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July 31st, 2008

Screenshots debut

Party time; Its TAGAP's birthday, July 31st! Exactly one year ago TAGAP was released and despite almost zero marketing, it soon took off to heights we didn't even dare to imagine. Even so that during the first month, when we desperately tried to feature all content on one server, our download mirrors went down due to high demand several times.

But how are we going to celebrate? Well, how about by raising the curtain on TAGAP 2 and releasing the very first screenshots, accompanied by thorough commentary? While everything shown here is strictly single-player and all work-in-progress, these shots will give a pretty good idea where we're headed.

Three of these screenshots were released with TAGAP v1.7 and the other three are previously unreleased. I captured these shots by first capturing gameplay footage with FRAPS, then exporting the cool moments as screen grabs. I'm new to this method and accidentally saved the original three shots with smaller-than-original resolution, but the newer shots are in full-res. My mistake, I'm sorry for that, but at least they are bigger and better detailed than 3D Realms' Duke Nukem Forever shots of past year or so.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 1

This picture was chosen mainly because it showcases two new character types. First one is that penguin armed with a rocket launcher. He represents a new enemy class, rochopper elites. They are smarter, tougher and generally better armed than any of the regular zombie penguins you'll meet. They are also sneaky bastards, as they usually attack from sniping positions like this or use commando ropes for showy entrance.

The second and less-eye-catching objects here are those small bots hovering above Pablo. They are not enemies, but guardian drones following Pablo and shooting at all incoming enemies. You can find these drones all around the game locked inside containment spheres – release them and they'll become loyal companions for as long as their weapon has charge.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 2

This shot is from a later level and showcases the vegetation system I hinted at in my previous blog post. In general TAGAP 2 is a lot more organic than hi-tek oriented original, all culminating in these lush forest settings. The enemy Pablo is fighting here is the re-designed turret dropper and as you can see, it's comprised of about 10 times more objects and moving parts as it's predecessor. As icing on the cake you can witness both the drones and Pablo's revamped flamethrower in action.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 3

First of the previously unreleased shots shows one of the key differences in the flow of gameplay. The system in question is called manholes and in this particular case, it's literary that. In a nut shell TAGAP 2 relies less on enemies spawning randomly from screen edges and more on in-level entry points, such as manholes, doors, bushes, port-a-johns, etc. Instead of making action 100% hectic all the time, it concentrates the game more into frantic bursts, leaving some room for occasional breather. In some cases you can even block these entryways by manipulating the environment, so being observant pays off.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 4

This picture is all about atmosphere. TAGAP relied heavily on transitions between outdoor and indoor environments, outdoors usually being hammered by heavy rain. While it worked well in the original, it was something I really wanted to experiment with more in TAGAP 2. From these experimentations and studies the new atmospheric tweaking capabilities were realized. Instead of being just stormy outdoors and sterile indoors, TAGAP 2 covers wide range of scenarios, moods and atmospheres, including this dirty, dusty and smelly sewer tunnel under construction.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 5

Back to the forest, this picture shows off Pablo's new moves. My original idea was to add Megaman-alike slide option combined with a melee punch, but thanks suggestion of our dear friend, supporter and tester Timo Liimatta, we turned it into something more penguin; Tummy slide! While Pablo may still waddle a little slower than most of the other platformer heroes, he can always roll on to his tummy, kick for some speed and zoom horizontally like a feathered rocket. Whether it's fancy evasive movements you want to do – like shown here – or just want to get from point A to point B faster, tummy slide is for you and its just one button press away. The best part? You can still shoot your guns – and believe me, tummy-sliding Pablo ripping away with minigun is an awesome sight!

Also worth noting in this shot; Insect-inspired mini-chopper re-design and brand new enemy type, zapper bot.

TAGAP 2 screenshot 6

And in the final image new weapon makes its debut. I've been hinting about this on the forums, but here it is in its primary fire glory; Magnet rifle. The gun practically is a portable electro-magnet. While it does very little damage, the primary fire releases the magnetic energy as a direct burst, shutting down all electric objects upon impact. Well, not all bigger, better protected ones like bosses, but everything from robots to mini-choppers and even turret droppers. That's right; One shot and you'll bring a turret dropper down, rendering it both inoperative and vulnerable for a short while.

The secondary fire of Magnet rifle keeps the magnetic charge up, turning the weapon into an effective magnet. The magnetic field sucks in anything, especially smaller stuff like pills, ammo and power-ups, so it's perfect for grabbing those hard-to-reach bonuses. Magnetism affects all relatively light and loose objects, so you can, for example, drag several zombies into a bunch to rack up your combo.

So, there you have it, TAGAP 2's online premiere. Feel free to comment anything you see on our forums, all feedback is appreciated.

But now it's time to celebrate TAGAP's birthday with Pablo and Pedro by watching some Knight Rider (hey, I'm a geek, you know). Speaking of partying, here's a funny fact; It seems TAGAP shares its birthday with action movie greats Michael Biehn and Wesley Snipes.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin