Monday, January 30, 2017

Choicest VGM - VGM #265 - Sid Meier's Civilization - German Theme

Screenshot of Frederick the Great from Sid Meier's Civilization


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

And now for Sid Meier Civilization's German theme. It's probably one of the better themes from the original game and it goes with one of my favourite German leaders from the series: Frederick the Great (although technically he was from Prussia). Random fact, apparently his reputation in East and West Germany following WWII wasn't so great because he was used as a favourite icon of the Nazis. Although in very recent times, he is now seen in a more favourable light again.

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #265 - Sid Meier's Civilization - German Theme ]


Showtime! Review


Screenshot of PC game Showtime!
God damnit Margaret and David! Why must you be that way?

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Myrtilus Entertainment
  • Publisher: KISS Ltd
  • Release Date: 1 September 2013
  • Time played: 4.1 hours

Showtime! has been a game that's been sitting on my Steam wishlist for quite some time, but it wouldn't be the only one; I currently have a whopping 1,057 games wishlisted on Steam so as you can see, I make good use of that Discovery Queue... It was only when I managed to get a free G2A voucher thanks to the folks at PC Powerplay that I had to think long and hard about what cheap games I could possibly get. Dead in Bermuda was one of the games I managed to get along with the game I'm reviewing today: Showtime!

So what enticed me to wishlisting Showtime! in the first place? Well, I have fond memories of a particular game released in 2005 by Lionhead Studios called The Movies which gave you the opportunity to run a movie studio over many decades. It was really addictive but the best part of the game was the ability to actually make movies and then share them online!

When I came across Showtime! I was thinking maybe this game would be an indie, low-budget version of The Movies; I was hoping it would have the same addictive core gameplay but for a fraction of the price tag.

And Showtime! does more-or-less have the same kind of gameplay as The Movies, i.e. you purchase facilities for your studio, hire scriptwriters, hire directors, hire producers, hire actors, film movies, pay for marketing, and cross your fingers that the movies you release are critical and commercial successes. The only major differences are that Showtime! is heavily menu-driven, you don't need to babysit actors, and you can't actually create and share player-created videos like you did in The Movies.

What I like:


Quite addictive

Despite the game not having all the bells and whistles that AAA titles like The Movies have, it's surprisingly addictive. I actually found it quite challenging to try and release a film that was the best-selling film of the year, let alone one that rated well with the critics. I think this challenge is what got me uttering "just...one...more...turn..." all the time, as if I was a Civ addict or something...

Accurate portrayal of industry

Okay, I don't claim to be a movie industry professional, but at least to an outsider like me, the game seems quite accurate in portraying the industry. Making a movie that's a critical and commercial success isn't easy. I mean sure, you can pump out profitable movies that are really terrible or you can blow your budget in making a well regarded movie, but making a movie that rakes in the dough and is adored by the critics is rare. The game apparently also takes into account several other variables, such as changing tastes in genres by region, time period and viewer age (amongst other things).

Parodies

Many of the movie studio, actor, award and critic names are parodies of actual studios, actors, awards and critics. It also leads me to believe that the developer is Australian since you don't only have critics such as Metacritique, Rotten Potatoes and The Internet Film Database but also At the Cinemas and The Herald Moon.

Custom movie posters

If you're not content with the default options available for designing custom movie posters you're able to upload your own. As an added bonus, taking the effort to create a custom movie poster actually helps give you a boost to the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

What I dislike:


Graphics

The game's graphics aren't the best as it's mainly menu-driven and the interface makes the game look like a business simulation game from the 1990s. I also have a dislike of 3D Poser models which seem to have been used as portraits for the actors, directors and producers you can hire in the game. I actually would've preferred simple 2D artwork instead.

Lots of trial and error

While there is a lot of help and tooltips available while you're playing the game they sometimes don't go in-depth enough. Consequently, a lot of trial and error is involved when trying to figure out how the game works.

Achievements

There are achievements in-game but why not integrate them with Steam? Where are the Steam achievements?

(The game does have Steam trading cards though, so it's not all bad).

Score – 6/10 (Okay)


Showtime!'s low production values means the game looks like something developed in the 1990s and sometimes it's a bit difficult to figure out whether whatever you're doing is actually making a positive impact. However, Showtime! is a fairly competent movie studio simulator which can be quite addictive at times and you can get it all for under $10.

If you're not sure whether the game is for you, try out the demo.

Is the game worth $5.99 USD?: Yes. That's about $8 AUD with the current exchange rates. While the game looks rather plain and primitive, it can be addictive at times and there's quite a bit of replay value.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Showtime! Website ]


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Steam Games Sunday - 29 January 2017

Screenshot of XCOM: Enemy Unknown
You know these guys mean business when they march in full battle gear in front of the Control Room

  1. War Thunder
  2. Company of Heroes 2
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. Marvel Heroes
  5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  6. Arizona Rose and the Pharaohs' Riddles
  7. Mass Effect
  8. Star Trek Online
  9. Golf with Your Friends
  10. Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Well, it was good while it lasted but it seems like War Thunder has reclaimed its rightful place in the #1 spot again this week, pushing its challenger, Company of Heroes 2, down to 2nd place. Both Rainbow Six Siege and Marvel Heroes haven't budged since last week and remain in 3rd and 4th place. The biggest upset this week is XCOM: Enemy Unknown coming out of nowhere and securing 5th place on the list. Not too shabby and I'm all for turn-based tactics games making it on the list :). The rest of the list isn't terribly exciting: Arizona Rose and the Pharaohs' Riddles is still mid-table in 6th place (down from 5th place last week), Mass Effect is again just below Arizona Rose but is now in 7th place instead of 6th and Star Trek Online remains in 8th place. Golf with Your Friends makes a return to the list at 9th place and poor Civ VI needs some more love since it's now barely hanging in there at 10th place.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Choicest VGM - VGM #264 - Sid Meier's Civilization - French Theme

Screenshot of Napoleon in Sid Meier's Civilization


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

Vive La France! For today's Choicest VGM we have the music that plays for the French civilization (led by Napoleon Bonaparte) in the original Civilization. What I loved about the original Civ is that it didn't shy away from using actual pieces of patriotic music. With the Americans, you had the Battle Hymn of the Republic and with the French you have nothing less than the national anthem: The Marseillaise! It truly is one of the most recognisable national anthems in the world (and one of my favourites too).

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #264 - Sid Meier's Civilization - French Theme ]


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Steam Games Sunday - 22 January 2017

Screenshot of Company of Heroes 2
Somebody at Choicest Games REALLY, REALLY, REALLY likes Company of Heroes 2

  1. Company of Heroes 2
  2. War Thunder
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. Marvel Heroes
  5. Arizona Rose and the Pharaohs' Riddles
  6. Mass Effect
  7. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  8. Star Trek Online
  9. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  10. Borderlands 2

This week is a big deal since War Thunder is no longer number one! Somehow, Company of Heroes 2 has supplanted War Thunder's number one status for the past few months as most played Steam game of the week at Choicest Games - nice! War Thunder hasn't gone far though as it's in now in second place with Rainbow Six Siege in the same spot as last week with third place. Marvel Heroes is now in fourth place, gaining a bit of ground from last week's 5th place and Civ VI has dropped considerably, down to 7th place. A new Arizona Rose game (which is a game similar to Picross or nonograms) called Arizona Rose and The Pharaohs' Riddles debuts this week in 5th spot which means there's not one, but two Arizona Rose games on the list since Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles is in 9th place. Mass Effect is in 6th place up from 9th place and Star Trek Online makes an appearance in 8th place. Borderlands 2 manages to still stay on the list in 10th place.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ice Age: Continental Drift: Arctic Games Review

Screenshot from Ice Age Continental Drift Arctic Games
Apparently a favourite past-time for sloths is the game of ice bowls


  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Behaviour Interactive
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Release Date: 31 January 2013
  • Time played: 2.6 hours

Ice Age: Continental Drift: Arctic Games (now there's a mouthful) was a game I was never originally going to get; in fact it was a game I never knew existed until my benefactor, Mix-Master, managed to gift me the game. I thought that since my daughter liked the animated feature "Ice Age" she'd probably like a game that features the same characters right? So I was more than happy to take the spare key off Mix-Master's hands and give it a shot.

So what exactly is it? Well it's basically a collection of mini-games involving the characters from Ice Age: Continental Drift and they're all linked together with a throwaway plot which involves Manny's family and friends as one team competing against Captain Gutt's pirate crew... and that's really all there is to say about the game...

Okay, I can't help myself, I really detest this game but before I get into what I hate about this game, let's go through some of its good points:

What I like:


Different cutscenes

As you progress through the campaign mode you actually get to view different cutscenes depending on whether Manny or Captain Gutt's team wins the challenge. I think this is a nice touch and means they at least went to the effort of providing different cutscenes for different outcomes, instead of just having a generic cutscene in between each challenge or mini-game.

Can replay the mini-games

Don't want to go through the whole campaign again just to play your favourite mini-game? No problem - you can select the mini-game you want to play and go directly to it with a minimum of fuss.

Kids will still love it?

I don't quite know if this is a good thing or a bad thing but it's good if the kid actually likes the game and knows how to play the mini-games since it will keep them entertained for a while.

Doesn't seem like it's available any more?

(Thank God).

What I dislike:


Dated graphics

Despite the character models looking pretty similar to the film (which is a good thing) the graphics are also pretty dated by today's standards - not surprising considering the game was originally released in 2012.

Short

If you play the campaign (which contains all the mini-games) it takes only 45 minutes to complete.

Poor voice acting

At first, I didn't quite notice the difference when it came to the voice acting - but it didn't take long for me to finally realise that these weren't the original voice actors (duh! As if they could afford them) and what's worse, some do terrible jobs in mimicking the originals. Not that my daughter noticed, so maybe it doesn't matter...

Terrible scriptwriting

The scriptwriting is really terrible. Many times it seems that certain cutscenes are trying their best to be funny but instead they just make you cringe. They also add absolutely nothing to the game as a result except the urge to /facepalm every few seconds.

Some mini-games too difficult for target market

The mini-games seem to be targeted towards older kids - ones that are able to memorise all the relevant keys and have the reflexes to react in time. Younger kids might find the game a bit too challenging but I would've thought younger kids were the actual target market for this kind of game.


Score – 3/10 (Poor)

Thank God this abomination of a game isn't available on Steam any more. Okay, the kids will probably love it anyway because it's a video game based off Ice Age but that's the only thing this game has got going for it; dated graphics, a short campaign mode, poor voice acting, terrible scriptwriting and mini-games that are too difficult for some kids means I simply can't recommend this game.

Is the game worth $??? USD?: Yes, "$???" is not a typo, since I'm not quite sure how much the game is nowadays or if it's even available for purchase anywhere; Steam certainly doesn't sell it. If I were to put a price on this game though, it wouldn't be more than $5; it might be of some entertainment to kids who are fans of the film but that's the only thing that's going for it.

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

[ LINK: Ice Age: Continental Drift: Arctic Games Steam Community ]




Monday, January 16, 2017

Choicest VGM - VGM #263 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Egyptian Theme

Screenshot of Ramesses I from Sid Meier's Civilization


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

This short clip is the music that plays as background music for Ramesses I of Egypt in the classic turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization. It's quite minimalistic in this version of the tune and I much prefer the Civ II take on it which is known as "Harvest of the Nile" on the Playstation version of the game (how is that even possible? Playing Civ II on Playstation?).

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #263 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Egyptian Theme ]


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Steam Games Sunday - 15 January 2017

Screenshot of Mass Effect
Shepard. Wrex. Shepard. Wrex.

  1. War Thunder
  2. Company of Heroes 2
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  5. Marvel Heroes
  6. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  7. Squad
  8. Borderlands 2
  9. Mass Effect
  10. Company of Heroes

This week we see some old favourites make their way back up in terms of the rankings. War Thunder is still at the top (and that's unlikely to change for a while) although Company of Heroes 2 has been played quite a bit this week as it's now in second place (and Skyrim which was previously in second place has totally disappeared off the list). Rainbow Six Siege has finally returned to the top 3 and is now in 3rd place with Squad being pushed down to 7th place. Civ VI has also gone up from 9th place to 4th place. Marvel Heroes, remains in the same position at 5th place while Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles has gone up two places from 8th place to 6th. Borderlands 2 has returned to the list at 8th place and Company of Heroes remains at 10th place.

The big "newcomer" to the list, if you can call it that, is good ol' Mass Effect, which is always my go-to game when I'm feeling down and need a bit of cheering up (nothing like saving the galaxy to lift your spirits right?). It will also eventually give me an opportunity to try out the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, once I finally export my character to that game...

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Plantera Review

Screenshot of clicker game Plantera
Plantera - not a vegetarian metal band from the 1980s
  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: VaragTP
  • Publisher: VaragTP
  • Release Date: 29 January 2016
  • Time played: 1.6 hours

I’ve always had a soft spot for the game development tool Multimedia Fusion 2, despite never having made any substantial games with it (I did dabble around and made a few tutorial games though). So when the Clickteam Fusion 2.5 Bundle was announced in September last year, I just had to get myself a copy… coz if I own a copy of a game development tool, that means I’m going to magically complete one in the next few months, right? RIGHT?

*Le sigh*

Anyway, these bundles usually come with some games developed using the tool and one of those games in the Clickteam Fusion 2.5 Bundle happens to be Plantera.

So what exactly is Plantera? Well, I can tell you now that it’s not the sort of game I go out of my way to play, but this genre of game has rose to prominence in the past couple of years: you see, Plantera is a game known as an "incremental game" or "clicker". What do you do in "clickers"? Well, click of course! The more you click, the more in-game money you get. The more money you get, the more money you have to buy things that… um… help you get MOAR money! And so on.

There are tons of these games on Steam and in the mobile market (where the simplicity of just clicking to play the game makes it a no-brainer for the platform).

So this is the first time I’ve ever played a “clicker” but why did I pick this game out of all the games in the Humble Bundle? Well mainly because I thought it’d be a choice game for my daughter to play, one that is so simple she'd be able to play it on her own. The game also has some cute graphics so what isn’t there to like? Kids love that stuff.


What I like:


Family Friendly

The game is suitable for kids since it's all about growing fruit, vegetables and livestock on your very own farm. Even "attacking" animals that are considered pests (e.g. rabbits, foxes, wolves, birds, etc.) is done in a non-violent matter and just involves clicking on them a few times to shoo them away.

Simple

Games from the clicker genre are known for their simplicity; all you need to do is click the left mouse button to do anything. The game does require you to hold the right mouse button down though if you want to pan the camera (which might be a bit confusing for younger players) but otherwise, there's not much else to it. Just keep clicking to your heart's content!

So what does clicking actually achieve? Well if you left the game to its own devices, the AI workers in the game would do their own thing, picking up any fruit, vegetables or produce (e.g. milk from cows) that is ready to be harvested. However, there's only so many workers and instead of waiting for fruit to drop from the trees you can help your workers by clicking on the fruit when they are ripe. You can also help by actually collecting all the food yourself.

Clicking is also used to scare away "pests" such as wolves, foxes, birds and rabbits. If you have things like dogs and scarecrows, they do a good enough job 90% of the time but in order to get that extra 10% coverage, you've got to be vigilant.

Finally, you can also click on random things that pop up on the screen every so often like butterflies, ladybirds and even a knight that runs from one end to the other! Clicking on these will reward you with bonus coins which you can use to further improve your farm.

Oh, and what are coins used for? To buy more fruit trees, more veggie patches, more animals, more land, more of everything so you can increase your earning potential even further! And the cycle continues...

Casual

It's very hard to lose in these sort of games - in fact it's probably impossible! Sure, every so often some of your food might get stolen by "pests" but they're the only thing that stand in your way of earning MOAR coins and expanding your farm. In fact, you don't even need to play the game and you'll still earn coins.

Can play as long or as little as you want

You can play for 6 or 60 minutes - it doesn't matter, you'll still make progress towards earning more coins. This means the game is perfect when you have a short amount of time before you've got to do something else. In fact, as mentioned just before, you can even leave the game for a few days, come back, and you'll still earn coins, just probably not as many when you're actively playing the game :).

Charming, cute, pixel graphics

If you're into charming, cute, pixel graphics, then this game's got it. Yeah baby it's got it.

What I dislike:


RSI

Constantly clicking multiple times is probably conducive to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) - I mean playing any games for long periods of time would do that but I think it's especially the case in this kind of game - so go easy on the mouse button, man.

To what end?

Is there an end to this game? Sure, you might be motivated to earn a few achievements when you first start playing the game but eventually you'll start wondering what's the purpose to this game, questioning your purpose in life and eventually formulating nihilistic views (or maybe not).

Score – 7/10 (Not bad)


A cheap, cute, family friendly, clicker game that's good fun, if you're into this kind of game. Just don't expect the game to have much longevity.

Is the game worth $2.99 USD?: Yes. That’s about $4 AUD at current exchange rates – provided you or your kids are into these kind of games!

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Plantera Website ]

Monday, January 9, 2017

Choicest VGM - VGM #262 - Sid Meier's Civilization - American Theme

Screenshot of Sid Meier's Civilization - Abraham Lincoln


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

This theme plays whenever you meet President Abraham Lincoln of the American civilization in the original Sid Meier's Civilization. It's basically a variation of "John Brown's Body" or "John Brown's Song" which is an American marching song about the abolitionist John Brown. The song was particularly popular with the Union during the American Civil War, so it's quite appropriate that the leader of the Union, Abraham Lincoln, has this as his theme song in the game. "John Brown's Body" would eventually form the basis for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" which is now a well-known patriotic American song.

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #262 - Sid Meier's Civilization - American Theme ]


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Steam Games Sunday - 8 January 2017

Both Company of Heroes and Company of Heroes 2 makes the list this week


  1. War Thunder
  2. Skyrim
  3. Squad
  4. Company of Heroes 2
  5. Marvel Heroes
  6. Rainbow Six Siege
  7. Golf With Your Friends
  8. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  9. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  10. Company of Heroes

The top two on the Steam Games Sunday list this week are the same as last week's with War Thunder still at the top with Skyrim in second place. Squad has pushed up slightly and is now in 3rd place (it was 4th place last week). Marvel Heroes has consequently dropped down to 4th place as a result. Rainbow Six Siege is starting to gain ground again though, rising from 9th place last week to 6th place this week (mainly because I'm slowly getting back into it after coming back from a vacation :)). Multiplayer minigolf game Golf With Your Friends is still on the list but has dropped down to 7th place and Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles has remained in 8th place. Civ VI finally returns to the list at 9th place and... we have another Company of Heroes on the list, with the original at 10th place. It just must be the right week to play WWII RTSs I suppose!

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

1849 Review

Screenshot of city builder game 1849
A bustling town in city builder game 1849

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: SomaSim
  • Publisher: SomaSim
  • Release Date: 9 May 2014
  • Time played: 11 hours

1849 happens to be one of those games that has been on my wishlist for a while, but thanks to my generous brother I managed to get it for my birthday a couple of years back (yes, it takes me that long to get through gifts people give me, even when they're family!).

So what is 1849? Well, the developers describe the game as "a city management game set during the California Gold Rush" where you "build towns" and make sure its workers are "housed, fed and entertained". If you take a look at the screenshots and read the game description, you'd be forgiven if you mistook the game to be one of those old "City Building" games published by Sierra in the 1990s. Since I have a soft spot for city builders, this was a primary motivator for me wanting this game but is it really as good as those city builders of yesteryear? Or maybe it doesn't need to be?

What I like


City building

I love city builders. Whether it's SimCity, Tropico or even one of those old "City Building" series games published by Sierra (Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom was a favourite of mine), you'll most likely find me playing it. At its core, this is what 1849 is all about: the game's campaign mode has well over 10 hours worth of scenarios to play that will have you constructing towns all over the Wild West or 19th century California to be precise. You get to decide what farms, mines, factories, shops, houses and amenities to build in your town. Towards the beginning of each scenario a lot of your income will be generated by selling resources to neighbouring towns but eventually you'll be wanting to increase the value of your housing since there is much money to be made with higher rents. To increase the value of housing, you need to ensure you have enough resources such as lumber, stone and even leather shoes.

Educational

I actually learned quite a bit about Californian geography while playing this game since each scenario is based off actual towns scattered throughout the state. While its educational value in reality is minimal, it was successful in piquing my interest so that I was motivated enough to read more about Californian geography and history in my own time.

Music

Taste in music is subjective so even though I'm telling you I really enjoyed the music in this game and that it grew on me over time, it doesn't mean anything if you're not a fan of American folk music. But if you like this sort of music, be sure to check out the instrumental cover of "Shortn'n Bread"...

Steam Trading Cards and Achievements

The game has a whole bunch of achievements to work towards as well as Steam Trading cards to generate.

Sandbox mode

If you end up finishing the campaign mode or you find the concept of playing scenarios boring, there's always a sandbox mode where you can play randomly generated maps.

Casual

The game is good casual fun. It's an excellent game to unwind with after a stressful game of Rainbow Six Siege or [insert-adrenaline-pumping-competitive-game here]. While there is some strategy involved in determining which trade routes to open first (which in turn determines which resources you can import/export first) and also determining what to produce locally and what to import, the rest of the game is rather simple to nut out.


What I dislike


Casual

The game might be considered a bit too casual, especially for those that prefer a challenge when playing city builders. The game is almost impossible to lose and believe me, I tried. In the first instance, if you seem to be running low on funds, you'll get bailed out. Also, all the buildings will continue to run as normal so all you need to do to get back in the black is to demolish a few buildings and you'll be able to start again.

Noisy

Each building in the town generates background noise so you can imagine that once your town starts to grow larger, you've got a really noisy town on your hands. It doesn't help that there's no option to adjust the volume in-game either (you can only turn the sound on and off) but this is probably because the game has been targeted for the mobile market.

Trading can be tedious

Continually importing resources and exporting resources every 30 seconds or so can get a bit tedious yet it's also an integral part of the game since you need to choose which resources are a priority and which ones you can live without.

Lack of variation in the maps

There isn't much visual variation from map to map, there are only minor terrain differences such as the reshuffling of rocks and trees; you'll also find that the town river is always in the same spot!

Some buildings shouldn’t be a choice

The first time your city gets burned down to the ground by a raging fire, you'll realise that a fire station is invaluable. So if it's almost essential, why even bother making it an option?

Score – 8/10 (Pretty Good)


1849 is a modern, casual take on the classic Sierra City Building games of yesteryear. I like the fact that it's casual and accessible since it's a perfect complement to more intense games that I tend to play in my library - a perfect game to wind down to. If you're a fan of the old Sierra City Building games like Zeus, Cleopatra, Caesar etc. and a purist (i.e. you like a bit of a challenge) you'll probably be disappointed with 1849 - it's also not a game for those who hate micromanagement since you'll be doing quite a lot of trading of resources to keep your town going (and abstaining from trading is not an option). If what I've described doesn't deter you though, I urge you to give the game a try.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes. That’s $20 AUD with current exchange rates. While the gameplay is casual and there’s probably not too much variation in the scenarios, there’s several hours of gameplay here that is worth the asking price. Definitely worth it when on sale.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official 1849 Website ]

Monday, January 2, 2017

Choicest VGM - VGM #261 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Chinese Theme



Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

Here we have the theme that plays whenever you talk with Mao Tse Tung of China in the original Sid Meier's Civilization. I actually prefer the version that plays in Civilization II (which is also known as "The Shining Path" on the Playstation version) but that could apply to many of the Civ 2 themes as they were basically covers of the Civ 1 themes but with higher fidelity instruments.

Another interesting fact about the Chinese theme in Civilization is that you can play the entire tune just using the black keys on a keyboard... don't judge me! I just happen to like trying my hand at playing video game music whenever I find a keyboard... nothing weird about that at all...

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #261 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Chinese Theme ]


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Steam Games Sunday - 1 January 2017

Golf With Your Friends debuts on the list at #5

  1. War Thunder
  2. Skyrim
  3. Marvel Heroes
  4. Squad
  5. Golf With Your Friends
  6. Sid Meier's Railroads!
  7. Company of Heroes
  8. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  9. Rainbow Six Siege
  10. DuckTales Remastered

This week's list bears some similarities but there are also some newcomers to the list. The biggest change is the game Gold With Your Friends that has come out of nowhere and is now 5th place on the list: the game is apparently a very popular Early Access game that allows multiplayer mini golf with up to 12 players. War Thunder remains well and truly in the lead and Skyrim is still in second place. Marvel Heroes has gained some ground and is now in third place (up from 5th place) with Sid Meier's Civilization VI nowhere to be seen. Squad, an early blah blah that appeared on the list previously, has resurfaced and is now in 4th place. Another game that used to be on the Steam Games Sunday list, Sid Meier's Railroads! has also resurfaced in 6th place. Company of Heroes which was formally in 4th place has dropped to 7th place and Picross-clone Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles has gone up two places to 8th place this week. Rainbow Six Siege, a game that used to be one of the most played games on the list, has dropped down to 9th place and is in danger of disappearing off the list altogether. Finally, in 10th place we have DuckTales Remastered (which I revisited recently thanks to some encouragement from my daughter).

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Also, since it is a new year, it's time to reflect the resolutions I made for 2016 and see how I went.

In terms of stats and achievements for 2016:
  • 185 posts were made this year which is quite a bit less than last year (232) although in terms of reviews I've done 54 game and soundtrack reviews which is more than double what I published in 2015 (24)! So I've well and truly done pretty well with my resolution to publish at least 24 reviews :). The volume of reviews may have had something to do with the changes in my review policy.
  • The annual 10 Most Anticipated PC Games list was completed for 2017
  • We tried to do a game giveaway half way through the year, but it failed spectacularly.
  • I published my first interview with a game developer when I talked to Broc Copeland about his Kickstarter project Guardians of the Rose
  • I published a guide for Rainbow Six Siege with some help from Luke and Lanna. It was actually one of the most popular Rainbow Six Siege guides on Steam for a while and currently has 5,813 unique visitors
  • As part of the changes to the blog, I dropped doing the "Where are they now?" posts for now - that doesn't mean I won't revisit them in the future though!

So while I managed to exceed some of my resolutions from last year (especially the number of reviews), I didn't manage to continue doing "Where are they now?" posts and the Spotlight Sunday posts morphed into Steam Games Sunday posts instead. I have published a lot of indie game reviews like I aimed to although this was going to naturally occur anyway considering the bulk of my Steam games are indie games. As mentioned, I managed to once again publish the 10 Most Anticipated PC Games List (with the help of Lanna, Luke and Choona) and I've been keeping addition of games to my Steam library to a minimum.

So what are my resolutions going to be for 2017? Well, they're going to be a lot similar except I'm going to go out on a limb and aim to publish 52 game and soundtrack reviews this year considering I somehow managed to exceed that last year:

  • To aim for 52 reviews in 2017: that's one review per week on average!
  • To continue "austerity" measures on my Steam library
  • To continue the Most Anticipated PC Games List for 2018
  • To continue with my weekly segments: VGM Monday and Steam Games Sunday