Mystery Series: A Vampire Tale

Hidden Object Game                          harder                                         148 MB
Timed                              PC & Mac                            Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The setting is Europe in 1928. You are a young woman and your scientist father hasn’t called in 2 weeks, and that’s not like him.  You go to his house and look through his papers and learn that he’s gone off to Transylvania in search of vampires (he has a passion for researching vampires).  Since he hasn’t contacted you, you worry that he’s in trouble and you hop a train and follow his trail.  You don’t believe in silly folktales and superstitions, and you certainly don’t believe in vampires.

Hints:  Watch as it downloads, and click ‘cancel’ if you don’t want DirectX & Bing to be downloaded onto your computer after the game finishes downloading. ~ Also, it may seem like it had trouble downloading but it didn’t. Weird, that. ~ You need to click to make the narrative progress. ~ Click after every statement and every small drawing during the comic book style storyline. ~ Happily, you can click through the French accents because you probably can read faster than they’re speaking. ~ There is a point system, and points are given & taken. ~ The Hidden Object scenes are timed, and the timer is under our heroine’s picture. ~ In the HO scenes, click on the red arrow when you’re ready to see the rest of the scene. ~ Important: Look for scrolls and pieces of scrolls, which are bonus objects that you are not told to seek. ~ Spoilers: A horse collar is misidentified as a saddle. The bookmark is on the highly patterned carpet under the desk, towards the front of the screen.

My Review:  This game, which usually goes by the name of “A Vampire Tale,” got some bad reviews, so I suggest you try it before you decide.  I checked it out and it’s not as bad as the reviewers said.  Yes, the hint button is slow to recharge and the hidden objects are hard to find, but at least the hidden objects are true to the setting and they aren’t scattered about in unrealistic places.  Also, the scenes are beautifully drawn, and the story, though slow to evolve, is interesting and appropriate.  Also, it’s very atmospheric.  The puzzles are extremely easy, surprising considering how tricky the HO scenes are.

My Recommendation:  Do I recommend the game?  Too hard to call.  It has atmosphere, beautiful artwork and an interesting story, and I want to know more about what happens, but I had to hit that hint button a lot.

So what do you think?  Try it for free, here:

For PC:   A Vampire Tale

For Mac:  A Vampire Tale


Magic Encyclopedia a.k.a. ME: First Story, Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light, & Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions

Hidden Object Games with Puzzles         harder               64, 73, & 139 MB
Untimed                 PC (& Mac, iPad, iPhone for First Story and Moon Light)

Magic Encyclopedia (also known as Magic Encyclopedia: First Story)
Premise:   When your older brother goes missing, you must travel around the world following clues to search for him.

Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light
Premise:  You were your professor’s best student at the Magic Academy, and when he’s in trouble he sends you a message, asking you to find him.  Unfortunately, he’s in hiding, and the clues to his whereabouts are also hidden, among broken artifacts in exotic locations.  You travel around the world, finding broken pieces of artifacts which, when put together and replaced where they belong, reveal another fragment of another broken object.  Following the trail that these artifacts expose, you finally find a scroll with just a bit of information, and you must go to more sites to find more fragments that will lead you to another scroll, and another, until you finally find out where your teacher is, and now you can help him.  One mustn’t be too careful when one is fighting the dark arts, after all.

Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions
Premise:  Now the Magic Academy is in danger, and you can help Catherine save it by stopping The Illusionist, a wizard that’s changed the appearance of countless objects around the world and is gathering an unstoppable army.  To defeat her nemesis, Catherine will have to figure out ways to switch back and forth between reality and deception.

Hints:  Find two tiny jewels in each scene; they are vital to activate an important amulet. ~ You can explore exotic locations in two different countries at one time via magic coins. ~ In each country there are two archeological sites or rooms; to go from one to the other, pass through the green light (the light might sometimes be at the very bottom of the screen). ~ Utilize the hint button every time as soon as it refreshes, because the fragments are teensy and are hidden in the craziest places. Often they resemble a tiny splinter of wood. ~ Thank goodness there is no penalty for excessive mis-clicks and thank goodness the hint button refreshes very quickly. ~ The hint button will also tell you when you’ve found everything in the scene that you are able to so far and therefore must go to another place, put something together, bring it back and use it so it can reveal the next thing you need. Sound confusing? It isn’t really.

More Hints:  Travel between the two countries by clicking on the magic coins in the upper right corner. ~ Clicking on the globe will bring you to the map of the world. ~ In the first Magic Encyclopedia, a.k.a. Magic Encyclopedia: First Story, you must also collect question marks in each scene to replenish your hints.

Spoiler:  If you haven’t found all the jewels needed to activate the amulet by the end of the game, an origami bird will arrive and send you to the map; the locations that have a jewel floating above them are the places to which you must return.  Spoiler:  To find an elusive jewel, click on “Hint” after finding everything else in that location.

My Review:  As much as I dislike games that hide tiny things in unreasonable places which are also totally out of reach, like on ceilings and rooftops, and yet you reach them (with magic?), and also games in which you have to use the hint button constantly because those tiny items are so fiendishly hidden, on something their exact color, that they disappear from sight… yet I have to admit that there seems to be something about the Magic Encyclopedia games that is downright compelling, and I found myself playing for hours and unwilling to stop.  You do almost no real magic, by the way, but what you do is amusing.

My Recommendation:  These games are probably several years old and therefore might disappoint seasoned players, but this website is not for them but for new players who haven’t played games like this before and who might enjoy these.  I did, in spite of myself, which I think says a lot in their favor.

You can try them for free, here:
For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia
For Mac:  Magic Encyclopedia

For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light
For Mac:  Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light

For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions


Mahjong Towers Eternity

Mahjong Game                                          easier                                   14 MB
Untimed                           PC, Mac, iPad                   Walkthrough not needed

Hints: Find matching pairs that have at least one free left side or right side. ~ It is most important to clear the lines of tiles that are horizontally the longest. ~ Next in importance is reducing the tallest stacks. ~ Keep those priorities in mind when there are more than two identical tiles to choose from.

My Review:  This could easily be the best Mahjong computer game ever.  It’s beautiful and it’s relaxing.  Unlike in most other Mahjong games, it’s very easy to distinguish the tiles from each other, and the selection is the most unusual I’ve ever seen… from insects to quilt patterns to musical instruments to animated cartoon figures.  Want a classic design, but prettier?  It’s hidden under the hippo.

You also can choose your own grid from an enormous selection of patterns, and permanently delete any you dislike by making them unfavorites.  But best of all, you can design your own tile sets and your own grids, and add them to your collection, or upload them onto the Web for everyone to enjoy.

And finally, got little ones at home and want a game they can play that’s not ugly or insipid?  This game has several super-easy grids (I suggest you start with the one named penguin), and you can choose tiles with the alphabet or with double-digit numbers, or bugs for the boys, or cute and really funny animated animals, or musical instruments that make their own sounds (for that one, turn off “music” and raise the volume on “sounds” in Options).

My Recommendation:  This is my favorite Mahjong Game because I love to choose from my favorite grids.  I also like the unusual tile pictures — especially the ones that move and dance when you choose them!

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Mahjong Towers Eternity ™

For Mac:  Mahjong Towers Eternity ™


Many Years Ago

Civilization-Building Game with some Puzzles                                     94 MB
Untimed               easier             PC & Mac              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  At the dawn of civilization, a small island tribe was nearly wiped out when the island’s volcano erupted.  You and your mate seem to be the only survivors and you must re-establish your tribe.  You find tools lying around, and as you use them to cut down palm trees to build huts, other survivors appear and join you.  As Chief of this island tribe, you assign tasks to the adults and teenagers, according to their abilities.  The teenagers can start by foraging (picking fruit and coconuts, gathering up animal hides, and, later in the game, harvesting corn, retrieving bread from the oven, collecting gems to decorate totems, gathering large blue flowers for medicine, and dinosaur eggs for food.)

Hints:  You have control over the physical appearance of your Chief, but not of the Chief’s mate.  (You can change all the names, however.) ~ Read the Help section before you start. ~ Because your people are so new, they don’t know to do any jobs unless they are told to do them, so feel free to assign tasks when they are doing nothing (looking at the sky, thinking about the future, creating new words, etc.) and you should constantly survey the island for more things that need to be done. ~ Keep them busy or you’ll run out of food and supplies; they’ll feed themselves and sleep when they’re tired. ~ And let them talk to each other; they need to do that, to socialize and perhaps make babies. ~ When everyone is busy, while you’re looking around the island for more work, take the gold coins that the birds are stealing from some other land and and dropping into their 3 nests. ~ And take some time to watch the babies toddle around before you corral them; they are really cute.

More Hints:  When you click on a person to choose him for a job, you access useful information about him; also you are shown his face surrounded by a ring of colors which represent the years of his life, with red symbolizing infancy and going through the rainbow up to blue, which indicates old age.  When all the colored spaces are filled, the person dies. ~ Also, as you are assigning tasks, watch out for the green un-smiley face that indicates illness, and send that person to the rack of dried blue flowers beside the fire for the cure. ~ When the Chief gets sick, you’ll notice that his ring of colors has several blue spaces indicating that he is dying of old age… but… there is a very special magical multi-colored flower that will make the Chief… but only the Chief… young again. Send him to it. ~ The tiger cub mini-game (my favorite) seems to get difficult but it is manageable if, when you seem stuck, you take notice of which stacks of tiles fall to the left and which fall to the right and then use gravity to control the flow of tiles.

My Review:  This is a very pleasant and relaxing game.  You play it at your own pace, and basically do what you please, and feel productive while enjoying a game.  The mini-games are enjoyable too, and you don’t have to play them if you’re not in the mood; also, if you like them, you can go back to them at any time by going to the totem that awarded them, and you can even play them from the Main Menu when you are not playing the game itself.  My only problem with the game is the fact that, because the islanders get older, they also die.  And there’s nothing you can do about it but accept it as part of the cycle of life, I guess.

My Recommendation:  I enjoyed this game so much that I played it twice in one week-end, to the exclusion of everything else; and imagine my shock when I looked away from the screen and saw that the sun had risen.  If you or your children can handle losing your elderly islanders (at least they go to heaven, and if you keep the person in view when the blue slots are filled, you can witness it), then this is a perfect introduction to Civilization-Building games, easy enough for beginners but enjoyable for all.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC: Many Years Ago

For Mac: Many Years Ago


Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

Adventure Game                                                                                    62 MB
Untimed             easier              PC & Mac               Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  “Help a Bennet sister find a husband as you take a starring role in Jane Austen’s most popular novels in “Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale.”  Will you pursue Mr. Bingley, whose good nature has already endeared him to your sister, or perhaps Mr. Darcy, the famous protagonist from Pride and Prejudice?  The narrative comes from the combining of 3 different novels, allowing you to create new storylines from Miss Austen’s most famous works!”

My Review:  With a format based on tabletop role-playing games, and illustrated in a comic book style with watercolor drawings, “Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale” allows you to create your own story through the choices you make.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

For Mac:  Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale


My Kingdom for the Princess & My Kingdom for the Princess II & III

Civilization-Building / Time Management Games                                  Easier
PC (& Mac for I & II)                                                               40, 99 & 106 MB
Timed, with No Untimed Option                                Walkthrough not needed

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess:  While Princess Helen is visiting her uncle King Sigmund, a horrific tornado sweeps through the land, destroying everything in its path and waking Firemouth the dragon.  With all the towns and roads destroyed between her uncle’s and her father’s kingdoms, she is stranded…  and that’s when she learns that her father, King Olgert, has become very ill.

King Sigmund turns to Arthur, a young knight, and charges him with the task to escort the Princess back home to her sick father, a task he takes on willingly (he’s a knight, after all, and that’s the way they are), even though he knows that to get there he must also repair the roads and restore the ruined villages that lie between the two kingdoms.  (And avoid that fire-breathing, human-eating dragon!)

If he succeeds, (What am I saying?  I mean when he succeeds, for he’s a knight and the hero of our story), King Sigmund will build him a castle.  And considering how the Princess is gazing upon our brave young knight, he’ll probably get the girl, too.

Will you help him?

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess II:  It’s honeymoon time, our hero is now Sir Arthur, and he and his princess bride sail off in a ballloon for a private vacation on a string of tropical islands.  Unfortunately, this archipelago is inhabited by Longbeard, an evil magician dwarf hermit, who destroys the balloon soon after they land, and kidnaps the pilot.  How will they return home?

Luckily, the native inhabitants have one boat, which they will give to the royal couple if they will repair the broken-down buildings and roads.  With no alternatives, they agree and all is fine…  until Longbeard appears and kidnaps our princess.

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess III:  Twenty-five years have passed, our hero is now King, and it’s time for King Arthur and Queen Helen to decide which of their three sons will take over the running of the kingdom.  A neighboring king has offered his gorgeous daughter to whomever proves himself to be the most successful, and our story now has a new princess!  Each son is given one rugged piece of land for one month, and the son who makes the most out of the land will win the princess.  To complicate matters, the youngest, Prince Andrew, is in love with the princess, whereas the two older brothers are conniving and greedy and see this marriage merely as a stepping-stone to wealth, power and glory.

Hints:   The timer (in the upper left corner of the screen) doesn’t start until you assign the first task to a worker, so after you’re given your goals, click on the village and look it over, identifying where the particular ruined buildings are and deciding what to work on first. ~ You must complete all your assigned tasks, listed above the timer. ~ Check your resources (food, wood, and gold) in the upper right corner and choose your restorations according to what you have and what you will need. ~ Also keep an eye on the gauge at the bottom of the screen and take advantage of the benefit of your choice (an extra helper for 30 seconds, extra resources added to the ones that you are about to gather, stopping the timer for a minute, or having your men run faster) as the one you want becomes available.  When things get harder, you won’t be able to finish before nightfall if you don’t use those bonuses/powerups. ~ On some computers, the bonus/powerup gauge is along the side of the screen. ~ When you have more than one worker, you can send the waiting one out running by clicking on his job before the working one is finished, as long as the circle around the job site is green when your cursor hovers over it.

More Hints:  Until you’ve build a warehouse, your resource stockpiles of food, wood and gold are limited to 20 units each, so you must keep an eye on the totals as you decide where to send your workers next so they won’t deplete resources you can’t keep. ~ Sometimes there just is no more of what you need, and you either sit and wait as the clock runs down, or you quit right then and start again.  In game three they added a feature to help you along.  If the game senses you’ve been inactive, it offers one resource of your choice, and keeps re-offering it until you start moving your workers again. ~ Conversely, sometimes you’ve accumulated far more than you’ll need to complete the round.  When that’s the case, don’t try to gather every resource if you don’t need it as you approach the end of the round; it’ll just slow you down.  Leave the extras for the residents. ~ In the third installment, the Play button has been moved; it is now a triangle (arrow) in a circle in the upper right of the screen. ~ To pause the game, click on the menu button in the lower left of the screen. ~ You must complete the restoration of each village, and the road that runs through it, before night falls (that is, before the timer runs out). ~ If you finish while the timer’s line is still green, Arthur’s castle receives an improvement; if it turns orange, you can keep working but there will be no reward for that round.  (You can try again.) ~ In the second game, the castle is really a cluster of houses, and in the third installment the castle is ultra-modern. ~ When night falls, the dragon comes out, and you lose the round and must replay it.

Still More Hints:  As long as you finish before nightfall, you have succeeded in transporting the Princess across the village; but if you don’t, or if you want to do better and get an improvement on Arthur’s castle, you can click on the grey shield where a red flag ought to be on the map, and redo the round. ~ You can also stop the work at any point and opt for a redo by clicking on the menu button in the lower left of the screen when you’re certain you won’t make it and want to start over. ~ If you are aiming for the most successful outcome and the largest castle for Arthur and his Princess… when the rounds start to get more difficult you will probably need to play each round once through just to get an understanding of what the best strategy might be, then replay that round repeatedly until you reach the end while the timer is still in the green zone.

My Review:  These games are easy to learn and fun to play, and are appropriate for adults as well as any child who is old enough to strategize.  Their only flaw is that you cannot stack the upcoming work assignments serially but must wait until your worker returns to the home base before sending him out on his next assignment.  I and others have found that the second game is more difficult than the first and third, and it seems redundant, adding nothing new to the mix.  I would add that the plot is ridiculous.  Therefore I’d say that you can get away with not getting the second one unless you like to complete your collections or you love the games so much that you want another.

My Recommendation:  These are some of the most famous and most popular casual games for women, real classics that hold up even to this day, are still talked about, and are still the yardstick against which all subsequent Civilization-Building Games are measured.  Even though the games that followed them have improved upon the format, the newer games are often more challenging — a good thing for experienced players but a problem for newbies.  Also, it’s good to have a game that you and your children or grandchildren can all enjoy, and these are delightful and fun to play.  They are often referred to as MKFTP, for short, and you can’t go wrong with these games.

You can try them for free, here:

For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess
For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess II
For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess III

For Mac:  My Kingdom for the Princess
For Mac:  My Kingdom for the Princess II


My Tribe

Virtual Life Simulation                 easier                                                  57 MB
Untimed                                   PC & Mac                 Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A group of adventurous city dwellers went sailing, got caught in a storm, and became stranded on some unknown island.  With your guidance they’ll create their own little paradise.

Hints:  First, go to options & shut off the music; you need to hear the stars falling onto the island. ~ When you first arrive on the island you’ve chosen, click on the map and look for wooden crates floating in the ocean, then click on a person and drop him onto it.  Do this often because you have nothing and need everything you can find.  And speaking of finding things, always keep a sharp lookout for tiny mushrooms, the very occasional gold nugget, guano (white splats on the sand or grass), and — most important of all — the fallen stars, which are called stardust and moondust.  You’ll need all of those ingredients to make fun potions. ~ And you’ll have to drop someone on top of the item because they won’t notice it on their own. ~ In the beginning, the castaways need to be told what to do; after all, they’re city folk and have never had to fend for themselves. ~ To switch a player to a different task, click on him or her, remove the present task from his task list, and choose another.  Otherwise, he will constantly go from one task to another, doing just a little work on each. ~ The maximum you can have of wood, stones, and food is 100 of each (until your people learn how to build storage). ~ When you think have enough for now, remove their present assignments and reassign everyone to study science — that’s how they will learn new skills. ~ Here is a very important hint:  the potion formulas are not listed anywhere within the game, so when you learn about one, you must write it down so that you can try it out when you want. ~ And this is the most important hint of all: be careful when you decide to shut the game off!  (Find out why by reading “My Review”, below.)

More Hints, including Spoilers:  When the narrator asks you, agree to accept hints. ~ When asked to select an island, look for one that has a large grassy area near the 3 brown squares; also choose an island that is not in two parts and is not elongated, because those are more difficult to keep a close watch over. ~ When you arrive and after you’ve checked the map for floating crates, you should decide which tree should be cut down & which boulder should be broken up for construction materials, and assign your strongest castaways to those tasks by lifting them, dragging them & dropping each onto his or her assignment.  The weaker members can be dropped into the water to start fishing.  When they have 10 logs and 10 stones, have them build a hut to sleep in, and another when they get more materials.  After that, build a science lab when you have 25 more logs and 25 more stones. ~ Open every crate, even the one that’s in terrible shape, because the game won’t give you good stuff until you discover what kind of bad stuff is in the worst of them.  After that lesson you’ll know to avoid those, but along with the crates in good condition you most definitely should open the ones that are “in rough shape and might not be water-tight,” because those have good & useful things you don’t want to miss out on. ~ Eventually the “in rough shape and might not be water-tight,” crates seem to run out of useful items; when they start to bring bad thing, stop opening those and just stick with the ones in perfect condition. ~ While the adults are working, occasionally click on a child and fly him or her all over the island (that’s the quickest and easiest way to survey the island), and look for mushrooms, guano, stars and moons, for the potions.  Place the child on any that you find to collect it the moment you see it, because they disappear very quickly. ~ The stardust and moondust make a soft jingling sound, so always listen for it.  When you hear it, grab someone and fly them around, listening for the jingling to get louder or quieter, which will help you locate it more quickly, before it disappears. ~ FYI, moondust is 5X rarer than stardust.  Spoiler:  The way to get rainwater for your potions is to make the potion when it is raining.

My Review:  This is what I call a Virtual Life Simulation, which means that, as in real life, things continue even when you’re not around.  Shut the game down, and when you go back to it in a few hours, everyone is older, they’ve accomplished their assigned tasks and they’re standing around, waiting for more instructions.  But here’s the important part: stay away too long and they’ll all be dead when you return.  As I said, this is like real life.  People get old and people die.  (Please warn children of this before you let them play.)  So before you shut the game off, decide how long it will be until you return, and assign your peoples’ tasks accordingly:  Will you be gone a few hours?  Make sure they have enough food and firewood, and make them all study science until you return.  But if there’s any possibility that you’ll be gone longer, then don’t chance it — click on Options before you leave the island, and choose Pause.  And if you will be gone longer, like overnight, or several days?  Absolutely put in on Pause; otherwise you’ll come back to a deserted island covered with gravestones!  But on a brighter note, it’s great fun to pair off two adults and watch them try to be casual and nonchalant as they make their way to a hut (often the one farthest away from everyone else) and in exactly five seconds emerge with the cutest little toddler in tow.  You’ve created a new life and you’ll watch him or her grow up, have children (if you choose), and suddenly one day they have grey hair!

My Recommendation:  I wholeheartedly recommend this delightful and engrossing game to everyone (but keep in mind the caveat mentioned above, if you let your child play this game).  This game is easy enough for newbies, even for children, and engrossing enough for the most experienced players… and you will get unlimited hours of play because it just continues forever, like real life, giving you more new activities and goals to accomplish.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   My Tribe

For Mac:  My Tribe


Mystery of Mortlake Mansion

Hidden Object & Puzzle Game                   harder                              171 MB
Untimed                                  PC & Mac                     Walkthrough is needed
Walkthrough : Mystery of Mortlake Mansion Walkthrough

Premise:  A stranger has written to you, beseeching you to come to Mortlake Mansion to rescue someone referred to only as ‘R’.   You are curious, and so you go there.   Once inside, you are unable to leave until you solve the mystery and rescue ‘R’.   You eventually find a jewelled key which, when inserted into a matching and very ornate slot, causes time to go either backward or forward, to what is referred to on your map as “spooky.”   You travel in time, via the map, from one version of the mansion to the other, gathering clues and solving puzzles with the help (and nagging) of a raven, trying to rescue ‘R’ and escape before a spectral being saps your strength and traps you there forever.

Hints:  Refer to the map when you don’t know where to go, and click on the map to get there. ~ To find out where to investigate within a room, lightly pass your cursor around, watching for it to turn into a hand or a magnifying glass. ~ Feel free to click anywhere, and also feel free to use the hints liberally during the hidden object games, as they are replenished almost immediately. ~ The mini-games are intuitive, and part of the fun of this game is in trying to figure out what to do… but if you need instructions, refer to the Walkthrough.

My Review:  This is an enjoyable and compelling game, beautifully drawn, and with a coherent storyline.  The music is atmospheric and adds to the tolerable creepiness.  As you progress, the game gets more exciting.  I especially liked that the game asked me if I am male or female, and that determined the sound of “my” voice as the narrator read all the dialog and the diary entries aloud, in a very nice voice with a British accent.

My Recommendation:  I think you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Mystery of Mortlake Mansion

For Mac:  Mystery of Mortlake Mansion