Alternative entertainment   Leave a comment

And the game mechanics are homeopathic.

On the 28th I also got to play a game! Unfortunately, it was a crap game: The Secret of the Magic Crystal(s). Why? Because, every year, Sekrit Forum holds its Secret Santa. But this is Sekrit Shit Santa,  where people exchange awful games, and then write about their experiences. They’re recounted in this forum thread.

It’s an interestingly rubbish game; it’s actually fairly well made. The translation’s occasionally iffy and the tutorial pop-ups manage to be incessant while still not explaining the game well, but technically it’s solid and does what it intends to. It’s even fairly pretty.

The rubbishness comes from the game mechanic. It’s ostensibly a fantasy horse-breeding game. How does it represent forging shoes, training in the corral (jumping, cross-country, sledge-pulling and dressage), and probably brewing potions?

You press an arrow key at the correct time.

That’s it. It’s not to music or anything, so there’s not really any rhythm; there are just arrows and you have to press the corresponding key when it starts to spin. Or when it reaches the sparkles when smithing.

That’s all. That’s what the developers set out to make, and they made it quite well. But why did they think they should bother? Why did they think the actions in any way reflected the game’s subject? Why would anybody slog through it for as long as it would take to finish the game (which would require training dozens or hundreds of horses, and breeding them all together correctly)?

The mind boggles.

There is one fun bit, though: every horse in the game is male. They still breed fine. It’s the only fantasy horse-breeding game in the world that promotes the gay agenda!

But, seriously, that’s not enough to redeem it.

Fortunately that wasn’t the only game I played; there was also a bit more Forza 4, and I did some achievement-whoring for the Steam Chrimbletide sale lottery thing. You get achievements, Valve give you either a game, a voucher for money off a game, or some coal. Each coal is an entry to the big prize draw at the end (win all the games on Steam, and so on; if I won the top prize I’d probably never play another game again), or you can craft seven coal into one other prize. I did this. What did I get for my 7 coal? 10% off Codemasters games. Which were reduced by at least that much, and probably a lot more, in the sale. Oh yes.

It wasn’t my lucky day, but it was an excuse to play some games I wanted to get around to – Dungeons of Dredmor and Wings of Prey, for instance – however briefly.

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