WHAT? Picross 3D is a sort of sequel to other handheld Nintendo Picross games (see here and here) which finds the user chipping away at numbered blocks in a puzzle like manner in order to reveal a picture. It’s sort of part puzzle, part sudoku, part trinket collecting, and more. And it’s really addictive
WHY? I gave this game a shot a few months ago and since then I’ve been thinking about it nonstop. The simple puzzle mechanics of the game combined with the ability to work towards an end where you get something (hey, everyone loves a blocky dolphin) has got me hooked. It takes just enough brainpower to keep the player learning and working towards a goal and at the same time saves just enough energy for fun.
WHO? I really think Picross 3D could be a gateway drug into video gaming for many non gamers. When I play the game, I imagine it having the potential on a non gamer as say, something like Angry Birds has had on the world…something that sucks up time, is enjoyable, and requires some planning to play. The game will require a tough sell though…”hey, you figure out puzzles by decoding numbered blocks and the prize you get is a blocky dolphin/dog/Nintendo character”. I recommend talking up the game as an investment. It is something that may seem clunky at first, but the potential for a rewarding experience are there.
WHAT? To celebrate Mario’s 25th birthday, Nintendo has cobbled together this collection of Mario history. The package includes a direct port of the Super Nintendo game Super Mario All Stars (which includes Super Mario Brothers 1-2-3 and the Lost Levels), a music CD of musical selections and sound FX from the Mario catalog, and a small book with Mario artwork and insight from the creators.
WHY? Libraries should be purchasing this game for the simple fact that it gives patrons who own the Nintendo Wii a chance to enjoy 4 wonderful games. The only other way to get these games is to download them through the Wii shop channel. The addition of a music CD and history booklet also adds to the appeal of this package and will give patrons a good example of the rich (and still greatly underappreciated IMHO) history of video games.
My biggest beef with this set is that IT COULD’VE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER. Add Super Mario World into the mix as well as more cuts from Mario’s musical history and right there is a better package. Oh well. That’s just coming from a hardcore Mario fan like me. Your patrons won’t notice the difference.
WHO? Anyone with a Wii and an interesting in discovering their video gaming roots should check this out. It also might be a good purchase for educators looking to use Super Mario in the classroom (HINT HINT PLUG PLUG CLICK ME)
After our recent post on iPhone photography apps, a few people asked me about cool Android photo apps, but seeing as I don’t have an Android phone, I couldn’t really recommend any.
Today I came across this post reviewing the top 20 Android apps for pics at the web design blog Hongkiat.com, and I figured I’d share it with y’all. [N.B. - beware the upper right-hand corner of the site, if you scroll over it by accident, a video auto-plays. Boo!]
Do you have a favorite mobile photo app? Let us know in the comments!
Oh HAI 8bitlibrary readers! I’ve been part of the 8bit team for awhile now, but have spent most of my time sendin out ur tweetz. But now I am up in ur blog, typin up posts! (Ok, sorry, I’m done with that now. Just had to get it out of my system, ya know?)
Aaaanyway, I just found an excellent new app for my iPhone called Instagram. If you like Hipstamatic (another awesome iPhone photo app) you’ll love Instagram. The difference? Well, Hipstamatic is an app that lets you apply different virtual lenses and film-types to your smartphone pics. The resulting photos have a vintage, washed out or color saturated effect, often with burn-out or frayed edges, depending on the lens-film combo you choose. Here’s an example (which is of course of my cat.)–>
To save yourself some time and trouble (although playing around with the app is half the fun) check out Photojojo’s Ultimate Hipstamatic Guide, which demonstrates the effects of all 336 lens-film combinations.
The downside to Hipstamatic? For one, the viewfinder is tiny, and not very accurate. You’ll spend time trying to get your subject right where you want it, only to have it be out of place once the picture is taken. Also, it only works with pictures you take through the app. As in, if you want a Hipstamatic-style pic, you need to take the picture with the Hipstamatic app.
Enter: Instagram. It’s free (unlike Hipstamatic, which will run you $1.99, plus an extra $.99 per new lens/film package, of which there are currently five.) Also, it allows you to apply filters to pics you already have in your iPhone’s photo library, as well as take pics through the app. Finally, Instagram allows you to find and invite your friends, and creates a feed of your/their photos, which you can then “like” or comment on.
This feature adds tons of value to the app, since once you get decent at creating quality photos, you really want to share them with others. The app will even let you post to Facebook and/or Twitter, for even wider sharing potential.
Some examples of Instagram shots:
As of the time I’m posting this, Hipstamatic and Instagram are iPhone-only apps. For Android users, try picplz (which also has an iPhone app, but I have not tried it.)
Hipstamatic review (BoingBoing)
Instagram review (ReadWriteWeb)
Picplz review (TechCrunch)
WHAT: Combining elements from Counter-Strike, the Horde mode from Gears of War 2, and the kind of visceral shooting action from the Call of Duty games, Killing Floor is a game that is light on story but heavy on scares, firepower, and teamwork. While it won’t dethrone the King of the Co-Op Zombie Killing Hill, the Left 4 Dead series, Killing Floor is great for short sessions of pure action game play. You and up to five other players take on the role of special military and police forces as you work to clear various areas in post-apocalyptic London of bizarre and grotesque specimens that are the result of (what else) science gone terribly, horribly wrong. You’ll fight against hulking creatures that have chainsaws welded onto their arms, quick and fast specimens that can turn invisible, creatures that resemble overgrown rats with spikes sticking out of their backs, and numerous other vile things, all against the back drop of abandoned farms, office buildings, raves, and even an insane asylum. The specimens come in waves, and the players have an opportunity to visit a trader and upgrade their equipment between waves. Last until the final wave, and you take on the Patriarch, a specimen that wields a chain gun and a rocket launcher and can turn invisible. You can weld doors shut to help slow down specimens, but they’ll eventually get through your barricade. You can use a med-kit to heal, but it takes time for the med-kit to recharge, so you can’t use it constantly. In short: you’re probably not getting out of here alive.
WHY: Killing Floor is a cooperative game; players work together to achieve a common goal–namely, killing zombie-like creatures. It promotes and encourages good communication skills, communal strategy development, and watching your friends’ back. Like most multiplayer FPS games of late, Killing Floor uses a class system. Before each game, players pick one of several perks, which gives boons to weapons and abilities and discounts to items at the trader. For example, the Commando perk grants the player additional damage with assault rifle weapons, faster reloading, and a discount on assault rifles at the trader. Sharpshooters get damage bonuses on headshots. Support Specialists can weld doors faster. If your skill with the keyboard-and-mouse doesn’t allow you to be a pinpoint sniper, maybe you want to be a Field Medic, whose primary responsibility is to heal your teammates. Like things that go ‘splodey? Then you’re fit for Demolitions, who specialize in grenade launchers and other explosive weaponry. With the players relying on each other so heavily, everybody has a place in this game.
WHO: With this being a cooperative games as opposed to a competitive one, gamers who want to work as a team in an intense game play environment but don’t want the difficult experience that competitive play can be will find much to love here. However, between the constant threat of danger, impending sense of doom, often panicked pace, and buckets and buckets of gore, this is NOT a game for children or the faint of heart. If the films 28 Days Later or its sequel 28 Weeks Later is too much for you, this game is probably too much as well. Also, most libraries focus on games as a service for kids and teens, but there are lots of adults that game as well–this would be an ideal game for an adults-only gaming night, what with the blood and violence and disturbing imagery.
All we wanna do is…oh, you know the song. And if you don’t, here ya go.
There’s no lack of great zombie-themed video games out there, but if you’re trying to expand your tabletop offerings at your library, one game you’ll want to invest in is the excellent Zombie Dice from Steve Jackson Games. It’s unique in that usually zombie games have you in the role of a human trying to survive and take out as many zombies as possible; in Zombie Dice, players take on the role of zombies trying to consume as many delicious brains as possible.
Quick to play and easy to explain, Zombie Dice is a game of chance with a heavy gambling element. After gathering your players and designating a scorekeeper, you determine who goes first by seeing who can moan “braaains” with the most feeling (aside: this is the greatest way to determine first turn EVER). That player then takes the dice cup, with all 13 dice in it, and shakes it up. They draw three dice (representing three victims) from the cup at random and roll those dice. You have three possibilities for each dice:
–Brain: You scarf that victim’s brain! Set that dice aside.
–Footprint: That victim made tracks. That dice stays on the table.
–Blast: Somebody was carrying a shotgun, and decided to fight back. Set that dice aside as well.
As a kicker, there are three different colored dice (green, yellow, and red). Green dice are easy victims, yellow are tough victims, and red dice are…well, they’re in the zombie-killing business, and business is good. The tougher the dice/victim, the more likely you are to roll a blast.
After the initial roll, the player can choose to keep going or stop. If they keep going, they re-roll any footprints AND draw new dice to replace any brains or blasts (you’ll always roll three dice). They’ll keep setting dice aside as necessary until they decide to stop OR they get three blasts. If the player decides to stop and they have less than three blasts, they score one point for each brain they have. If they get three or more blasts before they decide to stop, their turn is over and they score nothing.
Players take turns and continue keeping score until one player has a score of at least 13. At that point, everybody else takes one more turn and the player with highest score wins!
Everybody loves zombies. If you don’t believe me, Google search “zombies” and let me know when you get to the end of the over 23 million results. Hang out at your local comic shop and see how many times zombie apocalypse survival plans are discussed. Ask a teenage boy what “Rule #2″ is and he’ll likely respond “double tap.”
See what I mean? People love zombies; gamers especially.
What’s more, this game is so easy to grasp and quick to play that there’s not too many people who won’t enjoy. It’s fun to play in small or large groups, it can be approached as a deep exercise in strategy or a quick hit against the odds, and it allows for a great opportunity to use your imagination. No matter what kind of gamer you are, you’ll enjoy it.
Zombie Dice is relatively inexpensive ($13.99 MSRP, $10.73 on Amazon.com), offers up lots of personality and game play excitement, is easy to learn, and is never the same game twice. It accommodates a broad range of demographics and gamer skill levels. It’s the perfect game for libraries!
WHAT? If you want a game that is fun, relaxing, or fills you with joy, stop reading this review right now: you will not like Limbo. However, if you enjoy games that present you with thought-provoking narratives and puzzles that are frustrating in their difficulty but ultimately rewarding–if you enjoyed Braid, Portal, Half-Life 2, Bioshock, or Batman: Arkham Asylum–then Limbo, available exclusively for Xbox Live Arcade, is the game for you. Presented with film-grain black-and-white graphics that possess a classical depth and richness and telling the simplest of stories (“Unsure of his sister’s fate, a boy wakes to find himself in limbo.”), this game is a platform puzzler that refuses to give anything to the gamer, requiring precision timing and careful observation of one’s environment, Limbo is a deep-thinking game that begs to be digested in whole, even if in small dosages. It falters a bit near the end, relying more on luck as the gamer nears the final puzzles, but it’s hard to believe that even that element wasn’t part of Playdead Studios’ plan all along.
WHY?Aside from tense game play and a so-simple-its-complicated plot, Limbo challenges gamers on another level as well. The main character is a boy–that’s made very clear–and he dies many gruesome deaths (it’s part of the game play actually: sometimes, the only way to figure out a puzzle is to die so that you may start over again). These deaths are always shown in silhouette, so it’s not as graphic as it could be, but some of the imagery is unsettling, especially when cast against the frightening environments (chiefly a forest and a factory). It’s the kind of game that makes you ask question of yourself and challenges you to confront realities you’d rather not–it’s a video game that is unquestionably art. And what better institution to take a stake in this game-that-is-art than a library?
WHO? Limbo is not a game for the younger set; I’ll even break proper librarian protocol by skipping over the “it’s up to each parent to determine what is appropriate for their child” disclaimer, as I don’t see how any parent could let their child play this unless they were quite, quite mature. Despite it’s brutal difficulty and open-ended, philosophical narrative, the disturbing imagery was almost too much for me; I can only imagine how terrible it would be for a child. There is an option to turn off the gore in the game, so it’s possible to experience the game without the death scenes, but I’m not so sure it would be as memorable an experience were the game play the only thing the gamer experienced; without the philosophical pondering, the game might seem a bit too difficult and therefore a bit too not-worth-it. Gamers with a good deal of patience, an open mind, and a willingness to be challenged on an emotional level will find lots to love here.
WHAT? A side-scrolling beat-em-up with RPG elements, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the hit graphic novel series that as also spawned a critically-praised movie. Players take on the role of Scott Pilgrim, or one of his three friends, as he embarks on a quest to defeat the seven evil exes of Ramona Flowers, a woman who has stolen his heart and captured his imagination. It’s a quirky story made up of hipster culture, video game tropes and imagery, comic-book styling, and lots of punching people in the face. Up to four players can crash on the couch (no online play, which I find refreshingly old-school) for multiplayer action, and the game has cheat codes (yes, old-fashioned CHEAT CODES) that unlock a Survival Horror mode (players fight off endless hordes of zombies) or a Boss Rush mode (fight the game’s bosses in rapid succession). It’s available as a downloadable title for the Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.
WHY? With both a six-volume graphic novel series and a film serving as source material, this is one of those games that make so much sense for a library there’s no need to overwork the justification. Use the game to get kids/teens into the books, use the books to get them into other books (such as other off-beat indie comics), show the kids who get wrapped up in the surprisingly complex game play classic beat-em-up titles such as Final Fight, Double Dragon, and Streets of Rage and maybe throw in a few classic action-RPGs such as Champions of Norrath, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, or Neverwinter Nights, which of course lead right back around to books on the martial arts, popular fantasy fiction works, and any related film. . Did I mention that the soundtrack is done by the excellent band Anamanaguchi, who compose in the chiptune genre? There’s a chance to introduce somebody to some new music! Conduct your media advisory right and you could have a good number of teens being life-long library users, just from having played this one game. Plus, it’s simple fun that gets all the better when you have someone to share it with, and what’s better than that?
WHO? Teens will find this game attractive because of its tie-in to the graphic novel series and film (which, sadly, bombed at the box office, but I’m sure you have some fans in your community). Gamers who cut their teeth on the NES and Super NES will delight at the references made to old-school video games and the great soundtrack. It’s not a terribly easy game, especially with less than three of four players working together, and the combat is deceptively complex and requires precise timing and resource management; this will satisfy hardcore gamers. It’s a game with much to offer everybody, even long after you shut down your console.
Great for gaming or just for patrons looking for gaming sites at home or while using the library computers is the new GameFly Arcade.
The best part is no membership or downloads required– just click and play (as long as you have Flash installed).
Games called Construction Fail, (Don’t) save the princess and Gangster Bros..how can you go wrong?
GameFly Arcade is a new section on GameFly.com that brings together over 2,000 of the best free Flash games on the Web. Our Flash games are all hand-picked by hardcore gamers, and available to play any time with no downloads.
Best of all, GameFly Arcade is completely free for both members and non-members, so tell your friends! You can even share the games you like with friends via e-mail or your favorite social networks while you play.
Also, we’ve just released Update 1.2.5 for GameCenter on iPhone. Now you can Keep the games you’ve rented and want to own right through the app! Just go to your GameQ, and you’ll see the big blue Keep button if a game you have rented is available to Keep.
The Check Mii Out channel is a free downloadable channel. There are Wii artisan contests to create character Mii’s (Marie Antoiniette, someone who loves plants). You can download these Mii’s to your system, and then when students/you play, they appear.
You can also choose from the Top 50 Popular Mii’s.
On my home system, I still get a kick when I am bowling and Chuck Norris or Batman is watching. Or if I run on Wii Fit, and pass Snoop Dogg. A friend created all the Lost characters, and playing Wii baseball, I had Sawyer pitching to Kate and Claire in the outfield.
Of course, allowing your regulars to customize their own Mii for playing can be great too.