girls in games

[Review] Life Is Strange (XBox One)

Undo. Rewind. Do over.

Don’t you wish sometimes you were given a second chance to go back in time and correct mistakes made, or make right a bad ending? Be careful what you wish for! That is one lesson learned while playing the Square Enix game, Life is Strange!

Max Caulfield moved away from Arcadia Bay, Oregon to Seattle, Washington with her family when she turned 13, leaving behind her best friend, Chloe. Five years later, Max returns to Arcadia Bay to enroll in the prestigious Blackwell Academy on a Photography scholarship.  The geeky and kind Max enjoys spending her time peering through the lens of her Polaroid camera (her chosen medium) and taking pictures of nature. Blackwell Academy, for what it’s worth, is full of the typical cliquey high school drama. Max tries to avoid it, and concentrate on what is important to her – the upcoming Photography contest, and her dreamy teacher, Mr. Jefferson.

It was a violent incident one day on campus that made her aware of a new power she had at her fingertips – the ability to turn back time. She soon put her powers to work, changing negative outcomes to more favourable ones whenever the opportunity would present itself. This newfound ability was surprising and unbelievable. Her powers worked well for a spell, and was even fun, but soon, too much turning back father time created a shit storm of negative environmental events which become hard to untangle without risking lives…and timelines.

Life is Strange is a graphic adventure game where the player is provided a set of choices that have consequences depending on the path you take. This was about the only difficult thing about the game – making choices for Max. Thankfully, unlike some other choice-driven games like the Walking Dead, there is no time limit – you actually have time to read and reflect on the decision (in the Walking Dead, they give you, like, 10 seconds for four choices – barely enough time to decode and process what I just read…). The menu system for the game is pretty easy to use and is where you have access to Max’s personal journal (which was interesting, voyeuristic) and her cellphone to receive texts from her family and friends.

Although set in modern-day, this game’s layered sub-plots and relationships between characters brought back a tonne of teenaged memories for me – the friendship between Max and her best friend Chloe, Max’s insecurity about her talent as a Photography student, taking art classes and opining about art, putting up with cliques…I saw a lot of myself in Max. Even decisions having to do with loyalties with friends (who hasn’t dealt with that?).

Let’s talk about the style of Life is Strange: gorgeous. The game’s use of light, shade and tonal gradation to emote a feeling was very effective. I mean, I could stare into those sunsets all day. The game also lingers long and takes its time, using strategic shots to set a scene. Every shot appears to have been thought out and successfully executed. Absolutely awesome.

The version I played was from the Life Is Strange Limited Edition package on the Xbox One – a gift from my husband – and it is awesome! The collection includes the entire game, a scrap book and a soundtrack CD – pretty damn cool. The music is an off-beat mix of atmospheric modern-Indie Folk, alternative and dance; Syd Matters, alt-J, Foals and Jose Gonzalez (to name a few) fill the game’s soundtrack with a sound that pairs well with the stylings of Life is Strange. I know some people won’t like the music, and I can’t say I like all of it, but I think most of it is very good.

This game was the first one I played on the Xbox One, and I have to say I am pleased with the smooth experience. No glitches at all, and everything looked crisp. Overall, I highly recommend Life is Strange. It’s available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and Windows.


Life Is Strange (Xbox One)
Dontnod / Square Enix
Released: January 2015

[Review] Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can (PC)

It’s been awhile since I’ve played an adventure hidden object game – November 2014, in fact!

There is a bit of history with this game that has a lot to do with the blog you are reading right now! I discovered Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can two years ago, merely by accident. I was trying to figure out what to call my new gaming blog on WordPress. I had just created an account after I had failed at getting my knitting blog, Picking Up a Stitch (now defunct), off the ground. Typing in some random terms into Google, I pulled together the search term “catch me game”, and up at the top of the searches was Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can. At the time, the second search result was a website called “Catch the Game” that was an aggrigate site that pulled stories from other websites (it has since disappeared). In the end, I settled on Caught Me Gaming. There’s some blogging history for ya!

Anyway, I decided to check out Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can on Steam. Its trailer made the game look great and it had an intriguing plot with a mix of puzzles. I bought it for cheap, and went to town.

Angelica Weaver is a Chicago Police detective with a unique psychic ability. In this story, she is tracking a serial killer wrecking havoc on the streets of Chi-Town, but gets telepathically ported to the 1900s where there is a killer following a similar modus operandi. Angelica uses her psychic abilities to put herself in the mind of the killers, who, she discovers are playing games with her. She can also get into the minds of the victims who give Angelica clues that help her solve the case. She wears a dreamcatcher around her neck, which provides a dual purpose: it allows her to time travel, and gives hints to the gamer within the gameplay. Thank goodness for it, because the plot was a convoluted mess. Not to mention, this game forced the player to do a ton of back-tracking, so it was easy to get lost.

The first time I started Angelica Weaver, I fell asleep about 30 minutes in. When I woke up about ten minutes later, I had lost track of the plot and what I was supposed to do…I chalked it up to a hard day’s work. I restarted Angelica Weaver a little later, fully committed and hopped on caffeine. Alas, that didn’t work either! I dozed off! Every time I loaded this game I would fall asleep 20 minutes into it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Steam says I blew through six hours of game time. More like six hours of nappy time! If I had to guess, I’d say I got through about three hours worth of gaming, but certainly not six! I am still trying to figure out if the game was in fact boring, or that it provided a calming effect that induced the land of nod. The jury is still out…

What should have kept me awake was the main protagonist, Angelica, especially due to the way she was treated in this game. Game developers thought it was a good idea to have an animated Angelica situated at the bottom of the gaming area near the menu system, while you try to play. She remains right there, creepily nodding away at every turn as you perform tasks in the game, like a super annoying version of Clippy the Office Assistant. To make it worse, Angelica had to open her mouth with a voice-over that mimicked my experience with the adventure game Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (one of the worst games of the genre I have ever played!). Thankfully, I discovered the best thing ever: the option to turn off the voice-over and shut Angelica Weaver up for good in the options menu. Great! Finally. I can nap undisturbed!

Not to nitpick about the puzzle-solving in Angelica, but some of the solutions made little sense. In one part, I had a baseball bat and an umbrella in my inventory. If you were made to open a hatch with one of them, what would you choose?? Would it shock you to learn the knob of a baseball bat would do a good job of opening a floor hatch? I mean, I would have thought my umbrella would have done an excellent job, but whatever. In other puzzles, you are made to use a cellphone to take pictures for evidence. Angelica had one, but she kept losing it. In one scenario, there was a dead body that had a cellphone sticking out of his pocket. And hey, what the heck…she’ll just grave-rob that bloody corpse over there and use his! Why not? …These games, I tells ya…

Really, Angelica Weaver is an okay game with some annoying traits and a heavy plot. There are some decent graphics, however and the puzzles are okay enough that I think it has some appeal for Hidden Object fans, as long as they don’t fall asleep ten minutes in.


Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can
Developer: Mumbo Jumbo
Released: 2013

[YouTube] GirlfriendVS Mega Man 2 (NES), with special guest, Sarca!

Yep, call me Norma Desmond! I’m a big staaaaah with an NES controller!

Back in the Fall, my husband and I taped a small project, engineered by YouTube channel, GirlfriendVS. It was a collaboration which included four other YouTube channels, Round2Gaming, the Cartridge Bros. (P1 and P2), and finally my husband’s channel, Buried On Mars. The theme: Five couples, one game. Each YouTuber got their significant other to play the NES game MegaMan 2 – a game none of the girls played before, with the goal to see how far they could get in the game. It was a little friendly competition among the girls and it was great fun!

How did Sarca do?

The full video has just been released. Watch to find out! 🙂

[Review] Still Life (PC): Gaming Stiffly Clicking

After I finish what I consider a decent game, I often check out the game’s developer to see what other games they’ve made. Who knows; maybe I’ll get to play another great game.

Take Syberia, a Microïds-produced game: I enjoyed this adventure game very much, and in fact, I consider it one of the better ones from the early 2000s. Throw forward a couple of years following its release, and we have another Microïds-produced game called Still Life, also an adventure game, highly regarded by critics for story and gameplay. Having just completed Still Life, I have to say I don’t share the critics’ enthusiasm.

Game 2014-03-29 22-40-22-19

Victoria McPherson, detective with the FBI is charged with investigating a series of sinister murders in 2004 Chicago. Her Grandfather, Gus McPherson was a P.I. back in the 1920s, who investigated similar cases involving the murder of prostitutes in Prague. All these murders have a Jack The Ripper sort of flavour as both murder suspects in both time periods dress in a cloak and top hat wearing a mysterious mask. The story is split between both Victoria and Gus, and their experiences. The reference of “Still Life” has to do with an artist who liked to paint prostitutes back the 1920s, the same ones who would eventually be found murdered.

Game 2014-03-30 20-55-05-08

The good: Okay story, most graphic elements are half-decent.

The bad: Game had trouble loading, not enough gameplay, talky talky and a lot o’ clicky clicky.

Still Life is touted as an adventure game, but really I find it is more an interactive story than a game. In most adventure games, you click the mouse to send characters where you want them to go, interact with objects and solve puzzles, but, there wasn’t a lot of actual puzzle-solving in Still Life and basically you are left clicking characters from one scene to the next. Long-winded dialogue between characters also takes the click of a mouse with no ability to skip through or choose what is said, which was one major beef I have with this game. Instead of a dialogue scene, each time something was said by a character it took a mouse click to keep the conversation going. LAME!

The game is very linear with little room to explore your environs because the character will tell you, “I don’t think I need to go there.” To that end, the game does give you a pretty decent map that sends you to an area by mouse-click. The puzzles are not fun and really do their best to screw with you. In one puzzle, you are made to bake cookies (yes – COOKIES). The measurements given in the recipe call for a cup of this and half a cup of that, when the measuring cup they provide is in milliliters, not cups! WTF?!

Let's bake some cookies!

Let’s bake some cookies!

Some of the interactions the characters had with objects were stunted, peculiar, and obscure. For example, in one “gameplay” sequence, the boss tells Victoria to get him a cup of coffee, thus ensueing a witchhunt for his coffee mug, which you wind up finding in some random interrogation room. Made no sense.

Big hands

Big hands

The main characters in Still Life overall looked alright,but moved stiffly. The secondary characters for the most part were exaggerated and out of place with the life-like main characters. You’d often see them with big hands, big faces, big “idiot” voices!  The voice work vacillated between good and completely stereotyped. For example, one black police officer was obviously voiced by a white guy trying to be a soul brotha and failed miserably. And then there was the lesbian seductress who obviously was voiced by the same actress who voiced Victoria McPherson, only with a bit deeper and “sultry” (or is that slutty?) intonation.

Game 2014-03-30 21-06-09-98

One major problem I encountered running this game: I had to change my screen resolution just to get Still Life to even play on my Windows 7 gaming PC. There were some major compatibility issues that I thought would have been fixed, or at least a patch would have been provided…especially since I bought the game through Steam!  There is apparently a lot of complaints from folks on the internet about that. I would have figured by now, ten years later, someone would have gotten their shit together on that front.

Critics say Still Life is supposed to shiver your timbers…Some segments did make me go “whoa,” but it wasn’t scary. This is certainly not a game for kids – there are very mature themes, nudity, and displays of naked women cut up slashed and dead. Some strong language may offend.There wasn’t a time that I was frightened by the game, but there is some tension in the storyline and having to look at dead bodies can make one squirm. There are some violent action sequences as well.

Still Life is a long game: I clocked in over 7.5 hours of gameplay. That said, I have to say the story was enjoyable enough, but I would have probably enjoyed Still Life more reading the story than playing it. If you’re after an interactive story game, this is it. If you are after adventure, you will be disappointed here; check out Syberia instead.

Still Life (PC)
Developer: Microïds
Released: 2004

[Review] Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart (PC)

The first time I ever learned of Amelia Earhart, was as a child watching an episode of In Search Of…with Leonard Nimoy. Sort of an ominous way of learning about missing persons, as the show scared bejeezus out of me. Since, I have been a bit fascinated with mysteries of the unexplained. What happened to Amelia Earhart and her flying partner, Fred Noonan, on July 2, 1937? Theories abound, and no one has definitively figured out what happened to her.

Playing a hidden object game about Amelia Earhart may seem like there would be serious cheese…or even that it would be too easy to immediately say at first glance that this game is not going to be good. I went in skeptical, especially since this game is on the same DVD as Victorian Mysteries: Woman in White.

What a surprise! Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart on PC is impressively good.



You play yourself, a guest of the world famous Unsolved Mystery Club, a Centre that is a repository of knowledge pertaining to unsolved mysteries from around the world, and originally started by two men whose daughters fell victim to Jack the Ripper. Your tour guide, Henry Hudson, leads you through the centre to the Amelia Earhart chamber where you watch newsreels on her life, study theories about her disappearance, and solve hidden object puzzles to draw your own conclusions about what happened to her.

The good: Well-done history on Amelia’s life, and is this game’s strength. Good cross-section of puzzles to solve. The game leads the gamer, so no chance of getting lost. No glitching. Game looks great, sounds great.

The bad: Having to start three different hidden object scenes to find items you need so you can solve the rest may confuse and frustrate gamers. Some of the graphics hide object so well, you can’t possibly see them. Henry Hudson, the veritable cheese factory, can go away.

When you first start playing the game, you are presented with “newsreels” on Amelia Earhart that show actual footage of the aviator, and voiceovers that use her real voice. I thought those were wonderful and innovative! You are then presented with a theory of what happened to Amelia including searching the scene of the theory for clues. You then go into Amelia’s history, dating back to when she was a child, to when she worked as a Nurse in a Toronto Military hospital during WW1, to when she did actual flying. Hidden object scenes are based on her factual history, and are quite intricate. In one scene at an airstrip, the developers managed to have dark storm clouds roll in and streaks of lightening flash as you search the scene for hidden objects. You can hear the roll of thunder faintly in the distance. The game really knows how to set the scene. You are even given an opportunity to fly a plane though hoops, fly upside down and land. After it’s all said and investigated, you then have to vote on what theory you think is what likely happened.

Although the hidden object scenes are great, you are not able to complete one until you move on to the next scene, as there are particular objects you need to get to solve puzzles in other scenes. Thankfully, in each chapter, there are only three scenes to solve, so the gamer would not get too confused. Also, I found some of the items you search for way too small to be identified as that particular object; you do make use of the hint button in that scenario.

Here, Henry plays the role of a barbershop quartet member...because, y'know, it's 1897 and all...

Here, Henry plays the role of a barbershop quartet member…because, y’know, it’s 1897 and all…

Lastly, a few words about Henry Hudson, the host and leader of your adventure into Earhart’s life. With such a mature theme for a game, with such a level of production, he didn’t need to be there, and, in my opinion, was a detriment to the game. He would pop up like that annoying MS Office assistant animated paperclip, giving you direction when you don’t want it and fromaging up the joint unnecessarily. What made it worse was they took him and gave him a jokey literal approach with his attire: If we were in Hawaii, he’d be wearing a lei. If we were at an airplane hangar, he’d be dressed as a grease monkey. It just seemed to me that with the quality of this game, Henry Hudson brought the integrity down, and would have been better without him. That said, I wouldn’t write off this game because of him.

Overall, Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart was a fantastic game. It has everything you could possibly want including a variety of gameplay and a history lesson! What could be better?

Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart
Developer: Freeze Tag
Released: 2011

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


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.


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

[Review] Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park (DS) – Secretly Boring Your Kids

What the heck are we teaching our young about video games?

If my latest gaming venture on the DS is any indication, we are trying to either bore them to death, teach them to keep their secrets tightly, pretend they are stupid and make them do repetitive tasks, or show them the world is a crime-ridden place full of stupid mini-games we must play in order to get crooks to start talking.

Never mind; I just think Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park is a boring game, and we need to stop with these boring games for children on the DS already.

If I take my experience playing the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew games as any indication, there seems to be some DS “gamez 4 kidz” that are just a bore…and I am sure there are other games that I haven’t played yet. This latest one I played, Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Old World Park, with a PEGI value of age 7+, isn’t the most tedious, or the WORST GAME EVER, but it makes me ponder if all Drew games are like this, and why we insist on pushing these boring games on children (or anyone, for that matter…).

This time, Nancy Drew is investigating the disappearance of a billionaire tycoon who owns a newly built amusement park, and who conveniently goes missing just prior to the park’s opening. It all sounds like the plot could go somewhere, except the gamer is tied up in petty boring minutia. Nancy recruits herself as detective to find out where he’s gone. We play as Nancy in third person, and get to move her around the various places and interact with people and things.

Along the way, Nancy comes across suspects she tries to interview, and some of them are uncooperative. No problem! Nancy’s solution is to play a mini-game to improve the suspect’s mood and get him talking. And this is where the game gets tedious. You are given a selection of mini-games to play, all of them very easy. There isn’t much point to them really, except to give the player something to do other than move Nancy from one room to another. The games themselves really don’t elevate the player’s mood, if you catch my drift. But, they are certainly tied into the gameplay, and you cannot advance in the game without playing them.

“Well, is there anything more to this game?”

Having played both a Nancy Drew game on the PC, and now one on the DS, there is no denying the differences in gameplay between the two. Of course, when I played Trail of the Twister on PC, there was voice acting which is devoid from Olde World Park, instead using music to carry the mood. Graphics between the PC and DS versions vary; the DS game’s graphics aren’t terrible, and not why I would discount this game. No, I must say the reason to avoid Deadly Secret of Olde World Park is simply, the gameplay is stale and unsatisfying early on. You just keep hoping after every chapter that something will be different, when it ends up being more of the same.

Two Nancy Drew games, both not that great. It sort of discourages me from playing the one more Nancy Drew game I have left to play in my collection. Here’s hoping it’s better than Deadly Secret of Olde World Park…

Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Old World Park
Publisher: Majesco / Gorilla
Released: 2007

[Review] Blades of Vengeance (Sega) – the Shattered Hope of a Broken Game

You begin to play a game you’ve never heard of before. While playing you die trying to get past a certain point, and you figure it’s because you’re not familiar with it. You try again – maybe this time you’ll get through it. You die again. You do this 20 more times. You cannot get past that point. You chalk it up to being a n00b gamer.

Then, someone with more gaming experience comes in and gets stuck at the exact same place. They say, “the game is broken.” They then stoically throw down their controller and walk away, forever ending their time with the game. This was my experience with Blades of Vengeance, a Sega game I played on my Wii emulator.

I had never heard of a game being called “broken” where in playing it, you are not able to advance no matter how hard you tried. But, that is a great name for it. And really, Blades of Vengeance encompasses it.

The game is a platformer where you are tasked with saving the world from a war-lord. In the game, you have the choice of playing three characters: a warrior woman with a sword, a Conan Barbarian-type with an axe, or a sorcerer with a staff. Your goal is to kill everything in your path without getting yourself killed jumping off ledges into fire pits, getting hit with sharp objects or getting attacked by zombie-looking characters.

The game itself held promise for me at the start. The first level had some fun gameplay…that is until I reached a part where a ledge moved over a fiery river of lava. While travelling over, obstacles would appear that you would have to jump over while on this teeny tiny moving platform – but you’d better move fast, or you fall into the lava lake with no chance of escaping death. No action nor weapon will save your hide. You are toast. And the lamest: if you jump off the moving platform onto a solid ledge, better have a death wish ’cause the platform keeps moving away from you never to return. You are stuck! Nowhere to go but jump into the river Stix (or is that ‘Stux’?). Lame!

You think that tiny ledge can fit two people? Think again!

The game accommodates two-player capability as well. But, don’t expect that to help you through this messy game. Instead of trying to fit your sorry self on this tiny platform, you have to fit two people, which does not work. One ends up taking a bath in the hot lava…and dying, while you, on the platform, also eventually fall and die because of the existing problems I outlined above. The game is BROKEN, people!

When I asked my gamer husband if he had ever heard of Blades of Vengeance, he said no. Then when he played it and pronounced the game broken, he then walked away, saying, “I can see why I’ve never heard of this…” Bad games have a way of resurrecting from the dead as good examples of what to avoid. Broken games, however, seem to either fade into the sunset, or in the case of Blades of Vengeance, jump into the fiery drink to evaporate forever. Sometimes that ain’t a bad thing.

Blades of Vengeance
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released:  1993

[Review] Alisia Dragoon (Sega) is No Dainty Lady and That’s Fine With Me

Alisia Dragoon.

Heard of it? Me neither. It was a total fluke that I loaded this game as I was actually wanting to play After Burner on the Sega Genesis emulator, but it loaded this one instead. That was the best mistake I made this morning – what a fun game.

To start, I think some pop culture feminists ought to point their “lack of female protagonists” fingers at this game already. Alisia Dragoon is a woman, and, along with her dragon companions with various powers, is the one and only character you play. Alisia is out to save the world from doom. With the help of lightening bolts that shoot from her finger tips, you lead her through Mayan-inspired temple mazes, killing bats, flying objects and evil muscle-bound guys with bad orthodontics in her path so she can get to the end bosses and save her world.

She has four dragons she gets to use to her advantage one at a time. They are interchangeable, and each has its own powers. One spits fire, another throws daggers, and so on. You are able to switch them out depending on the situation.

Alisia is no dainty lady. She walks more like a gladiator in a bikini top than a lady going to the beach- appropriate, since I doubt she’s a woman with any interest in doing hair and nails…She has business to take care of.

Speaking of appearances, the cover design of the game has Alisia looking very different than in the actual game. I don’t know why…but this version must make for fun and popular cosplay:

Overall, the game looks great and has peppy music to match. No doubt about it, this game can be a difficult one to play at first (it took me many tries to get past the first level). But, Alisia Dragoon has staying power. It really is a lot of fun and worth checking out.

Alisia Dragoon
Developer: Game Arts / Publisher: Sega
Released: 1992

[Review] Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister (PC)

I have always been fascinated with violent weather – particularly tornadoes – for as long as I can remember. It must have been my love for the Wizard of Oz that began that obsession…Dorothy getting whisked away to a distant land…Of course, I know full well the impact of a tornado, and that it can do a lot more damage than naively thinking it could gently carry someone away to Oz…

So, when I found a game that gave a hint of storm chasing, I was all over it! In comes Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister, a mystery adventure game for the PC.

Like the Hardy Boys, I have never read a word of a Nancy Drew novel. But, I am aware of Nancy’s reputation – a girl with a penchant for solving mysteries. Never afraid to ask the hard questions. Always getting the baddies. Am I right so far? Add to it a decent, character-driven story, some fun gameplay, and you have the trappings of a half-decent mystery adventure game. Getting warmer?

In Trail of the Twister, there is a contest among storm tracker teams, whose winner will receive a $100 million (!!) to support their research. Nancy goes to investigate what seems to be a case of sabotage in the Tornado Chasing community, where equipment effs up at critical moments, cars won’t start when a storm approaches and accidents come out of nowhere, resulting in injury. The Canute College team, part of the contest, has seen their share of issues, and when one of their aides breaks a leg, Nancy comes in fronting as his replacement (But, surprise! She really is working undercover to find out the saboteur!). Yeah, the story is a little thin….

To start, Trail of the Twister looked great and sounded great. I remember remarking to the hubs after about an hour of gameplay that I was digging the game so far, and I was! The game is character-driven, and the voice acting is spot on. The music is very pleasant and non-obtrusive. Some fun stuff included being given money to buy goods at the corner store, and being able to drive your car to destinations on a map using a GPS. Not a bad gimmick, if only you could control the speed of the car while driving…

Where the game goes off the rails is with the story itself. Nancy is a detective, but in working undercover, you discover she is really the Canute College’s ‘Lil’ Bitch’ Friday. They had this girl running errands all day, with a task list that was about 50 items deep – no kidding. The tasks weren’t that interesting either. The house the team was stationed at has a mouse infestation? Nancy had to go get a mouse trap. She also had to get cheese snacks to lure the mice, but gee, she needed money for that. Time to work more chores to gain money to buy cheese snacks. Hey, Nancy, fix these circuit boards! Get rid of the prairie dog problem! Fix the antennas! Go fly a kite in a thunder storm!

Let me tell you, Nancy was a patient saint through it all. The choices you were given always had Nancy be very “yes sir!” even in the face of some very mean people she had to work for. The characters in the Canute project – Scott, Frosty, Wendy…all total douches (let’s not even talk about how douchy the name “Frosty” is…). In one part, the game had you chasing a storm with Frosty as a passenger. Frosty was SCREAMING at Nancy that she was going the wrong way. Then his camera broke, he hands it to Nancy to fix it, and then blames Nancy (you) for not fixing it fast enough. Then, the whole team blames Nancy for their failure. Man, I think I just got PTSD from a game…

The two areas I wish the game would have focused more on were storm chasing, and DETECTIVE WORK! There really wasn’t much time in the game for either, considering the ticker tape of tasks you were made to do. What was most irritating was being made to trap mice twice, which meant having to collect more money for cheese by doing menial puzzles again. Nothing is more boring than having to repeat tasks. That is just lazy game development. Also, HELLO! This IS Nancy Drew, isn’t it? This was more of a summer job than a case to solve. And with the attitudes of the people in the Canute Team, I couldn’t care less if they won the $100 million. I was actually rooting for the saboteur by the end of it!

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister didn’t blow, it just fell flat by the end. I recommend the first hour of the game, but feel free to stop it thereafter.

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister
Developer: Her Entertainment
Released: 2010