fun mini games

[Review] BADLAND (Android Tablet)

This game was recommended by Scott, WordPress’s Heavy Metal OverloRd. Thanks for the rec, Scott!

Free game on Android / iOS / Blackberry 10!* 

Traveling through a creepy forest and swamp as a fuzzy ball of a creature isn’t all it’s made up to be, especially when there are sharp objects ready to poke you, bolders to kill you and other clones of your kind that want to hang out with you. Meanwhile, sinister-looking rabbits look on beyond the bayou as you try not to commit suicide navigating gears of death that appear along the way. This is the main premise of BADLAND, a game available for free (with ads) that I played on my Android tablet.

The goal of BADLAND is to navigate your fuzzy buddy through the dark obstacle course that is his life. Along the way, he eats things that make him expand to twice his size, or reduce him down to a speck of dust. These abilities can aid him through certain sections along the course, but can also be a detriment, as in the case when he gets fat, he gets heavy an slows down. The side-scrolling belt-line landscape moves forward, and stops for no one, so if your fella doesn’t catch up, he dies. He also picks up other dudes of his kind along the way, which, if you manage to save any by the end of the course, you gain achievements. The courses are very challenging; one can expect to kill off their fuzzy buddy several times in a course, especially in the higher levels. The more you advance, the more violent the courses become.

The mechanics of this game are basically taking your finger and tapping the tablet screen in order to get your fuzzy bud to move and fly. This was a bit awkward for me, since I am a southpaw, and the instructions were telling me to tap the right side of the screen. I got used to things, and the game adapted well to me tapping the left of the screen, which was great. So, lefties: you’ll do fine with this game.

The look of the game reminds me of a very sinister Alice in Wonderland; fantastic and strange. The scenes are made even richer with an interesting soundtrack of birds, insects and frogs chirping.

BADLAND is a different kind of game – addictive for sure. At the same time, my sensitive side kept surfacing. Here was this cute fuzzy creature who was thrown into all kinds of shit, in very unforgiving territory, only to get murdered violently…seemingly on a loop. I have to admit, my moral compass spun around a couple of times thinking that I was basically this fuzzy dude’s savior, until I reminded myself: “Geez, it’s only a game, Sarca…” and that likely these feelings surfaced because the fuzzy dude is a cutie-pie. If it looked like the creature from Silent Hill, I might have had a different perspective!

At any rate, you can’t do much better than free*, and BADLAND gives you some decent challenges. Check it out!

7.5/10

*Free with ads. You can buy the no-ad version in game (which I didn’t bother with)

BADLAND
Developer: Frogmind
Released: 2013

Visiting and Reminiscing Over a Box of Stuff

Greetings from Sudbury: The frozen snow-covered Nickel Belt of Northeastern Ontario!

Visiting family and friends feeds and recharges the soul. There was plenty of reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” which included visiting with my sis. Alot of laughs. Good times! Going home and receiving boomerang gifts also keeps visits interesting… You know, the stuff you left behind when you moved out, but that now that you are out of the house and established in your own place, the parents seem to find tchotchkies and wimwams that were once yours, and BOOMerang! they hand you a box full of random crap to take home with you so you can pitch it. It had been awhile since I got one of these from my parents…I haven’t lived at home in 21 years. I’ve been married 14 years. What could possibly be left? Dust bunnies from 1991?

Visiting my parents is always a good time. They’re elderly, and have been retired for years. My mom looks great and is in generally good health in comparison to other women her age. My Step-Dad is near-deaf and has an infectious sense of humour. Between the two of them, it’s fun to engage in an innocent story with them, that easily degrades into a yelling match because my Step-Dad can’t hear you. Hilarious! We always have a good time with them. I’ve known him most of my life and sometimes I think he still sees me as a 10 year old. He was present pretty much during the awkward formative and gawky teen years. He always takes an opportunity to remind my older sis and I of some of the old times we had as kids. Embarrassing and not. This visit, he was full of surprises.

To start, I used to have a huge Archie comic collection. When my Step-Dad heard that Archie Andrews was going to die in a up-and-coming comic book, he presented me at Christmas with the Death of Archie comic edition! He made a point of going to the local comic book store to pick up that edition for me. What a surprise; I’ll be cherishing it!

He then found my sister’s Game and Watch handheld Mario Bros. game in a random drawer. My sister bought the little video game in France in 1984 when she was on an exchange, so its instructions are in French. This arcade game has Mario and Luigi in a bottle factory, and I remember it being a ton of fun. My sister gave her blessing to gift the game to the hubs, the big retro game collector, which was generous and awesome! Thank you, Sis!

IMG_20141230_081943

Then, my Step-Dad surprised me with a box full of my 21-plus year old crap. BOOMerang!

Here – he said. You’ll want to take this home.

It was a shoebox full of cassettes – full albums and cassette singles, to be exact! 22 in total.

Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, Milli Vanilli’s Girl, You Know It’s True, even Zappacosta’s Letter Back, a song I have no memory what it sounds like, nor do I recall buying. I know some of these are my sister’s. Some albums include my sister’s copy of Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, Canadian 80s sensation Candi’s album and Power Station’s self-titled album (that wound up being sans cassette, liner notes only).

I also got returned to me Linda Ronstadt’s Lush Life, a BeeGees cassette, and the soundtrack to the Travolta / Newton-John classic film, Two of a Kind. Runner up for greatest cassette re-gift goes to Hooked On Classics! which was my mom’s go-to jazzercise musack in the 80s. Some of these albums were obvious re-gifts to us as unsuspecting kids by adults who didn’t want The Merrymen of Barbados stinking up their collections. Most of those were never listened to, or maybe my kid self made it past the first song; otherwise rotting away in our cassette case rack.  I don’t know what I’ll do with any of these (except some gems). I honestly thought I had thrown these away. I mean, Milli Vanilli? Eh.

I also was gifted a sh*te photie of myself swimming in 1991. In panorama. Eh.

Included was a couple of keychains – one emblazened with my real name, and one that says, “This girl really knows how to party!” (Not). Hello, Sudbury landfill.

Anyway, the shoebox ensued a lot of laughs and reminiscing which is never a bad thing. Thanks, Step-Dad! Some good times spent with family on Christmas.

Hope you all had a great Christmas Day with your family!

[Review] Jewel Quest (PC)

Sometimes, in our preoccupied lives we need games that are mindless time-wasters. Well, okay I’ll speak for myself…I do! Anyone who knows me in my personal life knows my mind goes in 17 different directions in a normal day. Call it anxiety if you will, but my mind never stops thinking. And sometimes, I need something non-caffeinated, non-medicated… and, frankly, non-boozed to get me to relax a bit. This season, my go-to mindless casual game is Jewel Quest.

Jewel Quest is one of those games the hubs found for me on one of our thrift shop runs this past summer. A CD game, I installed it on my PC and went to town.

When I started playing Jewel Quest, I realized I am no stranger to this type of game. Considered a timed “match-three” style game whereby you are given a grid board full of different coloured “jewels”, you try to match three or more of the same colour vertically or horizontally to clear the board. As you do so, more jewels fall to fill in the space just vacated. You have a time limit to complete the board, and points are given per match.

My first run-in with a game like this was on my iPod Touch playing Bejeweled 2. Later, I played Hexic on the Xbox 360, and of course there are others like it such as Candy Crush Saga that pepper the casual gaming landscape.

Jewel Quest‘s concept is not original by any stretch. The game itself fashions a storyline whereby you are an archeological explorer searching in ancient temples and sacred places for artifacts, all the while completing match-three puzzles to earn those artifacts. With each level, the grid board changes to make the match-three a little more difficult. There is a sort of journal that fills up with info as you complete levels, my guess is to make the game “more interesting”, but as I’ve discovered, if you don’t want to pay attention to it you won’t miss anything in the gameplay itself. My problem was the font on the journal is hard to read without using my Glassbrick magnifier anyway, so I didn’t bother with it.

Really, what makes Jewel Quest fun is its Indiana Jones styling with the Survivor-type music (*ahem*  That is to say the TV SHOW, Survivor, not the band!) with bongos, sitars and didgeridoos set up the adventure atmosphere and give the game a general friendly perpetual gameplay that never gets old.

There are variations to Jewel Quest that exist, depending on platform you play the game on. My version of Jewel Quest supposedly has 180 levels, and it’s hard to imagine what you get at the end of the game. I had also discovered, aside from mobile devices, and gaming consoles, that it is also available to play online for free on Yahoo Games as a flash game, played within the user’s web browser. Mind you, there are minor differences between the online and PC version, but the game is certainly playable, and suitable enough to play on your lunch break at work.

Jewel Quest‘s strength and appeal is in the fact that anyone, of any gaming level can pick this game up and play it for as long or as little as they like. So, if you haven’t tried this addictive, yet relaxing game – try it!

3.5/5

Jewel Quest
Developer: iWin / Mumbo Jumbo
Released 2004

What I Played: Fave Games in 2013

This list encompasses my favourite games that I played in 2013. You will notice some of them were not released in 2013. Really, if you check out my complete list, I didn’t play too many newly released last year.

CAUGHT ME GAMING’S FAVE GAMES IN 2013!!

10. The Room (Android)


This one is a really good puzzle game for Android where you are put into a virtual locked room and given a box to play with. This box has all sorts of secret compartments you have to figure out how to get opened. Plays really well on tablet.

9. Gone Home (PC)

Get ready to snoop! Go into the Greenbriar’s empty home and find out where everyone went! An exploration game that should not be missed.

8. Mystery Case Files: Malgrave Incident (Wii)

Hands down, the best hidden object game for the Wii that I have played.

7. Nike+ Kinect Training (Xbox 360)


Okay, not technically a game. But this is a really well-done fitness tool that helped me to lose weight.

6. The Walking Dead Game (Xbox 360)

Zombies!!

5. Syberia (PC)

An older adventure game that still stands the test of time.

4. Secrets of the Dark: Temple of Night (PC)

I have played through this game at least twice, and often find myself humming the soundtrack in my head. I highly recommend this hidden object game to EVERYONE!

3. Borderlands (PC)


The Hubs and I played this together for about four months. Sorry, no review, but it was one of the most intense, fun and challenging games I have ever played. Forced me to step up my GAME, fo’ sho…[sorry, no review]

2. Borderlands 2 (PC)

The sequel to Borderlands is a continuation of the same, pretty much. The hubs and I are still playing this game, and it continues to challenge me. It’s a whole lotta fun! [sorry, no review]

1. Alan Wake (PC)

I know I rave about Alan Wake, but, seriously – I went into this game totally alone, without my husband’s gaming safety net to help me along. It scared the crap outta me, but I learned some good gaming skills: aim-and-shoot skills, switching to the appropriate weapon for the appropriate fight, dodging enemies, and how to read an in-game map the right way.  Even though it was a rather dark game, it was breathtakingly beautiful (the forest! the trees!! Pining for the fjords!)! I was also going through some things last winter and Alan Wake gave me the distraction and  “concentration on something else” that I very much needed.

I attribute Alan Wake to a lot of things, and I will never forget the experience. That is why Alan Wake is NUMBER ONE!!

There you have it. Next up, the Worst games played in 2013!

[Review] Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir (Nintendo DS)

I have had a love/hate relationship with some of the hidden object mystery games that have come out for the Nintendo DS. There have been some awful ones (Women’s Murder Club, anyone?)! The problem with some of these games has not only been terrible story-lines, but that the game itself is not the least bit conducive to playing on the DS’s dual screen. So when I find a game that has a decent plot, and utilizes the DS effectively- AND it’s fun!- well, I am all over that! Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is such as game, and if you haven’t played this on the DS, you are missing out, my friends.

In case you are not familiar with the Mystery Case Files series of hidden object mystery games,they are a series of 11 games so far which include such awesome games as the Wii-exclusive game, the Malgrave Incident (which I raved about this fall), and others that I have played in the past but have not reviewed yet, such as 13th Skull, and one of the best out there, Dire Grove.

In MillionHeir, you play a detective who is charged with investigating the disappearance of Millionaire tycoon, Phil T. Rich. You are presented with a list of suspects, and several scenes to search for hidden objects, and clues that incriminate or acquit a suspect. The scenes are easy on the eyes (for once!), and the gameplay uses both DS screens to their full potential by using the top screen as the wide-angle perspective of a scene you are searching, and the bottom screen as the extreme close-up of the scene. This means, you can actually see details of objects you are trying to search!


For a DS game, the quality of the graphics in MillionHeir was very impressive, too. Each scene was intricate, attractive and not cheesy. The only thing cheesy was how the characters were rendered in the game, but you only see them briefly throughout the gameplay.

The hidden object aspect is fun, as you are given some different tools to use to search the scene. For example, you are given a flashlight for when the lights go out, and a cool x-ray machine you can use to scan around and find other hidden items. The game is not simply hidden object, either. There are puzzles to put together, pieces of paper to gather, pictures to draw.

There are two modes of play – easy and difficult. The difficult setting has timed searches and only a few hints to pull from. The easy mode is a lot more forgiving – no timed searches and the hints increase with every scene completion.

Mystery Case Files has another winner in MillionHeir; an excellent hidden object mystery game for the Nintendo DS.  I highly recommend picking this one up!

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Released: 2010

[Review] Diner Dash (iOS/ Android/ DS) – Fun Gaming on the Dash

Diner_Dash_Coverart

I bet you read the title of this post and thought, “Well, duh…It’s like writing about Angry Birds, right? We’ve ALL played these games, what’s the point in wasting a blog post?” Well, why not? And why don’t we ask why this game has mass appeal?

I have now played Diner Dash on three systems. My first taste of this game was when I first got my third generation iPod Touch in 2010. I had been searching for something else to play on it that was easy and fun. Diner Dash was free, so I downloaded it from the Apple app store. Then, having an Android tablet, I always wonder how a game I’m used to playing on a tiny screen would translate to a tablet. Recently, I found Diner Dash: Sizzle and Serve for the Nintendo DS as I was also curious to see what the differences were.

The first time I played Diner Dash, a time management game, I instantly got sucked into restauranteuse / waitress Flo’s world; a young woman who was forced into the corporate office cubicle, and found her method of escape when a dilapidated restaurant came up for sale. The game sets you up with Flo in her little diner, waiting two sets of tables. She seats, takes the orders, and buses tables, all in quick succession, so that she will keep her customers happy, and will get paid a tip that goes into a jar used towards making improvements to her restaurant. With more money, and bigger customer base, she can renovate the restaurant, add more tables (and therefore accommodate more customers), and eventually get a coffee machine that she can use to appease cranky waiting customers. Eventually, she is able to open franchises and different types of restaurants.

The gameplay is easy enough, and consists of dragging and dropping customers to their tables, and tapping on screen to get Flo to move where she needs to go. Where the challenge comes in is how fast you can move Flo, as well as having the ability to keep her customers happy, efficiently. The customers vary and get more complex as you level up – babies, courting couples, tables of 6 or more…a harsh restaurant critic…they all present their own challenges for Flo, but if done right, you can help Flo achieve a lucrative business.

Having played the iOS, Android and Nintendo DS versions of Diner Dash, I can say there are subtle differences between each. To start, I was an expert at the iOS version and working with its tiny screen. So when I played the game on my Android tablet, I couldn’t believe how much easier I found the controls and that even though magnification isn’t completely necessary with this game, I found I enjoyed the lack of eye strain playing on my tablet. I think the worst experience of Diner Dash had to have been the Nintendo DS version (sorry, Nintendo…). In the iOS and Android versions, you can see the line-up of people ready to be seated to the left, and the dining room to the right. On the DS, we have to scroll left or right to see either the line-up of people or the dining room – you can’t see both at once. That extra scrolling may not be a big deal for some, but I found that lack of visualization made me forget those customers waiting for a table. As well, the extra clicking back and forth took my time away from serving customers within the game and therefore a potential loss of income in tips. I am not sure why Nintendo configured the game like that, but they could have handled that better.

iOS and Android play area of Diner Dash – notice the line up at left.

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Nintendo DS’s play area of Diner Dash. Note no line up. You have to toggle to access left part of screen via red triangle at bottom left.

So, why do people like Diner Dash?  Well, it’s on Windows and Mac, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, as well as the other three I’ve played this game on, so it’s very accessible. It’s cheap, easy to play and definitely a time-waster. What could be better?

Diner Dash
Publisher: Play First
Released: 2010

Kickin’ It With Qix et al (NES/Amiga)- a Memoir of Forgotten Casual Games

I grew up in the era of emerging computer technology (really, aren’t we still?). I remember my elementary school getting ONE computer – a Commodore 64, and it was stationed in our classroom. My classmates and I would make funny posters and banners out of its graphics program that would then print on long banner paper in dot matrix.

When I entered the ninth grade, there was of course, pressure to have all your assignments typed out. My Mom decided instead of investing in another typewriter, it was time to get on board and buy our home a computer. The computer of choice – a Commodore Amiga. Now, truth is, we had this computer for years (1989-1998), and the most my sister and I could do with it was 1. Type out assignments in Word Perfect and, 2. Play games. I had ramped up my computer expertise over that time period of ownership enough to know that the Amiga had quickly become obsolete. I had already moved on to learning Windows 95, and was going back to campus to print off my assignments and send email…the Amiga collected dust for about three years before I gave it away. But before I knew anything about computers, I used the Amiga as my only source of gaming.

Growing up, one of my best friends’ dad was the Amiga guru if ever there was one. He showed us the basics of how to work the computer but also introduced me to the world of casual puzzle gaming by throwing a few games on floppies for me. Two games he introduced me to – Qix and Crystal Hammer – were played obsessively. We got other games, like Capone (great gangster shoot ’em up), a scrabble-type game and a crossword game, but none were played quite as much as Qix and Crystal Hammer.

Imagine my joy when I found Qix on the Wii emulator! Starting it up brought me back to my 14-year-old self. The game is simple. You are given a black rectangle, and within it, a swirly animated graphic (called a Qix). You are armed with a diamond pointer and the power to draw lines. The objective is to draw lines, cutting the rectangle in sections to claim a majority stake of the rectangle. Once you have closed off an area of the rectangle with your lines, that area fills with a pattern, and you are given points. You are given a threshold – a percentage by which you are to fill in the rectangle – 65%, 75% – and the more you fill, the higher your score becomes. The challenge is the Qix moves unpredictably, and can’t touch your line as you are cutting the rectangle – you lose if it does. The other challenge: There are also these sparks that follow the periphery of the rectangle, and can also follow the line you are cutting the rectangle with. If it reaches your diamond point, it’s game over. The more levels you play, the more Qix in the rectangle you have to avoid, and the more sparks you have to dodge.

The game isn’t terribly sophisticated, but it’s fun, and a great time waster. I’m not sure where you could get your hands on a copy other than on an emulator, but it’s worth checking out if you are looking to kick it old school with old school casual games.

crystal_hammertitle
Try to locate the Crystal Hammer game anywhere, and no such luck. This game was a Commodore Amiga exclusive, and is not on any emulator that I have seen. It’s a game similar to Arkanoid – an arcade game that was also released on the NES. It plays very much like pong, in that you are given a series of tiles that you need to hit with a tiny ball. Also fun, but obviously obscure. I really liked this game.

crystalhammer 1

So there you have it – a couple of old school casual games I was playing in my youth, that I still think have some longevity!

Qix
Developer: Taito
Originally Released: 1981

[Review] Hardest Game Ever 2 (Android) – Is It? Let’s Find Out

Ever like to challenge yourself with a game that boasts that there is no way you can win? For me that depends. I mean, who wants to play a game just knowing you have no chance of winning?

I have said that I lurve Mortal Kombat, but I am not that good at it….when competing against my husband, that is, who knows all the moves (actually, he just trips me over and over, and gets the flawless victory award). I know going in there might be an excellent chance that I will not win. I still play it though, because it’s fun, and it doesn’t make you feel bad for losing.

In comes the Hardest Game Ever 2, a free app I played on my Android tablet; a game that *says* it’s the hardest game. Challenge accepted…? Actually, I wanted to try it out because apparently it’s one of the top downloads right now on Google Play, and I am a curious cat. And it’s free.

At its core, the Hardest Game Ever 2 plays on your strengths and weaknesses in working memory and motor skills. The game consists of a set of mini-games. The first game’s objective is to try to tickle an erratic-moving animated foot with a virtual feather. For every tickle, you get points. At the end of the game, the points are added up, and you are given a grade. Get higher than an F, and the next game unlocks for you. Another game is rock paper scissors, where two fists appear in front of you, each giving its own choice (rock, paper or scissors), and you need to determine as rapidly as possible which side has won. This game was where my weaknesses were prevalent. I have always had trouble with these quick “working memory”-type games, and I failed at this particular one miserably. I think the game took mercy on me, because after my 12th try, it unlocked another stage. I didn’t do that well, but couldn’t help myself – I kept playing this rock paper scissors game for another 12 rounds! Onto the next game, this one was particularly fun: you tap two fingers rapidly on a pad to simulate a kid’s running legs – this objective was to “run” the kid to reach the toilet on time.

The Hardest Game Ever 2 is, for the most part, not the hardest game ever, and in fact, the game is made so much easier with multiple tries. There is a mixed bag of difficulty in its mini games, which is good, because that way, it appeals to a larger audience with varied skills and strengths, and keeps your interest. It is an entertaining time-waster that reminds me of Warioware, and in fact, the feet-tickling game, and another where you have to keep a snotty-nosed kid’s head out of his soup is very much like Warioware’s mini-games only different in scenario and semantics. The game is also smooth-running and responsive on my tablet which is a plus.

So if you have an Android device, and are looking for a little time-waster game, check out the Hardest Game Ever 2.

Hardest Game Ever 2
Developer: Orangenose Studio
Released: 2013

[Review] Have Golden Axe (Sega Arcade) and String Bikini – Will Fight

I love run n’ gun and hack ‘n slash games – Contra, Streets of Rage…side-scrollers where you and a buddy tag-team, button mash and beat up baddies. Simple, unforgiving, crude, and does not require too much mental capacity – only enough skill to prevent you from dying!  After a long day of work, there is nothing like coming home and playing a good action arcade game.

The other night, the game of choice for my hubs and me was Golden Axe, originally a Sega arcade game, played on the PS3. One word – fun! At least fun enough to blow through the entire game in 25 minutes. Sounds impressive to those who don’t game. But really, there wasn’t much to it – save villagers from wrath of evil dudes, fight said evil dudes by using swords and magic spells; the end. And it is an arcade game; how long are those supposed to last, anyway?

By all appearances, self-proclaimed pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian would have a field day with Golden Axe with its choice of characters (if she hasn’t targeted this game already…). It is a stereotypical 1980s arcade game that has only three characters to play; some he-man on steroids, an ugly bearded troll, and the hot, greased up, bikini-clad Amazonian goddess (my character of choice). To that end, I AM a feminist (NOT a feminazi), and thought it was great that this gorgeous, scantily-clad, fake-n-baked babe played among the ugly dudes…and kicked ass like a BAWSE!

Take that! Annnd that!

The game is in 16-bit, so you’re not getting anything pretty. Characters do look a bit blocky, and moving your character around in a boss fight is more like a square dance hoe-down than a fight scene. But Golden Axe is fun, and will jet you back to those crude gaming days when you and your sibling fought over the arcade table at the local pizzeria…

Golden Axe
Developer: Sega
Released: 1989

[Review] The Room (Android) – 99 cents, and worth every penny

My Appsales app gave me a heads-up on a sale of a game I’ve been watching for a while. I got The Room for 50% off at 99 cents – a great price, and an excellent game I played on my Android tablet.

The Room is a game where you are presented with a series of boxes you are made to open. The puzzles are complex “open the box using a key buried somewhere in a secret contraption within the box” type of game. The boxes themselves are in 3D, and the game uses the tablet’s ability of finger-swiping to move the boxes to see them from all angles, or to move your tablet around to make certain objects change position. The graphics are stunning and worked smoothly on my tablet. There are no voices, no people. Just some tinkly music, you, a spotlight, and a puzzle you have to solve. You are also given a special eyepiece that when worn, gives you the ability to see things in the boxes that couldn’t be seen by the naked eye.

At first play, I was a little apprehensive, thinking these puzzles would be impossible, but surprisingly, they are logical, and the game also gives you a hint button that reveals just enough of a clue that will make you “eureka!” your way to solving the puzzle.

If you haven’t discovered this gem, I suggest you buy The Room NOW for your Android tablet (before the price goes back up)!!

(It’s also available for the iPad but not sure for how much)

The Room
Publisher: Fireproof Games
Released: March 2013 (android)