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Mystic Inn - Is it really Mystic?


It's a shame that I haven't updated my blog for a while. Well, at least I feel bad about it. It's my intend to review almost every casual game out there, that's fun to play. There are a few ones on my list and I really need to get to them this week. For a girl who plays a lot of games, sometimes the focus is on "playing" instead of "writing".

You may ask me why waste time on reviewing games when, there are professionals like, GameSpot or Penny-Arcade (www.penny-arcade.com), who basically covered all the bases of video games. Well, don't be upset if you read the following:

GameSpot is too generic, like the standard description you found in the manual of your new LCD TV.
Penny-Arcade is personal enough and many people found it quite funny. Yet, I have no clues on what they are saying, with their dry humor and somewhat "street" language.

I'm not being cynical because I'm not an US Diplomat at my day job. See? Do you get the dry humor part?? With a few scatches or comics, which I found hard to understand, will never get girls or female gamers to read their posts. Alright, I respect them because there must be millions of 13 - 35 male gamers / non gamers read their articles everyday.

But I found it sad that there is no such thing as "penny-arcade for girls" on the web, when all it takes is just a few girls who are humorous, can write complete sentences, play games occaisionally and used to draw comical figures of professors during college. I wonder how the game industry is going to survive if our demographic changes drastically: baby girls birth rate overrides baby boys. That will be game developers worst nightmare.

I did see a few articles about attracting female to the game industry, which may help to add some "chick" flair into games in the future. How soon will the balance of male and female (the yin and the yang) be achieved in the game industry? According to the current speed of female workers joining the industry, it will be as soon as we can immigrate from earth to Jupiter. =)

I recently had dinner with an IT Manager of the company I work for. He is a father of two, whose daughter (16) is in to website building for tennis stars, and whose son (17) is into games. That basically says it's a very normal family. He almost fell off his chair when I told him that I'm in to games and I'm a casual game review editor. The reason I mentioned this is that the culture that I'm in, is a barrier for even admitting that I'm into games. It almost make me feel that I am committing some sort of taboo.

I don't know how they are going to solve this problem. Since I see it this way:

games are male oriented --> so girls not interested in games overall --> few female developers --> games are more male oriented --> less girls interested in games --> less female developers --> games are even more male oriented --> ...infinite loop

Wow, now I feel like I'm the only mutan who can save the world... =P

Alright, I have no more space to review Mystic Inn. I will do that in my next post.

Guild Wars Factions - Part Two


Why do girls like Guild Wars Factions?

Now I've played the PvP scenarios of Guild Wars Factions. I realized that I do enjoy the game quite a bit. I probably share the same reasons why most people like it. However there are things that I feel are specially appealing to girls.

Level of violence - frankly, no girls like to brutally kill or be killed. The level of violence in Guild Wars Factions is quite low, even though the rating said "violence" on the box. Of course, this is relative. I'm comparing it with Doom 3 and Call of Duty. One of the wonderful things is that you can pick a completely peaceful profession, like "Monk", who provide healing and protection to other players in the team.

Level of difficulty - I don't think a girl will stay up until 4 am to attempt a level she couldn't pass for 10 trials. Maybe there are exceptions. This also holds true to everyone to a certain level. You will just give up when you are frustrated enough. And girls are not "in to" games overall. Level of difficulty in Guild Wars Factions is reasonable. It neither assumes that the player is stupid nor a natural born killer. If you not so sure about the major missions in the game, you get the option of picking minor missions to gain more "experience" points before entering the "level advancing" ones.

Costumes - even though this game is about strategy and combats, the costumes of each profession are nicely designed. The graphic quality also aided to create a good visual impression of the characters. Faces are attractive. The figures of the characters are proportionate, instead of exaggerated (you know what I mean). PvP scenarios enable you to be equipped with advanced armors and weapons, which provide even more customization options.

Music - well, the background music is not comparable to Mozart's Symphony No.41 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._41_(Mozart)), but it's quite soothing. It's not creepy, scary, funny, or hyper. It's a good choice.

Not all about winning - the nature of Guild Wars game play is not just about killing the most enemies. It's about how to build an effective team, how to utilize your skills, how to coorperate with each other and how to develop a balanced strategy for each battle. It's more than killing and winning. It encourages creativity and lateral thinking. You also get to know more of your friends' and your weaknesses and strength. I think these are the major things which appeal to girls.

I can't speak for all girls. But I do know that the idea of going on an adventure, exploring new area, meeting new people, solving problems, defeating a monster *together*, wearing nice costumes, earning gold coins, exchanging items, and talking to friends online are the elements that a female gamer would enjoy.

Diner Dash 2 - Restaurant Rescue


Diner Dash 2 is a lot of fun. PlayFirst really made some great and sensible improvements on the new version. GameGirl is impressed with the changes and this version is comparable to Cake Mania.

I think Restaurant Rescue is actually an effort made for "Diner Dash Rescue." As a matter of fact, I abandoned the original Diner Dash when I reached level 32. The original game was nothing but mechanically harder and harder. It was a lot of fun to play the "mid" levels. Yet the game became the training ground for "rapid mouse clicks" later on, without much strategy involved.

In Diner Dash 2, Flo (the main character) is trying to help her friends to earn enough money for restaurant upgrades and paying rent, in order to avoid being bought out by this B.I.G Food Corporation. There are 5 new restaurants. GameGirl likes the fact that PlayFirst development team respected the ethnicity of food in San Francisco. Now you can play American, Italian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants. Each level will come with a new upgrade for the restaurant and you will see some major improvements once you reached the last level for a specific restaurant. Please see the screenshots GameGirl provided here.

GameGirl likes:
  • More flexibility - now you have the option to "restart level" if you feel that you are not going to make the cash goal for that level, or you've made some serious mistakes
  • More cuisines - as mentioned earlier, more types of restaurants mean more fun playing the game
  • More objects - dessert stands are added to later levels to increase challenge. A phone stand is added so you can call a "helper" to help out during busy times. Child seats and floor wipes are added to simulate real life situations in a restaurant
  • More customers - there are 7 types of customers: old people, young girls, businesswomen, businessmen with cell phones, joggers, families and bookworms
  • More colorful graphic - you can pick the style of upgrades once you completed a level, you can also unlock "deluxe upgrades" if you reached "expert cash goals"

GameGirl dislikes:

  • lack variety of interactions - there isn't much I don't like about Diner Dash 2. However a few improvements will make the game the best in its category. It will be very fun if the style of business is a little different for each restaurant. For example, customers can self serve ordering at the counter in a pizza restaurant and sit themselves, the waitress can provide other services; or customers order at the cashier, and self serve taking food in a buffet restaurant and the waitress can provide other services, etc. It seems that Diner Dash 3 can be under development.

GameGirl Tips:

  • Prioritize your customers - make sure you prioritize the sitting of your customers in order of their patience and eating speed. Businessmen, then businesswomen, then young girls, then joggers, then families, then bookworms, then old people
  • Strategize your sitting plan - businessmen with cell phones will make everyone around them annoyed and lost "hearts", except the joggers and families. Make sure to sit joggers and families in the middle to segregate the businessmen from the other groups
  • Discover your strength - there are four types of "helpers" you can bring in. If you are bad at bringing people drinks, call a water boy; if you are bad at noticing waving checks, call a bust boy; if you always forget to stand at the podium, call a podium waitress, etc.

GameGirl thinks that PlayFirst has successfully rescued Diner Dash.

Game Girl Says....

  • Diner Dash 2
  • Type of Game: Arcade Game
  • Time to Complete: 4 - 7 hours
  • Rating: Play it until Diner Dash 3

Guild War Factions - Part One


Alluring beauty in exotic costumes, deadly spells with powerful enchantments. It is a dreamy realm where a girl's wildest dreams can come true.
No - it's not beauty pageant. It's Guild Wars Factions.

After feeling strange and embarrassed in real-live MAGIC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic:_The_Gathering) tournaments as a girl surrounded by hundreds of other not-so-girly guys, I decided to abandon all types of "real-time" combats in which you can physically kick your opponents butts if you want to. Online RPG provides the same experience without the embarrassement, for girls of course. MAGIC came to mind because Guild Wars Factions game-play is quite similar to the idea of the once very popular trading card game.

Guild Wars Factions is a fun game without doubt. I enjoyed it since the very second when I held the game box on the way to the cashier in Target. It has all the elements of a cool game which can entertain you for a while. Well, there are still things I found, comparatively, annoying and they provided room for improvement.

GameGirl likes:
  • The initial tutorial is short and simple. There is an option to skip the orientation if you think you are good
  • You can pick a primary and a secondary profession from 8 professions. And each profession comes with approx. 10 - 12 spells/enchantments. With this combination, your character is never the same as your friends'
  • By exercising chained spells and enchantments, the ability of your character during combats can be as powerful as you ever imagined
  • The difficulty of the missions increases intelligently proportionate.
  • You can pick computer generated players of different professions to be on your team if your friends are not online. Remember: your worst enemy is loneliness
  • Game loading time is short
  • Level of customization of characters is adequate. I like the fact that I get to pick a face from 10 different faces to further customize my character
  • The characters are attractive however you mix and match it
  • It's free to play online

GameGirl dislikes:

  • There are a lot of running around in the game. I don't like to run in real life or the virtual world. If the game can provide more "stations" where you can get to instantly by clicking on the map, more time can be saved for real battles
  • The descriptions of the missions can be too long sometimes
  • The view of battles sometimes is blocked by various things, i.e. trees, hills, monsters, etc. Even after clicking the name of the character cannot "zoom" to the center of the battle that the character is engaged in. This is critical during important battles. It will be beneficial to zoom to a certain distance and proximity of the controlled character with the click of a button
  • Landscape in the game is ok. Although I can't use the standard of judging Salvador Dali's surrealism (http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org/) to judge game art, I do have certain expectations for the gaming industry

If you want to play with me or against me, look for "Game Girl Monk", "Game Girl Ranger", "Game Girl Warrior" or "Game Girl Elementalist" in the America District 4. See you there.

If you want to see a lengthy review with the complete story and thousands of screenshots, please go to gamespot: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/guildwarsfactions/index.html

GameGirl Says...

  • Guild Wars Factions
  • Type: Online RPG
  • Time to Complete: Depends (took me 3.5 hrs to get to level 10)
  • Rating: Play it and keep it

The last of the big montages, everything Sony PS3. This is a 3rd party montage, so its not as well made as the other 2.

Another montage, this time of everything Nintendo Wii at E3 2006

The best of E3 2006 for XBOX 360


This is a cool montage of everything XBOX 360 at E3 2006

Quick Take on Cake Mania


Luscious Colors, Delicious Images, Stupid Routines and Busy Mouse Clicks - Cake Mania

I was bored. The advertising of Cake Mania was, and still is casting shadows everywhere on the web. I lost to the game of simple marketing. I downloaded Cake Mania.

I beat the game in 4 hours, and it was 3 am in the morning. Now you know how addictive this game can be. Yet it's not the type of addiction you usually experienced. It's not a particularly fun game, unlike the Sims 2 or Age of Empires III. It's just that you are eager to see the "end" of the game and you thought that can't be too hard to achieve, yet you keep failing the stage before the last one.

That's how it gets you.

I'm surprised and not surprised at the same time, to see that 1112 users left their comments of this game on Yahoo. This game does attract a certain crowd. So I googled the game and found that most reviews are a little superficial and contains no real content, i.e. tricks to get thru a certain level. It's actually a very easy game to manipulate. It's not about money management or customer management though.

GameGirl Tips

Here you go, some tricks to try before you give up on winning:

1. Don't save money. Try to purchase "toppings" early on and don't regret it when you already spent it on more expensive things like the "oven upgrade". Toppings make the cakes more expensive and you can achieve your cash goal earlier than store closes.

2. They are old for a reason. When old people come into the store, like "Mr. Santa", you can make their orders later than the younger ones. Younger people are less patient. This is helpful in later stages of the game, when you have higher cash goals and more customers to please.

3. Cup cakes are for well dressed ladies. Those well dressed ladies are "food critics". While the TV can extend the patience of kids, the cup cakes can do the same for those ladies. Make sure that you give them cup cakes early on when they come in, that way you have another round of cup cakes to serve them and bring their patience level up as much as the old people's.

As simple as it is, you can beat this game in 4 hours with these 3 tricks. Look at the screen shot of the last stage I played.

GameGirl Says...
Cake Mania
Type of game: Arcade Game
Time to complete: about 4 hours
Rating: Play it then dump it

About me

  • I'm gamegirl
  • the bay area, usa
  • email me gamegirlrobot (at) gmail.com

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