Simon the Sorcerer Review

I hate this game with every fiber of my being. Sure, it looks good and has some top-tier sprite work. Sure, it has lots and lots of voice acting. Sure, there are dozens of items you have to combine in various ways to progress. It manages to screw all of these up in some way or another though. The good graphics seem to have put a focus on visuals that necessitates walking through many same-y areas, most of which have nothing you can interact with and that exist only to showcase more art and slow down the middle parts of the game to a painful crawl. The voice acting is grating, takes forever to get to the point, and tries so hard to be funny that it manages to instead come across as irritating to the point of becoming genuinely infuriating. The large number of items only exacerbates the puzzles’ tendency to rely on huge leaps of logic, sometimes veering so far away from anything approaching observable reality or even cartoon logic that the game more or less necessitates a walkthrough just to complete. I enjoy old games and adventure games and went in to this thing expecting the best, only to be faced with one of the least entertaining adventure games I’ve ever played, and anyone speaking positively about Simon the Sorcerer is drawing from nostalgia or brain damage. Read more →

Cthulhu Saves the World Review

It’s depressing the number of times I’ve covered the first game in a series, only to then leave the sequel (or unrelated followup in Cthulhu Saves the World’s case) untouched. Call it a bad habit. In my defense, though, it’s only been 4 months since I reviewed Breath of Death VII. That’s quite a bit more defensible than the 3 and a half years it’s been since I reviewed King Arthur: The Role-Playing RPG and its spinoff despite owning the sequel for even longer than that. I think part of the problem is one of expectations; it’s easy for a sequel to play things safe and end up feeling like the same game, just like it’s easy for a game to diverge so much from its predecessor that it fails to embrace the things that made the first game worthwhile in the first place. The latter is what’s seen Lost Horizon 2 sit idly on my desktop for the past few months, while the former is why I had to force myself to jump into Cthulhu Saves the World—I was expecting more of the same, and while I was pleasantly surprised by the number of things that were improved on since the previous game, the biggest problems remain unchanged and render a sizable portion of the game a tedious slog through yet more mazes. Read more →

Zenge Review

I remember seeing Zenge on the Google Play store and having no idea what it was, and like so many games I’ve bought out of curiosity, it ended up being left unattended on my phone for a depressing amount of time. All I remembered by the time I finally started it up was that it looked like a vaguely adventure-ish puzzle game, something that quickly proved to be untrue; for all its art and store claims about a “journey,” this is a pure puzzle game that shows you pictures between levels that hint at a story and journey that isn’t really there. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—puzzle games can be some of the most rewarding games out there, even when they’re a bit on the easy side like Zenge is. In fact, I’d argue that this is one of the more uniquely rewarding puzzle games I’ve played because of how well it teaches you its rules, with that being especially notable since there’s not actually a tutorial or explanation at any point. You learn by doing, and this is something other games could take a page from. Read more →

Amazing Breaker Review

Whenever I play through something really good or really bad, it always becomes hard to decide what game to move on to next. Sometimes the thought of finding a better version of something similar is tempting, but I usually prefer to veer into a completely different (and most often simpler) genre, and that’s how I ended up playing through Amazing Breaker again; I’ve played through this game a couple of times in the past after picking it up from Amazon back when they still did their free app of the day promotions that made paid apps free for a short time, and while most of the available apps were a waste of time, there were also occasional gems like this that I’d have otherwise ignored. Amazing Breaker is just a weirdly addictive game that it becomes easy to lose chunks of time to. It has a few problems and one troublesome (potential) skeleton in its closet, of course, but at the same time, it only costs a dollar for a base game that comes with 120 entertaining levels. That makes it easy to forgive. Read more →

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Review

I had originally intended to play through Okami next, but nostalgia is a hell of a drug and it ended up being littered with various problems that had me yelling at my television screen despite showing up in just about every “best games ever” list I’ve read. The more I tried to play it, the more irritated I would get at its shortcomings, and I found myself playing a few minutes of other games as a palate cleanser of sorts. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third game in the Shantae series, is the one that I kept returning to. The more of it I played, however, the more apparent it became that I was missing out on back story and potentially spoiling plot points from the first two games, so I decided to play one of the earlier games instead of continuing. Risky’s Revenge, to be more specific. While the first game for the Game Boy Color would probably make for a better starting point, I wasn’t very impressed when I watched footage of it on Youtube, and the thought of giving Nintendo a cut of an eShop purchase after they so recently butchered my favorite series of all time made me feel ill. Besides, Risky’s Revenge popped up in a bundle after I decided to wait for a sale (patience is a perk of having a backlog in the quadruple-digits), and between Okami irritating me and my interest in these games suddenly coinciding with them showing up in a bundle, it felt like fate. Read more →

Sparkle 2 Review

I don’t remember when or where I first found this game, or even when the idea of cashing in my “hardcore gamer cred” (which is totally a real thing) for lighthearted match-3 marble popping became something I was willing to do, but at some point in the past I stumbled on Sparkle 2 and fell head over heels for it. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a lot of my disdain for the mobile platform melted away as I played through it for the first time. There’s just something about the game’s music, simplicity, and difficulty curve that struck me as being superbly balanced and enjoyable, with the game constantly straddling that line between accessibility and challenge that so many other games seem to struggle with. What makes this so much more surprising is the fact that the first game sucked. It sucked a lot, in fact, and yet its sequel takes almost all of the same elements and builds something genuinely entertaining and worthwhile out of them. Read more →

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