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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Pile of Shame


Check out this cool Blog site – below is my response to it that I thought I’d share with you..

http://angryjedi.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/1733-bumper-crop/

Yippeeee!!!! The strip is back :D I’ve done a little happy dance with excitement. Now I can stop nagging you about it. :D

As for the Pile of Shame, mine is mostly on my desktop, but come to think of it I do have a box full of games as well – you know, one of those square boxes that fit into wall units to store your stuff in.

You said that’s okay as they can wait to be played and will always be there. But WILL they play when you go to do so? Some of mine are just too old to work without pixellated graphics and other minor glitches or major glitches as well. :D So we will both have to try to squeeze them all in asap.

There is another problem with the more recent older games sitting in the stand-by list, and that is that by the time you get round to playing them so you can review them, gamers have moved on to newer faster clearer and technically advanced games (as have you of course which is why they are still sitting there waiting) so the review becomes redundant, and you spend your playing time in high frustration, peering throught the gloom at the screen, grumbling about there being no interactive Map, tapping your fingers as you wait for the interim black between-scenes screen to get over itself, and generally wondering why you thought it was good enough to buy a month or year ago. And when you do play them you can’t be bothered finishing them and they sit on the desktop waiting … waiting … waiting ….

It’s reassuring to think that I am not alone in having a Pile of Shame cluttering up my Desktop and my shelves.  How many others are out there?

Jud House 17/10/2014

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RUNAWAY EXPRESS MYSTERY


by ICARUS GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

INTRIGUING, MACABRE, CRIME!

Story:   While a young mother attends a train exhibition with her children, something strange happens. The monumental Runaway Express starts moving with her children on board! With no one to help, the frightened mother jumps on the train before it starts to speed away. While on board, she finds that it is occupied by unexpected travelers – ghosts of people who died on board during those 50 years the train was operating between Paris and Istanbul.

Every death, every person, every ghost holds some mystery that has yet to be investigated. Now, these haunted souls rule the train and it is no longer suitable for the living. The young mother finds that the only way to save her children is to investigate the haunted past and bring some resolution to these lost souls.

Will it break the curse? Will uncovering each mystery free every soul? Why do the passengers fear the masked Engineer? Unveil the mysteries to find out how to defeat him, but beware, doing so comes at a price.  (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:   Left: Notebook (only Notes), Magnifying Glass (Evidence Board), Menu  Centre: Inventory (General & Evidence)  Right: Tasks, Hints, Map (Interactive)

Options:   Basic, but with Auto-Widescreen.

Tutorial:   Clear, informative.

Play Modes:   Casual; Advanced; Expert.

Map:   Interactive – once you gain this at the start of the first Case, it proves very useful.  It continues to expand as you proceed through the carriages of the train and into locations at the stations.  If the map is not showing the Exclamation Mark indicating the next Hot-Spot, then you probably need to carry out some task within your Inventory – Tip: Use the 101 Room Key on the Soap Key Impression, plus the File, to create the 102 Room Key.

Graphics:   These are really excellent – authentic for the era of the main character’s time, plus for that of the ghostly characters’ time –  colourful at times, gloomy at others.

HOPs:   These occur occasionally – at new locations and when you need to find specific evidence items.  You then use a left-side tool bar of Investigator’s tools – Magnifying Glass, Fingerprint Powder, Luminol Spray, and Flashlight – within the HOP to locate certain evidence.  This makes them really enjoyable.  You also collect Interactive Silhouetted Items to use back into the HOP until you reach the final Item.

Puzzles:   There are very few of these as most of the work is done as you progress.  They mostly require Logic.  The Final Puzzle to defeat the Engineer, is a little baffling as you click on the question mark and nothing happens.  This is because the question mark is where you need to put one of the numbers from the squares across the bottom to make the sequence of numbers make sense.  Once you grasp this, you can solve it quite quickly.

Game-play:   This was excellent – involving you in all the actions, the searching, and the use of the Evidence Board upon which you had to place the crucial items as you found them.  It involves questioning the ghosts by clicking on the topics indicated  – you can fast forward through these dialogues if you tired of them or read faster than they speak.  You  then receive information and helpful items from them.  Gradually, you  fill up the Evidence Board by clicking the Magnifying Glass , then using Items from Inventory, until the Case is finally solved.  Then you reveal the solution to the relevant ghost, gaining the Power Key to move to the next carriage and the next case.
There are Three cases in all, and all ultimately belong to the disaster that turned the train into a ghostly Runaway Express.
Case 1:   The Disappearance of Lord Parkinson.
Case 2:   Death of a Torch Singer.
Case 3:   A Caper Gone Wrong.

Player Participation:   High – you do each Task yourself – for example, using a screwdriver on each individual screw, or turning a key twice then turning the door handle.

Satisfaction Factor:  High – this is a very satisfying game, ending conclusively so that there are no loose ends.

Frustration Factors:   Only the bemused moments when you can’t see where you need to go, and the Map is not helping.  This is brought about by the text telling you where next to go, not staying on screen long enough – you usually glance down to check other things then find it gone when you look back again.  So Tip: make sure you read all of them before being distracted elsewhere.

I came across this game searching for a Standard Game to use a Free Game Coupon on.  At first I wasn’t sure but thought ‘Oh well, might as well try it.’   I was so glad that I did.  It’s an excellent Crime game, with more detecting and evidence collecting, less HOPs and Puzzles, more PP, and several Cases to investigate.  

I really do highly recommend this game to all Crime fans.

Jud House 29/09/2014

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AMARANTHINE VOYAGE: THE SHADOW OF TORMENT – Collector’s Edition


by EIPIX ENTERTAINMENT; BIGFISH GAMES

STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL CONCEPTION!

Story:  Long ago, Anther was a realm of beauty and magic, but the appearance of a being named Torment drained their magic and forced the survivors to flee to a world called Earth. Years later, one of their artifacts has been uncovered, reopening the way between both worlds. You must enter the portal and stop Torment before it turns its sights toward Earth. An ancient prophecy declares that you will be the one to save both worlds, but will it come true? Find out in this breathtaking Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:      Menu, Guide, Magic Device/Nether Vision (Left); Inventory/Lists (Centre); Achievements, Hints (Right).   No Notebook!!

Options:     Good, with Automatic Widescreen.

Tutorial:     Optional, quick, efficient, not too intrusive.

Play Modes:   Casual; Expert; Insane; Custom – I always choose Custon as it allows for the most relaxed game-play possible.  You also are able to see if there are Overclicking penalties – a big NO-No in my books – which this game does have, to minimise its affect.

Map:    Interactive – The Tutorial encourages you to use this to travel quickly between locations.

Graphics:   These are Gorgeous as expected from EIPIX games – fantasy colours, which are brilliant and evocative, making unreal the real-world flora and fauna, architecture and characters/creatures.  Brilliant and sparkling in most aspects – though too much use of hazy atmospherics in the HOPs – the settings are brilliantly and cleverly designed and devised with careful attention to the smallest details.

HOPs:   Bubble Popper alternative.  As already mentioned this game has too much atmospheric haze in the HOPs.  However the variety provided is excellent – a whole new level of play which is exciting and fun.  There are Shapes, Interactive Lists, Multiple sites within each HOP, and variations on all of these.

Puzzles:   Similar variations apply here from Simple to Difficult, with enough Information on some, to not enough on others.  The Mozaic Puzzle is cool.  You need to persever with some of them – Tip: Place the Mermaid (Hook) in the space between the chain and chandelier precisely.  Persist.  But you can Skip if any of them drive you crazy, or your game-playing time is limited.

Collections:   Flowers of Remembrance (41); Morphing Objects in HOPs;  Souvenirs – all these can be accessed after the end of the game to collect those missed during play.  This will then unlock other Extras.  The Morphing Objects are particularly difficult to spot as you have to be looking at the right part of the screen when they Morph – quite difficult with a large screen.  If you just miss the change back, then hover over it as it will Morph again fairly quickly.

Game-play:   This entails the usual Point & Click, Back & Forth actions – make great use of the Map which changes as you change locations.The Mouse is fairly spot-sensitive, but more general sometimes which is nice as you tire physically playing this extremely long game.

Player Participation:   Obviously heaps of this – I hardly need to say so these days.

Satisfaction Factor:    Extremely satisfying – the game ends well, resolving issues, and leaving somewhere to go next.

Frustration Factors:    Apart from the odd moments of not enough information- where I resorted to the use of Hints, and on only two occasions to the Guide when the Puzzle seemed unsolvable – and the usual fatigue-related Controls slips, this was fine.  Certainly the positives of this game far out-weighed the negatives.

Extras:    Play Bonus Game; Flower Collection; Lore Book; Souvenir Room; Pictures; Achievements; Making of; Play Puzzle; Music; Movies; Bubble Popper; Find Objects; HOP Chinese Healer; HOP Living Mountain; HOP Sea of Lies: Mutiny of the heart.

Bonus Game:    This is more of the same Game-Play, with a Map and most of the Desk Top Tools – the Magic Device is changed for a Nether Vision Detector.  You play as Victoria with the Shadow as your helper which is a cool twist.  This game is also quite long.

I highly recommend this game – I bought it immediately!

Jud House 7/09/2014

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