Archive for the ‘3.5 Hearts’ Category

Roads of Rome III

Posted: January 8, 2014 in 3.5 Hearts, Uncategorized

Roads of Rome III is a time management game where you play a general in the Roman army. Your task is to repair the infastructure of Rome so the barbarians hordes descending on the Empire can be defeated.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.50.24 PMMy first thought as I was going through the opening story was that it was a bit more than the game really needed. I mean, context is great and all, but do I really need to know that the general’s wife is pregnant and his motivation for saving Rome is that he’s doing it for his unborn child? What about the glory of Rome? Senatus Populusque Romanus. Other than that, I liked the intro. The art for it was absolutely fantastic.

The game itself is controlled entirely with the mouse. There’s no need to scroll around the screen to see resources and objectives, which made me extremely happy since after the first level there are time limits. I tend to find that single player games where you need to move all over the map add needless difficulty unless the level timer really accounts for that. There are 7 different resources involved in the game. What you say? You only see 5 on the bar. Well, the 6th is your workers and the 7th is time. You start each level with a single worker and as the game progresses, it lets you upgrade your base camp more and more to get more workers. An hour in, I had 3 workers going at the same time. Each level has a set of goals that need to be achieved. These always include rebuilding the roads and generally include rebuilding other pieces of the infrastructure around but might involve gathering special resources or purifying a water source.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 6.08.22 PMThe graphics in the game itself are simple, but well animated. I found them to be kind of adorable. One thing I rather liked is that periodically things in the terrain that might not look interactable but are will shimmer white to draw attention to them, especially if they are currently reachable. I also like the the mouse will have a little green check mark if you have a worker available but there’s a red X instead if you don’t.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.55.15 PMThere are four different modes of play: hard, normal, easy and relaxed. I played through the entire 1 hour trial on normal and I have to say, it felt too easy. I played through a good chunk of levels before I ran out of time, only playing two twice to make sure I got expert times on all of them. If I didn’t manage an expert time the first play through, it was extremely easy to figure out how to optimize my approach for the next play through. Hopefully the difficulty increases after the first hour of play, but that sample leads me to believe that the normal difficulty is a bit too easy.

Overall, I enjoyed Roads of Rome III, but there were a few things I feel like could have been improved. With the story so involved in the beginning, I was sad that I didn’t hear any more, though that could have just been because the trial was only an hour long. I award Roads of Rome III a 3.5 out of a 5 hearts.

3.5 HeartsIf you would like to play Roads of Rome III, you can find it here on Big Fish Games. There is a 1 hour free trial or you can buy the full game for $9.99.

 

 

Pawn Stars: The Game

Posted: September 21, 2012 in 3.5 Hearts

The phenomenon of video games based on TV shows is an interesting one. There are a lot of them these days, all over the internet, and some times I find myself looking at them and wondering what this has to do with the show. In case you haven’t seen the show Pawn Stars is about a pawn shop in Vegas run by a man and his father and son. The shop frequently has really crazy things come in and be sold and pawned. When I say crazy I mean people have brought in civil war guns and monster trucks. The basic idea of the game is that you’re running the shop and its up to you to haggle for the things being brought in and make sure you make money.

Like a lot of other games these days, Pawn Stars: The Game is based on real life time. Every 5 minutes, a new customer will come into the store. If an offer on an item you’re selling is too low, it takes a further hour for a new offer to come in. I tend to not like these games, since they run while you’re not playing and you can miss things and since they’re more or less designed to cause the impatient player to spend money on microtransactions. As you buy and sell things, you can level up and slowly unlock new types of shelves, new rooms and various decorations.

A lot of the game is silly, which is nice. For someone who likes casual games, its pretty good. There is a lot to play around with, mostly based on one simple mechanic. I’m not super excited about it, but I like my games much faster paced. I’m also not really big on the art style. Its very ‘static image’. One of the most jarring things is that people don’t walk in the door and up to the counter, they just appear.

If you like the show and like casual games, this game might be worth playing. If you like games that are more immediate and involve less waiting, look else where. I award Pawn Stars: The Game with 3.5 out of 5 hearts. Better than I was expecting, but still not great.

Ninja Painter

Posted: August 8, 2012 in 3.5 Hearts

Ninja Painter is a flash based puzzle game developed by SilenGames. The basic idea is that you’re playing a ninja who paints houses or something like that. There are 30 separate levels, in three difficulties of play. Along with beating the levels themselves, the player can try to gather stars for achievements.

There are two control schemes: keyboard and mouse. I found that keyboard based controls were much easier to use. A lot of the puzzle levels are very difficult, involving a lot of thinking. The easy levels are a very nice tutorial to the game and the thought patterns required to be good at it. Once you move on to normal and hard, the difficulty ramps up quickly.

 

The art is simple and nice, blending nicely with the game play and backstory. The one problem is that Ninja Painter really wants to play like a fast-paced puzzler, but requires a lot of thought making it much slower. I very much enjoyed playing it, but found that it quickly got too difficult. I award Ninja Painter a 3.5 out of 5 hearts.

If you’re interested in playing Ninja Painter, you can find it on Kongregate.

Faerie Alchemy

Posted: July 30, 2012 in 3.5 Hearts

Faerie Alchemy is a blocks fall from the top of the screen puzzle game on the vague idea of Tetris. Only instead of the blocks disappearing when you make a line, when you have 3 or more of the same symbol connected, not counting diagonals, they morph into the next one up the alchemical ladder. This does make it really difficult to form combos at first. You really have to think about what you’re doing.

This game is hard and fun. The pace is whatever you want though, so you can take your time to think things through before acting. I’ve been having tons of fun trying to clear through to see what happens when you make a combo of the top of the alchemical ladder. I haven’t managed it yet. As you could probably guess, when your stack of symbols crosses that line near the top, you lose. The game can be played with either the mouse or the keyboard, though I found the keyboard to be much easier. The graphics are nice, though a bit dark. I also really liked the background music for this game. A lot of times where I play games online, the background music just loops. In Faerie Alchemy, the background music periodically fades out and then starts a new song.

One of the things I really didn’t like was the fact that the controls aren’t explained. While the basic idea of the game is explained quite nicely at launch, the controls are left for the user to determine and are explained as intuitive. There are also some spelling mistakes on the instructions screen. Little things that if they were fixed would make the game look a lot more professional. Faerie Alchemy is a nice little game, which can be loaded quickly and played for as long as you feel like. Altogether, I award Faerie Alchemy a 3.5 out of 5 hearts.

If you would like to play Faerie Alchemy, you can find it in the Google Chrome store.

 

 

Bubble Tanks 3 is yet another installment in the Bubble Tanks series by HeroInteractive. The basic idea of these games is that you’re controlling a tank made of bubbles and fighting other little bubbles for control of the big bubble territories that you live in. You kill other bubbles and absorb them to become bigger and more powerful, but if you get hit too much, you lose your upgrades until you have enough bubble stuff to get them again. The controls are simple enough, and pretty much standard. WASD to move around and mouse to aim and fire. What is nice is that if you don’t like that, the controls are customizable in the settings.

This tank here is reasonably advanced.

As you progress, fighting various types of tanks of various difficulties and slaughtering what appear to be unarmed bubbles, you can choose to either use of the pre-made tank upgrades or customize your own. The customization screen was a little confusing at first, but once you figure it out, it was quite nice to have that level of control over my tank’s appearance and weaponry. The main thing that confused me is the GP score, which stands for Gun Points (I’m pretty sure). GP is actually the current gun score of your tank, with max GP, the tiny text under it, being the amount of GP you can have. What this means is that you can keep adding guns until you hit the max GP value. I had assumed they were a type of upgrade points I had to spend that would go down. Once I figured that out, it made a lot more sense. My major complaint is that loading the tanks seemed to take an unbelievably long time, and my computer is not slow. However, I have been told that if you unselect all the download options and just use custom tanks, it moves much faster.

The game starts a little slowly, giving you some room to figure out the controls and get used to shooting, and to get some upgrades before you go after the bigger tanks. The fights get pretty hard as you get larger, because its harder to dodge their weapon fire.

Bubble Tanks 3 is a fun little top down shooter. I enjoyed playing it and suggest you try it out. It has a very nice level of customization. It has some lag issues due to the amount of content, but that is a normal enough trade off. I award Bubble Tanks 3 a 3.5 out of 5 hearts and suggest that you try it out.

If you would like to try out Bubble Tanks 3, you can find it here.

Bloons Tower Defense 4

Posted: November 21, 2011 in 3.5 Hearts
Tags: ,

Ah, the tower defense, a time honored gaming genre that stems from its early development in Warcraft 3 mods. You place towers of various types and defend your lands from accursed invaders…or in the case of Bloons Tower Defense, you place monkeys to defend your land against the evil balloons.

There are 18 different towers at current. Each tower has four possible upgrades that can be purchased. For example, there’s a monkey with a boomerang. You can upgrade that boomerang to be sonic, then a glaive thrower and finally a Jedi. Yes, you heard me. A Jedi.

There are a bunch of different play modes, including the usual easy, medium, hard. There are challenge maps which are really really hard. There are a lot of maps too. See below for an idea. It keeps track of which tracks you’ve beaten and on what difficulties. Bronze medals have been beaten on easy, silver for medium, etc.

The controls are really simple. Point and click to place, upgrade, sell, pretty much everything. You can’t move towers once you’ve placed them, but that’s pretty much standard for the genre. There’s a nice rhythm to the game once you get into it and I really like that. My one major complaint is that flash lacks in the ability to deal with a lot of things being in a game at once. Bloons Tower Defense 4 has a lot of balloons towards the end of the medium and hard difficulties, to the point of crashing some computers. So be careful when you play.

Bloons Tower Defense 4 is a fun game, with plenty of challenge to it. There’s tons of content, even if it is a bit monotonous. It has one major problem, but that isn’t the fault of the designers. I give Bloons Tower Defense 4 a 3.5 out of 5 hearts. Its fun.

If you want to try this game, you can find it on Kongregate.

Neopets

Posted: April 29, 2011 in 3.5 Hearts, Uncategorized

I remember when Neopets first came out…Me and my friends played for hours. Back when it was owned by some obscure british company no one had ever heard of, and it was only a website to boot. Well, now Neopets is owned by Nickelodeon. The other thing I clearly remember from my childhood is that Neopets didn’t use to have nearly as many banner ads as it does now. And there definitely weren’t Neopets toys and video games all over the place. But well, that’s how times change, I suppose.

So here’s the basic idea of how this works. You have a pet of some kind and you have to take care of it, feeding it and the like. In order to buy things for your pet, you have to get neopoints. You can get neopoints by playing games. Pretty simple, right? The games themselves are pretty good too. I particularly like Maths Nightmare, Evil Fuzzles from Beyond the Stars and Destruct-o-Match. Don’t forget that you can buy toys for your pet and read them books and fun things like that.

Downsides…you knew there had to be some. Advertisements. The entire site is swimming in them. Everywhere you look, they’re trying to sell you something. To make matters worse, they’ve added Neocash. Its basically a new currency that can get you special things, but you have to buy the currency with real money. That’s right. Real money.

See how I’m cropping the images down? Yeah…there’s more ads on the side of the main page. Remember, this site is for kids. There are message boards here that are automatically censored, and if you set your age as under a certain age, you can’t even talk on them. But there are ads everywhere the eye can see. I have a lot of issues with advertising in games for kids.

I will admit, playing Neopets is still fun, even years after I made my first account. Things have certainly changed, including a lot more security to try and avoid scamming, but not all of it is bad and some, like that security, is quite good. The quality of the games has also improved greatly. I wish there was a way to block out all the ads, but I understand enough how making a profit through a website works to know that they won’t be going anywhere.

Neopets is about 13 years old and over all, I’d say its worth at least trying out. Its changed a lot since my fond old memories of it, but its still fun. Go sign up! Teddy_Woof could use some friends. I suppose I should give Neopets a rating now, shouldn’t I? I award Neopets with 3.5 out of 5 hearts. Its fun and has some really nice games, but the advertising and the Neocash and everything leave me with a sour taste in my mouth.