Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Heart’s Medicine: Time to Heal (Gamehouse)

When the head surgeon won’t take Allison Heart as an intern, she has to make do in other specialties.  Meanwhile, Allison’s ex-boyfriend, Daniel, becomes the new head of the hospital and Connor, another old flame, dates another intern.  Can Allison succeed in her career while also having to juggle her personal life?

This is it, the long awaited season 2 of Heart’s Medicine.  Your favorite characters are back and new characters join in the fun.  Even Emily makes a cameo in her own special levels, but I’ll discuss that later.  In the last game, each venue had a side plot to go with each doctor’s specialization.  This game starts out similarly until you get to the Emergency Room.  Then you have one issue you have to solve for the rest of the game.  Not only is it heartbreaking, but we also learn more about Allison’s past which I won’t give away.  This case will follow Allison all the way to surgery, where she’ll meet a doctor who cares more about efficiency than he does about his patients.  This conflicts with how Allison develops emotional attachment to her patients.  As for which I think is better, this situation reminds me of the movie Patch Adams.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a doctor who believes that you can heal patients through emotional connections.  According to the Nostalgia Critic, the movie undermines its own moral through the side-plot with Patch Adam’s love interest, Carin.  She starts out cold and distant until Patch persuades her to start trusting people.  This leads her to go to the house of a medical patient with severe mental issues who ends up killing her.  The Nostalgia Critic uses this scene to undermine Patch’s sarcastic argument asking about what would happen if the doctor developed emotional attachment to their patients, would they explode?  Then points out that, when you get emotionally involved, you make bad decisions that could be potentially lethal.  However, Dr. Quinn (the head of surgery) makes decisions based on what would save the hospital money and doesn’t really put his full-effort into helping his patients.  In fact, like the medical staff in Dr. Strange, I suspect that he would be more likely to cut off an organ donor.  It’s the very reason why my mother refuses to have her organs donated and encouraged me to do the same.

As I said in the first paragraph, the love triangle from Season 1 returns.  In the first game, Allison had to choose between the sweet and stable Daniel and the jerk with a heart of gold Connor.  Here, the two have switched roles with Daniel becoming more reckless and Connor turning into the stable one.  What I’m about to say comes with spoilers, so feel free to skip this paragraph.  The stress of becoming the new head of the hospital gets to Daniel as he turns into a pill-popping maniac, stealing medicine from his own hospital.  Despite the seriousness of the situation, I’m very happy about this development.  Usually, when people want to have a drug addict in their stories and still want to keep the rating PG-13, the go to drug is marijuana.  Amateur writers treat these users as if they’ve just been discovered using heroin, one prominent example being a cartoon drug PSA movie I watched in Middle School that the Nostalgia Critic tore apart in a review.  In this game, they use an actually addictive drug, Ritalin that often has the street name of kiddie coke, to demonstrate Daniel’s addiction.  Connor becomes the voice of reason Allison depends on to help her through a tough emotional time.  Many people are unaware of this, but there is a label known as the Madonna Whore complex saying that a woman can either be an innocent and virginal wife or an evil and manipulate whore.  There is no middle ground.  While the gender reverse can happen in fiction, people usually give the bad boy of the love triangle more sympathy than they would give a bad girl.  In this story, neither one of them are the good boy or the bad boy.  Daniel and Connor are just people with strengths and flaws who can’t be so easily labeled as to which one is good or bad.  The woman version of this makes an appearance in the game with Connor briefly dating the new intern, Jenny.  While Allison does show jealousy, Jenny is not evil.  She’s just the new intern who happens to be dating Connor and breaks up with him because they’re incompatible.

The game play in this story is similar to Season 1 with a few notable differences.  For instance, you can now play special challenge levels and, once a venue, you can play as Emily in the hospital cafeteria.

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These levels are my favorite because it’s such a unique take on the Heart’s Medicine game with the addition of a familiar character that is, in a way, responsible for Allison’s existence.  Had it not been for the success of Emily’s series, Delicious, the same people would have never made Heart’s Medicine.  Another difference in this version is that the game will occasionally show cut scenes set to music that sets the mood of the situation.

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Other than that, the game play is not so different from Season 1.  You click on patients and take them to the treatment center that they request.  Then heal them and check them out.

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Some patients will require you to play a mini-game, which can get rather difficult, believe me.

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When they get their full health back, you can check them out at the front desk.  You need to get at least one star to advance to the next level but try to get all three, if you feel lucky.  You can find Oliver the guinea pig and complete a challenge in each main story level.  Every challenge you complete gives you more diamonds, which you can use to buy items for the new hospital wing.  You can also collect trophies throughout the game and view character profiles.  One thing I didn’t like about the profiles was that the game classifies Dr. Quinn as slightly autistic.  As someone with autism, I found that classifying one of the game’s sociopathic characters as such is a little insulting.  When I played the game, I assumed that, because many patients die in Dr. Quinn’s profession, he just stopped caring.  To say that he’s slightly autistic feels like putting a label on him the same way a girl I knew used to put a label on me.  She would go so far as to see a rude character on TV and loudly declare them autistic.  Last but not least, be sure to check out the ending credits for a little Easter egg that’s almost guaranteed to make you laugh.

This game is heartfelt and challenging.  I give it 7 out of 10; it loses a point for the issue I touched upon earlier.

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River Tam (Firefly)

River Tam (Firefly/Serenity) by suburbantimewaster

 

I was working on a character profile for a character I based off of River and I couldn’t stop thinking about Firefly.  So, I created someone who, in my opinion, is one of the most memorable characters in sci-fi using the dollmaker Sci-Fi Warrior by Azaleas Dolls.  For those of you who haven’t seen Firefly, River is the genius sister of Simon Tam.  She and her brother became fugitives after the Alliance (the evil government in Firefly) took her to what her family thought was a special school, but was actually a cover for a government project that conducted experiments on her.  Simon risked his life and career to save her and they both stay on Serenity as fugitives.  The experience made her crazy as she speaks mostly in metaphors and may seem helpless, but can be quite deadly when the situation calls for it.  So don’t underestimate this girl or you will regret it.  Unfortunately, Firefly got canceled after its first season but there are still movies and comic books to help you get your fix.  There’s also a game in the works called Firefly Online, but it’s been in development hell.  So I doubt that it will be released soon, if at all.  In all honesty, I think the game’s canceled which, as a browncoat, I find a real shame.

Delicious: Emily’s Miracle of Life (Gamehouse)

Emily’s gone through serious changes.  Not only is she the star of her own cooking blog, but she’s also pregnant with a new little brother or sister for Paige.  Can she find a way to manage her blog and her pregnancy?

With a summary like that, you’d think the game would be more about Emily’s blog.  Unfortunately, it’s all about the pregnancy.  How Emily has so much to do with her restaurant, preparing for the baby and keeping house.  Apparently, Patrick fails at this due to one comment about how he fails at doing laundry in a washing machine.  People, it’s the 2010s; these jokes about how men can’t keep house and how women have to do everything are seriously outdated.  I should warn you that I’m about to discuss spoilers, so proceed with caution.  Patrick does give up his man cave to make a baby room and sell his motorcycle to buy an expensive crib.  Let me explain that, in one venue, Emily works at a baby store making cupcakes and coffee.  This same baby store has two expensive cribs that no one’s buying.  To me, it makes sense because you don’t really need to spend a ton of money on a crib.  Babies don’t care where they sleep as long as it’s sturdy.  My mom told me that I slept in a second hand crib and I didn’t throw a fit over it.  Well, Emily wants them for her baby whom she thinks is going to be a girl.  The owners can’t get rid of the cribs, so they have a contest to give one of the cribs as a prize to lucky number 500.  Francois and Angela win, so they end up giving the crib for a baby girl to Emily at the baby shower.  Then the baby turns out to be a boy so, as I said earlier, Patrick buys the crib as a gift.  Actually, Emily’s having twins and the monitor couldn’t detect them.  Allison claims that this can happen, although it’s rare.  If you ask me, this is just a contrivance in order to shock the player.  They go so far as to drag this out by putting Emily in the hospital due to false labor pains and the doctors won’t discharge her because Allison’s busy in the Emergency Room.  Therefore, Emily has to deal with Dr. Bozo, a man that tries to make her laugh whether she likes it or not.  Emily’s having a stressful time and doesn’t want to deal with any of this, but everyone else just tells her to give Dr. Bozo a chance.

There are some good points in the storyline, such as a daycare teacher not knowing how to handle kids.  You also have a laugh out loud moment when, after Emily agonizes about what to do for her Mother’s Day special, she accidentally gives birth live on her blog.  Thankfully, her viewers love it but that might be a bit of wish fulfillment.  I don’t know about you but, if I saw someone giving birth on their video blog, I’d have the same reaction Chandler and Monica had when the former popped in a video tape about a woman giving birth mistaking it for porn.  Another good point is that Emily’s grandpa Vito is in this game and dealing with his own terminal illness.  He dies in the end in a scene that choked me up.

I’ll admit there’s one part of the game that I feel neutral about at best.  In one venue, Emily visits a yoga studio and talks with the owner who’s expecting her own baby.  Apparently, she didn’t give her husband a say and he leaves her.  I think she was a little pushy, but it still doesn’t justify her husband abandoning her and the baby.  Don’t worry; she meets another love interest from her past in another contrived coincidence.

The game play is typical of Delicious with you delivering items to customers either at the table or at the register.  Then you check them out and, in the case of seated customers, you clean the table after they leave.  I’ll admit that, considering the summary mentioned Emily having a blog, I thought the level would be more of a computer type setup similar to Fabulous Angela’s Sweet Revenge.  Instead, you have the traditional map setup and you navigate through it like any other game with special challenge levels for more diamonds.  You can also play the daily challenge to earn more diamonds and you spend them on baby supplies.  You have to spend diamonds to purchase all three variations of the same product, which seems like a waste to me.

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You don’t always play as Emily throughout the game due to all of the venues being different.  However, you do get to play as Angela in the last venue where she prepares food.  Sometimes I think the game forgets that Angela is a seamstress.  You could’ve had this be Mary’s level from Mary Le Chef and hire her for catering.  Angela could prepare baby clothes as Emily prepared cupcakes at the baby store.  Each venue also comes with mini games that you can successfully complete for more points.

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You can also catch the mouse in each level and earn diamonds in some levels for story events.  Like the previous games, you can win up to three stars and, in this game, you can win up to three diamonds in the challenge levels.  The daily levels reset every 24 hours and you can earn up to six diamonds from those.  You can also win postcards if you meet certain conditions that you can customize and share on Facebook.

This game is contrived and mediocre at best.  I give it 5 out of 10, not awful, just disappointing.

Delicious: Emily’s Message in a Bottle (Gamehouse)

When Emily was three, her grandfather went on a voyage at sea never to return.  Now, he’s back and he’s lost his memory.  Can a family reunion be enough to restore the memories of Emily’s grandfather?

Yes, it’s the old amnesia cliché favored by soap opera writers.  Let me tell you, that’s not the only cliché in this game.  Another common theme is about getting what you want rather than appreciating what you have.  In this game, you get to go to Italy and meet Edward’s brothers.  I should tell you that, in the beginning of the game, Emily’s grandfather gives each of his sons a silver dollar to start making their fortune.  Edward’s bitter because he never started a restaurant empire with his dollar, even though Evelyn reminds him that he has a loving family and is a great provider.  I do like that, when Edward tells Evelyn that anyone can do those things, she told him the truth that they can’t.  Since I know people who fail as family providers, she couldn’t be more right.

As for Edward’s brothers, one opened a seafood shop yet has trouble getting good catches.  Another runs his own farm and socializes better with animals than humans.  The final one opened a vineyard and fired his workers, replacing them with machines.  When Emily and her family visit each restaurant, they fix things by teaching the fisherman how to be patient and wait for the big catch.  They also teach the farmer the value of working with others.  Finally, they teach the winemaker to brew his own wine instead of making cheap wine that tastes like shoes in order to make himself more money.  Though I don’t get how the third brother is rich if his wine tastes terrible.  Then again, Taco Bell still manages to stay in business, so maybe it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.  Anthony only makes one mention of how he spent his dollar and references his son from Delicious 2.  So the series hasn’t entirely forgotten Anthony’s son, they just don’t add him as a regular to the cast.  I forgot to tell you that, before Emily’s grandfather left, he tells his sons that their mother to put a special ingredient in all of her food that made her a success.  Anyone familiar with this cliché knows that the secret ingredient is love, but the game insists on stretching it out into one huge and unnecessary mystery.

The game play is typical of any Delicious game with Emily serving both standing and seated customers in each restaurant.  You deliver the food they want, check them out and, in the case of seated customers, clean the tables.

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There is one issue I have with the last part. However, I’ll admit that it’s rather minor.  When you clean the tables by yourself, you see a sparkle effect.  Eventually, you get a cleaner but the said effect is gone and, let me tell you, I love that effect.  Try to get three stars on each level and don’t forget to purchase upgrades in-between levels.  You also have special challenges to complete, a mouse to catch and, the more products you use, the more you unlock.  The special challenges will give you diamonds that you can use to invite various characters to the Delicious family reunion.  The only one absent is Angela, but Emily explains that she’s in New York participating in the contest shown in Fabulous: Angela’s Fashion Fever.

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You can also collect trophies and read the notes left by various real life Delicious fans and, let me tell you, the notes are very heartwarming.

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This game is fun but doesn’t really sound out.  I give it 6 out of 10, a good distraction wrapped up in a cliché plot.

Dead Link: Pages Torn Beta Test

When your sister turns up dead, it’s up to you to find her killer.  Can you solve the mystery without being another victim?

Trust me when I say that the plot’s not that simple.  There’s a bigger plot at work and, spoiler alert, your sister might not be dead.  Only problem is that the main character can’t seem to figure that out, even with the evidence.  However, I do find the mystery intriguing in its own right.

The game play is typical of any hidden object game.  You travel between different locations trying to find different objects to add to your inventory.  Sometimes you have to complete a hidden object scene in order to collect some items.  You will have to complete mini-games to advance, or just skip it if you like to be lazy.  If you get stuck, use a hint.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I can definitely see myself buying it in the future.

Star Trek Online Plans to add DS9 Characters

For those of you who play Star Trek Online, I’m sure you’re well-aware that, this summer, there will be a new expansion called Victory is Life.

It’s bringing back DS9 characters and introducing a new faction! I’m sure many of you are curious as to who the character silhouettes are. I will tell you that people in Germany already figured out two of them and Hashakgig1106 already sent me a link of the German article.

I’ll admit, I can’t read a word of it, but I recognize the two characters they revealed in Germany that they didn’t reveal in America for some reason. Anyway, what do you think? Are you excited about the new content or wary of it? Do you even play Star Trek Online? I know that I need to start catching up on this game quick!

Dark Romance: A Performance to Die For Beta Test

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Raul’s in love with Christine and plans to propose to her before her next performance.  Unfortunately, a masked man kidnaps her and takes her to his home in the Opera house sewers.  Can Raul save his beloved before the Phantom carries out his evil plans?

I know what you’re thinking; it’s another Phantom of the Opera re-telling.  Which is somewhat true, but the writers took liberties that I found rather creative.  Be warned that I have slight spoilers ahead for those who didn’t receive the beta test.  So proceed with caution.  In this version, the Phantom’s name is Isaac and he’s not really in love with Christine.  He wants Christine because he’s obsessed with creating the perfect opera and she’s the perfect singer to bring it to life.

You’re also thinking that this game is about the hero rescuing the helpless damsel.  While that is somewhat true, you actually get to play as both Raul and Christine throughout the game.  You both have to work together if you want to stop Isaac.  The game play is the same for each character with you having to collect items at various locations and use them to advance throughout the game.  Sometimes you have to complete hidden object scenes or mini-games in order to advance.  You can find entries for a journal that, unfortunately, you can only view when you collect said entries.  You also have the option of collecting posters, instruments and gems throughout the game.  If you’re stuck, use a hint.  However, the hint won’t help you find the extra items.

The game is addictive and intriguing.  Unfortunately, it’s also the latest entry for a series I’ve never played.  While I would like to buy the game when it comes out, I’m not sure if I want to buy the whole series.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 5: Don’t Stop Believin

Hala’s wreaking havoc all across the galaxy and only the Guardians can stop her.  There’s only one issue, the Guardians broke up.  Can Starlord get the gang back together and stop Hala?

Any true Guardians fan knows that the answer to the last question is yes.  I’m sure you also remember the death that broke the Guardians up in the last episode. Turns out that the writers didn’t go through with it, but I think that we can all figure that out.  I’m not going to give much away but I will tell you that two of the Guardians are miserable.  After all they’ve been through; I can’t really blame them.  This time, they’re actually upset about events in their life that matter.  The final Guardian, Groot, gets his time to shine in a flashback about how the Guardians met.

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It’s similar to the movie with a few humorous moments that makes it the Guardians of the Galaxy.  That’s what I love about this franchise; the writers know how to blend the perfect amount of darkness and light that makes Guardians of the Galaxy shine.  It’s something Batman Forever failed at miserably.  You also get a scene where you can listen to Starlord’s awesome music.

The game play is typical of any Telltales game, with you picking dialogue choices for Starlord and, at one point, Groot.  During action scenes, you have to press the right key at the right time.  Let me tell you, those scenes really sneak up on you.

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At one point, you get to assign a task to each Guardian during the final mission to take out Hala.

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Rocket came up with the plan, so you can bet that one of these tasks is useless but still funny.  There’s another scene where Mantis takes you inside Peter’s head and you can determine Peter’s thoughts and relationships with the other guardians.  It’s fun and heartwarming at the same time.  When you’re finished, you can compare your choices to those other players made and get a sneak preview of what’s to come in season 2.

This game is addictive and amusing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a brilliant finale for Guardians of the Galaxy Season 1.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 4: Who Needs You (Steam)

After making your choice about the Eternity Forge, Hala buries you underground.  Meanwhile, the Guardians find themselves at odds about your decision.  Can you stop Hala while repairing the damaged relationships among the Guardians of the Galaxy?

I’m sure you remember that decision you had to make in the last episode that I talked about being the strong point of the story. Now be prepared to find out that whatever decision you made doesn’t matter in the slightest.  If you destroy the Eternity Forge, Hala sucks up all of its energy and uses it to bring her race back.  So all that time you spent mulling over what to do with the Eternity Forge is useless.  Even Rocket takes the time to point that out to you, in case you didn’t come to that conclusion yourself.  This is what we in the story business like to call lazy writing.  To top it all off, everyone’s so busy fighting each other the Guardians forget that the issue is that Hala is out there committing mass murder.  Unfortunately, you don’t get a dialogue choice to remind them of this either.  Say what you want about the Final Frontier, which is a guilty pleasure for me, but the characters had enough sense to realize that they need to focus on the major problem.  Let me explain that, in the movie, Sybok takes over the Enterprise and uses it to cross a deadly barrier to find God, or Sha Ka Ree.  Spock talks about how Sha Ka Ree is not real and Kirk tells him that the present issue is a mad man took over his ship and could possibly destroy it in some mad quest.  When Final Frontier beats you in a story aspect, you really need to re-think your writing.

The story does have its strong points, such as Drax’s flashback.  I have to admit, I’m not really a big fan of Drax.  However, his flashback is one of the most well done I’ve seen and it doesn’t take away from the story.  It’s a short and yet memorable scene where Drax talks to his daughter before she has to go away for training.

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Your choices determine how Drax’s daughter thinks of him.  It also leads to scene where Drax makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the Guardians in a scene that’s almost a tearjerker.  I have to admit, it took me by surprise.  While the scene is sad, the episode is not without its funny moments.  Some of the humor can get juvenile and, at one point, the game makes an unnecessary fart joke.  However, when a giant worm eats you in a plot point similar to Star Wars, you have to make the decision about whether you want the creature to vomit you out or poop you out.  I went with the former and, in this case, I’m glad the writers realized how silly this sounded.  One of the aspects of Guardians of the Galaxy is that the writers know when to take the plot seriously and when to embrace the silly.  The CW show, Supernatural, also uses this writing technique.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore the story’s weaknesses.  In the second paragraph, I talked about how everyone forgets about the threat Hala imposes on the universe.  This doesn’t change by the end where, depending on how you handle Drax, people are mad at you.  It gets so bad that people leave the group, starting with Mantis who can’t take having to deal with everyone’s extreme emotions.  Never mind that the Eternity Forge is her responsibility and still causing havoc around the galaxy because of Hala.  Then, depending on whether you let Drax sacrifice himself or not, different people get mad at you and leave the group.  They just momentarily forget that Hala is committing mass murder across the galaxy because of what they did.  No, it’s all about them; how they can’t cope with all of the drama in their lives.  I understand that your main characters need to have flaws and that no one can agree with each other all the time.  However, the moment when your heroic group breaks up is not supposed to be when the world or, in this case galaxy, is in serious danger.  These characters act like spoiled children who throw a tantrum the minute things don’t go their way.

The game play is typical Telltale with you making dialogue choices for whatever character you currently play.  However, your choices make no difference except to determine who stays with you when the Guardians break up.  There is one impact in the game about whether you get to have a sandworm companion but that’s about it.

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The game comes with its own quick time events that are addictive as always without sneaking up on you.  You also get to explore the inside of the giant worm in order to collect engines to fix your ship and talk to the Guardians while you do so.

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The game is disappointing yet fun.  I give it 6 out of 10; not the best story but still a nice little diversion.

Maiden Kuro (Starlight Maidens)

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This is a recent dollmaker picture I made using Sailor X Generator by SailorXv3.  The magical girl in this picture is Asuka Serizawa/Maiden Kuro, a fan character for Starlight Maidens by Miss-Gravillian1992.  I used this picture she drew for me as a reference and, since I already posted my fan-character for Charm Cafe by animecolourful, it seemed fitting to post the fan-characters I made for the other independent Magical Girl series of Deviantart.  Plus, I did say that I was going to post any dollmaker pictures I make on this blog.

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