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Video Games Weekly: Sonic Mania

Sonic the Hedgehog is game series that was first released in 1991 on Sega.  Since then, there have been many Sonic games for a variety of consoles.  The majority of the games are fast-paced 2D platform jumpers, but like any other popular videogame series, there have been a few Sonic games that dabbled in other genres like racecar and fighting games.  Sonic is considered a “classic”, and the newest game in the series is something you should know about.

YouTube Trailer:


Platform:
Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Both, but multiplayer is local play only

Storyline: The storyline isn’t very obvious unless you are familiar with the game already.  Players control Sonic, a blue hedgehog that has a need for speed.  He runs around collecting gold rings, jumping on enemies, and saving all of the animals that have been captured by the evil Dr. Eggman.

I want to mention that Sonic Mania isn’t a remastered edition of previous Sonic games, but it isn’t a completely new game either. Instead, the creators selected some of their favorite levels from former Sonic games, creatively gave them new twists to make the game interesting, as well as created brand-new levels. They also decided to keep the retro 16-bit art style from the old Sonic games, which may be appealing to gamers who grew up playing Sonic, but may deter new players.

Gameplay: Unlike other platform jumper games, Sonic requires a little less strategy and a lot more luck. That is because the game is incredibly fast-paced! The goal of the game is to beat every level by jumping through obstacles, jumping on small enemies, and defeating the boss at the end. This all has to be done in under 10 minutes per level, otherwise you lose a life!  Since there is such an emphasis on speed, Sonic often curls into a tiny blue ball and whizzes so fast around the screen that I can barely keep track of where he is on the screen. This is what makes Sonic fun, but it can also be frustrating for some gamers like me who like to collect *everything* in video games or who prefer to have more control over their character’s movements. To be honest, I can’t play Sonic for very long because the fast pace and whizzing gives me a headache.

Sonic Mania has three different types of “games”. The first one is called “Mania Mode”, which is the storyline. There are about 12 special areas, each with two “acts” (levels).  While you can technically have two players play together in Mania Mode, I don’t recommend it. This is because the camera only focuses on Sonic (Player One), and since the point of the game is to move Sonic as quickly as possible through obstacles,  Player Two is always left behind in the dust. The only time Player Two will feel useful is during boss battles, but that’s hardly enough engagement time for me to consider the storyline to truly be multiplayer.

 

The second type of game is “Time Attack”. This is where you can replay levels and try to beat your personal best times. This is the only “online” interaction where you can post your times on online leaderboards.

Finally, there is “Competition” where two players can race each other. This was by far my favorite part of the game because competition can be FIERCE. If you have gaming programs, this game might be appealing to teens, but keep in mind only two players can compete at a time.

Audience:  Anyone who grew up playing Sonic will love this game. As for teens, I feel like it’s a gamble. I’m sure a few teens love Sonic, but I don’t think this game is good for teens who are new to playing video games. It’s incredibly fast-paced, hard to control, and I can see where they would get easily frustrated. Especially because the bosses are quite difficult compared to the much earlier Sonic games.

Verdict: I would recommend buying a copy for circulating collections, but it appears you can’t buy a disc version at the moment. If you purchased the “Collector’s Edition”, you pay $70 for Sonic statue, cartridge cast with a gold ring, collector’s box, and the digital code to download the game.

As for teen gaming programs, I recommend asking your teens. If they’re really into Sonic, then this might be a good choice especially because the game only costs $20 on online console stores. You can also have them demo the game by playing it for free online: http://www.freesonic.org/ or http://www.allsonicgames.net/

Pricing: Can only be purchased online. $20 on the Xbox Store, PlayStation Store, Nintendo, and Steam for PC

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Slime Rancher

August is a slow month in the gaming world.  Most AAA video game developers have released their blockbuster games at the beginning of the summer season, so this week I’m going to focus on another indie game that you may not have heard of. Slime Rancher is a first person adventure game created by Monomi Park, and is the developer’s first video game. It’s simply adorable, and great for all ages!
YouTube Trailer:


Platform:
Xbox One and PC

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: Your character’s name is Beatrix LeBeau, a young adventurer who decides to start her own slime ranch on a faraway planet. The ranch was formerly owned by Hobson Twillgers, who mysteriously disappeared after leaving electronic notes around the planet. Since the planet is only occupied by Beatrix and slime, the storyline is minimal, and players do not have to “beat” the storyline in order to progress in the game.

 

Gameplay: Similar to Stardew Valley, there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong way to play Slime Rancher.  The goal of the game is to make as much money as possible so Beatrix can build up her ranch, as well as try to create unique slime species. Players have to strategize in how they will spend their day, feed their slime, and harvest resources.

Beatrix is armed with a Vacpack, which can suck up and spit out slimes, food, water, and these gem things that slime drop called plots. The vacpack is the only way objects can be moved in the game, and is used to harvest resources so they can be spat out back at the ranch.  The ranch has a variety of plots which can be built up to include slime corrals, gardens, chicken coops, and many other types of plots.  Players have to be strategic in where they place their slimes, because certain species of slime need specific habitats.

 

I know this game sounds odd, but what makes it fun is how the game instills a burning desire to build up the ranch, gain access to new areas, and how freaking adorable the slimes are. They make cute cat-like noises, and you can combine slimes to make different kinds of slimes! It’s kind of like a weird kid version of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but you know, with slime.  There are some enemies thrown into the game called The Tarr that eat other slimes, and players can accidentally create a Tarr slime if they breed their slime incorrectly.

tarslime

Audience:  This game is suitable for all ages. I recommend this game to kids and teens who want a “first person shooter” experience but without the violence.

Verdict: Sadly, this game is only available on the Xbox Store and Steam. Recommend this to parents who want to let their child play a “first-person shooter” but they’re too young for war games.

Pricing: Can only be purchased online. $20 on the Xbox Store https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/slime-rancher/c2nc88m7nwz1?wa=wsignin1.0

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

 

The first video game that I played and loved back in the mid-90s was Crash Bandicoot.  I wrote all about how awesome it was in my very first VGW post for TLT, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned the creators of Crash Bandicoot came out with a remastered version (which includes three games in one) this summer!

YouTube Trailer:

 

The difference between a remastered game and a new game is the remastered version is the exact same game but with updated HD graphics.  Remastered games get a lot of criticism in the gaming community because it seems like a cheap way for game developers to make a ton of money without doing a lot of work.  How do I feel about remastered games? I’m not sure. On one hand, I love that I can go back and play all of these old games on my new system, especially because I don’t own a PlayStation 1 anymore. But, it does seem like a lot to charge $60 for this game when it isn’t exactly new…but look at the graphics!


Platform:
PS4

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: The main character is a bandicoot named Crash, who was a creature designed by an evil doctor named Neo Cortex.  Crash lives with his sister and a floating mask named Aku Aku on an island near Australia. Neo Cortex wants to destroy Crash and conquer the world, and it’s up to the player to defeat Neo Cortex to save the world.  This is the basic premise for all three games, but Neo Cortex has different minions in each game.

Gameplay:  Crash Bandicoot is a 3D platform jumper where on some levels Crash has to run left to right and some are bottom to top.  While players can simply beat the levels, each level has bonus items like gems for completing unique challenges like destroying all of the boxes in one life or a relic for beating the level under a time limit.  I have forgotten how insanely difficult this game is, especially the first one!  My favorite game in the trilogy is Crash Bandicoot Warped (the third one), because it adds more moves like double jump, belly flops, and BAZOOKAS.

They also added a secret level in this remastered version that originally wasn’t included in the first rendition of Crash Bandicoot because the creators thought it was too hard. As if the original levels weren’t hard enough…

Controls: The remastered version gives you two control options: you can use the + button to move just like in the original games, or you can use the joystick to move around. Personally, I hated the joystick because it wasn’t as accurate as the + buttons.  You don’t have to change the controls in the options menu, which was a nice feature.  Still, it took some adjusting because the majority of modern games on the PS4 use the joystick.

Audience:  This game is great for kids around 8+, families, and teens. I also think this game is great for grown ups like me who played the original in the 90s!

Verdict: Snag a copy of this game for your circulating collections, but only when it’s on sale. There’s no way it is worth $60 because it isn’t a brand new game, just a remastered version.

Pricing: $40 on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Crash-Bandicoot-N-Sane-Trilogy-PlayStation/dp/B01NAGTKX3/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1500851018&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=crash+bandicoot&psc=1

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a popular indie game that had been released on consoles earlier this year, although it has been available on PC platform since 2016.  It’s a role-playing farming/country life game, and while that sounds pretty boring, it’s actually pretty fun!

YouTube Trailer:


Platform:
PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: You have inherited your now deceased grandfather’s shabby farmland in a small town called Stardew Valley. Not only is your farm decaying, the village’s Community Center is in ruins and a large company called Joja is trying to take over the town!

Gameplay:  There isn’t a good or bad way to play Stardew Valley. Players generally try to fix up the Community Center because they can get special items and unlock special areas around town.  The second thing players try to do is get married.  There are certain villagers whom you can marry if you have enough friendship hearts, and it doesn’t matter what gender the player is.  I chose to marry Elliot, a sensitive soul who lives on the beach who is trying to finish writing a novel.

https://i.redd.it/4xwhqxpg228x.png

Players have to strategize how to spend each “day” because they have a certain amount of energy.  There is plenty to do in one day like raise animals, plant crops, go fishing, mine the caves, collect items to fix up your farm and town, or talk to villagers. Some villagers have their own mini story arc, but there isn’t an overall way to “beat” Stardew Valley because the game is open-ended.  Most players try to make money as fast as possible so they can expand their farm and purchase expensive items.

Players also have to consider what items are available during the day because some items are available during one season like Fall.  There are 28 days in every season, and four seasons are in a year.  Every month has two celebrations where players can get special items.

Now, if this game sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s like an indie version of the popular Nintendo game known as Harvest Moon.  In my opinion, it’s better than Harvest Moon because it improved the game mechanics and leveling system that made Harvest Moon so frustrating to play.

Like I said, there isn’t a way to beat Stardew Valley.  I got as far as about the end of my third year before I got bored of it, which translates to about 60 hours of gameplay.  What I liked most about this game is the casual pace (although the start of the game is very slow and you just have to trudge through), and that I could listen to the radio or an audiobook while playing the game.  I listened to both books in the An Ember in the Ashes series while playing Stardew Valley, and I will probably pick up the game again once the third book in the series comes out!

Audience:  Like any role-playing game, Stardew Valley will have a niche audience because it is a slow paced, relaxing game.  If you are a gamer who liked Harvest Moon, I highly recommend Stardew Valley. However, if you are a player that likes video games with a lot of action, I do not recommend playing this game. 

Verdict: I recommend getting a copy or two for circulating collections. This is not a game for programs because of its slow pace and the fact that it is single player.

Pricing: $30 on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Stardew-Valley-Collectors-PlayStation-4/dp/B01N199PG7

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Magikarp Jump

tltbuttons4

The mobile game Pokemon Go was all the rage during Summer 2016, but its popularity was short lived due to missing features, unpopular decisions, and lack of communication between creators and users.  This summer, Pokemon quietly released a new game for Summer 2017 called Magikarp Jump, although I do not believe it’ll be as popular as Pokemon Go.  Nevertheless, this is a cute mobile app to recommend/play with kids, tweens, and teens who are still hardcore Pokemon fans.
YouTube Trailer:


Platform:
Android and iOS Devices

Rated: No official ESRB rating, but I’d give it an E

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: If you don’t know anything about Pokemon, you might be a little lost as to why this game is so popular.  Magikarp is a Pokemon that looks like a goldfish, and all he does is flop around.  Magikarp is beloved because as useless as it is in combat, it is very adorable looking.  One reason why trainers tend to keep Magikarps around is if you manage to gain enough experience fighting while using Magikarp, it’ll eventually evolve into Gyarados.

 

Magikarp Jump is a game dedicated solely to the fandom’s love for Magikarps.  Rather than running around collecting different kinds of Pokemon, players are only given Magikarps to level up by gaining jumping power (JP).  Players can compete in leagues in order to win badges.  There are currently six leagues, although Pokemon may create more in the future.  The game overall is silly and riddled with inside jokes for dedicated Pokemon fans to appreciate.

Magikarp League

Gameplay:  There are three ways to get JP for your Magikarp.  First, players can have their Magikarp eat food while swimming around.  All players have to do is tap the food swimming around in the tank:

Magikarp Tank

Second, players can “train” their Magikarps.  Players have to tap their device as fast as possible in order to get the most amount of JP.

Magikarp Training

Finally, there are random events that can grant extra JP, but that is only if the player makes the correct choice.  If the player makes a wrong choice, their beloved Magikarp can get eaten by a Pidgeotto!

Magikarp Event

A new element in this game is how players can only train their Magikarp to a maximum level which correlates with the trainer’s level.  Once Magikarp reaches their maximum level, it has to retire and the players begin once again with a new baby Magikarp. This in turn encourages players to spend coins and diamonds (the game’s currency), which can be earned slowly for free or purchased with real money.  I personally haven’t spent a dime in this game, which is nice because many mobile games make it impossible to progress without spending real money!

Magikarp League

Players can also use diamonds to unlock tank decorations, power ups, or friendship items. These “friendship items” bring other Pokemon to cheer your Magikarp on during battles, as well as give other bonuses.  These speciality items can be purchased at a very slow rate as players earn diamonds for free, or they can be purchased right away using real money.

Magikarp Pikachu

Audience: Kids, tweens, teens, and adult Pokemon fans will enjoy this small quirky mobile game.

Verdict: A fun game to encourage your patrons to play during the summer.

Pricing: Free, with the option to purchase in-game currency.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Overcooked – One of the Best Teen Game Night Games You’ve Never Heard Of

tltbuttons4

It took me a whole month to finally beat Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I’m happy to say it’s by far one of the best games of 2017.  Now that I’m done playing that game forever, I am moving on to more casual games.  This week, I have discovered probably one of the best games (that isn’t Super Smash Bros) for Teen Game Night that you may have never heard of.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Multiplayer, up to 8 players for maximum chaos

Storyline: In the beginning of the game, there is a Spaghetti Monster Apocalypse where chefs have to feed its ginormous appetite in order to save the world.  It’s impossible to do, so the chefs go back in time to train for preparing a variety of meals.  Sounds ridiculous? It is.

For those of you who are Game of Thrones fans, the main menu music is strikingly similar to Light of the Seven.  You can’t unhear it!

Gameplay: Players are given the task of completing food orders in a restaurant.  Each level has complicated obstacles which pushes players to work together in order to complete orders.  When I say “work together” I don’t mean calmly explaining your strategy, I mean yelling at the other players, so be sure your program space is separate from reading areas in your library.  At the end of each level, the team’s score earns them 1-3 stars, which can be redeemed to unlock more levels.

Overcooked has two functions that make this game perfect for Teen Game Night programs. First, the game emphasizes teamwork, which is something that I prefer to have in my Game Nights over competitive games like Super Smash Bros.  My teens who don’t have a lot of experience playing video games are often intimidated by other teens who will clearly beat them, so I try to make my program more inclusive by providing co-op games.

Controls: The second reason why Overcooked is perfect for Teen Game Night programs is the controls.  This game can accommodate up to 8 players by using only 4 controllers.  How?  You have two players share one controller.  Here’s an example from Overcook’s Twitter:

 

If you can imagine how difficult this game is when using one controller per person, imagine how hard it is when you only have HALF on a controller!  It is chaotic, there is a ton of yelling at each other, and it is incredibly fun.  This game gives you the perfect opportunity to match up your gamer and non-gamer teens while guaranteeing both parties will have fun.  If you want to see an example of the chaos, I recommend checking out this Let’s Play video.

Audience: Families, teens, or any group of people who want an massively fun local co-op game.

Verdict: A must-have for Teen Game Nights.

Pricing: Ranges from $20-$40 depending on the platform. Check Amazon or your console’s online store for prices.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the launch game that was simultaneously released with Nintendo’s newest console, Nintendo Switch, which came out in mid-March.  In my opinion, Breath of the Wild is by far the best game in 2017, although I have been playing it on my Wii U, not the Switch.  I still am not wholly convinced to spend $330-$400 on a Switch, but I’ll keep you posted if I ever cave.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform: Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo Switch

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Single, but the kind of game where friends can come over and enjoy watching you play

Storyline: Like any other Zelda game, you play as Link, a destined soldier/hero who was just woken up after a 100 year slumber.  100 years ago, Link and Princess Zelda attempted to seal away Calamity Gannon (the bad guy) with the help of Divine Beasts (imagine steampunk-ish robots), but failed to do so and now Calamity Gannon rules Hyrule.  When Link wakes from his 100 year long slumber, he has discovered that he has lost all of his memories of the people he fought with and the events that happened 100 years ago.  The only tool Link has to recover this information is a Shiekah Slate (which looks strikingly similar to a Nintendo Switch or a smartphone…) which can help players find towers (which unlock areas of the map), shrines (gives players spirit orbs which can be redeemed for hearts or stamina), and items.

zelda

Gameplay: Unlike former Zelda games, Link is not given a sword that lives permanently in your inventory.  This game is more like a survival game where players have to forage around in order to find any weapons, shields, bows and arrows, and cook food for hearts.  These weapons deteriorate as you use them, so players have to be extra strategic when fighting enemies.

This game is long because players don’t have to follow the main storyline.  In fact, I’ve sunk in about 30-40 hours of gameplay and I think I’m only 25% through the main storyline.  This is because the game encourages you to explore the vast and gorgeous world of Hyrule, and I find it even more fun to explore rather than follow the storyline.  There is plenty to do besides the storyline, ranging from locating the towers/shrines to a large variety of side quests.  I don’t think I’m going to “beat” the game anytime soon because there is so much content and beauty to get through!

Controls: I’m playing the game on the Wii U, so I have no idea how the controls are on the Switch. In my experience, the controls on the Wii U are a little difficult to grasp because it utilizes every single button on the Wii U GamePad, and that can get very confusing.  It took me awhile to get used to, and even then I tend to confuse the – and + buttons because they bring up different menus.

Audience: I recommend this game to teens and adults who are fans of Zelda games, because I think it’s one of the best Zelda games in the last 10 years.

Verdict: Highly recommend for circulating collections. I don’t recommend this for Teen Game Nights because it’s only one player and not easy to pick up for amateur players.

Pricing: $60 on Amazon

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly Disney Emoji Blitz

videogamesweekly

This week, I was going to review the new Legend of Zelda game, but due to a shipping mix up, I haven’t received my copy yet!  So, this week is about a “freemium” game that I have been addicted to for the past few months called Disney Emoji Blitz.  If you shop at Walmart, you might have noticed Disney has started a new line of emoji merch, and that is directly related to this game.

YouTube Trailer:

 Platform: iOS and Android Devices

Rated: Not officially rated by the ESRB, but I personally would give it an E

Single or Multiplayer: Single, but you can link your Facebook profile to enter a weekly high score competition with your friends.

Gameplay: The game is exactly like Bejeweled and Candy Crush.  What you do is move emoji characters to align three in a row in order to get points. If you align more than three emojis, you get special power ups that can clear many emojis at a time. You also choose which special Disney emoji character you want to play with, and each of these characters have a special move responsible for clearing many emojis of the emojis at once.  You only get 60 seconds per round, so try to get as many emojis as possible!

Image: https://cdn3.recombu.com/media/mobile/Apps/Disney/Disney1_w720_h423.png

Unlike Bejeweled and Candy Crush, this game also puts random items on the board for you to try to collect at the bottom.  Some of these items are rare, but are more likely to appear depending on the specific type of Disney emoji you are playing with.  There are many different types of “item collections” to keep you occupied, as well as special events.

Image: https://jaysenheadleywrites.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/img_9178.jpg?w=1355

It’s Free to Play…Sort of: This game is called a “freemium” game, which means the game itself is free, but players are encouraged to spend real money in order to progress quickly in the game.  In this case, Disney Emoji Blitz tries to get players to spend money to unlock special Disney characters and lives.  The game limits players to getting a maximum of 5 lives at a time, which essentially means you get to play 5 games then have to wait for your lives to regenerate.  Players also have to watch a few ads or can opt out of watching ads in exchange for more lives, but the good news is all of the ads are kid-friendly.

Image: https://www.google.com/search?q=disney+emoji+collections&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiA_-qRlc_SAhXLqFQKHcrxD3MQ_AUIBigB&biw=1432&bih=679#tbm=isch&q=disney+emoji+blitz+emoji+board&*&imgrc=Knndl1sr2TR08M

 

Sending emojis on your phone: The other bonus to playing Disney Emoji Blitz is when you unlock emojis, you can use them outside of the game.  You can add them to your keyboard, and from what I’ve tested they work on text messages and Google Hangouts.

Images: https://19807-presscdn-pagely.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/c15/41/Disney_Emoji_Blitz_Android_3.png Image courtesy of Daily Dot

 

 

Audience: This game is for anyone who wants to play a quick game on their lunch break, or any Disney fan.  It’s easy to play, and it gives you cute emojis.  What’s not to love?

 

Pricing: Free! Look for it on your app store!

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Abzu

abzu

The video game Journey, which I talked about at length here, is one of my favorite video games at all time.  The same creator recently came out with a new video game called Abzu, which I pre-ordered because I loved Journey so much.  Although it’s not the same experience as Journey, I think many parents and librarians who are looking for video games that are rated E or T will be pleased to have Abzu as an option.

 

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: There isn’t really a storyline in Abzu.  The best way I can describe the game is it is structured to be more like an experience instead of a story.  Your character is a diver, and you spend the entire game exploring the depths of the beautiful ocean.  That’s it. There aren’t any enemies, no goals, no time limits, you just swim about as you wish until you get bored.  Similar to Journey, you can discover a small narrative about the world’s history by examining hieroglyphics on walls, but they are vague enough for you to interpret them in a multitude of ways.

 

You’re probably wondering why gamers bother playing Abzu if you just wander around in a virtual world with little to do.  First, Abzu is a stunning work of art, but only if you are playing on a newer TV.  I just moved to an apartment that came with an older TV from the early 2000s, and the difference in graphics alone is enough to make or break the gamer’s experience.  I first tried out Abzu on the old TV, and I was bored after playing for about 10 minutes because the artwork looked clunky and unimaginative.  Then, when I tried it out on my 1080p Smart TV, I was stunned at the difference.  So, if you are going to give Abzu a chance, please be sure to play it on a TV that can produce high quality graphics!

 

The other reason Abzu is intriguing is because in a world of Call of Duty and other high stimuli games, it’s nice to be able to kick back and play a relaxing game.  The game did an excellent job on developing the artwork and musical score, and it feels similar to meditating.  Being able to divert my attention to something beautiful and relaxing is something that I find myself needing every time I read the news…and your patrons might be looking for the same thing!

Gameplay: The controls are basic, although there are some secret controls that the game doesn’t tell you about.  Here’s the link to an article that goes into more detail.

Audience: This game is tricky because it will probably not be appealing to large audiences.  One reason why I purchased it is I have had many parents complain to me that the XBox One doesn’t have rated E or T games for their kids.  This may not be the most stimulating game, but at least it’s an option I can give to these parents.  I also wanted to have at least one example of a video game as a piece of artwork in my collection, even if I know it will not circulate well.

Verdict: I recommend taking a look at how much Journey has circulated, and think about if patrons want/could benefit from a relaxation game.  If the answer is yes, buy a copy, but don’t purchase it for more than $20.  I don’t recommend this game for Teen Game Night programs because it’s a single player game and a little too chill for a program.

Pricing: $20 on Amazon

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Why You Should Buy a WiiU for Teen Game Nights Soon!

I’ve been reading posts on various Youth Services-related FB groups about the best console for Teen Game Night programs. I would first suggest you ask your teens for their input before you make any hasty decisions. If you are considering a Wii U, time is of the essence because the Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3rd. This means the Wii U will no longer be available for purchase! My library hosts Teen Game Night once a week after school for two hours. We have a PS4, Wii U, and and Xbox One hooked up on different TVs, along with a cart full of board games. While the PS4 and Xbox One are popular, our Wii U has received the most attention because of one game: Smash Bros.

Super Smash Pays for Itself

My teens love this game for many reasons. First, Smash Bros. can have up to 8 players at once. This is an excellent plus for my Teen Game Night program because we get about 20 teens per week, and I have the teens take turns playing games so everyone gets a chance. There aren’t many games that can handle 8 players at once (the majority of video games can only have 2-4), therefore the wait time for the Wii U is significantly shorter compared to the PS4 and Xbox One.

Another plus is my teens can bring in their own controllers from home or use their 3DS as a controller. Our library has 4 controllers with a charging station, and I highly recommend purchasing one! Otherwise, you will be going through batteries like crazy. We have been using this one for about a year now, and we haven’t had any issues yet.

Finally, teens (and quite frankly, adults) love Super Smash Bros because it is fiercely competitive. The competition is so high that my teens run their own tournaments. They run the tournament themselves and all I have to do is provide paper/pencils for a sign-up sheet and grid. I don’t give out prizes except for large events; bragging rights are enough of a reward for my group of teens. If you’re interested, I can write a more in-depth article in the future about hosting a Smash tournament.

Most Games on the Wii U are Teen Friendly

Besides Smash, the vast majority of Wii U games are rated E10+ and have teen appeal. This is beneficial because my library does not allow video games that are rated M, much to the dismay of my teens who want to play Halo. There are many other Wii U games that my teens like to play including Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Mario Maker. That is, if I can convince them to put Smash away!

Where to Buy

Production on the Wii U has stopped, meaning you will not be able to buy the Wii U from stores for much longer. As of January 13th, Amazon is selling Wii U’s for $289.00, and I bet that price will increase as stock becomes scarce. Other retailers such as Target, Walmart, are selling it as a bundle for $299.99 and I couldn’t find any on Best Buy’s online store.

Compared to the Switch

Now, the price for a new Wii U is the same as pre-ordering the Switch. You might be wondering why you should spend that money on an old console instead of a new one, and that’s a fair question. I’m hesitant to buy the Switch because my teens would much rather play Super Smash than any game available on the Switch. From what we know about the Switch, it does not appear to have a Smash game lined up, nor does it have many multiplayer games that can accommodate more than 4 people at a time. Not to mention, the Switch isn’t out yet, so the only information/reviews available are from a small group of gamers who are probably more focused on playing the console at home rather than at a large program.

Right now, my teens are content playing Smash on the Wii U, and I plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. If you have any more questions about the Wii U or about our Teen Game Night program, feel free to ask in the comments below!

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me! By: Alanna Graves Twitter: @LannaLibrarian