Fabulous: Angela’s True Colors (Gamehouse)

When Angela opens her own boutique, she finds herself in competition with famous designer Noemie herself for Fashion Week. Only problem, Angela doesn’t know if she should use her true designs or ones that better fit the mainstream. Can Angela find the courage to show the world her true colors?

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.

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.

Dr. Cares Pet Rescue 911

Recent graduate of Vet school, Amy Care, now has two options.  She can either take a job at the big city vet clinic, or take over her grandfather’s small business.  What will she choose?

I’m sure many of you already predicted in your heads what Amy will pick at the end.  However, the game is less about Amy’s decision and more about the journey she takes to get there.  Spoiler alert, the big city people see animals more as decoration than living things as opposed to the fine people of Snuggford.  I’ll admit that it is rather simplistic, but I’ll talk about this later. There’s one bright spot about the big city. Said bright spot is a non-profit animal shelter Amy’s co-worker volunteers at in his free time.  Only problem is that they have trouble finding donors, an issue also shared by a real life organization I volunteer at called Second Chance SPCA. Though they never say if the shelter in the game is a no kill one or not, while the one I volunteer at actually is a no kill rescue.  Despite the light-hearted nature of the game, some scenes might upset you. I will tell you that the writers drew inspiration from real life events and talk about the controversy behind such events as horseracing. They also discuss people who throw away animals as if they are throwing away the garbage.

Like the previous games in the series, this one also has a romantic subplot.  However, this subplot actually symbolizes Amy’s naivety and character growth. Jasper is Amy’s first boyfriend and is a rich spoiled brat used to getting his way.  It’s similar to how the Pawsitiviy Pet Clinic turns out to be more about making money than they are about helping animals. Jack is the hard-working man who works at the Pawsitivity Pet Clinic for a paycheck but still cares about animals.  He’s also the one who introduces Amy to the animal rescue while Jasper is the one who gets her a job at the stables. The former is about helping animals while the latter is more about grooming the horses to help the humans. Amy also has two friends, one who represents the superficiality of the big city and another who represents the more modest small-town life of Snuggford.  However, the former turns out to be more than just superficiality as she adopts an abandoned puppy who takes a liking to her. Proving that there is a shining light in the big city, which is small but still there.

I said earlier that the game is rather simplistic in its view of small towns good and big cities bad.  The small town in question is Snuggford and it has a Mayberry vibe. Everybody knows each other, everybody gets along and everybody treats their animals well.  The big city is far crueler where one of your jobs is to dye a puppy pink. I am not kidding about that. Be prepared for two spoiler alerts. The first is that you have to expose the owner of the Pawsitivity Pet Clinic for drugging a racehorse.  

Image result for Dr. Cares pet rescue 911

The second is that the original owner of the pink puppy abandons him or her at the animal shelter. Don’t worry, the puppy finds another home with Amy’s big city friend. As much as I wish real life could be this simplistic, it’s not. The truth is small towns are every bit as capable of being cruel to animals as big cities are, such as this farm of horrors found in Massachusetts. It’s just that the big city and sports such as horse racing have more of a reputation for it.

The game play has similarities to Delicious, yet also carries a Heart’s Medicine vibe.  People either bring their pets in for a checkup or go to the counter to purchase items. You give the people what they want and check them out of the clinic.  In the case of the animals, you sometimes have to play mini-games.

Related image

After you’ve checked out the people who brought their animals, you have to clean up after them.  Get the first star to advance to the next level but try for all three, if you feel lucky. Each level comes with a special event you can complete for diamonds and a find the mouse mini-game.  You can use the diamonds to purchase gifts for Newton, Amy’s pet bird.

Image result for dr. cares pet rescue 911

You can also purchase upgrades in-between levels to make your game play experience easier. Throughout the game, you can earn trophies if you meet certain conditions.

This game is addictive, but has its tearjerker moments.  I give it 9 out of 10; some of the scenes upset me in a good way.

Mary Le Chef: Cooking Passion (Gamehouse)

Mary Vanderworth dreams of being a chef while her parents want her to become a lawyer, like them.  Therefore, she has to maintain her job at the restaurant while working at a law firm to pass the bar.

The storyline is similar to the first venue of Cathy’s Crafts, except this one takes up the entire game.  Mary moves from restaurant to restaurant mastering her chosen profession while meeting other people along the way.  One in particular is a man that wants to be a comedian despite his father’s wish that he take over the family business.  I loved the parallels with Mary’s own conflict and that, in both cases, it takes awhile for the parents to realize that they need to set their children free.  The difference is that he can stand up to his father while Mary is still trying to make her parents happy.

However, I didn’t like one plot element.  This element takes the form of Mary’s boyfriend, Peter.  Not only is his addition pointless to the story, but he shows excessively jealous tendencies towards Mary.  He also shows himself to be indecisive and fickle by breaking up with Mary only to go back to the ex-girlfriend he despised.  While Peter is right that Mary is destroying herself by becoming a lawyer rather than a chef, we didn’t need him to point that out for us.

The game play is similar to the Delicious series with you delivering the required items to the customers.  Then you check them out at the cash register and clean the tables for sitting customers.

Related image

Be quick about it, or customers will leave if they don’t get the table they want the minute they walk in the restaurant.  Believe me when I say it gets frustrating.  You need to reach the first star of every level in order to continue the game, but try for all three if you feel lucky.

Image result for Mary le chef

Each level comes with a special challenge you have to complete in order to get diamonds you can spend on gifts for Mary’s room.  You can also win trophies throughout the game by complete special tasks.  Did I mention that you can upgrade the products throughout each venue? However, I should tell you, the game doesn’t really give you an exact idea of how close you are to the newer products and the trophies.  This makes it even more irritating.  Completing venues also unlocks recipes for your cookbook.  Emily’s nemesis, Carl the mouse, also appears in every level for you to catch. That’s right; Emily makes a cameo appearance to explain about the mouse that drove exterminators crazy.

Image result for Mary le chef

This time, Carl doesn’t appear in the exact location every time.  Therefore, you had better be quick.

This game is fun, but has a couple of flaws.  I give it 6 out of 10, one point off for the boyfriend and another for the game play issues.