Archive for June, 2011

Sporadic Postings…

Posted: June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m going to start trying to make the time. I’m currently working at a computer camp as a counselor. This does mean I have access to some neat new games to review for you all, but at the same time its making my time (and sleep) a precious commodity. Expect posts to be sporadic at best, non-existant at worst.

Hopefully the next post should be about Game Maker Lite. I downloaded it yesterday afternoon and I’ve been playing around with some of the basic features. It seems pretty nice so far.


This strange game has been sweeping the internet by storm for quite a while. The basic idea is that you are a homeowner in a zombie apocalypse and the only way to survive is by cultivating your garden of zombie destroying plants. If that doesn’t sound fun, I don’t know what does. What’s even better is you can now get a free trial of Plants Versus Zombies from the Chrome app store.

So, first I just have to say that I love the quirky sound effects and upbeat music that plays the entire time. The graphics are also adorable. One of the things I really liked about this game is just how much content there is. I have the trial version and I got 20 stages to play through and mini-games. And there’s way, way more in the full version. The mini-games that I have seen so far include a puzzle game where you have to break jars and you might get a plant to place or you might get a zombie and a bowling game. There was also one where you get a randomly generated list of plants coming, sort of like in Tetris, and you have to place them to combat the zombies. Another thing to be mentioned is that the environment changed, including fighting off zombies in the day or night or even on the roof.

I found the game play to be quite simple and the difficulty ramps up in a very natural curve. The levels always felt like they were right at the level of difficulty I should be at. The gameplay is completely made up of point and click mechanics but its very enjoyable and engaging.

Plants Versus Zombies is available for the following platforms: Xbox live arcade, iPhone, DS and DSi, Playstation, Android, PC, Mac, iPad and Chrome web app. According to their website, they won Game of the Year. This is a really stellar game and I suggest trying it out for yourself. I’ve enjoyed it thus far and it just keeps getting better. Every new plant or zombie type is just hilarious. I especially like the one zombie who is reading a newspaper. He gets very angry if anything happens to his paper. So, having really enjoyed this game, I feel that they have earned the 5 out of 5 hearts. I have no complaints. Any time the game started to feel even the slightest bit tedious, they would give me a mini-game or change the environmental variables. It was very well done.

If you are interested in finding Plants Versus Zombies, you can find it in any of the places I listed before or you can go here. The game is available free to try the demo or $19.95 for the full version.

The World’s Biggest Pacman

Posted: June 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

This made me really happy when it turned up on Geeks are Sexy. Its the World’s Biggest Pac-man. It contains thousands of different Pac-man style mazes that are attached to each other and you can continually flow from one to the next to the next. The basic idea is the same as normal Pac-man, but here as long as you can keep going, you just keep going.

Here’s the best part, the mazes that aren’t from the original game are player made. If you log in via Facebook, it saves your player stats and allows you to make new mazes. I’m a big fan of new twists on old games and this isa classic reborn into something absolutely amazing.

It plays exactly like the original, with nice simple controls. The only real change is the never ending nature of the map. They even used the original style of the graphics and audio.

If you ever liked Pac-Man, this is a game to try. Its everything there ever was to love about the original game, only there’s more of it. I award The World’s Biggest Pac-Man a 4 out of 5 hearts.

4/5 HeartsIf you are interested in playing the World’s Biggest Pac-Man, it can be found here. You don’t have to have a Facebook account to play, only to save new levels.

8Realms : the closed beta

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

So I was poking through the internet when I stumbled upon a beta key for a closed beta for a game called 8Realms. It seems at first glance to be yet another village building game. The interesting twist here is that you are building your city through the ages, starting with the stone age and progressing forwards by researching technology and developing culture. When researching technology, you slowly move forward through the ages.

I have to say that so far I’m really enjoying this game, though I’m a bit confused. I think that this might be either the first single player city builder I’ve found or the server is just really low population. There doesn’t appear to be a chatbox anywhere, which is one of the things leading me to believe single player. There are, however, forums. So its completely up in the air.

There are two things about this game that I really like: the technology development and the Wonders. Building Wonders gives you special bonuses. Each Wonder has different requirements and different bonuses. The technology development is done through research in the library, a building you can construct. Its through this and the completion of tasks that you can move on the the next era.

I’m being cautiously optimistic here, this being a beta test and all, but 8Realms is looking like a very well made game. I recommend trying to get into the beta or trying it out when it goes live. I know I haven’t said much but that’s because while there isn’t much to say, its all good. I’ve only encountered one bug so far and it was easily fixed. The UI is well designed and easy to use, the graphics are really nice. It seems like they put a lot of work into making this game and I approve. I give 8Realms a 4 out of 5 hearts. They’d better not fail me and tank after coming out of beta.

4/5 Hearts

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Posted: June 10, 2011 in 4.5 Hearts
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There are days when I wonder just what they’re doing over in Nintendo HQ that they produce the games that they do. This is one of them. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the latest installment in the adventures of a pink balloon-like creature known as Kirby who usually defeats bad guys by sucking things in to him to change his form or to just spit them back out as projectiles. I say usually because its hard to suck things in when you’re a yarn outline. That’s right, you heard me, Kirby is made of yarn now. The basic idea is that an evil wizard known as Yin-Yarn has stolen the magic yarn from Patch Land and then turned Kirby to yarn and sent him to Patch Land. Patch Land is what it sounds like, a world full of fabric and thread and patches and yarn and buttons and beads. Its ruled over by Prince Fluff, who kind of looks like a blue Kirby with a crown.Well, Kirby can’t suck in his foes anymore but by no means is he helpless. He now has all sorts of new transformations just innately available to him because he ate a magical Metamato. So now he can turn into a car or get a parachute or all other manner of odd things. There are 4 different ways to play Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which makes it even more interesting.

Story Mode

Story mode is simply going through the platformer’s levels and beating bosses and collecting beads. There are hidden levels and a lot of content to unlock. There are 7 different worlds to Patch Land, each containing at least 5 levels. I really like the story. Its novel. I mean, who ever heard of a villain who knits their minions. Its a really nice take on the traditional Kirby adventures. The controls are a little difficult to use though. I spent a long time trying to get the hang of grabbing enemies to throw them. Its also very easy to accidentally morph into the car, which is a problem since the car goes twice as fast as Kirby.

Story Mode can, at any time, be played with two players instead of one. I really like this feature. Most games have a multi-player mode and a story mode separately. I also like that the multiplayer option is cooperative rather than competitive. The levels are exactly the same thing in multiplayer that they were in single player. This is both good and bad since it means that all you need to succeed is one player who knows what they’re doing. The abilities added to multiplayer are along the same lines as the sort of thing you get in the New Super Mario Bros for the Wii, the ability to pick each other up, throw each other and bounce on each other’s heads.


During Story Mode, you can gather furniture which can be used to fill in rooms in an apartment building which unlocks special mini-games. The mini-games, like the story mode, can be played either alone or with another player. The first two of these that I’ve unlocked are a hide and go seek game and a bead gathering speed challenge. Both of them are quite entertaining.

The mini-games, like the Story Mode, can be played cooperatively. Once again, the challenge is exactly the same as it was for single player. As far as I can tell, there are no competitive mini-games.

Overall, I really liked Kirby’s Epic Yarn, especially that it could go from being single player to multiplayer and back at any time. The story line was unique and the game play was, for the most part, quite nice and simple. The controls were only slightly annoying and the characters were compelling. I enjoyed the art quite a bit. I highly suggest checking this one out. I give Kirby’s Epic Yarn a 4.5 out of 5 hearts. It would have been better if the controls were just slightly nicer.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

Best of the Online City Builders

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

There are several games falling in the basic category of browser based games where the goal is to build up a city and an army and conquer more cities. Three of these are Tribal Wars, Travian and Evony. The basic idea of all of these is the same, starting with very little, you upgrade your buildings and recruit soldiers and try to conquer other cities.

Tribal Wars

Tribal Wars is a very simple, very slow paced game in the beginning. It is also the only one of the three that doesn’t include quests as you are going along. It doesn’t have heroes or adventures either. Well, ok, some servers have a unit called a Paladin which you can have 1 of, but they don’t go on adventures, they’re just like a named soldier that you can equip with items. Tribal Wars is quite fast paced. Its pretty much impossible to take a break for more than a day or so. I really really like the graphics for this game in particular. They’re simple but nice to look at. All the different points are animated when they’re in use, too, which is nice.

I have a lot of trouble getting into this game. Every time I try to start, I get built up a little bit and then suddenly overwhelmed. Once upon a time, I was very good and actually brought a server to its knees, but lately I start a new city and get decimated almost off the bat and its nearly impossible to recover from that. There aren’t very many levels of tech and eventually you hit the point where all you’re doing is building up armies to conquer and city and raise its tech levels, assuming you get that high without being destroyed.


What makes Travian different from other games of this kind is that when you start a city, you have to decide which European tribe you are part of. The choices are the Gauls, the Teutons or the Romans. Each one has different racial bonuses and weaknesses. The recommendation listed on the site is that beginners should play as the Gauls, so that is what I have set up. I have to admit though, that while I created a new account to discuss for this review, this is the second time I have played Travian. I had an account for a while about a year ago.

The first thing to know about Travian is that it is massively multiplayer and international. In fact, Travian is, I believe, developed and maintained by Europeans. I have on several occasions tried to do something involving talking to another player, only to discover that they don’t speak english. There are a lot of tech levels and different buildings in Travian which makes things very interesting. There are also adventures that can be undertaken by your hero character. This leads to equipment for him. Travian has a very long beginner period, but don’t expect to last long if you try to take a break once you’re out of beginner protection. There is also very comprehensive help available and a lovely tutorial that gives you more resources for completing it.


Evony is an interesting beast. Adds for it are frequently shown around the internet and they tend to contain very attractive, very scantily clad females. I can promise you, there are absolutely no hot women in this game. It does, however, have all of the bad traits of a microtransaction style game. There are near constant tickers going by telling you to buy this package or the other one. There are achievements for buying packages, which in my opinion is extremely silly. I understand, as a game designer, that the goal of any designer is to make money. But really, this is going too far. Admittedly, Evony does have tons of content, but still. Evony is also the only one of the three where I have yet to be attacked. I’m really not sure what that says.

To really appreciate how ridiculous Evony’s “free to play but not really” nature is, take this for an example. On order to post in the chat you need a special item. One gets used every time you post. They cost 3 game cents. The smallest amount you can get at a time is 50 cents, which costs 5 dollars. So basically, every time you want to talk to someone, you just paid about 35 real cents. Plus there are buttons everywhere saying to do this you need this item or that item. You get some items free through playing the game, but not many. Really, it seems like someone’s get rich quick scheme.

And so, the ratings

Tribal Wars is a very good game, very simple in its design and easy to master. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 hearts.

Travian is also very fun, with way more content but some issues communicating with the other players. I give it 4 out of 5 hearts.

4/5 HeartsEvony is absolutely full of content but everywhere you look is an advertisement trying to sell you their special currency. I give it 2 out of 5 hearts.

Wii U

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

I know, I know, giant absence and then posting on an off day. I can’t help it. I just got my first look at the Wii U, Nintendo’s new console out. I have no idea what to say. To be perfectly honest, the first words out of my mouth were “What the hell am I even looking at?” Its got two directional sticks, all the buttons we used to have circa Gamecube and still appears to have motion tracking. There appears be some kind of connector bit down the bottom there. Nintendo finally announced everything, so you can get more information from their website. I bet that’s a touch screen. Shiny.