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By otakuman5000 On 20 Jun, 2011 At 10:28 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PC Games, Reviews | With 1 Comment

No GravatarEver on the prowl for new gaming experiences, the newest installment in the PC platform series is on Facebook games and gaming through social media.  A wide range of games are available from simple puzzle games to all-out rpg’s.  There are certain similarities in all of these games, but plenty of differences.  The most frustrating thing about many of these games is the absolute impossibility to continue forward unless you are able to get your friends on the social media to play the game with you.  Coming in at a close second is the inability to progress past a certain point unless you spend real-world money on the game.

Badgering your friends to play seems to be really limiting to the concepts of these games.  Yes, it’d be great if one could run off and tend someone else’s farm for a minute and help themselves in the process, but on the other hand most of the items are on some kind of timer, and the very items that your friend came over and fertilized (or groomed, or played with for you, or did whatever the game wants you to have friends do) may be lying dead on the floor when you come back from that vacation that didn’t have any internet access, or had a hard week at work and only wanted to play something mindless when you got home at night.  Social Media games tend to keep one on a very short leash as far as time limits go, and for that alone it’s somewhat frustrating.

Keeping all of that in mind, in short, there are two styles of games.  One style is persistent, continuing even when one is offline, and requiring lots of checking, rechecking, and care.  The other is (for the most part) a really fun bunch of puzzle games which give you an absurdly low number of lives.  At the beginning, to get you hooked, the puzzle games are incredibly easy, it’s easy to match the time limits, and there’s no problem getting to the end goals.  As things progress, the life count becomes more than absurdly small (2 lives in a day?) and the game becomes quickly increasingly difficult.  When one is out of lives they are invited to spend real-world money to obtain additional lives.

There is also advertising.  If you choose to do so, in certain games, you can recieve extra ‘money’ by watching advertising on video.  The advertisements are very short, although stopping to watch costs you time you could be playing.

There is, however, literally something for everyone here.  Even as jaded and spoiled as your author is, I found a few games that were playable without significant monetary investment (although I am begging my friends to play them frequently), and more importantly, that were pretty fun.  Gaming off the shelf at Gamestop runs me about $60 per game, so definately not averse to paying some to play, but on the other hand social media games can get out of hand really quickly.  I have seen some best value in game cash for x number of ‘game dollars’ for $299 in real money.  Added on to the fact that it’s pretty darn easy to buy ‘game dollars’ with your cell phone, and it’s a recipe for disaster if your 15 year old who has no idea how much it costs to buy groceries and pay bills decides best value means that’s what she should buy.

Some games are greedier than others, and although I do respect the need to pay the bills, a few of these guys had the thought “Are you serious?  For THIS?” going through my head.  The graphics and animations, although almost universally what would qualify as ‘cute’ or ‘cartoony’ wouldn’t be worth more than about $10 to play with no restrictions on your pc at home, so perhaps that’s a good guideline to start.

A few I really enjoyed:

Gourmet Ranch is a cute little game that has you raising crops and cooking food to serve in your own cafe.  Little Kahuna’s has reached level 16 and has had $9 in real-world money spent on it.  It’s easy to level without a significant investment, and gives out expansions for either game coins (which are the reward for playing in-game) or real-world money.  The nicest decorations are available for real-world cash only, but they’re only window dressing or worth points toward leveling, which is nice, but unneeded.  Pretty much everything one would want in a farming/restaraunt game without spending a significant amount of real-world money.  There’s a lot to like about this one.

A little bit of RPG and world domination is available in Empires and Allies.  This game does draw significantly on your friends list, and if your friends aren’t willing to play then you do become pretty handicapped.  That being said, the actual production, and the gameplay isn’t really impacted too much except that you quickly run out of the ability to build more houses and make more money.  Basically, possible to play without a hefty friends list, but it’s going to take you a while to get somewhere with it.  Even at that, it’s a fun little game with attainable quests and plenty of entertainment.

In the puzzle genre, I enjoyed Fluffy, a cute little matching game with birds building a birdhouse.  You match the birdies up according to the birds the game is asking for, and recieve coins, which are used to buy the birdhouse.

There’s much, much more than these games out there in the social media network.  These are the ones this author liked best and played for research for the article.  If your favorite wasn’t picked, send me an invite on facebook, I might try it out.  If any of these seem interesting to you, connect!