Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “gamehouse”

Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor (Big Fish Games)

When Mortimer Beckett visits his uncle’s mansion, he finds it infested with ghosts.  To make matters worse, his uncle’s disappeared from sight.  It’s up to Mortimer to rescue his uncle and assemble his invention, the ghost machine.

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Those of you who follow me know that I’ve been mainly focusing on catching up on the Delicious games.  One of the games in the series is Mortimer Beckett and the Book of Gold.  However, I had no idea that, like Sally, Mortimer had his own game series before joining the Delicious cast.  Therefore, I decided to check it out before playing the Book of Gold.  The storyline in this game is an excuse plot, so there’s not that much to say.  However, I will tell you that, contrary to what I say in the first paragraph, the ghosts are not dangerous.

The game play is standard hidden object with you visiting each room and collecting items.

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Your goal is to collect the pieces of the four items in each room.  After that, you can use the items to either put them back in their proper place or solve more puzzles to connect the ghost machine.  You only have a limited number of hints in each section of the mansion, so use them wisely.  It’s possible for you to miss a detail entirely because, when I got to the last room, I couldn’t connect the ghost machine.  I thought that I gathered all of the pieces and found myself worried about a bug.  It turned out that I forgot to check one room entirely to get the battery.  I was very relieved that I didn’t have to start the game all over.

This game is fun and simple.  I give it 6 out of 10, a nice little diversion from boredom.

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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.

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.

Fabulous: Angela’s Fashion Fever (Gamehouse)

After Angela quits her job and leaves her husband, she finds herself competing on a reality show hosted by the one and only fashion designer, Truly.  The prize is a chance to become the next big fashion designer.  Does Angela have what it takes to win?

Do you remember the cliffhanger at the end of Sweet Revenge where Angela thinks she might be pregnant?  Well that gets resolved in the very beginning, she’s not.  It makes the whole game and its cliffhanger null and void.  The only important events from the first game are that Angela doesn’t work for Yum-Mee anymore and she’s single, giving her all sorts of potential love interests.  The first one is the cop who helped her in the first game, who makes a cameo appearance in this one.  The second one shows up later in the game.  I don’t know if I already talked about this, but I think that the designers had to get rid of Jimmy.  If you’re not familiar with the Delicious series, Jimmy is, or was, Angela’s husband first introduced to us in Emily’s True Love.  Jimmy functioned in the series as comic relief, Angela’s glorified sugar daddy and a possible connection to the mafia.  Now that Angela’s found her own way as a designer, she’s outgrown him.  However, if Angela divorced Jimmy in order to pursue younger and more attractive men, it would cast her in a shallow light.  Therefore, they had Jimmy cheat and Angela can dump him without looking evil.

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The designers went so out of their way to get rid of any connection to Jimmy that they tossed a plot device brought up in the first game out the window.  Personally, I feel that, if you drop a bombshell this huge, you need to be prepared to follow it through.  Otherwise it’s all for nothing.

The plot line has similarities to the Delicious game, Emily’s Taste of Fame.  For those of you who never played it, the game is about Emily getting an offer to host her own cooking show.  Along the way, she meets the colorful characters of Snuggford and helps them with their problems.  When Emily finally gets on the show, she realizes that the life of a TV star isn’t for her, quits and goes back to her humble life in Snuggford.  In this game, Angela gets her chance to be on a reality show and travels all around the world.

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Unlike Emily, her sister, Angela loves her life of fame and craves it the way an alcoholic craves liquor.  She even forgets to send a text to one of her friends on her birthday in favor of signing autographs for her newfound fans.  This illustrates the differences between the two sisters as Emily is more of a homebody who runs her restaurant and is content with her humble small-town life.  Angela craves a wilder lifestyle and loves being the center of attention.  The tone of their games further drives this point home, as Emily’s games are more along the lines of shows like Modern Family while Angela’s games are more along the lines of How I Met Your Mother.

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I’ll admit that I’ve always felt more drawn to Angela rather than Emily due to the former’s nature that is more carefree.  However, some of Angela’s behavior in this game is truly disgusting.  I understand that the game is trying to illustrate Angela’s corruption by the famous lifestyle.  However, the writers never address one issue.  Be warned that this paragraph contains spoilers so read with caution.  Truly’s show is a sham as she schemes to eliminate each contestant and competes under the alias Lori.  She even goes so far as to blackmail one of her models, Eric, into seducing Angela.  Eric is, for lack of a better term, Truly’s whore and the game does not portray it for comedy or make light of the situation in any way.  I should explain that one of the rules of Truly’s competition is that the designers are not allowed to get involved with models.  If Truly finds out about Angela’s relationship with Eric, she has reason to kick her off the show.  However, when Angela finds out that Eric is Truly’s boyfriend, she does not question why Eric is unfaithful to her.  Later in the game, Truly invites Angela’s friends to come see her.  One of them, Jenny, becomes a model for Angela and flirts with Eric at a club.  Jenny has no idea that Angela and Eric have a thing and apologizes to Angela when she finds out.  At no point in the game does Angela confront Eric about this.  Instead, she takes all her anger out on Jenny by stealing her dress and using it to get Eric’s attention.  Understandably, Angela’s friends are angry about this and leave but still come through later on when she needs them.  As for Truly’s scheme, Angela does get her revenge.  This is another illustration about the differences between her and Emily.  When someone wrongs Emily, the people she helps throughout her adventure return to help her overcome the one who wronged her and, if possible, tries to make amends with them.  When someone wrongs Angela, she takes matters into her own hands by getting revenge in creative ways.

The game play is similar to Delicious with clothes instead of food.  Angela makes outfits, jewelry, gets cosmetics for her customers or models, and checks them out.  Some of them visit the changing room or, in some levels, get their hair done at the mirror.  Angela has to clean up after that for extra points.

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Some levels even require an extra activity for Angela to complete and get more points.  Each level has their own mouse and, unlike Delicious, offers cleaning bonuses.  The layout of the second game is rather different from the first due to Angela not marking each level with her own Facebook posts.  I have to admit, I rather missed that aspect.  Angela also gets her own pure activity levels throughout the game, though they’re the same in each section.  Pick a dress for Angela to design, draw sketches for it, move the box of supplies, collect the supplies and finally sew the dress.

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In the second venue, you have to chase the different contestants away from your dress so they don’t sabotage you.  Believe me it gets repetitive after awhile.  You can also buy upgrades for each venue and even purchase entertainers and checkout clerks.  Though you have to buy the latter two every single level, another aspect that’s rather grating.

This game is fun but needs improvement.  I give it 6 out of 10, a nice distraction but rather lacking in both storyline and game play.

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