Mini Metro

Mini Metro

Summary

Mini Metro is a strategy simulation game about designing a subway map for a growing city. Draw lines between stations and start your trains running.

It was first created during Ludum Dare 26, a game development competition in which you only have a couple days to create a game that fits the given theme. The developers liked their prototype and decided to develop it further.

Mini Metro map

Review

I love Mini Metro. It’s a brilliant game idea that is executed well. It is fun to play, the achievements are challenging, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Steam games.

It’s currently available as an Early Access game and will be released soon. Hopefully they’ll add a Seattle map. <3

Mini Metro map selectorMini Metro choose asset

You might like this game if you like…

  • Mass transit
  • Minimalism
  • Efficiency & optimization
  • Making decisions based on limited resources

Want to play?

$9.99 on Steam (Early Access)

Hatoful Boyfriend

Hatoful Boyfriend logo

Summary

You are the only human student at St. PigeoNation’s Institute, a school for talented birds. Your goal is to find love in this bird dating sim visual novel. The decisions you make affect your story and determine which bird you romantically pursue.

Review

My friend, knowing that I had not yet played a bird dating sim (shocking, I know!), generously surprised me with Hatoful Boyfriend from the Humble Bundle Spring Sale.

Rather than reviewing this bizarre bird dating sim in depth, I’ll share screenshots of my experience:

Hatoful Boyfriend 01
I show up for my first day at school and I’m already running late! Jeepers!
Hatoful Boyfriend 02
I have to decide which school activity I want to participate in. Library staff!
Hatoful Boyfriend 03
After going on a run and getting lost, I meet Azami, a sparrow with an affinity for traffic laws.
Hatoful Boyfriend 04
I get a summer job at a cafe. Apparently, I have a thing for my boss.
Hatoful Boyfriend 05
A gang of pigeons threatened to beat me up and steal my cash! Oh my!
Hatoful Boyfriend 06
My quail math teacher is narcoleptic… and evidently occasionally sleeps in washing machines.
Hatoful Boyfriend 07
The English translation is quite good. No errors at all.
Hatoful Boyfriend 08
The crazy partridge doctor locked me in a room. I’m in despair! Thankfully, the math teacher is there to rescue me.
Hatoful Boyfriend 09
After my rescue, I apparently confess to my math teacher that I have feelings for him. He says I’m a little young, but to come back to him after I graduate. He’ll be waiting for me. Sudden cut to game credits.

In subsequent games, I also pursued the pigeons Okosan (the pudding-loving captain of the track team) and Yuuya (the flirty infirmary assistant).

Hatoful Boyfriend 10
Our class decided to have a “maid cafe.” My crush, Okosan, would rather be nude than wear his maid costume.
Hatoful Boyfriend 11
Yuuya and I went on a date. He teased me to get me to hold his hand.

Before I can recommend that “everybirdie” buy this game, I would like to see more decision-making opportunities in the game. Hatoful Boyfriend is pretty much a lot of text with very few decisions to make. Replayability could be better, too; although there are several different endings and side stories, the base story remains the same each time. That makes it hard to want to pursue all potential bird boyfriends. 🙁

You might like this game if you like…

  • Dating pigeons (obviously)
  • Giving delicious beans to your love interests
  • Visual novels without a lot of choices
  • Lots and lots of screens of text
  • Deciding between attending math class, gym, or music class
  • Male birds wearing maid costumes

Want to play?

$9.99 on Steam and Humble Store

Papers, Please

Papers, Please

Summary

You have been selected to work as an immigration officer for a fictional dystopian country. As arrivals come to your booth, inspect their documents and look for discrepancies. You wouldn’t want to let in a criminal or terrorist, would you? You can also request for more information, like fingerprints or a full body scan. Sometimes, they will even bribe you or ask you to pass documents to other people.

At the end of each day, you receive your pay (less any deductions from mistakes you made). Hopefully, you made enough to pay for your family’s rent, food, heating, and medicine.

Papers, Please

Review

My family was grateful that I got a job with the government. I worked hard, but I was slow and I made some mistakes. After my second day on the job, we had to go without food. On the next day, we were all hungry, but I only had enough money after paying rent to afford medicine for my sick son. By the end of day 7, we were all cold, sick, and hungry and I couldn’t even afford rent. My family was sent back to their village and I was thrown in jail. I let down myself, my family, and my country. I am sorry. 🙁

Papers, Please is a surprisingly good game. Sure, it is a paperwork simulator and the graphics are terrible, but it’s thought-provoking, engrossing, and unlike any other game I’ve played. There are also 20 different endings depending on the choices you make while playing.

Glory to Arstotzka!

You might like this game if you like…

  • Pretending to be a toll officer
  • Bribes
  • Crushing the hopes and dreams of pixelated people
  • Looking at documents
  • Tearing apart families
  • Nerve-wracking desk jobs
  • Turning people away from your beloved mother country

Want to play?

$2.49 on Steam (75% off) | $7.99 on iOS

Contraption Maker

Contraption Maker

Summary

Solve puzzles with ridiculous Rube Goldberg machines using lasers, crocodiles, flying saucers, zombies, and more. In each level, you are given an objective (like, blow up the pumpkin), a partially completed contraption, and a set of parts to add to the contraption to complete the objective.

There are 160 official puzzles and thousands of user-created puzzles available via the Steam Workshop that you can play single-player or co-op multiplayer with your friends.

Welcome to Contraption Maker

Review

Contraption Maker is a fun and goofy puzzle game. The puzzles haven’t been terribly challenging, but I haven’t gotten to the hard difficulty puzzles yet (or any user-created puzzles). I’m not a fan of the cartoony and childish look of the game, but I get that it’s meant to appeal to kids as well as adults.

At $1.49 for two copies of the game, Contraption Maker is a steal. It includes Steam Trading Cards, so you’ll even recoup some of the cost. It’s a good game and I recommend it (especially at the current sale price), but it’s not one of my favorites.

You might like this game if you like…

  • Rube Goldberg machines
  • The Incredible Machine computer game series
  • Motors powered by hamsters
  • Physics
  • Solving puzzles
  • Feeding bowling balls to bears

Want to play?

$1.49 on Steam for two copies of the game (90% off during Steam Autumn Sale)

Surgeon Simulator 2013

I got Surgeon Simulator 2013 as another gag gift.

Surgeon Simulator ReceptionIt starts you off at a reception desk, where an old school computer teaches you the controls via a floppy disk. You can then practice moving objects around the desk before you start surgery. Basically, that means making a complete mess of things.

Your first surgery is heart surgery. You’re teleported to a room where the patient is prepped for surgery. There are tools on either side of the patient, along with some empty pop bottles, needles filled with psychedelic drugs, and other essentials. It’s then up to you to figure out how to complete the surgery.

Surgeon Simulator Heart Surgery

Controls are limited to:

  • Moving the mouse: moves the hand around
  • Left mouse button: Lowers/raises the hand
  • Right mouse button: Rotates the hand
  • A/W/E/R/space buttons: Control each finger

Unfortunately for the patient, this makes the game play a lot like QWOP.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is amusing, but the controls are incredibly frustrating (as I’m sure they’re intended to be). If you like QWOP, you’ll probably enjoy Surgeon Simulator. As for me, it’s probably a good thing I’m not a surgeon. 😉

Tiny Death Star

Tiny Death Star: Leia fighting a stormtrooper

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star was released last week, a Star-Wars-themed version of Tiny Tower. In Tiny Tower, you build up a tower by adding floors of residential and commercial areas to attract virtual people (“bitizens”) to move there and spend money, so you can build your tower further. It’s a simple game, but it’s one that I was hooked on for a while. It also won iPhone Game of the Year in 2011.

Gameplay in Tiny Death Star is very much the same as Tiny Tower, but with a Star Wars theme. The “bitizens” take the form of pixelated ewoks, droids, and stormtroopers and characters like Leia, Lando, and Boba Fett make occasional appearances. Perhaps the biggest difference is the addition of Imperial floors, which let you build floors beneath the tower to interrogate rebel spies and create star maps.

Tiny Death Star: Elevator
Using the Elevator
Tiny Death Star: Suspect
Rebel Suspect
Tiny Death Star: Workers
Bitizen Workers

Tiny Death Star is every bit as addicting as the original version (since it’s more or less a reskin) and I think they did a great job with the Star Wars theme. I’ve noticed a few issues with the game, though. Although you can link it to your Google+ account, you cannot sync the game across multiple devices. Bizarre. The game also continues to play sound effects even when you have them turned off in the settings menu. Hopefully, those will both get fixed in an update or something.

Tiny Death Star is free in the Google Play Store and iTunes Store.

Secret of the Magic Crystals

Because of the Steam Summer Sale, I’m loading up on new games to try out. As a joke, a friend of mine sent me Secret of the Magic Crystals, a fantasy horse-breeding simulation game. To humor him, I decided to play it this morning.

The Story

Inheriting Grandpa's Farm
Inheriting Grandpa’s Farm

A magical meteor crashed on Earth long ago, breaking up into magical crystal pieces. My grandfather found two of the crystals and was convinced that they give horses special abilities. He was a college professor or something and the academic community thought he was nuts and kicked him out. I guess he gave up on investigating the crystals, because he gave them (and his farm) to his two young grandchildren.

The Game World

I, as a little kid, get to take over Grandpa’s farm. There are a few different structures in the farm:

  • Stable – Where the horses live. I apparently inherited a unicorn along with the farm! You can also feed and brush your horses here.
  • Blacksmith – Where you can make horseshoes by combining weird ingredients. My first horseshoe attempt failed and I lost the items I used to make them. On my second attempt, I was able to make horseshoes, but I never figured out how to put them on my horse.
  • Corral – Where you train your horses. There are a few different training options that give the horses various attributes (strength, stamina, dexterity, etc.). The training options are essentially identical for the player, though. The horse goes along a path and you hit arrow keys as they appear above the horse. Not very challenging or fun.
  • Barn – Where you get to heal your horse. You can mix ingredients to create drugs and inject them into your horses or something. My horses never appeared sick, so I decided not to play experimental herbalist.
  • Gate – Where your can send your horses to races or have them complete quests. While your horse is at a race or on a quest, you just have to sit and wait for it to come back. From races, horses can win gold and trophies that show up in its stall. From quests, you get ingredients for horseshoes and potions.
Brushing my Horse in the Stable
Brushing my Horse in the Stable
Training in the Corral
Training in the Corral

Playing the Game

My Horse Won a Race
My Horse Won a Race

I went to the stable first, because that’s where I figured I’d find a horse. Sure enough, there was a brown unicorn waiting for me. I brushed it, fed it, gave it something to drink, and then tried to figure out what to do next. I failed at horseshoes in the Blacksmith, got bored with training in the Corral, and investigated the Barn. When I got to the gate, it looked like maybe that’s where the game would get fun because that’s where you can send your horse to races. Unfortunately, you’re not involved with the race at all. You just have to sit and wait for your horse to return with the results of the race.  Meh.

Horse-Breeding Success!
Horse-Breeding Success!

At that point, I decided I wanted to try horse breeding before I gave up on the game. I couldn’t figure out how to get another horse, though! I went to the store in the stable, but I couldn’t buy another horse there. I tried to buy a better lantern for my horse, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to actually buy it. I ended up looking online for how to breed horses. You have to upgrade your Well so that you can get a new stall in the Stable (obviously, duh!). Then, you go to that stall and are able to buy a new horse. The new horse becomes an adult pretty quickly and then you have to train it for a while. You also have to upgrade your Well again to make room for the baby horse. Once you have two horses with maxed out attributes, a heart icon appears by the horse in the Stable and a baby horse appears in the empty stall. Hurrah.

Horses also have levels, but I couldn’t figure out how to level my horses. Breeding my two level 1 horses produced a level 2 horse, though, so maybe the only way you level horses is through breeding.

Overall Thoughts

Boring and confusing. The game just wasn’t fun and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to figure out how do things like buying items in the shop and getting another horse. Granted, I didn’t play the game very long and maybe I totally missed some aspect of the game, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sadly, Secrets of the Magic Crystals is not a hidden gem of a game.