Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “fantasy”

American McGee’s Alice (Amazon Store)

Requested by BloodRoseRed

After surviving a house fire that murdered her parents, young Alice finds herself locked up in an asylum.  

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Her only escape is through the mythical Wonderland, corrupted by her own experiences. Now she must fight her way through an evil land in order to reclaim her own sanity.

Those of you who’ve watched the Disney movie will be in for quite a shock.  It’s definitely not the Alice in Wonderland from your childhood. However, the game is also not a darker re-telling.  It takes place after the events of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Therefore, it’s more of a sequel to the original events, which I think works in its favor.  In the past, Wonderland has always been a place of mythical adventure that Alice could escape to when life became too much for her. Which, considering the first book ends with the Queen of Hearts wanting to chop off Alice’s head, wasn’t that happy go lucky either.  Now that tragedy struck Alice and she’s in a Victorian Asylum, which was not a place you wanted to be sent to, she needs this one escape to cope with her situation. The beautiful Wonderland she knew and loved transformed into a twisted nightmare due to her own experiences.  However, even in this hell Wonderland transformed into, Alice still has friends in the form of the Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit and The Griffin.

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They’re the ones that help her through this nightmare world and guide her on her quest.

As I said, the game is a gritty sequel to the Alice in Wonderland books.  I first saw it at a store when I was in Middle School but, since I wasn’t old enough, I couldn’t get the game. I’ll admit, I thought that it was just a tale of needless violence thrown in to make a beloved children’s classic cooler and more adult.  Then BloodRoseRed requested me to review both this and Alice: Madness Returns and, I’ll confess, I was happily wrong. Yes, this is more violent than what you’d expect from something set in the Alice in Wonderland universe.  However, it’s not needless violence thrown in to make the game cool, as is often done in these situations. The game explores deep elements such as mental illness, trauma, and survivor’s guilt. When Alice was seven years old, she witnessed her family die in a fire and was too busy having a make believe tea party to pay attention to what was going on.  Minor spoiler alert, her guilt manifests in Wonderland as villains, such as the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen, as they call Alice a selfish and spoiled girl. According to them, she didn’t deserve to survive and, if she had paid attention, she could’ve warned her parents and saved them. These are feelings Alice has herself echoed through the words of the game’s villains and, in order to conquer them, she has to kill the villains that represent her guilt.  This is actually very symbolic of her fight to keep her sanity and it’s something that the game play reflects, which I will discuss in a later paragraph.

The game comes with an instruction manual that has a diary of one of the doctors of Rutledge Asylum giving his accounts of treating Alice in the real world while she battles her own metaphorical demons.  Unfortunately, the copy of the game I bought didn’t come with a casebook, so I had to look it up on the game’s wiki, which you can read here. I’m sure many of you who know the history of Victorian Asylums think the doctor is some sadistic man deriving in the torture of an innocent young girl.  I actually have a book called Women of the Asylum and it documented cases of women who refused to submit to the patriarchy finding themselves committed to the asylum for a mental illness.

However, this is not the case.  The doctor is actually a caring man not sure what to do about Alice’s condition.  He talks about how he had to treat other patients and seems remorseful that the treatments result in death far more than they do in curing mental illnesses.  Little by little, this becomes normal to the doctor but he still wants to do his best to help the people in his care, even if the “treatments” are barbaric by today’s standards.  Yes, Asylums in Victorian London were hell on Earth, but the Asylum was a recently introduced concept to curing the mentally ill. Many of the horrors were less from evil and more from the ignorance of the time.  It doesn’t make it any better and I’m sure it’s making Alice’s mental illness worse, but it does make us more understanding. In addition, you can tell that the makers of the game did their homework when writing the book, even if they did get one detail about Victorian London wrong in the game, which I’ll discuss later.  You also get to see the difference between Alice in Wonderland who, in this version, is a real badass you don’t want to mess with, and the Alice in the real world, who’s a passive patient. The doctor is actually rooting for Alice, even if a part of him wants her to stay in the Asylum with him.

The game takes place entirely in Wonderland with only a few mentions of the real world. In it, you take control of Alice who must defeat the corrupted and nightmarish versions of the Wonderland characters we know and love.  These enemies represent Alice’s insanity trying to consume her and she must destroy them to keep what sanity she has left. Like many games, this one has an HP bar and an MP bar.  The HP bar represents her sanity, which she regains by killing enemies such as the playing cards that attack her and must consume the essence they leave behind. Try explaining that to a psychiatrist and see if they don’t put you in a home.  The MP bar is for magic you need to defeat the enemies but, thankfully, the essence found throughout the game to restore HP also works for MP. Boss’s have their own level and they must be defeated if you want to advance through the game.

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However, Alice is not alone as she has friends who guide her throughout her journey that represent her sanity.  One conversation she has with the Cheshire Cat about taking Gym Class contradicts schooling in Victorian London, due to not having Gym Class back then. They had Drill Class, which was the closest you could get, and it was for boys. Girls whose parents were rich sent them to Finishing School to learn how to become proper ladies and there was no Drill Class for them.  Still, historical inaccuracy aside, these conversations and help she has from those few friends represent what little sanity she has left. Spoiler alert, these characters die trying to help Alice, which feeds into her own survivor’s guilt about how she should’ve died in the fire with her family. It also shows that, for a brief moment, Alice’s insanity is winning. Having the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen accuse Alice of being selfish and spoiled represents the most powerful obstacle that Alice has to overcome if she wants to rejoin society, her guilt.  So, in many ways, the game play is made almost entirely of symbolism, which is actually very creative. You can also collect weapons throughout the game and complete puzzles in order to advance through the storyline. The most powerful weapon is the Jabberwocky eye staff, which you can use to beat the final two bosses, but my favorite for dealing with the regular enemies is the Ice Staff.

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It knocks them out just like that. The puzzles can also be difficult and, more often than not, you’ll find yourself consulting a walkthrough.

As for the horror element the game tries to represent, I admit that I didn’t really find it that scary.  I found it interesting from a psychological perspective, as I already discussed, but I wasn’t really trembling in my seat.  I did find myself on edge when I managed to play it at night but the only incident that made me slightly jump out of my seat was when a fish pops out of the lake and eats you.  Then again, I am a tough sell and I haven’t been properly scared since the recent IT movie.

This game is intriguing and fun.  I give it 9 out of 10, a creative take on a classic story and mental illness that really made me think.

Persian Nights: The Moonlight Veil Beta Test

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When the twin moons of Persia approach their full phase, the Academy restricts the students from using magic for their own safety.  Unfortunately, this is when Melika’s sister goes missing. Now she’s alone as she searches for her missing sister.

This is a fantasy story with a mystery twist.  I’ll admit, I didn’t go into this game expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised.  I loved the artwork, the setup of the world and the interaction between the characters!  I never even played the previous game in the series and I had no trouble following this game.

The game play is your typical hidden object with you collecting items and using them in various locations.  Some objects require you to take part in a hidden object scene. This game has an added bonus of giving you a loving companion who can breathe fire when full and eat fire when hungry.  If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is very intriguing.  I’m definitely buying the full version when it comes out!

Meadow Story Beta Test

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When an erupting volcano destroys the village of the Halflings, they must find a new place to call home.  Can they recreate a village with the same serenity?

The plot is a simplistic fantasy story and, for those of you who don’t know, Halflings are Hobbits with a different name.  The game play, on the other hand, rather shocked me.  I’ll admit, this isn’t the first time Big Fish Games sent me a beta-test, but it is the first time I’ve received one that wasn’t hidden object.  This game is a mixture of a village sim and a time management game.  You gather materials and use them to create different buildings.  Then gather materials from those buildings and use them to either make more or upgrade the ones you already have.  Meet the quota in order to advance to the next level.  How well you do depends on how fast you complete the level and what difficulty you picked at the beginning of the game.  You can pick regular, hard, or, if you’re not looking for a challenge at all, you can play the game in relaxed mode.

This game is beautiful and addictive.  I’d definitely buy the game when it comes out.

Maiden Kuro (Starlight Maidens)

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This is a recent dollmaker picture I made using Sailor X Generator by SailorXv3.  The magical girl in this picture is Asuka Serizawa/Maiden Kuro, a fan character for Starlight Maidens by Miss-Gravillian1992.  I used this picture she drew for me as a reference and, since I already posted my fan-character for Charm Cafe by animecolourful, it seemed fitting to post the fan-characters I made for the other independent Magical Girl series of Deviantart.  Plus, I did say that I was going to post any dollmaker pictures I make on this blog.

Alice’s Tea Cup Madness (Gamehouse.com)

When Alice chases the white rabbit, she finds herself in a magical place the citizens call Wonderland. In order to get home, she needs to get to the field of flowers. Unfortunately, trips like that cost money and, in order to get it, Alice has to sell tea and pastries with the white rabbit as her helper. Can she make enough money for the trip home?

The plot’s very simple yet entertaining. I recently read both Alice in Wonderland books and I love all the appearances of the characters. A comic page explains what’s going on in between venues.

I have to say, the way the comic’s designed makes it hard for the reader to tell who’s talking first. Still, the plot is just an excuse for the game.

The game play is your typical time management. You seat the customers and serve them tea and pastries. The latter, you have to make in advance. Hit the target score in order to advance to the next level but try for expert, if you feel lucky. Every once in a while, you get a break from the time management style by participating in a hidden object game or having to catch the falling treats.

This game is simplistic yet addictive. I give it 7 out of 10, a fun take on a classic children’s book.

Princess of Ruin Preview (Unbrokenhours.com)

This trailer is for the very first commercial game by Unbroken Hours that I was lucky enough to beta test!  When a stranger, Xallaun, saves a young girl, Raissa, from a prison, she has no idea who she is.  With her is Kione, a mysterious fire wizard, and Cyraen, an enigmatic boy with a doll he always carries around.

All they know is that they’re trapped in the ruins of a castle that two of them, Raissa and Kione, feel the urge to protect with their life while Cyraen feels the same urge for his doll.  Can Raissa, Kione and Cyraen get their memories back?  What’s the story behind the mysterious castle?  How does Xallaun fit into all this?  Find out when Unbroken Hours releases Princess of Ruin.

Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy (Bigfishgames.com)


When Mel discovered her magic powers, she hid in the village of Harakauna. Unfortunately, the darklings discover her whereabouts and try to bring her to Underfall. At the same time, a representative of Veldarah Academy wants to recruit her in order to help her train her magic. Will Mel choose the path of light or the path of darkness?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are a few spoilers in this review. I will hand one thing to the Aveyond staff. Instead of giving Mel powers and forgetting about it, like they did with Fox on Gargoyles, they actually make it the plot point. Unfortunately, when they get to the schooling part, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They rush right through it in order to get to the plot rather than combining both story elements. There’s also a scene where trouble happens at Shadwood Academy.

Unfortunately, no one believes Mel when she says that it’s because of her. Mel thinks that Edward would believe her, which is an odd conclusion to come to considering that Edward’s never believed her about anything. Considering how often the crazy stuff she says comes true, you think he’d learn by now. Instead, Edward dismisses her entirely and Mel holds the idiot ball. For those of you who don’t know, the idiot ball is when a character performs an uncharacteristic act of sheer stupidity in order to drive the plot. In this one, Mel gets a note from a stranger telling her to come alone to a cabin and, instead of informing her professors about it, she goes alone to meet the person. Someone who grew up on the streets ought to know better. Though I do appreciate that, when Mel’s in trouble, she tries to find a way out of there instead of waiting for the others to rescue her. For the rest of the game, you take on the role of Stella and I’ve noticed that when she gets an item and has to put it in a slot, she says, “I wonder,” while Mel has to have someone explain to her what to do. Te’ijal and Galahad have returned for the final game and, later on, we get an argument from them that looks like something that came out of Twilight. Oh, and you notice that when Te’ijal’s in control, she only makes decisions that make her happy while when Galahad’s in control, he tries to compromise for both of them? I’m going to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more about the characters than it is an issue of gender. Oh, and remember when Lydia stole the throne from Edward? The Aveyond staff wrapped up that problem as an afterthought rather than making it important to the plot. In the ending, you get to pick a bride for Edward. The canon option makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. When Mel tells Edward there’s trouble, he instantly dismisses her. When Stella tells Edward there’s trouble, he runs off to stop it. On the other hand, Edward has spent the whole game being irritated with Stella and worried nonstop about Mel. Add to that the fact that Edward marrying Mel in The Lost Orb is the canon beginning, it becomes even more baffling that Stella is the canon choice. Considering how many pairings have gone against the fan preference, I wonder if, at this point, the Aveyond staff loves to screw with their fan base.

The game play is, once again, your typical RPG. You travel the world battling monsters to raise your levels.

You can purchase items in towns and talk to NPCs to receive side quests. If you’re having trouble, visit the goodie caves to give yourself an advantage. The only difference this game has is that, not only can Stella learn spells by equipping weapons and leveling up, Edward can power up his sword by using sword stations.

This game is addictive but the plot could use some work. I give it 6 out of 10; a bad conclusion to Aveyond 3.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb (Bigfishgames.com)

Just when Mel thought she’d seen the last of the orbs, a mysterious woman named Nox tells her about the Orb of Death. Now she and her friends must destroy the lost orb before anyone of evil intent can get their hands on it.

The beginning of the game depends entirely on whom you had Edward propose to in the last one. Either way, Lydia tricks Edward into marrying her by locking the intended bride in the dungeon and disguising herself as said bride. While it’s not hard to believe that Lydia would desire the throne, some of her actions don’t match with her personality in the previous game. For instance, in Gates of Night, she tries to save Stella and sees the mission to the end. You can argue that all of this was a ruse to make Edward like her, but Lydia is also an accomplished mage. If she was only after the throne, couldn’t she have just cast a love spell? She can easily buy a love potion and spike Edward’s drink with it. Not to mention that amulet Lydia found in Gates of Night that she uses to make Edward buy her dresses, she could use that to make Edward marry her and become her slave. Speaking of love potions, the game once again romanticizes them. There’s this one scene where you create a love potion and Spook (a recently introduced character) and Edward fight over who gets to use it on Mel. Since I always thought of love potion as a date rape drug, this didn’t sit well with me. Later on, you find out Spook’s intentions, so the game could have easily just had Spook try to use the love potion while Edward tries to stop him. Edward and Spook also act incredibly obnoxious and neither one of them thinks to ask Mel what she wants. Did I mention that Edward will be fighting Spook for Mel’s affections even if you had him marry someone else? Oh, and for future reference, if you ever ask someone about their past and they say that their story will bore you, that’s usually code for “don’t trust me; I’m up to no good.” I’m also wondering why a village that shuts itself off from the rest of the world would have an MME system (mirror transportation) and signs pointing how to get there. Another problem I had was interests and prejudices that seem to come out of nowhere. For those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in what I say next. Ulf (the orc traveling with you) wants to stay in Harakauna to become an alchemist. Now I can believe that he’d want to stay in a village full of talking animals and shape shifters that makes him feel welcome, but he has shown as much interest in alchemy beforehand as Lana Lang from Smallville did in art before applying to an art school in Paris, which is absolutely none. At the end of the game, Mel unlocks her magical abilities. Now I can believe that Mel’s abilities remained dormant because she’s had good luck relying on her mind all her life like Fox from Gargoyles. The only difference is that Fox actually demonstrated her intelligence while Mel has to have her hand held every step of the way. Oh, and did you know that Mel hates magic? Neither did I. She’s been around magic users and held them no ill regards and now that she has magic herself, she develops a prejudice for it for no reason whatsoever other than the writer needed to add unnecessary conflict to the story. Other than all that, the plot is actually quite interesting. The new characters are entertaining and I found the insane Empress of Eldrion to be hilarious.

The game play is very addictive. You travel a 2-d map collecting treasure, potion ingredients and fighting monsters.  The last one will help you gain levels to make the characters stronger. You can visit towns to purchase supplies, check your mail and teach Mel a new skill at the town’s agency. In this game, the training actually has something to do with the skill you’re learning. You can also complete side quests in addition with the main quest for 100% completion. During the game, you will have opportunities to either increase Mel’s attraction to Spook or decrease it. If you’re tired of having to move around so much, use the Magical Mirror Express, or MME, to travel between towns faster. You can also stop by hidden goodie caves to make the game easier.

This game is addictive and entertaining. I give it 7 out of 10; the game play makes up for the many problems with the story.

Blue Rose (The-white-cat.com)

After a fierce battle with a dragon, Lena, a templar of the blue rose, finds herself in a peaceful village with no clue what happened to her comrades.  Not only that but the village is under attack and it’s up to her to save it.  Can Lena protect the village and find love?

Templars of the Blue Rose in this universe are special knights that draw on the power of the blue rose to help them fight.  Therefore, it’s like being a Jedi Knight only instead of relying on energy you rely on an incredibly rare flower.  Lena is one of them and that’s the character you play.  Usually when playing otome games, the maker assumes that every woman’s fantasy is be a helpless damsel in distress that relies on a big strong man for everything.  This is one of the few games that understands that some women fantasize about being strong and self-reliant.  Lena can pursue a relationship with four guys and a girl.  Tobias is the arrogant yet caring village leader.  Simon is your loyal comrade.  Gavin is the playful outsider.  Erin is the caring innkeeper.  Last but not least, Aran is the mysterious outsider.  Other than those simple facts, nothing about these characters really stands out.  You can unlock extra details about them but their side-stories only take up space.

The game play is that of your typical visual novel.  You read the story and choose the appropriate dialogue.  During most of the game, you can pick different locations to visit on a map.  You can also collect pictures for your gallery and each time you get a character’s good ending, you unlock an extra story.

This game is intriguing but doesn’t really stand out.  I give it 6 out of 10; more of a casual play than something to really get lost in.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Part 3: Gameboy Color Version (Amazon.com)

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After the PC version, I concentrated on this one next.  Unlike the other games, this one focuses more on the story from the book.  It also has an RPG aspect that makes it unique.

Since I’m very picky about research (except when it comes to school work), I read the first Harry Potter book and viewed the first movie again.  I have to admit that, compared to the later ones, this one isn’t quite as great but it’s still enjoyable.  Still, what is it about these books that make them so popular?  Maybe it’s because, as Bobby Bacala (The Sopranos) says, “it gives the other kids, the 98 pound weakling, some hope.”  It might also be because, unlike other books targeted to children, Harry Potter is not so condescending.  In many books that are aimed towards children, when the main character broke a rule no matter how minor, they were automatically caught and punished for it.  This method was a way to manipulate children into being obedient robots.  In these books, sometimes Harry is rewarded for breaking rules or he’s punished.  Sometimes, he doesn’t get caught at all.  However, it might be because books in the UK aren’t as condescending as books in the US.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

As I said, this game is the most loyal to the book with a few differences.  For one thing, it’s Hermione who tells Harry about Snape instead of Percy, which makes absolutely no sense considering that Hermione knows as much about the teachers as Harry does while Percy’s been there for five years.  Some scenes follow the book exactly and yet seem out of place, such as McGonagall showing up out of nowhere to take twenty points from Slytherin and Draco not even objecting to that whatsoever.  Sometimes it gets the characters wrong, such as having Draco give Harry a prize for beating him when Draco is a sore loser.  Another thing is that makes this game notable is that it’s the only one to have you attend History of Magic.  Don’t worry, all you do is get sent to Diagon Alley to retrieve a card.

The game play is RPG like which separates it from the other ones in the series.  You run into magic clouds and get into a battle with various monsters.  The more experience points you gain, the more you level up.  If you use a spell enough times you can also have it upgraded.  Oh, and you can collect wizard cards and card combinations you can use to aid you in battle. 

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To me, this seems out of place because RPG elements don’t really suit Harry Potter.  I prefer learning spells in classes and going through the obstacle courses in other games because it feels more like you’re in a magical school.  Did I mention that this is the only game where Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw could win the House Cup rather than automatically losing to Slytherin if you don’t have enough points?

This game is loyal but out of place.  I give it 3 out of 10; it’s unique but not in a good way.

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