Game review: Mr Jones' Graveyard Shift

When I saw the title of this game, I knew I had to play it. Something called Mr Jones' Graveyard Shift would either be awesome or awful. It turns out that it is a time management game. You play as Mr. Jones, owner of the local graveyard. Your job is to fill your customers' requests for their loved ones' funerals. Some want specific flowers, some don't want trees...there's a lot that they ask for, but, the gameplay for each is pretty much the same.

I actually had to play the game twice. The first time, I screwed up royally and had to start over. The second time, I figured out where I messed up and made sure to not make the same mistake again. That is when the fun kicked in. I didn't think I would actually enjoy arranging funerals. After all, it's a rather morbid thought. But it was lots of fun. At the very least, it's a good Halloween game!

Game review: Wedding Dash: Ready, Aim, Love

Almost exactly one year ago, I talked about Wedding Dash 2: Rings Around The World. Another sequel, Wedding Dash 3: Ready, Aim, Love, has appeared on the scene. This time around, Quinn pairs up with Cupid to plan some weddings in some interesting settings. Unfortunately, this game is exactly like its predecessor. There have only been tiny changes, which barely make a dent in the gameplay. For example, you have the option to hire a few of Cupid's angels to help Flo serve the guests. (Yes, instead of a stand-alone waitress, it's poor Flo doing the hard work for you.) Quinn still has to pay attention to the guests themselves as one will frequently lose her yappy dog and Cupid has a tendency to knock over the presents. So, if you enjoyed the second edition of the Wedding Dash family, you'll definitely enjoy this one.

Game review: Jane's Zoo

In late 2008, Realore Studios released a couple of "Jane" games. First there was Jane's Hotel, which kinda sucked. The company built upon that to make the sequel, Jane's Hotel; Family Hero much better. But then they took a step backwards with Jane's Realty. The latest Jane game, Jane's Zoo was released in June of this year. I took some time to play it last night to see how this version has changed dear Jane.

It's a little weird to see our hotel hero taking over caring for animals at a zoo, but people do make life changes every day. Maybe Jane got tired of the hotel/realty biz. Despite the weird setting, the gameplay is actually quite a lot of fun. The first level starts out really easy, which is as it should be. There are two animals that you need to feed and care for. Once you get the hang of things though, you get more animals and more things to do with the animals. By the end of the first level, you'll have four animals that will need feeding, bathing, exercise, and wellness visits. Not to mention that your handy helper has to water the grass in the enclosures, clean up the trash, and fix the animals' houses. While it sounds like a ton of stuff to do, you don't really get overwhelmed with the amount of work. The workload is nicely balance so the frustration level stays low.

In addition, there are mini-games where you are finding trash in forest locations. After you complete the mini-game, you have the option to upgrade your workers. Yes, the worker upgrades (how fast they can work, etc.) are completely separate from the zoo upgrades. You buy upgrades for the zoo with the money you win after completing each section of the main level. The worker upgrades come from the mini-games. And since the mini-games only come a couple of times each level, you aren't ending up with overpowered workers. They are gaining new skills at a decent pace.

I really enjoyed playing Jane's Zoo. Even more, I'm happy that the series has finally managed to find a good theme that is balanced and fun. I hope that Realore is able to keep it up!

Game review: Diner Town Tycoon

I really wanted to get the memory of Mr. Biscuits out of my head. So I downloaded Diner Town Tycoon. Diner Dash has rarely let me down. And this is no different. Well, I lie. The gameplay is completely different, but it's much more enjoyable! Instead of waiting on tables, you are trying to stop the evil Grub Burger from taking over your town. You start off with one restaurant, where you control what dishes are being served and how much they cost. It is your job to make sure you have enough ingredients for each dish so you can feed the hungry hoards that populate your town. As you try to keep your restaurant afloat, there are daily goals for you to accomplish. With each goal reached, Grub Burger loses their hold on the people.

I found myself completely mesmerized by Diner Dash Tycoon. I expected the traditional 'run around serving tables' game, but was surprised by how different and innovative this version was. There was a little bit of Diner Dash (each customer has specific tastes) mixed with a little bit of the 'Tycoon' games (the game view looks over the town as a whole instead of focusing on one business). If only I had more thumbs to put up for it!

Game review: Road to Riches

Wanting to try something a bit different, I downloaded Road to Riches. You play John, a trucker who has been fired from his job. Instead of getting down in the dumps, he decides to open his own delivery company. Unfortunately, this is not a good time management game. It is difficult to figure out which shipments you need to pick up and which ones you should turn down. If you try to pick up all of them, you will frequently go into "overtime" and be penalized. It would be nice if there was a way to color the important deliveries one color and the unimportant ones a separate color. So, while this should be a fun game to play, it is not. It is just frustrating.

Game review: Camp Funshine: Carrie the Caregiver 3

Ah, Carrie. How she has grown. First she was a babysitter. Then she was a preschool teacher. Now she is a camp counselor. The gameplay is the same as the other two. Drop the waiting kids to their seats, bring them the things they need, hang their finished project (in this case, tie-dyed shirts) to dry. The most complicated part of the game is trying to get everything done before the kids get angry.

I found this version to be more enjoyable than the preschool version. The things you were asked to deliver to the children made sense. You weren't asked to do things that they could do themselves. There are also some slight additions to the game. Some of the tables have two seats. Those tables require two people to be seated before they will start the project. If you don't have two children available, you can pull another counselor in to help the child. I didn't find it particularly necessary though. You know that those tables need two children so you just try to wait until you have two children. Otherwise, sit them at the one-person tables. Not a difficult task.

This series isn't my favorite time management game but this particular one isn't terrible. I wouldn't plan on wasting a lot of time on it though.

Game review: Megastore Madness

There are a ton of time management games out there but I've never seen anything like Megastore Madness. Your parents have left for a couple of months so it is up to you to run the family store. In the beginning, there are three workers to help you. One restocks shelves, one helps customers and one is a cashier. Juggle the three of them to keep your shelves fully stocked and your customers happy. I went into this thinking that it could be a lot of fun. Instead, it's annoying. In a normal time management game, you only have one player to pay attention to in order to help customers or stock shelves or whatever. However, in this game, you have three that you have to control. It's not particularly easy to keep up with the items flying off the shelves, the little kids tossing toys all over the place (which the stockboy cleans up), helping customers find what they want and still cashing them out before they get angry. As a result, I ended up focusing mostly on the stockboy and customer-helping girl and completely forgetting about the cashier. Then the customers would get mad. To make matters worse, the game adds workers as the customers get more difficult.

This would have been a good game if there were fewer people for you to control. A person's attention can only be focused in so many places at once. Having to focus on up to 6 people is rather difficult. If you want to have that many helpers, then there should be some non-controllable characters in there. There is no reason for us to control the stockboys. They should be able to see what needs to be restocked or what needs to be cleaned up automatically. That would leave us, the player, to deal with just the customers' needs. It would still give us up to 4 characters to control but then our attention isn't focused absolutely everywhere and we can get things accomplished in a timely manner. As it stands, the game is just too chaotic to play properly.

Game review: Magic Farm

On one hand, I had a lot of fun playing Magic Farm. On the other hand, looking back on it, I didn't do a whole lot while I was playing it. Basically, your parents are missing. In order to travel to various towns looking for them, you need to raise some funds. To raise the money to travel, you plant three different types of plants, raise them, harvest their flowers and sell bouquets. While this sounds like a lot of fun, and it is fairly enjoyable, it gets very tedious. It's difficult to raise enough money to move onto the next level because you need to keep spending your money on water and upgrades. In most games, upgrades will help you make money more quickly. That doesn't seem to happen here. It took me the entire 60 minute demo just to get to the second level. I should have been able to get a lot farther than that.

I'm sad that it takes so long to get through one level on the game because it was fun. I liked being able to grow plants and figure out which plants make the best bouquets. However, the game could use some improvements. Maybe make the water or the upgrades less expensive. It's annoying to have all of my money go to keeping the plants alive instead of going to find my parents. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed for the inevitable sequel.

Game review: Jane's Hotel: Family Hero

Last week, I told you about the announcement of the sequel to Jane's Hotel. Well, the game has finally gone live and I tried out the updated version. In the game, you play Jane, a hotel owner. Your grandmother has lost four of the family's hotels. It is your job to run the hotels successfully enough to pay back the loans on the properties. You only have a couple of weeks to complete your mission. Can you do it?

Admittedly, I didn't like the original game at all. However, the sequel fixes everything that was wrong with the first! You can upgrade you and your workers now so they will move faster or get better appliances for them to work with. Not only that, there are more options for upgrading your hotel. You aren't just stuck with "buy a plant" or "offer dinners to your guests." There are a multitude of options for you and you are only limited by the amount of money you bring in.

There is also a new employee to help offer new things to your customers. The bellboy will fix things when they break (yes, things break now), take pictures of your guests if they request them and carry their luggage. My only problem with this character is that he is not used quite as much as the maid. It would be nice if he could also help water the plants or something instead of leaving all that to the poor maid, who must hate her job.

Overall, this was a much better game. I actually had fun trying to decide what I wanted to upgrade next. Realore Studios has learned their lesson. More options for the player is a good thing.

Jane’s Hotel: Family Hero press release

Jane's Hotel: Family Hero

272x320.jpg Back in September, I reviewed Jane's Hotel and found it to be rather lacking. Realore Studios, the company behind the game, has announced the upcoming sequel called Jane's Hotel: Family Hero. While I'm not particularly excited to see a sequel for this game, the company did something awesome. They took the beta version to the users. So you can download the game and give your opinion on it. Hopefully a lot of people will play and vote so that the company can turn a terrible game into something fun for everyone to play.