Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “February, 2018”

VR Worlds: Ocean Descent (Playstation VR)

Ever dreamed of being in the ocean and gazing at all of the sea life?  Now you can, just put on your Playstation VR, pop in VR worlds and pick the ocean.  Find yourself hypnotized by all of the fish, stingrays and jellyfish.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find treasure in the ocean’s depths, but watch out for the shark.

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This world has three modes of play and only one of them tells a story.  It’s the one where you meet the shark.  You play the role of a cage diver looking for hidden treasure and finding a shark along the way.  There’s no explanation on what exactly the treasure is, except for a few hints that it could be alien.  I’m wondering if it’s a reference to another available world on the game.  As for the shark, it just keeps attacking you with no explanation.

The game play in this world consists of looking around with your VR headset.  Let me tell you that you will find yourself surrounded by the ocean and you can even exit your cage if you wish to.

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It’s like being in a Star Trek holodeck program, except the only senses the VR affects are sight and sound.  I’ll admit that I was afraid of meeting the shark but, thanks to my mom wanting to see it, I finally played that all the way through.  Thankfully, the shark is more startling than it is scary, as if you’re on a virtual roller coaster.  The other two play throughs are just looking at sea life without the story and the shark.

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It’s perfect for relaxing if you’ve had a stressful day.

This game is soothing but can also startle you.  I give it 8 out of 10; any ocean fanatic will love this game.

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Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story (Steam)

After deleting Sam’s phone, you find another one that belongs to a girl named Laura.  Can you discover who is she and help her?

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While the premise is the same as the last game, the plot couldn’t be more different.  I should tell you that I’m about to give major spoilers to the plot, so proceed with caution.  Unlike Sam, Laura is an adult and doesn’t struggle with who she is.  However, Laura is not without problems and hers involve her boyfriend, Ben.  I’m just going to tell you that Laura’s in an abusive relationship.  Ben has her send her GPS coordinates to him regularly.  He goes through her phone on a daily basis.  He even deleted her birth control reminders off her phone so she’s forget to take her pill.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  His worst offense is sending a sexy video Laura made for her ex-boyfriend to her co-workers and putting the blame on her ex-boyfriend.  This also leaves Laura open to sexual harassment from her co-workers, none of them believing that she didn’t send this video.  Unfortunately, there’s truth in fiction with this situation.  During the High School Musical craze, the lead actress, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, faced slut shaming due to someone posting naked pictures of her on the internet.  No one considered that she might have taken the photos for her boyfriend and someone posted them without permission, making her the violated party.  As in the case of many people in abusive relationships, Laura’s too blinded by love to see what’s going on.  Then finds herself craving the moments when Ben’s nice to her, insisting that he can change.  However, the game does have unfortunate implications.  This time, I’m not just talking about the game play.  When Laura attends a seminar for people in abusive relationships, she mentions that everyone at the meeting is a woman.  Even now, people fail to see that men can also be the victim in an abusive relationship.

As I said earlier, the game play comes with unfortunate implications.  Let me put it this way, it’s another story about respecting someone’s rights as a human being, while violating their rights as a human being.  You can see the contradiction.  Only, this time, you don’t send messages or post pictures pretending to be Laura.  I’ll admit that the game play is intriguing with you having to search through her phone and use deductive reasoning to figure out her passwords.  However, you can easily change the plot of how you got the phone to make it less invasive.  You could have the story be about Laura reporting Ben to the police for domestic abuse and handing her phone over to a cop to present as evidence.  It would erase the issue of violating someone’s privacy and it’s believable.

This game is fun but uncomfortable.  I give it 7 out of 10; a great game but needs to be better thought out.

The Love Boat (Gamehouse)

After thirty years, the Love Boat makes another run on Gamehouse.  This time, they’re passengers are Emily from Delicious and Angela from Fabulous.  Can they keep them happy while dealing with their own drama?

For those of you not familiar with 1970s America, The Love Boat is about the Pacific Princess and the tales of romance and comedy among the passengers and crew.  When I discovered that this would be one of Gamehouse’s projects, I searched for episodes of The Love Boat on YouTube.  Seriously, the things I do for you people.  Okay, I’ll admit that the show isn’t that awful, even though I wouldn’t consider it a masterpiece.  In fact, when it first aired, critics claimed that this show would sink faster than the Titanic.  Considering that the show lasted for ten years before they pulled it off the air, this is clearly not true.  As I saw a few episodes of the series, I thought the critics were a little harsh.  Yes, this show is not deep and it never won an Emmy, but the appeal was more in the fantasy.  It’s the idea of boarding a cruise, watching marine life and finding love.  The show also had an original idea by being more about the guest stars while the main characters often took a backseat to them.  Many of these guest stars were famous 70s actors, so I liked to play my own game called spot the 70s star.  In the episodes I’ve watched, I’ve found John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, three Bradies, George Jefferson and Chachi.

Let me tell you, the storyline of the game is the same one of the very first episode with a few plot changes and an added Emily and Angela storyline.  I give you a spoiler warning, so don’t read if you want to go into the game fresh.  Captain Stubbing has to deal with his b*tch of an ex-wife, Jenny’s running from her boyfriend who won’t commit, and Sandy’s engaged to a politician trying to hide her past as a model for a pornography magazine from him.  Emily and Angela’s plot about sister bonding is the only new thing in the game.  Therefore, they’re not continuing the plot from the original series; they’re remaking it in video game form.

Unfortunately, some aspects of the remake fall short.  Since Emily and Angela are passengers on the ship, you would think that they updated the time to modern day.  However, the writers failed to realize that there are things you can get away with in the 70s that you can’t get away with today.  For instance, in the Jenny plotline, she boards the boat to get away from Ronald, her ex-boyfriend.  He stows away on the boat and stalks her all through the cruise.  It’s something Jenny finds flattering until he tells her that he doesn’t want to get married and wants to continue living together.  Nowadays, if your boyfriend kept stalking you, you wouldn’t want to file for a marriage license.  You’d file for a restraining order.  Not to mention that it seems impractical to go this far in the age of the smart phone.  Ron could just text Jenny repeatedly until she blocks him.

Speaking of impractical, I’m sure those of you who watched the show remember Sandy’s plot about hiding her past as a porn star from her fiancé, Congressman Brad Brockway. First, I should tell you that Sandy posed for the nude magazine, Kitten, when she was a law school student.  She really needed the money, so she got a phony name and wore a brown wig hoping no one would recognize her.  Kitten re-released it after finding out about Sandy’s engagement to a well-known politician and she’s working extra hard trying to hide the magazines from him.  In the 70s, a feat such as this would be difficult since he would eventually discover this on his own.  Today, it would be almost impossible.  Not only would Sandy have to deal with someone recognizing her on the magazine, there is a good chance that this would be all over the internet.  Anyone who sees this picture could blog about this scandal, tweet it, or post it on Facebook or Instagram.  You can’t keep anything a secret in the digital age, especially when you’re in the public eye.  Unless Sandy is a skilled hacker, she’s definitely fighting a losing battle.  There’s also an inconsistency with this as, when Sandy asks Julie, the cruise director, about who purchased the last Kitten magazines, she jokes that everyone who purchased it is a man.  The laugh track runs as if it were obvious, even though people accept homosexuality much better today than they did in the 70s.  In addition, the game play and a later plot element contradict this stupid joke, which I’ll talk about later.

In the Stacey plot, you get more impracticality as she coerces her husband, Aubrey Skogstad, to buy the cruise line so that she can make life miserable for Stubing the same way he made her life miserable when they were married.  Now, she could just leave a bad review on Yelp and blog all about how much the cruise sucks.  Not that Stacey would be in the right for that, but her revenge plan is impractical.  This plot also features a cross-dressing joke in the form of a disguised Gopher, the yeomen purser, trying to help Stubing win favor with Aubrey.  Cross-dressing jokes might have been funny in the 70s but, right now, they’re just tasteless and desperate.  This makes me wonder if Gamehouse posted A Normal Lost Phone as an apology.  In addition, the ship’s doctor is still the same womanizer from the show with four ex-wives and hints at being unfaithful treated more along the lines of “boys will be boys.”  This same manner is what makes people despise The Big Bang Theory.

Despite the unintentional values dissonance, the game does improve on the storylines from the first episode.  For starters, Ron and Jenny actually get character development as a talk from Isaac, the bartender, makes them reconsider their views.  It still ends the same way it did on the show, but at least the story gives a reason for their radical changes in behavior.  Sandy also ends up coming clean to Brock about her past after Doc gives her some advice.  However, Brock comes across the magazine and thinks that Sandy’s secretly into women.  Understandably, he’s p*ssed and, if I were in love with a man who I thought was using me as a beard, I’d be angry myself.  However, I do wonder how he couldn’t recognize his fiancé in a brown wig.  This is also the plot point I made a reference to that contradicted their stupid joke about all of the buyers obviously being men.  Don’t worry, they make up at the end with Brock being just as understanding about the picture in the game as he was in the show.  The game also uses the method of showing and telling in regards to Stacey’s behavior.  In the original episode, we don’t really see Stacey making the crew’s life miserable with the exception of the captain.  We just hear the crew complain about her while she argues with the captain and forbids him to eat at his table.  It is a d*ck move, because she’s also screwing over the other passengers invited to sit at Stubing’s table who I’m sure wanted to meet him.  However, we never see Stacey interact with the rest of the crew yet they still complain about how she makes their lives miserable.  In this game, we have genuine evidence of Stacey doing this with her demanding Julie to serve an impossible breakfast and getting angry when Julie pours her apple juice rather than orange juice.  Stacey also demands the impossible from Isaac and deliberately sabotages Doc’s medicine.  Another difference is that, in the show, Stubing tells Doc right away that Stacey is his ex-wife and talking about how he was so devoted to his job that he neglected her.  Then Doc spills it to the rest of the crew the first chance he gets.  Instead, Doc finds this out on his own when Stacey drops a green emerald necklace on the floor and recognizes it as the same necklace Stubing’s ex-wife wore in the picture on his desk.  Stubing comes clean, admitting that he wasn’t a great husband but still saying that it’s no excuse for Stacey’s behavior, which I appreciate.  Doc tries to keep this to himself until he feels that he has to tell the rest of the crew so that they don’t hate Stubing.  This plot line ends in the show with Stubing grabbing Stacey by the arm and dragging her off in private to stand up for himself and his crew.  While the game got rid of the first part, knowing modern day audiences wouldn’t handle that well, they still kept Stubing ordering Stacey to go to her room as if she were a spoiled child and Aubrey agreeing with him.

Earlier, I mentioned that Emily and Angela get their own plot line.  Emily’s mother bought them tickets as a gift and they decided that it was the perfect opportunity for sibling bonding.  Their story does have some similarities with Jenny and Lorraine’s as Angela teaches Emily how to have fun.  The difference is that Lorraine just laughs it off and acts supportive of Jenny and her problems with Ron.  Angela, on the other hand, acts like a spoiled child when Emily gets more attention from men than she does.  Instead of talking to Emily about how this upsets her, she goes out of her way to sabotage Emily.  At one point, she insincerely flirts with Gopher to prove to make Emily jealous.  Then gains an unwanted admirer in him as Gopher constantly bothers Angela with a poem he wrote for her and how he wants to turn it into a song.  If this is how Gopher acts around women, I’m starting to see why he has trouble getting a date.  According to the actor, Gopher’s supposed to be the nice guy who always finishes last.  Contrary to popular belief, this behavior is more clingy and creepy than it is nice.  However, it doesn’t excuse how Angela leads him on later in the game.  Let me explain that Angela meets a man she’s into who’s a yacht club member.  She wants pursue him without Emily getting in the way, so Angela flirts with Gopher to convince him to sabotage the cooking show Emily wants to go to in the morning.  Gopher manages to get the show postponed to the evening in exchange for a date with Angela.  This is the exact same behavior Angela criticized Janet for in Angela’s High School Reunion.  She never apologizes to Gopher for it, but she does apologize to Emily for taking the cruise too seriously.  Their plot also has a laugh out loud moment when Emily takes care of Angela’s admirers by lying about how she’s pregnant with triplets.  Then, when Gopher once again tries his luck, Emily gets rid of him by saying that Paige, Emilia and Vito are Angela’s kids and Patrick is Angela’s ex-husband who the warden just released from prison.  I should tell you that Emily and Angela have very few moments of interaction with the crew of the Pacific Princess.  Another instance is Emily checking in with Julie and explaining that Emily’s mother bought tickets for her and Angela.  Emily also talks to Isaac briefly when she’s about to work at the restaurant only for Isaac to come in and tell her there’s not enough room on this ship for two bartenders.  It’s the first time Emily’s had to go somewhere in the Delicious series and not have to serve people.  All four plot lines weave together when Stubing marries Brock and Sandy with Emily making the cake and Angela sewing the wedding dress.

The game play has similarities with Emily’s Honeymoon Cruise.  You go to different locations and play a member of the crew.  As Julie, you check the customers in and serve them champagne or magazines while Gopher cleans up and handles their luggage.

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One of the magazines is Kitten and women do order it during Julie’s levels.  As Isaac, you serve customers food and drink while Gopher cleans up after them.

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As Doc, you heal the passengers on the cruise.

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You can buy upgrades in-between levels and complete optional side quests to earn diamonds, which you also get by playing the challenge levels.  You also get to hear the theme song repeatedly when you’re at the map.

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You have the option of changing the music, but don’t bother.  That song is what TV Tropes would call an earworm, you hear it once and it will never leave your head.  This game also has the catch the mouse mini-game you can participate in once a level.  You can also use the diamonds to dress this mouse up in cute little outfits.  The game also gives you profiles on the characters in the game, including the passengers and the hunky plot device who serves no purpose other than to give Angela another false romantic lead.  You also earn achievements by completing certain tasks in the game that take the form of Polaroid pictures.  This begs the question of why the Pacific Princess would be using a Polaroid to take pictures instead of a modern day digital camera.  One level has the optional task of taking pictures with a Polaroid instead of people asking you to snap a picture of them with their smart phones.

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The pictures also don’t give you much of a hint of how close you are to earning the achievements.  You even have to collect one achievement by playing the same level repeatedly.

This game is addictive and nostalgic.  I give it 7 out of 10; a bit behind the times but still a fun ride.

Fabulous: Angela’s High School Reunion (Gamehouse)

When high school students come to Victoria’s shop for prom dresses, it causes Angela to flashback to her own disastrous high school affair.  Now she wants to make up for it and that’s by having her own high school reunion.  Can Angela make up for her own terrible prom, or will the reunion be every bit as disastrous?

Anyone who’s even glanced at this game on Gamehouse’s website knows that Angela will end up in prison.  The spoiler is how she gets there, which I will discuss.  Let me say that it’s not entirely Angela’s fault, ‘not entirely’ being the key words.  Angela gets herself into this predicament by wanting to throw a reunion so badly that she uses the old rundown school building to have the party.  The building is a safety hazard as Angela’s sister, Emily, points out.  However, another fellow student, Janet, claims that her father gave them permission to have their reunion in this very building.  Janet is Angela’s former rival for Prom Queen and current rival for Reunion Queen.  Angela’s hatred for Janet is so great that she tries to cancel the reunion because of not wanting Janet to ruin her good time.  It gets so bad that Angela carries an idiot ball by telling Janet that she’s canceling the reunion.  You can bet that all this will do is encourage Janet to take over and that’s exactly what she does.

I’ll admit that high school is a subject I know very little about.  My parents had me home schooled after I graduated from middle school in order to spare me from what they call ‘their terrible high school experience.’  Neither one of them have ever been to their reunions because they claim that, when you do, it’s back to the old pecking order.  The people who attend are either reliving their glory days or trying to rub their success in the face of everyone who picked on them.  The only people who attend and leave happy are the former.  In the case of Angela and Janet, I said that their prom blew up in their face.  However, I didn’t explain how this happened.  I did tell you that they both competed for the title of Prom Queen.  As the alpha bitch of Snuggford High, the students favored Janet as Prom Queen.  Angela decided to run against her due to Angela and her friends wanting to become popular in high school.  Janet went so far as to manipulate two brothers against each other to ruin Angela, something that backfired on both of them.

Those who follow me remember when I talked about the double standard in the last Fabulous game, which the characters address but the story never fully discusses. Well, this one takes it a step further due to not addressing the double standard in this game.  As I said in the last paragraph, Janet played two brothers against each other in order to become Prom Queen.  However, what I didn’t explain is that Janet dated the popular brother, Matt, first.  Keith, the unpopular brother, would make moves on Janet while she dated Matt.  Keith clearly sees Matt as the evil brother and Janet as the sweet victim that he must rescue.  However, he doesn’t see Janet as a person as much as a trophy.  Keith ingrains himself so deeply in his fantasy that he refuses to acknowledge Janet’s faults, even when Angela points them out.  In fact, when Angela comes across Janet’s pregnancy test, Keith sees it after she leaves and assumes that Angela is pregnant with Matt’s baby.  However, instead of talking to Angela about it, he reports Matt to the principal to get him expelled.  When Angela becomes Prom Queen, reveals to the entire school and reporters that she’s pregnant.  Angela is not going to take this lying down and says that Janet’s the pregnant one, which shuts the school down and, in effect, cancels the prom.

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It also shows how unobservant Keith is by not recognizing that Angela shows no signs of morning sickness while Janet displays it on a regular basis.  As for Matt, they never really delve into his character, but the Principal does claim that Matt gets in trouble with the school.  Janet also hints that Matt has a wandering eye, but will always come back to her.  They never explore this, so I don’t know if it means that he cheats on Janet or he just flirts around.  He does refuse to help Janet with her election, despite expressing how important the Prom Queen election is to her.

Don’t worry, Janet isn’t innocent in this either.  As I said, she did play two brothers against each other.  However, one wonders how close those brothers really are if they let one girl come between them.  Anyway, Matt breaks up with Janet because he’s tired of how selfish she is.  When she manipulates Keith against Matt and Angela, pretending that she cares for the latter, Janet proves him right.  The years have not changed her as she goes as far as putting her own desires to become Reunion Queen over her daughter, Chloe, wanting to know who her father is.

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In the second paragraph, I mentioned that Janet lied about her father giving them permission to use the rundown school building for their reunion.  Yet Janet is so desperate to have the glory days a news report ruined, she lies to Angela and her friends.  However, in all reality, Angela didn’t exactly listen to Emily about the place being unsafe due to having the exact same desires as Janet.  The only difference is that Angela doesn’t have a kid, so she has more freedom to behave irresponsibly.  This doesn’t change the fact that Angela and Janet allowed their own desires to blind them to the danger of the building until it falls apart.  I can’t even begin to stress how lucky they are that no one died because of their own selfish desires.

I mentioned that Emily makes a cameo in the game.  She acts as the voice of reason for Angela, who refuses to listen to her.  I’m sure that many of you are aware that Emily is the star of Delicious, and Fabulous is a spinoff starring Angela.  Since Emily is the more serious and responsible of the two, her stories have a more calming narrative.  Angela, on the other hand, is more wild and crazy.  Therefore, her stories have a more wacky narrative.  It definitely shows in this story, with a couple of humorous moments.  Anyway, some people claim that over the top characters can’t carry their own story and, sometimes, this is true.  Anyone who’s watched the Friends spinoff, Joey, knows what I mean.  However, House and Sherlock are both over the top, yet are quite capable of carrying their own shows.  Despite what many people will tell you, in the writing world, there is no ultimate judge of good and bad.  Writing is an art, which is what makes it unique and, if there’s a right way to do it, all stories would be the same and people would get bored.  That’s not to say that there’s no wrong way to write because, believe me, there is.  As for whether Fabulous is doing well with their over the top main character, I think that they’re somewhat succeeding.  Angela is still trying to find her way and, like the last story, she’s making mistakes and learning from them.  Some might say that Angela just relearns the same moral she learned in the last game through different events.  This is what TV tropes refers to as Aesop amnesia, and believe me when I say it happens in real life.  There is a problem with Angela’s temporary love interests, the first being a cop, the second a model and the third one Matt Miller.  Though temporary love interests are quite common in fiction, Angela goes through these boys without dating the first one and the second one disappears with no explanation.  As for the third one, he does get an explanation in the end with a hint that he might get with Angela later, but I highly doubt it.

The game play is quite similar to many games in the Delicious franchise.  You get the required items, deliver them to the customers and check them out at the register.  Sometimes, you have to clean up after them and, in this game, you get a bonus at the end of the level for it.  Each level comes with a special event and some levels are just extra challenges for you to complete.  This game also features endless levels that really serve no purpose.  It’s the same with the challenge levels, because you don’t get any diamonds for completing the events.  This is also the only game past Emily’s Home Sweet Home where you don’t purchase gifts for any reason.  You do get to purchase upgrades for each venue in a style similar to Emily’s Christmas Carol.

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You also have to catch the mouse in each level and earn trophies in the form of yearbook photos.

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I did find one serious problem with the game play.  Believe me when I say that it deserves its own paragraph.  You know how Emily and Mary always cook in their games, Cathy always makes crafts, Maggie makes movies and Allison saves lives?  Well, Angela’s talent is sewing and, this being a Fabulous game, you’d expect her to be making clothes.  Unfortunately, Angela only sews outfits in the first venue.  Most of the game is about Angela and, in the second venue, one of her friends preparing food.

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This is a serious oversight and undermines the whole point of Angela starring in this game.  If you’re going to have most of the game play be about preparing food, you might as well have made this another Delicious game.  Hell, with a few tweaks, Emily could’ve been the star of this story with Angela being a side character.

This game is addictive, but pointless.  I give it 7 out of 10, a few good moments but doesn’t really feel like an Angela game.

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