this game blows

[Review] Infernus: Verse 1 (Android)

Imagine waking up in a dark prison cell, not knowing where you are. All you know is your mattress is funkified, the floor hasn’t seen Mr. Clean in years and your neighbour in the cell across the way likes throwing rocks at you. That is the premise of the survival horror game Infernus: Verse 1, which I played on my Asus eeePad Transformer Android tablet. The game is free on Google Play.

The very first thing you see as the game starts is a concrete wall with some sort of stain on it. You can hear the clap of thunder as you scan your new surroundings, and the creepy airy atmospheric music starts. You look around your cell and soon figure out this is no room at the Comfort Inn – time to find your way out! In order to do so, you have to explore your surroundings, pick up items and try to escape.

Infernus: Verse 1 is very short – 4 minutes to be exact. The game looks okay and it tries hard to creep you out with lighting and the airy dungy-basement music… That is, if you can actually play the darn game effectively. My main complaint about this game is the controls. Man, they suck – plain and simple. At one point, I was supposed to put a mirror piece up on a window sill and look to see what is beyond it. I couldn’t, because I was stuck at a weird perspective that I could not get up from.

I restarted the game and tried again several times, and each time I experienced a different problem. One time I could get the perspective right, but then I had to reach down and lift up a tile from the floor. I couldn’t manage that – the game would not detect my finger. Another time I was stuck between the bed and the cell’s bars. In the end, I checked someone’s YouTube tutorial (which looked as though he was also having a difficult time with the controls) just so I could see how the chapter ends already.

Infernus: Verse 1 was frustrating. Too bad: I wanted to see where this was going, but if the controls for part 2 are like part 1, I am not going to bother putting down $0.99 for the sequel. This is not to say others won’t have an issue with the game with their Android tablets, but buyer beware!

Infernus: Verse 1
Developer: Moloten
Released: 2011

Credits: 1. Google Play / 2. st.apps.su

[Review] Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks to Boredom (DS)

Straight up, I never read the Hardy Boys as a kid. I have some idea what they are about – two teen detective bros who solve crimes…what else is there? Well, I did read more into their background…their father is a detective and often allows his boys in on some of his most confidential cases. I suppose this is how we find the boys investigating a whopper of a mystery in The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks game for the DS.

The Romanov family was once a wealthy dynasty in Russia that had many riches, but that had everything taken from them during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Tsar, knowing he would be deposed in short order, supposedly hid his family treasures away, and left clues to their location in paintings he had commissioned, but had also hidden items on the Royal Express – a train which treasure seekers get invited to ride on every year from Paris to St. Petersburg in the hope of uncovering a treasure. And guess what? This year the Hardy Boys get a stab at the mystery!

For starters, it being the Hardy Boys, you would expect this game to be suited for children. I found the game very slow in momentum. The cut scenes are very draggy and unskippable, but thankfully, the dialogue scenes advance with the touch of your stylus. Controls are touchy and at times it’s hard to find the arrows that will allow you to exit rooms. There is no voice acting in Treasure on the Tracks, so gamers would need to have the attention span to read everything. Graphics are simplistic, with barely any animation to speak of. The music is repetitive. In fact, the best looking thing of this game was actually the cover of the case that housed the game.

Let’s talk about the very simplistic mini-games of Treasure on the Tracks. How about repeatedly (read: every chapter) finding ripped up scraps of paper scattered around Paris and Vienna – that’s fun, right? Endlessly finding five similar objects in a picture then joining them by drawing a five-point star between them – fun! Pilfer through strangers’ sleeper cabins looking for clues before the security guard catches you – ooo! Better hurry, or else the mall cop might kick me off the train! The best part was when the boys were bullied by a grey-haired dude called “the Baron” who claimed he was the heir to the Romanov fortune, and using this as a means to get the boys to cook him dinner. Then, you actually had to “make” him dinner, complete with “cutting vegetables” and “stirring the pot”. The boys whip him up a soup, and in the end, in a great lesson in manners, the Baron doesn’t even thank them!

Really, you would be playing Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks for the story, because the little mini-puzzles within the story were repetitive and boring. I couldn’t see any child finding this game fun, interesting or engaging in the least. And I hazard those that have found it fun and interesting haven’t been exposed to the plethora of even better FUN games available for the DS. And to that I say: stick with me kid – you won’t know what hit you!

Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks
Developer: Her Interactive / Publisher: Sega
Released: 2008

Credit: IGN

 

[Review] The Passenger (Android)

I’m starting to think these games for the Android Tablet in the Google Play store are like a book written by Joyce Carol Oates. I watch the trailer (or read the dust jacket as it goes) and am immediately drawn into the game. I put money down, and start to play, only to be disappointed by its execution. This is exactly what I’ve ever gotten out of an Oates novel (no offence to Ms. Oates and fans who like her novels – I love the synopses she weaves on the dust jackets, but end up not liking her actual books). I wonder what attracted me to the game in the first place, but stronger still, I am left feeling like I got suckered.

This is the case with my latest choice, The Passenger, an Android game I played on my Asus eeePad Transformer the other night. What drew me to the game was the beautifully hand-drawn graphics, and the potential for a decent story. But unfortunately, my love for the graphics of this game is where the affair ends.

The Passenger is a dude in a trench coat who, when we first see him, appears to be in the midst of some sort of domestic issue with his family and he is kicked out of his home, forced to ride trains endlessly. Then, like a hobo, he proceeds to hop off trains at certain points where he goes searching aimlessly for stupid stuff and is forced to solve an endless array of dumb puzzles.The dude is a little figure on screen that you give direction to by pressing your finger a few inches ahead of him to make him move. That’s okay, except the little figure moves slower than molasses. So if you get clues on how to solve a puzzle in one scene, but solve the actual puzzle in another, you have to leave that scene, and have your little dude walk…back…three…screens…to get your clue, then have him walk…back to the actual puzzle to solve it. This eats up time and gets on your nerves.

*poke poke poke* I said left, dammit!!

The Passenger, overall, is frustrating – instructions on how to play are given at the start of the game, but as you play, there is no direction on how  you are supposed to go about solving these puzzles. No hidden object scenes, only hunt and peck around the screen where you pick up a shovel…some matches…You are not sure what the point of this story is, and never learn, as this game is easily only 30 minutes long, and then it ends. There is supposed to be a part 2 to the Passenger, but I am not invested in this dude and his story enough, so I doubt I will be buying. $0.99 from the Google Play store was enough of a loss for part 1. My advice – stear clear of this one.

The Passenger
Developer: Loading Home
Released: 2013 (so sez the Google Play store)

Photo credits: 1. Androidgamesroom.com / 2. androidmarket

[Review] The Sanctuary (Android)

Man, there is a ton of crap in the Google Play store. Sometimes you find some golden free finds, but mostly there is a lot of crap. Finding a decent hidden object game on there is like a needle in a haystack. Unfortunately, I have no good news for anyone who decides to download Jarbull’s hidden object game, The Sanctuary, free to download in the Google Play store for android phone and tablet. I know, “what do you want for free?”…I am just glad I didn’t pay a red cent for it, because on preview, the game looks great.

You play John, a man who, while driving in a rain storm, runs into a dark silhouette standing in the middle of the road. He crashes his car, and next thing he knows, he wakes up locked in a dank room. He is then tasked with finding his way out of a labyrinth of locked rooms to find answers to whom this dark silhouette was.

This was the shortest game I have ever played. It took me 20 minutes to finish it on my Asus eeePad Transformer, which must be some kind of record for me. The game was a hunt and peck type of game with hidden object and timed puzzles, which mostly centre around you trying to locate a key to unlock a door. The hidden object games were extremely simplistic. An interesting side part had to do with picking up a shovel, and think to yourself what a good idea it would be to dig up someone’s grave (?!!) to locate a key. At any rate, the game moves so fast, the next thing you know it’s all over.

The one thing that made me want to play the Sanctuary was how great it looked. Some scenes appear to be made with pastels and watercolours. Truly desktop worthy!

Screenshot_2013-06-29-12-04-23   Screenshot_2013-06-29-12-03-28

The game did not play well on my Android tablet. Poking my finger around the scenes made the graphics jump around. That aside, really the worst of it was when the voiceover speaks that you feel like the Sanctuary is seriously taking the piss. I mean, telling me I have to find a key over and over with a voice that sounds like it was run through text-to-speech software made me think, “too bad…” Then, there were the spelling errors within the game that made me suspect the developers of the game actually don’t speak English as a first language.

Telling people to pass up a game that’s free is sometimes like eating bad pizza (even when it’s bad, it’s still good), but truly, I cannot recommend the Sanctuary for Android. It really isn’t great.

The Sanctuary
Developer: Jarbull
Released: Not sure, but could have been 2012

Photo credits: 1. Google Play / 2. Personal Screenshot

[Review] Women’s Murder Club (Nintendo DS): Games of Passionate Housekeeping

Something is cooking at the San Francisco police department’s homicide squad. Bodies are piling up, and it’s up to Lindsay Boxer to solve the cases; a detective who perpetually stays out late partying with her girlfriends. She is meticulous with cleaning up the murder scene before she takes evidence, interrogates people with misinformation, and at the end of a long day, hangs with her lawyer / journalist / forensics friends while they gossip about Lindsay’s latest cases. This is what you have in store while diving into James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion game for the Nintendo DS. Also, if this is the type of plot James Patterson writes, I think his career should be in trouble.

womensmurderclub2

Okay, I admit, that was a cheap shot. To be fair, I am not a James Patterson fan at all. I read When the Wind Blows years ago, and it didn’t leave a good impression on me. I am also not familiar with the series of books that stars four “crime fighting” friends by Patterson that also spun off into a TV series, but whatever. Who am I to pass on a potentially decent game that would combine my love for reading and my enjoyment of hidden object games?

womensmurderclub

Games of Passion is a murder mystery, interspersed with very easy hidden object games. The graphics are nice throughout the game actually. It’s the story itself that, at times, seems confusing, convoluted and convenient and really not based in reality. Case in point: what detective arrives at a crime scene and decides to do some housekeeping, clearing clutter and garbage before picking up evidence? Isn’t that evidence-tampering? I get that this was a ploy to allow players to have some hidden object element, but really – is Lindsay a homicide detective or Molly Maid?

Yeah, that’s just weird…

I don’t know if maybe I have the attention span of a gnat, or that my reading comprehension is off, but you almost need to take notes to remember who did what. Thankfully, Games of Passion is a no-lose game for doofuses like me who can’t figure out what “suspect” left what object where, and who did what. That said, Lindsay would report back to her friends who she suspects, and if you got the suspect wrong, her friends would say, “that doesn’t sound right to me” without being penalized. Whew! I thought for sure I’d be kicked out of the Women’s Murder Club for naming the wrong suspect!

I also need to point one major gameplay flaw – for whatever reason, the game often doesn’t detect when you are selecting an object with your stylus. You have to press sort of next to the item you are trying to select. I have read a few other reviews on this game, and this seems to be a well-known problem with Games of Passion.

Overall, James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion is for very casual gamers who like to read while gaming, and like to play simple hidden object puzzles.

James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion
Developer: THQ / Publisher: Griptonite Games
Released: September 2009

Photo credit: 1. technologytell.com /2. IGN /3. Personal photo