Elves Inc!
Published on November 21, 2003 By ScottTykoski In PC Gaming

It didn't take long after Stack 'n Sac was completed that I was already spilling over with ideas for a sequel.  I had tasted the sweet nectar of having something I personally created played by thousands of people (I think the final download count at CNET was well over 10,000...and I would've been ecstatic at 1000!).  Ideas of side-scrolling shooters with rpg elements, full cutscenes and internet connectivity seemed only logical.  I mean, I had a year to create the game!  The sky was the limit!

The sad reality of life is that you only have only so much free-time, and projects have a way of prioritizing themselves.  Come mid-January, my mind had been shifted in too many different directions and SnS2 was quickly out of the picture.  As November neared, however, interest in the project began to build.  Instead of grand and glorious, I tried to limit myself to simple but fun...and one other condition... it had to allow for 2 player simultaneous gameplay!  I'm sure a lot of gamers remember the thrill of fighting along-side a pal in the old "Contra" days, or more recently "Halo".  The end result was "Elves Inc", the humble, multiplayer sequel to "Stack n' Sac".

Playing as Elfington (or Panza, if you were player 2), you'd be armed with a gift wrapping gun which you would use on the falling presents (don't ask me where they were falling from, it was a "gameplay over story" decision). Once the presents were wrapped, you'd have to collect them to have them count towards your level score.  Once a certain number of presents were collected, the level would be cleared and you'd go onto the next one. There were 8 levels in the "Story" mode of the game.  You could also wrap and collect bones to get "Jingles" the Christmas Cat to come out and give you a power up (again, there was no real correlation between a cat and wrapping bones, it was solely for gameplay purposes).  In the end story mode (while not telling much of a story) provided an fun, and at times frantic, way to burn 15 minutes.  As much as I liked the Story mode, the truly enjoyable part of Elves Inc (in my opinion) lied in the VS tournament mode.

Using the above game mechanics, the 2 player mode stuck Elfington and Panza into a timed arena atmosphere.  The player with the most collected gifts when time ran out would win the round, where players could set the number of rounds to play.  What added to the fun-factor of this mode is the "Body Checking" / "Butt Stomp" mechanics that allowed players to easily steal gifts that their opponent had just wrapped. By double pressing the arrow keys at the right time, players could unleash crushing combos flinging opponents across the screen. This mode became the official start to the morning for my co-worker Paul W and I.  Who ever knew a Holiday Themed game could inspire so much foul language.     Luckily Paul was a good sport and enjoyed the game enough to help out with the backgrounds, which helped out immensely (mostly since time was running low towards the end of the project).  

Elves Inc. was released a week later than Stack n' Sac was the previous year, and didn't get nearly as many downloads as its counterpart. In my opinion, though, "Elves Inc" was the more enjoyable of the two games (I prefer the button mashing excitement of Elves Inc to the slower puzzle action of Stack 'n Sac).  Luckily, the game was developed in Flash, so by using the new tools in DesktopX we've been able to re-release it over on www.Wincustomize.com (thanks to Martin for the extra work making it into a DX object ).  Or, for anyone that doesn't own DesktopX, the game is available in exe form on the DesktopX Pro homepage, as well as on Stardock Central under "Free Stuff".

'DesktopX Pro' Version of Elves Inc.

Stardock Central Homepage

So, if you're looking for a fun game to enjoy the upcoming Holidays with (especially with a friend), I highly suggest checking out Elves Inc. 

Next week I'll touch up on the unreleased "Elf Force" from last year, and give a sneak peek into the street fighting action of "Northpole Showdown".  Stay tuned!

(Thanks Pat for fixing the Broken Images!)
on Dec 05, 2003

I never did see stack 'n sac, but this game was fun. Have played it 1 player so far and can see some potential in getting a 2 player game going over the holidays...