Posts Tagged ‘2000s’

Hooters Road Trip Review

Hooters Road Trip Featured

Hooters Road Trip Box Art

Developer: Hoplite Research
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation, PC

The PlayStation was the start of something amazing for console gamers. This system brought about fan-favorite franchises which continue to this day such Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and many others. Of course, tons of shovelware came alongside the classics. Enter Hooters Road Trip.

Hooters Road Trip is supposedly about traveling between various Hooters restaurants across the United States for no good reason. This manifests as an OutRun-style racing game. As such, the different courses link together, meaning that each race brings with it different state-themed backdrops. It’s rather blurry, though, and the draw distance on the PS1 version leaves much to be desired.

Hooters Road Trip Featured

The racing itself is miserable. Until you unlock the final vehicles (or cheat your way to them), the controls are outrageously slippery. Instead of racing you’ll be careening across the road like a pinball. Suffice it to say this doesn’t work well with aiming for first place. You can’t even do the full road trip right off the bat! Instead, players must run partial trips five times beforehand because the developers wanted to artificially extend their awful gameplay or something.

It’s not all bad. Apparently, Hooters Road Trip launched at $9.99 making it bargain bin trash from the get go. The only enjoyment comes from watching the FMV sequences with Hooters waitresses who all seem to slyly be making fun of the camera person/player. Here’s hoping Hooters never lends their brand to a game again.

Score: 11 out of 5 alpacas

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Pathologic Review

Pathologic Featured

Pathologic Boxart

Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher: Ice-Pick Lodge
Platform: PC – GOG*

Pathologic is one of the strangest games I have ever played. This isn’t due to the content, which is entirely understandable, but because its ability to shift from extremely good to annoyingly difficult in the span of playing for a few hours. This is a game that has earned a lot of acclaim over the years – enough to warrant a Kickstarter-funded remake! Even after finally playing it myself it’s hard to distill my complex reaction into a simple “I love/hate it” response.

Certainly, there’s a lot to love about Pathologic. The game allows you to play as one of three characters (third unlocked after a playthrough) entering into a slowly dying town. A plague has swept the area which leaves no one safe – not even you – from its grip. Visually, the world already looks dead with its desaturated browns, blacks, and greys. You hope to help people survive but that’s a massive task to accomplish.

It’s hard enough to save yourself. This is a survival game in the truest sense where you must think three steps ahead for what you need. Food, medicine, and the like are necessities and not just health boosts. If you can’t buy them you can always attempt to barter with townsfolk… or steal their stuff right out of their homes. There’s not a hyper obvious “good/bad” pathway, but characters will react with hostility, fear, or kindness based off what people are saying about you.

Pathologic Featured

The biggest problem with Pathologic is that it does so much to dissuade you from falling deeper into its world. First, the translation is pretty rough which means an English-speaker simply can’t get the full understanding of what’s going on (and may even be confused). The larger issue is the high barrier to entry for surviving in the game very long at all. Then there’s the combat which is primarily a test of patience than skill.

Despite these issues, Pathologic creates one stunning experience. It was far more innovative in 2005 than many games are today. Its experimentation may not have worked out perfectly, but it’s still a game worth playing. Here’s hoping the remake will fix the original issues without destroying its spirit!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Shuffle! Review

Shuffle! Featured

Shuffle! Boxart

Developer: Navel
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*

Rin is just your average high school student. He’s no sport star nor is he a straight A student. Despite having nothing special to his name, he finds his world shaken up as two new transfer students appear in his class. According to them, they both met Rin as children and fell in love with him. This love has remained strong all those years so they finally decided to seek him out. Oh, and by the way, they just so happen to be daughters of the Gods of Heaven and Hell.

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Mission Runway Review

Mission Runway Featured

Mission Runway Boxart

Developer: Virtual Playground
Publisher: ValuSoft
Platform: PC – Steam

Being a fashion designer is something I’ve never dreamed of, but for some reason I am still compelled to play any fashion-related game that comes into my hands. From Barbie Fashion Designer until now, I’ve been seeking the perfect fashion game. Nope, Mission Runway isn’t it, but it is better than some out there.

In Mission Runway you participate in a TV show competition (modeled no doubt after Project Runway). Each “week” the designers compete in a themed challenge, get their fashions judged by a panel of celebrity experts (Tyra Banks lookalike and all), and someone always gets sent home at the end of a show. Hopefully, you can become the contestant that wins big!

Mission Runway Featured

Like most mission-based fashion games you simply have to create designs that relate to the themes in question. If the contest is for business wear then you’d better not throw your model onto the stage with a ball gown. Similarly, beach outfits should not likely contain pants and a giant jacket. That said, you can still mess around with the different style types and clothing once you get a feel for how generous the grading is.

That’s one of my favorite things in these otherwise not particularly deep fashion titles. I love attempting to game the system by creating the strangest outfits that still succeed at their goal. Of course, there are times I try to make pretty outfits too but my eye for it is pretty poor. With that said, the game takes less than two hours to beat if you know what you’re doing and there are not enough outfit choices that look anything other than horrendous. Since Mission Runway is supposed to be all about fashion it would have been nice to see more on display.

Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas

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Blackwell Convergence Review

Blackwell Convergence Featured

Blackwell Convergence Boxart

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Blackwell Unbound was an odd change of pace to the Blackwell series, which is why I’m glad to report that everything shifts back to the present with Blackwell Convergence. This time around, we’re back with Rosa and Joey as they help free various restless souls. Unfortunately, it seems that this time there’s far more danger afoot.

Strangely, it didn’t feel like the previous games had many moments of urgency. This changes with Blackwell Convergence somewhat, as there is now a greater mystery that must be solved, instead of just solving the cases of a few spirits. Even so, this chapter failed to leave as strong an impression as the original game did.

Blackwell Convergence Featured

Perhaps that has to do with the fact that, after playing the three games in a row, the concept has lost its freshness. I still have hope for what comes next, but it seems that there is often a lull in the middle of episodic series. Something larger might be forming under the surface, but as of right now, the plot isn’t ready to delve headfirst into it.

Something that I forgot to praise previously was the music for the Blackwell series. It is quite good and I find myself routinely considering checking if the albums are for sale. There’s definitely a great vibe from the music to match the noir-ish vibe. Of course, the visuals are fitting too although I can’t help noticing the subtle art styles from game to game. As a whole, Blackwell Convergence is still better than Blackwell Unbound, but not quite as good as I was hoping for. Well, onto Blackwell Deception!

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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The Blackwell Legacy Review

The Blackwell Legacy Featured

The Blackwell Legacy Boxart

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

The Blackwell series by Wadjet Eye Games is one of the most notable independently published adventure games out there. In fact, in 2006, it was part of a very exclusive club as “episodic” titles hadn’t really broken into the mainstream yet. In anticipation of the final game in the series, Blackwell Epiphany, I’m playing through the previous four. My mission begins with The Blackwell Legacy.

The story begins as we meet a woman named Rosa releasing the ashes of her aunt over a bridge. Rosa seems confused, unsure of how things will play out now that the only family she had has passed away. However, she soon learns from her aunt’s doctor that the family may have an unprecedented issue with hereditary dementia. Shaken and distressed, Rosa returns home where she comes face to face with her worst nightmare – a ghost. Has her cognitive ability already started its decline or is this ghost real?

The Blackwell Legacy Featured

She quickly steels herself with the decision that the ghost – named Joey – is real enough. Using his 1930s vernacular he explains how the previous Blackwell women also had Joey tag along with them in their waking lives. He doesn’t even know how it happened but he has become something of a legacy to the family line. According to Joey, as long as he’s around, the two of them must help wandering ghosts come to terms with their own death. By acting as a medium, Rosa will be able to finally set their spirits free.

The Blackwell Legacy certainly spins a good yarn. As far as gameplay is concerned, it’s pretty standard point and click adventure fare. However, it’s incredibly easy and that was something I really appreciated. There are no ridiculous puzzles and only a few bits of deduction necessary anyway. Mostly, you’re safe to guide Rosa and Joey to various destinations and see how things unfold.

Since the series includes five games, the first is incredibly short. I devoured the experience in one two hour sitting and wished for more. Of course, there was, as I have the other games too! In any case, The Blackwell Legacy proves to be a very promising start to a long-running series. I look forward to seeing what happens next!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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DROD 1+2+3 Review

DROD Featured

DROD Boxart

Developer: Caravel Games
Publisher: Caravel Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*

DROD, known more formally as Deadly Rooms of Death, is a tremendously fun (and sometimes frustrating) series of puzzle games starring Beethro Budkin. This fellow is the exact opposite of dashing and explores dungeons, killing enemies and solving puzzles as he goes. The three titles included in GOG’s collection are DROD: King Dugan’s Dungeon, DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold, and DROD: The City Beneath.

The first game is the simplest in regards to story. In fact, it’s barely there. Still, the gameplay is practically perfect in the first anyway. It is played from a top-down perspective as you navigate Beethro through various rooms. He’s armed with a sword that can be positioned in eight directions and that’s about it. Moving occurs in a turn-based fashion which is important to note when enemies are progressing near you. If you don’t get your weapon facing them directly before they arrive then you’re dead!

Many rooms have puzzles which vary in difficulty and type. Oftentimes, you’ll have to find out how to hit buttons in the right order (and without getting killed). Puzzles are often very creative which is fun unless you get stuck on one for a long time. At times like this, just try quitting the game for a while before coming back to it. If you still can’t figure it out then you can head to the game’s official forum which serve as a great resource for confused players.

DROD Screenshot

Playing DROD: King Dungan’s Dungeon might seem hard, but you can eventually get into the swing of things with enough perseverance. The sequels continue to ramp up difficulty which is why you may want to play the original first, even though Journey to Rooted Hold and The City Beneath both have a greater emphasis on story. In any case, no matter which game you’re playing they all follow the same basic formula: Solve puzzles and stab stuff.

Visually the games are all quite similar and do not look very pretty. However, the graphics hardly matter because the gameplay is so engrossing. Wracking your brain for solutions to tough sections quickly becomes commonplace but that makes finally solving them all the more rewarding. In a weird way, struggling against the difficulty becomes pleasant too. Anyone who is ready to test their mental mettle will find a worthy opponent in the DROD series.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Jets’n’Guns Gold Review

Jets'n'Guns Gold Featured

Jets'n'Guns Gold Logo

Developer: Rake in Grass
Publisher: Rake in Grass
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

Shooters (not the FPS sort) are one of my favorite genres to play despite my total lack of ability with them. There’s something about attempting to weave tiny ships through enemy bullets, fight gigantic bosses, and somehow come out alive in the end. Jets’n’Guns Gold is a more modern shooter but that hardly stops it from being a contender for the title of classic.

Jets’n’Guns Gold gets so much perfect that it’s hard to tear your eyes away from the screen – and more importantly – your hands from the controls. As with many shooters, the game starts you off by loading players into a fairly svelte ship and forcing them right into the action. Enemies don’t pull their punches, even on easy. And this might make me sound completely weird, but you can almost feel your ship taking the bullets. Shots feel heavy and powerful as they should.

If you keep getting killed then it might be a good time to try swapping out weapons for other equipment. The more stages you complete, the more are unlocked for use. Getting comfortable with certain loadouts is appealing, but it’s worth experimenting as well. Of course, even trying out different ship customization might not be able to help some. I, for one, spent a great deal of time on early levels simply because everything was too hectic! It’s a shame that easy difficulty couldn’t have been actually easy.

Jets'n'Guns Gold Featured

The gameplay is definitely solid and is backed up by an excellent soundtrack and attractive graphics. Although the art itself isn’t completely inspiring, seeing what creative ships and enemy types they came up with is a lot of fun. Maybe it’s just my eyes but everything did seem a bit small though, making some bullets smash into me without ever seeing them approach. On the other hand, the music is fantastic. For some reason, most shooters have excellent soundtracks and Jets’n’Guns Gold is no exception.

Fans of shooters should have already picked this up when it initially launched in 2006. If you somehow missed out on it though then now is definitely the time to jump on board. Newbie shooter fans might want to hold off on a purchase just yet, unless you’re ready to lose a lot before really digging into the experience. Jets’n’Guns Gold is succinctly defined with just one word: Awesome.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Fading Hearts Review


Fading Hearts Logo

Developer: Sakura River Interactive
Publisher: Sakura River Interactive
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

I’ve enjoyed using Steam for years but have always felt disappointed at the lack of visual novels on the platform. Fading Hearts is part of a small group of games from the genre cropping up on the storefront, which leads to quite mixed results. Fading Hearts isn’t a brand new game as it actually launched in 2009. But is it a worthwhile title to play today or should you look to something else?

Well, first it must be said that there’s an incredibly diverse reaction to the game. Some love it and some hate it! I’m in the camp that was pleasantly surprised, although not everything about the experience was wondrous. With that said, let’s get into the review already.

Fading Hearts Screenshot 1

Fading Hearts is a very unique visual novel. You play as a teenager named Ryou who has two best friends – Rina and Claire. As you might expect, there is some romantic triangle stuff going on, but you don’t have to pursue it either. What got me so captivated was realizing that the game wasn’t just a droll cutesy dating sim. Instead, it can take a great many paths, many of which are far more interesting than Fading Hearts initially lets on.

Because there are so many ways the story can twist and change, you’re going to have to beat the game a few times to see everything. With a first playthrough taking 3 to 5 hours, it isn’t a massive time investment to explore a bit more to complete it. Different characters have different stories whcih are revealed if you befriend them, while whole other avenues open up if you make the right series of choices. The game definitely gets weird at times, but I enjoyed it.

Fading Hearts Screenshot 2

Alongside hanging out with friends, you are also trying to unravel strange occurrences going on around you. Beyond this, you also work on improving the stats of your character. Some of this aids with earning more money from part-time work, while others help you gain battle stats, but I won’t say anything more about that…

The negatives that many people appear to harp on are the fact that the story is sometimes silly (Y2K orphans, anyone?), has a few seriously odd twists, utilizes a fairly standard anime-style art, and is overall not a polished experience. These things are true but I don’t at all find them game breaking. Still, players should go in expecting that every once in a while there are typos, the music isn’t particularly endearing, and perhaps some of the plot points will seem too outlandish. With all that said, I had a lot of fun playing through Fading Hearts and will definitely be checking more alternative paths soon!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy Review

Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy Featured

Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy Boxart

Developer: MumboJumbo
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Platform: Nintendo DS PC – Big Fish Games, Steam

The Midnight Mysteries series consists of four hidden object games. The first is The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy, and so far, is the only one I’ve played. As the name implies, your focus is on the famed writer. The “conspiracy” in question is his death. To this day there has never been a definitive cause cited for his unusual predicaments surrounding his death. Midnight Mysteries takes the slant that Poe was murdered – and it’s your goal to figure out who did it.

Gameplay itself is primarily hidden object style. This means that you’re presented with a static screen cluttered with objects and your goal is to find specific things. Unlike most hidden object games, this one sometimes provides strange names for items. I’m not sure why this was done, but it doesn’t enhance the experience any. For the most part, objects are hidden in plain sight very fairly, although a few items sometimes get squished into the very corners of a screen. I wouldn’t look there much, leading to some usage of the hint system.

Hints are plentiful and come in the form of birds. If you see one, just click on it and a new hint will be added to your system! Hints actually just reveal the location of an object. If you get stressed and start clicking frantically, you’ll lose the ability to see the outline of objects for a brief period of time. These outlines are useful when the game gives you a weirdly-named object, or you simply want to see what exactly they’re asking for. Overall, there’s little to stand in the player’s way.

Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy Featured

The biggest issue I had playing The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy was simply that it runs at 800×600. In fullscreen, it made things fairly ugly, and in windowed mode the window was too small. I sometimes had to lean closer to the screen in order to view everything on it. This is all a shame since the visuals are quite nice most of the time. My best solution is to lower your computer’s screen resolution while playing so it’s easier to view the object-filled scenes.

There might be a story in this game but it’s barely important. All I cared about was finding all the objects with as little help as possible. Doing so took around three hours, and it was acceptable. It wasn’t the best hidden object game ever, but the Midnight Mysteries series shows promise. I’ll play the next three soon.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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