Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “video games”

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.

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.

High School Story (IPhone App)

When you come across an abandoned lot, you decide to build your own high school.  Can you create the ideal place where everyone can just be themselves while fighting off the rival Hearst High?

I’ll be honest, the only reason I checked this game out is because I heard the Monster High characters would make cameo appearances.  However, let me say that I did not regret getting this game.  For those of you put off by the high school setting, let me tell you that it’s high school as it should be rather than how it actually is.  I told you that the Monster High characters make cameo appearances in the game and, let me tell you, it actually fits.  For those of you unfamiliar with Monster High, it’s about embracing all of the freaky flaws that make you who you are.  High School Story has a similar premise in that, no matter what clique you belong to, everyone will accept you for who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a male cheerleader or a female nerd; nobody mocks you at this school.  Nerds hang out with jocks; preps can date gamers and so on.  Everyone has their own thing and, rather than being ostracized for it, the game celebrates the characters for it.

The game explores many themes such as the dangers of cyber-bullying and the discrimination girls face in the world of computers and video games.  One plot introduces an organization known as Girls Who Code dedicated to closing the gender gap in coding using the character Payton.  Another plot is about the girl gamer character, Sakura, and the prejudice she faces in MMORPGs for being a girl gamer.  I’ll admit that the game does sometimes run the risk of becoming an after-school special but they do so in very tolerable ways.  Some quests are just about the characters hanging out and having fun.  The game knows when to be funny and when to be serious.

The game play is similar to many simulation iPhone apps.  You send characters on quests and wait for them to finish.  The quests can take up to a few minutes to several hours, but the rewards are worth it.  You can collect books from the classroom, build dorms and collect money, send characters on dates and even party to get one of each type of classmate.

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Let me tell you that every type comes with a special side quest.  You can also build a library where you can meet a special character and complete vocabulary quests.

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However, like Hollywood U, once you finish the extra additions, the game begins to dull.  You just continue playing to see what goes on further in the plot.  I should also warn you that many of the extra additions cost money and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to experience everything this game has to offer.

This game is addictive and insightful.  I give it 7 out of 10; loses its appeal after a long while but worth checking out.

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