Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

The Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook (Winterwolves.com)

Steve just got his grades back from college and they didn’t turn out as well as he hoped.  His girlfriend, Jill, is tired of his slacker ways and dumps him.  To top it all off, Steve’s dad sends him to go live with his uncle on a farm so he can learn responsibility.

Steve’s definitely a slacker type and it shows.  At first, all he does is complain about his predicament.  Then he develops into a hard-working guy.  There are four women Steve can hook up with, Clara (the small-town girl with big dreams), Susana (the vegan with a temper), Marian (the shy librarian), and Jill (your ambitious ex).  These women actually have something that you don’t normally find in a dating sim, a life outside of you.  They have their own problems along with their own hopes and dreams that you have to help them through.  My personal favorite is Clara’s relationship with Steve because they both bond with each other over their hatred for Fairbrook.

Every morning, you wake up and work on the farm.  When you’re finished, you do the activity you scheduled for that day.  You can rest, go jogging with Clara, go to the library, go to the flower shop, stay home and call Jill, or continue working on the farm.

As I said earlier, the girls have lives outside of you.  If you want to win any of their hearts, you have to have a life outside of the girl you pursue.  Each girl has a particular stat they admire, Clara likes coolness which you can get from talking to Jill, Jill likes determination which you can get from jogging with Clara, Susana likes culture which you can get by going to the library, and Marian likes romance which you can get by going to the flower shop.  You can get a normal ending and a special ending with each girl depending on whether you raised over a thousand dollars while playing.  If you don’t meet the requirements for any of the girls, you get the alone ending.

The game is fun and has a good story.  I give it 8 out of 10, some similarities to Harvest Moon.

Endless Ocean (Wii)

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A diver explores the Manoa Lai Sea, in the hopes of discovering new species and areas.  Katherine Sunday is your guide to this underwater world.

The plot is simple, you’re exploring the ocean.  Along the way, you discover a few details about Katherine and her relationship with the diver.  You also help Katherine discover her life’s goal and help her complete it.  Therefore, it’s not really much of a plot.

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The game itself is very beautiful.  You can explore the entire sea and encounter ocean wildlife.  Some creatures appear on your boat from time to time, such as penguins and polar bears.  No, I have no idea how a polar bear got on the boat.  In the ocean, you can explore wildlife ranging from tiny fish to huge whales.

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Sharks are another species you encounter but don’t worry; none of them will attack you.  You can also have up to three dolphin companions that you can name, take on diving trips and even train them on your boat.  During wildlife interaction, you can learn up to three facts about said animal.  You also get email from your boss and various clients asking you to take them on a diving tour or send them pictures of certain sea life.  You can gather items on the ocean floor and receive an email about some of them.

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The game also gives you music to listen to while on a dive.  If you don’t like it, you can download your own songs on an SD card and listen to that instead.  The best part is you choose how you want to play the game.  You can follow the plot and answer all of your requests, or you can completely ignore Katherine and your emails and explore.

The game is very relaxing and fun.  I give it 8 out of 10, perfect for people who absolutely love the ocean but don’t live anywhere near it.

Delicious (Gamehouse.com)

Emily dreams of running her own restaurant.  Fortunately, her uncle has given her a small one to help her get started.

This game is all play and no plot.  First, you have the option of playing a tutorial restaurant to see what you do.  The game is like Diner Dash except you don’t actually seat the customers; they find a seat themselves.  Sometimes they may just want to pick up food at the register and take it home.

You have to meet the goal of each level in order to advance to the next one.  After you complete the first restaurant, you have a choice of which one to complete next in order to get an upgrade.  The upgrades range from an extra spot on your tray, chocolates to make your customers happy, an extra star for your restaurant, and a guy that cleans the tables for you.  My advice is play the restaurant that has that guy right away.  It’s a pain in the ass to have to serve and clean.

The game is fun and addictive.  I give it 8 out of 10, the perfect start to a brilliant series.

Jane’s Hotel: Family Hero (Playfirst.com or Bigfishgames.com)

Jane finally has her own hotel, but she’s not done yet.  Now her family is in massive debt and Jane has to travel to each of her family’s hotels to pay it off.

Obviously, this is a sequel to Jane’s Hotel, only this one has more of a plot.  Jane’s grandmother tells her about a chain of hotels her family used to own, which inspires her to expand her business.  The hotels are located all around the world, but that doesn’t stop Jane.  In between levels, Jane negotiates with the bank to pay off her debt.  So it’s basically an excuse plot.

During the game, you have to keep your guests happy.  You advance in levels by reaching the target goal, but you can go for expert if you want.

You can purchase upgrades not only for your hotel, but also for the characters running it.

When you have enough money to pay off the debt, you can advance to the next hotel.

Not much of a plot, but more than there was in the first game.  I give it 6 out of 10, not a bad waste of your time.

Always Remember Me (Winterwolves.com)

Amy’s a simple girl with an ordinary life until her boyfriend Aaron gets into a car accident.  Not only does he not remember her, but Aaron’s ex-girlfriend Abigail lied and said they were dating.  Will Amy help Aaron regain his memories or will she find love in another man?

The story’s simple, there are no demons, no aliens, just a city girl trying to live her life.  Amy works at an ice cream shop, she dreams of being a writer and she has her own blog.  Amy has four men to choose from, her shy co-worker Lawrence, the chivalrous pervert Hugh, the workaholic doctor Eddy, and her amnesiac boyfriend Aaron; so it’s like an interactive soap opera.  You can tell that the game sees Aaron and Amy as the official couple, especially when you listen to the theme song.  In my opinion, Aaron seems like kind of a jerk because in one scene, Abigail called Amy average looking right to her face and Aaron doesn’t rush to defend her.  You can argue that Aaron doesn’t remember Amy, but if my boyfriend said something like that to another guy’s face, I’d be pissed.  There’s also a scene where Amy said that Aaron would get jealous if she so much as associated with other men.  Amy also believes that her looks are average and in some scenes wonders if she belongs with Aaron; then again, that could be Abigail and Osher’s (Aaron’s father) fault.  Lawrence seems sweet, but he’s too much of a dogged nice guy.  There’s one scene where he secretly follows Amy, but you can’t call him out on it because it lowers your relationship level with him.  In another scene, Amy screws up at her job and Lawrence takes the fall, but if you try to set the boss straight, Lawrence gets mad at you for not acting like a helpless damsel in distress.  Eddy and Hugh seem more normal compared to them.  Hugh’s just a tiny bit more controlling because he ordered pizza for Amy without asking her if she wanted any.  No, you can’t call him out on it because it lowers his relationship level with you.  The worst Eddy’s ever done is get ready-made food and try to impress you by pretending he cooked it himself.

Every weekday morning you have to work at the ice cream shop.  Other than that, you have free range until after sunset.  You can update your blog, work overtime, go shopping and more.  Some of these activities actually increase a stat that helps get a special ending with the character that stat is associated with; Eddy’s discipline, Aaron’s romance, Lawrence’s culture and Hugh’s creativity.  You can also talk to each character at their respective places, the hospital (Aaron and Eddy), the mall (Hugh) and the ice cream shop (Lawrence).  If you’re on Eddy’s path, you can eventually talk to him at his house.  Each character has scenes that activate in various locations and can give you more relationship points based on how you respond to them.  If you pursue another character besides Aaron, you get an extra scene where you have to decide to give up on him completely.  The scene’s supposed to be heartbreaking, but it’s hard to feel sorry for Amy when you haven’t gone to see Aaron once in your entire play through.  If you fail to win any of the other character’s hearts, you get the alone ending.

An escapist video game that doesn’t offer anything to people who prefer girls, but if you prefer guys this is your game.  I give this game 5 out of 10.  If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t have a blog.

Cherry Tree High Comedy Club (Cherrytreehigh.com)

Miley Verisse wants to start her own comedy club, but she needs five members by April 31.  Can Miley meet the deadline or will she have to run an unofficial club?

Miley already has one person in her club, her sidekick Harriet.  She also has six people she can recruit for her club, Sara (the shy new girl), May (the little sister surrogate), Cindy (the upcoming rock star), Vivian (the Swedish exchange student), Tyler (an aspiring talent agent), and Curtis (a disgruntled comedian’s son).

In addition to Miley’s story, each one has a story of their own.  Sara’s trying to adjust to her new life.  May’s unsure about running her grandparent’s candy shop.  Cindy’s trying to make her dream come true.  Vivian wants to explore her new home and figure out her life’s calling.  Tyler wants to stalk all the girls in his school so he can figure out which ones will become famous.  Curtis is trying to deal with his father issues.  Miley and Harriet try to help each one of them with their crisis.  Miley has an ulterior motive but an interesting thing is that when May offers to sign up right off the bat; Miley won’t take her application that easily.  Instead, she decides to give May some time to think it over.

The game is a side-scrolling RPG, only instead of battling monsters you’re trying to build up your friendship with various people.  You can talk to them about a certain topic or just have a regular chitchat.  Your friendship level advances depending on two things, how much you know about the topic and how much the person you’re talking to enjoys it (a lot like real life).  You can also level up your knowledge of certain topics by reading magazines, going to the arcade and various other things you can do around the city.

Did I mention that you can go to certain areas in Cherry Tree by going straight to the map?  Oh, and those things you have to do cost money, but you can easily earn some by cleaning the shrine, making jewelry and later in the game working at the museum.  You’ll also have homework throughout the game, but just get it all done as soon as you can.  I’d tell you to do the same in real life, but then I’d be a hypocrite.  Chances are you won’t be able to recruit all six people before the game ends, but the game will let you save all the progress you made regarding your conversation levels as long as you have three people or more.  Problem is you’ll have to reread the same dialogue and there’s no option to skip what you’ve already read.

The game is funny and addicting, I give it 7 out of 10.  Just one warning, you can’t get a demo of the game so you’ll be taking a gamble here.

Dress Shop Hop (Playfirst.com or Bigfishgames.com)

After  another day of working for her demanding boss, Bobbi takes a shopping trip with Flo and Quinn.  It only takes a few words from Flo for Bobbi to decide what to do for the rest of her life.

Again, we have another Diner Dash spinoff, only this time the main character’s friends are Flo and Quinn.  Like them, Bobbi hates her life and decides to do something about it.  Little by little Bobbi expands her business and at the end finds her true calling.  In between levels you get to see Bobbi talking to either Flo or Quinn.  Like the last game, it gives you insight about her relationship with the characters.

In the game, you put a customer in front of a mirror and wait for him or her to decide what clothes they want.  Then you have a machine produce the desired fabric, take it to be made into the proper outfit they requested and then put them in the pattern analyzer if necessary.  After each level, you can use the items you collect to purchase upgrades for your shop.  The only way to advance through the game is by achieving the goal score for each level, but try for expert if you feel up to it.

This game is funny and addicting.  I give it 7 out of 10, another good dash spinoff.

Cafe 0: The Drowned Mermaid (Roseverte.net)

When a young girl wakes up in a strange place called Cafe 0, a waiter tells her that she’s a ghost.  In order to ascend to the afterlife she has to experience the last seven days of her existence all over again.

During the story, you are constantly asking questions about the main character’s past and about the people in her life.  Ami is her best friend, Tooru is her boyfriend and Shou is the school’s doctor and her counselor.  Each one has secrets that not only affect their lives, but the life of the main character as well.  The game has six endings and always at the exact same place that the main character dies, but the objective is not to keep her from dying.  Your goal is to find out who killed her and why.  Only by getting all the endings can you have that question answered.

As I said earlier, you are playing the last week of the main character’s life.  During each day, you have the choice to visit Ami, Tooru, or Shou.  You can only visit one character a day so choose wisely.

Tooru and Shou each have two endings, a good one and an evil one.  Their storylines only serve to bring up more questions about the story and to collect an item when you’re done.  You also have two dialogue options when talking to them.  Your character will go down a light or dark road depending on what choice you pick.

After you’ve collected all four items, you show them to Ami to discover the truth. When you’ve gotten all the endings, you get an extra where you ask the mysterious waiter questions about the game, otherwise known as breaking the fourth wall. Well, not every ending; it doesn’t matter if you get the bad one.  You can also change your character’s name, but if you’re playing the voice-activated version just go for the default name.  The actors forgot that you’re supposed to avoid saying the protagonist’s name if it can be changed.  Did I mention that you can pay extra for Japanese voice acting?  Don’t worry, the text is in English and the acting’s not that bad, whether it’s worth paying five extra dollars is up to you.

DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH UNLESS YOU HAVE PLAYED THE GAME!  IT CONTAINS SPOILERS!  I’m not sure that many would agree with me, but I feel that the game does have a theme about life in high school.  Tooru uses the main character and every other popular girl to attain status as the most popular boy in school.  Ami pretends to be her best friend but stabs the protagonist in the back.  Shou is the predator using his position of authority to seduce lonely innocent girls like the protagonist.  Perhaps it’s a little extreme, but that is what high school is like.  Everyone uses each other to further their own ends.  Some, like the protagonist, believe that these people actually care for them and are heartbroken to find out the truth.  After playing the true ending, you look back on the others and wonder which of them were truly the happy endings.  Is it better for the protagonist to go on to the afterlife, unaware of how these people used and betrayed her?  When she chooses to stay on earth and haunt either Tooru or Shou for the rest of their lives, what will she do when they die?  Will she go to hell?  Will she become a wandering spirit forced to observe but have no part in human interaction?  Are they even worth ruining your afterlife over?  SPOILERS OVER!

This game is ironic, suspenseful and psychologically scary.  I give it 10 out of 10, it left me wondering what it would be like to have people all around you and have no one care for you.  I also had a dream about this game once.  I do hope they make this into a series; it could be a visual novel version of the Twilight Zone.

Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover (Bigfishgames.com)

         Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover™

 After fixing the garden, you decide to relax in your giant mansion.  There’s only one problem, you were so busy fixing the outside of it that you forgot to fix the inside.  Now you have to sell everything in your house in order to fix it up.

Like the last game, you will be going to different rooms and selling various items in a hidden object sequence.

After you’ve saved up enough money for an item, you purchase which version of that item you’d like to have.  Unlike the last game, events actually happen on the main screen that you can take part in.  You still receive letters from townspeople and some even ask you to collect 20 of the same item.  You get something for your mansion when you’re done.  You can also choose to make the game into a screensaver so you can watch Austin, your butler, make various comments and get into tons of antics.

This game is addicting without much of a story.  I give it 6 out of 10; it gets boring after a while.

Loren the Amazon Princess (Winterwolves.com)

When Queen Karen of the Amazons disappears, Loren sets off on a journey to find her. On the way, she discovers her destiny and is in the middle of a huge conflict that only she can bring to an end.

You might think you’d play Loren in this game, but you don’t. The character you play is her sidekick. When the game begins, you have a choice of playing as Saren (a human male slave) or Elenor (a female elf servant). When being presented to Loren, you can choose your character’s background.

You also have a choice of romance partners for each character. Both Saren and Elenor can romance Loren and the reserved Nomad Amukiki. Saren can also romance the half-elf fire mage Draco and the enchanting druid Myrth. Elenor can romance the bad boy elf Rei and the miserable Queen Karen. There are some graphic scenes in the game, but you can choose whether to view or skip them. You can also choose to have your characters wear more or less of their outfits.

This game might seem like just another dating sim, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The battle system in Loren is unique. Instead of a 2D battle, as I’ve come to expect from most independent RPGs, you have this.

Not only do you gain experience points through battle, you also gain them through completing quests. If you gain enough points, you can level up your characters. You do so by giving each character a number of attribute points for their strength, will and skill. You can also pick a new talent for them to learn. How many points you get while leveling up depends entirely on what time of game play you choose. You also have choices throughout the game that affect your relationship with the characters. During the game, you can retreat to camp to recover your health. It’s also a chance for you to build up your relationship with certain characters. There’s also achievements you can collect throughout the story.

The story and characters have their own charm. The game is not only about the war that’s brewing in the world of the game, it’s also about prejudice. Not only is there prejudice between the humans and the elves, there’s also prejudice within their own groups and a prejudice Amazons hold for men and the rest of the world. It’s because of this that the demons find it so easily to manipulate everyone. There’s also prejudice between the characters that fades over time as each of them get to know one another. Princess Loren is the one selected by a mythical sword to lead everyone to the demons, a role she is reluctant to take due to her belief that the Amazons should remain neutral. Her relationship with Saren or Elenor is also quite special as she starts to view her slave as an actual person and starts to become friends or more with them. Her romance with Saren is the most character developing story arc out of all of Saren’s romances because she actually has to take a good look at her culture and how they enslave men much like women were little more than slaves in Earth’s history. My favorite romance path of Elenor’s would have to be Rei because she truly gets to explore her Elvin heritage. I can’t say more about the game without giving it away, but at the end one of the characters sacrifices themselves and I choked up a bit during it.

This game has an amazing story, intriguing characters and is nonstop fun. I give it 9 out of 10, can’t wait for the expansion and it promises a sequel.

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