Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Synonymy Review

It's going to be TOUGH to ESTABLISH a connection between these two words

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Christopher Cinq-Mars Jarvis
  • Publisher: Christopher Cinq-Mars Jarvis
  • Release Date: 12 December 2014
  • Time played: 1 hour

Synonymy is another of those games that I got really cheap and seemed to stand out from your usual indie title. The premise of the game is simple enough: navigate "a path between random words through their network of synonyms". However, you'll find this isn't as simple as it may sound, especially if your grasp of the English language is poor (yes, I'm not ashamed to put my hand up for that category!)

What I like:


An interesting way to look at synonyms

I don't think I've ever played a game quite like Synonymy before and therefore I consider it unique. The concept of assessing your ability to navigate between two words through a network of synonyms as efficiently as possible is a novel one.

Quick games

Games only last a matter of minutes so it's a great little time waster when you don't have that much time to waste!

Training your brain?

The game can probably be considered educational too as not only do you learn the definition of your target word (which is displayed to you when you start) but you also expand your vocabulary by learning a whole bunch of synonyms along the way.

Richard Dawkins

If you're a fan of Richard Dawkins, you'll be pleased to know that he narrates the tutorial (for what that's worth).

Profits go to educational charities

Apparently profits go to educational charities so you can get that warm, fuzzy feeling while searching for synonyms.

Competitions

I'm not sure if they're still running these but the game at least used to have competitions where you could win actual prizes each week. Neat!

What I dislike:


Limited appeal

Well there's not really much to the game besides hunting down synonyms and it's definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, even if you like the game it's probably not something you're inclined to play for long.

Mobile port

The game is a mobile port and it shows. For example, the tutorial shows you using a touch screen to swipe between the screens and the controls are engineered that way. Also, the game isn't full screen by default and there's no exit button (you have to close the window instead).


Score – 6/10 (Okay)

I don't see Synonymy as a game you'd play for a long time, but it's definitely recommended in short bursts. If you're the sort of person who loves reading a thesaurus or likes challenging yourself when it comes to your English vocabulary, this little game is perfect for you.

Is the game worth $1.99 USD?: Yes, despite the game being short and the limited gameplay.


If you like this game, you might like…


[ LINK: Official Synonymy Website ]

Monday, May 2, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #228 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Introduction (Amiga)



Original Soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo
Amiga Soundtrack by: Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson

Ah Sid Meier, designer of many of my favourite games - although here's a random bit of trivia, did you know that many of the games that have Sid Meier's name on it aren't actually designed by him (especially the more recent titles)? Games just tend to sell well when they have a rockstar developer's name on it I suspect :). Anyway, one of my favourite games of all time happens to be Sid Meier's Colonization which is where this track comes from. It's played during the introduction of the game and for those that are true Sid Meier fans, they might notice that the theme sounds very similar to another game made by him ;).

Also, this track is from the Amiga version of the game which sounds quite superior to the DOS version, so I'll probably just end up using these tracks instead of the good ol' MIDI tracks of the DOS version :). The original soundtrack was composed by Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo but the Amiga version was composed by Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson (and they're definitely no strangers to composing music for PC games :)).

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #228 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Introduction (Amiga) ]


Saturday, April 30, 2016

ADventure Lib Review

But... but... I AM a chicken!
  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Fancy Fish Games
  • Publisher: Fancy Fish Games
  • Release Date: 5 August 2015
  • Time played: 1.2 hours

I have a very large Steam wishlist. In fact, it's now at a whopping 817 games (help me)! So whenever games go on sale, especially cheaper ones, it's way too tempting to grab the deal, and this was definitely the case for ADventure Lib which was on sale for just one measly dollar.

So why was ADventure Lib on my wishlist? In a word, "nostalgia", but it's all thanks to a certain game that used to be bundled with Microsoft Encarta called "MindMaze". Wait, you don't know what Microsoft Encarta is/was? Well, back in the days when the Internet was in its infancy and before Wikipedia (2001), people used to either own encyclopaedias in book form (which took a lot of space on your bookshelf) or they got these new "multimedia" encyclopaedias in CD format, one of them being Microsoft Encarta which was introduced in 1993. Besides offering encyclopaedic content in an interactive format, Microsoft Encarta also had a trivia game you could play called MindMaze. As a reward for completing a level, you'd be given the opportunity to play a word substitution game where you could enter words that would substitute more appropriate words to create a rather silly story. Pretty simple concept right? And yet, I have fond memories of the game.

It's only until after playing this game that I found out that there was a special name for this kind of game, at least in the United States. Apparently a couple of chaps came up with the "Mad Libs" concept which was a "phrasal template word game" and has sold more than 110 million copies since the series was first published in 1958 (thanks Wikipedia!); there's a good chance that this is where ADventure Lib gets its name from.

What I like:


Silliness

The voice acting is silly. Your inventory items are silly. The actors are silly. Everything is silly! If you like surrealist, absurdist or Pythonesque humour, this is your sort of game. It's a game where a chicken can be the hero, a fire-breathing butter can be a fearsome monster and where "no adventurer is ready to face the unknown without a handy Elizabeth".

Cheap

As mentioned already I managed to get the game for a dollar. It's normal price of $2 USD is still pretty damn cheap.

Ability to create custom items

One of my favourite features is the ability to easily add new items for use in the game for download on the Steam Workshop and I believe the modding scene will be critical to the game's longevity. The tool is quite easy to use and I was able to create a rambutan (a red, hairy, tropical fruit) and have it uploaded to the Steam Workshop in very little time (about 30 minutes). The only drawback is that it's quite hard to test your item in the game since the game by it's very nature randomises the objects!

ADventure Lib has a built-in editor that allows you to create your own items for inclusion in the game

What I dislike:


Short

It only takes half an hour to complete the game. Sure, you could play the game again and it'd be very unlikely you'd have the same actors and items as your previous playthrough, but it's essentially the same story. It would be nice if there were more adventures bundled in the game or the ability to create your own. Thankfully, the developer seems to be thinking the same thing and plans to introduce a new chapter plus the ability to create your own storylines in a future update!




However this was mentioned quite awhile ago now and nothing has eventuated. Fingers crossed it is released later this year!

Score – 6/10 (Not Bad)

If you enjoy absurdist, surrealist, Pythonesque humour or word substitution games like "mad libs", you'll find ADventure Lib to be a fun, albeit very short, adventure. If you don't, you'll probably feel like this is a waste of time and money, even though it only costs two bucks and takes half an hour to finish. If more work is done to make the game even more moddable though (as you can already create custom items for inclusion in the game quite easily), Fancy Fish Games could be on to something big.

Is the game worth $1.99 USD?: Yes. Despite the game being really short, if you like "Mad Libs" style games, this is the only one you'll ever need considering it comes with a built-in object editor!

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: Official ADventure Lib Website ]