The first Escape From Paradise was a great game. It had good puzzles to figure out, generic but addictive mini-games, and it had a lot of charm with the chibi-like characters with their big heads. All in all, it was a good “island survival” game that incorporated other casual game genres. Its sequel, however, was a major disappointment.

Maybe I just had my hopes up a little too high, or maybe it was dumbed down because the challenges were deemed too tough for the casual gamer; either way, the game feels like a series of chores. A series of chores with sub-par minigames to make up for the lack of riddles.

The entire game focuses on collecting jewels and tikis, and in order to do so, you need to:

  1. Lead your monkey all over the place looking for tiny 2×3 pixel jewels hidden in the grass and trees;
  2. Complete quests;
  3. Complete mini-games.
  4. Catch all the fish, dig up all the fossils, and catch all the birds.

There are multiple problems with this way of finishing a game.

  1. Those jewels are tiny. If you realized that you missed any AFTER you’ve done point 2 as well as 3, you’ll end up leading your monkey around the entire map looking for a few colored pixels.
  2. The quests are easy – there is no challenge in them at all. They come with clear directions and end up being just a series of chores.
  3. The mini-games range from match-3, hidden object, click-management…to sudoku. Name any one person who’s good at ALL of those. You’ll have to be, since there are no hints or extra powerups in sudoku or match-3. And they’re long games.
  4. Birds are VERY hard to catch.

On top of that, there’s the control scheme. You can either left click and drag a person to a spot, or you can left-click and right click. Sounds simple right? Now add to it that right click and dragging the map moves it, and once you select someone, you can’t access the map. So in order to move someone across the entire map, you’d end up doing a whole lot of dragging. The map is this tiny box at the bottom of the screen that can’t be enlarged, and has no significant markers. In other words, getting around is very frustrating.

Graphics and sound of this game is just as good as the last one, if not better. The core mechanics – hunger, thirst, sleep and social – stayed the same. Load times are minimal, and you can quit and autosave any time you like.

Escape From Paradise 2 isn’t necessarily a bad game. It’s still a fine casual game, but it seriously pales in comparison to the original. It’s just a bad sequel. It’s a step backwards. For $6.99, it’s a deal if you enjoy any of the mini-games.

If you are getting this game, I highly recommend getting the strategy guide with it. It is superbly written, with clear directions and great screenshots, even a map with all the locations. The only downside to the guide is that you can’t print things out.

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I actually had a video walkthrough for the ENTIRE game made a while back, but the site is broken and I really don’t have time to fix it. Eventually I’ll dig up all the video files and just post the links, or move to a new server. Meanwhile, this particular puzzle is here on request.

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Puzzle 1

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Puzzle 2

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Puzzle 3

All finished!

VF1 Dark Interface MOD 1.01

  • Version 1.00.04 of the game made the picture in the collection screen smaller and higher so I’ve changed that page to fit it.
  • There’s a slight glitch in the bottom right of the pop-up boxes. They’re now fixed.
  • Made the black boxes grey so that the doctor diagnosis messages would be visible.
Black and glossy.

Black and glossy interface.

Screens

Other screens

VF1 Dark Interface MOD 0.8

  • Changed the background and buttons of the family screen
  • Changed the trophy screen’s background, slider, and icons.
  • Minor nudges here and there on where the bottom bar’s sitting.

VF1 Dark Interface MOD 0.7

VF1 Dark Interface MOD 0.6

  • Blue buttons are now black (and glossier)
  • orange buttons are now grey
  • $ sign is now black
  • event screens come up as charcoal
  • red buttons are a deeper, sexier shade of red.

VF1 Dark Interface MOD 0.5

I made this because I like to see more game and less interface. Call this version 0.5 because I’m not done yet, but it’s very much usable, especially since the main part of the mod (the default interface) is done.

  • Semi-transparent inventory slots
  • Status info are now dark blue on alpha white with gradient. Oooo. I didn’t add a background for the occasional status updates, since it’s usually white and stands out anyway. This way I get to see more game.
  • Black and gray glossy buttons all over
  • Horizontal bar that’s in every screen is now transparent / invisible
  • Blue pop-ups now come up as black (event screens still need changes)
  • The entire shopping screen is now black and grey and slick instead of cute.

Still working on

  • The Details screen
  • The event popups
  • Trophies screen
  • long buttons
  • anything else that might come to mind that I’d like black.

Unzip the folder into your Virtual families install folder / images. NOT your saves folder. It should overwrite some files, so backup your images folder first.

And also…I KNOW somebody’s downloading these things because my hit counter for the zip files keeps going up, but nobody leaves me a message on whether they like it or not. So, uh, comments? 🙂

This will put 50,000 units of food in your fridge. I turned on the game this morning and there was 0 units and a very hungry toddler – that’s not good. I snooped in the save files a bit and made this patch. It comes in two flavours – one for x86 and one for x64 machines. If you have no idea which, you’re probably going to need the x86. For all I know, the x86 will work for x64 machines. Tested in XP only. And no, I don’t have a MAC so I don’t know how to make patches for MAC games.

Virtual Families 50K food patch (x86)

Virtual Families 50K food patch (x64)

  1. Open up your VF game, pause it, then close it. (Not minimize it – close it!)
  2. Unzip the file you downloaded.
  3. Run the patch.
  4. Under where it says “Path to the file to patch” there is a box. To the right of that, there’s a little box with 3 dots on it. Click.
  5. It should go straight to your default user directory, so just pick LDW > VirtualFamilies > and in my case, “Virtual Families1.ldw” click on it, click open.
  6. Under “Patch application options” check the top two. It should create a backup.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Run your game, and check the fridge. 50K should be OK if you forget about them for a few days, even with a family of 8.
  9. If you’re still confused, check out this video.

While you’re here, check out my Easier to Spot Collectibles mod and the Here Comes the Sun mod.

When I booted up Virtual Families for the first time, I thought everything looked really nice, but there was a color cast to everything. The characters are of vibrant colors, and the backgrounds were sort of muted. I guess it’s an effect to allow the characters stand out more, but I thought I’d like a brighter, more vibrant house and yard.

So here’s the first “background maps” mod I whipped up, with higher contrast, darker wood, and just generally more “oomph” to the colors. It looks subtle here, but trust me, it’s anything but. Try it – you’d want sunglasses. *updated* Now includes the updates so they all get a colour boost. Here’s a preview:

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

And here’s a link to the zip file. Unzip into your Virtual Familes\images folder. Before making changes to the images directory, make sure you back it up first! (Or you can reinstall, but backing up / restoring is so much faster)

Leave a comment if you want, say, another color theme.

A simple modification to make collectibles easier to spot. I just took the original png and added a very noticeable glow.

Copy and paste the file into your Virtual Families/images folder.

Get the png

Request other mods if you like, in the comments. I’m thinking about doing a money cheat, but honestly, money hasn’t been a problem yet, and nobody’s starving to death. Maybe a few more funky graphic changes.

Refer to my earlier post for instructions if you want to do it yourself. Same idea, same tags. But if you want to do it the lazy way, grab these files instead.

This will set all your starting times to 999 seconds. Have fun!

P.S. This also includes the fix for the impossible signature outfit in stage 5-6. This is fixed in all later downloads of the game. Since this is a list of modified xml files from a new download, this would naturally be fixed as well.