Friday, 2 January 2015

The Room 2 by Fireproof Games

The Room Two is an amazing 3-D puzzle game at an amazing price. The Room2 is, like The Room, an awesome realistic 3-D game set in 19th century world with esoteric Tesla inspired absent characters, Tesla-like machinery, and utterly absorbing and mesmerising puzzles and atmosphere.

If you have played The Room, you will find the game quite easy to follow and play at the beginning, especially the two first chapters. I thought they were a bit too easy... ha! That was a teaser, because things get very tricky again from chapter 3 and the wheels of your brain will be rolling in all directions. 
Visually speaking, the game has developed into a more complex and visually enthralling game, with multi-layered rooms. plenty of devices and spots to investigate in each room, all inter-connected among themselves.This being the case, the game is even more entertaining than the original.Chapter 3 offers a sort of time travel switch, which I loved and chapter 5 is another brain electrifying knock for your mind!

Like the original game, the quality of the image, design, colours, textures and lighting are superb. The inventive is amazing, as well. The atmosphere gorgeous.

I also liked the fact that the texts by AS, the absent character, and other texts and notes you find in the different rooms sometimes have clues embedded to solve the puzzles, so in a way they are more integrated with the game and not just a nice atmospheric addition. Still, I would like the story to be developed a bit more, as this would add another layer to a game that is already technically fantastic. 
The séance chapter and the one with the electric devices were awesome and I found myself totally there, in the room, excited as a child trying to solve the mystery and open the door to the next room.

My main disappointment with this game is the clues system. I love having clues to use when I am truly stuck, but the ones here are or too obvious to be a clue, or are not a clue but an instruction of what to do. That puts me off! For example, "you've got X see where it can fit" (helloooo, I have already reached that simple conclusion!!), "you should look for a shape like this" (helloooooo Mistahhhh), go there, do this and find this (wawwawaw, not a clue!). The good thing is that you can switch off the clue system in the settings, and problem solved. Still, I would like something a bit more elaborate, more "hintful", not so brutally there, if you know what I mean. 

I bought this game for less than 1 dollar. Which is an unbelievable price if you take into consideration the quality of the game and the hours of entertainment that you get.

The Room3 is going to be realised soon-ish. I cannot wait!

The Room by Fireproof Games

I was not into video-games of any sort, but this one changed my mind. And I thought it was time!

The Bafta award, the price of this app (a bit oldie now) and the raving reviews pushed me to push the purchase button. And what a purchase!

The room is an engineering 3-D maze and puzzle with a Tesla feeling to it, very 19th century, and it is very esoteric and intriguing. There are a series of boxes with many doors to open, locks you have to unlock, pieces you have to find and put elsewhere, parts that you have to fix. A bit of mental exercise and ability while you are having fun.

The  images have a great realism, and they are very detailed, crispy clean, with wonderful colours, textures and lighting. A pleasure for your senses. The retro atmosphere and the somewhat familiar music-box music create a wonderful ensemble. The fact that your fingers move around, look around, really makes you to believe that you are touching what you have in front of you, that you are in the room, handling the stuff in front of your eyes.

I would not say that The Room is a difficult game once you get used to the commands, how the game works and what is asking from you. However it is still ingenious and very challenging. If you want it easy, you can follow the clues by pushing the (?) button, but, personally, I avoid them as much as I can. Otherwise, the sense of achievement is less rewarding.  

I loved the Epilogue, especially the piano puzzle, was like playing piano with your own fingers. Also the 3-D spatial puzzles with the viewfinder lenses are cleverly done.

The Room works great in my Google Nexus 7 Tablet, with very neat images, easy movement and digital interaction. The app automatically rotates the screen, and everything works great. My only complaint is that, at least in my device, the touching around sometimes interferes with the three bottom buttons of the device, which self-hide while gaming, and they interrupt the game. Also the zooming in/out is sometimes a bit slow or perhaps not as straightforward and intuitive as I would have like it, but it might be my device. Still, this is one-dollar application game, so perhaps is too much to ask!

Mind Games Pro by Mindware Consulting

I love this sort of apps, and this one as well.

The brain exercises in the exercises are great, as they mix a series of games to develop different areas of your brain, and favour flexibility, creativity, memory retention, alertness, spatial, verbal, cognitive and numerical skills among other things. The games are not too difficult, but doing them at the correct speed is the biggest challenge many of the times. You will find more difficult those that involve an area of your brain that you need to develop or do not use enough.

I love the scoring system, with your today's results and your best results ever, which helps you to improve and beat yourself; it is great that the final scores always tell you if you are doing normal, below normal, or above normal and in which degree, and also if you are doing better (and percentage) with regards to the people in your age group.

I have a complaint. This is a paid app. This is an app for everybody out there, humans on Planet Earth who speak English, not just Americans. OK, who was the brilliant mind who decided that including questions about American Football was a great way to test MY knowledge skills?

Re the design, the welcome page of the game is very simple but very colourful and pleasant to the eye, and I love the colour scheme used in each game and the big size font used in the descriptions of what the game requires from you.

Beyond that, the visual design of the game looks amateurish. For example, most of the images and shapes you find in the visual games are Google-search-like images and shapes, not neat enough not nice enough not original ones. There are plenty of photo stock websites where to get royalty free images... The list of games page is just visually poor and crowded. And the settings of the game do not allow you to change the size or type of font. This is a paid app. A bit of more care in the design would have been great. I have mind-solving games with amazing graphics and design for 0.99 bucks. Hello Hello Mr designer!

The PRO (paid) version does NOT have adds.

The Silent Age by House on Fire

I love solving puzzles. I love mazes. I love everything time-travel. If you mix these three things I am going to be buying that "thing".

Joe is a Janitor in a corporation. He becomes the world saviour against his own will when he meets a dying scientist, Dr Lambert, who gives him a solar-powered time machine to go to the future and bend the course of history on Planet Earth.

The game is short and not difficult, except for a few points in which I found myself stuck. So I looked for a cheat online :O. But the story, the dialogues, the character and the mood of the game are really absorbing. The time travel factor is what makes the game unique, switching between present and future to collect objects and access places that otherwise you (Joe) can't.

The game has just five actions, walk, run, take and use, and dialogues, which are all done by tapping your screen. So there is no difficulty in learning how to do that, unless you don't have fingers in your hands. Ha! Moreover, the game was fully responsive to touch in my table, so the whole experience was very smooth.

One the things that I enjoyed the most in the game was... the dialogues. Truly hilarious, as well as some of the comments you get when you touch or tap any of the objects on the screen. I also fancy our hero Joe, who looks like a thinned out version of Tom Sellecks. Rescue me, my man.

The first part is free, totally free, then you have to pay for the second episode if you want it. Nobody forces you, but you will want it, guaranteed. You don't want to end the game half way the story, right? I paid 6+ bucks for some hours of entertainment. That is cheaper than a movie or my daily coffees.

The main downsides of the game are, to me, the lack of voice speech, the fact that you just see the character moving (when he uses tools, they are not seen in his hands; when he goes down a rope, you don't see him climbing down, etc.). Besides, my tablet got totally frozen a couple of times and I had to reboot it.

One of those games to do in a lazy weekend, sickie day or during your lunch break. 


The Moron Test by DistinctDev

It is official, I am not a moron.

The Moron Test is not only a very cheap puzzle game, it is a great brain teaser and a very cute and engaging game. When you start playing you think that it is too easy, a child game, thinking that is your knowledge what is being tested. It is not your knowledge, it is you way of thinking and reacting!

The good thing is that, no matter how much you FAIL!, you can always restart the game and try again, with the advantage of knowing already the answers to the different pages you have already passed. You will see yourself learning from your mistakes, realising that even though you know the correct answer your reflex act is faster than your discernment, you will see that your brain will read something and be tricked by the contradictory images on the page, you will see that despite you being told to pay attention your will still be distracted, you will see yourself feeling like a moron and saying damn-it, I am "moronesque". This is also enhanced by the fact that part of the replies to some of the queries require you to realise that you have to move physically your device, and think out of the square.

The second phase was the one I found more difficult to pass. I would not say that phase 6 is more difficult than phase 2, it is just that I found this one the most challenging personally. The others could be as difficult, but somewhat after no 2 one figures out what the game is asking you to do, what not to do, and what things we should be focusing on.

The game is also very humorous and cute, with all the characters being drawn in a very small children book sort of way. Some of the sounds are very funny, as well.

I found that when doing the test for second time to get to the place I was stuck, knowing already the answers to the exercises previously passed, the game would say FAIL! repeatedly. This is OK when you know the answer, and you might think it is your device's responsiveness to touch. But if you are doing the exercise for the first time, you will think that you are missing something that you are not. I think that I know why this is happening :)) I think it is not the game being badly designed, it is a wish on the part of the producers to cash in on your mistakes, as a key answer is offered for purchase many times after you fail. If you are not a moron don't buy it. Ha! If you feel stuck any time, you can go and search the Internet. Most of the exercises can be passing by you "thinking" on solving, not focusing on your frustration at not having figured out the answer yet. 

Great fun!

Monument Valley by Ustwo

Monument Valley is a gorgeous 3-D cartoon-like Escher-inspired puzzle game, with geometric architectural colourful settings, adorable characters, effective sound and animation effects, and a soothing magical music. This is a sleek game regarding design, and where colour, simplicity and fancifulness are perfectly combined.

I find the game good both for children and adults, as the level of difficulty is not high until you get to the last two levels (chapters 9 & 10) or the the last episode of the expansion. However, it is not that easy, either, as this is a 3D puzzle, so optical illusion and perspective play an important role in solving the puzzles. This makes the game very engaging. Eye candy. Mind candy. The level of difficulty steps up, literally, with each chapter and steps up with the new set extension, which is something I love. Episode 8 of the Forgotten Shores was really tricky!

The whole ensemble is mesmerising and absorbing, and unlike other puzzle games or games in general, even if you are stuck in some of the most difficult steps, you won't give up. Because it is kinda relaxing.

The game is based on touch and tap, so anybody, even a small child, can play it, to happily lead our little princess to destination. Most importantly, the game is fully responsive to touch and tap, at least in my tablet, something we cannot take for granted as many games really are not thought for or adapted for tablets and are a pain to play.

There are 10 chapters included in the game, plus 8 more if you want to expand it. You probably will do because, once you immerse yourself in the wondrous world of Monument Valley, you want to stay there for a long time. It is barely $3 AU, and, what the heck, your coffee will cost you more.

Big kudos to the whole team of Ustwo for making a virtue and an amazing game based on pure simplicity, care for the details, and charm. I am going to be buying anything these guys create!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

WTF Food Moment 7: Gluten Free Proskewto

(I am at the Deli section at my Coles, being served).

(A young tattooed hypster couple, late 20s or early 30s, arrive and stand next to me). 

>We are having "pros-kew-toh" (she says),  

(LOL, but it is sweet.)

< Pro-xu-tto (he corrects her)

--> The attendant approaches them.

> What are you having guys?

< Is the Salami gluten free?

--> The attendant looks at the labels.

> The label of the salami says it is!

< What about the prosciutto?

(Now, I am getting "queasy")

--> The attendant looks at the label of at piece of deboned plastic-sealed prosciutto.

(Noooo, He too!!!!! It can't be happening!) 

> It doesn't say anything, so I guess is not gluten free.

(WTF! I am smiling in disbelief.)
> OK, then we won't have the prosciutto, 


(Would you ask, is smoked salmon gluten free? No, right? Well the same with prosciutto. Real Prosciutto or Jamón Serrano are not meat-made products. They are a piece of cured pork leg, cured by using salt and very cold temperatures. So no wheat derivative is added. The fact that pieces of prosciutto are deboned and plastic sealed in Australia contributes to the confusion. The "things" you see around the meat are actually pieces of dry salt, dry fat, and the dry skin of the animal. That is real prosciutto.)

(On the other hand, it made me think, is the prosciutto sold at Coles, real prosciutto? WTF, now I am getting into the WFT proskewto mood). 

WHERE? My suburban Coles. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

WTF Foodie Moment 6: Tough guys

--> I am having my lunch break.

-->  A bunch of tough-looking long-bearded guys arrive. They look tough. They look like a new wave of breaded bikies with a sprinkle of poshness.

--> They order.

--> They go outside.

(I am sure they are going to order something tough, something macho or at least manly, a long macch, a black coffee without sugar, something acid and caustic, meaty.)

--> Their order arrives... A green coloured organic juice.


(WHERE? Babooshka Cafe, Northbridge)

WTF Foodie Moment 5: Morcilla Breaky

--> I am seating on a sunny Sunday, at one of my fav cafes. I have ordered the Morcilla Breaky.
--> A couple arrives and seats next table. Their table is separated five centimetres (literally) from mine.

--> My meal arrives. It looks Yum! I start eating. It tastes yummy.
--> He looks at me (meaning my morcilla breaky) mesmerized. Staring.
> (He tells her) it looks great, isn't it?
< (She tells him) Yes, you should order it.
--> (I keep munching)

--> (He keeps looking at me and/or my morcilla, or both. He does so several times).
--> (The friend they were waiting finally arrives and joins the party, and the waitress approaches their table)
> What are you having, guys?
< What is she having? ("she" is me! at barely 5 cms.)

--> (The whole table plus the confused waitress look at me. The waitress is lost for a moment as my breakfast is almost finished).

>> (I reply) The morcilla breaky....

--> (They ignore me. No Thank yous. They are too, how to put it... rude? obnoxious? What about the constant staring? What about talking about me and my morcilla as if we were mere projections on a screen and I was not there? What about learning to communicate using their vocal cords instead of their eyes and asking me directly from the very beginning?) 

--> What is wrong with you, WTF people?!

(WHERE? Cantina 663, Mt Lawley)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Roe St Bus Station (Perth WA, Australia)

The Roe St Bus Station opened in January 2014 as a funny spin-off of the Wellington St Station, while the underground internationally designed station is being built. We will have this station operational for at least for two years, as the works are scheduled to finish in 2016

Located in a fantastic location on Roe St, this station services the bus lines tending to Perth's northern suburbs. What I love the most about it is how easy is to access the heart of the city from here: Train Station, William St, Forrest Place, Wellington St.

The place is more a jump on-jump off sort of place. There are a few information poles, a few covered seating benches, an information booth, and, surprise!, the buses. It is very Spartan, still functional with 12 bus stands, two of them devoted to replacement buses when any of the train lines stops. 

I don't understand why they have left one of the sides of the station almost bare of seating benches. Even if they are costly, they can be recycled afterwards. Just saying. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Mini Wonderlane (Claremont WA, Australia)

Shop 5, Old Theatre Lane
50 Bayview Terrace
 Claremont WA 6010
 Phone: 0433 194 718

Not even a month old, this extra-cute children pop-up shop is in  the lovely Old Theatre Lane. It does look like a posh children shop, though!

They have wonderful handmade clothing, toys and accessories by local artists and designers (Little Alannah May, Teesh, Bunting By Design, Harper + Monroe,  Kleinemouse Handmade, Diva Dolls by Beck, Stylish Monkeys, Chucklebug,  Petals and Pixies). All of their material, the girl dresses especially are just wonderfully colourful.

I loved the fabric dolls, so very retro etsy-like style.

Unlike branded clothing for children, these ones are affordable, going from cheap to a bit pricey, the dolls being pricey (about 50 bucks). Not  cheap, but you know you are buying hand-made in Western Australia, that is not a multinational selling the stuff you find everywhere.

Trowbridge Gallery (Claremont WA, Australia)

Trowbridge Gallery
52F Old Theatre Lane
Claremont WA 6010
Phone:  (08) 9384 4814

This is a multi-wow business and we have it in WA!

Located at the bottom end of the charming Old Theatre Lane, I entered because I love big balls, world globes I mean :). It turns out that they have the largest collection of world globes for sale in Australia.

The place is nicely crowded and set, like an harmonic sort of no-chaotic chaos, unpretentious and luminous, and it doesn't look like an antiques place at all. It doesn't smell like an antiques shop either (that is good!). They have a framing service at the usual Perth prices, and they take about a week to frame your things, unless, of course, they've ran out the material you want.

However, the wows will come from your mouth mostly because of the material they have for sale and on display. Imagine going to the WA Museum and being able to buy what is on the walls. But you can't, right? Well, if you are a Western Australian and want a piece of Western Australia's History, original pieces, and you have the money, come to this place. Framed lithographs, book illustrations with views of Western Australia (Perth, Albany, Bunbury, Fremantle, New Norcia) from the 18th century, and historical maps related to WA that go back to the 17th century. Originals!

Not enough "wowiness" for you? They also have children prints from famous Australian and European illustrators, medical prints from the early 19th Century, animal lithographs and prints from famous naturalists, and some Modern Art pieces that I didn't check out.

Prices for the historical material are over 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 bucks, up up, but if you have the money, you are getting an authentic piece of History. Be happy, the frame is included in the price! They probably have "cheapies", but all the pieces I checked were high-end.

The charming Scottish owner was lovely to tell me anything I wanted to know and see. Very laid back. You would expect a sort of posh haughty-nose person in a shop like this, but, on the contrary, he was very warm and helpful and OK with me just browsing around and making questions.

>> They have sporadic exhibitions in the shop.
>> Prices are clearly marked. Nothing hidden.

Old Theatre Lane (Claremont WA, Australia)

50 Bay View Terrace
Claremont WA 6010

Hidden at the end of Bay View Terrace, on the left hand side if you come from the train station, is this little gem of a shopping arcade. My favourite shopping lane in Perth.

This lane takes its name from the the Princess Theatre, a cinema that opened at the beginning of the 20th century, in the 1910s!. Lately transformed into the Claremont Picture Gardens cinemas, which closed down in 1964. Then, the place was sold and this arcade was born.
I love everything about this shopping arcade.  It is classy and sophisticated, clean, very European, quiet and full of tiny lovely local shops and cool people. The place has a special something, that energy that you find in certain places and that is difficult to describe. It has to do with the lighting, firstly, as it has a glassed ceiling that percolates the light into myriad rays of luminosity to infuse your visit with good vibes. Secondly, the several colourful geometric mosaics on the floor and the pretty hanging shops signs. Finally, it is the relaxed atmosphere in there.

The Old Theatre Lane reminds me a bit of London Court, but way more modern and organised, not touristy at all, and way cuter. Cute is the new hot!
Beyond the atmosphere, this little place has a terrific group of businesses on the ground level: an awesome barber, a women  hairdresser, a bookshop, an antiques shop, a travel agent, shoe shops for him and her, an optometry, accessories shops, bargain shop, kitchen shop, and even a café. The smaller second floor is occupied by more "serious" businesses: a dental centre, a tuition centre and a loan place, among others.

The lane continues on the right, into and ampler less-posh area, marked by the male brogues shoe shop at the corner.

Her Message (Claremont WA, Australia)

Shop 3, 50 Bayview Terrace
Old Theatre Lane
Claremont WA 6010
Phone: 0430 065 152

Located in the cute Old Theatre Lane, Her Message is a cute shop selling cute things by a cute lady. They specialise in cult-following shoe brands: the Brazilian brand  Zaxy's jelly shoes, and the Venezuelan brand "Chocolaticas" (Hot Chocolate Design). They are statement comfortable unique shoes. They also have some others flats and ballerina shoes that I like a lot. They also have children shoes, a few items of jewellery, canvas totes, and similar things.

Hot Chocolate Design shoes are canvas arty painted shoes. They are not only trendy, unique and beautiful, they are also super-comfortable to walk around and perfect for travelling without sacrificing style. Zaxy are wonderful summer silicone shoes, that look classy and elegant, utterly feminine, very comfortable and are water proof, also perfect for travelling and for the summer months.  

The lady behind the counter was wonderful, very attentive, helpful, and Keen to make business by offering me further discounts if buying more than one pair or just helping me to purchase. If they don't have your sizing or favourite style, they will take your phone number and SMS you when your pair size is in.

Prices were good for Perth and having into account that these are imported shoes. I found the jelly shoes cheaper than in other places, while the canvas ones are at the same prices you will find them at the Fremantle Markets.  

They receive new stock almost every month. So,  Her Message... is.... Come and visit me!