Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Calico Cats Are Of Very Great Size...

It's the first of the month, which means free games from Amazon Prime! I'm quite starting to look forward to it, now. It's the surprise element I enjoy the most. I try not to read any of the previews so I don't know what's coming until I open the app on the day.

Of course, even if I have seen something in advance, chances are I'll have forgotten it by the time it arrives. That was certainly the case with what I imagine is meant to be this month's big ticket item, Far Cry.

I know I read something about this a while back but come the day there was no sign of it on the app. It wasn't until I went to the Prime website that the game appeared, which was also the first time I realised it was missing.

I think the omission is because it's not exactly a Prime giveway in the strict meaning of the term. It's some kind of cross-marketing deal with Ubisoft. When you click through the link to Claim the game, you get this caveat: "*Ubisoft Account and Amazon Prime membership required."

To play Far Cry for free you have to link your Prime account to Ubisoft Connect and play it through the UC portal. I wasn't all that interested to begin with and that's a deal-breaker. Pass.

Fortunately, the other five games in June's offer are far more to my taste and none of them require any shenanigans with outside agencies to claim, install or play. Let's take a look.

Across The Grooves 

This one jumped out at me right away. Could it be a music game? Something like Fuser, maybe? I've been wanting something like that for ages! 

Nope. No such luck. It's an "interactive graphic novel", whose only connection to music appears to be that the story begins when "Ulysse, her ex-lover, comes back into her life through an old vinyl record she receives in the mail."

The graphics look gorgeous and the premise is original. Steam reviews are "Very Positive". I have high hopes.


Bless you! Oh, wait... that's what it's called!

A "narrative-based comedy game", according to the developer's website, which oddly gets slightly re-written as "a story-driven, astrological comedy game" for the Prime description. Set in "Shakespeare's London", a curious possessive if ever I saw one, the Guardian called it "bawdy biographical fiction told through medical quandaries and humorous choral music, all the more entertaining because it’s based on things that actually happened."

That all sounds very intriguing, especially the "humorous choral music", but what's the gameplay like? "Strategy, adventure, indie" says Prime, which isn't a lot of help but the website is a lot more specific. Weirdly so, even:

"13 clients come to see you 5-7 times seeking advice for personal, professional and medical problems. By examining the stars in the sky, you diagnose and determine answers for your clients’ problems. As well as affecting the storyline, these choices will alter your clients’ satisfaction levels. Satisfied clients will write you letters of recommendation, and with enough of these letters you can obtain a medical licence from the University of Cambridge."  

Hardly need to play the game at all after that. But I probably will. 


Hang on a moment... what's that sound? It's my twee alarm! It's ringing off the scale!

"Calico is a day-in-the-life community sim game where you are given an important and adorable task: rebuild the town’s cat café and fill it with cute and cuddly creatures! Build up your café by filling it with cute furniture, fun decorations, yummy pastries, and get it bustling with animals again!"

As is probably all too obvious by now, I have an exceptionally high tweeness tolerance. I used to identify as twee, back in the late 'eighties, when that was actually a thing. "Calico is meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside." And yet even I have my limits.

Yeah, I do, but this is probably well within them. You can befriend animals, name them, play with them, even "add them to your party."  There's also a decoration system for the café, so it kind of has housing, too. A lot of my boxes getting ticked here.

It's another "Very Positive" on Steam. The screenshots are woozy, the color palette is hallucinatory, the aesthetic is druggy as fuck. Once again, my hopes are high, although maybe not as high as the people who made this thing.


I couldn't even read the font for this one. I thought it was called W2C8 until I clicked through to the website, which seems to be for the real-world sporting event rather than the video game. 

Even after looking at the website, I still wasn't entirely sure what WRC was. I had to google it and check the Wikipedia page before I was certain. WRC stands for World Rally Championship, something you'd think I might have heard of before. I hadn't.

I claimed this one before I knew anything about it, anyway, because it was obviously some sort of driving game and I've been wanting one of those for years. Well, one I can actually play. 

I am so absolutely, umitigatedly awful at driving imaginary cars, pretty much every driving game might as well be the NASA Shuttle Simulator as far as I'm concerned. (I'm assuming NASA had one of those and that it was super-challenging, although the more I think about it, the less convinced I am that either of those things is true.)

The description on Prime makes WRC8 sound daunting. It's full of phrases like "off-road physics", "dynamic weather" and "most intense WRC experience yet". I imagine I'll spend most of my first session upside-down in a ditch before logging out in a snit and uninstalling but I'm willing to give it a go.

Escape From Monkey Island

Because it wouldn't be Prime without a Monkey Island game, would it? Seriously, this is the ninth they've given away. I just checked. What they're going to do when they run out I cannot imagine. Close the whole thing down, probably.

And I still haven't played any of them. The question now is where would I even start? At the beginning? With the one that's meant to be the best? Maybe the shortest? 

Most likely nowhere. I keep claiming them but every time I see those dread words "Monkey Island" again, my desire to play any of them drops another notch - and it was barely there to begin with.

Still and all, it's a pretty solid line-up this time, I'd say. Any month where I claim every title (Cross-promotions don't count.) has to be a good one. It would cost over £60 to buy them all on Steam (Not that I would.) so it's value for money and then some, especially from a service I subscribe to for reasons completely unrelated to gaming.

Now all I have to do is choose which one to play first. 

Yeah, okay, it's going to be Calico.


  1. There were space shuttle simulators when space shuttles were a thing that were still used by NASA. They had full sized cockpits, complete with hundreds of buttons and switches doing who knows what, hydraulics to move it around and full sized screens that simulated what you would see out of the windows. My mom actually "flew" one in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

    You'll just have to take my word for it, because the first page of google results provides no evidence that these things ever existed. What I did find is (a) what appears to be the world's most boring PC game and (b) some kind of ride at the Kennedy Space Center that simulates a shuttle launch. I'd be kind of surprised if it feels much like being in an actual shuttle powering it's way into low orbit, but the website says it "the next best thing to a real shuttle launch" and the children in the picture look entertained.

    1. I was almost certain I remembered seeing something about those simulators on TV long ago but then I began to wonder, given how the shuttle was piggybacked into space on a plane and then came back pretty much like a falling brick, whether there would be enough for the shuttle pilots to do to need a simulator in the first place. Thanks for confirming my memories!


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