Archive for Reviews

Game Review: Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst

When it comes to Hidden Objects games, you can see different “levels”. The Low Level is where you mostly look for items for the sake of looking for items. There is a pseudo-story, but it mostly is there for the sake of saying “Hey! We’ve got a story!”. The novelization wouldn’t be very popular. The Medium Level is when you do look for items, but there is an interesting story behind it all. Sure, the item search is seldom really story related (what’s with all the pretzels?), but there is still something more complete. And, finally, you got Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst.

Gameplay

In terms of gameplay, the game is very similar to the previous games in the Mystery Case Files series. You have to look for items in different locations and solve puzzles to access new areas. There are some differences, however, as the game follows the story more than previous installments of the series: your progress reveals new elements and you actually walk around the manor.

There are different types of puzzles for different tastes. You get the option of skipping puzzles, but that adds to your total time. Some puzzles are particularly frustrating, but which ones you like depends entirely on you, I believe.

Story

The story is interesting. It is not ground-breaking and the ending will probably not have you completely flabbergasted, but compared to the average Hidden Objects game, it was definitely good. As the name hints, it is a sequel (or a prequel, depending on how you look at it) to Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst and adds more to the story present in the original.

Graphics

Another aspect that was good. Some things bug me at times, and the game suffers from the low contrast of any game set in a rather dark environment, but overall the graphics were fine.

Accessibility and Phobia Factor

As I said above, the game will be very hard if you have difficulty looking at very dark screens. Same if you have difficulty concentrating, as some puzzles require you to be very attentive.

Plus, if you suffer from arthritis or, for some other reason, need to take your hand away from the mouse quite often, you might have difficulty with some mini-games, one in particular. Fortunately, they can be skipped.

As for phobias, this game is worse than the average HO game in terms of bugs (the crawling kind), due to its theme. If you are afraid of bugs of any kind and / or of rotting, it might be difficult to make it through the game at times.

Summary

Overall, I think this was a very good game. It was one of the games that make it work to play Hidden Objects games. Actually, it often strays from the genre, as only a small part of the game consists of looking for the hidden objects in a scene.

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Review: Doctor Who: Series Four

With some time passed since the season finale aired, I feel like it’s about time I share my comments. Please not that this review contains major spoilers. If you haven’t watched the series until the end, I recommend you to simply not read any further.

The series started very strongly, with excellent episodes. I wasn’t sure about Donna when I had watched the Christmas special before series 3, but it turned out she was an excellent companion. A mature woman with “only” a friendship with the Doctor was definitely a good change. We can’t have everyone fall in love with the Doctor, awesome as he may be.

There were a few episodes that were less good, but that’s just the kind of thing that happens in a TV show. Besides, there was nothing deeply boring, just some moments not as strong as the others.

The series also had me longing for the return of Rose. It wasn’t that I disliked Donna or even that I wanted her to return as a full companion. I just wanted to know what the hell was going on and was having wishful thinking of some sort of happy ending.

At the end of the season, we were left with two unanswered mysteries: who the hell is River Song and where is Jenny? Well, we sort of know the latter, she fled with a spaceship, but we don’t know her exact whereabouts. Also, it’s impossible to leave us at that and never have the Doctor meet her again! That would be very poor writing. There is no full series next year, only a few specials. I really hope that at least one of these two will re-appear. Suspense is good, but leaving things hanging for too long is never a good step. You must always give something more for your audience to chew on.

On to the finale. We were given a cliché “Let’s run towards each other!” reunion, but gladly (and obviously) it was interrupted by an extermination. I found the non-regeneration to be…well, I’m not sure. I like David Tennant but everything seemed a bit stretched.

There were however grandiose moments in the finale. Donna was most awesome.

I admit I also liked seeing Rose “get” the Doctor…and the Doctor not actually being reunited with her.

There was however in the finale one of the most horrible things I have ever seen in fiction. We were given a great series, with an awesome Donna. Every minute she became more awesome, growing up, developing a new personality (in a good way, not in a split-personality way…), and eventually becoming part Time Lord. And then…R.T. Davies took up a hatchet and slaughtered her with a maniacal laughter.

She was stripped of the best moments of her life in only a few seconds. She can’t even think “Oh, I wish I’ll see the Doctor again”. She can’t access the wealth of experience she has gained. She just went back to…that. The Runaway Bride Donna, if not even worse because now we know what she could become. RIP Donna, you were a fantastically brilliant companion.

Game Review: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

I have a couple of topics in mind, but this blog is in dire need of geeky stuff. So here comes a review for a video game!

Harmony of Dissonance (henceforth referred to as HOD) is the second title in the series to be released for the GameBoy Advance, following after Circle of the Moon.

When I first started the game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There are excellent titles in the series, but Circle of the Moon is crap. It is ugly, the characters don’t fit anywhere in the overall storyline and it is way too hard, although the card system was interesting.

But this is not a review of that game, of course, so back to HOD! Visually, and in several elements of the gameplay, the game is reminiscent of Symphony of the Night, released 5 years earlier for the PlayStation. SOTN is one of the most critically and fan acclaimed games of the series, with excellent music and whatnot (although the voice acting sucks).

You are back to being a member of the Belmont family, named Juste. Your goal is to retrieve a friend of yours, who has been kidnapped, and understand what is happening to your friend.

This game, overall, is really great. First, let’s have a look at the controls, which I believe are one of the best aspects of the game. You see, you are from the Belmont clan, as I said before. You are supposed to be a vampire killer, an awesome dude ready to kill Dracula if he raises. It is only natural that you should be a skilled fighter. Juste can dash at will across the castle. This is truly one of my favorite bits. You can dash forward and backwards, moving fast across the rooms, getting quickly away from an enemy’s attack, etc.

The rest of the controls are mostly what you see in other Castlevania games (or in other platform games in general!), so nothing special here.

Next, the battle system. Since Symphony of the Night, pretty much all Castlevania games have had a unique aspect in battle system: souls in the Sorrow games, the cards in Circle of the Moon, etc. HOD is no different. You can collect spell books across the castle. Each book is associated with an element (fire, ice, wind, etc.). The combination of your book plus your subweapon (the classic ones, like the axe or the holy book) makes a series of special attacks that can really help take down bosses and harder enemies. There are also stones you can add to your whip to get special attacks or elements.

The game also has another of my favorite things in Castlevania games: Juste’s room. As you move around the castle, you can collect various decorations and elements of furniture, which you then get to place in your room. Really silly, but still fun. I think that getting all of the furniture will give you a bonus of some kind, but don’t quote me on that.

As in Symphony of the Night, you can collect Dracula’s remains: rib, heart, and so on. Here, however, they aren’t only more things to collect, they allow you to do two things. First, they are needed to get the best ending. Second, they can boost your stats or make you immune to various status ailments such as curse or stone.

Overall, I believe this game is a very good one, probably on par with the other good GBA Castlevania game, Aria of Sorrow.

Sadly, the game is rather hard to find today, probably because Aria of Sorrow has a larger fan following. The game is also part of the Double Pack, which includes, you guessed it, Aria of Sorrow.

If you can get your hands on it, though, I really recommend you to do so!

Top Hat!

I could have called this post “Movie Review: Top Hat” or something like that, but it is not so much a review as heavy fangirling that will come out of my mouth if I speak about it. ZOMG I LUVS IT11!!1!!1!!!1! I adore Fred Astaire and his chemistry with Ginger Rogers in the movie is just a wonderful thing to watch. The film also has some great hilarious moments that make it even more worth watching. A definite must-watch for musicals fans.

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