Friday, 20 July 2012

Fishing Resort - Wii

While Japan and the US have been enjoying Fishing Resort/Family Fishing on Wii since last year, there is still no sign of a European release on the horizon. It's a real shame, as Yuji Naka's open-world take on fishing looks rather good.

Not only can you walk, cycle and sail through the game's appealing environments trying your hand at fishing for 200 species in a variety of locations, you can also take on quests, stroll through your own aquarium, modify your character, buy new equipment, explore the resort at your leisure and take on 20 additional mini-games.

With the Wii region locked and data loaders now redundant due to Nintendo's firmware updates, it looks as if this is one catch which will unfortunately slip through the fingers of European gamers.

There's no mention of Fishing Resort on Namco Bandai's release schedule for the remained of this year, while it was XSEED Games who released the game in the US.

What a shame.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Back in the air with FSX

Despite the fact I've just dropped 1200 Microsoft Points on the Alaskan Wilderness expansion pack for Microsoft Flight, it's their previous entry in the series which continues to give me much more pleasure.

Because of the closed nature of MS Flight - Microsoft charge for additional content via in-game purchases - the modding community has been bypassed entirely. A shame, as various teams and individuals continue to produce eye-popping add-ons for Microsoft's previous games in the series.

I've always enjoyed adding new texture meshes to the Flight Sim series but my creaking old computer never really did them justice. So to celebrate the arrival of my new PC, I decided to treat it to some new software for FSX.

The first item on the shopping list was to choose something from Orbx - a company who produce some remarkable scenery and texture meshes to enhance FSX. They have six packs on offer - Australia, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Fjords, Northern Rockies, Central Rockies and South Island: New Zealand.

I plumped for Pacific Northwest, which covers 156,000 square miles of western North America, comprising of large parts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Next, I bought Rex HD - a complete weather, environment and flight planning add-on. With this programme, you can choose from a huge range of weather and lighting effects and, used in conjunction with Orbx products, ramp up FSX's enjoyability ten-fold.

I've been taking a lot of pictures as I fly around the Pacific Northwest - currently I'm exploring the areas around Victoria - which I've included here. I've also been using the iPad's map feature to plan routes and identify mountains, lakes and other points of interest.

So although Microsoft Flight might be the new kid in town, it pales in comparison with what can currently be achieved with FSX.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pock's Friend - PC

Japanese indie game website Playism launched their English language site last Friday and along with a bunch of titles which can already be found on Steam, Gamersgate and Desura, there are several games which make their debut on the site.

Free-to-play adventure Pock's Friend was released back in 2008 but it's taken until now for me to discover it. It immediately grabbed my attention thanks to its beautiful hand-drawn visuals by artist and programmer Akira Noyama and although it only takes around 30 minutes to complete, it is packed with more than enough charm to melt even the iciest of hearts.

Pock is a lonely lad who lives in the middle of a forest. He has no friends and can't experience emotions as he doesn't have a heart. But while moping around the forest one day, Pock has an Alice in Wonderland moment and finds himself in another world. Here, he meets Tam, a horned demon and the pair tramp off together on a journey in which Pock finds the true meaning of friendship.

Pock's Friend is a point and click adventure, but the format has been stripped back so there's no inventory system. Instead, clicking on objects and the environment moves the adventure forward. Sometimes a click will have a purely cosmetic effect and part of the fun is poking around and seeing what will happen.

There are even a few puzzles thrown in for good measure, including spot the difference teasers and rotating jigsaw conundrums.

The art style is beautiful and reminds me slightly of Lovedelic's off-the-wall PS1 game Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, while the short soundtrack gives the game a lovely atmosphere.

Pock's Friend may be short, but it's a genuinely touching experience and as it's browser-based, the journey is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon coffee break.

You can play the game here

Friday, 13 July 2012

Richard & Alice - PC

Earlier this week, Lewis Denby and Ashton Raze very kindly sent me an alpha build of their debut game, Richard & Alice.

The guys, along with Kyra Hills (character art) and Yonatan Luria (music) have been working on this project in their spare time, and although this is early code, their debut offering is looking very promising.

In the 30 or so minutes it takes to explore this point and click adventure, a genuinely interesting plot begins to unfold.

Set in a world which has been devastated by intolerably harsh weather conditions, Richard is a grizzled war veteran who has been imprisoned since he disobeyed orders in the madness of a bloody civil war. While in his cell, he unexpectedly meets Alice, who has recently been jailed for murder and via a series of well-told flashbacks, we get a glimpse into her background story.

The point and click interface could well change in further updates, but what's here at the moment works well. There's no stuffy inventory system to wade through, with everything clearly mapped out on the right-hand side of the screen. Every item's relevance in the environment is logical and by eschewing overly complicated item combos, Lewis and Ashton allow the player to make quick progress and concentrate on the intriguing story.

The team have peppered the alpha build with wonderful teasers which draw the player into Richard and Alice's weather-ravaged world. Who scribbled the mysterious notes found in a long-abandoned house? Who is the oppressive figure trying to keep Alice and her son under lock and key? And whose blood is it that's splattered over the walls of a family bathroom?

Richard & Alice is penciled in for release later this year and thanks to its well-written dialogue and compelling storyline, I'm very much looking forward to seeing more of this extremely promising game.

To keep up to date with Richard & Alice's development, head over to the game's website where the team will keep you updated. Definitely one to watch.