Tag Archives: Time Management

Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery Review: Brewing Potions Again

Time Management games seem to be the perfect genre for the iOS platform. Different of course from their Tycoon cousins, time management games lend to a little at a time gameplay. Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd is exactly one of those time management games that has you hooked from the get-go. In a typical “just one more level” fashion, you quickly find yourself devoting several hours into the game before coming up for air.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Miriel the Magical Merchant, you are again tasked by grandma to watch the shop. But this time there are answers to be found. What is the mystery behind the artifact shaped like an egg? What clues can anyone provide? In a search for answers, Miriel must go on a quest to different towns to help mind the shop while the owners help search for answers. This quest system separates Miriel’s Enchanged Mystery from other Time Management games that simply change around the “Dash” mechanics and story lines. As a twist to the overworked formula, the goal of some levels is collecting items from patrons as opposed to always collecting coins. The variety works very well as you are suddenly determined to trudge onward, not just for yourself but for Miriel and Grandma.

Likes:

Gameplay: Of course the touch mechanics are similar to its predecessor and the tasks seem the same, but somehow they seem very fresh and different. Each town has a specialty item that you must unlock from the traveling merchant to offer your wide range of customers. Combinations of items and the line up of items for the rack is a strategic undertaking. Take too long and you will not be able to use your magic. Upgrade your equipment for optimal serve times, and set out your tasks in advance for best results. Serve your customers quickly enough to be able to use your magic which helps you beat each level optimally. Collect combos for more coins and more reward. Satisfy each customer quickly so a new one has a space at the counter giving you more opportunity to reach the expert goal in each level.

Story and quest system: The game has a story that actually sucks you in, teasing you with bits and pieces as you go along, stringing you along to the finish of a heck of a lot of levels. Collecting items from customers instead of coin is a nice change. Having a chance to upgrade the equipment and Miriel’s abilities adds to the game for those inevitable hectic times where there is a mad rush of customers. Because the game is based on a story, there is no straight line to follow and Miriel bounces back and forth from place to place on an expansive map making gameplay fresh and fun.

Dislikes:

Can’t replay levels: Ok so I am a perfectionist when it comes to these games and maybe in this case I need to let it go, but I find it annoying that if I merely complete a level without the expert goal satisfied, I can’t replay it to try again. I am used to following a path of levels and gold starring each one but in this case I can’t – because I am not allowed to. Miriel goes from town to town, satisfies the shopkeepers to gather her clues, but I am left a little empty when I am one point away from the expert score.

Frenetic gameplay: There are times where there is a rush of customers and poor Miriel is expected to balance 5 items at once, make different combinations and recipes, get the cheese and frostberries ready for sale etc but sometimes the touch screen just doesn’t register an action and you find yourself short one bag of flour, or one loaf of bread. Maybe I tap too quickly, maybe I miss the mark in my frenzy, but perhaps the touch mechanic is not as sensitive as it should be.

Hidden Object Mini Game: The items are too tiny and actually looking for the pieces of them is an exercise in futility. Thankfully there is no penalty for random tapping so in order to get through what to me became, a minor nuisance to pass before I could continue with the game, I just tapped the heck out of the screen until I passed the level. Unfortunately I have no idea what it was I was looking for or what it was I found.

So Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd arrives on the appstore as a sequel to Miriel the Magical Merchant without much of a change in mechanics but the addition of quest driven gameplay and the hunt for clues to figure out what exactly this artifact means. Thankfully all the real world recipes are available to unlock in case you have a hankering to make your own “Tasty Strawberry Soup.” Lots of Lifetime Achievements are calculated and there are several Awards to unlock in game. Game Center would add a new dimension to the game and you could share your achievements with friends but alas, there is no social network available.

If you are love Time Management games and are looking for something a little different than the usual, give Miriel a whirl. Collecting magical harps and dying cloth has never been so fun! But if you are new to the genre, start with Miriel the Magical Merchant for a solid time management title that pushes the limits of the genre to new directions.

Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd is available on the AppStore for $2.99. Version 1.0 and 1.0.1 were tested on both a 2g and 4g iPod Touch with iOS 4.1. (as a side note, 1.0.1 was released to remedy the “retry level bug” but I still can not find a way to replay a level as I mentioned above) An iPad HD version is available for $4.99.


Anno – The Harbor (By Ubisoft) Released

UPDATE: It seems like the European, Aussie, etc. version has been released as Anno: The Harbor.  The North American version has yet to be released, and it will be released on March 15th as Anno: Dawn of Discovery.  So for those living in the US and Canada, Anno will be released March 15th.

Today seems to be a Ubisoft day. Coming hot on the heels of Assassin’s Creed II Multiplayer is Anno – The Harbor, at the launch price of $4.99. The Anno series has been well received on the PC, but through its transfer to the iPhone and iPod Touch it seems to be an entirely different game. Instead of an epic strategy game of all aspects, this Anno game mainly focuses on the harbor, and your goal is to manage your time wisely and earn the most amount of money possible.

With four different harbors (Occident, Orient, Corsair and Venice) that can be upgraded during the game, eight different types of traders with their ship fleet from touchy Venetians to relaxed salesmen, and two game modes (Story mode with 36 missions, and Endless mode), Anno – The Harbor is not what we may have expected, but it certainly shows promise. We’ll have a review of the game up soon.

Hands-On Preview Of ‘Astro Ranch’ From Tag Games

Recently, I received the final, release-build of the upcoming Farmville/Harvest Moon-esque game from Tag Games. It’s everything I’ve been waiting for, and more. Though I was only slightly interested in Farmville, and have never played Harvest Moon, Astro Ranch had me from the start. Tag Games has done everything right – the crop planting, watering, mini-games, ranch upgrades, etc. all mesh together to create a beautiful, addicting experience.

The cinematic intro cutscene shows when you start up the game. It introduces the background story about how two twins, a boy and a girl, were flying a rocket ship stocked with supplies to farm the final frontier of the galaxy. However, typical sibling argument caused them to start fighting in the ship, disrupting the navigation system and causing the rocket to initiate a crash landing. Due to a “design flaw,” the escape pod could only contain one person, so one of the twins managed to get away while the other had no choice but to crash land with the rocket on an unknown planet.

When you start up the game, you’ll see that there is an impressive number of save slots – Tag Games has managed to squeeze in eight of them. In addition, you will notice that you can select one of the two twins; the one you select will be the one that you play as, which will also be the twin that crash lands on the planet. Once you have selected your save slot, character, name, and ranch name, you’ll start the game and learn the basics via a helpful tutorial from the mayor of the planet.

The controls aren’t perfect, but they do work. Moving around is done via tapping anywhere on the screen, and you dig, plant, and harvest by using an item and dragging it onto the target object, or by tapping the item and sliding your finger across the screen to select a group of objects to use it on. Mini-games such as fishing and gold panning are done with the accelerometer. Though I don’t like it, there definitely isn’t anything wrong with the control scheme in Astro Ranch.

Seeds, tools, pens, animals, and ranch upgrades such as electricity, sprinkler systems, and a bigger house can all be bought at various prices in the shop. There’s a lot of content in this game, and I can see it taking myself quite a while to finish the game. There’s a story and other side missions too, but I’ve just been too caught up in the agricultural and money making aspect of the game to care about that right now. I’ve already poured 10 hours into this game, and I’m not even one-tenth of the way through of getting everything.

Astro Ranch is the Farmville/Harvest Moon-esque game that we’ve all been waiting for, and you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity of grabbing this game for the cheap release price of $2.99. It’s an insanely low price for an insanely content-packed game. Currently, Astro Ranch is in review at Apple and should be released very soon. Here’s a hands-on video demonstrating some of the features of the game.

Preview of Upcoming Game ‘Amy’s Dessert Shop’ From Meridian

Meridian’s two previous releases have all been survival shooters making use of the twin-stick analog controls.  You would maybe think that they’re next game had something to do with violence, blood, gore, or even shooting something.  You, just like me, would be amazed and surprised at the same time at what they’re planning on bringing next to the iPhone.

Time management games have always been a blast to play on the iPhone whether it be Sally’s Spa or Flight Control.  The quick gestures and customers you must serve have you keeping busy for hours on end, and that’s pretty much what a time management game is all about.

If you haven’t guessed already, Meridian is planning to bring their time management game “Amy’s Dessert Shop” to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and the game will include up to 60 levels along with 60 dessert recipes.  There are also 28 different ingredients and 16 different customers, creating a substantial amount of variety for the average iPhone gamer.

The introductory price for Amy’s Dessert Shop will be $0.99 until October 31, 2009, then the price will be raised to $1.99.  Amy’s Dessert Shop should be with us by this month.

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Zombie Pizza Review: Order Up!

Appy Entertainment may better be known for their title Face Fighter, but their new game Zombie Pizza has been gaining ground.  And for reasonable reasons also.  My time with Zombie Pizza has been a good one, and this time management game is not affected by our global economy state.  It’ll never go bankrupt, and I’m pretty positive you won’t put it down.

Likes

Artwork: The first thing I look for in a game is artwork.  Whether it design, graphics, and/or button design, that’s exactly what I look for.  Yes, some see the gameplay first then go on to see the looks, but artwork for me leaves a good or bad impression when I start the game.  In Zombie Pizza, I really loved the eyeball, guts, and heart graphics, and the sound it makes when setting it on the pizza is phenomenal.  While the button design is a bit drab, the artwork itself was more or less well done.

Gameplay: Time management games have made quite a hit on the iPhone with games including Sally’s Spa and Turbo Subs.  Zombie Pizza takes that gameplay and creates yet another addictive experience that I’m sure you shouldn’t miss.  The making of pizza through recipes, earning medals, and moving on with the game is just purely awesome.  It requires quick, one finger gestures that the iPhone is so capable of, and that’s what makes this game a good game.

Sounds: Most iPhone games feature some okay sounds, and none of them popped out to me as high quality or well timed.  Zombie Pizza’s sound effects are actually very well done, and as I mentioned before, the plopping sound effect added so much to the whole gameplay experience.  The opening music was also well done (although not very original), and I found the sounds in this game to be well timed and well executed.  It won’t get you scared or frightened, but it will definitely get you jumpy.

Dislikes

Marker Felt: This has to be my pet peeve in all iPhone games and even in documents.  Marker Felt font.  It’s one of the ugliest fonts I have ever come across, and I don’t really understand why people use it.  Yes, it does look like it was made using a marker tip, but it’s just plain ugly.  Zombie Pizza, unfortunately, decides to implement this font into their buttons, making the buttons look horrifying.

Zombie Pizza… what a game.  This time management game sits high with the others, and I found this game to be more than meets the eye.  It’s also an example of not judging the book by its cover, which was in this case, the font.  The buttons are ugly, but the gameplay makes up for it and more with short bursts of creating eyeball pizzas.

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Zombie Pizza was developed by Appy Entertainment, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $0.99.

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