Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Mortimer Beckett and the Crimson Thief (Big Fish Games)

When a mysterious thief goes from country to country stealing valuable artifacts, it’s up to Mortimer to stop him.  Will he be successful, or is this one challenge too great for Mortimer Beckett.

I have to say, this is the first of the series that deals with something that’s not supernatural, science fiction, or fantasy.  This one actually plays out like a mystery novel except you know whom the culprit is.  You just don’t know what the culprit’s up to.  In some ways, the game reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes story where Arsene Lupin challenged him in the same manner.

The game play’s a little bit different from the last two games.  You still go around collecting items to add to your inventory through the map.

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However, you also have the challenge of collecting pieces of various tickets.  After finding the artifact, you use the ticket you assembled to go to the next country.  I have no idea why someone would tear up tickets and leave them scattered in hard to find places, but it saves money on travel.  Sometimes, you might have to play mini-games and ask citizens for help in order to advance through the story.

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If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is rather addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, a classic mystery with a modern day twist.

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Mortimer Beckett and the Lost King (Big Fish Games)

Mortimer Beckett just fixed time and now he’s in a magical kingdom.  His new mission is to complete the crown and find the missing prince.  Can he save the kingdom from tyranny?

I’m sure many people who’ve played games like this know how this will end.  Still, if you want to go into this game fresh, skip this paragraph.  The lost king is Mortimer’s uncle Jerome, which means that Mortimer is the prince.  However, this makes very little sense in terms of story telling and lineage.  For starters, no one seems to remember a sibling disappearing with the king.  Another thing is that, when the ruler has no children, the sibling is next in line for the throne.  I assume Mortimer’s father and grandfather must have died for him to be next in line for the throne.  Don’t worry; he turns down living in a magical kingdom in order to go back to a normal life.  However, it would have made more sense to make Jerome, Mortimer’s father instead.  Other than the confusing ending, the style and plot are your typical fantasy story, which is rather enjoyable.

The game is a typical hidden object and, this time, you’re not looking for fragments.  You have to find the item whole and use what you collect to get either more items or pieces of jewelry for the crown.

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You can also play mini-games to help further the story.  Like the last game, you get to use a rechargeable hint.  Unlike the last game, clicking the hint button actually directs you to where you’re supposed to go instead of just finding objects and trusting you to figure out the rest.

This game is beautiful and addictive.  I give it 6 out of 10, two points off for the confusing ending.

Mortimer Beckett and the Time Paradox (Big Fish Games)

After building the Ghost Machine, Mortimer finds himself traveling through time.  His mission is to assemble a time bomb and close the portal.  Can he accomplish this before it’s too late?

Once again, we have another excuse plot.  This one is about time travel, which can be fun if handled correctly.  In this game, they handle it about average.  While the scenery is quite amazing and the characters you talk to are fun; you can find yourself looking at and collecting items that didn’t exist in the time you’re currently in.  For instance, you can find a modern day telephone booth located in a time before Edison invented the light bulb.  You also collect a beach chair in Ancient Egypt.  Clearly, the developers didn’t care about historical accuracy when they designed this game.

The game play is standard hidden object similar to the last game.  You use the map to visit different locations in each time and collect fragments of four objects.

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Let me warn you, some objects are very difficult to find, if not impossible.  You also have the option of exploring one room deeper to find all of the objects.  This can sometimes sneak by you, making you feel stuck in the game, believe me.  When you assemble an item, you can either put it back in its place or use it to advance the story.  You can also play mini-games, but be sure to collect the hints for them in your journal before trying to solve them.

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Like the last game, you have the option of using a hint when you are stuck.  Fortunately, you have an unlimited number of hints.  Unfortunately, you can only use it to find items and, if you need to do something else to advance the story, the hint won’t tell you what.

This game is addictive, but simplistic.  I give it 7 out of 10, one point more than the last game for unlimited hints, but a few points taken off for obvious historical inaccuracies.

Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor (Big Fish Games)

When Mortimer Beckett visits his uncle’s mansion, he finds it infested with ghosts.  To make matters worse, his uncle’s disappeared from sight.  It’s up to Mortimer to rescue his uncle and assemble his invention, the ghost machine.

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Those of you who follow me know that I’ve been mainly focusing on catching up on the Delicious games.  One of the games in the series is Mortimer Beckett and the Book of Gold.  However, I had no idea that, like Sally, Mortimer had his own game series before joining the Delicious cast.  Therefore, I decided to check it out before playing the Book of Gold.  The storyline in this game is an excuse plot, so there’s not that much to say.  However, I will tell you that, contrary to what I say in the first paragraph, the ghosts are not dangerous.

The game play is standard hidden object with you visiting each room and collecting items.

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Your goal is to collect the pieces of the four items in each room.  After that, you can use the items to either put them back in their proper place or solve more puzzles to connect the ghost machine.  You only have a limited number of hints in each section of the mansion, so use them wisely.  It’s possible for you to miss a detail entirely because, when I got to the last room, I couldn’t connect the ghost machine.  I thought that I gathered all of the pieces and found myself worried about a bug.  It turned out that I forgot to check one room entirely to get the battery.  I was very relieved that I didn’t have to start the game all over.

This game is fun and simple.  I give it 6 out of 10, a nice little diversion from boredom.

Mary Le Chef: Cooking Passion (Gamehouse)

Mary Vanderworth dreams of being a chef while her parents want her to become a lawyer, like them.  Therefore, she has to maintain her job at the restaurant while working at a law firm to pass the bar.

The storyline is similar to the first venue of Cathy’s Crafts, except this one takes up the entire game.  Mary moves from restaurant to restaurant mastering her chosen profession while meeting other people along the way.  One in particular is a man that wants to be a comedian despite his father’s wish that he take over the family business.  I loved the parallels with Mary’s own conflict and that, in both cases, it takes awhile for the parents to realize that they need to set their children free.  The difference is that he can stand up to his father while Mary is still trying to make her parents happy.

However, I didn’t like one plot element.  This element takes the form of Mary’s boyfriend, Peter.  Not only is his addition pointless to the story, but he shows excessively jealous tendencies towards Mary.  He also shows himself to be indecisive and fickle by breaking up with Mary only to go back to the ex-girlfriend he despised.  While Peter is right that Mary is destroying herself by becoming a lawyer rather than a chef, we didn’t need him to point that out for us.

The game play is similar to the Delicious series with you delivering the required items to the customers.  Then you check them out at the cash register and clean the tables for sitting customers.

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Be quick about it, or customers will leave if they don’t get the table they want the minute they walk in the restaurant.  Believe me when I say it gets frustrating.  You need to reach the first star of every level in order to continue the game, but try for all three if you feel lucky.

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Each level comes with a special challenge you have to complete in order to get diamonds you can spend on gifts for Mary’s room.  You can also win trophies throughout the game by complete special tasks.  Did I mention that you can upgrade the products throughout each venue? However, I should tell you, the game doesn’t really give you an exact idea of how close you are to the newer products and the trophies.  This makes it even more irritating.  Completing venues also unlocks recipes for your cookbook.  Emily’s nemesis, Carl the mouse, also appears in every level for you to catch. That’s right; Emily makes a cameo appearance to explain about the mouse that drove exterminators crazy.

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This time, Carl doesn’t appear in the exact location every time.  Therefore, you had better be quick.

This game is fun, but has a couple of flaws.  I give it 6 out of 10, one point off for the boyfriend and another for the game play issues.

Maggie’s Movies-Camera Action (Gamehouse)

Ever since childhood, Maggie dreamed of writing her own movie.  Unfortunately, her job at Hollywood is being the assistant director to an insufferable man.  If that wasn’t enough, Maggie also has to deal with co-workers who will do whatever it takes to crush her.  Does Maggie have what it takes to make it in the cutthroat business of Hollywood?

This review might contain spoilers, so read with caution.  While the game does take place in the Delicious universe, it’s a little more ambitious than most games that you would find in the series.  For starters, this game discusses one theme common in Hollywood, sexism.  It starts with the female star of the move in the first venue, Catherine, complaining about how her character, Hester, is little more than a plot device to motivate the man.  When she brings this up to Frank, the star of the movie, and Clyde, the director, they both scoff at her.  Maggie is the only one to take Catherine seriously and bring this up to Clyde, pointing out that the target audience of the movie is women so the main woman has to be someone they can admire.  As much as I hate to say this, Maggie is only half-right.  While movies such as Jane Austen adaptations and Titanic feature strong female leads, movies like the Twilight Saga find themselves lacking in a similar department.  All three have, or had, a large female audience, but the former two still have large fan bases.  As for the last one, very few people talk about it anymore.

I said in the first movie that Maggie’s dream is to write her own movie.  When she finally gets the chance to meet the son of a famous producer, Al Jr., it’s not her script she pushes on him.  Her friend, Michael, is also an aspiring screenwriter and wants Maggie to help him make it big in Hollywood.  However, he shows no interest in reading her script.  In other words, Maggie also faces sexism in Hollywood and it doesn’t stop with Michael.  Al Jr. tells Maggie to look pretty in order to please the investors and some of them are more interested in dating her than they are in listening to her opinions.

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Even when Maggie tries to wow investors as herself and has it under control, Al Jr. still undermines her and puts her down when he can.  To make a bad situation worse, when Michael finally reads Maggie’s script, he admits that he fell asleep while reading the beginning.  He then proceeds to call her story a boring chick flick.  This is the final straw and inspires Maggie to break off into her own independent company.

I should tell you that Maggie’s movie is not one that I’d call a chick flick.  It’s a compelling story about the main character discovering that her father’s tied to the mafia and working with her friends to stop him.  However, society has a belief that stories starring men are gender neutral while stories starring women are exclusively for women.  It is a belief that started disappearing in the 90s era of television.  The proof is that shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Daria attracted a large male audience despite both shows starring women.  It’s even less prevalent in present time with The Hunger Games and Wonder Woman doing well in the box-office.  While the issue of sexism hasn’t disappeared entirely, this is a step in the right direction.

I’ll admit that this game is a huge improvement over Mary Le Chef.  However, the storyline does have one or two problems.  The star of the movie Maggie first works on, Frank, is rude, arrogant and sexist.  He demands special treatment, hates when Catherine’s character gets more screen time than he does and sexually harassed a member of the staff.  It gets so bad that Maggie fires him and gives more screen time to Catherine to finish the movie.  When Maggie starts her own company and needs an actor to play her main male character, Frank comes through for her and his personality does a complete 180.  There is no build up to this whatsoever.  Like Mary Le Chef, this game also has unnecessary romantic subplots.  The first being Maggie’s romance with Michael that goes nowhere and ends when he reveals his own selfishness and sexism.  While this is a necessary subplot to make Maggie release her dream, there is no need for a romantic connection between her and Michael.  Maggie also has a love interest in the form of Ted who shows no value other than being her high school crush.  Ted shows more value in the extra footage that comes with the platinum edition.  However, he is little more than a device for conflict between Maggie and Jessica.  Catherine and Frank also get together, despite having no chemistry other than when they play characters romantically linked to each other in movies.  Also, despite this game taking place in the Delicious universe, don’t expect any cameos from the characters.

The game play is a vast improvement over Mary Le Chef.  While you’re still delivering items to the people that come in, you can also direct movie scenes in certain venues.

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Sometimes, you have to shoot the same scene repeatedly, but it gives you a chance to fully read the dialogue and get an idea of what the movie is about plot wise.

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You still have to clean tables and reload the stock, but the game rewards you for it by giving you extra points for each level.  That’s right; this game actually rewards OCD players such as me.  You also have to find the mouse in each level and complete an event in order to earn diamonds and purchase trophies.  You have to get the first star in order to advance through the game, but go for all three if you feel lucky.  Purchase upgrades in-between levels and use an item as often as possible in order to unlock all of the products.  You can also unlock achievements by completing various tasks in the game.

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Unlike Mary Le Chef, Maggie’s Movies actually tells you how close you are to unlocking certain products and trophies.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a brilliant commentary on Hollywood sexism.

High School Story (IPhone App)

When you come across an abandoned lot, you decide to build your own high school.  Can you create the ideal place where everyone can just be themselves while fighting off the rival Hearst High?

I’ll be honest, the only reason I checked this game out is because I heard the Monster High characters would make cameo appearances.  However, let me say that I did not regret getting this game.  For those of you put off by the high school setting, let me tell you that it’s high school as it should be rather than how it actually is.  I told you that the Monster High characters make cameo appearances in the game and, let me tell you, it actually fits.  For those of you unfamiliar with Monster High, it’s about embracing all of the freaky flaws that make you who you are.  High School Story has a similar premise in that, no matter what clique you belong to, everyone will accept you for who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a male cheerleader or a female nerd; nobody mocks you at this school.  Nerds hang out with jocks; preps can date gamers and so on.  Everyone has their own thing and, rather than being ostracized for it, the game celebrates the characters for it.

The game explores many themes such as the dangers of cyber-bullying and the discrimination girls face in the world of computers and video games.  One plot introduces an organization known as Girls Who Code dedicated to closing the gender gap in coding using the character Payton.  Another plot is about the girl gamer character, Sakura, and the prejudice she faces in MMORPGs for being a girl gamer.  I’ll admit that the game does sometimes run the risk of becoming an after-school special but they do so in very tolerable ways.  Some quests are just about the characters hanging out and having fun.  The game knows when to be funny and when to be serious.

The game play is similar to many simulation iPhone apps.  You send characters on quests and wait for them to finish.  The quests can take up to a few minutes to several hours, but the rewards are worth it.  You can collect books from the classroom, build dorms and collect money, send characters on dates and even party to get one of each type of classmate.

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Let me tell you that every type comes with a special side quest.  You can also build a library where you can meet a special character and complete vocabulary quests.

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However, like Hollywood U, once you finish the extra additions, the game begins to dull.  You just continue playing to see what goes on further in the plot.  I should also warn you that many of the extra additions cost money and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to experience everything this game has to offer.

This game is addictive and insightful.  I give it 7 out of 10; loses its appeal after a long while but worth checking out.

Heart’s Medicine: Hospital Heat (Gamehouse)

Allison’s mother comes back in her life and needs an organ transplant only she can give her.  Meanwhile, Little Creek falls under new management and burns to the ground.  Daniel also comes back into Allison’s life after she starts a relationship with Connor.  Can our favorite medical intern juggle family, relationship and work drama?

While it may seem like I mentioned a spoiler in the very first paragraph, the game starts out with the hospital on fire.  Angela’s friend, Jenny, makes an appearance as the on location reporter.

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The story starts out in the middle and flashes back to how they got there.  I will warn you that the rest of my review contains spoilers, so read with caution.  Remember what happened in the last game, when Daniel stole drugs from the hospital?  Now, he faces the consequences.  The game expects you to take pity on Daniel and cheer for him and Allison as they try to hide any evidence of Daniel’s wrongdoing.  Allison ruins her relationship with Connor and even prepares to lie for Daniel at the board meeting, throwing her own life and career on the line.

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I get that Daniel’s trying to clean himself up, but he’s still the one responsible for stealing drugs in the first place.  A patient almost died because of his addiction.

While we’re on the subject of unintentionally unsympathetic, I feel that I should discuss Allison’s mother.  We already learned in the last game that Allison’s father died.  Now we learn that her mother abandoned her shortly afterwards.  One section of the game flashes back to Allison’s childhood to explain her mother’s reasoning.  After Allison’s father died, her mother experienced blackouts during times such as cooking and driving, becoming a danger to Allison and herself.  Therefore, her mother decides to leave Allison with her grandparents and never look back.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of her situation.  It’s just that, while I do feel that Allison’s mother needed extra help, there’s no reason why she couldn’t stay with Allison.  She straight out abandoned Allison in her time of need and we’re supposed to not only sympathize, but also agree with the actions of the deadbeat parent.  Then Allison’s half-brother has the nerve to guilt trip her into going through with the operation, despite Allison’s own issues with her deadbeat mom.  The only shining light in this plot line is the mystery of what Allison’s mom suffers through.  Believe me when I say that it will take more than an organ donation to save her.

I mentioned that the game has a flashback inside a flashback and that’s how we meet this story’s villain.  He’s the father of the arrogant Mason and he’s all about making money.  This is a villain so blinded by greed that companies bribe him to use their low-quality medicine and he bribes ambulances to bring all patients to Little Creek.  Not once does it ever cross this man’s mind that, if Little Creek gets a bad reputation, people will stop going there.  In present time, he takes over the hospital when the board fires Daniel.  This new boss makes budget cuts so drastic that the hospital barely functions.  He hints that he wants to destroy the hospital in order to get revenge on Daniel’s father for rightfully reporting his stupid misconduct.  What this villain doesn’t get is that, if the hospital shuts down, he’ll receive a fair share of the blame as a business failing due to his own incompetence.  This whole incident reminds me of an episode of House of Mouse where Scrooge McDuck bought the club and went through serious character derailment.  He makes stupid decisions just to save a few bucks, such as feeding everyone a single pea and going on as the club’s entertainment showing off his #1 Dime.  The difference is that you’re not supposed to take the latter seriously.  The game seems to be aware of it due to having Connor point out what I already discussed, sans the Scrooge McDuck reference.  However, the writers still expect us to take this plot seriously.

The game play is nonstop addicting, as your job is to get the patients to the necessary stations and then check them out.

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Some of the treatments require playing mini-games and you have to get all three hearts.  You can complete tasks to earn diamonds that you can use to purchase upgrades for Allison’s apartment.

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There is no in-story reason for this and Allison moves out of her small apartment at the end, making the purchases null and void.  You have to get the first star in order to advance to the next level but try for all three, if you feel lucky.  You can play challenge levels in-between where you can collect three diamonds based on your score.  The levels go from the regular hospital game play to finding Oliver the guinea pig and completing one mini-game after another.  Like the last game, Emily also makes a cameo and you can play as her for one level in the hospital cafeteria.

This game is addicting and a tiny bit sad.  I give it 6 out of 10, serious plot problems, but still an enjoyable use of your time.

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.

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.

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