Tag Archives: Kongregate

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!

 

 

 

 

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 – 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 – Ahead by a Century

*Editor’s Note: Two of us were at PAX East and the other was camping in the wilderness, so this one is published a bit late!  Enjoy!*
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.

Nothing so far really caught my fancy in new releases in flash games.  However, that just meant it was time for me to clean out my 227 favourites folder.  The games this week are games that have already been out for a while that you might have missed.  They’re also games that I can play for hours on end and not really notice the time slipping away.  With that our games this week are Amorphous +, Elona Shooter and Solipskier.

Amorphous +

Nothing says fun like destroying small blobs of colour as they run about the screen.  Nothing adds to that fun when the blobs fight back.  In Amorphous + you play someone who is cleaning out these blobs, called glooples, and that’s really all the story there is to it.  You, with your trusty Splatmaster 3000, against a hoard of these little creatures that come in a variety of shapes, colours and effects. Casual Fridays - Amorphous + 1

That’s one of the things that really draws me to this game. There are such a wide variety of glooples, and they all do so different things, that I’m never really bored with just watching it.  You’ve got the glooples that will turn into go, into acid.  The ones that jump at you, the cute furry ones with all the teeth.  You’ve got the ones that roll with giant spikes.  The big rock ones.  Even the standard green ones that don’t really do all that much can combine and transform into something that’s far more deadly.  It’s fun, and challenging as you try to navigate all these various glooples.

There are some glooples that while they have negative consequences for you, you need them in order to defeat other glooples.  My favourite examples are the sticky, which turns into goo on the ground which slows you and other glooples down, is needed to make sure you can take out a firey by dousing the flames.  However, if a firey hits an ink spot left by an inky it blows up and destroying anything that’s around it.

There are various challenge levels.  You can have nests of glooples that you have to destroy.  You can choose to just go on a bounty run and fight as many glooples as you can until you die and decide how fast the harder glooples will come at you.  Casual Friday - Armophous +2

Even the deaths are pretty remarkable, if cartoonily violent and when you bite the slime you’re more than interested to see how you’re going to go this time.

Finally the achievement system is full of 110 different awards you can get, and as far as I can remember there isn’t a bad joke in the lot.  They’re fun, amusing and in some cases really hard to do.  Get enough of them and you get keys to unlock rewards for doing so well against the glooples.  I recommend the suits, they help you survive longer.

Totally Arbitrary Number Value: {} {} {} {} {} – Five Glooples knocking you over.

 

Elona Shooter

Elona shooter is one of those games where you have to fight through hoards of enemies attacking your base.  Unlike a lot of other ones, the creatures that attack you in Elona range from the bezerker rager who runs up when they are almost dead, to some sheep who calmly walk towards you.  It gets ridiculous too with small flies and birds and tanks and armored knights and all sorts of other silliness.  What is less silly is that the creatures that spawn all have different weak points.  That means you can’t just do a standard target to the head thing and hope for the best.  There’s a little bit of puzzle solving there which you don’t really find in a lot of other games like this.

Casual Friday - Elona Shooter 1

You, you defend the castle with your gun and your cast of motley characters.  It’s this interesting combination of the shooter type game mentioned above and an RPG where between days, and waves of enemies, you get to decide how you’re going to improve your character what kind of stuff you want to start shooting.  You can also do other kinda of RPG things like walk about town, have a giant feast, taunt your enemies, gather eggs to raise money.  Really, it’s just  a rather entertaining time.

The difficulty of the game ramps up pretty quickly too, which means that you’re going to have to find strategies that will help you handle the waves faster. You will probably restart this game frequently, I do, just because you’re going to want to try different things.

Totally Arbitrary Number Value: ## ## ## ## ## Five Sheep like creatures coming for your base.

Solipskier

I’m sorry.  I’d have screen captures for this game but it goes too fast for me to do it with the technology that I have! That’s because this game is too fast for my fingers to both play it and get an image of it.  Here you play a skier who is trying to get through various gates to pick up speed. If you make it through a gate, you go faster as long as the rainbow trail behind you keeps going.

I kid you not.  It’s a fun side scrolling game where your goal is to keep your giant rainbow cape behind you going for as long as you can without falling off the bottom of the screen.  The controls are all just click and drag to create the trail that the skier follows.

It’s got a great system of telling you when the gates are coming up.  You never really feel like there are surprise gates that you are going to miss, which will make you slow down something fierce.  Even the places where you need to jump, or the gates you have to avoid don’t come at you so fast that you can’t adjust to them.

It’s just a very well planned out game.  I even love the fact that when you go too fast, you lose your headphones and instead of the game music you get a constant sound of the wind rushing past the character.

Totally Arbitrary Number Value: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Five Rainbow Capes flowing in the wind behind my skiier’s back.

So that’s this week’s blast from the not too distant past.  With that in mind the question for the weekend is what game do you go back to again and again and again.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve defeated it a million times, you still like playing the game.  It’s like comfort food.  Let us know in the comments below.

Also, 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

Casual Fridays: Strategy in Various Flavours

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.

Today’s games are a hodge podge collection of games that are all strategy flavoured in some way.  I’m a huge fan of Strategy games in general, I think I’m one of the few people that has fond memories of Aerobiz Supersonic.  There’s just something about trying to figure out what’s the best course of action at a given time and hoping that it works out.  It’s kind of like real life, but with orcs … or million dollar planes that I don’t actually have to own.  The games this week are King’s Guard, Rebuild, and Flagstaff: Chapter One.

King’s Guard by Iriy Soft

Remember Bejewelled?  Yeah.  You know that game that really made matching threes popular?  You know how there are a million and one other games that have tried to do something with the match three game and have failed?  King’s Guard is not one of the ones that fall into the “failed copy of Bejewelled” pile.  King’s Guard is a RTS that uses the Match Three idea to fuel how you deal with the waves of creatures that come and attack you.Casual Fridays - King's Guard

You have three heroes, and typically the woman is the magic user, and they each attack the waves of monsters that are attacking your castle.  They attempt to have a story which makes little sense since you’re trying to drive out a hoard of evil creatures by defending?  It really doesn’t matter all that much, the fun part is what when the waves of monsters come you get to make your matches for various effects.  When you match the colors of the heroes, the result is that the hero in question gets healed.  If you match colors that aren’t for your heroes, they will level up the troops that you can get in the game.  If match four or more, the Heroes get special ability tiles or you get a tile that represents a troop that you can put up to support your various heroes.

What I think they do really well is that even if you’re not able to see the colors on the screen, they did make each tile a different shape as well.  This is not as easy as the colors when it comes time to frantically search about to find the tiles you need to heal your warrior hero.  The support troops also come in the standard three flavors (ranged, melee and special) and the idea that matching just three will level them up is pretty simplistically clever.

The music and sound effects can get pretty monotonous after a while, but thankfully they do have the options on the screen to mute one or the other as you feel the need to.  The monsters that attack you, while they do increase in number, aren’t incredibly varied.  However, if you really just enjoy playing something like Bejewelled it really isn’t all that important.  They just act like an interesting timer.

Random Value Judgement Rating: -> 0 * v !  Five various magical attacks.  I think there might be an arrow in there too.

 

Rebuild by Sarah Northway

I’ve got a small secret to share.  Beyond loving strategy games, I also love horror games.  I don’t know why.  I can’t stand horror movies, I’m not interested in them at all.  However, you give me a the genre in a novel, an RPG, or a Video Game and I’m there.  Which is why I love Rebuild a lot.  Probably the most out of all the games I’m reviewing this week, and for the past little bit, because it’s a horror strategy game.  You play survivors in a city doing their best to keep back the zombie hoards.

The first thing that you’ll notice when playing the game is that the random name generator produces names of actual cities.  I’ve come acrossCasual Fridays - Rebuild 01Warsaw, New York, Calgary (yes the Can Con makes me happy) which is always a really nice touch.  The other nice element is that along with picking the size of the board you’re playing on and the difficulty of the game, you get to pick the gender of your leader.  No large images flashing a disparate image of what the “male” and “female” leaders look like.  Just a name that changes depending on what you pick.  Now, what might have been nice is to include a non-binary option, or just remove the Gender all together and have it spit out a random name, and by random I really mean random). I mention this not to say that the game does something badly, but what they’ve done well and how they might take what they’ve done better than other games and push it further.

The game is great.  You have to balance the food that you grow, and scavenge from the outside against the people that you have living inside your complex.  You’ve got to keep them happy and defended from outside attacks, but you need more survivors in order to make sure that you can grow.  The start of the game is really a great position for a horror game.  You’ve got too many people, and a limited amount of resources before you run out.  It forces you to grow right away, or at least scavenge on a consistent basis in order to even maintain your current level.  Casual Friday - Rebuild 02

Even the types of survivors that you have makes sense.  You have the soldiers, the builders, the scavengers, the leaders, and the people who don’t have any discernible skills what so ever.  It’s great!  I know I would be nearly useless in a zombie apocalypse, at least until I learn something, and that’s exactly how the “no skill” people work.  However, another thing that’s great about the game is that the icons for the survivors don’t change depending upon  Another great thing about the game is that the iconography doesn’t change regardless of the gender of the survivors.

The game is a great challenge with a couple different endings.  I would recommend it greatly to anyone really.  Zombie survival at it’s finest.

Random Value Judgement Rating: [] [] [] [] []  Five food containers, good for one survivor for five days, or five survivors for one day

Flagstaff: Chapter One

From the interesting mechanic, to the most amazing game ever, to one that’s pretty graphically cute.  Flagstaff: Chapter One is a really cute strategy dungeon crawl.  You get four heroes, again the women are the magic users but they’re wearing clothes (It’s always so sad that there is a bar that you can walk over if your women characters are wearing clothing), and they are hired by the King to go clear out the dungeon of walking about skeletons.Casual Fridays - Flagstaff

I mean the dialogue is trying to be funny, and it kind of isn’t.  The game isn’t all that difficult, the levels come really quickly and it doesn’t take you too long to realize which powers are the ones to go for.  However, the game play is pretty solid.  There are no weird D&D esque rules that tell you that you can’t move and attack, or attack and move, or move, attack, and then move again.  The dungeons aren’t that big, and the monsters are just as cute as the heroes.

In the end, this game is a lovely little diversion with a save feature, so you can go back to it when you feel like you’ve got twenty minutes you’d like to use in destroying skeletons, and possessed guards, and whatever other monsters I didn’t get to see because my twenty minutes was up.

Random Value Judgement Rating: X X X X X Five fallen Skeletons

So I’m going to put out a question.  What’s your favorite strategy game?  What do you like about them?  What do you hate about them?  Let us know in the comments below.

Also, 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

Edited: For EmilyEmilyEmily’s comment, because point was gladly taken.

Casual Fridays: Roll the Bones

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 looking at that old chestnut called dice and why on earth would someone want to make a flash game that was just all about the dice?  Find out when we look at Zilch, Lock ‘n’ Roll and Brain Bones and we’ll see if anyone can get where I got the title from.  If you guess, I’ve got a big bag of Kudos for you.  They’re delicious.

Zilch

Personally, I love dice games.  Yes they are random, yes they are risky but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.  Zilch, also known as Dice 10000, is a really fun, addictive game that will suck a lot of time away.  The premise of this game is that you roll a set of six, six sided dice, and depending on what you roll you score points differently.  Casual Friday - ZilchI can give you the run down of what the scoring system is but you can find the scoring system at the Dice 10000 Wiki page and that’s not really what I want to talk about.  First of all, I like this game because it’s got a really nice interface when it comes to the dice.  They look like a bunch of old wooden dice you would have found in an old Yahtzee set, or the kind you get in a box of Settlers of Catan.  I love how the interface was created with that torn paper look, to the point where the computer opponent has the clean edge and you have the edge with all the perforations.

Like most versions, it’s got the dice on the screen that can be selected, as well as the quick options which allows you to just mass select any point totals you see.  They really helps when you’ve never played the game before.  There are three levels of difficulty when you need to play by yourself, there is a hotseat two player version, and a ‘play online’ version where you can play other people who have logged into the game.  I love those options, but with any type of unknown online play I recommend caution as with anything else.

There are even things for those who like achievements.  There are 120 different achievements which range from losing badly to long win streaks without a single zilch.

Random Value Judgement Rating: [1] [1] [1] [1] [1] [1] – 8000 points!  Yay highest score possible on a single roll!

 

Brain Bones

Brain Bones is a lovely little puzzle game that uses dice.  Here you get a set of 5 dice and you need to turn them into two pairs and a die that’s going to be left out.  Casual Fridays - Brain BonesThese combinations are important because that die that’s left out will get discarded and you can only discard 4 out of the 6 numbers on the dice.  Once you discard enough of one number, the game is over.  The pairs that you made?  Well they’ll get added together and scored.  The first time you make a pair it will cost you 100 points, and once you make the 5th combination that pair will finally start to get you points.  It rewards you for clever play, by making the same combinations again and again, but there will be times when you get stuck with a set of five dice that you don’t want at all.

The game takes about 10 to 15 minutes to play, maybe longer because I like to keep pressing the “Play This Combination” button to get new dice pretty quickly, and you’ll find yourself playing it again and again.  You’ll think that you’ve got it made and that nothing can get in your way, and then you’ll get that set of dice that no matter how long you sit down and try to figure out a way to make it work, it won’t and you’ll be down another 100 or 200 points.

The look is cute, quick and clean.  Seriously, the skulls are pretty cute.  I have filled the whole scoring page with skulls just because I thought they were cute.

Random Value Judgement Rating: 8E 8E 8E 8E 8E – 5 Skulls, for -100 points each!  Time to make more combinations!

Lock ‘n Roll

Another puzzle game that uses dice, I first came across this game at the Android Market and was amused enough to check it out on my phone.  Another rCasual Fridays - Lock 'n Rollandom dice and combination game, but this one focuses more on where you place the dice.  Also, they are only numbered from 1 to 4 despite your mind thinking that they’re a cube.  I guess it’s harder to do this if you were using tetrahedrons but I digress.

Before I get into the game I will point out that there will be people who can’t play this game.  There is no way to distinguish the colours on the dice other than by colour.  That means for those folks who are colour blind this game might frustrate you more than anything else.  Especially considering that colour combinations are a big part of how the game is scored.

Out of all of them this is my least favourite dice, or should I say dice-ish, game.  If things go badly, they will go badly rather quickly since you only get four rolls if you can’t manage to clear any of the dice that are on the screen.  That’s maddingly frustrating, even though you do get a wild card ‘joker’ if you manage to score enough points which can help clear the board.

Random Value Judgement Rating: 1, 2, 3, 4, j – the 4 numbers you get to play with and the joker.

Thanks for reading checking out these dice games.  I hope you feel that they’re worth their time in the limelight, it’s their universal dream.  Remember to leave any requests for reviews in the comments section or email me at koipond at borderhouseblog dot com!

Casual Fridays – Just as long as they aren’t called Skynet …

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.

Today’s games are I am an Insane Rogue AI, Darkest Days, Ghost Hacker.  It’s like a digital Wizard of Oz today, we’ve got virus, and hacking, and AIs … oh my!

I am an Insane Rogue AI

Okay, first thing’s first I’m going to address the fact that they use the word “insane” in the title.  This is great example of a game that could have been really great without the disablist language in the title.  I am an Evil Rogue AI would have worked just as well, and they would have been able to still use the creepy distorted voice that they wanted to.  Some might call it a small quibble, I call it being inclusive.

Because the game itself is a lot of fun.  The quick run down is that you need to hack various computers in facilities all over the planet, they’re randomly generated, and once you’ve hacked all the smaller computers you get to the mainframe and take over the system.  Casual Friday - IAIRAIIt sounds easy, but you’ve got scientists that are trying to prevent you from hacking the system walking about the facility.  In order to deal with them, you can turn the lights off and on to spook them, make the phone ring and have them move towards it, you can lock the doors to prevent them from changing floors, and you can even take over the droids and have them go on a rampage of destruction!  The difficulty ramps up with maintenance people who can unlock doors, security guards that can shoot the droids and stop your hacking attempts.  Later on you get special ops who are stealthy in the dark, hackers that crash your hacked computers that cause you to get closer to losing and all sorts of stuff.  Another moment to be inclusive that was missed, there is only one woman character and that’s the hacker.  This is cool that they’re the hacker and are one of the most painful characters in the game, but again it doesn’t take much to make some of the other characters women too.  I mean, Nerdook uses the same sprites for everything they do and there are quite a few women sprites.  Again, moment to be inclusive that was missed.

The game gives you two methods to win.  You can be passive and not kill anyone, or you can go on the rampage and destroy all the pathetic humans th

at stand in your way.  What is a nice element to the game is that they give you a bonus for being sneaky.  There’s even a nice change with the resolution screen.  The text that you get depends on if you ended up killing a person or if you managed to get through without a single body to your count.   I enjoy the fact that the game rewards being clever than just destroying everything in sight.  The interesting twist is that most of the powerups make it easier to just wipe everyone out.

It’s a great game, but frustrating again on how a game designer can hit the “default” in their brain and miss great opportunities to not be a dude.

Random Value Judgement Rating: (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) – 5 Evil AIs staring at you.  That’s right, I said Evil.

Darkest Days

We never learn.  Seriously.  You think with all the games, movies, stories out there about people creating AIs and then watching as they end up destroying everything we’d just not make any AI.  Have you ever seen/read/heard anything good about people developing AIs?  No?  My point.Casual Fridays - Darkest Days Screen Capture

In Darkest Days you play the pilot of the only power suit that can take on Alpha Core and it’s legion of self-replicating robot minions.  There is a distinct Gauntlet feel to the game where the robots are generated from bases and the only way to really advance is to make sure you destroy the bases first.  That’s hard because they’re constantly pumping out robots, and unlike gauntlet you can’t just wade your way through them.  You’ll be doing a lot of diving and moving about the place making sure that you can create enough distance between you and the robots so you can get a clean shot at the bases.  The sheer number of robots is staggering at some points in time and it renders the game rather difficult, but it still doesn’t have that ‘twitchy’ game factor that a lot of other games like this have.

Maybe it’s because the graphics are very simplistic, and wonderfully so.  Most of the robots are basic shapes, like circles or squares, with a couple extra defining features to make sure that you can tell them apart.  It makes the opening page funnier when you realize that it’s a joke.

Random Value Judgement Rating: O <| [] L A – 5 Robots coming to take over your browser!

Ghost Hacker

Ghost Hacker is a tower defense game where you play as an human who has been turned into an AI so you can hunt down rogue AIs.  There are a couple of elements that make this game stand out in the sea of Tower Defense games that you’ll find.  The first is that it has a story line, which not many do beyond the “Oh no!  Here are some more enemies coming to take your base!”  The second is that the power ups are based on various colours and the towers will cycle through various colour combinations until they are actually selected, which is a little frustrating when you want a certain colour combination.  These upgrade nodes are different depending on the tower that you use, which means that placement becomes something else you have to manage within the game.  The last thing is that the towers are able to be moved, they just take a little bit of time to recover before they’re functional, which is nice when you have to deal with your space issues.  The theme of the game, the fact that you’re in the net, is really well maintained by the look and feel of the game.

Random Value Judgement Rating: AI AI AI AI AI – 5 AIs looking for a sixth

Thanks for reading about our Evil Robot Overlords!  I’m sure they’re quite happy with you.  Aren’t you happy with the games Citizen? The Computer loves you, do you love the Computer? Remember to leave any requests for reviews in the comments section or email me at koipond at borderhouseblog dot com!

Here is a game: Fairy Princess Escape

The following is a guest post from Kirby.

I’m a feminist, queer, white, cis-gendered woman who lives in Boston.  I’m one of the co-founders of the Bitches of Destiny, a cabaret, performance art & burlesque troupe, and on the side I’m a software development project manager.  I have a tumblr (http://thisdamnhouse.tumblr.com) and a blog (http://kirbybits.wordpress.com), and I read the entire internet every day.

Disclaimer: When playing games, I spend my time (and dollars) almost exclusively on casual games – online, on my iPhone, and on Facebook.  Also, I’m a g-g-g-girl.  The combination of these two things means it never occurred to me that I could/should/would ever identify as a “gamer” or someone who participates in video game culture.  And yet, here we are.

Today I was poking around on Kongregate.com looking at new games, and came across Fairy Princess Escape, a game published by Games2Girls and described by them as, “a nice escape game designed for girls.”  Let’s take a look at the title screen, shall we:

Cartoon picture of a girl with pink and purple butterfly wings, a tiara, and a frilly pink and purple dress. A castle is in the background, with a bright sun rising in the distance.

There are a few things here that are…I’m searching for a term like “red flag” but less severe, but I keep coming up with “pink flag” and that clearly is kind of the “problem”. I personally do not participate in the crusade against pink and purple for “girl” toys – I’d actually be much more interested in adding those colors to the spectrum of “boy” toys, if anything. I like pink, I like purple, and I think taking away the tools and props of performative femininity doesn’t serve anyone except people who already know they don’t want them (spoiler: I’m someone who wants them). And I’ll just leave this here: [giant discussion about (re)claiming feminine/gender performance for oneself and enjoying it on one’s own terms vs. long-term potentially subconscious cultural pressure to conform to gender standards]

Anyway! While “girl” is often used in games to refer to anyone female or anyone who is a woman (and if you don’t think those are different, google “sex vs. gender”, you’re welcome), “girl” is often used in the wider world to refer to juvenile or prepubescent women – i.e. this could in fact be a game designed for young girls! (She thought to herself, before playing.) And since I was once a girl, and I am currently a woman who likes “escape the room” games (ETRGs), and since at least this wasn’t another doll dress-up “game”, I figured I’d give it a whirl.

The game overall is cute and pretty simple – supporting my theory that this is not a game for “girls” but for actual girls. The art in the rooms has a cartoony feel that fits with the premise and assumed target age, with some cute nods to traditional fairytales (like a picture of the Evil Queen in the Fairy Princess’ prison cell):

A grey stone prison cell, with a pile of straw for a bed, and a meager chair next to it. A framed photo of the "evil queen" hangs on the wall above the chair.

The puzzles likewise have some aspects that could be perceived as “girly”, although if you play enough ETRGs, the puzzles and items are often so random, coins and gems and a fairy wand really don’t stand out as things created for a particular age or gender.  The rooms and clues, while perhaps a little more in a “I think this is what little girls like” vein (horses, bright colors) than a more typical ETRG, are still nothing I would find out of place in even an ETRG designed for adults:

A grey castle wall with four different-colored symbols on the wall, framed by two wall hangings with prancing horses on them.

Further supporting my assumption that this is a game for little girls is the built-in hint system.  If you get stumped (or, like me, wonder “what’s this button do?”), you can click on the “hint” button and a little pop-up will overtly point out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing or getting out of that particular game screen:

Three banners - one blue, one yellow, one green - hang on a castle wall, while a thought-bubble shows three circles with the same colors in the same order.

A little simplistic, but again – it’s an ETRG designed to be solveable by kids.  I’ll even go so far as to say it’s a game aimed at little girls who are swept up in the Disney Princess-type little girlhood, who maybe like pretending they’re Tinkerbell, and who maybe covered themselves in glitter and tried to fly from a very high tree branch in their back yard when they were nine years old and were lucky not to break anything.  (Hypothetically.)

…And as an adult woman with a Disney Princess past, I have to say it was fun to play a first-person point-of-view game that was overtly feminine in a way that wasn’t also designed to give male players an erection.  There is no femininity-as-sexuality in the game (like high heeled shoes or cleavage-y outfits), it’s straight up girl stuff on the level of My Little Pony, not Bratz.  However, nothing about the game play is really repelling to boys or men (aside from, perhaps, the title screen) – it’s a straight-forward (albeit very easy) ETR game, and it just so happens that you’re a princess trapped in a castle instead of an amnesiac man trapped in an abandoned hospital or something.  It was nice to clearly be playing a girl with agency…kind of the game equivalent of reading a Young Adult novel.

Everything was going so well! …Until I beat the game and saw the win screen:

The Fairy Princess from the title screen, with the text "Thank you for saving me!" across the top

[record scratch]

So instead of holding to the formula of an ETR game (which is generally either a cut scene or still image with the protagonist, y’know, escaping the room), I learned that while the game is called, and I thought I was playing, Fairy Princess Escape, it’s actually Fairy Princess Rescue.  They actually went out of their way to make it explicit that the girl needs saving – and they’re delivering this message directly to young girls.  That warm, fuzzy agency I was feeling while playing the game was gone, replaced by the all-too-familiar feeling of being forced to play a man. on a quest. to save a princess.

Post script: to anyone reading this thinking, “for the love of Jove, it’s only a 10-minute game for little girls!”  EXACTLY.  Instead of thinking that it was possible for a little girl to spend 10 minutes of her day feeling like she could role-play as a princess who is capable of solving her problems, I now have to throw this onto the truly massive pile of “you are an object to be rescued,” social conditioning that girls are already bombarded with.  The sometimes-voiced assumption that, “girls can’t do ___” or “girls are bad at ___” is an assumption built on life experience lacking in girls who can ___ or are good at ___, often because girls grew up being told they couldn’t or would be bad at those things.  (Vicious circle, look it up.)  And this destructive set of expectations will continue until we figure out a way to deliver other messages to women and girls – which is much easier to do and more likely to happen 10 minutes a time, rather than expecting everything to just suddenly, spontaneously get better.  And I thought I’d stumbled across something like that, on Kongregate of all places…and so it was extra disappointing to discover that nope, I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.  Status is still tiresomely quo.

Casual Fridays 03 – Planes, Planes and Planes

Welcome to Casual Fridays, a weekly review of some of the casual flash games that you can find all around the net. There are a lot of them so we thought we’d help you weed out the bad ones and play the really good ones!

Today’s games are Ghost Guidance, and Steambirds.  I’m a little pressed for time so that’s why there are only two this week, and if there would be a theme for this week it would be planes, planes and more planes, which is really me just trying to make bad Planes, Trains and Automobiles reference.

Ghost Guidance by Hatched Games

A green ship with a blue halo is firing missiles at a grey metal gunship while a military character on the bottom right corner talks.

AIs have it hard.  If you’re left around you get to do all the menial tasks that humans never wanted to do, and you’re never really trusted thanks to the whole ‘Skynet’ thing which exists in all realities at the very same time.  In Ghost Guidance you play an AI that just wants to escape and you’re fighting against the group that created you that wants you gone.  You do that by infecting ships so that you can take complete control of the vessel to facilitate your escape.

The First thing that strikes me as awesome about this game is the introduction screen.  It’s a pretty flavourful little opening page where you get the story of the game, and the fact that play game option is “Sound Evacuation Alarm and Infect the Escape Pod.”  There’s just something about how the screen plays out that tickles my fancy.  The game play itself is a standard shooter, but instead of having to deal with power-ups floating about the place you can just take over whatever plane that’s in your way.  It’s great because you don’t have to worry too much about avoiding the bullets, each ship comes with its own health power, but you can’t totally ignore it because the AI loses energy as it floats about the place waiting for you to have it take control of another ship.

A black screen with the image of a scientist in the corner looking over their shoulder

What one major complaint about the game is that it’s both a little short and a little too limited in what you can get.  There are only five types of ships that you can take over and only three story levels to play.  It would have been a little more fun had there been say 5 levels instead of 3 and maybe a couple other effects you could get that would make you want to change ships rather than just stick with one until it blew up.
Total play time is about 20 minutes, unless you play the endless level at which point it’s until you get blowed up or you get tired of it.

Random Value Judgement Rating: 00101 Five AIs using Binary out of an unknown secret cabal of AIs planning to take over the world.


A Timeline with dates from 1835 to 1947.

I will admit at the forefront that I’m not a big fan of war simulation games.  I don’t really think fighting in a major conflict is something that’s cool and nifty and all that.  However, despite my bias, Steambirds managed to be something I’d play.  What happens is that you’re pilots flying planes in a turned based format.  You get to set up what you want to do next and repeat until all of your planes have crashed or you’ve managed to crash the other planes.  The levels are challenging and what your planes are going to be doing, and then hit the next turn button.  You’ll see the action play out for a couple of seconds and then you get to play your orders again.  The planes also are able worth the trouble to get through and they tryto represent a new year in either the current conflict (which starts at the beginning of 1907 and gothrough certain dates in WWI which sound cool but I wasn’t really able to verify.  Not that it really matters, but any little bit of easily verifiable facts would have been super cool.

The controls are great.  Not only are the planes abilities easily accessed but it also gives you the range at which your planes can move.  There’s a lot of strategy involved in what you’re going to do depending on the extra skills your ships have, and it might have been interesting to be able to modify your planes, give you the option to try different things to get through some of the harder levels.

The music is epic, and a little repetitive so you will be using the mute button pretty quickly.  Give it a once through, admire it and then turn it off when it starts to loop.

Two blue planes are behind two red planes. The red planes have arrows indicating where they will be flyign next.

Random Value Judgement Rating: ~~~~~ Five flying birds, floating like leaves on the wind.
If you’ve got any suggestions or requests for games that you think should be reviewed, just leave them in the comments!