Posts Tagged ‘1.5’

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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Girls’ Fashion Shoot Review

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Developer: Alchemist
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Platform: 3DS

I was excited about trying out Girls’ Fashion Shoot. I had tons of fun with Style Savvy and its sequel, and Girls’ Fashion Shoot looked to be more of the same fabulousness that anyone would be able to enjoy.

As the name implies, Girls’ Fashion Shoot is a fashion game. You can play dress-up, do modeling, and edit a fashion magazine. There are hundreds of clothes and accessories, too, so the possible combinations of outfits are endless. Unfortunately, it’s not exciting whatsoever and becomes boring almost immediately.

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To progress in Girls’ Fashion Shoot, you must complete all the jobs at Rising Star Magazine headquarters that are offered to you each month. This usually entails you composing an outfit that matches a certain theme. Other tasks include designing nails. Whatever you end up having to do, it results in posing for a photo shoot that will go on a magazine cover that you must arrange as well. It is the same process each time, with your boss saying the same sentences each time.

There’s very little to do when you want to get away from your monotonous work life. You can buy new clothes and makeup, learn new poses to use in photo shoots, or get your nails and hair done. Not very appealing, huh? There’s not even very many hair styles or makeup options, either.

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Girls’ Fashion Shoot is definitely the sort of game that is marketed towards young girls. Unfortunately, it has no redeeming features. Everything that it offers, Style Savvy: Trendsetters does better.


Pink Score: 1.51 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm’s Revenge Review

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Featured

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Boxart

Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC – GOG*

Over the span of three years, Westwood Studios produced an adventure game trilogy titled The Legend of Kyrandia. The first game was a novel start, the second refined the formula, and then finally came the third title. The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm’s Revenge is meant to serve as the culmination of everything, but does it prove to be a fitting end?

Malcolm’s Revenge picks up primarily after the first game. Yes, there is a connection to it and the end of The Hand of Fate, but that’s so minimal it hardly counts. In any case, this time around you play as Malcolm. In the first game, he was the royal court jester who murdered the king! It’s likely no players really wanted to “see his side of the story” but that’s exactly what Malcolm’s Revenge revolves around. Players get a taste for Malcolm’s self-centered mindset but also see that he might not be completely horrible after all.

Each game coming from a different character’s perspective was basically expected though, as all previous games featured different protagonists. What is far less easy to swallow is the distinct shift in art direction and style. This seems due to the sudden discovery of fancy 3D graphics and polygons. Now there are CGI scenes interspersed throughout the game and backdrop elements from time to time. Most of these scenes look entirely ridiculous today. Even if they didn’t, it harms the charming pixel art that once seemed a hallmark of the Kyrandia name.

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Featured

Even though most scenes do not employ CGI, the effort on those fronts must have taxed the art team. Pixellated backdrops don’t stand up in the least to Book 1 and 2. They’re uninspired, and at times even ugly. Because of this there’s no longer a way or reason to praise what had previously been very cool fairy tale visuals. At least we have the first two games to return to.

That’s not the only despicable part of the game, though. The worst offender is the writing which seems far less interesting than anything else the Kyrandia series has to offer. Despite being a court jester, Malcolm isn’t very funny. This is made worse by a laugh track that is prompted to play at completely inane moments. It’s rare that anything humorous ever happens to cue the laughter. It’s not even like Book 3 is meant to be a sitcom! On the plus side, the soundtrack is probably the best of the trilogy.

Malcolm’s Revenge is not a complete failure since the puzzles are still interesting, with only some aspects being annoyingly challenging. But when you compare it to the other two games it just feels like the least exciting one. If anything, most Kyrandia players would probably be best served by playing Book 1 and 2 and pretending this concluding volume never existed.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Omegalodon Review

Omegalodon Featured

Omegalodon Boxart

Developer: North of Earth
Publisher: North of Earth
Platform: PC (Desura, DirectSteam)

There are a few things I’ve always really wanted to do in games. One is to get to be a serial killer in a cheesy horror movie-type title and another is to be a rampaging dinosaur. As you might guess from the title, Omegalodon fits into the category of “rampaging dinosaur” (or at least some sort of giant fish-reptile hybrid). The question is if it can stand up as a worthy experience.

When first playing Omegalodon, I was incredibly confused as to what to do. Judging by the Steam forums, this seems a somewhat common response from new players. If you take the time to read any user-created guide though you’ll see things are pretty simple. You can play on the side the giant monster or with the police and army who are trying to stop it from destroying the city. If you join monster team then you can either inhabit the actual omegalodon (only one per game) or be an enviro. Enviros are trying to preserve this rare species and have healing powers.

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Of course, the army and police units exist to stop it at all costs. They can hop around in a variety of weaponized vehicles and attempt to stop further destruction. Unfortunately, they can also engage in shooting each other which is what some games devolve into if nobody play as the monster. You can always tell who is on what team by opening up the map and checking the color of their location marker.

So the game is actually quite simple. But even so, there are not many people playing right now. This is the same issue that befalls a lot of indie multiplayer releases. I have encountered two kinds of regulars so far. One group was incredibly rude to newbies and the other appeared to be a group of children who were having fun roleplaying rather than sticking to the army/soldiers vs. monster gameplay.

When no one wants to play the game “properly” it’s hard to get a feel for how it is actually supposed to play out. When inhabiting the omegalodon, his health decreases fairly fast too which makes it hard to do too much before dying. Overall, it does seem like a game that needs a bit more structure more to feel like a fleshed out title. That, or simply needs more players who can make a match exciting. I’d like to have a good match myself, but after hours of trying, have yet to really hit it off with Omegalodon. If you’re committed to playing, make sure to rope in a few friends as well.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Iron Soul Review

Iron Soul Featured

Iron Soul Boxart

Developer: BluBee Games
Publisher: BluBee Games
Platform: PC
Review code provided

The ideas behind Iron Soul are great. The game is a mix of 3rd person shooter and platformer in a sci-fi future filled with robots. Developer BluBee Games even name-dropped MDK as one source of inspiration for their title. With that being the case, they have some big shoes to fill. But it doesn’t seem to reach that lofty goal, or perhaps MDK is just not that fun in the modern era.

Players interact with the game through a robot by the name of H-25. H-25 is equipped with a laser gun (to start) and able to jump pitiful distances before obtaining double jump. With that said, the bot does look pretty snazzy in its cab-colored paint job. In the beginning, players are simply tasked with following orders from omnipotent voices – presumably, one is your creator.

Iron Soul Featured

One thing that Iron Soul gets right is the visuals. It’s rare to see independent developers create fully 3D environments but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Once you get out of the lab, things start to look quite pretty as well. Robot designs are a little silly though as your main enemies are orb-shaped bots that either walk on the ground or zip about in the air.

So what brings this game down from being great? Despite the serious work on visuals, the world itself is hard to traverse during platforming segments. Super Mario 64 was not the first game to attempt 3D platforming, but it was the first time it was done well. Iron Soul falls into many of the pitfalls of a bad platformer. It is hard to tell where H-25 will land! Thankfully, most platforming segments are brief, but they can be incredibly painful.

Firefights suffer as well, unfortunately. Perhaps in regards to keeping this game “authentic” to older PC titles, there is no automatic cover system in place. You can cover, but it requires pressing CTRL twice by a wall. This adheres you to it, allowing you to pop up for shots. With this half implementation of a feature it adds more annoyance to fights than there needs to be. After all, you just want to run into cover, not focus on making sure you’ve set it up right.

Iron Soul Screenshot

 

Shootouts are also usually not massive but they can be incredibly annoying as well. For example, an early boss fight features an enemy with an instant kill laser attack. It’s easy to dodge if you can see it coming. However, little enemies will scatter behind you, making you need to face them to shoot. Doing so turns your back to the big enemy though leaving you entirely prone to unexpected laser deaths. Overall, fights are more frustrating than fun, but at least health is plentiful.

This is such a shame because Iron Soul looks great. It just feels bogged down with the worst aspects of older games. There’s nothing wrong with chasing a hard, authentic experience (see another game with the name “Souls” in it) except when it will primarily alienate the players. With that said, Iron Soul may find an audience thanks to fairly good (and unintentionally campy?) writing that is marred by oddball voice actors. There’s something to the game that is intriguing, but you have to get through all the frustrating bits to see it.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon Review

Frayed Knights Featured

Frayed Knights Boxart

Developer: Rampant Games
Publisher: Rampant Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

If you miss the feel of first person dungeon crawling then you might be initially swayed by Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. It sets you off on a quest with four warriors as they trek around dungeons, collecting loot and facing monsters as they go. What makes this so different from other games of the genre? Well, for one, the crew are one odd bunch.

Perhaps the biggest way to differentiate this game from other RPGs is the effort done to give each character a distinct personality. Each of the teammates is unique and converse with each other regularly. Through these conversations players get to see how ineffective and ridiculous their team seems. Thankfully, they can perform their roles of attacking, using magic, or anything else effectively.

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That level of uniqueness is unable to penetrate the rest of the game beyond some enemy designs. If you look past these features, then you’ve got a mostly by the book dungeon-crawler. One neat bonus are so-called Drama Stars which can grant you aid when it’s most needed (ie: reviving a party member), but that’s not a major tweak. Battles can be breezed through if you hammer on keyboard shortcut keys. This is convenient but unfortunately other GUI elements are less user-friendly.

It’s easy to see what Rampant Games were going for when creating this title. Although there is a definite amount of effort evidenced by the title, it would have done better to be backed up by more entertaining gameplay as well. If you can handle the grind, then it might be worth adventuring with the crew of Frayed Knights.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Outlast Review

Outlast Featured

Outlast Cover

Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Platform: PC

 Having been a long time horror fan, I have long since developed specific tastes and requisites or what I think makes a “good” horror game. Of course, it is worth recognizing that games I do not find scary can still be great, or at least, appreciated by others. A game in the horror genre can be a lot of things, although scary is preferred. It just seems hard to come across one that I’d feel comfortable suggesting is actually terrifying. Is Outlast the game to do it?

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Boogie Bunnies Review

Boogie Bunnies Featured

Boogie Bunnies Boxart

Developer: Artech Studios
Publisher: Sierra
Platform: PC, Xbox 360 – XBLA

If you’ve been playing games for any amount of time then chances are you’ve come across a match-3 game or two. The main goal in any of these puzzlers is simply to match three (or more) of the same colored object in some connected pattern. Games like these get skinned and re-skinned from Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine to Dr. Mario and even Lumines.

Boogie Bunnies is little more than your average match-3 game although it certainly tries to be more engaging. It mostly fails in this pursuit. Artech Studios sure seemed to have given the game their all though. This is evidenced by looking at the “match” objects which are all moving polygonal bunnies.

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The bunnies don’t move too much to cause confusion (most of the time). They simply do some idle animation and hop forward every once in a while to simulate the screen slowly being filled to capacity. If you’re doing well with matching, however, they will spontaneously begin a dance party. All the same, they never move out of their respective spots so it’s not too hectic.

If you let yourself get into it, Boogie Bunnies is a competent game. It’s just not what would be at the top of anyone’s list when they are looking for a good block matching game.


Score: 1.5

1  1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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