Jud’s Artwork – What I’m doing when not blogging!

This gallery contains 15 photos.


New work added. JUD’S ARTWORK            Across the Plain                                       Divided          Jellyfish Jaunt     … Continue reading

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LEAGUE OF LIGHT: WICKED HARVEST


by MARIA GLORUM GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

INTRIGUING, MACABRE!

Story:    The League of Light needs your help solving another exciting case! Children have been going missing in the town of Blake’s Mountain in the days leading up to the fabled Red Moon. No one really knows what will happen on that night, but everyone agrees it can’t be good… Strange creatures creep through the shadows, and the citizens fear for their safety. Can you uncover the secrets of Blake’s Mountain and rescue the missing children in this spooky Hidden Objects Puzzle Adventure game? We believe in you, detective!  (Big Fish Sales Blurb) 

An engaging narrative, compelling, well devised, which flows well and keeps you emotionally hooked – you want to see the quest through to a satisfactory conclusion.

Desktop:     Crystal Ball, Journal (Left); Inventory/Clues/Lists (Centre); Map, Hint, Helper/Scarecrow (Right).

Options:    Good; includes Gamma setting to adjust Light/Brightness.

Tutorial:    Good; informative, brief, efficient.

Play Modes:     Casual; Experienced; Masterful; Custom.  I always choose Custom given the chance.

Map:     Interactive; good Graphics, easy to use and to see; helpful.  If no ‘active’ symbol shows you know there must be an Item in your Inventory that needs repairing, assembling, or extra components.  The Map evolves as the game progresses, and though you sometimes need to go back to collect the odd Item, you are mostly concerned with the few sites around each new area.

Graphics:   Gorgeous colours; imaginative; detailed; atmospheric and dark where necessary but not overall.  There is a fair variation in the sites so you don’t get bored as you move to a new area – there are some elements of surprise, while still following the game’s pattern and story logically.

HOPs:   Interactive – so diverse, so many varieties it’s hard to list them all.  They are clever, unusual, and some are complex, some simple.  They include story Mini-HOPs where you find and replace Items within the pages of the story.  This keeps you totally involved in the story of the game as you learn about its back-story. Below is one example of a HOP – the Graphics are clear despite the gloom, so Game-play is more enjoyable.

Puzzles:   Also really diverse, mostly fun to play, a few that had to be Skipped due to lack of logic, randomness, or time constraints – you reach a point where you don’t want to be overly delayed from resolving the dramas of the game.

Game-play:   This was really good – you are engaged in the play from the start.  The use of the Map speeds up Play considerably, though you don’t feel compelled to use it all the time as the action focusses on the immediate sites.  The Controls and Navigation function well which leaves you free to enjoy the game.  You are assisted by a small Scarecrow friend, to collect some things beyond your reach, and to scare birds and creatures if he can.

Player Participation:   This is good – there is the usual Back & Forth, Point & Click activity, as well as the extra activity within the HOPs and Puzzles.

Satisfaction Factor:     Once again this was an immensely satisfying game, with a well-resolved outcome, that left me wishing that the Producers and Publishers didn’t have this system of splitting games into Standard and Collector’s Editions.  How nice to just have all this Collector’s Edition material in every game!

Frustration Factors:     The is a slight delay between scenes – especially new scenes.  You just want to get on, but need to take a breath and allow the scene to appear.

Extras:    As I didn’t trial or purchase the Collector’s Edition, I missed out on these – no doubt Bonus Game, Strategy Guide, Play HOPs, Wallpapers, Music, ScreenSavers, and possibly Play Puzzles, and more.

I really liked this game and bought it using a Discount Coupon as soon as I could.  So naturally I recommend it.

Jud House 17/11/2014

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HOP & PUZZLE VARIATIONS


HOP EXPLOSION!

Though I’m stating the obvious here, it seems to me that competition between the Major Producers of Hidden Object and Adventure games has increased the Player Participation and therefore the enjoyment levels considerably.  This also has rolled over into the external search areas for those Items scattered about at random, many of which now appear as Mini-HOPs or Mini-Puzzles. Even the term HOPs (Hidden Object Puzzles) has been created to supersede the term HOGs, (Hidden Object Games) as that is what they are now, incorporating Puzzles within the Item search.

Initially there were LISTS of random Items – in some cases these were relevant to the game genre, and/or setting, and/or era, and/or story (if there were one), but usually they were a whole jumble of miscellaneous objects.  Quite a few of the games focussed on how quickly you could find all of them, and generously allowed the Player to have Unlimited play to clear ALL HOs from each scene after the game was completed.  This of course was pre-Collector’s Edition times, when you didn’t have to pay extra for the privilege.

PUZZLES were mainly MATCH 3, JIGSAWS, SPOT THE DIFFERENCE, and FIND THE DIFFERENCE (CONCENTRATION) games.

Players began to feel that LISTS were getting a bit too random, and rather humdrum, same-ol’ same-ol’, dare I say boring. They wanted some variety in their PUZZLES as well. So the Game Designers began to make them INTERACTIVE LISTS where you needed to move something to reveal the hidden Item.  And SHAPES, OUTLINES, SILHOUETTES, FRAGMENTS to ASSEMBLE, and RIDDLES followed gradually.  PUZZLES  began to increase in style and number – STACKING, SLIDE to MATCH, FLIPPING, BUTTON PRESSING in ORDER, BUTTON SLIDING, SHOOTING, ARCHERY, LOGIC, RANDOM HITS, and more – so that there were as many of them as there were HOs per game.  This of course was rather irritating if you really wanted to play HO and not PUZZLE games – there were plenty of them that catered for those Players.

Then came the BUBBLES – they were great!  You hovered over or clicked on an Item that you needed, causing a BUBBLE to open, with little MINI-BUBBLES around it – some empty, and others with SHAPES of Items inside, that had to be found to release the original Item to you.  These were really fun as you could end up with four or five of these in one scene – you could choose to have them all, or some, or only one of them open at a time.

The MINI-GAMES were next to arrive – these were a blend of HOs and PUZZLES, which you would think was a bit over the top but which is actually really stimulating and fun.  It is important that there are clear instructions from the INFO button, and that the HOs are fairly done – not transparent, or blurry, or mostly hidden with only a tiny bit sticking out – but that is a whole other issue which I have covered many times.  At first these MINI-GAMES were within the HOs as ZOOM sites – rather fun, and different.

Now, there are these HOPs – HIDDEN OBJECT PUZZLES to solve, where each Item found is used within the site to find the next Item and so on until you are left with a final Item. There is the STORY HOP where as the tale is told you have find shapes within the story page/s to continue to the next page/s; or you find and replace Items scattered throughout the Story page/s before continuing to the next one.  This actually involves you in the STORY, you are part of the Narrative – the STORY drives the game.  There are glorious FRAGMENTS of jewelled items to gather up and assemble, or FRAGMENTS of mundane Items that become tools to use.  These are all so cleverly hidden yet in most cases totally visible and accessable.  Now, in most cases the irrelevance of the Items in the HOPs has gone – the Items may be random but they almost always now fit their setting, story, era, and genre (SciFi, Fantasy. Crime etc).

All these intertwined HOs and PUZZLES – these HOPs – are fantastic, innovative, fun, entertaining, tricky, frustrating, hair-pulling, surprising, unusual, and in some cases you can barely believe they can devise such cool MINI-GAMES – such HOPs!

I am so happy that the competition is great between these Game Producers and the Publishers.  It is to our benefit.  Sometimes I Skip their offerings – sometimes the Puzzle element won’t work, or hinders the progress of the Game, but on the whole I like the new HOPs.  As they strive to go one better than each other, the end result is Happy Player, Happy Buyer!

Jud House  16/11/2014

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PARANORMAL PURSUIT: THE GIFTED ONE – Collector’s Edition


by ALAWAR; LOGRIS GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

PARANORMAL CRIME!

Story:  Every second counts in this breathtaking paranormal adventure! Lives are on the line as you race to keep a young boy with psychic abilities from falling into the hands of an evil politician. To evade the henchman sent to kill you and kidnap the child, you’ll have to find cleverly hidden objects and solve cunning puzzles using the boy’s abilities to manipulate time and matter. Each chapter in Paranormal Pursuit ends with a nail-biting escape sequence during which you must make the right choices to avoid capture.
Your courage will be rewarded in this Collector’s Edition of Paranormal Pursuit with Achievements and a host of unlockable content including a bonus adventure in which you investigate strange events on a remote island. What you find there will suggest the Paranormal Adventure saga is far from over. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Main Menu:    Both THE GIFTED ONE (Main Game) and ON THE EDGE (Bonus Game) are accessed via PLAY here.

Desktop:    Map, Menu, Notebook (Left);  Inventory (Centre);  Hints, Helper (Right).

Options:     Okay – you can access your Difficulty Modes there.

Tutorial:    Efficient, informative.

Play Modes:    Casual; Advanced; Expert.

Map:    There were several – as you move to a new location you get a new Interactive Map that gradually unlocks as you enter new areas.

Graphics:    Colourful, imaginative, well devised and designed to suit the needs and era of each setting.  Atmospheric at times but not intrusively.

HOPs:   Varied – Interactive Shapes; Interactive Lists; Mini-HOPs that are fully Interactive until final Item found.

Puzzles:   On the whole these were good, varied, with only a couple that I had to Skip when they didn’t want to accept my solution.  I checked in the Guide after the first ‘Dud’ only to find that there were alternative solutions and the game’s solution differed from my correct one.  Annoying.  So I reluctantly followed the Guide example when this occurred again.

Collections:   Coins – resembling Detective Tool Discs.  Unfortunately these don’t seem to be accessible after the game is complete.  And I couldn’t see what they unlocked.

Game-play:   Apart from HOPs and Puzzles to collect and use Items, there are plenty of knobs, lock-dials, tools, and general miscellania scattered around the locations and trapped under various obstructions for you to locate and collect.  You need to collect Coins. You need to escape locked rooms/cellars/buildings several times.  You need to rescue the Paranormal Child a number of times.  You gain a helpers along the way in the form of the Child, and an FBI Agent (Main Game), and the other missing Child (Bonus Game).  The Game-Play is logical, and flows fairly well.  It is definitely a Crime game though the topic is rather unusual.

Player Participation:   You really search for Items, moving others aside with the Mouse until you can pick up what lies beneath.  If you don’t use the Map there is quite a lot of Back & Forth to perform – if you do use the Map (and I recommend that you do) there is still a great deal of hands-on Game-Play.

Satisfaction Factor:    The fact that both Games have well plotted, cohesive Stories with good strong Resolutions is immensely satisfying.  I wish more games provided this.

Frustration Factors:      You have to make some tricky moves, and sometimes it’s hard to know what is needed next – when there are no ‘!’ marks on the Map in any site, check your Inventory.  There will be Items there that need to be repaired, or have other pieces added to them before you can continue at any location.

Extras:    Concept Art; Wallpapers; Cut Scenes; Achievements (in which you can find Collectibles – no that it does you any good); Music; and Characters.  There are no HOP scenes to replay, nor Puzzles nor Mini-HOPs.

Bonus Game:     ON THE EDGE – This game follows the pattern of the Main Game, while you rescue one of the missing children that you learned about in the Main Game.  It is of good length, convoluted Game-Play, and satisfying ending.

I recommend this game as it is unusual.  The Bonus Game and the Guide are really the only Extras of value that justify paying the Collector’s Edition price – the rest are unnecessary.

Jud House 11/11/2014

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DANSE MACABRE: MOULIN ROUGE – Collector’s Edition


by EIPIX ENTERTAINMENT; BIGFISH GAMES

INTRIGUING, MACABRE!

Story:  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, famous artist and dedicated patron of the Moulin Rouge, has come to you for help! Who murdered his friend Sophie, the leading lady of the Moulin Rouge? It’s time to gather up the suspects. Was it the clumsy stagehand? Or maybe it was the jealous Baron… Explore the city of Paris as you gather and examine evidence that will point you to the true killer. But watch your step – a masked figure is watching you from around every corner! Make sure this thrilling Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure isn’t your last!  (Big Fish Sales Blurb) 

Desktop:   Guide, Evidence Board, Map, Map, Match 3 (Left); Inventory/HOP Lists (Centre);  Hint, Morph Wizard/Windmill Icons alternative (Right).

Options:    Good basic Options and a cool Main Menu.

Extras:    Play Bonus Chapter; Play Mini-Games; Play HOPs; Bonus HOP; Souvenir Room; Match 3; Collectibles; Codex; Making of; Pictures; Movies; Music.

Tutorial:    As always with EIPIX games this is good – you get to choose whether to have a full Tute, a partial Tute, or only unusual game-play Tute interruptions.

Play Modes:   Casual; Challenging; Expert; Custom.  I always opt for Custom given the choice.

Map:    Interactive and helpful – the Exclamation Marks (!) let you know what needs to be done next while the Question Marks (?) show the Objective site.

Graphics:   These are gorgeous, authentic to Paris in that era – the Eiffel Tower is only half built  when it appears in the background of scenes.  They are clear and colourful, though less so in the HOPs.

Music:  This is really good – varied, and suitable to the games locale and era.

HOPs:   There are Lists; Shapes; Lists plus Shapes; Mini HOPs; Riddle Question HOPs – most are Interactive.

Puzzles:   Quite varied, both in interest and design -a few were boring, and a couple wouldn’t close forcing me to Skip them even though I had already completed them correctly.  I know this because I double checked them in the Guide before pressing Skip.  The final Puzzle has poor instructions and wouldn’t respond to any of my attempts to evade the blasts, so I was forced to Skip it!  All Puzzles should be playable!

Collections:   Windmills (41) – these are Windmill Blades and can be accessed via the Collectibles in the Extras Menu after games completion.  Wizard Morph objects (14) which are in the HOPs and hard to see – I only got half of them.  And though I tried to get the rest when the whole CE was complete, I couldn’t see them at all.  Sometime shtey are needed to unlock further game-play so this is annoying.  The morphing needs to be more often and more apparent – at least in the Easy Modes.

Game-play:   This is enjoyable as the Navigation and Controls work well, the Story is embedded into the game driving the play, and the HOPs and Puzzles are not too frequent, allowing for Item and Evidence gathering and usage as you progress and in order to progress.  The Evidence Board can be accessed easily, and provides you with information about Suspects and gathered Information.  The Evidence Kit which you collect from your office at the outset of the investigation, is placed into your Inventory and opens for your use when clicked.  It will tell you if you do not need it at the time or will provide access to the tools if you do – very helpful and time-saving.  The Souvenir Room can be accessed from the Extras menu and provides extra play.  If you haven’t collected all the souvenirs then click on an uncollected item (shape) in the room and it will transport you to the scene it is from.  In the bottom left you will be shown the shaped item in a bubble – find it and you will be transported automatically to the next site of a missing souvenir and so on till all are collected.  Some items are in sight others need an action to find them.

Player Participation:   This is good – you are doing things all the time – there seems to be little milling around doing nothing in this game.

Satisfaction Factor:   This is high throughout most of the game.  Although the story resolves well, the ending is quick and leaves you wondering who the villain really was – you don’t have time to identify them before they are gone from the screen.  A bit annoying.

Frustration Factors:    Only the faulty Puzzles – especially the final one which was really annoying.  I do prefer to be able to play and complete all the Puzzles – when they are illogical, timed, require quick dexterity, or are poorly explained I feel cheated by the game designers.  All Puzzles should be playable!

Bonus Game:   Similar Game-play, HOPs, Puzzles (quite a few of them), Interactive Map use, and continuation of Collectibles search.  The Story was also well devised, and at least this resolved clearly and satisfactorily.  Always best to end with no doubts at all – even if there is a hint-hook for a probable sequel.

I highly recommend this game and bought it at the next Sale.

Jud House 24/10/2014

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MYSTERY CASTLE: THE MIRROR’S SECRET


by MERIDIAN 93; BIGFISH GAMES

INTRIGUING, MACABRE!

Story:  Groth, the Soul Reaver, has kidnapped your daughter Jessica! Explore the dangerous world of the ancient castle and help release the captive souls whom you meet along the way. Can you solve the ingenious traps of the mysterious castle? Defeat Grot’s magic and save Jessica!  (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:      Scroll/Tasks, Menu (Left); Inventory, HOP Lists (Centre); Gargoyle/Hint, Mirror (Right).

Options:    Good; Basic.

Tutorial:    Efficient; tells you all you need to know.

Play Modes:   Casual; Intermediate; Expert; Hardcore.

Map:   None.

Graphics:   I love the colourful, clear, though a little dark at times, Graphics.  The colour keeps you optimistic as you play, despite the slightly scary villain who whisks your daughter just out of your reach many times as you try to save her.

HOPs:   Interactive; with lists of HOs to find; and at least two turns per site, and fairly clear graphics.

Puzzles:   Interesting and unusual enough without being too tough – at least in the Casual setting – I’m not interested in ever trying the harder modes as I prefer to enjoy my game without penalties or added frustrations.

Collections:   You collect Mirror Fragments as you progress – not Collections in the real sense as half of them are given to you.  But you do need to find and collect Morph objects in the scenes and/or the HOPs – I didn’t collect all of them myself as I kept forgetting about them.  Perhaps when I replay the game some time.

Game-play:   Good 3D CG characters in the opening, which is brief and sets up the game well.  You progress through one painting/picture after another that are portals between the rooms in the building.  You need to restore these in some way before you can move on into them.  Plus you need to take care of a task on behalf of the ghost inhabiting the room, in order to free their spirit and gain a Mirror Shard.

Player Participation:   This was fairly good – you had to ‘do’ tasks yourself in many cases, and in the right order.

Satisfaction Factor:    I really liked the continuity of the logical, imaginative storyline – it was integral to the game-play, and made it a pleasure to play.

Frustration Factors:  The navigation and controls are good, though I sometimes found myself opening the Inventory unnecessarily.

 I highly recommend this game – it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the latest games, but it’s an enjoyable play that is very satisfying.

Jud House 17/10/2014

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