Infamous Quests Featured

Quest for Infamy Review

Developer: Infamous Quests Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing Platform: PC – Steam Of all the classic adventure games of yore, the Quest for Glory series is remembered fondly by many. I was indeed a member of team Sierra in the past but […]

RUSH Featured

RUSH Review

Developer: Two Tribes Publisher: Two Tribes Platform: PC – Steam Puzzle games are both my favorite and least favorite genre. There are always excellent titles to choose from, but some just end up being too convoluted. I wasn’t sure what to […]

Sudokuball Detective Featured

Sudokuball Detective Review

Developer: Witan Entertainment Publisher: Libredia Platform: DS, PC – Amazon, Steam Wii Sudoku is a game I enjoy playing because it only requires one player and is a good time-waster. It was the concept of Sudoku being paired with a […]

Fist of Awesome Featured

Fist of Awesome Review

Developer: I Fight Bears Publisher: I Fight Bears Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS, Ouya PC – Humble Store, Steam For better or for worse, sidescrolling beat ‘em ups have mostly disappeared from the modern gaming landscape. It’s up to indie […]

Z Featured

Z Review

Developer: The Bitmap Brothers, TickTock Games Publisher: KISS ltd, Kavcom Platform: PC – GOG, Steam I got my first taste of real-time strategy gaming early in life. Since then I’ve sampled a great many titles in the genre but somehow never […]

 

The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection is Free on Origin!

The Sims 2 Ultimate Edition is Free

The Sims 2 Ultimate Edition is Free

Okay, so, Origin is not my favorite digital distributor. In fact, it probably isn’t even on my top five list! I know this is the case for many people out there thanks to EA’s image problem as well as simply not wanting another Steam-like program on their computer. All the same, they’ve been trying hard to push Origin as a viable platform…

Case in point, The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection is currently a free download for anyone with an Origin account. Users who already had any version of The Sims 2 associated to their accounts will have already received the upgrade. However, all of us can benefit from the deal. Simply follow these rules if you’re running the Origin client or head to this link in your browser and use the code I-LOVE-THE-SIMS. Just note that this promotion ends on July 31st at 10AM PST.

Why is this a big deal when The Sims 2 is a ten-year old game? Well, The Sims has always had a special place in my heart since the original game launched. It quickly became my most-played PC game. Of course, this became an issue once I discovered mods and tied up the phone line continuously when browsing mod sites!

Although my favorite game of the series is The Sims, The Sims 2 is a pretty excellent game as well. In fact, I prefer it in almost every way to The Sims 3 (although 3 has nicer-looking mods). 2 brought in some new systems while still retaining the classic formula which helped the game become even easier to play daily. By 3′s release, it felt to me that there was too much going on.

If you have never played a Sims game then 2 is a great place to start. Considering there are zillions of Expansion and Stuff packs for The Sims 2 (all included in the Ultimate Collection) this is an incredible deal – even though you have to suffer downloading Origin to use it.

Quest for Infamy Review

Infamous Quests Featured

Quest for Infamy Logo

Developer: Infamous Quests
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform: PC – Steam

Of all the classic adventure games of yore, the Quest for Glory series is remembered fondly by many. I was indeed a member of team Sierra in the past but somehow completely missed out on the entire series. Quest for Infamy definitely comes from a similar design mindset and as such is immediately liked by fans. But what of someone like me who has no built-in nostalgia for the Quest games?

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RUSH Review

RUSH Featured

RUSH Logo

Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Platform: PC – Steam

Puzzle games are both my favorite and least favorite genre. There are always excellent titles to choose from, but some just end up being too convoluted. I wasn’t sure what to expect from RUSH since people don’t really talk about it… After playing it for hours I don’t understand how it was overlooked.

RUSH starts off simply. The basic gameplay concept boils down to making colored blocks reach a destination of the same color. Each block moves across a 3D cube surface and its path is controlled by signs. Signs allow players to make them move up, down, left, right, pause, and the like. If a block hits a wall it will always turn right and continue trekking along.

Tutorials explain all these rules of block locomotion. As you progress through other puzzles harder difficulties eventually open up. Puzzles are a ton of fun because each has its own design with the 3D cubes. Some look like mazes and one even looked like a big crocodile head! I really enjoyed the simple visual aesthetic of the game. Unfortunately, there is no zoom function so sometimes the camera can’t be placed just where you need it.

RUSH Featured

The soundtrack in RUSH is phenomenal. It sounds like nothing I’d ever expect from a puzzle game which makes it all the more memorable. Perhaps jamming to the tracks helps my mind better process puzzles? In any case, when something is tough just call upon a hint or two. One hint option shows whether signs are in the right spot or not. The second hint does that but also highlights where additional signs must go. Of course, it’s up to you to decipher which signs specifically go where.

Playing RUSH is not without moments of frustration but fun definitely overpowers it. A few tweaks could have made the game even greater but as it stands more people simply must nab RUSH.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Sudokuball Detective Review

Sudokuball Detective Featured

Sudokuball Detective Boxart

Developer: Witan Entertainment
Publisher: Libredia
Platform: DS, PC – Amazon, Steam Wii

Sudoku is a game I enjoy playing because it only requires one player and is a good time-waster. It was the concept of Sudoku being paired with a story that intrigued me into trying Sudokuball Detective. In it, you play as a detective invited to a party. Suddenly, one of the party-goers dies! As the resident detective you must solve the mystery.

Now, I jumped into this game for the story but found myself unable to pay attention to it. It falls into much of the trappings you expect from an upper class murder (hint: it has something to do with inheritance money). Story segments appear between each puzzle and sometimes tweak how puzzles function slightly.

For example, if a suspect runs from you your goal is to solve only the squares on the board with red footprints on them. Similarly, you may need to unlock something before people stumble upon you. At this point you must solve specific spots before time runs out. Timers really hurt the experience because I don’t like to feel rushed when solving a puzzle. It’s much more my style to carefully check over each square rather than jamming through with partial guesses.

Sudokuball Detective Featured

Sudokuball Detective’s rendition of Sudoku is also harmed by not allowing players to mark squares with possible values. This is another favorite strategy of mine and useful to keep from rechecking the same spots multiple times. Although this is a video game there’s also no hint function or error check until you complete one of the nine main squares.

Oh, and we haven’t gone into the whole “Sudokuball” aspect yet. For whatever reason there are multiple Sudoku games plastered on a sphere. The execution is a bit rough as sometimes you can’t fully see numbers near the rounded edges. On a personal level I also found it hard to quickly read lines and would sometimes get them wrong because of the curve. Sudokuball Detective is a fresh take on Sudoku but it fails to be much fun.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Fist of Awesome Review

Fist of Awesome Featured

Fist of Awesome Logo

Developer: I Fight Bears
Publisher: I Fight Bears
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS, Ouya PC – Humble Store, Steam

For better or for worse, sidescrolling beat ‘em ups have mostly disappeared from the modern gaming landscape. It’s up to indie developers to keep the genre alive with unique twists. Fist of Awesome attempts to reinvigorate audiences by punching intelligent future/past bears. It’s weird, wacky, and fairly short but a neat little brawler.

The star of Fist of Awesome is lumberjack Tim Burr (yep!). Things start out all lovely with his flannel-clad family celebrating something or other when things go completely wrong. Suddenly, Tim is alone and his fist has grown in size and begun talking to him. This apparent future fist explains that the present has been destroyed by time-travelling causing bears to take over the world. How can you set thing straight? Just punch all the bears!

Fist of Awesome Featured

Fighting is incredibly simplistic. You can kick, punch, jump (kick), and a teensy bit more. By holding down on punch you charge a special fist attack. There is an upgrade system in place but increasing your attack or speed doesn’t change much. All in all, levels blend together really quickly as you rarely need to switch from rapidly pressing the punch button. You pound on groupings of bears before reaching a boss. Each stage is short which means the game takes under two hours to beat. After that, you can try out arena mode or a harder difficulty.

As simple as the fighting mechanic is I had fun trying to punch and kick my way through each chapter. I appreciated the lanky pixel art and definitely enjoyed the soundtrack. Fist of Awesome is definitely a simple game and as such may be better purchased on Android or iOS for $3.99. That way you can get your bear-punching on the go and at a lower price!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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The Child-Like Terror of Among the Sleep

Among the Sleep Featured

Among the Sleep Featured

Among the Sleep is a horror game that was Kickstarted to the tune of $248,358 in 2013. The funding campaign hooked me with the game’s unique premise of playing as a toddler. Although I don’t feel the game reaches as far as my hopes did, it certainly succeeded at being terrifying in a very unique fashion.

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Z Review

Z Featured

Z Logo

Developer: The Bitmap Brothers, TickTock Games
Publisher: KISS ltd, Kavcom
Platform: PC – GOGSteam

I got my first taste of real-time strategy gaming early in life. Since then I’ve sampled a great many titles in the genre but somehow never played Z by The Bitmap Brothers. This re-release changes things. After finally playing it I’m sad to have missed it back in 1996.

Z is an odd game where two factions of robots (red and blue) fight for supremacy and control of a planet. The odd factor comes in thanks to the storyline depicting the main robots as Wayne’s World-style goofballs. It definitely feels a bit dated, but a bit charming as well.

Gameplay also feels unique when compared to other RTSes. For one, you don’t create new buildings. Instead you must reach and control the existing buildings across each map. Of course, the enemy can take them from you if you’re not careful. The same holds true for vehicles which sit unmanned until someone claims them. The concept takes a while to get used to but works well. My history with Command & Conquer games also made the control scheme a bit difficult to grasp at first. It seems this is a holdover from the iOS release.

Z Featured

Each stage introduces new facets of gameplay depth to players. For one there are a great variety of deployable robots (grunts, snipers, etc) who all have advantages and disadvantages. Then there are little things like blowing up bridges for strategic purposes. Of course, there’s also just a lot of fun nuance to tipping the odds in your favor. Z is pretty tough though, even on easy.

One thing The Bitmap Brothers have always gotten just right are the graphics. All of their titles have incredibly good-looking pixel art. Z’s battlefields look far nicer than many modern pixelated games. It appears that the remake has not tampered with the graphics much beyond the GUI to accommodate HD monitors (unfortunately there are no resolution options!). The music is another high point, although the voice samples show their age.

Its rare that games nearly 20 years old hold up so well without a heavy dose of nostalgia to go with them. I hold no fond memories of Z and yet it proves to be an astonishingly good RTS title in 2014 save for its unusual control scheme. It’s a shame there’s no multiplayer because this seems perfect for playing against friends.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Ampu-Tea Review

Ampu-Tea Featured

Ampu-Tea Boxart

Developer: ProjectorGames
Publisher: KISS ltd
Platform: PC – Desura, GamersGateGreen Man Gaming, IndieCity, Shiny Loot, Steam

It’s not like I keep this a secret, but I loved Surgeon Simulator 2013. Sure, the whole concept was fairly creepy but for some reason games where you have too precise control over things entertain me. That’s the main reason I checked out Ampu-Tea. The developers acknowledge their inspirations and have tweaked them into an odd tea-making sim.

Players control a robot arm. They can bend the fingers and thumb (although pinky and ring finger are activated by the same button). Beyond gripping with fingers, there’s also the option to angle the wrist in different orientations, and move up, down, left, and right. The controls are fairly simplistic and feel a lot more manageable than Surgeon Simulator 2013.

Ampu-Tea Featured

Upon starting the game there are five or so tasks (less if you’re playing on easy) related to making tea. These can involve adding a tea bag, sugar cube(s), hot water, and milk. Once all that’s taken care of you place the cup on a serving plate. Of course, getting any of this accomplished is difficult. However, after playing for only 20 minutes I was able to finagle my way to victory. Or, I would, if Ampu-Tea ever acknowledged my actions.

The biggest issue with the game is it appears in need of a few patches. For example, when given the task to add a single cube of sugar it fails to recognize when I do it in-game. An achievement popped up, but nothing else. Of course, after adding a few more sugar cubes the game failed me for adding too many. This, paired with a very short game once you figure it out, means that Ampu-Tea is not nearly as successful at the whole wacky hand control formula as its inspiration.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Paca Picks: Hello Kitty Limited Edition Pink Dreamcast

Hey there and welcome to the first ever Paca Picks! This is a new article series where random tidbits of our video game collections (mine or Leah’s) will be showcased.

First up is the Hello Kitty Limited Edition Pink Dreamcast. This was a Japanese exclusive console that launched in 1999 – a year after the system’s launch there. It came in pink as well as blue, with both colors using transparent plastic. Sources state there were 1,500 made of each color meaning this was actually “limited” unlike many modern games and systems that use the same verbage.

What’s inside the box? The Hello Kitty Dreamcast includes: Dreamcast, controller, VMU, keyboard, AC adapter, AV cable, Hello Kitty Dream Passport (ハローキティドリームパスポート), Hello Kitty Garden Panic (ハローキティのガーデンパニック), various pamphlets. Unfortunately, I don’t have the keyboard but do have the rest! The photo showcasing all the goodies together gives the best example of the console’s pink tone.

Hello Kitty Garden Panic is a Picross game and was only available for purchase via this bundle. Hello Kitty Dream Passport is just a specially branded version of Sega’s Dream Passport software which let users access the internet via a Dreamcast (hence the inclusion of a keyboard with this bundle). As I already have a working Dreamcast, and they are region free, I tend to keep my Hello Kitty Limited Edition Pink Dreamcast on display.

The Chaos Engine Review

The Chaos Engine Featured

The Chaos Engine Logo

Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – GOG, Steam

Now, I’d never played The Chaos Engine in the past but somehow the game always stuck with me. Thanks to the ‘remastered’ version on Steam I’ve finally gotten to play this Amiga classic. Although it might not be very in-depth, I found it quite enjoyable, if difficult. Just make sure to not turn on smoothing if you have any affinity toward pixel art.

The basics of The Chaos Engine are that it’s a top down action game. You select from a cast of characters (each with unique weapons) and play alongside a co-op partner. This partner can be a real person via local or online play or simply a computer-controlled buddy. Of course, enlisting a real friend is the best idea.

The Chaos Engine Featured

Apparently this version of the game has been made a bit harder than the original release. If so, it definitely shows. Although it looks like you can go guns blazing through the stage, slow progression is really the way to go. I found myself creeping toward the edges of the screen so as not to be jumped by an enemy. Some ram into you while others shoot bullets and in either case it’s all terribly damaging. For whatever reason, characters start with very low health. It’s definitely a challenging game but enjoyably so.

One change was making the game have “360 degree” shooting. It’s more like 8-way shooting but it works well. You can play on a gamepad (not just of the Xbox 360 variety) as well, which is pretty cool. This ended up being my preferred method of play. My biggest issue with The Chaos Engine is a severe lack of level passwords to return to old stages in online matches. Fans have been clamoring for this for over a year so such an update is unlikely. Overall, I enjoy the difficulty and just wish there were ways to temper it when needed.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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