The Vault №38
Happy Tuesday, friend, and welcome once more to The Vault! I've only been writing here since late 2008, but the site's archives go back a lot longer than my meager tenure, and cruising through them looking for likely Vault candidates is about 30% actual work and 70% having my productivity blown out the door each time I run across a game I haven't played in a long time. These are just a few of my favourites that have really stood the test of time. Unlike the carrot cake I just finished making, which probably won't survive the test of "last til the weekend". It's hazardous, being covered in cream cheese icing.
- Papa's Pizzeria - If you've ever worked in customer service, then the phrase "the customer is always right" probably makes you groan a little. So how did Flipline Studios manage to make a time management game about just that, and make it not only addictive, but fun? In it, you play a young man tasked with handling absolutely everything in the titular pizzeria, from taking orders, to meticulously arranging toppings, and even baking and slicing each saucy pie to your customers' specifications, all before time runs out. It's the sort of thing that, were you to do it in real life, would probably have you huddled in a fetal positon on the floor of the walk-in cooler, but in a game winds up something you can sit down to play for five minutes and instead lose an hour to. Papa's Pizzeria has the perfect combination of quick, easy to pick up and dexterous gameplay, and big cheerful visuals that make it such a joy to spend time with. A spiritual sequel in the form of Papa's Burgeria was recently released, but for me there's nothin' better than a piping hot 'zza. Just don't ask me to toss the dough for you... been there, totally ruined that.
- Wink: The Game! - Stealth games don't always have to be about manly mercenaries hanging upside down in ventilation shafts. They can be about little blue bobble-head heroes, too. Andre "gel" Nguyen's adorable adventure platform-ish game puts you in the soles of Wink's blue shoes as he sets out to rescue a kidnapped princess... a task made even more difficult than you might think since Wink has to use stealth and surprise to sneak his way through the castle and deal with enemies covertly whenever possible so as to avoid an untimely demise. While some of the controls demand Wink be standing in fairly precise proximity to whatever he's attempting to use/wrassle, the game's fantastic charm and character make it a journey worth making. The art is fantastic, the narration is frequently funny, and the combination of genres keeps it feeling fresh and unique even these many moons since its release.
- Dotville - Tears for Fears once sang, everybody wants to rule the world, but they probably weren't talking about Finefin's quirky tribe. I don't see how you could possibly resist, though; this turn-based strategy simulation is as adorable as they come. You've been tasked with raising a tribe of dots to a position of power and success over a period of fifty years, starting out a nobody and (hopefully) winding up the mighty Dot Emperor, which I believe is a title we can all aspire to. But it isn't all rose petals and cute blobby subjects; balancing the happiness of your populace with building armies, acquiring upgrades, and more quickly turns out to be harder than you might think. While not particularly complex compared to some other titles in the genre, Dotville still presents a healthy challenge for casual players with a great sense of humour and style.
- Skywire - It's a little surprising to realise, but Nitrome has been around since 2005, consistently turning out beautiful, cheery, clever flash games for six years now. One of my favourites is this simple and wonderfully weird little action avoidance game about trying to pilot your passengers up a ridiculously twisted route littered with all manner of harrowing obstacles. Obstacles like bomb-dropping birds, enormous killer whales, monkey chains, and more. It's so simple, controlled with only two keys for accelerating and slowing down, and yet it's so much fun. Is it the cheery music and sound effects? The increasingly silly things that pop up to get into your way? Well... it's all of that, really. You don't need a ton of bells and whistles and complex gameplay to make a hit, and even today Skywire is one of those games that constantly gets brought up by you, our dearest audience, as one of Nitrome's best classic hits. After a few levels, you'll probably realise why.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!