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Tag Archives: Games

Pokémon: An Anime Review

pokemon

There are some anime that really need no introduction. It takes a very special kind of story to captivate audiences for over twenty years. It would have to be the kind of story that has a little bit of everything that makes a story great.

That is exactly what Pokémon is, an anime that came at the right time with all the right elements for a great story. The anime first aired in 1997 and hooked fans from the start. The story had an interesting group of “pocket monsters” who were inspired by real animals and creatures. While starting in Japan it also became a huge hit in the United States. The television series spawned spin-off movies, trading cards, stuffed toys, games and all kinds of toys. New seasons of the show are still going, helping to inspire new trainers everywhere. 

A young boy named Ash is on his way to make his dreams come true. His world is full of amazing creatures called Pokémon. Pokémon can be tamed and trained to fight with the help of their human trainers. Most trainers form a very strong friendship with their Pokémon. Each Pokémon has special abilities based on what type of Pokémon they are. They can also evolve into a more powerful version of themselves. Ash and his new friends have many fun adventures in store as they gain new Pokémon allies and, of course, try to fend off the sinister group called Team Rocket.

Pokémon utilizes the tools to make a great story. The character’s have wonderful and sometimes even whimsical designs that intrigue the viewer. The real design stars, though, are the Pokémon themselves. They are drawn from real creatures and myths so so they, like the show itself are both something we know but also something magically different. The music is perfect with what is happening with the story line. The characters are interesting. They, like their Pokémon, also evolve throughout the series. 

I, like many other anime fans, grew up with Pokémon. It is a great anime that showcases the power of friendship and learning. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is kid friendly but also funny enough for anime fans of different ages. It also has a fantastic theme song. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created By Women: Candy Land

Some pretty fantastic games have some not so sweet origins. Some games have been created because of some dark reasons. However dark the beginnings of these games though they still bring joy and distraction for the players.

Candy Land is one such game. It was released by Milton Bradley, now Hasbro Games, in 1949. The game was created by school teacher Eleanor Abbott. Abbott contracted polio, which is a disease that can cause paralysis by the infection affecting the spinal cord and brain. While recovering in the hospital Abbott was surrounded by children who couldn’t move, children would be out in a machine to help them breathe called “the iron lung” that totally encased them. Seeing how these children suffered she wanted to find a way to help them pass the time. Immobility was a big problem for these children. They were stuck for most of their time in the hospital, and children back home were confined indoors for fear of the spread of the disease. Mobility would be the main part of the game for Abbott. 

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Candy Land has always been a brightly colored board game. The game is also very easy to play as it doesn’t even require the player to read. It was perfect as a way for children to play who were stuck indoors or if they were having a quick break from their treatments. The player picks a brightly colored token to play and sets them on the star of the path through the board. All candy themed with certain perils that can turn players around or force them to be stuck for a turn. The player moves by picking up a card, with colored squares on it that indicate how far they can move. It is a fun game of chance. 

Candy Land has been a popular game for children since 1949. It was a game that gave children without mobility a way to move. It has been a game to occupy children who are stuck inside. It is a game that multiple ages can play together. It has gone through some aesthetic changes throughout the years but it remains beloved. 

I would highly recommend Candy Land. It was created to help children. It has been able to entertain children for generations. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Mystery House

mystery house Some of the best inspiration for games can come from outside sources. Sometimes it is murder mysteries. Imagine a game where you are simply trying to get out of a house with some jewels but instead you start finding bodies instead.

Well that is the very basic plot for the game Mystery House.  This is an early video game whose concept was created by none other then Roberta Williams. Together she and her husband created what is now known as Sierra Online. Roberta decided to work on creating her own graphic adventure game. That game became the first ever graphic adventure game. It had six parts in total that were released from 1980-1982. roberta williams

The first game in the series is called Mystery House. When the player ends up trapped in an abandoned Victorian mansion is when the fun really starts. The player then starts to explore the mansion in a quest to find some jewels. What they find instead are other people who are staff there. Then people start dying. By using typing commands the player advances in this murder mystery game. Kind of like Clue but with earlier computer graphics. 

In comparison to today’s games the graphics are not much to write home about. However I think this game needs to be looked at with the knowledge of its time period. It was revolutionary for when it was made and we won’t have the game we have today without it. Because of that I think we can give it a pass from the judgement of music and graphics. The concept itself is great. There is a story behind the game with your objectives which makes it fun. 

Mystery House is an extraordinary game just in the fact that it was made. Not only by a woman mind you, but by an early indie company. This was a company that a married couple started together. Together they created a space for the kind of continent that they wanted to make. By doing so a space for Roberta and other female creators has been carved into the world of gaming. 

So thank you to Mystery House for being the first of its kind. Thankfully now we have many kinds of games and creators because of the work put into this game. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

Games Created by Women: Loopin Louie

louie There are few things in this world that are better than playing games with people you care about. Sometimes we forget how much it means to play games together when we are young. Or even how much it means to play with younger people for us. It brings families together. We get to watch children learn and adults get to let loose.

It also helps that “kids games” are just plain fun. While all games are meant to be engaging and challenging they do not always have the sense of fun that games from our childhoods have.  The design of Loopin Louie is a bright callback to the game design of the 1990s. It was designed by Carol Wiseley. Wiseley did a fantastic job of making sure to create a game that was not only entertaining but also something that would bring together all age groups.

The premise of Loopin Louie is that your madman neighbor Louie is at it again. He just has to fly his plane over your chickens. You are armed with a paddle to knock him away from your chickens. Louie loops and flies around until he can knock chickens off the board. The player with chickens still on the board wins.

The design of the game itself is well crafted for causing laughter. Louie is able to really fly and move around the board with the help of a battery operated device. This brings the game to a whole new level of interaction for the players. Everything is bright and moving. This is a great game for players age four and up!

Board games are a wonderful way to spend time together. Not only that but games can help younger players with their development. A game like Loopin’ Louie is also helpful for developing motor skills. Kids can laugh their way through learning hand eye coordination with their paddles. Gaming is a way to learn about life and also about each other.

If you are looking for a game to start with for your family I would highly recommend this one. It is both simple and yet challenging enough to be fun for all ages. Loopin Louie is the kind of game that will help get kids into gaming which will lead to a lifetime of fun.

 

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: Stardew Valley (2016)

Developed by ConcernedApe
Published by Chucklefish
Released: February 26th, 2016
Avabile: Steam, XBox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PSVita, IOS & Andriod

Let’s chat about Stardew Valley.

Years ago, I had gotten a GameBoy Advanced and found a game called Harvest Moon. I was obsessed with it. I would sit on the couch and play for hours, ignoring the world around me. I never thought I would find something like that again. I played other Harvest Moon games, but they weren’t the same. In comes Stardew Valley.

I was so excited when I saw it was coming out that I squealed and told everyone. I wanted everyone to hopefully experience the same wonder that I had playing Harvest Moon, I prayed that it would be amazing and was not disappointed. It blew away my expectations. 

Now that you know I love the game, let’s talk about the actual game.

You start off, unfortunately, with the passing of your grandfather, who hands you an envelope and tells you to open it when you are at your lowest. Next, you are seen working in a cubicle at Joja Corporation and obviously hating your job. You remember the note and open it. It’s telling you that you inherited a farm in Stardew Valley. Obviously, you drop everything and bounce. Peace, Joja.

You arrive in town and meet Robin, the carpenter, and Lewis, the mayor. They show you to your farm and tell you a few basics. 

There are 4 seasons and 28 days in each season. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. You plant crops according to the season. You go fishing, cook delicious food, upgrade your house, get farm animals, and, obviously, earn money. 

What’s better is that you are surrounded by these amazing NPCs that have their own stories, hardships and personalities. You can date and even marry several of them, regardless of gender. You can make friends with everyone. 

Their stories unfold and you really get pulled in, wanting to help these NPCs in their struggles. It’s really touching and extremely well written.

Not to mention fighting monsters in the mine, the festivals, the secrets and so many achievements. Also, the addition of multiplayer means you can farm with up to 3 friends. 

With several different farm map options, no real ‘end’ to the game, and the ability to decorate and change your farm around as you wish, the fun can be endless. 

I feel like Stardew Valley has something for everyone. It’s only $14.99 and with no paid DLC, the game is a steal. I only have 13 farms and over 300 hours in the game to prove it.

On a more personal note, this game has also gotten me through really tough times, depressive episodes, and moments when I had no strength left. I could turn it on and disappear for a few hours and come out feeling better. It’s always had a calming effect on me. I’m eternally grateful for that.

Oh, and if nothing I said above is impressive, this game was made by 1 person. The entire game, all aspects. 1 person. Let that sink in.

Do you play? What’s your favorite farm type? Who’s the best spouse? Show me screenshots of your farm!

Review: Detective Pikachu (the movie)

Image result for Detective pikachu movie

Is Pokémon: Detective Pikachu the very best video game movie, like no one ever was?

Well, the competition wasn’t exactly fierce.  But, yes.  Yes, it is. While I’m no longer the huge fan of Pokémon that I used to be, I had a good time watching this movie.

It’s interesting, based on the different reviews that I’ve read and watched, how many people don’t seem to realize that this “video game movie” is based on a specific video game in the Pokémon franchise: Detective Pikachu for the Nintendo 3DS.  I played and reviewed the game in anticipation for the movie’s release and really enjoyed it.  The film is a loose adaptation that follows the premise and some of the major story beats, but mostly does its own thing.

Tim Goodman, a young man who once dreamed of becoming a Pokémon trainer, travels to Ryme City after hearing that his father was killed in a car accident.  When he gets to the apartment, he discovers his father’s partner: a talking Pikachu that nobody else can understand.  Pikachu claims that Tim’s father, a renown detective, is still alive somewhere, and proposes that they team up to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  After a few mishaps, Tim reluctantly agrees.

A lot of reviewers have praised the film for bringing the world of Pokémon to life, and I’m going to join the chorus.  Wow.  I’m also not alone in saying that I would have been satisfied with a film that showed long, extended shots of this world and absolutely nothing else.

Detective Pikachu takes the game’s concept of Pokémon as partners and combines it with the more familiar world of the main series and the anime.  It’s established that kids like Tim do traditionally leave home and go on adventures to capture Pokémon.  Tournaments exist.  The Kanto region is mentioned.  However, none of the usual rules exist in Ryme City, which is specifically designed to be a place where battles are banned.  Pokémon and humans live side-by-side, as they do in the 3DS game.  It’s a treat to see all of the different Pokémon fitting in this live-action world in ways that you might expect to see them if they existed.

There are fun shout-outs to different parts of the franchise.  I know I missed a lot of them, having been out of the loop for so long, but there was still plenty for this Gen 1 fan to love.

Although this film did a wonderful job of realizing the world of Pokémon, it wasn’t perfect.  It started out strong, but I had some issues with the pacing of certain scenes.  Right as Tim meets Detective Pikachu for the first time, some Aipom attack the apartment and a chase ensues.  Immediately following said chase, Tim goes back to questioning why he can understand Pikachu.  And Pikachu, as voiced by Ryan Reynolds, makes nonstop quips throughout the scene. It all happens so fast that it’s hard to follow at times.  It wasn’t until the underground battle with Charizard when I really started to become invested again.

Speaking of which, that live-action battle was thrilling.  All of the action scenes were fun to watch and kept me interested in what was happening. And while many reviewers have stated that they found the story twists to be a bit too obvious, there were a few moments that caught me off guard.

And now I’m going to get a little controversial and admit that I didn’t find Ryan Reynolds to be as funny as I anticipated.  I thought he fit the role of Detective Pikachu better than his video game counterpart (Kaiji Tang), and I definitely laughed during the movie- just not as hard as I thought I would.  The character that got most of the best jokes was Psyduck.

But Reynolds did have some great chemistry with Justice Smith, who plays Tim Goodman.  And just as I predicted, I liked Smith’s version of Tim much better than the protagonist of the 3DS game.  He and Pikachu have some very heartwarming scenes together, as well as funny moments.

If you love everything about Pokémon, you should love this movie.  If you hate everything about Pokémon, then this movie’s not really for you.  Detective Pikachu embraces the source material instead of poking fun at it.  It’s not a perfect film, but it is fun, and I hope there will be sequels.  I’d rate it 7 out of 10 Pokéballs.

Games Created by Women: Centipede

250px-Atari0028For many gamers, there are fantastic memories associated with games from the 1980s. Between the accessibility of arcades and finally being able to play at home these games became a foundation for so many of us who like to game.

One such game was released in 1981. Centipede was sent out into the world by Atari and it has been a favorite ever since. Many quarters have been lined up on Centipede machines in arcades through the years. One of the creators of this game is Dona Bailey. Dona has truly been a pioneer for women in the field of programming.

 

If you choose to play this game you should know that you are our only hope. Using a gun at the bottom of the screen you must target and shoot down threats. These threats come down the screen in waves. The player must try to shoot them down with a gun at the bottom of the screen. You can only go so far and so fast so this game so it requires patience and skill. It is a lot of fun though!

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The game isn’t very complicated looking by today’s standards. However that is not to take away from the graphic design of it’s time. Centipede has a classic look and feel when being played. The concept is great. The music is timeless. So if you are looking for an old school game to play this is the one to get.

 

I would like totally recommend this game. It is a great game to start off with. It is also a great game for nostalgia feels. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!