Friday, 26 September 2008

Little Game with Big Content

Title: Little Girl In Underland
The Ivy (Erin Robinson)
Release date: 7 september 2008
Playtime: 5 minutes
Size: 7.3Mb

It's not really a game. Actually it's an interactive movie. But one with lots of humor. What else to expect from this author, who also made Nanobots and Spooks.

Always good for stunning graphics and, just like in Damsel, you can't do without the audio. No less than 10 voice actors were used to give the funny characters an even more funny voice. Again a perfect example of what audio can do to a game. Turn it off and the game isn't interesting anymore.

The story is based upon American McGee's 'Alice'. Just as evil but much funnier. It's a story we've all heard once: the girl who became very little and wandered around in a fantasy world in search of her way back. But in this case it's no fantasy world, is it? The communist regime is real (yes still) and the enemy is in everything. But it's up to Little Girl to fight it. And she will of course.

If you can spare 5 minutes, play the game. Your download will probably take longer. And if you wait long enough, after the credit roll you can unlock the bonus material.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The sound of distress

Title: Damsel
Strange Visitor Productions
Release date: 25 september 2008
Playtime: 15 minutes
Size: 57.3Mb

A prince, a woodcutter and a dragon is what's needed to get the damsel out of her doorless tower. Are they any help? Not really. On the other hand. She couldn't have done it without them. Because they make the game to what it is: a fifteen minutes of fun.

With great, nice, clean graphics this game is a must play. With not too difficult puzzles it just something to get your mind off your daily business.

The best feature of this game is the voices. Although you can download the game without the voice pack, I'd say it's not an option. Download the full version and you'll see what real voice acting can contribute to a game. Windpiper, ElaineMC and Jesse Cox did a tremendous job here to give a voice to the characters. Especially Jesse as the prince made me laugh out loud. Together with the music of TwinMoon and the animations of Pijin Pastrana the game is complete. You can tell it's not the work of newbies.

Negative points? It's short. But that's on the other hand the positive side. With the subtitle Stress on the Tress this was the first chapter of more to come. The production team announced to have enough ideas for several situations and locations for Damsel to get out of. I just can't wait. I'm always prepared to help a Damsel....

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Questing with a smile

Title: Smiley's Quest
Release date: 22 september 2008
Playtime: 25 minutes
Size: 1.3Mb

Another oldie, or should I say new one? After a development time of over 5 years, the game is finally released. Not that it took that long to develop, it took that long to be found again. And then parts 1 (another part 1?) and part 2 were already released, according to the homepage of the author (although number 2 is not listed..).

After you wake up having had a nightmare, you realize it wasn't a nightmare at all or you're still dreaming and the police is at your door. So what else to do than take your money and run....

The game isn't very difficult. There are some logical puzzles in the sense that they are obvious and well hinted. When I reached the map with the car I though: not another police-quest clone... but it's not that bad. You don't have to drive for hours to find your destination and there aren't hundreds of option. Just 4 locations, close together. That saves a lot of annoyance.

What I particularly liked in the game was the switch to the house to find the meteor. A nice combination of logic, nice graphics and good navigation. Well done! Also the fact that you can choose two routes in the game, the easy way and the hard way, although you don't know which one is which when you have to choose.

The key-part combining puzzle might have been more of a challenge. The parts were quickly found and put together, the encrypted letter (very obviously hidden) could have been made more difficult encrypted to extend the game play. The trick in this case was the speed with which is was presented.

Overall it's a nice, fun, solid game that's not too difficult and has graphics that aren't messy and good to look at. Not brilliant, but nice. Not the huge downloads I've seen lately, a good sense of humor (buying a car can be very easy sometimes) and several dead bodies (a good game can't do without) and resurrections. So a good start of what could become a series. Or already is..? Curious what number two will be.. eeehh, number three.. no four... oh well.....

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

An island with melted cheese

Title: Nedy's Adventure
joecarl (Jose Carlos)
Release date: 18 september 2008
Playtime: 25 minutes
Size: 23.2Mb

This is an updated version of a game released in 2006.

The start of the game is very promising. A 3d leader that suggests there's a state of the art adventure coming up.... not.

With an intro in black and only text is nothing wrong. And the scene in the plane is also ok. Apart from the fact that you need to play a multiple choice quiz with questions that have nothing to do with the story to gain a key. And the fact that you jump first and then start wearing a parachute... (?). Other than that, the dropping was well presented. But after the landing I quickly lost interest. Not that the screens are messy or the characters are moving like boulders but the story for some reason isn't presented right.

There are too much sidelines in the story that have nothing to do with the plot. Would Jose stick to the facts and tell the basics of the story it would have been great. But I hate the quizzes with or without the multiple choice and questions/riddles that don't even touch the subject we're dealing with: solving the island mystery.

I think the riddles/quizzes were introduced to extend the game play. I wouldn't have missed them if they weren't there. Other than that, the puzzles are logical and very good solvable.

The music, relaxing according to Jose, is a bit too relaxing. Be careful not to fall asleep. It has no addition to the game, just background noise. And the English grammar and typos don't add to the joy of playing. Don't get me wrong: the game is good. The basics are: graphics, story. But not the way they are presented at the moment.

Monday, 22 September 2008

A flower that needs to grow...

Title: Flower Girl
toonaholic (John Sullivan)
Release date: 17 september 2008
Playtime: 10 minutes
Size: 36.7Mb

From the start of the game I was captured by the graphics style of this cute little production. My first thought was the resemblance with another kids game: Freddi Fish. The game itself isn't much but the character you meet along the way make up for it. You'll explore the area, which isn't big but want to know what's behind the corner: what will be the next character and what will it look like.

During the intro you'll get a good presentation of the graphics capability of the gamemaker. His spellings and grammar is lacking but not too bad to become annoying. The music is present but could have been made more in line with the game: more dramatic during intro, cheerful when wandering around and more serious when talking to characters. In the present form it's a nice way to get rid of the silence but doesn't really contribute.

Like said: the puzzle isn't much. Actually there isn't one. You just walk from place to place bringing items back and forth, resulting in other items. There are some hidden 'treasures' but there were some moments in the play that I couldn't quite follow. Maybe toonaholic had more in mind and didn't proceed with it (I still don't get the squirrel part) just to finish the game.

Then the size: it's a massive 36.7Mb compressed (67.2Mb uncompressed) and I wonder where that huge size comes from. The world you play in isn't that big, there isn't a great amount of animation and the music isn't that complex to eat up all those bites.

But all in all for a first one it's a polished graphics beauty but needs much more of a story and puzzle. This part is one for the kids. But I can't wait till Flower Girl grows up ...