Positive Video Games

Positive Video Games

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SSX Tricky

SSX Tricky came out in the holiday season of 2001. I picked it up for the original XBOX (hence the reason I am posting the cover art from the XBOX version of the game above), because that was my gaming system of choice at the time. It also came out for the Playstation 2, and the Nintendo Gamecube (both of which I also had).  Anyway, if you haven't played this game, you missed out on quite the experience. I can honestly say this was the first "sports" title I ever really loved, and it was one of the first games I ever obsessively tried to complete 100%. I am posting a YouTube link to the opening of the game below, which shows pretty accurately the mood and tone of the game, and the game play itself. If YouTube proves to be unreliable, I will post a video of it myself. Please let me know if the video ever goes down.

SSX Tricky was directly responsible for inspiring me to get into winter sports. I tried snowboarding & I determined that wasn't for me, so I ended up in skis. I now ski every winter, and have taught others how to do it as well. I never approached it trying to mimic the insanity of the game, but the game showed me how much fun winter sports could be -- and it was right!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Plants Vs. Zombies

Another positive video game post, and yet another mobile game, I know, I know, I need to get to other genres/platforms. The truth of the matter is, though, that while I do still play "core" games like Halo, Mass Effect, Borderlands, etc. -- many of those games aren't that positive, and/or I haven't been playing them nearly as frequently lately as I have the mobile games. The next game I review will either be a console game or a PC game though, I  promise :)

So, that being said, let's talk about Plants Vs. Zombies -- my first mobile gaming love.  I got my first mobile device capable of running Android applications back in June of 2011. The game had hit the Amazon App Store at the end of May 2011, and it was at #1 in the downloads list, and everyone was talking about it. So, of course I had to download it and give it a try.

I have been a long player of PC strategy games, cutting my teeth on Command & Conquer (back when Westwood was running the show), Age of Empires, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Dune 2000, and the like. I had heard of tower-defense games which basically reduced the standard PC Real-Time Strategy game into just defending the base against attackers. With tower-defense, there is no base building, and you get no armies to build and send against your attackers. Your only goal is to survive and repel the attackers. Very similar to those who play Real-Time Strategy games with the "turtling" strategy. And I have to admit, I am a turtling player :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where's My Water

Amazon released Where's My Water in November of 2011 (about 2 months after it actually was released by Disney in September of 2011 -- Amazon's consistent slow release schedule of Android apps has been a long-time frustration for me, seeing as my only tablet is a Kindle Fire, and I refuse to hack it or "side load" anything on to it), but I didn't pick it up until the end of February, 2012. I had no idea what it was! It looked like some sort of kid's education game to me. But, I saw it persistently stick in the top 10, then top 5, and then the #1 on the paid apps list for months, and it finally got to the point that I had to click on it and check it out, and see why this supposed kid's game was so popular.

Of course, when I looked at game play videos and screen shots, I realized right away that my perception had been wrong. Of course, the bright side of that was that they had already released more levels for the game by then, so by the time I started, I already had more to enjoy. Disney has, since the original launch of the game, expanded it with Cranky's Story and Allie's Story -- which feature the other 2 main characters from the trio in the cut-scenes, each with their own game play features and unique level designs.

Disney has also launched a spin-off game called Where's My Perry, (that uses the same basic concepts but with a sci-fi twist) which I also play
and which I will review at a later date :)

So, if you haven't played Where's My Water yet, I heartily recommend you play it. It is a good pick up and go game that you can play for a couple of minutes, or for hours. It has satisfying puzzles that combine realistic physics with fun environments that you can mostly shape the way you want. The puzzles frequently have more than one way to solve them. Some of the puzzles will be quick ones to solve, others will take you hours to labor away at to figure out how to solve, and earn all the duckie rewards for the level (which they call tri-ducking).

I have also enjoyed the expansions for Cranky and Allie quite a lot, and I am happy they kept updating the game as long as they did. They've moved on to a numbered sequel now, using a freemium model (which I hate), which I haven't played yet, but I will talk about it here if after I play it I had a positive experience. Play it, I think you'll like it :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

As an Android user, I waited and watched jealously as Apple users got The Simpsons: Tapped Out first. Then, sadly, as an Amazon Kindle Fire Android user, I had to wait even longer until it came out for the Kindle Fire (yes, I will be working on changing to a different tablet soon if they don't start getting their release schedule under control =_=). This is one of the first "mobile" games to grab me and not let go. Yes, I messed around with Angry Birds, and Where's My Water, and Plants Vs. Zombies (another one that grabbed me, but not nearly as badly) -- but The Simpsons: Tapped Out (TSTO) has had its hooks into me since June of 2013 (when it was finally released for the Kindle), and I am just as addicted now as I was when I started!

What's even weirder, is this is a "freemium"/free-to-play game, and I LOATHE that business model -- yet I still love this game. I even have to admit that I have purchased and used some of the game's premium currency, donuts.
Premium currency can be used to buy items and characters that have prices listed in donuts instead of in-game dollars, some of the best characters from the show are premium-only characters, such as: Disco Stu, Kang, Sideshow Mel, Otto, Dr. Nick, & Duffman. Most premium characters come with a premium building as well, but some just come by themselves.

Here is a screen shot of some premium items for sale in the game (click for a larger version). That took place during the Christmas event (which I missed). I also missed their: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Whacking Day events [sad face]. I have read about the events on various websites though, so I am pumped for this year's events. The Halloween event should be just around the corner.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reviews of video games that aren't dark and depressing.

I have a tremendous aversion to dark and depressing stuff. I think most people as they get older and see real-life death and devastation and come to understand how very different it is when the long-term effects are forced to be felt (unlike how it is presented in modern "entertainment") are no longer able to view that stuff as "entertainment" any more, whether is comes in the form of books, magazines, movies, TV shows, video games, or the internet -- I tend to avoid it.

This blog is going to contain reviews and discussion of video games which avoid heavy drama, depression, human misery and the like to "entertain" (by that I mean: rape, torture, horror, graphic/extreme violence, etc. not PG-13 violence). I don't like that kind of stuff, and I think that kind of stuff is damaging not just to the human mind, but to the society that revels in it. This blog will make the effort to show people the content out there that isn't trying to make human misery into entertainment. I will also link you to that content whenever it is appropriate. Anything I link to, I recommend.

This blog is going to be about games like: Knack, Plants Vs. Zombies, Mass Effect, The Simpsons Tapped Out, Angry Birds, Halo, Where's My Water, Final Fantasy X-2, Asheron's Call, Kingdome Hearts, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Toejam & Earl, Super Mario Brothers, Jak & Daxter, Sly Fox, Ratchet & Clank, Portal, Rock Band, Star Wars: The Old Republic, DuckTales: Remastered, Mario Party, Super Smash Brothers, SSX, Donkey Kong 64, Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, The Simpsons Game, Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that quite a few games and game series I just named have touched on dark & depressing things, or a section of a game is dark, while the majority isn't. Those works either won't get recommended, or will be recommended with extreme caveats.

This blog is going to be about stuff that I wish I could find easier to help point me to the next thing I would love to play, in the hopes that it will help someone else find something great to help brighten their day. And, of course, if any of you have any suggestions, let me know, and I will check them out.

Let's get started, shall we? :)