Friday, 20 December 2013

PS3: Scarygirl - Owl Woods

I recently found a new, cute and quirky video game called Scarygirl. It's a platformer available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, released in January 2012. I haven't had much practice with this genre of games, and so I tend to fail a lot - I totally suck with timing my jumps right, for example - but Scarygirl is cute enough that I can keep at it and develop some skills in the process.

At the start of the game, Scarygirl sets out on a journey to find out why leaves are falling from the the Tree of Knowledge. The first stop is Owl Woods, which I guess is at the same time some kind of a tutorial/practice level, as it is so uncomplicated that even I didn't fail much at it. I met a nice shopkeeper lady at Owl Town Hall and bought a cool new move off her - after I've grabbed an enemy I can squeeze the life out of it to heal myself a little. The only really irritating thing were the snakes: I got poisoned a few times and that wasn't fun.

After clearing Owl Town Hall I got to climb a huge, really tall tree that is home to a lot of owls. In the Woods and Town Hall, the owls had contented to just keeping an eye on me, watching my progress from the safety of their tree branches, but now that I was climbing their tree, they started attacking me. This resulted in quite a few owls meeting their maker at my hands.

Here, above the leaves and branches of all the other trees, the colours are quite different from those of the forest below. The unobstructed rays of the sun make everything brighter and happier. The reason I needed to climb this tree is that I needed to get to the very end of the topmost platform where I could board one of the flying seeds that would take me to my next destination, the Old Man Mountain. I could see quite a few of these seeds flying around me as I climbed, and they looked really fluffy and pretty.

The last obstacle on my path to the topmost platform was a huge owl that could only be damaged by grabbing other, smaller owls and hurling them at him. This wasn't too hard to do, and after succeeding at knocking him off the platform I got to jump onto the next one, at the end of which I grabbed hold of a flying seed and let it carry me to Old Man Mountain.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Candy Cane Cocoa

It's not exactly Christmas yet, but it hasn't been too hot here lately and I love hot chocolate, so I decided to try this. We Finns typically aren't very inventive with our hot chocolate and tend to just drink it plain, without any additions, so this was a totally new experience for me. I heated up a large cup of milk, stirred in some O'boy Dark (32% cocoa) chocolate powder and then dissolved a small candy cane into the cup of hot chocolate. It's delicious! No wonder many people in the US tend to drink their hot chocolate this way around Christmas! I believe that, from now on, I will too.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Xbox 360: Ilomilo

Keywords: puzzlecute
My rating: ★★★★★

Ilomilo is a video game developed by Southend Interactive, and I am writing about it now because it is one of the cutest and cleverest puzzle-type video games I have ever played. Seriously, I can't praise this game enough, that's how good it is. The graphics, the musics and ambient sounds make up a unique, cozy, cuddly, heart-wrenchingly cute whole that makes you - or at least me - want to stay with it forever.

The idea of the game is very simple: you have Ilo (the cuddly red creature) and Milo (the cuddly blue creature) and in each of the game's 49 levels, they have gotten separated from each other and you, the player, need to bring them back together. While looking for the correct path to get them reunited, you also need to collect certain items like postcards Ilo and Milo have sent each other and records that they have listened to together.

Even though this sounds very simple, it often is not so. The paths you have to guide Ilo and Milo through to get them to meet each other can be, especially later on in the game, quite complicated and difficult to figure out, and there are several different creatures that can either help or hinder you with this task. Despite its cute and cuddly appearance, which might lead you to think otherwise, this game really provides plenty of stimulation for your gray cells and will, especially during the later levels, keep you occupied for a good while trying to figure out how to reunite Ilo and Milo and gather up all the items along the way. The sense of achievement after completing each cleverly crafted level is truly gratifying.

Now some of my readers might, based on the description above, think that Ilomilo is a game that will get frustrating during the later levels when the going gets more complicated and the correct paths take longer to figure out. In my personal experience, this is not the case. I am well over halfway through with the game and haven't gotten even close to frustrated with it yet. The very unique and extremely cute graphics and the original, relaxing soundtrack keep me entertained enough that frustration just doesn't happen. I enjoy looking at the beautiful and very unique scenery and listening to the music, sometimes humming along, while puzzling my way through all of the different levels. While it is true that the goal of each level is to get the puzzle solved, Ilomilo is one of those games that makes the journey there very enjoyable.

I can't recommend this game highly enough. If you like it after reading this post about it, seeing the pictures and watching the trailer, get it, you'll love it!