Archive for December, 2010

Braid

Posted: December 31, 2010 in 4.5 Hearts
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Braid. Its one of the most sensationally popular indie games around. I’m not even sure what the plot is, I don’t think anyone is actually. I have my crazy theories, but you’re not hear to listen to me wax philosophical about the true meaning of a video game. The basic idea is that you’re a guy in a suit and tie trying to find the princess, in some kind of wacky Mario parody with time travel. Yes, I said time travel. You can control time, rewinding and fast-forwarding. Its an interesting way of playing, there are no lives, just rewinding to make it so you didn’t die.

The levels themselves are interesting. Sometimes you can walk straight through and not even interact with anything, but then you miss out on the chance to get puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces are used to solve puzzles that form pictures. These puzzles and pictures, well, I have no idea what they mean in the greater scheme of things…unless one of my theories is true.

The graphics are really nice for this game and the mechanics are phenomenal. I love playing through this and wondering how the people who made it came up with this stuff. The gameplay is well done and I love the whole time travel aspect of it. I love the fact that there is much much more to this game than meets the eye.

The boss fights are always quite interesting, despite being essentially the same fight over and over again. Every fight has a slightly different mechanism to it, even though its the same enemy and the mechanism always relates to what you’ve been doing in that world. For example, in the picture everything in the level has a shadow which records when you rewind time and plays, so you need to use the shadows to deal damage to the boss along with the physical chandeliers. Its very well done.

And so, in conclusion, I must give this a grade. Well…that’s a tough decision. This is a very well done game. I love the graphics and the mechanics to it. I also appreciate the uh…storyline(?) from the point of view of game designer. But, from the point of view of a player, the game doesn’t appear to have a real logical coherent story. So…I guess I’ll give Braid a 4.5 out of 5 hearts.

4.5 out of 5 zelda heartsFor those of you interested in purchasing Braid, you can go to http://www.braid-game.com/ or you can find it on XBox Live. I highly recommend it.

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World of Goo

Posted: December 29, 2010 in 5 Hearts
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Prepare for 11 reviews in a row from the Humble Indie Bundle. I picked it up just before Christmas and set down to the playing now. I can also offer an upcoming review of Betrayal at House on the Hill edition 2 and Castle Ravenloft. Up first, is a review of World of Goo. Feast your eyes on the adorable graphics!

The basic idea of this game is that you have to use the little goo balls to form a structure to get from the start to the pipe somewhere else on the level. There is physics involved in getting the structures built, physics which can be slightly odd at times. As someone who’s taken classes on engineering design and basic kinematics, I have to say, this game is pretty accurate. The goo balls are also adorable. Like, amazingly adorable with the big eyes and the little things they say when you’re moving them around and sucking them up into the pipe. The game itself is structured in stages within chapters, sort of like a Mario Bros game.

World of Good is a very nice puzzle game, challenging enough to keep a person occupied for hours and quite fun. Its also subtly teaches basic concepts of engineering and kinematics. In fact, I would suggest this game to physics teachers for their classes. There’s also a very nice metagame that lets you build a tower with goo balls and if you connect to the internet, it shows you the heights of other people’s towers. Not only does it tell you how tall their tower is, but it also shows you how many of their goo balls they’re using.

I love the graphics, music and gameplay, but I have to say my favorite part of this game are the absurd things said by the sign painter on all the signs throughout the stages. They’re just surreal enough to be entertaining but also give little clues for how to beat the stage.

In conclusion, I have to say that World of Goo is an awesome game. So for its score, I rate the World of Goo at a 5 out of 5 hearts. Well done, 2D-Boy, well done! For anyone who missed out on the bundle who is interested in purchasing World of Goo, they should go to http://www.worldofgoo.com/.

Rhichi’s Recipe Blog

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

A friend of mine from school started up a recipe blog. She has all kinds of recipes, from gluten-free vegan to regular old meat-a-vore and everywhere in between. You should all go check it out.
http://rhichi.wordpress.com/

Type Raiders

Posted: December 27, 2010 in 4 Hearts
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Type Raiders by Catnapgames is a typing tutor adventure game where you’re trying to fight aliens that can only be stopped through typing. The game is very good about not taking itself too seriously, including such jokes as “Speech Recognition it does nothing” on the newspapers that show up before some levels. After every level, you’re given the number of words you typed, your words per minute, the amount of time it took you to complete the level and the number of typos made. One of the things I really like about Type Raiders is that the way to navigate within the game menus is by typing rather than pushing buttons, which really fits in with the feel of the game. The graphics are really nicely done and the overall feel of the game is like a comic book adventure, complete with action sound bubbles when the spaceships are defeated. I’m a little sad that only the first 3 levels are available in the demo, but they are randomized enough to get a good feel for the game and to have a certain amount of replay-ability even with only 3 levels.

Overall, I feel like this would be a very good typing tutor for an elementary school aged child, and its also a decent game. Together, that earns Type Raiders a 4 out of 5 hearts. Well done.

4/5 Hearts

Humble Indie Bundle

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
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http://www.humblebundle.com/

This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Not only can you get 11 different games in one bundle, but they run on any operating system AND you name your price. Not only do you name your price, you can also decide how much goes to the developers, the two charities and the company hosting the games. That’s right, you can decide the break down of the price that you named. Not half bad. Did I mention that these are good games? Braid, World of Goo, and Machinarium just to name a few of the top names in the bunch. Be sure to check this out. Its only going to be around for another day, so make sure you act fast.

Finals Week

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

There won’t be any posts this week, but I will be back next week. This is finals week. Ugh.

Swap!

Posted: December 7, 2010 in 2 Hearts
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Swap! is a card game that I picked up in a dollar store. Its a 2-10 person game for ages 7 and up. The basic idea is similar to Uno: get all the cards out of your hand. Only the rules are crazy. So, there are a few types of cards: colors, swap, super swap, switch color and slap. Here’s where things get weird. So, about that swap card. It lets you swap hands with another player and the rules say this can be done at any time. That wasn’t any time on your turn, no that was at any time like…ever. So there I am, playing Swap! with some of my friends and its my turn…and one of my friends plays a swap on me. Why yes, it is this absurd. So, next up. The slap card means what it says. Slap the discard pile. The last person to slap draws a card from the hand of the person who played it. Fairly simple. Now get this: if someone slaps at the wrong time, make up a punishment for them. So that’s going to be pretty tame normally, right? But we’re college students. This just begs to become a drinking game or a stripping game. The super swap is decidedly tame compared to the rest of these. Its basic function is that the person who plays it picks a direction to rotate the hands in. There are also optional rules to instead leave the cards in place and swap seats on any type of swap card. I think that would also change the turn order. Interesting little twist. Then you combine this with the fact that swap cards can be played at any time and now you can steal someone’s turn. This rapidly becomes a surprisingly complex strategy game considering that its for ages 7 and up.

The cards are pretty simple artistically. I was amused when I looked at one of the blank color cards. They’re literally the same background all the other cards have, only they’re just a color. The colors are bright and distinct and the action cards clearly say which card they are without leaving any possibility for confusion. For all that the cards are nice and easy to understand, the rules are anything but. I’ve never seen a game with so many variant rules right in the main game instructions itself. Some of them are also really weird, like that whole thing where swap cards can be played at literally any time. This makes the game become extremely confusing after a rapid round of swaps where you sit there going “Who’s turn is it? I have no idea.”

For a dollar store game, Swap! is pretty decent. In the grander scheme though, the rules are ambiguous and while a group that doesn’t really get into the specifics of the rules and just plays how they think it should go will probably have fun, a group of college students who except a higher level of gaming experience will rip it to shreds and be baffled by what’s left. In light of that, I feel that 2 out of 5 hearts is the appropriate score for Swap! I enjoyed this game, but it was way too confusing and we were making an awful lot of house rules for a little card game.