Archive for the ‘kid friendly’ 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%
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Fizzball Review

October 14, 2008

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This game is much harder to review than Prof. Fizzwizzle. It maintains all of the stellar presentation aspects and has exceptional production qualities, but is even more focused towards younger and more casual gamers. Fizzball is a Break-out / Arkanoid clone with an element of Katarmi Damacy thrown in. Like Prof. Fizzwizzle there is an exceptional Kids mode and a multitude of levels, the problem lies in the stale rehashed gameplay. On the one hand, it’s the most advanced breakout game I’ve ever played, but on the other hand, it’s a breakout game. This game almost needs two different reviews: One for very casual gamers and kids under 10 and another for more avid and mature gamers. For the casual gamers, the young, or anybody who is not tired of another bat & ball game, Fizzball offers a fantastic game with excellent graphics, presentation, and a plethora of features and other bells and whistles. For the more avid gamer, this game warrants a demo download to check out the unique interface, power-ups, and graphics, but after a couple levels of the demo, most gamers won’t think twice about playing this game again….simply because they’ve played dozens like it already. In my book, the best Arkanoid game of all time is still tired, dull, and just not enough to hold my interest.

Gameplay: 4/10
Pros: Tons of power-ups, levels, and features. The Katarmi Damacy aspect of growing the fizzball by swallowing up small objects and moving up towards larger ones is neat and novel.
Cons: The Grubby Games’ artistic design and sleek interface cannot overcome a stale and overused bat and ball gameplay mechanic. This is a case of exceptional programmers just brainstorming a game from the outset that would not have compelling gameplay. Game is in the WAY TOO casual department.


Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Exceptional presentation, animations, and consistent feel and look from Prof. Fizzwizzle. All the graphics have real depth and give the game a cartoony 3D feel. Just looking at the title screen impresses.
Cons: Stages and Level graphics get repetitive.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Catchy and fun music returns from Professor Fizzwizzle
Cons: Animal sounds are blasé

Lasting Appeal: 2/10
Pros: There are a ton of levels to play and the game is fully featured
Cons: After playing the first 5-10 levels, the unique features of this breakout clone wear off.

Average: 57.50%
Tilt: -7.50%
I really wanted Fizzball to be better. It oozes quality, has a sleek presentation, and is very endearing. But underneath all the features, beautiful, colorful animations, and catchy music is a game I have played for years. I remember Atari Pong, owned the big lumbering 1989 gameboy, grew up on the NES, SNES, and Genesis and have played breakout games for over a decade. Grubby Games is an exceptional duo, but for me, this type of gameplay is the bottom of the barrel. So for Avid and Long-Time Gamers:

Verdict: 50%

On the upside, if you have a child under the age of 10 or if you are a casual gamer and have no idea what Arkanoid or an Atari is then you will probably love this game. It is very endearing and is one of the best Breakout games I have ever played. It is an excellent game for the more casual / younger market. Maybe that was Grubby Games intention all along, to focus on the casual gamer.

Verdict for kids/casual gamers: 75%

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Professor Fizzwizzle Review

October 13, 2008


Let me start off by saying that Grubby Games has some of the absolute best kid’s games on the market. That’s not to say the appeal of Professor Fizzwizzle is only for kids, just that it has an excellent pace, graphics, sounds for kids, not to mention the problem-solving puzzles that make up the levels of the game. I must admit to using the “Solve Puzzle” feature on quite a few occasions myself. This feature is brilliant because at the moment a level gets frustrating and you feel it is impossible, you can simply pause and click for the solution. This definitely decreases the frustration factor and keeps you playing into the later levels. Prof. Fizzwizzle also keeps things interesting by adding new puzzle elements at a good pace from level to level. This keeps things from getting repetitive. In fact, my only major complaint with Prof. Fizzwizzle is that the gameplay is not for gamers. To the game’s defense, it was not designed to appeal to the hardcore 2D gamers of yesteryear, the graphics whores of today’s consoles, or the FPS/RTS pc crowd. This is a casual game, and if you take it as such, it is hard to find fault.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Puzzles can be very challenging and continually add new elements or twists on old elements to keep things fresh. A plethora of modes and types of puzzles.
Cons: Actual Gameplay is simplistic. You use the arrow keys to move the professor around and that’s really it, besides the occasional power-up. Perfect for casual gamers, but not for me.


Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Graphics are clean, simple, and perfectly themed for the game. Animations are REALLY good.
Cons: Lack of WOW factor. More game objects animated as well as the Professor!

Sound/Music: 9.5/10
Pros: Music is perfect, catchy and subdued. The last thing you want is some crazy rock music while you are trying to solve a puzzle. Sound is unintrusive as well.
Cons: Sound/Music are not show stealers, but they are not meant to be, especially in a game like this.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: Tons of different levels, modes, and sets of puzzles. If you get tired with the included puzzles there is a level editor and a ton of downloadable levels on Grubby Games’ website.
Cons: What more could you ask for?

Average: 88.75
Tilt: +0.25

Grubby Games knows the casual market. Professor Fizzwizzle has won tons of critical acclaim, awards, etc. and I’m sure has sold tons of copies as well. It understands exactly the type of people that enjoy and buy these types of games and offers a huge repetoire of levels and features for them. Console gamers, PC gamers, and old school gamers alike could enjoy this game…will they shell out the cash to buy it…I doubt it….but the casual gamer will and will love that they did. Rarely have I seen a casual game that is 1: an Original Idea 2: not some sort of match 3 or bejeweled clone 4: more than a simple click here/there game…ahem…cake mania and diner dash and 5: actually worth $20. What does Professor Fizzwizzle really do best? It offers you a tremendous value at $20, because of the number of levels, downloadable levels, and ability to make your own levels. If you enjoy this game, you will not stop playing it due to a lack of features…that’s for sure.

Verdict: 89%
If you are interested in Professor Fizzwizzle and would like to support us and Grubby Games you can:

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Dodge that Anvil Review

October 9, 2008

Dodge that Anvil borrows a lot from classic Looney Tunes: the main character is a rabbit and falling anvils are one of the most deadly and threatening objects to said rabbit. Unlike many of the shoddy Looney Tunes games out there, Dodge that Anvil does a great job instantly pulling you into a cartoon world. You’ll smile from the gameplay, world, characters, and antics in this title. This is an excellent little title, with a simple premise: grab/harvest carrots while dodging anvils, but ultimately a deep gaming experience thanks to armor vests, hardhats, jumbo veggies, flippers, etc. I should also mention that the game won the AdultSwim Award at the 2006 IGF, and was a finalist for the best web browser game so Congrats to RabidLab on that. Onto the scoring breakdown:

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Very easy to pick up and play controls and game mechanics. There is lots of depth with purchasable gadgets, exploding beach balls, veggie bombs, etc.
Cons: Not a fan of the auto-jump feature and thought the mouse movement could be touchy.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Instantly appealing with a very clean and perfectly themed 3-D engine and landscape. The 2-D rabbit character works really well in keeping the Cartoon feel alive in a sleek 3D landscape. The menus, presentation, and tutorial screens are absolutely phenomenal…Presentation pushes this score up a notch
Cons: More animations for our lovable rabbit hero would’ve brought him to life more. Game as a whole lacks graphic variety after awhile (I’m reaching for critiques I know).


Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Cartoony to the max sounds enhance the Looney Tunes Feel. The game features music…
Cons: but the music isn’t very good, memorable, or even very loud. The Sound/Music department is probably the weakest part of the package, but for me it’s also the least important department, so no worries.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: The story is delightful and engaging and as you progress more and more things become available- this spurs you to keep playing. As season’s pass on, you have the ability to play levels again for high scores, perfect harvests, etc.
Cons: Like most platformers, there is an end to the story and when that’s over, you have to really want to play the game on a new difficulty in order to get much replay value out of the title. That’s really just a fact of most platformers rather than a bash on this one.

Average: 83.75
Tilt: +2.25%

This game is instantly appealing and offers approachable gameplay to almost every game skill level. Everyone should click HERE to play the browser game and check out RabidLab’s website. You can also download the DEMO here and of course BUY the game if you enjoy it as much as I do.

Verdict: 86%

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%