Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vampire Moon - The Mystery of the Hidden Sun

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead

Vampire Moon: The Mystery of the Hidden Sun is not a horrible game.  The story starts out quite well, though flops towards the end.  The drawing style, except where it makes searching for items near impossible without hiding in a dark closet, is very well matched to the game's story and feel.  However, I would definitely not recommend paying full price for this game or buying it if you have other games on the list.

Where this game fails is the gameplay.  With the exception of scenes, one where you help pick up produce and then fix the cart it fell out of, and the other where you gather herbs, the scenes and what you do in them have little to do with the game.  Instead of the puzzles being interwoven with the story, it feels like one group wrote the story, then another group drew pictures based on the story and then another group tacked on the game element, except none of these communicated with each other and nobody was in charge.

You do a puzzle when you enter an area, you do the same puzzle when you leave the area and you do the same puzzle when you come back to that area.  Why are you doing it more than once and why are you searching for items that have nothing to do with what you're doing, is a puzzle of itself.  With one exception, going through a maze, the only thing you'll be doing is going from area to area and doing the same exact thing, searching for different items, on different backgrounds.

Among the items you're supposed to find, there are usually tools which you use after finding all the other items.  Sometimes what you do with the tools relates to the story, sometimes not, and sometimes what you're supposed to do makes no sense whatsoever.  One extremely memorable scene is where you find a pair of chopsticks, which you then use to get a ship out of a bottle.  Not only does this have nothing to do with the story, there is nothing to even suggest that that's what the chopsticks are for.  It's as if, while on that scene, the programmers had Chinese for lunch and the person who was buying the food passed by an antique shop with a ship in a bottle in the window and thought that it would be cool to get it out of the bottle using chopsticks.

While the palette fits the mood of the game, it often makes finding items unnecessarily hard.  The colors are too dull.  Especially when an item you're looking for is in the background, the lack of contrast makes things very hard to find.  Foreground, where the color is a bit more vibrant, is easier to deal with.

The game has unlockable awards, special items, a passable story and, if you're desperate, a more or less acceptable gameplay.  Was it a total waste of time and money?  No.  Would I recommend it?  Not sure, though get it if you're into vampires.  The game does provide some interesting facts about the origin of vampires and symbols and persons that are related to them.  Don't pay full price, preferably borrow from a friend, and if all else fails, get it used from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House for DS is rated 10+.  Perhaps it should be rated 10-.  The puzzles are ridiculously easy to the point where the answer is so simple, you're stuck trying to figure out what you're supposed to do because THAT CAN'T BE THE ANSWER!  Case in point, towards the end of the game you're presented with 3 names, where all first names start with same letter and all last names start with same letter.  The solution, select those letters, which, for the criminally stupid, are also capitalized.  I finished this game in 3 hours, 17 minutes, and that included reading.

There is no difficulty progression throughout the game.  In fact, the last puzzle involves moving around boxes to cover up a fuse.  There are two minigames, both involving tapping the screen when the object of the game is roughly in the middle of the screen.  And don't worry about making too many moves to solve the puzzle, as the game doesn't penalize no matter how many moves you make.

There is one somewhat enjoyable part of the game where you're supposed to rescue the Prime Minister.  This area contains the only somewhat difficult puzzle which involves repairing a net.  This is also the only place that contains more than 2 scenes where you have to collect different items and use them together.

The writing is horrible.  Then again, considering the new Sherlock Holmes comedy, I guess Sherlock Holmes is now mainly about making fun of England.  I would assume that if a famous detective would go to the Queen or the Queen's guards and tell them there's a bomb, they would make sure to quickly get out of the way instead of making fun of him and telling him to stop causing a commotion.

The game is mostly linear, the puzzles are childishly easy and the whole thing can be completed in a few hours.  Get it for your 10 year old, as long as he hasn't played any puzzle games before.  And stay away from this yourself.  Professor Layton this is not and if you want a challenge, play submachine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ColdFusion - Query column overwrites URL structure

Just ran into an interesting bug. If you have a cfloop of a query which has a column named url, it will overwrite the url struct but only when using conditionals.

For output, query.url and url.urlparam output correctly. However, using isdefined("url.urlparam") returns false, while using structkeyexists(url,"urlparam") throws an error about trying to use a string as a structure with members.