Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure (Mac): COMPLETED!

This free sort-of-followup to Thimbleweed Park came out as a surprise recently, so of course I picked it up. It’s built using assets from the original game, as an experiment or prototype, but aside from being short it’s a properly playable thing.

You control Delores, one of the characters from the first game, who has returned to Thimbleweed Park after a year away. She’s taken a temp job as a photographer for the local paper, and the aim of the game is to take 30 photos for various news stories, each fitting specific criteria.

To get the right shot, you often have to solve point-and-click puzzles, whereas others are just reinterpreting the request or being a bit creative with what is around you.

There’s an odd quirk where the game quits (intentionally) after every five photos are returned to the paper, which means that when reloaded sometimes there are tasks that have reset and you have to repeat (and yet others that haven’t), but the whole game is pretty short so it’s not really a problem.

A fun little diversion, especially if you enjoyed Thimbleweed Park, like I did.

Wheels of Aurelia (Mac): COMPLETED!

This has been very cheap on the Switch several times, and the graphic style piqued my interested. However, I’d never bought it because reviews put me off – it’s not the driving game it appears, it’s incredibly short, and there’s very little to it. But a free copy on Epic Games? Ah, gwan then.

The reviews were right. Although there is driving, it’s little more than a mechanism to tell the story. You can’t really crash, the car will actually drive itself if you let go of the controls, and the only interaction you need to do is decide to pull over to pick up hitchhikers or to choose a route when you come to one of the very infrequent junctions.

No, the game is actually a narrative discovery game rather than a driving game. Set in 1978, you play a woman called Lella who decides to go on a road trip. Along the way, you meet people and discuss music, politics, feminism, abortion, and Italy at the time. It’s sort of interesting, learning a bit of history and about the neo-nazis who were around then, but the dialogue is disjointed and seems to be arranged randomly. I suspect it’s mainly due to the localisation, but the result is that the main bit of the game doesn’t really work – it’s all unnatural conversations and unusual grammar.

It was short, and didn’t make a lot of sense, and although there are other endings it still felt like a slog despite the length so I don’t think I’ll be playing it again.

Time Clickers (Mac): COMPLETED!

After the “fun” that was Crush Crush, I thought I’d try another clicker game. Time Clickers is properly free, with no IAPs needed to unlock anything. It’s a lot simpler in structure than Crush Crush too.

The fact that there’s a ceiling you can hit, and there should be no barrier to getting there in a realistic time was appealing after the issues I had with Crush Crush. It is less interactive though, and there’s no funny dialogue or real purpose to the game – you just shoot blocks which get higher and higher HP so you need to upgrade your weapons to suit.

Anyway, after hitting wave 5000-odd and unlocking all the achievements, I was done. It took a couple of weeks, again mostly idling, but I could log in on either my computer or iPad to carry on the game which was nice.

Crush Crush (Mac): COMPLETED!

Now, this is a tricky one to categorise as completed, but hear me out. Crush Crush is a clicker game, albeit wrapped up in a waifu dating guise, but still a clicker. Girls become available, you spend hearts on them and money on gifts and dates, and the more you get them to like you the more you have to spend. Then more girls unlock and so on.

It’s free to play, but after 400+ hours of play (well, probably 390 hours of idling, 10 hours of play) across several weeks, it became clear that it may be free to play, but it certainly isn’t free to win.

Alpha is a sentient AI holographic idol. So of course you can date her.

You get to a point in the game where you may have all the money, heart and time multipliers available to you, but in order to progress, you still need to idle for almost a year of real time. And no doubt the next step up will be bigger still. Or, you could fork out some real actual money for a pile of multiplier-multipliers (as they stack on top of the “free” ones earned in game) to actually have a chance. Sure, you can progress the game as far as possible and then reset the game for a permanent multiplier bonus (as I did many times) but even with this you’d need to restart so many times and it’d barely help the late game timers. Maybe shave a few days or even a week off that year.

I’ve completed all the girls it is possible to realistically “complete” without spending money, and I’ve finished all the “phone fling” side stories, and so as far I’m concerned, it’s finished.

Oh, and if you’re interested in the game itself – it’s actually mostly devoid of the titillation you’re perhaps expecting. There’s DLC to make it far filthier, but I didn’t install that. It’s pretty funny though, with some clever dialogue, jokes, and even self-aware characters that know they’re in a game.

Just in case you didn’t have enough women to date in person, you also have a whole host more to flirt with on your phone.

The Librarian (Mac): COMPLETED!

A short point and click adventure game, with lovely pixel graphics and a few simple puzzles. There’s not a great deal to tell you about it, really, otherwise I’ll spoil everything. But I will tell you this: there’s something wrong in the library.

If you’ve played these sorts of games before, then there’s nothing taxing here. I’ve just completed Thimbleweed Park, remember, so this was like easy mode compared to that. It looks and plays beautifully though, so it’s well worth a play. And it’s free! You can get a copy from the author’s itch.io page.

Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED!

Caterpillar of the Painting Community

Ah, the life of a French artist, living off his art, being French. Literally being some sort of frog like a racist stereotype. In Passpartout, you are this frog painter, and it’s your actual art that you sell.

Well, I say art. With tools even Microsoft Paint would sneer at, it’s not easy creating a masterpiece. Thankfully, as it turns out, whatever algorithm the game employs to determine the value and demand for your painting seems unconcerned with skill and it’s more about colour and complexity, depending on your customers.

Take George, for example. He’s easily pleased. My simplistic pictures of legless caterpillars with giant eyes always sold to him. Mary, however, would sarcastically comment on their lack of complexity and Don simply couldn’t abide the colours I used.

After experimenting with colour schemes and shapes, it seems the more realistic the picture the less chance I’d had of selling it. Generally more abstract shapes (big blocks of cheese went down well for a while), cartoony characters (a number of pictures staring a muscular crab sold for a high price) and those ever loved caterpillars allowed me to progress.

By the third act, it was clear that my clients just wanted grey pillys with big eyes, so I plied them with many variations on the same theme. Eventually I created one that was grey and red, and the massive bid I received for it basically completed the game for me. Which is just as well, as after five hours of creating things that either didn’t sell or were virtually the same as previous paintings, I’d started to flag. There’s probably a message in the end sequence where Passpartout is said to have become very rich, but I suspect he was just a caterpillar sellout and drank himself into oblivion to save the agony of 50 years of repeating himself.

Here’s a load of my “arts”, for your perusal:

You Have to Win the Game (Mac): COMPLETED!

So I did.

A relatively simple platformer, that sits somewhere between Jet Set Willy and VVVVVV, You Have to Win the Game was a random choice to play for five minutes and I got a bit hooked on.

It’s pretty short, not too difficult, but after about half way through I decided to buy it (for just a dollar) even though it’s free just so I could “own” it permanently in Steam.

And then I went on to Lose the Game (when you complete it the first time), and after that Win the Game (the second time, after finding the secret code).

Enjoyable and not too stressful. I don’t think I’ll be able to track down the last few things I’m missing to get from 95 to 100%, but it was fun getting as far as I did.

80 Days (Mac): COMPLETED!

“That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!”

This was a continuation of a playthrough, my first playthrough in fact, from several months ago that I forgot to continue. Previously on 80 Days, I’d managed to get a train into a dead end somewhere in the American east, and had to head north-west into Canada to find another route.

With some bad luck, I boarded an airship from New York that was heading for Reykjavik since the route to London direct was far too expensive and there wasn’t enough time to obtain the necessary funds. This airship was slow, however, and I had to ditch all our luggage to board – I was hoping this wasn’t an issue as we were nearly home!

Once in Reykjavik, there was another airship heading to London which I mistimed while unnecessarily (as it turned out) obtaining money from the bank, and so a later trip was taken. A three day journey on day 77 – would I make it?

Of course I would. Just!

(Oh, and you can view my journey on the inkle website, here)

Thirty Flights of Loving (Mac): COMPLETED!

There aren’t 30 flights, and very little loving.

Thirty Flights of Loving is a narrative discovery game seemingly built on the Quake 2 engine. At least, it said quake2.exe had crashed when it died for the third time during playing.

The plot seems to involve some sort of smuggling? Perhaps alcohol during prohibition? Maybe weapons? It’s not very clear. You and your two friends/associates/lovers (well, one of them is anyway), in Tarantino out-of-order fashion, go to a wedding, fly a plane, have a motorbike accident, get wheeled on a cart through an airport, and shoot lots of cameras hanging from balloons.

OK, you don’t actually do most of those things as they just happen around you, but it’s still most peculiar.

Did I enjoy Thirty Flights of Loving? Sort of. Although it crashed a lot. It was only about 20 minutes long, but I got it for free and so can’t really complain. I’d wasted money or time on it.

Things I’ve been playing recently

All games. All the time. GAMES.

Well, where “recently” is “any time in the last couple of months” and “things” is “games I’ve not completed as I’ve already posted about those”. In no particular order:

Spec Ops: The Line (Mac)

This was free, but only if I played it enough to get £1 credit back from Green Man Gaming. At first, I really struggled as it misdetected my PS4 controller and everything literally spiralled out of control – see this video, in particular from the 7 minute point:

With that fixed (I used a mouse and keyboard instead), I then worked through the first level, or mission, or whatever. It’s OK, but nothing special. It’s also difficult to play with an Apple mouse, because you can’t click the left and right buttons at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll play it more.

Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS)

A lot of people seemed to be quite negative about this, but I’m really enjoying it. It removes almost all of the RPG elements (perhaps this is why it has the reputation it does), but the story and the combat are great and it looks lovely. Also, that Wii U one is out now and I thought I’d do this while waiting for that to magically appear in my possession.

Letter Quest Remastered (PS4)

Incredible Boggle/RPG hybrid. You’re given a bank of 15 random letters, some worth more than others (sort of Scrabble-like) and you make words out of them. The more powerful your word, the harder your attack is on your foes. You can level up abilities, making 6 letter words worth more, or double letters more powerful, etc. and it’s very addictive.

Assault Android Cactus (PC)

I set my Steam Link up again and this is one of the titles I played, having heard good things and getting it for virtually free in a recent Humble Bundle. It’s not bad, but I don’t think – so far at least – it deserves all the praise. It’s just a quite bland twin stick shooter with average graphics but with some great characters. I’m enjoying it, but not as much as I expected to.

Lego Dimensions (PS4)

I actually bought this a while back, but still had Lego Marvel Avengers on the go. With that finished (although not 100%ed) my daughter and I broke it out and yes – it is excellent. Jumping from world to world (we’ve had The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, Ninjago and Doctor Who so far) is great, and the references to other Lego games (such as the Joker Titanbot rematch) are awesome too. Playing shuffle-the-characters on the portal is less fun, though, but we’ve negated that a little by moving the portal to the sofa between us.

Pokémon Y (3DS)

With over 70 hours on the clock now, and still about 30% of my Pokédex unfilled, there’s a lot of game here. Not least when you consider I “completed” it at around the 35 hour mark.

Apartment 666 (Mac): COMPLETED!

Nope.

It seems that I lied in this post where I said I wouldn’t play Apartment 666. Because I did play it. And I completed it. Go me!

I struggled a bit though. Not in the “it’s too scary” way that I was expecting, despite it making me jump a few times. No, it was the fact the game was waaaay too dark for it’s own good that I had problems with. Three times I reached a point where it was too dark to see, and I had no idea which way I was facing or which way I needed to go. All I could do was quit and restart from the last checkpoint.

apartment 666

Hiding items you interact with in this impenetrable darkness didn’t help either, and nor did the jerkiness. As for the game itself, it was short, badly voice acted, and the sound mix was all over the place. Since atmosphere is the only thing Apartment 666 was aiming for, when all these things fought against it the game is ruined.

Not fun. Not interesting. Not even that scary. I can’t tell you the plot (because of spoilers), bar that you effectively repeat, with slight differences, the same short walk through your apartment over and over. I’d avoid it, if I were you.

apartment666__8_ apartment666__11_

One Night Stand (Mac): COMPLETED!

One night, presumably not in heaven.

One Night Stand is a graphical adventure game, which starts off when you wake up in bed with a sleeping girl, but you can’t remember how you got there.

one night stand

There are 12 endings, 10 of which I’ve now seen, each one reached depending on how you interact with the girl and the objects in her bedroom before you inevitably leave. You can poke around in her purse and on her laptop to try and find her name, or question her to find out more about what happened the previous night.

It was interesting, but although I think I got the “best” ending, it’s still not ideal – you part on good terms, as friends, but nothing more. I’m pretty sure the girl drugged me, but I can’t prove this and none of the routes through the game I took seemed to show it for sure. One came close, when she went nuts at me and asked if I thought that was what she did, but I ended up kicked out the house soon afterwards.

And there’s the ending where you steal her knickers, leaving wearing them. Ace.

one night stand

Sakura Spirit (Mac): COMPLETED!

Foxy lady

It’s a common story – man enters judo competition, finds shrine, warps to parallel world, meets two boob-woman soldiers obsessed with him, meets two boob-woman fox spirits also obsessed with him, all the women get accidentally naked every seven seconds, and then four bad boob-woman slime spirits turn up and it’s up to you and all the friendly boob-women to save the day!

All interspersed with barely-covered boobs, barely-covered bums, and lots of conversations about knickers.

Sakura Spirit

It sounds like filth, but in actual fact, it’s really very tame. The story is nonsense, the dialogue is full of spelling mistakes and is embarrassing for non-sexy reasons, and it’s not actually much of a game at all. It’s a picture book with one (or maybe two?) decisions that need to be made, neither of which appear to affect anything bar the following couple of sentences.

Sakura Spirit

Having four women constantly undressing for you either accidentally or on purpose but at the same time both they and you are in a state of permanent bashfulness isn’t as sexy as it sounds (not least because nothing is ever actually exposed anyway) and frankly it just gets in the way of the story. Which also isn’t very good. It’s a Carry On film set in ancient Japan, with fox spirits instead of Barbara Windsor.

And no, I didn’t buy it. And neither should you.

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McPixel (Mac): COMPLETED!

Not as bad as the film Pixels, maybe.

Filling the five-minutes-here-and-there hole left by Gunpoint, is this – McPixel. It’s sort of like Warioware in that you’ve only a few seconds to complete each level, but different in that you have more seconds, and that to win you mostly just randomly click on things with little or no logic. A speed point-and-click adventure game, if you will.

McPixel 2016-08-03 at 16.43.43

McPixel is funny, and I mostly enjoyed it, but too many of the levels involve finding an almost imperceptibly different background tile, or a few indistinct pixels to click on, sometimes in combination with other unrecognisable items in order to beat them.

I can’t recommend it for anything more than novelty value, unfortunately, but since I got it for free I’m not going to complain too much. And I completed it (although didn’t stretch to the bonus and DLC levels), which counts for something, perhaps.

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Missing: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One (Mac): COMPLETED!

I’ll tell you what’s actually missing: the rest of the game.

Missing: An Interactive Thriller, is rubbish. Not so much the game itself, which is very much in Zero Time Dilemma/Room Escape style only with actual full motion video, more the fact that this is it. Episode One, it seems now that I’ve finished it and looked for the next in the series, is all that they’ve made, or will ever likely make.

missing

It’s not a fantastic game, as the puzzles are mostly too simple, or too vague (needing you to move the pointer over everything), and there are a few “CLICK HERE!!!!!11!!1” QTEs which don’t quite gel with the rest of what’s going on, but it isn’t really bad. The acting of everyone bar the main guy is poor, and there are pangs of Night Trap about it, but I did enjoy it enough to want to play the rest.

Which won’t happen because there isn’t any. So I can’t really recommend it any more than I can the first chapter of a book.

missing