video games

WAYWARD MANOR Scare Guide: Chapter 1

GamesKristina PinoComment

I've finally started playing Wayward Manor, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. I want you to have fun with it too, so I'm writing this guide with tips for getting all of the scares. Or at least, as many of them as I can decipher. Everyone gets stuck playing games with puzzles, and there's no shame in looking up a few solutions.

Chapter 1:  A Long-Awaited Reunion


In this attic room, you need to scare a burgling ruffian called Benny. You only need six scares to clear, but which ones will you employ, and will you go for all of the Secret Scares? Here are all the scares I achieved, mostly in no particular order, but numbered nonetheless:

Important note: Once you get the six scares and one big skull is floating at the top of your screen, it's still possible to continue scaring and messing around before you chase out whoever is in the room. Clicking on that skull will end this stage and let you move on to the next.

1. There are two bottles up on the rafters. Click the one to the right once to get Benny to move into place, and again to smash him over the head with it.

2. Manipulate the windows and the plates on the wall until you get Benny in position to knock the left-side bottle from up on the rafters down onto his head.

3. Manipulate the plate and window on the right side until Benny is in place to whiz another now-clickable bottle at him for a scare. This bottle will go from where it is at the boom of your screen, straight up and to the wall.

4. Repeat task 3, but move him to the left side of the room until you can throw the 4th bottle at him.

After a few scares, the coat rack should also become clickable. What it does is entice Benny to charge it like a bull. You can move it across the room using drafts from the windows. The coat rack requires a little planning - you can click on it at any point while it travels across the room to stop it and start the bull-charging action.

5. Get the coat rack in position straight up from the cart on the bottom-right of your screen stacked with china. You can get the oaf to charge straight into the cart for a scare.

6. Getting the coat rack in position for the left-side china cart is slightly trickier, because it wants to stop in front of a random low table. You have to stop it yourself at just the right time.

7. While Benny is stunned from running into a china cart, move the coat rack to the center of the room and click it again - he'll charge straight into the china cabinet behind the chest.

8. and 9. To get the plates hanging on the wall, you'll have to maneuver Benny around as before - getting him to charge to the bottom of your screen, then positioning the coat rack just so. It needs to line up directly to the plate, else he won't knock it down.

Secret Scares:

  • Bottled Up: Achieved by destroying all bottles (first four tasks on my list).
  • Grand China Crash: Achieved by Breaking the China Cabinet (task 7).
  • Bull in a China Shop: Achieved by breaking the China carts and plates on the wall. As far as I know, this is only achievable in a minimum of 7 scares (tasks 5, 6, 8, and 9). It's tricky and potentially frustrating if you don't notice you can keep scaring after you "clear" the stage.


1 and 2. Click on the hidey holes near the mannequins at the top of the screen to scare Dagmara with some rat tails as she walks by. She'll board up the holes after the scares.

3 and 4. You can scare Dagmara with the mouse two times. The first time, she'll board up one of the mouse holes, but it works the same way both times: have the mouse scurry along just as she's walking across its path. It might take a few tries to get the timing just right.

5. Open up the mouse trap and get her to walk right into it for another scare.

6 and 7. Send her diagonally across the room both ways (manipulate the mannequins to get her to cross the room) to nail her with the bottles up on the rafters.

8. Get her to walk past the suit of armor at the top-left of the room, and click it to send her flying across the room. Before she crashes into the cart on the right side, click on the other suit of armor to send her crashing to the bottom of your screen.

9. Repeat task 8, but this time let her crash into the cart at the top-right for another scare.

10. This task might require you to play this stage twice (skip tasks 3, 4, and 5 to avoid that), but it's required if you want to get all Secret Scares. Open up the mouse trap when it becomes clickable, and trap the rat with it by having it scurry across the room (and straight into your trap).

11. Get another scare on Dagmara by having her walk right into the trap while the mouse is in it.

Secret Scares:

  • Rat Trap: Achieved by completing task 10.
  • Ping Pong: Achieved by completing task 8.
  • Double Bottle: Achieved by completing tasks 6 and 7.


Dagmara and Benny are in the same room now, which makes things look a little more daunting and complicated, but I promise they aren't.

1. When Dagmara is at the bottom-left mannequin, drop that bottle on her head.

2. As she patrols somewhere at the top of the screen, drop the bottle up there to get her attention and line her up for another head-drop.

3. Toss the bottle at the top-left as she walks by.

4. Get Dagmara to the top-right mannequin, then touch a plate to get Benny turned around. Click on the flag across from him to get him to charge. He'll knock the plate from the wall and right over Dagmara's head. At this point, she should have a splitting headache.

5 and 6. You can get a mouse in the trap and scare Dagmara with it for a double-scare. Skip if you're going for Secret Scares.

7. You can also activate the mouse trap and have Dagmara walk into it herself.

8. Important: you should skip this task if you're going for the Secret Scares. Get the coat rack to the center of the room (in between the lines) and after getting Benny to turn around, have him run it through, straight into the barrel of explosives. You can score a scare in this way.

9. You can scare Dagmara without touching the mouse holes by having Benny charge the red flag at the right moment. When he hits the wall, the mouse will scurry across to another hole. If you get the timing just right and manage to give Dagmara two mouse-related scares without touching any mouse holes, you'll get a Secret Scare.

10. If you don't care about the Secret Scare, you can have the mouse scurry across her path by clicking on the mouse holes as she walks around her side of the room.

11. Position the coat rack just over the markings on the floor so it's lined up with the plate on the right-side wall. Get him across the room by charging the flag, then click on the coat rack to get him to run into the wall with the plate for another scare.

12. Click on the suit of armor at the top-right to bump the explosives barrel down, and the right side suit of armor to bump it all the way to the center of the room, by the boxes. Then, move the coat rack to inside the lines, and get Benny's attention. Click on the coat rack to get him to charge to the right, then again right away so he charges left, straight into the barrel. Dagmara will notice him when the boxes in between their sides of the room explode.

Secret Scares:

  • Plate on a Maid: Achieved by completing task 4.
  • Surprise Mice Twice: Achieved by completing task 9 (don't touch mouse holes).
  • Intruder Alert: Achieved by completing task 12.


Now we're introduced to another character, Hubert, who seems awful. His role in this stage is to shove explosives into things. Click on any statue/mannequin, and he'll scurry over to it and shove an explosive in its mouth, then go hide. It won't explode right away, though - you have to click on it again to get the fuse going, and it explodes a few seconds later from there.

1. Your first scare should be to click on the rat tail hidey hole as Dagmara patrols by to the bottom-right mannequin.

2. Important: this can go two ways depending on whether you want the Secret Scare or not. Activate the mouse trap and have the mouse run into it for one scare.

2a. From here, you can click on the mouse again to get Hubert to shove explosives in the mouse, and then click again to make it explode for a Secret Scare.

2b. Or you could just let Dagmara discover the trapped mouse for a regular scare.

3. You could also just activate the trap and let Dagmara walk into it.

4. Get scares on Dagmara by having a mouse scurry by her as she patrols. Reminder: a mouse hole is destroyed each time you scare her in this way.

5. Drop some bottles on Dagmara's head. Start with the one on the right-hand side in the usual way: click it once to get her in position, and a second time to let her have it.

6. Use the suit of armor to bump the cart with a mannequin/statue on top to the right, and drop the bottle to the left to get Dagmara moving. Before she makes it to the bottle drop zone, click on the top-center hidey hole for another rat tail scare.

7. Continue with the bottle scare, letting it drop on her head once you get her in position.

8. As mentioned before, Hubert has a penchant for sticking things with explosives. You can get a scare on Dagmara by exploding a mannequin/statue while she's tidying it up.

9. You can get a scare on Hubert by blowing up a statue that's sitting over his hiding place, too.

10. After completing task 9: With the cart wheeled over to the top-right of the screen, load it up with explosives, and when Dagmara's standing in front of it, blow it up for a double scare.

Secret Scares:

  • Double Tail: Achieved by completing tasks 1 and 6.
  • Double Bang: Achieved by completing task 10.
  • Exploding Rat: Achieved by completing task 2a.


For the final stage of chapter 1, it's just you and Benny again.

1. Drop the right-side bottle to get Benny to walk right to the drop zone for the bottle on the left.

2 and 3. Open and close the windows until you can drop the remaining two bottles over Benny's head as he walks by.

4. When Benny resets to the chest, open up the window at the bottom-left to make it slide away from him for a scare. Make sure he's engaged in tinkering with the box to spook him.

5. Get another easy scare by knocking the barrel of explosives away with the suit of armor, then manipulating the window and bumping the chest away from Benny again, towards the back of the room (the barrel won't scare him, but you can nail him twice with the sliding chest trick). Skip this task if you want the Secret Scares.

6 and 7. Get Benny to smash into the barrels by charging them with the help of the coat rack. Manipulate the windows to get it positioned just right.

8. Have Benny charge the red flag - straight into the wall. A bottle will fall on his head.

9. If you haven't yet, bump the barrel at the bottom-right with the suit of armor to explode the boxes at the top-right, clearing the way for Benny to charge the china cabinet. Bonus set-up: manipulate the window at the bottom-left to slide the chest into position to get bumped later in task 11.

10. After task 9: bump the barrel at the top-left with the suit of armor, straight into Benny. (This task assumes you charged the china cabinet and Benny's stunned)

11. After task 10: Quickly open a window to move the coat rack away, and use the suit of armor at the bottom-right to bump the chest towards Benny.  It's fine if Benny starts walking across the room, the chest will meet him somewhere mid-way.

12. Line up the coat rack with the china cabinet on the left side. Manipulate the lower-left window to get Benny across the room, and tag the coat rack to get him to charge that cabinet for another scare.

Secret Scares:

  • Haunted Chest: Achieved by completing task 4.
  • Triple Explosion Madness: Achieved by completing tasks 6, 7, and 10.
  • Chest to his Chest: Achieved by completing task 11

And with that, you're done with chapter 1! I hope this guide has been helpful. If I'm missing any scares or if any of my information is inaccurate, let me know! What I've listed here are simply my observations.

Friday Things: 06/01 - your own little infinite dungeon corridor

LinksKristina PinoComment

[June already?]

On Books:

First Second have a book coming out in September called The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, which is the story of zoo animals performing in a production of Macbeth. Sounds adorable.

25 fantastic nail art designs based on books over at Buzzfeed.

Cool news for Hunger Games fans - there'll be an exhibition touring the US in summer 2015.

On Games:

Some interesting reading material concerning Anita Sarkeesian and the topic of sexism in video games and fans of the medium.

Nifty video if you're interested in random trivia about Super Mario.

Art and Fashion:

This girl went to prom cosplaying as Belle, and she looked fantastic. One day I want to attend a fancy dress ball wearing that! (via CheezBurger)

I love watching people draw nice art, and I'm fascinated when it turns out to be the kind of art that looks 3D when you see it from an angle. See a cool video here.


"The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Depp is in negotiations to star as world famous magician and escape artist  Harry Houdini in Lionsgate/Summit’s The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero." (via Nerdist)

Interesting new product by ThinkGeek that reminds me a lot of the long hallway in Disney's The Haunted Mansion.

Infinite Dungeon Corridor

Infinite Dungeon Corridor

[Have a great week!]

Link Bits: GAME OF THRONES-style cabaret

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Mid-week! Time for beer!]

St. Patrick's Day is coming up this month, and if you're interested in getting into the spirit with some delicious sweets, check out the how-to video above (link here).

Another Batman game has been announced, and there's even a trailer out. Which reminds me, I really need to catch up - I haven't played Batman: Arkham Origins yet. Whoooops.

Game of thrones Opening Titles from Mathilde Loubes on Vimeo. I think I like this fan-made Game of Thrones opening sequence better than the original.

Very cool photo project by Andrew Whyte that involves taking a LEGO mini figure (with its own little mini camera) around everywhere, and then shooting pictures of it with an iPhone. Nothing but love for this. He calls it  Legography.

Game of Thrones cabaret posters.

New manga acquisitions by VIZ Media for Shonen Jump:

  • One Piece box set 2: Skypeia and Water 7 (Nov. 2014, print)
  • Assassination Classroom (Dec. 2014, print and digital)
  • Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (by Akira Toriyama, release in Jan. 2015, print and digital)

New VIZ Signature manga title:

Resident Evil (5-volume prequel to the game RE6, releases Nov. 2014). Summary:

"At the prestigious and elite Marhawa High School in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms."
Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at!

Paper Mario: Sticker Star - crumpled and dog-eared

GamesKristina Pino1 Comment
I'm playing Paper Mario: Sticker Star on my 3DS right now. I was pretty excited to buy it and the art style looked cute and all, but now that I'm playing it I'm wishing I'd read more reviews to prevent my current woes.

Using stickers and tape to modify the environment is a nice idea, but the battle system is sorely lacking. It's simple enough: turn-based, with an opportunity to strike up to three times (which expends up to three stickers from your inventory). The bigger problem I have with it is you gain nothing from fighting monsters except the occasional coins. All the fights do is waste your stickers and lower your health bar. I wish this game took more to the style of Kirby's Epic Yarn, where encounters with monsters remained in the world (and aren't moved to a battle arena). Just make it so we could use stickers in the environment, and boom. Problem solved.

Besides that, I feel like some of the puzzles aren't as intuitive as they should be, and I also don't like that you have to run through some levels several times to pick up one-time-use items instead of just moving from world to world until you finish the game. Oh, and then the in-game guide you have floating around and helping you play? That jerk scolds me when I beat monsters without using the approved/preferred strategy. Nice.

Can't wait to be done with this game and move on to something else.

Friday Things: 10/05 - updates, flying with ebooks, and Disney villainy

LinksKristina PinoComment

Japanator, one of the sites I'm a contributor of, has recently gone through some huge changes (mostly administrative ones, as well as seen the return of some old hats). If you're into Japanese media (anime, movies, manga, music, games) or just like reading updates on the latest fashion or food trends in Japan, do check them out for regular news, reviews, and editorials. I tend to write about books/pub news, travel in Japan, and food on there, myself.

On with the links!

On Books:

Just as I sign up for Oyster, another ebook subscription service starts making the rounds on the book blogs. Check out Scribd, now making headlines because HarperCollins has signed on with them.

Around the beginning of this year, I wrote an article on  Quirk Books about a few literary adaptations coming to theaters this year, and I, Frankenstein is one of the movies I listed. It's now been pushed back to 2014, and there's a trailer out! It looks pretty exciting. (via HuffPo)

Check out this Scholastic Q&A video with Kazu Kibuishi, who illustrated the new covers for the Harry Potter books.

If you're looking forward to the next Bridget Jones book, here's the latest juicy info to get you ready.

A little girl spotted some awfully sexist books in the kids' section of the book store, and they were all pulled from the shelves. Fantastic~

Going to New York Comic Con ? Check out Quirk Books while you're there!

While you're at NY for NYCC, also hop on over to The Morgan to check out the Edgar Allan Poe Exhibition.

"20 Essential Words We Got From Literature"

On Disney:

Yet another reason to love Disney - they're promoting part timers to full time hours so they can qualify for Obamacare.

There's a new book out about Roy E. Disney, and you bet your bottom I'll be reading it.

Cutest Disney Skipper ever gives a tour of the area around Jungle Cruise, which is undergoing renovations.

Live-action Cruella is the next Disney villains movie.

OMG Disney villains make-up. GIMME. ALL OF IT.

Check out an interview with Jodi Benson, voice of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid, now released on Blu-ray.

On Comics:

This is a cool trailer thingy about Wonder Woman. I'd like to make a distinction here, though - it's a great project, and it's super cool-looking, but it isn't a movie nor proof that the team behind it could make an amazing WW movie. It's what a trailer might look like for a good Wonder Woman movie. One we really need, of course.

All-new She-Hulk ongoing series - yay!

Lynda Carter has a few good things to say about why Hollywood is failing at Wonder Woman movie-making.

On Games:

Cute Pokémon-themed engagement ring: Trainer's Band (via Fashionably Geek)

If you're a fan of The Cave, which is now available for iOS by the way, check out this interview with Ron Gilbert on SEGA's blog.

I've played Deponia, and Chaos on Deponia, and the third and final installment is finally on the horizon. Yes, I'll be playing and reviewing it, and I'll also be writing up a guide. Because I love you.


Yelling at your kids as an alternative to spanking? It may actually be just as bad.

Hey, guess what? The FAA has decided that it's actually safe to use ereaders and other electronic devices during flight take-off and landing , as long as the communications/signals are off.

[Ok, that's it! Enjoy! Yay!]

Game Impressions: FFXIV

GamesKristina Pino4 Comments

I can't talk about how much I've been playing FFXIV and cut a link dump short without something to show for it, right? Because otherwise I'd be just like this little lady here...

So here goes. I'm going to do this bullet point-style, and it'll be brief (I hope) because I'm still really in the beginning, here. I've had the game less than a week, and I'm playing on two different servers (two different groups of people I wanted to play with, so there's that). If you want the "full disclosure" on how far I've gotten into the game, one of my characters is level 21 and just past her first three instances that involve a full party. The second character is slightly behind, at the point just before those three fights. I'm playing Arcanist (I couldn't resist a class that literally fights with books) and Archer for now. You can check my progress at any time by clicking on my character names in my sidebar with handy links to Lodestone.

Cons (let's get this out of the way): 

  • Even in the span of just a few days, there've been aspects of the game that I hated when I first started and have either gotten used to or warmed up to now. One of the biggest things I very much dislike about FFXIV is the movement. Is it too much to ask that when I punch a directional button my character just run in that direction? Am I missing some setting that I can adjust to make that happen?
  • Something that goes hand-in-hand with my problems with the movement: the camera. I can't swing the camera anywhere I like without it suddenly resetting to its position behind my character. At the very least, I would like it to gracefully slide back to position rather than what it does now, which is reset in just one frame. It's abrupt and it makes my eyes hurt. I've had to re-train my hands to just (literally) not look around the environment with the camera because I don't want it to reset, which has the added effect of completely disorienting me.
  • Every time something happens (completing a quest, opening a new option, etc.), this huge banner comes up on the screen with fanfare to herald and sing your praises. While cool, all it does is block my view, and in some cases, it blocks animations that are supposed to be charming and fun with its stupid gold letter-ness (like when you've opened access to staterooms and leves, the characters do cute little welcoming motions, which are blocked by the ugly banners). 
  • Speaking of blocking my view, I preferred it when my keybind/macro sets disappeared while not in use (like in FFXI). Talk about a cluttered screen, paired with the mission help on the right side. You might be thinking, "but Kristina, that widget is totally optional, but so useful!" To that I say - the game pretty much gives you everything on a silver platter, so much so that it's almost pointless to read the dialogue. Even when I do read the dialogue, I find myself looking there anyway since it's such a sexy, handy list of things I need to do and in what order I need to do them. I should be happy that my compulsion for lists is gratified by this widget, but I hate it because it just reinforces the fact that you don't need to try hard (or at all) to find things/people, and aren't really encouraged to explore for the sake of it. If the list isn't enough, look no further than the mini map for directions to exactly every NPC and even monster patrol area you need in order to complete your duties. There is no thinking involved, except for battle strategy, which is basically mashing the same two attacks over and over since I'm a low level character.
  • I'm not saying the game is "too easy," and I shouldn't complain about that because it really saves time, but I feel like there could be a better way to make it friendly to all sorts of gamers while not making it completely... well, mindless. Like, seriously, all you have to do is follow the icons on the mini map and the list on the right automatically checks everything off as you go. 
  • I cant just tab onto an NPC and initiate a conversation with them using the [enter] key. I don't like having to use the mouse for dialogue, trading items, or other little things. Or really, at all. I really wish I could play this with only the keyboard. 
  • Is there a point to merchants or gil in FFXIV? So far, I've gotten all I need from quests and dungeons, and have only spent gil on birds or teleports. For that matter, is there a point to craft/synth jobs at the moment?

Pros (finally, right?):

  • The immersive cutscenes/cinematics are absolutely brilliant. I love that my character interacts with the NPCs/environment no matter what gear I'm wearing, with unique movements, meaningful expressions, and does it seamlessly. It definitely gives me that special, heart-warming fuzzy feeling of playing a game that's all about me, even if there are 20 other players crowded around me seeing the same cutscene I just did.
  • All the areas are stunning, and I'm so happy that I'm running the game on a computer that could take full advantage of the graphics. Every time I pass by water, I marvel at its wetness. When I pass through canopy areas while it's raining and it's dry in some spots but wet in others? I swoon. All the colors becoming more vibrant when the in-game day is reaching its end? Breathtaking. When I'm in a zone experiencing a thunderstorm and the lightning flashes, casting stark shadows in some areas and bright spots in others? Glory.
  • The voice-acting is rather good, and I like that it's part of the game. I kind of wish there were more of it, though I've thought since day one that the only reason there aren't is because half the NPC names aren't even pronounceable. Still, it's in the "pro" list because it's awesome. 
  • You can dye your gear the colors that you like? Just when I thought that I couldn't be swayed by little gimmicks, this comes around and takes me by surprise. It's one of those things that I didn't know I wanted until it came my way. 
  • Though I generally like Fate and the idea of Fate, I hate that sometimes, I'm just in the area for a quest or I'm running through, and I'm suddenly attacked by a bunch of Fate monsters because I'm automatically initiated into the fight just by being there. I'm undecided whether I'm overall for or against it, but the pros outweigh the cons. If I'm not the appropriate level (or if I'm unwilling to participate), I can just walk out of the area of influence, or, in the case of being too high level, just click "level sync" and fight.
  • The. Soundtrack. Is. Awesome. 
  • Though originally I thought it was kind of detached, I've come to appreciate that it doesn't matter where you are in Eorzea if you want to initiate stuff with friends. See a friend online you want to invite to your linkshell or free company? No need to go meeting up somewhere to trade a linkpearl, just invite them. Want to form a party? It doesn't matter how far away you are from each other. Newbie in the linkshell needs help with a dungeon? You're just one click away from a teleport into the instance so long as someone can bring it up on their duty list. It completely eliminates travel time and focuses instead on doing things at the moment people can do them. 
  • Being able to save your gear sets and store them all in your personal armory which is separate from general inventory is god-sent. No longer will I need to go look for a Moogle or head to my stateroom to do a gear-change before some mission, instance, or fighting some monster. Oh hey, I'm playing Conjurer right now, but what my group really needs is a tank? Cool, lemme just change my gear and we're good to go. No, don't wait up - see? I'm already done. 
  • The Aetheryte system for zipping from place to place in the main cities is great, and I love that by attuning to each in-town crystal you then unlock the ability to zip straight outside through whatever gate you wish. Overall, giving everyone the ability to teleport as they please is a huge time-saver, as is the Chocobo porter system, which I find both useful and charming. Look ma' -- no hands!

Alright, this has turned into a pretty long thing, so I'll leave it at this for now. Like I mentioned before, I'm still pretty much a newbie, so my feelings on some of these things are definitely going to change over time. Also, being able to team up with my friends has played a huge role in my enjoyment of the game. While I was leveling up my first character solo, I felt like I was playing a solo RPG - and a game that practically played itself at that. Once I joined up the free company and linkshell my buds were on (about 17 levels in), things improved 100%. What I call "mindless" in the "con" section is bearable because I can just pal around with my buds while doing it.

Of course, your own thoughts and experiences are welcome in the comments. Also, if you happen to be in Hyperion or Excalibur, we should be friends or something! My info is on this site's sidebar.

Story Mode Complete: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

GamesKristina PinoComment

So I finished playing Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. It's charming, it's beautiful, and it's absolutely worth your time - especially if you're a fan of Disney in general, but also if you're a fan of great art- and sprite-work being put into video games. If there's one major complaint I have about this game, it's that it was way too short.

Power of Illusion takes place after the events of Epic Mickey, but can be enjoyed independently of it. You've got the familiar paint/thinner mechanics, plus sketches; but besides that the game is more of an ode to Castle of Illusion and old 2D platformers, with a soundtrack that's reminiscent of, again, Epic Mickey.

After sucking all of the game play I possibly could out of Power of Illusion, I finally beat it and got to the end credits yesterday. I tried to artificially extend my game time by doing all of the side quests, rescuing all of the characters around the castle, and exploring all of the levels as many times as those quests called for it. But really, I feel like the game could have benefit so much by adding at least two more worlds. There were only three worlds with just a few stages each, so the game could be beat in an obscenely short amount of time quite easily.

The game mechanics were solid, albeit slightly repetitive. It made spectacular use of the dual screen, but the painting and thinning ended up being repetitive, having to paint and thin the same objects (using the stylus to outline said objects) in and out of existence over and over again, and there were very few opportunities to really make full use of the sketches. The pacing and everything was fantastic, and I loved how dynamic things became when the underwater world was introduced. I expected there to be another world behind it with even more wacky stages, but that ended up being the last one.

Another thing that was kind of weird is, though all of the princesses who appeared in the castle were still at the beginning of their respective storylines (Aurora was still with her aunts, Cinderella hadn't been to the ball, Tiana was still a frog, Rapunzel was still in her tower, etc.), some of them were wearing their iconic dresses. Ariel, Rapunzel, Snow White, Jasmine, and Mulan escaped this treatment, but Cinderella was in her ball gown, Aurora was in her pink gown from the end of the movie, and Tiana was in her frog-style wedding dress. I chalked it up to it just being another aspect of the illusory castle - that the princesses were whisked away and locked in while wearing some kind of dream outfit - but the weird continuity issues with that design decision still kind of stuck out. No, it isn't really a make-or-break problem with the game, nor does it hinder your game play whatsoever. It's just something I was thinking about.

After beating the final boss, the end credits were actually pretty satisfying. There's a great parade of the various characters you rescued coming in and having some final chit chat with Mickey before they went back to their own worlds. Some of them, like Ariel, were talking about the problems they were having at that point in their storylines, and even asked Mickey and Jiminy Cricket for advice or otherwise accepted some encouragement from them. Others were just ready to get home and keep on with their mission, like Rapunzel, who was getting ready to leave her tower, and Mulan, who needed to get to the Imperial City and save China. This was a little extra thing that I appreciated as a fan, since I was able to see where those characters came from.

I recommend the game, even though it felt like it was too short. Pool some money with your friends and just buy a copy to pass around if you don't think it's worth its retail value based on hours of enjoyment, or borrow it from someone you know! Again, it's absolutely worth your time, and you'll find it extra charming if you're also attached to the characters and properties referenced in the story.

iOS Gaming: Disney Mobile's 'Where's My Mickey?'

GamesKristina PinoComment

The latest addition to Disney Mobile's physics puzzler games in which you need to guide water to the proper pipe, Where's My Mickey?, has just recently been released. At a glance, it seems like an unneeded reiteration of a formula that worked rather well in Where's My Water? and found success with Where's My Perry? and all of their holiday spin-offs. I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that

Mickey? is actually a tie-in game for a new animated series.

The new tie-in game is done in the same kind of animation as the new show - vintage-feeling and goofy-looking, giving us the nostalgic feeling for the old-timey black and white cartoons of yore, except modern-like and in color. They're absolutely hilarious, and breathe new life into the Where's My..? games. When you download Mickey?, you start with four full-blown episodes that each have 20 stages (60 attainable stars) and plenty of attainable achievements. Besides the stars, you could collect various objects hidden in the sand and unlock special Pluto challenges. And if you feel like making some IAPs, you can buy some Goofy levels. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves, though.

Mickey needs water for his lemonade stand so he can cash in on thirsty beach-goers in the sweltering heat. He's trying to get water from the fountain, but it's up to you (the player) to guide it there. Besides the usual dirt (sand, this time) breaking during the basic levels, Disney Mobile added clouds and wind that we need to manipulate in order to get through each stage. It's actually pretty neat, and since the clouds drift with the wind, it all comes down to perfect timing for some stages.

After each stage, there's a funny little animation of Mickey pouring the water into his lemonade bin and then dropping a lemon (or a hundred lemons) in it. The lemons do different things, and some of the scenes actually made me laugh out loud. When you're done with the first episode, you get a cut scene, and then you can go back to the menu and pick the next episode and load up new challenges. At the time of writing this review, I went as far as beating the first episode before making an assessment.

I'd recommend Where's My Mickey? to anyone readily, now that I know it isn't just a lazy rehash of the other Where's My..? games. I like it better than Where's My Perry? , but I'm not sure whether it beats out Where's My Water? since Swampy is an all-original character. And of course, sometimes you just can't push aside the first in a series as being the better of the rest. Anyway, rest assured, Where's My Mickey? is worth your time and dough if you like physics puzzlers and The Mouse. It's charming and fun and challenging, and utilizes a sort of humor I haven't seen in Disney in a while. It's refreshing.

You should be playing 'Scurvy Scallywags'

GamesKristina PinoComment

It's been a little while since I wrote about any iOS games, and though I've been playing a few I like, I'm going to dedicate an entire non-review post on Ron Gilbert and Clayton Kauzlaric's latest release (their last game was The Big Big Castle!), Scurvy Scallyways in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG. Or just Scurvy Scallywags, for short. ($0.99 - universal for iDevices)

In this game, you get to play as a pirate (there are male and female options), and you start out as an actor in a play. Except you actually play out the scenes, and have cool battles, and collect funny songs. In-between story bits, you travel through different islands on your piratey vessel (totally upgrade-able), and each "level" is a match-3 board that looks altogether familiar. Except the mechanics of the game aren't totally what you're used to.

For one thing, the music is rad - composed by Steve Kirk, whose style you might recognize from The Big Big Castle! if you're also a fan of that title. The sound effects are also pretty funny (and satisfying, considering there are so many different kinds). The biggest change here from usual match-3 games is that the board moves in the direction that you swipe. If you swipe a row from left to right, that's the direction that new pieces will fill in, and so on, and so forth. Why is that important? Because there will also be enemies on the board that you can attack if you're strong enough. If you aren't, you've got to manipulate the board to keep away from them. By the way, they can also move around when they feel like it. Besides manipulating enemy locations around the board, you also need to plan your moves to get presents and quest items.

Other elements that rock: at the end of each stage, right when you're finished beating the last enemy, you get to spend some time picking up loot before you're kicked out. What rocks even more about this bit is you can opt to either pick up loot on a time limit, or sit and strategize five moves in an effort to optimize you gold-collecting. Strategy is the big theme here, since your pirate's life depends on it, and you also aren't on any kind of time limit on the regular boards. If you are on a level that will eventually see six monsters, for example, they may all very well be in play at the same time if you survive long enough without picking a fight with any of them. I tell ya, that makes for some exciting game time.

One other note is, it's pretty easy to get carried away and let your pirate die. And it's ok if he/she does. So okay, in fact, that there's an achievement for having that happen a certain number of times. In the event that your pirate bites it, you do have to do a few things over, but you don't lose your inventory, weapons and outfits, or ship upgrades. It's easy/quick to catch up again to where you were and keep on going with the story.

Scurvy Scallywags is every bit as fun and witty as you'd expect in any project involving Ron and Clayton, and more importantly, aims to be much more engaging than other games of its kind given the RPG elements and extra involved swapping on the matching boards. The reason I didn't make this a review-type post is (transparency!) because I participated in the testing for this game. So I've been playing it for a long time, and can tell you that you can spend hours on end blazing through the maps, but if you're more into short bursts, you can easily just play a few rounds on the go whenever you feel like. But the bigger thing here is that I've got "integrity" and "ethics" and stuff, and prefer to just talk about

Scurvy Scallywags because it's awesome.

So, yeah. Scurvy Scallywags is a fun game, and absolutely worth your 99 cents in the App Store. You don't need to buy anything in-game to enjoy it to the fullest, and you don't need to turn the volume down and listen to something else to avoid annoying, repetitive sound effects. Actually, it's kind of important that you keep the volume on.

[link to App Store]

Only the Best: 'Skyrim' covers

MusicKristina PinoComment

I've been finding more and more talented geek musicians on YouTube lately, and figured I'd start compiling collections of some of my favorites, separated by category. The first one is Skyrim because just yesterday I was exposed to two different covers that I absolutely loved, so here ya go.

It was hard to choose a song I liked best out of Malukah's repository, because huzzah for vocal covers! Seriously, this woman has the voice of an angel, and I have a good friend to thank for bringing her to my attention. Also consider checking out her blog.

Bonus: File this under "cover-ception" - someone covered Malukah's cover! It's rather pleasant to listen to.

Peter Hollens will come up twice on my list, only because he was a guest on someone else's cover of the same song. Here's the video for his solo a cappella version. This version of the song is available for download directly from the artist, too.

Since we've got Peter in there, let's highlight Lindsey Stirling's cover featuring him. I love most of Lindsey's work, and her videos are outstanding since many people get involved in the production. Apart from being able to download the song (or any of her other music), you could also just get some sheet music.

Jason Yang is one of the artists that I discovered yesterday (way too late). All of the music on his channel is spectacular, but of course, this list is about Skyrim. Like Miss Stirling above, Jason plays violin. Like what you see? Hit that download link.

Piano is my favorite instrument, so there was no way I'd let any cover list go without at least one featuring the best stringed instrument. I'm also partial to the fact that this is a geek girl duo (Taylor Davis and Lara). They have released a cover album together that you could totally buy and enjoy with your ear holes.

Advait Nemlekar didn't stop at the piano arrangement. He added strings and a synthesized orchestra behind him. Don't mind the cheesiness of the video and just enjoy the music. You could also download this track.

Am I missing anything?