Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Review

Source: from Game-Spot

Warning: This could have Spoilers

So, being the Phoenix Wright fan that I am I bought this game and waited 3 weeks for it to arrive (This was a little painful given that everyone was playing it already)

So after a week of finishing it I decided to make a review about it.

Miles Edgeworth is a spin-off from the Phoenix Wright series, where we no longer focus on the courtroom but actually investigate like a detective. I like the fact that instead of doing the Visual Novel Type of gameplay where you don't see yourself, this time they made it more 3rd person perspective by showing Miles walking around and the like. It's a little refreshing really.

Gameplay: It was pretty identical to the Phoenix Wright series, save for the Logic feature. I like how they were able to make a feature of putting two pieces of information and makes it a conclusion. It's pretty much a simple way of how it seems to work in the real world, and simulating something like that must be credited.

Although, I wonder why they don't allow us to present profiles. I kind of found that challenging in the older games, but then again I guess it doesn't really count as "evidence". Random thought...moving on...

Almost forgetting to add you also have the Deduce button when examining a scene. This is where you link something in the crime scene to something you have in your evidence file. It really gives it an investigative feel to it because you need to think about things like that.

Characters: Most of the cast from the Phoenix Wright series were also here like Ema Skye, Gumshoe, Franziska, Wendy Oldbag, and more. Sadly, Phoenix Wright was not present in the game, but if you read closely you'll noticed they reference him a couple of times like "the guy with the blue suit", and so forth.

Of course, we have new people like Kay Faraday, Shi-Long Lang, Calisto Yew to name a few. As always, they all make an interesting cast of people which makes the game amusing to play

Story: Similar to the Phoenix Wright series you have different cases that connect to one big case, which always comes full circle at the last case. For this spin-off we have the mystery of the Yatagarasu, a Robin-Hood thief whose goal is to steal the truth and reveal to all and a big smuggling ring that Interpol is trying to hunt down.

In terms of quality, it still can be just as good as the Phoenix Wright series, but I still think Trials and Tribulations was the best game ever. I'm not sure if this is better than Apollo Justice or me they are on equal ground.

The one thing that annoyed me was when I was practically at the end of the game where it was totally obvious who the killer was but he kept saying "YOU DON'T HAVE PROOF. HAHAHAHAHA" and the like.

It was already annoying enough that I thought it was the ending..but it wasn't to the point I was bored already, but the fact that I had to keep giving evidence to something SO obvious was just horrible. It just felt like they needed an excuse to stretch the game, but to the risk that the player was just bored. I mean, if they wanted us to understand in full detail how it happened they could have just arrested the killer and then just make Miles explain at the end by presenting evidence, etc.

Well, if anything it just proves the lesson learned in Apollo Justice: if evidence is always the thing to solve a case then the criminal will always get away.

Overall: Miles Edgeworth was definitely worth the money. I had a great time playing this game. It was a mix of the Phoenix Wright series with a little mix of new features that won't bore you. If you like Adventure games with fun dialogue and colorful characters with a twist in the story, this is the game for you.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Mind's Eye: Secrets of the Forgotten review

It's been a while since I made a review.

So, today I will be talking about another HO game. Unlike most HO's this applies parallax scrolling, which is actually something you can see in a game as old as 1982, but it was applied to a Hidden Object game, which is pretty neat.

Off to review: Mind's Eye: Secrets of the Forgotten

Story: You are Gabrielle Jennings, a journalist trying to find the next hit story. What started out as a suicide turned into a murder which lead to investigating the subconscious.

Now, while there seemed to be a lot of details left unexplained (The game didn't really flesh out most if not all of the characters. Hell, one character was just there for ONE scene and you never see her again.) the core story was pretty good. I liked the idea that it dealt with amnesia without using the usual cliche amnesia plot. They actually based it on Amnesia that ACTUALLY exists. Kudos to some research. I hope next time they make the game a little longer. Placing difficult mini-games is a nice way to take my time, but it doesn't always work that way.

I'm talking about YOU!

Art: The scenes were WONDERFULLY done. I think it can be a little too dark for most casual gamers to play, but for me it was great. I partly wished they made the scenes more disturbing, but I guess that would mean a rating or something.

What irked me was the big discrepancy between the character art used in the dialogs with the character art used in the cutscenes. I dunno, for me it was a BIG turn off. While I found the character art in the game was beautiful, the one in the cutscene seemed rushed and thus, quality was compromised.

Another...has anyone noticed the OTHER discrepancy?

Dark tiles with green stuff on it.

Then it became brown....okay...

The actual game: Adding the parallax was a great innovation, so that's a big plus for me. In some ways it gave the player a slight difficulty to the game, since now you have a bigger scene to work with. The sad part was at most times I felt the parallax wasn't efficiently used. There are some scenes were you hardly have to use it. Why bother putting a feature like that if you won't maximize it?

Due to the parallax, it may have been a little harder to pick up items. I didn't have too much of a problem with most of it, but it's something a developer needs to consider in the future. My suggestion? Use bigger HO items.

Another thing I'd like to note is how the dialogue was written. The formatting at times was an eye-sore. There were times where the sentences weren't line-breaked too well.

So, what's the overall say?

Overall, it was a great idea and I think this will be in some ways a benchmark for HO games to go beyond what they are now.

That's all for now!

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Global Game Jam 2010

I've played a couple of games for a while but I didn't know if I was ready to review them.

But today I'll not be talking about another game I played, but I game I made.

For 48 hours I was part of the Global Game Jam.

What is the Global Game Jam? It's a game where groups make a game in 48 hours, or 2 days. There is a theme that everyone around the world has to apply in their game, and for each timezone they have their own restrictions.

I will let you know now that it's NOT a competition. It's basically jamming where people who may have just met on that day make a game out of tbe blue.

So how was my experience? It I am so relieved I didn't back out from this.

Sadly, I didn't feel like I truly gave it my all with the game. I wanted to really design but I felt I didn't really design ans much as I had hoped.

It was still a good experience to make a game from start to end without help of an outside source. In a way it was an independent experiment and I am proud to be part of it.

That's all I can write for now. But anyway, if you want free games, go to Global Game Jam and look for something! There are loads of games you can find there!
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Time Hollow Review

Image Source:

Time Hollow is one of those games that had a great concept, but was implemented poorly. Initially I was hooked to this game, but then it was getting overly repetitive, dull, and annoying. I did manage to finish this regardless, because at on point it was an interesting game.

Warning: Risk of spoilers from reading the review.

Story: Time Hollow's story starts with Ethan Kairos (English version anyway) who wakes up on his 17th birthday finding out that his parents have disappeared 12 years ago. This is strange for him because he remembered last night he was just talking to them about his birthday. He is also seeing weird flashbacks and has no idea why he's getting them.

He also finds a pen called the "Hollow Pen" which apparently creates a small hole to the past. You can use this to fix things in the past so the present may also be fixed. Throughout the whole game Ethan uses this pen to fix things, from his parent's missing to his friend disappearing, so on and so forth.

Now, this deals with time traveling, so it at one point will start to get confusing.
What really confused me though was when Irving suddenly became Jack Twombly. If anyone can explain how time traveling can change your identity altogether other than killing that person in the past and changing your name to his, please comment, because that confused me in so many ways. There may be some loopholes and inconsistencies at this point due to all the mingling with the past, but let's overlook that (except for the Irving changing identity bit).

What am I talking about? There's a part in the game where Irving Onegin goes back to the past and seals himself there. In present time, someone who looks EXACTLY like Irving Onegin (and technically is still him) appears and becomes Jack Twombly (who note is a different person altogether and in no way related to Onegin), Ethan Kairos' homeroom teacher. Ethan of course does not understand how it's possible (neither can I) and Irving explains that he got rid of the original Jack in this reality. Yes, it doesn't make sense. This is probably the weirdest part, that also does not make sense AT all to me. Time traveling is confusing enough, but CHANGING IDENTITIES?

Gameplay: It has a simple core gameplay, and that's all it has. This made the game repetitive, and thus boring.

Here's the procedure:

1. You will be having uncomfirmed flashbacks. These are your guides when you start "digging" into the past using the Hollow Pen. They are uncomfirmed because you have no information about it. This is where you go asking information from people (You USUALLY go to the library for this).

2. Once you have the information you need, update/confirm your flashback (System Menu -> Flashbacks-> Click related flashback) and you can now start digging. Note you have to do this ALL the time, because the game will not update the flashback automatically for you. Honestly, this is a waste of tapping on the screen which could irritate some players.

3. Go to the area where the flashback is, dig, and do the appropriate fixing. (This is probably the ONLY variation you're getting from the game - you can add/remove items, examine stuff or talk to people if you can).

Now, initially this was a cool idea, but there's hardly any variety to it and it doesn't get any harder than what I just stated. Other than gathering intel, this is ALL you do...and it sucks. I think if it weren't for the slightly interesting story, I probably would have not finished it.

Another annoying thing is that this game is TOO linear. Even when the facts are really obvious that you think you can start digging, you can't. There are still certain steps to do to progress the game, regardless how unnecessary they may be.

The game also had some parallax scrolling, but it was very minimal and thus didn't give much depth to the static background. The developers sadly didn't maximize it to somehow make the game a little more challenging.

Art: This is probably one of the good points to the game. It had nice art. It had a lot of art to give the characters expression and personality. It made it eye-catching. Their videos were interesting too like a mini-sode to make things more interesting. While I do love games with cutscenes and stuff, this is still a game after all.

Characters: I don't really have much to say about them, since there was nothing interesting about them. Some barely have any impact to the story at all.

Overall, this game had good potential but it was overly simple and linear that could bore the player. This may have had been better as an anime series than an actual game.

Oh, and for those who DID finish the game once, just so you know you can play it again and given the right choices you can actually just move to the last chapter without having to do a lot of other stuff. Yes, am serious. Your second playthrough can be finished in a matter of minutes. From the first part of the game where you are at home with your folks, you can end up going to the school the next day (As if you were on the last chapter) to make everything right.

I dunno if this implies that the story could have been MUCH shorter than the one I went through, or the developers just wanted to place this for a kick, but there you have it.

That's all for now. I'm off to play Kingdom Hearts on the DS.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 Review

ANOTHER DS GAME? Yes...that's all I play now.

Hotel Dusk is another adventure game similar to the Phoenix Wright series. It's heavy in dialogue and to progress you need to know the right words to say. The story sets in around the 1970s, just after Christmas. Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective who is now a salesman travels to Hotel Dusk to do business as well as to find out whatever happened to his old partner, Brian Bradley. His only clue is a old crappy hotel called Hotel Dusk, and from there he learns the answers to all his by one.

Detailed review is below:

Story: HIGHLY COMPLEX, in sum. I can't put a start and end to how this goes, but it's not complex to the point that you don't understand what's going on. The game was designed in such a way that you learn these facts little by little (explains why there are 10 chapters in the game) and after every chapter you do a review. While the pop-quiz thing was kinda "WTH" to me, I thought it was a good way to make sure the player understands the situation in the game. Plus, it's not like you're punished for it. You can keep guessing.

The setting and theme of this game is darker and more serious compared to the colorful and animated theme of the Phoenix Wright series. The colors are very bland and...normal.

Characters: I can't really say that they had a rich personality, but putting all these characters in one game makes it kind of amusing. I'm amused at how their dialogue reflects their personality by using slang or something.

Now, about the main character...if there's one thing I remember in Game Design, it's that you should make your main character like-able. Why? Because if you don't you'll piss the player off and the player won't want to play the game. Kyle Hyde, in my opinion was sometimes a jerk. He pretty much played "dark bad cop" for the most part, which irritated me a bit because it didn't feel justified to me. He wasn't a total asshole of course. Just that the way he handles conversations was kinda annoying. Luckily, you can sorta control that attitude by choosing what he should say, but then again, you can just choose "No thanks" and then see Kyle Hyde mention how annoying the person was and so he's not interested.

Gameplay If you broke down the gameplay to simple terms, it's similar to the Phoenix Wright series. You need to talk to people, show them items so they talk more, and investigate the area for clues. What made it different was the UI and some minor details. Is it better? No. It worked for this game.

Unlike the Phoenix Wright series though, Hotel Dusk has mini-games or puzzles that you need to solve to get by. These CANNOT be skipped, but these games are just so simple I'd rather call them micro-games than mini-games. These mini-games have something to do with the story, not some game that they just inserted for the hell of it.

Oh, interesting thing about this game is you can experience a "GAME OVER" by choosing the wrong answer to say in a dialogue. Yes, this has happened. Sometimes it's merely just not listening to the characters hinting to you that could make you repeat the chapter or last savepoint.

Overall, what do I think of it? Well, I had high hopes that this game would be something spooky or creepy given how it was presented in the title cover and how it was summarized. I was sadly disappointed because that's not how the story went and compared to what I thought it was going to be it was kinda...dull. So, let me put your expectations in a proper place: IT'S NOT A HORROR GAME. IT'S A MYSTERY GAME.

Since I categorize this to something similar to a visual novel, I say it was pretty well done. The game still makes the player interact with the game and it brings back the whole dating-sim feature where conversations can count in progressing further...and it didn't have to be a dating sim game.

If you're not fond of heavy dialogue and lots of reading, this may not be the game for you. If you like mystery stories though and don't mind an interactive environment to it, I suggest you try this out.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do casual games need a good story?

Today I'm not going to be writing a review. So, unless you're interested with what I have to say you may not want to check it out.

For this entry I have decided to write about casual games and having a good story. I'm a newbie with the gaming industry, as I am young and have not been playing so many games for a while, so feel free to leave a comment to correct me or what not on what am about to say.


I've been working with a game development company that focuses on making casual games. I was given a project to test a game that they were about to release.

So, I tested it and played it out. It looked like it was practically finished so I didn't have much bugs to comment on. Instead, I started questioning on the grammar and how the flow of the story went.

I felt a little upset when I found out that I didn't sound "tech-y" enough probably because I didn't point out a lot of other things in the game like buggy buttons or something off in the graphics. However, someone came up to me and praised me for my comments.

I found out months later that the reason why I was praised for it because other than the designers of the game, I was the only one who cared about the story. Nobody else bothered to read the dialogue unless it looked off in terms of format or most likely grammar bugs (I was the only one so far who seemed to care, or had no idea at the time that they don't prioritize that). Nobody apparently asked questions on how the flow of the story went. If ever, people would just ask the designer/s "So, is the story good?" or something of the sort.


This surprised me. Is that the definition of a casual gamer? Someone who just plays a game and moves on with their life?

For the past few months this question bothered me, because I thought like movies, games SHOULD have a good story, whether casual or hardcore type of games. Sure, I admit not ALL games have a story and don't need one, but if you're going to put one in you may as well make it decent right? Not to mention a lot of the games lately (usually the triple A kind of games) have them to pull the player in.

Another reason this bothered me was because I hope that one day, I would become a game writer/designer as well. But knowing that putting a REALLY thought-provoking story may end up totally destroyed because the publisher doesn't want it or it will just be a hindrance to the player doesn't make me feel good. While I know money is VERY important to get a game company to get by, I don't like the idea of having to scrap something I worked my brains out and find out that "Uh, this is A CASUAL GAME. They will just get annoyed reading the dialogue." Or something.

This once again made me wonder, what ARE casual games anyway?

So I check out Wikipedia to get a quick recap on this.

A casual game is a video game or online game targeted at or used by a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer.[2] Casual games typically are played on a personal computer online in web browsers, although they now are starting to become popular on game consoles, too. Casual gaming demographics also vary greatly from those of traditional computer games, as the typical casual gamer is older [3] and more predominantly female,[4] with over 74% of those purchasing casual games being women.[5]

Most casual games have similar basic features:

* Extremely simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad
* Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation
* The ability to quickly reach a final stage,[6] or continuous play with no need to save the game
* Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

Notice you don't see any "simple story" here. Yup, you don't.

So, to summarize my whole point the question I have is: Can you make a casual game that has a REALLY good story, and will it sell?

So far, the games I've played with good stories are: Phoenix Wright, Ravenhearst, Hotel Dusk, and Drawn. There are probably more but these are the first things that were in my head. These are GOOD games, and some of these have had good ratings.

...I'm starting to realize my blog may not have a point anymore...BUT ANYWAY. If you're a casual gamer, what do you think? Do you care about the story? Do you want a game where you'll have to read through dialogues to understand what you're doing or of the sort?

Or are you totally content with just matching 3 or more object to get to the next level or shooting zombies with plans?

That's all.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Review


Until now I have yet to start with my Avenue Flo review, which was suppose to be my next review. However I just finished Apollo Justice and I HAD to talk about it.

Yes am a big fan.

Apollo Justice is part of the Phoenix Wright series except that you are now playing another character. If you wanted to know who, it's Apollo Justice who like in Phoenix Wright's first game is an new attorney.

Story: Setting is around 7 years possible after T&T. Apollo is about to take on his first case and his first client...IS PHOENIX WRIGHT. *gasps* You learn that Phoenix Wright is no longer an attorney because in his last case 7 years ago his attorney badge was revoked. He also has a daughter now, but note that this can't be possible since if it were he would have had her when he was only 18 years old.

Ema Skye from Ace Attorney returns as a detective who replaces Gumshoe from the Phoenix Wright series. She is now very moody-which is a disappointment because I loved Ema Skye- and she loves snacks. LOVES IT.

The cases, similar to Trials and Tribulations are connected because they all slowly unravel the mystery of what ever happened to Phoenix Wright on his last case. I'd tell more, but I think I spoiled you enough as it is. It's just as good as Trials and Tribulations, trust me.

Gameplay: Gameplay is the same as always, with possibly 2 major differences. First of all, you can only present profiles ONLY when required so when talking to people you can only present evidence. Second of all, now that you are Apollo Justice you no longer use the Magatama to discover secrets or lies from other characters. Instead, you have this power to sense tension between others so you can "perceive" when they are lying. In simple terms, it's actually more realistic for a lawyer to have this ability - to notice a habit a witness is using when they're lying. The creators just designed made it look so MAGICAL and possible to use as a feature.

Now that Ema Skye is back, the forensics have returned, and there's more of that when she was just 16. Not only do you test fingerprints, you test for poison on items, test toeprints, test for shoe marks, and read through unopened letters. The interactiveness of the DS is definitely used with this game.

Characters: You can actually sorta put stereotypes to the characters in the game. The main character is always a newbie and unsure of what he or she is doing. (ex: Phoenix Wright in the first 3 series, Mia Fey in Trials and Tribulations, and now Apollo in Apollo Justice), you have a sidekick who is full of energy and may not make sense at times (Maya Fey from Phoenix Wright and now Trucy Wright from Apollo Justice), you have a mentor who seems to know it all and makes you figure it out yourself (Mia Fey from Phoenix Wright, and now Phoenix Wright from Apollo Justice), a prosecutor who was supposedly your rival but helps you out in the end (Miles Edgeworth from Phoenix Wright and now Klavier Gavin from Apollo Justice) and always, at the final case, the guilty one will always be highly super evil but not look it at first (Demon Gant from Ace Attorney, Matt Engarde from Justice for All, Dahlia Hawthorne from Trials and Tribulations and finally, Kristoph Gavin from Apollo Justice)

And in between you will meet characters with their own quirks and if given the proper evidence their break downs are always exaggerated.

Overall, this was just as addicting as the other Phoenix Wright games and a really good game if you like this kind of genre. I don't think Capcom plans to continue the Apollo Justice series, but you never know right?

Miles Edgeworth's game should be out on Feb of 2010 if am not mistaken. CAN'T WAIT.
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