Professor Games Reviews: Small City

Every so often, there are those games that no-one can find the time to play, because we’re either too busy with other games, or with life in general. However, at Gamesland, I believe that those games still need to be reviewed. So, every so often, we’ll ask some people (our friends and family) to review games for us. These people adopt the persona of Professor Games; so that you, the readers, can understand who they are. Today’s guest is largely a casual gamer; and enjoys the genre of the casual simulation – games that have you build up a town, city, tower, or empire, and attempt to manage it. Today Professor Games shall review Small City.

- the editor (JaJaBinks2)

Game name: Small City

Available on: iOS, Google Play

Price: Free

In Small City, there is no story-line. You get to take as much time as you want with the game and move forward at your own pace. Basically, you have to build shops and houses for the people in the game and you are the mayor. You have to save up coins to buy a house or a store to move on. For the people in your city you can buy costumes and pets. These cost a rarer type of money in the game called small bucks. By buying more houses and shops you get prizes such as small bucks. There are challenges that you have to complete to level up and you obtain prizes for it. As well as buying shops and houses, you get to give people in your city taxi rides. You get to buy different taxis and speed it up, but these cost small bucks as well. I think the set-out works. The graphics are great and clear and I think it gives a really good, comfortable feel to the game.

Some of the flaws in the game include:

  1. You can only add friends by Facebook – this is very frustrating because you are connected by GameCentre but can’t add friends from there. Also, a few challenges have to include friends, this is impossible to do unless you have Facebook
  2. As you get further into the game, the longer it takes for buildings to build – at the start of the game it’s something around one minute of waiting and once you reach building 15 it’s already two hours of waiting. Of course you can use small bucks to speed it up but as I said before, those are hard to get
  3. Like buildings, restocking your shops takes a long time as well – in one of my stores, the lowest amount of time is 43 minutes to restock. It is very frustrating when you don’t have anything else to do
  4. At the start of the game, your taxi is really slow and if you don’t save up your small bucks, you are going to have to wait a really long time for the taxi to even arrive to the person.

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Gamesland News

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News
- The PlayStation 4 has outsold the Xbox One again in March, according to numbers released by the NPD. I’m not even surprised anymore; it’s clear that the PS4 is the more popular console by the public, but the numebrs should even out eventually.
- The Amazing Spiderman 2 game (published by Activision) has been ‘delayed indefinitely’ on the Xbox One, but will continue to launch on all current-gen consoles and the PS4 and Wii U as planned.
- The Walking Dead Season 2 will be coming to the PlayStation Vita on April 22.
- It has been revealed that Nintendo was offered a partnership by the now-developers of Skylanders to have a game with similar features – that is a portal, but instead of the Spyro franchise it would feature Nintendo Characters – but Nintendo refused.
- Sony is looking into a The Last of Us upgrade from the PS3 version. What this means is that existing owners of the game on PS3 would be able to upgrade to the PS4 game at a cheaper price, similar to the offers on some last-gen and current-gen games.
- Minecraft retail versions have been confirmed for the PS3, which is launching on the 16 May, while PS4 and PS Vita release dates have not been confirmed. Cross-Buy for these games would be great, but is unconfirmed (and unlikely).

That’s all the news for this week, but tune in next Friday (25.04.14) for more news from the Land of Gaming!

Gamesland News

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News
- An exploit named “Heartbleed” has been discovered (and fixed) in an internet protocol known as SSL. This exploit could have compromised passwords, so it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you change any passwords which used the protocol.
- A The Last of Us remaster for PS4 has been officially confirmed. This makes a second time that a last-gen game has been remastered, with the first being Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition
- Borderlands 2 for the Playstation Vita has been confirmed, and it will be bundled with the slim console when it comes to America. There are 6 DLCs available, but more could be made available if demand is high enough.
- Watch Dogs, the exciting new game from Ubisoft, has surprised everyone with its required PC settings. The minimum processor required to run the game is an intel i7, having several people worried that the game is poorly-optimised.
- Nintendo did a Direct (their news video service) on the Smash Bros.lineup, where several new characters were announced, including Greninja, the final evolution of Froakie from Pokémon X and Y, and Charizard, and the separate characters of Sheik and Zelda; and Samus and Zero-Suit Samus. These characters were once one character that could change into these other characters (or in the case of Charizard, required the character to be a Pokémon Trainer), but are now fully-fledged separated characters.

That’s all the news for this week, but tune in next Friday (18.04.14) for more news from the Land of Gaming!

There is a Clear Contradiction In This Puzzle: Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Review

Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright

Professor Hershel Layton is a British archaeologist who loves solving puzzles, along with his apprentice Luke Triton. It is a series of games developed by Level5, and there have been many games in the main series. Phoenix Wright, on the other hand, is an ace attorney; he defends his clients in courtrooms, along with his assistant, Maya Fey. There have been a similar number of games in this series when compared to the Professor Layton games, but the Phoenix Wright games are developed by Capcom. So naturally, a crossover title, when it was announced, was slightly unexpected. What Capcom and Level5 delivered however, was something worthy of both series.

The game starts with the Professor Layton side of the story, which is set in London. The duo receive an unexpected and mysterious visitor, who is carrying a note from one of the Professor’s students. The girl is snatched away from the Professor by a mysterious force, and then it is up to the duo to save her, as any true gentlemen would. This means solving several puzzles.

The game then switches to Phoenix and Maya, who are arriving in London thanks to an attorney exchange program. Their story starts in a courtroom, where it is up to you to defend…the same girl that came to the Professor. This means that you have to find clear contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies, and then prove these contradictions with evidence.

After that prologue, both parties find themselves in the mysterious town of Labyrinthia, a world where everything that the “Storyteller” writes comes true, a world where magic and alchemy exist, and a world that is completely inaccessible, as the gate to the outside of town disappears once you enter. From there, it is up to the two main parties of the game to find the truth about the happenings in Labyrinthia. For Layton this means solving puzzles throughout the town, and for Phoenix this means defending clients in a witch’s court, where the stakes are high – guilty witches are cast into the flaming pit.

The Professor Layton style of gameplay revolves around, as mentioned previously, solving puzzles and mysteries. The world appears on the top screen, in 3D, while moving the stylus around on the touch screen will reveal a magnifying glass on the top screen that can be moved around. The magnifying glass turns orange when something can be interacted with, while hint coins, which are coins that can be used to give clues to the answer in puzzles and trials, make the magnifying glass orange and golden twinkles appear around it. This is much easier and a better system than the old DS games, where finding hint coins meant tapping ever pixel on the touch screen. If you interact with someone you can easily see whether there’s going to be a puzzle, as if that person has a puzzle a red exclamation mark will appear when they are tapped, otherwise three white lines will appear.

The Phoenix Wright style of gameplay is similar to the other games in his series, although with this being a magical world, naturally some things are different. During the trials, you must listen to the witness’s testimony and point out contradictions. If you see no contradictions, you can press the witness in the hopes that they reveal new information, or hopefully crack their testimony. To point out the contradiction, you present evidence from the court record, which can be anything from a sketch of the crime scene to a murder weapon. In this game there are a few simple alterations; the first being magic. If what a witness says contradicts the spell, then naturally it could not have been cast (for example, if the spell states that the victim dies immediately, then there’s no way they could have put up a fight). The second alteration is the witnesses themselves; in all witch court trials there is more than one at the stand, so the witness’s testimony will often contradict each other. Alternatively, witnesses may look shocked at something another witness says, so you can question them about what they thought of the testimony.

The above play styles are a proven formula; the success of both the Layton series and the Phoenix series is proof of that, and I’m not going to lie, playing this made me want to play the other games again in both series. However good these game formulas are though, both aren’t without their flaws. In the Layton puzzles, some puzzles were either worded poorly or were simply wrong. One particular example comes to mind of a flower puzzle, where all the petals need to be next to a flower of the same shape or the same colour. The puzzle was already solved in its basic state. All petals were either next to a petal of the same colour or next to a petal of the same shape. The answer was the petals arranged by colour, with non-matching colours next to similar shapes. It just didn’t make sense. These puzzles were the exception and not the norm, thankfully, but it’s still somewhat annoying. Most puzzles can be solved through careful solving, but most are rather simple, and can be achieved through trial and error or the massive amount of hint coins you receive from the game. The puzzles seemed a lot simpler than the one’s I’d played in the main game that I’d played, but that was older and I’m not sure whether the puzzles in the newer games are any easier, but I recognise that it’s difficult to get the sweet spot with these crossover games, and I think these puzzles can work for both parties. Simple enough for the Phoenix fans, but there are harder (optional) ones in the game for Layton fans. In the trials, the main issue is where you present evidence. I remember having the right piece of evidence, just presenting it at the wrong point, even though the testimony was contradictory to the evidence (it could have been presented at the right place or my place, but only one was right). I hadn’t played much of the Phoenix Wright games, but apart from this flaw, I still found the trials enjoyable, even if I did use about ten hint coins per trial.

I finished the game in about 20 hours, then finished all the puzzles that I hadn’t completed, so there’s about 21 hours of gameplay here, give or take. Most trials last for about 2 hours (in total, but there is a “to be continued” cliff-hanger at one hour, this game is brilliant at those), and most Layton sections last for an hour and half, before a cliff-hanger and a “to be continued” screen, where you can save then go back to the story. This means that there’s about 6 or 7 hours of trials, with the rest being Layton sections, although both characters have the same amount of screen (game?) time, so Phoenix will still star in those Layton sections, just solving puzzles. What is interesting to note is that Layton and Phoenix never really “verse” each other, and when they do, Layton still helps Phoenix. With the game numbers above, the game should be called “Professor Layton starring Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”.

It’s quite difficult to score a crossover game like this, because Phoenix fans might be disappointed with the third of the game that is trials, Layton fans might have to put up with some simple puzzles, and both have to put up with 2 characters from a game series they might not be familiar with. However, if you’re a fan of both series, or have never played either game but like puzzles, or are just in the mood for a really good story, then this is brilliant. Disclaimer: I consider myself to be a fan of both series, even though I’ve only played one Professor Layton game and two chapters of the first Phoenix Wright game.

Positive

- Brilliant, intriguing story with an absolutely fantastic ending

- Ingenious puzzle ideas

- Great alterations to the Phoenix Wright courtroom trials make for interesting gameplay

- Beautiful Music

- Great cutscene animation style

- Amazing 3D art (the pointed finger literally comes out of the screen)

- Believable characters

- 20+ hours of gameplay, with more special episodes (each with a new puzzle, and taking place after the main game) coming soon

9.5.fw

 

Negative

- Some poorly-worded or simply incorrect puzzles

- Evidence can only be shown at one correct place, even though it can contradict another point in the testimony

- Luke’s voice actor. He’s grown on me a little bit, but it’s still somewhat annoying

Gamesland News

News
- Someone hacked League of Legends and sold player data for money, but he was arrested. It’s a terrifying reminder of how data is easily accessible in this digital age, so remember to stay safe online!
- Microsoft has officially announced DirectX 12, but not too much is known about it, including the operating system it will require.
- The Pirate Bay currently has 101 free games available, all of which were created in a game jam, or are just unknown. It is supported by the developers, so it is not illegal. You can find out more about the bundle here and download the torrent here.

That’s all the news for this week, but tune in next Friday (11.04.14) for more news from the Land of Gaming.

Google Maps Pokémon April Fools Challenge

Today is, of course, April Fools’ Day, and yet again Google has another little easter egg, which is in the mobile version of google maps.

Simply update/download the Google Maps app on your iOS or Android device, and then tap the search bar, then tap “begin my Pokémon Journey”. This will place you at a lab, and from there, if you want to be the very best, you’ll have to catch all 150 Pokémon (hand-picked by Google, from several generations). But beware! It will take a lot of exploring the world! Once you find a pokémon, tap it and underneath the search bar select the “catch” button on the new bar.

Here’s proof that I’ve done it:

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To get you guys inspired, here’s a little song:

I wanna be the very best,
That no one ever was.
To catch them is my real test,
To train them is my cause.

I will travel across the world,
Searching far and wide.
Each Pokémon to understand
The power that’s inside

Pokémon, (gotta catch them all) its you and me
I know its my destiny
Pokémon, oh, you’re my best friend
In a world we must defend

Pokémon, (gotta catch them all) a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through
You teach me and I’ll teach you
Po-ké-mon, gotta catch ‘em all

Every challenge along the way
With courage I will face
I will battle every day
To claim my rightful place

Come with me, the time is right
There’s no better team
Arm in arm we’ll win the fight
It’s always been our dream

Pokémon!

(Gotta catch ‘em all)

It’s you and me
I know it’s my destiny

Pokémon!

Oh, you’re my best friend,
In a world we must defend.

Pokémon!

A heart so true.
Our courage will pull us through.
You teach me and I’ll teach you.

Pokémon!

(Gotta catch ‘em all)
(Gotta catch ‘em all)
(Gotta catch ‘em all)
(Gotta catch ‘em all)
(Gotta catch ‘em all)

Yeah!

Pokémon!

It’s you and me
I know it’s my destiny

Pokémon!

Oh, you’re my best friend,
In a world we must defend.

Pokémon!

A heart so true.
Our courage will pull us through.
You teach me and I’ll teach you.

Pokémon!

So now that you’ve got the theme stuck in your head, tell us, have you done it yet? Are you a POKÉMON MASTER?

Gamesland News

Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been really busy, but will now endeavour to ensure that there is at least one post a week.
Without further ado, the news.

- The biggets news recently has been the aquisition of Oculus VR (the makers of the Oculus Rift) by Facebook, the social media giant. This has caused an internet uproar, and some developers, such as Notch, the creator of Minecraft, have pulled out of making an official version of Minecraft for the Oculus.
- Microsoft has finally released Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for iOS Platforms, supporting the previously released OneNote. The devices will require an Office365 subscription to fully use, however, with the free version being limited to only reading documents.
- Sony has announced Project Morpheus, the codename for their VR project. With the recent Facebook fiasco, it is unkown whether Minecraft on the PS4 will still support Project Morpheus.
- Microsoft has announced a new feature which will punish players for bad behaviour on Xbox Live.

That’s all the news for this week. Come back next Friday (04.05.14) for more news from the land of gaming!