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Family Video Game Review – Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

By: Rob Kalajian from A Pawn’s Perspective

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition for the Switch isn’t a new title really. Hyrule Warriors has previously been released on both the Wii U and 3DS consoles.  Similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it’s everything we’ve seen before with much more polish and a few new goodies tossed in to entice owners of the previous-gen systems to repurchase the game on their shiny new Switch.

Luckily for me, this is my first time playing the game, so I’m not rebuying anything!

Hyrule Warriors is a Musuo game, made popular by Koei Tecmo Games’ Dynasty Warriors series. The are games where players take control of a hero on a battlefield trying to turn the tide of a conflict and (usually) taking down the enemy commander. The player must wade through hordes of enemies trying to capture key points on the field, stop reinforcements from arriving, taking out enemy generals, and finally unlocking the path to their objective.

Between battles, players can upgrade their hero’s stats and weapons, pay to level up heroes, switch weapons, and create potions that will help them find better items and materials in their next battle.

As players progress through the game they’ll unlock more battles, characters, side-stories, and more, often playing the story from multiple vantage points as the hero, villains, or supporting characters. Just when the players think they’ve completed the game they’ll find out its just part of the story-arc with more and more levels being added. There’s tons of content to play through here, and that’s just the story mode.

There’s also Arcade Mode and Free Play mode that gives players a bit more flexibility with what battles they want to play through and which characters they’d like to focus on. In My Fairy mode, players can even care for fairies who can help them out in their battles!

Is it a kids’ game?

Hyrule Warriors is rated T for Teen for Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. The game revolves around mowing down thousands upon thousands of baddies (and good guys if you’re playing as the baddies) using swords, staves, spells, clubs, crossbows, and yes, even a pistol.

The real issue here is the Suggestive Themes, which pretty revolve around one character. Cia, one of the main villains of the game. She’s a highly sexualized sorceress with a giant bust, plunging (like all the way down) neckline, one completely exposed leg complete with garter, and high heels. Almost every shot of her in any cutscene accents these features, often lingering on them in close-ups before panning away to where the action really should be taking place.

There’s also Lana, another new hero character. While not as overtly sexual she’s still a bit different from the overall Zelda designs we’ve seen in the past with a large chest, exposed skin, and a stance that, while more innocent that Cia’s, is still more suggestive than it should be.

Can kids play it?

Yeah, kids can play it. The game is mostly button mashing, though some basic reading skills are needed so players know where to go, what allies are in trouble, and if win/defeat conditions have changed. The story isn’t very in depth, so players don’t miss out much if they can’t follow along.

Conclusion

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is an excellent game providing hours of hack and slash entertainment with a huge and diverse cast of characters for the Zelda franchise. Unfortunately, a bit of that is spoiled by Team Ninja’s “contributions” the game with the additions of Cia and Lana.

Still, if you’re a fan of Musuo games or Zelda, you’re going to have a great time with this title. Just know what you’re getting into before you subject younger eyes to the amount of flesh on display by the evil, crazy-lady.


Rob runs A Pawn’s Perspective and he has been writing about board games for over a decade. His website, A Pawn’s Perspective, is a great place to find news about board games! Check it out!
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Family Board Game Review: Rampaging Jotunn

 

Rampaging Jotunn is a 2 player viking themed game by Lost Cog with a hex board made of large tiles. The object of the game is to avoid the Jotunn (a magically strong giant from Viking mythology), and protect your village using your army. The Jotunn is a constant variable in the game.  The game is for players 8 and up and is expected to take 30 minutes to play.

Game Contents

  • 12 Different land tiles (containing 10 hex spaces with forests, fields, mountains, and on some, a volcano)
  • 1 Center Hex
  • 2 Defense line Hexes
  • 1 blue die
  • 1 red die
  • I Jotunn (marker and stand)
  • 2 Blue vikings (Marker and stand)
  • 2 Red Vikings (marker and stand)
  • 6 Wooden longhouses (3 red, 3 blue)
  • 2 Terrain Cards
  • 6 Army movement cards (3 red, 3 blue)
  • 73 Rampaging Jotunn playing cards
  • Rulebook

Gameplay

Setup: To set up the center hex with numbers is placed in the center.  This is the Jotunn’s direction indicator.  The 12 terrain tiles are shuffled and six are randomly selected. Players take turns placing the tile around the center hex to create the board. Next, players take turns to place their three villages, placing one on each turn. Then, players take turns to place their two armies, and they must put them on an adjacent tile to two of the villages. Each player is given 3 Army Movement Cards, and have a Terrain card for movement reference for the Jotunn and their armies. Players are also dealt five Rampaging Jotunn playing cards. The final step of setup is to place the Jotunn on the center tile and roll to see which number he faces for his starting direction.

During their turn, players have several options.  

  • They can:
    • use one of their Army movement cards and move their army (note: once your three movement cards are used you get all three back to use again)
    • Play a Jotunn card and move the Jotunn (or follow any special directions on the card)
    • Discard 3 cards from your hand to raise an army
  • At the end of their turn a player draws to bring their Jotunn hand back up to 5, also if the Jotunn was not moved on a players turn it moves forward one space in whatever direction it is facing.
  • Battles:
    • If you move your army onto the hex of another army you both have to roll to “battle” the offensive army gets plus one to their roll and the higher roll wins.  The defeated army is removed from the board.
    • If the Jotunn lands on an army it instantly defeats the army, and it is removed from the board.
    • Should the Jotunn land on a village that has not gotten a defense line hex, it is instantly defeated.  With a defense line hex under the village the Jotunn must roll a three or more to defeat the village.
    • Armies can also attack an opponent’s village.  

If a player loses all their villages they lose the game.

Family Gaming Assessment

Rampaging Jotunn is a good game for the family to play together.  The game does take a little time to learn and is not intuitive with some of the multiple steps and mechanics per turn.  This game, especially with younger players would benefit from a play through to learn the rules. The age rating is 8 and up, and I agree. An inexperienced gamer on the lower end of the age range will benefit from support with the steps and mechanics until they are more comfortable with the game.Once the rules and mechanics of the game are understood and comfortable the gameplay move smoothly. There is also a notable amount of strategy, mixed with some luck, and that may make it more challenging to play with two different skill levels.

Currently, the game is only available as a two player game. According to the developer, Matthias Bonnici, as of June 2017, that they are looking to do a Kickstarter “soon” for a four player version of Rampaging Jotunn. As a two player game it is more challenging to include the whole family playing, so a four player game is one to watch for on Kickstarter.

Conclusion

The viking theme of Rampaging Jotunn is entertaining and the graphics are appealing to players of all ages. The game was easily mastered in one play through and was engaging to play. The gameplay while a bit complicated to learn more smoothly once a few turns were played. Rampaging Jotunn is a good addition to a family’s game collection, especially if you enjoy the Viking theme.

 

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monopoly gamer box

By: Stephen Haberman, TheGeekyHusband

If I were to guess how many coins I collected in video games over my lifetime, I would bet I’d be the Warren Buffet of in-game currencies. When it comes to Monopoly however, I find it difficult to pronounce myself as anything more than an average property connoisseur.

I have played Monopoly all of my life. It started during childhood when they released a “Town of ____” Monopoly for basically every town in America. It continued into my early teens when I was playing on my Gameboy or begging my folks to take us to McDonalds. Even soon after college, my wife and I found new love for the game with “Monopoly City” which moves from cash to credit cards. So, I can say my interest in the game has always existed, but it is a game that can run long, and can feel as if the odds pile up against you.

Now, Monopoly Gamer comes to market with a promise to reinvigorate the title, by incorporating everyone’s favorite plumber into the mix: Mario. Mario is actually not a stranger to the Monopoly world, having already had a Monopoly game rebranded with his likeness before, and having tried to mimic the game’s core mechanics in Nintendo video game releases of Mario Party, as well as Fortune Street.

The problem with a simple rebranding is that the core of what makes Mario familiar and fun is not just the characters, but the collectibles, the power ups, and the journey to defeat all enemies that stand in his way. Monopoly Gamer brings all of those mechanics into this new board game, and does so while also waking up a stagnant Monopoly series.

Power-Ups

How does this differ from other Monopoly games?  To start that conversation, we need to talk about power-ups. Power-ups have been added to the game while also replacing a six-sided die. At the beginning of a turn, you’ll roll a power-up die and a six-sided die. The power ups give players the ability to collect coins, force opponents to drop coins, and move forward.

 

Coins! Coins! Coins!

Coins, the only currency that matters in the mushroom kingdom, have replaced cash, and are rewarded/used for everything.

  • Rent is paid with coins
  • Coins are awarded for landing on unique spaces
  • Picking up coins that players were forced to drop

 

Boss Battles

It used to be that passing Go over the course of Monopoly was just a way to get some extra cash in your pocket, but now you (and anyone else that passes Go) will be activating the Boss Battles every time around the board. These Boss Battles will reward the victor with additional coins for the end of the game, as well as some fun treats like a free property, or stolen goods from an opponent.

Zone Control

If you played Monopoly,  then you know that owning property and getting all of the properties of the same color is a key to victory. It is no different in Monopoly Gamer, but the costs for purchase and rent are much smaller in scale to other version of the game. Also, with the inclusion of Player abilities, power ups and Boss Battles, you could own all the property and still come up short.

Player Select

What tops off the experience is the difference in experience you can have due to the character power-ups. Characters range from the well-known (Mario, Luigi, Peach) to the less familiar (Boo, Diddy Kong). All of them have a unique power up ability, and a unique event that occurs if you should land on the invincibility star space.

Not all characters come with the game by default, though.  Mario, Preach, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi come with the base game. Others can be purchased through a $3.99 character pack, which comes with the board figure, a sticker, and the player card with the character’s abilities.

 

Go!

With all of these new features being added and a pace that really speeds up a game known for dragging on,  Monopoly Gamer feels like a game Nintendo and Parker Brothers can be proud to have their names on. The ability to add additional player characters is also a great way to add replayability to this one.

I would recommend this game for any video game fan looking to have something to play when unplugging, or a board game fan with less free time. I would even say the character figures, design and style of the game as a whole will look good on your shelf.

If you have any further questions about the game, please check out a full play through of the game I did with my wife on my Twitch Channel here!

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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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Kickstarter Preview: Pocket Ops

Grand Gamers Guild

2 Players

10-20 Minutes

Ages 6+

Pocket Ops is a board game that took me by surprise. It is, essentially, an updated version of Tic-Tac-Toe. This was clear from the get go so I have to admit that I was hesitant to even play the game. How good could it possibly be?

Well, to be honest, it turns out that it can be pretty good. Pocket Ops takes the Tic Tac Toe formula and adds a few simple mechanics to make things more interesting.

We played a LOT of games of Pocket Ops over the course of our testing. Part of this was because games were fast. But, more importantly, we kept playing games because we could teach everyone that was interested how to play. Everyone knows how to play tic tac toe, so teaching a few more rules takes literally seconds.

Components

Note: The component list is not final because this game will be coming to Kickstarter.

1 Facility Board

14 Spy Tokens (7 red, 7 blue)

10 Specialist Tokens (5 red, 5 blue)

18 Predictions cards (9 red, 9 blue)

1 Doomsday Device Token

2 Power Crystal Tokens

1 Start Tile

Gameplay

As I said earlier, Pocket Ops plays like an upgraded version of tic tac toe. The  biggest difference is that as each player selects where they want to place their spy on the 3×3 grid their opponents have a chance to guess a square too. If the second player successfully guesses the same square, then no one gets to place a spy in that square and play continues. This turns what was a simple game into a more complex game of deduction and probability.

If this were all the game had to offer then it might have been too light. Fortunately, there is more.

Each player has a selection of specialists that each have unique powers. These specialists include things like the Assassin that can remove enemies from the board and the Hacker that lets players choose two different squares on their next prediction attempt.

Is it a family game?

Yes. Sure, players take on the role of super spies attempting to infiltrate a secret base, but there is nothing here that is not abstracted.

Conclusion

This is an easy recommendation to make. The game is inexpensive, fun, and easy to teach. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

 

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nintendo-switch-logo

The Nintendo Switch is a console designed to live in two worlds. It is expected to hold its own as a home console while also serving as a handheld gaming device. The Switch does not excel in either way compared to its contemporaries, but I just don’t think that matters. The Switch is able to serve both purposes well enough to justify its purchase. In this case being a jack of all trades is NOT a liability. Without further fanfare: here is our Nintendo Switch review.

Hardware

The hardware specifications are the boring part. So let’s get them out of the way first, shall we?

 

Feature Switch Xbox One PS4
CPU: Cores 4x ARM Cortex A57 8x AMD Jaguar 8x AMD Jaguar
Memory 4GB 8GB 8GB
Storage 32GB flash (microSD-expandable) 500GB HDD 500GB HDD
Physical game formats Game Card Disc Disc

 

These numbers likely won’t mean much for the average consumer, but suffice it to say that in regards to home consoles smaller numbers are generally worse.

The Nintendo Switch is underpowered compared to the other consoles on the market right now. This means that it won’t be able to output the graphics that most game developers would need to be able to put the same games on the Switch that they would on the PS4. As a result, it is possible that the Nintendo Switch may lose out on some of the higher end games that are released each year like Call of Duty, Battlefront, etc.

Nintendo does have the strongest lineup of first party (internally developed) games of any of the console makers though. These companies are no stranger to making the best of underpowered hardware which they have been doing since Nintendo launched the Wii.

Portable Gaming

We live in a world where almost everyone has a giant phone or a tablet. Mobile gaming is no longer the novelty that it used to be. As a result, the Nintendo Switch needs to do something different to stand out from the crowd. It needs to provide experiences that are unique to the console and superior to the other options on iPads and phones to be worth the increased cost.

Fortunately, this is where the Nintendo Switch shines. All you have to do is pull the Switch out of its dock and you can take it anywhere to play the same games as you would at home. I know that I was concerned (before the console’s launch) that this would be a significant drop in the graphics. The drop is certainly there, but it isn’t nearly as severe as I was concerned about. Instead I am left with a console where I can truly play console quality games wherever I go. That is an amazing feeling and one that cannot be reproduced on any other piece of hardware on the market today aside from the Nintendo Switch.

Battery Life

The Nintendo Switch is limited by the size and power of its battery. Our experiences and testing has shown that a fully charged Switch will last for between 2-3 hours undocked while playing graphics intensive games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

It is worth noting, however, that the Switch is compatible with USB C cables and will work with many of the popular portable chargers on the market. Using one of those will definitely extend the battery life of your device.

Unique Gaming Experiences

The Nintendo 3DS, the PSP, the PSVita, and many others have given us portable gaming before. That really isn’t anything new. The Switch, however, offers options for gaming experiences on the move that were never possible before.

The biggest new feature is the ability to play local multiplayer games like Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe anywhere we want. This is going to be one of the biggest features for our family and for many others, I’m sure. Our kids have had 3DS systems for years, but they have never been able to play their home console games anywhere else without moving the whole system. The fact that they can easily play multiplayer games on the thanks to the multiple Joy-Cons included with the console is just an added bonus.

Controllers

Each Nintendo Switch includes a pair of Nintendo Joy-Con controllers. They will attach to either side of the Switch tablet or to either side of a special controller called the Joy-Con grip. The Joy-Cons are definitely small so you will need to be careful not to lose them.

The Joy-Con Grip is a reasonable facsimile of a controller and will work for a while. But, if you or your family intends to play games for any length of time then I recommend the separate purchase of the Switch Pro controller. This is a controller that is built to be similar to the controllers for the other home consoles. It also happens to be a very good controller.

Online Services

As of today’s writing, Nintendo is offering a minimalist online experience for its online focused games at no charge.

That will change later on in 2017 when they add in a paid online service that will include a multiplayer app along with other functions at a premium charge (estimated to be around $30 annually).

We will have to see how that shakes out as they explain the service to us over the summer.

Games

Consoles live and die by the power of their games library. As of right now I feel very strongly that the library for the Switch is large enough to justify a purchase. The fact that the system launched with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was likely enough, but in the months that have passed the library has only grown with such titles as Graceful Explosion Machine, Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Puyo Puyo Tetris.

Conclusion

The Nintendo Switch is an amazing device. It is not going to replace any dedicated home consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One in terms of sheer power, but I don’t think that matters. This is a tremendous system that will be a worthy purchase for any family.

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Family Board Game Review: Imhotep

Imhotep is a Egyptian themed game by Kosmos.  It is named for the first, and most well known, Egyptian master builder: Imhotep.  Over the course of the game players use wooden blocks as stones to “build” different ancient Egyptian structures. The game is designed for 2-4 players ages 10 and takes about 40 minutes to play.   Imhotep was also a 2016 Spiel des Jahres nominee.

Game Contents

  • 120 Wooden Blocks, referred to as stones
    • 30 each of the 4 game colors: black, white, brown, and gray
  • 5 Site Boards
  • 1 Scoring track board
  • 8 Ship Tokens
  • 4 Supply Sled Tokens, in each of the 4 game colors
  • 21 Round Cards
  • 34 Market Cards

The components of the game are of good quality.  The wooden blocks are substantial enough to give the illusion of the stone block they represent.  The artwork of the board is beautiful and has the characteristic ancient Egyptian look without it looking ancient.  Instead the art has the aesthetic that the pharaohs might have seen during their era.

Gameplay

The game is played in 6 rounds.  During each turn you have to select one of four actions to take:

  • Get more stone  (up to three)
  • Place 1 stones on a ship
  • Sail a ship to a site
  • Play 1 Blue Market Card

The objective is to build various structures in different ways to earn the most points.  Some points are awarded at the end of each round and some are awarded at the end of the game.  The are five locations to sail the ships are the Market, Pyramids, Temple, Burial Chamber, and Obelisks.  One action a player can take is to sail a ship.  There are different numbers of stones the ships can hold and to minimum sail.   Once all the ships have sailed and the stones placed, then the round ends and points needing to be added are calculated before resetting for the next round.  One of the places to said to is the Market and any player whose stones are sailed to the Market earns cards that can give them bonuses at various points of the game. At the end of the 6th round final points are counted and the winner is determined.

Family Game Assessment

Imhotep has an alluring aesthetic to draw in younger gamers.  Ancient Egypt has a great deal of appeal to a wide range of ages.  This is a game that is easy to learn, but has a deeper strategy that is much more challenging.  Initially the age rating of 10 and up seemed a bit old to me since the game is so easy to learn.  However, as I played through the game it became apparent how the deeper strategy comes into play and adds a rich layer and unexpected complexity to the game.  That being said, since the game mechanics are easy to learn I feel that this game could scale slightly younger to be about 8 and up, especially with savvy gamers.This is also a wonderful gateway game to bring to the table with inexperienced games especially if the Egyptian theme is appealing to them.  Again, being easy to teach and not having overly complicated mechanics will make the game much less intimidating.

Conclusion

Imhotep is a a very family friendly game.  The game can scale younger to involve slightly younger members of the family.  The younger player may not be able to discern the strategies involved, but they should easily be able to follow the mechanics of the game.  This is a beautiful addition to any family collection and can be enjoyed by players with a range of skills.

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gravity maze hi rez image

Gravity Maze is a single player logic game designed for ages 8 to adult by Thinkfun.  This game challenges the player to set up towers as indicated on a challenge card.  The player then adds towers to the game grid.  The objective is to create a maze so a ball can travel from the Start Position to the Target Tower.

Game Contents

  • Game Grid
  • 60 challenge cards (with solutions on the back)
    • (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert)
  • Instruction Manual
  • 9 Building Towers
  • Target Tower
  • 3 Marbles (only one needed per game, the rest are extra)

The components of the game are good quality, solid plastic.  They are designed with clear exterior framework and brightly colored interior elements that can direct the ball in a range of directions.  Each size is a different color, and the pieces are color coded on the Challenge Cards.

Gameplay

The player selects a challenge card.  There are 4 levels of play: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. The 60 cards are numbered and get progressively harder as they move within each level of play.

The player selects a card and looks at the location and colors of the pieces displayed on the picture.  They set the Game Grid up to match the picture on the card. There are black dots on each of the tower pieces and those dots correspond to the picture on the cards to ensure you are orienting the piece correctly in the set up.  The interior of the tower has different sections which will allow the marble to either pass straight through, or the square in divided in half in a range of directions.  Next, at the bottom of the card, the additional pieces to complete the challenge are listed.  The piece that is the starting place for marble is noted with a white dot on the card, and the target tower is represented by a red box with a target on it. As the challenge level increases you need to be more and more creative with the placement of the towers, including putting them upside down.

Once the player has placed all the pieces where they believe they will allow the marble to travel to the target, they place the marble in the top of the starting town and see the path it actually takes. If the marble does not go into the target tower, the player simply revisits their setup to make the needed adjustments until they are successful.  If they are stuck, a solution is provided on the back of the card.  Once the marble has traveled into the target tower, the player can then select another card and complete an additional challenge or conclude their game.

Family Game Assessment

Gravity Maze is a wonderful game for children to develop their logical reasoning and problem solving skills. Gravity Maze is recommended for ages 8 and up, and has the potential to be frustrating for players in the younger range as they advance in the challenge levels.  While this is designed as a single player game, teamwork and collaboration could be incorporated into working though the problem solving this game demands.  Younger players especially could benefit from adult coaching to strengthen their perseverance.  Knowing the solution is on the reverse of the card, it may be tempting for them  to look to the solution right away.  In contrast, with older players, they may want to work through the challenge independently.  Then, they can share their results, and another player could solve the next card.  For a simple single player game, there are a range of options to incorporate other members of the family.

Conclusion

Gravity Maze won the Toy of the Year Award in 2015, and it is clear why.  Gravity Maze is a wonderful STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Math) game to develop a range of skills including: logical reasoning, problem solving, and guess and check.  Additionally, this game has the possibility to enable the player to experience a productive struggle as they work through the challenge cards. Being able to persevere through a productive struggle can make them more comfortable having to work through unsuccessful attempts to find a solution academically. If you or your family enjoy logic and reasoning games, this is a great addition to your collection.

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EFG Kid’s Corner: Dragon Quest Builder Review

Welcome to the EFG Kids’ Corner! This is a series of articles written by gamer kids all over the country! If you are a gamer kid (or know one) send me your best stuff in an email at editor@engagedfamilygaming.com! You just might see it here!

Without further adieu… here we go!


I’ve waited a while to talk about this game because I needed to play it a bit. Dragon Quest Builders, a PS4 exclusive, is my favorite game that I have on the PS4. It’s kind of like Minecraft crossed with Clash Of Clans. I like that the main character looks like Link enough so that I think I’m playing Zelda. It’s a great entry to the Dragon Quest series by introducing you to the items and baddies, even though it is very post apocalyptic because you are in a destroyed form of the Dragon Quest world.

Now we are onto the story! The main character (you) is woken up by the Goddess in a strange chamber, the tutorial room. The Goddess tells you that you are the only person with the power of building and creating items. After exiting that chamber you see a desolate land inhabited by plants and monsters as well as the remains of a city (See! I told you post-apocalyptic). The Goddess tells you to walk towards the ruins and plant a flag. After you plant the flag a person shows up and asks you to build a house. After you build the house she asks you to find food. After you find both of you food she asks you to build a stone mason’s workshop, basically a house to craft in. After you build that building you are told to find another person. After you find him you have a non-tutorial state of game and you can finally roam and do whatever you want .

You play the game by killing monsters and building. Each city in the game is a different level. You complete a level by beating a big boss after completing all the quests in that city. You get materials by breaking blocks and beating monsters and you beat monsters by hitting them with weapons you make.

Is this a good game? Yes it is, it’s very fun, and engaging. Should you play it? Yes, you should it’s probably the best Minecraft copy and town builder that is also its own game I have ever played!

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EFG Kid’s Corner: A Ratchet and Clank Review

Welcome to the EFG Kids’ Corner! This is a series of articles written by gamer kids all over the country! If you are a gamer kid (or know one) send me your best stuff in an email at editor@engagedfamilygaming.com! You just might see it here!

Without further adieu… here we go!


Ratchet and Clank for the PlayStation 4 is great because it’s about a Lombax and a robot who go on an adventure together. A Lombax is a fox like looking creature that’s kind of striped. Clank was supposed to be a warbot but when he was made the power went out and made a defect so he is smaller than a regular warbot. I would call it an action adventure game like Legend of Zelda because you solve puzzles and fight enemies. I think you should be 6+ to play Ratchet and Clank because some of the things in the game would be hard to play without help from an adult.

My favorite part of Ratchet and Clank is when Clank is in the factory he was made in. I also like that if you die you come back and you don’t have a specific amount of lives before a game over. Another thing I like is the weapon Groovitron because it makes your enemy dance without attacking you so it’s easier to attack them.

The part I liked the least is when you get to the planet Gaspar because you need a lot of things that you don’t have yet like the jetpack and grind boots. I also don’t like that you have no way of doing things over again like if you need to defeat someone again you can’t. Another thing I don’t like is that you can’t choose whether you play Ratchet or Clank. In the factory you play Clank. Almost everywhere else you play Ratchet.

I would rate this game 4 out of 5 stars. People who like action adventure games should give it a try.If you try this game I hope you like it.

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