Games to Buy: Dec 7th 2010

game store
game store

So you survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and somehow you still have a few bucks in your wallet, well good thing this week there are only about three games that make our worthy buy list.

First a little change in the Games to buy format. We will now intertwine both PC and Console games into one which means that when we have a week that has a ton of games for both it will be a harsher cut for the ones we think are worth buying. Remember this is an opinion piece and for the most part we leave sports games out of it because we know you sports fans are going to pick up the latest edition.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

There is tons of information on this game and honestly if you are a World of Warcraft player you are getting this game case closed. The overall story is an ancient evil dragon called Deathwing laid a path of destruction that reshaped the world. What this means for gamers is the old world has changes so the land that you leveled up playing has changed forever. There are a ton of changes to how the character classes work, two new playable races and a ton of new dungeons and loot. Blizzard also have made changes to make gameplay quicker for those of us with little time.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$$

Tron: Evolution

Disney has pulled out all the stops in the sequel to the cult classic Tron and the same has been done with the game. Although some critics have given it a less than likeable score the game does look well put together. You have a mix of the classic Tron including the light cycle races and the action adventure levels where you chase down viruses in the virtual world running and jumping through the visually stunning city. There is also a multiplayer aspect that allows you to compete against up to ten other players. You can play Tron Evolution online or offline.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

Bejeweled 3

Perhaps there isn’t much one can say about a new puzzle game, but the fact is Popcap had and still has a winner with this game. Bejeweled can be found on pretty much anything from the PC to your phone and everywhere in-between. Now you have a brand new game that keeps to the classic gameplay but added cool additions including a 40 mission quest mode that has 11 mini games. There have also been updates to the four game modes found in Bejeweled 2. Finally you get new backgrounds a tweak in the music department an even clearer visuals. All in all if you love puzzle games this is worth a buy at only $20.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

NewU Fitness First Mind Body

So you stumbled upon a Karma Sutra book and convinced your girlfriend to give some of the new positions a try. Unfortunately, both you and she are out of shape and could not even do the beginner positions. I guess it’s back to missionary for you, well maybe not.

Thanks to the Wii, brining you wastes of time since 2006, you can now Yoga your way to the backwards sun pretzel position in just a few short weeks. This hot new program will teach you how to get your mind and body in sync preparing you for long nights of passion. Keggle’s add-on pack not included.

Buy Worthiness:  X

If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

Waiting Room
Waiting Room

Everyone has been through it, at one time or another you have had to wait in a small, cramped and completely boring waiting room. It really doesn’t matter what you were waiting for though waiting for a car repair or doctor’s appointment can be the worse. Let’s face it, you don’t want to read those crappy magazines they have from six months ago and the television channel is showing The View. Back in the day you would have to just tough it out, drink some awful coffee and maybe strike up a conversation, but thanks to portable gaming that has all changed.

Now you can play a ton of games across many platforms from console handhelds to the iPad. Today you are not even stuck playing simple flash games, with systems like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable you can play brand new high graphic games anywhere. So that leads us to this week’s Insider Discussion; If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

For me it would be puzzle games. For some reason I just can’t enjoy games like Tetris and Super Puzzle Fighter at home on my 51 inch HDTV. However, when I am waiting for someone or something to get done I love to break out a good puzzle game and watch the time fly by. You can find so many great puzzle games no matter what platform you play on and once you get into it that hefty repair bill or super long doctor’s needle won’t seem so painful.

Now let’s see what our panel of insiders said:

Mathew Anderson from Petroglyphgames wrote:

“World of Warcraft (or any other similar MMORPG). Why? Because you can easily spend hours in the game on a variety of tasks, many of which can take hours to complete in and of themselves. Or simply chat with others around you. I mean, who wants to talk to real people in a waiting room when you have an entire virtual world to explore, right?! Games within games, “virtual” persons instead of real ones… do those count? :)”

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

If that happened today, it’d be Mirrors Edge – which I’m absolutely loving.

Justin Melendez from Lan Slide PC’s wrote:

A few months ago I was stuck in an airport for about 12 hours during which time I played a fair amount of Starcraft, Aion and Borderlands. Had Starcraft 2 been out I probably would have queued up for some multilayer matches to pass the time.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

Civilization 4 is a good for me, a real time-killer!

Josiah Pisciotta from Chronic Logic wrote:

Right now I would say Civilization IV, nothing makes time fly by like that game.  Plus if the wait turned into days instead of hours not only would I still be playing but I probably wouldn’t even notice 🙂

Corey Dangel from Detonator Games wrote:

Getting stuck in a waiting room for hours happens to me more often than I’d care to admit! Typically I just play a version of Spider Solitaire on my Android. I’m on a quest to break the 4 minute barrier (I’ve only gotta shave off 3 seconds so I know i can do it) so it actually can entertain me for quite some time. But if I was thinking ahead, or had the ability to manifest a game + device out of thin air, I’d play Scribblenauts for the DS. It’s such a creative game with so many ways to enjoy it.

Danny Greig from XGEN Studios wrote:

Street Fighter 2 or Super Mario Kart.  Both can be played for hours on a portable device without getting old. However if a console is an option, the choice would be Super Smash Bros (Any of them).

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I actually found myself in this situation, and it was when Wario: Touched! for the Nintendo DS came out.  It is both very light-hearted which was helpful, and the game sessions were so quick you can pause & put it away at any time.  Plus of course it’s portable.

Grace Snoke from EOGamer wrote:

I love puzzle games and tower games.  Games like Bejeweled, Jewels, Collapse, things like that always eat up my time. I get involved in them and hours disappear because I’m constantly trying to beat my best score.  Or, if all else fails, Plants vs. Zombies, which is a tower game.  Best time waster ever.

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Right now that would have to be Super Mario Galaxy 2. SMG2 is a textbook on excellent game design. Every mission of every level is different, it’s tough but never frustrating, and there are all sorts of surprises from beginning to end.

Anila Andrade: 99 Games Online

99 Games logo

Name: Anila Andrade

Company: 99Games Online

Profession: Game Designer

Favorite Classic Game: Bejeweled

Quote: I’m a puzzle freak and tend to like any game that belongs to this genre. It’s skill based and also involves an element of strategy in it. The art is incredible and the game has kept me hooked on for hours! We recently released a new title for the iPhone and iPad – The Jim and Frank Mysteries-The Blood River Files. Was a combo of puzzles and adventure.

Bejeweled

Bejeweled screenshot
Bejeweled screenshot

Bejeweled review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Another classic puzzle game for the masses.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

This is a pure, straight up puzzle game.

The point of the game consists of getting 3 or more of one jewel type connected in a row or column and then the game eliminates it. When that happens more jewels drop in taking up the same amount of space from the top of the screen. The more jewels you make disappear at a time, the more points you get.

There are two game modes, one that is the normal mode and the time mode.

Under the normal mode, you have unlimited time and you have to fill up the bottom bar in order to go to the next stage/level. I find this one to be more laid back and strategic.

Time mode gets pretty hectic. You are still trying to get as many in a row/column as possible but the bar at the bottom is going down constantly. You still have to fill the bar up to move on to the next level, which will make the game harder as the time bar will go down faster.

The point to leveling up is that the higher the level, the higher the score multiplier is for any combos you do. In other words, you will get more points per jewel that disappears.

Fun Factor:

This is a simple game yet it’s very entertaining. I prefer the normal (stategic) game mode the most as opposed to the hectic time mode. This game will keep you interested and it’s a great way to wake up and put your thinking cap on. The game might seem simple but there are subtle strategies for you to learn once you’ve played a bunch of games in a row.

This game keeps my interest as far as puzzle games go and I’m sure you will feel the same. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The more you play the game, the harder it gets. It might not necessarily seem like it but you will find yourself more limited with initial combos once the new level spawns. Overall, if you find the game too easy, you can simply play it in time mode, which is much harder.

You start each game at level 1 and there is no way to artificially manipulate this, so you will go through the same difficulty curve every time. The higher the level you go higher then chance you have of dying simply from running out of moves. Once that happens, it’s game over and there is no continue.

I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

You can opt out to play the game online for free from the Popcap games website or you can buy the game for a few dollars.

The version that I played/own I got through Steam for $1-2 when it was on sale and I bought a huge package of PopCap Games. The link to the version I reviewed is the following (through Steam):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/3350/

You can play the free version through this link:

PopCap Games for Free

They sell Bejeweled there and it’s sequels as well. Most sell for $8-12, for PC and handheld systems/phones.

Considering the replayability value of the game, it’s worth at least getting the basic game or even playing the free ones through a web browser. Since the game is basically free or within the price of a budget title, the game gets a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

This game is VERY addictive. Considering I was going to replay Civilization 4 for the billionth time to submit a review and I’ve been just playing this game over and over, I would say it’s VERY replayable (addictive).

Other than to be a great time killer, for me the replayability comes into trying to one up my old high scores.

The game helps me think about my strategies within the game and real life problems while I play it, so it’s relaxing and that keeps me playing often.

Replayability gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are simple but they are enough for this game. The best sound effect is the robotic voice of the announcer which makes it sound like an old video game. Sound gets a score of 5 out of 10.

Music:

The music for the version I played, Bejeweled Deluxe sounds like classic amiga mod music and a lot like the music of other games that also use MOD files such as Uplink. It has a very oldskool feel and I always love that. There is one song for each game mode and it loops over and over but that keeps me focused. You can always lower the volume if it bothers you and play an external mp3 file if you want by alt-tabbing.

I enjoy the songs in the game. I think Music deserves a score of 8 out of 10. Some people might want more than 2 songs for the whole game.

Graphics:

The graphics are pretty spartan but this game is designed to run on any computer and not require a lot of money in hardware invested. The graphics look like enhanced c64 or Amiga graphics. I don’t expect a game like this to go all out on graphics as people will play it for it’s puzzle aspect, not to look at eye candy. Graphics get a score of 5 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed after 30 hours of gameplay. I would declare it’s pretty rock solid. I’ve never seen the logic of the game get stuck in any game either. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Controls don’t get simpler than this game. You just left click on what jewel you want to shift and left click on the destination. The jewel will either move up, left, right, or down (not diagonal moves allowed). Once that happens, the game calculates what stuff disappears and you keep playing. It can’t get any simpler than that. Anybody can pretty much play this game. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Any version of this game run perfect on any computer, phone, hand held, etc. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I got this and a bunch of other games through the Steam sale they had in December 2009. Although I know you can play the games for free on the website, since I find them very entertaining, I didn’t mind paying for them and getting the versions that had the enhanced music/graphics.

These are the kinds of games I’ve been playing whenever I take a break from playing a big game.

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo
PopCap Games logo

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

If you love puzzle games and specifically free ones then visit the website of PopCap Games and have fun! Some of my favorites are Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Big Money, Chuzzle, and Bejeweled. These games might seem simple but they are the kind of games that improve your logic skills.

The website for Popcap Games is the following: http://www.popcap.com/