Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Farm to Fork (Gamehouse.com)


When a farm falls in debt, they have to either sell their livelihood or get creative. Can they manage to do the latter and earn enough profit to keep them from having to do the former?

The plot itself is weak. Like the gnomes in South Park, the farmers have a step 1 in order to get to step 3 with no step 2 in between. It’s not until the figure out that wheat means bread, something that someone with an Elementary School education could tell you, that they have a step 2.

The game play is only slightly addictive. You collect items from plants and pigs, put them in the appropriate machines to make the necessary items and ship them off to the store. Later in the game, you can give items to people who come in person to do business with you. Complete the required goals to advance to the next level. The medal you get depends entirely on how fast you check off the goals. You can also set the game to relax mode and earn a silver medal for every level. Did I mention you can purchase upgrades between levels? Oh, and if you buy the platinum edition, you get extra levels.

This game is slightly addictive yet boring after a while. I give it 3 out of 10; don’t waste your time.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Gamefly.com)


When Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney, all he wanted was to help innocent clients. Unfortunately, he lives in a world where it’s guilty until proven innocent. Not only that, but he has to face prosecutors who care more about winning than they do about justice. Can Phoenix beat the odds and prevent innocent people from rotting in a jail cell, or worse?

Despite the Americanization of the game, the legal system is strictly Japanese. In Japan, at the time they released the game, it’s guilty until proven innocent and that leads to complications. Therefore, you can imagine that defense attorneys didn’t achieve many victories. Therefore, the game’s essence is that of a defense attorney fantasy. Phoenix does have a hard time proving his clients’ innocence but, in the end, something always happens that proves his clients innocent. The game takes place 20 minutes in the future with the fantasy element of spirit channeling. It’s also quite serious save for a few ridiculous moments worthy of an anime, such as Phoenix cross-examining a parrot. I am not kidding.

For those of you who don’t want any spoilers, you might want to skip to the very last paragraph of my review. Spirit channeling plays an active role in the game by having Maya contact Mia Fey, her sister and Phoenix’s mentor. Despite the game using Mia for fan service, I absolutely loved the character. She is every bit as capable at her job as Phoenix is and maybe more. All I know is that, without her, Phoenix would have never won. Many people feel that her being used as fan service undermines her, but I feel that the game could have easily portrayed her as a beautiful woman with no intellect whatsoever or a woman hoping to make it big while crying about her beauty because no one takes her seriously. Instead, Mia is a confident person who doesn’t let anyone stand in her way and proves herself to be more than just a pretty face. Plus, to me, it seems more sexist to give all the strong intelligent women small breasts but maybe I’m just being a bad feminist. Speaking of Mia, I do love the game’s portrayal of women. It’s quite common in anime for the women’s main desire to get married, Sailor Moon and Wedding Peach being a couple of examples. In this game, the women have no desire whatsoever to tie the knot. For example, Maya and Ema, Phoenix’s sidekicks in the game, want to be a spirit channeler and a scientific investigator respectfully.

Despite Phoenix being the main character, the game is about the prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth. He starts out as a ruthless man who would do anything to get a guilty verdict. As the game progresses, his worldview starts to change as, little by little, he cares more about finding the truth than he does about his perfect record. In the fourth case, he’s forced to come to terms with all the lives he ruined by being in the defendant’s chair. In the fifth case, he becomes an ally to Phoenix while considering turning in his own resignation.

The game play is quite unique. You travel through different locations collecting evidence and gathering information from as many people you can find.

During the trial, you listen to witnesses testify and use the evidence you gather to point out any contradictions in what they have to say.

If you can’t find any, you can press the witness until you find it. The fifth case is the only one that takes advantage of the Nintendo DS gaming system by also having you spray luminol and dust for fingerprints.

This game is intriguing and addictive. I give it 9 out of 10; I laughed and almost cried during some scenes.

Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy (Bigfishgames.com)


When Mel discovered her magic powers, she hid in the village of Harakauna. Unfortunately, the darklings discover her whereabouts and try to bring her to Underfall. At the same time, a representative of Veldarah Academy wants to recruit her in order to help her train her magic. Will Mel choose the path of light or the path of darkness?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are a few spoilers in this review. I will hand one thing to the Aveyond staff. Instead of giving Mel powers and forgetting about it, like they did with Fox on Gargoyles, they actually make it the plot point. Unfortunately, when they get to the schooling part, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They rush right through it in order to get to the plot rather than combining both story elements. There’s also a scene where trouble happens at Shadwood Academy.

Unfortunately, no one believes Mel when she says that it’s because of her. Mel thinks that Edward would believe her, which is an odd conclusion to come to considering that Edward’s never believed her about anything. Considering how often the crazy stuff she says comes true, you think he’d learn by now. Instead, Edward dismisses her entirely and Mel holds the idiot ball. For those of you who don’t know, the idiot ball is when a character performs an uncharacteristic act of sheer stupidity in order to drive the plot. In this one, Mel gets a note from a stranger telling her to come alone to a cabin and, instead of informing her professors about it, she goes alone to meet the person. Someone who grew up on the streets ought to know better. Though I do appreciate that, when Mel’s in trouble, she tries to find a way out of there instead of waiting for the others to rescue her. For the rest of the game, you take on the role of Stella and I’ve noticed that when she gets an item and has to put it in a slot, she says, “I wonder,” while Mel has to have someone explain to her what to do. Te’ijal and Galahad have returned for the final game and, later on, we get an argument from them that looks like something that came out of Twilight. Oh, and you notice that when Te’ijal’s in control, she only makes decisions that make her happy while when Galahad’s in control, he tries to compromise for both of them? I’m going to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more about the characters than it is an issue of gender. Oh, and remember when Lydia stole the throne from Edward? The Aveyond staff wrapped up that problem as an afterthought rather than making it important to the plot. In the ending, you get to pick a bride for Edward. The canon option makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. When Mel tells Edward there’s trouble, he instantly dismisses her. When Stella tells Edward there’s trouble, he runs off to stop it. On the other hand, Edward has spent the whole game being irritated with Stella and worried nonstop about Mel. Add to that the fact that Edward marrying Mel in The Lost Orb is the canon beginning, it becomes even more baffling that Stella is the canon choice. Considering how many pairings have gone against the fan preference, I wonder if, at this point, the Aveyond staff loves to screw with their fan base.

The game play is, once again, your typical RPG. You travel the world battling monsters to raise your levels.

You can purchase items in towns and talk to NPCs to receive side quests. If you’re having trouble, visit the goodie caves to give yourself an advantage. The only difference this game has is that, not only can Stella learn spells by equipping weapons and leveling up, Edward can power up his sword by using sword stations.

This game is addictive but the plot could use some work. I give it 6 out of 10; a bad conclusion to Aveyond 3.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb (Bigfishgames.com)

Just when Mel thought she’d seen the last of the orbs, a mysterious woman named Nox tells her about the Orb of Death. Now she and her friends must destroy the lost orb before anyone of evil intent can get their hands on it.

The beginning of the game depends entirely on whom you had Edward propose to in the last one. Either way, Lydia tricks Edward into marrying her by locking the intended bride in the dungeon and disguising herself as said bride. While it’s not hard to believe that Lydia would desire the throne, some of her actions don’t match with her personality in the previous game. For instance, in Gates of Night, she tries to save Stella and sees the mission to the end. You can argue that all of this was a ruse to make Edward like her, but Lydia is also an accomplished mage. If she was only after the throne, couldn’t she have just cast a love spell? She can easily buy a love potion and spike Edward’s drink with it. Not to mention that amulet Lydia found in Gates of Night that she uses to make Edward buy her dresses, she could use that to make Edward marry her and become her slave. Speaking of love potions, the game once again romanticizes them. There’s this one scene where you create a love potion and Spook (a recently introduced character) and Edward fight over who gets to use it on Mel. Since I always thought of love potion as a date rape drug, this didn’t sit well with me. Later on, you find out Spook’s intentions, so the game could have easily just had Spook try to use the love potion while Edward tries to stop him. Edward and Spook also act incredibly obnoxious and neither one of them thinks to ask Mel what she wants. Did I mention that Edward will be fighting Spook for Mel’s affections even if you had him marry someone else? Oh, and for future reference, if you ever ask someone about their past and they say that their story will bore you, that’s usually code for “don’t trust me; I’m up to no good.” I’m also wondering why a village that shuts itself off from the rest of the world would have an MME system (mirror transportation) and signs pointing how to get there. Another problem I had was interests and prejudices that seem to come out of nowhere. For those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in what I say next. Ulf (the orc traveling with you) wants to stay in Harakauna to become an alchemist. Now I can believe that he’d want to stay in a village full of talking animals and shape shifters that makes him feel welcome, but he has shown as much interest in alchemy beforehand as Lana Lang from Smallville did in art before applying to an art school in Paris, which is absolutely none. At the end of the game, Mel unlocks her magical abilities. Now I can believe that Mel’s abilities remained dormant because she’s had good luck relying on her mind all her life like Fox from Gargoyles. The only difference is that Fox actually demonstrated her intelligence while Mel has to have her hand held every step of the way. Oh, and did you know that Mel hates magic? Neither did I. She’s been around magic users and held them no ill regards and now that she has magic herself, she develops a prejudice for it for no reason whatsoever other than the writer needed to add unnecessary conflict to the story. Other than all that, the plot is actually quite interesting. The new characters are entertaining and I found the insane Empress of Eldrion to be hilarious.

The game play is very addictive. You travel a 2-d map collecting treasure, potion ingredients and fighting monsters.  The last one will help you gain levels to make the characters stronger. You can visit towns to purchase supplies, check your mail and teach Mel a new skill at the town’s agency. In this game, the training actually has something to do with the skill you’re learning. You can also complete side quests in addition with the main quest for 100% completion. During the game, you will have opportunities to either increase Mel’s attraction to Spook or decrease it. If you’re tired of having to move around so much, use the Magical Mirror Express, or MME, to travel between towns faster. You can also stop by hidden goodie caves to make the game easier.

This game is addictive and entertaining. I give it 7 out of 10; the game play makes up for the many problems with the story.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (Gamefly.com)

When Professor Layton’s mentor opens the fabled Elysian Box, he dies. Is the myth about whoever opens that box will die true, or did someone murder the professor’s mentor and make it look like the myth was true?

The plot is your typical Professor Layton game. At first, it looks like something mystical is going on. Then the characters explain everything in a way that a raises even more questions. To sum it up, the entire series is one big Voodoo Shark (a term invented by SFDebris). Don’t get me wrong, I love the series but I can’t ignore its flaws. I will say one thing, and I warn you that there will be spoilers in what I say next. Professor Layton is not a fit guardian. He regularly abandons Flora, a girl with psychological abandonment issues to the point where she can’t be alone, to go adventuring. When he discovers that Don Paolo kidnapped Flora, he decides to continue solving the mystery of Folsense and the Elysian Box and treats getting Flora back as an afterthought. At this point, I wonder why Flora’s even in the games anymore. She did serve a purpose in the first game but now she’s little more than the token girl of the series. You could say the same about Emmy in the prequel series but she has actually proven useful on more than one occasion.

The game play is the same as ever. You explore the scenery while solving various puzzles along the way. Granny Riddleton will collect any puzzles you miss. You also have three mini-games you can play in the form of exercising an overweight hamster, repairing a camera and taking pictures, and brewing and serving tea to the citizens of Folsense. For those of you who follow my twitter account, you know that the last one is not only my favorite in this game but in the entire series. You can also collect keys to read an old diary. When you’ve finished the game, you can solve bonus puzzles to unlock a few bonuses in the game.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 8 out of 10; one of my favorites in the series.

Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey (Bigfishgames.com)


When Alice crashes her car into the river, she has to take a journey through her subconscious mind to regain consciousness. Can she survive and follow her dreams when she awakens?

The main character, Alice, works at a dead end job and is too afraid to follow her dreams. You can guess that the message of this game is don’t be afraid to take risks. The problem is that she does have a family and, I hate to break it to you, but when you have kids, you can’t really take risks like that for your own sake. We never find out what her husband does for a living so, for all I know, he probably makes enough money for Alice to quit her job and achieve her dream of opening a bookstore cafe. I do like the symbolism that they go for in the dream world but I can’t go into detail about it for fear of giving away spoilers.

The game play is your typical hidden object game. You go from scene to scene collecting items for your inventory. Some items require you to participate in hidden object scenes in order to collect them.

You can use the items you collect to advance throughout the game. If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 7 out of 10; a brilliant use of symbolism.

The Walking Dead Game Season 2 Episode 2: A House Divided (Steam Store)


When Clementine and her new friends have to find a new home, she runs into a blast from her past.

Now she has to choose between her old life and her new one.

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are spoilers. I said earlier that Clementine gets a blast from her past and that comes in the form of Kenny. Not only does Clementine have to choose between him and her new friends, she also sees how much Kenny has changed. As for how, let’s just say that losing your wife and son in a zombie apocalypse doesn’t do much for your mental health. Let me tell you that Kenny’s not the only one affected to such a degree. Nick also shoots a good person out of fear and anxiety and Clementine’s the one who has to convince the dead person’s friend to forgive Nick. Characters from 400 days make an appearance in this episode and if I had known that they would be signing up with the bad guy, I wouldn’t have been so determined to recruit every single one of them.

The game play is the same as always. You explore scenes and examine various items, sometimes adding objects to your inventory. During cut scenes, you choose what you want Clementine to say or do. Make sure to do so before the time runs out, unless you don’t want Clementine to say anything. Keep in mind that what you choose has a tremendous impact on the story. You also have to participate in quick time events where you press the right button to make sure Clementine comes out of the zombie apocalypse alive.

When you’ve finished the game, you can see how your choices match up to the other players.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 9 out of 10; shocking but didn’t get the emotional impact the last episode got out of me. Of course, it would be hard to top having to kill a dog.

Dark Parables: Jack and the Sky Kingdom (Bigfishgames.com)

The Fairytale Detective is back and this time he/she has to investigate the Sky Kingdom. The only ally he or she has is a mysterious treasure hunter named Jack.

The Dark Parables series is back and this time it’s taking on Jack and the Beanstalk. This game also takes on the legend of Rumpelstiltskin. I don’t have much to say about the plot except that you discover the back story of it as you go.

The game is typical hidden object. You travel throughout the scene collecting items for your inventory. You also have to partake in hidden object scenes but instead of finding a list of random objects in order to only add one to your inventory, you have to collect the pieces of the item you get.

You can also collect hidden parables to slowly discover the story of how everything came to be. The Collector’s Edition includes bonus content such as more game play.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 8 out of 10; the Dark Parables series hasn’t died yet.

The Great Gatsby: Secret Treasure (Bigfishgames.com)

When a young architect appraises the mansion of the late Jay Gatsby, a shady man kidnaps her roommate. Now she must find Gatsby’s secret treasure before her roommate dies.

I’m going to spoil something for you, you find out nothing new about Gatsby. You travel through his mansion and discover the story you already knew about if you’ve read the novel or have at least seen one of the two movies. You don’t find out how Gatsby went into business with Wolfsheim, or if he killed a man. If anything, it brings up more questions like why Nick Carraway left his notes all over Gatsby’s mansion or how the main character can visit the past and collect items. The game explains that she has a great imagination but so do I and I’m not retrieving any items from it. As for the storyline that takes place in present time, it’s nothing more than an excuse plot.

The game play is your typical hidden object game. You travel from scene to scene and collect items for your inventory. Some will require you to partake in hidden object scenes.

As I said earlier, sometimes you can visit the past and collect items from there. The map will help you determine where you have to go next. If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is addictive but not very intriguing. I give it 6 out of 10; a wasted opportunity.

Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death Beta Test

When a young woman visits her father at the Jazz Pepper Club, she finds everyone inside paralyzed.  Can she fix this before they die of thirst?

The game takes place in the 1960s and is about a former band with a dark secret.  So far, the plot seems to have some supernatural elements.  This being a beta test, I can’t really go in depth about it but I will say that I love the scenery.  Of course, that might be because I have a soft spot for retro.

The game play is your typical hidden object.  You go from scene to scene collecting items for your inventory.  You can use them in certain locations in order to advance throughout the game.  The main character will record her thoughts and objectives in her journal from time to time.  If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I definitely plan on buying the full version.

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