Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Fairy Tale Mysteries: The Beanstalk (Bigfishgames.com)

When a shadowy figure tricks a young boy into buying a set of magic beans, the Grimm Brothers call on the aid of a recent graduate from their institute.  This young novice’s mission is to find the beans and stop the giants from ruling the land once again.

Anyone who’s read Jack and the Beanstalk knows where the inspiration came from.  The only difference is that instead of Jack being the hero, he’s the dude in distress who’s in over his head.  Your job is to rescue him and to stop the evil giants.  On the way, you’ll see cliché after cliché and help arrive in the form of a dues ex machina.  As for your character, you know absolutely nothing about him or her except that they graduated from an institute.

The game is a hidden object, meaning that you travel around and collect items for your inventory and use them in various locations.  Some require you to participate in hidden object scenes.  The only thing that separates this game from other hidden object games is that when you click on something you need to fix or add items that you don’t have, a column will show up at the bottom with a list of objects that you need for a specific task.  Objects in the area are solid while objects in a different area are transparent.  If an item needs work for you to get, the object will be locked.  Oh, and if you’re stuck use a hint.

This game is simplistic yet entertaining.  I give it 6 out of 10; a fun take on a classic fairy tale.

Delicious: Emily’s Honeymoon Cruise (Gamehouse.com)

After getting married, Emily’s family books them all on a cruise.  Unfortunately, that means that their family will be along for the ride.  Can Emily and Patrick have a wonderful time while dealing with everyone else’s issues?

The main storyline is Emily and Patrick’s argument about having kids but there are plenty of small stories in the mix.  Some examples are Angela discovering her passion for fashion designing, Evelyn having a crush on old flame Jon Tones (guess who that’s supposed to be) while Edward gets jealous, and Brigid having to deal with the unwanted advances of Emily’s Uncle Antonio.  What I like about this is that even though the game stars Emily, it’s really about the other characters.  Each of them have their own problems they have to deal with and don’t always have time for Emily, which is realistic.

The game play is the same as the previous ones in the Delicious series with a few exceptions.  You now have to serve Emily and Patrick a few times in order to get a gold star.  Sometimes you only have to serve one of them and in a few venues, you serve different couples.  You still have to serve people and pass the minimum goal in order to advance (trying for expert to get more decoration money), but you can’t get the money for decorations when you replay the level.  That’s all right because you can actually visit the venue again in order to finish collecting decorations.

This game is addictive and amusing.  I give it 8 out of 10; the best and possibly last of the series.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Part 2: PC Version

After finishing the Playstation version I concentrated on this one.  Ironically, this one was actually the first version I ever played.  Like the Playstation version, this also gives you the feel of being a student.  However, there are differences in this version.

In the Playstation version, Harry Potter is the silent protagonist save for when he’s casting spells (think Link from Zelda or the 10-year-old trainers from Pokemon), but in this version he says very little.  The thing is, Harry only reacted in the first book, so it actually makes perfect sense.  You also have to collect beans for Fred and George, but instead of collecting a certain type of bean you just collect 25 beans and trade them for Wizard Cards throughout the game.  You have to collect all the Wizard Cards in order to see the secret ending and like the book, Dumbledore’s the first card you get.

You also get to attend classes and learn spells.  In order to learn the spell, you have to trace a symbol provided by the Professor.  As fun as it is, there’s a ticking clock that can make you very nervous and your hand can be unsteady because of it, so it’s hard to pass the final tracing lesson.  After that’s over, you get to participate in a challenge where you try to collect all the stars hidden throughout it.  You earn points based on how well you traced the spell and how well you completed the challenge associated with it.  There is one spell you learn from Hermione called Alohomora and you even get points from her, which brings up one question.  How is Hermione able to give points?  I have no problem with her teaching a spell, but actually giving points?  Couldn’t she have just given you a Wizard Card or something?  That would have made a lot more sense.  Another problem I have is that you never have a Transfiguration Class.  I understand not having History of Magic in the game, but Transfiguration?  The only time you even see McGonagall is when she tells you that you’ve made the Quidditch team and then she just disappears.

Like the book, Cerberus is still guarding the stone (yes I know his name is Fluffy, but I’m calling him Cerberus) and you have to put him to sleep by playing the flute.  However you never talk to Hagrid about any of this, so you never find out how to put him to sleep.  You never even find out the dog’s name.  All you know is that there’s a three-headed dog guarding the door and you were never told how to get past it.  Unless Harry gained the deduction skills of Sherlock Holmes, there’s no way he would be able to figure out how to get past Cerberus.  It also makes Ron’s line about how “Only Hagrid would call this monster Fluffy,” very out of place.

Again, we have Quidditch in this game and it even gets its own separate section, but they didn’t even try with this one.  In this version, there is a mention of an opposing Seeker, but you never even see your opponent.  The rings produced by the snitch don’t even serve a purpose, except to show you where it is.  Like the Playstation version, the only way of losing the game is to get knocked out and this time you don’t have armor protecting you.

Like the Playstation version, the game is relatively easy except for the Wizard Cards.  The difference is every part of this game plays some role in the overall storyline and you even find out why Fred and George are collecting beans.  I give this game a 6 out of 10.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Part 1: Playstation Version(Amazon.com)

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or, as it’s known in every other country, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is the book that started the cash cow known as the Harry Potter series.  When the movie first came out, games were made to tie in with it for obvious reasons.  Despite these games all having the same title, each version differs in a very unique way.  It is because of this that I’ve decided to separate each version by section.

Playstation Version

Lately I have been in a Harry Potter mood so I decided to replay all my old games again starting with this one.  While the game does follow the main story line, it also gives you a feel of actually being a student at Hogwarts.  Not only do you learn new spells, you also have to make sure you arrive to class on time or lose points for Gryffindor.  Unfortunately the game is not as awesome as you would think it is, but it is still a fun game.

According to Amazon.com this is “less of a game than a tour through Potter’s magical world.”  I have to say that I agree with that sentiment.  Not only does it let you explore the castle, you also get to attend lessons and learn magic.  One part that I really liked was the obstacle course before each class.  If you failed to pass it in a certain amount of time, you lose points for tardiness.  It made me feel like a student when there’s a chance of being late, though if you have to go through an obstacle course to get to every class at Hogwarts, I can’t imagine many students showing up on time, some of them might have even missed the class completely.  The only class you don’t have to run through an obstacle course to get to is Potions, which kind of makes Fred and George’s warning about not showing up late kind of pointless.  It’s also ironic, because in the PC version, that’s the only class you show up late to.

Speaking of Potions, the game does a decent job with Professor Snape.  While he is still the same snarky bastard we all know and love, or loathe depending on what kind of fan you are, I felt that the game tried too hard to pin the attempted theft of the Sorcerer’s Stone on him.  When he sends you to collect fireflies, a mysterious hooded man activates a trap to send you far down into the dungeon.  When you come back, Snape is surprised to see you and says that he wasn’t expecting you back so soon.  While I can overlook that, there is one scene I cannot get my head around.  After Harry gets his invisibility cloak, he decides to snoop around the third floor corridor only to run into Snape talking to Filch.  Filch tells him that there’s someone snooping around and Snape reveals that “(he’s) had (his) eye on (the Sorcerer’s Stone) for some time.”  So, basically, your way of making us suspect Snape was by making him practically confess that he’s out to steal the stone and then having us fight Quirrel in the end?  That’s like making a Chamber of Secrets game where you have Draco Malfoy announce that he’s the heir of Slytherin only to go down to the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny possessed by Tom Riddle.  I get that you’re trying to mislead us, but if you’re going to have Snape say something like that without giving a rational explanation as to why he would say it, you might as well have changed the plot to have Snape steal the Sorcerer’s Stone instead of Quirrell.  For those very few of you who have probably not so much as seen the movie, I’m sorry for the spoiler, but if you haven’t at least seen the movie, then it’s your own fault for not catching up with the times.

As I said earlier, the game is essentially a glorified tour and that includes Diagon Alley, the very level I have grown to despise.  Hagrid’s dragon gets sick, so you have to go to Diagon Alley to get some ingredients for the medicine.  Of course, you have to get money from Gringotts first, leading to six mini-games in general and you have to do really well if you want to get three hidden wizard cards.  Did I mention that you have to collect paperwork on a very slippery floor and then go through a roller-coaster ride just to get money that’s floating in thin air?  That’s right; any idiot who manages to collect the paperwork can get their money just by rolling the mine cart around and who knows, they might accidentally collect some of your money too.  If that’s how Gringotts is, no wonder no one tries to rob you, and yes I am very well aware of what happens in book seven, but we’re not talking about the books.  Oh, and after you get all that money, you now have three mini-games you have to play to collect the ingredients, one of them being that you have to chase a pissed-off peacock around Ollivander’s storage room hoping to pluck one lousy feather, and don’t even think about using your wand.  In all honesty this level wouldn’t be so frustrating if it weren’t for the very fact that none of this played a role in the story.  It just seemed like a desperate excuse to put Diagon Alley in the game and the only thing you really get out of it is that peacocks hate having their feathers pulled out, something I already knew.  Well, that and wizard cards, but you could have easily stuffed those cards anywhere around Hogwarts.  What’s really frightening is all the work Harry now has to make up because of this.  Take it from me, it’s better to have to do a little work every day than have to do this huge pile of work in one whole day, and I really need to take my own advice on that one.

Anyone whose familiar with the world of Harry Potter knows about Quidditch, and it’s not only included in this game, there’s also a whole section devoted to playing it.  The problem is, since you’re playing as Harry Potter, the only position available to you is Seeker and it seems like a real pain.  While there is an opponent Seeker, all he does is fly through the rings never catching the snitch; if that’s how opponent Seekers not in Gryffindor play, no wonder Gryffindor usually wins.  Seriously, the only way you can lose is if you get knocked out and even that is close to impossible when you trade beans with Fred and George for Quidditch armor.

Despite how easy the game is, it’s still pretty fun.  The only challenge is collecting all the wizard cards and you can easily consult a walkthrough for that.  Still, there were some very frustrating parts that did not belong and you never find out what Fred and George want with all the beans you gave them.  I give this game a 5 out of 10, fun but not particularly memorable.

Summer Session (Winterwolves.com)

When a shy student signs up for summer classes, he didn’t know what to expect.  Maybe he’ll finally have a girlfriend, or maybe he’ll remain as lonely as he’s always been.

This is not exactly an interesting premise.  In fact, the only reason I bought this game is that Celso Riva is working on another one called Roommates that he claims is sort of a successor to this one.  As I said, the plot is some shy guy trying to find a girlfriend in six weeks while still trying to ace his exams.  He can pursue the outgoing Rachel, his teacher Jenny, the studious Midori, the athletic Tanya and the eccentric Emma.

The game play is about choosing your schedule for the week and making the correct dialogue choices when pursuing a character. 

You can study to do well on exams, work for money, go partying, play sports, play video games, rest or exercise.  No matter what, you have to attend class every day.

This game is addictive but not that interesting.  I give it 3 out of 10; compared to Celso Riva’s later games, it falls short.

When in Rome (Gamehouse.com)

The great warrior, Flavius, succumbs to an injury in battle.  Now he must expand the Roman territories by building new settlements and creating new farms.

You’d think that would be all to the plot but there’s more.  No, it’s not anything deep but it’s certainly unexpected.  Let’s just say that later on through the game you get a Kate and Leopold plot.  I’d love to pick it apart but the Nostalgia Chick did that much better in her review of the movie than I ever could in my review of this game.

The game play is quite simple.  You collect enough resources to construct more buildings and sell to the trader.  The men build while the women gather.  Those of you who read of my reviews would expect me to call sexism, but it was Ancient Rome and, considering their views on traditional gender roles, I’m just going to call realism.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 6 out of 10; a great thing to do when you’re bored.

Forest Legends: The Call of Love (Bigfishgames.com)

In a land where all forms of magic are feared and hunted, the daughter of the chief hunter, Eveline, falls in love with a werecat named Aurelio.  Unfortunately, her love is in danger and Eveline must travel through dangerous lands to save him.

This section contains spoilers, so you might want to skip it.  I take many issues with this game, one of them being how the Felize (werecats) are developed.  It’s an all male race that takes human women for wives who do nothing more than bear their children and keep the monster inside from lashing out.  However, the ending hints that this structure might change.  Another issue I have is that, like Star Trek, the game simplifies every species characteristics by one single stereotype.  One example is that the Goblins’ motivation is greed and nothing else.  Despite its faults, I did enjoy the storyline.

The game is located in the hidden object section, yet no hidden object scenes exist in the game.  All you do is go from location to location collecting items to add to your inventory, memos to add to your journal and ingredients to add to your cauldron.  Your journal also contains a summary of what’s going on, a task list and a map.  You can use the last one to jump to any location you’ve already discovered.  Sometimes you have to participate in a mini-game in order to progress.  Other times, when you’ve finished collecting the necessary ingredients, you can use them to make a potion.  The game play for that is very similar to Cooking Academy.

The collector’s edition includes many extras, one of them being bonus footage for the game.  Another extra it contains is eight digitalized storybooks explaining the creation of the world of the game.  I recommend getting it just for that.

This game has many storyline faults yet I still enjoyed it.  I give it 7 out of 10; a beautiful game with an addicting game play.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (Amazon.com)

After saving The Planet from Meteor, Cloud and the gang live out their mundane lives.  Unfortunately, three men claiming to be Jenova’s children are attempting to resurrect their mother.  To make matters worse, a disease called Geostigma is spreading throughout the population.  Can the gang stop these men and find a cure?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original DVD version but I do remember that they didn’t go into very much detail about Geostigma or the new character, Denzel.  In the Blu-ray edition, they showed the effects of the disease and gave us some clue as to who Denzel is.  Because of this, I was more emotionally invested in what was going on.  I even cried a bit when the children infected with Geostigma climbed in the back of Kadaj’s truck and were tricked into drinking mind-controlling water.  Yes, I am well aware of how bad that sounds but Kadaj had no pedophiliac intentions, at least I hope not.  Then they’re all forced to stand around a statue while Kadaj summons a monster.  There are also scenes that show the true heroism of the main characters, such as Tifa refusing to abandon Denzel in one scene and Marlene in another, despite the fact that she was putting her own life in danger.  Reno and Rude also showed heroism when the monster showed up.  True that they were running from it, but they at least tried to take some of the children around the statue with them.  One scene that I truly loved was when the rest of the characters joined Tifa to help her defeat the monster, showing true heroism on their parts.

Even with the new footage, this movie is not without its problems.  For starters, despite Cloud’s resolution that he had to get over his issues at the end of the game, he still acts incredibly depressed.  I actually think it’s realistic because many people in real life will make an outside declaration of change and fail to follow through, but that’s not the reason the writers did this.  They felt that audiences wouldn’t recognize Cloud if he felt an emotion other than depression.  He also had a tendency to leave without telling Tifa, Marlene and Denzel, who are his family, and go deal with his own issues.  I get that he was suffering from Geostigma and still dealing with his issues from the game but this doesn’t make him look like a badass loner.  It makes him look like a deadbeat dad, especially when you consider that Denzel also has Geostigma and Cloud could have helped him through this.  Maybe I’m being harsh, but when you have a family, it doesn’t matter what issues you have.  You need to always be there for them.  You can’t go running off on your own doing who knows what while your family’s at home worried sick about you.  Thankfully, Tifa and Marlene call him out on this.  Reno and Rude are also downgraded from the threatening enemies they were in the game to plucky comic relief.  In addition, during the climax, the rest of the characters that were playable in the game show up out of nowhere with no explanation of where they’ve been and how they all got back.  Oh, and they have no problem working with Shinra, not even Barrett who lost his original gang to them.  Kadaj is also way too easily forgiven and I would go into detail about it but I don’t want to give anything away.  My final problem with the movie was that the editing was still a little sloppy.  Sometimes it took me a while to figure out what was a flashback and what was the present.

Despite the movie’s problems, it does remember the game it was a spinoff of.  There are scenes where some of the characters use materia to give them power, though in the game it’s used by inserting it into your armor and weapons slots rather than into your body.  Like I said earlier, even though there’s no explanation as to why the rest of the cast show up in the movie, as a Final Fantasy VII fan it was great seeing them all reunite to take down the huge monster.  A few instances had them breaking the laws of physics, such as each character launching Cloud into the sky to deliver the final blow.  Sephiroth even returns for one last fight with Cloud with his theme song playing during the entire battle.

The Blu-ray comes with extra features, one of them being an anime about Denzel’s past.  I actually enjoyed that more than the movie because, while the film didn’t know whether it wanted to be a dark movie about a raging sickness or an action flick to please the Final Fantasy fans, the anime knew exactly what it wanted to do and stuck with it.  Denzel wants to join an organization called MRO and explains his reasons for doing so to the recruiter in the form of an origin story.  In other words, we get to see what made a happy privileged boy into an orphan that Cloud and Tifa take in.  We also see the effects that the war between Avalanche and Shinra had on ordinary citizens of Midgar.

Despite the movie’s flaws, I found it entertaining.  I give it 8 out of 10; two extra points for the included anime.

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