23 reviews liked by gardenofhounds

Miracle Merchant is a mobile game, one both pleasantly simple and surprisingly nuanced, about combining colored cards to create potions for customers. When I first found MM in the app store years ago, I fell in absolute love with its art style; and after downloading it, I was happy to discover a short, addictingly fun gameplay loop to back that presentation up. It may not be something that you’ll play everyday for weeks straight, but MM is perfect for ten-minute bursts when you just need to pass the time.
No matter what, this is easily one of the best-looking phone games I’ve EVER seen. It’s honestly stunning. The style is bold and colorful; it’s cartoony, in that charming Adventure Time way, while also showing a great attention to detail. The artist, Thomas Wellman, is very talented.
The environments are a prime example of this. Even though there are only a few, each one adds so much flavor to the game’s style and the fantasy setting as a whole. The opening credits sequence - which is skippable, but I recommend watching at least once - shows off the potion maker’s village. We see various cute buildings, such as a magic shop and a clockmaker, before landing on the potion shop itself, a line coming out of the door.
The main menu then shows our potion maker, a tiefling-like fellow, hard at work inside his shop. He’s surrounded by equipment and ingredients, mixing up a concoction in his mortar and pestle. A neat detail is that when you start a game, the camera pans upwards, revealing webs of pipes and shelves full of potions.
Last but not least, there’s the rest of the shop, which is shown once you begin playing. Lining the walls are shelves filled with all kinds of knick knacks, such as skulls, plants, and logs of wood. A beet, a dead bird, and a fish hang from the planked ceiling. The door outside gives us another glimpse of the village, as well as a night sky full of twinkling stars.
It’s such a wonderfully whimsical little fantasy world, and like I said, the detail is palpable. Even the UI is perfectly stylized to match the aesthetic. During games, the bottom half of your screen displays a wooden table stacked with the decks of cards, complete with a decorative mat. Additionally, all of the menus/buttons are drawn as scrolls and pieces of paper; I think it’s especially cute how the little options at the top of the main menu are taped to the pipes. It lends to the warm and inviting feeling that permeates the game.
Without a doubt, though, the best thing about the art is the character design. The cast members aren’t just cute and appealing - they each feel like a fully realized little person, despite the game’s interaction being so basic. Each one expresses so much personality through both their appearance and their little mannerisms. My favorites are the yellow guy with big eyes and a snout-like mouth, and the nordic-like redheaded man with a rooster.
The last integral element visually are the potions themselves; after combining four cards, you’ll create a brew for the customer, whose final appearance and name are based on the cards’ most-used color. These are also accompanied by a smaller token - such as a tomato or a starfish - which I believe is based on a lesser-used color.
Each potion is so visually interesting. Many of them are quite weird or conceptual, but they still marry perfectly to the color(s) - and by extension, the elements or ideas - that they represent. In fact, I only have one gripe with MM’s visuals. I just don’t feel like the potions are given quite enough attention. After all, they’re the final product you’re working towards making; yet they only pop on screen for a few seconds before being sent off. It would be cool if there were a more engaging animation or presentation to go along with them. There IS a potion book that tracks what you’ve discovered, which is a neat little feature, but you unfortunately have to buy the full game to access it. Ultimately, though, this is a very minor gripe and it’s not something I’ll hold against an otherwise perfectly-crafted experience.
Similarly to the art, MM’s sound is very well done. A single track, consisting of a simple beat and acoustic guitar, accompanies your brewing. It’s a calming piece that I never find myself tired of, much like Minecraft’s piano melodies. Then, there are relaxing brewing sounds going on in the background to set a perfect atmosphere; and the cards’ sound effects are the satisfying cherry on top.
Another detail I love are the little noises that the customers make in lieu of speaking. They’ll occasionally let out a ‘hmm’ or the like. It’s such a small thing, but it adds even more personality to the characters themselves and the world.
Lastly is, of course, the gameplay. Fortunately, it’s easy to catch onto here, but there’s also many mechanical nuances to keep the game challenging. As I’ve mentioned, you create potions by combining cards from four limited stacks, each representing its own color - red, yellow, green, and blue. Every individual card may have a symbol on either side or on its middle, which can in turn be any of the four colors itself. If you place that symbol’s color on the board - either on the corresponding side of the symbol, or anywhere, if it’s in the middle - the ‘point’ value of the original card increases.
The goal is to get as many points as possible, while fulfilling each customer’s demands. They have two individual requests; the first is a required color, while the second is an optional color they’d like included. For each of the latter cards you include, their individual point value is doubled.
You also earn points based on the general positioning of the cards in relation to each other. If two of the same color are side-by-side, it’s called a ‘twin’. Three side-by-side are called a ‘triplet’. Four matching are called a ‘distillate’. One of each four colors is a ‘mixture’. These are a huge source of points, meaning they’re really important to consider.
The biggest difficulty of the game is managing the black cards. These give negative points (either -1, -2, or -3), and are randomly shuffled into all four decks. If you don’t feel like you can play around a black card at a given moment, you can periodically boot the current customer to the back of the line - which I recommend doing at least once anyways, so that you know what’s coming at the end of the game and can be prepared.
And that’s all there is to it. Each mechanic is so easy to learn, and they work together completely seamlessly. My only real issue is that the black cards can be quite annoying to play around at times, especially when it seems like there’s just more of them appearing than usual. At least there’s never two in a row in a single deck.
The overall simplicity makes this such an easy game to come back to time and time again, though. I’ll forget about it for weeks, then randomly get the urge to play it. I stopped writing this review multiple times just to go play a game or two… partially for research, and partially just because it’s that fun.
I think MM’s only noteworthy flaw is that there’s really not much to it at the end of the day. Games obviously always play out the same way, and there’s no alternative modes or anything like that to explore. There IS a daily game/leaderboard, which is nice, but I do wish that some more stuff would’ve been added over time.
Still, Miracle Merchant is such a fantastic little experience - especially since it’s free and easily accessible on your phone. The presentation is top-notch, and it’s so fun and relaxing. I’d highly recommend trying this out, especially if you enjoy card games.

Visuals: 5/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Game Score: 4/5 [4.2/5]

How is this game fun? I'm legit asking cause it is.

The peak of boring open-world games. I played for 40 minutes and it was enough. So much to play today with so little time you get as an adult and Horizon feels like a tick list of the tedious shit I have ever seen. Beautiful shit, but shit nonetheless.

There is no game series like Yakuza, It's truly something amazing and every entry has something great to add to the franchise. It's my favourite game series alongside Metal Gear. Buy the ticket and take the ride.

If Microsoft ports this to Windows 11 I still won't use Windows 11

An old woman stumbles towards you with a raised pitchfork in her hands. You stab in her in the face, causing her to stagger backwards in pain. This gives you enough distance to pop her kneecap open with a 9mm bullet, and she falls to her knees in agony. The woman's head is now at the perfect height for you to spin-kick it into the piranha-infested waters like a toxic football, separating from shoulders that gush powerful jets of blood. The sheer force of your kick causes her husband to stumble, tripping a landmine in the process. The mine incinerates the dock you're standing on, and the rest of the woman's family with it; they melt away into chicken eggs and pesetas. The threat neutralised, you pick up your phone and tell your operator the name of this Spanish village is an unpronouncable mouthful. Bullets pierce the screen and you're praised for how effectively the family was slain.

You return to Resident Evil 4 for a lot of things, but I think the paragraph above succinctly describes the core loop that we all keep coming back for on the GameCube, the Wii, the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 5, the Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch, the PC and the Oculus Rift. The scenario might change, the enemies might change, the weapons might change, the graphics might change, but you are always controlling a baying mob in the cleanest, nastiest, most efficient way you possibly can. Bonus points if you can make it look goofy as Hell in the process.

Playing this right after Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, it's plain to see how this game was originally a forking point between the two series - both games are essentially the same implementation of a core idea, but choose to tackle combat from different angles of genre. At their best, the two games emphasise close management of an advancing enemy pool using a fairly limited toolset that flows naturally into the other aspects of itself: Knife to pistol. Pistol to kick. Kick to grenade. Grenade to egg. The movements feel primitive, awkward and unintuitive at first, but soon reveal themselves to be expertly crafted for natural achievement of a precision-flow state, racking up minor-yet-satisfying hits to keep a crowd under control while setting up scenarios where bigger and badder moves can be unleashed at the appropriate time. Put Leon in a red trenchcoat and I bet he could manage at least a few floors of Bloody Palace.

This replay of the game was inspired by a conversation I had with my younger coworkers last week when the topic of the Resident Evil games came up. As someone who spends a lot of time talking shop to people about people like Shinji Mikami and Hideki Kamiya, it's easy to fall into the trap of evaluating these games as beautiful little puzzle boxes to be mechanically solved and understood - but spend ten minutes with someone who likes Resident Evil because they watched all the movies, and you'll discover that there are actually people out there who think Resident Evil 4 (in its current un-remade form) is as much stupid nonsense as your average Carry On film. I hate these people, but I do understand where they'e coming from - when this game originally came out, I bought it for my brother on his 14th birthday despite knowing he was deathly afraid of zombies and spiders and guns and all that; even worse, he was the type of person who said things like "you wouldn't actually say that" when Arnold told him to stick around. Resident Evil 4 was essentially his worsetest nightmare. I was selfishly buying a bowling ball for Marge, but unlike Homer, I never came to regret my heartless decision. Resident Evil 4 really is just that good.

You do loop the loop in hot wheel car except big like real car, its good :)



Went all the way thru again for the speedrun trophy - not difficult but also not fun .. so much waiting.. and pressing 2 different buttons to skip thru dialogue. Rushing through this game ruins it. What a dumb trophy. Anyway it was the only one I needed for platinum so I did it lol

Great atmosphere but I wish there were more sections in space or on the moon surface. Too many Sci-fi corridors and simple key puzzles.

Enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Bought it on a whim and loved it start to finish