Cardboard Castle, Vacation Vexation and Shovel Shuffle

Cardboard Castle by Advanced Mobile Applications

2014-04-13-201154

 

Cardboard Castle is a puzzle game in the form of clearing a path for a knight to advance from one end of a level to the other. The cardboard¬†cutout motif is more than just a style choice – many of the solutions to clearing obstacles pertain to their papery nature. If there’s a pair of scissors handy, you can use them to cut down a tree or kill a baddie. Or you can dissolve a baddie with a glass of water to turn him into cardboard mush. Put the mush in a hole then let the sun dry it into passable ground, then you can take the baddie’s axe, cut down a tree into a plank with it, then use the plank to bridge another gap. The puzzle is working out in what order to do everything so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. You have one glass of water – do you mulch a cardboard baddie with it or water a tree to get a cardboard apple? You might realise you need to drop a cow down a hole to proceed – but should you do it right now? Is there anything else you can do with the cow first?

The game tries to be charming with its dinky cutout style, but isn’t quite as cute as it thinks it is. The music is irritating and best turned off, and dragging items is a bit pixel-perfect, which is tiresome in a touchscreen game. I also encountered an annoying glitch in which I painted myself into a corner and made the level unwinnable, and it wouldn’t sort itself out on resetting the level. To fix it I had to quit to the main menu then go back in.

There are enough playable chapters for it to have been a worthwhile purchase for me, but I think it could do with introducing a few more mechanics as it went on rather than just having more of the same for too long.

Quiet Christmas and Vacation Vexation by Nostatic Software

2014-04-13-134548

I planned to only review one paid title this week, so I can make my £5 wallet topup stretch across at least two weeks. But I genuinely enjoyed Quiet, Please enough that I wanted to try the other two in the series.

It’s great that the developers have remembered that the game is playable on a Vita, not just a phone/tablet, so they’ve included functionality for the thumbsticks and fascia buttons. Too many PS Mobile games use just the tapscreen. You can use either touch or physical controls for the Quiet games, and both work well.

Quiet, Please (reviewed last week) was a short and sweet little point and click adventure in which a girl who just wants to sleep peacefully has to neutralise all the sources of irritating noise in and around her house, and the two sequels continue this theme. Quiet Christmas sees you getting the house ready for Christmas day by – among other things – fixing tree lights, making cookies for Father Christmas, and taking out neighbour Mr Peabody’s annoying musical Santa so you can get to sleep.
Vacation Vexation revolves around trying to relax on the beach with a good book, which is a fairly simple objective in its own right (albeit including petty larceny) but turns out to be the catalyst for having to fix everybody’s problems around the beach area. Art gallery director won’t stop yakking on her phone about how the gallery is missing an exhibit? Looks as though you’ll have to make an artwork and sneak it in so she’ll get off the phone and you can go back to your book. Little brother in floods of tears over a dropped ice cream? You’ll have to find him a tasty treat to stop him crying, and you’re out of money.

Quiet Christmas is very similar to the first game, with a minor bit of polish (the text is more readable than last time). It even takes place in the exact same map as Quiet, Please and acts more like a direct continuation than a sequel. Vacation Vexation is a step up in longevity and, in my opinion, fun and humour. It saves your progress as you solve puzzles, something the first two games were too short to really need. Amusingly, it includes a seaside arcade with playable games (a clone of Frogger and Space Invaders, and a mini version of Kung Fu Fight (another of Nostatic’s games)), which is a nice touch.

The only bad thing about the Quiet series is that there is pretty much no replayability, and like all point and click adventures the logic sometimes borders on incomprehensible. At one point, for example, you have to burst an inflatable object using a tree branch, even though you have access to your dad’s tool box, which must surely contain an array of pointy things. I think the games could be improved with multiple solutions to puzzles.

I encountered a glitch in Vacation Vexation that forced me to reset the game to fix it. I put an object down near a door, then opened the door, which blocked the object from view. It despawned with no way to get another without reloading the game. Tiresome.

It is pretty amusing/worrying how increasingly sadistic your actions towards Ned Flanders Mr Peabody become as the series progresses. You go from sabotaging his lawnmower to pelting him with snowballs to actually inflicting bodily harm on him in VV. Presumably the next game will have us pushing him down a well or gluing him to a wolf. And I hope there is a next one! I’m really enjoying these.

Shovel Shuffle by Chair Warming Facility

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I kept forgetting what this unmemorable game was called, so the draft version of this document refers to it as Tunnel Wanker. I picked this up because it was free (or so I thought; turns out only the smallest board size is free and you have to pay if you want a bigger play area).

It’s guff. It looks and feels like someone’s first creation with some game-making software, complete with half-arsed MSPaint graphics. Simple graphics are fine if it’s clearly an artistic choice, but this looks like placeholder art. I could explain the rules, but I can’t really be bothered. There are better games than this on Kongregate, and they’re free.