1578: Games Journalism is Broken



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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Paintings – What I’m doing when not blogging!

This gallery contains 10 photos.

  JUD’S ARTWORK   Across the Plain Divided Sharks Jellyfish Jaunt River Reverie Unmasked Glacier’s End

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Story: Your daughter, Alice, has grown up to be a talented young girl – unlike other Travelers, she has a rare gift that allows her to open portals using reflective surfaces, not just books. But when a mysterious mirror-hopping monster suddenly appears through one of the portals and kidnaps Alice, the entire world starts splitting apart at the seams. Strange quakes rock the earth, and huge chasms appear out of nowhere. Now you must use your own powers to travel into Book-worlds and find the source of the trouble. Can you rescue Alice and save Taleworld before it falls apart? Find out in this thrilling Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:    Journal (includes Map), Strategy Guide, Notes, Objectives, Achieve-ments (Right);   Hint, Puzzle  Button, Map, Alice’s Dollhouse, Collectible Discs (Left); Inventory (Centre).

Options:   Good.

Extras:    Gallery: HO Puzzles, Music, Concepts, Wallpapers, Achivements; Travelers (unlock with Bonus Game); Treasures (unlock with Collectibles); Tower Defense (Mini Games – unlock with Main Game).

Tutorial:    Efficient – a little intrusive when you know what you are doing.

Play Modes:   Casual Reader; Bookworm; Scholar; Choose Your Own (Custom).

Map:   Interactive; informative; I only used it occasionally.

Graphics:   Gorgeous; Fantastic; Colourful; Moments of haze but not too annoying.

HOPs:   Interactive Lists, Shapes, Multiple Site HOPs, including Zoom Sites.  On the whole quite inventive and definitely more fun to play than straight HOP searches.

Puzzles/ Mini Games:   Varied and interesting; integral to the story.  The Story Book Elements games are also intriguing – you find the picture items while the tale is being told then turn the page for the next series of Items.  There are quite a few unusual Mini Games that add much pleasure to this game’s play.
            Tip: To collect the wine, you need to hold the vial exactly beneath the falling wine but lower down – half the vial is off the bottom of the screen.  Feel for the Hot-Spot slowly and carefully – you can check the Strat Guide to see where, but it isn’t very clear.

Collections:   Stained Glass Discs, one per scene – if you can’t find them all you can do so at the end of the games via the Collectible Icon on your game Desktop, which gives you access to the individual HOP scenes via obviously ‘uncollected’ Icons.  Morphing Objects, one per HOP game – these are very hard to find – I didn’t get them all and found I couldn’t seem to do so at the end of the game.  So I was unable to open the Hidden Game.

Game-play:   When you Click PLAY on the Main Menu, you are asked which Game you want – Main Game, Bonus Game, or Hidden Game.  Each game unlocks the next one.  I have yet to unlock the Hidden Game!  (I managed to do this in another Mad Head Games game recently, but not this time).
Generally, the game-play is the usual Seek & Find, Point & Click, Back & Forth, high Player Participation pattern that most HOP/Adventure games follow.   But this new NEVERTALES game has quite a lot of innovative HOP and Puzzle/Mini Game variations that have increased the Player Experience considerably.  It is rather impressive.  And far more enjoyable.
Items need to be assembled in the Inventory before use, though there are, for example, Potion making scenes where Items are combined at a specific spot.  The Spellbreaker Book teaches you to cast spells, using a Mini Game style; The Dollhouse pieces must be placed into the Dollhouse, via its Desktop Icon, to give you more information and another important Item for your Inventory.  When you interact with Characters, you need to return to them to ask for their assistance or more information, as you would in real life.
The game uses Portals mostly via Books, but also via a few Mirrors.  Plus you are searching for the four remaining Catalysts that you use in your amulet to ‘see’ your next major location and to access it via  the next Book Portal.

Bonus Game:  This is the backstory of how Pierre and Belle met.  the Game-play is more of the same with its own new Map of course.  Also you need to collect the remaining Stained Glass Discs, and possibly Morphing Objects as well.

Player Participation:   As mentioned above, this is high.

Satisfaction Factor:   This game is Great!!!  It’s really enjoyable all the way through, and very satisfying at the end.  And both ‘endings’ conclude well – are not rushed.

Frustration Factors:   Not many – the Graphics could be a little clearer, especially in the HOPs, and the Exit area from each scene could activate so it doesn’t keep bringing the Inventory Items up – mind you the Inventory might be lockable to stop this.

I highly recommend this game – and I bought it as soon as I could.

Jud House 8/08/2014

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Story:     I really like the 3D CG characters, with their excellent voice-actors.  The Story is well devised, with enough twists and turns to keep you interested, though I worked out who the murderer was quite early.  Still that doesn’t mean that all players will – and it didn’t diminish the entertainment factor at all, as I naturally wanted to keep playing to see if I was right.

Silver-screen star Veronica West plummeted to her death from the top of a lighthouse on Silvermoon Isle. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or did someone at the party that night kill Veronica?

Solve the case using an innovative “deduction” feature that turns questioning suspects into a fun, interactive game! (BigFish Sales Blurb)

Desktop:    Evidence Board, Guide, Menu, Achievements, Map (Left); Inventory (Centre); Hint, Stars (Right). 

Options:    Good; Supports widescreen automaticallys

Tutorial:    Good; Optional.

Play Modes:    PI; Detective; Inspector; Custom.

Map:    Interactive.  A little unusual as it open as a Camera with Lenses circling the rooms/sites.  YOu are encouraged to use the Map to teleport from site to site.

Graphics:    Mostly Colourful; Authentic to the era so a little dingy at times.  Gorgeous Art Deco style.  Unnecessary use of hexagonal light beams to obscure the HOPs.

HOPs:   There is a Bubbleshooter alternative which I chose not to use as I dislike that type of game.  As mentioned that Graphics are okay except for minor light beam obstructions.  There are Interactive Lists; Shapes; some Double Lists with Zoom Mini HOP shapes and Lists as well.  There are quite unusual combinations of HOPs and these are moderately spread throughout the game.

Puzzles:   Most of the Puzzles are fun, unusual, achieveable – apart from a couple that wouldn’t do any of those things.  So I skipped them.

Collections:   Stars; Morphing Souvenirs (in HOPs).  If you miss any of these, upon completion of both the Main and Bonus Games, you can click on the Hidden Stars and Souvenir Buttons in Extras to go back and collect them all – a bit of extra fun play.

Game-play:   You are investigating a Crime inan Art Deco mansion on an island.  You collect evidence, assess it, talk with the suspects showing proof for your questions to discover whether they speak the truth or lie.  To do this, you need to click on each piece of evidence – not always as straight forward as you would expect.  Once you have made it work once, it is easier to work out what to click on and what not to click on.  You can just click randomly until you make it work first time so you can then understand what is required of you.  I’m not sure of the game video on the sales page will show this action – if it does it will probably be really quick.  There are of course the usual HOPs and Puzzles, plus Mini games, but the game is not overloaded with these.  Much of the gameplay is gather evidence and disseminating it throughout the sites.

Player Participation:   As I am sure you have gathered by now there is a fair bit of this.

Satisfaction Factor:   Wow!  This is a cool game, once you adjust to the game-play quirks.  It is also a fairly long game, with good characters and plot, and game-play driven by the story.  The visual environment is excellent, and the continual progress through it enjoyable.

Frustration Factors:   The Exit/Back-out area above the Inventory is a little large so that it covers the bottom quarter of the screen; and is too close to the Iventory which keeps popping up when you are trying to find the Back Arrow.  Just a minor nuisance.

Extras:    Collect Hidden Stars; Play HOP; Play Puzzles; Making Of; Play Bonus Game; Souvenir Room; Pictures; Movies; Music; Bubbleshooter.

Bonus Game:  This plays the same as the Main Game; and is also quite long for a Bonus Game.  Also enjoyable.  It follows the search for the missing necklace after the Murders have been sorted out in the Main Game.

I highly recommend this game – I added it to my collection as soon as I could.

Jud House 31/07/2014

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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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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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