17th June 2009

This Gaming Life – Review

This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities
Author: Jim Rossignol
May 2008
224 Pages

There is much about this book which I liked, particularly the fairly in-depth look at the Korean gaming culture and how it differs from that in the west. It was also interesting to read about the political movements within games and how they have been used as protest platforms. I feel that as a person who is both a gamer and a person who works in the gaming industry, This Gaming Life brings to light many of the reasons why people play video games – for the challenges, social experiences or to simply escape the stresses of every day life. One of the other reasons given by the author is that gamers game to stave off boredom.

Jim Rossignol raises some very valid points on how the activity of playing video games has grown to become a central part of today’s culture, such as the social components in today’s games and the scientific studies being conducted to better understand the effect of video games on the human countenance. He examines at length the pros and cons of becoming engrossed in games, as well as some of the educational aspects. Topics also covered are the varying levels of importance some game development studios put on gamer interaction with development through gamer-made mods or playing the game in ways not expected by the developers. This is something which I have heard discussed at many game development conferences – that gamers will always find some way to play the game that was outside of the project vision.
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28th May 2009

Chains – Game Review

Official Website: Chains
Format: PC
Genre: Action

chains0One of the first things I noticed about Chains is that there was no tutorial; that’s fine, I could probably figure this out. When the first level, Trident, loads there is a clear message on the screen “Clear 100”. After a moment the level loads and the balls begin to fill in the empty spaces. I sat and watched them fill it, waiting for some kind of direction as to exactly how to clear these multi-coloured balls that had filled in the level and after a short time a box came up and with instructions. This was going to be a lot of fun, no more mind numbing word games, just a brightly coloured and interesting version of connect the dots!

On to the next level! Clear 200 without losing any, and the balls start falling down into this little trapped area with a gate held closed by a counterweight. This was the first time I actually lost a level; sad probably since the first went by so well. My second biggest complaint with the game was that the helpful hints would take enough time to read that by the time I was back to the game the number of balls piled up caused me to fail the level. This happened a couple times before I learned that the game auto pauses when it loses focus. Awesome idea, I really liked this. Now when the hints would come up I would alt tab to some other program and move it out of the way so that I could take my time to read over the hints.
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28th May 2009

IUGO Adds New Table to Freeballin’

IUGOVancouverIUGO Mobile Entertainment is proud to release their newest Freeballin’ update – a new pinball table based on their ToyBots franchise. The table features artwork from ToyBots, and brings the number of table maps up to five.Freeballin Toybot

I’ve been playing Freeballin’ since its release, and the game is truly fun to play. Each of the levels features highly detailed artwork and in-level missions to achieve. Each of these missions involves getting the ball to go where needed and hit specific targets, such as crushing cars. All of the level maps vary in setting from an inner-city locale to tropical jungles and a colourful dreamscape table. In true game play fashion, there are boss battles to win and high scores to make higher. The audio track for this game is energetic and fits each table perfectly. The only problem I’ve had with the game at all is sometimes pressing the screen a little hard for flipper control, and I keep waiting for the “TILT” message to light up.
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4th May 2009

Afro Samurai Game Review

Afro SamuraiTitle: Afro SamuraiSurge
Developer: Surge
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: January 27 2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 – PlayStation3
Genre: Action-Adventure
MSRP: $69.99
ESRB: Mature

Why do you want the headband? – Bad Guy
For revenge – Afro Samurai

Made by Surge for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, Afro Samurai is a third person action adventure game released in February this year, and is one of the best hacking and slashing titles this reviewer has played in the last couple of years. Based upon Afro Samurai the Afro SamuraiJapanese manga created by Takashi Okazaki and made into an animated movie voiced and co produced by the original BMF Samuel L Jackson is where Surge got their inspiration. The question lingers though how well do they translate that source material into a game?

The world of Afro Samurai is set in a futuristic feudal Japan, there exists 2 magical headbands held by only the strongest men/samurai in the world, legend has it that who wears the number 1 headband controls the world and granted the powers of a god. Since man is power hungry there exists the number 2 headband it is for those who wish to challenge the number 1 but can be challenged at anytime by anyone who chooses to take up the fight with NamcoBandai Gamesthe number 2.

This is where we start the story, as a child our hero Afro (named for his hair style) is forced to watch his father the current number 1 beheaded in a battle for the mysterious number 1 headband by the evil Justice the current number 2. So after seeing his fathers headband taken by Justice and having his fathers head tossed to his feet. Justice casts away the number two headband and tells Afro that if he wants his revenge, he better go train so he can get the number 2 headband and come back and avenge his father’s death. This is where the story of the video game kicks off.
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29th April 2009

Obulis For PC – Review


Developer: IonFX
Publisher: Meridian 4
Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Windows PC

Background: Based on IonFX’s award-winning mobile game of the same name, Obulis takes things to the next level by fusing highly compelling gameplay with outstanding graphics, music and state of the art physics effects.

I have had Obulis for a few weeks now, and while I generally try for a quick turn-around on Obulisgame reviews, this one took me a bit longer than normal. The reason being was that I wasn’t sure if I liked the game and didn’t play very far into the game at first. I then set it aside for a few days, and as it turns out, there are some areas of the game-play which I truly liked, admittedly much to my surprise.  There were only two or three areas which I felt were negative, but they relate directly to my personal preferences – and as I advanced through the game, one of those negative issues became not so important anymore.
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13th April 2009

Diamond Fever is Maddeningly Addictive

Howling Moon GamesVancouver – I acquired Diamond Fever, the new iPhone/iPod Touch game by Ontario’s Howling Moon Games yesterday, and while the game play is very simple, putting the game down is not.

There are no special effects, no winnable power-ups, and the only Diamond Feveroptions are to play – with the music on or off. This game is simply addictive, with the only challenges being to beat the game’s ten levels and best your own top score. Diamond Fever brings out the competitive nature of the player and as the difficulty of each level increases, the player is hard-pressed to keep those diamonds away from the crate of explosives in the middle of the screen. The game does save the last level which you successfully completed, and you are able to select any completed level as a starting point.

Game play is similar to that of the Collapse franchise, where the player must match groups of three or Diamond Fevermore game pieces to advance through the levels. While Diamond Fever is comprised of only ten levels, from level 4 onwards the challenges facing the player grow exponentially through the addition of more colours to match and the speed with which they are placed on the board. Eye-hand coordination and reaction time are put through vigorous testing as the player is required to keep all four corners of the mine cleared of diamonds. At a download price of only $0.99 from the App Store, Diamond Fever is a very affordable source of challenging entertainment, and as a fan of match 3 styles of games, I recommend it to others to try.

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30th March 2009

Larva Mortus – Review

Larva MortusTitle: Larva Mortus
Developer: Rake In Grass
Publisher: Meridian4
Released: March 19 2009
Platform: PC Windows
Genre: Action/Horror
Current Price: $9.99 through their site (also available on Steam)
Rating: Not Rated

In the end of XIX. century dark forces shade the world once again. A brave agent experienced in exorcism and combat comes to face the incoming evil and fight loathsome supernatural monsters and horrific spawns of black magic

Larva Mortus is very reminiscent of the types of games I liked to play way back in the early days of computing – usually on that little-known OS called Windows 3.1. While some in this day and age of heavy 3D graphics may find those early games unbelievably poor in quality, Rake In Grass has

Quest Info


managed to develop a fun-to-play action-horror quest and combat property. They’ve included many of the elements which make for a highly addictive and re-playable game – one which I thoroughly enjoyed playing. Okay, so I’m still playing it – but that’s an homage to the developers for the great job they’ve done.

First and foremost I would like to make mention of the soundtrack. It is extremely well-written and produced, and adds much to the spookiness of the environment. It is non-repetitive and won’t grate on your nerves after the first few minutes of play. One thing that I always check at the start of game play is the Options area. I do not usually like to play games in Full Screen mode on my PC, as I usually have other things going on at the same time. I was happy to see that Rake In Grass included that all important Screen Mode choice in their options, allowing me to play in a smaller window.  For those who do not like gore in their games, it’s also possible to turn off the gore. I happen to like gore, so that control remained active.

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27th March 2009

MCF Return To Ravenhearst – Review

Return to RavenhearstDeveloper – Big Fish GamesBig Fish Games
Publisher – Big Fish Games
Released – November 26 2008
Rating: E – T
Game Score: 10/10
Official Website

In this sequel to Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, players again take on the role of a Master Detective trying to unravel the evil mysteries which inhabit the old Ravenhearst Manor. Picking up where Ravenhearst left off, the story revolves around the fate of yet more ghosts who are still trapped in the eerie mansion.Return to Ravenhearst

The tone for Return to Ravenhearst is set right from the opening frames of the game. A moody and haunting soundtrack, complete with timely sound effects lets the gamer know that this chapter in the franchise is not going to be a pleasant jaunt through the park. The game’s environmental artists have developed an atmosphere that exudes creepiness – everything from the artfully created lighting to triggered animations immerses the player into the mood of the story.

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29th January 2009

Dini’s Video Game Play and Addiction Deserves Five Stars

Video Game Play and Addiction – A Guide For Parents
Author: Kourosh Dini, MD
April 2008
151 pages

Update: Video Game Play & Addiction has received a 2009 Silver Award from Mom’s Choice Awards in the Resources category.

This book impressed me from the moment I cracked the cover and began reading. Kourosh Dini has written the most comprehensive, wide-view truth about game play and addiction book that I have read to-date.

In no way is this book stuffy or full of statistics and scientific mumbo-jumbo; instead, Dini uses a common-sense approach to the topic, but he does not limit his discussion solely to children who are addicted to video games. He begins by talking about the positive aspects of gaming, and why humans like to game – to learn and to enjoy the aspects of play in our lives. Play and Addiction gets extra points from me because the author discusses the fact that our school systems are very outdated and no longer meet the needs of our tech-savvy children.

Parents are also encouraged to be an active part of their child’s game play – observe, participate – learn and play together. I think that this is a very important section of the book, because as parents in a high-achievement oriented business world, time to play and connect with our children can often become a lower priority. One of the biggest benefits of following Dini’s suggestions is that we remain able to converse with our children, to know who they are, what they are doing, and why they like to play the games they do.
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7th January 2009

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant Is Good Clean Fun

Crash Bandicoot Mind Over Mutant Title: Crash Bandicoot – Mind Over Mutant
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Sierra – Activision
Platforms: Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PSP, PS2
Release Date: October 7 2008

Mind over Mutant is the latest addition to the Crash Bandicoot franchise from Vancouver’s RadicalMind Over Mutant Entertainment, and the general consensus among those of us at the Village Gamer HQ who played the 360 version over the holidays is that “Crash rocks!”

The plot line for Mind Over Mutant requires Crash to save his friends and everyone else from the evil clutches of the nasty Dr. Neo Cortex and the equally warped Dr. Nitrus Brio. The squabbling and delusional duo have released a new device called the “NV” on the Bandicoot world, a mind controlling unit which bears an odd resemblance to today’s real world mobile devices. The NV has not only affected Crash’s sister CoCo and his best-friend Crunch, but also each of the Titan “clans” which also populate Crash’s world.

Mind Over Mutant - MissionMind Over Mutant is full of player achievement objectives, ranging from health and skill upgrades for Crash and his small army of Mutant Titans to missions, side-missions and treasure hunts. Skills and health can also be upgraded by collecting mojo jewels, while main mission objectives are obtained from characters in the story. Completing percentages of the game results in achievement awards, and some objectives which can only be successful through co-op play.

While the co-op areas can be accomplished with one player using two controllers, we found it far more fun to actually play co-operatively. Other achievements throughout the game include unlockable skins (or costumes) for Crash and art collections. The artMind over Mutant - Jacked Titan collection featuring fan art must have thrilled the many young artists whose work was included, and I feel this was a very special and thoughtful way to thank Crash Bandicoot fans.

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