enfrdeitptrues

Sports

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    Crayola Scoot
    Developed by: Climax Studios
    Published by: Outright Games
    Release date: October 16, 2018
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Sports
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $39.99 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One), $29.99 (PC)
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

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

    Crayola Scoot is a colorful mashup of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games and the Splatoon series. As you perform various tricks and combos you’ll spread your color around different worlds and work your way towards winning the Crayola Color Cup. There are several challengers that are in line for the cup and you’ll need to dethrone them one by one. As you make a name for yourself, the legends will challenge you to a game of S.C.O.O.T to knock them down a peg.

    If you’ve played P.I.G. or H.O.R.S.E. in basketball, you’ll know what to do. You and the challenger will take turns doing a series of stunts in a limited amount of time. If you cannot beat your opponent’s combo score then you’ll earn a letter. The first one to spell S.C.O.O.T., loses. After taking down an opponent, you’ll have access to their attire and scooter upgrades in the town store.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Colorful and detailed worlds; fun gameplay; scalable difficulty
    Weak Points: No online gameplay
    Moral Warnings: One of the challengers is a zombie; you can fall down, but there is no blood

    In order to get the attention of the legends you’ll have to play through various game modes in the three worlds available. You can scoot around in Crayola Color City, the Enchanted Forest, and the Alien Theme Park. Each level in the worlds has a specified game type and a ranking level required to play it. Some levels are not available until you’re at the top of the leaderboard. The levels have three difficulties: Easy, Medium, and Hard.

    Here’s a breakdown of the available game modes:

    Color Frenzy – Try to have the highest percentage of the level covered in your color before the time runs out. The better the tricks you perform, the more color you’ll splash around.

    Team Color Frenzy – Just like Color Frenzy but you share colors and work together with a partner.

     

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

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Splat Tag – A game of tag with tricks and color. In the survival mode you must avoid the person who is spraying their color to convert you to their side. In the chase mode, you’re it and must spray the opponents to bring them to your side.

    Crazy Crayons – You must collect as many crayons scattered throughout the level as you can before others find them.

    Trick Run – This mode is about outperforming everyone else. Get as many stunt combos as possible before the time runs out.

    There’s plenty to do if you’re playing solo, but Crayola Scoot supports up to four players in split screen. Unfortunately, there is no online gameplay for this title.

    If you’re looking for a family friendly alternative to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, Crayola Scoot will fit the bill. There are lots of tricks to learn and master in this title. As long as you stop performing the trick when you land, it will be successful. If you fall, no matter the height, no blood is shown. If you know someone who likes scooters, skateboards, or Splatoon, they’ll probably enjoy Crayola Scoot.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Final Goalie: Football simulator
    Developed By: Ivanovich Games
    Publisher: Ivanovich Games
    Release Date: November 18, 2016
    Available On: Windows (HTC Vive or Oculus & Touch required)
    Genre: Sports simulation
    Number of Players: 1 (or 2 with a mobile phone)
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    MSRP: $19.99

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

    If you are like me, and were always picked last for pretty much any sport in gym class, you may have never had an opportunity to play as the all-important goalie. Or, perhaps you are also like me and have no friends who like to play soccer (sorry, rest of the world!  We have another sport we call football), so that opportunity is also not looking good.  Fortunately, through the modern wonders of Virtual Reality (VR), even you and I have a chance to see what it's like to be at the center of attention - as a goalie.

    You see, Final Goalie: Football simulator has you defending against what appear to be professional soccer players from around the world, who are kicking balls at you that move in nearly unrealistic ways.  It's your job to deflect as many of them as possible, using only your hands/gloves, which represent your Vive or Touch controllers.  You generally pursue a high score, either locally among friends or online, as your score is compared against the rest of the world.  You can also catch the ball for a small score boost.

    Final Goalie: Football simulator
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice graphics; great use of motion controllers; simple but very fun
    Weak Points: You must block with your hands; no headbutts or virtual body to help out; your walls or ceiling might suffer
    Moral Warnings: None! (Though catching a bomb is bad)

    There are four game modes total, and three main single player ones.  First there is a simulation game.  You must play this first.  Here, you do what is on the tin – play goalie against soccer players.  There are generally several players on screen where the ball can start from, and they kick it at you.  The balls can fly straight at you, towards the goal in a crazy arc, or what I find the most difficult, low and to the side at high speed.  I very rarely block those.

    The stadium you are in looks and sounds really nice.  The grassy terrain looks great and believable, even if it doesn't render each blade of grass.  The stands sound great, with an announcer detailing each kick, and the crowd reaction is nice.  The production values are great, with the exception of the loading screens, where it just goes blank.  Thankfully, SteamVR recently added informative messages when games do this, so it no longer looks like the game crashed for a moment.

    The other major game mode is arcade mode.  In this mode, there are cannons rather than sports professionals, and they shoot all kinds of things at you.  There is the common soccer ball, as well as tennis balls, beach balls, bombs, and various other things.  There are also power-ups that pop up, and if you throw a ball you caught at them, they activate, and all kinds of things can happen.  Everything from changing your size, the speeds of objects, or even defensive walls can show up.  Of course, catching the bomb is bad – you instantly lose.  Normally, you lose when three balls enter the goal.

    Final Goalie: Football simulator
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

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

    Story mode is a simple variation that adds challenges to both simulation and arcade.  There is a room (with teleport to move) that has various challenges lined up on each side.  There are rooms for simulation, and another set of rooms for arcade.  There are a whole lot of challenges; I'm not sure how many.  But I suspect it would keep any would-be goalie quite busy.  There is also a multiplayer mode, where a friend with a mobile app can lay out the kicks coming your way, while you attempt to defend them.  I was not able to test this.

    I found Final Goalie: Football simulator very simple but quite enjoyable.  It seems to require a fairly large play space, though you can thankfully adjust how big you are, as well as add motion compensation so you don't have to reach as far as it looks (somewhat like giving you larger arms).  If you can't clear space past the range of the goalposts, be warned that jumping, diving, and eventual banging and injury will quickly commence.  It's very easy to forget about that thing on the ceiling or unexpected wall or furniture when you are trying to keep that score up.  Playing this game prompted me to move my Vive to the living room until a silicone rubber cover for it arrived, with the intention of avoiding even more dings on my ceiling...

    And yes, it's a blast, and was a big hit when I showed it to friends.  Highly recommended!  

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Floor Kids
    Developed by: MERJ Media
    Published by: MERJ Media
    Release date: May 16,2018
    Available on: macOS, Switch, Windows
    Genre: Rhythm, Sports
    Number of Players: Up to two
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you MERJ Media for sending us this game to review!

    Floor Kids is a surprisingly deep rhythm breakdancing game. Your goal is to win over crowds in various locales by dancing with funk, flavor, flow, and flyness. You have to keep your moves fresh and not do the same thing over and over again. The crowd will occasionally make requests, and if you honor them, you’ll get some points that help toward earning more stars for your performance.

    If you receive at least three stars for a song, you’ll get a player card that can be used to unlock a new character if all four of their cards are collected. Each of the eight dancers have different specialties in the four dancing categories: Top Rock, Down Rock, Power, and Freeze. New venues open up when their star requirements are met. One of the final venues requires seventy stars and all of the dancers to be unlocked.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and unique breakdancing game; local multiplayer
    Weak Points: No online play
    Moral Warnings: None!

    Each location has several levels with different music tracks for everyone. The soundtrack is quite good and available for purchase on Steam for $8.99. At the beginning of the stage you’ll get a countdown and it’s up to you to feel the rhythm and dance to it. Every song has a couple of chorus sections where you’ll have to press the X button where indicated and mash it repeatedly shortly afterward. These sections are worth big points so you won’t want to take them too lightly. There’s a Steam achievement for earning a perfect score on one. I haven’t unlocked that achievement yet, but I did get one for acing both chorus sections in a song.

    To earn a lot of points you’ll need to weave your moves together with style and keep the crowd happy. If you mix up the dance styles you’ll earn freshness points. Thankfully, the crowd requests aren’t specific, but the chain combos are. I’ve been more of a button masher so I haven’t put enough effort into learning each of the moves intentionally. According to the Steam achievements, I have unlocked all of the characters’ moves on accident though!

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

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

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

    The unfinished hand-drawn artwork is really neat. I like the look and feel of this game. The characters are nicely animated and the venues are unique. Though the music isn’t my style, it does fit the game nicely.

    There’s plenty to do if you’re playing solo. If you have a friend nearby you can challenge them to a dance battle in the local multiplayer mode. This mode is more challenging with the "burn" mechanic. As your opponent is dancing you can charge up a burn by tapping to the beat. Once the burn meter is full, you can attempt to burn your opponent and knock them down for points. The person dancing can temporarily use a shield to block an attack, but the timing has to be precise to be effective. The chorus mode is shared for both dancers. The breakdancer with the most points at the end of the song wins.

    Floor Kids is suitable for want-to-be breakdancers of all ages. You’ll have plenty of fun mashing buttons, but to get good you’ll have to memorize and stylize all of the moves at your disposal. The asking price of $19.99 is a bit steep, but I have seen it on sale for less than $14 and it’s worth it at that price point.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Franchise Hockey Manager 4
    Developed by: Out Of The Park Developments
    Published by: Out Of The Park Developments
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Reviewed on: Windows 7 PC
    Available on: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Simulator, Sports
    Number of Players: 1
    Release Date: October 6, 2017
    Price: $19.99

    Thanks very much to Out Of The Park Developments for the review copy!

    First, let's just get this out of the way...

    LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now then...

    When you're watching a hockey game or following the roster of a team during the offseason, have you ever felt like you could make far better decisions than the boneheads managing the team currently? Have you ever screamed at the TV, knowing your team desperately needs a line change but they won't just dump the puck in and make it happen? Have you ever wondered whether your team could have won the Stanley Cup if it were you making the decisions? Deep in your heart, have you always wanted to make the calls that fantasy hockey players wish they could? Well, here's your chance.

    Franchise Hockey Manager 4 allows you to take full control of your favorite ice hockey team, whether it's an NHL team, minor league, one of the European leagues like Liiga in Finland or the Belarusian Extraleague. The options are dizzying. Even if you're choosing to play your favorite NHL team, incorporating the other leagues means fully fleshed out player experience and history.

    In the standard game, you create your manager to represent you, and choose a team to start managing. You can go straight to the NHL if you like, but that's not a great idea for new players. With the vast array of choices for a starting team, there's more to the game experience to work your way through the career of your manager, moving from team to team and working your way up. For instance, you could start by running the Hershey Bears in the AHL and then eventually become the GM of the Washington Capitals.

    You can also play in historical mode going back to 1917, playing a team through a hockey season from the past. Similarly are challenge modes. Can you get the 1947 Buffalo Sabres to the Stanley Cup?

    Franchise Hockey Manager 4
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Plenty to do; highly detailed; authentic teams
    Weak Points: Minimal sound and visuals
    Moral Warnings:None

    Once you're in the team display there is a lot to do. The team dashboard shows widgets for league news, standings, season schedule, offers and waivers and everything else related to managing the players, strategies, rosters and lines. Here you can draft players and view their individual stats.

    The team view is where you can see all of the details for each player, not only their ability on the ice but their salary and contract length. Good players expect to be paid well, and that's something that may be an issue later if a player becomes very good and starts wondering how green the grass is on the other side.

    If you drill down further into the display for the individual player you will find that each one has tendencies toward certain types of injuries, chemistry with particular players, what positions they can play and how happy they currently are. You can even assign players their jersey numbers, and they may get angry if they don't get the number they want.

    The game allows for an insane level of control and detail, and if you're a fan of the kind of data analysis and micromanagement that often comes with playing in a fantasy sports league, this is your catnip. You can experiment with different lines, changing player positions, assign a team captain or anything else. This is where the game really shines, and allows for a level of control that is far beyond any hockey game I've ever played.

    So after you've created your lines, picked out your strategy, made sure your players are all ready to go and dressed to play; it's game day. It's time to see your players in action and find out whether your management skills really are up to par.

    And this is where FHM4 falls flat for me.

    Franchise Hockey Manager 4
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 60%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 3/10
    Sound - 4/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

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

    The game proceeds by displaying a scrolling list showing events like face-offs, shots on goal, turnovers, etc. Play pauses when there's a goal, penalty or other kinds of events the player can configure. A pop-up of the rink displays the position of significant events on the ice. There's no animation, no direct control over players and the game plays itself. You can go in and view the lines, tactics and strategy screens, and it's all very technical and not very exciting.

    The controls for the game are very simple. I was able to play it with a mouse as well as by using the touchpad. It's all point and click with occasional use of the keyboard for entering text. What isn't simple is the interface layout, which isn't always intuitive and can get a bit busy at times. I did find some of the scrollbar handles difficult to see because of the color palette, and a lot of the controls were links in text and it wasn't always clear which were clickable and which weren't.

    The graphics aren't much to speak about. The displays are colorful and there are occasional pictures of players but there are no actual graphics that would require a powerful GPU.

    The sound is also minimal. You hear the crowd during a game reacting to goals (cheering for the home team, booing the visitors) and the buzzer sounds when a goal is scored, but that's it. There's no in-game music.

    I had no glitches or stability issues at all. FHM4 does take quite a while to set up when starting a new game, but it's a one-time thing so I don't count that against it.

    There aren't any moral concerns in a game like this. I assume, at this level of detail, there must occasionally be fights, which hockey is known for, but I didn't experience any during my games. Even if I had, it wouldn't be a concern because nothing is animated. It would have been shown as just another notification and probably a penalty or two. Of course there's precisely zero sexual content, occultism and coarse language.

    There is an online manual for learning to play the game, which is excellent because the interface can be fairly complex and the steps are not always intuitive.

    Franchise Hockey Manager 4 is a game in the same way that fantasy sports is a game. This game is for a very specific audience. It's all numbers, calculated decisions and analysis. There's no actual "gameplay" to speak of other than that, so to me this isn't a very exciting game at all. On the other hand, for those who have a taste for this type of thing, it's definitely going to scratch the itch.

    Do I recommend it? Yes, but only to those who love the stats and numbers and would like to try their hand at bringing it all together. Oh, and one more thing:

    LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Goalie VR
    Developed by: Hailstone Games
    Published by: Hailstone Games
    Release date: October 5, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows
    Genre: Sports
    Number of players: One goalie and up to five shooters on the mobile app
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $9.99

     

    Thank you Hailstone Games for sending us a review code!

    While I have never played hockey on ice, I can only image how it would feel playing against real amateur, semi-pro, and professional class players. Goalie VR puts you in the goalie box with a virtual helmet, catching glove, and a hockey stick. Even though the game clocks the pucks coming at you at 80MPH speeds, you won’t have to worry about the integrity of your helmet and the possibility of losing your teeth.

    I like how the game begins with a virtual laser light show as many hockey games do these days. The rock music accompanying it is pretty good too. Depending on your performance in blocking goals, the audience will boo at you or cheer you on.

    Goalie VR
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun hockey experience without the risk of getting a puck to your teeth!
    Weak Points: Game sometimes hangs at the loading screen, experienced a crash or two
    Moral Warnings:None!

    The default game mode has five offense players taking turns shooting pucks in your general direction. Their accuracy depends on their skill level. The default AI difficulty of semi-pro was plenty challenging for me and I have yet to last the entire five minutes without them reaching ten goals and winning the game.

    If you have a crowd watching you play, they can join in your game via the free mobile app. The app will show various stats and allow for the user to control which players will have the puck passed to them and who will attempt to score a goal. The mobile app occasionally times out so it may not be worth the extra loading time and inconvenience. I have also experienced this game crashing when the internet connection was spotty. Last but not least, the loading screen takes a while and sometimes needs to have a trigger or button pressed to begin the game. While the QR code on the loading screen is handy, I would much rather have it start the game automatically without user intervention.

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

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    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

    The Unreal Engine powers this title and the visuals look pretty good despite the hockey players all looking alike. The light show is impressive, as are the reflections of the players and the lasers on the ice rink.

    The VR motion controls are pretty responsive and I don’t feel cheated when the opposing team scores a goal. I do however wish that I had sensors for my feet. There are many Steam achievements available for this title and I apparently unlocked one for doing a “Dab.” Given my poor performance thus far, I won’t be unlocking the Steam achievements for shutting out the competition anytime soon.

    My definition of a fun game is one that you can enjoy even when you’re not good at it. I’m definitely not good at Goalie VR, but I still have fun playing it. I play tested it at my son’s birthday party and the kids enjoyed playing a couple of rounds each before asking to switch to another game. The $9.99 asking price is very reasonable and is a great addition to your VR library.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Infinite MiniGolf 
    Developed by: Zen Studios
    Published by: Zen Studios
    Release date: July 25, 2017
    Available on: PS4, PSVR, Windows (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift), Xbox One
    Genre: Sports
    Number of player: Up to eight online
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Zen Studios for sending us this game to review!

    I’ll admit that I’m not much of a golfer, but I don’t mind the occasional round of mini golf once in a while. Since we’re not avid golfers, we don’t own too many golf games. I must say though that Infinite MiniGolf is quite fun and I can now see why people enjoy these types of games.

    Zen Studios offers a lot of detail in their VR and pinball titles and the same goes for Infinite MiniGolf. Each of the themed levels has a lot of interaction with obstacles and there’s a lot happening in the background too. My favorite world is the Giant Home where you get to smack around gold balls in a kid's room and you’ll have to avoid hitting the big RC car driving around.

    Many levels have helpful characters along with harmful ones that will relocate your golf ball further from the hole. The space themed Hangar 37 levels are neat, but the malfunctioning robots are highly annoying. The Tortuga levels have some drunken pirates lying in the streets of the town and the Nightmare Mansion levels have ghosts and other Halloween themed creatures roaming around. Despite those minor issues, Infinite Mini Golf truly is a game suitable for people of all ages.

    Infinite MiniGolf
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun game with lots of challenging levels and obstacles; free DLC add-ons
    Weak Points: No online games to join; crashed on me once
    Moral Warnings: Drunkenness shown in the Tortuga levels; Nightmare Mansion has ghosts and other Halloween themed monsters

    The controls are pretty straightforward with the left joystick being used for positioning your player and the right joystick controlling how powerful of a stroke you’ll be using. If you hit the ball too hard it can bounce back further than where you started from or it may even leave the playing area. A stroke that’s too weak will waste a valuable turn and reduce your score a bit.

    Points are earned by collecting various gems on the green and getting the ball in the hole within the number of turns allotted. Ideally you’ll want to get it in par or less. If you get it in one less than par it will be a birdie, two below par is an eagle, and three below is an albatross. Besides those, I have also received bogeys for going over par. Some of the levels have annoying obstacles like vacuums that require precise aim and timing and cause me to max out the number of strokes possible.

    Many of the levels have various power-ups that are beneficial like a magnet power that draws your ball into the hole. Rockets give your ball a speed boost and joysticks let you control its direction for a short amount of time. There are also detrimental obstacles to avoid like glue and melted candle wax. Sometimes a friendly character may help remove your ball out of a sticky situation, but not always.

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

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 91%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    Upon completing levels and tournaments, you will be given cards that unlock various clothing and accessories for your character to wear. Unfortunately, the drops are random so you may unlock clothes for the opposite gender. Many of the items have a minimum player level to equip them.

    The customization doesn’t end with your character. You can create your own levels with the built in level editor. The possibilities are truly endless with Infinite Mini Golf. Except when it comes to multiplayer. I couldn’t find any multiplayer games to join unfortunately. Thankfully, there is plenty to do in single player. Local multiplayer is always an option though.

    The VR support is great and optional, so anyone and everyone can enjoy this title. The asking price of $14.99 is very reasonable and the free DLC content is a nice feature. Surprisingly, Tortuga is not mentioned in the game, but is available on the PSN store. Hangar 37 shows as purchasable in-game, but going to the store reveals that it is indeed free. The same content is freely available in other versions of the game too. If you’re looking for a neat VR or golfing experience, I highly recommend Infinite MiniGolf if you don’t mind playing solo or against nearby friends and family.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    NBA Playgrounds
    Developed by: Saber Interactive
    Published by: Saber Interactive
    Release date: May 9, 2017
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Sports
    Number of players: Up to four
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Saber Interactive for sending us this game to review!

    I must admit that I haven’t really been following basketball too much since the '90s when the Chicago Bulls were on fire with their dream team. With that said, I did not recognize many of the players available to me via the card packs that I opened. Upon launching the game, you’ll get three decks of cards with five random players in each one of them. Duplicates are possible and if that happens, you’ll get experience points towards leveling up that player. When players level up you’ll get more card packs.

    Each basketball player has various stats that gives them strengths. For example, taller players are harder to have their slam dunks blocked and heavier players are harder to shove and steal balls from. When picking two players for your team be sure to check out their stats for speed, stamina, rebound, stealing, blocking, and their chances for scoring 2 and 3 point shots as well as dunking. You can also read about each player’s professional bio while you’re at it.

    The tutorial teaches you all of the controls, which change whether you’re playing offense or defense and by your controller configuration. Many of the buttons have multiple purposes. For example, the Y button is used for stealing the ball in defense mode and taking a shot or faking it in offense mode. Besides stealing the ball, you can shove players if you prefer an aggressive playing style. The downside to pushing is that it drains stamina. Stamina is needed to successfully pull off sprinting, dunking, alley-oops, and crossovers.

    NBA Playgrounds
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Reasonable price; fun gameplay
    Weak Points: The Switch version was the last to get multiplayer capability and continues to trail other platforms in updates; long loading screens
    Moral Warnings: Sports violence; minor language (hell), blaspheming (OMG)

    Like any other basketball game, your goal is to make more baskets and score more points than the opposing team. Long distance shots will score you more points while closer ones earn you less. Can you pull off the harder shots? That depends on how good of a player you have and how good the defense is on the other team. No matter how steady of a shot you make, there is always the possibility of it getting knocked out of the air. Or the ball can get stolen from you before you get a chance to take a shot.

    There are three game modes: Exhibition, Tournament, and Online matches. The Exhibition mode lets you play games all around the world in courts that have been previously unlocked in the Tournament mode. Until the other courts are unlocked, you start off in New York. Other locations include Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Venice Beach, Paris, Seattle, and more. Each location has a fair amount of detail. In a beach location you’ll see women clad in bikinis. The graphics are colorful and the models are scaled down enough for the Switch to handle them fairly well. There are some long loading screens though.

    When it comes to online play and patches in general, Switch gamers has a legitimate beef with the developers. Multiplayer was supposed to be available within “days” of the May release date. Online functionality wasn’t added until July. The patch included some more players, game balancing, and other enhancements based on player feedback. As of this review, the Switch version is still lacking some players that other versions have access to. As an apology, Saber Interactive has promised Switch users a free digital version of Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn when it becomes available.

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

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 80%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 4.5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Online matches are ranked and your player score goes up and down depending on your wins and losses. When I played someone online they wiped the floor with my team. Finding a partner to play against took close to a minute. If you prefer to play with nearby friends, up to four people can play in a match. In two player games each person controls two teammates and can switch between them with the press of a button.

    The announcers can be disabled, but I found their comments to be humorous at times. If you’re doing poorly they will ask if soda got into the controller or they will recommend lasik surgery. Unfortunately, they will say things like hell or OMG at times. The background music is hip-hop and fits with the theme of the game.

    If you like arcade style sports games, NBA Playgrounds is a solid entry with a low price tag. The $19.99 cost is the same for all of the platforms. It’s a shame that the Switch version is so far behind compared to the others and for that reason alone I recommend getting it on another platform if you have the option to do so.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Power Disc Slam
    Published By: Chequered Cow Games
    Developed By: Chequered Cow Games
    Released: August 18, 2016
    Available On: 3DS
    Genre: Sports
    ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
    Number of Players: 1-2
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Chequered Cow Games for sending us a copy of the game!

    Power Disc Slam from Chequered Cow Games can be considered a spiritual successor to the Neo Geo classic Windjammers. With its unique premise of combining tennis with a Frisbee, PDS provides a fresh twist on these games.

    Power Disc Slam starts with a lengthy tutorial when first loading up the game. You are taught the basics and how the controls are set up. This unfortunately is where I hit my first problem. The game wants you to arc the disc by sliding the control pad in a way that never seemed to register and ended up throwing the disc normally. I struggled with the beginning tutorial for nearly 30 minutes before finally getting lucky and having the controls register properly. Outside of this, once you finish the tutorial you can start playing for real.

    You serve the disc like in tennis and your opponent will attempt to stop it from hitting the wall behind them which acts as the goal zone. Upon throwing the disc back at you, you must press the 'A' button to flip it into the air. Standing beneath it will charge your character up and by pressing 'A' again before the disc hits your character you can activate a power shot. Otherwise, standing in front of your opponent's throw will automatically grab the disc from the air. For some odd reason the slide action is also mapped to the 'A' button by default. Thankfully an update added in new control schemes and it can now be used by pressing the 'X' button which previously had went unused. 

    There are different modes that can be selected from the main menu and are separated into single player and multiplayer. From the single player menu you can choose between Arcade, Free Play, Cup, Survival, and Mini Games. I was unable to experience the multiplayer aspect for myself, but I can guarantee this game would be more fun to play against another human rather than just the A.I.

    Power Disc Slam
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Tons of content; Highly challenging gameplay; In a sense it is a spiritual successor to Windjammers.
    Weak Points: Character models aren't exactly appealing; Controls are not very accurate; A.I. can be too easy and too difficult with no middle ground.
    Moral Warnings: None!

    Arcade is the standard pick up and play mode. You choose from one of eight characters and then a random opponent and court is selected. You can also choose from one of four difficulties, but due to a programming oversight the A.I. is actually designed to always be incredibly difficult or very easy no matter which difficulty level is selected. Once that's out of the way it's on to the court to slam some discs! In Arcade you must score 15 points before your opponent. The goal zone on certain courts may have red and yellow areas to aim for, but some will be a single solid color. The yellow zone is worth 3 points and the red worth 5. If you beat your opponent you simply move on to a new opponent and a different court. Depending on how well you grasp the controls you will either put up a decent fight or lose right away.

    Free Play eliminates the randomness from match setups and allows you to choose which opponent to go up against and the court to play on. You can also increase the match lengths and points needed to win making this a great mode to practice on. It's also a great way to better familiarize yourself with the different courts.

    Cup is basically a tournament made up of 7 rounds. 2 players face off and the winner moves on to face the winners of the other rounds. You start in the novice rank and by besting it can move up the ranks. Due to the highly unforgiving A.I. it's safe to say that things must get incredibly frustrating once Master mode is unlocked.

    The next mode is Survival and is fairly similar to Arcade. You choose a character and must face off against the other seven characters on a single court one after another. This became my favorite mode simply because the court didn't change between opponents. Once 15 points are made the next opponent comes out and you repeat.

    Power Disc Slam
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

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

    Last up are the mini games, of which there are six. These all play very differently to the main game. Score Challenge simply has you trying to score as many points as possible in a time limit by throwing discs through rings. Moving Targets has you trying to hit moving targets to get a high score. This one expected precise controls, but that wasn't happening from me. Avoid and Score has you avoiding being hit by discs shot at you and you must throw them back through rings to score points. This one also demands precise controls. Disc Block Bash is basically Breakout but much more difficult to get the hang of. Run and Collect has you running around the court grabbing fruits and avoiding discs being shot at you. This is actually my favorite mini game simply because you don't have to return the discs to get points. Rally Challenge has you rallying against an opponent to toss the disc through small rings. This one was fairly boring to me because you have to wait for the opponent to throw the disc back. Each mini game also has anywhere from eight to twelve additional levels to choose from. Level 1 will be easy and allow you to understand what you're doing whereas the higher levels will challenge you substantially more.

    Graphically, Power Disc Slam is a decent looking game. Character models are extremely jaggy and polygonal which comes off as low quality, but seeing as the Chequered Cow staff consists of only one guy, they aren't really too bad. The court designs are varied and each look great. There's also some pumping music to be heard and I enjoyed it as I played the game.

    Power Disc Slam isn't for everyone, and even for those it's meant for the controls may turn you away. I highly advise anyone interested in the game to practice in Free Play to better understand how the game works. With the amount of content packed in it's really hard not to recommend just to try it out. There's a whole lot worse out there in the eShop carrying the same $5 price tag.

    -Kyuremu

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Rocket League
    Developed by: Psyonix, Inc.
    Published by: Psyonix, Inc.
    Released: July 7, 2015
    Available on: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, SteamOS
    Genre: Simulation, sports, racing
    ESRB rating: E10 (For fantasy violence, mild lyrics)
    Number of players: 1 to 8
    Price: $19.99 (base game)

    I'm normally not one for sports games. I tend to be of the mindset that, if you want to play sports, go outside and play them. This goes equally for soccer (football, for those outside the U.S.) and racing cars. 

    Combine the two together, though, and you have an explosive combination that is surprisingly, amazingly fun to play.

    Psyonix's Rocket League is actually a sequel of Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which was released in 2008 to mediocre reception. Although the same elements of that game can be found in Rocket League, this sequel somehow comes together for a more cohesive approach that has exploded in popularity. The game is now available for multiple systems including, on September 18, 2016, Mac and Linux, through the Steam platform. It has been categorized as an e-sport, and teams can win actual money in competitive circuits.

    After playing the game, I can see why Rocket League is so popular. Its nonsensical concept proves to be just plain, addictive fun. The player can select their car and decorate it however they see fit, then choose a variety of game modes to drive around in. The goal is to, of course, score goals by batting an enormous soccer ball through the opponent's goal, whereupon it explodes with tremendous force. To do this, the cars are equipped with the ability to perform double-jumps, drive up walls and even across the ceiling for short distances, and activate turbo boosts. 

    Those are just the basics to the game. There is a huge variety to the gameplay from that. Soccer matches can vary from one-on-one competitions to four-on-four, and for online games, eight-on-eight. The default game length is five minutes, but this can be changed as well. If "soccar" isn't your game, then there are basketball and hockey variations that can be played. A new variation is a "rumble" mode, where your car can also use wacky power-ups like boxing gloves and tornadoes. There is a huge variety of arenas to play on, and some of them can lead to a different approach in gameplay, based upon obstacles, rises and even the location of the crossbar above the goal. As you win games, you can unlock even more items to customize your car in the garage. The sheer amount of variety in Rocket League is mind-boggling, and there are enough choices in the game that it's actually quite easy to find a mode that fits any player's tastes. 

    Rocket League
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Insane fun; sharp graphics and controls; huge variety of game modes and customization
    Weak Points: DLC options; some game crashes
    Moral Warnings: The ball – and sometimes the cars – explode; questionable lyrics (reportedly)

    If there wasn't enough choices in the game, Psyonix added more in December, 2016. Players who own the game on Steam can now create their own arenas and upload them to the Steam Workshop. From there, others can test them out, and vote whether it's one to keep, or one to reject. The arenas that the majority of players enjoy are more likely to be chosen at random during online matches.

    The graphics are realistic – or at least as realistic as can be for cars driving around a soccer field and crashing into a gigantic ball. Even with my integrated Intel HD chip the game had very few issues with running. However, there were a few of the arenas which did lead to a crash-to-desktop before they finished loading, and I suspect that it could have been due to the limitations of my graphics hardware. Still, for the bulk of the game, I've been able to enjoy the shine of the cars and the explosions of the ball – or other cars if I hit them just right while using the turbo.

    Playing an online match is a cinch. Just choose it from the menu and the game will find a good match for you to join. There seem to be thousands of players on at all times, and the wait time to play was quite short. For me, there was a noticeable lag spike when the match first started, and I'm sure the others  were wondering what I was doing sitting in one place for the first 10-15 seconds! Once that resolved itself, though, the rest of the game went smoothly. PC and Playstation 4 players can share the same servers. For Xbox users – sorry guys, but Microsoft insists that you still play by yourselves.

    The music to the game is pretty good, consisting mostly of techno with a few rock songs in the mix. However, these only play while navigating the menus or in the garage. During actual gameplay, the only sounds you hear are the revving of the engines, the crash of the cars colliding, the thunk of the ball, and other noises that really help to immerse you in the idea that you're playing a sports game. When you score, there is some music that plays, but it's indistinct and echoes as if you'd hear it while watching a game in a sports arena. It's a really nice touch that helps with the immersion.

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

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 19/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The controls are sharp and work well. While I wasn't able to get my Logitech controller to work, the keyboard worked fine, and I was able to get my knock-off Xbox controller to play the game as well. It does respond better with the controller, but the controls are simple enough that those using keyboard and mouse can still get into it.

    On Steam, the game has several achievements, as well as Steam trading cards. Some downloadable content does exist, in the form of different car bodies that you can choose from. While this doesn't have any effect on the gameplay itself, some of the achievements can only be unlocked by playing with these specific cars. This is where one of the weak points of this otherwise phenomenal game comes in. Those who crave 100% completion will have to pay extra in order to accomplish their goal. For those who aren't as particular as that, the game can be enjoyed without the DLC, especially since the arenas and game modes that were released at the same time are freely accessible.

    And yes, as a fan of the "Back to the Future" franchise, I did shell out extra money for the famous, time-traveling DeLorean. There aren't any achievements for that – or the Batmobile promotional tie-in – but they still look cool.

    This game is rated E10 and, indeed, there is very little to find objectionable about the moral content. The ball does explode when a goal is scored, which sends the cars flying in all directions. It also is possible to destroy another person's vehicle by ramming it just right. But in either case, there is no indication that the drivers sustain any damage or are killed – in fact, the vehicle pops back up on the field a couple seconds later. The ESRB rating indicates that there are "mild lyrics." I didn't hear anything objectionable, but it's entirely possible that I just haven't heard the questionable songs yet.

    As I mentioned in my opening to this review, I am not a fan of sports games. But somehow, Rocket League transcends that genre – it just works, and works amazingly well. I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to play a game just for the sheer fun of playing a game. This is what gaming is all about – enjoying yourself.

    And explosions. 

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Rocket League
    Developed by: Psyonix, Inc.
    Published by: Panic Button
    Release date: November 14, 2017
    Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Sports
    Number of players: Single-player, 1-4 multiplayer, 1-8 online multiplayer
    ESRB Rating: Everyone for Mild lyrics
    Price: $19.99

    Just over two years ago a new kind of sports game was created. To be honest, when I first heard of the concept of Rocket League I was not sold. Wait…cars plus soccer? And you know what, I was wrong, so wrong! I must give credit to my brother, he is responsible for introducing me to the game about a year ago. I played several hours and fell in love with the idea of Rocket League. Psyonix made the game back in 2015 on Steam, then ported it over to PS4 and Xbox One about a year ago, and recently released it on the Nintendo Switch. This game is an absolute steal at twenty dollars. Over the last two years they have added additional game modes such as hockey (snow day), basketball (hoops), Rumble (soccer with powerups) and Dropshot which is like a tribute to a brick breaker game. These have all been added as free updates which is amazing. The only DLC that you can buy is for cool looking cars which is totally okay in my book. How is it on the Nintendo Switch?

    It’s awesome and a real match for the Nintendo Switch. The port itself is of good quality. There are minor graphical limitations, but the gameplay, modes and fluid gameplay all made it over. For those of you who do not know, Rocket League is a blend of driving and soccer in its most basic mode. You basically take control of a car and play soccer. You can do anything from a 1v1 up to a 4v4 match. The player will drive the car and hit the ball into your opponent’s goal. The car you drive has some tricks up its sleeve. You can accelerate, reverse/brake, boost, jump, and drift. You can even combine your jump with your boost to shoot your car into the air. You can also jump and press forward to flip forward and hit the ball. There are many advanced moves to learn that add a layer of depth to playing. These you use to help steal and control the ball. It is so much fun. Each match is quick lasting only five minutes.

    Rocket League
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Same fast fluid gameplay you're used to, has all content from PC version. Lots of game modes.
    Weak Points: Graphics are downgraded.
    Moral Warnings: Ball explodes when you score and cars will crash into each other. Mild lyrics. 

    You can choose between a few different game modes. There is exhibition just a one-off game against the computer or AI, season where you play through weeks of games, or online against other players. Those that want more of a challenge can enter the ranked online mode. When playing online it has cross play which means you can play against PC players as well as PS4 and Xbox One players. There is even a tutorial mode that teaches you the basics and advanced moves, and has a free play mode to practice in. Soccer mode comes with over twenty-one different maps and even more with variations on the maps, such as a map is at night, or stormy or has snow. The core game play is the same in the other modes, you just score differently, so it feels different. In the snow day mode, you have the two goals, but you are hitting a hockey puck instead of a soccer ball, which forces you to play differently. Hoops has two goals and a basketball, but the hoops have a ramp leading up to the hoop, so you cannot just shoot head on at the goal, you must bounce it off the back wall into the hoop. Rumble mode lets you play soccer but with power ups that let you attack the other team’s cars. You can stall them or even blow up the other team’s cars. Finally, in Dropshot mode, the field is cut in half and when the ball drops onto either side it lights up where the ball hits, and if it hits the same lit up spot, it disappears and creates a hole. The next time you hit the ball into that hole, you score. These modes add lots of playing styles and variations in game play.

    A leveling up system exists as well. As you play you level up and unlock new cars, backgrounds, hats, banners, decals, wheels, boosts, antennas, trails, engine sounds and even change the explosion that happens when you make a goal. This makes it so you can totally customize your look and even save different cars as presets for easy choosing later.

    Rocket League is not the most graphically demanding game to port to the Switch and it transfers over well. Obviously, anything in handheld mode is at 720p as opposed to docked at 1080p, which means it doesn’t look as good as other systems' ports. They also used a dynamic resolution which was used in Doom and Skyrim. This means that it has a decent resolution when rendering anything close to you, but things further away are rendered at a slightly lower resolution. It basically scales and is a neat trick. You do not notice it most of the time. In docked mode sometimes, things can look a little blurry, but everything for the most part looks good like the PC version. And most importantly it runs great. It is smooth like butter, is fast paced and I never saw a framerate dip. The sound in the game is what you expect though some of the songs in the menus will get you pumped up to start a match.

    Rocket League
    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 - 96%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    One negative aspect was that I couldn’t do local multiplayer split screen as say in Mario Kart or Kingdom New Lands. Having split screen multiplayer in this would be fantastic as the matches are quick and intense. It really seems like a missed opportunity. Why offer one Joy Con controller support? I cannot see the point, it’s a small controller and uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. It’s perfect for split screen as you and your opponent each have a Joy Con. Why would anyone play with one Joy con when you can just use both as that is more comfortable? Hopefully they can add an update so that you can play split screen.

    As far as morality goes there isn’t much of anything. It is a sports game so there are no violence, language or sex issues. The only thing I could find is maybe some of the lyrics of the songs playing in the menus could be inappropriate. This is not from personal experience; the ESRB rating of the game mentions mild lyrics. Honestly you are in the menus so little you only hear maybe thirty seconds of a song. Also the ball explodes when you score and you do crash into other cars.

    Overall this is a faithful port of Rocket League and a perfect fit for Nintendo’s hybrid console. It is amazing to play this game anywhere and the fun never stops with online cross play. There are always matches to find. This game is perfect for quick bursts of play but also easy to sink hours into in a single game session. Rocket League shoots high and scores in my book.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Steep: Winter Games Gold Edition
    Developed by: Ubisoft Annecy
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Released: December 2, 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, and PC), 2018 sometime (Nintendo Switch)
    Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (2018)
    Genre: Sports
    ESRB: T for Teen, Comic Mischief, Language, Mild Violence
    Number of players: 1-4
    Price: $39.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us a review copy of the game.

    Note: This review is based on the PS4 Pro version and might not look, sound, and perform the same on other consoles and PC.

    The big games released today are usually sports games, first person shooters, and epic open world adventure games. Steep takes the snowboarding sports genre of video games and ramps it up to the ninth degree. It's been a while since a snowboarding game has offered passionate winter sports fans a true work of beauty. The last game to bring this much fun in my humble opinion was 1080 Avalanche on the Nintendo GameCube.

    Steep: Winter Games Gold Edition has you start off from the beginning on a very snowedcapped mountain in the Alps (Europe) and then teaches some of the basics of the game. I was blown away by how beautiful the game looks. Sadly, I didn't take in all the graphical beauty since I was too busy learning the controls and trying different flips and other basic tricks. However, after I was done with the initial tutorial I had a chance to look around and see the beautiful scenery.

    Steep: Winter Games Gold Edition
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Beautiful graphics and sound. Many winter sports to enjoy. Massive mountains with tons of activities to keep you busy for many hours and days.
    Weak Points: Lack of main menu which can be jarring. Micro transactions that ask for real world money and not just rely on in game currency. 
    Moral Warnings: Violent crashes into buildings, trees, and more. Use of the word "sh*t" through out dialogue. Revealing outfits in purchased costumes.

    After you go through different initial areas to get yourself familiar with the game and the variety of modes, you are free to really just explore and discover the vastness of the open world you have been given to either ski, snowboard, wing suit fly, or paraglide. You can open an overview of the entire mountain and choose different events to try to compete in. Each event will have a time limit that offers Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards. This Winter Games Edition gives you the option to travel to South Korea and Japan to compete for a spot in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

    Steep Winter Games is an online-centric experience. You play solo but you can compete against friends and other competitors. I pretty much was too busy trying to get a better score in each event I competed in. The events in the game can be really addicting, and I enjoy the amount offered throughout the game. For parents I want you to know that your teenager can play solo an have tons of fun without the worry of other gamers harassing them on how well they played.

    The game offers tons of customization of your character and equipment which allows the player many varieties in how they look and how their equipment looks. This could be an important feature for many gamers since they love to really make their character very special to them. Myself, I pretty much tinkered with how my snowboard and other equipment looked. I appreciate that developers in many games the last few years have given gamers real control over their character's appearance. There are tons of costumes and gear to purchase through the in game store with earned in game money and also real world money. I would recommend parents to beware of the micro transactions that are present in the game.

    Steep: Winter Games Gold Edition
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Graphics and sound are top notch in every way. I love how the snow sprays up and how majestic the areas that I competed in look. Everyone who plays will be astonished by how they can see for a very long ways away and gorgeousness of the environment. The sound quality is very well done and I very much enjoy the sound of my snowboard gliding across the snow and hearing the crispness of snow being crunched under my snowboard. In regards to stability and controls I had no issues. The game runs very well and the controls (once I got use to them) were very good.

    My one major negative is what the game does as soon as you load it up, that it will thrust you immediately into the start of the game with you not even being sent to a "Main Menu" area. For many gamers this can be jarring and confusing. I would have preferred the developer allow me to go to a "Main Menu" area like pretty much every other game and allow me to adjust sound, controls, and perhaps allow me to create my own character before entering the game. Instead I was thrust into the game with a generic character that I had no control over how they look. I know later on you can customize the look of you character, but it would have been better if the developers had done what is standard in most games. This could cause confusion to many gamers and they might not like this new approach to gameplay.

    In regards to how family friendly the game is, I would have to say good, except you will hear the word "sh*t" in the dialogue (the game would have been rated E for everyone or at least E 10+ if not for the use of this word). Also there is mild violence in that you will crash into buildings, trees, and other items on the various courses (try avoid them since they will affect your score). Lastly, some of the cosmetic items have your character in shorts and no shirt.

    I would recommend this for older teenagers and adults who enjoy winter sports events. I very much enjoyed the snowboarding and wing suit flying the most. The graphics and sound are very well done and I appreciate the developer showing that they support this game well beyond the original games' release. The micro transactions are in the game, but they are cosmetic only so they won't affect gameplay.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Stickman Super Athletics
    Developed by: CoderChild
    Published by: CoderChild
    Release date: August 4, 2016 (3DS)
    Available on: 3DS
    Genre: Action, Sports
    Number of Players: Single-Player
    ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
    Price: $2.49

    Thank you CoderChild for sending us the game to review!

    With the Olympics being all the buzz this year, Stickman Super Athletics from CoderChild aims to offer a similar gaming experience on the 3DS. With seven different events to complete in, there's always room to improve in this rhythm sports title that features stickmen. 

    In order to actually see the events individually you'll have to play the qualifying mode. In this mode the player must complete all seven events in a timely manner. After which, the individual events can be played. These are classic Olympian games like: the 100-meter dash, swimming laps, cycling, the long jump, and other running games. It's a decent selection, but it becomes a little stale after long periods of play.

    Stickman Super Athletics
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Engaging gameplay; Online leaderboards; Excellent entry-level rhythm type game
    Weak Points: No online multiplayer; No way to play all the events against A.I.; Only seven events
    Moral Warnings: None

    The key to success in the events themselves is mastering the rhythm-like game mechanic. As the game takes place on the top screen, the bottom screen displays the targets that must be tapped or held with the stylus as it moves across the screen. Depending on how well your timing and precision are, you'll receive different point values from the targets. Getting closer to the maximum of 100 points will usually give the player's stickman a faster speed boost. This mechanic allows for improvement every time you play an event, which is what kept me coming back to try and get higher on the leaderboards.

    Visually, this one is pretty nice. As you'll be looking at the bottom screen while you play, you won't really see what is happening on the top screen. This isn't an issue as after the event a nice replay will come on screen, giving time to appreciate everything with a nice 3D layering. It's nothing too impressive, but since this game has you playing as a stickman, you can't really expect next-gen graphics. The music is also nice and fits well with the events. It's hard to explain, but it sounds like something you'd expect to hear in a game about the Olympics.

    Stickman Super Athletics
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    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

    There are a few issues though, mainly the lack of online multiplayer. This game would have been perfect to actually compete against others around the world, rather than just see who has the fastest time on a leaderboard. There's also no way to complete in all events against A.I. The qualifying mode only has you racing by yourself, and the events can only be played one at a time against computer stickmen. It's also frustrating having one go at an event before it boots you back to the title screen.

    Stickman Super Athletics isn't the most in depth experience when it comes to these Olympic themed video games. It certainly doesn't compare to the Mario and Sonic Olympic games, but this also isn't a full priced AAA title. At its introduction price of $2.49, I'd recommend picking this one up as it's a cheap and entertaining experience in short bursts. Just remember, it's all about accuracy!

    -Kyuremu

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    The Golf Club 2
    Developed by: HB Studios
    Published by: Maximum Games
    Released: 27 June 2017
    Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Sports
    ESRB: E for Everyone (Comic Mischief)
    Number of players: 1 to 99+
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate link)


    Thank you Maximum Games for sending us a review copy of this game.

    Note: This review is based on the PS4 Pro version and might not look, sound, and perform the same on other consoles and PC.

    The Golf Club 2 is the second in the series of golf games developed by HB Studios. The first game was mildly successful due in part to the course creator and the lack of golf games available for consoles and PC. I purchased the first game on a deep discount on the PlayStation Store and for the price ($7.99) it was worth it. However, that game had numerous stability and control issues that frustrated me and others despite the game being patched many times. So when HB Studios announced The Golf Club 2 with a lovely trailer, I was curious and actually looking forward to it in the hope that they fixed the stability and controls.

    The big draw for golf gamers to this franchise is the nearly infinite number of courses that you can play. These courses are designed by you, your friends, other online gamers, and also by HB Studios. In The Golf Club 2, HB Studios added more base layouts, items, and other goodies to help you create the course of your dreams. It really is a very addictive feature. I created a course and I spent many hours tinkering with it and still have yet to get it to the way I want it. Once a player does get the course the way they like, they can then "Publish" it and then everyone in the community can enjoy it. The gamer can create as many golf courses as they like, which could keep you designing for years to come (well, until The Golf Club 3 comes out). Another really nice added touch is that if you owned the original Golf Club. you are given the option to import your masterpieces (courses) into the current game. This gives the game the extra special thank you for all the course designers of the original game.

    The character creator in this second game in the series is much more fleshed out. I spent a few hours customizing my lady golfer from what blouse she is wearing, to her skirt, shoes, and hat. There are tons of choices. I loved that after I made a choice I could go in and change the primary and secondary color of each part of her outfit. Also, after deciding which clubs I wanted in my bag (I went ahead and stayed with the preset clubs after some deliberation) I was given the option of customizing the club's head, neck and grips to my liking. I really enjoyed this and wish other golf games would follow suit.

    The Golf Club 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Tons of official and user created courses to play on. Character customization, ambient sound, and announcer play by play.
    Weak Points: Stability issues need more improvement. Controls are frustrating and difficult. 
    Moral Warnings: Perfect morality. No skimpy outfits or vulgar language. Just clean fun!!!

    At the main menu you have several options: Play, Training, Career, Online Societies, and Course Designer. Play is just giving the golfer the ability to play courses they designed or what other players/HB Studios have created. I do like the ability to go through created courses and add them to "My Favorites" tab so that you can play your favorite courses anytime without having to be forced to search for them again. You can also play courses friends created. This makes all the courses offered a little less daunting.

    The "Training" area allows you to work on a variety of areas of your golf game, from putting, club and shot types, and just going to the driving range to name a few. The "Career" area is your own personal page that gives you your own private clubhouse. You can name your clubhouse, add a club logo, and choose a background. There are a lot of options to make the career area the way you like it. You can create your own private season of golf with you competing against AI opponents or invite some friends for a nice round of golf. Online Societies is your option to join a society that is open to other golfers. You can even create this type of society yourself to allow other golfers to join. Lastly, there is the course designer area which I discussed earlier.

    The graphics in the original were pretty well done, but this new edition has shown an improvement with lighting and draw distance. EA's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour graphics are far superior but The Golf Club 2's are nothing to shake a stick at. There is far more behind the scenes computing for each golf course in The Golf Club 2 than EA's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour since each course is designed by gamers ( a few by HB Studios) and are so vast and different than the predesigned courses EA created.

    The sound quality in the game is well done, from the sound of the animals, to the trees blowing gently, to the sound of you hitting the golf ball and the golf ball hitting the fairway or green. The announcer in the game is not at the level of EA's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour announcers, but that is not a bad thing. I enjoyed the friendly announcing that made it seem like he is your friend and just trying to be encouraging. I also enjoyed the relaxing music in the menus.

    The Golf Club 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 77%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 3.5/5
    Controls - 2/5

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

    The big negatives that plague this game are the stability and controls. The stability has slightly improved with recent patches, but it still has a ways to go. Even the first game in the series had stability issues after several patches and now the second game in the series seems to follow the same pattern. I hope that this will get fixed more so that it will become an afterthought to gamers and not something they fear.

    Controls on the other hand are horrible. HB Studios refuse to go back to the tried and true 3 button clicking option that most golf games use. This game has you use the thumb stick to swing back for how much power you want to use and then push the stick up to try get within a narrow red area on the swinging gauge to successfully hit a ball to where you are trying to aim at. This kind of control is very frustrating because if you just move your thumb slightly, the ball goes wildly left or right. You think you moved your thumb perfectly down (for power) and up (for direction) and then to your anger the game sends your ball off to the left or right. No matter how many hours you put into the game this predicament could occur and cause great frustration. I hope HB Studios will realize their frustrating controls and patch in the 3 button click swing option.

    There are no morality issues to speak of in this game. All the clothing that you choose for your male or female golfer are family friendly. The lady skirts are not too short and the blouses are not revealing at all. There is no foul language in the game (except for the gamers yelling bad things at the controls).

    Besides the controls and the stability issues the game is well done. I really enjoyed my time creating my golfer and hope other golf games take notice. The course creator is a lot of fun and addictive. It's just sad that the golfer and course creator are the fun part of the game and not the actual golfing.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Tony Hawk Ride (PS3)
    Developed By: Romondo (PS3, Xbox 360), Buzz Monkey (Wii)
    Published By: Activision
    Release Date: November 2009
    Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
    Version Reviewed: PS3
    Genre: Sports
    Single/Multiplayer
    ESRB Rating: 10+
    MSRP: $59 new $38 used

    Tony Hawk Ride is the tenth game in the Tony Hawk series. What makes this game stand out from the rest is the skateboard peripheral.   The skateboard is sturdy and has sensors on the front, back, and sides. There are no wheels and you can put Velcro on it to help keep it from slipping and sliding on your carpet or scratching up your floors. Because of the unique hardware, the retail price was $120.  I’ve always wanted to look good skateboarding so the game concept intrigued me.  Not enough to pay $120 though; I got my like new copy on Amazon for under $30 to my door.    

    The game play is geared for both casual and hardcore gamers. The casual game mode is like riding with training wheels. You don’t have to worry about navigation and you just follow and choose pre-set paths. Your main focus in this mode is to do tricks and there are icons letting you know good spots to do them. The confident level still has the trick hints but the paths are gone and you’re free to roam wherever you want. The last mode, Hardcore, is initially locked and can be played after you progress in the confident mode.  

    The single player campaign is called Road Trip and your goal is to travel around the world and meet pro skaters along the way.  I was happy to see my hometown, Chicago, represented. You can also skate in California, New York, Frankfurt, Barcelona, and Toledo.  Each location offers challenge, trick, speed and free skate sessions.  With the exception of Free Skate, the other modes give you points as you complete them and with the collected points, you unlock skaters, gear, and new locales to play. Although the campaign is linear, you can often unlock going to the next locale before completing the one you\'re on. In the other single player mode, Exhibition, you can skate in any of the cities you’ve unlocked.
    Highlights:

    Strengths:Unique game play; sturdy controller
    Weaknesses:
    Defective hardware that impacts game play.
    Moral Warnings:
    Mild language

    In challenge mode you have to complete specific tricks at certain spots on the map. There are often multiple tricks and if you mess one up, you have to restart from the beginning. The trick sessions let you choose what tricks and where you want to them; your goal there is to rack up as many points as possible before the time runs out. Sometimes trick mode takes place on the streets and other times it’s on a half-pipe. Time is also a factor in the speed session. You goal is to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time.  There are obstacles in your way that can add or subtract from your time.  

    Performing tricks is generally easy to do. A jump/Ollie is performed by lifting the board up from the front; a Nollie involves raising the board from behind. On the harder difficulties the board only turns if you lean to the left or right. Many moves require you grab the board while it’s in he air (in the game); all you have to do is cover one of the sensors to register a grab. For the life of me I cannot do certain moves in this game due to hardware and calibration issues.  After looking at various gaming forums, I’m not the only one experiencing trouble with this. Fortunately you can bypass certain tasks and move on with the game play, but I like to complete everything and unfortunately this is not possible because of the hardware limitations. Even though the board has all the controller buttons on it, you still have to use a system controller to navigate the in-game menus. When you first plug in the batteries it’s recommended that you calibrate the board for accuracy which takes about 10 minutes to do. There are various game play modes and before you start each mode you have to do a mini calibration to determine your foot stance (Regular or Goofy). It’s a little annoying to have to re-affirm your foot stance every time, but it doesn’t take too long to do so.

    The board is pretty responsive but the harder difficulties have quite a learning curve. Keeping the board balanced and performing tricks gets quite complicated. It can be quite a workout as well; I often broke a sweat while playing. I prefer to play the casual settings so I can just focus on doing tricks. The casual mode seems too easy at times. While I\'m playing I don\'t feel like a hardcore skater since many of the moves are watered down quite a bit.  The skateboard itself feels too sensitive and other times I can\'t trigger the move I\'m trying to do no matter how easy it should be.  There are video tutorials on how to do the moves but I think the hardware is a limiting factor and adds much frustration to the otherwise fun game.
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 68%
    Game Play: 13/20
    Graphics: 7/10
    Sound: 8/10
    Controls/Interface: 2/5
    Stability: 4/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence: 9/10
    Language: 8/10
    Sexual Content: 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

    When I first set up my game I calibrated my board and set up my skater profile and was happily on my way. The next time I went to play my board wouldn’t turn on. It turns off on its own but in order to get it back on I had to remove the batteries and put them back in after a minute or two. Technically, it should be calibrated after each battery change. I called Activision and they were great about sending me a replacement and asked that I only send back the battery cover from my defective board. They put a temporary charge to my credit card for $69 that should have gone away after they received the battery cover with their UPS tracked label. They got the battery cover back, but still charged my credit card.  After I called them, they took it off. To make matters worse the replacement board I got does the same exact thing.  I refuse to go through that process again. Oddly enough my first board will sync with either USB dongle but the replacement board only works with one of the dongles. There are definitely some hardware quirks here.

    If you do manage to get a working board, you can skate with friends in party mode. Since there is no support for multiple boards, you have to share it. There is online multiplayer game play but I didn’t see any sessions to join.  

    Graphically this game won’t blow you away. The scenery varies but nothing is too incredibly detailed.  On the other hand, the character models and animations are well executed. My kids enjoyed watching the ragdoll physics as my character fell down.  I was surprised to experience the PS3 slowing down when there’s a lot of rendering to be done. When you unlock a new location there’s often a video of a pro skater in that area and you’ll get to watch them doing some slick moves. Afterwards a cell shaded rendition of the skater will introduce them self and give you some pointers for the next area. I was disappointed to see the lip syncing was often off. The music is grunge style and fitting and pretty much what I expected for this style of game. I didn\'t notice any bad lyrics.

    This game is pretty clean but there is some swearing as you skate past pedestrians they’ll will shout stuff at you. I’ve heard the D word but I don’t remember hearing any other swear words. The only violence is when you fall down; there’s very little blood, or breaking of any bones to add realism.  

    This is a generally a safe game to play with kids. Quite honestly, this will be the only reason I’ll keep it around. It could be fun to watch or take out if we have any skater wannabes come over. I’m sure glad I didn’t pay retail price for it. On the other hand it’s not worth trading in for $6 either.  As nice as the controller is, it just doesn\'t seem to work well for this game. Then again, I believe I have two faulty ones. I\'m curious how they will work with future titles which I don\'t plan on paying full price for.

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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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