Wednesday, July 7, 2010

6 new games I tried . . . but didn't buy

One of my goals is to find the best games on the casual market, and then to share them with you in reviews. To find games worth playing and reviewing, I have to try a lot of games. Much of the time, you don't hear from me about the games I don't like, or the games that were only kind of fun. So, occasionally, I like to catch you up on some games that weren't worth buying for one reason or another.

In order of release date, here are 6 recent releases that I tried but didn't buy.

Ranch Rush 2: When I saw how much love this game was receiving from the casual game community, I decided I had better try it.

You play a farmer girl who has to run around planting seeds, and loading up boxes with harvested plants. You will also need to deliver your harvested goods to the barn and water your plants.

There are a few other time management games that have very similar mechanics.

I'm glad that I tried this game because it reminded me that there is great variety within the time management genre, and not all types are equally fun for each person. Many of my favorite games are time management games. But this game confirmed that I don't enjoy this particular brand of time management. I'm not sure why. Thinking about it, I realize that my pattern is to avoid time management games in which you send some character dashing about. I almost always prefer a 1st person perspective (I did enjoy Mystic Inn, for example).

Ranch Rush 2 didn't offer the type of challenge that I like. The planting, harvesting, and delivering, as presented here, felt boring. You might love the game, but I bailed after a short time.

World Mosaics 3 - Fairy Tales: This is a puzzle game. And I wish I could own it . . . without paying for it.

The "mosaics" you build are "paint by numbers" (or nonogram) puzzles. You have to use your logic skills to figure out which squares in the grid are filled, and which ones are empty. When I first played this sort of puzzle years ago, a completed puzzle ended up with a random array of filled squares at the end. But this game manages to make a picture out of each puzzle by adding a bit of color to the completed image.

This plays just like the previous World Mosaics games, but this time, the theme is fairy tales.

I love this sort of logic puzzle, and I had a great time playing through the first chunk of this game. But I just can't bring myself to pay for it. The presentation is attractive, and the soundtrack was surprisingly good this time around (if short in length). But at the end of the day, it's just a collection of paint-by-numbers puzzles, and the miser in me doesn't want to throw cash at a puzzle collection. But if it was free, I'd grab it right up!

Midnight Mysteries 2 - The Salem Witch Trials: Here was me playing this game:

"Hmm. This looks interesting enough to try."

[downloads game and begins playing]

"Okay, let's see. I need to find all of these items..." *yawn*

[plays through the first scene]

"Hey, a ghost showed up to talk to me." *yawn*

[bails and uninstalls game]

My opinion is that if you're going to design a HOG these days, it had better be pretty special. This new entry in the Midnight Mysteries series offered nothing to keep me interested. If you want more of the same mundane gameplay found in almost every other recent HOG, then you should try this game. The graphics are nice, and the interface is pretty good, but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Little Space Duo: We get very few space-themed games in the casual world, so I pay attention when such a game is released. When I saw the intriguing screenshots for this one, I downloaded it right away and dove in.

Not only were the controls and interface a bit tricky to get used to, but I couldn't even figure out how to pass the first level. I know I'm not a genius, but assuming the game gets even more complicated in later levels, one would hope that the first level would be relatively easy.

The story was fair, as were the graphics. So I'll just keep looking forward to the day when some clever developer releases that superb space-themed game I'm waiting for.

Be a King 2: Now this is a game that I would gladly nab, if the price was right. This is a building/strategy game. I typically really enjoy this sort of game (my favorite being Coconut Queen). It has a little bit of that Warcraft III flavor (with shooting towers and invading hordes). The graphics are very nice, the music is fair, and the production is nice overall.

So why didn't I buy it? It doesn't seem to offer anything.....special. It was released on the heels of Royal Envoy, which is similar, but has something special to offer. The game is good, but not necessarily worth buying, until you've finished the other games you're more interested in. Still, this is an incredibly good production, considering the tiny development team. Would I buy it as a daily deal for $2.99? Maybe. Probably.

Flux Family Secrets - The Rabbit Hole: This is a weird one for me. On one hand, the interface, graphics, and gameplay are all very nice. On the other hand, it violates one of my personal values, namely, the objectifying of women. This issue is rampant in the world. Everywhere, the image of the female form is used as a tool and a marketing gimmick. Within the first several minutes of this game, the female form was used twice - once in the form of a character drawing, and once in the form of a statue.

Otherwise, the production is very good, and would like to see more games in this style. From what I saw, it included hidden objects and puzzles. I didn't see anything particularly innovative, but the presentation was on the high end of the quality scale.

So there you have it - 6 new games I tried but didn't buy. You may wonder if I've liked any new games. Yes, I have, and you'll be hearing about them before too long.

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