Thursday, March 08, 2018

Gamehouse Going Too Far?

For a long time, Gamehouse had only a small number of original games. Their only long-term time management series was “Delicious” in its various iteration (“Campfire Legends” was their shot at horror HOGs). While I’d personally say everything before “Delicious: Emily’s Taste of Fame” isn’t really good, the series definitely has evolved over time. Recently, they’ve used the same engine (with various tweaks) to start off several more series and do several one-shots (so far).

Their first try quite some time ago was “Heart’s Medicine,” which also was the game which started their ‘mini-game craze.’ After playing the game, a lot of people were waiting for a sequel, but it took ages until it came - only to be followed very quickly by a third one.
It might seem logical that they would make a ‘sister series’ to “Delicious,” especially as Emily, main character of the “Delicious” series, has a sister who has featured prominently already: Angela. So about a year ago, Angela got a short game with four levels (“Fabulous: Angela’s Sweet Revenge”), the first “Fabulous” game - if you can call a four-level affair for 99 cents a game. After a lot of people enjoyed the four levels of Angela getting even with her (now ex-)husband, she got her first full game with “Fabulous: Angela’s Fashion Fever.” Fashion in addition to food proved a good idea and the game sold well enough so recently there was a third (actually second) “Fabulous” game (“Fabulous: Angela’s High School Reunion”).
But Gamehouse didn’t stop at that. Several other games have come out during the last few months alone, including “Dr. Cares” (veterinarian drama), “The Love Boat” (yes, based on that TV series you might still slightly remember), and “Parker & Lane” (crime drama). In addition, there’s games like “Cathy’s Crafts,” “Mary le Chef,” and “Sally’s Salon” (they got the rights to Sally from the original makers, apparently). They even made a FROG with the engine, using another original content they had: “Mortimer Beckett and the Book of Gold,” which also features the sister of Emily’s husband.
In addition, they pushed their publishing schedule for the “Delicious” series, more than doubling the output per year. It seems that since Emily got married, she’s more interesting than before - or she needs to work more in order to keep the family afloat, who knows? After all, she’s got three kids now.

I’m not sure what to think about this. On one hand, I like most of the games. They have the same feeling as the “Delicious” series (which I still love, despite Emily being a wet hanky most of the time - Angela has a better drama management than her older sister, as is obvious from her own series). They expand the basic topic from only food service to fashion, medicine, and many other things. They bring in new characters (or bring back loved ones, like Sally).
Yet, the newer games no longer have an adjustable difficulty, which is a little let-down for me. Some also seem a little imbalanced - which is one reason why I recently started buying them from Steam instead of Gamehouse, because there I get automatic updates. The other is the Premium Editions (which are the Gamehouse equivalent to BFGs Collector’s Editions) are cheaper on Steam. Yes, I’ve invested a lot of money into Steam by now…

The new game policy of Gamehouse is a double-edged sword for me, therefore. A lot more games to play (and they’re all colourful and fun), yet also a few developments which I could very well do without (mini-games and only one difficulty, especially). The fun achievements from the early “Delicious” series such as ‘have an order on your tray before it turns up’ have disappeared, too. The games still have achievements which are usually shown on an extra screen, fitting with the topic of the game, but they’re pretty much the same old now, the same kind of achievement you find in most casual games (especially the PEs or CEs). I’m afraid they’re actually going to ruin the series (and its type of time management game) in the long run with the changes and the huge number of games they put out.
Yet, I still get giddy when a new game turns up, especially when I wasn’t expected it (like “Parker & Lane” two weeks or so back). I still get curious, I have to download the demo, I fidget until it’s on Steam (or break down and buy from Gamehouse instead). I still like the games - well, most parts of them.

Gamehouse is still doing good time management games, which is good news, because they’re pretty rare by now (lots more HOGs on the market which I’m by now hardly interested in, a few series withstanding). But I would really like it if they toned it down - with the amount they release and with the drama in some of them (looking at “Delicious” and “Heart’s Medicine” especially).

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