Epic Stand Review!

Epic Stand is a game that is well-conceived and -executed (mostly), with a couple of unfortunate flaws that keep it from being rated higher. Although there are many options that make it fun to play and worth the time to complete at least once, the plot is paper-thin, and rife with grammar and spelling errors that will annoy anyone who has a decent grasp of the English language.

The graphics in Epic Stand are okay; the enemies that you face are varied and colorful in shape, size, and function, and it’s fun to watch the mob of enemies mill around your castle as you kill them off with the help of your minions. I think that there was too much green used, and that there could have been more variety in the types of enemies that showed up (there were a lot of goblins and orcs) but the functions and looks of the enemies were varied enough that it doesn’t distract from the overall experience.

The sound and music is actually one of the better things about this game; the soundtrack is a motivating and inspiring classical track, reminiscent of what the Lord of the Rings movies had, and there are sounds for most of the enemies and spells that you can cast in the game as well. I would have liked to see voices for the between-missions cutscenes, but they were not implemented.

There’s a lot of replayability value in this game, which helps its score a lot; you have Hard Modes for every mission, and the rewards for doing them help you advance in your talent tree so that you can gain new abilities and spells to use in your castle defense. The Hard Modes are challenging, much more so than the original levels are, and allow you to test yourself after you’ve gained some more powers.

Overall the gameplay itself is fine, but the biggest thing that drags this game down is the annoying amount of spelling and grammar errors that pop up everytime you see a cutscene. In every single cutscene and every single instructional screen, there is at least one error, and unfortunately that’s just something that has to be lived with as you go through the game. For someone who reads a lot and knows how to spell, it’s one of the more annoying things to see in a game. On the whole, though, the game in general is a good way to spend some time enjoying a castle defense, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the genre.

Epic Stand:
Graphics – 3/5
Sound/Music – 4/5
Controls – 4/5
Replayability – 3/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

Papa’s Pancakeria: A flippin’ Good Game.

Papa’s Pancakeria, developed by Flipline Studios, is the newest edition in the Papa’s game series. Its sister games are Papa’s Pizzaria, Papa’s Burgeria, Taco Mia, and Papa’s Freezeria. Papa’s Pancakeria has received great reviews so far, garnering a 91% approval rating on Bubblebox.com, where it is currently being featured, and is a worthy contender for up and coming flash games.
As the game begins, you are set up as either a male or female character (you can choose which one at the beginning of the game) who loses their cat for a day, inside a pancakeria. When the cat is found, the owner asks you to watch his shop until he comes back, which leads you into playing the game in earnest. Scores in Papa’s Pancakeria depend on quality of service, just like in a real restaurant, and as you level up, you gain new customers and more ingredients to work with. Tips are earned from the customers as you play, which are added to your weekly payday and allow you to upgrade the shop in many different ways and offer bonuses to your score.
Music and sound are well implemented in this game; there are sounds for most things in the game including cooking noises, shop addition noises (such as a bell for when new customers arrive), and the music track is unobtrusive and quiet, allowing you to focus on cooking tasks when needed. There is no voice acting of any sort, either implied or overt, but honestly there doesn’t need to be; the graphics that show up on the order tabs convey what you need to fill the orders quite nicely.
Speaking of the graphics, the graphical quality in this game is really very good for a Flash game; animations are smooth and while the models are cartoonish, they are rather endearing that way.
Gameplay revolves around serving an increasing number of customers pancakes, and the controls allow you to manipulate toppings, flip pancakes, and serve customers their meals appropriately. The controls are mostly done well; there are no obvious bugs in the controls from my playthrough although I would have liked to see an option for removing one pancake from the plates you put them on for your orders so that you can put toppings on the one underneath that you forgot to do instead of having to trash the entire thing, but all in all that’s small potatoes. The game as a whole works, and works well, and it deserves its 91% rating. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to spend some time with a quality Flash game.

Cat Stretch: Of Course It Lands On Its Feet… It’s A Cat!

 

Cat Stretch is a fun addition to the platforming/action genre, often surprising with its depth and variety. The premise is that you play as a cat, with the supernatural ability to stretch its neck to a very long length, and defeat enemies in the level by jumping on them or by butting them with its head, and as the game progresses, levels take place in very different locales.

Cat Stretch’s graphics are cartoonish, colorful, and reminiscent of the 16-bit era of video games, but it may be a good thing. The most popular games of that era were the Mario games from Nintendo, and anyone who grew up playing the Mario games will appreciate Cat Stretch for what it is: a platformer meant to remind the player of the games of the ‘90s. It is also worth noting that the levels have very different backgrounds, enemies, and mechanics, leading to a wealth of different environments to play in, something that adds to the fun of the game.

 

Sound and music in this game, however, are fairly forgettable. The background music is almost nonexistent, and the sound effects consist of only a few different tones. It’s too bad, as there are many different ways that they could have added to the game this way.

 

The controls in Cat Stretch are simple but they work well once you get used to them. Arrow keys are used to move around, and X and C are used to head-butt the enemies you meet and jump, respectively. These controls allow you to move around in ways that are appropriate for the game, although it is somewhat confusing to have the jump and attack buttons so close to each other.

 

The best thing about Cat Stretch is the gameplay and the level design. Many of the levels are worth playing several times over just to see all of them and experience every nook and cranny of the level to see what the designers intended. This makes the replay value skyrocket, since you can replay the levels to find hidden items and areas that you may have missed the first time around, and makes the overall experience a much better one than it might have been otherwise. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the Mario series, especially people who grew up in the Super Nintendo era and remember that system fondly.

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Cat Stretch:
Graphics – 4/5
Sound/Music – 1/5
Controls – 3/5
Replayability – 4/5
Gameplay – 5/5
Overall – 3/5

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Blood Raccoons: Bloodily Forgettable

Blood Raccoons is not a game that aims high, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The genre that it is part of is partly puzzle and partly silly amusement. The only real purpose to the game is to cause raccoons set up for you to aim at to bloodily explode in ways that allow you to complete the level, which is fine; there have been games that had equally silly premises. Unfortunately, Blood Raccoons gets boring pretty quickly due to the repetitive nature of the mission goals; many of the missions are set up in similar ways and don’t get very much different as the game goes on. The saving grace is that it’s silly enough to be endearing, and perhaps that’s enough.

The music and sounds in Blood Raccoons would quite honestly have been done without and probably made it a better game. The background when playing levels is a repetitive and annoying soundtrack of what sounds like a car engine mixed with intermittent birdcalls and a dog barking, which gets old very fast. The sound effects are okay; there are sound effects for a lot of different things in the game such as knocking over the structures that the raccoons are sitting on, killing them, bursting bubbles, and other things, but unfortunately there’s no end to the background noise unless you mute it.

The graphics are decently done, but there could have been a lot more done with them. There are occasionally some truly inventive things done with them, (like one level where the Raccoons fade in and out on various platforms until you kill one, ending the level) but the lack of changing backgrounds or colors used besides white, black, and red was a design choice that is unfortunate.

The controls are very simplistic; you hold down the left mouse button and drag it in the direction you want to throw yourself in, and releasing the button launches you. There’s no way to control how far you go though, except by crashing into other objects, so often you end up throwing yourself against walls to slow yourself down or against other objects that are set up as part of the level, which could have been an improvement on the existing controls.

Replayability and overall gameplay depends on the level in this game; some of them are unique and worthwhile (like the one I mentioned earlier with the disappearing raccoons) but a majority of them are nothing special, and the few glimpses of innovative level design are not enough to hold interest, with the repetitive nature of the objectives. Ultimately, Blood Raccoons is a forgettable game that can be passed over.

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Blood Raccoons:
Graphics – 2/5
Sound/Music – 1/5
Controls – 3/5
Replayability – 3/5
Gameplay – 3/5
Overall – 2/5

Impossible Quiz: A Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda Situation

The Impossible Quiz Book is a trivia game that was well thought of as a concept, but unfortunately the execution meets a hard roadblock on the eighth question, which pulls its grade down quite a bit. There is currently no apparent solution to the eighth question, (and I have tried; seemingly every pixel of the screen was moused over that seemed like a potential answer to the question) which leads to a limited gameplay experience, cut short abruptly. It’s an unfortunate blemish on what would otherwise be a nicely done and addictive game, and oddly enough, leaves only the instructions, which are funny and well done, as the primary source of amusement.

The art style in The Impossible Quiz Book is cartoonish and rather silly, reminiscent of the South Park, SpongeBob, and Ren and Stimpy cartoons if they were placed in the context of a trivia game. It’s rather endearing that way, and sometimes funny when you see things like a cat come on stage with a shotgun and shoot your life total away when you make a mistake.

Music and sound in this game are sort of lackluster, however. There is only one music track in the game, and that’s fine, because it’s an addictive track that is fun and repeats well. Sounds however are in very short supply; there are only two sound effects in the game, a gunshot for the aforementioned cat that shoots your life total away and a click that indicates when you mouse over something that is selectable. I’m not sure that there was really a need for more than the two sounds, but it would have been nice to see something after level 8 that you could mouse over and have it sound off.

Controls are very simple; the entire game is controlled by clicking your mouse on the options within the presentation screen and answering the questions in various ways. There is always a “right” answer, until level 8, even if they are not immediately obvious, and the questions are well thought out and sometimes require out-of-the-box thinking.

The gameplay and replayability are the main draws here, and unfortunately, (sorry to keep harping on this but it’s true) the fact that you essentially get stuck at level 8 with no way to progress keeps you from coming back for more. The game would be much more interesting if you had any obvious way to progress past level 8, but there are no hints and no walkthrough at the moment. Once there is, I would probably up my grade significantly, since the presentation and overall feel are good stuff.

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The Impossible Quiz Book

Graphics – 4/5
Sound/Music – 3/5
Controls – 3/5
Replayability – 1/5
Gameplay – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

Dragon Quest: An Adventure Better Done Elsewhere

Dragon Quest is an endearingly retro trip for people who grew up on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, but most of the things that it does well have been done already in the Mario and Zelda games. For instance, the mazes that are laid out for you in the design of the levels for you to complete are less complex versions of the ones that populated the Mario games. Similarly, the boss fights are reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda boss fights in the way that each one requires a different set of skills to defeat the dragons, ones that you learned in levels previous.

Graphics in Dragon Quest are roughly 16-bit quality, which may distract people who didn’t grow up with them as a part of their childhood. I didn’t mind them, since I remember games like Final Fantasy III which had sprites to represent characters and 16-bit environments to walk around in, but people younger than me may get impatient with them.

The sound and music are merely okay in this game. The background music is an upbeat and driving track which loops easily, but there isn’t much in the way of sound effects. For all of the enemies and items that you come across in this game except for the dragon, there is exactly one sound each for all of them. One sound for a door, one sound for a bell, one sound for skeletons, and so on. I would have liked to see more variety in the available sound palette.

The controls were honestly pretty hard to get used to. You control your avatar using the arrow keys, strike an enemy with C, and jump with X. On the face of it, this doesn’t seem too bad, but you are restricted from using the ASDW keys as a substitute for the arrow keys. Hence, it is pretty hard to get used to them; it feels left-handed to a right-handed person, especially when you’re used to using the ASDW keys for controls.

Gameplay is fun, but replayability is not really there. The only reason you have to replay levels is to get a higher score, which is measured by your health at the end of the mission and totaled up once you’ve completed the game. Fortunately, gameplay is varied enough to keep you guessing about what comes next a lot of the time, and makes for a nice diversion. I would recommend this game to fans of Mario and Zelda, especially those who grew up with the original Nintendo system.

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Dragon Quest

Graphics – 3/5
Sound/Music – 3/5
Controls – 2/5
Replayability – 3/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 3/5

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