Ginnis is playing Happy Street and Archie: Riverdale Rescue

Happy Street
Godzi lab
Released August 1st, 2012
iOS and Android

Happy Street released on August 1st, 2012 for iOS and Android by Godzi Lab

 Happy Street came out almost concurrent with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing game.  It is pretty much just another town building game with a deceptively simple premise.  Grow your village, make the citizens happy. Go fishing. Collect fruit from the trees.

 There are main characters as well:  Helpful, handy Billy is the little fox dude who just wants his town and friends to be happy, so he works his little paws to the bone to get anything done they ask.  Pepin the Wolf is the shrewd business guy who is always trying to get more money in his pockets.  Dahlia the bunny is the sweet, stylish one who likes to beautify the town.  Mellow Nyok the Dog lives in the woods and helps by making things Billy needs.  As you play, the game expands their stories, and adds more characters:  There’s a mole underground, and an artist on the mountaintop, and a hippie beach girl on the beach.

 The game even has a character who is a robot with both male and female personalities, though they don’t do enough with him/her to suit me.  The best part of all though, is that the premium currency, Flooz, is used for special things to build into the city. They are usually built around holidays:   Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, The Summer (4th of July), Halloween/Day of the Dead, and Christmas.  They add new things annually so it’s not boring for old players.

 The artwork is relentlessly cute.  There’s also a collectible card aspect that allows you to fill up one trainload a day in order to earn flooz. The cards also let you build content you can’t build in the game otherwise.

 The game is made to be played on phone, but looks amazing on a tablet.  It does not like to be played on more than one device at a time though.

Archie: Riverdale Rescue
Archie Comics & Gogii Games
Oct. 14, 2014 (most recent update)
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

I stumbled across this game when I started reading some of Archie Comics’ new stuff like Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Riverdale Rescue is kind of like Sims where it’s a real time game that involves developing character relationships and building up the local town – Riverdale in this case. Your characters, all based on the Archie characters, complete tasks related to fixing up Riverdale in order to advance to the next level where you unlock more characters and buildings and new goodies like plants, statues, and other town decor. You also earn money along the way towards purchasing these items. The game is free, but there are, of course, little things to tempt you into buying “sodas” to unlock special characters like Kevin Keller who I obviously had to have.

 I should have known better than to download this game after the whole fiasco with Sims. See, I used to have Sims and ultimately had to delete the game because I did not have the self-control to NOT waste enormous amounts of time on it. I mean essentially you get to play god which is just too much temptation for me. Oh, and I learned the hacks so I could just do whatever I want… which really isn’t as much fun.

 Fortunately, I haven’t learned the hacks for Riverdale Rescue so I have had to patiently wait for my characters to complete their tasks before I advance to new levels and new items. I am currently on level 14, but here’s a shot from when I was on level 10.

Archie: Riverdale Rescue Archie Comics & Gogii Games Oct. 14, 2014 (most recent update) iPad

My own little Riverdale. So colorful, so peaceful, all mine.

 The best part, it’s queer friendly! Thus far, I have two homosexual characters and several…well, I don’t know if you would call them bi because they appear to only want to couple with the homosexual characters, which is kind of a bummer, but still it feels good in all the coupling and breaking up that I can have multiple queer relationships! I mean I might create my own narratives for them in my head…

 Stay tuned because once I complete the final level (25), I will have a full review with overview, tips, and many screenshots!

Claire is play-watching Breath of Fire 2 and MGS: Peace Walker

Breath of Fire II
Release Date: December 2, 1994
Playing it on: SNES

My sweetie is doing the boring (also cold — it’s winter and our walls are hella thick, in the bad way) button-pressing on this one, while I “help” by reading a “guide” from a 1996 Nintendo Official Magazine. It is the worst guide in the whole world. Phil “Cosmic Cracker” Dawson, I resent you.

 Breath of Fire is one of my favourite games of all time, for two reasons: 1) the rang and 2) the way that Ryu, your protagonist, suddenly gains the ability to turn into a dragon upon gaining the correct experience — completely outside of narrative acknowledgement. All of a sudden, mid-battle, HEY! I’M A DRAGON! Nobody says anything. Ryu doesn’t say anything. He changes back when the battle is over and your party goes on its way. Total blindside weredragonism, met with absolute disinterest. It struck me as so charming. (The rang, by the way, is the best because it’s a physical attack that hits every enemy. Yasss)

 Breath of Fire 2 is satisfying in the same way, and I don’t believe it’s a sign of good game design. I think it’s enjoyable because it’s poorly written. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some really nice interpersonal dialogue between your party members, girls and women included (Bechdel test passed), and the mechanics are enjoyable. But the same lack of communication creates a membrane of absurdity around a pretty good, conventional fantasy RPG. The game starts out following a new Ryu. BoF2’s Ryu is a child, with a sister and a father, and a “missing” mother. After fifteen minutes or so of minor gameplay, scene setting, I think perhaps one abortive fight… Ryu goes to sleep, and wakes up to find himself a stranger in his own village. Nobody knows him, or his family. He doesn’t recognise the religion now at the centre of the community. After a few chance encounters we experience another, truer timeskip — and Ryu’s a young adult with an adoptive thief-brother. And that’s where the real gameplay and the bulk of the narrative begins. We’re ¾ of the way through and the story hasn’t reminded us of it’s baffling beginnings once. It’s as if we began in a dream, or that we’re privy to a traumatic mystery in Ryu’s past that impacts his life choices psychologically but is never revisited in fact.

 Doubtless eventually the dragons will rise, and all disappearances will be explained. I can see how the loss of Ryu’s village can tie in to the political/religious plot that the quest narrative follows. For now, I’m just basking in how silly their characters’ silence makes these sweet little games.

Title: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Kojima Productions/ Konami
Released April 28, 2010
What platform you’re playing it on: Youtube Long Play videos, World of Longplays channel (HD remake, PS3)

Nearing the first end of Peace Walker, Big Boss fights Pacifica Ocean. She’s inside Metal Gear Zeke, the magical futuretank our protagonist mercenaries have built to protect their war business cum nation-state and which she, under the guise of an innocent friend, has stolen in order to launch a nuclear attack. This game allows you to choose the colours “you”, Big Boss and the Militaires Sans Frontieres, paint your Metal Gear, and it gives you your choice of outfit prior to every boss fight. The player who uploaded the long play I’ve been watching chose for Snake to fight an enormous hot pink death machine wearing matching hot pink trousers and no shirt. “Let’s Rock”, he says when this outfit template is chosen. As usual, a song plays over the fight. This time it’s sung by Pacifica Ocean’s Japanese VA, a perky piece of pop that leads with “I love you!” Here’s the remarkable thing: the scene does not lack seriousness. It does not betray the masculinised emotion we’ve grown accustomed to in war stories. Once the story is in motion it doesn’t matter what colour anything is, because everything happening in the scene is more important than rainbow prejudice. Pink is not sabotage. Pop is not shallow.

 Why does Metal Gear have to have so many faults to balance out its moments of glory?

 Wendy B. is playing Dragon Age Inquisition

Dragon Age Inquisition
Electronic Arts/BioWare
Released November 18, 2014
Playing it on PC

 If you’ve been reading my Inquisition Diaries, you know that this game has taken up a lot of my time. As in, 80+ hours of my time, but I am finally  finished with this open-world monster — though I haven’t even checked out the multiplayer aspect yet. It’s a great game, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its flaws — mainly in some of the minor game mechanics and some questionable plot devices — but overall, it is a fantastic addition to the Dragon Age series that serves to fix some of the problems of its predecessor, while giving some interesting new insight into the world. Can’t wait for the downloadable content to start rolling in.

 Al is playing Supercell Phone Games

Clash of Clans/HayDays/Boom Beach

Boom Beach Supercell Games

Here is an early map in my game of Boom Beach.

Supercell Games
Playing it on my HTC One

I am working on a massive review of all of Supercell’s phone games. So far I have logged 10 hours in both Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. Now I’m attempting to get to at least five hours of HayDays so that I can fairly review it, but honestly farm games are not really my thing.

Almost the entirety of this gameplay has been during my commute to and from my day job. I have to say, commanding armies on the Chicago ‘L’ really does keep one alert. Tune in next month for the long review of Supercell’s addictive phone entries.

  Brenda is playing Kittens in a Blender

Kittens in a BlenderKittens in a Blender
Redshift Games
2011, re-released in 2014
Board game

Nothing says fun-somewhat-crazy aunt like breaking out Kittens in a Blender at the holidays. When the nieces and nephews comes to visit, out comes this game. Up to four players can play and it only takes about 30 minutes for those of the short attention span. The goal is to save your cute, fluffy kittens from the blender while sacrificing the kittens of other players. But beware, kittens always end up getting blended. Always. There’s just no way around it. Our Thanksgiving day game was the strangest, I’ve played yet with only four kittens being saved.

Sarah is playing Hammerwatch and Dungeons and Dragons 5e

HammerwatchHammerwatch Crackshell August 2013 screenshot by Sarah Richardson
August 2013
Mac OS X

OMG let me kill all the things I will slash the grubs and crunch the marshmallow-y skeletons and eat every apple I find!

 I don’t play a lot of computer games, since quite a few only make their games for Windows PCs. Hammerwatch is a fantasy hack and slash with retro graphics and level after level of nasty monsters for you to kill. There’s no moral ambiguity. There is only the sword.

 It’s got the from-the-top navigation and six character classes to chose from: paladin, wizard, ranger, and warlock. I’ve really found my groove with the paladin’s simple melee attack and superspeed power, but my hand started cramping using the keyboard controls. Luckily you can use a PS3 controller with it over the bluetooth setting, so you’re not stuck with aching fingers. This game is old school and a lot of fun, if light on narrative.

Dungeons and Dragons 5eSarah Richardson - Dungeons and Dragons
Wizards of the Coast
Released 2014
Table with pen, paper, and funny-looking dice

So, let me tell you what it’s like to play the same game with two very different groups.

In our last What We’re Playing Now I described the Hyperborian game I’m playing every other Saturday at a friend’s house. But every Tuesday night I plug in my headphones and play the same game with five other people online. I have a different character and instead of fighting a snake cult in Hyperboria, we’re a group of misfits trying to find our way out of the dungeon we’ve been mystically transported to. We use the same rules, but end up with very different experiences.

The online game has us wandering through endless hallways running into walruses with spider parts, owlbears in leather, lizard men playing dice games, talking frogs in waistcoats, and a centaur with a crush on one of the player characters. Someone has put all of us in this dungeon, but who?

My character, Billy Bridgetripper, is a Goatborn sorcerer. Dragonborn is the actual race for Dungeons & Dragons in which you are a person-shaped dragon. I found a hack that lets you substitute goat for dragon. For all intents and purposes they’re the same: I can breath lighnting and cast Hellish Rebuke once a day when an enemy hits me, but it’s even better, because I’m a (expletive deleted) goat. I can cast spells thanks to my Sorcerer class, but sometimes that can go wrong, as I’m using Wild Magic. This means that the magic sometimes has its own ideas, such as the time it turned me into a potted plant during battle (I got better!).

So this is why I can play Dungeons and Dragons twice a week and end up with two very different games. Not only do the two Dungeon Masters have very different styles of running a game but the group dynamic is wildly different, and all with the same set of rules and some funny dice.



Read the rest of the What We’re Playing series.