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?

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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.  

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

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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.  

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

Sally’s Quick Clips (Gamehouse)

You’ve seen Sally run a series of salons and spas.  Now see how Sally got started in this flashback to her time on a hit TV show!  Is Sally’s success from luck, or did she earn her way to the top?

As you can see, the storyline is quite simple.  Sally competes in a game show, wins prizes and meets many colorful contestants along the way.  I’ll admit that I did snicker at some of the scenes. However, I do wonder how a TV Show about cutting hair managed to get so popular.  Then again, I play video games about cutting hair. So maybe it’s not very shocking. Celebrities also visit your salons with the names Donny Jepp and Damonna.  If you don’t know who these people are supposed to represent, then you need a brain transplant.

If you’ve played the last two games, then you remember that they had Sally running around cutting hair, giving massages and so on. In this one, you have to match up icons in order to wash hair, cut hair and anything else that salons are famous for.  That’s right; they changed a time management game into a match 3 style for no other reason than to make it unique. While I’m not against change, there is a wrong way to implement it. Fans of Jurassic Park should remember when the third movie came out and they changed the mascot from the badass T-Rex to the lame Spinosaurus. The movie itself included a fight scene between the two dinosaurs with the latter having a weak victory over the former.  Then, when Jurassic World came out, the studio realized that they made a huge mistake and went back to the T-Rex. They even filmed an awesome fight scene between the T-Rex and the dinosaur created through genetic engineering.

As for the game play itself, it can be rather addictive but you won’t get extra points for making amazing matches.  Your goal is to fill up the bars for each action and use them on the customers.

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Unfortunately, I found myself so busy making matches I’d often forget that I even have customers.  Let me tell you, when the game play distracts from the level’s goal rather than helps you achieve it, that’s the sign of a serious design flaw. You can also purchase upgrades in-between levels and you have to meet the minimum goal in order to get to the next level.  Try for expert but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll just pass through this game without even caring. At the end of each venue is a level where you have to beat a different competitor to come up with your own signature style.

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The challenge is grating and, more often than not, you won’t find the matches you need to win.  I had to replay the final match quite a few times and finally beat it because of a game glitch.

This game is addictive but not worth your time.  I give it 3 out of 10, if you must know how Sally got started, just find someone’s let’s play of the game on YouTube.