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April 27, 2014 4:49 am  #1


StuSue's Demo Reviews

Here is an alphabetical list of demo reviews that I've added, along with their post number so they can be easily found. 

Each review will have my recommendation at the end, but the recommendation will only be following the demo and, as I'm sure we've all experienced, games don't always live up to their demo.  I'll do a full recommendation for any game I complete in my other review thread, which is reviews of completed games.


Games recommended following the demo:

#   2     9 Elephants  (puzzle)  -  not yet available at BFG, only at GameHouse
# 18     Awakening 6: The Redleaf Forest CE    (SE, CE if you want the end of the saga and the garden)
# 22     Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Gardens SE
#   9     Forgotten Books: The Enchanted Crown CE    (but at this stage, SE not CE)
# 15     Grim Tales 6: The Vengeance CE    (SE, not sure about CE as short bonus - 30-60 mins)
# 14     Haunted Manor: Painted Beauties CE    (SE - not CE as bonus only 20 mins)
# 31     Heart of Moon: The Mask of Seasons    (M3 with some other minigames  -  loved it!)
#   7     Magic Heroes: Save Our Park  (M3)
# 27     Midnight Mysteries 6: Ghostwriting CE    (SE - not CE as bonus only 35 mins and not very good)
# 13     Mystika 2: The Sanctuary  (M3)
# 20     Myths of the World 4: Of Fiends and Fairies    (SE - CE looks promising but not enough info)
# 21     Reflections of Life: Tree of Dreams - CE    (SE - at this stage not the CE)
#   8     Royal Envoy 3 - CE (or SE)  (TM)
# 19     Shadow Wolf Mysteries: Under the Crimson Moon    (SE, not CE)
# 24     Spirit of Revenge: Cursed Castle    (SE, CE - MG long, 1 hr bonus, hard morphs, easy collectibles)
#   4     Tales From The Dragon Mounain 2: The Lair
# 16     Tales of Terror: House on the Hill    (SE only - CE bonus only 30 mins)
# 28     The Far Kingdoms: Sacred Grove Solitaire SE   (Golf Solitaire)
#   3     The Secret Order 3: Ancient Times CE    (SE recommended, not CE)


Games only recommended with reservation or only if you like the demo:

# 17     Haunted Hotel: Ancient Bane CE    (SE only if you like the demo - definitely not the CE)
# 10     Lost Souls: Timeless Fables CE    (SE with reservation)
# 11     Royal Detective: Queen of Shadows    (SE with reservation)
#   6     Witch's Pranks: Frog's Fortune    (but only a limited recommendation)


Games not recommended following the demo:

#   5    Deponia: The Puzzle
# 12    Hope Lake
# 23    The House on Usher


 

Last edited by stusue (July 11, 2018 11:13 am)


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
 

April 27, 2014 5:03 am  #2


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                           9 Elephants

Producer/Developer:    Microids (Anuman Interactive) and Infernal Brothers

Genre:                           Puzzle  -   a fun game that really gets you thinking!

Released:                     GameHouse - 23 April 2014

Currently available at:   GameHouse

Wow, what a weird game!  It's a puzzle game but there's a story behind it.  A professor is missing in Paris and his daughter has arrived from Germany to find him.  You go from place to place in Paris as they're opened up (and so far I know all of the places well http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
), talking to one person in each scene, trying to find information about your father's disappearance, and each one will give you a puzzle to solve before helping you, sometimes 2.  With each correct answer you're given 10 gears and, when you have enough to complete that level (Level 1 needs 80, Level 2 100), you go to the hotel and the man there gives you a mechanical mouse that you follow to the next talking Elephant, which also gives you a puzzle.  You have a talking cat along for the ride for comic relief.  Told you it was weird!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png


One drawback is that there are only 3 player profiles - the daughter, the professor and the cat - and you can't add your name.  I think they're just Player 1, Player 2 and Player 3.  So only 3 people can play with their own profile.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/bored.png


Graphics:    really basic - Art Deco rough cartoon graphics of Paris - but suit the quirkiness of the game 
Music:         really upbeat and quirky
Gameplay:  a bit like City of Fools in that you run around Paris, talking to people and doing puzzles for them

The Puzzles:

The game is broken up into 9 chapters plus a bonus chapter.  At the end of each of the 9 chapters you meet up with one of the 9 Elephants (who all stand upright and talk).  There are a total of 235 puzzles and each puzzle can be replayed from the main menu once you've answered it correctly.  You get 10 gears for each puzzle you do/answer correctly and, when you have enough for that level, you find an elephant, do that puzzle, then move on to the next chapter and it all starts again, with more and more places being opened up.

The numbers of puzzles per chapter are as follows:

Chapter 1  =  Puzzles 1-16
Chapter 2  =  Puzzles 17-36
Chapter 3  =  Puzzles 37-63
Chapter 4  =  Puzzles 64-93
Chapter 5  =  Puzzles 94-123
Chapter 6  =  Puzzles 124-153
Chapter 7  =  Puzzles 154-183
Chapter 8  =  Puzzles 184-203
Chapter 9  =  Puzzles 204-219
Bonus       =  Puzzles 220-235

If you get any of the puzzles incorrect (as I did http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/embarrassed.png
) that puzzle is locked until you have enough rolls of film to try again.  You have to look at the map and run around to all those places that show a roll of film to - hopefully - be quick enough to click on the roll when it appears and thus accumulate enough to be able to try a puzzle again.  Different puzzles require different numbers of rolls of film to be able to try again.

The puzzles themselves range from:

  *  the one where you have to move strings apart so that they don't overlap (which I love)
  *  to filling a square with different shapes (I forget what they're called but they're not my favs)
  *  putting inventions in chronological order (eg. train, boat, hot air balloon)
  *  putting things in order (water to right of apple juice, champagne not next to beer, etc)
  *  riddles, logic questions, mathematical questions, etc. 

Some of the answers are purely logical, some seem difficult at first but actually have a really easy solution if you read the puzzle correctly, some are like a dead body in a room that's locked from the inside.  Most you have to read very carefully to find the key. 

Even though all the puzzles are linked by the story, it's the sort of game you can pick up and just do a couple of puzzles when you have a few spare minutes, and then you can choose your puzzles as you start unlocking them.

My recommendation following the demo:    http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png


After having only completed the first level and almost at the end of the second, I am cautiously recommending this game.  I won't give it a full recommendation until I've completed it.  It would be a great game for a PCC, so let's hope it gets to BFG soon!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/tongue.png

 


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

April 28, 2014 3:46 am  #3


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                           The Secret Order 3: Ancient Times CE

Producer/Developer:    Sunward Games

Genre:                           HOPA

Released:                     BFG - 27 April 2014

Currently available at:   BFG


Note:  Although this is the third in the series and it follows on from the second one, there's a short recap of the previous game at the beginning so you don't need to have played the previous 2 games before playing this one.


The Story:

You have been summoned to the headquarters of the Order of the Griffin, but the place is in a state of chaos when you arrive. The artifacts you recovered in your last adventure have become unstable, breaking down reality and trapping your father! Now you must travel back in time to destroy the artifacts before the reaction destroys the world. Can you track down the mysterious kingdom where the artifacts were made and save the future from destruction? Hop aboard the Royal Griffin to find out in this thrilling Hidden Object Puzzle adventure game!

The Collector's Edition includes:

    *    Save Aeronheart from a dangerous force in the bonus game!
    *    Gorgeous wallpapers and concept art
    *    Replayable puzzles and mini-games

    *    An available Strategy Guide


The Gameplay:

Diary:    Notes and Objectives - if you click on an objective it will show you the relevant info in Notes - what a great idea!
Gameplay:    Usual HOPA gameplay
Graphics:    Superb - used software developed by Artifex Mundi
Hint:    Directional - you have to find it first
Modes:    3 - Casual, Advanced, Expert - Expert only mode with zero sparkles but has a HOP penalty, no active zones indicated and slow Hint and Skip recharge
Map:    Jump with thumbnail scenes - actives zones indicated in Casual and Advanced modes
Music:    Good but often none, just ambient sounds like seagulls, which seems the current trend
Tutorial:    Automatic but you can choose to skip it
Voiceovers:    Really good with great accents and lip syncing

Companion:    Baby griffin - you have to hatch her then she imprints on you and flies up to get things you can't reach - like a lot of other games - I didn't find her so cute, unfortunately, not like some other games' companions, like the cat in Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride or the baby dragon in Bridge to Another World: Burnt Dreams.

HOPs:

    *    Optional Mah-jongg
    *    Interactive list with multiple interactive objects and sometimes needing multiple interactions
    *    Crystal clear but very small font used for object list and some objects small
    *    Came across one mini, unexpected silhouette HOS
    *    Finding one object opens something else that has another object in it
    *    Not so easy - eg. you can pick up a pencil but can't use it until you've opened a book

HOPs in main game  =  10
HOPs in bonus          =    4

Minigames/Puzzles:

There are a lot more puzzles than HOPs in both the main game and the bonus.

So far easy-medium difficulty. 

I loved the Codex minigame/puzzle, which was easy but a lot of fun.  You click on an object to see what it needs, then find whatever it is to make something happen so that the prince can kiss his princess.  It's like a puppet show in a book - very hard to describe.

Puzzles in main game  =  28
Puzzles in bonus          =  13


The Collector's Edition:

Morphing Objects:    None

Collectibles:

12 each of gold dragons, amethyst griffins, turquoise unicorns - the ones I found were easily spotted in zoom-in areas but I read that some weren't so easy to see.  You get separate statues for finding them all in the achievements.

There's an achievement for collecting 6 runes but I assume they're part of the game not separate collectibles.

Achievements:

    *    Displayed in a beautiful room
    *    Not many - only 22 - gameplay and usual earned ones
    *    Performance-based trophies - only 4 and very easy to achieve
    *    Story-based medals
    *    Statues for 3 collectibles
    *    5 unlocked once you've finished the main game but all story-based

CE Extras:

Strategy Guide:    Partially available in demo
Wallpapers:    17 - you can view them in demo

The following are only available after you've completed the game:

Game Art
Mini-Games:    Replayable HOPs and minigames
Movies
Soundtrack

CE versus SE - Bonus Chapter:    From what I read and from what I was told, the main game ends as dramatically as it starts and it has a good ending.  There's a hint of what comes next but that's not what the bonus is, so maybe that's a hint about the next game in the series.  The bonus chapter is a separate story and is a good one.  I wasn't told how long it was but, from what I was told, I assume it's the usual 1 to 1-1/4 hours.


My Recommendation Following the Demo:   

After having completed the completed the demo I definitely recommend the game but I'm tending towards the SE, not the CE:

    *    Seems short bonus chapter (the usual hour?)
    *    Easy-to-spot collectibles that you collect for nothing more than an achievement 
    *    Boring achievements - almost all story-based - 4 easy-to-get, boring performance-based
    *    No morphing objects
    *    Nothing to tempt me in the CE Extras

I'll wait to see if anyone else actually reviews after they've finished the entire game plus bonus to see if they have anything to add about the bonus and its length, and to see what All About Casual Game says in its review.  However, if I'd had another CE I wanted to get I would have been tempted to get the CE as I really liked the demo.
 

Last edited by stusue (April 28, 2014 4:08 am)


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

April 28, 2014 11:34 am  #4


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                           Tales From The Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair

Producer/Developer:    Cateia Games

Genre:                           Adventure/Puzzle

Released:                     GameHouse - 28 March 2014
                                      BFG - 29 April 2014
                                  

Currently available at:   BFG and GameHouse,  as well as Cateia Games


Note:  This is an HD game but you can choose whether or not you want to play it in HD, depending on your computer.


The Story:

It has been years since brave Mina Lockheart defeated Lord Strix, but the spirits are restless and the dark shadows are rising once again! Lord Strix is back and breeding a new army to enslave all creatures from the Dragon Mountains! Now it’s up to Mina and her best friend Malik to travel to distant parts of the world collecting clues that will lead them to a hidden wasteland - Lord Strix's lair. Discover new and exciting locations and meet unique characters to help you along your journey. But hurry! Lord Strix gets stronger by the minute!

    *    Explore many unique fantasy locations
    *    Meet mythical creatures on your journey
    *    Solve dozens of puzzling mini-games
    *    Bright and colorful fantasy atmosphere


The Gameplay:

Companion:    None
Diary:    Notes, Help (cursors, etc.), Achievements and Game Statistics (time, total clicks, hints used, etc.)
Gameplay:    Adventure with lots of easy puzzles (in demo) - no HOSs
Graphics:    Superb adventure-style - 3D background with 2D people
Hint:    Directional - there's an achievement for not using it (I did but it didn't register in diary)
Modes:    3 - Casual, Adventure, Challenge
Map:    None
Music:    Very atmospheric
Tutorial:    Optional
Voiceovers:    Really good with lip-synced characters at bottom of the screen - with fast click
Walk Indicator:    Shows available exits from the scene - you can turn it on and off at will

Minigames/Puzzles:    30

I only played half the demo as I didn't want to spoil it for when I play it.  Those few puzzles I came across were all very easy.  Mostly finding symbols somewhere and then using those symbols in a puzzle.  There is also a lot of inventory use that I found more challenging.  However, from what I read, there are also some harder puzzles.  I suppose I'll comment on that once I've finished the game.

Collectibles:    20

You can collect 20 stone dragons.  However, I came across at least one stone dragon - that looked exactly like the ones you collect - that was part of the decoration and so not a collectible.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png
  Another reviewer found that annoying; I found it fun.  I think I found 2 and they're very big and easily seen.  Whether that continues only time will tell.

Achievements:    12

The achievements are nearly all performance based - listen to all dialogues, several for collecting the stone dragons, for not skipping minigames, etc - a couple game based - 2 for completing the game in different modes.  There's even one for finishing the entire game without using the Hints!  And there's no SG or walkthrough!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/shocked.png
  However, I did use it in the demo to speed things up a bit and it didn't register in the diary, which shows you stats like that.

Combiner (inventory use):

Just like in Black Rainbow (not yet available at BFG), this game also uses a Combiner.  If you have several pieces of an object in your inventory, or if several inventory objects need to be combined, when you click on the location where you need to use/combine these objects, a ring of small circles containing silhouettes of each object or part of an object will surround the location and you have to put the inventory object in the correct circle.  The object will then either be put together and placed in the location, or, if several objects need to be used together to do an action, that action will automatically be done for you once the last object is placed.

Statistics in Diary:

Also just like in Black Rainbow (not yet available at BFG), the diary contains your game statistics, for example:

    *    your game time
    *    how many times you've read the diary
    *    your total number of clicks
    *    how many hints you've used
    *    how many items you've found
    *    how many stone dragons you've found, etc.


My Recommendation Following the Demo:   

I loved the half of the demo that I played and stopped there so I didn't spoil the experience when I played the game, although I'm going to play the first one first as, of course, it's on my Games That Are Impatiently Waiting to be Played list.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/embarrassed.png
  But I loved this one so much, especially the adventure graphics (brilliant) and gameplay that I got it straight away.

So I definitely recommend this game!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png


I'll post a full review once I've completed the game.


ETA:  I got Dreamscapes mixed up with Black Rainbow, which has the exact same gameplay, exact same diary, exact same Combiner.  I started playing Black Rainbow straight after Dreamscapes last week and it wasn't until I continued it last night that I realised I'd gotten them confused.  And I love Black Rainbow!!!!  I didn't want to stop playing last night but had to eventually go to bed.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cry.png
  Black Rainbow isn't yet available at BFG but I'm sure it will be soon as they have other Cateia games, like this one, which GameHouse got a month prior to BFG.

 

Last edited by stusue (April 29, 2014 1:15 am)


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

April 29, 2014 7:37 am  #5


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                           Deponia: The Puzzle

Producer/Developer:    Daedalic Entertainment

Genre:                           Puzzle

Released:                     BFG - 30 April 2014
                                  
Currently available at:   BFG,  as well as Daedalic Entertainment


The Game:

Deponia: The Puzzle offers a completely new puzzle-experience and will prove to be challenging for skilled puzzle solvers. Try to combine the various pieces of 96 puzzle backgrounds set in the world of Deponia.

Can you get 3 stars on each puzzle? Play different game modes including “Search & Find” and “Drag & Drop”. Chose between various difficulty settings and rotate the board in order to solve the puzzle from a different angle!

With more than 100 pieces per puzzle and fun surprises along the way, Deponia: The Puzzle is sure to be a hit with those that love a puzzle challenge!

    *    96 puzzle backgrounds to complete
    *    Time-based puzzling with 'Search & Find' and 'Drag & Drop' mode
    *    Flip and rotate puzzles to solve from a different angle
    *    Try to earn 3 stars on each level!



I'm sorry but my experience for the little I could bear to play the demo wasn't what it says in the info for the game.  It sounds like it's jigsaw puzzles and I suppose the 6 or so I played were but I couldn't find any way to change the difficulty level or anything like that.  The only options I found were to turn the music on/off and to turn the countdown ticking on/off - and boy was that nerve-wracking, trying to find the stupid picture that went where it was indicated with the countdown ticking going on and pictures dropping to the bottom if you took too long.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/worried.png


There are maybe 8 or 10 different groups of games on the main page - from the games Deponia I, Deponia II and Deponia III.  I own all three but have only played the first half of the first one as when I got it my mind was really not working and all I was doing was hitting the Hint buttom over and over again, which sort of eliminated all enjoyment from the game, so I've been waiting for my mind to get itself back together so I can play it.  Anyway, only the first one is available at the start and the 6 puzzles or so I played were just finding and putting the correct pieces in the indicated square while the timer counted down - which I hated.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/bored.png
  There are maybe around 12 pieces per picture but they were so hard to pick the correct one as it wasn't all that obvious, at least for me.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/embarrassed.png
  And that was it.  I couldn't find anything else and I couldn't stand playing another single one of these timed puzzles to find out what else was offered.  Life's too short to willingly submit myself to that sort of torture.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nerdy.png


It was initially released in early March as an iOS/Android touchscreen game and I think it's much more suited to that.  There are also absolutely no instructions and everything is just pictures.  So you may be able to find your way around better than I did as everything for me was just trial and error - even how to play the first puzzle.   There are no instructions whatsoever that I could find. 

If anyone actually enjoys it and gets to find out what else is offered please let me know.  Not that I'd ever finish completing the first ones to even get to anything else.  It may be much better on a touchscreen, for which it was designed.


My Recommendation Following the Demo:   

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/shocked.png
 

You couldn't pay me enough to play this game.  I found it stressful and nerve-wracking and only managed to persevere for about the first 6 puzzles. 

I'd still recommend everyone demo it as someone may actually like it and find it fun.  But it will be deleted from my Game Manager as soon as I've posted this review.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/bored.png

 


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

May 1, 2014 10:04 am  #6


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                               Witch's Pranks: Frog's Fortune

Producer/Developer:     Shaman Games

Genre:                              HOPA

Released:                         BFG - 1 May 2014
                                  

The Story:

Once upon a time, an evil witch grew tired of the darkness and jealousy that festered in her bitter soul. Unbetrothed and desiring to wed a prince, the witch grew more envious by the day of the beautiful princesses to whom all the princes were engaged. One day, the witch vowed that all who rejected her affections should be turned into frogs, and she cast a spell that transformed all the princes in the land! Return the bewitched to their brides, cure the spell with the kiss of love and restore the happily-ever-afters to your most beloved fairytales in Witch's Pranks: Frog's Fortune!

    *    Picturesque locations with beautiful art
    *    Charismatic 3D characters and audacious humor
    *    3 difficulty levels and dozens of brain-twisters



I only played about 30 minutes of the demo and so this demo review is only based on that. 

It opens with a bang as the opening scene is amazing.  Crystal clear animation in a cutscene - how rare is that?  It's really funny but in the 30 mins I played super easy and very childish (but I'm not suggesting it's only for kids) with huge objects and so brightly coloured that you'd need sunglasses to play.  Everything is super sized, even what's written in the diary (which is parchments) and in the witch's diary.

It's also very funny and the poor prince frogs, trapped by the witch, are so adorable and you really feel their despair.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cry.png
  At one point I got a newsletter that went into the diary and at the bottom it says, "You cannot unsubscribe from the newsletter, though you can try."  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png


Everything except the Back button (with a curly arrow on it) are at the top and is in the same zany cartoon graphics as the rest of the game.  I personally prefer to have it all at the bottom.  At least one scene is scrollable but I don't know why they bothered as it barely scrolls any distance at all to the left and right and revealed nothing.

It's based on fairytales and, in the little that I played, I came across 2 fairytales - the main one with the witch is The Frog Prince, and the second one I came across was Sleeping Beauty.

Settings

    *    Music Volume, Sound Volume, Ambient Volume, Voice Volume 
    *    Full Screen
    *    Individual Cursor
    *    Select Mode  (here you can choose from the 3 modes)


The Gameplay:

Companion:    None
Diary:    Notes and Achievements - everything is written in a really huge font - I didn't like it
Gameplay:    Typical HOPA
Graphics:    Superb - crystal clear in a creepy, blindingly colourful, over-the-top, zany cartoon style
Hint:    Directional - super fast refill even in the second of 3 modes
Modes:    3 - Regular, Advanced, Expert
Map:    Didn't notice one
Music:    Great
Tutorial:    Optional
Voiceovers:    Really good

HOSs

I only came across one and it was a super easy FRAG.  There were only half a dozen objects - jewels - and they were all only broken up into 2 pieces and all the pieces were so huge and so brightly coloured that even a blind person would be able to spot them.  You then had to place them on the witch's diary to open it but you didn't even have to find the correct spot - you just had to click on the inventory item once you'd finished it, then simply click anywhere on the diary cover and the jewel was automatically put in the correct spot.  I would certainly hope the HOSs got a bit more difficult as the game progressed.

Minigames/Puzzles:   

I only played half the demo and only came across a couple, which were all very easy.  However, even though the first one was easy, it was an interesting triangle slider puzzle that took a bit of time to move the pieces around to the correct spots.  I really enjoyed it.  You can skip all the puzzles, however, unless they get a lot harder I don't think you'd need to.  You can either work them out yourself or click on the ? at the top for instructions.

Collectibles:    None

Achievements:    12 in the demo

There are 4 princes to be released, but I only saw 2 lots of 6 achievements in the diary, one lot of 6 for each of 2 fairytales, each on a separate page.  5 were automatic gameplay ones, with 1 in each being for solving all puzzles in that fairytale without skipping.  So there may be more lots of 6 achievements in the full version of the game.

Once you've found and released a prince he's put in one of the jars in Achievements found on the main menu page.  You can click on him and he goes to the big, flat stone in the middle of the pond and then you can click on some options (2 for the first prince) and he will do whatever that action is, like take a bow.  You can also save each one as an avatar, which I thought was a great idea!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png



My Recommendation Following the Demo:   

I found the graphics and animations superb, although I found the graphics a tad too colourful and everything a bit big, which would make it a fantastic game to play with young kids.  I also found the bit I played too easy, although it was a lot of fun.  It's the sort of game I'd love to play but won't buy, so I'll be looking out for it at GameHouse so I can play it with my FunPass.

I'd recommend this game for anyone with little kids or those who want a super easy (at least in the demo), really brightly coloured, fun game with amazing graphics and cutscenes, or for anyone who loves cartoon fairytale games. 

I wouldn't recommend this game for anyone who likes dark, atmospheric, challenging games.
 


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What you're doing today is important
because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

May 2, 2014 9:10 am  #7


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                               Magic Heroes: Save Our Park

Producer/Developer:     AnaWiki Games and Retro Style Games

Genre:                              M3

Released:                         BFG - 2 May 2014
                                  

Other Games by AnaWiki Games:

  ***    Mystery Riddles
  ***    Seven Seas Solitaire
  ***    Arizona Rose and the Pirate's Riddles
  ***    Avalon Legends Solitaire
  ***    Runes of Avalon

    *    Dress-Up Pups
    *    The Perfect Tree
    *    Soccer Cup Solitaire

***  =  those games I own/have played and loved


The Story:

A mysterious but well-loved old lady everyone just calls “Granny” has been living in the park for longer than anyone can remember. Now, the park has fallen into disarray and the city has decided to sell the land off to a greedy real estate developer to be turned into condos. Poor Granny is going to lose her home, and the neighborhood is going to lose its park… unless you can help.

Magic Heroes to the rescue! To save the park, you’ll have to show the local residents just how great their green space can be, by cleaning up, landscaping and decorating it until it’s the best park in the country! To do that, you’ll need some money, but Granny has a plan.

Match Granny’s magic trinkets through 148 levels of puzzling action and raise the funds you need to transform the rundown park into a wonderland and rally the neighbors to come to its defense. It’s magic and match-3 at their best!


    *    148 levels!
    *    Choose between swap, group and chain modes
    *    Explore 5 unique locations



Settings

    *    Music volume
    *    Sound volume
    *    Fullscreen  (didn't work for me, big black bars down both sides)
    *    Widescreen  (didn't work for me, changed it to Window Mode)
    *    Custom cursor  (you have a choice of 4, default is the normal system cursor)


Gameplay:

    *    Timed and Untimed modes
    *    Quite a generous timer, at least at the beginning
    *    You can continue to click whilst the tiles are falling, even after you've finished the level
    *    The usual 3 matching modes: Swap, Group, Chain
    *    It says, "You can change mode whenever you want, but only once in a while."
    *    The stars don't count down from 3 to 1 with time but rather go up from 1 to 3 with points earned
    *    The timer is simple - finish before it ends - and you get more points the more time you have left


Notes:

    *    Fun story - you start by earning coins to clear the park of rubbish before you start building
    *    After only having cleared a few things people start coming into the park - that was fun
    *    Fun music
    *    I loved the swirling powerups that appear on the board when you make big matches
    *    Great graphics
    *    The tiles are extremely bright, which makes it a bit hard on the eyes, but they're fun being so bright
    *    It definitely gets harder but the difficulty is a continual curve and I only missed out getting 3 stars once


My recommendation:    http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/love.png


I loved this game and can't wait to get the full version!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png
  I only played half an hour (including the time I took to take notes as I played) before having to stop to chat with my sister and mum on Skype.  As soon as we'd all said goodnight I couldn't wait to get back to it, which shows how much I loved it.  Then, before I knew it, the time had run out!  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cry.png


I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves fun M3s with a bit of a challenge (although you can play untimed), great graphics and a fun story.  It's also long with 148 levels, which can each be played in 3 different modes.  It's on my To Buy list and I can't wait to continue to play it.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png



ETA:  I added 2 more points to "Gameplay" about the star system and the timer.

 

Last edited by stusue (May 2, 2014 2:29 pm)


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May 4, 2014 2:21 am  #8


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Name:                               Royal Envoy 3 - CE

Producer/Developer:     Playrix

Genre:                              TM

Released:                         Currently only at Playrix - this weekend for only $2.95 - for the CE!
                                  


The Story:

South Ocean. HMS "Islandshire" is exploring the white spots on the map. All of a sudden they see new lands! Previously unknown islands contain immense supplies of fish, pearls, troves of ancient pirate treasure and vast deposits of gold. They are also full of mysteries and riddles. Who will crack the intriguing puzzles of the past? Who will lead the expedition to claim and develop these new lands? Will the new lands be part of the Kingdom? Embark on an exciting journey to answer all of these questions.

    *    Enjoy over 80 challenging levels on 11 islands
    *    Complete unique quests
    *    Unlock dozens of achievements
    *    Expert and relaxed modes - the choice is yours!
    *    Incredible new adventures of the royal envoy and his loyal assistant, Cedric

Collector's Edition Extras:

    *    32 bonus levels and 4 islands
    *    Walkthrough
    *    Beautiful wallpapers
    *    Original soundtrack



Settings

    *    Sound
    *    Music
    *    Fullscreen
    *    Show Game Hints
    *    Custom Cursor
    *    Relaxed Mode
    *    Credits


Gameplay:

    *    Exactly the same as all the other Royal Envoy games, typical for a TM
    *    Eg, building huts and collecting rent, chopping down treees, collecting food, building sawmill, etc.
    *    You earn between 1 - 3 gold stars per level, depending on how quick you are - timer counts down
    *    There's a lot of strategy involved in you want to get 3 gold stars per level as the game progresses
    *    Timed or Untimed (Relaxed) modes


In Extras:

    *    6 Wallpapers
    *    Game Walkthrough
    *    Original Soundtrack  (can be saved)
    *    Introductory Movie


Achievements:    46

    *    All bar 3 are progressive ie. the meter fills up as you achieve x of so many until full
    *    3 hidden ones that you'll get when you finish the adventure levels
    *    You can earn 100 points in the achievements (different achievements are worth different points)
    *    In the first 3 levels I got 1% of the points and 9/342 gold stars (3 per level)


My recommendation:    http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/love.png


I love this sort of TM, where you clear paths, build buildings, collect food, chop down trees, build sawmill, build bridges, etc.  And with an untimed mode you really can't go wrong.  It's suitable for all levels - beginner to expert.  There's also the challenge of trying to get 3 gold stars on each level, which is really easy at the beginning but I'm sure will get harder as the game progresses, as more and more things are added to each level.

I also recommend the CE (especially this weekend as it's available for only $2.95 at Playrix!!) as you get a lot of extra levels - 32 plus 4 islands - and a walkthrough, which should help get gold stars on the later levels.  But the SE would be equally as good.
 


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     Thread Starter
 

May 10, 2014 10:35 am  #9


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Forgotten Books: The Enchanted Crown - CE


Publisher/Developer:       ERS

Date of Demo Review:     10 May 2014  (demo played 10 May 2014)

Genre:                                HOPA

Availability:                         BFG


Story:

Your curiosity is piqued when your librarian friend shows you an ancient book that seems to have no ending. As you open the book’s pages, a character in the story begs for your help! All at once, you’re swept into his magical kingdom - where a monstrous threat is bent on destruction, but your path is blocked by a mysterious pen re-writing the story. Can you find a way to free the king from his chains, and rid the land of Eldor from danger before the final hourglass runs out?
 
The Collector’s Edition includes:

    *    Explore four new story worlds and earn new achievements
    *    Complete your set of collectibles
    *    Complete a picture with the paints you've collected
    *    Use the available Strategy Guide
    *    Wallpapers, screensavers, music, movies, and concept art

 
 
Options:
 
    *    Music volume
    *    Sound volume
    *    Voice volume
    *    Full-screen
    *    Wide-screen
    *    Custom icon
 
 
CE Extras:
 
    *    Bonus chapter (Explore four new story worlds and earn new achievements)
    *    7 wallpapers
    *    16 concept art, which can be saved
    *    8 screensavers
    *    14 movies
    *    4 music tracks, which can be saved
    *    16 replayable HOPs
    *    15 mini-games
    *    Workshop – just 28 photos of the developers, not very interesting as you don’t see the work
 
 
Gameplay:
 
I loved the animated opening.  It’s crystal clear (unlike some of the later scenes) and smooth.  It’s also very dramatic.
 
I also really liked the story and I loved the way the book is being rewritten as you enter scenes.

Collectibles:    18 paint jars (you just pick them up in zoom-in areas, no need to look for them)
Companion:    None
Diary:    Once again a scroll with the story
Gameplay:    Usual standard HOPA quests
Graphics:    Usual ERS graphics, but some crystal clear, some a bit blurry, great animations
Hint:    Directional and will show you if items need to be combined in the inventory
Inventory:    Bottom as usual, sometimes you need to combine items to get another
Modes:    4 - Casual, Advanced, Hard, Custom – can change at any time during the game
Mode, Custom:    Tutorial, Sparkles on active areas, Sparkles on HOPs, BBT, Hint and Skip (off or 5-200 secs)
Map:    Jump map, with each scene shown as an open book, a pair of glasses show where you are
Morphing Objects:    No
Music:    Good
Quality:    Usual ERS quality
Sparkles:    Yes – active zones and HOPs – depending on what mode you choose
Strategy Guide:    Yes – but I doubt you’d need it as the hint would be enough and it’s not difficult
Tutorial:    Yes – depends on which mode you’re playing in
Voiceovers:    Good but a tad OTT – no lip sync for people, but they have animation while they’re front and centre on the screen when they speak – one heron had beak syncing – you can fast click through speech or skip


Difficulty:
 
The gameplay and difficulty is typical for an ERS game.  You need to remember what you need where, as in all HOPAs, but it’s not difficult. 

Black Bar Tips:
 
I loved the black bar tips and comments and would probably leave them on to play the game as they were funny and I was LOL.  A lot of the black bar tips/comments I came across in the demo were hints, rather than telling you outright what you needed.  For example, right near the beginning there are clams that are covered with vines and the black bar comment is, "I will have to claw my way through this one".  A bit later you find a claw that you use to cut the vine.
 
HOPs:   16
 
I only came across 3 in the demo (but I was taking notes so didn’t finish the demo, which someone said was short).  The first one is played twice, the first time you have to find all the gold objects with slight interaction, the second time was silhouettes and everything removed the first time were gone when the HOP was revisited.  The second one was silhouettes where you then had to put the objects back into the scene to get one of the other silhouette objects, or you had to move things, turn things, etc. to get objects, some of which were progressive.

Minigames/Puzzles:    15

I only remember coming across two in the demo.  Both were original and easy.  One took me a few tries to get right and the other was an arcade game (and I loved the way the beavers stuck their thumbs up when you got them).

Collectibles:    18
 
There are only 18 paint jars to collect and they’re in the zoom-in areas.  They’re just sitting there with other objects and you just have to click on them to collect them when you get the hand.  So disappointing as there’s no fun in just picking collectibles up without having to look for them.  I don’t class that as having collectibles, just more inventory items, even though they don’t go into your inventory but rather to the collectibles/achievement page as they’re related.  You collect paint jars and then your achievements are scrolls, a palette and paint brushes in a jar.
 
Achievements:    11

There are 11 achievements and I got one in the demo – I got the palette for simply saving the tree – so not an achievement, just an acknowledgement that I’d done something in the game that I’d have to do anyway to continue.  As stated in the collectibles, these scrolls, palette and paint brushes are used to paint pictures.  Each scroll can be opened up on the easel and then you can paint a painting but I don’t know how that works.  I don’t know if any of the achievements are performance based as it doesn’t say what they’re for.  There are 9 scrolls and I think there are maybe 9 story worlds you have to fix (as it says you explore 4 more story worlds and get extra achievements in the bonus – so 5 in the main game and 4 in the bonus?) and I assume you just get a scroll once you’ve finished and fixed each story world – hence maybe no performance-based achievements at all.
 
Bonus Chapter:
 
No idea how long it is nor what it’s like as it’s not shown in the SG and no one’s finished the game yet and commented about it in a review. 
 
Length:
 
No idea.
 
Strategy Guide:
 
The SG in the demo only shows the first 2 chapters and the first 3 collectibles.
 
Main game  –  pages ?
Bonus chapter  –  pages ?


My Recommendation:    SE following the demo
 
I really enjoyed what I played of the demo.  I liked the story, the graphics and animation, and the gameplay with scenes being changed when you enter them.  Yes, it isn’t very difficult, but I liked the dark story that takes place in a book that’s constantly being rewritten.  I’ll need to read a lot more reviews before I decide.
                                                                                 
So I recommend the SE but not – at this stage – the CE as I don’t think the extras are worth double the price, sale or no sale:
 
    *    there are no morphing objects
    *    there are only 11 achievements and they all seem to be story based and not performance based
    *    the collectibles are really only inventory objects that go into your achievement room
    *    replayable HOPs and minigames don’t interest me as I never have time to replay them
    *    painting the 9 scroll achievement pictures doesn’t interest me either


I also don’t think such a simple game is worthy of CE status.  Unless I read that the bonus is super long and really interesting with the 4 extra story worlds, I’ll stick to the SE, either with a PCC or during a BOGOF.
 


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because you're exchanging a day of your life for it.
     Thread Starter
 

May 11, 2014 9:57 am  #10


Re: StuSue's Demo Reviews

Lost Souls: Timeless Fables - CE


Publisher/Developer:        Fenomen Games

Date of Demo Review:      11 May 2014  (demo played 11 May 2014)

Genre:                                  HOPA

Availability:                           BFG


Story:

After Bella's brother Stan mysteriously disappeared, she's been haunted by a single dream. Every night she sees her brother vanishing into a glaring portal opened by a strange, ancient book, and every night she wakes up in a cold shiver. She feels certain that it's not a mere coincidence or a trick of the mind, but something to do with a recent find Stan made - an ancient artifact. Set out in search of Stan through the pages of well-known novels and true stories on an exciting adventure - meet spectacular characters, visit eye-catching locations and engage in a twisted plot!
 
The Collector’s Edition includes:

    *    Additional bonus chapter
    *    Integrated Strategy Guide
    *    Brilliant soundtrack
    *    Stunning wallpapers and screensavers       
 
 
Options:
 
    *    Music volume
    *    Sound volume
    *    Full-screen
    *    Credits
 
 
CE Extras:
 
The extras are locked until you purchase the game but they list:
 
    *    Bonus chapter  (the fifth book - Titanic)
    *    Strategy guide
    *    Soundtrack
    *    Wallpapers
    *    Screensavers
 
 
Gameplay:
 
Collectibles:    Gold coins – you collect them in scenes and HOSs and then buy ‘trophies’
Companion:    None
Diary:    Notes and story (?)
Gameplay:    Usual HOPA but with no wandering – you jump using the map to different buildings in town
Graphics:    Good, not brilliant, like paintings – I loved them – but animation not smooth, amateurish
Hint:    Directional – takes a while to show you where in a scene – sparkles slowly make their way there
Inventory:    Bottom as usual
Modes:    2 – Easy, Expert – no Custom
Map:    Jump map – beautiful 3D buildings in the town – you only jump to buildings, not scenes
Morphing Objects:    No
Music:    Good
Quality:    Good
Sparkles:    Yes – active zones and HOSs – still have sparkles on HOSs in Expert but they’re pretty
Strategy Guide:    Yes – 8 chapters , bonus, collectibles – only Chaps 1 and 2 shown in demo
Tutorial:    Yes – depends on which mode you’re playing in
Voiceovers:    Good – no lip sync – box with face and text – you can fast click through speech or skip

Difficulty:
 
The game isn’t difficult, especially given that you don’t have to remember where anything is as you just use the jump map, and each location (building) only has a few of scenes.  When you’ve finished in a location (not a scene) a box will come up and tell you that there’s nothing left to do there and tell you to click on the map, which shows you which locations are available but not which one you should go to next (at least not that I noticed).  Of the 3 locations I visited in the demo, the first had 3 scenes, the second only 2, and the third only one, so you don’t even have to move more than between a few scenes – so easy peasy.  There’s no way you can get lost as you never need to go anywhere but the map.  I hated that as I love wandering around and so it’s a no buy for me, no matter how much I loved the graphics and the story. 

Black Bar Tips:
 
The BBT don’t tell you exactly what you have to do – YAY!  For example, there’s a framed photo and you’re simply told that the glass is very thick.  You have a hammer in your inventory, so you use that to break the glass.
 
I kept on clicking on one object to see what different comments I got and there were four, so there’s obviously variety when you click on things and not just the one comment over and over again.  The four comments were:
 
“Hmm… I need to think about this.”
“It seems something’s missing.”
“There’s something missing from here.”
“I think there should be something used here.”
 
I used a wrong item on something and the comment I got was: “It’s no use.”  I thought that was a very defeatist attitude and not very encouraging.
 
HOSs:  
 
According to some reviews there are a lot of HOSs, and when you repeat a HOS the objects you’d removed the last time were back again. 
 
I only came across 2 HOSs (not HOPs) in the part of the demo that I played.  They had the same beautiful graphics as the main game, crystal clear, and at least one had a moving object (snake), so not static.  The objects are very easy to see, except in the first HOS where there were sunbeams, which made it a bit more difficult.  You also collect the collectible coins in the HOS. 
 
The first HOS was list with 2 very simple interactions.  It says that the objects that are in a different colour are “harder to find” but that just meant doing things like ringing a bell, turning something, etc.  There was a last object to find once I’d found all those on the list.
 
The second HOS was very simple; you just had to find the objects whose picture – in full colour, not just silhouette – were shown underneath.  At least the objects weren’t in the same orientation, which made it a tad harder.  But the graphics are so clear that the objects were very easy to spot.  They’re so beautiful to look at, however, that that didn’t bother me.

Minigames/Puzzles:   

I only remember coming across two in the demo, apart from opening a safe when you’ve found the code.  Both were easy.
 
The first was easy but a bit of thought was needed.  It’s one that I like, where you have circles cut out of a picture and you have to move the circles to the correct spot.  Unfortunately there were only, I think, 5 circles and 1 blank spot and it only took a few moves to get the picture right.
 
The second was matching pairs but it was harder as it took precision and quick clicking.  You have to click on matching butterflies – as they fly around, in amongst each other, and some fly very quickly.  I often missed the second one as it flew behind another one and I clicked on the wrong one, or some were just really fast and tricky.  It was fun but over all too quickly as there weren’t many to catch.

Map:
 
The map is like a beautiful painting with 3D buildings in the town, with moving water around a headland.  It is a jump map but you only jump to the buildings, not to scenes within each building.  Apparently the map shows you how many things are left to do at each location (building) but not how many of those actions you can so immediately (eg. Museum 17). 
 
What I really didn’t like was that the only way to get from location to location (ie. from building to building) was to use the jump map.  I never use a jump map as I like wandering around, which makes me feel like I’m actually in the game.  Just jumping from building to building made it feel like I was just doing an upmarket HOG, rather than a HOPA, as you just jump from scene to scene and don’t wander anywhere except right at the beginning when you go from outside into the first building.  When you’ve done all you can do at a location (not in a scene) a box opens, telling you that there’s nothing else to do and that you should click on the map to go to the next location.  That certainly doesn’t help you get immersed in the game.
 
Collectibles:     
 
You collect gold coins, which you find in both the scenes and the HOSs.  They are fairly obvious but you do have to look for them.  I found 2 in each scene I visited.  You can then use them to buy “trophies” in your Trophy Room, which is where you also find your achievements.  The trophies are things like paintings on the wall, a stuffed bird, a model of a ship, etc.  So there is a reason to find all the gold coins as you can decorate your room and you’d have to try and find them all if you want to complete your trophy collection.  The cursor changes to a hand when it goes over a coin, so making it easier to find them.
 
Achievements:     

The achievements are nothing new and are displayed in a display case in your Trophy Room.  They are:
 
    *    1 each for completing each novel and one for completing all of them
    *    6 for the HOSs – all for precision, not speed - I got all of them in the first HOS!
    *    1 for completing minigames without skipping – this one’s progressive with a +2 for the second time
 
You do get some nice compliments when you get an achievement, telling you how wonderful you are.
 
Bonus Chapter:
 
The bonus chapter is the fifth book, although you don’t need it to complete the artefact, unlike what everyone was complaining about in the forums.  One reviewer said that the final book in the bonus wasn’t very interesting and had no relation to the original storyline.  Apparently, the Titanic book in the bonus is based on the film.    
                                   
Length:
 
One reviewer said that she took over an hour for each book.  Another reviewer said that each book got less and less interesting and shorter and shorter.  Another reviewer said way too short for a CE. 
 
Strategy Guide:
 
The SG in the demo shows 8 chapters plus the bonus and the collectibles.  However, only the first 2 chapters are viewable. 
 
There are a total of 59 pages:
 
Chapter 1  –  pages 3-7
Chapter 2  –  pages 8-12
 
The 5 Books:
 
Call of Cthulhu  (the first book)
Jack the Ripper
The Three Musketeers
Robinson Crusoe
Titanic  (the bonus)
 
Miscellaneous things I liked:    (the first three are spoilers)
 
I really liked the first zoom-in scene and liked the attention to detail.  There’s a stand-up calendar and a vase on top of a box.  You can only open the box a little as the vase is sitting on top.  You can pick up the vase but there’s nowhere to put it.  So you have to first flatten the calendar and lay it flat, then pick up the vase and put it on top of the calendar.  Then, and only then, can you open the box.  And you don’t even need a key!
 
I also liked the way you can turn the channels on the TV to see more than just the clue you need.

 
You keep on seeing things happen to people/things and no one/nothing except you seems to see them.  I don’t know what that’s all about.  I think they’re probably the “cheesy” monsters several reviewers mentioned.  The animation left a lot to be desired but I liked these things popping up from time to time.


When your cursor goes over something you can interact with the object gets a glow around it, as if a light has been turned on behind it, making it very easy to see.  I quite liked it but one reviewer said that that made it too easy.  I don’t agree as if your cursor turns into a hand when you can interact with something, what difference is there for the object to glow slightly around the edges?
 
Any clues you pick up go into your diary and stay there!  They aren’t stuck on the screen when you need them!  Yay!  For example, when you have to open a safe, the clue you found was in your diary and you had to actually open the diary to find it!  It wasn’t just stuck on the safe for you to use, which seems to be the case in a lot of the recent games.  This can make your game harder (if you don’t want to use the diary but try to remember the clues yourself) or make the game seem more like real life, as you’d have to open your diary to get the clue in real life.
 

A problem I encountered:
 
When I started the game a windows message popped up, saying that a program (the GM) had stopped working and did I want to close it or have windows try to find a solution.  I thought it might just have been the GM closing, which it does with some games.  But no, there was a real problem; the GM was gone and I clicked to simply close the program.


My Recommendation:    
 
I can’t recommend the CE as I simply don’t think one more book (which one reviewer said was short, uninteresting, and had nothing to do with the storyline), a few collectible coins (no morphing objects), and a few simple achievements warrant double the price.  The main game ends conclusively as the four books you do in the main game complete the artifact.
 
I recommend the SE for those who really like the demo, and who don’t mind simply clicking on the jump map to get around, with simple HOSs and puzzles.
 
I don’t recommend either the SE or CE for anyone like me, who hates using the jump map as you can’t wander around and thus, for me, can’t get immersed in the game, or who wants a challenging game.  Had you been able to wander around and not have to use the jump map I would have considered the SE as I loved the graphics and the storyline (as much as I saw in the bit of the demo I played).

 


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