Parasite Strike

Play Parasite Strike
Liked the music? Download the Parasite Strike OST here

I don’t see a future for this game myself, so for those learning AS3, I am making the source code available for reference here.

Parasite Strike, previously “Zombie Alien Parasites.” Twice as much work than The Enchanted Cave, higher knowledge of programming, more experience with the flash game market, yet a huge disaster. After some initial confusion as to the poor reception, I finally learned why this game was doomed from the start. I only wish I knew this before I spent a bit over a year making it.

Parasite Strike is a classic side-scrolling shooter that focuses on a deep customization system which offers many different ships, weapons, and gadgets to be purchased. There are 6 main levels, and 6 secret levels that can be found along the way. Each of the main levels have a boss, and there is one secret boss. In words, the game idea seems fine, so why did the game receive very mixed responses and averaging only par ratings? There are a couple of reasons:

1) Game Size. This issue turned out to be two-fold. The main reason is that with pixel-level hit-detection on ever tile in lengthy levels, and hundreds of bullets, this takes a huge amount of processing power, much more than the average flash game. During development, this issue was invisible. The laptop I develop games on has 4GB of RAM, a much larger amount than the average home computer.

The second issue with game size was the decreased quality. The original size of the game at the optimal quality that looks great with lowest size was 30MB. 30MB is ridiculously unheard of for a flash game, so upon completion, the graphics were heavily edited and compressed, sound files were immensely compressed to a poor quality, and four music tracks were removed altogether in order to bring the file size down to 10mb.

2) Audience. Parasite Strike features “classic” gameplay of older side-scrolling shooters. The young, new gaming generation hates this type of gameplay. It’s challenging, the graphics are described as “dated,” and things just aren’t as flashy as many popular games now. On the other hand, this genre of game is popular with an older generation of gamers, that played these games when they were younger. Since the primary audience of flash gamers are young teens with minimal experience of these classic, challenging arcade games, the whole concept of Parasite Strike was a bad idea for a flash game.

My focus on this game was the gameplay, and I just threw together a simple story with parasites and explosions that I thought kids would enjoy. Surprisingly, many comments I see express strong disgust for the game play but adore the story line. What…? I completely disagree! The story is shallow, simple, in what dialogue there is, the characters show little personality, and it’s just shooting stuff up. I put hardly any thought at all into it. But for some strange reason, a lot of people place it’s quality above that of the gameplay itself. Maybe I should have just wrote a book for these folks.

On the note of story, when the game was initially released under the name “Zombie Alien Parasites,” I received a lot of flak simply because the game lacked the stereotypical zombie that kids love nowadays. I had paid little thought to the story, so I didn’t think the name was a big deal, but after these, I quickly changed the name and adapted the story to not mention zombies, therefore not misleading the zombie-lovers. This basically proves how simple the story is if I was able to change the name completely and make it fit by taking 5 minutes to change a few words throughout the game.

Alright, you may be here to learn about the game development itself, so enough about the reception; allow me to explain some aspects of development.

The entire game basically stemmed from my first idea to have a shooter with multiple weapons where you could adjust the weapon angles individually. I haven’t seen any game with this feature, so I thought it’d be a unique, fun feature. From this, a basic story was developed and individual enemies and bosses created.

I’m not a very skilled artist when it comes to scenes such as the title screen, introduction scenes, and level backgrounds, so for large images like these, I contracted the work out to two artists. Most of the other graphics, like the level tiles in the foreground, enemies, and bosses, were made with the 3D modeling program Blender. Some art was pixel art, like window borders and bullets.

Modeling and Animating the Secret Weapon boss in Blender

The average flash game is a much smaller game than Parasite Strike. About a third of the way through development, the game had grown too large to be compiled using Flash Professional. I made a switch to FlashDevelop, which is a fantastic tool. After some adjustments, I had my game working with FlashDevelop and compile times were MUCH shorter (maybe 20% of the time or less).

I put many, many hours into Parasite Strike, and it’s too bad that there’s a relatively small group of players that enjoy this type of game. For those that do, I hope you appreciate the number of weapons, ships, and gadgets, and enjoy the six secret levels. For those that don’t and preferred The Enchanted Cave, just be patient while I work on an Enchanted Cave sequel. 😉

14 thoughts on “Parasite Strike

  1. I just played that game for about 3 hours today…. and it does seem a lot like the arcade and SNES title UN Squadron. Either way….great game….sorry it wasn’t as accepted as you had hoped… you did such a great job on quality…I can see how size was an issue.

    BTW….I only found one of the six secret levels….

  2. i love the gameplay and the game style.not much to aspect about the story.but this game is awesome…and the music so cool.i attached to it.

  3. I’m a part of the “young” generation (eighteen), but I enjoyed Parasite Strike a ton. My only real issues with it were some lagging and bugginess. Though, I do find retro things pleasurable in general, so that could explain why I liked it so much, and my peers didn’t.

    I disagree with leaving retro gaming behind, as most people have. New and old both have their good points – I don’t see why they can’t exist together. Ah well.

    Thanks for making it. 🙂
    God bless,
    Joel Garner.

  4. I think the main problem with this game is that it’s what the Jews would call parve. On one hand, it’s too short and webbish to be a full-fledged heavy-duty boxed release game. On the other hand, it’s too big, difficult and has extensive gameplay to be a flash game.

    I still think it’s excellent (apart from the intro story which actually makes no sense), and played it through and through.

    One critical caveat it suffers from, very similarly to Enchanted Caves (which I also enjoyed start to finish) is that it starts off really hard, but quickly becomes too easy. It took me several tries to beat the first mission, but once I got some upgrades I hardly ever got beat again. The initial hardness might be the reason many people didn’t play a lot, making it start off easy might make it a lot more popular.

    Also, some expensive weapons were much weaker than cheaper weapons I acquired before (when fully upgraded both), which made me feel cheated.

    So I think you need to work on game Balance next time. Either get some testers/balancers for it, or learn a bit of it yourself: Difficulty curve, correct item pricing, etc.

    All in all, good job and hope to see more of your games!

  5. I will honestly, truly, and deeply love you forever if I can play an Enchanted Cave Sequel. I will applaud you, I will bring you treasures of gold, silver, jewels and I will bring you women(men?). I beg of you, we all need a “The Really Enchanted Cave” 🙂

    As for ZAP/Parasite Strike was a fine game, and don’t let the new crowd bring you down, it was lovely and you’re an amazing game developer, whose quality few can match. Keep up the amazing work (not a demand, a plead!) 😀

  6. agreed, don’t think i even see shooters like this that often anymore unfotrunately.

    imo the current gen of games in general just isn’t as good as it used to be overall, its more graphics and other stuff rather than great gameplay. actually i still play old snes games like UN Squadron pretty often simply because i like those kinds of games better than newer ones. not that all newer games are bad but well, you know :/ everyones has they’re own preferences and all that.

    (if anyone wants to find me on kongregate the names neo32x there :))

  7. This game rules!!!
    Could you make a tutorial that shows how to make a game like “Parasite Strike”?
    I saw a basic tutorial on called the “Shootorial”. It simply shows you the basics of a horisontal shooter game! Sadly, it doesn’t show how to upgrade your ship or to buy stuff! It would be awesome if you would make such a tutorial! 😀

    1. Right, Kong’s shootorial is just the movement and basic structure. But really, the upgrades and shop are just knowing how to make a shop screen with buttons that do what you want, storing variables and using shared objects to save the data, which are all used in tons of other genres of games. I know there are tons of tutorials on shared objects around the web.

      The hangar in Parasite Strike became super complicated due to the amount of upgrades and complexity (my file is 2800 lines), so it’d be quite a chore to write a tutorial about those things specifically. 🙂

      1. If you don’t see a future for this game and writing a tutorial would take too much time, you might want to consider simply releasing its source code. Beginning AS gamdevs such as myself would surely be happy 🙂

        1. I’ll do that! I have no problem with people seeing the code for this game. I spent a ton of time on it, and there’s a decent little level editor in there too.

  8. Cool Game. Very entertaining for “mature” gamers 🙂 Gameplay was great, storyline was good too, great artwork, GREAT EVERYTHING!

  9. This game is AMAZING! I Love it! Your right it does appeal to slightly more mature gamers. It reminds me of a favorite SNES title: UN Squadron! Keep up the excellent work! How do you get to the secret levels? Heh im still working on that part 😛

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