Monday, July 08, 2013

5 casual PC/Mac games of all time

I think I've mentioned before that the first time I was introduced/immersed in casual gaming was when I became a Producer for Anino Games. I have played many casual game titles since then (though I find myself veering towards mobile gaming lately). These games are targeted towards women aged 35-80, though there are many younger women who have been hooked. I remember my students liked developing them for classroom exercises back when I didn't know what hidden object games were.

For those who are new to casual gaming -- I actually prefer calling them "women-friendly" games -- I've compiled a list of my all-time favorites:

#5 - Death at Fairing Point: A Dana Knightstone Novel

I have to admit, I am no fan of hidden object games. I get impatient when I'm asked to look for items indicated on what I call "the grocery list". So when I landed upon Death at Fairing Point (developed by Boomzap Entertainment and published by Big Fish Games), which was listed under hidden object games, I was pleasantly surprised that the hidden object portions did not present me with the dreaded "grocery list". It's a pretty fun game with relatively easy puzzles that you can breeze through if you're after the exceptional story. I would recommend this for beginners in the genre.

#4 Dream Chronicles

I have a feeling that Dream Chronicles (developed by KatGames and published by PlayFirst) is the Mother of the Hidden Objects Puzzle Arcade genre. I have to admit that this is the game that gave me my first heartbreak as a Producer because we were supposed to port this over to iOS but the project was cancelled (we weren't equipped to deal with it back then).  It's a pretty old game, as you can see from the Final Fantasy VII-esque graphics, but it can still pick at your brain the way very few newer casual games could. This game relies more on visual cues and less on words. When you do come across words, be prepared to solve them like riddles.

#3 Tiny Bang Story

I'm not sure if Tiny Bang Story (by Colibri Games) was inspired by the indie game Machinarium but it basically has the same point-and-click mechanics. What I love about this is the complete absence of words. You have no other choice but to rely heavily on visual cues to progress through the game. Good thing the visuals are quite captivating, characterized by light, happy colors and playful art style. It's a far cry from the usual horror-themed titles you'd find on casual portals.

This is definitely not for players who prefer to be aided by instructions and words, so I'm guessing this is appreciated by adults like me who grew up on games like Rockman, Castlevania or Mario, which are totally devoid of tutorials. But if you still want to give this a spin because of its pretty graphics, despite the absence of worded instructions, you can always head off to YouTube for walkthroughs.

#2 Phantasmat

Phantasmat (by Codeminion) is probably my favorite hidden object game of all time. Seriously. Whenever I'd get so tired of looking at the "grocery list", I'd hit the "Swap to Match-3 Mode" button (click on image to view larger version). You can solve a scene by either looking for objects or playing match-3 puzzles. Sure, the match-3 mode takes longer, but I find that a lot more fun than staring at a list of words and a scene that I'd start to hate because some of the objects are obscure. This story is also pretty cool, especially since there are important twists in the end.

#1 Puzzle Hero

Many parents might be familiar with Bookworm Adventures, an educational game that I let my youngest brother play so that he could learn new words. Well, for us older people, there's Puzzle Hero (by Genimo Interactive LLC). It's like a cross between Bookworm Adventures and Puzzle Quest (which should never be in any way considered a casual game, because that's like saying that chess is a casual game). It basically looks like Bookworm Adventures except you take down enemies by playing turn-based battles on the match-3 board. The missions and puzzles aren't as difficult as Puzzle Quest, a game that is designed to hate you. Its story is also fairly simple: your little brother was kidnapped by an evil wizard and you have to rescue him by clearing some fields of vegetables...or something to that effect. It's like the reverse of the damsel-in-distress trope.

What I like best about Puzzle Hero? You know how Triple A game developers like objectifying women by making their armors cover less as they grow stronger? Well, you see none of that in Puzzle Hero. In fact, the stronger your hero is, the more armor she gets. If you click on the image to view its larger version, you'd see how she looks like when she wears one of the most powerful armors in the game. It's pretty, too!

If it didn't use the Comic Sans serif font, it would be perfect! I wish Genimo would create more games like this. I'm pretty sure there will be a demand for it, since many female Triple A gamers are now growing older and might prefer something that is friendlier to their schedules.


So these are basically my list of all-time favorite casual games. I think I should start recommending more of them soon, since this kikay-geek blog should be supporting all types of non-Japanese games anyway (my reviews of Japanese games can be found at The Otaku Fridge). I hope this blog post helps!



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