Thursday, 17 December 2009

A Year of Casual Games

As you should be aware if you read this, I like quirky indie games. And RPGs. And arcade games. And adventures. And, yes, Casual Games. (And as I'm also a developer, I feel it's important that I *play* a number of casual games and at least vaguely try to keep up with some of the developments and enhancements in the field.)

So a long while back I gave in and got one of those BFG monthly membership things, to be used to buy games that I wouldn't generally consider worth a full-price purchase.

For your bemusement, a list of what I have gotten: (most of which I've blogged about before, so linking to those posts)

Azada: Ancient Magic Azada sort of sparked the 'casual adventure game', I thought I ought to see what it was up to. (Completed)

Ancient Quest of Saqqarah It's just a match-3, but it's a really big really shiny match-3 with tons of different playmodes and sparkly lights. Also, giant flying monkey. (Yes, that's not a monkey, it's a reference to an old joke.) I sort of wish you could replay levels, but there are so many and add-on packs as well... (Completed some temples but not others. This thing is huge, and I really dislike certain temples.)

Shop-n-Spree - A hidden object game, *sort of*. Except that instead of a huge assortment of random junk scattered willy-nilly, it's just a very crowded store, with things often arranged in a semi-logical fashion. There's memory to it as well as just finding. And all the art is custom-done to match. It's still a pointless casual game, but it was acceptable light entertainment. (Completed.)

Wonderburg - I never posted about this one before, so here's a game link. It's a "real estate" game - buy houses, fix them up, sell them again, make tons of money. (A scenario which was much truer a couple of years ago!) It's also magic-themed, with cute characters in the very-brief 'story' scenes between levels. Like many casual games it does get samey, but it passes the time. (Completed.)

Wandering Willows - A game in which you wander around collecting pets, food, and other items, and combining them to make more items, and giving them to people. It is pointless but cute. While it was fun for a while, the lack of any real challenge or direction got to me eventually. The pets do have different stats, but not sufficiently different that it matters or is even really worthwhile to change them. (Not completed, for those reasons. It's still a very cute game, I just ran out of steam after a while.)

Plants vs Zombies - A game that I wasn't sufficiently interested in from description alone to buy at full price. People called it tower defense and the tower-defense games I'd seen weren't all that interesting. And even when I did pick this up just to see what it was, it seemed a little dull at first while it held my hand to drag me through the basics. But it got better. (Completed the first runthrough of adventure mode and, I think, all of the special challenges/puzzles. Am still vaguely playing through the second run of adventure mode, having been told there are some new monsters lurking out there.)

Enlightenus - another 'casual adventure'/hidden object, very pretty but really in need of a story that means something. This is a complaint you're going to see from me a lot. (Completed.)

Peggle Nights - because I already *had* 1.5 peggle games and didn't see this as sufficiently different to pay full price for it. By this point I have all levels aced, and 100% on about a third.

Drawn: The Painted Tower Another high-profile adventure/HO with lovely graphics and great atmosphere. Now will someone PLEASE make one of these games have a PLOT so that you end with an actual sense of triumph and achievement rather than a crushing sense of disappointment? (Completed.)

Gemini Lost - One of the sort of "village strategy" games where you manage a population and build up their resources while trying to accomplish various tasks. The village-type games will also play themselves while you're away, which makes winning almost a foregone conclusion and feels less rewarding in the end. It was cute, but the 'plot' STUNK BIGTIME. There really wasn't a plot but there were just enough elements of things that suggested a story that if you stopped to think about what was going on, it was somewhat disturbing, and the 'winning' conclusion didn't feel like a win at all but more like starting all over again.

Avalon - Same genre, but with pretty sparkly fairies. Game really a bit too short (especially since with the play-while-you're away factor it was really easy to build up a huge supply of resources) but one thing it did right, for me, was the story. There wasn't that much in words, but the things you could see happening were interesting, and the animation-rewards for completing each zone were impressive. The ending will actually make you feel happy. (WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR YOU TO GRASP, OTHER CASUAL DEVELOPERS? ARGH!)

Westward III - Because I still hate 3d. Haven't finished it yet, largely because the fire-and-earthquakes subquest was SO HARD that after finally getting through it the rest of the game feels boring now. :) I'll get back to it eventually.

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