Monday, June 16, 2008

Fun with Fashion

JoJo’s Fashion Show is the best fashion-themed computer game that I have ever played, hands down, bar none, no contest. It’s a time management game with real flair; it’s creative, it has variety and really cool clothes! As you can see, I can’t rave about this game enough. I’m hooked! Fashion Solitaire is another fashion game with a unique game play; it's pretty cool but I didn't like the clothes as much as in JoJo’s.

Fashion Fits! reminded me more of a Diner Dash style game in that you have customers coming into the store at random intervals and you’re responsible for stocking shelves, cleaning changing rooms, cash, customer service, etc. Plus there are the usual upgrades, etc. I’m not sure if I’ll end up buying it, but I definitely wasn’t ready for the trial to end when it did… so that says something. Posh Boutique also reminded me of a Diner Dash style game, but in this case it felt old and tired rather than a successful time management formula. I don’t know why I didn’t enjoy it as much as Fashion Fits, I just didn’t. If I were you, assuming the concept intrigues you, I’d give them both a chance because I think it’s just personal preference and not that one game is superior to the other. Fashion Boutique is also reminiscent of this style but not as well done, I thought, and I didn't enjoy having to drag the customers around as part of the game play.

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Fab Fashion and Fashion Rush are both quite similar in their game play even though their graphics look very different. They both require a similar first step (Measuring a model in the first case, taking a client’s order in the second), then cutting the fabric, then sewing the fabric, then delivery of final outfit. Both add accessories, new designs, etc. I think I slightly preferred Fab Fashion, just because you have more control over the upgrades, new designs, etc. Vogue Tales is yet another game along similar lines. In none of these cases did I feel the need to purchase at the end of the free trial period, however. So I recommend trying them out, but you may not end up wanting to buy them.

Fashion Craze might be fun or it might not, but I couldn’t tell you because—as with all Alawar games that I’ve attempted to play — i.t … r.u.n.s … s.o.o.o.o … s.l.o.w.l.y … t.h.a.t … i.t … m.a.k.e.s … m.e … w.a.n.t … t.o … k.i.l.l … m.y.s.e.l.f…. So I have only “spent” four minutes of my 60 minute trial but it took me 20 minutes to play that so-called four minutes. If Alawar games work for you, knock yourself out. But if you’ve had trouble with them in the past, then avoid this one, too (you can read about my Alawar frustrations in Farm Frenzy Fails).

FYI... Zen Fashion may have fashion in the title and may have some vague connection to fashion, but it's actually a matching game, not a time management one. And not a particularly special matching game, in my opinion. Posh Shop is another fashion game that is more of a match game than a time management one but, in this case, it's a unique style of match game that I actually really enjoyed.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hide and Seek

I've been trying out a few Hidden Object games recently: Dream Day First Home; Polly Pride Pet Detective; Blood Ties; and Go Go Gourmet.

To start with, Go Go Gourmet is a combination of a Time Management restaurant game and a Hidden Object game. I managed to find sufficient versions of the demo so that I could play it all the way through without buying it, but I had no desire to play it again so I don't think it's worth a $19.99 purchase (I'd pay $9.99 tops).

Blood Ties looked really cool but I found it so boring that I didn't even bother finishing the demo. Maybe it would be more interesting if I was a fan of the TV show, but I doubt it. There doesn't seem to be anything about it that separates it from the slew of Hidden Object games that are out there at the moment.

Polly Pride Pet Detective is one that I am actually considering buying. It has an interesting storyline, some clever twists on the Hidden Object part of the game and some additional mini-games that made it quite fun for me.

Dream Day First Home is another Hidden Object game that I definitely recommend.

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Part of the reason is that First Home has another story concept that interests me: home decoration. But I say story concept rather than storyline because it's not nearly as involved a narrative as Polly Pride. But it has even more mini-games, also has twists on the hidden object part, plus has some choose-your-own-story elements and if that's not enough there's even a second house to work on once you've finished the first. So worth a purchase, in my opinion. (Although not necessary to purchase since it is available as a torrent if you search for it.) I haven't tried the two previous Dream Day games since their story concepts (wedding and honeymoon) don't interest me as much.

While I'm talking about Hidden Object games, older ones that I've enjoyed include Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects, Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst and Hidden Expedition: Titanic. But this type of game can get old pretty fast so, in my opinion, newer games need to have more bells and whistles to be worth buying.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Farm Frenzy Fails

I recently downloaded the demo to Farm Frenzy from Big Fish. It seemed promising. Billed on some sites as a Tycoon style game, I would describe it as a cross between a Time Management game and a Simulation game where you run a farm. It has the POTENTIAL to be fun if it didn't run so excruciatingly slowly.

And that's not because of my computer which is pretty up-to-date and fast enough that I've never had this problem with any other game. The game actually runs more than 10x slower than intended. Sound ridiculous? Well, I timed it and one second of game play take, on average, 12 seconds in real time. That varies slightly depending on how many things are happening at once, but it is always way too slow.

I tried downloading a cracked torrent of the game from mininova, thinking maybe it was just the demo, but the torrent was just as slow and had a tendency to quit the game in the middle of play. So I don't advise that either.

If anyone has had a different experience with this game or has bought a legit copy and found that the problem goes away then, I would be very interested to hear from you. So please leave a comment. Otherwise, I have to advise against this game. It'll just leave you wanting to bang your head... or your computer... against a brick wall.

Addendum: I recently tried the Alawar game Virtual Farm... very similar to Farm Frenzy but feels a bit more like a Tycoon game, which I don't enjoy. So although Virtual Farm wasn't as glitchy as Farm Frenzy, it also wasn't as fun (I speak of potential fun, not actual fun... since in reality the glitchiness I experienced in Farm Frenzy is anything but fun). My recommendation? If you're looking for a farm-themed, time management game and are having problems with Farm Frenzy, play Dairy Dash or Ranch Rush instead.

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Miss Management

I've discovered that time management games aren't just restricted to restaurant type games. So allow me to highly recommend Miss Management. You can get the free trial download from Gamelab, Big Fish Games, Yahoo Games, iWin and Fenomen Games but this one is definitely worth purchasing.

I played all the way through the first time, not worrying about completing the tasks in the assigned number of days. Then I went back to achieve the extra stars. I didn't have any difficulty until Episode 15. Sometimes if I could just know what tasks were going to be unlocked or just plan my first day, that would be enough. Although, in general it's a good rule of thumb to try to plan to accomplish all of the required tasks in the first 1/2 or 2/3 of the time allowed.

I've listed the number of days that you have to complete each episode to get all the stars and I've included some information and hints to help you if you get stuck on some of the episodes that I found challenging at times. If anyone wants hints on another episode or more hints on a listed episode, just leave a comment.

Season 1
Episode 1 (2 days): Tutorial (You can't skip the dialogue for this level otherwise you won't be able to access more than one star. You can skip the dialogue for all the other levels, but I would recommend watching the scenes the first time you play because it does help remember the quirks about each personality.)

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Episode 2 (2 days)
Episode 3 (2 days)
Episode 4 (2 days)
Episode 5 (2 days)
Episode 6 (3 days)


Season 2
Episode 7 (4 days)
Episode 8 (4 days)
Episode 9 (4 days)
Episode 10 (4 days)
Episode 11 (5 days)
Episode 12 (5 days)


Season 3
Episode 13 (5 days)
Episode 14 (5 days)

Episode 15 (4 days)
:
* Finishing Pearl & Winston doing no tasks unlocks Winston's arcade
* Finishing Luke & Ashley doing no tasks unlocks Luke's bathroom visits
* Finishing Pearl's smoking unlocks Pearl talking to Ashley at the w/c

Day 1
* Luke & Ashley do no tasks
* Start Duncan at the arcade
* Start Ashley's bathroom visits

Day 2
* Pearl & Winston do no tasks
* Finish Duncan at the arcade
* Start Luke's bathroom visits (unlocked by Luke & Ashley doing no tasks)

Episode 16 (4 days)

Episode 17 (4 days)
:
* No one stressing out unlocks Pearl talking to Denise at water cooler
* Finishing Ashley's 10 tasks unlocks Duncan's 20 tasks

Day 1
* No one stress out
* Start & Finish Mahavir talking to Ashley

Day 2
* Start & Finish Ashley's 10 tasks (upgrade her skills with manuals)

Episode 18 (4 days):
* No one stressing out unlocks Luke listening to the radio
* Finishing Pearl's smoking unlocks Ashley's tasks
* Finishing Mahavir's nap unlocks Ashley complaining to Pearl
* Finishing Pearl's tasks unlocks Luke's tasks

Day 1
* No one stress out
* Mahavir's nap
* Start Pearl's tasks (as many as possible using coffee & diet soda)

Day 2
* Finish Pearl's tasks (manuals to upgrade Luke while she's finishing)
* Start Luke's tasks (unlocked by finishing Pearl's tasks)
* Start & Finish Luke playing the radio
* Start Pearl's smoking

Day 3
* Finish Pearl's smoking
* Start Ashley's tasks (unlocked by finishing Pearl's smoking)
* Start Ashley complaining to Pearl
* (stock up on manuals and coffee to upgrade Ashley when Day 4 starts)

Season 4

Episode 19 (4 days):
* Finishing Luke's tea unlocks Pearl's smoking
* Finishing Luke's manuals unlocks Luke's bathroom visits
* Finishing Ashley's manuals unlocks Ashley's bathroom visits
* Finish Nadine talking to Pearl at w/c unlocks Winston's arcade & his manuals

Episode 20 (4 days):
* Finishing Mahavir's tasks unlocks Mahavir's nap
* Finishing Ashley's tasks unlocks Ashley's bathroom visits
* Finishing Luke's tasks unlocks Ashley talking to Nadine at w/c
* Finishing Nadine's air conditioning unlocks Nadine's smoking

Note: it may be tempting to upgrade each person's skills with manuals for this cross-training episode, but in my experience that seems to limit the number of tasks you get for the area that's been upgraded. Your time and money is better spent on donut bribes to keep everyone calm.

Day 1
* Start Luke's tasks
* Start Ashley's tasks
* Start Nadine's air conditioning (turn off if Luke or Ashley working)

Day 2
* Continue Luke's tasks
* Continue Ashley's tasks
* Continue Nadine's a/c
* Start & Finish Mahavir's tasks

Day 3
* Finish Luke's tasks
* Finish Ashley's tasks
* Start & Finish Mahavir's nap
* Finish Nadine's air conditioning
* Start Ashley's bathroom visits (unlocked by finishing Ashley's tasks)
* Start Nadine's smoking (unlocked by finishing Nadine's a/c)

Episode 21 (4 days):
* No snacks or drinks for one day unlocks Mahavir's tasks
* Finishing Luke's tasks unlocks Nadine's smoking
* Finishing Mahavir talking to Nadine at w/c unlocks Ashley's tasks
* Finishing Luke's infusion at w/c unlocks Pearl's smoking

Day 1
* No snacks or drinks (unlocks Mahavir's tasks)
* Start Luke's tasks (upgrade tech skills with manual? try to do half)
* Start Mahavir talking to Nadine at water cooler

Day 2
* Finish Luke's tasks (unlocks Nadine's smoking)
* Finish flirting (unlocks Ashley's tasks)
* Start Mahavir's tasks
* Start Nadine's smoking

Day 3
* Start & Finish Luke's infusion (unlocks Pearl's smoking)
* Finish Mahavir's tasks (buy all 4 manuals, coffee & diet soda)
* Finish Nadine's smoking
* Start Pearl's smoking

Day 4
* Start & Finish Ashley's tasks
* Finish Pearl's smoking

Episode 22 (4 days):
* Finishing Pearl talking to Luke at w/c unlocks Luke's bathroom visits
* Finishing Luke's tasks unlocks both Ashley's bathroom visits and Nadine wanting Luke to stress out and leave
* Finishing Luke at water cooler unlocks Nadine's air conditioning
* Finishing Luke's treats unlocks Mahavir's nap

Episode 23 (5 days):
* No food or drink unlocks Winston's arcade play
* No arcade or naps unlocks Ashley talking to Nadine at water cooler
* Finishing Winston's tasks unlocks Ashely talking to Pearl at w/c
* Mahavir's naps unlocks Mahavir's treats

Day 1
* Ashley talking to Denise at water cooler
* No food or drink
* No arcade or naps

Episode 24 (5 days):
* No stress for a day unlocks Nadine's air conditioning
* Finishing Pearl's tasks unlocks Nadine's smoking
* Finishing Mahavir's nap unlocks both Ashley's tasks and Winston's tasks
* Finishing Pearl's smoking unlocks Winston's arcade play

Day 1
* No stress
* Start Pearl's tasks (buy writing manual)
* Start Mahavir's napping

Season 5

Level 25 (4 days):
* Brooke doing more work than anyone else for the day unlocks Brooke's 30 tasks
* Winston doing all tech work for one day unlocks Winston wanting a/c & music
* Finishing Winston's arcade play unlocks Mahavir talking to Ashley at w/c
* Finishing Denise talking to Nadine at w/c unlocks Brooke's cardio

Day 1
* Brooke does more work than anyone else (but no tech, use choco-coffee & diet soda whenever she works)
* Winston does all the tech work
* Start Nadine at water cooler
* Start Winston at arcade

Episode 26 (5 days):
* Finishing Brooke's tasks unlocks Mahavir's nap
* Finishing Denise talking to Winston at w/c unlocks Nadine doing all financial and writing tasks for one day
* Finishing Mahavir talking to Brooke at w/c unlocks Mahavir's writing tasks
* Finishing Brooke's cardio unlocks Winston's arcade

Day 1
* Start Mahavir talking to Brooke at water cooler
* Start Brooke 40 tasks (using coffee for Brooke & diet pop for Denise)
* Start Denise talking to Winston at water cooler
* Start Brooke's cardio

Day 2
* continue

Day 3
* continue

Day 4
* finish Mahavir's writing tasks

Day 5
* Nadine does all writing & financial tasks on day 5

Episode 27 (6 days):
* Finishing Brooke's cardio unlocks Mahavir's nap (must be completed in single day)
* Finishing Ashley talking to Denise at w/c unlocks Winston wanting a/c & music (nobody can stress out… keep lots of cinnamon buns on hand!)
* Finishing Ashley talking to Nadine at w/c unlocks Ashley talking to Winston at w/c
* Finishing Nadine on the treadmill unlocks Ashley talking to Mahavir at w/c

Day 1
* Start Ashley talking to Nadine at water cooler
* Start Brooke's cardio
* Start Ashley talking to Denise at water cooler

Day 2
* Finish Ashley talking to Nadine (unlocks Ashley talking to Winston)

Day 3
* Finish Brooke's cardio (unlocks Mahavir's nap)
* Finish Ashley talking to Denise (unlocks Winston a/c & music)
* Start Nadine on the treadmill

Day 4
* Start & Finish Mahavir's nap

Day 5
* Start & Finish Winston's a/c & music (nobody stress out!)

Day 6
* Finish Ashley talking to everybody

Episode 28 (6 days):
* Brooke doing all the work one day unlocks Brooke's 50 tasks
* Winston doing all the tech tasks one day unlocks Nadine's 40 tasks
* Nadine doing all the financial tasks one day unlocks Brooke's cardio
* Finishing Mahavir talking to Denise at water cooler unlocks Mahavir's nap

Day 1
* Start & Finish Mahavir talking to Denise at water cooler (put Brooke on the treadmill when you're talking to him)
* Start & Finish Brooke doing all the work (use choco-cafficino and diet soda as needed, don't worry about who stresses out… just let them)

Day 2
* Start & Finish Winston doing all the tech tasks today (use treats as needed so nobody stresses out)
* Start Brooke's 50 tasks (leave Nadine by the water cooler so she doesn't stress out)

Day 3
* Start & Finish Nadine doing all the financial tasks today, included in Nadine's 40 tasks unlocked by Winston (use treats as needed so nobody stresses out)
* Continue Brooke's 50 tasks
* All required goals should be finished by the end of the day

Day 4
* Continue

Day 5
* Continue

Day 6
* Start & Finish Mahavir's nap (doesn't matter who stresses out)
* Finish Brooke's cardio

Episode 29 (6 days):
* Finishing Timothy's radio playing unlocks Nadine's a/c
* Finishing Brooke's cardio unlocks Winston's arcade
* Finishing Timothy's art tasks unlocks Timothy talking to Winston at w/c
* Finishing Nadine talking to Denise at w/c unlocks Brooke's 40 tasks

Day 1
* Earn enough to buy art books & coffee for Timothy ($22)
* Start & Finish Timothy's radio (don't worry if Nadine stresses out)
* Start Brooke's cardio

Day 2
* Continue

Day 3
* Start & Finish Timothy talking to Winston at water cooler (unlocked by Timothy's art tasks)
* Start & Finish Nadine's air conditioning

Day 4
* Start Nadine talking to Denise at water cooler

Day 5
* Start Brooke's 40 tasks (unlocked by Nadine finishing talking to Denise)

Episode 30 (8 days):
* Finishing Brooke's yoga on couch unlocks Nadine talking to Brooke at water cooler
* Finishing Winston talking to Denise at w/c unlocks Brooke standing alone at w/c
* Finishing Brooke's fast unlocks Mahavir's nap
* Finishing Winston finishing a/c & music without stress unlocks Winston's arcade

Day 1
* Start & Finish Brooke's fast (have Brooke do nothing, everyone else does nothing but work)

Day 2
* Start & Finish Winston's air conditioning & music with no one stressing (lots of cinnabuns at other treats)

Day 3
* Start & Finish Mahavir's nap (don't worry about Nadine stressing out)

Day 4
* Start Brooke's yoga on couch
* Start Winston talking to Denise at water cooler
(How I did this one: Brooke on couch while Denise talking with Winston at water cooler. Wait until Nadine is getting ready to blow then send everyone back to their desk while you go to the store and stock up on caffeine and treats then do a sprint to get tasks finished, then Brooke back to couch and Winston & Denise back to w/c. Having said that, if you'd rather let either Nadine or Mahavir stress out and leave, that won't stop you from completing the goals.)

Day 5
* Continue

Day 6
* Continue

Day 7
* Start Brooke standing alone at water cooler (unlocked by Winston talking to Denise)
* Alternate with Nadine talking to Brooke at water cooler
* Start & Finish Winston's arcade marathon (unlocked by Winston's a/c & music)

Day 8
* Finish Brooke standing alone at water cooler
* Finish Nadine talking to Brooke at water cooler

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Restaurant Games

I've just discovered that there's a third game in the Diner Dash series, called Diner Dash: Flo on the Go. It has a new storyline, new locations, some new customer types and a few new challenges, including serving by flashlight and having to match all of the colours of the characters to the coloured seats. I definitely enjoyed those additions.

As far as bonuses go, even though this one has some "renovation" upgrades, I prefer those upgrades in the second Diner Dash… where you could have a choice of three possible upgrades for each restaurant item, rather than just choosing which item to upgrade but having no choice in what that upgrade would be.

The other bonuses in this one are new clothes for Flo, which isn't really my idea of fun but I can see that it might appeal to people who enjoy the online dress-up games (which I don't). There are also secret levels that you can unlock if you score expert on all the levels on a particular leg of the journey. I liked that idea and some of the secret levels presented interesting new challenges, but not all of them. A bit of a wasted opportunity, I think.

Overall, I think was fun… as were both Diner Dash 1 & Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue. But Restaurant Rescue remains my favourite.

If you're planning on playing the free downloadable version, I recommend heading over to Big Fish instead. Their free versions offer one hour of game play, as opposed to the 1/2 hour offered by the game creators.

General Diner Dash Hints:

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1. Chaining Bonuses — Think time and motion study efficiency stuff... do the same thing 2, 3 or 4 or more times in a row (and save a restaurant full of dirty tables to the very end).

2. Color Matching — As in, seat a red person in a red chair and watch the points roll in.

3. Podium — Once you've got a podium, only seat four tables at a time and wait at the podium after you've served their food (even if they're asking for crab sticks or samosas). And make sure you wait until the heart finishes growing and everybody in line does the wave of happiness before you do anything else.

4. Customers — Sometimes you just have to seat obnoxious customers next to customers that they will annoy. Just keep the annoyed customers happy with lots of drinks.

5. Expert Levels — Occasionally you will come across some levels which are really hard to attain "expert" on. Especially the second Diner Dash which has a few glitches and expects you to reach a higher point value than they actually asked for (at least in the version that I have). But aside from the glitches, the best way to achieve those tricky expert levels is to get as many long chaining bonuses as possible and keep everyone as happy as possible. Especially if there is dessert involved... don't let the customers get more than one heart down if you're hoping that they'll be asking for dessert.

A few other restaurant games:

The Waitress (Highly addictive! Unfortunately, the game designer's website is no longer active, so you'll have to play it through another game site and deal with the annoying ads. I haven't played this version, but hopefully it's free of the glitches that plagued the I am Bored.com version.)
Delicious (This link is for the free trial version for 60 minutes... but I managed to play it for several hours. Just don't quit the game and it seems to keep working.)
SpongeBob SquarePants: Diner Dash
SpongeBob SqaurePants: Flip or Flop
Cake Mania
Taco Joe

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