27 September 2010

Casual Game: My Kingdom for the Princess

Description from Big Fish Games:

A terrible tornado has been turned the kingdom upside down! The beautiful Princess Helen must return to her sick father, King Olgert, but the roads are in ruins, the hamlets are destroyed, and a hungry dragon circles the skies above. Rebuild the empire from the ground up and fix the destroyed towns. Help the brave and noble knight, Arthur, restore the land using your Time Management talents in My Kingdom for the Princess!

My thoughts:

Many of the time-management games I've played start out to be mildly fun, only to devolve into a game of "how fast can you click?". There isn't much strategy involved. My Kingdom for the Princess is different.

Like games such as Farm Frenzy, on each level you are given a task that must be completed before nightfall, such as repairing three roads and two bridges. The difference is that if you don't pick up resources and use them in the right order, you could end up stuck with no way to finish the task in the allotted time. There are many options on the board that you don't necessarily have to use to complete the task. For instance, you may use up your resources upgrading every single mill, market, and mine, only to find that your resources won't replenish in time for you to beat the level. You could also spend your time trying to unblock one road to get all the resources at the end of it, but then run of time to unblock the road that will end the level. For me, this makes it more interesting to repeat a level because it is not just a matter of trying to do it faster. I actually have to figure out a different order to do things in to make sure I finish the task on time.

04 September 2010

Collector's Editions for Casual Games?

I've noticed recently that many casual games are being released as collector's editions. Since these games are acquired mainly via download, a collector's edition (or CE) for a casual game isn't the same as what you would get with a console game. A CE for an XBox game, for example, may come with a plushie, an action figure, or a t-shirt. In the casual game realm, buying a CE usually means paying $20 for digital goodies like extra levels, desktop wallpaper, and a strategy guide or walkthrough of the game.

I've played a few CEs, but I still haven't made my mind up about them. From a gameplay aspect, I like having the strategy guide built into the game. I know that I will look for at least two hints during any game I play, so having them available in-game is easier than opening another browser tab or window. Having said that, I don't think the strategy guide alone is worth the extra $13 that a CE costs over the regular version. Yes, there are sometimes extra levels and desktop wallpaper included, but do you really consider that stuff collectible? I never even look at it. Also, sites like Gamezebo and Jay Is Games offer free walkthroughs that are as good as the ones offered in the CEs; some of the screenshots are identical.

Another thing to consider is how often you play games. My husband generally shies away from computer and console games, but the other day he decided he wanted a few games on his laptop to help him destress during breaks at work. I would suggest that he get a CE version of a game because the in-game hints would keep him from getting frustrated. On the other hand, my daughter C2 routinely finishes hidden-object games in three or four hours without ever using the strategy guide. The extras in a CE are wasted on an experienced player like her.

Whether you want to pay for extras with your game is a personal choice. I'm not going to say buying a CE is right or wrong. However, I do think that these packages should be called something else. To me, there isn't anything collectable about a digital download. Perhaps "enhanced version" might be a better name for them.

01 September 2010

Coming soon . . . more reviews!

I've been feeling guilty about this blog. I play games every day, but they aren't the tabletop games I intended to blog about. My gaming itch has been scratched by casual games and console games. As a result, this blog has been sitting dormant. However, this week I decided I need to get over myself and just blog about whatever games I'm playing. The longer I play casual games, the more I am discovering that they aren't all the same, as I originally thought. So if you've been patient and kept my feed in your RSS reader, your patience will be rewarded!