In order to bring you the fantastic games I recommend each week, I have to play through those that are… not so fantastic. Some are just fine, others are outright terrible, but my standards for inclusion are high. To give you an idea, here are some of the games that didn’t make the cut this week.
You’re on a cube made of 96 different worlds, and have to discern your location on the cube through exploration. Which involves three second walks in any direction before being teleported to the next. The world is covered in scribbly doodles, and, um, something.
Which honestly sounds amazing, but in practice is enormously irritating. Something not helped by the game running in a microscopic full-screen resolution, and Esc quits.
Being interesting is amazing. Being incomprehensible is risky but doable. Ramiwo is just frustrating, and a little too proud of that.
I like the idea of bringing endless reviews of Arkanoid clones. But Action Ball 2 failed to do a single interesting thing with the concept, despite the addition of roaming enemies to attack.
Compare to Strikey Sisters, which meddled with the format enough to make it notable, Action Ball 2 felt far too much like the infinite number of Break Out-me-dos that would come on every cover disc in the ’90s.
Perky Little Things (NSFW)
I figured this could be interesting. An cartoon adult-themed hidden object game – certainly a concept I’d not seen before. As an adult game, it was as naughty as a 1980s seaside postcard, or a very grown-up version of those WASGIJ jigsaw puzzles. As a hidden object game, it was terrible.
Half the hidden objects didn’t resemble the hint, and the other half had perfectly acceptable duplicates all over the scene that for some reason didn’t count. And then, all objects found, you had to “use” them in the right place, which turned out to mean randomly clicking all of them on every bonking couple/lonely individual until you found the utterly incongruous “match”. I didn’t bother with the following four puzzles and uninstalled, hoping it wouldn’t have had too deleterious an effect on my algorithms.
This is emblematic of the sort of game I try just in case it’s doing something novel, and then am disappointed to discover it’s not. I got the impression from the description of this jigsaw game that it might have some sort of narrative element, and that was a lovely hook.
It turns out to just be a regular jigsaw puzzle game, but with the nauseating concept of a cat remembering how its human “parents” met. No, they are not your parents, Buddy. Unless some sort of Biblical end-times incidents occurred. And boy, what a game it could have been if it had gone that way.
I ended up completing the first puzzle, despite the obvious waste of time since I’d already decided I wouldn’t be covering it, because how could I leave a jigsaw incomplete? And truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a well made jigsaw game, the scenes are really well coloured to make completion fun, and if you want something like that for barely over a pound, then go for it. But I really now wish someone would make the jigsaw-plus-narrative game I thought it was going to be.
It turns out there are some limits to the height of puzzle concepts I’m interested in. CUBeKA found one for me. This is a game where must discern a word based on – and bare with me – overlapping all the letters from the word, highlighting the areas that don’t match up, and then graphing this information on a linear chart as straight lines. Yeah, it’s as bewildering in the game as it is to hear.
From this information you then deduce the letters, by drawing freehand onto the blank spaces, then typing them in when you’ve got a good guess. And you know, this might be a great puzzle idea, but blimey it’s not one I had the wherewithal to deal with.
This came closest to getting a review, and I wish it had bearing in mind how much time I spent with it to decide not to. It’s an EGA-style adventure game, like King’s Quest in looks, but with more modern mouse cursor interaction. And it’s a nice story about an older man looking for his adult scientist daughter who went missing during an experiment.
He ends up transported to an alien world, filled with creatures based on various Earth myths, and has a whole bunch of typical point-n-click puzzles to solve. This all started off well enough, and it felt set for a “worth a play” type review, until toward the end when it all unravelled into nonsense.
So it went from just about good enough to not good enough for a Buried Treasure. The pixel art is, uh, scrappy at best, the writing’s fine but not particularly funny or engaging, and the puzzles go from standard to dreadful. I think were it a couple of quid, I’d say go for it anyway, but at £7 (a perfectly reasonable price were it good), it’s too much for its flaws.
Another Break Out clone! This is a lovely idea for a game: Arkanoid but rather than having a bat, you ‘draw’ it each turn. Presented in neon glows, with frantic explosions, it feels like it should be a sure thing.
Unfortunately, its entire design seems to fundamentally misunderstand what makes games like this fun. There are two key elements: 1) Getting the bat to the ball just in time to make a save. 2) Watching the ball bounce around like crazy up in the bricks for as long as possible. Drawkanoid eliminates both.
Here the ball moves at near-impossible to follow speeds when bouncing, and then slows to a super-slo-mo crawl when it enters the bat zone. The only way to miss is to get distracted, accidentally draw the bat so the ball bounces down rather than up – something I only ever did because my eyes were glazing over at the nothing-to-do-ness of it all. You don’t get to enjoy those times when the ball is merrily bashing away above, nor the near-miss squeaks, leaving the game looking very pretty, having a lovely conceit, but ultimately being rather dull to play.