Friday, 19 November 2010

Avenue Flo Special Delivery: Review kinda

I'm not very well again, which means the sleepless nights of coughing and sneezing need to be filled with something that isn't too intense but interesting enough to distract me from my illness.

And so out come the casual games!

A few months ago I played the first Avenue flo, which was a strange mix between Professor Layton, Diner Dash, Monkey Island and the most inexplicable of all game genres: Hidden Object Games!

Again this is no different, you play as good ol' Flo who is once again doing far too much for her mates (or at least one in particular) and is on a mission to ensure a baby shower goes as smoothly as possible. This involves her stomping through town helping people out so they can, in turn, help her achieve her own goals.

To do this there are a number of different puzzles that need to be solved such as helping to serve people at a diner (which is par for the course for Flo) via a memory-based mini-game or helping to choose out baby clothes (which, for the record, was a little freaky.)

Between the mini-games you spend time talking to the other residents, picking up useful looking objects and generally doing some traditional point and click adventuring. Most of the characters you meet come from other games in the series are nearly all larger-than-life stereotypes that somehow manage to keep things interesting. However there's no shadowy big bad guy figure that needs to be defeated, it's all quite tame in the end. It would be interesting to see Flo deal with a real crisis in Diner Town, like a crime spree of some kind.

Technically I had a few issues with the game engine, nothing disastrous but the mouse pointer felt strangely laggy as well as it feeling like the game was slowing down, despite the frame rate keeping steady. Very odd.

The puzzles are vaguely challenging, we're not quite at Professor Layton level here but I quite enjoyed a cake placement mini-game near the end of the first section of the game. They're not puzzles you'll be staring at for too long though!

The artwork, while quite simplistic, completely fills each inch of the screen with cartoony fun. The streets of Diner Town are especially fun to walk around (at least to start with) and are cleverly mixed in with a constant hidden object game (to collect balloons and bottles) so that you take notice of everything. The cut scenes are pretty impressive, presented in a comic book, but animated style. The intro is a lot of fun with a big kind of broadway "We call it avenuuuue Floowwwwwww" (I know there's no W really) which sets the scene for the game very nicely.

Those sound guys have done PlayFirst proud again. There's solid (for a casual game) voice acting with the regular girl who plays Flo doing a great job as usual. The music is good quality too, while being jazzy elevator-type of style it fits the game perfectly.

In some ways it's not entirely accurate to call the Avenue Flo games "casual" because they're closer to being adventure games. On the other hand it's not the longest game I've played recently and it does feature a lot of hidden objects... Maybe "Casual Adventure" is a new term that should be used for this? Or maybe not! Either way this was good gentle fun and anyone who likes a bit of a cartoon adventure should have a go at the free trial.

You can try the game free for 1 hour over at BigFishGames

And PlayFirst, the creators of the game, have their own site here

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