Tag Archives: Windows 10

2017 Game Review Haiku, #58 – Toca Boo

Bonnie scares fam time
Hide, make them nervous, big boos
Cute animations

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

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Cut the Rope, grind out some free Achievements

I’m a curious fella, and so I like to download a range of freebies, judging nothing by its cover or title or clearly-designed-for-mobile artstyle, from walking simulators to platformers to physics-based puzzle games. Like Cut the Rope. Now, I got Cut the Rope as a free download on the Windows Store back in November 2016, many moons after everyone probably already played it on their phones. Or somewhere else. No, really. Allow me to list a few of the places you could have already played ZeptoLab’s indie darling from October 2010: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Leap Motion, BlackBerry 10, Symbian, BlackBerry PlayBook, DSiWare, Mac OS X Browser, BlackBerry, Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo eShop), Chrome OS, Firefox OS, Nook, iPad, and so on. I’m sure I missed a few platforms too. Sheesh.

Cut the Rope‘s objective, from its title alone, should be self-explanatory, but there’s a little more to it than simply snipping some string. Sorry, I love alliteration. Your true goal is to feed candy to a little green creature named Om Nom while collecting stars. The candy just happens to be tied up by a bunch of ropes, and by cutting them and using other elements in the level, like bubbles and puffs of air, along with general physics and momentum, you must guide the candy to Om Nom’s gaping mouth. You can use your finger to cut by swiping it across the touchscreen, but I’m cooler than that and played it on my laptop so imagine the same sweet maneuver, but done on a less-than-stellar trackpad. Boom goes the dynamite. It actually works fine, with the bonus of not having to look at my phone any more than I already do.

I was initially under the impression that Cut the Rope was like nearly every other free-to-play iteration built around getting three stars in a level out there–y’know, Angry Birds, Bad Piggies, Crush the Castle, and on for infinity. Nope. Well, not this version from the Windows Store, at least. If anything, this is Nintendo’s take on free-to-start, with only the first six levels of the first two worlds available for play and the remainder under lock and key. I thought I’d get the whole game and just have to occasionally close some advertisements or deal with an energy meter that limited how much I can play. Turns out, my play time was constricted, to only 12 levels that clearly hinted at fun gameplay and a super cute aesthetic, but I found one way to milk this cow for all it ultimately had. Ew, milk. I must think of a better metaphor for next time; anyways, I’m talking about Achievements. They’re those digital rewards I’m still somewhat interested in popping for the games I play.

Yes, despite only have access to a few early levels, I was able to unlock nine of Cut the Rope‘s 19 Achievements. Not bad for zero pennies and maybe an hour and change of my time. These Achievements revolved around doing tasks a specific amount, such as cutting X ropes, popping X bubbles, and losing X pieces of candy and were easily earn-able through repetition. Find a level that quickly lets you cut, pop, and drop, do it, restart, and the cycle is formed. I was also able to pop “Tummy Teaser,” which tasks you with getting Om Nom to open his mouth 10 times in a row in one of world 1’s basic levels, using a piece of candy on a single rope and having it swing back and forth in front of the teeny green beast for a bit. Strange enough, the Internet said this could only be done later on, in the full version. So this just proves my amazing prowess.

But yeah, ringing these twelve levels dry for Achievements with the music turned off and something else occupying my ears was the most fun I could come up with for Cut the Rope, seeing as the gameplay didn’t hook me enough to purchase the rest of the levels. I ran into this problem before with Can You Escape, also from the Windows Store, so I have to start being a little more critical in my downloading decisions because something labeled free might not always mean complete. That said, let the countdown begin until I inevitably grab Cut the Rope 2, which, in its description, says this:

SWEET! Cut the Rope 2 has arrived and you can enjoy the full adventure for FREE!

Uh huh. Sure.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #36 – Spectrum

The world is all gray
Bring color back with crystals
Lousy platformer

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #39 – Ridiculous Marathon

2016 gd games completed Ridiculous Marathon

Running, being chased
Avoid those trucks, the spike traps
One day, nothing left

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

The terse answer to Can You Escape is yup, but only to level 9

can you escape final gd impressions

I’ve been asked before, in real life, if I’d like to participate in one of those “escape the room” scenarios that are mega popular right around Halloween time. Or possibly other times too, but that’s when these scenarios can take the scaring to a whole new level. My gut response each and every time is to scream noooo and run away, arms flailing, never looking back. It’s not that I don’t think I have the brains to find my way out or even mind working cooperatively with friends (or strangers), but the idea of being closed in a small room with no immediate way out is enough to set me on edge…before I’m even in the room. Heck, I can barely handle waiting in that tight foyer on Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride.

All that said, I have no problem playing digital versions of “escape the room,” and even seek these out now and then, as they often provide somewhat logical puzzles to figure out, which gets my brain muscles to flex for a bit. Can You Escape, which is one of the more lackluster attempts at a creative title about escaping a place, missing even enough energy to add a question mark at the end, is free to download from Microsoft for the PC or mobile devices. I grabbed it for my laptop, seeing as it now rocks Windows 10 and all that–plus, when it comes to pixel hunting, the bigger the screen the better.

Can You Escape takes place in a tall apartment building, which is purported to house a number of exceptional residents, with varying tastes and lifestyles. However, you won’t actually meet any of them per se, but you will get to explore their apartments and then escape them after you are done poking and prodding around. You begin in the lobby, but slowly ascend, with each room offering more and harder puzzles to solve before moving on to the next occupant’s home. I was under the assumption that you got fifteen levels to play here, which sounded like a fine enough deal for something that is free to download, but you only actually can play nine levels before you have to drop some cash. More on that in a bit.

To escape an apartment, you have to find the key that will open up the elevator–which defies logic and opens directly into each person’s place, acting as a front door anyone can step through–and to do that you’ll first have to solve a number of other puzzles that will eventually lead to the key or result in you creating a makeshift key. The number of puzzles and the difficulty level goes up every floor. There are clues all around, and you’ll do a lot of clicking, to and fro, gathering a small amount of items in your inventory to be used elsewhere or combined with another obtainable item. If you have a mediocre memory like me, you’ll also take pictures of clues with your cell phone. I do wish that some areas where you can click were made more obvious, as there was one apartment with a toy train and set of tracks on the floor that I didn’t know was clickable until I watched an online walkthrough after getting stuck. Also, a few items are difficult to decipher based on their picture only, so a description could have helped.

Can You Escape is fine. It’s not good, and it’s certainly not great. The puzzles do range from obvious to obtuse at times, but nothing will break your brain, and completing a puzzle about matching symbols do different heights still sends out satisfactory vibes through your body. Well, it does at least for my body. For a free download limned with the constant clutter of ads and that looping drum beat, it’s fine. I just wish they gave you all fifteen levels to play and locked other non-essential content behind a pay-wall. Here’s how the money breaks down for those stuck in the same boat that finished more than half of the levels and kind of actually want a little more:

  • All-in Package – $1.99
  • Bonus Levels 1 – $0.99
  • Bonus Levels 2 – $0.99
  • Remove Ads – $0.99

Yeah. It’s weird. I’m under the assumption that “Bonus Levels 1” gets you levels 10, 11, and 12, and that “Bonus Levels 2” will provide you with the remaining three–surprise, surprise, the game doesn’t really provide you many details. You could buy both those options together or simply get the “All-in Package” for seemingly the same price. Even still, I don’t think this is worth the money, especially after the developers give you nearly half the game for zero cents. A shame; plus it means that I won’t get to put Can You Escape on my completed list of games for 2016. Boo. I like finishing things.

A quick bit of research–in other words, Googling–shows that Can You Escape 2 is also available to play for free as well, but only to a point. There’s also a ton of in-app purchases for more levels and origamis (?). Hmm. I think I’ll steer clear from here onward, finding escapism elsewhere, where you get what you get, and you get out with what you got.

RIDICULOUS MARATHON HAS CANDY, TOFFEE, SWEETS, AND CONFETTI

ridiculous marathon gd early impressions

If you have an eye for detail or are anal about words being in all capital letters when perhaps they have no reason to be, you might be wondering why this blog post about Ridiculous Marathon has such style elements enforced in its title. I assure you this is not a clickbait attempt or new thing for Grinding Down in 2016. I assure you. This stems from looking up further details about the game on Microsoft’s website and discovering that the only text provided before the “read more” link is as follows:

GET READY TO RUN A CRAZY MARATHON FILLED WITH CANDY, TOFFEE, SWEETS AND CONFETTI

Er, yeah. Settle down, copy writer. Also, even after playing Ridiculous Marathon for a bit, I can’t agree that the game is filled with these items. You’ll see a piece of candy every few feet, but only until you complete the Daily Challenge, and then you’ll never see another sliver of candy again until the next day. As for the toffee and sweets–no idea where they are. Confetti appears from time to time as you morph into a powered-up piñata, but this isn’t a game about hitting the crap out of a stuffed container often made of papier-mâché. It’s an endless runner, through and through.

I’ll say with certainty that Ridiculous Marathon is an easier and more forgiving endless runner than Temple Run 2 and Lara Croft: Relic Run–put together. There are fewer turns and obstacles to avoid, with a larger focus on jumping over construction signs and avoiding trucks carrying long wooden logs. Your move set includes jumping, moving left to right, and sliding–that’s kind of it. There’s no turning corners or running along walls to not fall in pits, but you can double tap the screen to turn into an invincible piñata that will, I believe, save you from one crash. I’ve gotten pretty far without much outside help, hitting around 150,000 points in score. With the help of some revive diamonds, I expect to hit 500,000 points rather easily.

Naturally, with this being a free-to-play endless runner, there’s microtransactions available that could help each of your runs be more successful, but only if you plop down some cash. So far, I’ve ignored all of those options and am doing just fine. You can buy single use power-ups with the gold you collect as you move through the Amazon rainforest, as well as upgrade power-ups or purchase costumes for your characters, though those are simply cosmetic in nature. There are ads, but they are easy to dismiss, though I don’t understand why I have to sign in with my Microsoft account every single time I load it up to play; other mobile games don’t ask me to do this.

There are two systems at work to keep one coming back to Ridiculous Marathon, and they are the Daily and Weekly Challenges. The Daily Challenge tasks you with collecting a number of candy as you run, which is easy enough because, just like with all the game’s power-ups, you can spot them from a distance as a beam of light shoots up and out of them. Do this for five days in a row, and you’ll unlock a mystery box, which gave me some free piñata power-ups. The Weekly Challenge wants you to collect golden palm trees, and the one I’m on is for finding 21, of which I’ve gotten nine. They show up a whole lot less, so we’ll see if I get any reward by the end of the countdown, which stands at 34 hours left. Hmm.

In the end, Ridiculous Marathon is fine. It’s not as ridiculous as one might think, nor as tiring as running an actual marathon. Well, I actually can’t speak officially on that last part. Perhaps this is a runner better suited for younger gamers or those just getting into the genre. Anyways, I expect to play it for another week or two until I’ve wrung every ounce of fun from it, and by fun I naturally mean Achievements.

Patience you must have, my young Star Wars: Commander

star wars commander intro hours

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think some new Star Wars talkie comes out this week in theaters. The Force Awakens or something like that. Personally, I’m excited for it, as I love all things space opera, but am going to hold back and wait until the crowds and madness fade, though hopefully I can remain relatively spoiler-free during those dark, lonely days. Perhaps I’ll fill that void with my massive collection of Star Wars-related videogames, of which I actually don’t have many. There’s Star Wars: Tiny Death Star on my phone, which is stellar, but mostly an elevator simulator, LEGO Star Wars, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which I’ve played the opening tutorial bits twice and never gone any further than that.

Well, let’s see what Star Wars: Commander is all about. It’s from Disney Interactive and available on a bunch of different devices. For this impressions piece, I’m hanging out with my boys Han Solo and Chewbacca on my ASUS laptop that now rocks Windows 10. In hindsight, this is not the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ll get to why in just a bit. It’s a free-to-play strategy game in the slight veins of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 and Age of Empires, a genre I’ve had some reservations over for years, but you’ll notice I didn’t say “real-time” there, as you’ll do a whole lot more waiting around if you wanted to play it just like those games.

Here’s the gist, story-wise. In Star Wars: Commander, you must first to decide to fight for the Rebellion or Empire, train your troops, build up a bunch of units and vehicles, defend your base, and complete story-tinted missions. As you do this, you’ll level up your heroes and vehicles, battle on different worlds, and team up with friends to take on larger, more difficult scenarios. For what it’s worth, I went with the good guys, which most certainly means I’m on Darth Vader’s naughty list this year for Christmas. I can’t help rooting for the good-natured guys and girls in this universe that don’t want to see entire planets vaporized. I’ve also killed a bunch of womp rats on Tatooine already.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, which is from around an hour or so with the game, Star Wars: Commander is not great. It might be good, but probably falls more around the middling category. It holds your hand for far too long in the beginning, is too corny with its ads for rating the app and buying extra goodies with hard-earned cash, and doesn’t seem all that engaging from the get-go. This is certainly not helped by the fact that I’m playing it on a laptop, when it is clearly better suited for mobile, where one can easily check in on their base, tap the things that need tapping, and close out to get back to dreary life tasks, like blocking people on Facebook you know are foaming at the mouth to reveal Mark Hamill’s role in Episode VII.

Immediately after the game stopped holding my hand and actually allowed me to click around and spend coins/ore as I pleased, I began to explore the user interface. There’s a bunch of icons, and one should ideally know what each does before getting into the thick of things. The second icon I clicked on, which brought up a menu for purchasing resources with my precious diamond currency, nearly froze the game. I say nearly because I could continue to click the “back” and “X” buttons, but they didn’t do anything. I didn’t try actually buying any resources, though the cynical side of me suspects those buttons would have worked just fine. Eventually, I just tabbed out and shut the whole thing down, but I’m forever tainted by this experience, afraid to even open up the settings menu.

I’ll probably check in on Star Wars: Commander a few more times this week, though I don’t expect to stick with it. I was surprised by just how little you can actually do while building your base and prepping for the next mission, and so maybe I need to give Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a third chance and start exploring the galaxy, no cooldown timer needed. Also, if you’re checking out Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week, enjoy–but keep the details to yourself. Sincerely, everyone not seeing it immediately.