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

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

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Image result for hodgepodge hollow


Jud’s Game Rating:

Graphics: ****  Player participation (PP) *****  Satisfaction Factor (SF) *****

Frustration Factor (FF)  Nil

This cute, relaxing, un-Timed Game opens in Windows 7 without any problems.  Accompanied by calming harp music, your task in this Game is to locate a potions book stolen by a dragon from Gnomes.  You need to use the Enchanted Map to begin each level, to search for potion pages strewn amongst the scenes.  When activated, little Scarab-like bugs crawl on this map to the required locations.  As well as finding the usual Hidden Objects, you must collect the potion ingredients, then return to the Gnomes’ house to brew the potion.  Only when all the powerful potions have been brewed and used during your quest, can you retrieve the book from the dragon for the Gnomes.

The graphics are delightful, colourful, imaginative, gentle, and clearly created, though there is some use of minimal atmospheric mists or sun-haze at times.  The objects are well defined but skillfully hidden amongst other items in each scene – creating a challenge while still playing fair with the player.  (I did find that several times I had to use the efficient Hint button for the final item of a scene-search which was rather FF.)  Even the Map design is unusual and picturesque, and its means of use cleverly devised.

 Hodgepodge Hollow

The artistic concept for the Ingredients is innovative, imaginative, interesting, often quite cheeky, and a play on its name – for example: Witch Hazel is a plant with a witch’s head; Dandelions have lion faces; Chickweed has a chicken’s head with feathers poking out the top.  Other ingredients are:  Caterpillar Fur; Bees’ Knees; Forgetmenot Tears; Dewdrops; Eye of Newt; Lightning Ash; Bees’ Wax; Mockingbird Song; Unicorn Flakes; Snake Eyes; Pixie Dust; Lollipops; Nightshade; Sprites; Cobwebs; Fairy Laughter;Wolf’s Howl; Boar Bristles; Cahmeleon’s Tail; Gremlin Teeth; Barnacle Beards; Bad Blood; Lilac Nectar; Hummingbird’s Kiss, and Grugach Hammer.

The Location names are also fun and quite clever:  Heedless the Healer; Hirsute (hairy) Spellman; Nebulous Forest; Big Man Bumble; Addlebrain’s Aviary; Boundless Dark; Wayward Sanctuary; Restless Merchant; Divine Intervention; Gullible Hovel; Dragon Dragoon; Secret Cenote; Ticklish Grove; Troll Bridge; Befuddled Inn; Wolf Den; Canine Confederacy; Murmur Gardens; Master at Arms; and The Gatekeeper.

Tip:  The order in which the Ingredients are mixed is important.  Also it is important to remember the peculiar method of using Forgetmenot Tears, in order not to suffer from FF.

This safe and skillful Game is obviously geared for young people – but it is a great game to play to practise and sharpen Point and Click Game skills, and powers of observation, while providing some relaxing though still challenging play.

 Hodgepodge Hollow

I highly recommend this Game.  High SF and PP.


 Jud House   27/07/2011; 20/06/2015

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I just want to thank you for continuing to check out my reviews even though I’ve been a bit absent lately.

Mainly I am trying to catch up playing my huge Pile of Shame games that clutter my desktop.  I could count them and tell you, but you still wouldn’t believe me.  And that’s only the ones I’ve bought, either directly or with a free game voucher from Big Fish Games for buying 6 standard or 3 Collector’s Editions, usually the latter.  I have several notebooks full of notes for 2 or 3 games per page, plus each side etc.

There are not enough hours in the day to play them and make notes and write about them plus creating artworks for exhibitions, plus having a life!!  I have also been transferring some of them to the bootcamp of my Mac to free up space on my laptop which was FULL!! Time-consuming, especially when the Mac only lets me into it if it’s in a good mood. ;(

If you contact me via the site and ask for a specific game to be reviewed I will do so, if I have it in my ever-increasing pile; and if I don’t I will let you know.

And I will try to sneak another review in when I can.  Meanwhile I hope the diversity and vast quantities of reviews already done will keep you entertained.  A little feedback about the current format would be good too.  I think it’s right now, and I hope you get enough info plus my own views on the games in them.  Let me know.

Many Thanks!

Jud House  27/10/2015

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Story:  ERS Games asks you to bargain with Death in this compelling story in the bestselling Redemption Cemetery series! You’ve been given a test, and it’s one others in the past have failed. What happens when you have to choose between saving one little girl and a trainload of passengers? Maybe turning back time isn’t such a good idea after all… Enjoy collecting skulls in every scene and decorating your own cemetery in this macabre hidden-object puzzle adventure game!

Options:   Basic but okay.

Music & Voice-Overs:   Both are appropriate for the genre, though as usual I turned the volume of the music down so it didn’t overwhelm me.  A good move considering the tension that the story creates.

Extras:   Play; Music; Screensavers; Wallpapers; Concept Art; Home (MM); Hidden Objects; Movies; Mini-Games; Collection; Achievements; Bonus MG.

Play Modes:    Casual; Advanced; Hard; Custom, which has a sneaky slide control for the Skip/Hint recharge time taking time off one while adding it to the other.  You are left with little choice but to leave it in the centre so there is a 30 second delay for both to recharge after use.  This changes Custom Mode into NON-Custom Mode!

Desktop:   Menu, Collection, Achievements, Map (L);  Inventory/Lists (C); Task; Strategy Guide; Hint (R).

Tutorial:    Quick and efficient as usual.

Graphics:   Initially colourful, these fade to very muted, barely-there colour once you descend into the Subway.  They are dark and gloomy and depressing.  The HOPs are a little more colourful, as is the blood in the scenes.  This is really disappointing.

Map:   Interactive; has large visible sites, with several pages promising more areas to come.  The sites are main locations, so you still have to enter the various scenes within them – the Map only takes you to the general area rather than to the exact site you need. This means that you need to rely on your memory to know which scene is the active one. All very well, but it just added to the sense of panic when you knew time was of the essence.  No doubt the Developers are proud of creating this emotion in their Players.  I disagree.

HOPs:   (Mini-Game Alternative); Interactive Items in Lists, Shapes, Story Word-Items.

Puzzles:   Good variety – Jigsaws; Swapping Pieces; Find & Match Pairs; Sliding etc, though some I disliked and Skipped at earliest opportunity.

Collections:   Silver crystal skulls.

Game-play:   This is very frustrating as you feel compelled to hurry – there is no sitting back and enjoying this game.  The constant sense of urgency hangs over you.  You collect Items to unlock doors, gates, and the usual locks and Items, then you repeat it but slightly skewed – same locations, same prime problems, but with a little further advanced than the previous time, and entailing slightly different searches in the same sites.

Player Participation:   You make every action within this game – screw every screw, put in key then turn it, place every single rung into a ladder that needs repairing, and so on. This is fine but it slows down the game even more.

Frustration Factors:   The sense of urgency coupled with the sneaky control settings impeding the pace of the game not only created high tension within the game, but also created an aversion to playing it altogether!  I Quit and Deleted the game, marking my Game File Notes – DO NOT BUY.

Satisfaction Factors:   There were none.  It looked so promising.  I really like ERS GAMES, and have bought previous REDEMPTION CEMETERY games, but I am so disappointed with this game.  The fact that the story is grossly grisly does not improve it.  I am not averse to bloody bodies in Murder Mystery games – but this one was really distasteful.

Bonus Game:  I can’t tell you about this as of course I didn’t play it.

I think it is fairly obvious that I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS GAME – except to Players who don’t mind tension and stress and urgency in their games, and usually play Timed and Hard Modes for this reason.

Jud House 26/09/2015

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Image result for sable maze norwich caves



Story: Congratulations, Professor Edwards! You’ve joined the faculty of the oldest and most-respected university in the world. You’ve barely been teaching for a semester when tragedy strikes during the fall break. Four of your students have gone missing while exploring the dangerous caverns under the campus! Is the legend about the Labyrinth under the campus actually true? What’s causing the abnormal physics in the water down there? You don’t have much time, because the rain keeps pouring down, flooding the caverns. Dig deep and keep your head above water… (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

I found this to be an unfolding, complex, Ancient Myths story with an interesting premise.

Options:   Basic but fine, with Auto Widescreen.

Main Menu:   There is a glitch on the Mac version (don’t know about the PC version) that shows the white computer bar across the screen as the game opens to the Main Menu.  TIP:  Click on Options, then Windowed Screen, then Options, then Full Screen.  The game changes from Full to Windowed to Full again, removing the white top computer bar as it returns to Full Screen again.  The screen remains normal until you close the game.  I found that when I re-opened the game a day later, I had to go through this same sequence again to gain the normal Full Screen.

Music & Voice-Overs:   Both suited the setting and characters of the story and were not irritating – always a plus.

Graphics:   These are gorgeous, colourful, visually stimulating and clever.  Very enjoyable and add to the overall game quality.

Play Modes:   Casual; Advanced; Hard.

Desktop:   Computer Screen (access Videos), Task (!), Menu, Map (L); Inventory?Lists (C); Maze/Hint (R).  There are no Notes.

Tutorial:   Quick, efficient, and useful.

Map:   Interactive and really time-and-tedium saving.  It also helps when you are stuck, showing you which sites are active.  If it shows that there are no active sites then check your Inventory bar in case there is some Item there that you can use to solve a problem.  It’s easy to miss an item you’ve been carrying around for quite a while.

HOPs:   These comprised Interactive Lists or Shapes that required actions of the first one or two Items on the next in order to reach the final required item.

Puzzles:   There were many of these – some like Mini-Games others straight Slide/Match/Swap/Jigsaw Puzzles.  There did seem to be rather too many of them for my taste and too few HOPs but not enough to deter me from buying the game.

Collections:   There were continual Mini-Collections throughout the Standard game, but not the larger ones that the Collector’s Edition would have.

Game-play:   The usual Point & Click activities control navigation and Item collection and usage.  As there are no notes, I advise that you make a few of your own, as the Computer-Screen Videos don’t really help with that.

Frustration Factors:  Mainly the problem of too easily slipping back out of a scene or HOP, when the Cursor was too close to the bottom of the screen, caused frustration and fatigue.

Satisfaction Factor:   Due to the great Graphics, the well devised story, the logical game-play pattern, and the good length of the game this was really satisfying.

I highly recommend this game and am sure that it’s Collector’s Edition would be good value, as most Daily Magic production games are.



Jud House 24/09/2015

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Story:  While exploring an ancient Egyptian tomb, Mike discovers a strange sarcophagus containing human remains. Much to his shock, the body very closely resembles him. Mike has called you to come help him investigate this bizarre find.
After digging a little deeper, the two explorers find themselves trapped, but they also discover something resembling a large machine in one of the Egyptian tombs. Mike, believing it to be an ancient time machine, believes you can use it to escape. After climbing inside, the real adventures begin.
Enjoy Invasion: Lost in Time and find yourself in Ancient Egypt, visit a caveman, set foot on the mysterious planets Shukaras and Torion. After discovering a sinister invasion plan, will you be able to stop it and return home safely? Only time will tell.

Options:  Basic.

Main Menu:   Cool.

Music & Voice-Overs:   Completely suitable for the story and the genre.

Bonus:   Find 5; Puzzle; Boxes; Minigame.

Desktop:   Diary, Menu, Map (L);  Inventory/Lists (C);  Hint (R).

Tutorial:   Useful.

Graphics:   Amazing!!!  Gorgeous, glorious colour and sharply defined images.  Fabulous Sci-Fi graphics.  Immersive, emotive, and wonderfully Other-Worldly.

Play Modes:   Casual; Difficult.

Map:   Useful and informative.

HOPs:   Interactive Lists open with finding and placing some of the same items into Lists Bar.  Check within Zoom scenes as they Zoom again with no visible Hot-Spot.

Puzzles:   Click Hint to get Puzzle Info – no dedicated button for that.  The Boxes Puzzles are cool.  Find 5 are also enjoyable – you locate circled images in each location.  Match-3 Puzzles are tricky but clever.  Some Puzzles are frustrating and annoying (Password, and Restores Pictures Puzzles), the ‘Compile Ball-Path for the Portal’ Puzzle wouldn’t work (Skip it).

Game-play:   The Game is a little heavy on the Puzzle and Mini-Game side with less HOPs, but the fantastic Sci-Fi nature of the story and graphics sweeps you forward allowing you to tolerate the imbalance.  However, if you love Puzzles then it is a bonus for you.

Satisfaction Factor:  Combines Sci-Fi and Time-Travel with great locations and Ancient Myths.  Intriguing story that is engaging, always moving forward and compelling you to willingly continue.

Frustration Factors: Mostly the frustration of the odd Puzzles, and a little the lack of Tools available on the Desktop to assist your journey.     Tip:  If the Game freezes then use Ctrl/Alt/Del to Task Manager to Game Title and End Running.  Then Restart the Game and it should Play properly.

I love Sci-Fi Adventure games and wish there were more of them.  There is something that sets them apart.  I know there are Portals and Time-Travel elements in Fantasy games as well, and that the line between the two genres is often blurred.  But pure Sci-Fi travelling between our World and Alien Worlds are so creative and encompass Scientific Innovation in all areas which can be breathtaking.

I highly recommend this game to all Sci-Fi fans.

Jud House 13/09/2015

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Below is an extract of another of Pete Davison’s excellent definition blogs.

You can find the full version at angryjedi.wordpress.com / I’m Not Doctor Who

Jud House

2056: Pete’s Probably Non-Comprehensive Visual Novel Primer
Pete Davison •#oneaday •4h ago

I posted the following over on the Squadron of Shame forums the other day, since we were getting into a discussion on visual novels. I thought it might be of some interest to people who don’t frequent the Squawkbox, so I present it here in slightly extended format for your enjoyment and information.

Pete’s Probably Non-Comprehensive Visual Novel Primer
What is a visual novel?
First things first, get out of the habit of thinking of a visual novel as a “game”, despite the fact that they’re typically sold as games, referred to as “games” and share a number of stylistic and mechanical elements with games. In Japanese popular culture, visual novels are treated as their own distinct medium, and in the pantheon of media which creators tell stories across, they comfortably sit alongside light novels, manga, anime, movies, live-action TV shows and, yes, video games. Transmedia productions often span several or even all of the above formats, and any one of them can prove the starting point for a successful franchise.

The reason I mention visual novels’ distinction from traditional games is because visual novels very often don’t have any “gameplay” as such, and coming to them with the expectation that you will be “doing” anything is often a recipe for disappointment. There are exceptions of course, since some visual novels do incorporate “game” elements — notable examples include Aselia the Eternal’s extremely deep and satisfying strategy game and its spiritual successor Yumina the Ethereal’s dungeon-crawling and peculiar argument-based battle system — but for the most part, visual novels are about reading reams of text accompanied by some combination of art, music and voice acting. In other words, they’re a dedicated storytelling medium that occupies a peculiar space at the intersection between manga, anime and traditionally written prose.

Danganronpa, Corpse Party and Ace Attorney are often described as visual novels due to their text-heavy nature and emphasis on linear storytelling, but there’s a strong argument that they are more adventure game than visual novel due to their balance between story and game being firmly in favour of “game”. Ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much; if you’re less than familiar with the visual novel medium as a whole, though, just don’t go in expecting to actually have any interaction whatsoever, and then you can only be pleasantly surprised if you do get to do something. The appeal of a visual novel is in the storytelling, not the interaction.

Types of visual novel
The presentation of pure visual novels can be roughly broken down into two main types:

NVL (“novel”) types fill the screen with text, usually in a semi-transparent box so you can see the artwork behind it, and read like a traditional novel. Examples of this type include Kana Little Sister and KiraKira.
ADV (“adventure”) types look more “gamey”, with a dialogue box at the bottom of the screen and a clear view of the art and characters. These tend to have a sharper demarcation between narration and dialogue, compared to NVL types, which will often mix both on a single screen of text. Examples of this type include Katawa Shoujo and The Fruit of Grisaia. This is probably the more common type we see in the West.
Visual novels can also be split into a couple of different categories according to structure:

Kinetic novels have no choices whatsoever. You start them up, you read them, you reach the end. You have absolutely no interaction whatsoever — it’s a pure storytelling medium.
Multi-scenario visual novels are the more common type. Most of these start with a common route, then branch off in a number of different directions according to choices you make in the common route. Some further split the branches into other routes, not all of them necessarily ending well; others guarantee you a specific good ending once you lock in a particular route.

Other useful terminology
Bad/Wrong/Dead End — an ending in which the protagonist and/or hero/heroine dies, usually. Not necessarily a “fail” state; if the story is a tragedy, there might be nothing but bad endings!
Good End — an ending in which everything resolves nicely and cleanly, and (usually) no-one dies.
True End — an ending which is treated as canonical for the purposes of sequels, whether or not sequels actually exist. True Ends are often inaccessible until you complete all the other routes.
Decision point — being presented with a choice. Not every choice in a visual novel has an impact on how the story ends out, but most don’t tell you one way or the other, and some don’t even allow you to save while a decision point is on screen, so choose wisely!
Clear — reading a visual novel to one of its conclusions.
Full/100% Clear — reading all of the possible routes to a visual novel, including bad endings, and unlocking all the bonus content.
Flag — hidden binary variables that are set and unset according to the choices that you make. The most commonly referenced is the “death flag”, where a choice you made will result in someone’s death, not necessarily immediately. Some visual novels use flags to determine which route you end up on.
Points/stats — other visual novels have hidden “stats” according to your choices, and use these to determine which route you end up on. Kana Little Sister is an example of this; the choices you make in the first half of the game determine the personality of the protagonist and his sister, and this determines how the latter half of the game plays out.
Skip — the ability to fast-forward through text you’ve already read. All but essential for subsequent playthroughs to get different routes, unless you really want to read all the same text again. Most visual novels stop skipping when they reach a decision point.
CG/event image — a piece of artwork that isn’t a character sprite overlaid on a background, usually depicting something significant happening. You are considered to have 100% cleared a visual novel when you have unlocked every CG in the game’s gallery page.
H-scene — pronounced “ecchi scene”, these are the erotic scenes in an eroge or nukige.

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