Tag Archives: casual fridays

Casual Fridays – Full Bloom

We’ve done a lot of flash games, but there’s something I’ve been playing for a while that I’ve really been enjoying and want to share with you. It’s Playdom’s Full Bloom game which is available on Facebook. The premise of the game is that you’re a newbie gardener who is looking to learn about flowers but what it really does is mishmash a “match 3″ type of game and an isometric garden building game that has a lot of the trapping of most facebook games. It’s free to play, but you can of course spend money to buy gold which allows you to buy nifty extra special pieces to put in your garden or more things to clear out the rubble.

What I like about this game is that it’s actually got an isometric putting stuff in play that I enjoy. There really isn’t a huge emphasis on what you put in your garden, only that you have one as the “nicer” your garden is the more areas that get unlocked in the other part of the game. What you put into it is really up to you, and there’s a nice enough diversity of plants to choose from that don’t cost money that it’s really possible to have a very nice set of colours and arrangements.

A garden scene with some cobble stone paths surrounding a white picket fence which contains some flowers. There is a bush next two some flower boxes with a different set of flowers.

You can have nice neat ordered rows with nicely ordered plants (which is what I tend to do) or you can have a wilder garden with colour everywhere. There are levels too, you can put down soil or wood chips or just leave everything as is. Regardless of what you do, it’s a lot of fun.  You can even remove everything — though it’s one at a time, having a select more or all option would be nice — and start over. The interface is a lot more intuitive now than when it started, and there’s no limit to the amount of things you can store which comes in handy when you’re trying to complete any quests that they’ve set up that deal with planting and growing flowers. Growing flowers requires certain amounts of various items that you can get from your friends, but this game has a 100 item per person limit so you won’t be left out if you don’t have any friends who want to plant flowers with you.

The other side of the game is the “Match 3″ game where you get a bunch of flowers and you need to slide a pair of them so that you match at least 3 of the same type of flower. While some of the levels are timed, most of them run off of a “move” amount, you have a limited number of turns in which you need to

A playing field with various flowers, there are three explosions happening which are clearing more flowers from the field.

achieve the stated goal. There’s a nice enough variety between the game events, either with the board being of a different shape or rather than just collecting flowers you have to clear brush, by making matches on afflicted tile, or brambles, by making matches next to the brambles. You have to deal with bees, or trying to clear the way for sunlight, or even the spreading of mushrooms.  Some of the levels are really hard too, frustratingly, banging your head against the wall hard. They do offer a way around levels, or special bonuses while playing the level but again these all cost gold. I’m pretty far along the game, so I know that the levels are beatable but we are talking several days worth of trying one level again and again.

Full Bloom does what a lot of other of the Facebook Clones do, but thankfully with a kind of refreshing take on the whole thing. It’s not farming, you don’t have to come back to check on things when they’re done. It’s not trying too hard to be super serious. It really pretty, and fun to play which is a mark a lot of games are missing.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: -{-* -{-@ -{-< -{-# -{-()  Look! It’s my pretty five flower garden!

Casual Fridays – William and Sly 2

This Casual Friday, because there hasn’t been one in a while, leads me to believe that I need to do one game at a time rather than a bunch of them.  This way, they can still get done rather than having me sit there and worry about not doing them.

This Friday we’re going to be talking about a lovely little platform game that’s been out for a while.

William and Sly 2

I don’t know if you played the first William and Sly, but if you didn’t here’s a quick run down.  You play Sly, a cute adorable fox, looking for mushrooms for your friend William.  There are shadow creatures about the place that you have to avoid on your journey to get the mushrooms.  It’s a great game.

The second one is better.

A shirtless young man sits in a lounge chair, while a small red fox sits curiously.

First of all they upgraded the graphics so the look of the game is far more lush and layered than the first one.  Which isn’t to say that the first one is bad, far from it, but they really took their time to layer everything really well.  Which is important because you will spend about eighty percent of your game exploring the place, and you won’t mind in the least.

The goal of the game is to find all the missing pages that some gnomes tore out of William’s journal.  He’s not to stressed about it, really he’s just sitting there lounging but you’re a helpful fox friend!  It’s your job to worry about the pages that the gnomes tore out of the journal.  Also, it’s an excuse to go out and get your favourite thing in the world … mushrooms!

This game is the type of game a lot of other platformers need to look at in regards to what can be done.  There are tonnes of secret places that you’re going to need to discover, so you’ll be travelling the map back and forth again and again.  There isn’t a lot of extra stuff on the screen, but then again there’s nothing remotely resembling combat here so you don’t need to keep a life counter or a point tracker or anything that might take away from the backgrounds.

You also have options, you can just go and get all the pieces of the journal and solve only the bare minimum when it comes to the puzzles.  You can also decide which extra bits that you want to complete. The mushrooms, for instance, are a complete and utter side quest that you don’t need to do but you get nifty titles when you complete the game.  I know it made me want to go back and play the game again.

 

Totally Arbitrary and Random Number Value: /\ /\ /\ /\ /\  5 delicious mushroom … delicious, delicious mushrooms.

 

There are three cities on a map.  There are some hills, a lake and the words "BUILD!" in a speech bubble above one of the cities.

Casual Fridays – Tower Defended!

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobile games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a whenever format because life is a little hectic.  We still want to bring you what’s good to play, because there is a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

Continuing on our quest to find a wider variety of games, I’ve decided to be a little defensive … tower defensive that is.

Okay, that one was a bit of a stretch.

Necropolis Defense

So this first game isn’t a Tower Defense game per say.  You do have a tower, and you do have to defend it from people/creatures who would love to destroy it, but the game plays a lot more like an RTS rather than a Tower Defense game but it still technically fits the definition since you have a tower and you have to defend it.  Much like my love of all things horror like I’m always intrigued by games that make you play the evil folks.  It’s too easy to just say, “Burn down that village” or “be evil at the heroes,” so I want a game to give me either an amazing reason why I’m on the side of evil or none at all.

Necropolis Defense goes the none at all route. It’s really just an excuse to summon ghouls, dark mages, death knights, and lichs in an attempt to defend your big dark

Five green circles around ghouls. Six red circles around the enemy units. There is a line from one green circle to a red circle.

evil looking tower from the forces of good that would destroy you.  The game play isn’t all that indepth, you summon monsters and then attack the forces that are attacking you.  You get spells that you can cast as well, which are always the turning point in any game like this, which you get to level up between “days.”

The big reason why this game is here, is that for an RTS kind of Tower Defense Game it has a nice little feature.  You can pause the game at any time with the space bar and take all the time you want to organize your forces to deal with any threat.  This is a great option because the game can get pretty hectic at times, especially since your troops will die and you have to respawn them before your tower gets mauled.  Everything is clearly labelled as you’re not going to make a mistake and assign a unit of yours to the wrong unit, or click on an opposing unit and try to assign them.

Beyond this feature the game isn’t really all that great.  The look tries too hard to be the “BIG EVIL” look, which means that it can get a little busy at times and it is filled with ugly borders filled with skulls, because when you add skulls it immediately becomes eeeeeviiiiiiil.  I should do that around the house.  Just put random skulls here and there and when the kids ask what they’re doing there I’ll just say it’s because I’m eeeeeeeeviiiiiiiiiil.

There isn’t a lot of variation to the game as well.  You only have 4 different spells, and 4 different units that you can summon and …. that’s it.  The enemies seem to be larger and more powerful version of the knights and archers that you meet early on.  I say seems because I could only really play it in small bursts before I got somewhat bored with the whole process.

Totally Arbitrary and Random Number Value: o= <-[] o= <-[]  o= <-[] o= <-[] o= <-[]  5 ghouls chasing 5 valiant knights trying to destroy my tower.

Demonrift TD

There are three cities on a map. There are some hills, a lake and the words "BUILD!" in a speech bubble above one of the cities.

 

Demonrift TD starts with the King having fallen, and you are Baroness Milena leading the remaining forces of the kingdom to try to push out the Demons that have invaded your kingdom. This game reveals the plot as you explore the kingdom map.  On it are cities that you have to defend from the invading hoards, but what they really do is provide you with a the resources that you need to build structures and upgrade your units as you play the game.  There are a couple of things that work here, the first is that you do have to worry about the enemy attacking you back.  You want to make sure you have enough resources on hand in order to deal with their breakthroughs, which is a nice touch.  The second thing is that you have to strategize how you’re going to build your buildings on the world map.  Do you go for more resources?  Do you go for more points, and faster point regeneration in the battle map?  These are all questions you have to wonder while you’re going about taking over places.  It’s an interesting take on the standard, increasing with difficulty level select that I think does the theme justice.

The battle section is pretty interesting, in that unlike a lot of other TD games it’s not necessarily about upgrading your towers to become awesome towers, and then upgrading those so that they becomes super awesome towers in a never ending Dragonball Z type powering up.  Instead, placement is really important because your units support each other here.  There are the two basic unit types, the swordsmen and the archers and for the most part you really don’t need the other two units the Knights and the Golems.  Sure they’re nice to have, but I’ve played most of the game just by upgrading the basic units and leaving them battle their way to victory.  You do get the paths that the monsters travel on, and there are many levels where there are quite a few forks so it’s not

There are monster moving along a lighter path than the terrain around it. There are building where the defenders come out of.

always guaranteed that they will go in a certain direction, but that’s where the fun lies.  You really have to try and figure out where you need to put your units.

Also, women characters in a fantasy setting that are wearing protective armour.  I repeat, we have actually useful armour on women in a fantasy game.  Yes, one of them has a boobplate, but it’s not horrible.  Take a moment, it’s okay.

Totally Arbitrary and Random Number Value: / / / / / – 5 Swords raised in battle for Baroness Milena

That’s all the words we’ve got right now.  I know there are a lot more Tower Defence games out there.  Which ones are your favourites?  Why do you like them?  Which do you recommend?  What would you like to see reviewed here on Casual Fridays.  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

CastleVille

Casual Fridays: CastLot does a great job losing me in five minutes

I have been shifting my gaming hours towards casual web-based games because they are generally free and there are plenty to choose from.  A casual game needs to hook me within the first few minutes or I am going to peace out and try something else.  This post is the story of how one casual game, CastLot, failed to impress.

I am playing the Sims Social, my favorite casual game, when I see an enticing advertisement on the right-hand side of my Facebook:

A Facebook advertisement that reads, "Join the Latest RPG on FB! Explore the World of Adventures and Magic in Your Own Chosen Avatar. Play Now for Free!"

I like the advertisement because it features a female elf who seemed to be fully clothed.  Presumably I could choose my own avatar, as the ad copy suggests, and play a character like the one pictured.  I eagerly click the link and went to a registration page for a game called “CastLot.”  The first thing I notice is a white female ranger who would be practically clothed except that for some reason her boobs are out and her pants seem to have gone missing.

Registration page for casual game CastLot. It features a white woman with brown hair drawing a bow with a magical arrow.

Well!  I like sexy ladies as much as the next gamer, so I can forgive a little impractical armor, especially if the male characters are equally sexualized, and I have no reason so far to assume they won’t be.  I register and press onward.

Character creation page on CastLot. It prompts the player to "create your lord's name" and choose a bright or dark storyline. The avatar featured is a white man with curly blond hair. Behind him, the lady ranger is enlarged.

The first thing I notice is that the lady ranger is back with even bigger and better boobs.  How do they stay up like that with no discernible bra?  It must be a float spell!  Once I’m done gawking, I notice the game has prompted me to enter my lord’s name.  Wait, I am not a lord!  I look around for a box to change to “lady” or “alternatively-gendered fantasy creature” and fine none.  I assume I can customize my avatar on the next page, so I name my character Callisto and choose the “dark” storyline.

Before I can do anything, a box pops up that informs me of what is going down.

An image of a dragon with a caption that reads, "After suffering an invasion on Coghlan and the death of her father, King Rowen, in the ensuring battle, Umbriel seeks refuge in another territory. She recalls her father's words on you: you are a man who will protect women at all costs.

Wait, so I am a chivalrous dude who loves helping the distressed damsels? I did not consent to this!  Now I am really getting annoyed.  What happened to my promise of a choosen avatar?

Then I meet the princess, Umbriel.

Umbriel

Wow, another looker!  I try to listen as she chastises me for sparring with my NPC buddy Rhaine instead of immediately helping her, but I am too busy trying to stare through the sheer yellow cloth pretending to be her shirt.  Apparently my avatar was thinking about some other chick named Alana, whoever she is.

A dialogue box that reads, "The two clash swords many times, but you are not focused on the fight. Distracted by the thought of Lady Alana, you lose your sword and are tapped by Rhaine. Umbriel approaches as the fight ends."

Finally, I click on my avatar and it lets me change my character’s gender and select a new avatar.  I scroll through a few drawings of white women until I find a blond who could serve as the face of my character Callisto.

A blond white woman with straight hair and a headband.

 

Finally, I can play the dark lady warrior I want my promised “chosen avatar” to be.  I am happy now, and click onward to play the game.   I am dismayed when the original blond man reappears whenever I do anything.

The original male avatar returns.

I sigh and close the game and wonder if I am crazy for expecting a game with female characters all over the advertising and promises of custom avatars to actually let me play a female characters.

Just so I don’t end my casual gaming session on a negative note, I go back to playing CastleVille.  I decide that if I am going to play a casual medieval fantasy game that sanitizes feudalism, I want the game where I can have the magic purple pony.

Lake Desire's CastleVille avatar, a brown-skinned woman with dark brown hair tied back into a bun, and her avatar's purple pony.

A fantastical putting place with a small stone henge, some cows eating grass, a city, a spaceship, a waterfall, a rainbow and the words Wonderputt on the top of the whole structure.

Casual Fridays – Back to the Flash

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobile games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a whenever format because life is a little hectic.  We still want to bring you what’s good to play, because there is a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

Continuing on our quest to find a wider variety of games, I’ve gone back to my Kongregate haunts and pulled out some free flash games that are short, but kind of sweet in their own way.  Perfect for those looking to get some fun sized gaming.

Story Hero

This is a wonderful idea for a game.  It’s so wonderful that I’m going to just let the opening image explain the game at first.

A black screen with the words "Press down to use the world you are walking over" with a character with a pink bow and glasses standing on the word "Play."

I once saw something similar to this at the TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival), where the person had a game set up that said, “Press A to play” and that’s how the game worked.  You just pressed A to move the plane you were flying in a slightly different pattern.  Here the words in the sentence on the screen are what you use in order to get past the various puzzles that stand in your way.

Character sprite holding a sword with a Griffin sprite at the end of the sentence. The sentence reads, "beyond it, a chest guarded by the sword of a templar knight, from the order of the Stone Griffin."

 

One of the awesome things, the main character is a woman.  Less awesome this is shown because she has a pink bow, and a red skirt.  Back to being awesome, she does have to attack things over the course of the game so she’s not just out thinking the puzzles.

Another slight knock on Story Hero is that it is a short game.  Now, in a game like this you’d rather it be too short than drag out for too long, but I really do think this game could use a few extra lines to beef up the story and make the game a little bit longer.  Thankfully the mechanic of the game is fun enough that you’re not left feeling, “Well, that’s it” when the game is over despite the length of the game.

Finally, I didn’t see an option to have the words read to you.  This would have been a nice option for people with impaired vision to be to play the game.  Just a little decision that would have made the game more accessable.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: you should play this game!

Wonderputt

Mini golf is one of those sports that I find incredibly diverting.  It’s not serious, it’s really just hitting a ball around fun and strange obstacles.  Now what if you take this and put it in a fantastically conceptualized fantasy world that changes as your ball travels all over the place?  Yes, it’s awesome and it’s Wonderputt.

With a very simple putting mechanic:  you move the mouse away from direction you want the ball to go, the further away you move the mouse the more strength the shot has.  This isn’t unique, but there isn’t a lot of extra stuff to it.  You only click the mouse when you want to putt the ball, rather than doing a click and drag.

A fantastical putting place with a small stone henge, some cows eating grass, a city, a spaceship, a waterfall, a rainbow and the words Wonderputt on the top of the whole structure.

Nice easy play isn’t the reason why you want to play this game though, even if it helps.  The way the world changes when you complete a hole is really what’s worth your time.  The game is clever, beautiful and fun with every single level change.  You go from putting in a desert, to watching cows eat the fields they’re in to make your path.  You get dark dungeons and space travel.  The goals are clearly laid out, and each section has their own specific challenges that keep the game interesting.

Seriously, cows eating the grass.  Makes me laugh every time.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: ‘o’ ‘o’ ‘o’ ‘o’ ‘o’ – five cows 10 under par

 

 

 

Tanooky Tracks

There are point and click adventures, and then there are point and click problem solving games.  While Tanooky Tracks tries to label itself an adventure game, it’s really all about solving the puzzles of the Tanooky’s.  See, Tanooky’s are cute little mischievious spirits that have taken over this oddly shaped house, and the people

A page from a book that says "Decipher the riddles in this book. Every riddle tells you a) one Tanooky's hiding-place, b) what you have to do or which item you'll have to use there to lure out the Tanooky. Search in every floor!

who live there have asked you to go deal with them.  Thankfully, they’ve left a book that gives you all the clues you need in order to discover all the Tanooky’s in the house.

My personal benchmark when dealing with puzzle games, particularly ones with riddles, are how solvable are the riddles.  They can be hard but at no point in time should you be left wondering, “How on earth did they expect you to figure THAT one out.”  Thankfully there are so many clues in the riddles that even if you go for help in solving these riddles you’ll look back and go, “Oh! That’s why they did that.”  Every single thing about the puzzle is used.  Some puzzles help you out with the way the font is used, others reference a specific item and it’s up to you need to use.  Some are obvious but finding the required item is difficult in the cluttered house.

The house itself, while again oddly shaped, is a fun set of three rooms and a rooftop.  There are things everywhere, and many of them can be picked up and used to find those tricksy Tanooky, and all of them are wonderfully illustrated and done a watercoloured like style that helps promote the light and fun feel of the game.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: It is a number, one that jumps at you, and possible sits down. In fact it simply doesn’t exist.

That’s all the games for this week.  If you’ve got any comments, concerns, criticisms leave them in the comments.  If you’d like a game to get reviewed you can also leave that in the comments too!

Casual Fridays – Choice of Games and Hosted Games Extravaganza Part 2

When a company puts out games that are enjoyable, accessible, and entertaining then you want to take a good hard look at everything that company has to offer.  This week, we’re giving you part two of the in depth scoop on the Choice of Games Library!  I’m sorry that this is really late, my phone went and died on me and it took me a while to get it back from the shop and then the other standard excuses started to follow.

A knife on top of a map of an island on top of a wooden desk.

You should probably catch up on the previous reviews we have on Choice of the Dragon, and Choice of the Broadsides.  Then you can go back and check out Part 1 to see what I’ve already said about some of the Choice of Games … games.  I hate saying that, it’s awkward, but it is what it is.

Also, the games pretty much play the same.  They are all choose your own adventure type games with stats that the system keeps track of.  Unless something is of particular interest mechanically I’m not really going to talk about how the game play is.  It’s a radio option and a Next Button.

 

Marine Raider published by hostedgames.org

In Marine Raider you play the leader of a team of marines who have been tasked with infiltrating a Japanese scouting post during World War II.  This is perhaps the best game out of all the ones published by hostedgames.org that maintains the same kind of inclusive spirit that a lot of the Choice of Games have.  You can choose your gender, or even just make it lieutenant and while it’s a bit of a factor in the game, your gender doesn’t give or take away anything.

The story itself is one of discovery, problem solving, and escape.  It’s thrilling and I found myself pausing with every single decision wondering how it would affect me and the soldiers under my command.  It’s a short game, but you really do get a feel for who you’ve got under your command and the weight of what you’re doing.  Now, would I loved to have this game go on longer, absolutely.  However, that doesn’t take away that this game is probably one of the most well conceived and well executed out of all the games not done by Choice of Games.

Recommended:  You’re darned correct there soldier.  Now move out!

Imprisoned published by hostedgames.org

You’ve been imprisoned and you have to find a way to escape, well somewhat escape.  There are a couple ways to go about making your exit from this dungeon, which I won’t spoil, but some of them are rather unpleasant.  I’d like to say more about this game, but that’s all there really is to it.  You’ve got an interesting character creation section, not that it’s a huge difference from the other games of this style but instead of giving you a dualistic choice — like are you strong or charming — the game asks you how good you are at various things, and once you’ve used up that value you can’t go back to it.

What I dislike about the game is that there really isn’t all that much to do during the course of the game.  You spend a lot of time sitting in your cell doing push-ups, eating and sleeping.  The game gets a Trigger Warning for the “interrogation scenes,” which you can’t really avoid.

Recommended?: If you don’t mind the idea of unavoidable torture, and  interminable boredom then you should play it.  If not, I’d avoid it.

Popcorn, Soda … Murder published by hostedgames.org

There’s been a murder in the movie theatre while you enjoy yourself on a Sunday afternoon.  As the great detective you are, you’ll have to investigate what’s going on and discover who the murderer is.  It’s a pretty quick game, you have only a couple of environments to do your sleuthing and you really need to pay attention to what’s going on in order to figure out who did the crime.

The problem is that sometimes the information is a little … too obtuse.  The other problem with the limited range of locations to explore is that you don’t have to go far to start the “Let’s play map the dialogue” game, and considering if you make a mistake it starts you back at the beginning the mapping game is a pretty easy thing to do.

Recommended?: Yes, this isn’t that bad a game at all, it’s just kind of frustrating.  I’d play all the others ones first, but I wouldn’t tell you to avoid this one.

The Nightmare Maze published by hostedgames.org

I don’t know if I have played any game with a more indifferent beginning, an exciting middle, and a more disappointing finish than The Nightmare Maze.  The premise is that you play a 19th century Bostonian, a shout out to the peoples on Boston there I guess, who is plagued by nightmares.  Those nightmares are filled with lots of bizarre imagery, which is really rather juicy and fun to play.  I know I got so caught up in that I didn’t mind having to redo the game again, and again, and again as I tried to figure out what path would be the one that would take me to the best ending.

Then I got there and was left with a feeling of The Hell?  That was it?  It’s one in a series of games where you’re trying to save your wife who from what you can tell is just suffering from having to sleep in the same bed as someone who has nightmares?  Sure it alludes to something more but when the series is called the Waking Cassandra series it makes you wonder.

Recommended?:  If you can handle the imagery go for it, just ignore the ending.

 

There you have it.  The whole Choice of Games and HostedGames.org catalog in easy to digest packets.

Do you have a game that you’d like to see done with this engine?

Do you have a game that you’d like to see reviewed?

Let us know in the comments!

Casual Fridays – Choice of Games Extravaganza Part 1

Hey folks!

When a company puts out two games that are enjoyable, accessible, and entertaining then you want to take a good hard look at everything that company has to offer.  This week, we’re going to give you the in depth scoop on the Choice of Games Library!

First of all, if you want to see any previous reviews we have one up for Choice of the Dragon, and Choice of the Broadsides.  That means I won’t be covering them here, but for the sake of completeness we’ve added the links to them.

Also, the games pretty much play the same.  They are all choose your own adventure type games with stats that the system keeps track of.  Unless something is of particular interest mechanically I’m not really going to talk about how the game play is.  It’s a radio option and a Next Button.

Choice of the Vampire by Choice of Games

Wow.  This game is Epic.  I mean that in the best possible way.  In Choice of the Vampire you play through the naissance of a young Vampire during the War of 1812, and continue to play this vampire through the other side of the American Civil War all the while dealing with the political machinations of Vampire Society.  You will fall in love, get revenge, flee in exile and plot and scheme over the course of generations.

This is perhaps the longest out of the Choice of Games library, and I mean that in a good way.  Sometimes the game seems to be padded because they’ve promised a certain amount of game play, and there’s nothing like a good fetch quest to be a time sink.  This game, doesn’t have that.  You are engaged with decisions that will impact you one, two, three or four dialogue choices down the road.  The characters are all well defined and when you decide to explore down the various character paths, you can really get an understanding of those characters and how your choices impact them.

This is the first game where decisions you make will cut you off of some of the dialogue options.  It’s a nice feature, one that I’m glad they finally implemented since it allows you to kinda of keep going with your previously held positions.  For instance, if you’re a member of the clergy in this game and you’ve expressed a deep devotion then the options that are full of blasphemy aren’t going to be available to blasphe-you.

The game does have some blood and violence, direct and immediate violence, so if that’s going to bother you then I would recommend that you check out some of the other games.  However, if you can handle it, even if Vampire tales aren’t really your thing, then I would tell you to check out this game.  It’s well worth it.

Recommended?:  Yes, very yes, totally yes, and in all ways yes.

Choice of Romance by Choice of Games

If there is room next to  Choice of Broadsides, Choice of the Vampire, and Choice of the Dragon for a Choice of Games game that people should play, it would be Choice of Romance.  In fact, I think I like Choice of Romance even more than I like Choice of the Dragon.  In Choice of Romance you play the child, again daughter or son is up to you, of a noble family who has come into hard times and you are the one hope for you family as you debut in society.

Your options for what you want to do are three fold, do you marry for money, love or power but they don’t feel as limiting as that sounds.  The only complaint that I have is that the love option seems to be the weakest of the three.  It doesn’t get the same screen time as the other two, though that just might be my own misguided desire for power.  Every time I played I ended up getting the ruler to love me, and only me damn it!  There will be no one else and there is a way to keep your character from one chapter to the next, when it gets published.

That’s another thing the game does right.  It avoids the whole “This is what would happen in a Medieval setting!” nonsense that a lot of other fantasy games espouse when they talk about same sex relationships.  The game doesn’t blink regardless of who you choose to love, it’s just accepted as something that happens.  Because this is a fantasy game, that’s something a positive that needs to be pointed out considering how many other games in this genre just kind of either gloss over the subject, or reinforces the hetero-normative firmly.

Recommended?:  Yes, and send what you can their way.  We need the sequel!

Paranoia published by hostedgames.org

This one is a doozy.  First of all, the name of the game is Paranoia.  Now I know that many other games have used this as a title before, but it’s still incredibly problematic.  When you feel the need to name your after a mental illness then you’re going to cut out a lot of people.  This game didn’t feel like that was enough.  It felt like it had to really drive out people, so the game is basically you trying to uncover a mystery while not getting taken away to a mental hospital.  Seriously, that’s the game.  You have to decide if you take the pills that your therapist gave you every morning, and you only get one action before you have to think about doing that again.

It’s got a tinfoil hat question for crying out loud.

Out of all the Choice of Games, this one would have to be the most disappointing because it’s got the lowest level of accessibility.

Recommended?: No.  Absolutely, 100% not.

What Happened Last Night? published by hostedgames.org

What happens when you take a company that has a high reputation for listening to gender issues, and sexism in their games?  Well, sometimes they miss.  What Happened Last Night starts out with the good old stand by, the woman in a refrigerator and works it’s way from there.  In this game you wake up without any knowledge of what happened the previous night, a la The Hangover, and you have to figure out what happened to the dead person, who is again always a woman regardless of your gender.

Along the way you can commit various crimes to try to discover what happens.  You can be nice, or you can be not so nice.  The quickest description I can use of this game is Hobbes’ Leviathan.  This game is “nasty, brutish, and short.”  You can get through it in about five minutes, and while the games says that there are lot of choices, there really aren’t that many.  You go through all the various threads really quickly, and the reply value of this game is pretty much nil.  I mean you can replay Choice of the Dragon, just because it’s kind of whimsical and even if you’ve gone through the game kind of the same way, the choices you make really influence what’s going on.  Not so much with this one.

Please note that the game has an in game warning about the level of violence and choice that you can/have to make in the game.  If that’s something you’re not to keen on, this will turn you off this game as well.

Recommended?: Meh? It’s not bad, it’s just quick and kinda unpleasant.

The Land of Three Classes published by hostedgames.org

There is an argument that can be made, though I don’t necessarily agree with it, that says a choose your own adventure game, and a short one at that isn’t complex enough to be a ‘real game.’  Most casual games get that a lot in general.  The Land of Three Classes tries to do some things to make the game a little bit more challenging, and a little bit more stimulating and that’s a very honest and desirable goal.  The execution here left much to be desired.

In The Land of Three Classes you play a student trying to pass a placement exam to be a full fledged member of the TriCla society.  The TriCla society being the one that venerates the three heroes that freed them from the tyranny of some evil priests who ruled the land with an iron fist.  The three heroes being the warrior, the thief, and the magician.  No names, just Warrior, Thief, Magician.  Don’t worry, they tell you many times that it’s more than thiefly qualities that they appreciate and not actual thievery.

Anyway the amount of preamble before the game was almost enough to turn me off the game entirely.  The writing felt, well, kind of lazy and when your game is entirely text that’s the one thing you can’t afford at all.  The text is the only vehicle you have, and as such it needs to be at the quality that it is for Choice of Broadsides and Choice of the Dragon.

The game play itself is rather predictable?  Not in the, “We know that this is fiction and we understand how fiction ends” kind of way.  More in the, “Wow, there is a large gate in front of me, I wonder if what I need to do to get past it, I know I’ll just gobble down some strength potions!”

Again, pretty great concept but the execution didn’t work.

Recommended?: Buzz! Not really, no.

 

Since there are a lot of Choice of Games games, I’m going to split this up into two parts.  The next post will talk about Imprisoned, Marine Raider, The Nightmare Maze and Popcorn, Soda … Murder?  Because if it’s got an ellipses and a question mark, then it’s gotta be good … right?

As always, feel free to have at it in the comments.  If you have a suggestion, let me know below and I’ll do my best to get on it!

Casual Fridays – We don’t need no stinking handhelds …

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobile games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a bi-weekly format so that I can make sure to get them out in time, but that might mean there’s going to be a few more games on the review table rather than the standard two or three per post.  There are a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

Continuing on our quest to find a wider variety of games, I’ve scoured the Android market to find games that are fun, entertaining, free or really inexpensive to pick up.  The three I’m reviewing this week are Math Maniac (yes, the title is problematic, we’ll talk about it), 9 Innings: Pro Baseball, Choice of Broadside.

As a technology note, all the games were played on an HTC Legend using Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Math Maniac

I was asked to find some math games on the Android phone, because that’s what I have, and I did my best to comply with that request.  Let me tell you, there aren’t that many math games out there.  Note to anyone who is interested in making games, there is a gap here and you may want to fill it.

That’s why I grabbed this game, despite the fact that it’s got a rather problematic title.  We tend to take things, and I’m guilty as charged, and add the word ‘mania’ or ‘maniac’ to the end of it to try to make a game sound just awesome.  Or, as commentator Static Nonsense said:

“society’s concept of ‘madness’ in such naming or titling mechanics are derived from the preconceived notion of mental illness and its effects causing people to do things ‘out of the ordinary’ and ‘extreme’.”

Despite this problem I went ahead with this review because I searched far and wide for a mobile math game and there really aren’t a lot of others out there.  So, Math Maniac it is.

The game itself is an addition game.  The game gives you a number and you have to select the appropriate digits on the screen that, when added together, become that very given number.  You can use as many as you want, you just need to complete the task within the time frame given.

The time frame depends on what level of difficulty you choose.  If you pick easy you get 20 seconds, and if you pick hard you only get 10 to do the mental math needed to arrive at the proper sum.  The higher the level the higher the sums tend to be, which means that you spend a lot of time looking for the 9s to get to that number as fast as you can.

It’s strangely addictive, I know it impacted me because I spend a lot of time thinking that I’m good at mental math.  However, it is quite different when you’ve only got ten seconds to hunt down the right number for the job.  Ultimately you do wish there was a little more to the game than just trying to find the right combination of numbers that will answer the question.  The kind where if you get the right set of numbers you unlock the safe or do something.  Maybe that’s just a skin for something that doesn’t need it, but I feel the distinct lack of anything other than hunting for numbers on a grid.

There is a paid version which allows you to stop and go back to levels you’ve previously accomplished, but the game really isn’t that long or that hard to start over.

Cost: Free (€0.79 for the Gold edition)

Save to SD: Happily it does!

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: 9 + 7 + 9 + 9 + 8 = The Answer!

9 Innings: Pro Baseball

Baseball games on your phone is really just a joy.  While I’m not a huge fan of watching the sport, there’s something about the duality of the game that transitions well to the video game format.  The sport goes from a duel between a batter and a pitcher to a team dealing with the results of that duel.  9 Innings: Pro Baseball out of all the baseball games out there, and there are a lot, is a pretty phenomenal one.

First of all, it’s licensed by the MLBPA which means that while the teams and their logos aren’t to be found you do get to play with all the players that are actually in the league.  I personally find this cool, though it is a bit off putting at times not to have the team logos, though the players are playing on their respective teams.

The game play itself runs really well, except for the ridiculous animation that makes it look like all baseball players when they have nothing to do would rather be doing power squats, with each pitcher being able to choose from various pitches, which take a certain amount of stamina to use.  Batting is a single button, and in an interesting decision it is located on the same side as the ‘hand’ that the batters use.  Batters that bat left will make you use your left thumb to swing, while those that swing right will need your right thumb.

Fielding the ball is wonderfully smooth as well.  You can program what moves you want to have happen.  That way, when you know that ball is primed for a double play you can program where you want your players to throw the ball and they’ll do it.  The base runners, all run the right way.  If it’s a fly ball they’ll go about half way and stop, waiting to see what happens.  If it’s caught they run back.  The iconography of the game is pretty cute and endearing.  Lots of things representing swinging the bat, running for extra bases or running back.

The other thing this game does well is that all the players are given to you as baseball cards.  You can buy more packs for things to upgrade them, or other players that you might want to use.  I think that’s an awesome idea, which will lead to some fun options.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t have problems.  The biggest one is that you have a “cheerleader.”  Now it could have been a lot worse, it’s a shot of a woman’s face and this is who is your cheerleader.  There’s no gratuitous cheesecake shots, or anything else that I could see, I only played a couple of games, but it’s their job to give you point when you do things like hit a double, strike someone out.  It’s actually incredibly frustrating, because just like the players they have “trading cards” that you can switch out and get bonuses from.  The commentary on that alone could fill up thousands and thousands of words.

If you want to play this game,  there will be gritting your teeth whenever you do something spectacularly baseball like, but at least it’s possible to accomplish something spectacularly baseball like.

Cost: Free (Game does have ads)

Save to SD: Happily it does!

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: H, 2B, HR almost hitting for the cycle but just coming up short.

Choice of Broadside

Choice of Broadsides comes from the same people who brought Choice of the Dragon, which Brinstar reviewed here.  If you didn’t notice, it got a lot of buzz and in turn spawned a whole series of games each with a different genre.  There’s a point actually where I think I’m going to sit down and review all the ones that haven’t been reviewed yet.

If you enjoyed Choice of the Dragon, you are going to love Choice of Broadsides, which takes the same interesting and engaging storytelling and applies to love, life and adventure on the high seas.  Here you play a midshipperson (you can again choose your gender and sexuality as you see fit), who is trying to climb the ranks in the Albion Navy during it’s war with the Gaul.  Albion is described very much like England (it is England save for the name).  You choose who you are, what you look like, how you react and you go from there.

Unlike Choice of the Dragon, I feel that your decisions have a greater impact on the game and what you get to do.  There are also a few moments when you feel kind of railroaded into certain actions, but this is a choose your own adventure game so the choices, and replay value, are limited.

Some of my favourite lines from this are listed here:

When choosing your gender — “I am a young lady. The idea of gentlemen going to sea and being exposed to the horrors of combat — it’s a frankly revolting idea”

When asked to speak your opponent’s language — “Yes, anything else would be churlish and unworthy of a gentlewoman.”

This is going to lead me towards doing a review of all the Choice of Games, mainly because I find them highly diverting and engaging.

Cost: Free (Donations greatly accepted)

Save to SD: Sad Phone Face.  No Saving to SD

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: 0=, 0=, 0=, 0=, 0= five cannons to the broadside!

That’s it for this edition of Casual Friday, next up comes the Choice of Games extravaganza!

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If you’ve got a game you’d like to get reviewed, or have anything you’d like to say about casual or mobile gaming in general leave it in the comments!  We like them, it lets us know you’re reading!

Casual Fridays – Sneak Attack Monday

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobiles games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a bi-weekly format so that I can make sure to get them out in time, but that might mean there’s going to be a few more games on the review table rather than the standard two or three per post.  There are a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

This week we’re continue our moving away from strictly flash games, we’ve got games from all over the place.  We’ve got Atomic Zombie Smasher available on Steam, we’ve got a flash game in Space is Key and Haunt the House.  This is also being posted on Monday because HR got the days wrong and the Casual day for this week is a Monday.  We’ll be going back to Friday’s shortly. ^_^

 

Atomic Zombie Smasher

Casual Friday - Atomic Zombie Smasher

A city square with many pink cubes chasing yellow cubes. There are the words "Scientist Rescued" above the yellow circle in the middle of the screen and a timer that reads 18 above that.

I may have mentioned my love of horror games at some point in time.  I think maybe on this blog even.  The key thing for me is that it can’t just be a standard horror game, it needs to do something interesting.  Atomic Zombie Smasher is one of those games that does something fun with the standard “have to deal with the zombie outbreak.”  Blendo Games.  Here there is a zombie outbreak and you have a certain number of mercenaries that you can use in order to save as many civilians as possible.

That’s right, killing zombies is a fun diversion, but it’s just what you do to keep saving as many people as you can.

The game also keeps a tally of how many people you save against how many people the zombies have devoured and made into zombies.  It’s a race, you want to be the first one to get to whatever total you’ve set out, which is 10 000 in the basic standard game.  There are also certain benchmarks that if you hit them, you get extra good things like new weapons or a the chance to get some science upgrades.  The problem is that the zombies also have benchmarks and they get upgraded when they hit them too.  You need to make sure that you jump out ahead, because the zombies get bonuses for having control of territories and they spawn a lot faster than you can kill them.

There is a somewhat storyline to the game, I will be the first to admit that I really didn’t pay any attention to it.  My interest was on saving the people and smashing the zombies so I could tell you much about it one way or another.  The game doesn’t really need it, it’s really all about getting people to the chopper!  And getting them to the chopper is a wildly entertaining ride.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: ◙◙◙◙◘ – 4 Zombie cubes chasing that last human cube!

Game Cost: 9.99$ on steam – 15.00$ on the developer’s website.

 

Space is Key

Three rows, two in purple with black text and boxes above and below with a black row with purple boxes in the middle. There is the leftover explosion of the cursor box as well as the words "Going for Doubles" in the top row.

There is something about simplicity that fascinates me.  When you’re able to take a single button and turn it into a game that simultaneously makes you want to finish it and yell at your screen in frustration I believe you have a pretty good game.  Space is Key is one of those games.  It’s a straight forward platform type game where you have to get your little square from one side of the screen to the other side of the screen, going through three levels per stage.  You only require the use of a single key, the space bar, which will make your little square jump.

You will jump, a lot.  You need to avoid the various boxes that are in your way.  Some of the jumps require precision timing which may frustrate some players, but there is that extra joyful reward of defeating a particularly hard jump.  There are some changes that happen over the course of the game, one where you have to deal with the fact that you’re moving faster and jump further and another one where you just jump higher than you’re used to.   The way the game scores your success is how often your little cube explodes itself on the boxes that you have to dodge.  I will say that I died a total of 365 times which means that my little cube had an entire year of explosions.

One complaint I have is that the colour choices leave something to be desired.  There are some levels that will certainly give some players difficulty with the almost tone on tone colours.  While a challenging game is frustrating, but in a wonderfully challenging way, a frustrating game because you can’t see the sprites isn’t entertaining in the least bit.

This is a game that you can spend about ten minute on before you feel that you should take a break.  It’s a great little time waster while you wait for something else to happen.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: * * * *  [_] – 4 Explosions and 1 Box that made it through!

Haunt the House

Casual Friday - Haunt the House

Two rooms in a house. One is a dinning room done in orage with a large table and a chandelier without any candles. There is a bathroom upsairs done in blue with red furniture. There are people milling about both rooms.

Haunt the House is a quick, cute little game where you play a ghost who lives in a house where someone decided to throw a party and you want to get everyone out of your house.  You don’t want them dead, you don’t want them maimed, you just want to scare them by possessing the objects around them and spooking them so that they run out of your house.  I like this concept a lot.  It’s different from a “kill them all” kind of laziness that a lot of games suffer from.

Another big fun moment is figuring out what each object does when you haunt it, and then going back once the spooky meter has gone up enough to see what else they do.

What is also pleasing is that everyone scares in basically the same way.  While there are gendered characters in the game, they don’t have levels of difficulty when it comes to scaring them.  The game even lets you know how many people you scared out of the the house, and how many people you scared beyond belief.  I should warn you that when I played the game I didn’t notice when I scared people and then ended up dead.  I don’t know how they did it, so I would totally put a possible trigger warning on the game, despite its cuteness, for suicide.  Again, I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I figured I’d rather be safe and put that up there than have someone get triggered by this.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: V V V V V- 5 sets of arms in the air as people flee the house in terror!

 

A quick comment on how I decide on what paid games to review.  First of all I think they have to be entertaining, that’s a given, but I understand that they need to be accessible.  Not just in the message of the game, or what the game does, but also in price.  Any game that you might have to pay for is going to be under 10.00$ if I can absolutely help it.  Just thought you’d like a heads up on that considering that I’m starting to get into paid games.

I’m still on the lookout for a good math mobile game, and if you have any requests for games you’d like to see reviewed just leave them in the comments!

Casual Fridays – Mobile Phone Gameness

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobiles games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a bi-weekly format so that I can make sure to get them out in time, but that might mean there’s going to be a few more games on the review table rather than the standard two or three per post.  There are a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

I decided it was time to move away from Flash games this week and to focus more on the mobile platform when it comes to games.  I’ve been screening them intensely, scouring the internet to find mobile games that are entertaining, affordable, inclusive and fun.  This weeks games are, Dweller, Pinball Deluxe and Cyber Defender!

As a technology note, all the games were played on an HTC Legend using Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Dweller

There is something to be said for a dungeon crawl.  It’s a genre that’s been around since Nethack really when you had an ASCII map of what was going on.  Dweller fits right into that mould.  You get your choice of Warrior, Ranger or Mage, each with their own cute little 8-bit like character sprite and you go down into the dungeons trying to destroy the Goblin King.  Along the way you’ll find monsters to fight, traps to avoid, gear to acquire, door to smash down and treasure chests to open. Casual Fridays - Dweller

Everything is very 8-bit in its look, with the cutest sprite still being the wizard whose face is the old Final Fantasy wizard-like where it’s a hood and a pair of eyes.  It’s got some nice features too.  Since it depends upon you pressing the screen where you want to go, and on the tile you’re standing on to pick up any object, you can increase the size of the tiles.  I know I played the whole game that way, but I was the warrior and wasn’t too interested in seeing far away.  I wanted to smash the monsters with my melee weapon!

The monsters are interesting too.  The AI is set up so that once they’ve taken enough damage they aren’t interested in taking you on anymore.  Instead, like any actual creature, they run away to save themselves from your dungeon crawling wrath.  It makes it a bit more challenging, you have to corner them sometimes in order to get the experience but it was a nice little touch.  The same thing with the status bar on your phone being visible.  There’s something to be said for developers who understand that while you are playing a game, you’re still on your phone and having the phone features is important, especially in a game like this where that extra bit of space doesn’t really do anything for the game play.

Game Cost: Free, no ads but willing to take donations from the menu screen.

Save to SD: No, but it’s an itty bitty game so it doesn’t take up much space.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: [_] [_] [_] [_] [_] – 5 Treasure Chests to be opened.  Now which one is trapped.

 

Pinball Deluxe

I love pinball games.  Ever since I was a kid and they were still fifty cents a play.  I would go up, watch the flashing lights, and the sounds, drop my money in and play for all of two minutes.  I was horrifically bad at the game.  Apparently physics and I don’t really get along that well, at least when it’s applied physics.Casual Fridays - Pinball Deluxe

At any rate the people at GreenCod have come up with a free pinball game that comes with three different tables that actually do something that a lot of other free pinball apps don’t, which is play differently.  They aren’t just reskins of the one field that they made and the hope that you don’t notice that you have to hit the same spots to have the board change.

My personal favourite out of all three maps is the space one.  I like it because I have a really easy time activating the screen minigame, but try them out and see what you like.  The flippers are very responsive and you can add elements like being able to tilt the machine.

Game Cost: Free, but with ads.

Save to SD: Bing.  100000000! Score!

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: –* –* –* –* –* – 5 Pinball Wizards with very supple wrists.

 

CyberDefense

Tower defense games have been around now for a while, and when I went looking for one on the phone I wasn’t looking at something that would do something different just yet.  I wanted to find one that provided a really good experience, and was a really solid game.  I believe I found that one with Cyber Casual Fridays - Cyber DefenseDefense.  The premise is that there are virii on your phone and they are attacking your CPU and you must use the anti-virus programs to stop them from destroying your precious communication device.  My precious, precious, precious communication device.

I’m sorry, where was I?

Right, the game.

There are a wide variety of levels.  You’ve got the standard three levels of difficulty as well as the various extra challenge type levels.  There’s the constant stream of a certain type of unit one.  Levels that change where the CPU chip is.  There’s even a last for as long as you can level.

The controls are really smooth as well.  When you drag your finger it very clearly shows where you are placing the tower you’ve chosen, as well as if units can get past them.  It’s something I’ve actually found lacking in the few other TD games I’ve found in the Market. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting a tower where you don’t want it to be because you pressed a slightly different spot on the touch screen.

Game Cost: Free, but with ads.

Save to SD: Nope.  Sad face on that one.

Completely Arbitrary Number Value Judgement: {/} {/} {/} {/} {/}- 5 Towers Defending you phone!  Protect the phone!

Sorry this was late.  I’ve had a hard time finding games in the android market that I think people might want to play.  I’ve downloaded a pile of them, and there are many more to go through.  Now comes the question of the weekend, do you play games on your phone other than solitaire?  I know it’s popular, I see a sea of cards on screens whenever I take a trip on the street car.

If you’ve got a game you’d like to get reviewed for Casual Fridays, or if you’ve got any comments, questions or anything about these reviews just leave a comment below, or email koipond at borderhouseblog dot com