Sunday, April 22, 2018
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Monday, March 26, 2018
Note: I found this review sitting on my computer, I had written it last year. I'm still keeping true to my reading list, and I'm currently reading "Danger For Hire".
Saturday, March 24, 2018
There are some good things about the book. There were quite a few memorable quotes from Frank and Joe. There was some good action scenes, even if a few of them felt drawn out. Frank and Joe's run in with the mountain lion hunters could have probably have been a bit shorter.The action scenes were pretty the only scenes in the book where Joe got to do anything useful.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
So, how does the game hold up today? Do I like it now as I did when I was younger? Well, it's an enjoyable game, but it has some major flaws.
Since this game is so obscure that there's barely any information about it online, this review will be longer then normal, and contain more images.
I should quickly point out that because the game was released in 1997, some of the information is out of date, so keep that in mind if you play it. However, besides some featherless dinosaurs, there's not too much inaccuracies.
The Library is the main section of the game. Here there's info on 24 Dinosaurs, mainly the well known ones. The dinosaurs are split up by time periods, although most of them are from the Cretaceous period. At the library, you have a few different options. Most of them lead to photos, some in 3D.
The images used in the game are quite good, and there's several I haven't seen anywhere else. The dioramas are probably the best, as you get a reconstruction of what the dinosaurs may have looked like when they were alive. There's photos from a ton of museums as well.
The two parts you'll be spending the most time in are the Museum and "(Insert time period here) Life". You click on a dinosaur name, and you are sent to an exhibit featuring that dinosaur.
The leads to the first problem with the game. Let's play a game of spot the difference. These are the exhibits for Camarasaurus and Tyrannosaurus:
There's only three differences. The dinosaur model in the middle of the room, the Earth outside the window, and the name below the dinosaur model. Other then that, both exhibits are identical. While admittedly it's not a big issue, it's kind of lazy.
Everything that is a hot spot is in color, while everything else, including the dinosaur model is in grey-scale. Clicking on a hot spot gives you information on the dinosaur in question.
Unfortunately, most of that info comes in massive walls of text. It's hard to read, and I don't understand why they couldn't have used paragraphs.
There's some interesting information there, but in my opinion, it's presented rather badly. The grey-scale makes the exhibit look rather creepy as well.
Clicking on the earth brings you to the "(Insert time period here) Life" part. This is where the grey-scale becomes a massive problem. It looks like an unfinished coloring book. Some of you may have noticed that is "Utahraptor" from "Dinosaur Comics" to the right of the picture.
Ryan North, the author of "Dinosaur Comics" got the dinosaurs in the comic from clip-art software, evidently, so did this game.
Clicking on the hot spots here doesn't give you walls of text, as the text boxes are normally only one or two paragraphs long.
The design of the "Life" sections, despite my hatred of the grey-scale, are much better then the bland museum. There's some reused backgrounds and dinosaurs, but for the most part, each dinosaur's area looks different. You can tell they put more effort into this part.
Moving on to the Conservatory, there's really not much to talk about. Most of the sections here are the same as the "Life" sections. Instead of focusing on one dinosaur, they focus on a specific dinosaur-related topic, like Dinosaur myths and extinction theories. Unfortunately, there's plenty of text walls.
The highlight of the Conservatory is the "Dinosaurs in the Movies" section. Here, you get to view a bunch of soundless clips from old dinosaur movies. The collection includes the only remaining footage from the cancelled movie "Creation".
Most of the clips are of dinosaurs fighting humans, or other dinosaurs. There's actually a clip of someone being impaled by a dinosaur, which is surprising in a kids game.
The only problem I have here is that I sometimes need to click on the reels several times to get the clips to start.
Finally, we have the Games Room, my favorite part of the game. Here you can play a trivia game, with three levels of difficulty. You can play by yourself or with another player.
In the beginner level, you just have to answer questions. Answering these questions correctly uncovers a picture of a dinosaur. Once you've uncovered the picture, you win. I rarely play beginner because it's too easy for me.
The advanced level is way too hard. Unless you are very good at remembering names, dates, and numbers, you won't beat it. There's some really obscure stuff there. It's way too hard for a kids game.
Your reward for beating the trivia game is admittance to the "Hall of Fame", where you can see full-screen versions of the pictures used in the game. It's a pretty neat reward. You have a limited amount of clicks before it kicks you out of the hall. I don't know exactly how much clicks or if the amount varies with difficulty, but in the intermediate level, it's a pretty fair amount.
One more thing I'd like to bring up is the soundtrack, as it freaked me out when I first played it. Now, it's more of an annoyance. Whenever you enter a new section, a audio file lasting about six seconds plays. These mainly consist of jungle noises and bird calls. However, one of these is the sound of what I can only guess is an asteroid hitting the earth. It's loud and if you weren't expecting it, it's a jump scare.
"Dinosaur Museum" has quite a bit to offer, but compared to other dinosaur games, it's bare-bones.
"I Can Be a Dinosaur Finder" came out the same year (1997), "Eyewitness Dinosaur Hunter" came out the previous year, and "Microsoft Dinosaurs" would come out only two years later. All of these games have a lot more content then "Dinosaur Museum".
"Dinosaur Museum" is so obscure, the aforementioned "A World of Dinosaurs" collection is currently the only way to get it. That's not a bad thing, as the set also includes "3-D Dinosaur Adventure" and "I Can Be a Dinosaur Hunter", two very good games.
Despite the grey-scale, the short audio, and the walls of text, I enjoyed playing this. Part of this may be nostalgia, however. If you can get a hold of "A World of Dinosaurs", give this game a try, just don't expect too much.
5.5 out of 10
Note: According to this document, Perspective Visuals were planning on making more games in this series. It never happened, and this was the only game they ever released. You can see an archived version of their website here.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
I'm not really that into to sports, and I don't know much about Volleyball. So, when the ten page first chapter consisted of a recap of a volleyball game, and Frank and Joe talking about how awesome 2 vs 2 volleyball is, I wasn't very interested in the book.
The first chapter does end with quite a disturbing death scene, as one of the players dies in the middle of a game. It's something that probably would freaked me out as a kid. Of course, the death turns out to be murder, and the way the killer does it is quite clever.
Joe has a one-book girlfriend named Chris, who is basically there so that Joe can have a feud with a volleyball player named George Ritt Jr. George Ritt Jr. is probably one of the most entertaining parts of the book. He's so cartoonish it's hilarious.
For most of the book, he's basically Bluto from Popeye. His father is just as cartoonish, and two spent most of the time yelling at people and starting fights. However, it does strain suspension of disbelief that George Ritt Jr. is not kicked out of the volleyball tournament for unsportsmanlike behavior.
The culprits of "Spiked!" were quite obvious, as they spent a lot of time twirling their mustaches and doing evil things in front of Frank and Joe. There was a surprise or two near the end, but for the most part I was able to guess the who and why of the mystery pretty early on.
Despite this, the action was rather good. The villains were quite dangerous, and Frank and Joe had a lot of close calls in this book. The volleyball aspect of the book takes the backstage for the second half of the book. While there are some sabotage attempts during games, most of the action happens away from the court.
Frank and Joe also have some good banter in the this book, and I found myself laughing quite a lot. This plus the cartoonish behavior of some of the suspects makes the book rather fun, although things do get more serious near the end.
"Spiked!" is an average but fun book, with the mystery element being a bit lacking. If you prefer books where it's a challenge to guess the culprit before Frank and Joe do, this isn't the book for you. If you are just looking for a fun Hardy Boys book, give this one a read.
6 out of 10
You can play this game here , but I do not recommend it at all. I don’t even know why I played it honestly. There’s not much to talk ...