GameTwist Casino (iOS) Review

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

GameTwist Casino is a multi-themed slots package.  Unlike some similar multi-slot apps, there is a progression system that requires you to level up to unlock more slots.  Starting out with 20,000 credits and three slots unlocked, you’ll gain levels and progress through the slots available.

As variety is one of the important aspects of GameTwist Casino, it is important to note how many slots there are.  There are currently 25 slots available, each unlocked every couple of levels at the lowest levels.  The highest slot is currently unlocked at level 160.  The progression system allows you to focus on the a smaller subset of slots as you unlock more, but not at a slow enough rate where you don’t feel like you lack the variety the game intends to offer.

You’ll unlock your 10th slot at around level 15, which is easily attainable after spending a little while with each of the slots you’ll unlock up to that point.  The gaps between unlocks grows as you get higher in levels.  The GameTwist Casino lobby is also easy to use as you can download the slots one at a time, and easily choose which one you are interested in playing.  Every level gained nets you a bonus, as well as the four hour Timed Bonus.

The art in the slots games is nice, and there are many 3D animations that enhance the general experience.  When a large win happens, big letters such as “BIG WIN” will appear which ups the excitement factor.  The user interface for the slots are consistent so you won’t have to “learn” anything new when you open up a new slot.

Some of the slots available are as follow:

  • Book of Ra deluxe
  • Gorilla
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Reel King
  • Lord of the Ocean
  • Marilyn Red Carpet
  • Golden Ark
  • African Simba

GameTwist Casino’s generous starting bonus allow for a lot of play to get used to and unlock many of the initial slots.  To get all of the slots unlocked, it will take a time commitment.  If you enjoy slots games, it can be fun to unlock the slots, as they feel like a reward when you attain the level milestone.

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Cops & Robbers Safecracker (iOS) Review

Developer: Mazooma Interactive Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

Police chasing down the crooks is one of your classic scenarios for media.  On the iOS App Store, Cops & Robbers Safecracker is a free-to-play slots game that integrates the titular theme for your gaming pleasure.

You’ll notice immediately the cartoon-style the game inherits.  Overall, it has a 1920’s UK theme for the characters, and paired with the terminology, such as “You’re nicked!” the slots game has a certain charm to it that can appeal to the user.

What is really fun about this slots game is that being a singular theme allows the developer to focus on bonuses and expand upon the chosen theme.  With the normal slots game, which is a 5-Column slot format, you get pay outs for three/four/five-in-a-row matches.  You’ll see the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters for slots, with a Police Officer being the second highest, and the “Cops ‘n’ Robbers” logo for the highest pay out.  There are also bulldogs that stand in as the Wild.  You are able to gamble your winnings at the end of a roll by way of a 50% chance predicting a Red or Black card being drawn.  This option can be toggled on and off as you desire and you can increase your bet in increments of 25, and after 100, increments of 100.  This allows you to fine tune how much you want to use, and the Auto Play toggle will show how many spins you can play at the current stake level before you turn Auto Play on again.

Along with the seven matching items for pay outs, a number of themed bonus items may appear.  If three of them appear on the board, you’ll enter one of the exciting bonus games.  Each bonus game is unique and can hold a lot of reward.

Your typical bonus comes in free spins.  Rolling three safes will earn you those free spins and you’ll choose between the three different safes.  They will have a different amount of spins each and the payouts you win during the free spins will be multiplied, which ups the value of your free spins considerably.

Getting three swag bags activates a bonus in which you choose one of three colored bags.  Each of the colored bags has a different amount of credits to be awarded.  As you play the normal slots game, these swag bags will slowly mature, and whatever the credit value is assigned to them at the time of the bonus activation is what you will get if you choose that bag.  The bags will be shuffled and you only choose one, so it is a 1/3 chance to get any of the three.  After the bonus, the colored bag you chose resets to a default value and proceeds to progressively mature again.

If you get three Crooks, you will enter a dice roll “Chase” bonus game.  A board is displayed with credit values, and you will roll a dice when ready.  The dice roll will dictate where your Crook lands on the board, and those credits are what you will earn for doing so.  After you roll, the police will roll as well, and they will either catch you or miss you.  If you are caught, you will be put in a suspect line-up, where you have a random 1/3 chance to get away and roll again on the board for more credits.  If the Crook is identified, your bonus round is over and you’ll return to the slots game.

Sound effects are also fun with voices, police sirens, jail noises, and other themed noises.  Visual effects are nice and the art style helps the game with its charm.  Every four hours will also earn you a free 500 credits, allowing you to start with about 2500 credits when you install.

If you’re looking for a slots game that integrates a multitude of bonus games, Cops ‘n’ Robbers Safecracker is a fun slots game.  One of the advantages of playing video slots is that the bonus games can become fairly interactive and exciting, and this is one of those instances that takes advantage of that fact.

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Slotpark (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

Slotpark is a free casino app available in the German App Store.  Slotpark maintains the same user interface integrated across a wide variety of slots as players switch between them.  In the corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours, which is standard across many casino apps.  The first few levels are quite easy to reach, so you’ll be earning a lot of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, and improves the accessibility to new players.

Slotpark currently includes 12 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to switch between slots very easily by downloading a new slot.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is varied, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  5-Column games are what you’ll see mostly, but there are a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Queen of Hearts deluxe – castle/red heart theme
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Pharaoh’s Tomb – also Egypt themed
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme
  • Dolphin’s Pearl Deluxe – water/pearl theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Slotpark lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Slotpark, you can find it on the German App Store.  It is also available in the Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, French, Netherlands, and Greek App Stores.

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Gaminator (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: Greentube Alderney Ltd.  || Overall:  8.5/10

Gaminator is a free casino app available in various European App Stores.  Using the same user interface integrated across a multitude of slots, players are able to hop around between different themes as they see fit with ease.  When first booting up the game, you are presented with an easy-to-understand interface.  In the top corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels, the most important pieces of information.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours.  The first few levels are easy to attain, so you’ll be earning quite a bit of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, especially if this is your first casino game.

Gaminator currently includes 13 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to quickly and easily switch between slots that you like without restrictions such as a level minimum.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is diverse, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  Most are 5-Column games with a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Columbus deluxe – based on Christopher Columbus
  • Ultra Hot Deluxe – 3-Column fruit theme
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Gaminator lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Gaminator, you can find it on the Hungarian App Store.  It is also available on the Czech, Polish, Russian, and Slovakian App Stores.

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Squacklecast Episode 28 – “So Long, Mr. Boner”

This entry is part 28 of 32 in the series The Squacklecast

Episode 28!

Happy Founder’s Day everyone!  It has been 22 years since anyone last cared about it, but TODAY is the day we do!

Today we have Unnamedhero joining us on the show.

We talk about the Angry Birds movie trailer a bit, which leads to a discussion about reality shows, somehow.

The Pope is in town and we talk about that a little bit.  I don’t care about religion that much, so here’s some picture.

 

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Oh, Pope Francis!  You so great!

Twenty Eleven or Two thousand and eleven?  We spend like 10 minutes talking about how to say numbers.

We skip to John Boehner and talk about how big of a cry baby he is.

johnboehnercryingpope

 I’m gonna miss one thing about Mr. Boner.  Well, two.

We go into the Republican debates/controversies a bit.  I bring up my Twitter interactions with random crazy conservatives who are outraged over renamed mountains and clocks.

We also announce the new Apple clothing store, iRack.  Only black shirts.  Then somehow Billy knows random actors who wear all black.

We go over some presidential predictions, and then go into some Fall TV talk.  Gotham is back.  This leads into a bigger discussion about plotlines and story in comic book TV shows and movies.  James Bond stuff comes up.  Billy saw the new Fantastic Four.  We talk about it.

We go over super heroes and what their party affiliations would probably be.  The consensus may surprise you on some of the famous heroes!

That’s it for today!  Hopefully the next episode isn’t too far away…

 

Bell Fruit Casino App (iOS) Review

Developer: Greentube Alderney Ltd.  || Overall:  Good

Gambling with real money online has become more commonplace as it becomes more accessible.  Just like in a real casino, you may yearn for a little variety as you play one app and decide to go to another one.  In the UK App Store, an app named “Bell Fruit Casino App” is available for users to download, and includes the option to be able to integrate a multitude of different casino games using the same unified in-app log in and account structure to place bets in different games.

The game selection is quite vast and the themes are wide enough that you’ll be able to find something that you will enjoy playing.  There are also nice descriptions that explain rules and bonus games for each individual game.  There are several game types available, including Slots, Blackjack, and Roulette.  There are about 40 games supported in all.

The selection of slots is quite festive, include the following and more:

  • Cops ‘n’ Robbers – there are cops and there are robbers
  • Happy Fruits – the fruits, they are happy
  • Hoffmania – based on David Hasselhoff
  • Columbus deluxe – based on Christopher Columbus
  • Clockwork Oranges – based on oranges that have clocks in them
  • Spinderella – Based on Fairy Godmother/Cinderella
  • Volcanic Cash – prehistoric civilization theme, not unlike the Flintstones
  • Wizard of Odds – Wizard magic and medieval themed

While most, if not all, of these games are available singularly, it is convenient to be able to switch between apps that are all supported by the Bell Fruit Casino App hub.  If you are interested in trying out Bell Fruit Casino App, you can find it on the UK App Store.

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Armello (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: League of Geeks || Overall: 9.0/10

The Kingdom of Armello is in peril.  The unifying King of the diverse clans has gone mad and peace is decaying into war.  How to deal with the King and counteract the instability is the issue at hand as the fate of your home allegiance rests with you.  This is the scenario that the tabletop card-based strategy game Armello presents.

A very appealing art style is the first thing I noticed.  Armello is a beautiful game with charming characters and world-building card art that gives you glimpses into the society that exists in the Kingdom of Armello.  In the fantasy setting, animals are the primary characters, representing races and clans that rally against one another in the impending breakdown of society.  The main characters of the game are represented by (male and female) wolves, rats, rabbits, and bears, each with their unique buffs.  The art of the cards you eventually begin to play with show other types of animals like badgers, weasels, dogs, and the like, with a lion being the king.  A great amount of care is put into the art, and the animation each card has gives the game a lot of life.  The Day and Night cycle of turns also makes the world feel lived-in.  The soundtrack is very delightful and fits in perfectly with the game.

After a light and fun Prologue, you learn a bit about each of the major clans and the stake they have in the conflict.  The Prologue primarily focuses on teaching you about fundamentals of the information you see on screen, most of which is actually very simple.  Where the complexity enters is when all of the aspects integrate together.

There is a lot of terminology to learn, and how each individual thing affects you.  Gold, Prestige, Magic, Rot, Wits, Body, Fight, Spirit, and Action Points are the primary values you’ll need to be aware of.  Each of these are manipulated in a multitude of ways by yourself and enemies alike, and each are used for specific purposes.  Most are used as resources to be able to play cards, while Fight, Spirit, and Rot give you dice to roll while attacking — each have multiple uses and can be very powerful depending on your overall goal.

You’ll draw cards that layer on to the complexity of Armello.  Like many other card games, the order in which you play them matters a great deal.  You can also burn cards you don’t want to use to assure certain dice rolls, and at the beginning of your next turn you can pull cards up to your maximum.  Your maximum cards held is dictated by your Wits stat.  An example of a card is spending three Magic to give yourself a +1 Action Point buff for two turns.

Starting from your Clan Grounds, you’ll move your hero across the board with objectives in mind.  If you encounter a town, you’ll gain one Gold per turn as long as it is held under your banner.  If you run across a Stone Circle, you will heal one Body (the health stat), while entering a Swamp removes one Body.  Dungeons offer a chance to gain one of many possible rewards or spawns a Bane, which is a creature born of the Rot corruption plaguing Armello.  Your overall objectives come in a few forms.  A personalized objective, given as a quest, offers permanent buffs to your stats and a chance at obtaining a piece of equipment or another useful buff.  Using the board to your advantage is required to be able to accomplish the game-winning objectives.  Deaths will also occur over and over, and you’ll respawn at your Clan Grounds if you die or are killed.

To win the game, you are able to do a number of different things that everyone is competing for.  A Prestige win is considered a political win; killing other Heroes gains one Prestige, as well as completing quests.  At the end of a turn, the Prestige Leader gets to choose a King’s Declaration which is a per-turn decision that affects the game’s flow.  As the Prestige Leader, you can choose the one that is most convenient to you or will help you keep your Prestige Leader status.  Dying or killing the King’s Guard loses one Prestige, allowing others to catch up.  The Prestige win is a long-game win, as you’ll have to wait until the King expires from the Rot, which is typically at most ten full turns.  If any other objectives are completed before then, the Prestige win will be defeated.

Another way to win is by collecting Spirit Stones to hand over to the King to cure him of his Rot.  You can also gain as much Rot as you can so you can defeat the King in battle and rule the lands yourself as a corrupted king.  Gaining Rot can help you if you have more than your enemy, as during the attack phases you gain bonus dice to roll.  However, Rot can lead to Corruption and with it come instant death on Stone Circle plots.   As a result, you are unable to heal without using cards and Rot subtracts one health at the start of every turn if you have any.

A single game can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how slow plays are.  Tactics will shift several times during the game depending on others’ progress.  The game board’s setting always takes place at the foot of the King’s castle, and is shuffled at every new game, so the plots will be in different places each time.  As of now, there is also a “winter theme” of the board where snow covers the entire board, and it seems like other themes could eventually be developed.  While there are no alternate locations to play, they wouldn’t make much sense in the context of the existing story conflict unless something new were set up.  They could easily expand on the game with more cards, and extra story to set up new maps would also be a nice addition.  As you play the game you’ll unlock more pre-game perks which can customize your play style.  Finding all of the cards (there are around 130) is also very satisfying as you try to complete your card gallery.

While the story of Armello is interesting and there is a lot of world-building, it isn’t very deep.  The majority of the story comes in the Prologue you play to learn about the game, and whatever you can glean off of the quests.  There isn’t really a resolution to the story other than the eventual ending of the King’s corruption, by death or otherwise.  A single player mode is included in which you play with AI, but the game is clearly built for a multiplayer environment.  An online mulitplayer mode is available that allows you to jump right in and play with other people, as well as a Ranked mode due to be released with free patch v1.1.  An assortment of free and paid updates are planned for the game, so it will be interesting to see what comes about from the developers.

All in all, Armello is a diverse mash of several different objectives, quests, resources, and characters.  Using all of it to your advantage and learning the order in which you should play certain cards is very important to completing the objectives you have at hand.  People who enjoy tabletop board games will certainly enjoy this game and being able to play with their friends.  Armello is available on Steam and PS4 at $19.99.

09/18/16 – The Usurpers Hero Pack (DLC) Review || Overall: Recommended

Released on August 30th, the Usurpers Pack DLC adds on four unique heroes into the Armello mix.  There are also an assortment of new buffs that are available for selection before entering a new game.  While new players may not necessarily understand the benefits the new heroes or buffs provide, know that it adds a new layer of strategy on top of the diversification of the hero roster.  The main addition, of course are the heroes:

Magna – a shieldmaiden.  My personal favorite of the four new heroes.  Can reflect attacks.

Sargon – a “veil gazer.”  The top card on the deck can be seen during draw card phase.

Ghor – Magic spent is more efficient on forest tiles, and can cast globally on any forest tile

Elyssia – Permanent fortification of settlements if a turn is ended on one.  Good for taking a defensive approach against your enemies.

If you are an avid fan of Armello, it will be worth the entry price to enjoy these new heroes.  On account that there are no new game modes in this DLC pack, there isn’t anything that will change your opinion of the game; in my view it is still a great time.  All of the new characters fit right in with the others and while a couple are plainly a better choice to pick, any of the new heroes hold a viable path to victory.

 

Puzzle Craft (iOS) Review

Developer: AT Games | Publisher: Chillingo Ltd || Overall: 9.5/10

Seldom do games made for a smart phone really impress me.  Puzzle Craft did.

Puzzle Craft is a charming, fun, and simple puzzle game that is the most fun I’ve had with any single phone game yet.  I originally downloaded and played the game to completion about a couple years ago, and introduced it to a some people.  Every now and then I hear about how those people still play it to this day, long after I uninstalled it.  I fully intended to review it, but I never got around to it.  I took pictures of my end progress, but somewhere along the way I forgot to do anything with those screenshots.

Puzzle Craft is the story of your people and your town that you create from scratch.  As you progress, you build out your town, hire more workers, earn gold, and endlessly match a variety of different resources.  As long as you meet a minimum match requirement (the base is three), you can string together as many other items along the way by drawing lines through them only once.  Being able to go in diagonal directions, you have to think outside the box and can get some long matches going.  With limited turns, it is very important to try and maximize each turn you take as it costs resources or Gold to do so again.

There are only two locations to play the matching game — the farm and the mine.  The farm requires only 30 Gold to begin farming.  The mine requires 100 Gold, but you can also use the resources you gather from the farm matching game to begin a mine matching game.  Eventually you gain enough resources to progress your town and gain experience by matching.  Some buildings allow you to gather new resources, use new tools, and eventually new obstacles present themselves within the unique matching games.  The game slowly ramps up in complexity and difficulty to keep things fresh.  You’ll need to learn how to use tools to elongate your turns and set up big matches — it is very important to learn how to maximize your earnings as furthering your buildings and experience will require pulling out every trick you can muster.  Unfortunately, when doing long matches, your finger can also get in the way of seeing what direction you want to go — it can be a bit cumbersome at times to figure out the best path as a result.  I suppose this could be part of the challenge, but I doubt it was designed with that intention in mind.

One of the most satisfying things about Puzzle Craft, is that everything you do adds toward your progression.  As you learn tricks on how to be efficient when farming and mining, you’ll be able to quickly get ahead of the game and build a lot of buildings fast.  A nice part of the building process is you are given the freedom to choose which plots buildings can go, which allows you to customize your town.  Some buildings can only be used in one location, however.

Buildings are very important and offer rewards on cooldown.  Depending on the building it might offer you tools, resources, gold, or simply be part of the cosmetic look of your town after its initial benefit is earned.  You might have learned that it is very annoying to have to try and tap anything on the very sides of your phone, especially if you have a case protecting it.  Unless you know what buildings do what, you have to take a chance that you might place a building in an inconvenient location for your finger to tap.  Sometimes buildings are placed behind other buildings and you end up tapping the wrong one and you are put into a different menu, away from the town, then must try again and be more precise in your tapping.  Considering all of those bonuses are endless and only require time before they are replenished, you deal with it, but it would be nice if there was some sort of catch-all button, as once you build out your town to capacity, it can be a chore to click 50 things every time you start it up after a few hours.  It would have been nice if there was a way to move buildings around, but there is no option to do so.

Gold is essentially the primary resource in the game, and with gold you can buy or do practically anything.  When you grind your resources in the farm/mine, you can sell extra resources for gold at the Market.  Gold is the limiting factor of the game, and if you had a lot of it, the game’s challenge would go away.  Initially when I started playing there was no way to buy gold, but with an update sometime last year (shortly before I uninstalled it) they added an option to buy.  If you play enough, you’ll have as much gold as you could ever desire, so the impetus to buy is pretty low.  Considering once you get to the end you can Reset the game to the beginning and start anew, I’m not entirely sure what happens to the gold you might have bought.  You can look at this more as a “cheat” rather than something that allows you to play longer.  I did get a bit disappointed when that was added, but it didn’t take away anything from the core gameplay, so it is easily overlooked.

Workers are also a nice cosmetic addition, walking through your town when hired.  As you hire more workers, they benefit you in specific ways and you can become more efficient.  You can only hire up to five of each worker, so you have to plan for which workers will benefit you the most at the time of your progression.  They cost resources, so you may have to decide between a worker and a building at times.

The art style really grows on you, and as you get used to it you see the charming aspects it has to offer.  The animals and the vegetables have a lot of character to them, and the workers and buildings all fit in and have unique art.  There are lots of colors and you really feel like you’re in a old time utopia town making your denizens happy with your progression.  The music isn’t terrible, either, and the sound effects also add a bit of fun as the chickens cluck, pigs oink, and the cows moo when you match them.  Different tools also have different sound effects and the dynamite can be satisfying along with its visual action.

Late in the game, you are able to open treasure chests which offer nice bonuses.  To open treasure chests you have to meet the requirements of the treasure map, which may be something like matching 14 grass.  To open the chest at this point, you need to drag your finger through 14 grasses before ending up on the chest.  There are also different levels of chests, and they may require more rare resources being matched to have them open.  This adds a challenge to the game in its later stages, but also can mean nice rewards.  There are also items to collect that appear in your archaeology hut, and once a collection is complete, you gain a permanent buff.

While there is a long end game to play once you’ve completed your village, it can become old fast as it is very grindy.  The exciting part of the game is building up your town and making more buildings.  Once the game changes its focus to completing treasure chests and defeating enemies, it becomes a little frustrating at times and not as light-feeling as it is when you initially start the game.  Fortunately you are able to reset the game and start from scratch, so you are able to play as you see fit.  If you are really good, you’ll have so many tools you don’t know what to do with them.  Tools can be frustrating to use over and over as it takes two clicks to use them, and if you have 80 of them to use as extra, you’re going to have to click 160 times to use them all.  Some tools become redundant and obsolete as you progress, but you are still stuck with them as the only way to get rid of them is to use them.

Puzzle Craft deserves a lot of attention.  It is such a great smart phone game to play, and without being pestered to buy in-app credits every ten seconds, you really feel like the purpose of the game was to have fun rather than sell you endless amounts of digital goods or peddle ads to you all of the time.  A rare thing to see in games, nowadays.

 

Poker Live Omaha & Texas (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

A part of the AbZorba Games’ casino line-up, Poker Live Omaha & Texas for the iOS is essentially the same user interface as the previously reviewed BlackJack Live Casino.  Many familiar aspects are present, and it won’t take you long to get used to the differences if you have experience with any of their other apps, like I did before playing it.  Poker Live Omaha & Texas shares the amusing avatar system, and has the same social-network-of-sorts functionality that is included in the previous title I reviewed.

Uniformity across titles is the basis, and many of the same comments I made about the game’s functionality and social network would just be reiterated for this title, so the best thing to do is to focus on the game of Poker itself as it is presented in Poker Live Omaha & Texas.  As an aside, I did include the avatar pictures in the screenshot gallery from the previous game, as they are identical.

The benefit to having two or more of the titles from AbZorba installed on your phone grants greater daily bonuses to earn.  You gain a bonus for each title, which understandably entices you to have all of AbZorba’s games installed on your phone at the same time.  If you enjoy their games, it’s not a bad bonus to have, as it’s not really difficult to obtain.

Unlike Black Jack where you play against the dealer primarily, you are playing against other players.  Calling bets and raising each other to the point they either fold or lose all of their money.  The competitive aspect can be a big draw for some who like that, and not to mention it is Poker, after all.

Texas Hold’em and Omaha are represented in the game.  Unlike in Black Jack, you’ll kind of need to hit the ground running to make sure you don’t play awfully, since you are competing against other players out for your sweet chips.  You’ll also have to take risks to get ahead, and that doesn’t always pay off.  It is smarter to play the lower limit tables initially since you only start with about 30K chips.  Sitting at a table that meets your betting position is important to the longevity of your play.  You may also benefit more from going head-to-head rather than being at a full table.  It all depends on the amount of chips you have, the limits of the table, and the balances of everyone else at the table.  You can, of course, buy more chips to limit the guesswork here or to replenish your credits if you are run ragged, otherwise you’ll have to wait for the bonuses to add up before playing again.

The game-specific user interface allows you to pre-play your hand in a certain number of ways to get the game moving faster.  If you know you are most likely going to win a hand because you have a 4-of-a-kind, you can click the “call any” bet.  You may also just want to wait until it is your turn to do a proper raise, though.  You can also tell the game to check/fold so when it hits your turn you automatically check or fold depending on if someone bet in that round.  I always like to maintain full control over my hands, so I seldom used those functions.  It might be more useful on tables that have people taking a long time to play, however.

There’s not much point to explaining the rules of Texas Hold’em and Omaha, as these are popular games you can look up on any number of sites.  The Poker Live Omaha & Texas app on the iOS store can be a fine choice if you are looking for one of these apps, and along with the other apps in their offering, the bonuses end up being worthwhile.

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BlackJack Live Casino (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

Black Jack is your classic old-time casino game.  Counting cards, hitting at the right time, and making sure your six-shooter is at the ready just in case someone thinks you’re cheating.  Nowadays, it’s not so dangerous as Black Jack is now available on smart phones.  You can play it on the go, in your home, or on the can.  It would be hard playing in all three of those situations at the same time, but at least you have your gun in case anything unexpected happens…. like… umm… a jet fighter dog-fighting with your flying house that is powered only by the propulsion of toilet water?

Anywho, that’s enough of that.

BlackJack Live Casino for the iOS is one such Black Jack gaming app available.  While it’s a pretty normal casino app, it offers a few standard features to extend your play time such as buying more Credits (to play the actual Black Jack game) and a higher-tier currency known as Diamonds (for bonus games and customizing your avatar), and the usual time-based free bonuses for returning.  There is also a leveling system that automatically awards you Credits at each level up through play.

When using Credits to play Black Jack (which is arguably the whole point of BlackJack Live Casino), you can join a table and start playing against a dealer.  You can have up to four players (including yourself) at a table, going through the regular flow of Black Jack.  The game can be a bit social as you can chat with other players while playing, and you’ll watch each player take their turn against the dealer.  Unfortunately, you have to wait one by one, instead of everyone taking their turn at the same time.  This can make you feel impatient and not exactly make you want to join a table that is full as a result, since the games will take a little longer.  If people are talking, it can help with socialization as people have some extra time to type.

The game can be welcoming to players of all skill levels, but I think that the game would be useful to learn the ins-and-outs if you are just starting to learn Black Jack in general.  The user interface is pretty friendly and helps you out by automatically awarding you when you attain a Black Jack and automatically standing when you hit 21.  Lesser games would allow you to “mess up” and hit again to bust, so it is a nice feature to have included in the game.  There is a help menu that will explain Black Jack’s rules and as you play you’ll basically learn the flow of repeated plays.  The text can be a bit small at times, as well.

A funny aspect of the game, though I’m not sure how much it actually affects the gameplay, is that you or the other people at the table (including the dealer) can draw identical cards.  One game I drew two Five of Diamonds in the same play and although the game “shuffles” the cards after a certain amount of time, I’m unsure if this means they combined multiple decks or what.  This basically makes any inclination to “card count” pointless, if you were able to.  There are a couple of bonus games outside of the Black Jack game that requires Diamonds.  Diamonds are attained by purchase primarily, and you earn a lot more Credits with these bonus games.

What is possibly the most “interesting” feature is the Avatar system.  I was thoroughly amused by the amount of random items and costumes your avatars are able to wear, including sexy Santa, a mummy, a spy, a matador, a Texan waitress, etc.  Imagining all of these random people sitting around a table playing Black Jack is a bit fun to think about.  The avatar gallery provides an alternate use for your Diamonds and if you don’t want to use a preset avatar (known as a “Hero”) you can customize your avatar to your liking using a smattering of all of the pieces available.  When other players click to view your profile, they will be able to see your avatar as well as your other stats related to your career in the game.

Another funny aspect of the game is the “Cocktail” feature.  You are able to buy gifts/items/drinks for other people you are sitting at a table with, presumably for the times you want to impress people or something.  There are a few funny items in there, such as developer-branded French Fries, sunglasses, a hamburger, and other random things.  There appears to be a seasonal store that changes up depending on the time of year, as it currently has summery items available.

As far as free casino games go, BlackJack Live Casino is about all you can ask for in a Black Jack game.  A few tweaks here and there and I wouldn’t have anything to point out to complain about.  Black Jack can be fun for a round of hands every now and then and BlackJack Live Casino is a worthwhile option.

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California Water Saving Tips

California is in a perpetual drought.  We need tips!  Tips that will help save water!!!

– There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

– Rip out all of your grass. Dirt needs to be watered a lot less than grass.

– Use only paper plates and plastic-ware.  Water isn’t used to make those things.

– If you want to take a 15-minute shower, just don’t eat a hamburger.  You save water in what is probably a completely different state than California, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.  Those damn cows drink as much water as a 25 minute shower at least.

– Only use water from water bottles, they are probably not from California, maybe.  The likelihood goes up if you buy something labeled as a foreign country or place.

– Use vodka to make your Kool-Aid.

– Don’t drink water, drink your own sweat. It’s like recycling your own water.

– Bathe in fire.  It kills more germs.

– If you take a shit, remove the shit from the water, take it to work and flush it there.

– Wash your hands with your pee.

– Import ice from the North Pole/Antarctica.  It is melting anyway.

– Move out of California.

– Continue to disappoint your mother and harvest her tears.

– Shoot people who use water.

– Travel back in time and use the water before its gone.

– Use only your hands to drink water.

– Don’t eat fruits or vegetables.  You won’t waste water having to wash them.

– Keep a pitcher of water next to the toilet, that way any toilet water that splashes out goes down you and not on the floor.

– Reuse leftover water from the nuclear reactor to cook your spaghetti.

– Don’t cook food that requires water.

– Don’t buy fruits or vegetables that originate from California.

– Freeze water, that way it expands and you will have more water.

– Wash your laundry in another State.

– Don’t wash your clothes.  Use them one time and then return it to the store.

– Don’t take a shower.  You’ll save like a bajillion gallons of water a month.

– Put food coloring in your toilet.  It will mask the unpleasant color your unflushed piss and poo water will create naturally.  Don’t let FoodBabe know.

– Upgrade older toilets with rocket capability.

– Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.  That will save 40 gallons a minute.  That’s up to 250,000 gallons a day for a family of 6748.

– If your toilet was installed before 1992, thank the plumber.

– Consider a dual-flush toilet.  It will flush your toilet twice and use twice as much water.

– Take showers instead of luxurious baths.  You’re getting clean here, and only babies take baths.

– Don’t have children that use water.  Birth only dirt babies.

– Avoid having fun with water.  Fun wastes water.

– Avoid recreational water toys, they use water.

– See a leak you can’t fix?  Learn how to by going to plumber’s trade school for a year.

– Steal your water from a multinational corporation that isn’t based in California.

– Remove the cement from your driveway so that water can flood your home and not drain into the ocean.

– Start calling California “Arizona” instead of “California.”

– Plant alien plants that require human blood to live.

– Consider converting your home into an alien spaceship that does not require water to run.

– Start a compost pile in your bedroom.  This keeps the compost pile from evaporating its precious water.

– Don’t jerk off in the shower anymore.  Or just jerk off without the water on and then clean up afterwards.

– Plant water-hating plants.

– Hire the 10 year old kid next door to rip out your irrigation system.

– Catch water in an empty tuna can.  Then drink it.

– Use your hanging basket plants as pinatas.

– Only have sex in the Jacuzzi, the swimming pool needs too much water.

– Make your swimming pool tacky by removing waterfalls and stupid bullshit that makes it look nice.  Then you won’t want to swim in your pool anymore and you will contemplate just getting rid of the whole thing.

– Get rid of pesky pets that need water to survive.  Pet Rocks are coming back in style.

– Post a hotline in bathrooms that people can call so they can finish their shits faster.  I don’t know how this saves water, but I can at least take a shit since I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes!  God damn!

– Water-shame people who keep water in a bottle that is clearly not purchased from a store new.

– Do not drink processed water, it is unhealthy for you, similar to processed meats.  It is not as nature intended!

– Clean water is man-made, therefore it is unnatural and unhealthy!  It takes a lot of water to make clean water.

– Don’t put water inside water.  You lose the water you are putting inside of the water as it becomes just one water.

– Appoint a water ambassador to the ocean and beg it for rain.

– Marry or seduce a televised meteorologist and convince them to say there will be rain coming on the news even if it isn’t true.

– Strike up a conversation with a plumber and ask them how the plumber the seven seas.

– Lick dishes of their food and dirt instead of rinsing with water.  You can also get a dog to do this.

– A recent study showed people care about water usage.  Ain’t that cool?

– Destroy all decorative fountains you see.  Especially ones that are not yours.

– Don’t wash your car ever.

– Pee in the shower.

– Pee outside.  Select a private space near a bush you don’t particularly like and go at it.

– Don’t let children maintain a swimming pool.  They suck at math.  It is dangerous because they might miscalculate how much water to put in the swimming pool and that would suck for when you were having sex in there.  There is also a higher chance of them seeing you since they are responsible for the swimming pool.

– Get your girlfriend wet everyday and then water the plants with her.

– Start using wet humor instead of dry humor.  Or in this case, drought humor.

– Kill anyone who is doing a rain dance in California, they are obviously failing and are probably making things worse with their awful dancing.  Then water the plants with their blood.  It rained after all!

– Grow some clouds and then explode them all over your plants.

– No more sex in the shower.  Or just have the water off if you have sex in there.

– Lick things clean, such as your car or yourself.

 

PixelJunk: Nom Nom Galaxy (PC) Review

Developer: Q-Games/Double Eleven | Publisher: Q-Games || Overall: 9.0/10

Walk the aisles of your normal, ideal, grocery store.  Rows full of food line the aisles begging for your grubby little hands to take them and put them in your shopping cart.  But does any food really speak to your soul as well as soup?  Canned soup is one of the most important pieces of human culture, after all.

…Yet have you ever really thought about where your soup comes from?

Do you perhaps think that the planet of Alteria in the galaxy of Soupcon Valley would produce your favorite can of Green Sun Chowder made from Sunblossom and Greenstalk?  Or do you think the civil war and strife of the robots on Nozesi fuel the good time tastes of the delightful Split Sea Soup and/or Filet of Fission?

PixelJunk: Nom Nom Galaxy makes you ask these questions and more.  Well, actually none of that matters because the name of the game is business and market share.  The real test comes in beating your enemy’s robot workers into eternal jobless poverty by creating an efficient soup factory that satisfies the needs of the universe.

Getting down to the essential basics of the game, the robots need soup and you are making the soup, delivering it to the hungry patrons via rockets.  Finding material that is usable for cooking across sprawling sandboxes, you are equipped with your buzzsaw which cuts through and helps you gather many of the things you’ll need.  You’ll also be punching a lot of things.  On the factory production side, you’ll have to maintain, defend, and build out a soup factory that is as efficient as possible.  Robot workers can be hired to assist you in this pursuit, and their operation is a small callback to the logic of Lemmings.  What this ends up being is an interesting mix of game genres in a sci-fi setting with some sparse story to set up the scenarios each planet presents.

What I mostly enjoyed about Nom Nom Galaxy is that it is a sandbox game with a clear objective at hand.  As far as the sandbox genre goes, Starbound is the only other game I’ve played with any large amount of time, which is built mostly on a free-form playstyle that centers on improving your crafting and character’s gear.  Nom Nom Galaxy distinguishes itself from this by giving you developer-designed planets full of ingredients to exploit to the best of your ability, earning upgrades after beating a planet.  The factory’s efficiency becomes a main focus of the gameplay as a result — which can be detrimental to the exploration aspect the game provides, as it essentially becomes the opposite of business efficiency.

As you make your way through the planets, each will provide an upgrade or new thing to buy to change up the gameplay a bit.  Eventually you hit a point, about midway through the game, where scenarios start to take place and you’re no longer able to use defense towers, robot workers, or other things you’ve grown accustom to using.   As the existing system can be a bit complex to learn and understand the controls/logic of the game, the pace is set about right.  Enhancements such as, and being able to use, a double jump or a rocket boost changes the way you play entirely.

Ingredients are varied and many have specialties about them.  There’s about 20 unique ingredients which can be combined with each other, resulting in 400 recipes.  Some ingredients are special and take a long time to find/grow, some you have to kill mobs for, and others are common and plantable.  It’s always fun to find something new in the game and seeing what will result when you combine two different ingredients can be satisfying.

When you combine ingredients, a Soup Can pops out of the Soup Machine.  You take the Soup Can into the Soup Rocket, and the rocket delivers the payload which affects your market share by a base of 5%.  Depending on the market trends that pop up every now and then, the game influences you to try and find different ingredients, or stop using one that might be a commonly used on in all of your Soup Machines, forcing you to change your focus.

A good 20 hours or so of gameplay got me within range of the last three stages of the “Conquest” mode.  Unfortunately Nom Nom Galaxy didn’t live up to the same perfection in its difficulty as PixelJunks Monsters did, and I had a relatively easy time getting through it as I mastered the game’s logic.  Half of the levels in the Conquest Mode are used to introduce you to the gameplay itself, and the latter half tests you to master it to only some unique challenge.  Each planet introduced something new, but the core gameplay being so complex brings down the experience a bit, I fear.  We spend too much time “learning how to play” that when we finally get around to unlocking everything substantial and playing “for realisies” you only have a couple of planets left and the last level of the game, which will require you to use everything at your disposal.

Each planet has the option for endless play, only after you attain 100% market share.  You are also able to continue building your factory as it was or start from scratch in this “S.O.O.P Simulator” mode.  While the planets will always be the same, they offer enough variety and quantity to not have to worry too much about that.  Though since there is no meta game, you are working on each planet on an individual basis.  There is also a mode called Galactic Challenges which take a unique approach to the games formula and pretty much anything seems to go here.  You could be racing from point A to point B or trying to sell as much soup in 10 minutes as you can.  Challenges expire after about 36 hours, and you compete against all other players here, either at the same time, or asynchronously via global rankings.  You can also “Quick Join” and matchmake with another player, however the capability did not seem to be enabled in the review build before release.  I assume there could be some sort of generation for planets in this mode but I can’t be sure.

A lot of the aspects of the baked-in challenge actually disincentivizes you from exploring.  You’ll be dealing with maintaining the workflow of the factory, depending on its need to rely on you to acquire/scout for ingredients.  You are also equipped with an Oxygen tank which limits the distance you can go without finding a source of oxygen or heading back to base.  You’ll also be called back to base when your rival sends monsters to disrupt and destroy your base.  You can automate the defenses a bit by loading it with laser guns and missiles, but you’ll still need to make sure you are there to pick up any of the stragglers and repair buildings.  If at any point your Office is destroyed, you automatically lose the game.

At the end of each day, the game pauses for “Break Time” and saves your current progress.  During Break Time you’ll be shown informative stats, graphs, and how much money you earned.  An added layer of planning is involved as any ingredients that are not currently inside Soup Machines or planted will disappear.  When planting items, it will expand your potential to increase your output substantially, but only if you plan correctly.  Personally I felt like it made the game a lot easier to have the capability to grow your own ingredients since you could plant a lot of the same common ingredients over and over in each level and usually the AI competitor would not match very well in a challenge as long as you had a good production going.  Progression to new zones is limited by recipes you discover, so there is an incentive to experiment, but not much since it was easy to meet those expectations and I never really had to replay anything unless I fucked up severely or neglected my base on purpose.

Sound and visuals is also another high point.  There is a lot of insanity going on initially.  It will take a while for you to understand what is going on, but the art is fantastic and intricate.  The robots are uniquely designed and I loved discovering something new, or going to the next planet to see the theme.  Sound is also well done for the most part, but there was a surprising lack of music.  PixelJunk Monsters and PixelJunk Eden had great soundtracks, but Nom Nom Galaxy seems to take its cues from PixelJunk Shooter with a minimalist approach to music and sound, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different.  Monsters is probably one of my favorite soundtracks ever, so it was a bit disappointing to not have another great soundtrack to listen to.

As a big fan of the PixelJunk series I was completely satisfied with this entry.  While it breaks the mold of “simplicity” all of the other games established within their own genres, Nom Nom Galaxy files down several different genres into core tenants that work together in an interesting fashion.  The game is very ambitious and I enjoyed the humor quite a bit.  Replayability might be Nom Nom Galaxy’s biggest fault, but there is certainly plenty to do and you can keep doing it for pretty much as long as you like.  There just becomes a point where you kind of “get it” and in this case I don’t see myself coming back to visit it very often like I do with PixelJunk Monsters.  It is, however, a lot easier to play the game for very long sessions.

 

Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: Cervo Media GmbH || Overall: 8.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Reviewing sequels to games you enjoy tend to be a typical thing when you are a reviewer.  It’s easy to sit there and write out how everything in the sequel is the same, but better in so many ways, and even pull from your previous review for inspiration.  In this case, Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is the sequel to a previously reviewed title, Slots – Pharaoh’s Way; it essentially boils down to this: it is a slots game that is a sequel to a slots game and it is still… a slots game.

In my previous review I went through the ethics and personal feelings I had with the business model this slots game (now series) presents itself with.  The structure is very much the same in Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire as it was in Slots – Pharaoh’s Way, and really all that you’ll initially see (if you are moving from the previous game to this) is that you are resetting back to zero.  Slots – Pharaoh’s Way is an endlessly-updated grind to the next slot, and Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is not much different.  There’s no point, really, in talking about what is the same, but it’s an opportunity to talk about what IS different.

It is an interesting observation that many of the improvements I had suggested in my previous review seems to actually have come to pass — namely in more significant time-based rewards and an interesting meta game which rewards you as you play.

Free bonus credits are earned by increment of four hours as Slots – Pharaoh’s Way had done and still seem to scale higher as you progress — you also get a “special bonus” on every fourth redemption, which is a unique bonus game.  The “Money Rain” bonuses (credits you earn as a bonus to leveling up) that occur also scale higher along with your level.  Another vital, new, free bonus happens now in the form of a Return Bonus independent of your hourly bonus — if you visit every day your rewards slightly increase as each day goes on.

A meta game has been introduced in this title that revolves around collecting relic pieces, signified by a moving piece that represents your progress through leveling.  As you complete the relics you gain a large payout of credits.  Whereas before you would attain this payout at a certain increment of levels, the progression is “broken up” and given a visual representation to tell you that you are almost at the next milestone.  This is a welcome change as it gives the feeling of an adventure and collecting relic pieces to add to your overall collection — of which there are many relics to collect.  Your piece moves every 1/3 increment of a level and you gain a relic piece at every two levels.

Included with the meta game is also a bonus chance to earn credits within that meta game progression.  A chest moves every five turns (slot plays) within your progression path, and if it appears on top of your moving piece, you get into one of the bonus games unique to this chest.  One is a spinning wheel that lands on a number and the other I encountered was a “Risk to Double” game – you roll a number and risk it (to double it) by choosing heads/tails.  If you lose in the Risk to Double game, you get a consolation prize regardless, but it is usually going to be a paltry amount.  It is pretty much the same idea as the bonus card game that you get access to on regular slot wins.  The bonus card game is still essentially useless, and the same rules apply as in the previous game.  Because they are essentially the same game, I am lead to think that the Risk to Double just isn’t worth the risk.

There is more diversity in the initial few slots, and it is seemingly less reliant on the “Pharaoh’s” theme, unlike the first game.  The second slot level you are all of a sudden in the African safari with elephants and shit.  What happened to the God damn pyramids and whipping slaves?!  I want some more Anubis and King Tut shit before I start traveling all over the world.  Every 10 levels unlocks a new slot and this time around there are no numbers showing how many diamonds you earned so it’s not as easy to tell what your progress is other than a visual bar.  I assume that they’ve reigned in the required amount of diamonds to make it more linear rather than it’s exponential growth that occurred in the last game, but it isn’t easy to tell.

Buying credits still seems like something predatory, but there can be plenty in-game to at least make you feel like you are earning credits with the extra bonuses and the new meta game portion.  Where the ethics get involved here, is that the game has to feel rewarding to keep you hooked, but they can’t be too rewarding since they want to sell credits. It’s a very fine balancing act that appears to sometimes rig the bonus games to not be very rewarding all of the time. For example, a risk/reward game that stops between a large number and a small number will seemingly skew towards the small number more often than not. Even the “meta chest” game is privy to this, despite being essentially an added system for overall bonuses.  There are lots of added bonus games involved with the title, but none are overly rewarding, which takes a little bit of the excitement out of hitting one of them.

As someone who grinded quite a few million diamonds in the previous iteration, it feels a bit daunting to get into and start yet another slots game (with essentially the same progression system) from scratch.  Personally, it feels like there should either have been some sort of credit sharing between the two games, or Slots – Pharaoh’s Way upgraded with the additions they made for Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire.  Business-wise, I completely understand why you would want your players to experience a full reset — the grind is necessarily subject to becoming hooked as you gain levels with more regularity at the lower levels and hitting level 243 might not mean anything anymore.

There are some graphical enhancements (addition of more 3D graphics/animations is the biggest difference) and some sound “additions” that are a bit corny as some deep-voiced European-sounding dude (read: not Egyptian) is one(?) of the performers.  As always, I turned my sound off within ten minutes of booting up the game, so it didn’t matter to me.

Is the game good?  Sure.  It’s not any better or worse than the previous game, really.  A lot of the additions I proposed were actually included and its made the game a better package, however the intent of the game is to make money at the end of the day and they can’t go too crazy with the fun.  For the benefit of the series, it would be interesting to see a different progression system than grinding diamonds and levels to unlock more slots.  For a more in-depth look at all of the basic functions of the game, please check out my previous review as almost all of it is relevant for this game.

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Squacklecast Episode 27 – “How to Eat Grilled Cheese”

This entry is part 27 of 32 in the series The Squacklecast

Wow!  I don’t know who keeps making these Squacklecasts, but they keep getting made.

We talk about ABC Family’s Harry Potter marathon a bit and which ones we like overall.  Also we realize how we can’t remember what happens in which one or what they’re called.

Comic Con 2015 began and ended in a boring whimper considering Marvel was a no-show.  Trailers from the convention are at Wired.

The current status of Marvel and how Ant-Man is or is not their current “peak.”  Avengers 2 was basically Cameo: The Movie.  The X-Men properties are discussed.

We talk about the DC properties which were arguably the most interesting part of this year’s Comic Con.

Movies about movies that didn’t get made — Superman Lives and pre-Lynch Dune.

Will Smith is Deadshot in the new Suicide Squad movie.  Hopefully he’s more like Capt. James West from Wild Wild West:

willsmithwildwildwest

Dave was mostly into the Garfield/Calvin and Hobbes types of comics instead of the Marvel/DC stuff.

Since Garfield likes lasagna, that was a segue into talking about food and Grilled Cheese.  Billy doesn’t like Grilled Cheese because his only experience with it was eating it at a buffet.

Perfect Grilled Cheese on sourdough is as follows:

grilledcheese

Awful wheat grilled cheese is this awful awful thing:

awfulgrilledcheese

More random food talk about bacon and other things.

Davepoobond’s Hate List for Celebrities (5 is average rating)

FRED 10/10, Bono 10/10, Owen Wilson 9/10, Jackie Chan 6/10

Melissa McCarthy 10/10, Julia Roberts 9/10, Drew Barrymore 8/10, Geena Davis 7/10, Cher 4/10

Fuck you FRED.  See you guys next time!

 

Hacknet (PC) Hands-On Preview

Developer: Team Fractal Alligator | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games || Outlook: Good

Writing previews for games are a bit of a challenge.  Previews serve as a way to give the readers an introduction to a game they may anticipate, and hopeful readers look for positive impressions before they have access themselves.  I tend to typically give preview builds the benefit of the doubt and stay hopeful that the final product will potentially deliver.  In this case, Hacknet definitely holds an interesting and unique potential.

Hacknet simulates a hacking environment, not unlike something you may see in exaggerated form on a TV show.  Through a number of commands you’ll solve what is essentially multi-layered puzzles that will force you to master a routine while solving the unique mission at hand.  The preview build provided to me allowed for approximately 40 minutes of gameplay, which included a Tutorial, a “test mission,” and an actual mission.

The gameplay serves as a backdrop and a storytelling device to a mystery involving the death of a hacker named Bit.  The preview build didn’t delve too deeply into the actual meat of the story, but mostly just alludes to some of the characters you are potentially going to have more interaction with later.  The simulated hacking environment uses real UNIX commands, so if you have experience with command line actions you’ll be able to pick up on most of what is happening pretty quickly.  The forced memorization of commands has the potential to be daunting if you aren’t comfortable with that sort of interaction with a computer, however.  One of the highlights of the game is its lack of hand-holding, so it appears that you’ll need a notepad or a good memory to execute the time-based puzzles correctly.  Ideally, you’ll be learning most of the commands as you go along, so the puzzles will probably become more advanced and require greater care to execute perfectly.  Hacknet aligns itself with “Papers, Please,” challenging different parts of your brain than what you may normally be accustomed to for games.

What got me really digging the puzzles was the sleek/futuristic user interface coupled with the music.  The music was contextually designed and matched the mood of what was going on appropriately.  The music really played a key part in turning up the tension when the first hacking challenge took place.  They didn’t want to give too much away so the game abruptly turns off once you hit a certain point in the puzzle/mission.  As an aside, they included a functional clicker mini-game, which implies there are possibly other mini-games that might be added to create variety.

The preview build left me with a generally positive impression, and I’m looking forward to what the complete game will offer.  Hacknet will be $10 when it releases in August.

Information from the press release is as follows:

Hacknet is an immersive, terminal-based hacking simulator for PC. Dive down a rabbit hoIe as you follow the instructions of a recently deceased hacker, whose death may not have been the accident the media reports. Using old school command prompts and real hacking processes, you’ll solve the mystery with minimal hand-holding and a rich world full of secrets to explore.

Bit, a hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet, is dead. When he fails to reconnect to his system for 14 days, his failsafe kicks in, sending instructions in automated emails to a lone user.  As that user, it’s up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Exploring the volatile nature of personal privacy, the prevalence of corporate greed, and the hidden powers of hackers on the internet, Hacknet delivers a true hacking simulation, while offering a support system that allows total beginners get a grasp of the real-world applications and commands found throughout the game.

Hacknet will launch on PC via Steam and the Humble Store on August 12, 2015.

 

Reveal Trailer:

 

A preview build of Hacknet was provided to Squackle.