Tuesday, 30 October 2007

cave days

I haven't actually played this, but just looking at the pictures and hearing the concept amuses me. Makes me miss Trog. I really dug Trog. The arcade game, not the movie. I've never seen the movie.

Trog... They had a machine at this pizza place my family used to go to. Now, we didn't go there because their pizza was great. Their pizza was kinda crap, actually. But the place had a lot of coupons and was always giving out free plastic cups (my family had an impressive collection of fast food cups) and it was right across the street from a bookstore, so going for books and pizza was an exciting family outing. Yes, I'm serious. I'm a bookworm!

Anyway. Pizza. Pizza places have often had arcade games. I'd say it's because pizza takes a while to make so you have time to stand around playing, but plenty of restaurants take a while to bring you your food and don't give you games to play in the meantime...

There were many games I played at that spot, and Trog was probably among the last. It was a late invention. I don't think I was all that good at it either - we didn't go to this place THAT often, nor did I often have much in the way of money to spend on games. And the joystick on the machine was sometimes a little sticky (motion, not texture) and needed a lot of force to control. But it was cute. And it had a female dino option!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

the pricing debate

It probably won't surprise you that I'm not on Valve's side regarding this whole "disabling Thai copies". (Although forcing you to play a Thai copy IN THAI instead of in English might be fair.)

Different prices in different countries are something that we all live with. But y'know? I can order clothes from Canada and have them shipped here. I have to pay import duties, but I am allowed to do that. Nobody sets my clothes on fire because I bought them in a different region.

I can go to Vermont and come back bringing maple syrup that was a lot cheaper than it is here. I can go to India and bring back spices. I will have to clear customs with these goods and possibly pay some tax. That's why customs EXISTS. Because importing stuff is LEGAL.

Watch the news - with currency fluctuating people happily take big Shopping Vacations to different countries and load up on goods that are cheaper there than at home!

So why is it fair to apply different standards to software? It isn't, obviously. It's just that they CAN (until/unless someone sues otherwise) and therefore WILL. That's capitalism - if you CAN make an extra buck, you're an idiot not to.

And this, friends, is why I do not buy games that I know can be remotely enabled/disabled by a distant company if they choose to try and extort me.

Do I think Valve are evil? No. I think they think it makes perfect sense, and that people should buy the local copies, and they feel hurt that you're trying to 'screw' them by buying the cheaper ones. They're just not realising that the world doesn't revolve around them.

fun with adventure games

http://www.arcadetown.com/covertfront/game.asp

It's been a while since I've played one of these - the Flash sort, quick and simple and cool but always leaving you hanging and wanting more. Still, in a way, they can be more fun than the full-on commercial adventure games. They get going quickly, and don't require you to wander forever through an ugly, boring 3d landscape...

Friday, 26 October 2007

blast from the past - Codename Iceman

Inspired by seeing a review for it at http://www.adventuregamers.com/article/id,775

I somewhat liked this game. Except I didn't actually play most of it.

As the review explains, much of this game plays out like an elaborate exercise in copy-protection. You have to have the manual to get anywhere.

Do you think this actually stopped people from copying the game?

Back in the day when my parents bought me games, they also had contacts in the early BBS scene... and yes, software pirating was going on even then. So when a new game came out, someone might hand it to me to see if I liked it. (I will point out that I did own MOST Sierra adventures legitimately.)

So. I was given a copy of Iceman to try out. And this copy came with SAVED GAMES. The last saved game being one which was a good long ways into the game, past all of the submarine-simulation nonsense, perhaps past everything you'd need a manual for. This also meant that I was starting the game in a great deal of confusion.... "Why am I in the middle of the ocean CARRYING A BOMB?" But at the same time, that confusion was interesting.

I'm pretty sure that I completed the game and found the endgame mildly enjoyable. Unfortunately I don't really remember it. I do remember trying to load some of the earlier saves that were shipped along with it and being baffled by the submarine stuff - not just because I obviously couldn't do it, not having the manual, but also not seeing how it was supposed to be any fun.

What stands out to me most strongly? Navigating underwater with the aid of my Tech Gadgets to get to a place to leave a bomb, having no idea why, and then trying to get AWAY from the bomb before it went off. That's memorable. Maybe more adventure games should start that way.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

rolling rolling rolling

http://www.binarysun.co.uk/online-games/roll/

Click the mouse to shoot your marbles. You can keep clicking frantically (you don't have to wait for yours to stop) but you may lose control of it that way. Make the red ones disappear (either popped or down holes) while NOT making the yellow one disappear.

Fun but gets REALLY FRUSTRATING after a while.

princess maker 4 update

Still haven't gotten Demon Princess.

Did manage to get the boss of the (mortal) underworld, which was really tough and required buying a million mirrors to get my pride up.

OTOH, the Delinquent Daughter is cute.

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Pretty much done with the patch, but I haven't gotten a standalone version of the patcher made to distribute yet.

Friday, 19 October 2007

endings now reached

first try = The complete loser ending.
second attempt, with directions = Shoujo-ai knights.

Third attempt, aiming for artist - normal marriage.
Fourth attempt, from same base root as the last one, still aiming for artist - minister of state. Well, it's nice that I finally got a 'good' ending without a walkthrough, but considering how very close that ending was to the boring normal marriage one, I still think they're a little harsh on picking endings here.
Same base root but suddenly switching to Sin and Magic in the last year of her upbringing, while bringing her morals way down - fortune teller. That one makes more sense.
Same point, switching to go heavy on refinement, aiming for "Marrying the Earl" ending from directions, reached it.
Same point, STILL trying to reach artist, this time frantically bringing my charm down to try and avoid getting married - and I ended up with Marie's ending, in which she likes to use me as a model and make me wear cute or sexy clothes she's designed.
Switching to go REALLY heavy on magic and specific plot events, reached Karen's ending. (This was with directions - apparently you need the stats for one of the Magician endings and to have followed Karen's plotline. Then the two of you open a magic shop together. And regularly blow things up.)


Trying to reach the Demon Princess ending but even though I have all the stats and he gave me a dress, I still just get 'running off to live in demonland'. Working on it.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

what am I doing again?

Edited the post about the Princess Maker translation patch to show that this really is working, it will be done shortly. Should you wish to buy all the Princess Maker games, you can do so here - that may sound expensive but considering that Japanese PC games are usually something like $90 each it's really not so bad.

Still haven't beaten the level with the Text Message Ninja on Cheer Girls level, but I haven't been playing much lately.

Someone's working on a new simple program for making those visual novel games....

There's a nice article about Shiny Shiny 2D games on the PS2 for those of you like me who growl at 3d. I am now tempted to acquire a copy of Phantom Brave

a public service announcement

I have never played half-life. Any of them. I have seen bits over the shoulder of someone else and thought they were kind of cool, but I do not play FPSes. I am not that sort of person. (My brain has trouble with first-person 3d.)

Therefore, while also thinking Portal sounds nifty, I am highly unlikely to ever play it.

But since some people wouldn't SHUT UP about quoting it, I have seen the ending song.

I am that sort of person. The kind that doesn't like not getting the joke.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Princess Maker 4 Translation Patch

Yes, I really am this stubborn. Yes, this really is an in-game screenshot.

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It's not done yet, and this is only for GUI, not for text. You'll still need Anime Game Text Hooker for that.

Basically, this replaces things like the skill names, the map location highlights, the controls on the options menu, etc - things that are done in game with images rather than actual text, and therefore not picked up by the hook. And it is hugely helpful to be able to see exactly which skills are going up and down during a class/job, and where you're going in the town. With the text hook and a guide and this patch, you should be able to follow the storyline and go after particular endings without feeling too frustrated.

At the moment we haven't had any luck cracking the *text* - and even if we did, we don't really have the time and resources to completely translate the scenarios. We'd like to crack the shop-item descriptions, because they're currently a little bit of a pain to deal with in the game - they didn't use specific graphics for each item so you can't easily look at a shop's contents and figure out what to buy.

In the meantime, if you're looking for English anime games like this, go here and check out Cute Knight.

Monday, 15 October 2007

hidden treasures and old boots

Still unpacking from a recent move, I turned up an old 'game' someone gave me, which is still in its shrinkwrap (shows how excited I was). I say 'game' because it's a compilation pack - JoWood's 'RPG Compilation', and I can't find a link for this as a three-pack, but I can find links for the individual games on it -

Arx Fatalis - It's first-person perspective, a strike against it in my book. It has demons. It was M-rated (for what? I don't know.) Reviews suggest the violence is a little icky and that you have to eat far too often.


Archangel
- Part RPG, part shooter? Um... again, this sounds like it's going to return a response of "Hate 3d" from me.

Gorasul Legacy Of The Dragon - Amazon has basically no information except for a blurb about a hero raised by a dragon, now reincarnated. The tiny screenshot on the back of my box looks vaguely Infinity-engine ish, but again, it's hard to tell with such a small picture. Hunting for reviews, they say 'Baldur's Gate if it were half-broken and badly translated from German."

... I still don't feel particularly motivated to break the plastic seal on this box.

Friday, 12 October 2007

seek and find?

Suddenly I am getting a bunch of search engine hits for hidden object games. Which seems bizarre, since this is obviously a journal, not a storefront, and I'm WAY down the results list. Like 200 or something. Who are these people searching through twenty pages of results to finally click on one tiny hidden link?

IT'S LIKE THEY'RE PLAYING SOME KIND OF GAME!

... Er. :)

Well, if you're going to insist on looking here, don't let me stop you... go play.




Agatha Christie - Death on the Nile


In the meantime, I'll be off playing some games that I find much more interesting. :)

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

always a bridesmaid, never a bride

Princess Maker 4, unlike the earlier versions (but like Cute Knight) has little plotlines. You will see the same characters multiple times as the game progresses and have different events happen with them. Marie, for instance, has some insane guy fall for her and declare he's going to marry her, and there are several different events to see in this storyline before she gets rid of him. At least, I assume she gets rid of him, I'm not sure I ever saw the end of that story. It's hard to tell, especially when I can't quite read the language.

There's also the story of the character's true identity - YOU know she's part demon but SHE doesn't, and it depends on your choices whether she ever finds out and starts hanging out with demons and finds her blood father. Stay away from bad places and the demonic influence will have no effect on your game at all.

Of course, without a guide or a LOT of retrying, you'll have great difficulty finding all the events. Some are amazingly specific - you must be in this place at this time with these stats or you will miss this event forever and all the storylines that go with it. Other times, it can look like you're doing well, and then fail for no obvious reason. My first attempt, my daughter was always hanging out with Prince Charles, and when he asked her to dance at her debut ball, I thought this was a sign that they were going somewhere - but apparently not, I ended that game with no job or husband at all! No clue what I missed out on. Maybe I just wasn't famous enough.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Independent Games Festival

Whoa, that's a lotta games.

I'm not a judge and I know only what they say about them, so I'll just mention things that catch my eye.

Ancient Galaxy - this looked way cooler in the screenshot than when I actually look at it. But it's 3d and involves shooting things, so I'm sure some people will like it.

Ad Astra - That's a cool concept but I suspect the game can't possibly live up to it... space will probably be mostly empty. which is realistic but not all that fun. Looking at the screenshots there are some structures and some landscapes but not really a bustling intergalactic *culture*, which would excite me. Playing it would probably leave me thinking that I preferred EVE Online.

Artisan - Interesting concept but the webpage doesn't work and the screenshot doesn't look all that exciting. Would have to see that in play.

Birth of Shadows - I wish I could be excited about this but I get skeptical right away when they say "Advance your character without the usual tedium associated with role-playing games." Makes me feel like they hate RPGs, so why should I play theirs? And I don't know what they think the usual tedium is... for all I know they mean "You never get to pick where your skills go, you just automatically get stronger!" Which is BORING. Art direction is lacking, not that it's a huge deal for a low budget game, but...

Brain Sanity - They write better copy than games. At least, the text was more interesting than the eventual graphics.

Bubbins - This looks like fun, except I suck at navigating in 3d and would probably be unable to play it.

Carte Blanche - What, no screenshot? I think this is an adventure game (I think I've heard of it).

Crayon Physics Deluxe - This could be fun - for five minutes. Not sure it'd last.


Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! - I've had an eye on that title for a long while, it interests me.


Esenthel - Good points, RPG! Bad points, seems more interested in plugging their weather/physics in their game listing than story. Also, 3d. Hate 3d. (Some of the elements of the screenshots are kinda cool in their own way but mostly icky blah 3d.)

Free The Floopians: Level Mania- Silly title draws my eye, horrible ugly 3d in screenshot makes me wince.

Get a Life Show - I'm not really sure how this will work, but the idea is intriguing. The website is too much fancy flash and not enough getting to the point.


Hammerfall - Maybe it would be interesting, but how can I tell? No website, no company, no detail even on what kind of game it is!

Iron Dukes - Attention immediately grabbed by the setting. Badly designed website, though, it won't let me scroll.

OokiBloks - This sounds like it could be fun if it lives up to the design.

Yes, I start getting tired as I get further through the list...

Slumbers - That's certainly an interesting backstory. Is this some sort of Lemmings/Gobliins game? Not enough information present.

Something Amiss - I'm intrigued, until I find out it's a browser game.

Space Trader ... guys, just play EVE already. :)

Survival of the Fittest - Some people will love this concept. I'm only interested if it's actually fun to play and I can't tell with the info on offer.


The Night Journey - How can I not be intrigued?

Wanderlust: Rebirth - I think I heard about this game AGES ago...

Monday, 8 October 2007

tada!

peggle grandmaster at last! (But not the extreme version. I'm not even going to try for that. Really.)

stopped my stupid dependence on the owl and tried using things appropriate to the levels. and got lucky (triple score) and got lucky (last-minute crucial rebound). FINALLY.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Princess Maker 4

Okay, here's the basics. Despite that screenshot, this really isn't an RPG like PM2 or Cute Knight. The combat tournament happens only once a year and is completely optional and you have to have raised *non* combat skills to win it.

In this game, you have been given an adorable blond moppet to raise. Only she's half demon or something, and doesn't know it. She's not your real daughter, but she might be the daughter of your old love interest Isabelle (I'm not sure).

Like the other games, you send her to jobs and to classes, while changing her clothes and setting her diet. There's also a LOT of walking around town running into people, so this game will drive you nuts if you haven't got translation tools. Around town she will meet people who will unlock new jobs and classes for you, as well as hang out with her friends. There are three (four I guess but the fourth isn't part of the gang) other girls her age - Risa, who wants to be a knight and dresses in a military uniform all the time except when the other girls held her down and made her wear a dress (she was very grumpy). Christina who is a sheltered rich girl with That Laugh (you know, certain female anime characters with the snobby o-ho-ho) and fancy dresses, and Marie who is a shopkeeper's daughter with glasses - she's a bookworm and sort of religious but seems to have a sneaky sense of humor too, if I understand right. There's also Karin, who's the girl with the pumpkin from that last screenshot, and is a little weird, and I don't know much about her yet.

All the girls, including the daughter, are voiced. So there is much SQUEEING and much of your little angel running up to tug at you, "Papa, papa! Look what I did!" If you go for cute you will be babbling in high-pitched Japanese despite not even knowing how to speak the language.

I have not reached an ending yet. I think you can actually get girl/girl endings with your best friend if you try hard enough... I haven't actually met any boys yet, all the competitors in the tournament are girls! But my baby's only 15ish so she's just about ready to start finding dates, I'm sure the prince is hiding around here somewhere...

Saturday, 6 October 2007

look out for the cute ones

Having finally wrestled with translation programs to the point that I can understand conversations in Princess Maker 4, I played a little today...

... only to get my ass TOTALLY kicked by a little girl with a jack-o-lantern.

jade empire

Have launched the game. It works on my video card (yes, I'm STILL using that old thing) although it doesn't look great. Created a character (female, the speed type I think) and managed a few minutes of play. Set the difficulty to easy and STILL don't really understand what I'm doing, I find the controls a little awkward, especially moving around during a fight.

Naturally, it crashed (after the ship blew up - not immediatley after, but when I was zoning after that, I think). I'm not sure that's the game's fault, though, my computer is tetchy lately.

So, not much to report so far, other than that I suck at trying to figure out fighting controls in 3d with a mouse+keyboard.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Hidden Object Games

They're all the rage, but I've not been a big fan.

I played one once - I think it was one of the Mystery Case Files games. The idea pulled me in - I'm an old adventure gamer, solving riddles and pixel-hunting is familiar! But after a few levels I felt sort of let down.

As far as I know, in all these games, the objects you're asked to find are random. They have nothing to do with the plot, if there is a plot. They're THEMED to go with the plot, but you're not actually finding CLUES. You don't DO anything with the objects you find. They don't MEAN anything.

(It's possible I'm wrong. Feel free to tell me.)

I remember long ago I had some sort of mystery jigsaw puzzles. You were supposed to read the story, assemble the jigsaw, and then stare at the picture until you saw the clues in the image that would allow you to solve the mystery. I also read lots of mystery case books when I was a little girl, one of which was themed around somebody having a 'photographic memory' and therefore would also show you a picture in which you'd have to find the clue that solved the mystery.

(Aha, now that I look it up - the books are probably the Cam Jansen series. Cam for camera, see, it's a joke?)

Wouldn't these hidden object games be more interesting if you had to figure out what the objects you found MEANT? If you really did solve a mystery with them?

I'd be more likely to play. :)

---

EDIT - The following games have been recommended to me as examples of hidden object games with more plot. I have not personally played them.

Azada

Agatha Christie - Death on the Nile

Mortimer Beckett and the Secret of Spooky Manor