Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the category “Gamehouse”

Dr. Cares Pet Rescue 911

Recent graduate of Vet school, Amy Care, now has two options.  She can either take a job at the big city vet clinic, or take over her grandfather’s small business.  What will she choose?

I’m sure many of you already predicted in your heads what Amy will pick at the end.  However, the game is less about Amy’s decision and more about the journey she takes to get there.  Spoiler alert, the big city people see animals more as decoration than living things as opposed to the fine people of Snuggford.  I’ll admit that it is rather simplistic, but I’ll talk about this later. There’s one bright spot about the big city. Said bright spot is a non-profit animal shelter Amy’s co-worker volunteers at in his free time.  Only problem is that they have trouble finding donors, an issue also shared by a real life organization I volunteer at called Second Chance SPCA. Though they never say if the shelter in the game is a no kill one or not, while the one I volunteer at actually is a no kill rescue.  Despite the light-hearted nature of the game, some scenes might upset you. I will tell you that the writers drew inspiration from real life events and talk about the controversy behind such events as horseracing. They also discuss people who throw away animals as if they are throwing away the garbage.

Like the previous games in the series, this one also has a romantic subplot.  However, this subplot actually symbolizes Amy’s naivety and character growth. Jasper is Amy’s first boyfriend and is a rich spoiled brat used to getting his way.  It’s similar to how the Pawsitiviy Pet Clinic turns out to be more about making money than they are about helping animals. Jack is the hard-working man who works at the Pawsitivity Pet Clinic for a paycheck but still cares about animals.  He’s also the one who introduces Amy to the animal rescue while Jasper is the one who gets her a job at the stables. The former is about helping animals while the latter is more about grooming the horses to help the humans. Amy also has two friends, one who represents the superficiality of the big city and another who represents the more modest small-town life of Snuggford.  However, the former turns out to be more than just superficiality as she adopts an abandoned puppy who takes a liking to her. Proving that there is a shining light in the big city, which is small but still there.

I said earlier that the game is rather simplistic in its view of small towns good and big cities bad.  The small town in question is Snuggford and it has a Mayberry vibe. Everybody knows each other, everybody gets along and everybody treats their animals well.  The big city is far crueler where one of your jobs is to dye a puppy pink. I am not kidding about that. Be prepared for two spoiler alerts. The first is that you have to expose the owner of the Pawsitivity Pet Clinic for drugging a racehorse.  

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The second is that the original owner of the pink puppy abandons him or her at the animal shelter. Don’t worry, the puppy finds another home with Amy’s big city friend. As much as I wish real life could be this simplistic, it’s not. The truth is small towns are every bit as capable of being cruel to animals as big cities are, such as this farm of horrors found in Massachusetts. It’s just that the big city and sports such as horse racing have more of a reputation for it.

The game play has similarities to Delicious, yet also carries a Heart’s Medicine vibe.  People either bring their pets in for a checkup or go to the counter to purchase items. You give the people what they want and check them out of the clinic.  In the case of the animals, you sometimes have to play mini-games.

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After you’ve checked out the people who brought their animals, you have to clean up after them.  Get the first star to advance to the next level but try for all three, if you feel lucky. Each level comes with a special event you can complete for diamonds and a find the mouse mini-game.  You can use the diamonds to purchase gifts for Newton, Amy’s pet bird.

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You can also purchase upgrades in-between levels to make your game play experience easier. Throughout the game, you can earn trophies if you meet certain conditions.

This game is addictive, but has its tearjerker moments.  I give it 9 out of 10; some of the scenes upset me in a good way.

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.

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.

Delicious: Emily’s Miracle of Life (Gamehouse)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A Normal Lost Phone (Gamehouse)

You’ve found a phone that once belonged to a teenage boy named Sam.  What kind of person was he and how did he lose his phone?  Go through his phone to find out.

In real life, if you find someone’s phone on the ground, don’t go through it.  Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to crack the password.  Anyway, you might read the summary and think this must be a boring game.  First, I should say that you couldn’t be more wrong.  Second, I should also say that I found this game on Gamehouse and it’s a little more controversial than what they usually publish.  Spoiler alert, Sam is a bisexual transgender who lives in a conservative town.  She has issues with who she is due to close-minded people surrounding her, including her own parents.  The story is about the relationships Sam has with her friends while trying to discover who she is.  It’s similar to Gone Home about a teenage girl’s struggles with her homosexuality.  Considering that the closest Gamehouse Original Stories has to an LGBT character is Francois, who has yet to come out of the plot closet, this is quite a shock.  They also deal in stories that are more family friendly.  I’m not saying that the LGBT shouldn’t have representation in children’s entertainment, quite the opposite.  It’s just that the game also deals with misogyny when they not so subtly hint to a rape attempt.  The guy blames the girl for leading him on and then shunning him.  What actually happened was that the girl wore a provocative dress, her boyfriend got a little drunk and he forced her to press against him when they danced.  She told him no and he got mad.  To make a bad situation worse, when she went home to her father and said that a stranger molested her, he told her that, the way she’s dressed, she asked for it.  I remember in Elementary School that they had one motivational poster about how you are responsible for you.  Ironically, society itself often contradicts this message.  This is similar to how bullies say that, if their victims didn’t want people to beat them up, they shouldn’t act different from everyone else.  It’s something that Frasier and The Big Bang Theory agree with.  In the former, Martin tells Frasier and Niles about when they were children and into the British television series The Avengers to the point of wearing bowler hats.  Then says that it’s something they shouldn’t have done because they made themselves a target.  In the latter, Penny once claimed that she felt guilty for picking on the geeks in high school and then claims that, if one of the kids didn’t want to get beat up, they shouldn’t have shown up to school wearing a bow tie.  While rape and getting beat up might not be on the same level, the point still stands.  Frasier and Niles should be able to wear bowler hats if they want to.  A boy should be able to go to high school wearing a bow tie without getting beat up.  If a girl wants to wear a provocative dress because she looks good in it, she should be able to without having to worry about rape or molestation.  This serves to point out how screwed up Sam’s town is and how liberal she is in comparison by telling the girl that it’s not her fault.  That’s not the only discrimination you can find in this game.  For instance, someone sets fire to an LGBT center and people around Sam, even his own parents, say that it’s a good thing.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a former review, but I have Aspergers, which is a low-level form of Autism.  I was lucky enough to have an understanding mother, but stories such as Silent Voice taught me about the discrimination people like me face.  One thing I learned is that parents do murder their autistic children and many people feel sympathy for the parents.  The news reporters even treat it as a mercy death rather than talk about how the children could grow up to accomplish so many things.  Therefore, I can somewhat relate to what Sam’s going through in my own struggles to accept my Aspergers.  However, as someone pointed out in his or her own review, the gameplay does undermine the message.

As I said in the first paragraph, you find Sam’s phone and violate her privacy.  It goes much further than that as you scan her text messages and emails to discover her passwords.

You even send emails and pictures to other people pretending to be her.  While the detective work makes for intriguing game play, you not only violate Sam’s privacy, but also her rights.  I can only think of three people who would do something like this, House, Sherlock and Dean Winchester.  All of them would do this to solve a case, though the former two might also do this because they’re a**holes.  Apparently, the designer of the game didn’t think that part through.  You could’ve easily had this be about a detective solving a murder investigation, or an amnesiac Sam going through his phone to discover who he is.  Instead, the only clue I have about what kind of person you play is that they’re a d*ck without any regard for personal space.  Just the kind of person I would hate to run into.  At least, in Gone Home, you play the role of a young woman coming back from college to an empty home trying to figure out where everyone went.  Even she refused to dig too deep by refusing to read her sister’s diary about her first sexual encounter.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; the game play undermines the story’s message.

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