Our good friend Jett over at In Third Person sent us a fun game called Exit The Game: The Sinister Mansion. There are quite a few of these games and while we’ve seen them around our local stores, we never picked it up with the intention of going back to it later. Now we finally had a chance to try the game out.
We played it when we went away with another friend for the weekend, and I was delegated to reading the directions and setting stuff up. Considering most of the supplies, as few as they were, were supposed to be a secret until you have reached that point in the game, there wasn’t much to do other than arrange the riddle and hint cards into their respective piles. The answer to each riddle gave you a three-digit code which, when put into the disk decoder, pointed you in the direction of the next riddle. In order to escape the mansion, we needed to solve all of the riddles and move through the rooms.
If Kris didn’t set it up, we wouldn’t have played. I would have accidentally spoiled it for myself by looking at something I shouldn’t have or I’d be too confused about it all and give up before the game even started. When we were presented with the first riddle, all three of us were confused and stared at each other – I think secretly hoping the others understood the question.
After a few minutes, we did eventually start to get it, even if we had a difficult time figuring out the answer. All of the riddles’ answers were presented to us, but some of them had unorthodox methods of solving, such as ripping up some other cards and going back to previous riddles to help us figure out the answers. It was definitely a challenge, but I enjoyed trying to figure out everything. Yet, I think it would have been more fun if there was more set-up, if you will, to the game. We were comfortably sitting on the couch around the coffee table with all the supplies surrounding us, but for an “escape room,” it seemed odd just sitting there.
I was under the impression that we would need to find materials around our house to, you know, escape the room. While that wasn’t the case, it was still a fun, interactive game. The riddles, while they had hints, didn’t come with directions on how to solve them (obviously) but that’s a reason I wouldn’t be able to play myself. I’d use up every hint and still lose. But one fun part about playing with others was that we all interpreted the riddles differently sometimes. It helped us all think outside the box and view the riddles from a different angle.
I believed that the person reading the directions would help set up stuff around the house as well. Still, it was a fun activity and it’s good to know that, between Rachel, our friend, and me, we’d be able to escape a creepy mansion, with a few hints here and there, of course. Even with all three of us, though, we did miss a couple of supplies that the game provided. For example, a riddle needed a clock face and we tried to sketch one out on paper to find the answer. Much later, we realized that there was a ready clock face provided to us on the back of the decoder circle.
Oh, right. I forgot about the clock. In the house we were in, the only non-digital clock that had a face was hanging high above the wall. Otherwise we would have taken it down and used that as a prop. We somehow got the right answer though. See? Thinking outside the box!
Speaking of thinking outside the box, my favorite instance of that was our friend totally skipping a couple of steps during the last riddle to actually escape the manor. We were supposed to use a paper door and peephole to find a code, but she kind of just ignored the code, found the number we were looking for, and we were free! The ranking of how well your group does is based on how long it takes you to escape the manor — we took a little over an hour and a half — as well as how many hint cards you had used. I can’t remember what exactly our rank was, but it was average, I believe. It was a fun thing to do, but due to ruining some of the supplies in the process and, of course, figuring out the riddles, it’s a game you can only play once. Still, give these games a try if you have the opportunity!
Have you ever tried a game from The Exit series? What did you think? If you liked 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!
A game that has always been near and dear to my heart has been Dragonvale. It was the first mobile game I played when I first got an iPod way back in the day.
Dragonvale is a mobile game from Backflip Studios. It’s the mobile game I played for years before stopping. I’ve gone back to it quite a few times throughout the years just to see what’s new and it always sucks me back in – though not for very long.
The main point of Dragonvale is to raise dragons. There are hundreds of different kinds of dragons for you to breed, hatch, and raise by giving treats that you grow on your farm. You need to buy special habitats for your dragons depending on what kind they are and also organize them in a way that’s neat. Well, I guess you can throw their habitats around however you want. However, Dragonvale is actually a park. There are visitors who will come and little people will be wandering around to look at your dragons.
You start off with one island. The game, as a tutorial, gives you the Plant dragon as well as the Plant habitat. It shows you how to breed and wait in real-time for the eggs to hatch. Once they do, you plop them in their own habitat and wait for them to make money. Each dragon earns a certain amount of coins per minute so after a few hours, you can collect more money thus building more habitats so you can have room to breed more dragons. Eventually, you can buy more islands so you can fit more habitats and slowly grow your Dragonvale.
Like most games where you have to collect in-game money and wait in real-time, the beginning of the game is awfully slow. You can’t afford anything so it’s a huge waiting game. Once you finally get enough and get the ball rolling though, you can really rake in the cash and grow your Dragonvale fast.
At the time of writing this article, there are about 557 dragons in the game. There are elemental dragons such as air, cold, dark, earth, fire, light, lightning, metal, plant, and water. There are also special dragons such as ghost dragons and seasonal dragons for summer, winter, etc. Epic dragons are the rarer ones such as dream, legendary, sun and moon, and more. There are also gemstone dragons (which are considered epic dragons) and those dragons give you gems instead of coins. However, instead of earning a certain amount of gems per minute like the coins do, the gems are earned each week.
This is because gems are sort of like the “micro-transactions” of the game. You can pay for a lot in the game with coins – islands, habitats, dragon eggs, decorations, buildings (such as your farm), and more. However, the more you buy, the higher the level the next one will be. Eventually, it’ll cost gems.
When I first started playing this game, gemstone dragons didn’t exist. The only way to get gems was to have Facebook friends and gift a single gem to one another or you could pay real money.
You can pay real money for gems or coins, but I have never spent a single penny on this game. Before gemstone dragons existed, I waited for my gems to slowly build. (Your dragons can also participate in races as well and sometimes gems are a reward for winning.) Now that gemstone dragons do exist, I still wait for it to slowly build but it’s at least a little faster and easier. (Especially since no one I know plays the game anymore.)
Your dragons don’t do too much other than look pretty in their habitats and make money. They will grow and level up if you feed them food that you grow from your farm. As they level up, they’ll earn more coins per minute. Of course, each time they level up you have to feed them slightly more food for the next level. Food, especially when first starting the game, is something else that depletes quickly.
The game has a lot of special events as well. During holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, you’ll get to earn tokens such as candy corn or rose petals that can be used to trade for different rewards. These rewards are usually decorations pertaining to the holidays or dragons that pertain to the holiday – some of these dragons only appear as rewards for these events.
However, you can breed every type of dragon. It’s trial and error though. There are so many different element combinations and the rarer dragons have a lower percentage of actually being bred.
Backflip Studios has added a lot to Dragonvale over the years. There are now Rift Dragons which is sort of in a different dimension? I don’t fully understand how the rift area or the dragons work so I won’t get into it. I kind of ignore the area because I don’t know what to do with them.
I would love to get back into the game again. It has a lot of fond memories of myself and friends playing it. Plus, I’ve made it so far. (I’m level 72 or something like that.) However, with the various special events (every time I log on there’s something extra going on) and the constantly new dragons and updates, it’s become almost overwhelming. I understand having plenty of content but once you get so far into the game you have a lot and more keeps adding on. Plus, the screen looks a bit cluttered because of all the things you can do.
It’s also super slow to load now. I’m not sure if that’s because of the game or because my iPad is 4.5-years-old.
Dragonvale gets a rating of…
PLAY IT | Download It | Delete It
Overall, Dragonvale is a fun, mindless game. The cash flow is satisfying when you build up your islands enough and the various types of dragons are creative. This one of those games where you won’t play forever, but it’s fun for a little while.
Have you played Dragonvale? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this post, please share it around.
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!
The Nintendo Switch Lite has been out for a month and we’ve figured out ours. When the Switch Lites were first announced, we pretty much knew we were going to get them. We did, however, think about whether or not they were needed, especially since we were concerned with how the save data would work between our original Switch and our Switch Lites. We did eventually figure it out enough to start enjoying our Lites, even if there was a bit of a hiccup when it came to having them delivered.
We pre-ordered the Switch Lites on our own Amazon accounts. Unfortunately, Amazon has been messing up many of my orders all year. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me when my Switch Lite never arrived. Kris got hers on September 20, the same day it was released. Mine came a week later after reaching out to Amazon twice. Better late than never, right?
I did wait for Rachel to receive hers so we could open the Switch Lites together. The size of the Lites versus the original Switch weren’t too bad, with the Lite fitting comfortably in both of our hands and the screen being a decent size for handheld gaming, neither of which were very surprising. We turned them on and dived into setting them up, having slight difficulties in connecting with the WiFi because our network extender was apparently tired, and it was absolutely strange to see a blank slate where we were used to seeing… I don’t even know how many games we have on the original Switch.
I’m pretty sure we have well over 100 games on the Switch and now my Switch Lite has… maybe ten? It certainly is weird to see the lack of games that makes it seem like I don’t own too many games when I do. However, when it came to setting up the Lite, we had to download our saved game data from the cloud. I thought we could do this with every game, but… we can’t.
Yes, if a game cannot have save support through the cloud, we cannot download the data onto our secondary Switches, which is what we’re using the Lites for. While I don’t think there’s too many games that have this restriction, it’s still annoying. The Lite may be easier to carry around due to its smaller size and lighter weight, but there are a few hoops to jump through in order to prepare it for playing. Even still, once you do redownload the games and the save data through the cloud, the Lite likes to be connected to WiFi — or check to see if you’re connected every three hours or so — in order to play. It’s a little difficult to be connected constantly if you’re using it on the go.
We have well over 100 games on our main Switch and while some of those games were gifts to each other or from other people, we usually go in 50/50 on the games. However, even though we both pay for the games, we usually downloaded them from the eShop of Kris’s profile. So, the majority of those games, I can’t download on my Switch Lite. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that because there are some games I would love to have on the Lite, my own Switch, but would it make sense for me to download it when I could always just pick up the regular Switch and play it on that? As for the wifi… I don’t know why they advertised it as portable if it can’t hold onto the Internet or needs to check it every few hours. I’m looking forward to testing that out in the car when we go away for Thanksgiving.
Yes, for some reason, we heard that the games downloaded from the eShop are “locked” on the primary Switch’s account that bought it. There are a couple of more things regarding that issue that I want to test, but at the moment, it seems like it’s to prevent people from sharing games, which doesn’t make sense. I understand that, to be fair to developers, people should buy their own games rather than share, but if a game was bought for a family, then I do not understand the restriction. I’m hoping there’s a workaround considering that Rachel and I are on the family online plan, but we’ll still have to see regarding that. Despite all that, we are actually enjoying our Lites, even with these hiccups. It’s nice to be able to play our own games at the same time!
Hiccups indeed, though I am happy to finally have an extra console or two so we can play games together. Considering I get a lot of review codes and Kris has been addicted to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, we don’t need to share the Switch to play what we want or need to. Plus, I can’t wait to play Pokemon Sword and Shield together! Something else we need to look out for, though, is that some games aren’t available in Handheld mode. For example, we still can’t play those certain mini-games on Super Mario Party where you connect the Switch consoles together.
Yes, that’s another downside to the Switch Lite. Which is a bit of a shame, as I feel like we’re only talking about the Switch Lite’s cons rather than pros. Granted, I don’t believe the Switch Lite is something that everyone needs. Considering we do both enjoy playing games at the same time, it’s something that we’ve obviously been using, but the constant WiFi, some games missing from the cloud, digital games unable to be shared between Switches and accounts, and some games not having a handheld mode may very well be big deal-breakers for consumers. Not only that, the Switch Lite has only 32 gigabytes of storage, making it necessary for the majority of gamers to invest in SD cards. While those aren’t as expensive as they used to be, it’s an additional cost with the $200 console whose first-party games tend to run at about $60. With all this said, the Switch Lite is being loved in this household, haha!
That’s fair, we are talking a lot about the cons rather than the pros. However, we’re still enjoying the Lites and I definitely do not regret buying them. While the cons are pretty big, I do think it’s nice to have an extra Switch around that’s $100 cheaper. Even though I can’t play most of the games we already own, I can still use the big Switch. However, there will be some games we may buy two copies of… Stardew Valley, for example. We’d love to play co-op in that game but we can’t because I can’t download it onto my profile. (Also, then two profiles would technically be playing the same copy, so… I understand that one.) Still, the Switch Lite overall is pretty great. I’m enjoying it and have played it a lot.
Do you have a Switch Lite? What do you think of it? Let us know about them in the comments below! If you like this post, please share it around.
Title: Super Mario Maker 2 Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, Platformer
Release Date: June 28, 2019
How we got the game: We bought it on the Nintendo Switch eShop
Pssst…. There may be story or gameplay spoilers in this review! You’ve been warned!
Super Mario Maker 2 was highly anticipated as soon as it was announced. People went crazy for this sequel, especially with all of the new tools and options that came with it. We were no exception.
I enjoyed the first Super Mario Maker though I didn’t have too many people to play it with. I’m excited to finally have more options and more people to create and beat courses with.
There are several modes for this game. A story mode — which we give more details about in one of the below sections — the course world mode, and the course creator mode, of course. The course world mode, along with the course bot, allows the players to attempt to complete levels that other players around the world have created and uploaded.
This is, in my opinion, the best part of the game. Of course, you have some levels that are super easy or levels that troll you hard. Still, it’s all in good fun. The best part about this though is that they added a co-op option. You have to download the game in order to play two-player, but that’s not too bad. Kris and I can play through certain levels which is a lot of fun – and frustrating at the same time. There are some levels that I don’t know are best suited for single players or not.
It was definitely great to try to play a few levels with you, although we did get in each other’s way quite a bit, haha! With that said, there is the tagging system in Super Mario Maker 2 — I’m afraid I cannot remember if the first Super Mario Maker had a tagging system — and one of the tags were for multiplayer versus. Eventually, I’d love to play with some friends and Nintendo has promised that an update would happen that will allow us to do so.
I don’t think the first game had a tagging system. At least, I very quickly forgot about it if it did have a tagging system. With all the additional tools you can use to create courses, the levels are way more fun, challenging, and extra creative. Though, we did try to create a course together since there’s co-op on that mode.
That was a bit annoying, in my opinion. The first player has access to many of the buttons, almost as the director of the scene, while the second player can only select and put down so many elements. Granted, we also skipped the tutorial, so I can admit that perhaps we missed a couple of things, haha! Regardless, it was easier to create a level with one person at the controls, either with the Joy-Con or using the Switch’s touchscreen in handheld mode while the second person gave their advice and opinion.
Skip the tutorial or not, we tried a lot of things and played it both in the handheld and docked. Plus, if I was in the middle of something and you decided to do something, being the first player, my action automatically got canceled. So, I agree. It’s definitely better to create a course yourself or docked with people throwing ideas while one is behind the wheel.
This game has the beloved modern Mario graphics that the current games have brought to life. When it comes to creating and playing courses, the game also includes the graphics and art styles — with some updates — of several Super Mario games in the series, including Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Super Mario 3D World.
The graphics, of course, are as they should be. They all look great on the Nintendo Switch, even the older game graphics. They stay true to their games as well. The end of the older games has that hurdle thing you have to jump through while the newer games have the flagpole for you to reach the top.
The music is the good, familiar Super Mario music as well, and the game allows you to add crazy sound effects to parts of your levels, too. I think one of my favorite aspects of the game is when we’re building our own courses and every tap you do to add a new element plays the next note of the Super Mario theme.
Yes, depending on what “theme” you have set from the different Mario games, the music is pretty much the same. It’s refreshing and well done. Plus, when you create a course, a robotic voice says what the object is as you place it. If you place a lot at once, it says the object’s name to the tune of whatever theme you’re in.
New to the Super Mario Maker series, the sequel has a Story mode, which allows the players to go through over 100 Nintendo-created courses in order to earn coins to help rebuild Princess Peach’s castle after the mischievous Undo Dog obliterated it.
The story mode is, in fact, a tutorial of sorts. The Nintendo courses range in various levels of difficulty but they’re all fun and show off all the new and old tools you can plus, plus different ways to use them to make a course unique. I’ve really enjoyed going through the story mode courses.
There is literally no possibility for any repeat courses here. Each level is as unique as the person (or people) that created them. There are plenty of ways to filter out and categorize levels with tags and difficulties, and there are millions of courses already published for others to enjoy.
This is definitely a game that we’ll be playing on and off for quite a while.
Super Mario Maker 2 gets… 5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Stardew Valley Developer: ConcernedApe Publisher: Chucklefish, ConcernedApe
Platform: Steam, Mobile, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch
Category: Simulation, Role-playing
Release Date: Originally February 26, 2016
How we got the game: Bought it on Steam and Nintendo Switch
Pssst…. There may be story or gameplay spoilers in this review! You’ve been warned!
Stardew Valley is the game that I wish the Harvest Moon series was. With the main focus on just building the farm of your dreams and forging relationships with the people in the town, it takes away all of the gimmicks that the more recent Harvest Moon games have become known for. This particular review focuses more on the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
Gameplay for Stardew Valley is pretty simple and intuitive. With the main objective being to spruce up your farmland so it, you know, actually grows stuff, you spend your time doing various tasks that will help you better not only your farm but also the community of Pelican Town.
As your character, you clear out your farmland using various tools, such as an axe and pickax to break up lumber and stone. The hoe and watering can come in handy for planting and growing crops, and there are specific tools like the shears and milker if you have any animals on your farm. When not on your farm, you can forage for items around the forest, town, and the mines, which is also a handy place to gather ore, gems, and other material to improve your farm. Fishing is a leisurely activity that can still net you some in-game money as well as some staple cooking ingredients.
Another core mechanic is developing your relationships with the people in Pelican Town. There are plenty of friends to make in town, either by talking to them daily, giving them gifts, and random events. There are even marriage candidates, regardless of gender, that you can woo and, if you’d like, have a child with down the line.
While the game is pretty open-ended, giving the player tons of choice in what they want to do, there is a Community Center. The Community Center stars off rather rundown, but that can be restored by completing tasks called bundles. Completing these bundles will grant you rewards, such as opening up new areas for your character to go or special tools and makers to make life on the farm a little easier. Or you can buy a Joja Membership and get it turned into a warehouse.
A unique aspect of this game is the combat system. It’s simplistic, considering the game is mainly a farming simulator, but when exploring the mines, there are monsters and enemies to vanquish. These monsters drop loot and material, and you can usually find stronger weapons while exploring or buy items from the Adventurer’s Guild.
With the latest updates of the game, you can also farm together with friends in online co-op mode. Build a cottage or three on your farm for your friends to live, and you can all build up the farm together. Your friends can also get married to the local bachelors and bachelorettes… and you, if you want.
The graphics of this game are well done, going the pixel style route. The characters all look unique, easily distinguishable from each other, and they even have little animations — shocked faces, laughter, eating — that are fun to watch depending on their dialogue.
I absolutely adore the music in this game. Each tune is charming and pixel-perfect, and I find myself streaming the soundtrack on Spotify when not playing the game. The main winter theme is probably my favorite!
Tired of the uninspiring city life as an office drone, the main character inherits their grandfather’s old farm in Pelican Town, a small town filled with all sorts of interesting characters just living their lives in the valley. The farm itself is dilapidated at first, but with hard work and perseverance, the main character focuses on restoring it to its former glory while carving out a life for themselves. The story is directed by the player.
While at the start of your third year on the farm, you get evaluated on your accomplishments, there is no true end point to Stardew Valley. Even if, at that time, you do not like your evaluation, you can trigger another evaluation to earn more points at any time with version 1.1 of the game.
With five different farm plots to choose from, twelve eligable marriage candidates regardless of your character’s gender, a plethora of items to farm, forage, and ship, and literally any way you wish to grow your farm, you will not be bored with Stardew Valley. Not only is it tons of fun to play on your own, you can also play co-op with up to four people tending to the same farm.
Stardew Valley gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Yahtzee is a simple enough game of chance with the main components of the game being five dice. It’s a game that we used to play all the time eons ago while vacationing with family, but we haven’t played it in a long time until recently.
I house-sat recently and we were going through the games they had. Admittedly, they didn’t have much and while we planned on playing something new, we saw they had Yahtzee and just had to play it again.
You have a scorecard that details what kind of rolls you should be aiming to get with your three shakes of the dice. The top part of the scorecard has you counting the numbers that you roll, such as twos and threes, while the bottom part is a little more complicated with three of a kind and full house. Of course, there is the Yahtzee part of the scorecard, where you can get fifty points for having all the dice land face up as the same number.
With each roll, you can take out certain dice that you want to keep if you’re trying to aim for a certain score. For example, if you have three threes, you want to take them out so you can aim for a full house by getting two fours, for example, or even a Yahtzee by getting two more threes. Of course, when we played, my luck was not with me.
I ended up winning all three games, haha! Honestly, Rachel tends to have higher luck in games of chance than me, so I was surprised. It’s a game that you can probably play just about anywhere as long as you have the dice and a pen and paper to keep score.
I kept rolling high which is more than I can say when we play DnD, but I couldn’t get the numbers that I needed. Once you get a score for something, you can’t score it again – even if it happens to be better. There’s also some strategy to the game too though which makes it so much harder. There’s a “chance” score where you can just count up the total of the dice and put that down as your score. However, there’s always the possibility of you scoring higher later. If you need to get some scores for having certain numbers, which one do you go for? It’s all chance.
It is just all chance. The game ends when everyone has something filled in on all spots of their scorecard, even if you’ve taken zero points as certain scores. You cannot pass your turn — rather, we’ve never played it that way — as I’m sure otherwise the game would be a lot longer than it really is. It’s a good game to pass the time and it’s fun to see just how the dice will roll for everyone.
It’s definitely one of those “classic” games to play. It’s great to play with friends but it’s also not a bad game to play with yourself either. Yahtzee is just a win overall.
Yahtzee 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!