Recommended Game: The Valley of Gwangi


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Cowboys and dinosaurs: what a cool combination! So strap on your six-shooter, gather your lassos, saddle up, and let’s go hunt some dinosaurs!

The Valley of Gwangi, from seasoned indie developer Mike MacDee (http://deadendsolutions.wordpress.com/games/), is inspired by The Valley of Gwangi, the movie. In the 1969 film, which featured stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen, a cowboy ventures into the Forbidden Valley to retrieve a tiny prehistoric horse and comes face-to-face with dinosaurs–including Gwangi, an ill-tempered Tyrannosaurus Rex (or is it an Allosaurus?) In the movie, Gwangi is eventually subdued and captured (for a time), but that’s not quite how it works in the game.

In The Valley of Gwangi, the game, you play as a cowboy who has ventured into the Forbidden Valley to hunt dinosaurs, but you’d best stay as far away from Gwangi as possible. You have a horse, a gun, a few bullets, and a limited number of lassos, though you can find more bullets and lassos lying around, or dropped by fallen bad guys. There are also spears, which are a last resort, really.

So you ride your horse around the valley, which is composed of a grid of screens (you choose the size when beginning the game), and you try to find some prey. Getting in your way are some bad guys that will try to shoot or spear you. You can ignore them and save ammo, but the ones on horses can prove quite a nuisance. There are also some tiny horses grazing here and there– a nod to movie, I presume.

And there are plenty of dinosaurs in the valley. The small dinos–some sort of ornithopod, I assume–are harmless and can be lassoed and captured alive for big bucks, or you can just shoot them and collect their bones for a smaller payoff. The bigger dinosaurs, the pterodactyl and the styracosaurus, are dangerous and take more than one bullet to kill, but their bones are valuable.

Then there is the biggest dinosaur, Gwangi, whom I don’t think you can kill. There are basically three ways of dealing with Gwangi:

1. If he hasn’t seen you yet, you can hide behind obstacles and remain unnoticed.

2. After he’s seen you, you can run like hell.

3. While you are running like hell, you can manoeuvre so that Gwangi (who is quite speedy for a dinosaur of his stature), will be distracted by a passing bad guy or dinosaur, whereupon he will pause in his pursuit to stop for a quick, violent snack. You can outrun him this way.

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When you get shot or mauled by a dinosaur smaller than Gwangi, the first thing to go is your horse, and the next bullet or dinosaur bite means death. If you manage to collect enough dinosaurs (dead or alive) to reach the level’s target bounty, you can then find the valley’s exit and escape in triumph.

This game is great! The pixel art is spare but excellent and the gameplay is fast-paced and pretty tough. Don’t despair if you die quickly and often at first. Once you get the hang of it, The Valley of Gwangi offers quite a bit of tactical depth and dino-hunting fun.

Download The Valley of Gwangi for free on Gamejolt: http://gamejolt.com/games/arcade/the-valley-of-gwangi/10593/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul is intensely interested in digital and analog indie games, game development, and games journalism. He keeps a blog about cool indies at indiegamehunt.tumblr.com and has a couple of other websites in the works. His day job involves writing about a topic that has nothing to do with games and is too boring to mention here, but he is glad to have any opportunity to write about something he loves. Paul also dabbles in game design, cartooning, and non-interactive fiction, but most of his time is currently dedicated to raising his precocious toddler.

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