PC Game Review: Bejeweled 3

Addicting games on handheld devices first showed up on the Palm Pilot, not the iPhone or iPod Touch. Bejeweled 3I went to Astraware for Palm games because the company developed bright, sharp colored games that played well on the small touchscreen. (It still does.)

Would you believe that the games on my younger BlackBerry never captivated me like the older Palm device did? Not even close. Playing games on the BlackBerry felt clumsy with ho hum graphics.

Ah, I’m getting off track. Back to the point of the Palm story. One of the earlier games I played on the Palm was Diamond Mine, the game now known as Bejeweled. Popcap Games captured a new audience on Facebook with Bejeweled Blitz (BB). (And now with Zuma Blitz. Grr… I don’t have time for these addictions!) You had one minute to make as many matches as you could.

Bejeweled 3 Quest ModePopcap not only had my friends smack talking me in the game, but also it reeled in my entire family including Mom, sis and bro. Mom played some computer games, but BB had her checking in Facebook daily. Sis and bro didn’t play many games until BB. Family gatherings turned into smack talk fests and “How did you get ##### score??”

The company wouldn’t stop there in fear it can’t repeat the success it had with BB. Never. This company is responsible for hypnotizing gamers with its incredible, clever and creative Plants vs. Zombies. Popcap is also responsible for other game addictions including Chuzzle and Zuma.

Bejeweled 3 comes with more matching magnetism, smashing sound effects, mesmerizing graphics and spellbinding games. Sequels don’t always do much more than give you more of the same with a different design. Not Bejeweled 3. The game takes a quantum leap compared to most — if not all — sequels. This comes with more game modes, eight mini-games, supercharged sound (even *I* can tell) and high-definition graphics (1920 x 1200 in ultra mode).

Classic and Zen mode are the same. In Classic, you keep making moves until you run out. However, you get a new gem known as the Star gem and when you finish the level, the jewels travel through an breathtaking tunnel. Even my youngest exclaimed, “Coooool!” Zen always has a match waiting for you as the point is to enjoy, be in the moment and take a break from the mean ol’ competitive world. Zen mode also soothes you with its sounds and gives you lots of options so you won’t need Calgon to take you away.

The new modes:

  • Butterflies: Butterflies appear on the board and you need to match them with the same colored gems to prevent them from falling into spider’s hands … legs. Now, my family will tell you I hate spiders including fake ones, even as stuffed animals or jewelry. Yet, I found myself entranced by the game trying to free the butterflies to avoid the ugly, scary, mean spider.
  • Poker: Instead of matching anything and everything you can, you need to plan and strategize to make the most of your five moves. The better your hand, the more points you score. As you progress in the game, a skull appears on the worst hand — a pair. So if all you do is score a pair, then it could be game over — it all depends on the flip of the coin. Land the four-leaf clover, you can keep playing. Get the skull, you’re done. More skulls will appear forcing you to make the best hands possible.
  • Ice storm: This one makes me panic as I have to move fast to prevent the ice filling up the column. I don’t do speed games well, but it’s a chiller and thriller that will please fast-paced game fans.
  • Diamond mine: Use your matches to dig in the dirt to release gold and artifacts.

Bejeweled 3 PokerOne more special mode is Quest mode. Like Adventure modes you see in most casual games, it’s more of play it one time and then you probably won’t want to replay it. I loved this mode and it helped me get to know some of the new modes while playing a couple of new mini-games like alchemy where you need to make matches until the board fills with gold.

The game has 65 achievement badges that will encourage you to keep going so you can win every badge. Furthermore, the end of every game displays statistics. Oh, and Bejeweled 3 steals a page from Peggle with replays. It doesn’t have the same charm as Peggle‘s, but it’s there for you to enjoy when you do amazing plays.

What’s most impressive about number three is that several modes grip me. Most games just have one mode that I play again and again. In Bejeweled 3, I’ll be doing Butterfly one day and the next I’m drawn to Poker.

Bejeweled 3 is worth it. If you like any of the others, you’ll be thrilled with this one — it’ll make you forget the others as well as whatever games you’re playing. The game sounds like an exaggeration, but Popcap went all in with this one.

Download and try Bejeweled 3.

FCC alert: Reviewer received a review copy from the publisher. It had no bearing on the review.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans


PC Game Review: Zuma’s Revenge

Zuma's RevengeGame developers who decide to come up with a sequel to a smash hit — especially one as big as Zuma that  won various Game of the Year awards in 2005 — have a difficult task in keeping the formula of the original while enhancing the sequel to ensure it doesn’t feel too much like the original. Zuma’s Revenge retains the familiarity that made Zuma popular while adding a few enhancements and game modes so the game isn’t identical to Zuma.

Once again, players control the stone frog that fires colorful balls at the chain of balls to make a match of three or more. Unlike match three games, the frog can shoot a color ball that creates a pair or stick in between two other different color balls. However, the player will have a harder time clearing the chain when the ball doesn’t create a match of three or more.

New power up effects include lightning, laser and tri-shot. All the original Zuma power ups also appear in the game including slowdown, explosion, reverse and accuracy. The frog hops around more so it can reach tough spots by jumping between lily pads or sliding back and forth. On some levels, the frog stays put.

Zuma's RevengeIn Zuma’s Revenge adventure mode, the frog finds itself on a Polynesian island where he treks through 6 islands for 60 levels and 6 battles with the big tiki boss at the end of his stay on each island. Each tiki boss has a special power and frog must dodge them or else become weak for a few moments. One sends poison darts that put the frog in a daze, another sends insects that slow down the frog’s shots and another moves so fast it’s tough to catch him. And he has minions, too.

After you finish Adventure Mode, you’ll have unlocked the other modes including Challenge mode with 70 levels to challenge you in reaching a minimum score with a little help from bonus multipliers all within a set time on the clock and Heroic Frog takes you back through all the adventure levels with increasing difficulty. The modes add to the game’s replayability beyond Adventure mode and you’ll want to play them. Not all games have other game modes worth playing, but this one does.

Though Zuma’s Revenge doesn’t feel too different from Zuma, it has enough additions especially with its superb almost 3D-like graphics and sound effects that have you celebrating the big moves. We’re happy to have our favorite stone frog back with new scenes, power ups and game modes even if the game has us cursing under our breath when we accidentally shoot a ball between two different colored balls.

Free Download

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans


Plants vs Zombies
If I could only say one thing in this review, it’s this: Go get Plants vs. Zombies now. The only people exempt from this rule are those who don’t like look of the zombies. Plants vs. Zombies oozes innovation in all parts of the game including game play, game modes, humor, length and rockin’ music. The game gives you a big spudow (exploding potato) for your buck and then some. Furthermore, Popcap Games may have blown away the massively popular Bejeweled 2 and Chuzzle with this one.

You have various plants at your disposal with different super powers to help you prevent the zombies from reaching your house and eating your brains. The thought of zombies sounds creepy, but they don’t scare my six-year-old who instead giggles at their funky movements and traits. You might even think they’re cute and funny.

Like people and animals, the zombies have different personalities. One is a football player and harder to attack, another wears a traffic cone on his head (maybe he was a construction worker in a past life) and another loves his newspaper and gobbles things faster. Their characteristics give you an idea of how hard it will be to fight them. Watch out for the singer zombie that brings an entourage with him!

Plants vs ZombiesOnce you meet a certain zombie for the first time, it goes into your almanac. The suburban almanac describes defines every zombie and plant along with its strengths. If you haven’t encountered a plant or zombie, it won’t give you a heads up. So be prepared for whatever comes your way.

So much happens in this game — all of it a blast (literally, too). For one, it has five games:

  • Adventure: Five rounds with 10 each taking place on the front lawn, night time, the backyard with the pool and on the roof. You have a select number of plants to pick and they each come with a price. But you don’t buy them until you plant them.
  • Mini-games: 20 unique games where several are a more advanced mode of an earlier mini-game.
  • Puzzle: Two games. One contains nothing but cases. Inside the vases are plants or zombies. You put the plants wherever you think it’s best to help defend against the zombies. The other game gives the zombies a chance to practice attacking the lawn with cardboard cutouts of the plants, so no plants are harmed. You want the zombies to make it across to eat the fake brain at the end of the lawn.
  • Survival: Playing different scenarios five times and changing up the plants between each level.
  • Zen garden: Manage a garden of plants beginning with two plants. Give them water and plant food. This no pressure game only calls for feeding the plants when they need it.

You can shop for special plants and tools at Crazy Dave’s shop. He’s craazzzzyyyy and lets you get away with good deals. In his shop, you can buy another slot so you can add more plants into your arsenal for the next zombie battle.

Daytime battles require different weapons than nighttime battles. The sunflowers don’t produce as much sun, so you can rely on mushrooms. However, they only produce a little sun and produce more as they grow. Mushrooms can work in the daytime, but they’re asleep and need help to wake them. So it’s obvious you have all kinds of strategies to play with in this little treat.

Plants vs ZombiesMany games come with multiple modes. I tend to only like the main one. I took pleasure in almost every game as much as the main one — a rarity. The music will have you gettin’ down while you wear down those zombies. When you finish the main game, sit back and enjoy the surprise and hilarious ending.

Plants vs. Zombies is ripe for more brain eating sequels. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been working on this review to get it right, but it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to. Nonetheless, Plants vs. Zombies provides hours of a good time.

Download Plants vs. Zombies for PC or for Mac


Sky KingdomsSky Kingdoms is another game in the Luxor and Zuma family — moving marbles that you need to break by making matches of at least three of the same color. I guess you could call these “rolling marble match threes.”

The opening with the story moves very slow. The game doesn’t allow you to control the moving of the story so you can back up or move forward. Instead of taking place in the ruins of Egypt, this one takes on a fantasy twist with the action happening in the air.

Plenty of power ups keep things popping. The first power up you want sends coins flying down. Collect these coins so you can buy more power ups including more lives. The shopping happens between levels. Once you complete all pieces of a puzzle, you’ll get a new wallpaper for your desktop.

Sky KingdomsAs you buy power ups, it’s not clear when you have access to them during the game. They just appear in the bottom ready for use. Boy, I need them all during level 5-2. I do manage to get one, but it’s not enough to help me survive the level and I’ve gotten faster.

During the bonus level, a snake comes out and you pop the marbles as you always do and collect more coins. However, you don’t get to keep the coins if the snake bites you. The game’s directions don’t clearly explain how this happens and it’s not obvious after playing this level plenty of times.

Sky Kingdoms includes 90 levels, multiple bonus upgrades (each bonus starts cheap and you can upgrade again, but it costs more with every upgrade) and 36 animated backgrounds.

Sky KingdomsDon’t play this game if you don’t like panicky games and can’t stand things happening fast. It’s also not ideal for those who have never played Luxor or Zuma. The Easy level is very hard. I’m forever stuck on level 5-2 — best I’ve done is almost clear two groups of marbles, but then I fail by the third group. Even if I manage to beat it, I’m betting the next levels will only be harder. Remember this is “Easy” mode. If you think the others don’t challenge you enough, try this one. You can’t complain that it’s too easy. Believe me.

Download Sky Kingdoms


Chocolatier Decadence by DesignYou have to hand it to PlayFirst for the company’s impeccable timing in releasing the third Chocolatier right before Valentine’s Day. Yes, you heard right — third. It doesn’t count as a fourth because The Great Chocolate Chase is a time management game, not a traditional Chocolatier one. The three games fall into the simulation category, and it’s still delicious.

Whether the game brings new things or not, I’m happy to see it back in the fold knowing it’ll have a new story, characters, ingredients, and products. Those will always occur with every new release. Nonetheless, new features shake up a game to give it a fresh look. As expected, Chocolatier Decadence by Design adds all of these, coffee products and a new ingredient mini-game for coffee products.

You work with the Baumeister family as with all the previous editions. This time it’s after WWII and the story includes love, drama, competition. All the factors that go into an engaging story with a variety of characters. Some characters won’t stand out and others will. You travel the world to find the finest ingredients — to manufacture bars, truffles, infusions, exotics and more — as Baumeister expects nothing less. Thank goodness, this one contains no bugs as ingredients.

Still, you discover fruits such as mangoes and strawberries, spices like saffron and peppers, dairy, nuts and much more. I appreciate the game makes it take a long time to discover all the ports and ingredients so something new comes along almost the whole way through the game.

The ingredient mini-game remains the same for the various candy products. The ingredients flow through the machines and you shoot them into moving containers that must match the primary container. For instance, a truffle requires two cacaos, truffle powder, flavor, and spice. Make sure each container has these five ingredients.

Chocolatier Decadence by DesignTo make it harder, containers can be red or blue. You get more servings when you put all red ingredients in red and blue in blue. If you mix red and blue, you’ll only get one serving for putting all the ingredients in the container. The factory adds a recycling bin so you can move ingredients you don’t need in there instead of wasting them. But not all factories have the bin and it’s tough to get it in there when you have a red container getting in the way of a blue ingredient.

The additions of colors and a recycling bin aren’t enough to shake up this mini-game. The coffee mini-game, on the other hand, brings something new. You still shoot ingredients, but this time you need to make matches of three or more to get a serving. Make a match of four or more and your servings increase. I’m glad the game doesn’t use this one in all of the factories, but it would be nice to see something different.

The world map shows locked ports that you won’t open until later in the game when you meet the right people. Not all ports will have shops. Several ports only sell one ingredient and there’s nothing else to do there. These places have exotic items. Of course, you’ll have to get special cacao from specific locales and the same goes for coffee. It’ll involve a lot of traveling. Chocolatier Decadence by Design prepares players for the frequent and longer trips by providing more transportation upgrades.

I appreciate the game tracks all the agreements I make because I get carried away at times. The screen that tracks all the things you need to do is a vast improvement with a larger and clearer screen. A couple of font choices, however, need improvement as they’re barely readable.

Chocolatier Decadence by DesignChocolatier Decadence by Design introduces the ability to develop and name your own creations in the test kitchens in Iceland. Another superb idea for enhancing the game. The product creation screen graphics quality remains subpar and clunky. After you make your new product in the kitchen, you move into marketing where you select the looks, colors, design, and name. Well, this screen gives you no reminder of what ingredients you have added to your new product to help you come up with a name. The game won’t let you back up.

The new features and additions enhance to the game, but I would like to see a couple of more new features especially for the ingredient mini-games. Nonetheless, Chocolatier Decadence by Design occupied an entire weekend including a couple of late nights — something I don’t do often. I look forward to the next adventure. Until we meet again, Baumeisters.

Download Chocolatier Decadence by Design.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans


PC Game Review: Peggle Nights

Peggle NightsIt’s a good thing I keep an open mind when it comes to playing and reviewing games, or else I might’ve never met Peggle. How appropriate that its follow gets the name Peggle Nights. The original kept hubby and me up many nights past our bedtime. I’m not a big fan of arcade play mainly because I don’t like the pressure of move, move, move!

A little sidebar here. While growing up, my parents had a classic pachinko machine (classic uses a lever to make the ball pop not electronics like today’s pachinko machines). While living in Washington, DC, hubby and I took a weekend trip to Atlantic City in January of 1993. We watched the Dallas Cowboys whip the San Francisco 49ers then went out on the boardwalk.

There, we discovered a store selling pachinkos! I had always wanted another one because my parents’ pachinko machine died years before and never worked well. Only, these were electronic and we bought one. Still have it, but poor thing sits in a corner drowning in dust. You see, when we moved back to Texas, we had an 18-month old followed by two more kids. No parent wants pachinko marbles all over the house or G-d forbid, a kid swallow one.

We should sharpen up the machine again now that the baby is five. It needs a stand or cabinet rather than sit on the floor. So where am I going with this story? Peggle is pachinko with brighter colors, cooler music, and rockin’ slow motion. Besides, the background changes every time. Pachinko only has one background and so many special effects.

Peggle NightsPeggle Nights brings all new scenes with the same masters. Fans won’t see any new features or upgrades, but more like a big change of scenery. Adventure mode returns with 60 levels that take more work to beat. Each of the 11 masters tells you its dream — thus, “night”, lends you its bonus power, and sticks with you for five levels. The final five levels let you select the master you want to use.

Pumpkin dreams of being a painter, so the background reflects his painting. One of the funnier backgrounds — cliché, but funny — shows the famous The Scream painting with the pumpkin’s face replacing the screamer’s face.

All the masters return with their famous powers that help us whenever we hit a green peg. The lobster’s claws come out working like flippers in a pinball machine, rabbit’s magic hat helps hit more pegs, and King Tut’s pyramid expands the bucket to improve your chances of catching the ball.

The goal for every level is to clear all the orange pegs. Blue pegs dominate the screen to act as barriers, green turns on the power up, and purple triples the score. Though 60 levels sounds like a lot for most games, it still doesn’t take me more than a day to complete adventure mode.

New in Peggle Nights is the introduction of Ace Score. Every level has an ace score where you can win a red ribbon whenever you beat the score. So after you finish adventure mode, you can replay any in level Quick Play mode so you can win every Ace ribbon. Clear all the pegs for a bonus blue ribbon.

Duel mode lets you compete with other players or against the computer. Challenge mode contains challenging peggle games where may have fewer balls.

Another wonderful feature is colorblind mode, which makes the graphics more efficient to those with colorblindness.

Perfect your shots to win points and recognition for style shots. The Super Long Shot, worth 5000 points (10,000 in Duel mode), requires hitting a non-blue peg, traveling two-thirds the width of the screen to hit another non-blue peg. Off the Wall, valued at 25,000 points, involves bouncing the ball of the wall and traveling one-fifths the width of the screen to hit a non-blue peg.

Masters also have specific style shots. The lobster awards Flipper Maniac and 25,000 points whenever bouncing the ball off a flipper and hitting at least one peg four times. Zap 12 one more pegs with Electrobolt for a Shock It to Me reward and 25,000 points.

Peggle NightsI put off this review for as long as I could. After all, it was my excuse for playing Peggle Nights instead of handing it over to hubby so he could play. Now, I’ll have to share. It’s still a delight to hear Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and watch the fireworks when I win. It certainly lessens the pain I’ve been in for over a week with sciatica. Count on Peggle Nights to chase away the blues or ease the pain and even make you smile.


PC Game Review: Jojo’s Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces

Jojo's Fashion Show 2Jojo Cruz stunned the casual games world with her Jojo’s Fashion Show entry. After a runaway success, she returns with her daughter Ros in Jojo’s Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces hopes of capturing fashionistas’ hearts again with the latest fashions.

So you know, Las Cruces most references the mother daughter clothing line — rather than the city — team in plural as Spanish turns Cruz into Cruces. Well, three years of high school Spanish comes in handy after all! It only took 20 years.

For those not familiar with Jojo, the game doesn’t quite fit the time or business management genre. Maybe we need a new one for reality games as more hit the casual games runway including Hell’s Kitchen and the latest Go-Go Gourmet: Chef of the Year. We learn about the latest fashion trends ranging from Bollywood and Foxhunt to provocative and military. Every style comes with a description of the types of shoes, tops, and bottoms that make it that style.

Working behind the scenes where few see the frantic activity of designers dressing up the models, we must make do with our existing clothing inventory to send models out in the styles in which they need to appear. A style appears above each model and we must dress them up to match that style as best as we can with what we have available. I can’t always remember what makes a style based on the inventory I have, so I click on the style to review it again. Thank goodness for this feature.

Jojo's Fashion Show 2Let’s say our male model needs to dress up athletic style. Shirt, check. Shoes, check. All three pairs of pants fall under military style. What to do?? Well, either just pick one and pray the shoes and shirt will score high enough to get you three or more stars or take advantage of a power up (bonus) if you have shuffle, which lets you change the inventory. Later on, you can earn power ups that will dress up the model for you. You’ll also be able to accessorize to boost that je ne sais quoi.

Stylin’ new features in Jojo’s Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces include men’s clothes, male models, and a photographer. The photographer brings a new game in between runways where we hunt down the model with the style that fits the one you must match. Once spotted, you need to aim (no cutting off the head or feet) and snap the model. Nice idea, but dull after one round.

On occasion, the Show Climax feature enters the show giving you multipliers of 2x, 3x or whatever points for your outfits. So score 1,000 on a 2x Show Climax and you score 2000 instead. The other one, Double Time, has you spraying and praying because you must throw on an outfit with less time than normal and pray it makes a winner.

Jojo’s works well because you can’t predict what will score 500 vs. 1200. You’ve seen fashion (Academy Awards, for one) that looks horrendous that experts (so they call themselves) praise. Sometimes, pulling an outfit together with a limit inventory creates a style that you wouldn’t put on your pet and it scores one of the highest. That’s fashion for you… anything goes.

Jojo's Fashion Show 2Jojo’s Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces brings you more of the same with a couple of enhancements. You feel as if you’re attending the same fashion show with new clothes and maybe a few neat touch ups. Some will think the original is better while others see the follow up as an opportunity to get more of Jojo. No matter which side you’re on, Jojo is an original … period.

Download Jojo’s Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces.


From Popcap release (shortened): Steve Day was a man on a mission – now he’s the proud possessor of the world’s highest-scoring Peggle shot. A currency trader from Portsmouth on England’s southern coast who previously spent a dozen years as a software developer, Steve achieved his 18-million+ point shot after being inspired by a video of the previous best shot, a 13-million point shot by Max Daube of Australia, using the same level and power-up. Steve’s YouTube video of his shot, along with a shot-by-shot “video tutorial” of the entire level on which the shot occurred.

After buying Peggle Deluxe and completing most of the game, Steve did a Google search looking for tips on scoring 750,000 points on one level – generally considered the toughest of the game’s 75 “Challenge Mode” hurdles. “If I hadn’t found the YouTube replay of Max’s wondrous shot, I don’t think I’d have ever thought of it myself,” Steve admits. “I’d already managed to clear all of the pegs on that level (“Beyond Reason,” the last level in the game, known less formally as “Zen Frog”) using the “space blast” power-up, but thanks to the videos on You Tube I finally achieved the 750K challenge. However, having completed the game I felt somehow robbed of what had become my working companion, and having read some of the comments on You Tube regarding the ‘impossibility’ of clearing the side pegs, I decided to see if I could find a way, and perhaps set a new scoring record in the process.”

“First, I set about finding a way to clear all the pegs – orange and blue – from the sides of the level without creating holes in the central ‘DNA strands’ of pegs due to ricochets,” he recalls. “As it turned out I achieved this in only an hour or so. I employed the same technique I’d used obtaining the ‘100% clear’ on some of the harder levels, namely picking logical landmarks on the screen to use as mouse position markers. In this way I could easily replicate the shots, and when combined with a little ‘bucket timing’ could be guaranteed of getting a free ball to boot. Clearing the hole at the bottom of the helix proved more difficult though, since it was a moving target; and it took awhile longer to work out some shots that had at least a 70% chance of getting a free ball.”

Steve continues, “By this time I was regularly getting 5 million point finishes, and completing probably 1 in 5 attempts, and I had decided I wanted to beat the 13.5 million by a decent margin, and make a video to put on YouTube. It had also become apparent that the highest scores were dependent on having a large number of blue pegs left to clear after the last orange peg had been hit. So having got 14 Million a couple of times, the extremely lucky 18 Million point shot came about through a combination of the law of averages and 3 ‘lottery winner’ type lucky shots, each being the result of miss-timed shots that ended up kicking the bucket, taking out an extra peg or two, and miraculously ending up back in the bucket where I had originally intended them to go. It was these extra pegs, and a lucky final shot, that secured the very pleasing Cool Clear and Ultra Extreme Fever – though I don’t think that this added greatly to the final score. Of course getting an extra ball off of Reinfeld was just the icing on the cake and did add 300K to the score board which was a nice touch.”

As for the painstakingly shot and edited “how-to” video that follows the footage of the shot itself in Steve’s YouTube video, “I wanted to make a ‘live play’ tutorial section to show that it was indeed possible to clear the side pegs without touching the inner helix,” Steve explains. Indeed, Steve’s exhaustive video tutorial provides details on each and every shot of his record-breaking effort, including exactly where to position the cursor prior to launching each shot AND location and direction of the bucket below the playfield when each shot is launched.

When asked whether he believes his record will stand the test of time, Steve is realistic to say the least. “I’m under no illusion that my score is somehow ‘unbeatable’ – and in fact would love to see someone top it,” he grins. “That was the intention behind the tutorial in the video, to see if collectively the Peggle Deluxe community could compile enough information to achieve and even better shot and score. However there must be an absolute theoretical ceiling on the maximum score possible. Hopefully someday we’ll get to see what it is!”

Peggle review.


I’m trying with all my might to resist saying this, but my willpower went on vacation today. Hyperballoid 2: Time Rider ain’t your daddy’s (or mommy’s for that matter as I played video games as a kid) breakout game. How we’ve come a long way from Breakout and other bland brick breaking games.

Peggle first convinced me breakout games worth playing do exist even for those tired of such games (me included and that goes for arcade, too). Hyperballoid 2 grips from the start with its firecracking special effects, superb graphics, and variety of backgrounds — known as worlds — including ancient, hitech, original, and planets.

When you change worlds, you start a new game. Return to any world and you pick up from where you left off before. Not only does the background in the world represent that world’s theme, but also the arrangement of the bricks. In hitech, the game treats me a UFO flying in and out of the screen.

With 280 different kinds of bricks, it’ll be tough to get bored. There are standard rectangle bricks, rectangle bricks with a circle inside, stone bricks, bricks that detonate when hit. They also disappear and reappear, float, move back and forth, act as barriers.

Elements come flying down like a bridal bouquet for the catching for bonuses. Bonuses expand your paddle, give you multiple balls, shoot flames, shoot cannons. These bonuses have three different colors: green, yellow, red. Just like stoplights, green is good. Red is bad. Yellow — slowing down the ball’s movement, for one — is so so. Slowing down the ball gives you time to move your paddle, but it also makes you impatient waiting for it to do its thing.

The physics of the game work beautifully. Be prepared for balls defying physics as bonuses can turn them into crazy balls doing loopty-loops and other unpredictable moves.

For those who love to design and create, you can edit any of the levels to change them up and create your own to share. But this doesn’t appeal to me — it’s not easy to use and I don’t want to mess up the original settings. The toggles, options, buttons have no labels, so move the mouse pointer over each item to see its tooltip to find out what the item does. Too time consuming.

The game’s mode (easy, normal, hard, expert) is adjustable, but the pop up window that appears at the start for selecting the mode has typos, so it doesn’t make sense. It also takes effort to figure out how to switch modes because this doesn’t appear in the options. Instead, you return to the main menu and click “Other Campaigns.” Here you can download new campaigns like Chinese Zodiac and each new campaign comes with a five star rating system as voted by the community.

Hyperballoid 2 lasts for a long time with over 200 levels to beat. It’s also easy to pick up the game when you haven’t played it for a long time. Hyperballoid 2 is like playing a variety of solitaire games where the rules never change. Superb visuals, diversity of everything, and smashing audio effects (loud, too… had to turn down the settings… way down) will take players out of this world giving them a break from their daily lives for a little while.


1980 Games

My husband treated himself (OK, so the rest of us like it, too) to an arcade game… the real thing. It has 42 games from the ’80s, much of what you’ll find on 1980 games.

Emulators make it possible for these games to make a return. Just be prepared… the graphics aren’t what we’re used to from today’s games.

I recommend those at work not to go to the site. It has a reference to adult games. While it’s just a link, the image shows a woman — not exactly something you want a passerby to see. Besides, why are you playing games at work? 🙂