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Nintendo Miiverse to End In November

Nintendo has announced the Wii U and 3DS focused social media platform, Miiverse, will cease operations on November 7th, 2017 at 10 am PST.

The service was designed to allow players to interact with each other and share content relating to games on the platforms. Players could draw pictures on their Wii U gamepad or on their 3DS and those drawings would actually show up in some Nintendo exclusive games like Splatoon and Super Smash Bros.

Nintendo revealed the closure details in a Miiverse post on August 29th.


End of Miiverse Service Announcement

Hi everyone, it’s Tom at Nintendo.

I have an important announcement: On November 7th, 10:00 pm Pacific Time, we will permanently close the Miiverse service.

We thank you very much for your amazing support. It has been a great privilege for me to serve as your Miiverse guide, and to see people who enjoy similar gaming experiences connect with empathy.

After the service ends:

  • You will no longer be able to access Miiverse from the Wii U console, Nintendo 3DS family of systems or from an internet browser on PCs or smart devices. All Miiverse services will become unavailable, such as viewing or making posts, and messaging with friends. However, for a limited time, you will be able to make a request to download all the posts you’ve made up to the day of the closure.
  • For Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games that support in-game Miiverse functionality, these features and services will no longer be available.
  • Miiverse posts will no longer appear in the Wara Wara Plaza on Wii U.

Information on downloading your post history:

By making this request, you will be able to download your posts – plus any screenshots saved to your album – to your PC after the Miiverse service has ended.

To use this download service, you will need to have a Nintendo Account linked with your Nintendo Network ID, and must make the download request before the Miiverse service ends.

To find out more about this service or to make the download request, click on the “Information on Downloading your Post History” button at the top of the Miiverse website.

For more information on the Miiverse closure and the games it will affect, please visit the support site by clicking on the blue globe icon or the url below to launch the internet browser.

From all of us at Nintendo, we sincerely thank you for supporting Miiverse all these years. We hope you’ll continue using Miiverse until the service ends.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, in my opinion, is the best video game that Nintendo has ever made. I also think that it is on the short list for one of the best games ever made. Longtime readers often accuse me of speaking in hyperbole a lot, but this is no joke. Breath of the Wild is just that darn good. This is the game by which all open world games will be judged moving forward.

The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest running franchises in game history. Each game in the franchise, up until now, has taken a very regimented formula and built upon it. . Link wakes up. He goes to a dungeon. He gets a tool within that dungeon that helps him complete it. He then uses that tool to get to the next dungeon. He finds another tool there. He rinses and repeats until he eventually encounters and defeats some version of Ganon.

Breath of the Wild is a game that was built on one single core principle: nothing is set in stone. Nintendo set out with the purpose of stripping away as many parts of that regimented formula as they could while still maintaining its “Zelda”-ness. I don’t know how they created such a unique game and new feeling game while still regularly reminding players that they are playing a Zelda game. But, they definitely succeeded.

The biggest different between BoTW and other games in the franchise is that (aside from a brief stint on the Great Plateau) players can do as they please. Players are given all of the basic tools they need within the first few hours of the game and are then set free to run off to do… whatever.

This freedom was not only liberating, but it was also a creative force. Everyone playing this game was crafting their own narrative. Players had to come up with whole new ways of discussing their experiences because almost everything you said about the game was a spoiler in one way or another.

Another critical element to the experience in BoTW is its sense of discovery. It feels like every inch of that game was a meaningful encounter, a puzzle, or a signpost sending you on your way to further adventure. There was always something exciting on the horizon for me as I played. In fact, it was easy to find myself distracted that I would set off on a grand mission only to stop halfway through to literally pick flowers.

The days where Link could, on death’s door, slash at some bushes to get a few hearts are gone. Instead, you have to combine ingredients like apples, meat, mushrooms, and other food items to cook healing items. Combining the right ingredients can even result in food that provides stat buffs. You can even combine monster parts to create elixirs. Mastering this system is crucial for anyone who wants to be able to progress through the game. Fortunately, experimentation is almost painless. Ingredients are everywhere and there is a cooking station at every stable.

Nintendo went out of their way to craft Breath of the Wild carefully. Their artistry is visible in every aspect of this game and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Is it a kids’ game?

Breath of the Wild is rated T for Teen. It does include some mild violence that players can’t really escape. Almost all of the conflict resolution in the game is done at the point of a sword, or club, or arrow.

There are some slightly mature themes and costuming choices running throughout the game, but there is nothing overtly sexual going on.

Can kids play it?

The most important thing to note with Breath of the Wild is that this game is incredibly challenging. The world is not a forgiving one and players will have to contend with armies of monstrous enemies as well as the elements. It is very important that you monitor your child’s frustration level while playing. There is no “easy mode” in this game. Young players can, however, move at their own pace throughout the world. The game is designed so  that players will not be constantly under siege from the enemies.

There is some voice acting, but the vast majority of the story and the quest clues are all delivered via text. Players will need to be adept readers to be able to succeed at this game. A lot of the clues depend on subtle word play that might be lost on early readers.

Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best video game that Nintendo has ever made. I would comfortably recommend this game to anyone who owns either a Nintendo Switch or Wii U. It is a remarkable value when you consider all of the secrets that players can slowly pry out of this massive world. Do yourself a favor and play this game. The reality is that we don’t score games here at EFG, but if we did I have a hard time imagining that we would give it less than a perfect score.

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nintendo-switch-logo

It is readily apparent at this point that every halfway decent Wii U game is going to be give a “Deluxe” version on the Switch at some point within the next few years. We already have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the Pokemon Company has announced Pokken Tournament DX. That got me thinking about all the great Wii U gamers that died on the vine on the Wii U. E3 2017 has passed without anymore announcements, but take a look below for a list of five Wii U games that need Deluxe versions ASAP.

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World

One of the highlights of the Switch is its ability to handle multiplayer gaming on the go. Each Switch comes with two controllers so local cooperative play is a possibility for everyone who owns the system. That makes bringing  Super Mario 3D World to the Switch a very smart call for Nintendo.

Super Mario 3D World is, without question, the best multiplayer Super Mario Bros. game ever made. This makes it a natural fit for a console that allows for multiplayer gaming everywhere it goes.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Mega Man fighting Fox Mcloud in Super Smash Bros for the WiiU and 3DS

This one is an absolute lock. No need for wishful thinking. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U being ported to the Switch is an inevitability; it really just a matter of time.

Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises so it only makes sense that they would bring it over to the Switch at some point. It could even be that the only reason they haven’t announced it is because they want to let Arms breath a bit before they announce another fighting game.

It doesn’t hurt that it would also be very easy to give Smash the Deluxe treatment. Nintendo could include all of the DLC from the Wii U version for an insane value. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in another character, but the roster is already massive enough.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker started as an interesting set of levels in Super Mario 3D World. Nintendo was so happy with how those levels turned out that they made a whole game out of it. People had mixed reactions with this game, but I thought it was, quietly, one of the best games the Wii U had to offer. This would be a smart port for Nintendo.

I don’t think this would be the flashiest announcement they could make, but it would go a long way towards providing diversity in their game library on the Switch.

 

Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE

Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE holds two distinctions. 1. It has the weirdest name of any game published on the Wii U. 2. It is the best RPG published on the system as well.  It was a niche title released on a niche system so it had a very constrained audience. Mirage Sessions was a fascinating game that combined the stylish design of Shin Megami Tensei with the fantasy flare of the Fire Emblem series.

RPGs feel great on handheld consoles like the Switch because they give you more opportunities to grind and build up characters. This is a no brainer.

Super Mario Maker

Super-Mario-Maker

Super Mario Maker had its issues. The biggest among them being that it was very difficult to find good levels. Re-launching the game on the Switch would give Nintendo an opportunity to fix the discoverability problem.

The only real problem with bring Super Mario Maker to the Switch is that it would be difficult to design levels and test them on the big screen. That’s a small concern though as you would still be able to both create and test while in handheld or tabletop mode.


 

What do you think?  Do you have any Wii U favorites that you think should get Deluxe versions? Sound off in the comments!

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games to come out in a very long time. Players have put countless hours into exploring every nook and cranny of the world that Nintendo has crafted. We all knew that two DLC packs were coming, but the information was shrouded in ambiguity. That shroud has officially been lifted, because Nintendo has officially announced the details for the first DLC pack that will be coming out this summer.

I know that some people have expressed concern that the DLC pack would be light on content, but take a look at the list below and see what you think.

Trial of the Sword

By accessing this location, players can challenge the new Trial of the Sword (previously known as “Cave of Trials Challenge”), where enemies appear one after another. Link starts without any armor or weapons, and if he defeats all of the enemies in the room he can proceed to the next area. Trial of the Sword will include around 45 total rooms for players to complete. When Link clears all of the trials, the true power of the Master Sword will awaken and always be in its glowing powered-up state.

The Trial of the Sword is, for all intents and purposes, a horde mode. This is a game mode where players are tasked with battling waves of enemies that grow progressively stronger. Fourty five rooms is a lot so this should be a very significant challenge for players, but a fully empowered Master Sword is a worthy prize.

Hard Mode

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is already considered one of the most thrilling games in The Legend of Zelda series, and fans looking for a challenge are in for a treat with the new Hard Mode. In Hard Mode, the “ranks” of enemies in the game are increased (i.e. Red Bokoblins change to Blue), and players might even encounter higher-ranking enemies they wouldn’t find through normal play. Enemies will also slowly recover health in battle, forcing you to defeat them more quickly. They will also more easily spot Link as he approaches them, making these enemies tougher to sneak up on. In addition, floating planks held aloft by balloons will be scattered around Hyrule. By successfully reaching these planks, players can battle enemies and collect treasure.

Breath of the Wild is already a very challenging game. I was curious what Nintendo meant when they said they were adding a Hard mode from the second it was announced. This sounds like a daunting challenge. This will be the playground for some of the very best players. I know we’ll give it a shot, but I suspect our family won’t get too far.

Hero’s Path Mode

Exploring Hyrule is exciting, but with such a large world it’s sometimes hard for players to remember where they’ve been. To help with tracking progress, the new Hero’s Path Mode will document every step players take, and mark their path in green on the map. The route taken will be tracked for the player’s last 200 hours of play time, with an included slider to track footsteps on a timeline. This even works retroactively, so players that have already put many hours into the game will be able to see where they have traveled. This feature will help in identifying the locations they haven’t visited in this vast world, and may help players find those Shrines they haven’t encountered yet.

This may be the coolest part of this whole expansion. One of my biggest problems towards the end of the game is that I just didn’t know where to go. This will solve that problem. I doubt that anyone will find the exact footsteps all that useful, but I strongly feel that this will help explorers find their way when it comes to hunting down missing temples.

Travel Medallion

There will be a new treasure chest somewhere in the game world which contains the Travel Medallion. With the Travel Medallion, players can create a temporary new travel point on the map where they are currently standing. Link can then transport himself to that point at any time. Only one travel point can be registered on the map at a time.

This is a welcome quality of life change. This gives players the ability to set transportation markers in areas they are exploring without being dependent upon shrines

Korok Mask

By finding the new Korok Mask, players will have a much easier time finding Korok locations in the game. When equipped, the mask will shake, indicating that a Korok is hidden somewhere nearby.

I don’t feel like the game was designed with the intention that players should get all of the Korok seeds. There are just too darn many of them. However, It looks like Nintendo has listened to their fans and created a tool to help complete the impossible.

New Equipment

Eight new pieces of equipment inspired by previous characters and games in the series will be added to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild after downloading the first DLC pack. Once discovered by the player, they will yield equipment themed after fan-favorite games and characters such as Midna, Tingle, Phantom and Majora’s Mask.

 

One of my favorite parts of Breath of the Wild was the variety in the equipment I could collect. This just adds to that experience. We don’t know what this gear does yet, but I am sure they will be interesting.

 

What do you think? Is this enough content for a DLC pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Will you and your family be picking it up? Sound odd in the comments and let us know!

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Kickstarter Q and A: Battle Princess Madelyn

Battle Princess Madelyn, by Casual Bit Games, is a game I’ve been keeping my eye on for a very long time. How could I NOT talk about a game that is being made for an awesome little girl by her super cool dad?

The elevator pitch on this game is fairly simple. Battle Princess Madelyn is a retro styled platforming game that is heavily influenced by the super-challenging Ghouls and Ghosts. The story behind the game’s development is adorable as well.

Chris’s daughter Maddi really enjoyed watching him play the above mentioned Ghouls and Ghosts. She especially loved watching him play the first level over and over again. She loved it so much, in fact, that eventually she asked to play, but there was a catch. She knew her dad was a talented programmer so she asked him to put her into the game! He knew he couldn’t do that… but he offered her one better. Why not make a game for her. It could be a new game that would feature her as the brave Battle Princess. She liked the idea, but had a major problem with it. She said to her dad, “But, dad. Girls can’t be knights!” Chris scoffed at that problem. “Pfff. What color do you want your armor to be?” And with that, they were off.

Chris, the super-cool dad himself, took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions about their game and how development is going. For more information about the game take a look at the Kickstarter video below and read the Q and A afterwards. I am certain you’ll fall in love with this game just like I have.

 

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Battle Princess Madelyn

I’ve read the story about how the game started development and it sounds awesome. I have to ask though… Ghosts and Goblins is a bit macabre for most kids. What about that game drew your daughter in?

Having a father who’s basically sharing a brain with Tim Burton, she’s pretty used to everything. I introduced her to my 80’s cartoons at the age of 3. The ones she liked? The Real Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice and a bit of Inspector Gadget. I was the same way as a little kid though, always drawn in by skeletons and ghosts. Ghost Rider being my favorite comic book. But all in all I don’t find it macabre at all, It’s all just make believe and she loves it!

What were her favorite parts of the original game and how are they being reflected in the game you are making?

Level one of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Over and over, she just loved watching me destroy the first boss. “What is he daddy?” “I dunno. Maybe some kind of Zombie… lizard.. Cyclops thing? Who knows.” It’s really only the first level we Look to. She never cared for me to go past the Shielder, just kick its butt.

Why was it so important for her for the game to have a female protagonist? Are there other female characters that she likes out there right now?

For Maddi it really has nothing to do with a female protagonist at all. It all has to do with her wanting to be the kicker of the monster butts! As for other characters, no not really. She was actually upset when she found out the new Ghostbusters movie wasn’t with the classic “Peter and Egon”.

How long has your game been in active development?

This game has been in development for roughly two and a half years officially, between an HTML5 prototype I made while Daven was finishing off bug fixes and new features for Insanity’s Blade, and the full game in Unity (aka Pre-Alpha build) that we see today which Daven started coding last year in C#. The narrative of the game has been brewing in my mind since childhood, but was reignited when Maddi recently went through the loss of our poor old Fritzy in real life.

How involved has your daughter been in the development process so far? Is she helping with design? Or is she playing more of an artistic directorial role?

There are literally stacks of monster drawings and levels she wants in the game. She has a desk next to mine where she will draw more monsters as she thinks of them. She’s come up with entire boss fight gameplay last year which frankly blew my mind. A detailed boss fight, it wasn’t just shoot shoot shoot. It was do X to do Y so the boss will turn around and you can shoot him in the bum!

This game obviously has retro influences. Are there any other games that have influenced you or your team?

This game really pays homage to a plethora of 2D platformers, although Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the primary attraction factor we actually take some elements of Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap, MegaMan and Duck Tales in an interesting way too (see if you can spot some of it in the Pre-Alpha). Alongside the overworld map and free level selection of unlocked stages, we think this will remind players of many of the games of their childhood, or interest new gamers in playing some retro titles! However, Battle Princess Madelyn is much more than the sum of its parts, as there’s many great ideas that Maddi comes up with which I can’t say I have ever heard before, and they’re definitely going to be fun-filled for players young and old alike!

Has your game gone through any major design changes since development started? What did your first prototype look like?

The only thing that’s really changed besides the engine changing over to Unity, is the addition of animations, and enemies. The first level is much bigger with the hidden levels. But overall these were things that were going to happen. The prototype had a full blown tutorial stage which will not be in the final game, it will be shown as a cinematic instead to avoid ‘hand-holding’ that many did not like in the prototype. Oh and the lighting and fancy effects didn’t exist in the prototype either!

I’m sure you’ve learned a lot through this process. Do you have any advice for parents who have kids interested in game design?

Remember that your kids imaginations aren’t hampered by seeing other people’s works yet. They are still fresh eyed and innocent. The things they come up with can be far more imaginative and amazing than you’d think.

Your Kickstarter is doing very well. This means that you and your team may be creating a female character that will draw positive attention as you move towards release. What do you all think of that? Are you looking forward to it?

We believe that it’s great when a character is created that is believable and interesting, and that’s exactly what my daughter is! We also think it’s fantastic that Maddi can be a catalyst for inspiring young girl gamers that they can be the hero too! This game is first and foremost a game for Maddi to me, but if it shares positive messages to the players too then we couldn’t ask for anything better!

 

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What’s New With Minecraft 1.11?

A Minecraft update was released recently and added several new features to the game. The update adds a few new gameplay elements which encourage players to expand their horizons and travel to different places. These changes have seen 1.11 dubbed the Exploration Update, and it’s one of the biggest additions we’ve seen in recent times.

The additions include a few mobs, new items and a cool new location which contains treasure and various other interesting goodies. This is alongside the usual bug fixes and tweaks we’ve come to expect from the regular updates.

New Items

Arguably the most interesting new item is the Treasure Map, which can be acquired from the Cartographer Villager (also a recent addition). It can be used to help find important locations which are likely to contain loot, such as monuments, dungeons and Woodland Mansions.

There are now more item storage options available for players, with the shells dropped by Shulkers able to be turned into inventory boxes. The advantage is that these Shulker Boxes will keep their inventory even if they are broken.

The last major item addition is the Observer Block, which will output and update a redstone signal. There have already been some interesting creative uses for this item, including things like automated self-harvesting farms, elevators and flying machines.

New Mobs

There are a handful of new mobs in the 1.11 update to help make it a little easier for you to explore. Firstly, the aforementioned Cartographer Villager will sell you his treasure maps in exchange for some emeralds. Given the treasure available at some of the locations, this is more than a fair trade.

Another friendly mob which has been added is the llama, which can be used as transportation and as item storage. While they can’t be controlled when riding them, putting them on a leash will mean other nearby llamas will follow you and form a caravan. With each having a 6 slot inventory it can be a really useful way of transporting items over distance.

Finally, there are a few new hostile mobs added to the game. Illagers are a new enemy which can be found in the Woodland Mansions, and these outcasts will attack the other villagers as well as the player. There are two kinds of illagers in the mansion – Evokers and Vindicators. Evokers have different abilities to Vindicators and can summon Vex, a flying mob which will attack the player during a summon attack. They are surprisingly tough to defeat, so make sure you prepare before you take them on!

New Locations

The new Woodland Mansions are a really interesting addition to the game, and can be found in the Dark Oak Forest biomes. It’s unlikely to be something the player will stumble across accidentally, as it’s typically quite a distance from the spawn point and they’re fairly rare in the game. The most likely way of finding them is to purchase the Treasure Map from the Cartographer Villager and hope there’s one in your world. If there is, it’s well worth visiting as they contain lots of useful items and pre-built rooms (more than 70 types) which makes it an excellent base if you can clear out the hostile mobs.

While it won’t fundamentally change the way play the game, it’s yet another update where enough improvements have been made to keep things interesting for long-time players. Microsoft has stepped up its game over the last year or so and there have been several innovative updates for gamers to enjoy.

While it will be a challenge for them to keep up with the various mods and plugins which have helped make the game so popular, it’s good to see the basic gameplay being updated after all this time. It will be interesting to see where they take the game over the next couple of years, and if they can tempt those who left to come back to the vanilla version of the game.

Playing version 1.11 is as simple as opening your existing launching and changing your profile to the 1.11 version.

Stuart works with Apex Minecraft Hosting, who offer reliable Minecraft servers to players around the world.

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Family Video Game Review: Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators proves that sometimes good things come when gamers are patient. Toys for Bob have a hit on its hands with the Skylanders franchise and Imaginators is hands down the best version of the game that I have played to date.

Every game in the franchise, save the first one, has had some sort of gimmick that added a new twist or dimension to the series. This time around Toys for Bob has given players the chance to create their own character and customize them using near limitless combinations of parts. The characters that you create are called Imaginators and they are, obviously, central to both the gameplay mechanics and the story of the game.

It is impossible to talk about the game without first discussing the character creation and customization systems. So let’s start there.

Creation

Creation Crystals have replaced the standard $9.99 figures from previous sets. These are blank canvases upon which young gaming artists can create. Placing one of these crystals on the portal of power for the first time will bring up a menu that will force them to assign a single Battle Class to the crystal. These are character archetypes that will represent what kinds of moves the Imaginator  will have access to.

It is VERY important to note that this is a one-time choice and cannot be reversed on a given crystal. So kids should be encouraged to choose carefully.

There are ten Battle Classes to choose from. Some of them are melee (up close) fighters while other focus on ranged attacks.

Customization

Creation may be limited to one time per crystal, but once you choose a Battle Class you can customize the rest of the character endlessly using a collection of parts (heads, arms, legs, armor, etc) at the push of a button. You start with a rather straight forward collection of pieces that look thematically appropriate for Skylanders. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of those parts were taken from Skylanders that were being designed, but never made the cut.

The collection of parts you start with grows very quickly from there. Just about every challenge you complete and level you finish will give you an Imaginite chest. Opening these chests will unlock new items that come in four different rarities: common, rare, epic, and ultimate. The items include cosmetic things like body parts, but also armor and weapons that you can use to equip your Imaginator to suit your playstyle. What I love about this is that you are constantly earning Imaginite chests. There was almost always a chest to open as I was playing through the game.

The story, while not a masterpiece, is serviceable. Kaos is looking to take over the Skylands again and is trying to use the Mind Magic of the Ancients to do it. What sets this game apart is that it finally includes a large cast of the original Skylanders as the characters driving the story alongside the player. This felt like a great idea especially when we consider that the new Skylanders cartoon is available on Netflix as we speak and features some of these same characters.

 

Is This a Kids’ Game?

Yes. Skylanders: Imaginators is one of the best kids games on the market this year. It is rated E 10+ because it features some cartoon violence. But, if you have been comfortable letting your kids play previous games in the series, then this should not pose any problems.

 

Can Kids Play it?

Fans of earlier games in the series should not fear too much change though. You may be able to create and power up your own Skylanders, but the rest of the game operates very similarly to previous games. Kids will be able to transfer all of their knowledge from previous games right into this one without a problem

That said, the game does feature a fair amount of platforming so it is important to make sure your kids know how to jump and navigate 3d spaces. The good news is that falling off of the world doesn’t actually cost you anything other than time as characters immediately respawn on solid ground.

 

Conclusion

This is a must purchase for fans of the series. I also recommend this as a great starting point for anyone who is interested in playing .

We played the game on Xbox One, but it is also available on Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and Wii U.

Note: The Xbox One version of Skylanders Imaginators was provided to EFG for review purpose.

 

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Family Video Game Review – Tumblestone

Tumblestone is an indie puzzle game that has been making the rounds at PAX and GDC for the last few years. I had the pleasure of playing the game several times over that period of time and was happy to see it grow each time I laid eyes on it.

Tumblestone is played as follows: an array of different colored blocks is arranged across the top of a vertically aligned playing field. You control a character that moves across the bottom of the playing field and shoots a blast of magic directly upwards. The goal is to shoot upwards and eliminate three blocks of the same color in a row. If you are unable to do so, then you will be forced to restart the level. The key is that you will need to make sure that you are eliminating blocks in such a way that you will continuously reveal additional colors. This means that you need to plan your moves and always be thinking a few moves ahead.

That may be true of a lot of different match three puzzle games, but this is different. The biggest difference is that the blocks you eliminate don’t need to be touching each other. They don’t even need to all be available at the time you fire your first shot. You could, for example, dig three blocks deep into the play area to finish your move.

Some levels will take a lot of trial and error, but it takes almost no effort to restart and get going again. It only takes a single button press.

Tumblestone is also full of different game modes. The best among them is, without question, the multiplayer mode. Up to four players race to complete their playing fields. Players can move at a blistering pace if they get up to speed and can think fast thanks to the, very accommodating, control scheme.

There is a story mode as well. The narrative isn’t much to write home about, but it is entertaining enough. At the very least it provides a reasonable excuse to move to different backdrops for the various stages. As you progress through the different levels you will encounter more and more difficult challenges as well as blocks that you have never seen before. Some of the puzzles get pretty insane, but the complex elements within them are introduced slowly over the time.

Is it a kids’ game?

Yes. This may be challenging for some younger kids, there is nothing inappropriate going on here.

Can kids play it?

This is a puzzle game, so it is definitely difficult to play. But, there is no reading involved, so kids who like puzzles will be able to play the game without anything like that getting in the way.

Conclusion

If you like puzzle games, then this is going to be an excellent addition to your game catalog. It is available digitally on the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and on Steam.     

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Family Video Game Review – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a Japanese RPG that blends themes and characters from Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. This is a combination that shouldn’t work, but they manage to pull it off nicely in this deep and strategic RPG.

It is entirely possible that Mirage Sessions will go down as one of the most criminally underrated games on the Wii U. It is beautiful, it’s art style is interesting, the combat is challenging, and the characters are entertaining. There will be some folks who don’t appreciate the Japanese cultural influences in the game, and that makes sense to a degree. But, unless you have a significant aversion to J-POP music, then these things should not frighten you away.

TMS-Combat-Itsuki-Session

The story itself is straightforward. Humans all possess a magical energy called “Performa.” Some people, mostly singers, actors, artists, etc, have more Performa than others. This energy can be used for good or evil, so obviously, there is an evil demonic force that wants to capture all of it and use it for nefarious purposes.

Players control a team of Mirage Masters. These are people who have formed a bond with a “mirage.”  These are essentially the spirits of characters from the Fire Emblem universe. They grant thei Mirage Masters unique abilities and defenses to help battle against the demon armies.

The story is interesting enough, and contains some interesting twists so I won’t discuss it here, but the game really shines while in combat. Players control a team of three characters as they participate in turn based battles. You are encouraged to take your time and plan as all sorts of information is available while you fight. You can see the exact turn order in a bar across the top of the screen, and each monster has a window associated with them that identifies their weaknesses and defenses. This information is critical for two reasons.

  1. Enemies pull no punches. They go at you full bore and take advantage of any weaknesses you might have.
  2. Some of the skills you earn as your characters are called “sessions” which are special moves that trigger when you hit an enemies weakness. For example, one of the first sessions you learn is a move that triggers when you land a lightning attack against an enemy that is weak to it. These equate to free attacks that can deal devastating damage and keep enemies from counter attacking on later rounds. This isn’t a system you can ignore either. It is core to the experience and mastering the system is the only way to proceed in the game.

Sessions isn’t without is flaws though. Several of the dungeons in the game are so large that they need multiple trips back and forth to town to complete. This really stifled my desire to explore as I was often retracing some of my steps.

tokyo mirage sessions screenshot

Is it a kids’ game?

Well. No. Not really. At the end of the day this game is heavily inspired by anime. As a result some of the outfits and animations are a bit sexualized. That isn’t to say that the entire game is all about those themes, but they are certainly difficult to avoid.

Some of the monster designs are pretty creepy, so that is definitely something to consider as well.

ESRB: T for Teen
Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
Other: Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB (Wii U)
This is a role-playing game in which players assume the role of a high-school student who solves a mystery while helping his friend become a pop idol. As players explore dungeon-like environments, they engage in turn-based battles with fantastical enemies known as Mirages. Characters take turns selecting moves from a menu in order to use arrows, spears, swords, and magic attacks to defeat enemies. Battles are highlighted by yells, impact sounds, and light effects. Some female characters are depicted wearing low-cut clothing that reveals large amounts of cleavage; a handful of cutscenes contain brief close-ups of characters’ cleavage. Characters occasionally engage in suggestive dialogue (e.g., “I need no praise from some disappointing 3D girl with a 2D chest!”). In a handful of scenes, a character is depicted drunk and hungover (e.g., dry-heaving sounds, slurred speech); players are to tasked with finding a hangover remedy for her. The word “sh*t” appears in the dialogue.

Can kids play it?

Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a deep RPG that involves a lot of strategy. You can take your time during battles. But, no amount of patience can make up for being bad at dealing with complex decision making.

Conclusion

I think that the Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is being criminally underrated for its value as an RPG. Any adults waiting for Final Fantasy XV should check it out. With that said, if you are looking for an RPG to share with your kids, then you may want to look elsewhere.

 

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mighty no. 9 logo

Mighty No. 9 is a game that had more potential than it had any right to. But, all of that potential was left squandered in an experience that felt hollow at its best and annoying the rest of the time.

Keiji Inafune just about set the world on fire with his Kickstarter campaign a few years back. His promise was simple: recreate the magic of the original Mega Man series on modern consoles. He promised a character and premise that was “legally distinct” from Mega Man, but close enough that anyone paying attention would know exactly what he was doing.

Mighty No. 9 is a game where players take control of a robot named Beck as he fights several different robots, called Mighty Numbers, and takes their powers for his own when he defeats them. If that sounds familiar to you, then you can congratulate yourself for recognizing the basic structure of the Mega Man series.

The fact that Mighty No. 9 all but steals Mega Man’s thunder isn’t really a negative at all. Capcom had been squandering the property for years and it was far past time for a return for the franchise. The thing that brought this game down for me was that it felt like it was being slapped together haphazardly and with no regard for making anything other than an homage to an old game.

Is it a Family Game?

Mighty No. 9 features futuristic combat between cartoon robots. There is nothing to be concerned about here if you let your kids watch pretty much ANY kind of cartoon.

Playability Assessment

Mighty No. 9 is not as difficult as Mega Man games, but it is still going to be very challenging for younger players who are not very experienced with platforming games.

Conclusion

I desperately wanted to like Mighty No. 9 even if only to serve as an introduction to this style of games for my kids. At the end of the day, though, parents would definitely be better served spending the money on a copy of the Mega Man Legacy Collection to serve that purpose. It will be more challenging, but the reward will be far sweeter.

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