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Multiplayer Game Reviews

March 30, 2011

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Paid, XBoxTaylorLF @ 04:08

When I looked at the initial screenshots for Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, it made my insides all happy. An old-school RPG with both 8 and 16 bit influences, I was thrilled to say the least. I grew up with my NES/SNES and loving RPGs so it was a natural purchase. It did not disappoint. It poked fun at itself and the typical RPG models (the title itself was a big clue), a slew of references to various games (a town called Motherbound was my favorite), but it was also just a smooth game in general. You play DEM, a “silent” hero who communicates his thoughts to the player but not the group about various situations he gets placed in, while the party assumes what you’re thinking. You get three other party members who fill the other “niche” roles; the kind healer, the weird/quirky/inventor/crazy one, and of course the nobility guy. It’s not a RPG without someone being nobility. It sounds typical, and it is, but it’s satirical.

The game play is what I’d expect from an old RPG. Exploring the world, dungeon crawling, going to towns, leveling up, it’s all there. The leveling system is a bit different, giving you a choice which path you want to go down when you level up each time. Examples would be choosing between one of two spells during one level up and a big boost to a couple stats vs. an overall increase during another. It gives some customization, but not a whole lot. One of the things I loved though was how they did the battles and the battle system. For one, finishing a battle heals everyone to full. They have random battles which you can semi fast forward through after you pick your options, but what I liked was that there were a set number of battles you could get into, even on the world map. You go into a building with fifty battles in it, you random battle fifty people and you get no more encounters so you can explore without annoyance. The best part was you could also make a fight happen, which if you coupled that with a save point that sets both your health and magic to full plus the ability to go through battles quick, you could sit there and grind out the required number in no time at all. Cheating the system? Maybe, but one of the big reasons I don’t explore in most RPGs is because I’d rather not waste a lot of my time fighting battles against an endless stream of enemies and a loading screen. On the plus side though, if you need to grind still for a boss you can choose to fight and you’ll still get into a battle even if you have no more random battles left.

The graphics and sounds are to be expected from an older game. Nothing fancy or mind blowing, but nostalgic. They look, feel, and sound like something from the 8/16 bit era. If you enjoyed those games, you’ll enjoy this. If you’re a more modern gamer who scoffs at something that isn’t in a 3D space, then you won’t.

It’s a great game. It only costs a dollar, and it’s a dollar extremely well spent. That is, of course, if you enjoy old school RPG look and feel while playing one that pokes fun at itself and the genre itself. It’s meant to be a parody or satirical but also be an awesome game. If you’ve played any RPGs on the NES or SNES, you owe it to yourself to at least check it out. Only if you have an Xbox 360, though.

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A venture into the old-school.

Game: Breath of Death VII: The Beginning | Developer: Zeboyd Games

March 28, 2011

Aleph One

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Linux, Macintosh, WindowsHeath @ 05:15

Excuse me Sir!

Aleph One

Were you a Mac-gamer 12 years ago? Are you interested in playing the spiritual ancestor of the Halo Series? Then it’s time, dear friend, to download and enjoy Aleph One and play through all the Marathon Games that you can eat.

How This Works:

So you don’t just download the game Marathon. You have to download the Aleph One runtime and then download the files for each game you want to play. Don’t worry, this is 100% legal. Bungie released the source code for it a long time ago, so you’re good. This also means there are tons of user-created maps and scenarios.

There are installers for Mac, Windows and Linux. So, everyone gets their fair try. Trust me, it’s a good time.

Gameplay

You are the last defender of the space station ‘Marathon’. Aliens are trying to take over, but you, and your guns and wits, are standing between them. You relive the battles that have happened in the past by logging into computers and seeing what the A.I. has to say. Seriously, the plot is what makes this a great great game.

Why yes, sports fan, those are double shotguns.

You have to figure out mazes, shoot aliens and flip switches and stuff. On top of that, the music is, in the words of my girlfriend ‘tripping me out’. This game is a sensory delight. You will look up from your screen and realize you have just lost hours of your life, and you couldn’t be happier.

Technical

There’s no jump. Get used to it. You’ll be happier in the long run. This makes certain levels very frustrating. Every Marathon player has been at that point where they’re staring at a hole in the wall, within striking distance of the end, and you would be totally fine if you had a jump but no.

You have a motion detector, a map and a comprehensive readout of ammo and guns. Despite this, the aliens will kill you. Do not despair. Oh yeah, it doesn’t save after every level (there aren’t really levels, only transport points) so even if you finish a level, you still have to save.

Multiplayer

The single player was great, the Multiplayer was epic. Even today it sets the standard for quality online interactions. Seriously, this is LAN party material if I ever saw it. I used to play it before school. God my life was sad.

Final Verdict

Really? Do I really have to give a final verdict for one of the best games that has ever been released? Judge for yourself.

Aleph One

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Shoot aliens. Be confused by the A.I.

Game: Aleph One | Developer: Bungie

March 24, 2011

Dragon Age II

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Other, Paid, Playstation, Windows, XBoxTaylorLF @ 04:05

To be honest, Dragon Age II (DA2) took me by surprise. When I played Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O) back in 09, I was glad that we received another RPG in a gaming community that is more accustomed to fast paced, adrenaline filled action games. So naturally, to me, the sequel would improve on the first game. They did, and they didn’t. DA:O was built for the PC gaming crowd, while it’s console partners (Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) had to adjust to its’ more strategic combat, using a variety of camera angles and pausing to issue orders in order to get through more of the games challenging moments. DA2 was built towards the console gamers, a move that many PC gamers were not happy with. They stripped a lot of what made DA:O an RPG and turned it into an Action-RPG. For those who played Mass Effect 1 & 2, you’ll get the comparison. For those of you who have not played any of the games listed here, think of it like the old Star Wars trilogy compared with the new. Sure, everything “fits” in the same story sense, but you can’t just nudge past the feeling that something was traded away from what it was to make it more acceptable. It just feels wrong. If you have not played any of the games and did not watch any of the movies to get the comparison, then I just don’t know.

The game play is, for lack of a better word, streamlined. The world seems small, the giant city of Kirkwall seems sparse, and the locations you can visit become very familiar. Dungeon layouts re-use the same layouts, blocking off doors not in use that they would be in other quests. The same three classes are there for you to pick from; Warrior, Mage, and Rogue, with a variety of companions filling the gap. Combat has been simplified. There are barely any separate camera angles, just enough to get a very small overhead view, mostly you’ll be looking at your characters back. Unless you’re playing on a high difficulty, there’s very little need for strategy. The most strategic thing you can do with the combat at early points, and almost a need in higher difficulties is cross-class combos. Various skills cause one of three different effects based on your class, and other classes can use a skill that exploit that. For instance, a rogue uses a skill that disorients a target, a warrior can use another skill that causes 4 times the regular damage against the disoriented target but gets rid of it so it can’t be exploited continually. What this does though is makes the game feel more fluid during combat. It’s a trade off.

Customization takes a bit of a back seat as well. You can customize your main character however you wish, except you must be a human. Changing your style past the first few presets also changes how your family looks as well. The preset for both the male and female Hawke though are fairly well done if you aren’t the customizing type. You can change everything about your companion’s equipment except their armor, and to some lesser extent their weapons. Some do well with a new weapon, others never get replaced. Their appearance is what you get. The only exception here is when you finish a relationship with one of the companions you can romance, then their outfit changes to a separate one. It’s only for that one person though and if you don’t like the change, too bad. Instead of refitting your companions with new armor, you find upgrades in a variety of places; shops, crates and barrels, quests. The upgrades ranged anywhere from more armor, stats, or adding a rune slot where you can place an enchantment. The further blow to customization happens in the skill trees. You receive two companions who are warriors, three if you included yourself if you decided your main character will be a warrior. You can make any of them a tank by using a sword and shield. The problem is, only one of them is suited to be a tank since each companion has a personal skill tree. It -can- work with the other one or yourself since all three can pick up the sword & shield tree, but know one person can do it better since their personal tree is dedicated to making them a tank. The real bothersome thing is if you need a healer, you really only get one option since only one of your mages gets the tree to heal. If you dislike that person as a companion, or goes against what you’re playing as, then you either shelf them and go without a healer or be annoyed and deal with it.

The story, for what it is, is good. It delves into the politics of a city, paranoia, group oppression, and betrayal. The story is actually being told through one of your companions over three acts, who is being interrogated as to the main character’s (your) location. Each act ends and starts with your companion telling his interrogators what happened during the time you left off. Explaining why you disappeared and why this particular group is looking for you delves into the late story and is spoiler filled so just know that things blow up in an important way. The only thing that bothered me is that for all the choices you seem to be given, little matters. You can import your old DA:O save to have some minor tie-ins, but it effects little overall. Only a few things actually happen, story wise. The rest is maybe passed by in a line of text.

The sound I can’t comment much on because it didn’t really stick out to me. The voice acting is well done. As far as the ambient soundtrack goes, I actually could not tell you off the top of my head because I honestly can’t remember if the city or the other areas even had music. It was that subdued. The battle music suits fighting fine, but unfortunately mine was bugged at the time of playing (as were others judging from their forum) where the battle music only cuts in for a second and the rest of the time is just a high pitched echo playing. I know what it sounds like though and it is nice, shame I didn’t get to hear it actually in my game though opposed to having to find it outside of it.

The graphics are fairly good, even on lower settings the game looks nice so that’s a plus for those who can’t run it very high. They aren’t mind blowing but they’re modern, so you wouldn’t feel like you’re playing a game a few years back.

Overall, Dragon age II is a great game. Despite my personal feelings about the switch in gameplay, I can see what they were going for and making it a bigger market on the consoles and that’s just business. I enjoyed the game, and currently running it through a second time. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys RPGs, action or traditional based. Just if you’re coming in from the first game keep an open mind and enjoy it for what it is, not what we might’ve expected/wanted. Change keeps the industry alive, and we have to roll with it.

Dragon Age II

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Dragon Age II changes the formula enough to cause a stir between PC gamers and console gamers, but pushes out a good game nonetheless.

Game: Dragon Age II | Developer: Bioware

March 22, 2011

Wizard’s Keep

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Paid, XBoxNina S. @ 05:30

I decided to pick up Wizard’s Keep based on the sole fact that it is made by the same people who made Miner Dig Deep. From what I understand of the developers, it’s just a couple of guys who have a real passion for games. Yes, I realize that that describes a bunch of Indie game developers, but I really like these guys, so leave me alone! Anyway, they put a lot of care and consideration into their games so when I saw this title I jumped on it. Because I’m smart!

Wizard’s Keep was a fantastic game! It wasn’t anything complicated. The art was straight-forward and simple. It was in 2D and it looked like a simple dungeon crawler. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too nice. The art work looks hand-drawn, and not in the good way. It’s very simple, but damnit, it was charming. It was a little dark at times, so if you went into a cave or into a particularly dark corner, you had a tough time figuring out how to get out. It  had awesome little puddles of red when you killed things. On the other hand, the music selection was lovely.


In addition, this game has the fact that you can play it with a friend on its side. True two-player gaming always gets me excited. Even though the game can be played and enjoyed solo it makes it ten thousand times better immediately, just by allowing me to tag a friend along through the adventure.

I wasn’t really expecting it to be, but this really is an RPG. You get stats when you level up and can build your character up however you’d like. It’s nothing intricate, there are four stats and they’re the standard you’d expect. Still, you go forth with your sword and shield and prepare to conquer the evil Wizard and set the world back into rights.

The game is cute. It’s cute blood puddles, barrels you can smash, and cute monsters that you can knock into spikes (though you get no experience for doing that, it’s still hilarious). It’s what I like to see in my Indie games, a solid concept done with clever little nuggets of gold. No, it’s not as pretty as some of the games I’ve played but that’s all right. It makes up for it with charm. I’m giving it the Nina seal of approval.

Wizard’s Keep

 ★★★★¼ 

Gameplay:★★★★¼ 
Technical:★★★★¼ 
Multiplayer:★★★★☆ 
Cute crawler!

Game: Wizard’s Keep | Developer: Robir

March 18, 2011

Death

Filed under: Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, XBoxNina S. @ 07:49

Death was an interestingly simple game. I was not really expecting much, thanks to the simple cover and lack of any screenshots or description but overall I did not mind playing it for a little while.

Upon starting the game, I was a little surprised at the lack of art. With a title like “Death”, I expected at the very least a skull or some creepy coffins. Instead, you are launched into a game with little to no fluff or frills. Luckily, the game play itself is pretty straightforward.

You find yourself watching button prompts flash before the screen. It appears that you are lying on your back, maybe on an old operation table or some kind of interrogation table, staring up at a ceiling of lights. You are then prompted to press buttons. Your heartbeat (a fairly generic rhythmic sound) speeds up, as do he prompts and rotation of the buttons on the screen. They begin in their respective places on the controller, Y, X, A, and then B and slowly begin moving around so that you have to use your memory of where they are situated in order to keep up with the game. Basically, the entire game is about hand eye coordination. The bright light that flashes in your eyes when you make a mistake is not very helpful but overall the game is just that.

Now, I have no doubt that a game like this would get very old, real fast. I could not get my husband, who describes his gaming level as “casual core” to play it more than a few rounds because it “isn’t much of a game.” This tells me that it might be a little too simple for anyone who is used to a little more stimulus, but for someone like me…well, I enjoyed it.

Granted, I imagine that something like this could not be that complicated to set up for a developer. In addition, as there is no story there is really nothing more to it than mindless button mashing fun. But, so what? The game does not try to be anything more than what it is and while it is not going to hit a lot of homeruns, it did okay in my book.

Death

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
A near-death experience.

Game: Death | Developer: ZebraGames

March 16, 2011

Clarence’s Big Chance

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 06:22

An ugly old man hanging out in his attic in his whitey-tighties. This is just sad.

If you want some positive affirmation, this game is not the place to look for it.

Clarence has absolutely nothing going for him. He’s fat, ugly, smells bad, has a boring job, and has never had a girlfriend. This is all about to change. Well, not really. He’ll still be fat and ugly, and will still have the same old boring job. But he is about to embark on his first date ever, since he met a woman online and told her a bunch of lies in order to get her to go out with him. And this is where Clarence’s Big Chance begins.

Ok. I’m going to be honest. I read the description and expected this game to be one of those dating sims. I ended up playing it anyway, and what I discovered was an incredible retro gaming experience, slathered in awesome sauce and topped with a really snarky sense of humor.

Clarence’s Big Chance is a massive 2D side-scrolling platformer, in which Clarence’s daily routine is filled with jumping, dodging, and vintage gaming references. You must help him get dressed, which means old Clarence will spend the beginning portion of the game in his whitey-tighties. Ew.

Clarence also must eat breakfast, requiring him to get into a fridge (which is actually a portal to a gigantic frozen dimension) for cereal, and then get milk from the inside of a gigantic oven filled with flying rotisserie chicken.

Do not ever buy this brand of toothpaste. Seriously.

Yeah, this game is beyond weird. But those of us who grew up in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming remember a time when oddness was pretty much expected from our games. We had classics like ToeJam and Earl and Earthworm Jim. Ahh, those days were golden.

There are signposts that are there to guide you through the game, but mostly they just poke fun of how hopeless poor Clarence is. My favorite lets you know you can gain extra height when jumping on beds. It puts it like this: “You can bounce on beds, you know! Hold SPACE while jumping on them to bounce higher into the sky, like some kind of extremely ugly eagle which is a virgin. And fat. So very fat.” So harsh, yet so hilarious!

Clarence’s Big Chance features inside jokes that long-time gamers will appreciate. For example, the plumbers have black mustaches (Mario, anyone?) Burglars even wear green helmets that they retreat inside of once you stomp on their heads (so much like the koopas from Super Mario Bros.)

To top it off, this game has a great soundtrack. It may get a little repetitive eventually, but these songs are extremely well-written homages that sound exactly like they were written in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. Perfect for a game like this.

And this game is seriously huge. It features at least as much gameplay as the original Super Mario Bros. And it’s absolutely free.

If you didn’t get to experience what gaming was like in the early 1990s, I feel a bit sorry for you. But Clarence’s Big Chance pretty much sums up the experience as well as any game could. Seriously. If you like retro games at all, do not miss this one.

Sure, Clarence is still making bad choices. But thank God he's finally wearing clothes!

Clarence’s Big Chance

 ★★★★¾ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
Help Clarence to not screw up his big date in this throwback to the gaming goodness of yesteryear.

Game: Clarence’s Big Chance | Developer: Psuedolonewolf

March 15, 2011

Return All Robots

Filed under: Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Strategy, XBoxNina S. @ 06:02

Flipping through the Xbox marketplace can be exhausting. It’s like dumpster diving, you’re weeding through mounds and mounds of garbage hoping for something good. Return All Robots was that nugget of glorious gold I found while scraping the bottom of a bucket. It was the iPhone someone accidentally tossed in the can while clearing the table. It was an incredible game.

First of all, the art on the cover of Return All Robots is beautiful. This is a constant throughout the game. The art style is crisp and fun, without losing any quality. The music choices are just as impressive, really well thought out and entertaining without taking away from the game itself.

One of my favorite things to find in a game is humor. This game is funny but beyond that, it uses a lot of pop culture humor which makes you excited to get to the next page so you can see if you’ll get the next joke. Besides that, it’s filled with interesting, likeable characters that really pull you into the story and make you care.


The game play itself is all about block puzzles. You have to lead a number of robots to freedom while dodging obstacles and evil robots as well. You basically have to lead them into one direction and use the various blocks there to keep them from going off the deep end. Think of it as a sliding game, the robots will continue forward until they hit one of these blocks so you use them to get the robots where you want.

Even with all its jokes and fun, this is a challenging puzzle game. It’s all about planning out your movements and having fun while you think. Any game that makes you think as hard as this one without making you feel like it’s a chore should be commended.

The first thing I had to tackle when I decided to play this game was the price. Now, I realize it’s not all that expensive, but when you’re seeing a bunch of options that are only a dollar and this one is three times as much, it’s easy to balk and buy something cheaper instead. In this care I just want to say that you get what you pay for. This game is more because it’s worth more.

Return All Robots

 ★★★★¾ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A puzzle in a box. It’s got what robots crave.

Game: Return All Robots | Developer: Space Whale Studios

March 14, 2011

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World

Filed under: Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Strategy, WindowsNina S. @ 06:25

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World was an awesome game. I’m probably a little biased because it’s one of those wonderful click and combine games. You know the kind, the ones where you find item A in one room and item C in another room, combine them and make item B, which you need to open the door to the next puzzle. I love those kinds of games and usually they have to be pretty awful to turn me off, butt his one isn’t by any means awful. It’s a clever game with a simple premise.

You play the game as Kaptain Brawe, who kind of reminds me of that blonde captain from Futurama. Zapp Brannigan. In the demo, he has a second in command who is also a lot like Kif, in the sense that he’s fully aware of the fact that his commanding officer is a dimwit, but covers for him with a bit of annoyance and good humor. They’re fun characters.

The game play itself is nothing new. Like I said, you find items and use them to get places. When  you have a game like this, which is so much alike others, you really have to focus on the aspects that are different. Is the story good? Are the characters engaging? Is it funny? The answer to all of these questions would be a resounding “Yes!” The world that develops around you is not only pretty, it’s interesting and interactive. If you’re not laughing over Brawe’s stupidity, you’re laughing at the descriptions and various items that liter the world they’ve created, just to be amusing.

Another leg up this game has over the competition is the fact that it has two options. You can play it for fun and the likes and laugh over the silly monologue or you can play it without it and really challenge yourself with the item puzzles. I played both and found them acceptably different. You still get the same game but with a steeper learning curve, which is always awesome.

All in all, I thought this was a fantastic game. You find a little bit of everything here. There’s humor, challenge, and fun, dynamic characters that work hard to make sure you enjoy your time. The price is a little higher than the other games I played this week but it was well worth it. Even though the screenshots I’ve got posted are the developer snaps (I’m having a weird problem taking screenshots in games, they always turn out black or white) they’re a good representation of what the game world is like. It’s lush, pretty, and done with a great eye to detail. Well worth it.

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World

 ★★★★¼ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★¾ 
Technical:★★★¾☆ 
Exploring new worlds with a lovable, stupid character!

Game: Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World| Developer: Cateia Games

March 13, 2011

Corporation Inc

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Simulation, WindowsHeath @ 05:48

Excelsior

Corporation Inc.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to build a button pushing company from the ground to a multi-level, money earning machine. You do this by hiring, upgrading and not-sucking.

Gameplay

If you’ve played SimTower, this will seem familiar. However, there are some crucial differences. First, you place offices that are blank slates. Each office has 4 slots, each slot holds an employee. You click a certain employee from the menu and place him at a desk.

Your basic employee is a worker. A worker presses a button. At the base level, every time he presses a button, you get a dollar in revenue. Now, you can hire a supervisor who walks around, smacking workers in the head. After that the worker works harder. Now, if you want to leverage that money, then you can hire some accountants. Each one earns 5% more per push of each worker.

workworkworkworkworkwork

Would you imagine that getting hit on the head would improve moral? No, it doesn’t. You have to worry about your workers’ happiness. For every 20 employees, you get a cat. Cats improve happiness. You can also buy HR employees that do something or something.

You’ll also need to hire janitors and researchers. Janitors clean during the night so your employees don’t get mad. Researchers, well, research. The game technically ends when you have completed the tech tree. So, yeah, invest in reasearchers.

Technical

Beyond the placing of employees this is a pretty complex game. You can upgrade office space. On top of that you have to worry about transportation (you can install a firepole or a skyhook or even a vacuum tube). Unlike SimTower there isn’t a limited # of elevator shafts so go crazy. Seriously you can have tubes right next to each other. You can’t see anything though so I wouldn’t recommend that.

In the end, this game is all about balance. You can even show off your towers to other people. You know what I found out from that? All towers look alike and are boring.

Final Verdict

Great game. It has a pause button and you can change time so this really feels like you are god. Enjoy it because it makes businessing seem like it is really easy.

Corporation Inc

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
{GAME COMMENT}

Game: Corporation Inc | Developer: JCooney

March 12, 2011

Timeslip

Filed under: Paid, Strategy, XBoxNina S. @ 08:03

Timeslip is the first game I played for this week and mostly I picked it because it said that it was in the UK for a while. Maybe I’m a little biased but every since discovering Doctor Who, I’m excited about all thing from English. Silly, I know, but that’s why I decided to give it a shot!

Now, in Timeslip you play as a snail. Luckily, you’re a pretty fast moving one and your goal in your new snail-y life is to collect coins and make it to the end of this magical world without dying. Now, naturally, this magical world is filled with traps and puzzles that you have to work through in order to progress. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, the trouble in this game comes with how you have to complete these puzzles. The thing is, you play the game in time loops. By that I mean you have about a minute to get your snail lined up and in position before a loop occurs and you have to avoid a new and devilish obstacle: yourself. Once the timer runs out you will have a phantom you running around and doing exactly what you just did. You can’t touch your phantom or you’ll create a time paradox and thus end the game. Still, you and your fellow phantoms have to work together in order to complete the level.

This game requires quite a bit of thought, which I think is admirable by itself. You have to plan out your movements if you  have any chance at all of beating the levels. Sometimes this requires that you run through the level once, knowing that you’re going to fail, just so you can map out your next move. It’s different, though I could understand if someone were primarily annoyed by the necessity.

Besides that, I have a few comments on the aesthetics of the game. The opening music is fun and a good pick. During the tutorial you have these swirly red letter that could easily contribute to nausea. It’s a minor detail but it wasn’t well thought out. In addition, when you run into a time warp there is this swirly black and white screen presented. It only lasts a few seconds so it’s not too bad but after an hour of playing it can be a bit of a problem.

Still, a good game. I was satisfied overall.

Timeslip

 ★★★☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Don’t create a time paradox. Bad things happen when you do.

Game: Timeslip | Developer: Smudgedcat

March 10, 2011

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Android, Free, WindowsJosh @ 09:22

This hamster has some sweet upside-down ninja moves.

If you can read a game title like Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots and not immediately do whatever it takes to get your hands on the game, I don’t know what kind of horrible person you are. Hamsters are cute, Ninjas are awesome, robots are just plain cool, and all of them together should be nothing short of incredible. Unfortunately, Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots proves that even a formula doused with this much awesome sauce can yeild a slightly uninspired result.

Sure, this game has all the pieces you’ve come to expect from the genius called Nerdook: cute cartoony characters, a clever sense of humor, and music that may not be the greatest ever but is certainly catchy and sets the perfect mood. However, the gameplay is sadly shallow, especially after following I Am an Insane Rogue AI. I know Nerdook’s games are usually pretty simple, but this one feels even more stripped down than usual – to the point where it ceases to be interesting.

Robots require logical explanations every step of the way.

The basic premise is that the Insane Rogue AI (from I Am an Insane Rogue AI, in case it wasn’t immediately obvious) has already killed all the humans and taken over the world. The task of bringing it back under the control of non-AI beings falls into the hands of hamsters. Hamsters who are trained in the ninja arts.

Robots parachute from the sky, and by clicking them you send the little ninja hamster to attack. You earn points by collecting sushi, which you can spend on upgrades for your cute little guy, making him an even better ninja. At the end of each stage, after taking down a number of waves of bots – a number which increases every level – you must fight a boss that looks like a silhouette water tower with a single red eye.

Bottom line: had this been built by anyone else, I may have given it higher marks. But Nerdook generally puts out such awesome and addictive titles that Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots set my expectations pretty high. It’s not a bad game by any means, but we all know that Nerdook can do better. Perhaps this game was designed specifically to be compatible with Kongregate’s new Android app, and that may have been stifling to its true potential. (To be honest, the game is actually more fun on an Android device than it is on a computer screen.) But don’t feel too badly about skipping this one, unless you absolutely must know how the whole Insane Rogue AI taking over the world thing ends.

Nerdook still holds a special place in my heart, though, and I eagerly look forward to his next masterpiece.

The Sushi Chef tries to inform you of the differences between reality and the video game world. This is so you don't send your pet hamster to a terrible death by dressing it up like a ninja and sending it after an army of killer robots.

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
The game is called Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots. Seriously. What more do you need to know?

Game: Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots | Developer: Nerdook

March 8, 2011

Uncharted Waters Online

I'm looking for a quest!

Uncharted Waters

If you are from East Asia, then you have probably heard of and lost your life to this game. If you are from the West, you have probably been waiting to dedicate your life to sailing around in a boat.

Gameplay

Uncharted Waters takes place during the Age of Exploration; when real men sewed jewels into their frocks, women were earthy and children had grease on their faces. In this game you can adventure, be a soldier or trade.

Although it’s boat based, there are sea-areas, land-areas and towns. You can also choose to be English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese or Venician. You also get to choose whether they are adventurer, merchant or a soldier. These classes aren’t binding, but it’s going to be a hassle if you want to change them.

Like in Civilization, each nation has its own perks, I won’t go into them, but there is a fair amount of similarity between the real life versions and the on-line versions.

Better luck next time sucker!

You click where you want to move. Double clicking turns your ship in a certain direction. Like all good MMORPG’s there is an area where you can accept quests. Once you finish them, you report back and collect your reward. If you’re too far away, you can get a female to report back for you, which is suh-weeeeeet.

Technical

This game was first released in 1995 (the normal version) and has been On-line since 2005 in Asia. It is only this year that us stinking Americans had access to it. Honestly, you can’t tell that we’re half a decade behind. The arena is sprawling, and, although you can take quests and stuff, you’re on your own for most of it.

It’s smooth and the controls are super easy. Seriously, I am almost always stymied by basic controls, and I had no problem here. It’s not too bad to look at either.

Multiplayer

Yes, there is PVP. PVP is awesome. Seriously, it’s boat battles. You can outfit your boat to ram other people.

You can also trade, and there is a chat client that is pretty slick. You don’t really need to be on a team or be part of an alliance to make it in this game. Like a rake in the ages of yor, you can stake your claim in the open ocean, feel the wind in your hair and bask in the ethereal glow of pixelated piratical bliss.

Uncharted Waters Online

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Boat MMORPG in the time of the Renaissance.

Game: Uncharted Waters Online | Developer: KOEI

March 7, 2011

Geek Mind

Filed under: Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:00

Why yes, I have played Lemmings. Thanks for asking.

I have to admit, I love trivia. I mean I LOVE it. Embarrassingly so. And, as you can probably tell, I love video games as well. So what better way to celebrate my love for both of those things than with a trivia video game about other video games.

Geek Mind isn’t exactly a trivia game, I suppose, but it’s close enough that I really can’t think of a better category for it.

The premise is simple: there are 60 seconds on the clock. You are given a single screenshot (or a piece of cover art in some cases) from a random video game, and you must type the title of the game. If you get the answer right, you get some points and some time added to your clock. In the beginning, correct answers are worth 100 points and 10 seconds. (One restriction: the clock will never exceed 60 seconds. So if you get a correct answer at 56 seconds, you will only earn 4 seconds.) However, as your score increases, so does the difficulty. You will gain more points per correct answer, but you will also gain less time. And if you are stuck, you can either get a hint or skip the image completely, but skipping an image will subtract 25 points from your score and burn precious seconds as the next image loads up.

Trust me. I know my ducks.

For as simple as it is, this is an incredibly addictive experience. Every I increased my high score, I had to play one more round to increase it even more. And every time I lost, I had to play one more game in order to not feel so bad about losing. So, as you can imagine, “one more game” became “dozens more games” very quickly.

There are a few things that really impressed me about Geek Mind. First of all, no matter how many times I played through this game, I was always given at least some images I hadn’t seen before. Sure, there will be repeats once you’ve played long enough, but there will almost always be new ones. (Trust me, I put quite a bit of time into this one.) Secondly, there were always multiple ways to write an answer that would give you a correct score. For example, Final Fantasy VII can also be written as Final Fantasy 7, and Grand Theft Auto can be written as GTA. However, you must know how to spell each game title, and most of the time you must know which number the game is in a series. (Take Bomberman, for example. Typing Bomberman will not count as a correct answer if the game is Bomberman 2.)

If you think you know a lot about video games, Geek Mind is here to prove you wrong or right. It includes the mega hits of yesteryear and today, as well as some obscure indies, so even the brainiest gamer will be challenged. (Seriously. Expect to name everything from Pong to Red Dead Redemption.) But be warned: if you’re anything like me, you will definitely spend an incredible deal of time on this one.

I admit. I only added this photo to show off my score. I am a gaming genius.

Geek Mind

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
View a screenshot; name the game it comes from.

Game: Geek Mind | Developer: Dom2D

March 6, 2011

Tile Trip

Filed under: Paid, Puzzle & Casual, XBoxNina S. @ 07:15

Tile Trip is a board-esque game I ran across in the XBox marketplace. I was really excited about it because it seemed like a good family game and you can play it against the computer or with two players in the comfort of your own house. It was pretty cheap so I didn’t mind buying it straight out based on the reviews, which were lukewarm, but somehow it still had a decent amount of stars.

The artwork and music were cute and simple. The board opens up and it’s just a bunch of squares with gopher holes on two ends and gophers pacing back and forth on the other side. Charming.

The game is supposed to be really simple but it’s like the developers couldn’t be bothered to explain the rules. You have these pipes and it’s obvious you’re supposed to be connecting the gophers to the gopher holes, but there are a number of “rules” about how you can lay the pipes that weren’t explained. Instead you’re kind of expected to weed through the options until you figure it out. I’m all for a little challenge, but it’s a family game. I bought it for two little girls and expected them to be able to figure it out. Instead, I come back to the room ten minutes later and they’re so frustrated they don’t even care about the game anymore. I sat down to explain it to them but it took me a couple of minutes to figure it out myself. By then they were bored with it.

I feel like this could have been a cute, simple game but the complete lack of instructions brought it down a peg. Once I figured out how to play it I sat them down and had them play it again. They ended up having a blast blocking one another and putting pieces together. It was even fun to sit back and watch them laugh at one another when plans were foiled. I caught myself directing and cheering from the sidelines.

Again, I think this was a good game. Besides my initial complaint it seems like it was put together with a measure of care.

Tile Trip

 ★★★☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★☆ 
A great game with little explaination.

Game: Tile Trip | Developer: IceClimber

March 4, 2011

Secrets of the Magic Crystals

Filed under: Girl's Choice, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Simulation, WindowsNina S. @ 06:33

Secrets of the Magic Crystals was a confusing game and I don’t just mean the game itself. The entire process of playing it was confusing by itself. I wish I could just scan my notes and have you guys see the confusion that was Nina S. while she was playing this game. As I doubt my bosses would be pleased with that I will do my best to explain how this went. {Editor’s Note – Actually I think it would have been kind of amusing.}

The first fifteen minutes of playing any game I usually just read the description, look at the screenshots, and kind of mentally prepare myself. If I’m about to play an action game I might listen to some pumping music or jump around like I’m gearing up for a fight. Yes, I realize this makes me a big dork but I don’t care, I get into my games! This was a family game, so I wasn’t really expecting much by action, so instead I kind of chilled out. I picked it because it has a Pegasus on the cover and I’m a sucker for Greek Mythology. Fine, wasn’t expecting much.

After about half an hour of playing I was ready to switch games and call this one a bust. The game tells you what you are doing. Constantly. It tells you that this is the Barn and that is where you take care of animals. It tells you that this is the Corral, and that is where you train your animals. Still, it doesn’t explain some of the more questionable aspects of the game. It doesn’t tell you how to increase your horses abilities. It doesn’t tell you what the POINT of buying items is, and it doesn’t tell you how to get items to make horse shoes. It stresses things that you could have figured out yourself and completely neglects things that needed to be explained. Bah.

About an hour in, I’d gotten over my initial annoyance and figured out some things. I was still rather annoyed by the process and I had no idea what the stupid timer to the left was for or what the weather changed, but whatever. I was playing with my Pegasus and my Unicorn and having a relatively good time. Even though it was monotonous and simple, I decided to give it another hour.

Two hours later I looked up and realized I was still playing this game. My husband came in and CHECKED on me. He was actually concerned. And he had a right to be. Now, I realize that a lot of casual games are built primarily to waste time, but my Goddess. Where did the time go?! I realized that I’d spent a disturbing amount of time repeating quests and grinding money, but I was happy. My horses were healthy and awesome and I kept pushing them to win races, find me items, and pull heavy objects.

Now, I don’t know if I would recommend this game. It was simple, annoying, and grindy, but…there was a certain magical charm about it. It WASN’T a GOOD game, but for what it is meant to be…it’s incredible. Does that make sense to you? Good, now we’re both confused.

Secrets of the Magic Crystals

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
A simple confusion.

Game: Secrets of the Magic Crystals | Developer: Artery Games

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