original


EE is a high-quality, free, 3d MMORPG*. It takes place in an epic fantasy world full of fantastical monsters…

…and will also play right from your browser and will be completely free. (Well, you know what they mean. Free like MapleStory free. Option to purchase extra things, furniture for your dwelling likely, but the core game will be free.) Frankly, it looks stunning for something that plays in your browser.

Why is this under “original” you may ask? No elves, no dwarves, no been there done that fantasy races. It’s definitely different.

Read their FAQ.

*Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game

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Chain Factor is a new kind of puzzle game where you drop numbered/gray discs onto a game board, where it sticks, disappears, explodes, causes chain reactions, and all kinds of other exciting things. The game rules are like none I’ve seen before, and there’s three different modes plus a leaderboard already, even though it’s technically pre-BETA.

Chain Factor is looking for play testers to prepare for a BETA launch – give it ago. Math can be strangely addictive.

Play The Chain Factor.

Having played Plumeboom: The First Chapter from beginning to end (and I rarely do that with match-3s – they just tend to bore me after the first, oh, 50 levels) I have quite high expectations for The Golden Path of Plumeboom. I expect it to be fun, original, full of surprises, features new game mechanics, and keeps me interested ’til the very end. I was not disappointed; The Golden Path is easily more addictive than … than … any match-3 I’ve ever laid my hands on.

To call The Golden Path a Shoot-3 is like saying a game of Polo is like a game of Snooker. Sure, both involves hitting balls with sticks, but that’s where the similarities end. In The Golden Path of Plumeboom, a magnetized treasure key sits in the middle of your screen and rotates freely according to how you shoot the balls into it. The weight of it changes depending on how many balls are still stuck to it, and your job is to shoot balls into it to match-3s. On the scale that it’s presented to you, that’s what it’s supposed to be. It feels more like shooting balls into a really big astral body with gravity.

At first glance the game feels a bit like Puzzle Bobble. When you shoot a ball, it’ll first align itself to the magnetic field and than spirals towards the middle. When it hits a like-colored ball, it’d stick to it, sometimes forcing that ball to leave the magnet depending on how much force it hits it with. If it hits a ball of another color it’d bounce and goes back into the magnetic field. All the while the magnet is spinning freely depending on where the ball hits it, and how much weight is on it. If you can’t find anything to shoot to make a match, you can bounce the ball off the ceiling.

Each level has its own power-ups, and the game presents them one at a time to keep the game fresh. There are rockets, fireballs, even one to demagnetize the key for a short time. The mechanism for activating these are in diamond balls attached to the magnet. Make a direct shot to one and the power-up is activated. Some levels also contain one or more free balls that bounces around like photons, and they knock into anything in their path. You can use these to your advantage by waiting for the it to knock your colored balls into groups so you can get at them, or it could be an obstacle if it keeps getting in your way.

While you’re trying to keep your atom/planet/key in balance, two “guns” in some levels keep shooting balls into the game field whenever you don’t make a match. All the while, more than generous time bar keeps ticking down. It’s all very, very exciting. A game like this doesn’t even need mini-games. Good thing too – it doesn’t have any.

When you have a game that makes you perform the same actions over and over again, there is a need to introduce “minigames” to break up the action, but The Golden Path of Plumeboom introduces new shapes in the middle of your screen every stage, providing a different challenge every time.

All of this is backed up by hardware accelerated particle effects and pretty, shiny graphics and backgrounds. Sure, there aren’t any mini-games. Once you start, however, you won’t be able to stop. Even though I could finish off a level really quickly and turn it off, I couldn’t. It was 3 AM when I finally decided that it’s time to sleep.

The Golden Path of Plumeboom is possibly the best game nobody seems to be playing right now, and I’m urging you to download it, try it, and buy it. Why it’s not a hit is beyond me, but I guess in this industry being innovative doesn’t necessarily bring riches. Instead of making a generic match-3 or cranking out a hidden object game in some basement, Fireglow Games instead brought us something addictive, fun to play, and new. I’ll be looking forward to the next installment.

Reality TV shows abound on major television programming nowadays; now, I’m not against that stuff, I just don’t watch it. It’s like gambling. It’s in my nature to be hooked, so, I don’t gamble. Once I found myself sitting glued to Blind Date back to back for something like 6 dates, I decided to make better use of my time and boot up Nancy Drew instead.

PlayDetective: Heartbreakers is almost identical in premise to one of the biggest, longest running reality shows – Cheaters. A couple is having relationship problems, they go to the host, the host hires a private detective, the detective inevitably finds the other partner cheating and finds evidence of such, the host asks the client to confront the partner, and it’s all very melodramatic. Makes for great TV. PlayDetective: Heartbreaks casts you in the role of the private detective, and throws in mini-games to boot.

There are 15 cases in the entire game, and each one plays about the same way with different story lines. You are presented with the facts of the case, then you follow your suspect around with a video camera from a perspective that’s only really possible if you were in a helicopter (or a very high building), and you are given a certain number of days to collect a specific number of evidence. Each scene comes in twos: a scripted “cut-scene” and a screen where you can act by either finding and playing the mini-games or collect evidence.

To collect the evidence you rely on three things: a phone call from the partner, a eavesdropping device, and a camera. Using them is simple enough. All you have to do is buy it in the store and click on them in the main interface during a game screen. Each one of these cost $100, and sometimes using them might not collect any evidence (a photograph could end up being completely innocent.) In order to make money we run into the absurd but fun part: mini-games.

The mini-games are mostly conventional: match-3, swap tiles, multiple choice quiz, the Cryptogram, and lastly, the Polygraph. Match-3 is self-explanatory, as it is the usual match-3 to break tiles. Swap tiles is a jigsaw puzzle where you swap the pieces, with a little bit of help. Each edge of the pieces are color-coded to aid you visually, since the images in them are two/three toned. The multiple-choice quiz asks you questions based on the client/suspect profiles as well as the time/date/place of your investigation. The cryptogram lets you decipher a text-message. As for the Polygraph, it works like a normal Polygraph. You get to guess whether your suspect is lying by the wavy lines. I still have no idea how it works. (Just like a real Polygraph, it seems.)

One of the special features in PlayDetective that it doesn’t tell you about is the variable difficulty level. If you fail a question in a quiz, your timer slows down to give you more time for the next question. If you keep letting the timer run out in the P0lygraph it does the same. It’s a smart timer that ensure the game doesn’t get hard enough to be impossible on medium. In the Match-3 or swap tiles games you can also restart the mini-game at any time.

Now, on the surface, this all works together very well. Once you start getting into the game, Heartbreakers is a bit of a non-game. It’s more of a TV show. You follow the characters around (you can fast forward or skip this part) and when the opportunity presents itself (in the form of your buttons lighting up) you can buy and use the tools. Once you do you either find out that the situation was completely innocent or the suspect is guilty of something. If you make a mistake by not collecting an evidence, the game will boot you out of the mission and make you start it over.

In other words, it’s really a very linear adventure game in the guise of a casual game. If you replace the text in cutscenes with real actors, this could be an old FMV game. Unfortunately, the graphics are dated with “pixel” styling and isn’t likely to draw the average casual gamer in. The music, however, is typical of an old black and white private eye movie.

PlayDetective: Heartbreakers is not a bad game, by any means. It takes a complex subject and simplified it enough for anyone to get in there and play, adding enough casual elements to draw in a casual audience. If you enjoyed Cheaters, the show, you might just get drawn into Heartbreakers’ stories of infidelity. It’s a pretty long game, and it saves in the middle of missions. At the time of this review, it’s slightly buggy, but there are no show stoppers.

You can download PlayDetective:Heartbreakers on the Kayogames web site, as well as try an online version that plays right in your browser.

I’ve always wanted to code games since I was a little girl, and Kudos Rock Legend is an inspiration in simulation games. It is a one man effort; it was designed and coded by Cliff Harris, an indie developer from the UK. The result is a game that is so accessible and addictive I haven’t been able to tear myself away.

Like Kudos, a simulation of life, Rock Legend is a simulation of rockstard0m. It is not a “real time” sim, but rather a “turn based” sim. This might turn some players off since we’ve gotten used to the action that comes with the Sims and and so on, but it that is no reason to turn Rock Legend down. Like Kudos, Rock Legend belong to a genre of games that are casual in name only. Sure, you could play for a few minutes and put it down, but why do that when you can play for hours and play years of your rock life at a stretch?

Things start out pretty slow. You have $33 to your name and nothing but a dream to be famous some day. So first of all, you start auditioning. Musicians have different personalities – a socialite gets more publicity when s/he’s handing out flyers, a businesslike disposition means a discount when buying things, disruptive personalities get a bit rowdy at gigs and break things. Moreover, an amiable personality isn’t necessarily a good thing – talent and overall ability often comes with antisocial behavior. Thankfully, once you’ve hired one player, he will let you know at the audition which wannabe he prefers. Once you have two additional musicians in your band, you can start writing songs.

Song writing is a mini-game in itself. The notes available to you depends on your inspiration level, the musicians you’ve hired, as well as anything that you’ve managed to snitch from listening to your rivals and stock music. Each song is comprised of 7 bars or sections, and your job is to drag and drop snippets of music from your pile of inspiration stickies onto the sheet. Color matching nets you a bonus, but some ideas are just worth more than others. Once you have enough music to do a set, you can start booking gigs, rehearsing, and passing out flyers.

The number of venues available to you depends on your fame level, but once you have enough fame, the rest depends on one word: money. Some venues will require transportation, so if you don’t have a band van, you’re out of luck. Other places may require a manager. Bigger venues can hold more people, are more expensive, and with more people you may sell more merchandise.

Each day you’ll get a list of suggestions of things to do, which boils down to these few things: rehearsing, songwriting, gigging, publicizing, and show watching. You can only do one thing a day, and some days you are so tired you just want to sit back and do nothing. Pretty much everything that you do is tiring – rehearsing, publicizing, gigging – and wears down the band. If they’re tired all the time they’ll start to complain, and when their tiredness reach a certain level they will be unable to anything. You can also choose to do things that are not on that list.

At any time, if you have enough money and enough songs, you can record a CD. This is as simple as clicking on songs in the recording screen and choosing a quality level. Once that’s done, CDs will sell over time as well as during gigs. You can also buy merchandise from the store to sell, and just like in real life, buying in bulk nets you a bulk discount. There are other things available from the shop screen as well – new instruments, custom guitar picks, effects for your show like smoke machines, new lighting rigs. You can even book transportation and staff via the shop screen.

How successful a gig is depends on many factors. Your lighting and effects play a part, as well as things like how rehearsed your band is and how well you prepared the gig by publicizing it. When a gig is sold-out and it’s an especially good gig, you sell more stuff, make more money, and get more fame. Fame level is your “overall” score for the game; at the end of five years your success is measured in fame and fortune. The more famous you are, the more likely you are to sell out the next show at a bigger venue.

While you’re trying to get famous, you also have to learn to take care of your musicians. Are they motivated? Are they tired? Are they complaining about the lack of food at gigs? Rehearsing in a nice studio and playing at large venues with bigger crowds motivates while striking chords in a damp basement and playing at the local booze pit do the opposite. Once you’ve reached a certain fame level, your musicians expect more – better rigs, better instruments – and you better it to them. The very ambitious and hard-to-please ones may choose to quit and take their gear and experience with them if you don’t treat them well.

You can develop their musicianship via practicing, which is entirely different from rehearsing. It’s a “Simon” mini-game where you have to play notes in sequence with your number keys, and at the highest level it’s a 10-note sequence. It does get pretty difficult, but remains simplistic. As a musician myself, I would’ve preferred an actual note staff with actual notes and actual rhythm. It wouldn’t be too hard to pick up with a tutorial, and the player may actually learn something.

Graphically speaking, Rock Legend is sleek game, but not a flashy game. You won’t see many cut-scenes and animations, but there are plenty of beautiful character portraits and images. Your character’s portrait is customizable with different hair coloring and sunglasses, and this game has the sleekest GUI I’ve ever seen. Even though there are plenty of information presented in the HUD, it has plenty of room. All the information that you care to see is right there at a glance, including all your songs, your band’s vital stats, the calendar of things coming up, as well as access to all your gear, musicians, and staff. Your main interface is also a drag-and-drop interface, so you can arrange things to your liking. In year five, having a bunch of gear and all staff, I still have half the screen left.

In terms of music, for a game about music, it is sparse in audio. There is one looping track for the interface, but it doesn’t so much loop as fade out and start over. While there isn’t much there, what’s there is good stuff. There is an option to turn it off in the options menu.

Kudos Rock Legend is a great game, and the depth of it all surprised me. While other games focuses on the flash and pretty graphics, Rock Legend spent all its time in gameplay, all through an accessible interface. I would recommend this game to anyone, especially those who’ve spent any time in garage bands. I’ve spent many years amongst musicians, young and old alike, and I see a lot of realism being displayed here, in a convenient turn-based package that saves anytime and loads quickly.

Hidden object games are hot commodity these days. You don’t have to do anything new, you don’t have to do everything right. You just have to make something to sell. So when a game comes along and spends a lot of time adding something new to the genre, you can’t help but be impressed. Forgotten Riddles – The Mayan Princess (FR-TMP) dares to be different with a riddles for hints system and a well-written story that carry echoes of the legends of Pocahontas and a Hollywood blockbuster.

FR-TMP features 26 scenes with 7-9 riddles each time you go through it. Some scenes may also be locked by a riddle that’s solved by putting a puzzle tile (that contains a riddle) to its proper spot. The riddles aren’t going to stump you – they’re easy two line rhymes, and you’re likely to quickly spot the items afterward as they’re generally not that well-hidden. Some riddles are pretty clever, and the great part about this is that each object in different scenes have different riddles attached to them. A bullhorn in one scene would have a different riddle than that found in another – so the tag line “thousands of riddles” is definitely true.

Objects in FT-TMP seems to be custom hand-drawn. Now, this is a good and a bad thing. Good: nothing ever look “out of place” like other games where objects seems to be slapped on without even a hint of drop shadow. Bad: sometimes objects can be slightly grainy or “painterly,” and in the case of “painterly,” a cat in the background could be a small dog, and a flash light could be a silver worm. Most objects are also very, very small, and more scattered than hidden. If you want a direct comparison, it looks a bit better than The Magician’s Handbook, but quite similar. The backgrounds are very well composed, however; it’s the smattering of objects that made the game just a bit too easy.

There’s a rotate puzzle between each chapter that tells the story, not unlike that found in MCF: Ravenhearst. They seem to be drawn without models as well as a knowledge of foreshortening. The story is very well-written and enjoyable and puzzles do get harder as the game wears on to avoid getting stale. My only complaint is that at the large size, everything goes dark as you solve each column or row, which makes solving the last couple of rows extremely difficult. I’m sure that isn’t their intention though, since the whole idea is to eliminate finished rows.

One of the biggest drawbacks in any hidden objects game is lack of replayability. FR-TMP suffers from a badly designed randomization system that doesn’t really do the job well. Since you’ll be visiting each scene more than once in the entire game, the player should be presented with different objects each time. The game should remember what objects were shown before, and take those out of the bag to randomize. This isn’t the case, however; in two missions, back to back, I counted 8 out of 9 objects in common in the same scene. On restarting the game, I only found 5 riddles I haven’t read before over 3 scenes. So replayability is suspect, since it’s not testing your improved ability to guess at the riddles, but rather your memorization of them.

Graphically, this isn’t the most impressive object hunting game. As far as hand painted graphics go, this doesn’t hold a candle to Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile – but that one’s best on my list. I keep getting the feeling that the artist is very good at still life but didn’t ace life drawing class. Or foreshortening. Or perspective. The music is haunting and pretty but repetitive. Ambient did a nice job of making each scene come to life, and the only thing the “sound” slider responsible seem to be the clicking sound.

You can finish this game in about 4 hours or so, but that’s really an average of how long an object hunting game lasts. I know you’d be buying it anyway – those of us who buys these games are addicted to the genre, we just have to admit it. FR:TMR tried to do something new, and that should always be applauded. There are already too many copycats in this genre, and this definitely counts as one of the originals.

What would we do without GameLab? The casual game market would be saturated with time management games without customer interactions, real story lines, and boring clickfest games. I’d go through review after review bashing one game after another in frustration with no end in sight. Thankfully, you are saved from the fate of reading another Coffee House Chaos review; GameLab has done it again with a great time management game called Wedding Dash.

While other games copy Diner Dash, Wedding Dash, while derivative by name, is derivative in name only. It features two servers – you and the waitress – scripted events, multiple personalities (in this case, a good thing) and puzzle infused gameplay. It is so very different from Diner Dash that it puts all the clones to shame.

Wedding Dash casts you in the role of a wedding planner. Before each wedding, your bride and groom will forward their requests, and you can do your best to fullfil them by ordering the right flowers, getting the right cake, and hopefully not ordering fettuccine Alfredo when the groom asks for Surf and Turf. Once that is decided, the wedding will start. Your job is to keep the guests happy by seating them next to people they want to sit with and at the table they want to sit at. At the same time, you have to make sure your waitress is bringing the gifts to the couple, delivering food on schedule as well as filling any requests for music.

Your guests are full of personalities. You have the cousin who eats really quickly and just want to get on the dance floor, the aunt who gets just a little overly emotional, the uncle who drinks too much and gets rowdy, the impatient neighbor who gets mad at the tiniest delay in getting his food, the socialite that everyone wants to sit next to, among others. Scenarios are well-planned, however, so that each one mission has an optimal way to be solved. That’s a true sign of a well-made puzzle game, and Wedding Dash has it.

In other words, Wedding Dash is a game that both Diner Dash addicts (who’d buy every installment) and newcomers to the genre (who’d play puzzle games) will find something to like. It’s a game that time management fans will sink their teeth into right away, while other gamers who are usually not used to games like these can enjoy the leisurely pace of the beginning while the game gets more hectic by the mission. The learning curve is built right into the difficulty curve, and you won’t even see it coming – before you know it you’re placing guests like a seasoned planner and serving 3 course meals by the dozens, even if you haven’t dabbled in the genre before.

Wedding Dash looks slightly dated after seeing games like Miss Management and especially games that feature cell-shaded 3D like The Apprentice: Los Angeles, but it does have a style all its own. The expressions of the guests as they are served (and especially when they’re not served on time) are priceless. Although I did keep wondering what our bridezilla would look like in full cell-shaded 3D glory. The music is upbeat and suits the game well enough.

If you’re looking for the next great time management game, this is it. If you’re not looking, but is interested in trying out one, this is the one to try – it’s the most accessible in the genre yet. It has a little bit of everything – problem solving, humor, personality – and even if you haven’t thought that you can play one of these games, Wedding Dash might surprise you. Give it a try.

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