Archive for October, 2012

I had a lovely review planned for today for a game called A Tale of Colours that one of my friends pointed me at…then I found a new game from PETA. Its a parody of the Pokemon series, set up to be a serious game. I’m going to preface this whole review with the fact that I’m going to do everything in my power to objectively review this game for its merits as a socio-political persuasive game, but I feel I should mention that I love Pokemon, I eat meat and I tend to view PETA as a touch crazy. With that disclaimer noted, lets head into the game.

The Pokemon franchise is based around the idea of letting kids capture little creatures and then breed and battle them. It was based off the childhood of the creator, catching bugs and studying them. But enough is enough, says PETA! We cannot allow children to have fun by caging helpless animals and forcing them to fight each other. They created a Pokemon style game where you play as the Pokemon. Unlike other games, the Pokemon are fighting their trainers and trying to spread the word about the fact that this violence hurts them and that they have feelings too.

As with other PETA games, the game play includes rewards which are videos showing the harm to animals caused by humans. The idea is to indoctrinate the players. The problem is that the games are geared for children and they tend to be far too over the top to actually convince most kids. I tend to find that scare tactics just leave kids having nightmares, not actually changing their attitudes towards anything.

The biggest problem with this game as a persuasive game is that any kid who has actually played the Pokemon games knows that the main character wins because they love their Pokemon and bond with them. The professors are always in favor of treating Pokemon with kindness and even your Rival learns their lesson in the end. So basically, PETA made a game to try to teach the same message the Pokemon games are actually teaching….

Only they made it ludicrous and over the top. Wait…I forgot. Attempting to review objectively. Uh…uh… The art lends itself well to the persuasive game style they’re going for. They make frequent allusions to the actual games, enough to make it feel properly in-world. But the characters are all being portrayed as completely psychotic killers, such as their portrayal of Ash Ketchum.

Pokemon is a fun game for kids about getting along, making friends, playing outside and exploring. Pokemon Black and Blue is a parody of that trying to show that the Pokemon world teaches kids to be violent and uncaring towards animals. I believe they are rather wide of their mark. As with their other persuasive games, they’ve gone so far in trying to prove their argument that it comes off as deluded ramblings. Their game has no bugs, which is nice, and the graphics are well done for their purpose. I award Pokemon Black and Blue 1 out of 5 hearts. I’m really not sure what else to say…I think I might have nightmares.

If you’re interested in playing Pokemon Black and Blue, you can find it here, along with links to the other PETA games.

Any thoughts about Pokemon Black and Blue? I’d love to hear your comments.

Hexagon

Posted: October 5, 2012 in 4.5 Hearts

Sometimes you encounter a game and can’t help but thinking that it ran away from an arcade in the 80s and that time changed irrevocably because it wasn’t there. Hexagon is one of those games. The controls are very simple, employing only the arrow or WASD keys to control the player. The player is an arrow that can orbit around the center of the screen. The object is to dodge the the lines that are moving in towards the center.

The levels go from point to line, all the way up to forming a hexagon. In order to get to line you need to last 10 seconds and the time goes up from there. Remember the good old days of arcade fun where a game was short and you could just keep hitting restart until you had to go do something else? We’re talking on the scale of a minute is winning. I love games that I can use to fill in the gaps in my day, just for a little fun before going back to the day to day.

The graphics are simple and visually appealing. Even the sound makes it feel like you’re in an arcade. It remembers your best time and also displays how much longer you need in order to make it to the next level.

I really enjoy playing Hexagon. Its simple fun and well made. It loads quickly and you can immediately jump right in and play. That right there is one feature of games that I look for. I highly suggest you check out Hexagon. It is very good, very well made and very fun. I award Hexagon 4.5 out of 5 hearts.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

 

If you’re interested in playing Hexagon, you can find it here on Kongregate.

Board games. A social endeavor that many children encounter as some of their first games. They can be used to learn colors and counting and even just social skills. But as with many other kinds of games, there are the good, the bad and the ugly. Today I will discuss 5 of the classics from the “adult” category : Scrabble, Monopoly, Yahtzee, The Game of Life, and Sorry. When I say adult here, I mean not a game meant for preschoolers. Also, this Best of the Best will be a two parter. To find out which is truly the best of these 5, tune in Wednesday of next week.

Scrabble

First up, Scrabble. Scrabble is based on the idea of crossword puzzles, where you have words connected to other words in a grid pattern. The major difference is that instead of being given clues about the word, you just have letters and have to come up with the best word out of those letters that you can. So I suppose its more like a Fill-In puzzle without a word bank. Either way, each letter has a point value and certain squares on the board have bonuses to points. Scrabble is a great game for practicing spelling and really rewards people who know obscure words, especially if it has an X or a Z. The one major downside is that this tends to result in the adult players scoring way, way more points than the kids unless the kids have excellent vocabularies.

I’m a fan of Scrabble. The rules are simple and it rewards the player for being smart and creative. There’s a strategy to it and while there’s randomness to what letters you have, there is also a lot of skill involved. Scrabble gets a 4.5 out of 5 hearts.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

Monopoly

Monopoly. How to explain my feelings towards Monopoly. We own something to the tune of six different versions of the game at my house, most of which date from when I was in elementary school or prior. I can’t really remember a game of Monopoly that didn’t end with flipped tables and tears, unless it was being played by my parents and grandparents. Even then, it got competitive to a terrifying level. The story of Monopoly is that you’re a real estate tycoon in the twenties (Read as landlord scumbag) and you’re trying to get a monopoly by putting the other players out of business. If you’re playing by the actual rules of Monopoly, there’s no trading and the items belonging to a player who has declared bankruptcy go up for auction. Monopoly is one of the most house-ruled games in existence.

You can probably guess that I think rather poorly of Monopoly. If there is one thing that the game really has going for it, it has to be that there is just so much history, so many people learn to play Monopoly as one of the first games they encounter. For that, it ends up getting 2.5 out of 5 hearts.