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Multiplayer Game Reviews

April 17, 2011

Between

Filed under: Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 06:47

I’m going to start this review with the ending, which is something I’ve never done before. The reason I’m doing this is because…well, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. If you’re just here skimming through reviews, this is definitely one of those that you might feel like I didn’t like it, but I did. I think game creators that think outside of the box should always get some kind of prop for doing so and this game is definitely something new and worth giving a try.

That being said, it’s –for sure –not a game for everyone. It’s not very clear what you’re supposed to be doing for most of the game, so if you don’t like puzzles you might be a little frustrated by the lack of instruction and progress. The game comes with absolutely no directions; you’re kind of just standing in a field with boxes, trying to do….something. As I mentioned, it’s vague and a little frustrating.

Another thing I wasn’t too keen of in the game is that it doesn’t give you an option: you have to play with someone else. I know that this is what the developer wanted, but if you’re like me and don’t enjoy relying on other people in order to enjoy your games, you’re SOL here. Your options are to find someone random to play with or con one of your friends (or husband) into being patient enough to figure it out together. In addition, even when you’re playing with someone else, you don’t really see them. The game requires you to play it multiplayer (again, a drag, especially if your partner sucks), but you never actually see what your partner is doing. Instead you just kind of…tinker around and eventually see the fruits of his or her labor…sort of.

I kind of get the feeling that this game was meant to be a bit of a struggle. You’re set up with someone you probably don’t know, supposed to be heading toward an invisible goal, and there’s no ultimate validation that I’ve seen. Even if you finally do manage to complete what I am assuming is the goal here, there’s no “Hey, you won! Great job!” It’s just kind of…done-ish.

I’m sure you can see my problems here. Yes, it’s something new and inventive. It’s also pretty cheap, so it’s not like it isn’t worth the money, but still. If you’re not a patient person who likes puzzles you may just find yourself with a migraine and a game you’ll never pick up again.

Between

 ★★¾☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Multiplayer:★☆☆☆☆ 
Between since making and not.

Game: Between | Developer: Jason Rohrer

April 13, 2011

Sprout

Filed under: Android, Free, Macintosh, Puzzle & Casual, Windows — Tags: Josh @ 05:05

A little seed pod dreams of becoming a coconut. His goals are quite lofty for a seed pod, I would say.

Sprout is a puzzle game about a tiny seed pod. This little guy is pretty much the Mega Man of the seed world: he can take on the powers and abilities of other seeds he comes into contact with along his journey. There are four plants from which he gains these powers: coconuts allow him to roll down hills, dandelion seeds allow him to blow in the wind, beanstalks allow him to scale steep cliffs, and apples will attract wild animals. In order to progress through the game, players must decide which of these abilities will keep the little guy moving toward his goal. And what sort of goal could possibly motivate a seed pod? Well, the answer is simple: he wants to find the mighty oak tree and gain the power of the acorn.

This is such a simple concept, but it actually allows for some decent puzzles. In fact, there are a few places that will really force you to be creative in order to keep moving.

There's going to be a bird fight over these apples, I reckon.

Sprout has a hand-drawn look that puts players in the proper mood for enjoying this game, and the ambient water sounds seem to compliment this nicely. However, I feel like there could have been a soft instrumental music track that kicked in somewhere during the game to mix things up a bit. The game sounds fine as it is, mind you, but the right music could have possibly enhanced the experience.

Another small complaint I have is with one of the puzzles in particular – the bridge puzzle. The solution to this puzzle is to perform a certain set of actions four times in a row, yet there is no visual change until after the second time the player successfully completes these actions. This means that after the first time, it’s impossible for the player to tell that the correct sequence has been performed. This particular puzzle would be greatly improved if instead of having to perform these actions four times, the player was only required to perform them three times, each time resulting in a specific visual change letting players know they are on the right track.

Sprout is also very short. If you know all the right choices, you could easily finish the game in under five minutes. Yet some of the puzzles are difficult enough that it will most likely take quite a bit longer to get though. In fact, I would argue that the game is the perfect length: it has a fair variety of puzzles without becoming repetitive.

Despite its few small flaws, Sprout is a very clever point-and-click puzzler. And since you can take it on the go with the Kongregate Arcade app for Android devices, it’s the perfect way to kill some time while away from home.

There are four abilities to help this little guy on his voyage.

Sprout

 ★★★½☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Take on the role of a tiny little seed pod on a quest to find the mighty oak tree.

Game: Sprout | Developer: Custom Logic

April 10, 2011

Droplitz

Filed under: Paid, Playstation, Puzzle & Casual, Windows, XBox, iPhoneTaylorLF @ 05:39

Droplitz is one of those games that you think would be relaxing to play, what with its color changing backgrounds and smooth music changing depending on how high your score/multiplier gets and also the mode you’re playing on. It lies. It’s a dirty, dirty liar. It’s a frustrating, panicky game hiding behind nice visuals and cool music. I’m on to you Droplitz.

The game seems simple. Little grey and purple balls fall out of the holes up top. They have to get into the spaces at the bottom. Your job as the player is to rotate tiles to create a path for those balls to travel down. Sounds simple, fun, easy, and relaxing right? Wrong. Oh sure, everything starts nice. Click a few tiles, hey look a path! The music playing away, you’re casually building paths. Then you realize you’re losing balls (once you run out it’s game over) because now the board has more paths that balls are coming out of and they aren’t making it because the game decided to give you a line piece when you really needed a freaking 4-way. Oh, it knows. It knows. Now it’s a game of frantic clicking trying to make a path, ANY path, work out so you can keep the game going. Then realizing you’re still losing balls because you still can make a path because the tile they gave you outside the dropper zone can’t connect to any other tile surrounding it. Then the board gets even bigger with more droppers and more tiles. Then you get frustrated, randomly click things, lose, and go cry in a fetal position in the corner. Maybe that was just me though.

The graphics and music are well done. Things changed based on your score and your multiplier and the mode you’re on. The backgrounds are all very solid but sort of….wavy? It’s a trip really. They added little graphics to it, like a snowflake or a coffee cup, to set the mood of the level you’re on. The music is relaxing. There are a few music tracks ranging from techno sounding ones, to smooth jazz influenced, to just relaxing. I don’t know how to describe it except something you’d listen to on a meditation CD or something.

For all I said during the review, it is a fun game. It’s casual enough to be fun but challenging enough to where you won’t be bored with it. Different modes to try out, leader boards for those who like comparing to your friends or trying to get a better score than the people above you, and just a generally fun game that people who enjoy puzzle games should check out. I won’t call it back though, the first date was just wrong.

Droplitz

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
A frustratingly casual experience.

Game: Droplitz | Developer: Blitz Arcade

April 7, 2011

Zen of Sudoku

Filed under: Girl's Choice, Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 05:10

Zen of Sudoku is what all Sudoku games should be.

After writing that sentence I really wanted to pack this review in and call it a day but I didn’t think my bosses would like it. Seriously, though, it says everything you need to know about Zen of Sudoku. I suppose there’s a chance that you don’t know much about Sudoku in the first place, so I guess I’ll explain that and why this game is wonderful.

Sudoku is a game about lines and blocks. Take a look at the pictures on this review. You’ll see that there are nine squares big squares, which have nine smaller squares in them. Sudoku is a puzzle in which you are given some set numbers in those blocks and you have to fill in the rest. You fill them so that every line and larger block only has one of the available numbers, which are 1-9. You win the game when you have the entire board filled with numbers, with no repeats on any lines horizontally, in one big square, or vertically.

The game is meant to be a challenge but mostly, it’s relaxing. It’s a puzzle that kind of puts you in the mood for a nap, but in a good way. You’re using your mind, working that muscle but you’re also strengthening your mental capabilities.

Zen of Sudoku is everything you’d expect from a good Sudoku game because it’s calming at the same time as challenging. You play the game on a backdrop of soothing sounds and soft music. It sets you up to learn and expand your mind.

Obviously, this isn’t a game for anyone who doesn’t like Sudoku. That’s all it is, after all. On the other hand, if you do like it or are even just interested in trying it out, this is a cheap and easy way to learn. The game has several different levels and the learning curve is nice and realistic. There are even hints if you get stuck that will tell you what numbers you should be focusing on or if you have something down that isn’t correct. All in all, this is a great game. You can pick up a new, beneficial pastime and spend a few hours actually bettering your thinking abilities. Also, there are pretty pictures. And who doesn’t love pretty pictures when playing a video game for a few hours?

Zen of Sudoku

 ★★★★¾ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Stillness. Work.

Game: Zen of Sudoku | Developer: Unknown Worlds

April 6, 2011

Cloning Clyde

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 05:13

The first thing I want to say about Cloning Clyde is that I wanted to play it the moment I saw that nice little backless hospital down. You know from the get-go that this is going to be a funny game and you’re not going to be disappointed when you start it up. This is definitely something to play while you’re trying to unwind and just find a good place to go after a long day.


Something that surprised me about the game was how challenging it was to play. It’s kind of like a frat boy you meet outside of a college party. He’s dressed like an idiot, reeking of booze, but then you find out he’s a Philosophy major and he actually knows his stuff. I wasn’t expecting Cloning Clyde to be anything more than kung fu fun, but there it was: beautiful graphics, a smooth rendering, and puzzle. Oh my goodness, the puzzles.


Now, this game is a platformer. You run around various stages, gathering items for achievements, as well as to further your game place, but in order to get the real points you have to not only save Clyde and his fellow clones, you have to utilize them to meet your goals. As you’re moving throughout a level you can make clones to do the standard clone-things. You use them to stand on buttons, climb on, and ultimately make it through the hoops that is platform life.

The challenges come when you have to get those clones out as well. When I first started playing I assumed that I would just have to back track and walk each clone up. It would have been entertaining but I wouldn’t have broken a sweat over it. Instead, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself trying to work it out so that your clones exit the building just as smoothly as your original. Which means you may have to spend some time plotting.

Add the pleasant surprise of challenge to short little humor quips, a half naked hero, and ninja skills and this was a game filled with funny action that kept me interested. The comic-esque opening really lets you know where the rest of your time is going to be spent and while some of the jokes fall a little short of hilarious, you can still appreciate the effort. I really enjoyed the vibrant world of Clyde and I think you will too.

Cloning Clyde

 ★★★¾☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★½☆ 
Ninja skills + backless hospital gown = Awesome Sauce.

Game: Cloning Clyde | Developer: Bacon Wrapped Games

April 1, 2011

Cityville

Filed under: Free, Girl's Choice, Macintosh, Other, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 04:12

If you spend any time at all on Facebook I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Cityville. It’s an extremely popular game and if you’re not willing to block it you probably get tons of insistent invites from it. I like Facebook games. Well, I like to try them. I’m pretty picky and with the plethora of games offered I feel like I should only dedicate any of my time to the really good ones. If you’re like me you might not be willing to jump into the game head first. Well, here is a review to help you decide if Cityville is the kind of game you’d like.

Now, right from the beginning, let me go ahead and say this. Cityville has a lot of the faults that can be annoying with the typical Facebook game. You  have a set amount of energy and once it’s gone, you’re stuck. You have to wait for it to fill up or buy/accumulate energy packs to continue your game. There is a lot of lag in the game, though it’s manageable. Also, it’s one of those games where you really do need friends. You need them to send you crap, you need them to set up buildings, you need them for everything. This is my biggest complaint because I use my Facebook for family and friends. I don’t want to have to invite twenty strangers to our inner circles in order to play a game.

Even with that being said, of those kinds of games, this is probably one of the best. You’re not just sitting around pushing one button and “leveling up.” Instead, this game takes all of the best aspects of the bigger name social games and adds into one big game. You can farm, decorate, build up your city, and gather money. It has quests and is updated frequently. Besides that, if you’re not too annoyed by the system, there are millions of people playing this game. If it’s not in the top three played games I’d be surprised. So, there is a big pool of people to pull from, if you need more people in your game.

Cityville is a good game. I’ll say that. It’s a good place to go for a while every day and burn hours. It’s a game that’s easy to get addicted to, which may or may not be a good thing, but it’s fun. If you’re willing to look pass the standard annoyances, it’s the cream of the crop.

Cityville

 ★★★¾☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★★½☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Facebook game, for better and worse.

Game: Cityville | Developer: Zynga

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 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 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

February 26, 2011

Treadmillasaurus Rex

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 09:20

Spin time! Hooray! Wait, is that good?

If you could bring dinosaurs back from extinction, like in the film Jurassic Park, what would you do with them? If you said, “Put them on a treadmill, have a disco party, and add Wheel-of-Fortune-type mini-games,” then boy do I ever have a game for you.

Treadmillasaurs Rex is a game in which you play as the T-rex, pretty much the king of the dinosaurs. Awesome, right? Well… Not really, since this entire game is spent on a treadmill.

Personally, if I were a T-rex, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stand for this kind of treatment. I mean, being forced to run on a treadmill while dodging spike balls and lasers really sounds pretty un-T-rex-like. I’d much rather be out trashing buildings and brawling with my mortal enemy the triceratops. Or maybe some velociraptors or something.

Spikes. The fastest way to re-extinct-ify the T-rex.

“But wait,” you say. “This isn’t just any old treadmill. It’s a party treadmill!”

True. I suppose Treadmillasaurus Rex features a party treadmill. And there is a Wheel-of-Awesome which spins every now and again. But that wheel is filled with some pretty nasty things. Some of the things listed on this wheel are “right laser” and “left laser,” which move the lasers that confine you even closer. And “wind” just causes there to be more resistance. Every once in a while, you power up with “party +1″ and “confetti +1,” but those things are hard to enjoy when you are running for your life. But at least you get to count the amount of calories this poor creature is burning. (Yes, this game actually makes me feel sorry for the T-rex, that poor old king of the terrible lizards.)

Quite frankly, Treadmillasaurus Rex was designed for one specific type of person. Fortunately, I’ve never met that type of person. That is to say, if you are a normal person who is into normal things, skip this game. If you have fun dressing up animals and forcing them into extremely strict workout regimens, you might actually get some satisfaction from this. You sick freak.

It's a calorie-burnin' party up in here!

Treadmillasaurus Rex

 ★★☆☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★½☆☆ 
You managed to bring a T-rex back from extinction and this is what you do with it?

Game: Treadmillasaurus Rex| Developer: Armor Games

February 23, 2011

ImmorTall

Filed under: Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:02

Guide the humans through this war-torn landscape.

Giving a numbered rating to a game like ImmorTall is always difficult. ImmorTall contains almost no gameplay, yet is still a beautiful piece of art with a deep message and a poignant story. On the one hand, this game knows exactly what it wants to do and simply does it brilliantly. On the other hand, besides the fact that players have very limited control over one of the characters, this is really just a flash movie that plays out in a matter of minutes. Yet those few minutes are incredibly powerful. If I give this game high marks, readers might be disappointed when the game ends so quickly. But a low score really would undermine the emotional impact this game actually has. A medium score would suggest that ImmorTall is mediocre, which simply is not true.

So ultimately, I decided to judge this game based on how well it presents itself. The silhouette-based visual style looks great, and the wide aspect ratio sets up the perfect frame for the details. The music completes this scene, meshing wonderfully with the look and the story of the game. I decided to give ImmorTall some high marks, with a low score in the ”gameplay” category. That seems fair to me.

A crashed alien pod. How interesting...

The story in ImmorTall is intriguing. Players take command of a tiny alien who has crash landed on Earth. This little guy is given some food and grows pretty tall, also becoming invincible. Or so it seems. The alien meets some some humans that treat him kindly, and when war comes to the home of these people, the alien protects them by standing in front of the bullets.

The story is brief but asks some serious questions about humanity and war. Sure, we love to glorify warfare in video games, but this video game challenges that. What is the point of all this fighting? Who are the real winners and losers in this war? Sure, these questions are hardly new, but the video game is a rare medium to ask them.

ImmorTall is painfully short and offers very little control or in-game rewards, yet packs an emotional wallop and a gorgeously simplistic visual style. You don’t really play ImmorTall so much as you experience it. True enjoyment comes from sitting back and soaking it in, pondering its message long after the game is finished.

Bottom line: go play ImmorTall. It’s only a few minutes in length, so making time for this one shouldn’t be a problem.

"He seems friendly enough. Feed him an apple!"

ImmorTall

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A story about an alien and his new human friends.

Game: ImmorTall | Developer: Pixelante

February 21, 2011

Zombie Minesweeper

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 06:10

These bunnies bite.

If you are anything like me and love a good puzzle game, then it’s probably fair to say you’ve played Minesweeper. And if you haven’t, you should definitely check it out. It’s a neat little game that comes pre-installed on most Windows systems and features an almost Tetris-like addictive style of gameplay.

So how could you possibly improve on this classic desktop game? You add zombies.

Zombie Minesweeper places a frightened girl smack dab in the middle of a minefield and then throws hordes of zombies at her. Players must steer her to safety. In the classic Minesweeper tradition, you are guided by numbers on the ground that let you know how many mines are nearby. In order to understand how the numbers work, you must think of the ground as a series of tiles. Each number tells you how many tiles touching the numbered tile contain mines. Confusing? Fire up your own Minesweeper game and play a few rounds. It will all make sense.

One strange thing I noticed about this game is that instead of human zombies, Zombie Minesweeper contains animal zombies. There are snails, rabbits, and even bears in zombie form, all trying to feast on this poor little girl’s brains. Even more random: zombie mushrooms.

Oh my gosh, this looks like the end.

There are powerups scattered about each field, each adding its own strategic twist on the game. Mine detectors let you expose large areas at once, and are best put to use in those situations where you aren’t exactly sure where the next mine is located. There are bombs and shotgun shells that allow you to fight back, but quantities are very limited. You must choose wisely when to shoot and when to run.

For those of you who like options, there are two different gameplay modes. Speed play is much heavier on zombies and powerups, with a few mines to mess things up for you. Puzzle play has a lot more mines, but fewer zombies and powerups.

Picking the music for this game must have been hard. Puzzle games tend to work the best with somewhat soothing tunes that help you think, while running from zombies generally calls for something more adrenaline-pumping. Zombie Minesweeper uses a track that is the perfect mix of the two worlds. This ditty has a slower tempo and some very puzzle-enhancing bells, while it is backed with a distorted electric guitar. I was very impressed with how absolutely perfect this music was for this game.

The only thing I didn’t like about this game was that it only contains eight levels: four in each mode. But the fact that the mine placement is randomly generated each round keeps these levels feeling fresh for a very long time.

Zombie Minesweeper is so addictive that it made me forget about the pizza I was cooking. Kitchen fire aside, I freakin’ love this game.

This glowing flower is pretty much the only thing on this field not trying to kill you.

Zombie Minesweeper

 ★★★★½ 

Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
The addictive puzzle gameplay of Minesweeper… with zombies.

Game: Zombie Minesweeper | Developer: Frogtoss

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