Archive for the ‘casual’ 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%
Advertisements

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%