Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “video games”

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.

Mortimer Beckett and the Crimson Thief (Big Fish Games)

When a mysterious thief goes from country to country stealing valuable artifacts, it’s up to Mortimer to stop him.  Will he be successful, or is this one challenge too great for Mortimer Beckett.

I have to say, this is the first of the series that deals with something that’s not supernatural, science fiction, or fantasy.  This one actually plays out like a mystery novel except you know whom the culprit is.  You just don’t know what the culprit’s up to.  In some ways, the game reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes story where Arsene Lupin challenged him in the same manner.

The game play’s a little bit different from the last two games.  You still go around collecting items to add to your inventory through the map.

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However, you also have the challenge of collecting pieces of various tickets.  After finding the artifact, you use the ticket you assembled to go to the next country.  I have no idea why someone would tear up tickets and leave them scattered in hard to find places, but it saves money on travel.  Sometimes, you might have to play mini-games and ask citizens for help in order to advance through the story.

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If you’re stuck, use a hint.

This game is rather addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, a classic mystery with a modern day twist.

Mortimer Beckett and the Lost King (Big Fish Games)

Mortimer Beckett just fixed time and now he’s in a magical kingdom.  His new mission is to complete the crown and find the missing prince.  Can he save the kingdom from tyranny?

I’m sure many people who’ve played games like this know how this will end.  Still, if you want to go into this game fresh, skip this paragraph.  The lost king is Mortimer’s uncle Jerome, which means that Mortimer is the prince.  However, this makes very little sense in terms of story telling and lineage.  For starters, no one seems to remember a sibling disappearing with the king.  Another thing is that, when the ruler has no children, the sibling is next in line for the throne.  I assume Mortimer’s father and grandfather must have died for him to be next in line for the throne.  Don’t worry; he turns down living in a magical kingdom in order to go back to a normal life.  However, it would have made more sense to make Jerome, Mortimer’s father instead.  Other than the confusing ending, the style and plot are your typical fantasy story, which is rather enjoyable.

The game is a typical hidden object and, this time, you’re not looking for fragments.  You have to find the item whole and use what you collect to get either more items or pieces of jewelry for the crown.

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You can also play mini-games to help further the story.  Like the last game, you get to use a rechargeable hint.  Unlike the last game, clicking the hint button actually directs you to where you’re supposed to go instead of just finding objects and trusting you to figure out the rest.

This game is beautiful and addictive.  I give it 6 out of 10, two points off for the confusing ending.

Mortimer Beckett and the Time Paradox (Big Fish Games)

After building the Ghost Machine, Mortimer finds himself traveling through time.  His mission is to assemble a time bomb and close the portal.  Can he accomplish this before it’s too late?

Once again, we have another excuse plot.  This one is about time travel, which can be fun if handled correctly.  In this game, they handle it about average.  While the scenery is quite amazing and the characters you talk to are fun; you can find yourself looking at and collecting items that didn’t exist in the time you’re currently in.  For instance, you can find a modern day telephone booth located in a time before Edison invented the light bulb.  You also collect a beach chair in Ancient Egypt.  Clearly, the developers didn’t care about historical accuracy when they designed this game.

The game play is standard hidden object similar to the last game.  You use the map to visit different locations in each time and collect fragments of four objects.

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Let me warn you, some objects are very difficult to find, if not impossible.  You also have the option of exploring one room deeper to find all of the objects.  This can sometimes sneak by you, making you feel stuck in the game, believe me.  When you assemble an item, you can either put it back in its place or use it to advance the story.  You can also play mini-games, but be sure to collect the hints for them in your journal before trying to solve them.

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Like the last game, you have the option of using a hint when you are stuck.  Fortunately, you have an unlimited number of hints.  Unfortunately, you can only use it to find items and, if you need to do something else to advance the story, the hint won’t tell you what.

This game is addictive, but simplistic.  I give it 7 out of 10, one point more than the last game for unlimited hints, but a few points taken off for obvious historical inaccuracies.

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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