Developer: Surreal Distractions Publisher: Surreal Distractions Platform: PC – Steam, Desura By now many abhor the “funny simulator” fad in gaming. Well, I’m not! Domestic Dog Simulator is a lovely little title I first discovered via Desura and was very excited […]
Developer: Burst Studios Publisher: Virgin Interactive Platform: PC – DOS, GOG* Toonstruck is one of those games that, despite being a fan of adventure games, flew totally under my radar until recently. For whatever reason I kept confusing it for […]
Developer: Parade Publisher: MangaGamer Platform: PC – MangaGamer* I am amazed at the continual proliferation of visual novels in the West. With that said, it seems that certain types of titles (eroge, etc) might never be met with the same […]
Developer: Hyper Hippo Productions Publisher: Hyper Hippo Productions Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam, Web The incremental game genre is super weird to folks who’ve never experienced it firsthand before. Basically, these titles are gaming-ness distilled to a […]
Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Square Enix Platform: 3DO, PC – GOG*, PlayStation, Saturn Gex is one of those games that seems lost to time. As a child I really dug Gex: Enter the Gecko because of its bright worlds themed off […]
By now many abhor the “funny simulator” fad in gaming. Well, I’m not! Domestic Dog Simulator is a lovely little title I first discovered via Desura and was very excited to see it hit Steam. Having played again after my first foray a bit ago, some aspects have actually changed! However, the main game is still the same. You still play as a randomly generated doggy trying to survive.
Every time you boot up Domestic Dog Simulator you’re treated to a new alien/robot/whatever dog-like creature. Its goals are simple: Stay fed and hydrated, flea-free, get some exercise, and pee/poop on stuff. As you navigate around the tiny town you’ll discover odd, but cute things. For example, the arcade currently features three games to muck around with. The coolest aspect, however, are the secrets hidden right underneath the surface.
At first glance it really feels like Domestic Dog Simulator is an incredibly simplistic, repetitive game. It is certainly repetitive in that you need to constantly refill your meters (lest the dog die), but play long enough and you’ll uncover new areas and other great Easter eggs. Achievements offer slight hints for what to do or where to go, if you need it. My biggest complaint is that every time you close the game you’re saying goodbye to that dog and its run. I don’t have the time to sit and game for hours on end!
With that said, the developer has shown that they are still hard at work on Domestic Dog Simulator. No, it’s not in Early Access but Surreal Distractions continues to add and tweak features in response to players. They’ve even addressed the complaint of new dogs on launch and may offer a solution. Controller support is incoming as well which is great considering the current keyboard controls are iffy. Domestic Dog Simulator might be immensely simple, but sometimes that’s exactly what I’m looking for.
3 out of 5 alpacas
Two weeks ago I reviewed AdVenture Capitalist, the first incremental game released on Steam. It follows the same general formula of titles which came before (ie: Cookie Clicker) but with a “fun” capitalist spin. Basically, you’re meant to get your hand into as many industries as possible to reap the most monetary benefits.
Although enjoyable in simplicity, my review touched upon how this outward design aesthetic wasn’t nearly as engaging as the weirder progenitors of the genre. This still holds true. Yet, I can’t stop playing. It’s a weird issue to have – although not worth much complaint. Since the game runs continuously I don’t even have to “play” it to accrue funds.
Writing about games has been a hobby of mine since I was about 14. Sure, at the time it was pretty awkward, hyper-opinionated (and not even MY opinion – but the resounding one from game blogs of the time!) stuff. However, all that stuff disappeared after deleting the LiveJournal years ago so I couldn’t relieve it in all that cringe-worthy glory even if I wanted to. So, basically I’ve been writing about games for 10 years (although only about half of that has been with actual, established websites). And for all that discussion of games, I had never myself taken game creation into my own hands.
Developer: Burst Studios
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*
Toonstruck is one of those games that, despite being a fan of adventure games, flew totally under my radar until recently. For whatever reason I kept confusing it for the Cool World video game which doesn’t seem too great. In Toonstruck you play as a cartoon animator named Drew Blanc who is just another cog in the machine. He’s been dreaming of creating a new cartoon for years but the powers that be simply want him to produce more of the same.
On the night of a big assignment things get weird – Drew is magically drawn into a TV set which leads directly to the world of cartoons. There he immediately runs into that dream character of his, Flux, and is tasked with saving Cutopia before being allowed back to the human world. As it turns out, you’ll have to collect 12 different mystery items in order to save anyone. Just like any other point and click adventure this involves chatting up locals, solving puzzles, and doing lots of weird stuff.
In regards to other puzzle games of the time Toonstruck actually starts out quite easily. Puzzles ramp up in difficulty, but not exclusively. Only puzzles related to combining items stumped me thanks to their fairly rare appearance. The most enjoyable aspect is simply wandering around this cartoon realm and seeing the juxtaposition between cuteness and “reality.” Characters in Cutopia are sweet to a fault, but some still manage to make hilariously pointed insults. Despite the necessary cartoony visuals, this is a game meant primarily for teens/adults.
Some of Toonstruck’s jokes don’t work anymore as they might have in the 90s. A few jabs at types of people fell particularly flat, but most of the time I was in awe of how hilarious the game manages to be. Humor is hard in games, especially if you’ve got slapstick cartoon sensibilities in the mix. Even if it were lacking the star power of Christopher Lloyd (and many esteemed voice actors) Toonstruck would still prove a hit.
4 out of 5 alpacas
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*
I am amazed at the continual proliferation of visual novels in the West. With that said, it seems that certain types of titles (eroge, etc) might never be met with the same level of respect. It’s such shame because the content of these games tends to bother people enough to not even give them a shot. In the case of No, Thank You!!! there’s quite a loss as this game delivers a strong storyline and mostly believable cast along with some serious twists.
The incremental game genre is super weird to folks who’ve never experienced it firsthand before. Basically, these titles are gaming-ness distilled to a very pure form. In AdVenture Capitalist you’re simply presented with a screen of potential businesses for you to buy out and profit from. The lemonade stand is your first business, but soon enough you’ve moved onto a pizza parlor – and then your own hockey team because why not?
All you do is click the business you wish to buy more of and expend some cash. After owning enough of one the speed at which you receive profits from it increases. Upgrades and managers multiple profits further, leading to eventual profits far surpassing the trillions. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek (and simplified!) version of capitalism but the framing makes more sense than Cookie Clicker at least.
So basically, AdVenture Capitalist is all about clicking icons every so often, closing the game, and letting it accrue funds overnight and then repeating the procedure. Every so often you’ll even want to reset back to 0 businesses in order to gain angel investors. Angel investors add a 2% bonus apiece each restart which means future playthroughs gain immense amounts of cash faster each time.
This incredibly simplistic format is one which most incremental games thrive on and is definitely a love it or hate it sort of thing. If you enjoyed Cookie Clicker, Clicker Heroes, or Candy Box though it’s worth a download. I don’t find it nearly as charming as my preferred Cookie Clicker (which delves into such wonderfully ridiculous territory), but hey, it’s a free game on Steam for me to indulge on between actually playing games.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: 3DO, PC – GOG*, PlayStation, Saturn
Gex is one of those games that seems lost to time. As a child I really dug Gex: Enter the Gecko because of its bright worlds themed off real media (cartoons, horror movies, etc). But never before had I played the original Gex. As it turns out, the entire series seems predicated on the notion of jumping into film/television media parody worlds. It’s a fun concept, although the execution is lacking.
One night while Gex is simply watching TV he gets transported to the TV dimension by some evil being named Rez. Once in the world he traipses though increasingly challenging levels all based around genres and locations for films (horror, kung fu, futuristic). Every 2D stage features copious enemies, collectible golden bugs, and lots of ways to die. Like many early 90s platformers it is far more challenging than it seems! The best aspect is how playing as a gecko lets you do things like climb ceilings and walls with ease.
The biggest issue with Gex is not the inherent challenge but how out of place it feels now. Gex routinely shouts out “witty” one liners in reference to pop culture from around 1994 (when the game first launched on 3DO). Although some of the jokes and references make sense to me, none are particularly funny regardless. Then there are ones that seem completely nonsensical such as Gex grumpily complaining, “when is Grace Jones gonna retire?” What, pray tell, is wrong with Grace Jones?! Weirdly, many of the same lines were reused for 1998’s Enter the Gecko, and they were probably already stale then.
In all, the framing of Gex proves its most interesting aspect. Having a real reason to adventure through thematically different worlds is kind of neat, and each boss proves cool. Gex himself though is grating and his dialogue is a lazy excuse for actual characterization. The platforming is inspired, but the negatives balance out the positives. Instead of being iconic, Gex is just average.
2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas
Here’s something a little different for Pixel Pacas! It might surprise you (or not at all) but I happen to be a massive fan of video game bundles. As a collector as well there’s hardly a need for me to own more games, but sometimes the deals are far too tempting to pass up. In any case, Bundle Stars The Zen Bundle launched recently and is packed with a most surprising selection of games. This bundle is definitely not for everyone, but there’s a niche audience who will totally dig it. A big thanks goes out to Bundle Stars for providing us complimentary access to these games!
Read on to see brief discussion on each included title as well as links to full length reviews where applicable.
Life is Strange Episode 1 managed to hook me quite well. Despite a super dramatic, and not particularly “realistic,” reality it worked. I wanted to see what was in store for Max next, and with Episode 2 – Out of Time we get another sampling of this world. But, because we’ve already visited it once, some of the initial charm has worn off.
At first it felt like the episode dragged. Interpersonal teenage angst is something I’d rather leave behind, of course, DONTNOD Entertainment manage to infuse it with enough attention that you care about certain characters – and absolutely loathe others. Despite mostly solid writing, some aspects did bother me, though.
It seems weird that right after the ending of Episode 1 that Max and her old buddy Chloe are super-duper buddies again. Sure, real life friendships might resume perfectly after a long pause, but the ham-fisted nature of their BFF-dom is a little eye-rolling. With that said, I’d much rather Max end up with Chloe rather than dating her needy guy friend. Please don’t go that route, Life is Strange!
There’s a lot of down to Earth sequences in Episode 2 but a few also drive home the impending disaster that Max continues to see. A few choices really stressed me and at least one part may have huge ramifications on the story. If you dug Life is Strange’s look into the life of an unsuspecting teenage hero then keep playing – things are slowly amping up.
3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas