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Lode Runner 2 1998 Review

For this review, I'm digging up an old game from my childhood that I've missed for a long time. See, I grew up playing on a color Apple Macintosh running Mac OS 8, and one of my favorite games was Lode Runner: The Legend Returns (I'll review this one eventually also, because it's a great game). So when they released a new, 3D version of the game in 1998, I was psyched to get it up and running. As it turned out, this one was quite a different game from the one I had been familiar with, but I ended up loving it for entirely different reasons.

Intro level from Mona World Continue reading "Lode Runner 2 1998 Review"

Short Hylics Review

If you're in to art games or play a lot of RPGMaker games, you've probably heard of Hylics, and you'd certainly remember if you'd seen the art. It's a surrealist little RPG created by artist Mason Lindroth using a lot of photographed clay figures and randomly generated text. I picked it up some time ago because I became immediately interested after seeing the art style, and was happy to find it's very reasonably priced on Steam.

screenshot from Hylics, inside a tent Continue reading "Short Hylics Review"

Virtual Pet Review: Fluffy Poop from Happinet Toys

This is another pet that I found while browsing around on AliExpress, and although I was intrigued and wanted to try it out, the shop page didn't have any info about the original manufacturer, and it was pretty expensive. It took me a while of looking and searching the internet, but eventually I found out where this little toy came from. The Fluffy Poop toy from Happinet Toys (Official website) seems to have only been released in Japan and doesn't have much marketing in the rest of the world, so I ended up buying it from Amazon Japan for about $40. While I had to wait a while for it to arrive, it was cheaper paying for the extra shipping than it would have been from AliExpress, where they're currently charging about $80.

Me holding the fluffy poop pet

The pets you'll care for with this toy are all shaped like poop emojis, and your goal will be to raise as many different kinds as you can in order to collect all the different poop characters. These characters are all care based, so if you want to get them all, you will need to vary how often to check on them and respond to their calls. After the poop dies, or gets too old, you can raise another and try again! I ran this for about a week and have had a lot of fun with it. While it's a bit more simplistic than my other pets, the animations are cute, and there are enough differences to make it really stand out in my collection.

If you're interested in seeing the details and reading the full review, click through to the entry below! Continue reading "Virtual Pet Review: Fluffy Poop from Happinet Toys"

Summer Time Fun: Animal Crossing Party!


Currently Feeling: artistic

I've been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for a while, but I'm a chronic single-player in most of the games I have. This is probably because most multiplayer games have gone the way of micro-transactions and other pay-to-win crap, but for all the terrible things Nintendo has done lately, they've nonetheless managed to create a wonderful multiplayer experience. Recently I had some friends over who also play the game, and we had a ton of fun visiting each other's islands and giving each other gifts, not to mention taking many, many photos. If you're in need of good party ideas and have a group of friends who own the Switch, Animal Crossing parties are great!

The three of us swimming in the ocean, decorated with stickers and a caption that reads: Summer fun!

If you'd like to see everything we did, click through to the post below! Continue reading "Summer Time Fun: Animal Crossing Party!"

Gigapets Unicorn Review

You may have noticed that I've reviewed several virtual pets at this point, and what I haven't yet mentioned is that it's part of a larger project I've been working on in the background to build up a database of Odd Pets eventually. While I will eventually make this a sub-section of my main site, for now I've been throwing everything into my personal wiki, which I use as a scratch pad for a number of projects. Most of it is private, but I've whitelisted the Virtual Pets pages in case anyone would like to look through them. They're available here for the curious:

The FrugalWiki - Electronic and Virtual Pets

But for today, I'll be looking at the GigaPets Virtual Unicorn pet. This is one of the newer, revamped Gigapets that you can get on Amazon right now, and from what I understand it was voted on by fans when they announced they were going to make a brand new pet. Of course I had to pick it up, because it's adorable! And I ended up running this one for a total of 24 days! That's probably a new record for my Gigapets so far. There's probably no limit on these things, but it's fun to keep them on for a while and try setting a new personal record when I feel up to it.

A pic of the Gigapets Unicorn on what I call the

Click through the cut below to see my thoughts and a rundown of how it works.
Continue reading "Gigapets Unicorn Review"

Virtual Pet Review: Radioshack Micro Dino


Currently Feeling: creative

Chrisjen Avasarala from The Expanse

Currently Listening: I don't speak German


Today's review is about a handheld virtual pet made by Radioshack back in 1997. If you don't know about these, there were three different models: the Micro Dino that I have here, a PC Puppy, and the Data Cat. You can see the packaging for those pets below:
Micro Dino purple packaging frontMicro Dino purple packaging back Data Cat pink packaging front Data Cat pink packaging back PC Puppy Yellow packaging front. I haven't been able to find an image of the back just yet

If you're familiar with virtual pets, especially "odd pets," which is the internet term for pets that aren't made by Bandai, you'll recognize that the cat and dog are apparently Nano pet clones, while the dino is different. According to what I've seen online, this one shares the same ROM as the MGA VR Creatures dino, though I haven't been able to verify this myself. You'll also notice that the cat, puppy, and dino trio are some of the most commonly made virtual pets, along with a baby/human type creature, although I don't know if Radioshack ever made one of those.

If you're interesting in seeing a ton of photos of this one and reading my thoughts about it, click through the cut to the rest of the entry.


Continue reading "Virtual Pet Review: Radioshack Micro Dino"

Games I've Been Playing

While I haven't been playing anything I'm ready to write up a full-length review on, I have been playing through a few things here and there that I wanted to highlight and link to. The following games are either too short, didn't feel worth a completely review, or are too mainstream to really be featured here.

Here's a list of the games below:
  • Peckin' Pixels
  • Plant Therapy
  • Gourdlets
Continue reading "Games I've Been Playing"

Tux Games: SuperTuxKart Review


Currently Feeling: sick

Robin from Stranger Things

Currently Listening: Finish it! Podcast


https://supertuxkart.net/ - Main_Page
https://online.supertuxkart.net/ - Add-on content

Super Tux Kart is a cart-racing game similar to games like Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing. It is free and open source, and runs really well on both new and old PCs. I actually got it running with ZERO issues on my Linux laptop, although it did initially complain and tell me that my graphics driver was really old. I'll include some side-by-side screenshots for comparison, but let me just say that I'm incredibly impressed. Most 3D games do not run on this thing!

Anyways, SuperTuxKart is actually based on an older game called TuxKart, which appears to no longer be available. This one was also free and open source, but the developers weren't able to continue the project and had to abandon it back in 2004. Fortunately for all of us, some lovely new developers picked it up and forked it, creating the game we're able to play today. In fact, if you've ever looked into Linux gaming you've probably come across this one, since it's pretty popular among Linux gamers.

Screencap from the Pyramids racing level, just before I took off past the starting line

Click the link below to check out my review and thoughts!

Continue reading "Tux Games: SuperTuxKart Review"

Tux Games: Super Tux Review


Currently Feeling: relaxed

Lumpy Space Princess OHMYGLOB

Currently Listening: Donkey Kong Country Cartoon


Maybe it's just because I've been spending a lot of time on the fediverse lately, which is usually embraced by folks who like open source alternatives to things, but it seems like Linux gaming has really been taking off recently. The Steam Deck, of course, has helped with some of this, due to the fact that it's Linux-based, but we're all becoming more mobile and remote these days, and making software that's OS-independent is more important now than ever.

But in the past, when it came to gaming, Linux users didn't have access to nearly the same array of options that the rest of us folks have. Because of that, many game makers created Linux-friendly clones of popular types of games, which has led to a fun collection of what I'd like to call "Tux Games."

Tux, the Linux mascotEach of these PC games features the adorable little penguin mascot, named Tux, who was created in 1996 by artist Larry Ewing as an entry to a logo contest for the open-source operating system. Surprisingly, he didn't actually win the contest, though clearly he won hearts, since he was remembered and named shortly after by the Linux community, and has been used unofficially as a brand mascot ever since.

As a result, he's been used as the main character in a number of games for the system, and I'm going to be looking over and reviewing them here. There are a quite a few of them, so I'm going to break them up into separate posts, and today's entry is for a 2D platforming game called Super Tux.

Screenshot from one of the first levels of Super Tux, in an ice world with he fireball upgrade

Click below to read the whole thing!
Continue reading "Tux Games: Super Tux Review"

Tiny Game Reviews: Toree 3D and Macbat 64


Currently Feeling: hungry

Lumpy Space Princess shocked Pikachu face!

Currently Listening: Suspect Podcast season 1


MacBat 64


Screenshot from MacBat 64's beach level

First up today I'll be talking about an adorable little game called MacBat 64. It’s clear from the start that the goal was to emulate the style of early Nintendo 64 games, and in that aim it succeeded very well! I mean, the whole thing gave me warm feelings while I was playing it, and I loved the character designs and fuzzy textures. The music nailed the style of Kirkhope’s old tunes, to the point where if I had heard them on their own, I would genuinely have wondered if they were outtakes from Banjo-Kazooie or its sequel.

As far as the gameplay goes, well it’s very simple. For me, this is not a problem, because I like chill experiences that are about more than just skill. As someone who makes games myself, I’m always interested in seeing how developers can keep gameplay fresh while only using a few tools--in this case, movement and jumping controls. There is no punch or attack, except for a few special sections, and I was impressed by how many different puzzles the levels were able to throw at me with only that set of tools.

There are a lot of easter eggs that you can find after you’ve completed the experience, which is about an hour long, maybe. It’s clear from all the little extras that there was a lot of affection put into this game, and I love to see it. After having enjoyed both this and the Toree 3D, which I’ll also be reviewing below, I’m officially a fan of this developer.

Overall Impression: Very cute! Fun and simple
Time to complete: About an hour, maybe more, but not much.
You'll like this if you like: Old Rareware games, nostalgia trips, simple platformers

This is from the vaporwave style level. Music on this one is awesome!
Woodsy level, featuring Kiwi!

Toree 3D


Screenshot from one of the city levels in Toree3D

Toree 3D is a cute little retro-styled platformer with very simple controls that can be completed in an afternoon. The style is cute and very reminiscent of games from the PSX era--maybe a little too cute if you’re not into bright graphics. You play as the titular Toree, a little yellow bird who can run quickly and jump, and you’ll be trying to collect all the little stars in every level in order to complete them. The levels are laid out in a way that makes me want to speedrun them, so although the game isn’t on rails, I kind of think of it as a runner game. There’s no story or anything, although some of the characters show up in more than one place, so…I guess there’s some kind of idea behind it? I don’t know, that part kind of confused me, but I enjoyed the game nonetheless.

I will say that the music, while good, doesn’t really match the game much. Since the game is pretty laid back, I would have preferred a soundtrack that was a bit less…boisterous. Not that the music is bad or anything, I just felt it didn’t match.

The game also has the ability to unlock a few characters (one of them is Macbat!), and you do this by meeting different challenges on every level--I think you either collect all the stars or try and complete them in a certain amount of time, although I haven’t unlocked everything yet so I can’t be sure. All in all, I really enjoyed my time with this game, and I’ll probably come back to it again in the future.

Overall Impression: A little “loud” visually and musically, but lots of fun
Time to complete: an afternoon, maybe more if you want to 100% it
You like this if you like: VERY BRIGHT COLORS, games like Bit.Trip Runner, low stakes gaming

Snowy level. He's got little earmuffs and a scarf!
This level makes me think of aircraft carriers.

Tiny game review: Self Checkout Unlimited


Currently Feeling: groggy

Spock & Jim OTP

Currently Listening: My cat demanding attention


Over the years I've accumulated a number of games over at Itch.io, some free, some paid, and some part of the many bundles they do. Since the site is geared toward indie developers and encourages users to post works in progress and experimental games, many of these aren't quite long enough to do a full review or web shrine like I have over at my Games page. But being short on play time doesn't mean you can't still create something meaningful or fun, so I figured I'd feature a few that I've played here, and maybe help people wade through the huge library Itch currently has and find something they like.

Today's entry is about a walking "abandoned mall" simulator called Self Checkout Unlimited. It's high on visuals and vibes, and low on difficulty. Very chill. Click through to read the whole thing and see screenshots!

Screenshot of the main concourse from Self Checkout Unlimited, featuring the fountain and escalators Continue reading "Tiny game review: Self Checkout Unlimited"

Hatchihoni Review and Guide


Currently Feeling: sick

Today I'm going to be talking about an odd pet that I found on AliExpress a while back, the Zodiac Friends/Hatchihoni vpet that's currently only available in Chinese. Here's the link I purchased it from if you're interested:

Zodiac Friends Electronic Pet on AliExpress

I picked this one up because the screenshots looked very different from the pets I've seen on there before, although I half expected it to be a Touma/QPet clone when it arrived. Fortunately, I was wrong--this pet is actually quite unique, and although it uses several stolen Tamagotchi assets from different color editions, the individual pets are unique, and the gameplay is very different.

There is no English option on this pet, and it’s completely in Chinese, so I’ve been relying on Google Translate and context clues to figure it out. This hasn’t turned out to be too much of a problem so far, although it did take me like two days to figure out where the stats screen was (press the left button on the Pet Info screen), because I’m…special. I've created a menu tree for you to reference below the cut. Continue reading "Hatchihoni Review and Guide"

An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm


Currently Feeling: frustrated

I picked this up on Ebay recently because it looked really different from the other Giga Pets I've seen, and also I love games with farms. The review is going to have to remain incomplete for now, however, because I've set it aside after struggling with it for a while. Earlier Giga Pets are known for being more difficult to care for, and that coupled with the unique gameplay that comes with having multiple pets and crops to care for was a bit overwhelming for me. I kept a running log each day and I was playing with it, so click below the cut to see my thoughts and how my first run with this one went.

Giga Pets Farm crops screen


Continue reading "An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm"

My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others


Currently Feeling: impressed

So every few months or so I get obsessed with some fun thing or another, and I fall into the collecting hole. It's something I have to work to not get too spendy with, otherwise I can really get carried away, but it's fun as long as I keep an eye on it. My last interest was cassette tapes, which I'll probably end up putting on the site in some form or another eventually. This time around it's virtual pets. Bandai has been rebooting their original Digimon and Tamagotchi lines for folks like me who want to revisit their childhood toys, and they're pretty cheap right now, so I picked up a purple and pink P1 (first gen, that is) Tamagotchi, and a re-released Gigapets Pixel Puppy (they're revamping theirs too). Below are my thoughts about both of them.

Continue reading "My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others"