Dr. Cares: Family Practice (Gamehouse)

After a long absence, Amy’s mother, Alice, comes back to Snuggford to offer Amy the chance of a lifetime, to work with dolphins and help the mother, Shira, give birth. Is the offer genuine, or does Alice have her own agenda?

Read More »

Parker and Lane: Criminal Justice (Gamehouse)

Parker’s a rookie detective with a temper like fire.  Lane’s a seasoned attorney with a laid back attitude.  When the latter’s clients start dropping like flies, he has to team up with the former to figure out who the killer is.

I’ll admit, I’ve never seen a procedural cop show, but I have played a Choices story called Most Wanted, which has similar plot devices.  The main difference is that Most Wanted felt more self-aware and actually managed to make the characters likable.  Unlike Most Wanted, these characters are exactly as they appear to be on the surface, with no depth to flush them out.  Parker’s the hot-headed detective, Lane’s the relaxed lawyer and that is it.  Even the side characters are little more than plot devices, with the coroner functioning as more of an implied romantic obstacle when not doing her job.  The tech guy is the guy with the crush on Parker and that is it.  I’ll admit, there is one attempt to flesh out Lane by making him a single father, but it feels like something the writers hacked on in a desperate attempt for sympathy.  In other words, this game is Most Wanted without the personality.

Unfortunately, those weren’t my only problems with the game.  Do you remember my review of Maggie’s Movies, where I praised the game for addressing sexism in Hollywood?  Well, this did the exact opposite and, I warn you, there are spoilers in this paragraph.  One of the first warning signs is when one of Lane’s clients assaults Parker in a way that could have possibly turned sexual were she not able to defend herself.  No one calls attention to this and Lane even defends this man and calls Parker out for being judgmental.  Yes, you read that right, Lane gets angry with Parker for defending herself against a potential rapist and coming to the conclusion that Lane defends horrible people.  Are these writers stuck in the seventies?  To make an already awful situation worse, when the precinct forces Parker and Lane to team up, Lane makes a sexist remark and the game brushes it off as a joke with the boss laughing along.  However, Parker makes her distaste for Lane clear, yet her boss practically orders her to work with him and doesn’t listen to her feelings.  If the game had the goal of drawing attention to sexism in the workplace, this wouldn’t bother me so much.  Instead, the message of the game is that Parker is excessively uptight and needs to loosen up.  While Lane is the relaxed life force that can do just that.  Again, I ask if these writers are stuck in the seventies.

Unbelievably, this game is actually part of the Delicious series and the style supports this.  Usually games like this have a hidden object style, which is exactly what it says on the tin.  This game decided to bring a time management style to a murder case, which I admit is something that’s never been done.  However, just because something’s new doesn’t automatically make it good. You send different investigators to check on different areas, bring them the required items and then send them on their way.  In some instances, you have to play a mini-game and believe me when I say that they will pop out of nowhere to the point of frustration.  Then you send the investigators on their way and have to meet the minimum goal requirement to get to the next level.  Every level comes with an optional side quest that you can complete for a diamond, and you get to play special challenge levels in-between.  You spend these diamonds on evidence for your case file.  You also have to catch the mouse every level, as usual, and get to partake in the daily challenge.  Like other games in the series, you also have the option of collecting all of the achievements.  Just don’t expect to see any cameos from Emily and the gang.

This game is dull to the point of being a chore.  I give it 3 out of 10; the one Delicious game where I didn’t even bother to collect all of the achievements before calling it quits.

Delicious: Moms Vs Dads (Gamehouse)

Emily and her friends are tired of having to do all of the housework while their husbands lay around the house.  Therefore, they have a Father of the Year contest in order to teach them a lesson. Will the men learn anything or use this as an excuse to continue being lazy?

Be warned that this review contains spoilers, so proceed with caution.  First, I’d like to say that, when I first started playing the game, I had a huge fear that it would result in the latter.  There were times in the game when you’re supposed to have sympathy for the husbands’ failures, especially Mike. He is such an epic fail that, during the camping challenge, he didn’t pack enough supplies for his children but still managed to pack too much.  The characters even point out that he’s director of the parks department, so this should be his area of expertise. It gets so bad that Mike’s boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t clean up his act. Let me explain that Sharon, without getting permission from the others, agreed to broadcast the Father of the Year contest on live television.  The fact that the parks department keeps a failure such as Mike employed at the park makes them look back. Thankfully, Stacy agrees to help but, instead of helping Mike be a better cook, she makes pancakes for him, gives them to him in secret and encourages him to tell everyone he made the pancakes. Don’t worry; everyone catches Mike and Stacy in the act.  Fortunately, for Mike, it’s the one time when the camera operator’s not around. At the end of the camping round, he chooses to stay in the competition so that he doesn’t disappoint his kids and ends up doing a not so terrible job at making pancakes.

Patrick, on the other hand, is good at being a fun dad but fails at being a responsible parent.  He can play with his kids, but he fails at laundry and only does chores around the house when Emily asks him to.  She calls him out on this during the contest when he questions Emily for giving him a four. Patrick ends up getting so competitive that, during the kite competition, he ignores Paige’s wish to keep the kite they made in order to make a superior kite that would be sure to beat Chad.  Patrick even gets angry with Emily, accusing her of wanting him to be more like Chad. He is Sharon’s husband who passes all of the challenges with flying colors, yet spends more time on business trips than he does with his family. However, Emily never said that Patrick needed to be more like Chad.  All she told Patrick was that he needed to improve his fathering skills because they have three children and Emily’s strained having to do all of the work herself. It’s something I pointed out in Miracle of Life when Emily was making excuses for Patrick, so I’m happy to see that she’s wising up about this.  Later on, Emily gets worried that Patrick’s desire to win is making him lose sight of what made him a good father, as I pointed out earlier. In the end, Emily and Sharon come up with the idea to have the final round be about how well the fathers know their children. It’s a challenge Patrick passes with flying colors and is even able to tell his kids apart when Chad switches the twins around so that Patrick will lose.  This challenge is worth double the points and, if you ask me, Patrick should’ve gotten more points just for being able to tell his kids apart despite the sabotage. Instead, they decide to give a four-way tie, something Chad doesn’t agree with which I’ll talk about later. Patrick comes up with the idea to make a special challenge for each father to give their kids a surprise and it’s worth no points. He even admits to Emily that the contest was a good idea because it helped him appreciate how hard Emily works.  As happy as I am about Patrick’s growth, it still brings up one question. I’m sure those of you who follow my blog know that Emily and Angela went on the Love Boat for a cruise while Patrick stayed behind to care for their kids. Since Patrick, at the time, was not a responsible father, what kind of mess did Emily come home to after she left the cruise?

Chad, Sharon’s husband, is the other side of the coin.  He’s good at cooking, cleaning and everything the contest has to offer in the beginning.  It’s something Sharon brags about and shows off to everyone even going so far as to allow a news channel to broadcast the contest without talking to the other women about it.  Sharon points out that it’s no different from Emily posting the contest on her blog, but she didn’t go behind everyone’s backs for her own ego. However, as I said earlier, Chad spends more time at work than he ever does with his family.  It’s what inspires Sharon to come up with the final challenge and show everyone that Chad’s not so perfect after all. During this challenge, he fails miserably at answering questions about Grace. It’s a scene I found rather funny and sad at the same time.  Patrick, despite being in competition with Chad, actually tries to help him out and fails. Whether Patrick does this more for Chad or Grace is up to the player to figure out. Personally, I think Patrick did it more for Grace because she was hurt that her own father didn’t know anything about her.  I’m sure there are some children who understand Grace’s pain. This inspires Chad to sabotage Patrick by switching their twins that, as I’ve pointed out, backfires. I also said that Chad is the only husband not satisfied with a four-way tie and talks to the reporter about having a sumo contest to determine the winner.  Since the whole point of this contest was to show the men what the women have to go through, this undermines the whole message and reinforces that it’s more important for men to be macho rather than being good people. It’s a message also supported by my mom’s least favorite car commercial. Unlike that commercial, the contest ends with Patrick about to win but forfeiting at the last minute when he sees his son crawling for the first time.  Despite Chad being the winner, Patrick gets the last minute footage for caring more about his kids than he does about the contest. In the end, Sharon breaks down because she admits to Emily that she’d rather have an imperfect husband that spends time with her and Grace than a perfect husband who’s never there. Chad overhears this and quits his job for Sharon, leaving her to worry about whether they’ll be poor because Chad has no job. Personally, if Chad’s job makes him enough money for them to own a beach house, I think they’ll have more than enough money saved up to stay rich.  However, they might want to keep a closer eye on their back account.

Last and, in my mind, most certainly least is Andy.  For those of you who haven’t played Miracle of Life, Andy is Mary-Lynn’s husband who abandoned her when she was pregnant.  Now, he wants to come back into her life and takes part in the contest to win Mary-Lynn’s heart. While Andy does mediocre on the chores at best, their baby, Levi, doesn’t know him because he’s never been around.  To me, this is a gray area. I haven’t forgiven Andy for abandoning his family, but I imagine it would be hard for Mary-Lynn to raise Levi on her own. In the end, she takes him back and he helps with the chores as well as raising Levi.

I explained that each father learns, in their own way, that they need to help with the domestic in their own way.  I also said that there were many times throughout the game that I feared the message would be, “fathers are useless at anything domestic so mothers should do everything.”  At first, it begins with elderly women saying that Emily’s generation is lucky because the men help. What they didn’t get is that the men often blew off their chores with Patrick refusing to get up at night and feed the twins.  Emily, Sharon and Mary-Lynn talk about this with Evelyn and Brigid, who both support the Father of the Year contest. At first, they mope about how mothers do all the work and fathers get all the credit. They even make jokes about events for the Father of the Year contest, which Emily, at first, finds a little too mean-spirited.  Brigid defends it by talking about how she had to raise Patrick and Kate by herself with no help from their father. Evelyn is, at first, proud of Edward for vacuuming, until she realizes that she’s been praising her husband for doing one chore around their house. Meanwhile, she is stuck with the lion’s share. Patrick refusing to get up in the night and take care of their babies is the final straw for Emily.  At the end, each of their husbands agree to do more chores around the house. Patrick even does the dishes without Emily having to tell him and gets up in the night to take care of the babies. Evelyn even tells Edward that he has to do an equal amount of chores as she does when cleaning from now on.

The game play is just as it was in Miracle of Life, with you preparing products and giving them to standing or seated customers.  You have to clean up after the seated customers as soon as they leave.

Image result for delicious moms vs dads

Then you find the mouse in each level and complete a challenge to get the diamond for that level.  You also get to play optional challenge levels to earn more diamonds but don’t enhance the story in any way. If you’re still low on diamonds, you can play the daily challenge to get more.  During each level, you have to take part in mini-games that tend to distract from the game rather than add to it.

Related image

It’s similar to what Heart’s Medicine and Dr. Cares would do, except the mini-games were about treating patients.  This helped add to the experience while, in Delicious, it more distracts you from your goal. It’s similar to when Sally’s Quick Clips tried to do a match 3 game and failed. In that case, they learned their lesson and went back to the original style.  Since the makers used this in Miracle of Life before making this game, you can see that this isn’t the case with them. You can buy upgrades between levels to make your gaming experience easier. As for the diamonds, you use them to purchase decorations for Emily’s backyard.  Unfortunately, you have to buy both variations if you want to get that trophy; one of the many that you can win in the game. The game play also supports the storyline in the last venue, where you play as Patrick giving Emily a break from running her restaurant. However, I do wonder who’s running his flower shop.  You can also higher Mike as a cleaner for the last venue, with the description explaining that it’s one of his first lessons on domestic work.

This game has a good storyline, but doesn’t really entertain as it should.  I give it 6 out of 10; love the message, not crazy about the game play.

Mortimer Beckett and the Book of Gold (Gamehouse)

When Mortimer inherits his uncle’s museum in Snuggford, he gets the task of protecting the Book of Gold.  Unfortunately, a sheik desires the book for sinister purposes. Now Mortimer must team up with Kate and prevent the book from falling into the wrong hands.

Mortimer’s back and, like Sally, he’s joined the cast of Delicious.  This time, he teams up with Patrick’s sister, Kate O’Malley, who longs for adventure.  I have to admit, this is the first time I’m hearing about this characterization. However, they don’t really do much with Kate except use her as a false love interest and hint that she makes perfume.  That last part went the way of Francois’s interior decorating business. Kate is now Watson to Mortimer’s Sherlock Holmes, even if she thinks she’s the hero and Mortimer’s the sidekick. There are even hints of romance between Mortimer and Kate, which, if you ask me, really isn’t necessary.  The writers just believed that, because it’s a man and a woman hanging out, there must be romance between them. Unless the man is gay, then he just gets subtle hints of his orientation and no romance. I will give the writers credit on not turning Mortimer into a dogged nice guy. He’s just a regular man with a crush who doesn’t feel entitled to Kate and only follows her vigorously because she has the Book of Gold in her backpack.  They even have Mortimer admit that he’s never been with a woman because he feels that his life is too chaotic for romance. That’s right; they actually reference his past adventures. Spoiler alert, at the end when Kate says that she’s not sure if a life with Mortimer is right for her, he doesn’t pressure her into staying.

The storyline has a tendency to pad, such as when Kate falls into a hole and needs to get out.  The worst offense would have to be when the police arrest Mortimer because they mistook him for the notorious criminal Jackal.  This serves no purpose because we never hear about this Jackal again. All right, it serves one purpose and that’s to rub the Mortimer and Kate romance in our faces.  The game will do this quite often, so be prepared. However, this is an adventure storyline about an introverted guy and an extroverted girl teaming up to find an artifact, which can quickly become a tired old gender cliche.  You can easily make Kate and Mortimer good friends without ruining the storyline.

As I said, this is a story about a thinker and a doer.  The plot does fall victim to the Straw Vulcan trope at one point, with Mortimer and Kate arguing over a map.  Mortimer has trouble deciphering the map, so Kate follows her intuition. She ends up with the Book of Gold and Mortimer, who wants work extra hard at deciphering the map, ends up poisoned.  Mortimer has to solve a puzzle only for a poisonous spider to bite him, which begs the question of why someone would put a puzzle there and have the reward be a near death experience. Instead of chalking this up to dumb luck, the story treats Kate as being in the right.  There’s another instance where the game does not delegate the tasks to the characters properly. Mortimer’s job is to call for help while Kate looks for clues. Since Mortimer is the detective and Kate the social newcomer, I feel that it should be the other way around.

These aren’t the only problems with the storyline.  For instance, when Kate first meets Mortimer, she mistakes him for a janitor.  I don’t know about you, but if my car broke down in front of a museum and I met a well-dressed man, I wouldn’t think he was the janitor.  Don’t forget that Mortimer became famous for thwarting the Crimson Thief and, if Kate really does want adventure, there’s a chance she might know who he is.  The biggest problem would have to be the artifact in the title, the Book of Gold. What is it about the Book of Gold that makes it so important that people are willing to kill for it?  What does it do other than come up with random sayings everybody knows? When you make a game about the artifact in the title, you have to come up with a good reason for why it would be important.

The game play is actually unique for a hidden object.  You go through the map and play each level in the same style that you would play a Gamehouse time management game.  

Image result for mortimer beckett and the book of gold

In each level, you collect pieces of the items to add to your inventory and use them to advance throughout the story.  

Image result for mortimer beckett and the book of gold

You get a green checkmark for using no hints. Unfortunately, there are no sparkling objects to hint where you need to interact.  Therefore, you have to guess where you’re supposed to use certain items. Like in many hidden objects, you get to play mini games.  

Image result for mortimer beckett and the book of gold

However, there are no instructions for how to play them, so you just have to guess blindly. Be prepared to consult the walkthrough for The Book of Gold quite often.  You also find the mouse and get hidden challenge levels for diamonds. You have to complete the challenge levels in a certain amount of time if you want the hourglass, which also serves no purpose other than bragging rights.  You use the diamonds to purchase artifacts at an auction.

Image result for mortimer beckett and the book of gold

I did some research and, from what I could fact check, most of the info is historically accurate.

This game is fun but flawed.  I give it 6 out of 10; only slightly better than the last game in the Delicious series.

Sally’s Salon: Beauty Secrets (Gamehouse)

When Sally’s favorite singer and long lost love disappear from civilization, she goes on a quest to find him once and for all.  Can she reunite with her long lost love?

That’s right, Sally’s back and she’s part of the Delicious cast.  However, it seems that they ignore Sally’s Quick Clips and Sally’s Studio as well as the existence of Nell.  The former’s justified by saying that Sally’s Quick Clips sucked and Sally opening a studio is a little outside her comfort zone.  On the other hand, salons and spas go hand in hand. As for the latter, no true justification except that they wanted to make Francois Sally’s sidekick instead.  Which is a good decision; since Francois is more fun, but they could have at least mentioned Nell or let her have a cameo.

I’m sure many Delicious fans remember the plot of Emily’s True Love, where Emily goes to Paris after finding a letter her French lover wrote to her long ago.  This game shares similarities with Sally chasing after Julio, who she never got over from her college days. Considering that Julio left without saying a word, you can bet that it didn’t end well.  I bet you’re expecting me to find a problem with this plot but the truth is, I understand. I’ve had some bad experiences with people I still dwell on and a part of me still wants to make up with these people and be friends with them again.  Sally’s longing for more, but the idea is still the same. I will admit that the game has a few laugh out loud moments, such as Francois telling everyone in Snugford where Sally ran off to and then hearing it on the radio.  There’s another moment on a cruise ship where Francois watches the exercise programs and talks about how watching people workout can really make you sweat.  He’s even expecting to be in shape when the cruise is over. Oh, how I wish getting in shape could work like that. Sally also has more of a character as a gossiping and coffee addicted hairdresser, which was more than she had in the previous games. One of the spa owners Sally works for calls her out on her flaws. Did I mention that Sally also refers to previous Delicious games in her stories?  In one instance, she even tells a story about Emily that wasn’t hers to tell. It’s something Francois called her out on. However, the plot itself can be rather predictable. Sometimes, when the characters mention something, I know right away how it will be resolved. I also have an issue with how old Sally is. The game hints that she’s almost fifty. I have to say, she definitely doesn’t look it.  Either Sally ages unbelievably well, or her salon business makes so much money, she can afford expensive plastic surgery.

The game play has made significant changes due to Sally joining the Delicious cast.  For instance, you have to grab items before attending to customers. You also have different mini-games to play and it takes a little getting used to.  Catch the mouse in each level, complete challenges for diamonds and get one star to advance to the next level. Try for all three, if you feel lucky. You can also purchase upgrades in between levels.  Like previous games, you can upgrade your products, but you have to click on each product individually instead of getting a popup about it. This gets very annoying very fast. I also didn’t like having to reset my screen whenever I wanted to play the game just so I can few all of the cut scenes and enjoy the game fully.  There’s also one issue I have feminist wise. All of Sally’s customers in the first venue are women. Not a single man visits her salon, which is quite a change from the first game where men and women visit. However, in one of the spas, you can paint a man’s toenails just like you can paint a woman’s toenails.

This game is addictive, yet predictable.  I give it 6 out of 10, a couple points off for the upgrade issue and the problem with my computer screen.

Sally’s Studio (Gamehouse)

After running her own successful chain of salons and spas, Sally enters the workout studio business.  Can this venture be just as successful as her other two?

I’m sure everyone who’s played the Sally games knows the answer to this question is yes.  This is why there’s nothing to discuss about the storyline. The game play is another matter and, let me tell you, after the disaster I like to call Sally’s Quick Clips this is a serious improvement.  Sally’s Studio goes back to the game play that made the series famous. Customers enter your shop, you drag them to the right workout station and assist them. Then you check them out and take their money and they pay you based on how much they enjoyed their experience.  It’s something you could never do in real life without getting into trouble with the owner.

Image result for sally's studio

Some customers require mini-games that can give them an extra heart. You can purchase upgrades in-between levels, some of them being workers you can delegate tasks to. Believe me, you’ll find this very helpful.  If you purchase the collector’s edition, you can buy an extra yoga instructor who is the first worker to take a mini-game from you. You can also purchase a greeter and a cashier.

Image result for sally's studio

Unlike in Sally’s Spa, the game doesn’t force the cashier on you. However, you also don’t get to select products for people to buy while they wait.  I’ll admit that I loved this aspect of Sally’s Spa. The collector’s edition also comes with two extra venues. Each venue comes with a medal you can earn if you complete a certain requirement as well as six trophies you can earn throughout the game. Seven trophies, if you purchase the Collector’s Edition.

This game is fun and addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, not as good as Sally’s Spa but way better than Sally’s Quick Clips.