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Malindy Hetfeld


Malindy is a freelance writer whose equally torrid love affairs with literature, Japan and Guybrush Threepwood have led to her covering video games.

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Management simulations have been one of the most enduring video game genres. Whether you like to manage cities, zoos, hospitals or sports teams, there are plenty of riffs on the concept. With the current renaissance of the farming sim however, it's enough to loudly say "Stardew Valley" three times to summon interest - mine included. Graveyard Keeper, then, sounded like the kind of game I didn't know I wanted, something that combines the cute style of a game made in RPG Maker with a truly interesting management idea. It's graveyards. You manage graveyards.

It's a Friday evening in October 2016, and there's more paper on my desk than I have space for. There are slips of paper with notes. Flash cards with notes for the notes. Hand-drawn maps. A text file on a tablet with colour codes to find the corresponding notes a little quicker. Most importantly, there is a 440-page hardcover rulebook resting on my legs, with more colour-coded bookmarks sticking out of it.

Yes, I know, I'm selling sticks, but these sticks fell off of something that nearly killed me in a deep, dark dungeon just a few minutes ago. I risked my hide for that limestone over there, too. This particular starter cable is most certainly a priceless relic, and if you want me to get more treasure like it, you're going to have to pay the price I've set for it. Or at least a price we can agree on.

More than twenty years ago, Donkey Kong Country taught me what the ocean sounds like. Its "Underwater Ambiance" is just that - drawn out, ambient sounds, melancholy minor chords and a relaxing melody at a leisurely beat. It captures perfectly what you see on screen; a level that isn't beaten through quick reactions, but by floating towards your next target and seeing where the current takes you.

We will never know how my life could have gone had I never been introduced to mobile puzzle games. Over the persistent draw of just one more round, assignments were left unfinished, books unread and emails unanswered. I spent endless hours of procrastination determined to prove that I had the smarts it took to solve games that wanted me for my brain and not my reflexes. Even though I've since moved to YouTube as my favourite method of procrastination, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle makes it clear that deep down I haven't changed.

FeatureVideo game romance is broken

A look at love, from Dream Daddy to Mass Effect.

Florence, a short mobile game by the developer Mountains, covers more ground on the topic of romantic love in under an hour than most games have for decades. It does so by focusing on a few small watershed moments of being in love, from developing an interest in someone to the pleasures and hurdles of domestic co-existence to letting go of a relationship that no longer works.

Mario is a simple guy. He wears overalls and a spiffy cap. He's got a brother and a couple of close friends. He can run fast and jump high. In his various quests to save princess Peach, he makes use of all of these attributes and relationships, yet none of them tell us anything about who Mario really is.