Category: Reviews

When Nintendo pitched us Tomodachi Life, they set it up almost like a second Animal Crossing; another portable life simulator this time getting a bit more personal involving your Miis and your own personal friends… Unfortunately, Nintendo once again played it too safe and ended up creating something more socially awkward then a game that’s suppose to teach how life is.

tomodachi-1With Nintendo inviting the comparison; let’s compare Animal Crossing to Tomodachi life. In Animal Crossing you have a mortgage, you’re a mayor so you’re responsible for keeping the town clean and pass ordinances that will help you achieve economic goals, your approval rating depends on how often you help villagers, and you have an obligation to collect fish, insects and fossils for the town’s cultural enrichment.

In Tomodachi Life you’re a Demigod of relationships, food, and clothing. Your only responsibilities are to feed, clothe, and decide whether or not people could be in relationships or friendships. There is also no consequence for not fulfilling your responsibilities. In Animal Crossing if you don’t play the game weeds start to pop up everywhere roaches invade your home and citizens start to move away from your town, if you don’t pay your mortgage your home will soon become to small for all of your items, if you don’t sell or use certain items in a timely manner they may rot or lose value, and if you don’t buy anything the town will never improve in it’s selection making the items you can get stagnant.

There is no consequence for ignoring citizens; citizens rely on you for everything in their life they must ask permission to do anything, and despite having certain personality traits you decide at the beginning of their lives their likes and dislikes don’t matter and the final say is yours. Say a citizen doesn’t like a piece of clothing you give them; they’re forced to wear that as long as you tell them to and they can never leave the island. In terms of a life simulator, Tomodachi Life paints a strange life controlled by a tyrant who’s citizens have very little of their own initiative, where Animal Crossing is much more accurate and a much more positive influence for children.
When it comes to what you can do in the game there isn’t very much. You can make your Miis perform in concerts, feed them, watch their dreams, determine their relationships or play them in mini-games. The mini-games are very basic touch screen based games such as a sumo wrestling game where people are in football uniforms called football, matching tile games, islander trivia, to playing catch. None of these games are challenging and your only reward is money, an item you could only sell, or medicine in case your islander gets sick. The items you can actually use to increase happiness in your islanders aside from food and clothing are earned randomly, such as giving them permission to pursue a friendship and it works out.

tomodachi-2In fact everything in this game is completely random, there is no way of really influencing on which islanders will ask you for permission to pursue a relationship or friendship with. It happens completely at random; I thought the rankings system would at least provide a probability of how things would turn out. However I have a married couple that only had a 10% compatibility rating and two people who are best friends despite a 1% compatibility rating. The only factor that isn’t random is that in order for them to achieve this life they must ask you first, they even must ask you if they want to stop being friends with someone. I must add also that just because they ask you doesn’t mean it will happen, rejections despite being rare can happen.

These factors lead the game to be quite repetitive and random, for example even determining what kind of food or clothes a Mii will like is trial and error, errors only consequence is a decrease in leveling which seems to be completely arbitrary since my Miis that are over level 12 seem to have few differences then my Miis at level 2. The game is suppose to determine life events based on how much you pamper the Miis but my Mii that was married was able to do at level 3, which aside from having a baby is one of the only major events in a Mii’s life. This caused me to lose interest in the game, there’s only so many times I can be amused by random news stories about my Miis or forcing them to sneeze. After 8 hours of gameplay I have done everything there is to do in the game multiple times, and with no goals I really don’t see a need to continue. At least in Animal crossing there are arbitrary goals of maintaining approval rating, collecting everything or building a big house. In Tomodachi Life everything that could be a goal is randomly decided and your only course of action is to approve it or not.

tomodachi-3Despite other gaming media seeing this game’s lack of homosexual relationships being a very problematic social commentary, I say the game has much weirder and creepier social issues. Such as you shouldn’t do anything nice or feed people unless you profit off it, you know what’s best for other people, and other people must be told what to do.  Besides thinking a game that’s so prude that it shies away from the term “Girlfriend” and “Boyfriend” and instead uses “Sweet hearts” and only allows people to live together or have kids if they’re married should give clues that this isn’t a very modern or realistic portrayal of relationships.

Overall Tomodachi Life is an amusing yet simplistic life simulator that you can do everything the game has to offer in a matter of hours. The game’s lack of detail on life paints a very strange and creepy attitude about society that almost feels as if it’s an alien’s portrayal of human interactions. The games lack of activities and repetition make it a very difficult sell at $35, I highly recommend renting it if you’re interested.

5/10

Magic: The Gathering is one of the longest running card-games of all time. With thousands of cards released since it’s inception two decades ago, it has been a force to be reckoned with annual tournaments, meet-ups, and it’s own secondary market to selling, buying and trading. In 2009 and 2010, Wizards of the Coast released a simplified, digital card game version for consoles and the pc. Since then, there has been continuation of the digital game with some minor changes and tweaks with each iteration. Although Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planewalkers 2014 has addressed complaints from critics and players from past releases, there are still some gripes that I had personally with this game.

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Having little to no knowledge of the game in either incarnation, other than echoed conversations I have had with friends, I was a bit nervous jumping into this dedicated, fan-based driven game. Thankfully, like the others, Magic 2014 has a hold-my-hand tutorial for those unfamiliar with the gameplay and its mechanics. After completing the tutorial, gone away were my doubts on how to know the types of color, summon creatures, utilize artifacts and enchantments, and how to block attacks. The tutorial did introduce me to the previous mentioned and more, however there were a few items left off the table regarding complex advanced techniques, though this was probably intentional in order to over complicate novices.

The campaign for Magic 2014 has the player traversing to different realms, conquering opponents and besting the Planeswalker (boss) from each “stage” in order to move on to the next one. The campaign features unique cut-scenes and voice over, it’s not ground-breaking, but it adds some spice to the mix. The “minions” other than the boss use the same strategy and deck which can be boring at predicable at times, but beating the campaign nets the revenge campaign, which has you challenge only the bosses from each realm, which can be challenging but rewarding.

Sealed Play is the main draw for Magic 2014. Unlike the main campaign, which allows minimal changes for the pre-constructed-deck, Sealed Play has the player open booster packs filled with random cards in order to create a deck from the ground up. A definite step in the right direction as winning duels in Sealed Play’s own minor campaign will often yield more booster packs to unwrap and use. Now every card isn’t available in Sealed Play to use, but for the most part there is some variety in this packs.There is also downloadable content if you feel the need to get that extra “boost” in your deck.

Multiplayer is big here as well; you can battle one on one against a fellow duelist online with or without a sealed play deck; you can also team up with a local or online buddy to take on two opponents on the special Two-Headed Giant Mode.
Challenge is certainly the weaker of the modes here, and has a few bare-bone brain-buster tasks to accomplish. Nothing challenging as the name of the mode implies, but beating them unlocks avatars that are used to represent you in the game.

The tutorial/campaign did have a few hiccups for me, seeing as I was prompted to select an action with one button and on the side of the game was also showing the same action but substituted with another button, only for me to skip the action by error and my turn altogether, thus allowing the opponent to alter the game and win the duel. Duration of the duels due to said action-stopping sequences and speed of the digital game altogether can make some duels last two to three times it normally should in the real card game. The music though one-tracked, is catchy and sets the mood for the game.

The price to enter the world of Magic: The Gathering in digital format is cheap and well worth it. Although there’s a few of the gameplay hurtles that I have yet to master and understand, and Sealed Play can use some changes that will hopefully be addressed in the 2015 game, I am at ease knowing that through this game, I know how to play the card game and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to the next installment of the Duels of the Planewalkers series.

Review

Pros Cons
Sealed Play is a welcome change. Overhauled Campaign. Friendly Tutorial for Novices. Very Slow paced game. Questionable button prompt layout. Predictable AI.
Rating
85%

Ben10: Omniverse | Vicious Cycle Studios | WiiU | £20/$30 | Released: 18th Nov 2012 (US)

Samuel reviews Ben10: Omniverse on WiiU, a sloppy port of Ben10′s 2012 platformer.

Crystal Adventure | CIRCLE Entertainment | DSiWare | 200 Nintendo Points/$1.99 | Released: 06/12/2012

Random, unoriginal and broken at it’s core. Samuel reviews Crystal Adventure, a fundamentally flawed RPG that’s not worth the stress.

Skylanders: Cloud Patrol | Vicarious Visions & Frima Studio | iOS | £0.69 | Released: 05/04/2012

Over recent years, the market for mobile games has grown larger than anyone could have expected, probably due to the immensely popular Angry Birds. It didn’t take long for Activision to jump onto the mobile market and bring all your favourite Skylanders heroes to our mobile and not-so-mobile iOS devices in the form of ‘Skylanders: Cloud Patrol’. With so much competition on the iOS market for simple and addictive games – does Cloud Patrol blow you away or just come crushing down to earth?

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The game is a on-rails shooter where the objective is to shoot formations of Troll enemies off floating islands to progress through the game. You can choose to simply tap the Trolls which fires a single blast at them earning you some coins and a few points or you can swipe your finger across multiple trolls and other breakables to gain combo bonuses. Each group of Trolls is a different stage and when you’ve defeated one group you move onto the next stage. There are some hazards such as bombs and enemies that will fire projectiles at you but these can be easily avoided – and also used to your advantage when using magic items such as the Sky Iron Shield.

When you’re not battling enemies, you can spend some of the coins and gems that you’ve collected during the game upgrading your magic items, giving your Skylanders new abilities and even unlocking those Skylanders and magic items that you don’t physically own. For the Skylanders that you’ve already bought and use in your console adventure, you can unlock them in Cloud Patrol with their web codes – though it’s certainly a pain to type each one individually and I would have preferred a system where your iOS device can scan the bar code on the web code card.

The good thing is, you can still play the game if you don’t own any Skylanders at all. However don’t be surprised if you’re stuck with one character for a very long time, though it shouldn’t make much of a difference as there isn’t really much difference in characters besides their individual upgrade and the ‘element of the day’ bonus, where you gain bonus points for using a Skylander of the ‘element of the day’.

The game play itself is such a simple formula that it becomes incredibly addicting to play. It’s defiantly one of those games where you’ll find yourself playing it again and again to beat your previous score and with little challenges that reward you with extra gems when you complete them, it’ll keep you playing for hours – especially if your determined to buy all the upgrades and Skylanders from the shop. On top of all the in game collectibles and upgrades, the game also supports achievements for those with their iOS device linked up to Game Center.

The only real downside I can think to this game is that it’s not very difficult. Though that should be expected of a kids game, it even gets to the point where some of the magic items make parts that could be considered hard too easy – and when you have the Sky Iron Shield active you actually gain a huge number points for tapping bombs that would otherwise kill you. Other than that, it’s not a bad game at all and considering how cheap it is, I would recommend it to fans of the series – in fact I imagine that anyone who enjoys fun little addictive games would enjoy Cloud Patrol; whether your a fan of the Skylanders series or not.

Review

Pros Cons
Simple and fun game play Could be more difficult
Rating
80%

Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 | Wizards of the Coast | PSN/XBLA/Steam/ | £6.99 | Released: 20/06/2012

As someone who is, unashamedly, a massive geek, I haven’t really dipped my toes into many things people would consider geeky. Granted, I do spend a lot of time on the internet, and I play a lot of video games, but when it comes to things like Warhammer or trading cards, I don’t know anything. Even after surviving the Pokemon card craze, I’ve never played it, or any other card game for that fact.
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But after Samuel interviewed a representative for Magic The Gathering’s latest game at E3 (you can watch the interview here); I wanted to dip my toes into it. I wanted to test the claims the interviewee made that Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planewalkers 2013 (we’ll just call it Magic 2013, okay?) will open Magic up to completely new players, providing some metaphorical training wheels to the in-depth card game.

So… how is Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planewalkers 2013, (sorry, Magic 2013)…

Well, I can certainly say it is complicated. While many card games might be infamous for their ease of play and lack of depth (see Pokemon), Magic is overwhelmingly full of depth. When it comes to depth, it’s the mega sized bag of Doritos amongst all the small bags (good metaphor, eh?). Luckily the Magic 2013 team weren’t bluffing when they said they were making it accessible to beginners.

Multiple difficulty modes are available in Magic 2013, including one especially for new players, which includes a hand-holding tutorial, clearly explaining the basics of the game, slowly introducing more and more mechanics. I came into the game with literally no experience of Magic, and left with a good, confident understanding of how the card game ticks.

Of course though, I’m not going to jump into tournament play, or even the game’s online mode yet. But Magic 2013 is true to it’s promise to new players. Now is the best time to experience and enjoy the card game for the first time. Featuring the same beautiful hand-drawn graphics of the actual card game and some very atmospheric music, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice not to check out this unique game. Especially at it’s bargain, £7 price.

Obviously with such an in-depth game, my beginners experiences don’t do it justice. To only play it for 5 hours is injustice, and might just put bounties on my head by Magic fans. So I’m off to play some more Magic 2013, why not play me? My PSN is KingEurope.