Cute Knight

When a young girl leaves the orphanage, her fairy godmother tells her to go to the next town and find her destiny.  She just isn’t sure what her destiny is.

You’re probably wondering if there’s actually a story going on in this game, and it really depends on how you play it.  There are fifty endings in the game, and some of them rely on what events you set in motion.  There is only one ending that fully explains the main character’s origin, but there are still questions that remain unanswered until you achieve two other ones.  If you turn 21 before reaching an event ending, the game automatically ends and what happens to the main character depends entirely on how you played the game.

The game itself has many career options available.  You can work in the library, assist the doctor in the slums, work in a store and even go pillaging in the dungeon for treasure.  You can even attend classes in college to bring up your fighting skills, your magic skills and many more.  You also have a dream skill, which decreases when the main character fails at a job and increases when she succeeds.  The higher your dream, the better your ending.  You even have a stat known as sin that increases as you steal or kill and decreases as you do jobs at the church and volunteer for the doctor.  There is sin required for some of the more evil endings.  Each time you get an ending, you add a picture to the gallery section of the game.

Despite the game’s simple premise, it’s still challenging trying to get certain endings.  I can spend hours trying to collect every ending.  The better endings are harder to come by, like trying to get what you want out of life.  I give this game 7 out of 10, fun with many possibilities.

Hunger Games: Girl On Fire

When Katniss Everdean goes hunting in the woods, genetically engineered wasps known as Tracker Jackers arrive to attack her.  In order to escape, Katniss must kill the bugs and make her way back to District 12.

Don’t be fooled, the game is only two levels long.  Basically, you have to shoot the bugs by pressing the screen at the right time.  The bugs will shoot at you and you have to dodge them at the right time.  It’s far more challenging than it sounds.  Hell, it took me two days to get past the first level.  You can even try to get the high score and post it on the board.  You’d just have to be a member of Game Center on your iPad or iPhone.  Oh, and don’t expect the game to get to the main part of the story.  Despite the title, the only way it applies to this game is as a metaphor, which is actually quite fitting.

This game is very addictive and quite fun, but it’s a little disappointing that there’s not more to it.  Then again, this game is just a teaser and it’s free, so don’t expect too much.  I give this game 4 out of 10.  I wish this was longer, but what can you say about a free app that’s only two levels long?

Fatal Hearts

Christina Robinson seems like an ordinary teenage girl, except for one thing.  She has recurring dreams about a couple from the past.  Meanwhile, wolves are howling in the night and young women are found violently murdered on the streets.  You take control of Christina and find the answers.  One wrong move, and she becomes just another victim.

No this is not Twilight the visual novel, it’s way more interesting.  While there is a vampire love interest, you don’t have to get with him.  You can get with a wolf or a vampire, and the human characters are pretty cool too.  You also can become a vampire or a werewolf, and you can choose who to side with.  You don’t even have to side with any of them and if you play your cards right, you can bring peace between them.  As for Christina, you can choose whether to have her be a worthless pawn, or take control of her own destiny, it’s all up to you whether she’s strong or weak.

There are also plenty of mini-games to keep you from getting bored.  Some of them are just classic puzzles such as the flour cup game.  You can even get lost in a maze, and there’s even a video game with two dragons.  Many of the mini-games show the characters, but they turn them into game pieces to make it look more like a board game.  If the mini-games are too difficult for you, you can just go to Hanako Forums and download the strategy guide.  Only problem is you’d have to become a member to access it.  Even if the strategy guide doesn’t help, you can just use a cheat code provided in the guide to skip it.  If you’ve already beaten the mini-games, you can just skip them without the need for a cheat code.

The story is very intriguing and the mini-games are really fun.  I give this game 8 out of 10, a great way to pass the time and a good story to play through.

Spirited Heart

In the land of Aravorn, there is a town called Triberg.  Pick your character, choose your background and fulfill your destiny.  Your destiny is all up to you.

When the game starts, you are given a choice of controlling an elf, a human, or a demon.  Then you get to choose where your character was raised, but it makes no impact on the game.  The elf is submissive, while the demon is arrogant and possibly sociopathic.  The human is somewhere in between.  My personal favorite is the demon character.  You’re also given twelve suitors (six boys and six girls).  Each gender has two human characters, two elf characters and two demon characters.  It kind of kills the point of demons being rare and not wanting to walk among other races.  Not to mention that the game says that Triberg has a prejudice towards demons, but we see no evidence of that.

After you finish character creation, you are given a variety of jobs.  Each one helps increase your skill, and if you’re tired, you can choose to take a vacation.  You can also use whatever money you earn to train yourself in a certain skill.  Every few weeks, you have to pay taxes, and the character mentions that she hates bureaucracy (something that plays no part in the game whatsoever).  There is a dice system in the game where you have to reach a certain number in order to do well with the job.  The number is completely random, but you can just save right before doing a job and keep loading the game until you get the perfect score.  It gets repetitive after a while, and chances are you’ll get bored with doing that over and over.  When your character turns twenty two, the goddess of the race you’re playing shows up and offers to grant one wish if you obtain the title she asks you to obtain before you turn thirty.  If you can’t do so, the game ends automatically.

As I said, you have a choice between six men and six women, but the men’s stories aren’t really that interesting.  All you really discover about them is that they like your character and are passionate about their jobs.  There’s only one exception, but I don’t want to give away anything.  There was more focus on the women’s stories, and even more romance there.  My favorite is Hade, the geeky demon with no social skills (she reminds me of Sheldon, except for not being asexual).  Sometimes you do have a rivalry with a potential suitor on the girl’s romance, but they’re all fat perverted men.  No wonder your female romance choices all prefer women.  Your character does interact with other people in the girl’s romances (something missing from the boy’s romances), but occasionally, the artist doesn’t bother to draw a picture of said person.  You’re also told that a character’s wearing a different outfit, but the artist didn’t bother to draw them in one.  Not to mention there are quite a few spelling errors in the game.  Apparently the writer doesn’t have spell check.

The game can be a little repetitive, and chances are you’ll give yourself carpal tunnel with all the clicking.  However, the game is still something to do when you’re bored.  I give this game 3 out of 10, it can be fun, but it gets boring really quickly, especially when you’ve already completed the romance endings and the three goddess endings.

Date Warp

When Janet agrees to go on a blind date with a boy named Bradley, their car breaks down in the middle of the rain.  They seek shelter in a mysterious mansion with four strange people inside.  These people are hiding something and it’s up to Janet and Bradley to find out what.

I know, that sounded a lot like the Rocky Horror Picture show, but the game is way more serious, then again it’d be hard not to be.  Not only is the game a dating sim, it’s also an intriguing visual novel.  You play as Janet and get a choice between five love interests.  Bradley, the honorable jock; Linds, the lecherous scientist; Alben, the mysterious hothead (my personal favorite); Nathaniel, the wealthy gentleman; and Raphael, the sweet but shy assistant.  Each character comes with two endings (a good one and a bad one) with the exception of one who I will not mention.  Try to get every single one, because each storyline reveals the plot little by little.  Throughout the game, there is one recurring theme; would you sacrifice the life of someone else to get a loved one back?  There’s also another theme that contradicts itself in the story.  When it’s revealed that one of the characters had a girlfriend who had a promiscuous lifestyle before meeting him, that character just said that it didn’t matter because he loved her.  However, Janet has the option to sleep with one of the characters, and when you do; you get that character’s bad ending.  That’s like-, well, I think sfdebris’ micro-review of Enterprise’s Stigma sums that up perfectly.  Oh, and don’t tell me that it’s wrong because Janet’s dating Bradley, going on one blind date with someone does not automatically make them your significant other.

During the game, you are making choices, but you are doing so in a unique way.  What you do is play futuristic game of pipes to connect a light bulb to that choice you make.  If you are replaying the game and making that exact same choice, you can skip the mini-game.  You also have the option of fast-forwarding through previously read text, something you’ll be very grateful for.  There is also gallery you get to add pictures to and a list of endings you’ve achieved.  One ending can only be unlocked when you’ve reached all the other endings, and at best, the other endings are bittersweet.

This game was my first introduction to visual novels.  It’s a mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and romance rolled into one, and it has a recurring theme of love and sacrifice.  I give this game 9 out of 10.  I took a point off for the contradicting theme, and it didn’t have a huge emotional affect on me.

Wii Fit

The minute you step on the Wii balance board, you are committing yourself to a healthier lifestyle.  You do yoga, strength training, aerobics and balance exercises.  Don’t forget to check your weight every day.

            I have to say that this game changed my life.  Not only do I have an alternative to the exercise bike, I can squeeze in a few minutes of working out when I don’t have the time.  Still, I don’t like that you have to check your weight every day.  You’re probably wondering what the difference between checking your weight on here and on a scale is.  Well, the scale not only weighs you, it weighs your clothes.  The balance board allows you to remove your clothes from the equation.  You can also do a couple of balance exercises to see how old you are physically.

            The yoga and strength exercises help tone your body.  You can change the gender of your trainer if you feel like it.  For yoga exercises, you have options that don’t even require the balance board.  For strength, you won’t need to use the balance board for some of the exercises, but you will need the Wii remote.  You can also change the number of repetitions you want to do for each strength exercise.  Oh, and do not do any exercises that require you to get on the floor if you have a very excited puppy unless there is someone else with you.

            The aerobic and balance exercises both have you use your own Mii in a fictional setting.  With aerobics, you are spinning a fictional hula-hoop, taking steps on the balance board, punching a fictional bag, and running at a steady pace.  The balance exercises have you pretending to be a goalie, catching fish as a penguin, walking a tight rope high in the air, and other things.  The aerobics exercises help you burn fat while the balance exercises-, well I’m sure you can figure out what those do.

            This game has creative ways of working out and keeps track of your weight.  I give this game 10 out of 10; it completely changed my life.  Just don’t get it as a birthday present for your girlfriend or your wife; it’s completely insulting.

Magical Diary: Horse Hall

When you were thirteen, you had a choice to attend a school to learn magic, or forget about magic and continue living your life as an ordinary teenage girl.  You chose the former and now you make friends, find romances and your teachers throw you into a dungeon for your exams.  Be careful, or you could end up on the wrong path.

If this sounds like a Harry Potter fanfic to you, let me tell you that it practically is one.  They based the game off fanfiction in general, and they admit it.  You can create your character to look however you want her to look, and her default name is Mary Sue.  Not to mention that everyone’s life seems to be hell until she comes along.  It has everything a fanfic has, the student/teacher romance, the girl that redeems the bad boy and brings the shy quiet girl out of her shell and even fixes the lives of her best friends.  The best part is that the game doesn’t take itself seriously.  The makers know that it’s nothing more than an escape fantasy and drags you along for the ride.

As for the romance able characters, each one has their own charm.  Professor Grabiner is the strict and sadistic professor with a secret heart of gold (like the Professor Snape we see in fanfics).  Damien is the troubled but cute half-demon that everyone tells you to stay away from (he’s also my personal favorite, because I liked screwed up stuff).  Donald is the lovable prankster just trying to find an identity for himself.  Virginia is your tomboyish roommate with a love for sweets.  Ellen is the shy bookworm you help bring out of her shell.  There’s also a secret character, but I’m not going to tell you who that is.  If you want, you don’t even have to romance any of them.

The game plays out like a visual novel mixed with life simulation.  Every Sunday, you can choose your schedule.  You can learn five types of magic, workout at the gym, study, or just sleep in.  Every Saturday, you get to either visit the mall or stay in and study.  You even have two extra attributes, cute and weird.  You can choose how to respond to various conversations and sometimes your responses drive up either your cute points or your weird points, based on how you respond.  You can even collect pictures to put in your gallery and win various trophies based on certain actions you take.  Try to collect them all.  Wow, I sound like an ad for a Pokémon game.

There are some scenes that make the magical world seem like 1984, but the game is still a fun play through.  I give this game 7 out of 10.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

When Professor Layton receives a letter from his long time friend, Clark Triton, he immediately travels to Misthallery to help.  The only people helping Layton are his assistant Emmy, and his future apprentice, Luke.

            This is a prequel to the Layton series, so Flora’s not in this game.  Instead, we have Emmy, a woman who can kick the ass of people twice her size and jump on rooftops.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Flora, but Emmy’s more my type of character.  Again, I cried during the story, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as Unwound Future.  Without giving away spoilers, the parts in the story that made me cry involved abuse to animals.  I can’t really count that as being powerful, because I have a soft spot for animals, so getting tears out of me like that is taking the easy way out.  Still, there is a problem I have with the story.  Layton is more worried about putting a grown woman who has repeatedly shown herself to be more than capable of defending herself in danger than he is about a ten-year-old kid who is also the son of his best friend.  Flora I can understand, but being more worried about Emmy than Luke is like having an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Giles is more concerned about Buffy being hurt than he is about Xander.  Although I do consider myself a feminist, I don’t like to toss around words like racist and sexist lightly, but I’m going to have to call sexist in this case.

            Like usual, we have the puzzles and three mini-games.  The puzzles are very difficult and you will need to use a few hint coins.  If you miss any puzzles, they’ll go to Granny Riddleton’s shack.  Some of you are probably wondering, “How could they be sent to Granny Riddleton’s shack when Layton never even met her until Curious Village?”  It’s actually very simple; Layton never meets her in this game.  The only connection he and Luke have to her is through a cat.  The mini-games are the train course, the puppet show and the gold fish tank.  To me, none of them particularly stood out and I only completed them to unlock bonus puzzles.  In addition to those things, this game also comes with something completely new.  You can now view short segments of minor characters to get a better understanding of their lives.

            I’ve already mentioned a problem I have with the story, now I’ll talk about a serious problem I have with the game.  It comes with an extra mini-game called Mouse Alley.  What you do to unlock it is tap ten mice running around through Misthallery.  Then you play a mini-game where you’re doing nothing except tapping mice with your stylus.  Okay, how is this a puzzle?  I played this game for hours, thanks to my obsession with getting 100% completion and all I gained from this stupid thing was cramped fingers!  Were they trying to come up with something different to keep us from getting bored with the series?  If that’s the case, they should just stick to what they know, because they really sucked at that.

            Thankfully, not all new things are bad and there was one new feature that was far from it, Professor Layton’s London Life.  You get to create a character and do tasks for various Layton characters throughout the game.  You even get to have one of the Layton characters become your roommate.  Trust me, it’s way better than it sounds.  The minute I started this game, I couldn’t put it down.  I’m surprised they didn’t make this into a separate game; it can definitely stand out on its own.

            While the puzzles are challenging, the story line intriguing and London Life completely addictive, the mouse alley game was horrible and the mini-games didn’t really catch my interest.  I give this game 9 out of 10, good, but not as good as its previous game.

The Fifth Gate

An evil witch traps a beautiful fairy.  In order to escape, she must tend the witch’s five gardens and fulfill whatever the witch desires.

Is it just me, or does that last line make it sound filthy?  Guess it’s just me.  Anyway, that plot is very cliché and relies entirely on the main character being dumber that a block of wood.  I mean, she’s making potions for this witch left and right and she could’ve easily knocked the witch out and escaped.  There’s also the matter with the villain just twitching her metaphorical mustache.  The only reason the witch is evil is because good is dumb, and every word out of her mouth is a cliché villain line.  Not to mention that any threat she makes she never carries out.  If you don’t meet her goal in the time she asks you to, all that happens is that you don’t get an expert score.  I have to say, for a ruthless villain, she sure is patient.

The game itself is actually very addictive.  Not only are you growing plants, you’re also making potions, killing bugs and you get to sell any potions or leftover flowers for money to upgrade various equipment.  The items are the can of water that you have to refill every day, the flower storage that you can upgrade to hold more, and you can even buy a fountain to fill your watering can with water during the day.  Later in the game, you even get to buy helper plants to make the game easier.  The witch will have various tasks for you to accomplish.  When you accomplish her goal, she gives you either upgrades or the gem to unlock the gate to the next garden.

While the plot is little more than an excuse for the game, the game itself is actually very fun.  I give this game 7 out of 10, not a bad way to waste your time.

The Cross Formula

Mark Cross wakes up in a seedy motel room with no memory of who he is.  The only clues he has are text messages sent to him by a stranger and formulas that pop into his head.

That summary made the game sound more awesome than it actually is.  In reality, you’re just going to random places and doing stuff for different people.  Some of the stuff you have to do for different characters make you question their intelligence or they just appear to have a bad case of laziness.  For example, there’s a waitress who can’t figure out the doll mini-game to get the jukebox working.  The doll mini-game is basically playing a button pushing game of Simon Says.  She also needs your help sorting out the differences in a picture book in order to win a trip to Hawaii.  Let me just say that you’d have to be blind not to see the differences in the pictures.

The gaming style is very much like Dark Parables and Reincarnations in that you have to collect various items.  You also have an unlimited number of hints that recharge fast.  The only thing is there is very little backtracking done in this game.  You also have to solve formulas, and the hints are not going to help you on that.  Don’t worry, if you get stuck you can just consult the Big Fish Games walkthrough here.  I’ll admit that if it weren’t for the walkthrough, I’d never get past the formulas.

Despite the game’s concept, it is quite simple to beat.  There are some unanswered questions, so I think there might be a sequel to this game.  I give this game 6 out of 10, fun and it does have some promise of mystery.