enfrdeitptrues

Party

  • Barbie Dreamhouse Party (Wii U)

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    Game Info:

    Barbie Dreamhouse Party 
    Developed by: Torus Games
    Published by: Little Orbit
    Release Date: November 19, 2013
    Available on: 3DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U (reviewed)
    Genre: Party-game
    Number of players: Up to four players
    ESRB Rating: E for everyone
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon affiliate link)

    Thank you Little Orbit for sending us this game to review!

    Based off of the TV show "Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse", Barbie's Dreamhouse Party takes place in the same environment.  The 3D graphics and characters look just as good as the show!  The plot in this game is that Raquelle was exploring Barbie's dreamhouse and flipped a switch that transformed every room into a party game.  Sadly each party starts off the same where Barbie and her friends must locate four similar objects and place them in the correct order on the pedestals.  After this challenge is completed mini-games, movies, pictures and wardrobe accessories become available.

    There are several rooms draped in pink to explore including a toilet-less bathroom and a garage more suited for washing cars than storing them.  I found it humorous that each room has a turnstile corner that allows Barbie and her friends to change and accessorize their outfits.  Barbie's closet robot (who looks similar to Wheatley from Portal 2) is the game show host.  During the minigames, an enthusiastic Ken bashes and encourages the girls on their performance. Closet, the robot, on the other hand, is rather boring and dull.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Virtually dress your Barbie and do girly things
    Weak Points: Repetitive gameplay; dumb AI; long load times
    Moral Warnings: Some skimpy outfits

    Then again, I wouldn't be very excited about seeing who can wash and groom dogs and horses the fastest.  Something tells me I'd have a hard time convincing my lady friends to partake in a race to bathe, brush the teeth and trim the nails of my pets the next time they come over.  I enjoyed the dancing and runway mini-games though.  One of the sillier mini-games took place in the garage where Barbie and her friends had to collect giant cogs from the soapy floor and put them back in place.  If they were not careful they could fall or get trapped in a bubble.

    While I found this game to be over the top goofy, my daughters (the target audience) enjoyed accessorizing their characters.  So much so that they would yell at each other to get out of the closet and let the other have a turn.  Hopefully they don't spend three hours a day worried about their appearance like Barbie.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 97%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    At first the clothes and jewelry selection is limited, but as mini-games are completed more and more items become available.  Some of the unlocked clothing includes bathing suits, skimpy shorts, and mini skirts.  Pretty much the same attire found on most Barbies on the store shelves these days.

    I found it funny when some of the computer players dressed similar to another player.  While you can have up to four players, the computer-controlled players put up a decent fight in the mini-games.  They do have their drawbacks as well.  I have seen them get stuck behind a plant and halt the progress of a scavenger hunt.  

    Fortunately, my daughters didn't experience that problem, but they didn't appreciate the load times between levels.  Even still, they both enjoyed playing this game.  In fact one of mine decided to play with her real Barbies afterwords.  If you have a daughter that enjoys dressing up her Barbies, cleaning animals, stacking cupcakes and putting on make-up, then look no further than Barbie Dreamhouse Party.

  • Bird Mania Party (Wii U)

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    Game Info:

    Bird Mania Party
    Developed by: Teyon
    Published by: Teyon
    Release date: March 17, 2016
    Available on: Wii U
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Up to five
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $1.99

    Thank you Teyon for sending us this game to review!

    Bird Mania is a cute endless runner (well flier in this case) that came out in 2012 for the 3DS.  The $1.99 price tag is reasonable for this single-player game.   Bird Mania Party has the same colorful cartoon styled graphics and even the same peppy violin background music as the original game.  The main difference is that you can now play with four of your friends using the Wii U game pad and four Wii remotes.

    The single-player game is pretty much the same where you have to collect as many stars as you can while avoiding trees, bushes, and enemy birds and bees.  If you have enough energy, you can boost into birds and bees instead of having to avoid them.  Charging into birds and running into balloons will increase your multiplier, but ramming into bees takes it away.  Achievements are earned for distance traveled and number of balloons collected.  Then of course there’s the bragging rights of the number of stars you collected before your demise.  Right now I have the most at 764 with my daughter in second place at 752.   

    Bird Mania Party
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cute game that can be enjoyed solo or with friends
    Weak Points: Wii U gamepad has an advantage over the Wii remotes; Wii remote controls are not accurate/responsive enough; arms get tired with Wii remotes after a while
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

     

    There are two multiplayer modes, a cooperative one and a competitive mode.  The two-player co-op mode has one bird able to collect stars while the other one can only boost.  Whenever the chime sounds, the two birds will switch roles.  When either player gets knocked out, the game will end and the number of stars collected as a team will be displayed.

    Party Mode is the main game mode. Up to five players compete to see who can stay alive the longest and collect the most stars.  Since every bird is flying at the same speed, using the boost will be necessary to get a head start on collecting stars before the others.  

    Bird Mania Party
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Up to four players can join in by using the Wii Remotes, and using the Nunchuck is optional.  Either the Nunchuck or the trigger on the Wii remotes can be used to boost.  Moving the bird up and down is done by moving the Wii remote vertically.  Moving the bird can be smooth using the Wii remote, however we all experienced moments where our movement was not recognized and wound up dying as a result.  Another negative side effect to using the Wii remote is that your arm can get tired after a while. 

    Not surprisingly, the Wii U gamepad user was often the last bird to meet its demise.  The Wii U gamepad player can either control their bird by using the stylus or the joystick.  Unlike the Wii remotes, there is no response lag and the controls are always precise.  

    Despite the Wii remote controller issues, my kids and I still had fun playing this title.  The price is a reasonable $1.99 on the Nintendo eShop.  As long as you go into the game expecting the Wii U gamepad to have an advantage, there’s a lot of fun and competition to be had here.

     

  • eTABU Pro (Android)

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    Game Info:

    eTABU Pro
    Developed by: Softnauts
    Published by: Softnauts
    Release date: July 13, 2016
    Available on: Android, iOS
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Four or more
    Price: $2.99 
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Softnauts for sending us this game to review!

    While I have heard of the popular game, Taboo, I haven’t played it until recently.  I came close to owning it last Christmas during a gift exchange, but alas, it was taken from me and I got a desktop horse racing derby game instead.  At least the digital version is a nice consolation prize.  

    For those who are new to Taboo, it’s a game about guessing a word without using a short list of similar ones, sound imitations, or gestures.  For example, the word ancient won't let you use words like Egypt, pyramids, Roman, or Greek.   Playing the game physically or digitally is pretty much the same.

    eTABU
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Much cheaper than the physical version and more portable!
    Weak Points: Pushing the wrong button or having the tablet go into sleep mode is possible
    Moral Warnings: None

    First you must divide into two groups.  A player must then be chosen to describe the key word.  The opposite team will select a person to verify that there is no use of forbidden words, abbreviations, or gestures.   When the keyword is guessed, the verifying person presses the OK button.    If a rule a broken, the verifier must press the Wrong button.  When the time has ended, the other team gets to take their turn.  When a team reaches the set number of points, the game is won.  If there is a tie, the team with the fewer skipped keywords will win.  

    There are three buttons that can be used in the game.  The skip lets you move past a difficult word.  The pause button can be used to explain things without wasting time.  Last but not least, there is an exclamation button to report a spelling error.  

    Although the 20,000 words in the pro version sounds like a lot, there is technically 2,000 usable ones since the included key words are available in ten different languages.  This can be a great way to learn a foreign language!  The ad supported free version has a decent amount of words with 3,000/300. 

    eTABU
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The graphics are minimal, but functional.  Throughout the gameplay with my kids, they sometimes pressed the wrong area of the screen to skip or move onto the next word without giving proper credit.  I’m sure adults would be a bit more attentive in this regard.  My kids and I still had fun regardless and enjoyed the wide variety of words.  Sadly, they had no idea who Elvis was so I feel a bit older now.

    There isn’t any background music, but there is a ticking noise that starts when there’s only a few seconds left on the clock.  

    During our playthrough I didn’t notice any inappropriate words and recommend this app for people of all ages to enjoy.  The price is reasonable and if you’re still unsure, the demo is free to try and easy to convert to the pro version if desired. 

     

  • Jackbox Party Pack (Switch)

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    Game Info:

    Jackbox Party Pack
    Developed by: Jackbox Games
    Published by: Jackbox Games
    Available on: MacOS, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Release date: August 17 2017
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Up to 100 online
    ESRB Rating: Teen for crude humor, drug reference, fantasy violence, mild language, sexual themes
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

     

    Thank you Jackbox Games for sending us this title to review!

    Jackbox Party Pack was originally released in 2014 on computer, PS4, and on the Xbox One. The portability of the Switch and low graphics requirements for this title make it a perfect match and a great tool to liven up any party. As long as you have Internet to access jackbox.tv’s website, anyone with a laptop, tablet, or cell phone can join in on these five wacky games.

    Here’s a breakdown of the games included in this bundle:

    You Don’t Know Jack 2015 – I used to play this sassy trivia game back in the '90s and loved it. The questions are pretty current and many of them are rather humorous. Some of them have sexual innuendos though. Up to four players can join in to see who is the smartest. This game can be played solo as well.

    Jackbox Party Pack
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun party games are that guaranteed to make people laugh
    Weak Points: Rejoining the game is sometimes required if your cellphone goes to sleep
    Moral Warnings: Some potty humor (burping and farting noises); language (h*ll, *ss, d*mn, b*stard); sexual innuendos

    Fibbage XL – This fill in the blank game requires you to submit your false answer in hopes of having your friends mistake it for the correct one. Of course they’ll be hoping that you choose their responses too! This game needs at least two players and supports up to eight.

    Lie Swatter – This game has three rounds of seven statements that need be categorized as true or false. Up to one hundred people can join in on this game online. Alternatively, you can play this one by yourself.

    Drawful – Artists will have an advantage in this game, but the bad drawings are what make it funny. In this game, everyone is given a topic that they’ll have to illustrate. Once completed, the players will be shown the picture and will have to guess the topic and then vote on which one they believe is the correct one. There are two rounds and the game length depends on how many players there are. The minimum is three and the maximum amount of players is eight.

    Jackbox Party Pack
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10

    Word Spud – Your goal in this game is to finish words and have the players vote on your suggestions. The next round will use your word as a starting point. This game may turn racy if you’re playing with a dirty minded crowd. Two people are needed to get this game started and the cap is at eight.

    Between Party Pack and Party Pack 2, I think my kids still prefer the sequel because of the Ear Wax game. I’ll also give the nod to the sequel since it has a family friendly content filter in place. In this game we heard a fair amount of language including words like h*ll, *ss, d*mn, and b*stard. The silly bodily noises throughout the game got some chuckles out of my kids. What child won’t laugh at a burp or farting noise? Some of the questions go below the belt and out of my comfort range with young ears and eyes nearby.

    If you don’t mind the teen humor, Jackbox Party Pack on the Switch is a great way to liven up any party. The asking price is a reasonable $24.99 which comes to $5 per mini game. I wouldn’t mind the option to purchase them separately as I really wasn’t a fan of Word Spud. My family did enjoy the others though with our favorite being Fibbage XL.

  • Jackbox Party Pack 2 (Switch)

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    Game Info:

    Jackbox Party Pack 2
    Developed by: Jackbox Games
    Published by: Jackbox Games
    Release Date: August 17, 2017
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
    Genre: Party Game
    Number of Players: Up to eight
    ESRB Rating: Teen for sexual themes, drug references, mild language, crude humor
    Price: $24.99

    Thank you Jackbox Games for sending us this game to review!

    We originally reviewed Jackbox Party Pack 2 on Xbox One in 2015. With the release of Nintendo’s Switch which specializes in party games, it’s only natural that the Jackbox Party Packs get ported over to it. The visuals are not too intensive in this title and it relies on online phones, tablets or computers to play it. Surprisingly, in order to navigate the menus you need both joy-cons or the pro controller.

    Not much else has changed other than the newfound portability on the Switch. Bringing this game over to other people’s houses is totally possible as long as everyone has a device that can access the internet. Performance wise it ran really well with minimal drop-offs like we experienced previously while playing it on the Xbox One.

    Jackbox Party Pack 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun collection of games that are bound to make everyone laugh
    Weak Points: Laptops or mobile devices necessary to play; online connection for all devices required; you need both joy-cons or the pro controller to navigate the menus
    Moral Warnings: Lots of potty humor and some sexual themes (which can be disabled)

    If you’re new to the series, here’s a breakdown of the games from the most liked to our least favorite:

    Earwax – This game is by far our favorite. At least three players need to be present and up to eight can join in. A judge is randomly picked per round and the judge chooses the topic or prompt for the players to base their sound effects on. The players will anonymously submit their two sound effects from their limited selection and all players can vote on their favorite combination. A point is awarded to the player that submitted the judge’s favorite sound effects. The first player to reach three points, wins.

    Fibbage 2 – Your goal in this game is to fool players into believing your lie and you vote on the answer that you believe is the truth. Fooling your friends is worth half of the points of picking the true answer. If you’re not good at coming up with a lie to fill in the blank, you can have the console lie for you and get half the points as you normally would. If you have played the original Fibbage, there are five hundred new questions in this version! Between two and eight players can enjoy this game.

    Quiplash – Come up with the best fill-in-the-blank answer and get it voted on by everyone to score points. The player with the highest percentage of votes, wins. Three to eight players are needed for this game.

    Jackbox Party Pack 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    Bomb Corp – Up to four players are required to work together and defuse bombs by sharing clues and cutting the proper wires. One mistake and it’s game over. How long can you survive?

    Bidiots – Up to six players draw two pieces of themed artwork for everyone to bid on. Each player has a clue to what some of the artwork is worth. The artist will get half of the sale amount and can use that money to buy more artwork to hopefully sell at a profit. If a bidder runs out of money they can borrow from Predatory Loans which has some funny jingles worth paying attention to.

    Some of the games require user input so filtering that content is impossible. There is an option to turn off some of the adult themed humor and I suggest doing so if this game is going to be played by or around children. Without the filter enabled there were sexual moaning, vibrator, and porn music sound effects in Ear Wax, Quiplash, and Fibbage 2. Also, one of the topics for the round was to pick sound effects for a player’s foreplay session. Filter or not, there will be plenty of fart and toilet sounds available.

    If you don’t mind potty humor, Jackbox Party Pack 2 is bound to bring out some laughs. The portability of the Switch is great and makes this the definitive version in my opinion. Before letting kids play this game, make sure to enable the family friendly filter.

  • Jackbox Party Pack 2 (Xbox One)

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    Game Info:

    Jackbox Party Pack 2
    Developed by: Jackbox Games
    Published by: Jackbox Games
    Release Date: October 13, 2015
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Party Game
    Number of Players: Up to eight
    ESRB Rating: Teen for sexual themes, drug references, mild language, crude humor
    Price: $24.99 
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Jackbox Games for sending us this game to review!

    While I have not played the first Party Pack game, I am familiar with the makers of You Don’t Know Jack and had high expectations for this title.  Out of the five bundled games in this collection, only one of them was considered a dud by our family. Each game requires internet access and device capable of interacting with the jackbox.tv website to enter the room code and interact with the console/TV prompts.  

    Even though the interface is easy to use we have found that the mobile devices occasionally would not respond and had to refresh the website to make it work again.  If the active player’s device wigged out, the game could crash and require restarting.  The responses are all timed and if an answer is not recorded in time, the game will pick one for the tardy player.  

     Here’s a quick summary of each game from the most liked to our least favorite:

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun collection of games that are bound to make everyone laugh
    Weak Points: Laptops or mobile devices necessary to play; online connection for all devices required; some of the mobile devices were not responding at times or dropping out of the game altogether
    Moral Warnings: Lots of potty humor and some sexual themes (which can be disabled)

    Earwax – This game is by far our favorite.  At least three players need to be present and up to eight can join in.  A judge is randomly picked per round and the judge chooses the topic or prompt for the players to base their sound effects on.  The players will anonymously submit their two sound effects from their limited selection and all players can vote on their favorite combination.  A point is awarded to the player that submitted the judge’s favorite sound effects.   The first player to reach three points, wins.

    Fibbage 2 – Your goal in this game is to fool players into believing your lie and you vote on the answer that you believe is the truth.  Fooling your friends is worth half of the points of picking the true answer.  If you’re not good at coming up with a lie to fill in the blank, you can have the console lie for you and get half the points as you normally would.  If you have played the original Fibbage, there are five hundred new questions in this version!  Between two and eight players can enjoy this game.

    Quiplash – Come up with the best fill in the blank answer and get it voted by everyone to score points.  The player with the highest percentage of votes, wins.  Three to eight players are needed for this game.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    Bomb Corp – Up to four players are required to work together and defuse bombs by sharing clues and cutting the proper wires.  One mistake and it’s game over.  How long can you survive?

    Bidiots – Up to six players draw two pieces of themed artwork for everyone to bid on.  Each player has a clue to what some of the artwork is worth.  The artist will get half of the sale amount and can use that money to buy more artwork to hopefully sell at a profit.  If a bidder runs out of money they can borrow from Predatory Loans which has some funny jingles worth paying attention to.

    Some of the games require user input so filtering that content is impossible.  There is an option to turn off some of the adult themed humor and I suggest doing so if this game is going to be played by or around children.    Without the filter enabled there were sexual moaning, vibrator, and porn music sound effects in Ear Wax.  Also, one of the topics for the round was to pick sound effects for a player’s foreplay session.    Filter or not, there will be plenty of fart and toilet sounds available.

    If you don’t mind potty humor, Jackbox Party Pack 2 is bound to bring out some laughs.  While the mobile device issues were annoying, they worked most of the time.  I didn’t have any trouble using my laptop.  The asking price is a reasonable $25 which is not a bad price for five games. Friends, internet access, and a functional jackbox.tv website are required to play this game.  If you have access to all three, it's worth looking into.

  • Jackbox Party Pack 4 (Switch)

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    Game Info:

    Jackbox Party Pack 4
    Developed by: Jackbox Games
    Published by: Jackbox Games
    Release date: October 19, 2017
    Available on: Android, iOS, macOS, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Party game
    Number of players: Up to sixteen
    Price: $24.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Jackbox Games for sending us this game to review!

    My family has been enjoying the Jackbox Party Pack titles sent our way to review. While we haven’t played the third entry yet, the second one is still the family favorite. It’s hard to topple Ear Wax as my kids’ favorite minigame. Fibbage does come close and there are two variants in Jackbox Party Pack 4.

    Fibbage 3 has two modes that support between two and eight players. One mode has modernized questions while the other one has customized questions about players in the audience. The “Enough about you” variant was my family’s favorite. No matter which version you play, your goal is to fool players into voting for your lie while discovering the true answer. Both modes have a family friendly filter.

    Jackbox Party Pack 4
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting collection of games
    Weak Points: Some of the games are duds
    Moral Warnings: Some language and sexual innuendo; most games have family friendly filtering, but not all of them do

    Civic Doodle is fun for those who are good at drawing. I learned the hard way that drawing on a cellphone with a screen protector on it is not ideal. Your goal in this game is to create murals for Doodle Valley. Players finish drawings done by others and the carried over artwork is determined by popular vote. While the drawings are being made, inactive players can share their thoughts via emojis. There is a poop emoji available as well. Three to eight players can share their artistic talents and the family friendliness depends on their creations.

    Bracketeering supports the most players with a sixteen player limit. In this game you type in two terms and can make wagers on which one you think will make it past elimination. In the event of a tie during the voting process the players have to tap or click on the answer of their choice. This game does support family friendly filtering. This game isn’t one of our favorites.

    Jackbox Party Pack 4
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10

    Survive the Internet is a fun game where the players type in a phrase and your friends have the pleasure of twisting it around with themed headlines. The twisted phrases will be shared on social media, job sites, news, and photo sites. This game can be enjoyed by three to eight players of all ages.

    The last game, Monster Seeking Monster, doesn’t have a family friendly option and given the theme of monsters dating, it’s not too surprising. This game supports three to seven players. Each monster contestant has a special ability that isn’t disclosed until later in the game. Their goal is to end the week of dating with the most hearts. The gameplay mostly consists of texting back and forth with your limited number of messages per day. At the end of the date you’ll get to decide who to date. If the date is reciprocated, both players will get hearts. My family didn’t care too much for this game.

    Even though I wasn’t a fan of a couple of the games, I did enjoy their theme songs and unique visuals. The overall presentation and polish is quite good in this collection. The asking price is $24.99 which isn’t a bad deal if you enjoy all of the bundled games. If you’ve enjoyed Fibbage games from the previous entries then you know you’ll like at least a couple of the games right off the bat.

  • Just Dance 2018 (Switch)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Just Dance 2018
    Developed by: Ubisoft Paris
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date: October 24, 2017
    Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Switch
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Up to six, unlimited online
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for mild lyrics
    Price: $59.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us a physical copy to review!

    We have been enjoying the previous Just Dance entries on the Wii U for the past couple of years. While the Switch version doesn’t have video support, the convenience of using the smaller joy-cons is a nice trade off. The Switch exclusive rumble mode is cute and fun to play. The mobile app is a nice option if you don’t have enough joy-cons on hand. Up to six players can dance locally with the possibility of competing against thousands online. During our play sessions, we saw up to eighty players online in the World Dance mode.

    The built in Kids mode is great for having them play songs they are familiar with and not having to be worried about the sexual content present in the standard mode. My kids liked the song “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep” and “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana. Seeing Blue (Da Ba Dee) in there is nice, but unfortunately it’s a cover and not Eiffel 65’s version. Just Dance Unlimited adds many other kid favorites like “Ghostbusters”, “Let it Go”, “Under the Sea”, “Y.M.C.A.”, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, and “Prince Ali”. Ninety days of Just Dance Unlimited is included with the game but after the trial period, you can pay $4.99 for a month, $9.99 for three months, or $29.99 annually.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good collection of songs; kids mode is a nice feature; sweat mode counts your calories burned 
    Weak Points: The unlimited songs take a little while before they look decent
    Moral Warnings: Some songs originally have language but are bleeped out in this game, but the sexual references remain intact; though some sexualized outfits/dance moves; alcohol references

    Forty new songs are introduced in Just Dance 2018 and there’s plenty of variety in artists, music styles, and time periods. The oldest song in the game, “Carmen (Overture)” is from 1875; "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" comes in second place from 1959. I also enjoyed Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” Most of the songs in this game are hits from the past couple of years from artists like Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Hatsune Miku, Selena Gomez, Nicki Manaj, Ed Sheeran, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Shakira, and many more.

    I like how many of the songs are locked until you play a couple of songs beforehand. I found it funny that some of the locked songs are still playable in the Kids mode. If you enable the sweat mode, you’ll see how many calories you burn in each song. To keep things interesting there are shuffle and non-stop options.

    The gameplay remains the same where you have to mimic the moves of the dancer on the screen. Some of the songs have multiple dancers to choose from so make sure you’re following the correct one! Depending on how accurate you are, your movements will be rated as ok, good, perfect, or not counted at all.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 3.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

     

    You’ll earn experience and mojo coins for each song you dance to. You can spend your mojo coins in a vending machine to earn new skins, avatars, songs, and alternate dance routines. Dance Lab scenarios can also be unlocked through this vending machine. Dance Lab has you switching between several different routines/roles per song. It’s pretty fun. If you’re a member of Ubisoft Club, you can unlock a free song that’s only available for a limited time.

    While there are many kid friendly songs in this game, there many more that are not. Like other Just Dance games, many of the songs talk about love, hooking up, and drinking. Some of the dancers are shown in bikini-like outfits and their dance moves can be sexual in nature at times. If you have Just Dance Unlimited activated, you have access to most songs from previous games that we’ve called out for various reasons.

    Overall, Just Dance 2018 is a solid entry to the series and offers plenty of new content to justify its purchase. Like all previous games in the series, there are some questionable lyrics and dance moves. The separate Kids mode is a welcome addition. If you don’t mind suggestive lyrics, skin shown, and twerking in the normal mode, there’s plenty of fun to be had and calories to be burned by playing this game.

  • Just Sing (PS4)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Just Sing
    Developed by: iNiS
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release Date: September 6, 2016
    Available on: PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Party game
    Number of players: Up to four
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for mild lyrics
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us a copy of this game to review!

    Many people like to sing along to their favorite songs and some are less shy than others.  If you don’t like singing, then this game is not for you.  If you’re afraid that you don’t sing well, then it’s worth mentioning that this game doesn’t penalize or force you to compete against others.  The party mode lets you sing solo or with up to four people.

    If you think that you have the chops to compete against others, then you’ll enjoy the battle mode where you can see which singer wins the most medals for their performance.  To check out your competition, you can watch videos uploaded by the Just Sing community.  The videos that you make can be saved for private or public viewing.

    Just Sing comes with forty songs from a wide variety of artists and genres.  The genres include: '80s, additional genres, country, dance/electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, and soul.  More songs are available for purchase through the store.  Songs are available in packs in exchange for tickets which sell for $9.99.  There are multiple Disney packs and a bundle with even more songs from the eighties available.  If you’re a member of Uplay club you can unlock some free songs like Silent Night and Happy Birthday with points you earn in-game.

    Just Sing
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of song variety; no penalties for singing off-key
    Weak Points: Most of the songs are covers; in-app purchases; multiple network disconnects which crashes the game back to the title screen
    Moral Warnings: Some of the original lyrics for the songs have cussing and blaspheming (this game doesn’t show swearing); sexual references

    The base library includes many good songs including some Disney favorites like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Colors of the Wind,” and “Let it Go.”  Every decade since the 1950s is represented with at least one song.  The oldest song in the catalog is Elvis’ “Hound Dog” and the most recent songs are from 2015.  Some of my favorites from various eras include “U Can’t Touch This,” “Torn,” “Take on Me,” “Stand By Me,” “Radioactive,” “My Heart Will Go On,” “I Will Survive,” “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” “Counting Stars,” “Call Me Maybe,” and “…Baby One More Time.”  Not all of songs are available right away; some like “What’s Up” become unlocked as you play the game.   I was surprised to see the Christian song, “Hallelujah” in the game until I found out that it wasn't the classical hymn version.  While it has Biblical references, it doesn't confirm or glorify God's existence.  

    While the song selection is great, their quality is rather disappointing since many of them are covers and not sung by the original artists.  Granted, it’s your voice that’s supposed to be the highlight, but the bad rendition of “Love Shack” and many others is unforgivable.  Not all of the songs are covers thankfully as Adam Levine’s vocals in “One More Night” are hard to replicate.

    Singing in this title can be accomplished by using a USB microphone or the free phone app.  Instead of digging up my old Rock Band Mic, I used the phone app which is pretty easy to use and connect to the PS4.  

    Just Sing
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 2/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 80%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 3/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The music videos have several themes to choose from including tropical, monster, cat, and night club.  Many of them become unlocked as you play.  The video switches between the optional PS4 camera and the phone app.  After a song is completed you can choose to save it locally or publish it online on YouTube or make it available for other players to see via the Watch menu in-game.  There’s a sixteen video limit so choose carefully on which ones you wish to share.

    When singing you’ll see the lyrics appear on the main screen as well as on the phone.  For the most part the performances went smoothly but we have experienced some disconnects due to network issues or server maintenance.  For the maintenance we were given warnings, but the frequent disconnects got rather irritating.  There is an option to play offline, but by doing so you won’t have the option to share your locally saved video online at a later time. 

    Despite some of the songs having cusswords in them (“All About That Bass”), they are removed in this game.  Other songs have the equivalent to OMG in them.   Most of the songs are family friendly, but some of them do talk about intimate relationships occurring before marriage.

    In the end, this game was a bit of a disappointment for us.  Between the bad covers and the frequent disconnects it gave us little incentive to sing which took some persuading to get my kids to do in the first place.  When my daughter worked up the courage to sing “Let It Go” it kicked her back to the title screen and she didn’t even get to see a partial recording of her performance.  If you’re into Karaoke this title is worth looking into, but I only recommend it to people who go out of their way to sing.

     

  • Move or Die (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Move or Die
    Developed by: Those Awesome Guys
    Published by: Those Awesome Guys
    Release date: January 21,  2016
    Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Genre: Action, Party
    Number of players: Up to four
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Those Awesome Guys for sending us this game to review!

    Move or Die is a collection of fast-paced mini-games that are best enjoyed with friends (locally or online) or with complete strangers on the internet.  Playing offline against bots is possible too, though the only way to unlock new character skins is through online gameplay.  Experience is earned if you do well against others and if you drop out of an online match, you could be penalized by not gaining experience for a while.  In other words, don’t drop out of the game if you’re losing.

    Winning or not, the game modes are hilariously fun and worth sticking it out since they last about a minute apiece.  Add mutators into the mix and your gameplay experience is bound to be unique each time.  Though violence is a given with the title, it’s all in good fun and there is no blood or gore anywhere.  As the title suggests, you must keep moving in order to regenerate your depleting health bar.  Some of the mutators reverse this mechanic by requiring you to stay still to regenerate health or by having to touch another player in order to live.  Other mutators will cause you to kill players upon touching them, randomly drop bombs or change gravity like the game VVVVVV.  

    Move or Die
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Silly humor; funny announcers; fast-paced action; tons of variety; never plays the same twice
    Weak Points: Have to play online to unlock content; game crashed when adding a controller 
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; potty humor 

    Homages to other games are shown by having a Shovel Knight skin and a SUPERHOT based level where the bullets move in slow motion.  Some of the other levels my family enjoys playing include:

    Chainsaw Backstab – Each player is equipped with a chainsaw that works from behind.  If attacked from the front the chainsaws from both players will go flying.

    Boss Fight –  One randomly selected player is a boss while the others try to attack it with their short range tazers.  Can the boss survive the attack and win?

    Sugar Rush – Candy is randomly dropped and whoever can eat the most of it and say alive, wins.

    Spike Ball – Avoid the spiked ball at all costs!

    Ghost Scare – Players are mostly invisible and they have to sneak up and scare other players to death.

    Shifty Ground – Avoid the deadly areas that change every few seconds.

    Loot Grab – Collect the randomly dispersed loot and bring it to your chest.   Make sure others don’t steal from your collection!

    Speed Run – Try to get to the end before the rest of the players!

    Static Bounce – Avoid the static balls that appear when players collide.

    Jump Shot – Try to shoot the other players, but your gun only fires in the air.

    Hat Chase – Attempt to get the hat and wear it as long as possible.

    Falling blocks – Avoid the falling blocks that will kill you upon impact.

    Fizzle Floor – The ground randomly disintegrates; try to stay on the good parts!

    Bomb Tag – One random player has a bomb strapped to them, keep away from them before it explodes or gets strapped onto you instead!

    Rocket Run – Avoid the homing missiles.

    Cleanup Crew – Who can clean the most spots before time runs out?

    Mind Control – Touch a player to look like them.  It is possible to keep track, but it takes more work. 

    God Gun – One random player is given control of an overly powerful gun that can blast the ground and nearby players; survivors will get a chance to return the favor.  

    Building Blocks – Quickly build your own platforms to survive the approaching deadly floor.

    Hoops – (My family was bad at this one) Your goal here is to make as many baskets as possible.  

    Move or Die
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 20/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 4/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    As you can see there’s plenty of variety in the mini-games.  Just when you get the hang of some of the modes, a mutator may be implemented that will make it even easier or more challenging.  It’s hard to complete a speed run in the dark or to keep track of your character with hundreds of random decoys running around.  The jetpack and stabilizer mutators are handy though.  Some of the mutators are silly like the NSFW one which blurs out the players.  

    Since its launch there have been over one hundred free updates to the game.  The developers are very responsive to player feedback and don’t nickel and dime you for DLC.  The base price of $14.99 is reasonable, but this game has been 50% off in Steam sales and is worth every penny.

    If you like challenging multiplayer games and have a short attention span, then Move or Die will be a perfect fit for you and your loved ones.  Although there isn’t any blood or gore, there is some potty humor with character skins showing butts or looking like poop.  If that doesn’t bother you, add this game to your wish list!

     

  • Overcooked (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Overcooked
    Developed by: Ghost Town Games Ltd.
    Published by: Team17
    Release Date: August 3, 2016
    Available on: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $16.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Team17 for sending us this game to review!

    Onion Kingdom is being attacked by a very hungry spaghetti monster.  Unfortunately, your team doesn’t have the necessary coordination to appease its ferocious appetite.  As a result, the Onion king sends your party back to 1993 to hone your cooking and teamwork skills.   In the beginning the kitchens and recipes are manageable, but that changes before long!

    Each level in the co-op campaign will give you between one and three stars depending on how many successful orders were completed within the time limit.  Unfulfilled orders subtract from the score.  Levels and new chefs become available as you earn stars throughout the game.  As your teamwork improves, be sure to go back and get three stars on all of the easier levels.  

    At first you’ll be working with soups which involve chopping up and adding three of the same ingredient to the pot on the stove.  Every few seconds, a new order will be added to the queue.  You’ll have to coordinate with your team to chop up the correct items and add them to the boiling pot before it catches fire.  If it catches on fire, you’ll have to extinguish it and dispose of the ruined soup before starting a new batch.  Successfully completed soup has to be placed in a bowl and sent out on the conveyor belt to finish the order.  Most, but not all of the kitchens have a limited number of bowls/plates so the chefs will have to wash dirty dishes before being able to re-use them. 

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and challenging gameplay; cute visuals and pleasant background music
    Weak Points: No online play; playing solo is difficult since you have to control multiple chefs
    Moral Warnings: Playing this game may strain relationships since yelling is bound to happen; can cuss in-game but it shows up as symbols

     

    Besides soup, other meals to prepare include hamburgers, fish and chips, burritos, and salads.  While the soups typically have three of the same ingredients, the other meals have various combinations.  Prepping ingredients ahead of time saves work, but some levels have rats that will come by and steal it off of the counter tops. 

    As if rats and tricky orders were not enough to contend with, the kitchens themselves can be overwhelming at times too.  Some of the kitchens have narrow pathways that only allow one chef through at a time while others split apart and come back together due to earthquakes or moving vehicles.  One of the levels takes place on a pirate ship and the rough waters caused the counter tops to shuffle around with the roaring waves.  If you like Steam achievements, they are often earned after completing notorious levels.

    Communication is key if you want to succeed in completing successful dishes in a short about of time.  Sadly, my kids didn’t appreciate my bossing them around in a louder than normal tone of voice.  While I didn’t cuss at them verbally, the Y button on my Xbox One controller showed my chef cussing using silly symbols.

    Overcooked
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Getting four controllers to work on my computer took some effort.  We hooked up one Xbox One controller, two Xbox 360 controllers, one wireless and the other hard wired.  Finally, we added the Steam controller which seemed to be the least favorite for this game.  Keyboard support is available as well but the gamepads work the best in my opinion.  

    While playing cooperatively is fun, there is a verses mode where chefs compete against each other for the best score within the time limit.  When my daughter and I competed we each had to control one other chef by using the shoulder button to switch between them.  The single player mode plays the same but quite frankly, this game is designed for cooperative play so if you don’t have anyone nearby to play alongside, don’t bother picking up this game.  Sadly, there is no online multiplayer.

    If you’re looking for a good couch co-op game that’s fun for the whole family, be sure to check out Overcooked. Just be warned that it may strain some relationships as voices are bound to be raised in the heat of the moment.  As the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen!”   

  • Overcooked: Special Edition (Switch)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Overcooked: Special Edition 
    Developed by: Ghost Town Games Ltd.
    Published by: Team17
    Release Date: July 27, 2017
    Available on: Switch, Windows, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Party
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Team17 for sending us this game to review!

    We originally reviewed Overcooked on PC when it first released in August. Other than my kids not liking me yelling at them so much (Cut the onions!, Wash the dishes!), we had a pretty good time serving up meals in kitchen obstacle courses. Because of how fun and clean this game is, it was listed in our 2016 Christmas Buying Guide.

    Overcooked on the Switch is a good fit with the ability to easily connect four players. Hooking up four controllers on a PC is a bit of a hassle. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback to the Switch version is that the console itself is a bit underpowered and the frames per second noticeably dip at times. The game is still playable, but not as smooth as its counterparts. Another drawback is the long loading screens.

    If you don’t mind the slower frames per second and loading screens, this title still has a lot to offer. Not only does the Switch version come with the main game, it also has two content packs, The Lost Morsel and Festive Seasoning. Between the two add-on packs you’ll have access to six new campaign levels, eight co-op maps, and eight new chefs to unlock. The chefs are merely cosmetic and do not affect gameplay whatsoever. These content packs are pretty challenging and are intended to be played after completing the main campaign.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and challenging gameplay; cute visuals and pleasant background music
    Weak Points: Long loading screens; noticeable visual stuttering
    Moral Warnings: Playing this game may strain relationships since yelling is bound to happen; can cuss in-game but it shows up as symbols

    If you are not familiar with the story of the game, read on! Onion Kingdom is being attacked by a very hungry spaghetti monster. Unfortunately, your team doesn’t have the necessary coordination to appease its ferocious appetite. As a result, the Onion king sends your party back to 1993 to hone your cooking and teamwork skills. In the beginning the kitchens and recipes are manageable, but that changes before long!

    Each level in the co-op campaign will give you between one and three stars depending on how many successful orders were completed within the time limit. Unfulfilled orders subtract from the score. Levels and new chefs become available as you earn stars throughout the game. As your teamwork improves, be sure to go back and get three stars on all of the easier levels.

    At first you’ll be working with soups which involve chopping up and adding three of the same ingredient to the pot on the stove. Every few seconds, a new order will be added to the queue. You’ll have to coordinate with your team to chop up the correct items and add them to the boiling pot before it catches fire. If it catches on fire, you’ll have to extinguish it and dispose of the ruined soup before starting a new batch. Successfully completed soup has to be placed in a bowl and sent out on the conveyor belt to finish the order. Most, but not all of the kitchens have a limited number of bowls/plates so the chefs will have to wash dirty dishes before being able to re-use them.

    Besides soup, other meals to prepare include hamburgers, fish and chips, burritos, and salads.  While the soups typically have three of the same ingredients, the other meals have various combinations.  Prepping ingredients ahead of time saves work, but some levels have rats that will come by and steal it off of the counter tops. 

    Overcooked: Special Edition
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    As if rats and tricky orders were not enough to contend with, the kitchens themselves can be overwhelming at times too. Some of the kitchens have narrow pathways that only allow one chef through at a time while others split apart and come back together due to earthquakes or moving vehicles. One of the levels takes place on a pirate ship and the rough waters causes the counter tops to shuffle around with the roaring waves.

    Communication is key if you want to succeed in completing successful dishes in a short amout of time. Sadly, my kids didn’t appreciate my bossing them around in a louder than normal tone of voice. While I didn’t cuss at them verbally, it’s possible to do so in-game. The foul language shows up as random symbols.

    While playing cooperatively is fun, there is a versus mode where chefs compete against each other for the best score within the time limit. In the competitive mode and single-player mode you get to control two chefs simultaneously. It takes some getting used to but it is not nearly as fun as cooperative play in my opinion. There is no mention of online multiplayer for this title (yet).

    If you’re looking for a good couch co-op game that’s fun for the whole family, be sure to check out Overcooked. Just be warned that it may strain some relationships as voices are bound to be raised in the heat of the moment. As the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen!”

  • Puyo Puyo Tetris (Switch)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Puyo Puyo Tetris
    Developed by: SEGA
    Published by: SEGA
    Release date: April 25, 2017
    Available on: PS4, Switch
    Genre: Puzzle, Party
    Number of Players: Up to four
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for comic mischief and suggestive themes
    Price: $40 physical, $30 digital
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you SEGA for sending us this game to review!

    While I’m no expert at Tetris, I certainly do enjoy playing it. The iconic theme music isn’t anywhere to be found in this title though. When playing Hatsune Miku on the 3DS, I was introduced to Puyo Puyo, which is similar to Dr. Mario where you have to match up four of the same color puyos instead of pills. When you combine Puyo Puyo and Tetris together it gets a bit crazy, but it’s still fun even though I’m far from mastering both games.

    If you’re new to either title, there are three tutorials available for each game. The beginner tutorials cover the controls and teach you how to rotate the puyos and tetriminos. In Tetris you can increase the drop speed, but this is not possible in Puyo Puyo. The advanced Tetris tutorial teaches you about clearing four rows at a time (Tetris) and holding a piece for later use. Holding is great for the vertical four block pieces or a piece that you don’t have a nook for at the moment. The advanced Puyo Puyo tutorial will teach you how to utilize combos. The combos will benefit your score no matter which game you play. The Tetris expert tutorial will teach you about last second rotations that defy physics and back to back combos. Both games reward you for clearing all the pieces from the board. Mastering the stair chains and sandwich techniques in the expert Puyo Puyo tutorial is critical for your survival online and in the single-player adventure mode.

    Puyo Puyo Tetris
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great mashup of two classic games; lots of fun game modes and challenging AI and people to play against
    Weak Points: Physical version costs an extra $10
    Moral Warnings: Some of the characters are mischievous; there are references to tight outfits but you can’t really see anything

    While the story isn’t that deep or believable, it sets the stage nicely for the merging of two different game worlds and introduces you to some interesting characters. A couple of the characters like to get into trouble, but it’s pretty tame. One planet prefers tight clothes while the other likes loose fitting attire and they bicker over the fashion style a bit, but nothing is seen. The voice acting and art work is nicely done in this title and it’s funny how the two worlds are so similar and different at the same time. Much like Puyo Puyo and Tetris. One thing that both worlds have in common is that they do battles to settle matters or to calm their teammates down. This would be a funny way to solve disputes in real life. Imagine getting a raise from your boss by simply winning a Tetris or Puyo Puyo match!

    The matches are sometimes mixed where one player is playing Tetris while the other plays Puyo Puyo. In order to succeed in the campaign, you’ll need to master both modes. Other times the matches are similar and sometimes both game modes are in play at the same time! Many of the matches are won by outlasting your opponent, but there are several time and score trials where you have to exceed a certain threshold to win. Depending on your overall score, you’ll be awarded between one and three stars along with some credits which can be used to customize the appearance of the tetriminos and puyos or change the voices of your favorite characters. Combos and clearing the stage will significantly boost your score so keep that in mind for score based trials.

    If you just want to play Puyo Puyo or Tetris without a backstory, that’s possible as well. The AI is quite challenging and you can play against one to three of them or with up to three of your friends in the arcade modes. Finding people to play against online is easy to do as well. There are Puzzle League matches where your ranking changes depending on your win/lose ratio, or you can play for fun in the Free Play mode.

    Puyo Puyo Tetris
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 97%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    There are several game modes to check out and they’re all a blast. Here’s a quick run down:

    Versus – Your typical Tetris or Puyo Puyo match where the players can play a game of either of them. 

    Swap – The game board switches between Tetris and Puyo Puyo at set intervals. Can you keep track of both games at once?

    Fusion – A hybrid of both of the games.

    Big Bang – A gauntlet of well set up boards that only need a couple of correct moves to solve entirely; can you solve them faster than your opponent?

    Party – Similar to the versus mode but there are random items that can help or hinder the players like black outs that reduce visibility or funky shaped pieces that don’t fit anywhere.

    One nice thing about matches is that you can save the replays and learn from the mistakes you or your opponent has made. I can’t stress enough how important it is to master the maneuvers taught in the expert tutorial to do well online and in the adventure mode. My entire family has enjoyed playing this title and it’s a great addition to your Switch library. If you prefer physical copies of your games you'll have to pay an extra $10 for the cartridge. Other than that nitpick, I highly recommend Puyo Puyo Tetris for puzzle gamers of all ages.

  • Super Monkey Ball (GC)

     

    Super Monkey Ball Published by: Sega Developed by: Amusement Vision ESRB Rating: E for Mild Violence Learning Curve: 1 maybe 2 minutes On: Gamecube

    I had bought Minority Report, and said 'This game stinks!', so I took it back to EB Games. There I stood for half an hour, trying to decide what to trade the game in for, when I decided on Monkey Ball. What the hey. I'd heard it was fun. Now here I am, writing about this incredibly challenging port of niche Japanese arcade game, which actually is more suited to parties. Hmm. Anyways, I think that anyone who considers him/herself a 'gamer' or 'someone who plays games' or even a 'pastry chef'.okay, maybe not that.but just the same, anyone who enjoys a good challenge and likes to play games, plus owns a Gamecube, should purchase this incredibly challenging party game.

    Graphics

    Simplistic, but, overall, pretty good. The physics engine is spot on, so you will roll down slopes and drops realistically. Little animations like the monkeys' ears twitching just top off the extraordinary animation level in the game. Unfortunately, the balls come off as seeming a bit octagonal, while tracks aren't a curved as they might be. While the game falls short of making use of the Gamecube's power, what it does use is used to great effect, and the graphics do nothing to detract from the game.

    Gameplay

    This section is divided into three parts: Main Game, Party Games, and Mini Games.

    Main Game

    This is the meat of Super Monkey Ball. There are three difficulty levels: Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. While the Beginner difficulty only has 10 levels, Advanced has 30, and Expert has 50. Each level gets more and more difficult, until finally you come to the point where it seems that the game can't get any harder. This is usually around the 27th level of Advanced. The game gets much harder. By the time you reach the Expert difficulty, you should be able to handle the game, but nothing will prepare you for the number of times you are precariously perched on a ledge that is probably no bigger than a thread of hair. Fun and Frustrating. However, in addition to the single player Main Game, there is also the multiplayer Main Game. You can either choose Normal Mode or Competitive Mode. Normal is the usual, except you take turns tackling each course with other people. Competitive Mode,however, is split screen, and you try to get to the Goal before the other people to earn bananas. In Competitive Mode, you choose the courses.

    Party Games

    This mode is way different. There are three different games here: Monkey Fight, Monkey Race, and Monkey Target. Monkey Race is pretty self-explanatory; you steer your Monkey Ball around trying to beat other competitors on a race track. Unfortunately, all the tracks have large turns with almost no edges to keep you in the race. If you fall out, it\'ll be your own doing. Monkey Fight is also self-explanatory.well, kind of. Your Monkey Ball has a punching glove and the goal is to fight and knock other monkeys off the edge of, you guessed it, a precariously balanced platform. The monkeys seem to slide around a bunch more here, so it is a challenging chore to fight and keep your monkey on the course. But most times, the game got less frusterating, and all of the people playing with me had to continuously pause the game because we were all broken up with laughter. Monkey Target is, well, different. You start at the top of a large platform, and roll down a ramp, steadily gaining speed. After you launch off the ramp, you must tap A quickly. What happens is the Monkey\'s ball opens up and acts as a sort of glider, with which you must glide to a platform and try to land in the right place for points. Think of the platforms as dart boards,with point values associated to different circles, and you\'ll get the idea.

    Mini Games

    If that mode was different, this mode is, well different. There are three games here as well: Monkey Billiards, Monkey Bowling, and Monkey Golf. Monkey Billiards is a strange experience, mostly because your monkey is the cue ball. It follows the rules of nine-ball. Monkey Bowling is even weirder. You must line up a quickly moving targeting reticule to point the monkey at the pins, then you must decide how much power is needed, and whether or not you need spin. It ends up being a very strategic game, and a very challenging one at that. Monkey Golf is basically a mini golf course of 18 holes. Each hole is different, and, well, precariously perched. You must first aim at the hole, and then select the power you want to use to shoot at the hole, anywhere from blue(ten yards) to red(eighty yards) power. Besides the standard one to four player game of golf, there is also Match Play, which challenges you to get the monkey into the hole quicker than the other person. This is a two player mode.

    Sound

    The sound here, is, well, just plain bad. Aside from the stupid sounding coos of the monkeys, you get '70s sounding BeeGees style techno(kind of an oxymoron, since the BeeGees were disco), and arcade sounds that have been used since, well, Mario first appeared.

    Control

    Extremely simple. The control system was obviously designed with the arcade in mind, so that you didn't have to learn complicated controls. For most of the modes, all that you use is the Control Stick, although you sometimes use the A button in things like Monkey Fight. With the main game, however, all you use is the Control Stick to roll your Monkey Ball around. It really is a system that should be used for most arcade-style games or ports.

    Appropriateness

    Unlike in Super Monkey Ball 2, where there were some weird things like 'The secret spell is ai-ai-poo!', Super Monkey Ball was designed for a strict pick-up-and-play regimen. What I mean is that there is really no story, except if you watch the opening cut scene. All that shows is that the monkeys go on this balancing act to get bananas, but that is never incorporated into the gameplay. If you have any problems with monkeys fighting each other, and then knocking each other off ledges, this game is not for you. Other than that, which is the mild violence descriptor, Super Monkey Ball is a perfectly fine, fun filled family game that will keep kids and adults alike interested for hours. I recommend it for any and all who like a good game and a good challenge.

    Final Ratings

    Graphics B Gameplay A+ Sound C Control A+ Appropriateness A

    Overall 88%

  • Super Monkey Ball 2 (GC)

     

    Only on the Nintendo GameCube
    Published by Sega
    Developed by Amusement Vision
    Genre: Puzzle 1-4 Players
    Reviewed By: Tom McGuire

    Super Monkey Ball (Released November 18th, 2001) was a great game, but within a year later, Super Monkey Ball 2 was developed and released with a boatload of 6 new mini-games, over 150 floors to play on and more.

    Game Modes

    There are single and multi player modes to be had in SMB2, so let?s start by talking about the single player. For those of you who are not familiar with the franchise, you are a monkey encased in a ball, and using the control stick, you tilt the board around like a 21st century labyrinth. But that catch is that the board may have obstacles like holes, moving parts and ramps on it. When I saw that there was going to be a sequel to the previous hit, I really was looking forward to this game. In this installment, there is a new story mode in which you play through 10 floors at a time, and view a little movie that progresses the story. Story mode can be good and bad; good because you have infinite lives, but bad because once you complete the floor, you can?t do it again to possibly get a better score. The multi-player mode is a different yarn. There are 6 new mini-games in addition to the 6 older, retrofitted mini-games to choose from: Monkey Race, Fight, Target, Golf, Pool, Bowling, Boat, Soccer, Tennis, Shot, Dogfight, and Baseball. All of them are OK, but not stellar games to begin with. The ones that really shine, though, are Target and Dogfight.

    Graphics

    The graphic quality is great in this game from the low-polygon, and the backgrounds are beautiful, as is the front end! One of the levels that I really like is: ?In the Whale? in which the background is like an underground city. You can watch the water flow back as the whale presumably lurches forward. Scenes like this really show off the excellent graphics.

    Sound

    The sound in this game is as good as the graphics are, although the voice acting gets annoying at times. This game apparently supports surround sound, so that is kind of cool. The music in the game isn?t as good as its brother, but it is still great; I guess it kind of lost that peppy ?Get-to-the-finish-soon!? touch to it.

    Appropriate?

    From a Christian standpoint, here is the lowdown: At the end of most of the cinematics in story mode, there is a 30-second magical session where the monkeys gather and all chant a harmonic verse and say ?The magical spell is Ei-Ei-Poo.?. To avoid this part, you can simply press the start button when this scene comes up.

    Final Ratings

    Game Play: 10/10 (A+) Sound: 8.5/10 (B) Graphics: 9/10(A-) Appropriateness: 7.5/10 (B-) Lasting Appeal: 10/10 (B+)

    Overall: 90%

  • Werewolves Within (PSVR)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Werewolves Within
    Developed by: Red Storm Entertainment
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date:  December 6, 2016
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR
    Genre: Party
    Number of Players: 5-8 online
    ESRB Rating: Everyone with mild fantasy violence
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us this game to review!

    Multiple attacks on the medieval village of Gallowston has the townspeople in a panic.  In order to survive they must rid themselves of the werewolves who are disguised as villagers.  A town meeting has been arranged and it’s up to the attendees to figure out who the fakes are and eliminate them.  Naturally, there’s a randomly assigned werewolf or two in the meeting.  There are other attendees with various abilities and agendas of their own.

    The werewolves want to survive and would like to shift the townsfolk’s suspicion on to the saint who knows the identity of at least one of the werewolves.  Villagers don’t have much power other than electing a ring leader who can cast two votes on who to execute.  If a tracker is in the group, they can sense if a wolf is on one side of them.  Every town has a gossip and Gallowston is no exception.  The gossip can learn the roles of two players, but they have a 50/50 chance of being right.  

    Before the game starts, you learn your role (which cannot be changed) along with other potential roles.  Once the seven-minute match begins, you won’t have access to that information again.  The astrologer can learn about a role that is definitely in the game while the drifter can deduce two roles that are definitely not in this match.  

    Werewolves Within
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun party game for VR owners; cross-platform support; did not take long to find online players 
    Weak Points: Minor audio issues that were resolved when someone lowered their TV volume
    Moral Warnings: You have to lie to do well or conceal your identity in this game; mysticism 

    Surprisingly, not everyone is against the werewolves.  The turncoat knows who the werewolves are and wins if they are spared.  Last but not least is the deviant, who wants to become a martyr for the werewolves and wins if they get executed in their place.

    In order to get started, five to eight players need to join a match.  Due to the cross-platform support, finding people to play against wasn’t a problem.  The only technical glitches I have experienced was not being able to navigate the game’s menu due to my camera not being configured, and some echoing due to a television being too loud for one of the players.  Fortunately, both problems are easy to fix.

    The biggest issue I have with playing this game is a moral one.  The 9th commandment states that we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor.   In order to do well in Werewolves Within, you HAVE to lie.  

    Werewolves Within
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2.5/10

    It’s one thing to lie to NPCs in games, but lying to real people made this a bit more complicated and weighed heavily on my conscience.  To make matters worse, it’s unavoidable.  One of the first questions typically asked is what our roles are.  Responding with “werewolf” seems illogical.  Then there’s the whole issue of trying to falsely accuse someone in order to save your own skin/hide.  

    The game is well polished, especially with the character animations that change with voice inflections.  Though this game is rated for everyone, you never know who you will be playing with online.  While I didn’t run into any trolls or unpleasant people, I did play with a few people that swore a lot.

    If you don’t have an issue with language or lying I’m sure you’ll enjoy this VR party game.  It's very similar to the Mafia party game.   As of this review there’s plenty of people to play against which is good for a game that’s online only.  The price is a bit steep at $30, but is well worth it if you enjoy fooling people for hours on end.  

  • Word Party (Wii U)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Word Party
    Developed by: Lightwood Games
    Published by: Lightwood Games
    Release Date: November 12, 2015
    Available on: Wii U
    Genre: Party
    Number of Players: Up to five
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Lightwood Games for sending us a digital copy of Word Party!

    There are many fun party games out there, but few of them are educational and fun at the same time.  Lightwoord Games sets out to change that with Word Party for the Wii U. Word Party supports up to five players with one of them using the gamepad while the others use the Wii remotes.  I like how it uses the Miis from the Wii U system.

    One thing that we didn’t like however, was the unfair advantage the player with the gamepad had over the Wii remotes.  For example, a couple of the mini-games are word find variants.  Using the gamepad’s touch screen is SIGNIFICANTLY easier than accurately dragging the Wii remotes to select the word(s) in question.  

    Another frustrating issue is that many of the mini-games do not give the players enough time to complete the task at hand. Factor in the unfair advantage of the gamepad and there may be some close calls for tears of frustration from younger players.  We usually let our youngest child use the gamepad because giving new readers only a few seconds to count how many instances of the letter “F” appear in a paragraph is quite challenging if not impossible.   

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Can be used as a learning tool
    Weak Points: Many of the games are stingy with the amount of time given; the player using the gamepad will have an unfair advantage
    Moral Warnings: The word hell appears in some of the mini games; other swear words are possible with player input; outdated dictionary doesn’t consider “blog” a valid word

    One glitch worth mentioning is that during one of the mini-games the background music stopped playing, but it resumed again during the next mini-game.  Other than that issue, we had no problems running or playing the game.

    With the negative aspects out of the way, let’s focus on the positive areas of the game.  There are many educational mini-games that will ask the players to identify the proper spelling or definition of a word.  One of the fourteen unlockable mini-games has players choosing which two-letter words are legitimate amongst the phonies.    

    When Word Party is first launched it only comes with fourteen mini-games that are randomly selected in the six round gaming session.  The remaining half of the games are gradually unlocked as the game is played more and more.  There’s a practice mode where players can choose which mini-game they want to play to perfect their skills or to just play their favorite one.  Playing games in practice mode does not count towards unlocking more mini-games.  

     

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    One of my kid’s favorite mini-games was called Graffiti.  In this mini-game the players had to spray paint all the words on the brick wall that applied to the randomly picked theme.  One of the mini-games that was our least favorite was a robot factory where you had to combine three body parts of a robot with two letters on each part to form a valid word.  

    Some of words included and excluded in the game’s dictionary surprised me.  One of the mini-games begins with a four letter word that each player swaps out one of the letters to form a new word.  It was in this game that I discovered that cussing is a possibility (tested with sh*t and d*mn).  I was surprised to see that the word “blog” was not considered a valid word.  One of the mini-games called Whack-A-Vowel has four lettered words that appear rapidly and you have to tap them if they have the specified vowel in them.  The word hell was one of the options in this mini-game.

    Other than those minor issues, Word Party is a family friendly game that has some educational potential.  It also has its fair share of flaws too.  While my kids didn’t mind playing it in short spurts, they preferred to play other party games we own instead.   The price is a reasonable $15 on Nintendo’s eShop.  

     

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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