Hidden Through Time from Publisher and Developer Crazy Monkey Studios
A modern animated Where’s Waldo enjoyable for all ages. Wonderful relaxing music and animations that are both cute and entertaining.
A point and click where’s Waldo-esk animated hidden items game.
The game presents you with maps full of interactive objects and a list of items to find that are hidden on the screen. Each item on the list has a hint to help you locate it. Once you click the item it will put a temporary circle around it marking it as found and check it off of your list by changing the background color of the item from white to a nice bright green.
While playing the story mode you will travel through time from the Stone Age, to Ancient Egypt, through the Middle ages, and onto the American Old West. Each of the maps has its own look and feel and pretty much everything on the map interacts when you click on it. You’ll start out looking for just a few items on a smallish map. As you progress from stage to stage it starts to get a little more challenging as they add more items, hide them a little better, and make the maps larger. Depending on how you handle the challenge or frustration of searching for small well hidden items on a large map, this will either be tons of fun or irritating.
The graphics are delightfully stick figure cartoonish. It fits the game nicely and really nails the nostalgic feel of the Where’s Waldo books. They also have really gentle, relaxing, and peaceful music. We felt like we could happily spend hours exploring the maps and interacting with the different pieces presented while listening to the sound track and hunting down every last elusive little item.
There are a total of 26 maps in the story mode. They’ve also added a Map Editor mode where users can make their own maps and share them with everyone else. In this mode you have tons of options and can choose from everything in the game to populate your maps; structures, props, characters, animals, and the environmental elements (plants, trees, and rocks). Once you’re happy with your map you can play it locally or upload it for others to play online.
That leads right to the Online mode which lets you play maps created by other users and give them feedback in the form of Thumbs Up or Down. Some of the user made maps are very easy with only a few items placed and others are more elaborate where you can tell the creator spent some time to make a really enjoyable map or tell a little story.
We was surprised by the amount of options you have for searching the online maps. You can search based on like percentage, most played, most cleared, clear percentage, most recent and oldest. You can also favorite maps to find them again quickly if you want to come back to them.
The thing we loved the most about Where’s Waldo wasn’t finding Waldo. It was discovering all of the other little stories and activities that were happening on the page. This game captures that spirit perfectly. Every map had such interesting things happening and captured a little slice of the world with so many things to discover.
Hidden Through Time is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Vasilis from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Marginal Act
Kind of a weird story. If you’re looking for a slow paced game this is probably right up your alley. If you’re not a fan of walking simulators it may not be a good fit.
Hand drawn in black and white side scrolling adventure.
The story is based on political events in Ukraine during 2014. You play an elderly lady named Vasilis who is trying to locate her husband. While searching for him you’ll have to make your way through the troubled city. There are riots happening throughout the city as it starts to burn.
You have several locations to visit while exploring the town. The locations start to become weirder the further into the story you progress.
You’ll pick up items around the town to trade with the townspeople for other items necessary to continue the story and access new areas. There were a few times during the earlier “days” where we were unsure what to trade to whom in order to progress. We traded every item we had until finally finding the right thing. This was only confusing during the earlier parts of the game as it became clearer what you needed to trade with whom during the later days.
Most of the actual game play is walking back and forth around the town locating items to trade and going from location to location. It starts to feel like a walking simulator.
The controls are pretty simple but a little loose. We found the in game map to be pretty useless since you will be going to the same locations over and over again. You will also pick up a to-do list which will help you figure out what to do and where to go.
There were a few times we got stuck on invisible walls which became a little frustrating. Moving Vasilis around with the thumbstick seemed loose and it was very easy to drift up or down while trying to walk a straight line. We had better results using the D-pad to ensure there was no vertical drift when trying to walk horizontally across the screen.
The artstyle is hand drawn in black and white. Most of the animations are very simple with only a few frames that repeat over and over again.
The audio is very minimalistic. There’s not so much a “soundtrack” as there is different background or ambient noises for different locations. There’s no voice acting either. Just a “scratching” sound to represent speech while dialog boxes are on the screen.
The game is a little short and can be completed in just a few hours depending on how familiar you become with the best paths to traverse the town. After about an hour of walking back and forth you’ll wish there was the option to allow Vasilis to run.
Vasilis is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSP and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
7th Sector from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Носков Сергей
A really good and challenging puzzle game.
A side scrolling dystopian cyberpunk puzzle game.
This is a visually dark game with a correspondingly dark narrative. The lighting and color palette really sell the dystopian cyberpunk future. You’ll want to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of the levels as that’s where you’ll see the majority of the narrative taking place.
The story is elegantly told without saying a single word. It unfolds organically while playing the game, scanning HDD’s, and watching the background to see what is happening.
The sound track and graphics are very well done. They really capture the feel of a dystopian future. The soundtrack is never overwhelming. It subtly enhances the feeling of the environment and transitions from level to level.
You start out as a little spark of energy traversing your way around the levels using power cables strung along the floor, walls, and ceilings. You will need to jump between these to gain access to other areas in the levels. As you move through the levels you’ll take over different objects from a remote control car, a robot ball that rolls around the floor, a mech with a gun, and more. Each new form will introduce new unique mechanics that will be needed to solve the different puzzles.
The puzzles are typically math, logic, and physics based. Some of the puzzles or obstacles have an element of timing or luck involved which can be a little annoying after multiple restarts.You can brute force some of the puzzles while others require a little more time and effort as a wrong answer results in death and a restart from checkpoint. We found a few of them to be harder than they should be due to the “answer key” or clues being too small and hard to see due to the lighting or issue with the controls or physics. Most of the puzzles will have different solutions when reloading which will either keep you thinking or frustrate you depending on how you feel.
One thing is for sure, the developer does not believe in holding your hand. They give only the bare minimum of instruction at the beginning of the game. The rest is up to you to learn through trial and error. As a result, some of the puzzles will take a few deaths to figure out what you need to do.
The game has 4 different endings that are determined by the extra puzzles you solve or not while playing through the levels. It has 48 different levels and can be completed in a few hours.
7th Sector is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
You select your vehicle, the music track, the game mode, and the level. Your objective is to collect the notes by driving over them while avoiding red obstacles. At the end of the level you’ll see how many notes you hit, your combo, your score, and how many stars you earned out of 3.
The controls are simple. You only use the d-pad or the left thumb stick to move left or right on the road while driving. There is no acceleration or braking. You could play this game one handed if you wanted to.
It has retrowave style graphics with a lot of neon. The levels are extremely colorful and the game has a photosensitivity warning before you start the game. This warning is well deserved. If you have any issues with bright or flashing lights you should stay away. While our reviewer doesn’t have any issues with photosensitivity they did find that they could only play for a maximum of an hour at a time due to the eye strain from the light.
The audio is good and the soundtrack is enjoyable. The game has a large track list with 23 songs you can pick from.
There are 14 different levels you can choose from and you can choose any song to play on the level. You can also choose from any of 25 different vehicles; one of which is a giant bird.
Most of the cars will look familiar. They feature the Delorean from Back to the Future, KITT from Knight Rider, the TRON bike as well as a bunch of other well known vehicles. You can customize the color of the car and rims which adds to the enjoyment of the game.
The game has 4 different modes to fit your mood.
Standard: You drive over the notes and try to avoid the red obstacles. Hitting obstacles breaks your combo, reduces notes collected, and slows you down.
Hard: Same premise as Standard but with a greater penalty for hitting an obstacle. Instead of just breaking your combo it ends your run.
Zen: A more relaxed game mode without any obstacles to worry about. You can freely “zen-out” collecting notes and enjoying the music.
Cinematic: Puts you in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat allowing you to move the camera around and enjoy the scenery. There are no notes to collect. Just a relaxed audiovisual experience. It reminded us a little of the experience of watching the visualizations on media player or winamp in full screen.
We did wish that there was an option to create a playlist for the Cinematic mode as it would be a great addition to have playing in the background of a party. It would also be nice to be able to upload your own music and extend your playtime.
Sadly there is no leader board or any sort of internal tracking that shows what songs you have or haven’t played or what your current high score/star count is. Score is only used as ingame currency to unlock some of the cars and levels. Fortunately, you can replay the same levels and songs over and over and continue earning more currency.
A very bright audiovisual experience. Good music selections to choose from. You might need sunglasses.
Music Racer is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
This is a classic pinball game that harkens back to long hours spent at the arcade. All of the tables let you toggle between a snazzy animated landscape and the original version of the tables at any time. Seeing the tables in the original version really adds to the nostalgia and captures the feel of playing the tables in person. The animated versions are fun and provide more interaction than their more static counterparts.
Each table has a great animated LED Score screen. They also each have a skippable intro that gives you history on the table.
No Good Gofers
A golf themed table that reminds me a little of the Caddyshack film as you are harassed by a pair of gophers. The table is really colorful and has a cartoonish look and the animated golfer freaking out breaking his clubs and tossing them around was nicely done and fit the table.
Out of the 3 tables in the pack this table seems to be the simplest and is the only table to have a 3rd flipper. That’s right, a 3rd flipper. It’s on the right side in the upper part of the table and is tied to the traditional right flipper. It’s nice having the assistance getting a little more oomph out of your shots but requires some quick reflexes to take the best advantage of it.
This table has a Circus theme. You have the option to change the color of the neon lights and the ball before you start the table. The table is very colorful and has more lights on it than the other tables in this pack.
One of our favorite things about this table is the Greenfaced Ringmaster. In the animated version he taunts you and dances around on the side talking smack everytime you make a mistake. In both the animated and physical version of the table his head pops out at the back of the table and opens a target for you to shoot with your ball. After all that taunting it’s rather satisfying to knock him in the noggin a time or two when you get the chance.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
This table takes us through several of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. There is a huge Genie, a flying carpet, and fireballs in the animated version. The original version has a physical genie and both versions of the table have a magic lamp that spins around on the table when you hit it with the ball. The lamp is an interesting twist that introduces some extra challenge to the table. Depending on the position of the lamp, different pathways are either open or blocked. This introduced a much higher level of challenge for scoring but also a really fun mechanic.
With the addition of the extra obstacles on this table it requires a lot of skilled shots to make it through the challenges or to successfully complete any of the stories from the Tales.
Whether you’re a pinball wizard or not, this expansion offers something fun and can help you while away many hours.
Williams Pinball: Volume 5 is available on Android, Mac OSX, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One and iOS. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition From GrimTalin
A monochromatic 8-bit retro platformer.
In typical platformer fashion, your objective is to explore and move around the level by jumping from platform to platform, collecting coins, gems, and chests, placing crystals on pedestals, and shooting jars for a chance to find hidden coins. You will also need to evade the traps (spikes, saws, and arrows that come from everywhere) and of course there are enemies to evade or kill (scorpions, snakes, and bats). There are a couple of special enemy types that cannot be killed and must simply be avoided; spiders and ghosts. The spiders have an interesting mechanic associated with them that makes them more of an obstacle than an enemy.
You can jump, shoot, and move left and right. As you might have gathered, the controls are pretty simple and they work pretty well. Your character will generally turn and jump the way you would expect her to. Your gun can only hold two bullets at a time and shoots straight ahead in whichever direction you’re facing. You’ll want to bear this in mind when planning your ammo pickups. You’ll also need to be careful not to waste too many shots. If you find yourself out of ammo and out of pickups, fear not, you can leave the room and come back to respawn the ammo pickups. Besides enemies, you can also shoot the many vases scattered around the levels as well as a few destructible walls.
There are platforms that will move left to right or up and down once you are standing on them as well as ones that will dissolve after a second of standing on it. We ran into a few issues with the moving platforms getting in the way and stopping us from being able to access the area we wanted to access. Traveling to a different room and back again reset them and we were able to complete the objective by trying a different method or order of steps. You’ll find that you often have to travel between rooms to complete puzzles because you’ll need an object from one room to trigger something in the next. This is especially true for accessing blocked off areas found further in on each of the levels.
In the first 2 temples you have unlimited lives, which is a good thing because everything in the game will insta-kill you. Picking up an item and traveling to a new screen both function as a checkpoint so when you die you will respawn at the beginning of that screen or wherever the last item pickup was located. This allows for some strategy to come into play which becomes important and useful in some of the later rooms.
The 3rd temple is different. There are fire pits around the map that serve as checkpoints when you reach them. You also have semi-limited lives. When you die, initially you will respawn the same way you did in the earlier temples. But when you run out of hearts, you’ll be sent back to the last fire pit you reached. These fire pits that serve as checkpoints also fully refill your lives. There are also items you can pick up to increase your total number of lives. Some of these can refill your lives when picked up.
The map can be accessed by pressing the “+” on your Nintendo Switch. It is your friend and can be accessed at any time. You’ll find it very helpful for tracking where you are in relation to your objective. It is a very simplified map that really only shows the outlines of the rooms and where the doors are.
The chiptunes soundtrack and sound effects fit the retro feel perfectly and go nicely with the artstyle. They chose to do something interesting here with the visuals for the game as you’re playing the game on a system within your system. In game you can use the bumpers at any time to cycle through playing the game on a TV, a Computer Monitor, or an OG Gameboy among other options. Each game system has its own color scheme and backdrop of a different room. You can choose one based on which you prefer. You can use the triggers to zoom in or out depending on how much of the backdrop you want to see or how much of the in game screen you want filling your screen. So you’re playing on your real world gaming system and then on the virtual world gaming system inside it. It’s truly emulating the time period the retro graphics came from.
There are 3 different temples to play from and each one has its own gimmick. The first Temple “Chalice of the Gods” is relatively simple and a good beginners introduction to the game.
The second temple “The Golden Spider” builds on what you learned in the first temple. It is more challenging and becomes frustrating at times as you have to first locate orbs that need to be placed on a pedestal. If you die before placing the orb on the pedestal you’ll lose the orb and have to go back, sometimes several rooms away, to pick it up again. It also has platforms that move when you jump making you think before you jump to ensure you land on the platforms.
The third level “The Orb of Life” has an interesting twist with checkpoints discussed above and portals that allow you to teleport to other locations or rooms. We liked the additional puzzle elements introduced with the portals and checkpoints.
You are able to get different unlockables/modifiers like Double Jumps, Infinite Ammo, Rhino Armor, Campfires, and Limited Lives that can be toggled on or off at the beginning of the level and change the gameplay by making it easier or harder depending on which you have toggled on. Most of these will unlock by completing the temples. However, the Rhino Armor (which is SUPER handy and makes you unkillable) can only be obtained by taking a path that is outside the normal map.
A fun, classic platformer with a variety of obstacles and mechanics. A retro classic worth playing for a well done slice of nostalgia.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Itch.io. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.