Video Games

REVIEW: Hey! Pikmin

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If you love all things Nintendo and especially if you love things that are super cute, chances are that you love Pikmin. What isn’t there to love about these neat little space people crash landing on random planets only to find adorable and colorful plant-like creatures that help you solve puzzles?

Hey! Pikmin is the first portable version of the game as well as being the first side scrolling title in the series. While very different from Pikmin 1, 2, and 3, Hey! Pikmin still manages to capture the charm and puzzle solving that this series brings to players. Players once again control Olimar and guide him through levels as he collects Sparklium in his attempt to get enough fuel to power his ship. Each level has the player finding Pikmin and solving puzzles along the way. Unlike other entries in this series, there is no day/night cycle and the objectives are to save as many Pikmin as you can, find as much Sparklium as you can, and maybe grab 2-3 hidden objects each level. On the main map screen, there’s a neat feature called “Pikmin Park” where you can send the Pikmin you’ve found into uncharted areas to find more Sparklium as you continue your quest. It’s the adorable little things like this that makes this game so much fun.

Don’t pay attention to some of the reviews out there. While Hey! Pikmin isn’t as deep as the other games in the Pikmin series, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The levels are not difficult by any means, but are still interesting enough to keep you playing more.

Justin’s Rating: 8/10

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Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

Saturdays at the Library #3

A group of tweens and teens were huddled around the iMac all day making beats and writing lyrics for a song. Here is the finished song:

Our 3rd Saturday of the month Dungeons and Dragons group joined us again and had an epic quest.

Making music while the 3D printer hums in the background.
Making music while the 3D printer hums in the background.
Playing NBA Live in the 2nd Floor Arcade
Playing NBA Live in the 2nd Floor Arcade
Video Games

REVIEW: Inclusion for iOS

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Perhaps it’s related to my age and how I was brought up in the Nintendo era of gaming, but I’ll never fully adjust to tapping on a screen to play a video game.  That’s why only a few iOS and Android games have caught my eye.  So many games for iOS or Android try to replicate the controller based playing experience and they fail miserably.  It is the games that take the iOS and Android enviroment and use it to their advantage that catch my attention.  Inclusion is one of those games, and boy oh boy does it do it well.

What is it?  
The unbelievably addicting numbers game where you’re pitted against the clock in an effort to reach the goal before time runs out. The screen begins to fade away while your fingers feverishly press the numbers in hopes of reaching the goal.

iOS Simulator Screen shot May 19, 2013 11.03.08 AM

What makes Inclusion work is the simple design.  As you can see above, the screen where you spend most of your time is easy on the eyes.  For a game that requires you to add and subtract quickly in your head, the great design helps you focus on the math.  And trust me, this is a good thing (coming from someone who is horrible at math).

At first Inclusion feels like a game you will play in quick 5-10 minute spurts.  But after you get into it, you find that 30 minutes to an hour has gone by as you try to keep beating your high score.  That’s what keeps me coming back to the game…I always want to top my high score and get my name on the Game Center leader boards.

For parents, you couldn’t ask for a better iOS game to give your tween or teen. Inclusion is high on learning, but even higher on fun.  “Educational games” like this are the ones that succeed in finding an audience. ****

Inclusion is (as of today) 99 cents, and it’s one of the best 99 cents I’ve spent on an iOS game.  Highly recommended.

Get it here at the App Store
Read more about Inclusion here

**** I put “educational games” in quotes because 1) I really dislike that term and 2) Inclusion isn’t an educational game, but instead a fun game that has a few educational elements and 3) I couldn’t think of anything better.

 

 

Libraries, Technology, Teens, Video Games

REVIEW: Wii U

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Before I start this review, I have to say one thing: I love everything that Nintendo does.  I am going to do my best to give you an honest review of this system and not let this get in the way but….I mean, c’mon.  Mario and Zelda are so awesome.

THE GOOD

  • Nintendo TVii is so very rad…..and I already have a smart TV.  For the past two years I’ve loved my Google TV.  Of course I’ve had complaints with how it is set up but I overlooked that…until I got my hands on TVii.  The design is beautiful, simple, and makes watching TV actually quite fun.
  • Google Wii Street U is awesome.  I haven’t had any situations where it has totally helped me out but being able to use the tablet controller as a sort of viewfinder into a totally new world?  Pretty cool, especially for someone like me who’s moving to a new city.
  • And the games.  I have two: Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U.  They’re not the best games in the world, but they’re fun.  And that’s why I’m playing video games in the first place…to have fun.
  • Speaking of fun, one more thing: this thing is a BLAST when you have at least 3 people playing.  An absolute blast.

THE BAD

  • Nintendo is pretty horrible at going “social” with the gaming experience.  I find the Miiverse to be very clunky and not really engaging.  Sure, it’s cool to type notes or draw doodles and share but who really cares in the long run.  I don’t.
  • There are still some layout and design kinks they need to work out in regards to the Wii U menu and how players can find things.  I find myself going in circles sometimes when what I am looking for should be right under my nose.
  • And the games.  Like I said above, I only have two and not many of the other ones impress me that much.  I am most excited about the games Nintendo is making and those will eventually come out.  For now, I’d love to see other game developers make some neato things that really make use of what the Wii U can do.

THE VERDICT

  • Overall, Nintendo’s gonna come through and deliver some great stuff.  It will take a lot of time but trust me…they always come through.
  • Would this be good for libraries?  You bet.  It is a social gaming experience.  Get the deluxe set and enough controllers to have five people playing at once.  People will dig it.
  • Will it last?  Nintendo stuff always seems to last despite Microsoft and Sony doing bigger and better things with their systems.  Nintendo has focused on the same thing that they always do with the Wii U….fun games….and this will continue to pay off for them.

 

Libraries, Video Games

Minecraft at the Library

I was really excited to see the Darien Library  giving their library members this most excellent opportunity to play Minecraft:

Darien Library is excited to be hosting its own Minecraft server. If you don’t know about it already; Minecraft is an awesome sandbox construction game in which players create and destroy different types of blocks in a 3D environment. Explore new terrain, gather raw materials, create amazing structures, and watch out for Creepers that come out at night!

To join the Darien Library Minecraft server, simply enter the address to join when you open a new game: minecraft.darienlibrary.org

I knew that some of the teens at my library were into Minecraft, so I started thinking about how I could get Minecraft to them at the library.  I knew that a Minecraft server wasn’t the best fit for my library, so instead I purchased the game from Minecraft.net and decided to focus on setting up one computer that teens could use to play the game.  Our goal is to develop a Minecraft world with contributions from any teen library member that just so happens to want to give the game a try while they’re in the library.

While we haven’t reached that step in the process, we are very much on our way there!  This summer, one of the goals of our teen volunteers was to start building in the Minecraft world and come up with some really impressive and exciting examples of what could be done with the game.  He also took what he learned while playing the game and came up with an instruction manual that will help future library players get adjusted to playing the game.  Earlier today, I sat down with our volunteer to talk about what he’s done in Minecraft:

Video Games

Guy plays the same game of Civilization II for 10 years and this is the result

I highly recommend that you read I’ve been playing the same game of Civilization II for almost 10 years. This is the result thread over at Reddit.  It’s a really interesting tale of how intense a video gaming experience can be and what the player can learn from their time within a virtual world.

Even more interesting to me is this SUB THREAD dedicated to the game that this guy has been playing.  It’s full of information about the game that this guy has been playing for 10 years, discussion and speculation on the past, present, and future of the game, and even has bits of fan fiction thrown in by readers.

Let me try to restate this in the simplest way possible: a guy decided to play Civilization II over 10 “earth years” and then he posted his story online.  His game, which he was experiencing all by himself for 10 years, now became a story that was embraced by a community.  It has grown from a single game to a full fledged saga, a virtual world within the real world that has a very long and involved history.


To me, this is simply amazing.