August 1, 2010
I already have hundreds of games stockpiled. But that’s not good enough, oh goodness, no. I had to go and by 433,000 new games. Would you believe these new acquisitions?
First, there’s a CD-ROM (it’s actually 3) that alleges to contain 100,000 games. Not satisfied with that, the very same companies (jewel cases both list Viva Media and Selectsoft) released a DVD-ROM claiming 333,000 games.
So what’s the wager? Do you really think the games contain so many games? Or do you think it’s another situation like the 1997-in-1 game handheld unit that actually contained 14 unique games but hundreds of “levels” for each? What does Occam’s Razor have to say about the situation?
Yeah, there is just a handful of games with thousands of uninspired “levels” for each. I tried a few of the games on the first (of 3) CD-ROMs covering the 100,000 games title but most of them are of a quality level that would have been embarrassing 15 years ago (the 100,000 games box lists a copyright of 2008; the 333,000 games DVD lists 2009).
Thankfully, someone has already entered the 333,000 games DVD into MobyGames, absolving me of the responsibility.
In a way, I felt relieved to learn that there weren’t 333,000 unique games on the DVD. I have my doubts that so many unique games have yet to exist in the history of computer gaming. Still, confronted with so many choices, I feel absolutely daunted. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to play a game. Similarly, I have over 180 game demos downloaded onto my PlayStation 3; in those rare situations that I feel inspired to sit down and try a game, I can’t decide what to play. I suspect this is a familiar situation that leads to “500 channels and nothing’s on” sort of mentality.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Puzzle Games,Windows Games | Comments (0)
November 30, 2009
Captain Novolin was a notorious SNES title about a diabetic superhero who fought off sugary snacks. If Seanbaby’s review of the game is to be believed, that’s about all there was to this (probably) well-meaning game that only wanted to educate children about certain health problems but has nonetheless gone down in video game history as a silly joke.
On that note, I present Starbright’s Quest for the Code, a star-studded video game assembled to teach kids about asthma. Actually, the game isn’t geared towards kids in general but rather is targeted specifically towards kids suffering from asthma. I have no idea if this game was ever marketed or intended to turn any kind of profit. The still shrink-wrapped copy I procured for a dollar in a spent shop stipulated that it was not to be sold but should be freely given to an asthmatic child.
Here’s the story: Diane Sawyer — lending her newscasting talent to this charitable cause — breaks a story about a giant machine that has just landed in town and is threatening to release all manner of asthma triggers. The machine is run by one Mucus Airgon, someone who apparently really has it in for asthmatics and has a gang of 7 henchvillains creatively named “The Evil Seven”. So you know that 7 levels are going to be involved somehow. I should clarify at this point that the main thrust of the game is to educate asthmatic children how to live with asthma and that it does not have to be debilitating. It seems that Airgon’s grand plan is simply to demoralize asthmatic children. The gap between that and the “Profit!!” step remains a smidge hazy but I’m certain I have seen stranger premises in other games during this Gaming Pathology project.
The title of the game refers to the acquisition of 7 pieces of a code which will be used to destroy Airgon’s asthma-triggering machine. Or some such.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the guide, Cyrus and shows up, Matrix-style (as in, he mysteriously contacts you through your computer). He leads you first through a lung simulator to teach you how the human respiratory system operates and how asthma and its triggers act upon the system. I had a sinking feeling about the game play aspect of the proceedings as soon as I saw the first activity — cleaning up snot in the nose.
Now, I’ve put up with a lot of outlandishly silly game play concepts for this blog (measuring and cutting drapes continues to stand out in my mind). But how creatively bankrupt does your premise need to be before cleaning up snot becomes a viable game play mechanic?
I hate to dwell too much on this point since this is most likely a kind-hearted charity effort. The game has 3 main types of game play, at least during the levels that I played, and not counting the cursory snot cleanup. The first type involves the player dragging different types of asthma triggers over areas of a room where that type of trigger can occur. The game then challenges the player about a good course of action for mitigating that trigger. This is seen above. The second type of game play, encountered after the player has finished auditing a room, is a simple point and click pixel hunt to determine the location of a member of the Evil Seven. After locating the dreaded villain, there is a trivia round where the player must answer a number of asthma-related trivia questions correctly in order to clear the level.
There is at least one other type of game play on offer– after clearing the first 2 levels, the player gets to shoot mucus in an Asteroids clone. There is likely to be another minigame after the next 4 villains, based on the way the villains are grouped in the stage select screen.
As mentioned, a lot of famous people lent their voice talent to their game. Here’s the full list:
- Cuba Gooding, Jr. as your guide, Cyrus
- Diane Sawyer as “The Newscaster”
- Kelsey Grammer as Mucus Airgon, leader of the Evil Seven
- General H. Norman Schwarzkoff as Robo-Roach
- Whoopi Goldberg as Moldy
- Funkmaster Flex as Mold Mob game announcer
- Jeff Goldblum as Alex Dander
- Shaquille O’Neal as The Fuminator
- Glenn Close as Chalktisha
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Perfuma
- Minnie Driver as Smokita
I would enjoy learning more about how this game was produced. The credits are quite extensive and a lot of work and talent went into it. Maybe one day I’ll put together a highlight reel of some of the villains from this largely Smacker-based game.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,Childrens Games,Trivia Games,Windows Games | Comments (1)
October 27, 2009
Oh look, another Hello Kitty video game that isn’t in MobyGames yet. Dang it. All right, let’s just get this over with.
Really, I shouldn’t have a foul attitude about this. My last outing with a Hello Kitty game — Hello Kitty Dream Carnival — was actually quite the delightful romp. Hello Kitty Bubblegum Girlfriends is more of the same — colorful, simple, and actually very fun. I’m impressed that, even though Dream Carnival and Bubblegum Girlfriends were developed by different houses, they both carry a very consistent style. This probably goes to show that Sanrio exercises tight control over its licensees.
This game, like the other one, is a series of 8 rather well-engineered minigames. Here are the ones I found the most interesting.
First, I was all over Sky Bubble Popper, which is a variation of the Puzz Loop formula of which I have become a large fan thanks to Luxor and StoneLoops:
I always love a good Breakout clone and Cupcake Trampoline delivers while being the most exploitative minigame on offer:
Hello Kitty and her bunny friend use a trampoline to keep the squirrel in play grabbing ice cream cones and cupcakes. I hope the squirrel at least gets a cut of the spoils for her role.
I absolutely could not figure out what was going on with Bubble Gum Taxi which has something to do with picking up Tetris-looking pieces from the conveyor belt and placing them on a puzzle:
Crazy Cookie Race eventually shaped up to be my favorite game and it had many pieces:
Place cookies from the bottom shelf onto the light outlines moving on the conveyor belts (first and third from the top). Those cookies come out baked and decorated on the second and fourth belts where they must be manually picked up and placed into the appropriate boxes on top before they reach the end of the belt. You’re going through a lot of ingredients but Hello Kitty’s friends have many more for you to use. You just need to click on them when they arrive with the ingredients and they will cheerfully drop them into the cauldron.
Interesting tech trivia: The credits for the game give a shout out to the Lua programming language, implying that it must be used in the game somehow.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,Childrens Games,Windows Games | Comments (0)
October 26, 2009
I’ve seen Operation and Clue adaptations in this Gaming Pathology project and now I come to another board game adaptation — Candy Land. I wonder if this will be a direct adaptation (like Clue) or an “inspired by” type of adaptation (like Operation). The answer turns out to be a mixture– it is a direct adaptation of the original Candy Land board game but with 8 minigames/side activities to keep things interesting.
As for the primary board game, the developers went through the trouble of lovingly modeling the beautiful Candy Landscape in 3D and rendering still shots that encompass every single space in the game. When moving from one space to the next, the player is treated to a somewhat clunky transition between these shots. With a little more computing horsepower, this could be a great FPS setting or some kind of 3D animated game.
Now here are some of the more unusual items that struck me about the side activities. In the Gingerbread Plum Forest, the player meets Plumpy who cheerfully describes himself as the last of the Plumpa Trolls. You would think that being the last of his race would be cause for despair, but not so. Plumpy wants nothing more than for you to tickle him into surrendering plums for a pie. Maybe that’s his way of coping with the trauma and depression.
Next to the Ice Cream Sea, the player has the opportunity to customize a giant sundae by clicking through the various layers in order to rotate through colors/flavors. Then, clicking on the creatures surrounding the sundae allows for decorating. Afterwards, ask the fairy to set the sundae adrift on the Ice Cream Sea where it is promptly devoured by a whale. It seems that eating it on shore would have been a positive idea. Then again, maybe it’s better to let the whale have at it considering that the sundae was decorated with bodily excretions from anthropomorphic confections and foodstuffs.
The Lollipop Woods afford the player the opportunity to decorate giant lollipop trees using a special decorating machine. It turns out that lollipop decoration is performed in a CMYK colorspace.
This is Gloppy, the proprietor of the Molasses Swamp. There are no activities in the swamp except to interact with a few surroundings.
Indeed, the highlight (lowlight?) of the swamp is when Gloppy implores you to — direct quote — “Come back again so we can get messy together.”
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Action Games,Childrens Games,Windows Games | Comments (0)
October 25, 2009
If there’s one thing to appreciate about Golem, it’s the unusual level of candor the game’s creators were willing to express in the PDF manual regarding the source of most software problems:
Golem is a real time strategy (RTS) game developed by a Polish house named Longsoft (which isn’t in the database yet, which likely means that most of the developers listed in the credits are not in yet, which means I need to break out the Polish diacritics for copy and pasting). I have had limited success with RTS games so far but why should I let that stop me?
The manual establishes that there was an unspecified “cataclysm” that thrust the earth into chaos. The very well-produced opening FMV indicates that the cataclysm came in the form of radioactive meteors taking down the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. The upshot is that the destruction of civilization in the ensuing tidal waves, combined with mutations, or lack thereof, caused the survivors to form 3 separate factions. The manual actually had a lot more detail. But am I the only one who gets bored extremely quickly when faced with a large volume of background story, particularly for sci-fi or fantasy games?
The game has to do with building facilities that harvest natural resources and then putting those resources to work building machines of war with which to attack the other factions. That’s the general impression I got from the manual. I’m pretty sure that this is the thrust of the famed Command & Conquer games, which I have never actually played (though I have collected several of the titles for the purposes of studying their multimedia). I gave the tutorial a whirl but when the game cut me loose, I was at a total loss. I came to the sad realization that today will not be the day that I learn to start caring about RTS games.
But that’s okay because I think I collected enough data for a reasonable MobyGames entry. I just wish I could figure out a way to rip the intro FMV, which appears to be encoded in Indeo 5, and upload it for posterity.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under RTS Games,Simulation Games,Windows Games | Comments (0)
October 18, 2009
So far, all of the food-related advergames I have seen on this blog have been for items that are not held in high regard by nutritionists. So here is Dole’s 5-A-Day Adventures which promises to teach us all about proper nutrition and exercise in the most cloying ways imaginable.
So this is pretty straightforward. There are 8 areas, as seen in the above screenshot. Each one provides the player with a lecture about some aspect of nutrition or exercise, usually delivered by anthropomorphic produce (“Hey kids! Remember to eat lots of me and my friends!”). Here’s the phyto chemical parade. I’m trying to figure out if there is a demographic that would be old enough to comprehend words like “phyto chemical” yet still young enough to withstand the inanity of this game.
Afterwards — and the UI is a bit confusing in this respect — the player can choose to either take the Challenge or the Ultimate Challenge for a given area. The respective challenges are a bit misnamed. The unadorned “Challenge” is actually significantly tougher and revolves around trivia that is sometimes multiple choice (as seen in the next screenshot) and sometimes interactive (like having to build a food pyramid). Players earn tokens for correctly answering these questions.
The “Ultimate Challenge” is an insidious misnomer. These present a series of yes/no questions where correct answers are awarded a gold star each. After a little playing, you will no doubt notice a distinct pattern: all the answers are a resounding “Yes”. And they all seem to be somewhat behaviorally-oriented:
Other questions were along the lines of “I sang one of the 5-A-Day songs to my family”; “I sang a 5-A-Day song with my friends.” It was around this time that I decided this was a little messed up. Let’s face it– the only way that kids are going to be exposed to this is in a compulsory context in a classroom environment. And here is this automated mechanism dispassionately supplying repeated negative feedback if a child dares to answer that he or she did not sing a 5-A-Day song.
With any luck, some budding computer hackers exposed to this at a precious young age were able to reverse engineer the data file format, which the game was nice enough to store in a folder on the desktop. Let’s have a look:
Then launch the game again, select the hacked file:
Then call the teacher over to show off the fact that I successfully completed all the objectives in the game, and may I please go outside and play?
After feeling like I emerged triumphant in that skirmish, I checked my pantry only to discover a shelf of Dole brand canned products. So it seems Dole has won the larger battle here.
The CD-ROM I have is marked “2000 edition” and I found references on the internet dated as early as 1998. I also found a portfolio page from a company named IDD which claims credit for this game. IDD is not mentioned in the credits for my version, nor is their screenshot similar to anything in my edition. I was able to contact someone involved in the creation of this edition at eMotion Studios and my contact confirmed that there were just these 2 versions of the game.
Posted by Multimedia Mike under Childrens Games,Licensed Schlock,Trivia Games,Windows Games | Comments (4)