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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.


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


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!


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.


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.



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: 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


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

Video Games Weekly: Best Console Games for Teens in 2016

2016 was an interesting year in the gaming community, ranging from the Pokemon Go craze to the overwhelming disappointment in No Man’s Sky.  This is my last post for 2016, and I have decided to compile an annotated list of the top games from 2016 for teen gaming programs as well as circulating collections. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll see you all in 2017!


Gaming Programs:

FIFA 17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
FIFA games are always a favorite if your teens enjoy competitive sports games or soccer. Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Lego Harry Potter Collection (PS4)
Give this long game to your Potter heads! You can read my full review here.  Up to 2 players. Rated E10+.

Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens (PS4)
Lego games are always fun to play in multiplayer mode, especially if your game nights have a smaller attendance.  Buy this one for your Star Wars fans, especially since Rogue One just came out. Up to 2 players. Rated E10+.

Madden NFL 17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
Similar to NBA and FIFA, teens who are into football will enjoy playing as a career player.  Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Minecraft Wii U Edition (Wii U)
Minecraft is still a big hit for teens, especially teens who just want to create things rather than compete against one another or complete quests. Teens who play this game on the PC will have to adjust to different controls on the Wii U, but will enjoy it nonetheless. Up to 4 players. Rated E10+.

NBA 2K17 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
Reviewed as one of the most “authentic” sports game this year, be sure to buy this for your teens who love basketball. Up to 4 players. Rated E.

Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
If you have teens who want to play shooter games, but your library doesn’t allow rated M games, this game is a great compromise. View full review here.  Up to 2 players. Rated E10+

Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
Give this title to teens who still have Pokemon fever, or who are looking for a fighting style game that isn’t dramatically violent. Up to 2 players. Rated E10+

Rocket League (Xbox One, PS4)
Rocket League combines soccer and race cars into a chaotic and incredibly fun game. Teens of all ages and gaming skills can compete in this absurd action-sports game. Up to 4 players. Rated E

*Street Fighter V (PS4)
Fighting games are a staple genre in the gaming community. *You should read my review and look at character costumes before purchasing for your program. Up to 2 players. Rated T.

Circulating Collection Suggestions for Teens: 

Attack on Titan (Xbox One, PS4)
This game is based off of the manga and anime show, although reviews have stated that the storyline isn’t as strong as its manga counterpart.  Still, teens who are obsessed with the fandom will want to play through this game. Rated M.

Dark Souls III (Xbox One, PS4)
This sequel takes place in the same apocalyp tic universe, although it is unclear if it is the last in the series.  Rated M.

Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens who enjoy a “choose-your-own-adventure” feel to their games will love this title . The video game  is long due to infinite choices that will impact your gaming experience, so be sure to have a few copies on hand. Rated M.

Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens who are heavily invested in Dragon Ball will much prefer this title over its predecessor because this game features much more frenzied battles. Rated T.

Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)
Give this title to teens who wa nt a racing game, but aren’t interested or ready for Grand Theft Auto V.  Rated E.

Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)
If you have teens who like Star Wars or want a slasher game, this game is recommended. The characters are bulky yet nimble, and teens will find satisfaction in destroying an unknown enemy. Rated M.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PS4)
Teens who are fans of the anime or manga  will love to play through this title for the action and over-the-top battles. Rated T.

Ratchet and Clank (PS4)
This ongoing series is a fun third-person shooter that doesn’t have a lot of violence but a whole lot of gag  jokes. For my full review, click here. Rated E10+.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)
While this game isn’t exactly new, the disc version of this beautiful platform jumper was released this year. Give this game to teens who like Super Mario and Metroid. Rated E.

Overwatch (Xbox One, PS4)
Arguably the best console game of 2016, this game is a multiplayer first-person shooter that heavily emphasizes teamwork and strategy.  This game would be excellent if there was any co-op mode, but sadly the game’s strength is playing multiplayer online.  Rated T.

Pokemon Sun and Moon (3DS)
Similar to Pokken Tournament, give this game to teens who still have Pokemon fever.  Read my full review here.  Rated E.

Star Fox Zero + Star Fox Guard (Wii U)
While this isn’t the best Star Fox Nintendo game, it will still attract teens who love the franchise or whom are looking for a space adventure game. Read my full review here. Rated E10+.

Titanfall 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
One of the best first-person shooters released in 2016, give this game to teens who are looking for something more complex and thorough than Halo. Rated M.

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End (PS4)
Nathan Drake is back in this sequel.  The series is known for its renowned storytelling and parkour. Rated T.

XCOM 2 (Xbox One, PS4)
Teens interested in strategy games like chess will enjoy this incredibly difficult turn-based game. For my full review, click here.  Rated T.

Question? Comments? Tweet them at me! @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Background: Pokemon Sun and Moon are attractive to gamers who have been dedicated Pokemon fans since the beginning, as well as returning gamers who want to experience a game with more substance than Pokemon Go. First, you need to know that Pokemon Sun and Moon are actually two separate games, meaning you have to pay double the price for a set. While both games take place in the same universe, the difference is how Pokemon can be caught in only one version or the other, so for hardcore players who want to complete their Pokedexes, they need both versions of the game.

Platform: 3DS

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Both

Storyline:. Pokemon Sun and Moon take place in “Alola” which is a fictional version of Hawaii. Whether or not the game has culturally appropriated Hawaiian culture is up for debate on the internet, but people have been rejoicing that players can choose from a variety of skin colors and two genders.

As per Pokemon trope, the main character that players control is a kid who has just moved to Alola to catch Pokemon. This version has a new set of starter Pokemon, and players get to choose one before going off into the world to catch ‘em all:

Another Pokemon trope is to have a nemesis team, and Pokemon Sun and Moon’s enemies are probably my favorites. The nemesis group is called “Team Skull”, and they are both unorganized and goofy. Players “beat” part of the game by successfully defeating all of Team Skull’s members.

Gameplay: Instead of conquering gyms, Pokemon Sun and Moon gives players a variety of challenges, ranging from Island Challenges to smaller, non-combative challenges like retrieving items. This mix gives the game a breath of fresh air and a welcomed breakaway from the usual Pokemon game formula.

Another way to “beat” Pokemon Sun and Moon is to capture every Pokemon in the game. What makes the game feel easy is how players with a Wifi connection can go to what is called the “Festival Plaza”. There, players can pay extra currency to train up their Pokemon, dye their avatar clothing, battle other human players online, and trade Pokemon online. You can also scan up to 10 Pokemon QR codes per day in order to fill up your Pokedex. To old school players like myself, it seems like it’s almost cheating, but I can’t really complain because it means my Pokedex will be get to 100% much faster compared to when I played in the 90s.

The only part that I found disappointing is the lack of original Pokemon types in the game. Some of the new Pokemon look strange to me, but I can’t complain when my starter Pokemon was an adorable looking owl!

Audience: This game is for players who want to relive their childhood by playing a Pokemon game, but are also open-minded to the drastic changes in Pokemon types, Island Challenge structure, and online mode. Younger kids and teens should enjoy playing Pokemon Sun and Moon, especially if they spent the summer playing Pokemon Go.

Verdict: Recommended purchase for libraries that circulate 3DS games

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

Video Games Weekly: Lego Harry Potter Collection

The Lego Harry Potter Collection is the remastered PS4 edition of the original Lego Harry Potter games, (it’s unknown if a remastered edition will be released for Xbox or Nintendo) but this time the entire game is on one disc!  The release was timely considering the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out in the same month.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  PS4

Rated: E10+

Single or Multiplayer: Both, up to two-player co-op
Storyline: The storyline is based off of the Harry Potter books.  Similar to the movie, the game focuses on key plot points and glosses over the details.  Hardcore fans of Harry Potter will notice how the storyline combines events together in order to make each chapter shorter, but the game is overall charming and will make players nostalgic for their favorite wizarding school days.

Gameplay: In a standard Lego game, players are encouraged to wreck/fix as many things as possible in order to collect studs.  Studs are the standard Lego game’s currency that can be used to unlock bonus content such as levels, characters, costumes, and special moves.  What makes Lego Harry Potter stand out is how instead of just punching items repetitively for studs, players can use specific spells to wreck or fix items.  For example, the first spell players learn is Wingardium Leviosa, which can be used to levitate books back on their shelves, or lift benches.  You can only lift things with Wingardium Leviosa, and it’s up to players to figure out what spell they need in order to move what objects.

The best part about spells is how they foreshadow what is to come later in the game.  One example is during  Year 1, players can see a bunch of Cornish Pixies holding golden cauldrons or blocking players from entering certain parts of the Hogwarts castle, but players know they won’t be able to get there until at least Year 2.  This also encourages players to replay previous levels once they have unlocked that one spell they needed, which in turn lengthens the gameplay using the same levels/maps.


Each year takes about an hour or two to beat, meaning it’ll take about 14 hours to beat the entire game the first time through.  Players will definitely replay the game to unlock bonus characters, golden bricks, and other fun items, so this game overall takes over 20 hours to beat.

This game is made for any fans of Harry Potter, young or old.  The game is also more fun to play in multiplayer mode, so be sure to grab a friend or relative to enjoy this easy-to-learn game!

Verdict: Recommended for circulating collections where Lego games are popular, especially if any copies of Years 1-4 or 5-7 have gone missing over the years.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian


Pricing: $50 on Amazon

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Video Games Weekly: XCOM 2

Last week, I reviewed Paper Mario: Color Splash, which had some turn-based elements.  This week, XCOM 2 is a full turn-based strategy game, and is probably one of the few remaining widely anticipated video games of 2016.

YouTube Trailer:


Platform:  PC, Xbox One, PS4

Rated: T for blood, use of tobacco, and violence.  Honestly, this rating surprised me because most shooter games get an M rating for violence, but I suppose this is because the game is not in first-person view (even though the end goal of killing enemies is the same…)

Single or Multiplayer: Both, but multiplayer is currently only online.

Background: XCOM is a long running series starting back in the 90s with UFO: Enemy Unknown. The series features the same science fiction storyline where Earth has a special elite unit that many nations pay for called XCOM (“extraterrestrial combat unit”)  that fights against alien invaders.  The game has a bit of a cult following, which is why the game is constantly getting remade and new titles.  There are even two novels based on the series, as well as a board game, although I haven’t tried either one of them.

Storyline: XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM, taking place 20 years after the game’s storyline in XCOM Enemy Within.  In this version, the humans did not win against aliens called ADVENT.  Now XCOM is more like a rebellion movement sort of like Star Wars rather than a special elite taskforce.  Players assume the role of Commander, who was rescued from an alien lab and woken from a comatose state.  The Commander was actually implanted with a chip in their brain, which ADVENT uses to as a mind control mechanism to control their entire army.  It’s now up to the Commander to discover the meaning behind the Avatar Project, defeat ADVENT enemies, upgrade the spaceship, and take back Earth.


Gameplay: This game is turn-based strategy, and much more in-depth compared to Paper Mario: Color Splash.  What I mean by “turn-based” is players complete a series of moves in one turn, then their opponent does the same.  For example, in the beginning of XCOM 2, the Commander can see four XCOM soldiers on a map.  The commander gets to either move, shoot, or other special moves for all four soldiers at once, then it is the aliens’ turn.  If this sounds confusing, I highly recommend watching the video below, which is the first mission.

YouTube Video:

Just like its predecessors, XCOM 2 is a well balanced turn-based strategy game.  There are many options for players to choose from, such as difficulty level, types of soldiers, weapons, and soldier names.  Personally, I like to rename all of my soldiers with the names of my friends in real life, because it’s funny to inform them when their character has died and it’s easier for me to keep track of each soldier.  Many people choose to name their soldiers after famous people, which is also a great form of comedy relief given that this game is incredibly hard.  Seriously, XCOM has a reputation for being one of the most difficult turn-based strategy video games out there.  It took me three tries to beat the first level that you see in the above Youtube video!

This game is a much better choice for any strategy game junkies out there.  The game is difficult, but not too difficult where you don’t want to attempt to play the game again.  There are also other facets in the game like upgrading your spaceship, unlocking new characters, and recruiting new soldiers that makes the game not feel like a grindy turn-based game such as Civilization.

Verdict: I highly recommend giving this game to teens and adults who are looking for a long, plot heavy turn-based strategy game.  Primary purchase for library circulating collections. I don’t recommend this game for Teen Game Night Programs because the multiplayer on console versions is only online.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing: $60 on Amazon

Video Games Weekly: Paper Mario – Color Splash

This week’s video game is the newest edition of the “Paper Mario” series.  Paper Mario takes the classic 2D side scrolling game and gives it a role-playing feel, often with 3D elements and a paper aesthetic.  Mario usually has a hammer that can squish enemies, and as always he has to save Princess Peach in Mushroom Kingdom.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  Wii U

Rated: E

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: Mario and Peach set out to a town called Prism Island, only to learn that the world’s color and characters have been drained by Shy Guys wielding straws.  The town’s color source used to be from a fountain that held Big Paint Stars, but the fountain has been drained and the stars are missing.  In addition, there’s a giant black paint version of Bowser throwing the world into chaos, and it’s up to Mario to save Princess Peach (who once again gets kidnapped) and restore the Big Paint Stars alongside his new sidekick, Huey the paint can.


The storyline isn’t really fleshed out, nor are the rules of the universe.  There are parts of the universe that are graphically realistic looking, called “Things”, and the game gives absolutely no reason as to why they exist or why you can “squeeze” them into cards.  It’s a jarring experience in a overall beautifully crafted aesthetic world.

Gameplay: Mario has a nifty magic hammer that can soak up red, blue, and yellow paint.  By running around, players can smack whited out areas to restore their colors, hit enemies, and suck up more paint by smacking the natural parts of the world.

What do I mean by this?  Instead of a typical Mario game where players kill enemies by simply jumping on top of them, Mario has to select a series of cards like the ones above to kill enemies.  Players can choose up to two cards, and decide to boost their effects by using paint to color them.  After the player’s turn, the enemies take their turn attacking Mario.

In order to progress in the game, Mario has to find both regular Paint Stars and Big Paint Stars.  These stars unlock new areas in the world, which have their own subplots and obstacles.

Overall, it takes about four or five hours of gameplay to unlock each Big Paint Star, and there are six in total.  Despite the obstacles of each area being very intriguing, the unfortunate part is how the turn-based combat system just doesn’t work for me.  There simply isn’t enough variety in enemies and action cards to keep the game interesting, and you don’t need to plan out complex strategies in order to win.  I found myself doing everything in my power to avoid enemies as much as possible because I didn’t want to have to sit through another battle.

The game is meant for players who have enough patience for turn-based games, but even then fans of the  genre will be disappointed with the limited amount of strategy needed in order to succeed.  Next week, I’ll be reviewing XCOM 2,which is another turn-based game that might be more suitable for these types of gamers.   


Verdict: The game is beautiful to look at, but players are better off admiring Tearaway Unfolded for the paper aesthetics, and should look elsewhere for turn-based combat games.  Secondary purchase for circulating collections.


Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian


Pricing: $60 on Amazon

Video Games 101: What you need to know about Lego Dimensions

Lego Dimensions is the first toys-to-life video game of its genre.  It is also one of the coolest video games that combines popular fandoms all into one video game. I mean, just look at this list!


Sounds cool right? Before your library jumps on this bandwagon, you need to know a few things.


Platforms: PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Single or Multiplayer: Both but only up to 2 players at a time

What is this game about?  The plot begins with an evil villain Lord Vortech and his robot sidekick X-PO trying to find the “foundation elements”, known as the cornerstones of time and space that can merge all of the different universes [franchises] together under his control.  Each foundation element is the trademark of each universe, like The One Ring from Lord of the Rings.  Players simply save the universe by defeating Lord Vortech with Batman, WyldeStyle, and Gandalf the Grey.

The game is a typical Lego game in terms of gameplay, but what makes it great is the ridiculousness of the plot/pop culture references.  Right in the beginning of the storyline, players have to navigate around The Land of Oz with Batman, Gandalf, and WyldStyle trying to find Robin and Frodo.  The game makes sure every Lego character keeps in character, and it’s almost like watching a fun new Lego movie as they navigate areas that exist outside of their own fictional world.



What are the Legos used for?  Lego Dimensions is unique in how players have to build and customize Lego structures in real life, and then scan them into the game.  First, players have to construct the portal that will be used for the whole game.  The portal’s platform is where players construct and scan in different Lego figurines, which can either be characters or items. For example, early on in the game players have to build a Batmobile out of Legos, and then scan the Batmobile with the platform on the bottom.  Technically, the figures don’t need to be built.  All you really need is the platform scanner, but what fun is that?


Unlike Nintendo’s amiibos, the Lego portal is used in order for players to progress in the game.  Players have to use problem solving skills to figure out which area a certain character needs to be scanned on the portal, and they will then appear in the game.  Basically, players will be interacting a lot with the physical Lego portal, adding a really cool new gameplay element to the video gaming world.


Expansions Packs: Players can purchase expansion packs that range from new characters, story packs, to level packs and fun items.  If you’re considering purchasing Lego Dimensions, you’ll have to consider buying expansion packs in order to keep the game popular.  The starter kit will give you about 10 or so hours of gameplay, and I guarantee people will want to purchase their favorite fandom expansion packs.


Should libraries buy this for circulation collections? As of right now, I am going to say no.  The issue is how the game relies on having an in-tack Lego portal, as well as all of the figurine scanners.  If one piece goes missing, then players cannot progress in the game and right now there isn’t a way to purchase replacement parts.  My other concern is the game’s availability on FIVE different platforms, and you cannot try to crossover a Wii U kit with a PlayStation 4 kit because for the sake of fairness, libraries would have to purchase multiple kits, catalog them as kits, and constantly check them at circ to see if they have all of their pieces.  It’s simply too much work for my library system, but if you’re willing to try it, let me know how it goes!


Should libraries buy this for Teen Game Night Programs? My library did, and we just set it out for the first time last week.  One teen somehow exploded our Batmobile, so little pieces went flying everywhere and he had to clean them up.  But, they did like the game, and many sat or stood behind our two players to watch.  I’m going to wait a few more weeks before I give a definitive yes or no for Teen Game Night programs, and I’m also curious to see if teens will beg us to buy expansion packs.


Price: $80 original price but often on sale on Amazon

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian