sort of animation, you can make water pits that the player can only enter for short windows of time, and that allows for some pretty interesting level design. There is also green water, which can serve as a sort of slime pit.

There is also a tile which you can place on a wall. It looks like a nozzle of some sort, or maybe a speaker. The intended use for it is to generate smoke rings that will confuse a player's movement. It's a pretty interesting touch, since this is probably the only tileset that has a tile dedicated explicitly for that purpose.

There are a few problems with this tileset though. For one thing, the textured background doesn't work, so you have to leave it flat. Also, there are a couple of masking bugs in the tileset which make it harder to use, and limit its potential somewhat. The pseudo-3d look also makes it hard to use, so this isn't a tileset I'd recommend to new JCS users. Overall Game Board is more suited to single player than multiplayer, though it could certainly be used for either.

Possibly the biggest advantage of this tileset is the fact that it has never, to my knowledge, been used for anything other than the example level it came with. What that means is if you use this tileset, your level will be the only one of its kind. Considering the moderately high quality here, I think that's a pretty good deal.

Two versions of the tileset are provided. Game Board 2.0 is simply the same tileset with a different sprite palette. Unfortunately there is no example level. If you somehow have the level this tileset originally came with, please send it to me.


  • Best game board tileset there is
  • A lot of cool features not normally found in other tilesets (e.g. sticky slime)
  • Mint condition!!
  • Textured background doesn't work
  • Difficult to use
  • Some awkward masking problems
  • Probably only good for single player levels

Note: I do not normally review tilesets, and I was a bit hesitant to give this a score at all. When I rate levels, I have other levels to base the score on. But in this case, I don't have that luxury because this is the only tileset I have reviewed. Keep that in mind.


cooba said...

Impressive find.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I've seen this tileset used, I remember the coloured water. I believe that had to be something else than the example level you're looking for, as I wasn't around at the time the tileset was released according to your review.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I remember liking that tileset a lot. Oddly, I can't seem to find it anymore in my folders, which is a shame because I know I've played the example level...

Anonymous said...

Anyway, I am trying to beat Queen Of Board for years and have no idea how to go past the cave of T' there anyone who can tell me how to pass the level?I have found no walkthrough...If someone can help me, I'll leave my e-mail...


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