Ocean Media Double Feature | Fate Of The Pharaoh and Family Vacation: California | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Publisher: Ocean Media
  • Fate of the Pharaoh: £8.99 / $9.99
  • Developer: Cateia Games
  • Release Date: 20/5/2021
  • Family Vacation: California: £8.99 / $9.99
  • Developer: Ocean Media
  • Release Date: 27/5/2021
  • Review codes provided by Ocean Media
Old game trailer as new one was not made for the Switch Release
Old game trailer as new one was not made for the Switch release

Introduction to the Double Feature

That’s right there folks. We here at Big Daddy Gaming have a special double header game review for you. Going to tackle and review two games from Ocean Media, Fate of the Pharaoh and Family Vacation: California. Without further delay, let’s get into a Big Daddy Gaming first, a double header review.

Digging into Fate of the Pharaoh

When I originally saw the trailer for Fate of the Pharaoh it gave me old Yahoo Games vibes. Happy to say however that this had a lot more depth to it than any of those games could have ever hoped for. I found this to be a really solid strategy game, but let’s talk more about the story.

Take On the Role of the Pharaoh

Fate of the Pharaoh starts with an opening cut-scene explaining that Egypt has been plundered and in a state of disarray. Story tells that there was a great pharaoh that restored Egypt to its former glory. You play as this ancient pharaoh, slowly restoring Egypt as you work towards building the very first great pyramid.

Small-scale Strategy and Fast Paced Game Play

The main gameplay of Fate of the Pharaoh is small scale city building. You are given specific tasks to accomplish for each mission: gathering a specific amount of gold or materials, building a special structure or certain amount of structures, or clearing road objectives. While the start of the story mode is mainly tutorial, it does a good job slowly introducing new concepts to the player. At about halfway through the game, you will have a handle on all of the systems that the game expects you to juggle. And juggle you will. Fate of the Pharaoh at higher levels moves relatively fast with how often you have to upgrade, demolish and collect.

Time of Ra Dictating Pacing and Achievements

Time of Ra is a mechanic within Fate of the Pharaoh that makes the game far more challenging. It essentially acts as a mission timer, and you get a bonus score depending on if you can beat the time limit. I found that as I got later in the story, it became much more precise in order to beat this timer and I enjoyed that a good deal. 

This mechanic also ties into some in-game achievements you can earn. There are 9 in total, 1 for beating the tutorial, and 8 split between hitting story mode progression markers in both modes of the game.

Various Control Schemes

Fate of the Pharaoh actually has two different control schemes to it. It has simple button controls on the right Joy-Con. Though I found that not as optimal as the other control option. That’s right folks, this game has touch screen controls to it and they actually work really well. I found myself playing this more handheld and just tapping away to queue up like 10 tasks at once.

Final Level

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Fate of the Pharaoh. It was a very solid strategy game, and even provided a challenge to beat the timer in some of the later levels. The story is just sort of there as a framework, but it did have an interesting twist toward the end. The touch-based controls were really solid and allowed for really fast gameplay as opposed to the controller option. If you are a fan of simplified strategy games and have a free afternoon then I would say to give this one a try for sure.

Pros

  • Fast-paced game play
  • Story Twist
  • Fine tuned strategy gameplay

Cons

  • Controller support feels too slow for higher levels
  • Wish there was more to it

Time to Item Find in Family Vacation: California

The second Ocean Media game making up our double header, is Family Vacation: California. This is a hidden object game in the same vein as the original Agatha Christie games. So how does Family Vacation: California stack up in this genre?

Time to take an Impromptu Vacation

Yeah, the story for Family Vacation: California is kind of bare bones. Though a lot of hidden object games don’t have an elaborate story either. The story is centered around a family of four taking an impromptu vacation to California. The mother has won a chance to appear on her favorite in-universe game show, The Price is Nice. So the family travels out for a week-long vacation in California so that the mom can compete on the game show.

Find All of the Items

The gameplay of Family Vacation: California is split into two parts. The first part is traditional item finding. You are given a very cluttered room and told to find numerous items within the mess. Some other aspects from the genre this game uses are zoomed in scenes, like looking in a drawer and multi-item objectives.

I had a few problems with these if you were using the touch controls. In an item finder game, these separate areas would be shown by an arrow, but if you are using touch controls there is no indication they are there except the item list. Within the item list, there will be yellow marked items for the main room, blue marked items for a zoomed in put, and a puzzle piece item to represent the multi-item objects.

Another thing that bothered me is that if you are currently searching for the multi-piece items you are unable to pull items that you need otherwise. And this worked the other way too, you could only pick up the multi-piece items if you had the window open. This just felt a little clunky at times.

Mini-games Making an Appearance

Throughout Family Vacation: California, there are various mini-games that show up as you progress. Stacking items so they fit a specific layout, creating paths for the family, parking lot car slider puzzles, and even an actual jigsaw puzzle. I enjoyed most of these and you didn’t have to play them as the game offers you a skip button for these sections. Also, the path creation ones were a mess and felt broken honestly. I would create a path and because it wasn’t the pre-programmed one the game wouldn’t take the solution.

Varied Control Options

As I mentioned previously in this review, Family Vacation: California also supports a control scheme similar to Fate of the Pharaoh. But I would say that the touch controls here are a detriment in the main game play. I mentioned earlier my feelings on the touch controls and the item finding. The mini-games benefit more from the touch controls though. So I did find myself switching between control schemes depending on the activity itself.

Time to Return Home

Family Vacation: California is simply alright. It is a solid item finding game. The addition of mini-games added something different to keep the player engaged. And it ends by promising more adventure with the family involved, which I might be interested in seeing if they fine tune it a little more.

Pros

  • Short play time, one-sitting
  • Mini-games were decent

Cons

  • Puzzles not responding to solutions
  • Touch controls not good for item find sections

Fate of the Pharaoh

Verdict

Fate of the Pharaoh will have you tapping your afternoon away while restoring ancient Egypt.

Family Vacation: California

Verdict

Family Vacation: California is an alright time. You will be item finding and for hours.

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