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.

Advertisements

Extra Life

Posted: September 20, 2012 in 5 Hearts

So you guys love playing video games, right? And you like the idea of helping sick kids, right? Then you should check out Extra Life. You’ve heard of walk-a-thons and things like that. Well, this is a game-a-thon. The basic idea is that people donate money to sponsor a person who is playing video games for 24-hours straight. That money then goes to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help kids. The best part? It goes to local hospitals in the your area! So you get to play video games and kids get a chance at a better life and the money for medical treatments they need.

If you want to help, you can go here to sponsor one of my friends who is going to play for the Boston Children’s Hospital or you can go here for more information or to register.

I know its not exactly a game, but this is such an amazing idea that I’m giving them 5 out of 5 hearts!

A New Game From Me!

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Unrated

Hey guys, remember Stencyl? I’ve been playing around with it a lot lately and I released my first game on Kongregate. If you’re interesting in playing, its called Avoid the Fire! and can be found here.

Bloons Tower Defense 5

Posted: September 19, 2012 in 4.5 Hearts
Tags: ,

Hey guys! I know I totally dropped off the face of the earth for a while there. I graduated from college and have been spending my time trying desperately to get a job. There was also a period of about 2 weeks where I lacked internet and that made it really hard to get back into the routine. But I’m back and ready to go. To get back into the swing of things, I’ll be talking about a game in a series I absolutely love. I love tower defense games with a passion, particularly Ninja Kiwi’s Bloons Tower Defense series. With the 5th in the series available on Kongregate, I figured I should tell everyone about it.

As with other games in the Bloons Tower Defense series, the story line is that you’re helping the monkeys fight the bloons which are tying to invade their land. To do this, you have an arsenal of darts at your disposal, and a few other more interesting weapons too. In Version 5, there are some new towers, Special Agents and a way to upgrade one type of tower outside of a map. Some of the new towers include the ninja and the sniper monkey. They also tweaked the upgrade method to have two distinct paths of 4 upgrades. You can only get all 4 upgrades in one of the two paths and 2 in the other, but its up to you to pick. The towers also have to be used in order to make all the upgrades available.

Special Agents are a truly new aspect of this game. The basic idea is that you use Monkey Money to purchase Special Agents which are special towers or effects that can help you with a map. Monkey Money can be gained either by opening the chest on the menu screen daily or by beating maps on various difficulties. Completely challenges also rewards Monkey Money. Another use for Monkey Money is specialty buildings which allow you to have permanent upgrades for your towers.

As with every time they make a new Bloons Tower Defense, the graphics improve wonderfully. The graphics are a lot crisper and their style is very coherent. I really like the look of everything, it looks very professional. I mean, compare that to the picture below from one of the older games.

Bloons TD

Bloons TD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really love Tower Defense games and this series has a long tradition of being excellent. They’ve added a ton of new things and kept everything about the series that I like. Well done, Ninja Kiwi, well done indeed. I award Bloons tower Defense 5 a 4.5 out of 5 hearts.

4.5 out of 5 zelda heartsIf you’re interested in playing Bloons Tower Defense 5, you can find it here on Kongregate or here on the Ninja Kiwi website.

Haven and Hearth is an multiplayer survival game with some basis in Slavic and Germanic folklore. The basic idea is that you start in the wilderness with a fire and some basic survival skills and as you gathering things and learn about the environment, you gain points which are used to increase your skills and learn new ones. There are a lot of skills and its takes a lot of effort to get all of them.

Along with learning new skills, there are some skills which can be improved by spending learning points. There are also base attributes which affect how the use of your various skills works. The world is huge, though sparsely populated. I live in a small hearthland with 4 other players, sharing the work of getting to the more advanced technology and skills. As you can probably guess from my character sheet and land, I’m the farmer. I also take care of some of the livestock.

There are some inherent problems with Haven & Hearth. Since every item is a node with a limited amount of an item, you might come across a really large mud flat with no clay or a tree with no branches. There is also a really serious lag problem stemming from their network setup.

Haven & Hearth has a lot going for it, with a wide variety of skills and ways to play the game. You can be a nomad, a thief, a farmer, a merchant, a village leader, pretty much anything you can imagine. There’s a lot to explore too. One of my favorite features is the Hearth Secret which allows people to come into the world in the same area as their friends instead of a random place in the world. Overall, it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what it will be like when it finally come out of alpha. I award Haven & Hearth 4 out of 5 hearts. Handle that lag problem and you’ve got something awesome here.

4/5 Hearts

 

If you’re interested in playing Haven & Hearth, you can find it here and its completely free.

 

 

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.

c. 1298-1235 BCE

Ancient Egpytian Board Game c. 1298-1235 BCE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boardgames are a centuries old classic, a cultural go-to for fun. Almost every culture around the world developed some form of board game to amuse themselves once the work was done. From the far east we have such classics as Go and Mahjong. From Europe we have both Checkers and Chess. From the near east we have an entire category of games known as Mancala. In the modern day board games are still a wildly popular hobby, with clubs popping up devoted to playing the various types. But board games are also a mystery to some people. For most of the American audience, if you say board game, they think Monopoly and Scrabble and don’t get much beyond there. Maybe checkers and chess. But these days those are only the surface of a great and wondrous mountain of games. Games have fallen into 3 major categories: War Games, American Games and German Games.

War Games

War Hammer 40K, De Bellis Antiquatatis, Babylon 5 Wars and Troops, Weapons and Tactics are all examples of miniatures based wargames that take place throughout history, alternate history and science fiction futures. All of these games simulate large scale battles using the weapons of the age they take place in but tactics determined by the players. Some people like to set them up to start out like real battles and see if they can win where the great generals of history lost. Generally speaking, these games use lots of miniatures, detailed fields and lots of dice. Wargame miniatures can be acquired either pre-painted or unpainted to be painted by hand. For some players, that is a lot of the fun. Unlike a lot of other board game types, War Games aren’t designed to tell the same story or play the same way every time.

War Games are also the forebear to table top roleplaying games. It was a wargames ruleset known as Chainmail which Gary Gygax modified to create Dungeons and Dragons. For a comprehensive list of miniature wargames, you can look here. There’s something for everyone interested in taking up the hobby.

American Games

American board games have a strong tradition to them. Starting early on with handmade chess and checkers sets, they evolved only slightly over time. There are periodic booms of new games, but for the most part there are Parker Brother and Milton Bradley leading the charge. Most of their games are re-skins of the old traditional stand-bys. What kid growing up in America hasn’t played Monopoly? Scrabble? Chutes and Ladders? As far as the board game community is concerned, American games are this style, old games that have been around for decades, very few of which involve real skill. Take a look at Chutes and Ladders (or Snakes and Ladders as some people know it). First off, the roots of the game are actually found in India, not 1950s America as most people would tell you. Second off, its purely randomized using either a die or spinner. The Milton Bradley version includes a spinner rather than a die since at the time of its production, dice were considered sinful. Out of all of the games considered to be American style board games, Scrabble is probably the best. My feelings about Monopoly…well, that’s best left for another post. I tend to find that this style of game is very hit or miss, with a lot of the old “classics” being dry. They do offer a wide variety of games for kids though, which does redeem them some.

 

German Games

German style board games are wonderful. High quality games, designed to require thought and skill with added randomness. There are also always new ones coming out. Its quite wonderful. Now of course, German style is something of a misnomer. The trend for these new style games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride started in Germany and spread to the rest of Europe. These games tend to be light on conflict and drama, don’t kick players out of the game before the end and emphasize strategy over luck. Another great thing about them is that they largely use symbols rather than words so they can be played internationally. This genre leads to lots of new games, with only a few continuing to be published. The style is also starting to get adopted in America now, leading to wonderful things like Arkham Horror from 2005 and Merchant of Venus.

For more information on this type of board games, you can check out the wikipedia page on the topic. Its a bit sparse, but helpful and contains a list of publishers.

 

I hope you find yourself more enlightened about board games in general. Consider starting a board game night with your family. Its a great way to have fun together and to work on math, logic and reading skills with young children. For even younger children, there are even games that teach colors and shapes.