Game Crazy Again

After being burned out on games (other than Facebook) for a while, I’ve recently played quite a few.

Treasure Seekers 2
The kids from the original Treasure Seekers are adults now, but still having strange adventures. Tommy has vanished while on an expedition and it’s up to his sister Nelly to rescue him. I had grabbed this one back when I played the first one, and I see now #3 is out. The plot here in #2 is pretty darn thin; I rewatched the cut scenes at the beginning several times, but I still got lost — I don’t understand how we got from Nelly going to try and join Tommy to her deciding he was trapped in magical pictures. But trapped in magical pictures he was. The play itself was pretty standard stuff. Some relatively simple hidden object scenes combined with none-too-strenuous point and click adventure type puzzles. The game is also extremely short (4h of gameplay tops.) A very mediocre title from a mediocre franchise.

A young writer is summoned to the home of her favorite novelist only to find herself transported to another world — a world from which the inspiration for all of his books came. This is yet another hidden object/puzzle game, but with an interesting twist — you’re given all of the objects and you have to find the place in the scene where they should go. This was actually very well done and there were only a few times when I couldn’t figure out where an item was supposed to be placed. I can’t say that the objects themselves made any more sense than those in typical hidden object games, but it was a refreshing change.

Dire Grove
The latest entry in the Mystery Case Files series, this one follows the most recent “Return to Ravenhearst”. Our intrepid Master Detective has finished with Ravenhearst and is on the road elsewhere when he runs into an empty car and what turns out to be a bunch of grad students who’ve embroiled themselves in a horror movie-esque scenario. As is the trend recently, the game play here is pretty short — there’s an achievement for finishing the game in under 6 hours, and if I hadn’t left it running a few times when I got distracted, I would have done that easily the very first time through. But aside from the shortness the game itself was very solid, just not quite as awesome as Return to Ravenhearst was.

Special Enquiry Detail
A new department has been formed at the police department. The detectives here will focus on high-profile and high stakes crimes. The first mystery they tackle is the murder of a wealthy businessman’s daughter. Was it the best friend? The ex-boyfriend? Perhaps just a random homeless person? The detectives will find out in this mostly hidden object game. The game itself was okay, not exactly break out awesome, though I could tell it was trying to create an atmosphere. Some kudos must be awarded for the effort put into the plot, but it would have been nice to see that made more game and less narrative — most scenes would be ‘talk to X’ and then ‘find all the objects’. Er. Ok, but wouldn’t it be nice if ‘talk to X’ actually gave me something to do other than click through some screens? I’ll be interested to see where this series goes if it gets another entry.

My Kingdom for the Princess
The Princess’s father is ill, but she has no way to get back to him! This cute little time management game didn’t have a lot of variety in its tasks, but it was engaging nevertheless. The game play is centered around clearing/creating a path along which the princess’s entourage can travel in her efforts to get back to her home kingdom. Each stage is timed, meaning that some thought must be given to the order in which tasks are completed. I found most stages to be cleared quite easily, but there were a handful that I had to replay to finish and one or two that were very tricky to get done at all. The game was about the right length for its amount of complexity; it ended while still feeling fresh and not repetatively dull.

Avenue Flo
Flo, the heroine of the Diner Dash series of games, is the main character in this point and click adventure game. I’m not a fan at all of games that are made in the Diner Dash mold; I find them stressful and unfun. This game is nothing like those Time Management games, being a pure game of graphical interactive fiction. Flo is tasked with rescuing her friend when a series of mishaps befalls the wedding said friend has been planning. The game itself breezed along quite well, and the puzzles/mini games were interesting without being frustrating to figure out. There was only one or two places where I had to go back to collect something I’d missed the first time through. The bulk of the game play was similar to the excellent Emerald City Confidential (though considerably less challenging), but with a half dozen or so minigames thrown in to keep things interesting. I really hope to see more games along these lines coming out.

Artist Colony
A generation ago, a pair of friends founded a lovely artistic retreat. Soon after, they were torn apart by a love triangle and the artist colony fell into disrepair. Now a new generation has arrived to fix it up again and perhaps to find out more about what happened in the past. The setting here is what sets the game apart from the other sim-adventure games that have come out in the past few years — the majority of those tend to be centered around tropical islands for some reason. Unfortunately, the game has some glaring weaknesses in the game mechanics which make it less fun than it could be. The main problem is that one is completely dependent about making money to advance the plot, and to make money one must sell artistic works that the colony residents have produced. But a person only appears to make offers on items every 2-3 minutes, and roughly 60% of the time the offer is ridiculous and must be rejected. So it’s very easy to get to a point in the game where one is simply letting the artists run around and amuse themselves while you wait and glance at the screen every little while to see how much money has been offered. This isn’t really very fun. In fact it’s quite dull. And there’s not really any good way around it; even accepting the ridiculous offers wouldn’t speed it up much.

Frontierville (Facebook)
From the people that brought you Farmville, now you can have a farm -and- an old west town. Honestly though, this game is much better than Farmville. Why? Because it’s gotten closer to the holy grail of a social Harvest Moon. You can build more buildings, you can acquire a family, you can deal with wild animals and so forth. There are expansions promised that will complicate the gameplay further and prevent stagnation. I have hopes for this one.

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