this game blows

[Review] Safecracker (Nintendo DS)

I enjoy me a good puzzle game and I’d like to think the Nintendo DS is built for puzzle games. But, lately, I have to wonder. Just because a game is decent on one device, doesn’t mean it will port well to another.

Case in point, Safecracker. I found this game cheap at EB Games, and it boasted as being the ultimate puzzle challenge. Yeah, I don’t know about ultimate, but I would definitely have to agree with the challenge…

This puzzle game was originally released on the PC in 2006. The story sees you as a bonafide safecracker hired by heirs to a rich uncle’s fortune. You are charged with finding his last will, hidden away in one of many safes locked away in a large property. Each safe is a puzzle to solve, the mansion itself is a labyrinth of corridors, rooms and courtyards. The game showed some promise, but I am here to tell you this game blows. Or at least this version of it blows.

To start, you are given a compass, a magnifying glass, a map of the mansion and arrows to select direction…and it’s all useless. If a directional arrow points straight ahead, and the compass points going North, I expect to go north, not…spin around the room and wind up going east like this game had me going. The last time I took orientation with a compass, that isn’t how that was supposed to work. Second, the map of the mansion was somewhat helpful. A red X on the map indicates where there is a clue to find or a puzzle to solve. But because the navigation sucked, it was difficult to get to an X. Third, there was a toolbox that collected some items, but no journal entry capability. Those notes that I’d find, I had no idea whether I should commit them to memory or not. Lastly, the puzzles provided no instructions as to what you were supposed to do. I don’t mind if the goal is obvious. But, some puzzles had me scratching my head, like this puzzle for example:


I think since I started blogging almost a year and a half ago now, the majority of games I’ve played that were next to no good were games played on the Nintendo DS.  I don’t want to disparage the device itself because I really do enjoy the DS…but, I think often games that are ported to the DS are the problem. Poorly ported seems to be Safecracker’s issue and I wouldn’t mind seeing what the PC version is like.

Needless to say, I do not recommend Safecracker on the Nintendo DS. The search continues for good puzzle games on this device!


Developer: The Adventure Company
2009 (Nintendo DS)


What I Played: Crappy Games in 2013

With the awesome games I played in 2013, you can bet there were some crap ones!

Unfortunately, Android games are heavily represented on this list. I am always trying to find decent games to play on my tablet, but *phew! Some of ’em…stinky! DS games are also on this list. What can I say…developers are trying to make decent casual games. I guess you can’t win ’em all.

But you, gentle reader, can win by taking my advice: Read the reviews to the games below, have a good laugh on me, and AVOID these games!


10. James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion (Nintendo DS)

A detective needs to clean up the murder scene like some maid before she “investigates”…

9. Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park (Nintendo DS)

Nancy goes to investigate a…zzz..oh, sorry, fell asleep there….

8. C.S.I.:Dark Motives (Nintendo DS)

I’d rather be eating candy than play this game…

7. Amazing Race (Wii)

Good ol’ Phil: What the hell were you thinking, Dude?

6. Infernus (Android)

I hated this game…

5. The Sanctuary (Android)

Not a good game…thankfully it’s only 20 minutes long.

4. The Passenger (Android)

*poke *poke *poke [That’s the sound on my finger on my tablet trying to get this passenger moving…]

3. Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard (Android)

Yeah, this image should have been my first clue it was crappy…

2. Art of Murder: Deadly Secrets (PC)

You need microscopic vision to play this game.

1. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (PC)

Bad voice acting, bad graphics, bad plot elements – Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel has it all! There wasn’t a game I played in 2013 that could have possibly topped it. And just under the wire, too – right in time for New Year’s Eve! Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel is the CRAPPIEST game I played in 2013!!

There you have it! Anyone play some really awful games this past year?

[Review] Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (PC)

I have been lead astray by a semi interesting trailer and cheap price on Steam. I mean, that can be the only reason I bought and blew 5 hours on Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel…A morbid title for an adventure game by Russian developers, Akella. The game, based (I’m sure loosely) on the mystery book by the same name (and is also a euro subtitled film) turns a literary murder mystery into a smelly frozen turd-storm of WTF. Sorry, there are no better words to describe this mess.

The opening title shows a picturesque scene of falling snow, white tipped mountains and tall trees. An old beater tries to make its way in the snow to a foreboding hotel called the Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, named after some mountaineer that died (go figure). The driver, Peter, is on vacation from his job as detective with the police. A friend had recommended the place so he decided to check it out. He meets the proprietor, Alec, an older gentleman who loves his hotel, even though there has been some strange occurrences that have been happening. Alec blames the occurrences on a “He”. Of course, Peter can’t leave well enough alone, and goes on a tear, questioning other guests, sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and going so far as breaking into other people’s rooms to find clues. Some weird guy shows up, someone ends up murdered, and someone confesses. If you think that wraps the game up nicely, think again.

You play as Peter, using a mouse and sometimes keyboard to direct him to where you want him to go around the hotel. The hotel itself is big – three floors, a basement and a garage – with plenty of room to explore. This, however, created some problems as you found yourself mindlessly going into rooms that had nothing in them to explore and for the most part, the rooms that did have items at best had one or two items. The clicker would change from arrow to a hand or a magnifier, indicating an action that needs to be taken. With a hotel this big, it was easy to get lost. The game had a map that you can access, but you had to find it on the lobby wall first (which I discovered by accident). Then, once you got it, all you were seeing on the map were rectangular blobs without labels. Needless to say, I didn’t find it terribly helpful.

There are some little mini-games you play as well, like hooking up faulty wiring, siphoning gas, and playing a round of pool to win a lady’s shawl. You can also dance at a party and drink your face off if you wanted to, which was really out of place for a character like Peter who tried to be upstanding and stoic…but then have him cut a rug or bed the attractive married lady guest? Strange.

In another story arc, all these people were waiting in line to use the shower. For a hotel the size of this one, why the heck is there only one working shower??

The background graphics were probably the best thing about Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, but that is about it. The character graphics appeared creepy and moved stiffly. If two characters were moving to the same area in the hotel, they would often phase into each other in some odd glitch. The music was annoying, but thankfully, you could adjust the volume in the settings. The worst thing about this game’s mechanics has got to be the world-class cluster-eff voice-over work. The actors could barely read their lines enough to pass for anything remotely human. Their inflection and intonation, especially that of Alec, were horribly delivered and really detracted from the “seriousness” of the storyline. I swear I heard the script pages rustling in the background as the actors were trying to…de-liver. their…lines?

The game supposedly has 4 different endings depending on how you play the game, and all are as weird as the next. Flying Saucers! A one-armed man! A mysterious suitcase with a battery! Helicopters! Philosophical pondering! I only barely made it to the first ending and have no desire to pursue the others. The ending I got made no sense, almost to the point that I suspect they either panicked that their story was weaksauce and decided to plug in nonsense, OR used the ending to a different game here, thinking, “4:30 on a Friday afternoon…Hmm, close enough – no one will notice! Let’s render this mofo!”

Needless to say, Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel didn’t win any awards with me, and should never be played by ANYONE!

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel
Developer: Akella
Released: 2007

[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] Art of Murder: Deadly Secrets (PC) – Here’s a Secret: It blows

A serial killer has been killing random antique dealers, and it’s detective Nicole Bonnet’s job to find out who. Her job is made that much more difficult as she is made to search through messy rooms for clues to crack the case. It’s just a normal day in hidden object mystery world for Nicole, but pure torture for me.

I could say that Art of Murder: Deadly Secrets had a great story or the music was stellar. But, I won’t…Besides, all of that is meaningless in my book when the gameplay absolutely sucks.

Ever play a hidden object game that gives you x number of items to find in a certain amount of time? These games exist – I don’t come across them too often these days, mind you. Some games even penalize you points if you run out the clock. Art of Murder: Deadly Secrets IS that game, and does it in the most excruciatingly unfair way. Try having to locate 20 items in under two minutes; an hourglass’s sand running out as you play. If the hourglass runs out, all the items you have just found reappear on screen and you are made to locate them AGAIN! Better hope your memory’s good…

What makes this even more brutal is the objects that you are searching for are so small, you can barely see them. Tiny items are on this list such as a pen, a button, a paperclip…I mean, seriously? You don’t have a prayer finding these items in time. There is a hint button to help you along the way, but it is very slow to recharge, so at best you would have one hint per two minutes. You cannot skip through any of these puzzles, so if you can’t get past them the first time, try try again. This format ultimately made me stop the insanity and move on to better games.

Now locate that teeny speck of dust for me…

I can take there being a timer on a hidden object puzzle (even though I don’t like them) but to make one click through every object AGAIN like it is some sort of memory game is ridiculous, and NOT FUN! And in my opinion, if it’s not fun it’s not worth playing. Detective Nicole Bonnet will be solving this one on her own.

Art of Murder: Deadly Secrets
Publisher: City Interactive
Released: 2011

[Review] The Tudors Game (PC)

I know sometimes hidden object games really make it too easy to hate them. Developers rush them and take the lazy way just so the game can be released and start to make money.

Let’s take the Tudors game I just played on PC. Here is a game originally priced at $19.99 at Walmart; sticker is still on the package. Of course I didn’t pay full price for it, but someone obviously did in order for me to get my hands on it. I wonder who the original owner was…were they someone who loves hidden object games? Maybe they love both casual games and the Tudors TV show. I wonder how far they got with the game. And finally, I wonder if this person threw the game across the room in disgust that they spent this much money on such a piece of crap. I would say the Tudors is a strong argument for piracy, except even getting this game for free is a waste of a download.

The Tudors game is based on the TV show. I never watched the show when it aired, so I can’t speak to the validity of storyline or characters. If the game’s story is any impression, I don’t have a prayer watching it – that is, unless I need a nap…The game is boring! Hidden object scenes are very blurry, and objects to be found are really small. Some of the mini-games’ instructions are confusing, but thank goodness there was a skip button! Fans expecting to get some awesome acting in this will be very disappointed…There is none to be found; simply slates with the image of the actors and a lot of text to read. The best part of the game had to be the music which was creepy, and I could have sworn I had heard it before in Shiver: the Vanishing Hitchhiker (the Tudors isn’t scary, is it?…).

Take a big old pass on the Tudors and spend you money on better games, unless you are suffering from insomnia…

The Tudors
Developer: Merscom
Released: 2009

[Review] Vote Me Off of Shutter Island (PC), Please!

Does anyone remember the movie, Shutter Island? I do…I didn’t like it that much. And I usually enjoy watching Leo DiCaprio. I certainly appreciate most of what Mark Ruffalo has done. But Shutter Island didn’t really leave a lasting impression. So, why would I get my hands on the game based on the movie? Well, Shutter Island was creepy, and I happen to like creepy games…so I was hoping for a creeped out good time, when I played it on PC. I have to say that creepy was not in the cards with this one.


In Shutter Island, you play Leo’s character – a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of a woman from a mental institution situated on an island. You and Mark Ruffalo go from room to room, from hidden object scene to hidden object scene, collecting sledge hammers and file folders. What this has to do with anything, is anyone’s guess; It certainly does not move the plot of the game that much. But, while we are on the plot, the game does recognize DiCaprio’s descent into madness, hiding it behind wicked migranes that cause him to hallucinate. You play DiCaprio in first person, so in some scenes, you see what one would see with a migrane – spots in you vision, red capillaries – while having to search for items in a hidden object scene. That play device was quite interesting – one I haven’t come across too often in my gaming experience. Unfortunately, I found myself on the receiving end of my own migrane whilst playing this game.

I wished more for Shutter Island. The cover touts the game as an adventure game. It isn’t. The game tells you what to do every step of the way, and there is no adventure aspect at all. The game isn’t scary or creepy either. The only thing remotely creepy was the music, and I am certain I’ve heard that same music in another game before. As uninteresting as the plot was, I found myself moving from one hidden object scene to the next in the hope that something would develop further, only to discover more of the same. And while we are discussing the hidden object scenes, they were poorly rendered, blurry, and each object is teeny tiny. You can always guarantee that the object you are searching for is hiding behind a big piece of furniture with only a corner of it sticking out – not fair!

That’s a great question, Mark Ruffalo…

I am guessing the game didn’t get the rights to Leo’s likeness, because I got to see actors like Ben Kingsley and Mark Ruffalo in the game, but Leo’s image wasn’t there. Perhaps he knew this wouldn’t be up to his standards. It certainly wasn’t up to mine.

Shutter Island
Publisher: City Interactive
Released: 2010

[Review] The Amazing Race Game (Wii) Is Not Amazing, Nor a Race. Discuss.

I picked up the Amazing Race game for the Wii at EB Games for $9.99. Man, I feel robbed.

I didn’t read the back of the game thoroughly – I thought I’d be playing this game solo, but turns out this game is meant for two to four players. No problem! I’ll just play the game with the hubs! That should be fun, right? The game is also from Ludia, the developers that brought you the Where’s Waldo franchise for the iPod and PC. Loved that game! This should be good! And this game is hosted by Phil Keoghan – that same dude that hosts the Amazing Race on TV. I love Phil!

But, all the love went out the window when we loaded the game. From the get-go, the Amazing Race theme starts up with montages of couples who are “racing” with you – just like the beginning of the Amazing Race TV show. The couples were animated of course, and in some instances very poorly; we weren’t sure if some of the guys were girls, or the girls were guys. It was cheesy, but figured maybe it was supposed to be…?

The Amazing Race game is like the TV show where you are buddied up, competing in a race around the world; the goal being to be first at various checkpoints. The last team to get to the checkpoint is out of the race. Along the way you are made to play mini games. The games, frankly, sucked, and their instructions were very poorly written and hard to interpret. There were two of us that went to college, and both of us couldn’t figure some of the instructions out. Even then, we just began to play the games to see if we did better, and for the most part we did. But you couldn’t deny the games sucked. In one game, you are throwing tomatoes at people. You aim on a target and use the Wii-mote to throw a virtual tomato at them. The mechanics of this game didn’t exactly work too well – sometimes you couldn’t lock on to your target, or the target just disappears. I mean, Nintendo got this right in their Wii Sports franchise. Couldn’t the Ludia people pay the Nintendo people a nice meal and cocktails to get their secrets to the “throw at the target” game?

And don’t expect this game to be fast-paced. In one instance, the screen shows your team and a competitor fly through the air between two points, and that’s it… for a minute…. and nothing else happens!

Now, imagine staring at this for over a minute. Two white torpedoes flying through the air. Fun!

The game has you and your partner play together, but the hubs and I weren’t sure why. Often, one of us was left to sit there watching while the other did everything. In fact, I’d hazard that a second player really wasn’t needed at all. You were also able to play with four people, but after playing the two-player, I couldn’t possibly subject two more of my friends to this tripe.

The game was from 2010, which was not that long ago! It looked terrible, and played worse. I seriously think Ludia was taking the piss with this game – or totally shitting on a half decent TV show, I’m not sure which…

The Amazing Race (Wii)
Developer: Ludia / Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: 2010

Credits: Walmart

[Review] Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard (Android) a Sinking Ship

A media tycoon contacts you to investigate a ship that set sail with a family in tow in 1979, but that since went missing up the Amazon. As you look for clues you discover there is a mystery that involves a very disturbed child that possibly murdered her family. You then have to cut through weeds and search through the same hidden object scenes to find the same clues and items to help you find out what happened. That is the premise of the free version of Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard, a game I played on my Android tablet.

Cursed Onboard had promise. From the beginning, the voice-acting was top-notch, the music was atmospheric, setting the tone for a creepy good time, and a story that included a missing ship whet my appetite for a decent game. But, the game didn’t live up to expectations. Hidden object puzzles – which looked like something a high school graphic design class would create – were repetitive and not challenging; and what continues to challenge my eeePad Transformer Android tablet, the gaming controls were awkward and sometimes unresponsive.

I have played other games with the premise of missing/ ghost ships (calling the Mystery of the Mary Celeste), and Cursed Onboard was uninspiring. There are better ones out there.

Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard
Developer: Urchin Games / Publisher: G5
Released: 2013 (Android)

[Review] CSI: Dark Motives (DS) – Buy a Mr. Big Instead

I have just discovered I’m not cut out to work for Catherine, Grissom, Sara and the rest of whatever they have going on in the crime lab on CSI: Las Vegas. For starters, I think I would be arrested for murdering everyone I had to work with out of complete and absolute frustration, let alone the lack of help I received while playing the TV show to gaming crossover for the Nintendo DS, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Dark Motives.


People, I didn’t even get past the first case. I am usually a little more “die hard,” sticking it through a little longer (like to the end of a chapter), but this time, I just couldn’t do it. To borrow from the Mr. Big chocolate bar slogan, when you suck this bad, they call you Mr. And let me tell you, Dark Motives Mr. Sucked.

Just go buy yourself a Mr. Big. You will have a better time, I promise you.

When I fired up Dark Motives, I was half expecting the ubiquitous Who theme song to start. Instead, the game gives you some intense synth poppy soundtrack. For the most part, though, the game is eerily silent. No talking, no cool tunes. Only a “street” soundtrack like what you would hear in the background on Sesame Street. But, meh, I’ve played these silent-types before; no big deal.

In the game, you are the n00b crime scene investigator, partnered with Catherine and the rest. You are introduced to them all in rapid succession, whereby the game gives you a written transcript of each character’s background on the bottom screen, making you read it quickly as it scrolls by. This is my first complaint. If you have a reading disorder, this game will be a struggle for you, as many scenes give instructions, or recant stories pertinent to the game in a rapid scrolling transcript, which could not be stopped or slowed down. To make things even more interesting, some of the testimonies have combined a scrolling transcript on the bottom screen with live action animation on the top screen, making observing both screens at the same time physically impossible. I felt doomed from the start playing this, not being able to re-read or watch any of it and hoped that sooner or later I’d learn what I missed as I went along.

The game has you go to a crime scene, investigate and take samples, as well as interview “suspects”. In the first case, there was this stunt dude who was performing a motorcycle trick, but failed and crashed his bike. He was laid up in hospital. The CSI Team was called in to investigate. Every piece of evidence I collected seemed circumstantial, and the people I interviewed, including the cyclist, wondered why I was there. They all thought it was a big ass accident. Sooner or later, I was thinking the same thing and quickly ran into roadblocks. The game lets you ask for help, but the only hint I got was to investigate further (yeah, thanks…). At one point in my interviewing, I was to go to a different location to interview some other guy, but this location was never available to me. I eventually consulted a walkthrough, and apparently, at the point I was at in the game, I should have been able to interview this other guy. So, WTH is going on here? Hold that thought.

Another complaint: The game is supposed to allow you to analyse the data collected, but the mechanics on how to do that are hidden in menus. Trying to follow what they want you to do is like trying to pass an exam. I didn’t manage it. Is it just me?

Apparently not. Once I decided to quit CSI: Dark Motives after hours of trying to make it work, I went to see what others thought of it. Several had similar complaints about gameplay. Others said that if you didn’t investigate the crime scene or interview suspects in the right order, you will hit a dead end very quickly and will not be able to go on, forcing you to restart the whole game. Man, I hate games that do that!

Really, what was I expecting from Dark Motives? I mean, I only spent $3 on this game, so I’m not out much at all…I guess the price of a Mr. Big when you factor in taxes. Too bad I’m off chocolate bars…It would seem eating one and then having to work it off on the treadmill would have been time better spent than playing this game.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Dark Motives (DS)
Developer: Powerhead Games, 369 Interactive / Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: November 2007

Credit: 1. Baixegames 2. Valuevalet