Social Games and Other News

300px Bejeweled deluxe sc1 Social Games and Other News
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Howdy, all! Thanks for sticking with me. I know I have not reviewed a game in a while — for a good reason. I’ve had eye pain that interferes with playing games on top of the regular work I do on the computer all day, every day. So for now, I’m bringing you updates and what I think are good games. Does that work for you?

Social Gaming Survey

PopCap Games Social Games and Other News shares the results of a social gaming survey [pdf file]. I admit I used to be hooked on Facebook’s Bejeweled Blitz, but finally kicked the habit. It’s a great game to play when you need a stress break or can’t think. That is the only social game that has sucked me in. I avoid discovering new ones as I do not have time for this stuff! It’s easier with downloadable PC games because you generally have a start and finish.

The survey says that a population of about 100 million in the U.S. and U.K. play games on social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. And the cool news? The average social gamer is a 43-year old woman. That’s good news for PopCap Games Social Games and Other News because it’s the company behind the addiction of many of my friends: Facebook Bejeweled Blitz.

New Releases

Black Circle: A Carol Reed Mystery: Summer arrives and a neighbor asks English private detective Carol Reed to look into the discovery of a dead body that mysteriously disappears. In this hidden object game, Carol interviews suspects and helpful residents to get to the bottom of this stranger’s death. What starts as a routine investigation quickly becomes something more as Carol uncovers broken alliances and a cult long thought to be inactive.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb: Continuation of the popular Aveyond adventure game series. Mel’s wedding day isn’t going according to plan. Her worst enemy stole her man, and a mysterious ghost appears to tell Mel that her evil ancestor, Mordred Darkthrop, has passed down his most precious possession to her: a magical orb with the power of death. Wanting nothing to do with her wicked ancestor, Mel must now seek out the orb and destroy it, before someone else with the power to use it discovers its location.

Ancient Rome: In this time management game, you help grow the ancient Roman Empire by setting up cities and providing valuable resources throughout the land. Produce goods, construct new buildings and attract new workers as you expand the reach of the Roman Empire, a fast-paced strategy game. Meet your goals and accept valuable rewards from the emperor to set up your own piece of land and carve your name into the annals of history.

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle: After awakening in a mysterious castle it’s up to you to collect clues and valuable items needed to solve perplexing puzzles and escape. Listen to the fairy as she guides you towards the exit. The game comes with minigames and lock puzzles that lead you to the next room in the castle. In this hidden object game, you search for the next hint and discover a young Princess’ destiny.

Play anything good lately?

 Social Games and Other News
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wedding dash 1 1 Coming Soon: <em>Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love!</em>Some of you might think I’m nuts, but I prefer Wedding Dash to Diner Dash. Oh, I love that Flo, but I find her games too hard to play. Quinn’s world starts easy and builds up the challenge little by little. In Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love! Cupid joins Quinn plus Flo has a bigger role as she takes care of serving the wedding guests.

This one introduces a new mini-game for a cute change of pace that integrates nicely with the story. Cupid needs to shoot arrows at a male and female that matches the couple shown. You control where he shoots the arrow and how hard he shoots it. Oh, by the way, Cupid looks nothing like a cherub; more like a kind-looking grandfather. The mini-game occurs about halfway through each level.

Quinn also holds the weddings in unique locales beginning with an aquarium. Really — it’s a calming scene that looks made for a wedding. Then she moves to a barn and to the boardwalk, which has a fab background.

wedding dash 2 1 Coming Soon: <em>Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love!</em>Ready, Aim, Love! adds several twists to enhance the game instead of give us more of the same. In previous versions, players have to select three things that match the couple’s request. You can have different good answers in this one. Instead, Quinn has a budget and she has to pick three things to meet the budget or better yet, have some money leftover. For instance, a couple wants to reflect their trip to India and match its orange, white and green flag. So pick the items that are orange, white and green or perhaps as something related to India like curry.

wedding dash 3 1 Coming Soon: <em>Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love!</em>We also meet new guests. No more weepy Aunt Ethel and Drunk Uncle Ernie. Quinn will take care of all the crises as usual, but we meet new ones. Meet a wedding crasher that you need to lead him to the exit and Rosie with her little puppy. Rosy cries whenever her pup gets away. Quinn needs to cheer her up, find the dog and return it to her. The twins who must do everything together including be served to at the same time return. We meet new handsome and sweet people like Brian, Jason and the three bridesmaid friends. They’re a nice change from Gloria. Then we have the mother of the bride — a very difficult customer to please.

Gone is the confetti machine and champagne bottles. Instead, Quinn has lovely cocktail tables to help the guests remain patient a little longer. Also new is the microphone that lets the guests say something to the happy couple. Quinn earns love tokens to use in shopping for upgrades. While upgrades appear in many time management games, Ready, Aim, Love! offers many upgrades instead of just three to make it more challenging and to change things up enough to add to the replay value.

wedding dash 4 Coming Soon: <em>Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love!</em>This looks like it’ll exceed Wedding Dash fan expectations. The game release date is within a couple of months. No official date yet. Hey, even wedding couples don’t always have a date set right away. And it will be available for both Win and Mac computers. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for Wedding Dash 2 until this one is ready for prime time at Playfirst.

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Video Game Music Compilation

Game Music 4 All releases its first free internet compilation. It is called Here Comes a New Challenger. It is a compilation of chiptune, nerdcore, and VG musicians collaborating together as a tribute to video games. Get more info and download the album for free.

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I don’t need a study to tell me that playing casual games helps relieve stress and improve my mood. When the writing muse stays away or my spirits drop, I play a game I need to review. Almost every time (don’t like to use 100%), I feel better after a few rounds of a casual game.

See the results of the study and the Popcap Games press release.

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Grand Theft Auto IV Release Worries Hollywood

A game… worrying the movie makers? According to canada.com, Hollywood needs to keep an eye on this game’s mega release. I just don’t see gamers giving up movie watching because of a game no matter how popular it is.

Gamers have games they captivate them, but they still do their regular activities. Those who already spend hours gaming gave up on movies long ago.

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Game News: 19 April 2008

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When I first started doing casual game reviews, praising or picking apart a game came easy. Now, when writing game reviews, I feel like I’ve said it all before. The top 10 game journalism cliches captures the challenges game reviewers face. Here is the list along with my comments.

1. Top ten lists: I rarely do this. When I do, the top ten list article comes out at the end of the year. Sites like Mashable often write “## best sites for [enter a topic].” I prefer “## sites for [enter a topic]” because it’s easy to miss deserving candidates.

2. The historical open: This approach gives the writer a nice way to segue into the review. But during these times of information overload, I try to open a review with what it is along with a subtle hint of whether it’s great or blah. What do you want to know when you read a review? For me, I want reviews to tell me what the game, book, or product is about and whether it’s any good.

3. Headlines with a “?” at the end: I don’t have to worry about headlines since all the places I review for just list the game title as in “Diner Dash PC Game Review.” We could argue for and against this method, but it tells you exactly what it is.

4. 7/10 reviews: This would be 4/5 for some of us where ratings use the five point scale instead of 10, but 7/10 appears frequently in working with one client. The local newspaper started adding comments next to the rating such as “two out of five stars (good).” So, two to five stars are positive while one and zero (never happens) stars is negative. That’s no bell curve. It’s as if the newspaper is trying to be gentle and prevent readers from automatically thinking “two stars… don’t go there!” Reviews should be about serving the reader and potential customer, not making nice with the business. Kids today often get a trophy every time they play a sport regardless how their team played. Getting a trophy should make us proud because we earned it not because we signed up and played. How are we going to motivate ourselves to improve?

5. Realistic graphics: No comments on this one.

6. Quirky: Is it good or bad? Exactly the problem.

7. Fans of X will enjoy it: Guilty. I use this line when I don’t have a clever way to end the review.

8. Only time will tell: Pointless. Just give the details now.

9. Reviews broken up into standardized sections: This refers to “graphics,” “sound,” “gameplay,” etc. None of the places I review for use this. They provide a rating. One uses “pros” and “cons,” which gives you a snapshot of what’s good and bad about the game. I think that’s beneficial. Web writing rules apply here — if the review is long, use bold headers every few paragraphs. I rarely do this, though — it just doesn’t work as well for reviews.

10. “Fun.” I try to avoid this like the plague. Considering its synonyms (enjoy, amusing, cool, entertaining, pleasurable) often don’t work well, reviewers sometimes can’t help but use “fun.”

My biggest problem is describing different things such as the graphics and sound. You can only say the same thing so many ways. One thing about reviewing… it offers writers a wonderful way to put their creativity to work. [Link: Gamewire]

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Casual Games Slowdown

Notice few exciting games have come out lately? It may be a good thing since the weather is beautiful in many areas of the U.S. and we should be out enjoying it instead of hooked on a game.

Shame on me — I haven’t had the chance to play Dream Chronicles 2. Got busy reviewing other games based on requests from editors and game developers. The weather is just too lovely here in the Dallas area, too. Although, it looks like today is an off weather day, but booked for the day.

Love games — but get fresh air, too, OK? Off to yoga. Namaste.

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Quick Review Slingo Quest Hawaii

slingo quest hawaii 1 Quick Review <em>Slingo Quest Hawaii</em>Popular game Slingo Quest returns for a different destination. In Slingo Quest Hawaii, the game takes on a (what else?) Hawaiian theme. In the bingo slash slot machine game, players try to match numbers in a row while earning power ups, jokers, tricks, and bonuses to help them along the way.

Players travel from island to island in Quest mode similar to many of the time management games where trails contain dots indicating your progress. Classic Plus mode works like arcade mode where players repeatedly play the game.

slingo quest hawaii 2 Quick Review <em>Slingo Quest Hawaii</em>The game relies on luck and little else to get Slingo, five matches in a row. However, you win bonuses for making patterns and clearing the board. The hardest part is clicking the numbers, picking power ups, and using tricks. Otherwise, the game takes little effort. Those who like Slingo Quest will delight playing this tropical edition since it contains more of the original plus new features.

New features include:

  • Tricks that come with powers you can use before spinning.
  • Game modes including Speed Slingo, Volcano Slingo, and Special Shape Boards (The game comes with two different game modes: Classic and Quest. These modes occur as you play).
  • Power ups such as Power up Vision (see through the numbers), Power Shots for matching five cells in one shot, and Tiki Jokers that create Slingo from one match.
  • Collection of Hawaiian postcards (also known as trophies).

Let me share a lesson I learned the hard way when using Super Jokers first so you don’t waste them like I did. Super Jokers can clear any number on the grid whether they’re in the same column or not while Jokers can only clear items in the same column. The first click applies the Super Joker (unless the number is one of the selected numbers) before applying any Jokers.

slingo quest hawaii 3 Quick Review <em>Slingo Quest Hawaii</em>The game starts slow, but picks up as players gain more surprises, beautiful scenes, and bonuses. With so many features and power ups, it takes time to learn how things work. Furthermore, the game play changes — so avoid taking any plays for granted. Give the time time — it should start kicking in before the free hour is up. Slingo Quest Hawaii is a vacation for the entire family and it only costs a few bucks not hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Note: Quick reviews are based on playing one hour of the game.

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