Archive for the ‘C-’ Category

Spooky Spirits Review

December 10, 2008

Spooky Spirits is a puzzle game where you help a brother & sister team fight off ghosts and ghouls with your block building skills. While there is nothing spooky about the game, it does have a haunted house theme, trick-or-treat graphics and a ghost-busting story line to drive the missions.

Gameplay: 8/10
The object of Spooky spirits is to recapture all of the spirits that have escaped by matching colored blocks together and blowing them up ala Puzzle Fighter. You start with different colored blocks along the bottom of the screen. You then select 2 blocks at a time from the top of the screen to fall on the blocks below. What is nice about Spooky Spirits is you can select what colors fall by reordering some of the blocks. This allows you to have more strategy and build large blocks quickly. To get rid of your blocks, you must have a ghost block of the same color touching. Once the ghost block falls, your color blocks explode giving you points and filling up your Spirit Meter. Once your meter is full, you can move onto the next round. The game play of Spooky Spirits is simple and something that casual gamers can pick up quickly and enjoy. As an avid puzzle gamer, I did have some gripes with the game. The levels progressed in difficulty too quickly. This would certainly cause frustration for some gamers. Another issue was with the game play itself. Not being able to rotate pieces in space limits your ability to make larger blocks as well as avoid filling your blocks too quickly. Allowing you to swap colors before they drop is a highlight that is countered by the designers decision to only allow you to drop the 2 piece blocks horizontally.

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics in this game were a highlight for me and what initially drew me to play. The child like Halloween feel was perfect for the fall. While the actual game itself does not have much in the way of animation, the story portion has excellent high quality graphics that give the game a signature feel.
Sound: 6/10
The music is appropriate for the game’s spooky theme, but wasn’t something that you found yourself humming later in the day. The Sound FX were minimal during gameplay and appropriate for a casual puzzle game like this. Becky & Tim’s mumbled speech between levels was a tad annoying.
Lasting Appeal: 5/10
While Spooky Spirits has a lot going for it on an initial play through, the lack of multi-player and length of levels hurt its lasting appeal. In it’s favor are 2 additional modes. After finishing the first 2 levels (a total of 12 puzzles) I found myself not really caring what happened next. This game is fun to pick up and play but not one you have to go back to every night.
Average: 70%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%
Overall Spooky Spirits is a fun Halloween themed puzzle game that will occupy a few hours of your time, but will not draw you to your computer day after day.
Verdict: 70%

Townopolis Review

October 26, 2008

Townopolis by Lonely Troops is a simple and fun real estate strategy game (with some time management thrown in). The basic premise is that you are a home developer and must do your best in each scenario to build a residential neighborhood and satisfy the folks who live there. The game has simple point and click controls and a nice isometric viewpoint.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Pros: There are definitely some great strategic choices under the guise of this approachable casual building game. I really like how residents don’t like being near train tracks, industrial buildings, commercial strip centers etc. The gameplay is very approachable and easy to pick up and play. There’s an extensive tutorial that teaches you the ropes.
Cons: Gameplay is just point click over and over. It’s annoying to have to wait until you have enough money or material to do something else. There should be a mechanic to undo an errant click. Another design flaw is the fact that you cannot look up a building’s requirements without having an empty plot to highlight.

Graphics: 7.5/10
Pros: I love the Title Screen and all the GUI elements both in-game and on the title screen make the game very easy to navigate. It’s all nice, clean and standard issue.
Cons: Some of the people in the game just look creepy (look at the weirdo below) – I think a cartoon look may have worked better. There’s no real animation, special effects or wow factor. The most elaborate animation/effects you’ll get are some fireworks at level completion.


Sound/Music: 6/10
Pros: Sound fx are kept to a minimal but make sense and fit the mood and pacing of the game.
Cons: Music is incredibly repetitive. When each scenario is 10+ minutes, there needs to be more variety in the elevator music. Music/Audio as a whole is a little too thin … there could be more sound fx and music variety.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: Despite the repetitive music, Townopolis is addictive. There are a ton of different buildings, licenses, upgrades, etc. You’ll find yourself replaying scenarios to get silver/gold stars or earn trophies by shooting for bonus objectives. Despite the simple click and casual friendly gameplay, Townopolis is actually challenging unlike so many other casual portal games. The difficulty really forces you to understand the complexities of designing your neighborhood. I forgot to mention the ability to design custom scenarios as well.
Cons: The repetitive music, inability to look up building requirements (and plan ahead) and other minor flaws detract from Townopolis and make longer play sessions tough without muting the audio.

Average: 75.00%
Tilt: + 1.00%

Don’t just look at the score of this review and judge Townopolis. It’s a very addictive, methodical, and approachable strategy game. Yeah, the construction dude who gives you tips looks like a pedophile, but these types of games aren’t about fancy graphics or complex gameplay. If you can look past the minor flaws of the game, you’ll find a very deep real estate strategy game. Townopolis appears to be a typical casual game with shallow gameplay, but almost every level in the game throws something new at you.

Verdict: 76%

Addictive Football Review

October 9, 2008

Addictive Football reminds me of the old Genesis or SNES FIFA soccers (sorry for the soccer reference, I know it’s football…even though American Football is the best damn sport ever). Much like the old FIFA’s, the Addictive Football is very easy to pick up and play…and very fun to play against a rival or friend. Addictive 24/7 definitely succeeds in making a…well…addictive game. It lacks real teams, players, etc. but that’s to be expected. It may not be for everyone at $20, but is certainly a deal at $9.95.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Ah the simplicity of the 16-bit era, Controls are simple: pass, shoot, and move- and work well. The goalies are smart and surprisingly adept. Easy to pick up and play and great with a friend.
Cons: I found the players moved sort of slow. The AI was a little too good for my tastes. My biggest gripe though was the lack of a defensive tackle or similar ability…it’s a fun little football game and there’s no reason there can’t be some tackling look at Mario Strikers- you can push and tackle anybody…and it makes it really fun.

Graphics: 7/10
Pros: Clean graphics, with easily discernable teams and players. The ball is easy to follow and the graphics are very much in the 16-bit vein with a higher pixel count. I particularly liked the menus as well.
Cons: Player models are a bit goofy and kiddy (in the menus and in the celebration GOAL Window). Definite lack of WOW factor and variety in the graphics.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Fits the style of the game and blends really well with the gameplay and theme. Music definitely gets your heart pumping for competition. I was also fond of the kick and other ball sounds.
Cons: Sufficient sound, but again there is sort of a lack of variety and focus in the sound/music department. Everything, but the theme/menu music and ball sounds fades from memory.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: 4 types of pitches, 10 teams, and 5 different gamemodes. The best of all of this is the Custom mode which allows you to set the skills of your own players and create your own team. Multiplayer is really fun as mentioned above.
Cons: The variety of levels to play in is the biggest detractor. I would’ve liked to see a little more fantastic and fun pitches…like an Ice themed Stadium or Lava and whatnot. This game isn’t really a football sim, it’s about being fun and I think some extreme pitches would’ve really helped the variety and lasting appeal. Online Multiplayer would’ve skyrocketed this score to a 10, but with Indie titles I understand the lack of resources and development teams to achieve this.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt: +0.25%

This game definitely delivers in the addictive department and is VERY fun against a friend. It totally took me back a decade playing my friends in similar games at each others houses every weekend (I am still a mean MK2 player). For $10 it’s a real value and a great buy…at $20 I think the value depends on if you even know what a Genesis is and if you are a particular fan of Football (soccer) games or sports games in general. All in all, Addictive football is a very light and fun game.

Verdict: 79%

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Kudos Review

October 9, 2008

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Strategy/sim games are not usually my thing, but I just enjoyed Kudos. I’m not a stat-tracking convert, but KUDOS does a real good job making it fun and I can see how people would become completely and utterly addicted. Kudos has its flaws, but ultimately delivers what it promises: a life simulation.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Very easy to use interface and crisp presentation makes taking night classes, going jogging, or out with friends a breeze. Very diverse ways to precede in the game- do you reject a friend’s invitation to apply for a better job, or enjoy a game of bowling with your last 11 pounds?
Cons: I’m not really sure if KUDOS is a “game” since you really are just weighing decisions and deciding what to do and clicking around. It’s very much a simulation and a stat-tracker’s dream…not so much a game you boot up to relax and blast away some locust or space invaders or the like.

Graphics: 6/10
Pros: Very slick and clean presentation…the menus and styles in the game all blend together well. I am especially fond of the flies that accumulate and move on your screen (very post-modern) after your KUDOS persona has forgotten to clean his place for a few weeks.
Cons: There is a complete and utter lack of animation and the character models freak me out and look pretty creepy. Graphics are not a necessity for a game like this, but animation between the character’s poses or really anything could’ve brought these people more to life.

Sound/Music: 8.5/10
Pros: Sounds pretty much consist of clicks/alerts/dog barks/weather and other background sounds which are all fine. I was particularly fond of the music which was subtle, enjoyable, without being intrusive – a very good blend of for lack of a better word, “elevator” music.
Cons: The sound/Music is really one of the stronger aspects of the title, but the music/sound is not dynamic enough to induce a range of moods in the player. This is partly due to the gameplay and detached “playing god” life simulation gameplay.

Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Pros: Different character models, sexes, and ways to approach this game results in near limitless replay value. The game does a good job of throwing you a bone: whether it be a new job or new friend, right when you are getting frustrated or bored. This amounts to the game sucking you in for way more hours that you initially planned on playing it for.
Cons: The game is a very solitary experience and there is the threat of having no friends in real life while having a vast social network in KUDOS. Strategists, please tear yourself away from this life game enough to live your own life.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt: + 0.25%

This game is a very good strategy/simulation game. It doesn’t offer the interactivity, animation, etc. of say “The Sims,” but does offer more in the strategy and planning aspects. It is a niche game with very specific appeal. Most people have no interest in managing everyday life tasks and stat tracking, but those who do like those kind of games will love this title. Look at me, I don’t really like strategy games myself, but found myself immersed in KUDOS on several occasions. Cliffski and Positech games are very well-known in the Indie community and Kudos is a good example of why this is the case.

Verdict: 79%

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Dirk Dashing Review

October 8, 2008

Dirk Dashing is a very solid platformer that lacks innovation and focuses on classic “safe” platform gameplay. Dirk Dashing definitely charms with its presentation and hand-drawn graphics, but suffers in the gameplay department. It’s a solid game, and definitely seems to be targeted towards kids…except that it is fairly difficult. If you are a fan of the classic platformer, like the genre, have an affinity for Bond, or are particularly taken by the Demo, then this game is for you and warrants a purchase. I’m just not sure if the game offers enough to more avid gamers to really keep them interested. It’s not that Dirk Dashing is bad… it’s gameplay is just more in the category of enjoy the demo as an afternoon distraction and forget about it after that. I’m not sure if it really pulls you in and entices a gamer enough to warrant a purchase.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Classic Platforming of yore which is instantly accessible and challenging: move, jump, throw… that’s it. Controls are very responsive and the gameplay is solid with some neat spy gadgets. Great nonviolent gameplay for children.
Cons: Game is targeted towards kids, but may be too hard for them (though back in the NES days there was Ninja Gaiden and I loved that game and was like 7). YOU CANNOT hurt enemies by jumping on their heads! That definitely takes awhile to get used to, especially since I reckon that jumping on someone’s head would hurt them a lot more than me. The spy gadgets are really more like power-ups, x-ray specs, spring shoes, etc. that are time-limited rather than gadgets that increase and upgrade your abilities.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: By far the best feature of the game, the graphics are beautifully drawn and the multi-layers and parallax scrolling really give the game a lot of depth and a real 3-D feel. The hand drawn graphics just go a long way and really make this game unique and distinctive.
Cons: I could’ve used more frames of animation. I love the idea of cartoon slapstick in the game, but it’s not rewarding seeing a guy bop his head on a wall when the end result is a comical, but choppy result. This carries over to even the regular animations as well and is really the only sour point of the graphics….basically they look great in still frame, and while the backgrounds are pretty rad in motion, the game objects suffer.

Sound/Music: 7/10

Pros: The music is very good, chill, and fits the spy motif. Many of the sounds work and sound straight out of a Hanna Barbera cartoon.
Cons: Other sounds just are not my cup of tea. The Boing of Dirk’s jump is just way too much. I get that Dirk Dashing is a living cartoon, but cut me some slack on the sounds I’m going to hear every other second.

Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Pros: Plenty of levels that are very diverse in look and feel. A decent story and solid gameplay that will keep you playing if platforming is your thing.
Cons: Generic gameplay. I love platformers, and this game is very solid, but just offers nothing new in gameplay: you collect coins/money for points, you collect apples/food, and there is the occasional power-up or door switch, but there is no mechanic that is really distinctive and fun. I mean Mario had the fire-flower, mushroom, and later the raccoon suit, etc., Bionic Commando had a grappling hook, and Castlevania had a whip and a sort of open world to explore. The game has an instantly classic feel, but doesn’t offer enough to keep you playing unless you are a diehard platforming fan.

Average: 67.50%
Tilt: +2.50%

This game is really a testament to games as a source of art. I really can’t complement the graphics enough. It actually looks a lot like Paper Mario. That’s really impressive especially considering the size of the development team and that this is an Indie game and not some Nintendo first party title. Yes, the gameplay is nothing new, but it’s not bad either. Try the demo over at My Game Company, you may just find that the classic platforming gameplay is something that you have missed and been pining for along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kid Icarus, Kirby’s Dreamland, and Offroad.

Verdict: 70%