Stuff Happens is a simple enough card game that we picked up on a whim while on a weekend getaway with a friend. It took us months to eventually play it, but we had a great time with our friends when we did so!
Honestly, I thought Stuff Happens was kind of like Cards Against Humanities. It’s not at all like that and when we read the directions I wondered how fun it would be. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. You need to have a good, decent-sized group to play with, though.
There is a giant stack of cards that all have unfortunate incidents and circumstances described on them, ranging from “going bald” to “getting a nail stuck in your foot” and plenty of other scenarios. Each card has a rank depending on where it lies on the Misery Index, courtesy of the creators of the game. Each person starts with a random set of three of these cards to start the game off, creating their beginning range of the index.
Then you take turns picking up a card from the draw pile. When it’s your turn to pick up a card, you don’t say where it lies on the Misery Index, but just say what it is. For example, bleach in your eye. (Yes, I believe that’s actually one of the cards.) The person to your left then needs to guess where it lies on their timeline. If they have cards that lie on the index between 7 and 10 and they guess the card in question is either an 8 or 9, they point to where they think it lies. So, you’re not necessarily guessing the number, but gauging where it could be based on what you already have.
If you’re correct, you get to keep the card. If you’re incorrect, it goes to the next person to guess. If no one guesses correctly before the round returns to the person who read the card, then the the card i discarded. The first person who has ten cards wins. It’s a fun game, one that keeps everyone guessing, even if we didn’t always agree with the misery index that came with the game. For example, according to the game, your favorite local team relocating is somehow worse than falling into a septic tank.
If you guess correctly and get to keep the card, then you place it in your timeline where it belongs. This actually gets harder the more cards you collect. If you have a card that rank 1.5 and the card next to it is 1.7 then it’s hard to guess which card might land in the 1.6 spot. The wider the range, the more likely you’ll be correct.
There were definitely cards that are difficult to place regardless of what range you have in front of you. An interesting twist to this game may be for the drawer to determine where the card would end up on their personal “misery index” rather than the game’s list, and then for others to guess correctly. Either way, it’s a great game to play with a good group of friends.
It’s a much better game than I originally thought it would be. It’s fun to play with the right group of people and you certainly need a good-sized group. This wouldn’t be as intense with three people or so. When we played there were five of us and that was a good size. If you haven’t tried this game, put it on the list. You’ll be surprised at the fun you can have with it.
Stuff Happens gets a rating of… Skip It | Try It | Buy It
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Time for another mobile game review. We’re playing with more dragons. Here we go!
I’ve talked about Dragonvale quite a bit on this blog. It’s a game from Backflip Studios, the first game I had ever downloaded on my iPad… well, iPod at the time. It was a fun game, one I enjoyed more when I was younger. Yet, it always sucked me back in at one point or another. It’s been a few years since I’ve played it actively. When I searched on the app store not too long ago, I discovered another Dragonvale game called Dragonvale World. I downloaded it and… it’s more or the less the same thing as Dragonvale.
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed in the game. The dragons, more or less, are the same. You have your typical elements – fire, water, ice, and so on. To start the game, you buy eggs, hatch them, feed them to level them up, and then breed them to mix and match elements.
Each element has its own habitat. For example, fire dragons can’t go in the water habitat. However, a fire-water dragon can live in the water habitat. Each habitat can hold a certain amount of dragons and can be upgraded once or twice using in-game currency. When the capacity is full, you can buy another habitat of that element.
When you first start off the game, you’re in a small area of the world. There are trees and rocks in the way for you to clear (using in-game currency, of course) to expand on your area so you can have more habitats and farming land – which allows you to get more dragons and level them up with the more food.
Everything is done in real-time too. If you want to hatch an egg, it may take an hour in real-time. If it’s a rare dragon, it could take 48 hours or something. If you’re going to play this game, you have to make the time commitment to check on it every so often.
This was why I was disappointed when I first started playing the game. With real-time games, it can be so hard to make money and build everything up. The beginning is spent waiting for a lot of things to happen. You’re waiting to save up a certain amount of money to buy this one thing that will make you broke, but that one thing will earn you that much more money. Rinse, repeat. This makes the beginning so slow.
I’ve level 70-something in Dragonvale. I have a boatload of money and if I want to upgrade something, I can do it. In Dragonvale World, because I’m at such a low level and just started the game, I can barely do anything. So, when I have Dragonvale, why would I want to play Dragonvale World?
Other than the graphics and some dragons being slightly different breeds from the other game, there’s no difference and it made no sense for me to basically start over. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far in the game.
Dragonvale World gets a rating of…
Play It | DOWNLOAD IT | Delete It
Overall, Dragonvale World is like a copy-cat game made by the same developers. I’m not sure why they decided to make such a similar game. It’s cute. The graphics are 3D whereas Dragonvale is 2D. However, I’d rather new gameplay over graphics.
Have you played Dragonvale World? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this post, please share it around.
I played another mobile game. Video Game Tycoon. This is a game that exists.
I don’t have much to say about this game, but I bet this post will be a decent length. I enjoy simulation games and I loved my time with Game Dev Tycoon on Steam. For whatever reason I looked up video game simulation games in the app store. I was surprised to find a handful of these kinds of games. I downloaded all of them, but let’s just talk about Video Game Tycoon for now.
This is a tapping game. You point your finger and continuously tap the screen. This is it. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you head to the Menu, you can do one of three things. The first is to create games. Now, you have zero control over these games. First, you pick a “Tittle.” By that, I mean “Title.” But the game has a typo and actually says “tittle” instead of “title.” So, name your game, choose a platform (PC, console, mobile, arcade, or portable console), then choose a story, which is the genre. There’s horror, a slice of life, fantasy, sci-fi, action or endless. Finally, your category: RPG, adventure, sports, strategy, simulation, MMO, shooting, puzzle, casual, or arcade. There are five graphics you can choose from and then you choose a game icon. These icons are parodies of actual game icons from the app store. I wish I was joking.
Then your character creates the video game and… that’s it. You don’t do anything else with it. It makes you money all the time, sure, but there are no stats or any way to really “progress” in the whole game-making. The game will make you a certain amount of money in the game per second real-life time. You can spend more more to update the games which is just you tapping a button.
The more games you make, the more money you’ll make. For example, my first game is version 2.0 and makes 11 in-game dollars per real-life second. My 11th game is version 1.1 and makes 144,000 in-game dollars per second.
Your games will get reviews. Good or bad, you’ll get a tip. In other words, the reviews mean nothing and it’s just an extra way to make a pinch more money.
You can hire employees as well. These people specialize in various areas such as SEO, programming, artist, and more. Of course, these are just fancy titles. Hiring these people don’t boost the quality of your games at all. You can spend a boatload of money to level them each up to level three (which is the max) and each time you hire someone and level them up, your money per click will increase.
What’s money per click? Well, that’s the main point of the game. You’ll receive a certain amount of money per second from your games but if you want to make more money (which may also be the majority of your money) you need to repeatedly tap the screen. I have six employees – five are level three and one is level two. I get about 200,000 in-game dollars per click. So, yeah. Mindlessly point your finger and tap the screen repeatedly while you watch something on TV. That’s the only way to go.
Finally, there are operations. This is basically buying supplies for your video game company such as paper, your website, studio rent, and more. Buy these, level them up for more money, and your money per cap or per hour will increase.
The money earned per hour is what you make when you don’t have the game turned on. The money per cap is what it sounds like. If you have the game turned off and your cap is a million dollars, that’s all your game will make when you have the game shut off. You could make two million per hour but if the cap is one million, you’ll only make the one million for one hour and that’s it – even if you have the game off for six hours.
This was something that bothered me because you have to strategically buy what you need. Most often than not, the cap would be less than the hourly. Not to mention, that money per second you make from the games? That’s only when the game is turned on.
It makes sense, yes, but if you want to make any money in this game (because honestly, hiring and leveling up employees, buying and leveling up the operations, and creating and updating the games takes a lot of money) you need to have this game on all the time. You also need to be tapping that screen quite often as well.
Well… that’s it. That’s all there is to it. I don’t want to play a game when I have no control over anything other than tapping the screen. I also don’t want the game to be turned on all the time. I have other games I need to play.
As soon as this review is done, this game is getting deleted from my iPad.
Video Game Tycoon gets a rating of…
Play It | Download It | DELETE IT
Overall, Video Game Tycoon is not fun. At first, I thought it was cool because it was a relaxing mindless game. But it got old very quick and everything became so expensive quickly. There’s no saving money in this game and there doesn’t seem to be an overall end goal either. It wasn’t worth the time.
Have you played Video Game Tycoon? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this post, please share it around.
Title: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy Publisher: Level-5 Developer: Level-5
Platform: iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch
Category: Puzzle, Adventure
Release Date: July 20, 2017 (iOS, Android), October 6, 2017 (Nintendo 3DS), November 8, 2019 (Nintendo Switch)
How we got the game: Received it for Christmas 2019 on the Nintendo Switch
Layton’s Mystery Journey — or Lady Layton, as we’ve been calling it — has been a game that’s been on our radar since it was announced for the 3DS. We’ve enjoyed the few Professor Layton games we’ve played, and we were looking forward to seeing what Lady Layton was all about.
Lady Layton, of course, is not Professor Layton himself. However, we enjoy the puzzles and characters so we were interested in seeing how Lady Layton presented herself after playing so much Professor Layton.
Lady Layton has similar gameplay mechanics as the Professor Layton series. Navigating through different scenes, you point and click on the environment to interact with objects and people, finding clues to the current mystery as well as short puzzles that bolster the gameplay. While you don’t directly control the main character’s movements, you are able to go between scenes via the handy map.
All you need is the ability to point-and-click with your Joy-Con and have enough brain power to solve some puzzles. Lady Layton is part visual novel where the characters interact. We took turns reading dialogue from certain characters though some parts were voice-acted with a short anime cut scene here and there.
That’s pretty much all there is to the gameplay mechanics. Some puzzles include literally rotating pieces to solve them, others include more mathematics, and still some are more logic puzzles. Aside from the puzzles and main storylines, there are also a plethora of minigames that tie in to the few cases — puzzles that have to do with shopping or food or Sherl the canine sidekick — as well as a wardrobe change function for Katrielle. We didn’t really explore these options too much, to be honest, as we weren’t too interested in them.
I play the Layton games mostly for the puzzles. In this particular game, however, the puzzles were too easy. Normally there are puzzles we get stuck on and need to use our hint coins a lot or rope our parents in to help us. The majority of the puzzles in this game we breezed right there. There were only a handful of puzzles we got stuck on.
We did feel a bit more bored by the majority of the puzzles than we have in other Professor Layton games, yes. This game felt like there was a lot more fluff rather than substance when it came to the actual gameplay.
Yes, it was pretty light-hearted for the most part. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the banter between the characters. Overall, though, the main gameplay could have issued a little more of a challenge for me.
The graphics of the game are cute, the same style that has been used for previous Professor Layton games to keep them connected. While some of the more exaggerated designs for characters I could do without, the art style is engaging and keeps me interested in continuing the story.
I enjoy the art style. I think it’s charming overall. There are certainly some interesting looking people but it’s fun nonetheless.
The music for this game is cozy. Relaxing and soft, the tunes do well being paired with the characters — the main cast being comprised of a gentlewoman and her eager, polite assistant — and the locations of the game. I enjoyed the music, but it was low-key for a game about solving crimes.
I agree that it was low-key for a crime-solving game. Then again, none of the “crimes” were dire so it seemed as though the music fit. Lady Layton is a fairly light-hearted game. The music was catchy regardless though.
The title of this game is Katrielle and The Millionaires’ Conspiracy, which gives one the impression that there is a larger, overarching story amid the multiple cases that this game provides. Within the dozen cases that the game provides, the “millionaires” are introduced but there is no larger case that you are always trying to discover. Each case is individual before it brings all the characters together during the last case of the game.
I don’t mind having multiple cases throughout the game. Having 12 cases to solve seems fun. However, other than the characters, none of the cases had anything to do with… anything, really. The cases introduced the characters but never hinted at a bigger conspiracy until the final case. Even then, the solution seemed out of the blue.
The solution both seemed like it came out of the blue, but it wasn’t particularly surprising either. We had guessed who the true culprit was before the answer came about and, even now, there are parts of the last case that don’t make sense to me for the culprit to be who they were. The story could have been a lot stronger when it came to the characters. The characters themselves were interesting enough, but there wasn’t enough of a plot to really show their strengths.
Not to mention that Sherl, a talking dog, approached Kat the beginning of the game wondering who he was and how he got turned into a dog. Supposedly, he was human at one time and has no memory. That mystery was never answered. After the credits, it hinted at a sequel, but I would have liked more mention of that. Once he initially asked for her help figuring out who he is, his “case” was never mentioned again throughout the entire game.
The cases themselves are fairly linear, with the one outcome each. Likewise, the puzzles usually only have a couple of ways to reach the answers as well, if they have more than one way to the outcome in the first place. The only replayability this game may have is if the player missed some puzzles and wanted to go and find them again. There are some minigames to play as well but nothing that we found particularly striking.
I’m not sure if this is a game I’d pick up again. The puzzles were fun but pretty easy compared to the Professor Layton games. The mini-games weren’t great and overall, each case didn’t allow you to solve it alongside Kat. It made some parts boring. The game was okay overall and the characters were certainly enjoyable.
Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy gets…
3 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Kind Words Developer: Popcannibal Publisher: Popcannibal
Category: Indie, chill word game
Release Date: September 13, 2019
How we got the game: Bought and downloaded it on Steam
Pssst…. There may be story or gameplay spoilers in this review! You’ve been warned!
Kind Words has been on my radar since I heard about it a few months ago, and it came right back up to the front of my to-play list thanks to the Game Awards having it as a nominee for the Games for Impact award. I was finally able to download it, and I am not disappointed in it.
Note that this review doesn’t use our typical template. Mechanically speaking, there’s not much to this game. You have a little avatar that relaxes in a small bedroom while scribbling away letters to other people. The goal is, simply, to be kind, to send words of encouragement, to give advice in response to other people’s letters, or to just let them know, “I am here and I hear you.”
The menu on the side allows you to see requests that you can answer, send a request yourself to receive advice, send a paper airplane that floats through everyone’s room, and see your inbox, among options for the credits and settings. The setting is minimal, clean, and calming with the soft lights and the chill mix of music that you can adjust to your liking by clicking on the radio above the bed.
The game itself opens up and you meet the Mail Deer. This adorable creature claims that they are the one who sends your letters along, letting you know the gist of the game as well as warning you that you are communicating with real people and to be careful about giving away too much personal information. Mail Deer also speaks about how important they take cyber bullying or dangerous messages, and urges players to report any requests that fall under those categories. Security and safety are this game’s utmost priorities, and it shows in the community and how swiftly those reports are handled.
One of the main criticisms of this game — and there are very few of those — is players asking for more room on the letters and paper airplanes to write their requests or advice. Sometimes the main point of a request gets lost when not all the context is there due to the lack of room, and the advice that follows doesn’t quite work.
While it can be somewhat of an issue to not have the full story, I do like the fact that the letters must be shorter. It helps with the anonymity of the game and helps to illustrate that one may not receive all the advice they hope to from a stranger online. Indeed, strangers helping out one another with advice and words of encouragement is wonderful, but there is only so much that a stranger can do. To help with that, Kind Words does have a link to mental health resources that is prominent at the bottom of the screen whenever a letter or airplane is written. If one truly needs help, that link is there for when simple advice cannot.
Another criticism that I’ve heard about the game is that there is no method of keeping in touch or continuing to send and receive letters from the same strangers. Some have found that certain people give fantastic advice, others are wondering how well their advice was received or how someone who had written a particular letter is doing. While it would be nice to be able to keep in touch with someone else, especially since — despite the dangers — online relationships can be wonderful, I believe the one-time reply does its job well. People inherently want to help others, but it can be dangerous to be so involved with others’ problems, dangerous for both parties’ self-esteem and their mental health. To harp on a stranger’s issue, as well-meaning as one may be, can be destructive for both parties.
As the Mail Deer, sometimes the best you can do is to send along a kind word, and you have to hope that will be enough. Know that you did your best for a stranger in the form of an anonymous letter and that they will be able to take strength from your kindness.
I believe every person has a little bit of, “I want to save the world,” in them, but it can be overwhelming when it appears that you, as only one person, can’t make as much of an impact as you think. To be able to help just one person enables one to realize that perhaps they cannot impact the whole world but, for that one person they helped, they were able to impact that one individual world, hopefully for the better.
Kind Words enables us to do just that.
Kind Words gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
I’ve been doing mobile reviews on this blog for about a year now and I decided to do something a little different this month. I went onto the app store on my iPad and looked up winter-themed games. I only picked out four to play this time, but I’m sure I’ll have more posts like this in the future. Here are the mini-reviews of these four games in the order that I played them.
Unfortunately for me, this was the first game I played and it was the best game out of all the winter games I tried. At least, I had the most fun with this one.
I’m sure you may be familiar with the .io games in which you play online with a bunch of other people competing to come in the first place. This is often having your character become the “biggest” in terms of eating objects on the board or even trapping your opponents. Snowball.io is similar.
You’re in a snowball fight with eight other people on a small map. This map being snow-covered ice in the middle of the ocean that will slowly sink causing the map to grow smaller.
Wait. Did I just stumble on a battle royale mobile game?
Anyway, you glide your finger across the screen to move your character (which is a snowplow-like vehicle) and it’ll automatically make a snowball. The more you move, the bigger the snowball gets. The bigger the snowball… well, bye-bye to your opponents. That is if you can aim.
I wasn’t great at aiming so I tended to get up close and personal with them, bashing my large snowball into them by walking into them. Otherwise, if you want to shoot your snowball from afar, you just need to lift your finger from the screen and your character will let go.
It’s saying a lot that I had the most fun with this game out of all the four I played. This game was extremely easy and got monotonous after a while. The matches never lasted long (most likely because you’re only up against eight other people) and once you were out of the match, you had the opportunity to watch an ad to come back. I didn’t think that was fair. Once you’re out, you’re out. Of course, if you got out a second time, it brought you back to the main menu. So, at least you can’t watch ad after ad to get into first place.
Also, there was no music. No sound effects. Nothing. Silence. I thought the sound on my iPad was broken at first (it is almost 5-years-old, after all) but it turns out there’s just no sound at all to the game. You’re playing a snowball fight in an empty void.
Snowball.io gets a rating of…
Play It | DOWNLOAD IT | Delete It
What am I supposed to say about this one…? Clean Road is a simple game where you glide your finger across the screen to control the plow truck. The road is covered with deep snow and there are cars trapped in their driveway. You need to create a path on the road, making sure you reach every driveway and let them out.
I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever a plow drives by my driveway, it piles more snow at the end of it blocking me in. It doesn’t clear it away so I can get out. It just means more shoveling for me. But, I guess it’s a mobile game so I’ll let the physics slide…
Also, why do I need to let these people out of their driveways? If there’s this much snow, they should all stay home and let the plows do their job. Instead, I let them out of their driveways and they immediately follow me to the end of the road (which has no snow on it, by the way. Mother Nature only likes to screw over certain areas).
This game makes no sense.
But whatever. Once you reach the end of the road, the level is over and yay! You get to go onto the next level.
I’d like to say each level gets harder than the previous one. There will be objects in the road you need to avoid and yes, once in a while a giant snowball will come out of nowhere and roll across the street. Giant icicles will also fall from the sky. For the most part, though, it’s too easy making the game pretty boring.
Difficulty aside, this game was weird. Level one – snow. Level two – snow. Level three…
You’re a tractor instead of a snowplow. The road is covered in tall grass, not snow. The driveways are blocked by barrels of hay. Giant carrots fall from the sky. What is this game?!
Level four? Back to snow.
Why? I. Don’t. Understand.
Oh, but in level four we are back to snow, yes, and icicles fall from the sky but so do the giant carrots.
And this, my friends, is when I stopped playing the game. I have no idea if got weirder or not and I’m afraid I shall never know.
Clean Road gets a rating of…
Play It | Download It | DELETE IT
This game is cute. I honestly thought I enjoyed this game more than Snowball.io but… I quickly realized there’s nothing to do in Penguin Isle.
You start off on a small iceberg in the middle of the ocean. For the tutorial, you get some things for free to start. However, there’s in-game coins and hearts that you to need to buy everything else. There are different habitats you can get for your small iceberg that will expand the isle. For example, fishermen or gardener or a hot springs. Why these particular things? I don’t know. Anyway, once you get those habitats, they’ll make money.
You can buy penguins as well and they’ll give you hearts depending on how happy they are. Happiness is measured by how many habitats you have and how many other penguins you have. The coins buy more penguins and more habitats while the hearts upgrade habitats.
And… that’s it. Most games like this use real-time, as does Penguin Isle, but the more habitats you build, the more money they earn – which is also true for this game. However, those times increase from one minute to a few hours. Penguin Isle’s habitats increase in time as well. But only by seconds.
The habitats make so much money within ten seconds or so and you can use hearts for their first upgrade so that they collect the money on their own. Which was nice, since I didn’t want to collect money from the habitats every five, seven, or ten seconds.
The habitats earn a lot of money and they’ll earn even more with every upgrade. This makes everything else so expensive so… like most money-making real-time based games, you’re doing a lot of waiting.
However, most games have mini-games or some sort of interaction with the characters. Or you can rearrange your space, add decorations, and more. Penguin Isle doesn’t have any of that.
You’re watching them collect money and hearts on their own and waiting for the cash flow to build up so you can create the next thing. Rinse, repeat.
The penguins were cute, yes, and the music was soothing. After a while, though, it’s not worth your time.
Penguin Isle gets a rating of…
Play It | DOWNLOAD IT | Delete It
Cubes Craft Winter
This is totally not a Minecraft knock-off, okay, guys? Nope. Not at all.
This game does not have blocky areas for you to explore and craft with various blocks that are made out of different materials.
Cubes Craft Winter is completely different because it’s all winter-themed. That’s right. Take that, Minecraft!
…That’s really all I have to say about this game. I played it for all of maybe two minutes before I exited out of it. The controls were horrendous. Want to play a game like this?
Go play Minecraft.
Cubes Craft Winter gets a rating of…
Play It | Download It | DELETE IT
There were a lot of winter-themed games in the app store and yet, it was slim pickings. I chose these four games because the looked the most appealing and… well, they looked good if we’re going to judge a book by its cover. Plus, there were so many Santa Countdown games. That should be its own category.
I’m sure I’ll do mini-reviews again at some point. I may even do winter games again next year. Someone is bound to come up with something brilliant within the next year… right?
Have you played any of these games? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this post, please share it around.
Title: Pokemon Sword & Pokemon Shield Publisher: Nintendo Developer: GAME FREAK, Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure
Release Date: November 15, 2019
How we got the game: We pre-ordered both games
We were wicked excited for Sword and Shield to finally come out on the Switch! To have another core Pokemon series game, one in a new region, was fantastic. Despite some of the backlash that was seen on the Internet, we always had faith that we would enjoy the games.
I was extra excited about this game because there weren’t too many spoilers on what the new Pokemon looked like. I was able to go into this game fresh.
Like most Pokemon core games, Sword and Shield have the typical gameplay formula. As the avatar character, you explore the region while catching and battling with the Pokemon you encounter. The routes and towns are usually diverse with different Pokemon and people for the avatar to interact with, with opponents getting stronger the further in the game you go. Moving is intuitive with the analog stick — and you can make your character spin around and strike a pose! — and speaking with people and most general interactions are simply with the A button.
The major point of Pokemon is to explore the world and “catch ‘em all.” Sword and Shield don’t disappoint in that regard. I honestly felt as though the Galar Region is more of an “open-world” in some cases. For example, the Wild Area is a new feature added in this game. The Wild Area stretches for most of the Galar map and it’s where just about every Pokemon imaginable lives. The Wild Area has different areas from snow to desert to grasslands and more. It’s easy to stay there for long periods of time and not progressing with the actual gameplay.
The Wild Area is also where it’s easiest to connect with fellow players. While there may be lag depending on the servers and the strength of your Internet, it’s awesome to see so many other trainers zipping about the world. Talking to one another usually nets you free items, mostly for curry in the Pokemon Camp, which we’ll get to in a minute. You can also trade and battle one another, as well as battle with each other in what’s called Max Raid battles against special wild Pokemon.
Pokemon have the ability to Dynamax in Sword and Shield. It’s the new Mega Evolution and Z-Move. Dynamaxing enlarges the Pokemon to about ten-times its size and gives them all-powerful moves depending on what they’ve already learned. However, you can only Dynamax in certain areas – like gym battles and max raids, for example.
Admittedly, we weren’t sure about this game mechanic when it was first introduced. It sounded a little gimmicky, like the mentioned Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves from the sixth and seventh generations, respectively. Keeping the Dynamax technique to certain areas, though, made it a bit more special and exciting to use, especially in the gym battles. It works out pretty well and even makes you use a bit of strategy in that Pokemon can only Dynamax for three turns in gym battles.
I really enjoy the graphics on the Switch consoles themselves, and Sword and Shield were no exception. Our avatars actually get expressions this time around, and the animations of the Pokemon and other characters were great. The open world-like Wild Area and several towns of the Galar region were just absolutely beautiful!
I love how our characters actually have expressions. Knowing the sort of graphics that can be on the Nintendo Switch, I feel like Pokemon could improve a bit. However, I love it just the way it is because it’s how Pokemon is. The characters always moved in a certain way that screams “Pokemon”. As for the new Pokemon in this region? I absolutely love all the new designs. I think the Pokemon are really unique and outside the box. (Even though Galarian Meowth and Perrserker look like they belong in Where The Wild Things Are.)
Anyone who’s played these games and said they did not enjoy the gym battle themes are liars. The battle themes were definitely my favorite tunes, but hearing all the background music as you traveled through the region was also wonderful. They were familiar and new at once, familiar in the sense that you knew the music was from a Pokemon game, but new for the Galar region itself.
Any music from Pokemon – songs, sound effects, Pokemon cries – is fantastic. Sword and Shield were no exception and I agree with Kris. The gym battle themes were the best. Coupled with the cheering crowd in the background, it made it all the better. It really hyped me up.
The typical storyline of most core Pokemon games is that your avatar journeys throughout their home region on a quest to “catch ‘em all” and “be the very best.” Sword and Shield are similar, in which there is a Gym Challenge for trainers to partake in. With their teams of Pokemon, trainers challenge all eight gyms in an attempt to participate in the Pokemon League or, in this duo of games, the Champion’s Cup.
On the flip side, while you journey around the world, you typically have to stop an evil group of Pokemon trainers with a fancy (or not-so-fancy) name who wants to dominate the world or steal Pokemon or what have you. Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the case in Sword and Shield. There is a bad guy team called Team Yell, yes, but they’re not bad in the way you’d assume them to be.
Sword and Shield do have a bit of lore behind them, with part of the story involving the region’s professor’s assistant (well, granddaughter) looking into the history of the Galar region itself. Involving two ancient heroes, one with a sword and one with a shield, and what was called the Darkest Day, you try to help unravel the mystery of why the lives of the heroes are not known more.
The story of the game doesn’t come together full-force until the very end of the main gameplay. The game itself is quick because of this and then it all comes together at the end. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say too much else other than I enjoyed how they did it this time around.
While Sword and Shield have a fairly linear plot to follow, the replayability value lies in all the Pokemon you can tame and battle with. Considering there’s hundreds of Pokemon to find in the game, and a huge community to trade with, replaying the game with a new team every time helps to keep the plot fresh.
This is certainly a game I’ll go back to quite often, like all the other Pokemon games. I will be sure to reach level 100 with my Pokemon, catch them all, and hunt for shinies. I’m in this for the long haul.
Pokemon Sword & Pokemon Shield gets… 4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Luigi’s Mansion 3 Developer: Next Level Games Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: October 31, 2019
How we got the game: I received a physical copy for my birthday
It’s finally here! Luigi’s Mansion 3 finally exists! And boy, oh boy, it didn’t disappoint!
Luigi’s Mansion 3 begins with Toad driving a bus. Why they chose Toad to drive is beyond me. However, Red Toad is driving while Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, Princess Peach, Mario, and Luigi d their own things in the back. The opening cutscene with them on their way to some sort of destination with their suitcases packed is hardcore adorable and stepped up ten notches from any other game.
Luigi is sound asleep in the back next to his single suitcase when Polterpup wakes him up reminding him (or giving us, the player, information about what’s going on) of an invitation he received. Luigi and friends have been invited to a fabulous stay at the Last Resort Hotel. None of them find this odd. However, it’s a good thing for us otherwise there would be no game.
When they arrive at the hotel they seem to be the only guests there. Helen Gravelly, the owner, gives them a warm welcome and shows them to their room. The hotel itself and the rooms are huge and looks as though it’s all too good to be true. The gang says goodnight, heads to their own rooms, and Luigi falls straight to sleep.
He awakes in the middle of the night to screaming. He investigates to find the entire hotel has changed. It’s no longer gold and sparkly, but dark and dusty instead. The Toads, Mario, and Peach have all disappeared.
Luigi runs into Helen Gravelly, revealing her master plan to please the one and only King Boo, who she had saved from E. Gadd’s gallery. Luigi escapes a fate of being stuck in a portrait and thus the game begins.
The opening sequence took me about 15 minutes to get through. It’s a mixture of cutscenes and a tad bit of exploration, which I did a fair amount. There’s a lot to explore in this game and when you get the Poltergust G-00, the exploration gets so much better.
You, of course, play as Luigi as you explore through the entire hotel in an attempt to find all the portraits of your friends and save them. There are 15 floors to the Last Resort, which I thought was fabulous. Luigi’s Mansion for the Gamecube was a fabulous game, but it was short and sweet. Dark Moon had a larger mansion, but it was still on the quick side. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has so much content in and out of the main story. The main story, however, will keep you busy long enough though. And yet, I still wish there were more.
But I’m getting off-topic. There are 15 floors and there seems to be only one elevator in the entire hotel and no stairs. So, when the ghosts steal all the elevator buttons, Luigi needs to go on the hunt for the buttons so he can explore different floors of the hotel in hopes to find his family. These buttons, of course, are held by boss ghosts.
Each floor contains a boss ghost holding onto a button. Most of these bosses are sort of like mini-bosses and some floors are fairly quick and easy because they’re a big boss. Meaning, they not only have an elevator button but they’re also guarding a portrait as well. The boss ghosts were all fun, each one harder than the previous boss. Most bosses had a puzzle to them in figuring out their attack style and also how to stun them long enough for you to suck them with the Poltergust G-00. The mini-bosses were easier, but there was always a puzzle of some sort that needed to be figured out so you could make it to the boss.
The floors all have different themes to them as well, which was pretty cool. Floor five was the room suites, for example. However, there was a fitness floor, a shopping floor, a pirate-theme floor, and so many other cool ones. My favorite? The dance floor. (I won’t say why due to spoilers, but if you play the game, I’m sure you’ll easily guess why that floor in my favorite.) Ghosts hide throughout all the areas in hallways and the rooms. However, they were few and far between.
In the first two Luigi’s Mansion games, you’d enter a room and be bombarded with ghosts. You’d have to catch them all to clear the room before being able to explore the room. In Luigi’s Mansion 3, it’s sort of the opposite. There are some rooms where there are ghosts right off the bat, but for the most part, you got to explore the room, did what you needed to, and then ghosts would appear after you did a certain something or tried to leave the room. Sometimes, no ghosts would appear at all until you went back to that room later. But here’s the thing – there’s never any real reason for you to go back to those rooms again later.
Especially at the beginning of the game, it seemed as though there were little to no ghosts in the hotel at all. This made the game a little too easy at first. Polterpup (and even E. Gadd) are there hand-holding once in a while as well. Even as the game picked up in difficulty, I missed walking into a room and being pestered by ghosts.
The Poltergust G-00 can do a lot. There is money all over the hotel and you can suck up anything. By anything, I mean couch cushions, plants, anything, and everything. I believed I vacuumed more of what I “shouldn’t” rather than ghosts.
In terms of what the Poltergust G-00 can do… well, it’s powerful. It can suck up things and it can also blow air out. Your flashlight is attached and you get the Strobulb, which was a mechanic introduced in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon. In fact, that’s the tool you use to save your friends from their framed fates.
It can do way more as well. E. Gadd added a Suction Shot where a plunger shoots out of the vacuum with a rope at the end. Luigi can suck up the rope and slam whatever object it’s stuck to. This helps him open certain things as well as move stuff that’s blocking his way. The Poltergust G-00 also has a Burst in which the vacuum shoots out a blast of air from the bottom almost like a rocket. It can blast enemies away from him and act as a jump mechanic for Luigi since he can’t jump otherwise in the Luigi’s Mansion series. In addition to all that, sucking up ghosts is easier as well.
In the previous games, you’d stun the ghosts and vacuum them by tilting the analog stick in the opposite direction the ghost was trying to pull away from. It works the same in Luigi’s Mansion 3 except a meter will appear above Luigi. If he holds on long enough, you’ll have the chance to hit the A-button. Keep doing so and Luigi will slam the ghost repeatedly into the ground knocking some of their health away each time. Plus, you can slam them into other ghosts that happen to get too close. They’ll flatten on the ground and also lose a bit of health and will automatically be stunned until they’re able to pick themselves back up.
There are two more mechanics the Poltergust G-00 can do. One was the Super Suction (I honestly can’t remember the name of it). It was only used twice in the entire game. You didn’t even get the mechanic until about halfway through. You got it, used it once. Then use it one more time at the end of the game – and no, not even for the final boss battle. It was a cool mechanic. The suction was powerful to the point that Luigi needed the vacuum to be plugged in order to do it and it ripped the walls right off. I didn’t see too much of a point to it. I would have rathered found a key for the door like the other floors instead of ripping the door, frame, and wall down to get where I needed to go. Especially since the mechanic was barely used at all.
The final mechanic was, of course, Gooigi. Gooigi can do a lot of things. He can do anything Luigi can (using the vacuum as normal) and can squeeze through grates, fences, and the like. However, he’s weak to water. That’s his only downfall. You can switch between Gooigi and Luigi. In fact, this gameplay is crucial in at least two boss battles. If you want to get to a certain place to get one of the collectible gems, for example (there are six gems on every floor to be collected), Gooigi will most likely be able to get to it. There are also some puzzles that require Luigi to be in two places at once.
This is also meant to be a co-op game where player two is Gooigi. You’re supposed to communicate and work together. I’m glad the game is playable with Gooigi by yourself though. It actually made certain parts of the game more challenging when I had to keep track of both of them.
I never got the chance to test out the co-op side of the game. I never even tried out the other two modes of the game – ScareScraper and Scream Park. Though I’ve seen others do it and they look like great modes.
Honestly, I can talk about this game for the next week. I have so much to say about it, I loved it that much. The ghosts and puzzles were just challenging enough. The dialogue, voice acting, and cutscenes were perfect. The final boss was awesome. The Boo hunting was back and it was much better than the first game, though there weren’t many – there was just one Boo per floor. There was so much money to find and gems to collect. I explored (and vacuumed) every nook and cranny of that hotel.
My only complaint? Once you beat the game, you go back to your last save point. There’s an ending sequence, but your file is still there and it doesn’t show as though you’ve beaten the game. It shows your final save point, which is right before the final boss battle. You can’t even go backward at that point either so you’re kind of stuck in this limbo. In other words, there’s nothing when you beat this game. In the original Luigi’s Mansion, your file was wiped and you restarted the game in Hard Mode. I so wish Luigi’s Mansion 3 did that. I would have loved to play a hard mode version of this game.
Overall, Luigi’s Mansion 3 didn’t disappoint. I still wish there were more ghosts to be caught initially rather than going back to look for them later, but it was fun and challenging nonetheless. The new mechanics fit well and it didn’t seem like a lot of extra “stuff” that needed to be learned. It meshed together well. I already want more and can’t wait for Luigi’s Mansion 4. (It better happen!) And yet, I’m not sure how Nintendo can top Luigi’s Mansion 3.
What can I say about the graphics? You can see the stitching on Luigi’s hat. These graphics are top-notch. The colors were crisp and bright, despite the dark setting. The ghosts were clear and had a nice aura around them. The backgrounds, individual rooms, and floors were unique and fun. Even the various boss ghosts had awesome designs. Again, everything about this game as a whole is fabulous.
The music is something else you can’t go wrong with. I’ve always loved E. Gadd’s theme from his laboratory in the original Luigi’s Mansion. I hum it to myself quite often on a regular basis (just ask Kris). This game so many different variants of that song, it was glorious (another reason the dance floor is my favorite). The sound effects were satisfying – sucking up ghosts, money, collecting gems, Luigi walking on carpet versus tiles – all of it was great.
The voice acting? I can’t get enough of it. Luigi speaks. Mario speaks. Peach and the Toads speak. They have conversations with one another. It was all great. (E. Gadd still talks like a Sim, but that’s charming in its own right.)
I will most definitely play this game again. I need to go back and collect all the gems and all the Boos. This game is too much fun to play only once. While it was pretty easy in the beginning and there weren’t as many ghosts as I would have liked, this game is too good. It’s charming and it’s a must-play for all – especially if you adore the Luigi’s Manion series. You won’t be disappointed.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 gets… 4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Title: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Publisher: Nintendo
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: November 18, 2011
How we got the game: We bought it
Skyward Sword was always one of our favorite Legend of Zelda games in terms of graphics, music, and story. We’ve only played through it once before, so we were interested in seeing how it held up this past couple of years when we dived into it again.
This is one of my favorite Zelda games for various reasons. I was eager to get to play it again after all these years.
Those who are familiar with the Legend of Zelda franchise would find most of Skyward Sword’s mechanics intuitive. As the protagonist Link, you maneuver through the world and its linear story using the analog stick on the Wii’s Wiimote and Nunchuk combo for controls. Special items are assigned one at a time to the B button while gear like shields and potions can be brought out with the 1 button on the Wiimote.Skyward Sword did utilize the Wii’s motion controls for Link’s swordplay.
The motion controls were unique and fun to use at the time the game released. After all this time, the controls hold up fairly well. Would we rather the Switch or no motion controls at all? Yeah, probably. Still, it’s fun to play it the “old-school” way.
Well, it’s mostly fun. I, for one, do find it a bit outdated in today’s age to use the Wiimote and sensor bar, especially for Link’s swordplay. It’s not as responsive as it used to be, but it’s definitely still playable. With that said, the controls still do well enough to enjoy the game, and it’s been interesting using the Wiimote and Nunchuk together.
It’s a fun throwback to say the least. Either way, the game itself is great. Link lives in the sky on Skyloft, a floating island. There is, beyond their knowledge, a world below them and that’s where Link ventures off to in search of Zelda. There are three major areas he travels to, going through various dungeons, collecting items, and battling bosses.
While Skyloft, and the surrounding floating islands and the sky around it, are explored by giant birds called Loftwings, the Surface areas are explored by foot. Side quests for citizens, both on Skyloft and on the Surface, are unlocked throughout the game, with some even being required to continue. Link also has a stamina gauge for more strenuous activities, like sprinting and carrying heavier objects, that will leave him temporarily vulnerable if it is depleted. It does take a bit of strategy to be sure Link does not run out of stamina during battles or puzzles.
Each dungeon Link comes across on the Surface has its own theme to it, which unravels more and more of the mystery behind the game as he gets closer to where Zelda is. The first dungeon, for example, has Ghirahim as a boss which is the main villain’s minion, if you will. I personally love this character.
I remember marveling at the graphics and art style of this game when we turned it on for the first time. The bright colors and vivid imagery of Skyloft and the sections of the Surface were stunning. Booting up the game now, the graphics aren’t quite as sharp as I remember, but I’m still enjoying the art style just the same.
Honestly, I still love these graphics. They’ve held up well even if you can clearly tell this is an older game. The designs overall – the characters, backgrounds, dungeons, etc. – are awesome.
You can never go wrong with the music in Legend of Zelda games. Skyward Sword has some of the best tunes, in my opinion, in the franchise. The Ballad of the Goddess is definitely one of my favorites. Considering this is a game where we have cried at certain scenes, the music is fantastic at helping to create emotional moments.
The Ballad of the Goddess is one of the best Zelda songs, hands-down. I loved the theme song to this game as well that played along with the opening sequence for the main menu. I listen to these songs on a loop in my car sometimes.
Skyward Sword is credited as the “origin” story of the Legend of Zelda franchise. In many timelines for the games, it is chronologically the first game in the series, and Skyward Sword’s story depicts Link and Zelda going on journeys to discover their destinies.
Obviously, we’re playing as Link. He doesn’t seem to know too much of what’s going. He knows he has a destiny to fulfill. However, all he seems to care about is that his friend Zelda fell from the sky and he wants to find and save her. Of course, he goes through some… stuff.
Link’s journey, at first, is in pursuant of Zelda, who has come to terms that she isn’t just a normal Skyloftian (yes, that is now a word). In fact, she is the reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia, just as Link will eventually come to terms that he is the reincarnation of the original Hero. While Zelda is preparing to become who she really is, Link must also do the same with the help of Fi, the spirit in his sword.
And so Link presses on and does what he needs to or what he’s supposed to do. Throughout it all, he just seems done with life, though. It’s kind of great.
It kind of is, yes. Link’s personality shines in this game! His determination to rescue Zelda and then protect the world when it becomes apparent that Zelda and he are trying to finish what Hylia started many years ago is perfect, even if he’d rather be napping. Even Groose, Link’s initial rival, plays a part in the story, helping Link when the main threat in the form of Demise appears to try to destroy the known world.
All of the characters, actually, sort of band together in their own way to help Link and Zelda at one point or another. The story as a whole is pretty wholesome as the beginning of something. It felt brand new even though the series itself has been well-established long before this game.
This game is probably one of the most linear Legend of Zelda games out there. Nevertheless, it does have a decent amount of secrets and a harder Hero Mode after the first finished playthrough as well as charming characters that will make you want to pick up the game again at a later date.
Even though this is the second time we’ve played it since it originally released in 2011, I know I’ll play this game again at some point. It’s too good.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword gets… 4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Link’s Awakening Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: September 20, 2019
How we got the game: We preordered the game from Amazon
My first time playing Link’s Awakening was ages ago on my Gameboy Color. I didn’t get very far at all, perhaps only to the second dungeon. To see it remastered for the Nintendo Switch was exciting, and I was looking forward to giving the game a real try.
I’ve never played this game. So, I was excited and it was interesting at the same time.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward for Link’s Awakening. As Link, you explore the land by moving with the analog stick, the 3D plane allowing you to move in diagonals and circles as opposed to the horizontal and vertical linear paths of the original version. Your sword and shield, when you retrieve them, are each given a Joy-Con button, while other items can be assigned by X and Y by the player.
Link waddles around the world and it’s just so cute! As he waddles around though, he needs to get into these specific dungeons so that he can collect instruments. The dungeons are hidden around the map and you usually have to solve someone else’s problem or a puzzle of some sort to get into the dungeons themselves.
The dungeons have their own themes, generally centered around the area they are located in, a key item, or a certain type of boss. Each of the dungeons’ rooms has a purpose, whether it’s to defeat all enemies or solve a puzzle in order to progress towards the boss room and, beyond that, the room that holds the instrument. It’s actually a fairly typical Legend of Zelda game, while notably being one of the few that does not have Zelda in it.
I honestly didn’t realize the game didn’t have Zelda in it at first. Somehow, that went over my head. As Kris said, the gameplay is typical of your average Legend of Zelda game. You explore the world, enter dungeons, and once you get through those dungeons and collect all you need, you get to fight the big boss. There are items you collect along the way, of course, to aid you on your quest such as bombs and, of course, the master sword.
This remake of Link’s Awakening also has a special mode with Dampe the grave keeper. Throughout your journey, you can collect chambers that can be used to create your own dungeons. It seems to be a watered-down version of Super Mario Maker but with Legend of Zelda dungeons.
It’s not as exciting as it sounds. You need to find pieces of the dungeons from the game throughout the world and then you can rearrange them to make your own dungeon. It’s not too bad though I would love to see a Zelda Maker at some point.
This game has been rightly praised for its graphics. They’re adorable! The land and character models all resemble clay-like dolls, and the cartoony style works. While I’m not sure if I would enjoy a longer Legend of Zelda game in this art style, I can fully appreciate it for Link’s Awakening.
The graphics are colorful and cute, I agree. I enjoy watching Link wander around also see the Goombas and Piranha Plants as well.
You can never go wrong with the music from a Legend of Zelda game, particularly one that revolves around finding instruments. The music is charming, with the tempo just right in every area.
My favorite song? Whenever Marin sings. Her voice is charming and it fits her character so well. All the music is great. I wouldn’t expect any less from a Zelda game though.
The story of Link’s Awakening begins with Link miraculously surviving a lightning bolt while out at sea. He washes ashore Koholint Island, where a young woman named Marin finds him and helps heal him until he wakes up. Link is told that he cannot leave the island until the island’s guardian the Wind Fish awakens, so Link sets off on a quest to obtain all of the instruments in order to wake the Wind Fish.
Link, along the way, meets some pretty interesting characters. Some that will help him and some that will hinder his quest. However, he has the one goal in mind – to get off the island. Why? Where was he headed before? Who knows.
Link’s Awakening is fairly linear and one of the shorter Legend of Zelda games. With that said, this game packs so much charm in it that I’d be surprised if it’s not a game that one picks up again for nostalgia purposes.
This is definitely something I’d play again if I ever got the itch. It’s a gem and I’m glad Nintendo remade it giving it time in the spotlight once again.
Link’s Awakening gets… 4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!