1578: Games Journalism is Broken


judsgamereviews:

SUPPORT YOUR GAME REVIEWERS!

Visit their sites. It’s amazing what you can learn from people like Pete Davison. Even when it’s not in your preferred genre, you can pick up surprising tips, and gain understanding of how Gaming and games work. Go to Pete’s blog site – I’m Not Dr Who at angryjedi .wordpress.com and see the variety of information he offers: Music, Game Terms Definitions, Gaming, Creative Writing and Personal. He has been such a help to me over the last few years since I began this site – and he lives in UK and I live in Australia.  There are no boundaries for Game Reviewers – physical, geographical, or technical.  Our main aim is to help and enlighten Gamers and prospective Gamers.

Jud House  18/05/2014

Originally posted on I'm Not Doctor Who:

And I’m not going to fix it. I’m not sure anyone can.

I mention this amid the news that Future, one of the biggest publishing companies in the UK that has been around for as long as I can remember, is having severe difficulties. Difficulties that are serious enough to see it considering the closure of CVG (aka Computer and Video Games), one of the longest-running brands in the games press. Future’s woes aren’t solely to do with the games press side of its operation, of course — indeed, it is apparently intending to keep PC Gamer, Gamesradar and the new (somewhat redundant) Kotaku UK up and running regardless of what else happens — but the company’s situation, particularly with regard to the games press, is not at all unusual. I was let go from my position at USgamer recently, as you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up to date…

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REFLECTIONS OF LIFE: TREE OF DREAMS – Collector’s Edition


by GRAND MA STUDIOS; BIGFISH GAMES

FANTASTIC CRYSTAL/PORTAL GAME!

Story:  For 25 years, you’ve thought you were an orphan. But one stormy night, a mysterious man steps out of a mirror in your home and claims to be your uncle. What’s more, he says your parents are still alive! The city they live in is under attack from a force that could threaten the entire world… and you’re the only one who can stop it. Do you have the courage to step into the mirror and face your destiny? Find out as you journey through a series of strange and beautiful worlds in this Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:     Album, Crystal, Map, Guide (Left); Inventory (Centre); Hint/Skip, Owl helper, Bag for Final Potion Items (Right). 

Main Menu:   Apart from Options, More Games, More Info,, Extras, and Quit, the PLAY button opens up Main Story, Bonus Chapter, and Hidden Chapter.  Almost from the outset you can see that you are going to get your money’s worth.

Options:    Very good; has More Options button.

Tutorial:   Really helpful without being annoying.  You can opt out of course.

Play Modes:    Casual; Advanced; Hard.

Map:    Interactive, and mostly very helpful.  Occasionally doesn’t show “!” on any site, but this is in the Bonus Chapter and only for a while.

Graphics:   These are spectacular – real Fantasy colours, creatures, characters, settings, and artwork generally.  Attention to details excellent, and visual clarity very good.

HOPs:   Have a Match 3 alternative that you can switch back and forth between if you choose to or if you get stuck in one of them.  The HOPs have Interactive Lists, which are relatively relaxed to search with a few exceptions per HOP, and even the Graphics for these are fairly clear.

Puzzles:   Diverse, unusual, and vary from complex to Mini Puzzles.  On the whole achievable, though right at the end I found the third level of the blocked maze type of puzzle was impossible.  By then I was too tired to persevere.  There is also one where the zoomed ‘window’ has an Object that needs its pieces found – these are all around outside the opened ‘window’ on the main screen, with a tally box set up beside it.  It’s a bit confusing at first because it doesn’t quite make sense, but it works.  The first is a Boot Puzzle, but there are a few more of these through the game.  The 2 Main Final Potion Puzzles are quite difficult.

Collections:   Leaves – transparent leaves, 4 per site/scene, which you need to find to unlock the Hidden Chapter, upon completion of the Bonus Chapter!  If you haven’t found them all at the close of the game, don’t be alarmed.  You click on Leaves in Bonus Content – this opens the Tree page adorned with the leaves you have found and those that you haven’t.  Click on one that you haven’t found and it opens the scene so you can re-search it till you locate the missing Leaf/Leaves.  Continue till you have them all.  This unlocks the Jigsaw Puzzle that unlocks the Hidden Chapter – you click each leaf in turn to gain a jigsaw piece to place into the painting.  So this game actually gives you quite a lot of Game-Play.

Game-play:   This is quite diverse – not just straight seek and find with HOPs and Puzzles.  It involves Portals that require activation by Picture Puzzles, the fragments of which you need to find scattered through the sites.  The Crystal is then activated automatically when you click on each Portal Gate.  Although there are four main Portals there are also others through which you can short-cut back to the main Portals site.  Of course you can by-pass some of these by using the Interactive Map if you choose to.

Player Participation:   This is full-on regardless whether you make use of the Interactive Map or not.  It is a game that needs total Hands-on activity which is really good.

Satisfaction Factor:   As the length of both Main Game and Bonus Chapter is substantial, the satisfaction derived from playing both is high.  In both, the Story is complex, and integral to the Game-Play – at no time are you distanced from the story – it drives the play forward.  A really gratifying experience graphically and narratively.

Frustration Factors:   Minor Mouse Control when near the Inventory – it pops up when not required – byt this is mainly a player fault rather than a game fault.

Extras:    Achievements; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Music; Movies; Leaves;

Bonus Chapter:     Quite long, and is a side issue occurring after the conclusion of the Main Story, in which you need to rescue your Owl helper as well as set the Owl world to rights.  It has the same Game-Play, is interesting and cohesive.  Very enjoyable.

Hidden Chapter:  This is more of the same but as a mini problem that needs solving.  Quite cool.

I highly recommend this game as a Collector’s Edition – there are so many extras to have.  I bought it as soon as I could.

Jud House 10/07/2014

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DARK PARABLES: BALLAD OF RAPUNZEL – Collector’s Edition


by BLUE TEA GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

BRILLIANT; WOW!

Story:    Convoluted, but excellent.   It provides a mixture of Fairy Tale characters from its Prequels, while adding a few more – most obviously Rapunzel.  Really well devised plotline, and completely interwoven and driving the Gale-Play.  The Main Game narrative’s ending is conclusive, though we know there are more options to pursue.  The Collector’s Edition carries with it’s own ending, the promise of more Parables to anticipate.

You’ve been called to the kingdom of Floralia to track down the source of a mysterious pollen spreading throughout the world. Rumor has it that Princess Rapunzel is somehow involved – the haunting melody she sings appears to summon the pollen… But how did the once-loved princess come to control such a deadly force? And who is the mysterious, shadowy figure always by her side? The secrets you uncover may be darker than you imagined in this exciting Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Main Menu:  Colourful – Play; Options; Credits; Player; Bonus Game; Bonus Content; Exit.

Desktop:    Hint, Parables, Task (Left); Inventory (Centre); Guide, Options, Map (Right).

Options:    Really good.

Tutorial:    Clear Tute; quick efficient; helpful.  Info on important things in the game.

Play Modes:    Casual; Normal; Hard.

Map:    This is unusually windowed on the Bottom Right of Screen – you can watch yourself move between sites as you play.  If you click on it the full Map opens, showing Active Sites and your location.  However it is not Interactive, so you cannot use it as a Portal to jump to the next Active site.  This is disappointing.

Graphics:   Gorgeous; Exotic; Sumptuous.  The entire Graphic experience is fantastic and wonderful.  Huge contribution to Satisfaction Factor.  The attention to details over all aspects of the game – settings, architecture, landscapes, characters and their attire, creatures, weather, atmospherics generally – right down the the seemingly least important things, has been excellent.

HOPs:   These I love – they consist of Pics of Fragments of Jewelled Items that then assemble and go into your Inventory.  Wonderful, glorious, brilliantly colourful, interesting, necessary for the narrative (rather than a collection of random Items that bear no relation to the era and setting of the story), and great fun to find.  The difficulty levels range from some Easy some Middle and some very Hard to find in each site.

Puzzles:   Diverse; some have several levels to complete to get the final result.  Mostly good.  Only had to Skip a couple and I think those were only in the Bonus Game.

Collections:   Flowerstones (20); Rapunzel (4); Goddess Flora (4); Cursed Objects (20)

Game-play:   Because the Map isn’t Interactive, this game entails a lot of Back & Forth, Point & Click play, which can get a little tiring and frustrating at times, but the story keeps you engrossed which makes up for it.  As you can tell by now, it involves the usual HOPs and Puzzles, plus plentiful scattered Items to acquire and use, while on your Quest to rescue Rapunzel and save the World.  It is really very enjoyable.

Player Participation:   Heaps!

Satisfaction Factor:   Massive.

Frustration Factors:    Minor.

Bonus Content:   Puzzles; Wallpaper; Movie Gallery; Music; Concept Art; Parable Notes; Collections. 

Bonus Game:    The Thumbelina Curse.

I highly recommend this and all the other DARK PARABLES games.  It’s another triumph for BLUE TEA GAMES!  I bought it immediately.

Jud House 7/07/2014

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LOST SOULS: TIMELESS FABLES


by FENOMEN GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

PORTAL STORYBOOK GAME!

Story:  After Bella’s brother Stan mysteriously disappeared, she’s been haunted by a single dream. Every night she sees her brother vanishing into a glaring portal opened by a strange, ancient book, and every night she wakes up in a cold shiver. She feels certain that it’s not a mere coincidence or a trick of the mind, but something to do with a recent find Stan made – an ancient artifact. Set out in search of Stan through the pages of well-known novels and true stories on an exciting adventure – meet spectacular characters, visit eye-catching locations and engage in a twisted plot! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:     Map Globe, Menu (Left);Inventory (Centre); Hint, Notebook (Right). 

Options:     Basic Settings but adequate.

Tutorial:  Good info, quick, efficient, not intrusive.  Always worth doing no matter what level of game-playing experience you have.  The Tute alerts you to Collectibles that you may sail through the game missing, only to find you have failed to unlock an Extra by doing so.  Besides not all game-play is the same.

Play Modes:   Easy; Expert.

Map:   Interactive; tells you how many Items still to find and things to do in sites, and when site is complete – always useful.  You have to open the Map to access new sites as they arise – the Tute will direct you to do this which is good as you can forget that it’s needed if you’ve been off playing something else for a while.

Graphics:   These are gorgeous as usual – colourful, imaginative, delineated, mostly clear, and authentic for each new Fable.  Initially, for the prologue part they are rather dark and atmospheric, but change once you have entered the Books.

Books:   CALL OF CTHULHU; ROBINSON CRUSOE; THE THREE MUSKETEERS; JACK THE RIPPER.

HOPs:   Interactive – Lists and pictures of Items.  You find and collect an extra Item after the main HOP is complete.  Atmospherics spoil the clarity of the HOP Graphics a little.

Puzzles:   Plenty of variety, and good Info for the Puzzles which is pleasing.

Collections:   None specifically, but various during the game to acquire the requisite 4 Amulet pieces.

Game-play:   FAULTY in PC; PLAYS PERFECTLY in MAC!   The screen blocks out black and white at the Beach scene in Robinson Crusoe – I believe a Patch is being worked on that will be made available soon, I hope. But in MAC versions this does not occur.  The Story splits into 4 Books which you need to dust off before you can enter them.  The HotSpots in a scene Highlight when you Mouse-Over them.  It is quite a fun game to play, and while the Tasks set you by interested parties within the story may not be very altrusitic at times, they of course add to the game-play so you get good value.

Player Participation:   Plenty of hands-on game-play.

Satisfaction Factor:   Made me wonder what I’d missed in the Collector’s Edition, but did complete satisfactorily.  There was not a feeling of anything missing in the narrative.  I enjoyed the Graphics and the Playing experience enough to download the Mac version, when the faults occurred on the PC version, to see if it was also faulty.  Thrilled to find it wasn’t and bought it as soon as the Trial hour was over.

Frustration Factors:   Nothing that really bothered me – I just wish the game had been longer in each book and overall.

I highly recommend this game – if you have access to a Mac definitely play the free Trial – if you only have access to a PC then try the free Trial up to the Faulty screen to see if you like it.  If you check the Forum for the game on BigFish (and any other Provider that may have Forums) you should get info on the coming Patch for the game.  As I had the Mac, I didn’t need to wait for that.  Phew!! 

Jud House 5/07/2014

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Posted in CRIME & MYSTERY, FANTASY, ISLAND GAMES, STORY-BOOK GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

PSYCH


by LEGACY GAMES; GLOBAL PLAY; BIGFISH GAMES

PSYCHIC CRIME

Story:   Welcome to the wacky world of the hit television series, Psych! When a prominent planner is murdered at a local wedding expo, Shawn and Gus jump in to help out the Santa Barbara Police Department. But it turns out the murderer is just getting started! Use Shawn’s heightened observational skills and Gus’ eccentric expertise to solve the crime in this hilarious Hidden Object game! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:   Menu (Left); Pjus’s Inventory/Shawn’s Memory (Centre); Hint (Right).   

Options: Basic.

Music:   This becomes rather irritating after a while – I turned it right down.

Play Modes:   Easy; Casual; Expert.

Map:    None – so lots of Back & Forth/ Point & Click.

Graphics:   Well designed; good layouts; colourful – suits crime locations.

HOPs:   Interactive but straight-forward.  Graphics okay for these, but seem to recall some of the items being rather small.

Puzzles:   These took the form of Evidence processing – I think – I didn’t make any notes of this which is unusual.

Collections:   None – other than evidence in usual game-play manner.

Game-play:   The game opened stright into the game, then belatedly the characters were introduced.  Because you go into Shawn’s memory, you merely click on the Items to lock their image into his part of the Inventory Bar, rather than actually collecting them. Although the game-play is rather disjointed, and consequently frustrating, not to mention far less sophisticated than other Crime games like CSI and NCIS, it does draw you in.  You can use Hint to show you the next needed site if you get lost due to lack of Map and Info.  Also the concept of the real Inventory and the Memories is a little tricky to sort out – the problem is knowing when to use which inventory, and this causes confusion.  This gradually settles down.

Player Participation:   Due to lack of Map this is quite full-on, but not in a good way – just lots of going Back & Forth as mentioned which is tiring.

Satisfaction Factor:   I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t find it very satisfying at all.

Frustration Factors:   An under-supply of story info causes confusion and frustration; the lack of a Map is frustrating and so is the repetitive Music.

I was debating whether to use a Game Coupon to get this, or whether it’s just not good enough but I’ve now decided on the latter.  It really doesn’t live up to the other Crime games, and is just too basic to hold my interest.  Give the trial a try by all means.

Jud House 1/07/2014

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DREAMPATH: THE TWO KINGDOMS – Collector’s Edition


by BOOLAT GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

WOW!!!  SO SURPRISING!

Story:    The doctors have failed. Now your sister, the Queen, lies on her deathbed – you are her last hope! Rumor has it that a mystical cure exists in the faraway kingdom of Goldthorne… but no one dares to go there since the last king mysteriously vanished. Do you have the courage to face the unknown and save your sister? Find out as you soar high into a world of floating islands, talking cats, and magical dragons. But beware – sinister forces are watching you from the shadows in this exciting Hidden Object Adventure game. (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:    Journal, Compass(Map), Menu (Left); Inventory (Centre); Guide, Hint, Cat (Right).  

Options:     Basic, but fine.

Tutorial:    Good quick Tute – very efficient.

Play Modes:    Casual; Normal; Expert.

Map:    Interactive, which the Tute openly suggests you to use, but more than meets the eye.  There are the Maps for each location, but then the Dragon, who acts as your transport from site to site, becomes the World Map so you can travel between countries. This is just one of the surprises.

HOPs:   These are Interactive as you would now expect – Lists, Shapes, and combinations of these – intricate, clever, diverse, engaging, interesting – a whole new level of fun for players.

Puzzles:   There are some really surprising Puzzles here – like the HOPs, these are clever, diverse, quite unusual, innovative, and make you think.  I only Skipped a couple late in the game when I was really tired.

Collections:   30 Silver and 30 Gold Tokens.

Graphics:   Unbelieveable!!!  WOW!!!!  Really superb in so many ways – design: lay-out of terrains and architecture, creatures and characters, costumes, atmosphere and weather – imaginative, colourful, brilliance, a shining jewel in the Graphics Stakes!!  Makes you just want to dive in and keep playing.

Game-play:   I’ve already mentioned that the HOP and Puzzle Game-play is more interactive than normal, and quite unusual which is refreshing.  At no time did I find myself thinking ‘Here we go again’.  And you would think that after a while the HOPs would become more of the same – but they didn’t there was always a twist, a surprise!  the story is really excellent, well embedded into the Game-play, driving the game forwards, with a few sites per location to go Back & Forth between which was also a bonus.  But this doesn’t mean that the game is quickly over – it is quite a long and complex game, yet at no time do you find yourself felling confused.  It has direction and purpose.  A real Quest game.  You are assisted by the Cat, Muir – a Tower Servant, and by the Dragon who is really Prince Harad – the former is amusing, the latter more serious.

Player Participation:   This is constant which is always great.  You are totally involved, except for a couple of automatic actions that your own actions initiate.

Satisfaction Factor:    This is huge.  The pleasure in playing a game that continues to surprise is immeasurable.  Although I have many other great games already on my review list, as soon as I had finished playing late last night, I determined that I would review it first thing this morning.

Frustration Factors:    None that I could detect.  Well the Cursor Arrow makes the Inventory open if you are careless when Backing out of a room, but that is more a player fault.

Extras:    Bonus Game; Media; Cat Room; Strategy Guide; Achievements; Secret Game (which unlocks after the Bonus Game is completed).

Bonus Game:   This is the Cat, Muir’s story about his rescue of the Prediction Mirror, prior to the main Game story.   More of the same Game-play, and a particularly icky huge Rat to outfox.  Quite amusing.

Secret Game:  Using the World Map, this is a Board Game that you play against the Prince and the Cat to defeat the Stone Dragon.  A nice touch, and a bit of fun.

To say I highly recommend this game is an understatement – I shout it from the rooftops!

Jud House 19/06/2014

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