Posts Tagged ‘2009’

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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Fading Hearts Review

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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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ARKANOID Live! Review

Arkanoid Live Featured

Arkanoid Live! Boxart

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Arkanoid is not my favorite video game in the world but it is a powerful time waster. Semi-recently, we’ve even seen some really good revitalization brought to the classic formula with the likes of Shatter and Wizorb. Maybe it’s because of my time with those games that anything far more “retro” feels just plain dull.

ARKANOID Live! is unfortunately one game that doesn’t do enough with Arkanoid to keep it compelling for a modern audience. Most strikingly it seems like the kind of game that could almost come out on the original Xbox Live, when the focus was on very simple ports of known games.

Arkanoid Live Featured

Basically, you go through two episodes of destroying blocks with a ball and paddle. The longer you survive, the more complex the block patterns get, such as surrounding breakable blocks by unbreakable ones. There are also enemies, which can be turned on or off, but don’t offer any extra challenge to the game.

The biggest feature of the game is probably multiplayer but I didn’t test that out. They tried to make ARKANOID Live! more interesting with neat music and 3D moving backgrounds, but really, it just isn’t enough.


Score 0.5

1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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0 day Attack on Earth Review

0day

0daybox

Developer: Gulti
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Top-down shooters have a great deal of fans, many of which are partial to retro renditions of the genre. Sometime in 2009, Square Enix decided to publish one such shooter by the name of 0 day Attack on Earth. No, I’m not sure as to the purposeful lower case of the name, but that’s what it was brought over as.

The game is incredibly simple. You choose one of a variety of aircraft and from there fight against aliens busting out of the city. A few different cities are portrayed, such as New York City and Tokyo, but you’d be hard-pressed to really know which is which while playing. It also happens to be a twin stick shooter which means you’re aiming bullets with one analog stick and piloting your craft around with the other.

0day

It doesn’t take much to make these kinds of games good, but it also doesn’t take a lot of effort to make one bad. In 0 day’s case, it falls into the latter camp. The graphics are adequate but dull, the music is uninspired, and play is incredibly repetitive. Players, as well as enemies, are super small which means you’ll often ram right into one. Similarly, noxious purple clouds act as impenetrable barriers that you’re likely to collide with simply because you can’t zoom out enough to see more than a few feet in front of your ship.

There’s little reason to play this game and the online community is all but dead. There are far superior choices available within the XBLA marketplace.


Score 0.5

1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Nation Red Review

Nation Red Featured

Nation Red Boxart

Developer: Diezel Power
Publisher: Diezel Power
Platform: PC

Nation Red is one of those games that is easy to ignore. With such a simple name and premise (shoot hordes of zombies), you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who opts to play that as opposed to more polished titles like Left 4 Dead. All the same, that doesn’t mean Deizel Power’s title is wholly unworthy of attention.

If all you’re looking for is something simple to pick up and play then that’s where Nation Red delivers. Each level contains heaping amounts of zombies and tasks you with shooting them down via a twin stick control method. Power ups drop every so often, as do new weapons. There are a great variety of these available, as well as special perks players get upon leveling up. These only last for a specific level and amount of time though, so don’t expect to take them with you to later stages.

Nation Red Featured

Both single and multiplayer modes are included although I stuck with single player. In this mode, there are 18 main stages to clear. It wasn’t particularly difficult to clear out, but then, I also had set the game to the lowest “normal” difficulty. The experience offered by Nation Red is extremely simple but there’s nothing wrong with simplicity. It just feels a bit bare-bones at times.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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0D Beat Drop Review

0D Beat Drop Featured

0D Beat Drop Boxart

Developer: Cyclone Zero
Publisher: Arc System Works
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Ever since the massively successful Tetris first hit the scene, developers have been trying to find any way to cash in on a similarly addictive formula. Sometimes they get pretty close. Usually though you end up with something ranging from mediocre to creative. Which camp does 0D Beat Drop fall into?

Thankfully, the game succeeds quite well. It feels at first like a mix of Lumines and Puzzle Fighter. Almost every mode pits you against at least one player (human or CPU). From there, you work to match four or more colored blocks in various orientations. If you succeed, then some of your blocks will be dropped on the enemy. Similarly, if they do well, you’re likely to get their blocks tossed onto your side.

0D Beat Drop Featured

What connects this to Lumines? Well, 0D Beat Drop employs a musical system for the casting of blocks from one side to the other. Simply lining up four in a row won’t clear them. Instead, you must hit the proper button on the background music’s beat for it to work. This starts out easily enough but quickly becomes more challenging, as each successful hit causes your window of accuracy for the beat to become much smaller.

It creates a fairly enthralling experience when you’re not only focusing on blocks but on the beat. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of songs available (with more as DLC). Still, there are a couple of varied modes available that extend the package between 10 stages. Give it a look if you’re a fan of rhythm-based puzzling.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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