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Developer: Blizzard

Platform: PC/Mobile/Tablet

Release Date: 8/10/17

Teaser Trailer:

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What is Hearthstone?

Hearthstone is one the first and most popular digital collectible card games. It was created as a spin-off of the popular Warcraft and World of Warcraft game series but has since taken on a life of its own. Hearthstone has set the tone for game design in online games the same way Magic the Gathering has influenced all other physical collectable card games.

Hearthstone is primarily a player against player game, where each player takes turns as they slowly collect mana crystals to play cards in their hand. These cards represent iconic Warcraft monsters, spells, items, and events that can be used to reduce the health of your opponent from 30 to 0. The art style and design is meant to bring out a very casual and relaxed feel. The vary name “Hearthstone” refers to the World of Warcraft item that let you return to the safety of an inn.

Where Magic: the Gathering distinguishes their cards using color to represent various themes and mechanics. Hearthstone cards are primarily divided into groups based on iconic Warcraft heroes and their classes. Players build a deck by selecting a hero and using cards based on that heroes’ class as well as a collection of neutral cards. Each hero also has a unique “hero power” that can be used once a turn to support their style of play. It is this combination of hero based deck building and the steady build up of resources to play cards that makes Hearthstone a lot easier of a game to play than Magic: the Gathering for some family gamers.

What also sets apart Hearthstone and other digital card games from their physical brethren is their free-to-play model of game expansion. Playing games as various heroes initially unlocks cards from that class and completing quests, tasks that require specific actions during a game, reward you with coins that can be used to purchase more packs of cards. While you can use money to purchase additional packs, daily quests and a weekly casual event known as a “Tavern Brawl” provide a steady stream of resources. There is also process for taking extra cards and turning them into a flexible resource for crafting specific cards. There is something satisfying to someone who has played for years with paper card games, to be able to turn a pile of extra cards into that elusive card.

What is Knights of the Frozen Throne?

Knights of the Frozen Throne is the 5th large expansion for Hearthstone. With this expansion comes cards that feature iconic characters and themes from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Arthas the Lich King and his lieutenants of the Icecrown Citadel are available as creatures to summon along with legions of monsters and spells inspired by the treacherous Northrend.

 

Why is the Awesome?

A single player story mode featuring The Lich King himself will be available for all players. The challenge is a series of matches versus computer opponents with special hero cards and decks based on iconic villains of the Icecrown Citadel. Players who conquer this gauntlet of challenges are rewarded with a free legendary card that is a card type unique to this set…

Death Knight Hero Cards

This set features a new set of legendary cards that represent the nine iconic heroes falling under the sway of the Lich King. These cards have an immediate effect when they are played and replace each character’s hero power with an evil, and significantly more powerful, effect. Personally I am excited for the corrupted

Priest hero: Shadow Reaper Anduin

Rarity adjustments geared towards newer players

While announced several weeks ago, this set marks the starting of new features that are geared towards newer players. A legendary card is guaranteed to be opened in the first ten packs of any set purchased, and duplicate legends will never be opened. If a player would open a legendary that a player already has, the game replaces it with a different legendary that the player does not own. These changes were made in response to player feedback on the frustration of opening duplicate legends or very few epic or legendary cards at all.

Lifesteal, a familiar mechanic comes to Hearthstone

Players of Magic: The Gathering and other card games will know this by names like Lifelink and Drain. Cards with Lifesteal heal your hero for as much damage as they deal. This ability is put on creatures and spells, and some death knight hero cards give lifestealing weapons or hero powers. While life gain by itself is not a strong ability, pairing it with a creature or a removal spell can never be a bad thing.

 

Divine Shield and Deathrattle

Two mechanics that are at the core of Hearthstone are getting a large infusion of cards from this set.

Divine Shield is an ability on a minion that prevents all damage from the first time it is attacked or hit by a spell. Not only are there a lot of divine shield minions that have been added, but several paladin cards benefit from divine shield minions going into the fray.

 

 

Deathrattle is an ability that happens when that minion dies, and Knights of the Frozen throne has a lot of creatures that care about when they die. New to the theme are creatures that care when they die and punish opponents who aggressively destroy your creatures.

 

Why should you pick up this game?

Hearthstone, and its recent expansion Knights of the Frozen throne, is a game that is easy to learn and play for computers, tablets and mobile devices. It offers one of the best free to play experiences around and its short games are perfect for gaming opportunities when time is short or physical space is limited. With it being an online only game, it is important to note that chat and social interactions are opt in, which is important for younger family gamers.

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Richard Lico, the lead animator for Moss, has revealed on Twitter that he is teaching his little mouse friend ASL as part of the upcoming PSVR game Moss. Ok. I suppose “Teach” is a strong word, but he is using ASL when animating the mouse.

We already raved about this one when we got a chance to play it at E3 2017. Moss is a third person action adventure game that uses the PSVR headset in an interesting way. Each stage in the game is essentially a 3D diorama. Players control Quill (the mouse) and explore the environments. Quill can see you as a benevolent spirit, but she can’t speak. In previous versions of the game all she could do was squeak and  gesticulate. That’s all going away now.

Lico stated in an interview with Kotaku that he had the idea to animate Quill speaking using ASL on a whim and that it only took a few days to get some of the basics down and make a brief animation. He tweeted it out to a few hundred people who already followed him and quickly wracked up 10s of thousands of likes. Which doesn’t really surprised me considering how cool it is. Take a look below. Tell me that isn’t super cute!

It’s a pleasure to meet you, my name is Quill. from Richard Lico on Vimeo.

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The Nintendo World Championships are back! The event will take place on October 7th at the Grand Ballroom in Manhattan Center and Nintendo is giving people of all ages and across the country a chance to participate!

The Nintendo World Championships have been held multiple times in the past and are all about giving players a chance to come together and show off their skills at Nintendo games.

For example, the 2015 Nintendo World Championships were built around NES Remix and Super Mario Maker. This year, however, it’s all about Mario Kart 7!

Qualifying events will be held starting on August 19 at eight Best Buy locations across the US. Players will be divided into two age groups (12 and below as well as 13 and up) and will play Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS! The player with the best Time Trial entry in each age group at the end of the two-day event will qualify for the Nintendo World Championships 2017!

The settings players will use are as follows:

  • The 12 and younger age group will play as Mario on the Nintendo DS “Luigi’s Mansion” course using Standard Kart, Standard Wheels and Super Glider.
  • The 13 and older age group will play as Bowser on the Game Boy Advance “Bowser Castle 1” course using Standard Kart, Standard Wheels and Super Glider.

The qualifying events will be first come, first served so I definitely recommend getting their early. They should also be pretty fun events to attend, but part of me wonders why they are only holding the event in eight cities in the US? It doesn’t really feel like much of a “world” competition.

What do you think? Will you and your family be making the trek to one of the participating Best Buy stores to compete? Let us know in the comments!

Best Buy Address

Dates

Times (All times local)

610 Exterior St. Aug. 19-20 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Bronx, NY 10451 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
181 Curtner Ave. Aug. 19-20 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
San Jose, CA 95125 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
3675 Pacific Coast Highway Aug. 26-27 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Torrance, CA 90505 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
2301 Howard St. Aug. 26-27 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Evanston, IL, 60202 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
9378 N. Central Expressway Sept. 2-3 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Dallas, TX 75231 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
1000 W. 78th St. Sept. 2-3 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Richfield, MN, 55423 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
4001 W. 20th Ave. Sept. 9-10 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hialeah, FL 33012 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
17364 Southcenter Parkway Sept. 9-10 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Tukwila, WA 98188 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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The Dragon Quest Summer festival took place this past weekend. Square Enix announced a sequel to the surprise hit Dragon Quest Builders. The game is tentatively titled Dragon Quest Builders 2.

We don’t have a release date, but Square Enix did tease several new gameplay elements. The first game combined Dragon Quest RPG elements with Minecraft building. The sequel doubles down on that and adds additional features like:

  • Underwater diving
  • Up to four player cooperative play
  • a huge increase in the number of blocks that can be stacked
  • a Breath of the Wild style glider to help with traversal

The biggest news, however, to come out of the announcement is that it will be coming to both the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. Its a perfect system for a game like this. Dragon Quest Builders is a game that encourages lots of small trip out into the wilds looking for materials. The hybrid console will give players plenty of opportunities for that. I can absolutely imagine playing DQ Builders on my Switch in handheld mode while watching football or something similar.

You can watch the gameplay demo that was livestreamed at the event below.

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The Spiel Des Jahres awards are given out each summer to the best board games released in Germany during the previous year. The judges are an esteemed group of board game critics from Germany and other nearby countries.

It might seem odd to some that people stateside would pay so much attention to an award that is given out in the EU, but it makes complete sense. The modern board game movement was largely inspired by the work done in Germany and throughout Europe. So it only makes sense that the most prestigious awards would be handed out there.

There are three awards given out each year: The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), the Kinderspiel Des Jahres (Children’s Game of the year), and the Kennerspiel Des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the year).

Board games eligible for the aware are judged based on:

  • game concept (originality, playability, game value)
  • rule structure (composition, clearness, comprehensibility)
  • layout (box, board, rules),
  • design (functionality, workmanship)

Spiel Des Jahres – Kingdomino

I had a feeling that Kingdomino was something special the first time I saw it in a picture on Instagram. I bought it immediately and everything was confirmed once I finished my first game. Further, when you look at the criteria upon which the games are judged, this was the clear winner before the judges even opened the box.

Kingdomino combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. The goal is to sort their kingdom to that they have large contiguous biomes (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. The gameplay is quick and the game ages down very nicely. Our 8 year old can play this game without any real problem.

Kinderspiel Des Jahres – Ice Cool

Ice Cool is a flicking game about penguins in a frozen high school. Players take turns flicking their penguin pawns through the halls. The goal is to get your pawn through open doorways to catch fish to earn points. This is made more complicated by the fact that each player takes a turn as the hall monitor and is trying to catch the other players.

I normally don’t like flicking games, but Ice Cool is more fun than I expected and our kids love it. The game board is super interesting because it is designed to allow for some really interesting trick shots like flicking your penguin pawn so that you have a decent spin going and having it travel in an arc through multiple doors. You can even try to send your penguin OVER walls if you like.

This is a very cool game that deserves the attention it is getting.

Kennerspiel Des Jahres – Exit

Escape rooms and puzzle room events are growing in popularity all over the world. It only made sense that one or a handful of companies would try to release some sort of home version. Exit is just that.

Obviously, Exit doesn’t prevent you from leaving your home. What it does do is very good job of motivate you to to keep pushing to solve its deep and intricate puzzles when you could just walk away.

Puzzles and the like are very different from most board games because they actually fight back. They are designed to prevent you from finishing them. They want to keep you out. That is what makes Exit so appealing, and likely why it won this award, it did a good job of pushing back just enough to keep things interesting while encouraging you to move forward and complete the challenges.

 

There you have it folks! The Spiel Des Jahres winners for 2017! What do you think? Did the right games win? Sounds off in the comments.

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Super Mario Bros. Odyssey has been rated E10 + by the ESRB. This makes the title the first mainline Super Mario Bros. game in the franchise history to be given a rating greater than E. We don’t know any of the content descriptors yet since the ESRB hasn’t published any of the details yet. In fact, the only confirmation we have regarding the rating is the product page on the Nintendo website.

Odyssey is going to be one of the biggest games this fall and its rating probably isn’t going to affect that. But, it is interesting. What could set this game apart from the other Mario titles that would make it unsuitable for children under the age of 10?

There are a few possibilities.

First, the game does include New Donk City. This is a more realistic world than has ever been included in a Mario game. It features human-like people and a real world atmosphere (sort of). It could be that this level includes some more realistic dangers. Its possible that someone in one of those dark alleys, for example, is smoking a cigar or something similar.

Second, we don’t know all of the worlds yet. It is entirely possible that there is a kingdom that is based on the haunted mansion themes from previous games. Maybe those were deemed to scary?

Lastly, Mario does, essentially, fight like a Skylander in this game. It could very well be that the ESRB reviewers put Odyssey side by side with other kid friendly action platformers and decided to equalize them.

We won’t have to wait much longer for the details as I am sure that the ESRB will be releasing the information soon.

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Tokyo RPG Factory has announced the release date for Lost Sphear, the follow-up to I Am Setsuna. It was only announced a handful of months ago, but it appears that development on the game  progressed very quickly.

Lost Sphear will be released on PS4, Switch, and PC on January 23, 2018.

Tokyo RPG Factory’s first game, I Am Setsuna, was given a luke-warm reception last year. Though it was highly anticipated, it ended up being a disappointment to many because it was too heavily focused on nostalgia.

Lost Sphear is a game that, by all appearances, looks like it is being made in the same mold as its older sibling. It is being developed in a deliberately retro way hoping to evoke fond memories of the golden age of RPGs.

With all that said, I can’t help but be optimistic when I look at the trailers for the game. Take a look for yourself!

The story revolves around a boy whose village disappears right around him. He then embarks on a quest to help restore the missing pieces of the world. Even if Lost Sphear struggles the same way I am Setsuna did, I think it offers many interesting gameplay possibilities. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long to find out as the game comes out less than 6 months from now!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

 

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The lineup of free games coming to the Games With Gold program for August 2017 has been announced. Its a mixed bag this month. Half of the games are great for families, and the other half… not so much.

Take a look below to see if any of the games are to your liking. Keep in mind that these games are free to anyone with an active Xbox Live Gold subscription that costs $60 per year.

Games

Descriptions

Slime Rancher

Rated E for Everyone

For Beatrix LeBeau, being a rancher can be tough. Especially when she moves a thousand light years away for her job! Add to that, she’s not wrangling cattle, she’s wrangling slimes. A lot of slimes! But there’s money to be made in slime science. Careful though, it’s a risky business when vacpacs and jetpacks are your tools.

Trials Fusion

Rated E 10+


Powered by a top-notch physics system, Trials Fusion is packed with a wide variety of challenging levels encouraging you to pull off countless tricks and stunts. Prepare to show off in ways you never imagined with Trials‘ intuitive and addictive gameplay.

Bayonetta

Rated M for Mature

Stylish, over-the-top finishing moves and epic set pieces push the limits of the action genre in Bayonetta. As a witch with magical powers and deadly weapons, you’ll flow gracefully in battle from one angelic enemy to the next in this critically acclaimed game.

Red Faction: Armageddon

Rated M for Mature

Save Mars from an ancient evil (that you accidentally unleashed) in Red Faction: Armageddon. After a half-century of peace on Mars, the Red Faction resistance is called upon to save Mars from destruction. Survive hordes of enemies with friends in co-op or battle across the red planet in an epic solo campaign.

Source

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Microsoft announced the Better Together update at E3 2017. This update is intended to allow players multiple platforms to play together. In essence, it is intended to unite all of the platforms where Minecraft is available into a single game. This means cross-platform support that allows console, windows 10 PC, and mobile Minecrafters to play together!

The update is coming soon, but first Microsoft will be running a beta for Windows 10 PC and Mobile players. The beta started on July 31 and will be followed shortly by a similar beta including the Xbox One.

The update itself will come later this summer and will include the biggest collection of new features to ever come to bedrock platforms (mobile and Windows 10 PC). The list of new features will include:

  • Stained Glass
  • Fireworks
  • Parrots that dance
  • Customizable banners
  • Armor stands
  • Jukebox and music discs
  • Recipe books
  • Ravines

The update also includes new multiplayer features, like the ability for hosts to set player permissions and host options, and other tools. Lastly, the update includes the ability for players to share their custom creations in 3D by uploading the 3D models directly to Remix3d.com.

This is a pretty big deal for Minecraft. We’ll be keeping you all updated as we get closer to the update going live.

 

 

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Nintendo announced the SNES Classic  just the other day. Some corners of the internet may be worried that they won’t be able to get one. But, we’ve been too busy admiring the amazing selection of games. It’s not 100% perfect though. Below is our list of five games we wish would have found their way onto the console.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were probably the biggest thing in kids’ media during the SNES era. It only made sense that they would have a bunch of video games. None of those games, however managed to capture the wackiness of the TMNT characters and story the same way as Turtles in Time.

The premise was simple: you control one of the four turtles in an arcade beat’em’up still game where each stage is a different era on time. The far future and the Wild West (aboard a train no less) were just two of the environments you played in.

This might be a longshot considering it is a licensed game, but I really hope it finds its way into the collection.

Chrono Trigger

One of the biggest complaints from Nintendo fans after the announcement is that Chrono Trigger was left out. It is largely considered one of the best RPGs of the SNES era and is well loved by Nintendo fans.

The RPG count on the SNES Classic is pretty high already, so I know that it is a bit of a stretch. But, I would love to have seen them find a way to fit Chrono Trigger into the box.

This game was revolutionary when it came out. It featured a branching story, time travel (that mattered), a team of interesting characters, and more twists and turns than we had seen previously.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is, quietly, one of the most entertaining multiplayer games to grace the 16 bit consoles. The maze-like levels and quirky humor made this game a favorite at our house.

It doesn’t hurt that this game is devilishly challenging at times because of the limited ammunition available to players in most stages. This makes teamwork and communication critical to finishing this one even if it looks like it should be a throwaway game thanks to its hilarious animations.

Clay Fighter

Ok. Confession time. I didn’t put this one on my definitive wish list because it slipped my mind. I was too busy picking the highlights of the generation to remember a game that was near and dear to my heart as a kid. My brother and I would play this game for HOURS on end laughing at the hilarious character animations.

Sure. Clay Fighter wasn’t the most technically sound fighting game at the time, but I credit this game with showing me that Fighting games were about more than Ryu and Chun Li. It really opened my eyes and helped me to enjoy other fighting games for what they are as opposed to putting my blinders on and only playing Street Fighter II.


What about you? Is there a game you wished made the cut? Sound off in the comments!

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