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E for Everyone

 

By: Stephen Duetzmann, editor in chief

Publisher: Sega

ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Release Date 09/03/2013

Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360 (check other availability) and Windows

Overall Review:

Disney’s Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse is a stunning recreation of an amazing game. The developers managed to capture the essence of the original (that was published on the Sega Genesis) and breathed new life into it through updated visuals and modern level design.

Castle of Illusion’s greatest strength comes from pure whimsy. I caught myself smiling more than once even while I was struggling with some of the more challenging parts of the game.

The story is simple. Mickey and Minnie go for a picnic only to be waylaid by the evil witch Mizrabel. She kidnaps Minnie and brings her to the titular Castle of Illusion. You control Mickey as he tries to rescue her. The game is fully voice acted, and the narrator is amazing. It felt like I was playing inside a living storybook.

The game is a bit on the short side, but I never felt like I was being rushed to the end, or held back by repetitive levels. Everything felt new and interesting throughout.

Family Gaming Assessment:

Castle of Illusion is completely safe for kids. Some of the masters of illusion are a little intense, but this is as tame as your average Mickey Mouse cartoon. If they can watch that, then they should have no trouble playing this game.

Playability Assessment:

Kids may enjoy themselves while they play, but this is definitely a challenging game.

The controls are very simple. So children will have no problem figuring out how to move around. The game does, however, regularly shift perspectives in the middle of levels which can be very difficult for even the most experienced players. For example, in one level you will be traveling along in a level that is not unlike any Mario or Mega Man game that you have seen, until the game shifts perspectives to 3D and gives Mickey more freedom to move.

The boss fights at the end of each level are built around pattern recognition. Each time you manage to jump on a bosses head the pattern changes slightly. This might be frustrating to children who aren’t very good with patterns yet, but this is a great way to practice.

Conclusion:

If you and your kids are fans of Mickey Mouse, then this is a must play.

Frankly, the only reason I can see why you WOULDN’T need to play it is if you have some weird moral issue with Disney. And even then… lighten up. This is a great game.

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By: Charlotte Heldebrecht, staff writer

Published and Created by: Big Fish Games

Rated for 4+

Released for: PC/MAC: Dec. 2007, iPhone/iPad/Android/Windows 8/Kindle: Mar. 2012

Reviewed on iPhone.

Overall Review:

Fairway Solitaire is a very addicting card game inspired by Caddyshack. The first “course” of the app is a tutorial, and has cartoons describing the schemes of a devious gopher named McDivot. After I learned how to play the game, I found myself immersed for a couple of hours. During play, there are humorous commentators that spout silly anecdotes and describe what would be going on as if you’re playing golf. There are plenty of little power-ups, obstacles, wild cards and coins to be had, to make your experience better; or sometimes worse.

This is a game that the whole family will love, and possibly cause fighting over your device to play it! I, personally, have to take turns with my husband now, it’s a lot of fun.

Family Gaming Assessment:

The commentators do have funny jokes, and occasionally pretend to censor themselves from saying “TV inappropriate” phrases. It can be a little crude, so you might want to mute it around younger players who like to repeat things.

Playability Assessment:

The game plays like a cross between Mah-Jong and Solitaire. You deal cards off of the top of your deck to make cards on the playing field vanish. You do all of this while avoiding running out of cards in your deck before you clear the board. It can be challenging once you start gaining levels. Young children may become disheartened at some point, or maybe need some help. Older children and adults should enjoy the challenge.

I would be careful though, there are a few options available where your child could spend real money on power-ups, and cost you a pretty penny if you’re not careful.

Conclusion:

If your family loves card games, then I can’t recommend this game more. Fairway Solitaire is a free download, so there really isn’t much to lose.  There is a lot of content to unlock so you’ll be getting a game that will last a good while, and even if your children get bored with it, you sure won’t!

 

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D3 Publisher of America
Rated E for Everyone
Released 07/15/2013

Review based on PS3 version (Available for Xbox 360, WiiU, 3DS, Wii, DS)

Overall Review:

Games based on kid’s movies get a bad rap. They are never given the time in development to really grow and flourish into something original. As a result, most developers just pick a genre and jam in story concepts until the game is “finished.” Considering these games get such a bad rap, I can see why some developers go out of their way to try and think differently and try to avoid doing something obvious.

It’s admirable, but sometimes I think people should just go with a proven concept and focus on execution over innovation. Turbo:Super Stunt Squad is the result of an attempt to do something “different” and suffers for it. The entire game experience is impaled by a shoddy attempt at dodging expectations.

Point blank: I cannot recall a gaming experience in my life that has disappointed me more.

I spent the days while my copy was in transit waiting to play a cart racer. I assumed that it only made sense since it is a licensed title based on the story of a snail who dreams of winning the Indy 500. Cart racing games are a personal favorite of mine. I love just about everything about them, so I figured I was in for a treat… until I started playing.

Turbo Stunt Squad is not a racing game in the least. Instead, it is a trick based game that is not unlike the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series many of us played a decade ago. It feels like a clone, and not a very good one at that.

You control Turbo, or one of his snail friends, as you traverse environments from the movie trying to achieve high scores and complete tasks and challenges. Over time you can customize your snails shell in some interesting ways, but it isn’t really worth the effort involved.

Family Gaming Assessment:

There is some gross humor in the game when you remember that these characters are snails. Rail grinding on a burrito on the floor of a taco stand is funny, but sickening when you think about it.

Aside from that, this game is perfectly acceptable for younger players. In short: If you let them watch the movie, then the game is just fine.

Playability Assessment:

This game is not easy. The tutorial does a good enough job of explaining what buttons to press, but the levels themselves are a challenge because players have to use contextual clues to figure out where to go and how to get there. This isn’t easy for younger players who don’t have a lot of experience with video games.

For illustration, I gave the controls to my oldest son who is 7. He fiddled with the controls for about 5 minutes and then went off to do something else. I was able to hold his attention longer with a game of Civilization V (which is an abstract grand strategy game).

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a Turbo game, then you are far better off downloading Turbo Racing League for your phone or tablet. This game just isn’t worth the trouble.

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