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

This gallery contains 15 photos.


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

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MYTHS OF THE WORLD: THE HEART OF DESOLATION – Collector’s Editon


Image result for MYTHS OF THE WORLD the heart of desolation collectors edition

by EIPIX; BIGFISH GAMES

INCREDIBLE!  BRILLIANT!!

Story:  It was just supposed to be a routine mission. Fly in, drop supplies, and fly out. But when a dragon attacks your plane, crash-landing in a lush valley, you’re drawn into the adventure of a lifetime! This ancient valley is filled with living, breathing dragons – guardians of nature who protect the weak. But when one of their own becomes possessed by their ultimate foe, it’s up to you to restore order. Can you defeat the Dragon King’s mighty terracotta army, or will the world be destroyed once more, just like it was centuries ago? (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

The Game opens with the EIPIX Video first, followed by the Sound Video.  You then have the Main Menu to explore.  Play takes you to another Video this time Myths of the World with the focus on this new game backstory; followed by the opening Video showing the current crisis facing you and the World.  You can click the screen to fast forward past the first two Videos, and click the (X) button top right to Exit the next two Videos.

Options: Good with Auto-Widescreen.  It also has an Info button Top Right that gives you Cursor and Desk-Top Icon details.

Main Menu:    This is a visual feast, and very user-friendly – all is clear and worth exploring before you click Play, which in turn helps you set up your Profile, Modes and Story choices before plunging you into another opening scene.  There are Facebook and Twitter Links in Top Right of screen; plus More Games that opens to allow you to scroll sideways through the EIPIX selections – if you click on one it will drop you out of the game (putting Icon for re-entry on your Tool Bar) and onto the Big Fish sales page for that specific game.

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Music & Voice-Overs:    These are great!  The Music complements the setting perfectly, yet isn’t too intrusive – it doesn’t take over so you don’t feel the need to keep turning it down more and more.  The Actors/Voices are well-suited to their Characters, which is also enjoyable.

Extras:    Play Bonus Game; Play HOP; Music; Play Puzzles; Souvenir Room; Art; Collectable; Mahjong; Golden Heart Puzzles. Any Collectables missed during play,  and all the bonus Souvenir Room Items (50), you can collect after both games are completed.  This is Fun!

Desktop:    Guide, Menu, Map, Golden Heart (L); Inventory, HOP Lists (C); Ancient Bamboo Strips, Achievements, Hints (R)

Tutorial:   This is immediately Optional with Variations, and is well designed, quick, non-intrusive, informative and, as I always say, worth checking.  You can of course just have the special features Tutorial.

Graphics:    As you can see immediately above – the Graphics are spectacular!  It seems impossible that they can continue to improve from the previous games, but somehow EIPIX manage to do this.  The colours are sparkling, brilliant, gorgeous – Creating Worlds is their Logo and how right they are.  It’s very difficult to describe how it feels to immerse yourself in such gloriously colourful, evocative, artistic settings, that are integral to the story and the game-play.  Amazing stuff.

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Troubleshooting:    I need here to mention that some players – those with 27″ screens – may experience pixellation of the Video components, including the Character Dialogue foreground components.  I contacted EIPIX and they responded:// <![CDATA[

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I’ve consulted with the producer about this problem you have, and we came to conclusion that problem might be in your screen resolution. We are making our games for 1280 * 768 screen resolution and your is bigger than that, I presume. That is SD type of graphics that we do in agreement with Big Fish Games and their standards. We were making HD games in the past but that turned out bad because HD games were much bigger than current one. Now our games will take 800 – 1000 MB of space on your computer but if we were making with HD version our games would have been twice as large than they are now and people with lower performance computers wouldn’t be able to play our games. That the only reason why we do that, simple optimization, because we want to make our games available to a bigger group of people, we want everyone to enjoy in our games. :)

I have Windows 8.1 on Bootcamp on my Mac computer, though also with a 27″ screen, so I re-downloaded the game there and played it.  This improved/diminished the pixellation considerably.  I may try the Demo Game on the Mac part of the Mac  :)  to see how that version plays.  If there is any difference I will do an Update here.

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Play Modes:    Casual; Expert; Insane; Custom.    I now use the Custom Mode wherever I find it so that I have the greatest control over my Game-play.  It’s so great to be able to disable the Penalty component that I call Overclicking Punishment.  EIPIX are considering axing this among many other possible improvements for Player Satisfaction – see my HATS OFF TO EIPIX! blog –  https://judsgamereviews.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/hats-off-to-eipix/

Map:  Interactive, of course.  But it is done on a Scroll as painted miniatures of each scene, with an Info Key so you understand at a glance where you are and which are the active scenes, plus Page Up & Down Arrows to access old and new locations.

Collections:   Ancient Bamboo Strips (42) that complete various storylines within the game; Morphing Objects within the HOPs, the missed Morphs can be collected from the ‘Play HOP’ in Extras upon completion of games.

HOPs:   These get better and better.  There are Interactive Lists (which were so innovative when they first came out – oh how we loved them); Silhouettes (ditto); but now they are totally Combo Hidden Object Puzzle games!  You collect Listed or Shaped Objects which you use on other Objects to find more Objects that open new Lists, then perhaps Riddle Items, until you finally end up with one Item.  Ta-Daaaa!!!!  You may Pan from side to side, or Zoom in and out, play  Mini-HOP on it’s own or inside the main HOP.  But in the main HOPs you also need to find a Morphing Object.  These are not easy to find as they are not consistent in content – I wish they were as this at least gives you more of a chance to spot them.  I had to complete my Morphing Object search via the ‘Play HOP’ in Extras upon completion of both games.  And I will admit it took me a few turns at 3 of them to finally find the Morphed Items.  But these HOPs are seriously great fun!

Puzzles:   Once again these are on the whole fantastic, innovative, and definitely not boring – except for a few that took too much time, and seemed unsolvable – I could feel myself growing older as I played them.  I especially liked the Rune Puzzles and the Golden Heart Puzzles – which are solvable and really make you think as they become more difficult.

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Game-play:   Such a complex game and story.  The Game-play moves relatively quickly, and you seem to resolve the crisis at hand, only to find at the last minute that you have been fooled.  And the game goes on.  This was how the previous HOTW game played – but this is a positive, because you feel as though you are actually achieving as you proceed, and of course know that when you hit adversity you can recover and continue.  It keeps your playing mood positive despite set-backs.  And the story keeps you well and truly hooked! It is complex, logical, linear, with clearly defined villains and heroes, and most importantly it’s embedded into the Game-play, driving the game forward.  The Character Dialogues are also important not just for the story but in order to give you vital info for your searches and Tasks.

Player Participation:   Full On!   You are continually involved throughout the entire game, not just in the convoluted HOPs, but also gathering and utilising Items wherever you go, back and forth, revisiting scenes, creating Potions and Magic Dust, unlocking, opening, repairing, assembling, destroying, replacing, defending, healing, exploring, interviewing, and resolving.

Satisfaction Factor:   Satisfaction is an under-statement!  This game is immensely enjoyable in so many ways – in fact in all the ways I’ve mentioned in all the other categories, and that includes the after-play in the Extras.  This game is Addictive – you do not want to stop playing until you complete it, but as it is quite long, you eventually concede and Exit unwillingly.

Frustration Factors:   These are only caused by mouse control as you slip out of a scene or HOP by accident – often due to fatigue – and by the pixellation, which becomes less important is you become gripped by the game itself.

Bonus Game:  More of the same great Game-play with the same parameters.   The Main Story is complete – you fly in, sort it out, and fly out.   The Bonus Chapter story is cool too – you get called back again, as another threat has arisen – you fly in, sort it out, and fly out. It is also a good length for a Bonus Chapter.

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I highly recommend this game to all Fantasy fans and especially to all EIPIX fans.  What a ripper!

Jud House 25/04/2015

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Posted in ADVENTURE, FANTASY, JUD'S VIEWS & TROUBLESHOOTING, TROUBLESHOOTING PC GAMES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HATS OFF TO EIPIX!


Eipix Entertainment

An independent game developer, incorporated in 2005, EIPIX entered game development to work on several various sized indie titles, then several solo projects, before entering the outsourcing business, porting and making games for pretty much every platform out there.  This stopped in 2011 when EIPIX rebranded with their new slogan – ‘Creating Worlds’.  Their focus shifted to casual games, mostly hidden object puzzle adventure and free to play games of all genres for their exclusive partner Big Fish Games on all popular platforms.

Currently their team comprises over 250 people of various ages, but they are continuing to expand.  Their goal is to create new and immersive worlds that can be enjoyed by a variety of people.  A specific part of EIPIX is Xtruist Audio – a company dedicated to providing music and sound for all media, but most notably video games.  This team consists of experienced composers, sound designers, mix engineers, programmers etc. and features a high quality in house surround studio.  (EIPIX ‘About’ blurb)

Take a peek at the exclusive in-game shots from Eipix Entertainment’s MYTHS OF THE WORLD: THE HEART OF DESOLATION.

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Soon to be released in early April, MYTHS OF THE WORLD: THE HEART OF DESOLATION, an EIPIX Fantasy Hidden Object/Adventure/Puzzle game appears to uphold their great standards in Game Production –  Imagination, Innovation, Story and Artwork Design, Navigation, Controls and Devices, Characters and Creatures, in fact an incredible attention to detail in all aspects including Game-Play.

For a long time dragons were nothing but a stuff of legend, but now, the colossal beasts dreaming beneath the earth have been woken up and with them the ancient evil bent on eradicating mankind once and for all. Enter you, in the role of Emily Wright, the fierce courier pilot, who turns out to be a right person at the wrong place – literally crashing into the ancient valley tucked away in the mountains of Asia, where the decisive battle of fire and brimstone will take place. Are you ready to face the consequences of the dragons’ awakening?

Only the power of five elements can save the future of mankind…

When I asked about latest innovations, they replied:

  • We are constantly trying to improve our projects with new features, puzzles, mini games, gameplay etc. For instance we can mention our deductive HO in Dead Reckoning games or pet in Myths of the World – Stolen spring, but those are just some of the old ones, for new ones… well I guess that you are just gonna have to keep track of our games and see what’s coming, but you can expect innovations more often.

    Myths of the World: The Heart of Desolation Collector's Edition

They are indeed already one of the leaders in innovation re Hidden Object Puzzles (HOPs) – the use of their Inventory Bar is so diverse.  The HOPs are Lists; Interactive Lists(those that require actions on others in order to reveal an Item); Interactive Shapes/Silhouettes; Pictures of Items to be Replaced into the Scenes; Items to be found in one Scene and reused into the scene until only the final one remains; and Fragments of a Final Item to either auto-assemble when found, or assemble in a Zoom scene specifically set-up with instructions/ blueprints for the purpose.

Some games have Double Inventory Bars – one for the collected Items scattered throughout the scenes plus any gained from characters or from the HOPs, and a second one for the HOP ‘Lists’, with Tabs so you can move from one to the other easily.  In the former you can not only store gathered Items, but also assemble pieces found at random – for example adding arrows to an empty quiver, or taking off or putting on lids of jars, boxes, phials etc, or adding rungs to ladders.

I realize that other Game Producers also are innovative – it’s just that Eipix seems to continually ‘up the ante’ with each new game be it a Sequel to an existing story or a new game/story altogether. Their Graphics border on the glorious at times; their Music is magnificent; their sound effects environmentally encompassing, and the stories well-embedded, driving the game forward.  You immerse in their games.  Their Tutorials are always clear, informative, yet quick and not too intrusive, with variations you can opt for.

They are also prepared to take on board Suggestions from Players – this is really very satisfying, as no-one knows the positives and negatives of games as thoroughly as those who play them.  I recently sent in a heaps of questions to them and not only received a reply, but one that opened a channel for interaction between me and EIPIX.  Their responses were considered, positive, and promising – I’ll give you some examples.

Myths of the World: The Heart of Desolation Collector's Edition

Technical questions:

Would EIPIX consider adding a FEEDBACK Link on their MAIN MENU – similar to their recent addition of Facebook and Twitter Links?  This would allow players to be in direct contact with EIPIX re the good and the irritating things in the games that EIPIX could then act upon.  It would not take long for issues to become highlighted, allowing the company to target the more urgent for modification.  This would lead to happier players/customers, and kudos for the company.

  • We will definitively take this into consideration, thank you for suggesting that! Until we find a way, together with Big Fish Games, to fulfill this reinforcement, you can always address us on support@eipix.com for every single problem you have. We are always willing to hear the voice of our players and you can mail us whenever you like – we will always answer.

Would EIPIX consider adding a GAMMA setting to their really excellent Options?  Many players need the ability to add more light to the screen, especially in darker sites.

  • Yes we are considering it, but since that kind of technology is still on its feet, it is a long term plan for our production. But we will try to make it faster as much as we can affect.

Would EIPIX therefore consider creating lighter, clearer Graphics for dark and gloomy sites so that Items are actually visible for the player?

  • Often, graphics can vary extremely depending on the player computers, since graphic configuration can be entirely different. But yes, while we are considering the previous suggestion, we will analyze this one, too.

Or even more innovative, would EIPIX consider adding a POP-OUT GAMMA SETTING to dark scenes/sites so that the player can adjust the setting for just that scene/site?

  • That depends on the two former questions.

You see what I mean?  They are prepared to look at any ideas put to them by Players – even though some of them may already be under development.

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Issues in and Game-Play:

Would EIPIX consider making the Graphics – wonderful as they are in design and context – more user-friendly by removing the over-use of atmospherics, especially in the HOPS?  Players require clear graphics in order to see the game they are playing – eye-strain is counterproductive to having happy customers.  Plus there are many who have varying degrees of visual impairment, but who are avid players.

  • Thank you for pointing that out. Since this is very important to us we would consider it together with our art team. Of course, the way of improvement is always on our minds but if you think that we could improve ourselves in that field we would definitely pay much more attention to it!

Would EIPIX consider making the PUZZLES also more user-friendly to players less dexterous?  Speed and dexterity – for aiming at targets, copying spell/rune-paths, manipulating items through channels – is not necessarily available to all players.

  • Variety of puzzles is something that our game design department takes very special care about and in this sense we try to offer numerous alternatives of a little bit tougher and more accessible puzzles.

I realize of course that Players can SKIP Puzzles, but this is unsatisfying to them – they don’t want to feel excluded.  If there were levels to choose from – or the more ‘physical’ Puzzles were reserved for the Harder Playing Modes – then this would be less frustrating for those less able.  But as you see with the next question/response, EIPIX are willing to consider this which is promising.

Would EIPIX consider the less able (both sight and dexterity), setting a precedent among Game Producers?

  • Your feedback is much appreciated and your constructive criticism or suggestions are making us better. And based on that, Producers are making sure that game corresponds with player desires along with our initial idea and passion for creating games. So all of the above mentioned proposals will be forwarded to our Game Producers.

Would EIPIX consider making the INFO BOX for the MAP  as a POP-UP like the INVENTORY is?  This would be innovative and make the Map more accessible for players, while giving the Designers more workable space for the locations settings.‚1

  • Actually, our game designers consider map as a helper for the player to understand getting around during gameplay and that is not so much based on mechanics. Thank you for this, we will reconsider this for sure!

Myths of the World: The Heart of Desolation Collector's Edition

After asking about Strategy Guides, Disks to Purchase and the controversial Free-to-Play games, I turned my attention to the BugBear of Penalties for Over-Clicking aka Over-Clicking Punishment!  By this time I was tossing caution to the wind and going for broke – excuse clichés please!

Would EIPIX consider removing the use of PENALTIES of all kinds from their games?  Players/Customers do not want to be insulted by being treated like naughty children.  If you just can’t let go of that notion, then only put the Penalties into Harder GAME MODE/DIFFICULTIES settings if you really must, but remove them from all Easy settings.  Also any OVERCLICKING (also insulting and extremely irritating to Game-Play flow) PENALTIES should be removed – this includes their usually hideous noise FX.

  • That’s great because we’re thinking the same! That’s why we gave our players the choice of mode they want to play and since Myths of the World: Stolen Spring Collector’s Edition project, in all of our games you can turn off the penalties by changing your game settings to custom difficulty where you can adjust the game to your preferences. You can remove penalties from that section and play the game the way you want to play it.

To say I was thrilled by that response is to understate it.  Gleeful is the word!  How enlightened are EIPIX?!  So you see why it’s HATS OFF TO EIPIX!

Watch vigilantly for the coming MYTHS OF THE WORLD: THE HEART OF DESOLATION.  Check out their MORE GAMES Link, on the Main Menus or Extras/Bonus Content pages of any of their existing games, to see what else they have to offer.  Or visit their Website –  http://eipix.com  for the same info, and to sign up for their Newsletter.  Plus check  http://opnoobs.com  for this review and more.

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Jud House  30/03/2015

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Posted in ADVENTURE, CRIME & MYSTERY, FANTASY, JUD'S VIEWS & TROUBLESHOOTING | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE MYSTERY OF A LOST PLANET


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by ALIKART; BIGFISH GAMES

FASCINATING SCI-FI!

Story:  The crew of a marooned spaceship must uncover the secrets of an unknown planet to survive. After a crash landing on the lost planet, you’re left with many unanswered questions. What was the mysterious force that seems to have pulled your ship into the planet and what are its intentions? The journey to answer these questions will be challenging but you cannot give up, because if you fail the crew will never see their home planet again!
Explore beautiful landscapes on your journey – visit the islands that float in the air, underwater worlds and alien jungles. Traverse mysterious caves and damaged spaceships to learn more about this world’s amazing inhabitants.
Bonus! Play the game on hard to meet a survivor of a previous spaceship crash and learn about his extraordinary survival story.  (Big Fish Sales Blurb)

Options:    Basic but good.  Full Screen is not Wide Screen.  You can change these during the game.

Main Menu:     Read HELP in this to get clear instructions.

Music:   Eerie, and really suitable.

Voice-Overs:    None – the Dialogue is all done in Text-balloons.

Desktop:    PDA  – Tasks , Info (Left);  Inventory (Centre); Hint, Home/Menu (Right).

Play Modes:    Casual; Advanced; Expert.  You need to complete the full game in Expert in order to meet the Extra Character – he is not within the Expert Game.  You can change Modes during the game.

Map:    None, but Mini-Map into PDA.

Tutorial:    You activate the Interactive Tutorial in the Options.  This is quick, efficient, as Texts.

 The Mystery of a Lost Planet

Graphics:    Good, clear in places, atmospheric in others, dark in others; HOPs Graphics tend to be a bit too gloomy to see clearly.  But they are excellent Sci-Fi Planet Graphics, with great attention to details.

HOPs:   Interactive Lists in general sites, some with Mini-Zoom sites for extra Items to use within the HOPs.  You also pick up Items from around sites, some of which you place into Key Object circles to gain a Key Object once complete.  The HOP Hint is rechargeable.

Puzzles:    A few of these are really good – such as the Maze Puzzle – but many of them are tedious, have poor instructions, refuse to complete, and are totally Skip-worthy!

Game-play:   A bit slow-moving, rather like MYST in that you are left on your own to wander around collecting Items with little Instructions other than via Hints.  Active Hotspots are not obvious and it’s rather hard to find where to use Items.  You need to Mouse-Over the screen to find Sparkling Hotspots.  Also as you clear a site it is then Locked so you can’t return to it.

Player Participation:   You actively use tools rather than it being done automatically, so this is good.

Frustration Factors:   There  is a degree of Frustration due to the lack of Instructions/Directions, and also due to the annoying Puzzles which you can Skip after it unlocks.

 The Mystery of a Lost Planet

Satisfaction Factor:    Despite not knowing what you are doing most of the time, except for in-depth, careful, continual exploring – as in the MYST Series of games – this is fascinating.  It has a great Opening Movie sequence – you know you are in Space for a SciFi game immediately.

I recommend this game to all Sci-Fi fans.

Jud House 2/04/2015

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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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