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

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LOVE CHRONICLES Series


QUESTS; PORTALS; SPELLS; POWERS

VENDEL GAMES; BIG FISH GAMES

There is a continuity in this series, as you can see as you read the storylines below, but not confined to the narratives alone.  There has been a gradual development of the game skills – the Controls; the Navigation methods; the Desktop layout and contents; variety within the Hidden Object Puzzles (HOPs), Puzzles and Mini Games; the Graphic Artwork re Imagination, Colour and Design – all developed with the aim of providing an enjoyable player experience.  They are increasingly innovative, a visual feast within which the Player can submerge while surrounded by all the desired relevant Sound Effects needed for authenticity, and Music that adds tension or peace to the various scenes to be explored.

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Love Chronicles: The Spell 

A young prince has been having the same dream and is summoned far from his home. Help him remove an evil curse that has caused a whole kingdom to be trapped in their dreams! Save a beautiful princess before it’s too late in this fun and exciting Hidden Object Adventure game. Dive into the world of Love Chronicles – The Spell, and defeat the evil witch that has cursed the entire population once and for all! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Story:    Really enjoyable; all-important for the game.
Graphics:
  Gorgeous, colourful, clear.
Options:    Basic
Modes:    Regular; Expert
Tutorial:    Useful, informative; allow it as game set-up is unusual.
Collectibles:    Magic Maple Leaves, 2 per scene.
Desktop:    Menu, Notebook, Leaves (Top Left); Compass, Magnifying Glass, Inventory (Lower Left);  Hint (upper Right)
Map:    Important for journey; Interactive .  Accessed via Compass on Desktop.
Magnifying Glass: Really useful within HOPs to find smaller or really well hidden Items.
Game-Play:   Once you understand its quirks it’s okay. Click on Inventory Items silhouettes or those showing ‘little feet’ to go straight to those sites.  Once the next Task is given the relevant Items become active – so though you may what to do next you might not be able to till the Task is ‘given’ to you.  Knowing this will ease some of the Frustration Factor.
HOPs:    Lists, Mini-HOPs, Silhouettes, Fragments.  Use found Inventory Items back into the Inventory till your gain the final Item.
Puzzles:   Fun.  If not working easily just Skip.

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Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose Collector’s Edition

Lift an evil curse that has been cast on the kingdom by a witch looking for revenge in Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose! Scattering the petals of an island kingdom’s magical rose throughout the land, the witch has plunged the kingdom into turmoil and it’s up to you to save the day. Gather the petals, defeat a terrifying beast, and confront the witch in this exciting Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game!  (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Story:   Continues the character’s lives from THE SPELL; drives the Game-Play; enjoyable. 
Graphics:   
Excellent, except hazy.  Colourful; Imaginative.
Options:   Good; Basic. 
Modes:   Regular; Expert.
Tutorial:    Informative; helpful; allow it as this Game-Play is different from its Prequel.
Collectibles:   Rose Petals – these add to the Rose when collected – use the Rose to shatter the ice and release each new Petal to be collected.
Desk-Top:  Strategy Guide, Petal Glass Container/Counter, Menu (Left); Inventory (Centre); Diary, Hint (Right)
Map:    Unlike THE SPELL, there is no Map.
Game-Play:    The usual Point & Click, Back & Forth (especially with no Map), Seek & Find.  There is a slightly weird way to mix ingredients – just click on each in right order then they blend automatically.  You can Pan/Scroll sideways, both Left and Right, in some scenes which is cool – it gives you three separate but joined scenes where the scene is wide and complex.  You also assemble inventions in a special device.
HOPs:   Mini HOPs; Lists that lead to assemblage of makeshift Equipment.  HO sites are few and far between; could be more colourful and clearer.
Puzzles:    These are okay, some fun, some annoying depending upon your patience.
Extras:   Strategy Guide; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Bonus Chapter.
Bonus Chapter:    Locked on Main Menu.  Unlocked upon completion of Main Chapter.

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Love Chronicles: Salvation Collector’s Edition

The evil Alura is back and this time she’s attacking your homeland! You’ve got the chance to undo her fate, but can the witch be redeemed? Behind her evil is the one who caused it all – a dark lord by the name of Zander. Stop him and undo the damage he dealt to Alura’s restless spirit!  (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Story:   Seems darker than the previous two, though a continuation of the character’s lives, introducing new characters.  Quite gripping; embedded into the Game-Play.
Graphics:
    Incredible; Glorious; Ice scenes fabulous.
Options:     Good.
Modes:    Casual; Advanced; Hard.
Tutorial:    Quick, informative.
Collectibles:     Magic Mirror Shards.
Desk-Top:    Notebook, Map    Inventory    SG (Strategy Guide)
Map:    Interactive, very helpful.
Game-Play:   Point & Click, Back & Forth – use Map to jump between sites.  Go through Portals to free the Maiden and prevent her being turned into a Witch.  Catch Fire-flies to ignite Lamps, and to replenish Hints.
HOPs:    These are really cool.  Interactive, with Lists, Shapes, Items to replace into the scenes.
Puzzles:    Great variety; workable; can be Skipped.
Extras:    Strategy Guide; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Music.
Bonus Chapter:    Cool, long story.  There are a few misnamed Items in HOPs but you can work it out after a while or use Hint.

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Love Chronicles: A Winter’s Spell Collector’s Edition 

The entire kingdom has turned out for your daughter’s 8th birthday celebration, featuring the world-famous magician, Mister X. But her party takes a dangerous turn when Mister X is revealed to be a dark wizard – he kidnaps your daughter and turns the entire kingdom to ice! Now he plans to awaken the ancient Queen of Ice, and he needs your daughter to do it. Your amulets protected you from his dark spell, and now you’re the only one who can stop him. Bundle up and prepare for an exciting journey in this Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Story:   This is excellent!  It has so many twists and turns; extremely enjoyable. 
Graphics:   
Wonderful, colourful  Fantasy artwork – Main Menu is gorgeous and easy to Navigate.
Options:   Good.
Modes:   Casual; Advanced; Hard; Custom – the last is great.
Tutorial:    Really good; helpful; quick; non-intrusive.
Collectibles:   Gems for Tiara; Scroll Runes; Puzzle Pieces (lots of places to unlock hearts of bad characters); Morphing Xmas Items (to unlock Greeting Cards from Vendel Games).
Desk-Top:   Map, Notebook (Tasks, Memo, Record), Task, Menu (Left); Inventory (Centre); Crystal Ball, SG (Strategy Guide), Hint, Scroll (Story Puzzles); Puzzle Pieces (Drop Down Top Left); Runes-Books (Drop Down Top Right).
Map:   Interactive, Information Key to Map symbols.  Really helpful; suggest you make full use of it.
Game-Play:   As well as the usual Point & Click, Back & Forth, Seek & Find elements, this game provides the Player with Powers to gain and use once via the Crystal Ball.  The Powers are – 1 Power of Light, 2 Fiery Blaze. 3 Levitation, 4 Elemental Disintegration, 5 Defrost, 6 Nature’s Judgement, 7 Destroy Barrier, 8 Warmth, 9 Extinguish magic, 10 Exorcism, 11 Reveal Door, 12 Disperse Wind, 13 Banish Evil.  This alone tells you a lot about the Game and it’s Story.
HOPs:   Silhouettes – find and use in site (Constructions); Mini-HOPs; Lists; Shapes; Multiples.  There is a huge variety within these, providing stimulating and satisfying Game-Play, while contributing to the Inventory Items.
Puzzles:   Codes; Good variety; some time-wasters to Skip.
Extras:  Cut Scenes; Wallpapers; Strategy Guide; VG Team; Soundtracks; History Scrolls; Greeting Cards; Concept Art.  You can collect missed Morphing Items via the Greeting Cards page upon completion of the Bonus Chapter.
Bonus Chapter:   Excellent, lengthy, and relevant to the Main Chapter.
This fourth game is brilliant, with so much variety in all aspects of the game.

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I highly recommend this series, but particularly A WINTER’S SPELL

Jud House   24/03/2015

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DARK DIMENSIONS: HOMECOMING – Collector’s Edition


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by DAILY MAGIC PRODUCTIONS; BIGFISH GAMES

GORGEOUS FANTASY/CRIME; RIVETING!

Story:  Years ago, your parents disappeared while investigating an abandoned mansion in Whispering Hollows. Since then, you’ve been traveling the country, tracking down Dark Dimensions and seeking answers to your parents’ strange disappearance. Finally, after all these years, the truth behind your family’s greatest tragedy will be revealed. It’s time to visit Barton Mansion, where it all began. Just watch your back, because this mansion is far from abandoned. All of your training and experience has led to this haunting Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game! (Big Fish Sales Blurb) 

Options:    Basic, but okay.

Main Menu:     Colourful Fantasy, with clear, logical, accessible Links.

Music & Voice-Overs:     Both are excellent.  The main female character sounds really evil, so that you dislike her immediately – and later when you discover that she is not wholly to blame it’s difficult to shrug of this antimony.  Both the Music and Voice-Overs are not too intrusive, and you can turn them down or Mute them of course.

Extras:    Bonus Game; Match 3; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Developer Diary; Rocky’s Room; Collection; Music.

Desktop:     Rocky (helper), Phone, Menu (L); Inventory (C); House,Hint (R)

Tutorial:     Excellent; quick; as you need it.

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Graphics:     Stunning, colourful, detailed, authentic for fantasy setting; Despite the continual increase in the size of the Mansion, there is good flow from room to room.

Play Modes:     Casual; Advanced; Hard; and my favourite, Custom.

Map:     This has main Circle-sites, that open into Mini-Maps from the Arrow beneath each.  These then display Rooms for that site, the number depending on how many you have unlocked by entering.  You can see in which room there are things to do, where you are currently, and which are still locked or no longer active.  I do wish there were a little more help from the Map – perhaps a little more Information.  If it doesn’t show the ! for Active site, this means that there is something you need to do in the Inventory.

HOPs:   Interactive Lists, with lots of successive actions for the first visit; followed by a Normal, Interactive List, for subsequent visit to the same HOP site.  There are HOPs where you have to Find All Pieces of a Map, or a Stained Glass Window, or a Picture which is unexpected but cool.  Some Items with a + in the Inventory, that obviously need some action – like extra pieces added, or opening to reveal another Item, or repair work – open as a Mini-HOP when clicked which you need to solve in order to obtain an Item for the Task.  It’s quite unusual, but a fun and interesting new element.

Puzzles:   These come as both Normal Complex Puzzles, or as Mini-Puzzles.  Most are great, enjoyable, make you use your logic and skills, and don’t feel too intrusive or unnecessary.  There are of course a few you have to Skip because they become tedious – but there are not too many of these.  The Stencil Puzzle is quite cool.  The Rune Puzzles with the main Evil Protagonist are also really enjoyable.

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Collections:   Parts of the Mansion which Morph in and out of odd sites.  These are not in all sites, but check as you go anyway so that you don’t miss them.  It’s a bit unnerving because as first you think you’ve missed heaps of them because you can’t see any.  But there are not many of them.  Check the House page by clicking on the House and you will see how many are required and this will help you settle.  Just don’t then forget to look for them at all.  You also need to collect Coins (Paw Print image) to use to purchase Items for Rocky’s Room – you can always leave this till the end if you wish.

Game-play:   The Game-Play flows well, with a little back-tracking between rooms of a Site – and initially between several sites as the game sets up.  Items are collected scattered randomly, with two visits to each HOP site, plus as explained, the gaining of Items from Puzzles also.  You also gain Items from the Characters with whom you interact.  The Cursor is quite small but this is not a problem, as you adjust to its size quite quickly. Rocky is the Police-dog Companion, helping you scare birds and creatures, and reach, fetch, and dig up things.  The Phone is your access to Map, Objectives, Notes, Achievements – this is particularly helpful re the Notes and Map.

Player Participation:     This is obviously high – lots of constant Back & Forth, Point & Click activity, throughout all facets of the Game.

Satisfaction Factor:    This is a very satisfying game – you are relieved and happy when you resolve and complete both stories.

Frustration Factors:     There is one major frustration with this game and that is the awful, unnecessary, annoying Error Noise made within the HOPs and the Puzzles for clicking in the wrong place.  Yujjo!!!!!!  aka   Yukko!!!!

Bonus Game:    This is a great follow up, after what seems to be a final ending of the Main Story.  It then really resolves the whole Dark Dimension – but then leaves a tiny dollop of Graphic that implies there will be a further Sequel.

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I highly recommend this game.

Jud House 24/02/2015

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MYSTERY CASE FILES: DIRE GROVE, SACRED GROVE – Collector’s Edition


by ELEPHANT GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

COMPLEX CRIME/FANTASY!

Story:    Dire Grove has been plunged into a record-defying cold, and wild animals threaten at every turn! You’ve been called in to uncover the source of the town’s troubles. But you quickly find yourself in the middle of a feud between the local hunters and the mysterious Mistwalkers who live in the woods. Can you prevent an all-out war? Pick your gender and use an innovative deduction mechanic as you try to discover the secret behind Dire Grove’s curse! (Big Fish Sales Blurb) 

These are really good stories, complex, compelling, well written, and long, which is always good for the Player.

Options:   Great; has Gamma control for brightness – this helps ease the gloom for those of us who need light to see.

Music & Voice-Overs:   Both totally suitable – the Voice-Overs are particularly well chosen.  They make your connection with the game so much more interesting and fulfilling.

Bonus Content:   Extra Game-Play; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Achievements Room; Music; Alternative Ending (great); Video; Dire Grove Collection; Puzzles Collection – this opens Screensavers upon completion.

Desktop:   Case File, Menu (Left); Task, Inventory (Centre); Hint, Strategy Guide (Right); Powers/Abilities (Pop-out Top Right).

Tutorial:   Good, but a little intrusive.

Graphics:    Very colourful, really suitable to story setting, but quite dark – you really do need to adjust the Gamma setting in the Options.  For those who love Winter snow scenes, this game is great.  Lots of ice to break, snow getting in the way, and the usual gorgeous designed backgrounds.

Play Modes:    Casual Hunter; Expert Pathfinder; Hardcore Trapper; Wise Druid; Master Detective.

Map:  Interactive and informative – can jump to various locations when needed.

HOPs:   Good variety, with Interactive Lists, Numbers of same Items (e.g. 7 Ravens); Mini Games that have Puzzle Hints

Puzzles:   There are Story Puzzles, Interactive/Continual Puzzles (some of which won’t close when complete) .

Collections:   Picture Pieces; Morphing Items (cabins) – unfortunately you cannot collect missing Pieces or Cabins after the game is completed.

Game-play:   There is an Evidence Board, upon which you have to examine all the collected evidence, and activate conclusions.  Obviously speak to characters, traverse the locations locating and collecting not only evidence to help find the culprit, but also items that will help you open doors, gates, repair equipment, and weapons, and assist the Mistwalkers and Hunters to come to an agreement.  You gain special skills as you proceed, to help you deal with the dark magic obstructions that hinder your progress.

Player Participation:   Continual, both games are long and complex, and require a lot of Point & Click activity.

Satisfaction Factor:  Both games are very satisfying, especially having the extra Alternative Ending which actually make it three games.

Frustration Factors:   The fact that some of the Puzzles won’t quite complete, leaving you no alternative but to Skip to continue – really annoying when you have actually got it right, is probably the most frustrating, followed closely by the fact that you cannot finish your collections upon completion of all the games.  Most games these days allow this – it is meant as Bonus content so you should be able to complete it all.

Bonus Game:  Long, with a good story-line, with the added bonus of an Alternative Ending.

I highly recommend this game.

Jud House  7/02/2015

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CHRISTMAS STORIES: A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Collector’s Edition


by ELEPHANT GAMES; BIGFISH GAMES

SINISTER SCROOGE REVEALED!

Story:  Everyone deserves a second chance – even the stingiest of them all.
Your Uncle Scrooge asks for your help, but some friendly Christmas ghosts have other plans for him… and you. Undo the bad turns in his life as your uncle’s alter egos work either with – or against – you to change the man’s fate once and for all. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options & Main Menu:  Really good Options, including Gamma setting for brightness.  The Main Menu is well laid out, with delightful Graphics.

Play Modes:   White Christmas; Frightful Flakes; Snowed In; Blizzard Blitz.

Music & Voice-Overs:    Both are excellent – there are 5 tracks, including Greensleeves.

Extras: Bonus Game; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Music; Screensaver; Collectables; Achievements.

Desktop:   Good Conscience Scrooge, Map, Menu (Left); Inventory (Centre); Hint, Strategy Guide (Right).

Tutorial:   Not too intrusive, very helpful – always worth using and enduring regardless of how many games you have played – there are often special game attributes that if missed might mean you have to replay the entire game to unlock.

Graphics:   Excellent, authentic for Victorian era, brilliantly colourful, well designed and devised. The Designers seem to have taken their lead from the recent 3D CG animated movie of A CHRISTMAS CAROL – starring Jim Carrey as Scrooge – its familiarity evoking delight and anticipation.

Map:   Interactive, with good information.  Worth using.

HOPs:   These are Interactive Lists, but there are also Mini-Games that are like extended HOPs.  The Graphics in the HOPs are a little blurred which is a shame.

Puzzles:   These vary from interesting simple Puzzles, to more intricate Puzzles, and on to complex Mini-Game Puzzles where enigmas need to be solved by a series of complicated actions.

Collections:  Morphing Penguins.  Unfortunately you cannot collect the missing Penguins after completion of game/s.

Game-play:   This entails the usual Point & Click, Back & Forth, Seek & Find activities, with HOPs and Puzzles and Mini Games to tackle along the way.  The Good Conscience Scrooge works with you to foil the Bad Conscience Scrooge who keeps causing chaos while trying to prevent you from saving Scrooge and changing not only his future but that of the people around him.  The Good Conscience Scrooge can enter mechanical bodies and stone statues to bring them to life to carry out activities, like fetching out-of-reach Items for you and protecting you, Scrooge, and those around you.

Player Participation:   High – there is a lot of hands-on game-play which is great.

Satisfaction Factor:   This game is extremely satisfying.  It is a very long game, and the Bonus Game is also long, so there are many playing hours giving good value for money.  The main story is well portrayed with an interesting perspective.

Frustration Factors:     There are always some of these, mainly due to the Back & Forth nature of the game that causes physical fatigue, which causes sloppy mouse control for Players.

Bonus Game:   The Bonus Story is a bit light on in comparison to the heavy macabre nature of the Main Game Story.  Santa Cat is missing and needs to be found in order to save Christmas.  It is played in some of the same settings as the main game, but instead of having a Helper you have a Magnifying Glass that can access swirling areas in each scene. Clearly aimed at kids, it is nonetheless enjoyable for adults as well, once you put aside the fact that it’s about cats – I love cats by the way, but that doesn’t influence me here.  After all the story is no different from any other of the Storybook and Fantasy games we love to play.  It’s just the fact that it comes as the Bonus Story for this dark well-known Charles Dicken’s story.

Tips:   You will need this info for the ‘tempus tantum nostrum est’ Puzzle -in case you just can’t get it – 1 = tem, 2 = est, 3 = rum, 4 = pus, 5 = tan, 6 = nost.
There is also a problem with the Tiny Tim Puzzle – when you think you have everything in place, but the Puzzle won’t complete, click on the right side of the metal pin on the shoulder of the arm with the present.  As an additional back-up plan, I suggest you carry out this action with the Tiny Tim doll placed over the chest where it belongs.
If you still have problems I suggest you visit the BigFish Forum page for this game – there is a lot of Player help there.

Despite the few negatives, I highly recommend this game to all levels of players who love Christmas games.

Jud House 17/01/2015

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2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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