Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “time management”

Parker and Lane: Criminal Justice (Gamehouse)

Parker’s a rookie detective with a temper like fire.  Lane’s a seasoned attorney with a laid back attitude.  When the latter’s clients start dropping like flies, he has to team up with the former to figure out who the killer is.

I’ll admit, I’ve never seen a procedural cop show, but I have played a Choices story called Most Wanted, which has similar plot devices.  The main difference is that Most Wanted felt more self-aware and actually managed to make the characters likable.  Unlike Most Wanted, these characters are exactly as they appear to be on the surface, with no depth to flush them out.  Parker’s the hot-headed detective, Lane’s the relaxed lawyer and that is it.  Even the side characters are little more than plot devices, with the coroner functioning as more of an implied romantic obstacle when not doing her job.  The tech guy is the guy with the crush on Parker and that is it.  I’ll admit, there is one attempt to flesh out Lane by making him a single father, but it feels like something the writers hacked on in a desperate attempt for sympathy.  In other words, this game is Most Wanted without the personality.

Unfortunately, those weren’t my only problems with the game.  Do you remember my review of Maggie’s Movies, where I praised the game for addressing sexism in Hollywood?  Well, this did the exact opposite and, I warn you, there are spoilers in this paragraph.  One of the first warning signs is when one of Lane’s clients assaults Parker in a way that could have possibly turned sexual were she not able to defend herself.  No one calls attention to this and Lane even defends this man and calls Parker out for being judgmental.  Yes, you read that right, Lane gets angry with Parker for defending herself against a potential rapist and coming to the conclusion that Lane defends horrible people.  Are these writers stuck in the seventies?  To make an already awful situation worse, when the precinct forces Parker and Lane to team up, Lane makes a sexist remark and the game brushes it off as a joke with the boss laughing along.  However, Parker makes her distaste for Lane clear, yet her boss practically orders her to work with him and doesn’t listen to her feelings.  If the game had the goal of drawing attention to sexism in the workplace, this wouldn’t bother me so much.  Instead, the message of the game is that Parker is excessively uptight and needs to loosen up.  While Lane is the relaxed life force that can do just that.  Again, I ask if these writers are stuck in the seventies.

Unbelievably, this game is actually part of the Delicious series and the style supports this.  Usually games like this have a hidden object style, which is exactly what it says on the tin.  This game decided to bring a time management style to a murder case, which I admit is something that’s never been done.  However, just because something’s new doesn’t automatically make it good. You send different investigators to check on different areas, bring them the required items and then send them on their way.  In some instances, you have to play a mini-game and believe me when I say that they will pop out of nowhere to the point of frustration.  Then you send the investigators on their way and have to meet the minimum goal requirement to get to the next level.  Every level comes with an optional side quest that you can complete for a diamond, and you get to play special challenge levels in-between.  You spend these diamonds on evidence for your case file.  You also have to catch the mouse every level, as usual, and get to partake in the daily challenge.  Like other games in the series, you also have the option of collecting all of the achievements.  Just don’t expect to see any cameos from Emily and the gang.

This game is dull to the point of being a chore.  I give it 3 out of 10; the one Delicious game where I didn’t even bother to collect all of the achievements before calling it quits.

Delicious: Moms Vs Dads (Gamehouse)

Emily and her friends are tired of having to do all of the housework while their husbands lay around the house.  Therefore, they have a Father of the Year contest in order to teach them a lesson. Will the men learn anything or use this as an excuse to continue being lazy?

Be warned that this review contains spoilers, so proceed with caution.  First, I’d like to say that, when I first started playing the game, I had a huge fear that it would result in the latter.  There were times in the game when you’re supposed to have sympathy for the husbands’ failures, especially Mike. He is such an epic fail that, during the camping challenge, he didn’t pack enough supplies for his children but still managed to pack too much.  The characters even point out that he’s director of the parks department, so this should be his area of expertise. It gets so bad that Mike’s boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t clean up his act. Let me explain that Sharon, without getting permission from the others, agreed to broadcast the Father of the Year contest on live television.  The fact that the parks department keeps a failure such as Mike employed at the park makes them look back. Thankfully, Stacy agrees to help but, instead of helping Mike be a better cook, she makes pancakes for him, gives them to him in secret and encourages him to tell everyone he made the pancakes. Don’t worry; everyone catches Mike and Stacy in the act.  Fortunately, for Mike, it’s the one time when the camera operator’s not around. At the end of the camping round, he chooses to stay in the competition so that he doesn’t disappoint his kids and ends up doing a not so terrible job at making pancakes.

Patrick, on the other hand, is good at being a fun dad but fails at being a responsible parent.  He can play with his kids, but he fails at laundry and only does chores around the house when Emily asks him to.  She calls him out on this during the contest when he questions Emily for giving him a four. Patrick ends up getting so competitive that, during the kite competition, he ignores Paige’s wish to keep the kite they made in order to make a superior kite that would be sure to beat Chad.  Patrick even gets angry with Emily, accusing her of wanting him to be more like Chad. He is Sharon’s husband who passes all of the challenges with flying colors, yet spends more time on business trips than he does with his family. However, Emily never said that Patrick needed to be more like Chad.  All she told Patrick was that he needed to improve his fathering skills because they have three children and Emily’s strained having to do all of the work herself. It’s something I pointed out in Miracle of Life when Emily was making excuses for Patrick, so I’m happy to see that she’s wising up about this.  Later on, Emily gets worried that Patrick’s desire to win is making him lose sight of what made him a good father, as I pointed out earlier. In the end, Emily and Sharon come up with the idea to have the final round be about how well the fathers know their children. It’s a challenge Patrick passes with flying colors and is even able to tell his kids apart when Chad switches the twins around so that Patrick will lose.  This challenge is worth double the points and, if you ask me, Patrick should’ve gotten more points just for being able to tell his kids apart despite the sabotage. Instead, they decide to give a four-way tie, something Chad doesn’t agree with which I’ll talk about later. Patrick comes up with the idea to make a special challenge for each father to give their kids a surprise and it’s worth no points. He even admits to Emily that the contest was a good idea because it helped him appreciate how hard Emily works.  As happy as I am about Patrick’s growth, it still brings up one question. I’m sure those of you who follow my blog know that Emily and Angela went on the Love Boat for a cruise while Patrick stayed behind to care for their kids. Since Patrick, at the time, was not a responsible father, what kind of mess did Emily come home to after she left the cruise?

Chad, Sharon’s husband, is the other side of the coin.  He’s good at cooking, cleaning and everything the contest has to offer in the beginning.  It’s something Sharon brags about and shows off to everyone even going so far as to allow a news channel to broadcast the contest without talking to the other women about it.  Sharon points out that it’s no different from Emily posting the contest on her blog, but she didn’t go behind everyone’s backs for her own ego. However, as I said earlier, Chad spends more time at work than he ever does with his family.  It’s what inspires Sharon to come up with the final challenge and show everyone that Chad’s not so perfect after all. During this challenge, he fails miserably at answering questions about Grace. It’s a scene I found rather funny and sad at the same time.  Patrick, despite being in competition with Chad, actually tries to help him out and fails. Whether Patrick does this more for Chad or Grace is up to the player to figure out. Personally, I think Patrick did it more for Grace because she was hurt that her own father didn’t know anything about her.  I’m sure there are some children who understand Grace’s pain. This inspires Chad to sabotage Patrick by switching their twins that, as I’ve pointed out, backfires. I also said that Chad is the only husband not satisfied with a four-way tie and talks to the reporter about having a sumo contest to determine the winner.  Since the whole point of this contest was to show the men what the women have to go through, this undermines the whole message and reinforces that it’s more important for men to be macho rather than being good people. It’s a message also supported by my mom’s least favorite car commercial. Unlike that commercial, the contest ends with Patrick about to win but forfeiting at the last minute when he sees his son crawling for the first time.  Despite Chad being the winner, Patrick gets the last minute footage for caring more about his kids than he does about the contest. In the end, Sharon breaks down because she admits to Emily that she’d rather have an imperfect husband that spends time with her and Grace than a perfect husband who’s never there. Chad overhears this and quits his job for Sharon, leaving her to worry about whether they’ll be poor because Chad has no job. Personally, if Chad’s job makes him enough money for them to own a beach house, I think they’ll have more than enough money saved up to stay rich.  However, they might want to keep a closer eye on their back account.

Last and, in my mind, most certainly least is Andy.  For those of you who haven’t played Miracle of Life, Andy is Mary-Lynn’s husband who abandoned her when she was pregnant.  Now, he wants to come back into her life and takes part in the contest to win Mary-Lynn’s heart. While Andy does mediocre on the chores at best, their baby, Levi, doesn’t know him because he’s never been around.  To me, this is a gray area. I haven’t forgiven Andy for abandoning his family, but I imagine it would be hard for Mary-Lynn to raise Levi on her own. In the end, she takes him back and he helps with the chores as well as raising Levi.

I explained that each father learns, in their own way, that they need to help with the domestic in their own way.  I also said that there were many times throughout the game that I feared the message would be, “fathers are useless at anything domestic so mothers should do everything.”  At first, it begins with elderly women saying that Emily’s generation is lucky because the men help. What they didn’t get is that the men often blew off their chores with Patrick refusing to get up at night and feed the twins.  Emily, Sharon and Mary-Lynn talk about this with Evelyn and Brigid, who both support the Father of the Year contest. At first, they mope about how mothers do all the work and fathers get all the credit. They even make jokes about events for the Father of the Year contest, which Emily, at first, finds a little too mean-spirited.  Brigid defends it by talking about how she had to raise Patrick and Kate by herself with no help from their father. Evelyn is, at first, proud of Edward for vacuuming, until she realizes that she’s been praising her husband for doing one chore around their house. Meanwhile, she is stuck with the lion’s share. Patrick refusing to get up in the night and take care of their babies is the final straw for Emily.  At the end, each of their husbands agree to do more chores around the house. Patrick even does the dishes without Emily having to tell him and gets up in the night to take care of the babies. Evelyn even tells Edward that he has to do an equal amount of chores as she does when cleaning from now on.

The game play is just as it was in Miracle of Life, with you preparing products and giving them to standing or seated customers.  You have to clean up after the seated customers as soon as they leave.

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Then you find the mouse in each level and complete a challenge to get the diamond for that level.  You also get to play optional challenge levels to earn more diamonds but don’t enhance the story in any way. If you’re still low on diamonds, you can play the daily challenge to get more.  During each level, you have to take part in mini-games that tend to distract from the game rather than add to it.

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It’s similar to what Heart’s Medicine and Dr. Cares would do, except the mini-games were about treating patients.  This helped add to the experience while, in Delicious, it more distracts you from your goal. It’s similar to when Sally’s Quick Clips tried to do a match 3 game and failed. In that case, they learned their lesson and went back to the original style.  Since the makers used this in Miracle of Life before making this game, you can see that this isn’t the case with them. You can buy upgrades between levels to make your gaming experience easier. As for the diamonds, you use them to purchase decorations for Emily’s backyard.  Unfortunately, you have to buy both variations if you want to get that trophy; one of the many that you can win in the game. The game play also supports the storyline in the last venue, where you play as Patrick giving Emily a break from running her restaurant. However, I do wonder who’s running his flower shop.  You can also higher Mike as a cleaner for the last venue, with the description explaining that it’s one of his first lessons on domestic work.

This game has a good storyline, but doesn’t really entertain as it should.  I give it 6 out of 10; love the message, not crazy about the game play.

Sally’s Salon: Beauty Secrets (Gamehouse)

When Sally’s favorite singer and long lost love disappear from civilization, she goes on a quest to find him once and for all.  Can she reunite with her long lost love?

That’s right, Sally’s back and she’s part of the Delicious cast.  However, it seems that they ignore Sally’s Quick Clips and Sally’s Studio as well as the existence of Nell.  The former’s justified by saying that Sally’s Quick Clips sucked and Sally opening a studio is a little outside her comfort zone.  On the other hand, salons and spas go hand in hand. As for the latter, no true justification except that they wanted to make Francois Sally’s sidekick instead.  Which is a good decision; since Francois is more fun, but they could have at least mentioned Nell or let her have a cameo.

I’m sure many Delicious fans remember the plot of Emily’s True Love, where Emily goes to Paris after finding a letter her French lover wrote to her long ago.  This game shares similarities with Sally chasing after Julio, who she never got over from her college days. Considering that Julio left without saying a word, you can bet that it didn’t end well.  I bet you’re expecting me to find a problem with this plot but the truth is, I understand. I’ve had some bad experiences with people I still dwell on and a part of me still wants to make up with these people and be friends with them again.  Sally’s longing for more, but the idea is still the same. I will admit that the game has a few laugh out loud moments, such as Francois telling everyone in Snugford where Sally ran off to and then hearing it on the radio.  There’s another moment on a cruise ship where Francois watches the exercise programs and talks about how watching people workout can really make you sweat.  He’s even expecting to be in shape when the cruise is over. Oh, how I wish getting in shape could work like that. Sally also has more of a character as a gossiping and coffee addicted hairdresser, which was more than she had in the previous games. One of the spa owners Sally works for calls her out on her flaws. Did I mention that Sally also refers to previous Delicious games in her stories?  In one instance, she even tells a story about Emily that wasn’t hers to tell. It’s something Francois called her out on. However, the plot itself can be rather predictable. Sometimes, when the characters mention something, I know right away how it will be resolved. I also have an issue with how old Sally is. The game hints that she’s almost fifty. I have to say, she definitely doesn’t look it.  Either Sally ages unbelievably well, or her salon business makes so much money, she can afford expensive plastic surgery.

The game play has made significant changes due to Sally joining the Delicious cast.  For instance, you have to grab items before attending to customers. You also have different mini-games to play and it takes a little getting used to.  Catch the mouse in each level, complete challenges for diamonds and get one star to advance to the next level. Try for all three, if you feel lucky. You can also purchase upgrades in between levels.  Like previous games, you can upgrade your products, but you have to click on each product individually instead of getting a popup about it. This gets very annoying very fast. I also didn’t like having to reset my screen whenever I wanted to play the game just so I can few all of the cut scenes and enjoy the game fully.  There’s also one issue I have feminist wise. All of Sally’s customers in the first venue are women. Not a single man visits her salon, which is quite a change from the first game where men and women visit. However, in one of the spas, you can paint a man’s toenails just like you can paint a woman’s toenails.

This game is addictive, yet predictable.  I give it 6 out of 10, a couple points off for the upgrade issue and the problem with my computer screen.

Sally’s Studio (Gamehouse)

After running her own successful chain of salons and spas, Sally enters the workout studio business.  Can this venture be just as successful as her other two?

I’m sure everyone who’s played the Sally games knows the answer to this question is yes.  This is why there’s nothing to discuss about the storyline. The game play is another matter and, let me tell you, after the disaster I like to call Sally’s Quick Clips this is a serious improvement.  Sally’s Studio goes back to the game play that made the series famous. Customers enter your shop, you drag them to the right workout station and assist them. Then you check them out and take their money and they pay you based on how much they enjoyed their experience.  It’s something you could never do in real life without getting into trouble with the owner.

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Some customers require mini-games that can give them an extra heart. You can purchase upgrades in-between levels, some of them being workers you can delegate tasks to. Believe me, you’ll find this very helpful.  If you purchase the collector’s edition, you can buy an extra yoga instructor who is the first worker to take a mini-game from you. You can also purchase a greeter and a cashier.

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Unlike in Sally’s Spa, the game doesn’t force the cashier on you. However, you also don’t get to select products for people to buy while they wait.  I’ll admit that I loved this aspect of Sally’s Spa. The collector’s edition also comes with two extra venues. Each venue comes with a medal you can earn if you complete a certain requirement as well as six trophies you can earn throughout the game. Seven trophies, if you purchase the Collector’s Edition.

This game is fun and addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, not as good as Sally’s Spa but way better than Sally’s Quick Clips.

Sally’s Quick Clips (Gamehouse)

You’ve seen Sally run a series of salons and spas.  Now see how Sally got started in this flashback to her time on a hit TV show!  Is Sally’s success from luck, or did she earn her way to the top?

As you can see, the storyline is quite simple.  Sally competes in a game show, wins prizes and meets many colorful contestants along the way.  I’ll admit that I did snicker at some of the scenes. However, I do wonder how a TV Show about cutting hair managed to get so popular.  Then again, I play video games about cutting hair. So maybe it’s not very shocking. Celebrities also visit your salons with the names Donny Jepp and Damonna.  If you don’t know who these people are supposed to represent, then you need a brain transplant.

If you’ve played the last two games, then you remember that they had Sally running around cutting hair, giving massages and so on. In this one, you have to match up icons in order to wash hair, cut hair and anything else that salons are famous for.  That’s right; they changed a time management game into a match 3 style for no other reason than to make it unique. While I’m not against change, there is a wrong way to implement it. Fans of Jurassic Park should remember when the third movie came out and they changed the mascot from the badass T-Rex to the lame Spinosaurus. The movie itself included a fight scene between the two dinosaurs with the latter having a weak victory over the former.  Then, when Jurassic World came out, the studio realized that they made a huge mistake and went back to the T-Rex. They even filmed an awesome fight scene between the T-Rex and the dinosaur created through genetic engineering.

As for the game play itself, it can be rather addictive but you won’t get extra points for making amazing matches.  Your goal is to fill up the bars for each action and use them on the customers.

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Unfortunately, I found myself so busy making matches I’d often forget that I even have customers.  Let me tell you, when the game play distracts from the level’s goal rather than helps you achieve it, that’s the sign of a serious design flaw. You can also purchase upgrades in-between levels and you have to meet the minimum goal in order to get to the next level.  Try for expert but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll just pass through this game without even caring. At the end of each venue is a level where you have to beat a different competitor to come up with your own signature style.

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The challenge is grating and, more often than not, you won’t find the matches you need to win.  I had to replay the final match quite a few times and finally beat it because of a game glitch.

This game is addictive but not worth your time.  I give it 3 out of 10, if you must know how Sally got started, just find someone’s let’s play of the game on YouTube.

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.

Argonauts Agency: Golden Fleece Beta Test

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When Jason gets news about a legendary Golden Fleece, he assembles the Argonauts Agency to go find it.  Will Jason succeed where others failed?

This story is a fun re-telling of the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, much like Disney’s Hercules.  I’ll admit that I enjoyed it and there is a reference where you have to rescue Medea in one level.  For those of you unaware of the original myth, Medea was Jason’s wife, who helped him complete the trials to earn the Golden Fleece.  Jason repays Medea by divorcing her in order to marry the princess of Greece.  Trust me when I say that it didn’t end well.  I’m hoping it ends better for them in this game.

Once again, I received the offer to beta test a game that’s about town building.  I just hope this doesn’t become the new norm.  In the game, you have to use workers to build bridges, factories and anything else that can help you achieve your goals for the level.  Jason just stands there until he has to defeat a Minotaur or collect a papyrus.  The Minotaur was actually Theseus’s deal but, in the Disney Hercules series, Hercules got himself involved in a whole ton of adventures that he never took part of in the original myths.  Unfortunately, the beta test comes with two bugs.  The first is when I couldn’t click on the Minotaur to advance through the level until I got a lucky break.  The second is when I beat level ten and the game wouldn’t let me continue.  I hope that Big Fish Games will fix these bugs when they release the full game.  Anyway, you have to earn one star in order to advance throughout the game.  The faster you complete each level, the more stars you earn with three being the maximum amount.

This game is fun, even with the bugs.  I think I might buy the full game 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.

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.

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