Archive for the ‘casual games’ Category

Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger

29 November 2009 1 comment

It’s absolutely no secret that I love hidden object games. I’ve been addicted to them ever since I was a child spending time in pediatrician waiting rooms oogling ancient copies of Highlights magazine. The Nancy Drew series is one I’m not actually familiar with, so I decided to check it out with Her Interactive’s newest title in the series Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger.

Nancy Drew continues her detective work at an exclusive resort for the rich and famous. As Nancy, you snoop around a lot moving your mouse around the screen until sparkles appear. Click, and you’ve found an object of use on that map. Pair sparkle objects together to advance in the game. Finish the occasional bonus puzzle for extra points, such as diffusing a bomb… oh, yes… bombs. Your job is to discover who a mad bomber is, and why they are all very mad. It’s all very dangerous.

The problem with this particular game is that it adds nothing new to the table. As a player, I don’t want to spend any time moving my mouse around the screen looking for things that will trigger a sparkle event. I want to be in a location with a purpose, and use that purpose to move forward in the game. NDD: RtD fails to do that.

I should, however, keep in mind that the target audience for this particular game is younger girls ages 10 and older. The design, therefore, is probably spot on for that market, however, I’d have hoped there would be some sort of challenge.

In other hidden object news, I just learned that the next game in brilliant Mystery Case Files series is about to be released. Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove is the newest in the series, and is currently available as an exclusive collector’s edition to Big Fish club members. Guess who just reactivated her account 😀


An Experiment in Social RPGs

12 October 2009 Leave a comment

Mafia WarsThe main theme of this year’s Austin Game Developer’s Conference, which happened to be the first that I’ve ever attended, was social networking games. I attended several panels regarding SRPGs, including one conducted by Playdom‘s Steve Meretsky (a childhood game design hero of mine, specifically his amazing work with Infocom, the best game company ever) and the final keynote, conducted by PlayFish‘s Sebastien de Halleux. It’s not that I was actively attempting to attend SRPG stuff; SRPGs are not part of my work in the Industry. It simply could not be avoided.

At the same time, I’ve had an interest in casual gaming. I’ve been playing them since Bejeweled first hit the Web. And, according to the IGDA, I’m totally within the targeted range of this type of game product: female, at home, late 30’s… except I’m a hardcore gamer. Casual games, and SRPGs, tend to target those who may not be gamers or consider themselves to be. SRPGs have the added twist of being, well, social. If a friend of yours on a social networking site is playing the game and they invite you to play, it will be likely that you will start playing the game as well.

So, I’ve decided to try an experiment in social RPGs. I’m not interested specifically in the microtransaction portion of their design (which will be the future of gaming as we know it, IMO), but more about how SRPGs spread virally, their common or uncommon traits, etc. I’ve created a second Facebook account for this purpose, and signed up for one SRPG, the very popular Mafia Wars. I won’t be adding games unless invited by friends… in fact, I won’t be adding my existing friends at all. I want to see if a complete stranger with absolutely no ties to anyone can proliferate in this genre, as well as the viral spread of these games. Let’s see how it goes.

Plants vs. Zombies

14 June 2009 Leave a comment


I have a new addiction. It does entail eating brains and gardening, neither of which I can imagine myself doing in real life. Thank God for Popcap Games and its newest hit Plants vs Zombies. Here’s the premise: you’re a home owner (which I am), and your house is being attacked by a myriad group of zombies with different abilities. Your job is to prevent them from getting across either your front or back yards by planting things such as pea-shooting plants, zombie-blocking wall-nuts, and 40 other plant things that you can use to stop them. Some of those zombies ride zambonis, so you really need to be on your toes else they will most probably eat them, too.

As you can expect with a Popcap game, the levels are really well-thought out. Each progresses in difficulty logically and the fun factor follows suit. It’s not often where I find myself literally biting my nails as I barely make it through a level (right now I’m only on 3-9… I can only imagine how long my nails will last at this rate!). A mini-game is made available to you after every 10 levels, and so far I’ve opened three of them up. Each has been extremely well-done and are complete games in and of themselves. They are also a great way to earn money. Money lets you buy important tools from your crazy neighbor’s store, as well as extra slots for you to utilize. The slot prices do seem a bit high. For example, a 10-slot costs $80,000 does seem a bit steep, but you can pay only $200 for a rake weapon that lasts three rounds. This translates to spending a lot of time playing mini-games for those dollars. And lord knows I can certainly use more seed slots!

My one real complaint about the game is the backyard pool zombies. While it’s relatively inexpensive to use some water-based seed units, some of those zombies can be tough to beat, and therefore it winds up being much more expensive to protect your pool tiles than it is to protect the rest of your yard. But, then again, if you’ve ever seen my backyard in real life, you’d know that I’m really just not too keen on backyards to begin with.

Overall, Plants vs Zombies is an absolutely excellent title. It’s well-designed, has a very amusing theme, and overall is just plain fun. I give this 4.5 out of 5 brains.

Special thanks to Miss Alisa for convincing me to check the game out!
Categories: casual games, pc gaming