SHAOLIN MYSTERY 1 & 2

There is something delicious about well-created Oriental narrative games – especially Japanese and Chinese.  They are exotic by nature with their dragons and artifacts, their Traditional ancient tales often blended with modern crimes or protagonists.  These two games fall under this group.  (Not all Oriental games succeed though, as some of my other blogs have shown.)  The ratings below apply to both games.

by DIGITAL CHARTER; BIG FISH GAMES

Jud’s Game Rating:

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

Frustration Factor (FF) *   Fair Play (FP) ****  Tedium Factor (TF) Nil

TALE OF THE JADE DRAGON STAFF

This game has the wonderful graphics expected in a game of this nature – authentic landscapes, beautiful, interesting, and part of the narrative.  The clarity varies a little, due to the addition of shafts of light, but it is okay.  But they are so colourful, especially the underwater locations – gorgeous.  This number and variety of locations are enabled by the narrative, which is that of a Quest by you, as Yu, to find the pieces of the Jade Dragon Staff, assemble them, and release the rightful Emperor, Zihao, before his execution.

The music is Oriental, changes for each chapter, adds to the game as movie music does, but needs to set low as some of it is quite repetitive and can get a little irritating.  There is a short movie introduction, and also short movies between chapters as you move to new locations, but these are not too intrusive.

Each chapter starts afresh as you unearth new tasks to complete, with not a lot of direction, but this lets you decide the order in which you do them.  This of course dictates how much to-ing and fro-ing you do between locations – if you are smart you can cut this down somewhat.  But you will still get there in the end.  There is no notebook, or map, as there is in the later game, but you can click on Hint if you are unsure if there is anything left to find in a location.

There are the usual Hidden Object (HO) sites that sparkle, from which you gain one item for your Inventory folder.  But as an adventure game there are also individual items in each site that you need to collect to assist you.  There are also ‘circles of rings’ for parts of items that you need to proceed – I like these as they allow you to see pics of the pieces, and put them into the circle centre as you find them.  They are just fun.

There are a couple of annoying puzzles in the batch, but you can Skip these if you need to.  On the whole the puzzles are fun and interesting.  There is of course the usual unnecessary overclicking punishment – the Cursor disappears for a few seconds – totally unforgivable in a game that requires you to click over the screen to locate ‘circles’ to activate. Not FP.

I found it a little peculair when the game left the traditional realm and stepped into the fantasy realm – a silly thing to say as the game is all myth, but I think it was the Designers depiction of the woodland fairy.  My pic at the top of the page shows how Oriental Fairies/Goddesses are usually portrayed – I guess I was a little put off by their pixie-like portrayal.  It undermined the authenticity of the game.

But it is an excellent game and I bought it.

REVENGE OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS

The narrative for this game is really interesting and woven into the gameplay, driving it along.  The Graphics are gorgeous, spectacular with magnificent mountains, wonderful blossom trees, fiery dragon and authentic terracotta warriors – but they could be just a little clearer.

This game uses Hidden Object searches, individual item collection, plus the ‘ring of circles’ collection of Objects.  The only problem is that you can only gain one item at a time from your HO searches.

The Puzzles are clever, and require you to take your time to solve them.  I thought that there was no Skip button which was rather frustrating, until near the end of play I realised that the timer bar across the bottom became a Skip bar.  Also the Cursor wanders about as a punishment for overclicking, but it is necessary to explore the entire site or you miss items and tasks. FF

But on the whole this is an entertaining game and I bought it.  Besides, I already had the earlier game.

(C)  Copyright  Jud House  12/01/2012

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