Crystal Dreams

Today on Jen tries/plays random mobile games

For the most part, I don’t really have a lot of time to put into a mobile games and there’s a huge list of games I really want to play and work on. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty sick lately with the constant weather shifts and other issues and so that’s meant a lot of time laying down which makes it pretty hard to play games on a computer (and also makes it hard for streams as that requires even more energy than just being well enough to get things done). I don’t really enjoy playing the Switch portably either and there’s nothing I’m playing right now that I don’t want to record or grab screenshots from.

So every so often, when I’m feeling particularly bad, I like to have a game I can just play and not think too much about. Unfortunately, a lot of those types of games aren’t really my thing (see: literally any Match-3), but new games are always being made and as tempted as it would be to try making my own game, I have no skills for that, so I still try to check in from time to time or by random suggestion.

My latest “game attempts” have been “Tiny Room Stories”, “Starry Garden”, and “Dress up! Time Princess” in that order. I am going back and forth between them at the moment and all three are pretty different, but I just wanted to kind of talk about what I think so far and my general pros and cons.

Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery is essentially just made up of Escape rooms to help solve an overarching story. You get a certain amount of chapters for free or you can buy a Season Pass to own everything which I appreciate.

It’s honestly really interesting with various different puzzles and I think my only real disappointment is no customization for the main character. I don’t think it would’ve affected the story too much, but I haven’t quite finished it yet so maybe my feelings will change on that. I’ve just had to play more than enough male characters for a lifetime honestly.

I think my only “complaint” is a very personal one– later levels have had much more intricate maps and my terrible sense of direction combined with how much you can explore before necessarily finding what you need ends up leaving me beyond lost and sometimes wandering quite a while before really figuring out where to go or what ties with where.

I would say the only other issue I’ve had is some clues are a lot more vague than you’d expect such as something outside being a hint to unlocking something further inside a building, only really clued in due to a poster on the wall. And as each level gets bigger with more and more rooms, it can get a bit overwhelming keeping track of all the information and clues as there’s very few things you actually pick up and use.

Starry Garden is essentially one of those… currency gaining games– almost like a clicker except there is no actual clicking element beyond a few occasional things with fairly long cooldowns and upgrading the characters and areas (and unlocking new ones). The game advertises itself as “stress-free” and “relaxing” which I suppose it is in a way, if only because a lot of the time spent playing it will be you doing absolutely nothing.

That sounds a lot harsher than I kind of mean it as the game IS relaxing and actually has some nice music for when I actually feel like having the volume up on my phone. It’s also quite pretty and I like seeing how things upgrade, but it’s very slow and at a certain point, like most of these types of games, you’re either going to constantly be watching ads or just… not making progress for several days at a time. And when I’m sitting there stuck on the couch, I want to be able to DO things, even if it’s simple, and not just sit there and watch. Upgrades generally consist of just one small addition, though occasionally a bigger change can happen, while adding new buildings costs… a lot.

There’s also several extra tasks besides building up the garden between various clothing you can collect and give your animal characters, animals you can collect to roam around and level up (which then it will endlessly ping you about how you do not have more of said animal out despite there being limited slots so I don’t want more than one of each out), constellations to level up, planets to visit for things, and various quests to complete.

There’s also a lot of things to purchase with both a premium currency or real money depending on the item. I will say you do get a good amount of the premium currency even without paying, but some of the real money costs are just kind of awful such as one costume package that is partially priced up due to the gems and chests it comes with. There’s also two different VIP subscriptions– one weekly and one monthly (and considering the price difference and what you get, the weekly one feels kind of a waste). each which increase just how much you earn which will lessen the wall for a bit longer. Finally, you can even buy Ad Removal Tickets which you can use in replace of actually watching an ad not to mention there’s also a premium mission pass… And just… I really wish I could just buy the game.

It’s really pretty! The music is peaceful! But I just wish there was more I could actually do. Even the crafting mechanic is so random with what materials are needed and how you get them that I rarely even remember to bother with it.

Regardless, that brings us over to Dress up! Time Princess which wants to be a lot of things at once and I’m not entirely sure it pulls it off. The game was suggested to me by harajukucandygirl on one of my Star Stable Online videos and well, I do enjoy dress up games and Princess dresses so of course I checked it out. I will say the part I enjoy most are the actual stories as the game as a visual novel portion with the very first book being about Marie Antoinette. I’ve always kind of liked Marie Antoinette so it was an exciting book to play… if it wasn’t for all the other mechanics.

The books are generally pretty cheap to play costing just 5 Stamina per chapter and an extra 5 stamina to change a choice of a question that strongly effects the story. Normally, I wouldn’t replay a story, but there are items and achievements locked to doing certain chapters and getting certain endings only possible on doing these alternate paths so you don’t really have a choice sometimes.

And you may think, “Well, I don’t care about achievements or anything, so I’m good!” but that is not the case because they also contain outfits/recipes for one, but you can also get Reader Tickets which are used to unlock new books. And while outfits can be nice and good in general for a dress-up game, normally you could at least ignore outfits you may not care for… except this game takes a tab out of games like Love Nikki where there are outfit ratings and your favorite outfit may just not cut it.

Of course, that would be annoying enough in itself and is a large part of why I stopped playing Love Nikki, but you don’t just… get the outfits, nor do you get everything you need from the books themselves (and of course, some chapters require certain outfits). There’s crafting. And if you’ve been here before, you are well aware that I hate crafting. To get materials, you generally either need to buy them from the store with the in-game currency or through encounters on the story maps which also use up stamina (5, 10, or 15 depending on what you choose). It’s not only random, but incredibly small amounts. You can generally only get 1-2 per material in an encounter and you can only buy up to 5 from the shop… The shop also rotates every few hours so you may not have enough time to save up money either which while it can last a while, will run out fast once you start crafting– not just clothing, but also gifts.

As for what gifts are for, it’s for raising your friendship with characters you meet in the different books. Some chapters require you to be at a certain friendship in order to unlock the chapter. To make matters worse, the characters aren’t always available so depending on when you can play, you may not even see a character for a while. The game feels so incredibly convoluted which is a pity as the stories are interesting, the outfits are lovely, and the models are honestly quite expressive.

The events also just add on an issue I tend to have with a lot of mobile games where it just takes way too much time. One pro I can give, like Starry Garden, is that you are given a lot of the Premium Currency. As for a con, the game also features a mission pass with not just one premium option, but two. One with premium currency and the other with real money. And $15 is a lot to try for an outfit that you may not even make it through all the missions for.

Another pro though is that while there is, unfortunately, a Gachapon system, it’s not limited time. Each is set to a book and you can save up tickets to even pull from them for free besides the premium currency (as most of the recipes you can buy require the premium currency). It helps lessen the rush, but I wish we couldn’t get some items multiple times in the meantime :(

I think if the game lessened the amount of steps to progress, I’d enjoy it a lot more, but more often than not, I end up more stressed out trying to get so many things done and not run out of in-game currency and materials while trying to be able to continue and it’s a shame. I would say my last big issue with the game is that wigs are a set color. I can understand the powdered wigs for obvious reasons, but I wish the other wigs would adapt to the hair color you selected. I also wish there was a nice long “regular/default” hairstyle– I’m still trying to unlock a nice longer dark curly/wavy hairstyle :(

Regardless, I am enjoying the stories so far and I think that’ll get me to stick around a bit longer… At least until I get too anxious about how much I need to do every time that it sowers my enjoyment.

Finally, I also ended up trying Abyssrium World, Lovelink, and Mystery Manor briefly.

Abyssrium World was an easy one for me to consider as I did play both of the previous Abyssrium games… Unfortunately, it somehow managed to keep around everything I disliked about those while also adding things I disliked from other games like crafting and having to repeatedly make the same thing over and over in hopes of a rare chance of getting something different.

Lovelink is a silly visual novel game that is simulated like a dating app. I’ve never actually used a dating app so I can’t say if it’s a good imitation or not, but I can say it’s not really a game for me. I tried it due to some friends talking about it and some stories are interesting (My favorite being about a video game player and hacker looking for his best friend), but the game is incredibly one note. You occasionally have some choices, but they usually end up going the same way no matter what and even if you may pick something relatively dismissive or platonic, it’ll turn into super flirty and innuendos regardless of what you wanted. There also isn’t really a way to cancel out of a conversation if you missclicked or misunderstood where a certain description would go.

You also aren’t guaranteed to “match” with anyone and may need to try to do so multiple times. Similarly, some stories are repeated, just with a different avatar, so if you did it once with a character, you will never be able to match with the other. Not all stories are completed either such as the one I mentioned earlier.

I think if you just want to see the ridiculousness of how far some stories can go, or you like the heavy flirting, maybe you’ll have more fun than I did. There’s a lot of different options (including vampires and a cat??), but it’s definitely not a game for someone like me.

I would say my other big complaint with it though is partially with its premium currency. I understand using it to rush getting more match options, but you earn way too little for free for how much they want you to use. You get 15 every 6 hours along with 15-20 as you get closer to a match (partially encouraging you to do more). The problem is choices are generally 120-150 gems while viewing a photo sent (which while they can sometimes be the character shirtless because for some reason games think we constantly want to see that but I sure don’t, there are also sometimes cute pictures like Puppies or a picture of something important to the story plot you may be currently reading) is 150-300. That is a lot and whether you personally see the picture or not, the character you play as will act like it and especially for some stories, it can be really confusing if you can’t see a picture.

You also have the dreaded choices between “be a decent human being for 120 gems” or “be a jerkface for free”! It’s not fun and it’s super grubby. While you can back out and keep a story on hold until you feel like progressing, it may be a while and puts the entire story on hold until you continue. A big pro is that there is no penalty for not responding fast enough like certain other games. You can take your time and reply back whenever you saved up enough if you want.

And to end this entry, we have Mystery Manor… A game with an overall mystery focus, but is done through “I Spy” games. I don’t necessarily hate the aspect, but I’ve always found it kind of lackluster as the items you are finding have little to do with the mystery itself. This game sadly is no exception to that. You essentially find a bonus item while finding the items in the list which leads the story, but it’s a bit lackluster to just being able to find things with good detective work or fun puzzles.

A nice thing is you get to decorate the manor with furniture as well, but you earn so little, it’ll be quite a while before you even manage to earn enough for what you may want.

I think the worst things for me though are the Forced Match-3 game (god, I hate Match-3’s so much) that is occasionally needing to be played and the timer. I rarely run out of time, but the countdown isn’t fun and sometimes I have an unexpected emergency and have to rush away leaving my phone to tick away with my stamina wasted. People will still use the power-ups if they need to without you rushing them, game. Rushing people just makes them uninstall faster if anything.

Anyway, in the end, I still am trying to find a game I can really just buckle down to during these days, but it really seems that game just might never exist :(

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