Nintendogs + Cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends Demo

A new friend joins the world of Nintendogs and Cats.  Play with this dog, feed it and teach it tricks.  It’s just like having a real pet.

            Well, now that I figured out how to summarize this, time to get to the review.  First, I’ll have to say that the little puppies and kitties are just so cute.  It’s so adorable how they make those sounds, and how you can feed them, dress them and even play with them.  What was even cuter was my dog’s reaction to it.  She thought there were new friends for her to play with, and I would show her the screen just to see her reaction.  She just jumped into my lap and tried to get to the dog.  Don’t worry about her being lonely, she has a giant German Shepherd to play with.

            Speaking of my dogs, having this game is nothing like having real dogs or cats (yes, I also have two cats).  For starters, when you change your mind, you can just stop playing the game.  In real life, when you get pets, they are there for good.  Well, you could get rid of them, but you’d have to be one hell of a cruel jerk to dump a living thing out in the middle of nowhere who would either starve to death or die of thirst because you got bored with it.  There’s also the fact that sometimes cats don’t want your attention when you want theirs and you do have to clean the litter box daily.  Dogs are even worse, because sometimes they just bark nonstop and it can be for absolutely no reason.  You also have to take them outside every hour to potty train them if they’re not potty trained already, and sometimes they want your attention when you’re busy with other things.  The last part can also be a problem with cats.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my animals and I know they love me, but sometimes they can be a real pain in the ass.

            I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy this game.  Sure, I can see the appeal if you can’t afford cats or dogs or if you want pets without all the responsibility, but I already have both these animals, so this game really has no point for me.  Therefore, I have no interest in getting the full game.

Dark Parables: Rise of the Snow Queen

After your last Dark Parables adventure, you get reports of children disappearing in a nearby area.  Your investigation of the Snowfall Kingdom reveals that the villain is the one and only Snow Queen.  Can you stop her before she destroys the world?

Again, I am reviewing a game that is the third in its respective series.  Like the other games in the series, this one offers you the chance to choose your own difficulty level and whether you’d rather figure stuff out as you go or have your hand held through the entire game.  You can even choose to have a tutorial in the beginning.  There are hidden object scenes throughout the game, but it basically comes down to collecting various parts you need to reassemble inventory items.  Still, I’m glad that every item you collect is essential.  Too many hidden object games have you collecting useless crap just to complete the scene.  If you have trouble finding anything, you can use an unlimited number of hints, and they recharge at a normal speed.  You can also collect certain objects in order to speed up the bar.  You have to do a bit of backtracking in order to collect everything, but if you get lost, you can access your map at any time.  If that’s not enough, there is a wide assortment of mini-games, and if the games are too hard, you can just skip them.  My one problem with the gameplay is that despite all the danger, there’s no sense of urgency and no chance of anyone dying.  When a wolf is sent to attack you, it just stands there until you get the item that you need to shoo it away.  Even in the bonus game, when Gretel is captured, you can take as long as you want to save her.  If you’re creating a game that’s supposed to be suspenseful, don’t try to make it relaxing as well.  Give us the same feeling the character we play has, that if we don’t hurry up people will die.

I’m a huge fan of fairy tales, so any story that’s based on them can be done very well.  Okay, any fairy tale based story can be done well if the writer had a clue what he or she is doing, and in this case the writer did.  The writer not only explains the Snow Queen’s backstory, but also combines the fairy tale with that of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  In the game, you can even collect bits and pieces of the backstory as you go on.  The only thing that keeps the story from being truly beautiful is the voice acting.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  It’s because of that I couldn’t really get into the story.  Look, I get that it’s Big Fish Games, so they won’t be able to afford Oscar winners, but why do they even need voice acting at all?  The voices I imagine in my head move me more than the voices they put in the game.  If they must have voice acting in the game, will they at least give us the option of turning it off?

Like the last game I reviewed, this one also comes with additional bonus footage if you pay extra.  I especially like that it comes with an extra game where you play as Hansel in order to save Gretel from the witch.  Along with the lack of urgency in the bonus game, I have another problem with it.  Why is Gretel always the damsel in distress who needs Hansel to guide her?  I get that it’s pretty much how the original fairy tale went, but you don’t need to follow it exactly.  The ABC series, Once Upon a Time, changed the roles of the two so that Gretel was the leader and Hansel was the stupid one.  I’m not saying that you have to change them to be portrayed like that, but why can’t you have them both working together to stop the witch, instead of immediately casting one as dominant and the other as submissive?

While, the voice acting wasn’t great and the game had no sense of urgency, it’s still a fun game.  I give this game 8 out of 10, a nice, fun and quick game to play when you’re bored, and a creative use of two fairy tales.

Reincarnations: Back to Reality

While Jane is driving, four angry entities ruin her peace.  They insist that she return to the past, set things right and restore her karmic balance.

For those of you who are unaware, this is the third game in the Reincarnations series.  The whole purpose is to explore the concept of reincarnation and karma.  The game is not perfect, it has a tendency to state the obvious and there are some lame puns.  One mess could’ve been avoided all together if it weren’t for the security guard’s stupidity.  The security guard is closing the museum, but he decides to let a woman that he doesn’t even know inside because she said she needed to do some research.  As you can imagine, that did not turn out well.  There is one part about a ghost that takes away the eyesight of the citizens.  When you’re trying to find the cure, you come across a drawing by a little kid that says, “Why don’t you want to play with me?”  While that is sad, you don’t get sympathy points for it, because that’s taking the easy way out.  Still, it was necessary, considering how that story turned out.  I’m not saying because I’m keeping this spoiler free and when playing it the conclusion is actually easy to reach.

The game play is actually fun.  Not only to you get to choose your own difficulty level, you also get to choose whether to have interactive help.  There are also an unlimited number of hints, and the hint bar charges fast.  It also comes with a list of tasks that you need to complete and inventory items to help you do so.  Of course, you have to collect the inventory items yourself, but not only can you use the hint bar to help you with hidden object scenes, you can also use it to point you in the right direction.  If that’s not enough, the game also comes with a free strategy guide to help you if you are stuck.  However, some puzzles contain inventory items that you have not obtained, so you will have to do quite a bit of backtracking.  For those of you willing to pay a little more, you can get the Collector’s Edition.  Not only do you get wallpapers, screensavers, concept art and music, you also get an extra level you can play in order to fully complete the game.

While, the story and characters are not great, the game is still fun.  I only have one question.  What effect does changing the past have on everyone’s future?  Yes, I’m aware that it’s about correcting past mistakes, but I’ve seen too many franchises where changing the past has a negative effect on the future, regardless of intentions.  So now, I have another question.  Was Jane destined to go back in time and correct everything?  I give this game 7 out of 10.  For those of you who are interested, you can buy the game at either Playfirst or Big Fish Games it’s up to you.