Hot Springs Story

Full Review

hot Springs Story CoverGame Dev Story was kind of a perfect storm video game for me. It combined my love for deep simulations with game development and threw in some lovely pixel art to top it all off. Hot Springs Story is Game Dev’s successor, and while I have been in hot springs in Japan, I had little interest in managing one. But since this is Kairosoft and knowing how much I enjoyed developing games within a game, I had to jump at it.

While I originally played Game Dev Story on an iPod Touch, I played Hot Springs Story on an Android EVO 4G. It has a much larger and better looking screen, which is great because Hot Springs Story does a much grander job taking advantage of all the screen real estate available.

Let’s get into my review of Hot Springs Story, developed by Kairosoft for Android and iOS.

Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio

Full Review

Angry Birds CoverAbout a month and a half ago I bought my first smartphone, the EVO 4G. It's an excellent phone with a huge screen and lovely graphics. Being a device paid for and intended for work, the first thing I did with it was download a bunch of games. I gave my wife an iPod Touch a year and a half ago so I was pretty familiar with the mobile gaming scene and have posted reviews on various games including Plants vs. Zombies, Dead Panic, and Bad Cube.

Right now I would say that the Android gaming scene is doing just okay. Most of the games are simply ports from iOS and the original games aren't incredibly original. The platform doesn't really have that single iconic gem that is Android's and Android's alone. I'm sure it will come in the future, but for now, we'll have to be satisfied with seconds.

Today I'll just be covering the Angry Birds games, but I plan to write more about the Android gaming platform in the future.

World of Goo

Full Review

World of goo CoverAs one of the forerunners of the modern indie game movement (along with Braid), World of Goo demands to be played.  Created almost entirely by two individuals on a miniscule budget (2D Boy), it has since gone on to spawn several ports while receiving numerous accolades.  I'm a bit late to this party, but its resumé speaks for itself.  With incredibly high 90%+ aggregate scores, it has been universally praised as a near-flawless game.  Greg has given it a similarly stellar 9/10.  PC and Wii first claimed the game in October 2008, followed by OSX in November, Linux in early 2009 and iOS in 2010.

All that's left to do is try it out for myself, two-plus years after the fact.  Could my personal thoughts and feelings for the game live up to its lofty accolades?

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Full Review

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective CoverI've been anticipating Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for a while now. As a big fan (but totally burned out) of the Ace Attorney series, I was excited for Phoenix Wright's creator's next vision. It's an odd one, that's for sure, but holds on to the humor, great cast of characters, and overwhelming charm that made the Ace Attorney series so great.

In Ghost Trick, you unsurprisingly play as a ghost. The idea is you can manipulate objects from the ghostly dimension to save people's lives and ultimately, find out who you are and why you were killed. The Phoenix Wright-like mystery is present throughout the game and many of the questions aren't answered until the last action is taken, but it's a fun and original ride all the way there.

Phantom Detective shouldn't be a game that can be explained easily, but its first half-hour managed to do a pretty bang-up job. Check that out for an early walkthrough of all the concepts and in-depth gameplay elements the game explains to you quickly and efficiently.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Half-Hour Handheld

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective CoverI'm a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series, but after the fifth and latest game, Miles Edgeworth, I feel that the series is in dire need for a reboot. We may get that later this year in the bizarre pairing of Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, but my wish might have come even earlier with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Created by the original Phoenix Wright lead, Shu Takumi, Ghost Trick seems to be where the creative juices are being funneled into now.

Released last week outside of Japan on the Nintendo DS, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective replaces the Ace Attorney game we usually see released around this time of year. Buzz was high for this game, but after watching a few videos, I had no idea what to expect out of this title. The main character is dead, there are timed puzzles to save people from dying, and you can possess objects a la The Haunting: Starring Polterguy or Geist. It all just seemed so... weird.

But I trust the Ace Attorney developers, so I'm going to give Ghost Trick a half-hour of my time to see if it's worth playing. Here are those first 30 minutes with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.

Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming

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Harvest Moon Frantic Farming CoverOnce a series becomes too large for its own good, spin-offs and genre breaking games are inevitable. The success of these tangents rests on many factors, including the potential new genre and charisma of side characters now carrying their own game (Wario did this particularly well). When someone thinks Harvest Moon, their mind is probably drawn to the obvious farming or dating aspects. The pace of the games are slow and require hours upon hours of playing for the player to feel immersed in their new agriculture world. When the series is focused on this, the games can be very good. They even managed to spin off the Rune Factory series successfully after injecting some action RPG elements into the somewhat stale formula.

What you can't imagine them spinning off though is a fast-paced puzzle game set in the Harvest Moon world, but they've tried twice already. Natsume's first attempt was Puzzle de Harvest Moon in 2007, a game I played for about 20 minutes before getting bored. The game was received poorly, I guess there just aren't a lot of gamers begging for a mediocre puzzle game based on crops.

Well, they tried again in 2009, this time with Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming. From what I can tell, it seems to be almost the exact same puzzle game as we played a few years prior, but this time wrapped in a text heavy story featuring the brain dead characters of Sunshine Islands. Yay... Here's my full review of Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming on the Nintendo DS.

Plants vs. Zombies

Full Review

Plants vs Zombies CoverFew games on the iOS platform get me excited. There's just such a surplus of bad that even when you hear about Super Popular Game X, you wonder if the masses are just falling for more of the same. When Plants vs. Zombies was announced early this year as a port of the PC/Mac release, I didn't think twice about picking it up. The $3 price tag didn't even make me think twice.

I had watched my brother in law play the full version on his Mac last year, and was intrigued by its porch defense gameplay. I had never even played a tower defense game before Plants vs. Zombies. A genre virgin so to speak. It was easy to see without even playing it why the game was so popular. The zombies would walk slowly from right to left and it's your job to fend them off with some bizarre garden variety plants.

This review will just be on the iOS version (played on a second generation iPod Touch). I have no experience with any other version (though I'm secretly planning to replay it on the Nintendo DS).

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Episode 1

Full Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 CoverThe gaming world first learned of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 back in September of 2009, under the code name “Project Needlemouse”. Sega declared a return to the franchise’s 2D roots, promising the Sonic game old-school fans have been anxiously awaiting for years. Well, there’s no doubt that if you spent the better part of your Saturday mornings as a child dashing through shuttle loops, this is definitely the Sonic game for you.

Sonic 4 picks up where the blue blur left off 16 years ago in Sonic & Knuckles, for the Sega Genesis. Dr. Eggman (or Robotnik, if you prefer) is up to his old tricks, and it’s up to none other than the fastest thing alive, Sonic the Hedgehog, to stop him; chasing the evil scientist through 4 zones (3 acts each, plus a boss battle) before a final showdown against the doctor’s ultimate creation...

Editor's Note: Jonathan is a brand new writer and contributer to The First Hour. Please welcome him! This review was originally posted at IGN.

Game Dev Story

Full Review

Game dev Story CoverI’ve played a few iOS games this year, mostly just picked stuff up from word of mouth or something a friend developed. I started hearing about this little simulation title called Game Dev Story, and after reading up on the premise and reading about some crazy sounding experiences on Twitter, I had to check it out.

In a way, it’s basically in the genre of games my wife loves on her iPod Touch: the simple yet addictive management simulator. She loves Sally’s Spa and Diner Dash (and I’ll admit, I tried them both out and while I could easily recognize why someone would like them, they quickly became stale), and on the surface, Game Dev Story isn’t much different.

But it is different, and that’s why I’m bothering to write about it. Warning: Game Dev Story is extremely addictive, deep, and funny. Read on for my review.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars

Half-Hour Handheld

Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars CoverBroken Sword is not a new game. In fact, it was released back in 1996, a year so far gone that I barely remember anything about it. I know I did not experience Broken Sword then or even heard of it; I was just a lad with a PlayStation and a little RPG called Suikoden to occupy my time. Broken Sword only existed in my mainframe later on as a cult thing, something people talked about playing, but were never caught playing. I later played other point-and-click games like Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle and Escape from Monkey Island yet never got to try this “classic.” Then I discovered it in my mother’s DS collection (yes, she plays) a few weeks back and found my chance to try it out for the very first time, some 14 years later. And this is the Director’s Cut which, I guess, means something.

As it’s a story-heavy Nintendo DS game, this is only a half-hour review. I hope it hits all the points and really clicks! Um, I apologize for that…I know it was a stretch.

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