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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!

videogamesweekly

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.


Audience:
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 https://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Harry-Potter-Collection-PlayStation-4/dp/B01LPO6WF6

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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!


Audience:
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 https://www.amazon.com/XCOM-2-PC/dp/B00YHZEILQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1477964755&sr=1-1&keywords=xcom+2

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.


Audience:
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 https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Mario-Color-Splash-Wii-Standard/dp/B01CKGI4RM/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1477367240&sr=1-1&keywords=paper+mario+color+splash

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.

Trailer:

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.

batmanthing

 

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 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VMB5RDQ/ref=s9_acss_bw_lb_stt_1_2_di/168-8936683-8226212?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-top-4&pf_rd_r=2HC095PVYCEE2JTKSD7D&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=5a1e06dc-b40a-46a0-b1cd-27cb1f862f44&pf_rd_i=11090984011&th=1

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Video Games Weekly: Warframe

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This week’s video game is a FTP (free to play) third-person shooter video game available on multiple platforms.  When I say “free”, I mean that it is a freemium game where players are able to play for free just like anyone else, but can make micro-transactions to purchase better items.  Warframe as far as I know will follow this approach indefinitely, at least it has been since the game’s beta release came out in 2013.  I have seen some libraries feature this game at library Game Night programs, but I sadly have not with my own library because of the ESRB rating.

warframe2

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  PC, PS4, Xbox One

Rated:  M for violence, blood, and gore.

Single or Multiplayer: Multiplayer online only up to 4 players at a time

Storyline: Your character is a Tenno soldier of an ancient alien warrior race, whom have been “woken up” in the midst of war.  This war isn’t just against one alien race, but with multiple alien races.  There is the Grineer, which are humanlike clones; the Corpus, basically space robots; the Infested, which are strange organisms that have been infected with a virus.  Players choose which alien enemies to fight by selecting the planet they inhabit, and then carry out missions to defeat them.

Gameplay: Players can choose from a variety of choices what type of Tenno they want to play as.  There are biomechanical suits that have specialized abilities, similar to “classes” in shooter games.  These suits can be enhanced with mods, which can either be picked up on missions or purchased.  Players can also purchase or customize their weapons, their special abilities called warframes, and their companions.

warframe

Players can meet online to play through their missions on planets.  Only four people can be in a mission at a time, and the game is much more enjoyable when playing with friends.  There are different types of missions that vary in difficulty, and each has one core objective. There are also the optional, secondary objectives that are unique to each player to make the game fun and interesting. A reward is offered for every completed objective.

Image: http://i.imgur.com/gdmh0oR.jpg


Audience:
This game is great for gamers who are looking for a FTP game with complexity, and not having to cough up a ton of money to enjoy it.  I would say that even though the game is rated M for gore and blood, I personally haven’t noticed any blood.  If you want to watch for yourself before making a decision, here is a YouTube playthrough video that explains the game’s mechanics in detail and demonstrates what typical missions look like.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing: Free! Available on Steam, PS4 store, and Xbox One store

TPiB: Undertale Party

Last week, I wrote a review about the video game UndertaleIf you haven’t read it, go ahead and skim it before trying out this program! Also, be sure to ask your regular teens if they’re fans of Undertale before deciding to do this program. Undertale is a niche fandom that isn’t nearly as big as something like Pokemon Go, so make sure you are guaranteed an audience first!

undertale

I had my Undertale program a few weekends ago on a Saturday afternoon. One of my regular teens volunteered to help decorate our program room and plan games, which was a HUGE help!  The best part about my Undertale program was how it attracted teens from all over our county who didn’t know each other, and they all exchanged phone numbers at the end!

Music: I always like to play music in the background during programs because it makes it less awkward if there’s a lull in conversation.  I recommend two different playlists for this program.  First, you can play Undertale’s soundtrack on this YouTube playlist.  But, if you want to get hardcore, you can play music from the Undertale musical. Yes, you read that correctly!  Someone made an Undertale musical, which you can find on YouTube here.  This is a bonus for your teens who are big Hamilton fans!

YouTube Video:

Food: There are a ton of ridiculous names for food in Undertale, and they’re inspirational for food creation activities (a part of me wishes I made rock candy with the teens!)For a complete list, you can click here.

I chose to buy a candy mix and called it “Monster Candy”, Cinnamon Bunnies, and Spider Cider.  I had teens create and bake their own Cinnamon Bunnies using Pillsbury dough and chocolate chips.  We made big bunnies, small bunnies, and what we dubbed “womp bunnies” for all of the bunnies whose ears fell off while eating it.  I also poured apple cider in cups and put plastic spiders in them.

Craft: I always try to give the teens something to take home from a large program like this, so I printed out Undertale perler bead patterns and let the teens go nuts.  Kandi Patterns has plenty of different character patterns available for free!  *Be sure you have PLENTY of black available, because every single character needs a black outline!*

skull-thingy

Perler beads are the perfect craft for this video game because the game’s graphics are 8-bit, and perler beads look just like the video game!  Creating perler bead crafts gave the teens something to do with their hands while they talked all things Undertale.  They talked for a long time about their favorite character, what path they played through first, and what is their favorite YouTuber “Let’s Play” video.

monkeything

Games: Figuring out games to play was a little tricky.  I did not want to play the video game itself because it’s only a single player game, and I wanted all of my teens to be engaged at once.  I decided to pick aspects of Undertale that were fun, and create activities that are somewhat related.  You could easily do your own puzzle activities, since that would fit Undertale’s gameplay.

Pun Off: Puns are a big part of the game, whether you enjoy them or not.  I planned to have a formal “Pun Off”, but it actually manifested by itself during the perler beads crafts.  The teens tried to come up with their best puns and reciting puns they memorized from the game.

Collect Gold Coins: In order to survive in the game, players have to collect coins which can be used to buy food for health.  I actually planned out a scavenger hunt for gold coins, but that fell through because our library reorganized our interior that weekend because we are renovating soon!  So, I decided to repurpose the ball pit balls that I spray painted gold and have the teens play a live version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Is Hungry Hungry Hippos related to Undertale? Not in the slightest, but it wouldn’t be a library program without a little improvisation!

goldballs

Disarming a Bomb:  One popular mini game in Undertale is disarming bombs in under three minutes.  I wanted to do something related to disarming bombs, which is how I discovered the video game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.  I reviewed it for TLT, which you can read here.  The teens LOVED this game, and it will now be featured at our weekly Teen Game Night program!

Marshmallow Target Practice:  I printed out a giant version of Flowey, taped him to our library building outside, and let the teens practice throwing marshmallows at it.  I made sure to buy those giant campfire marshmallows for easy throwing! Flowey is the primary boss in the game, so don’t be fooled by the cute looking flower.

Glow Stick Dance Party: I had a celebratory dance program at the very end, especially because they were full of sugar!  I turned off the lights, gave them glow sticks, and turned up the music!

Video: Glow stick party

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

 

Video Games Weekly: Undertale

undertale

This week’s video game, Undertale,  is once again a PC game that teens (especially teen girls) love, but circulating library collections may not be able to purchase because it is a digital download only.  My teens requested an Undertale themed library program, and it attracted a more diverse crowd of teens compared to my usual programs!  Next week, I’ll write a Teen Program in a Box post for Undertale.

YouTube Trailer

Platform:  PC

Rated:  No official ESRB rating. I personally would give it a T because there is fighting / genocide themes, but nothing gory.

Single or Multiplayer: Single

Storyline: The game begins with the universe’s history.  A long time ago, humans were at war with monsters, and the monsters were banished underground.  The monsters couldn’t escape because a magical seal only allows certain types of souls to get through.  Many years later, a human, which the player gets to name and control, manages to somehow fall through this barrier.  The human wakes up and meets Toriel, a maternal goat-like figure who protects humans who have fallen through the barrier (no spoilers about why she has to protect them…).  Eventually, the human leaves Toriel in order to explore the underground world.

 

Controls: The controls are old school keyboard controls. You use the arrow keys to move around, “Z” to select things, “X” to cancel, and “C” for menu. That’s it!

Gameplay:  Players will encounter monsters that are mean, shy, like to tell jokes, and more quirky personality traits.  Some are random spawns, while others are well fleshed out characters that are significant to the plot.  There are multiple options when interacting with a monster.  Whenever players select an option, you play different mini games that in essence protect their “soul” which is in the shape of an 8-bit heart.

Undertale is at its core a “choose your own adventure” game with three distinct story routes: pacifist, neutral, and genocide.  The game purposefully does not tell you that there are alternate routes until the very end, but my teens insisted that I should play through the neutral route the first time.  The game is meant to be played over and over again, and your actions will have consequences that carry over into the next game.

Neutral Route: The neutral route is the route where players do not kill many monsters, and tend to choose the nice options. You can kill one monster and it’ll be fine.  Players have to unlock the neutral route first before they can unlock alternate endings.

Image: https://strangerworldsdotcom3.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/undertale-review-2.jpg

Pacifist Route:  The pacifist route is by far the most annoying.  When you meet a monster, you have to pick the “nice” option MANY times in order to do some good.  Sure, you can flee from monsters, but you don’t get any coins by taking the easy route. Coins are important in this game because you can buy silly items like a Cinnamon Bunny that give you life, so it’s in your best interest to be friendly to monsters.  Players who complete the neutral storyline first, then play the pacific route a second time will get a “happy” ending, basically the one that everyone wants.

Genocide Route:  The genocide route is pretty self-explanatory…you kill every monster.  Now, it’s important to note that this is the “easiest” route in the game in terms of gameplay.  It’s a lot easier to kill a monster because you only have to play through one mini game, instead of doing it multiple times like in the neutral/pacific route. However, the ending is incredibly heart wrenching, incredibly dark, and dramatic (and personally my favorite ending).

Audience: This game is unexpectedly appealing to my teen girl gamers.  I think it’s because there are female-ish (remember, Toriel is a maternal goat-like monster) characters that are fleshed out, not sex objects.  I also believe it’s attractive to teens because the moral of Undertale is “Actions Have Consequences”.  I believe teens really start to embrace this idea because they’re old enough to have experienced their own version of “actions have consequences”.  Finally, a teen told me that she loves the game because it teaches you that “it’s more difficult to choose love, but in the end, it will always pay off.”

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing: $10 on Steam http://undertale.com/

Video Games Weekly: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

keeptalking

This week’s video game is strictly for Teen Programs, not circulating video game collections.  Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, created by Steel Crate Games, was recommended to me from a colleague when I asked our staff if they knew of a fun game where players work together to defuse a bomb.  I was not disappointed with this recommendation.

YouTube Trailer:

Platform:  PC and Mac.  Their website says it’ll be available for PlayStation VR, but it doesn’t say when.  You can play the game on a computer OR with a virtual reality headset.

Rated:  There isn’t a rating for this game. If I were to take a stab at it, I would say rated E.

Single or Multiplayer: Multiplayer

Storyline: The “storyline” functions more as the objective in this game. One person looks at a bomb on their computer screen or VR headset while their friends hold the instruction manual (I printed out a physical copy) on how to defuse the bomb.  They have to communicate to each other by accurately describing what they see, giving clear instructions, all while trying to do so in under 5 minutes. If you fail, the bomb explodes.

ktane-fail

Each bomb is essentially a puzzle.  There are wires, switches, keypads, and all sorts of other cool disarming pieces.  The game comes with different bomb puzzles AND the game frequently gets new instruction manuals.  Basically, the game can last a long time and feel new every time you play the game.

ktane-bomb-example

Controls:  The controls are “point and click” for players on the computer and you have to use a mouse.  I had my teens start this game on a Mac, and we discovered that we could not play the game using the Mac trackpad. So, have a mouse at the ready regardless of what kind of computer you are using!  I haven’t been able to try this out on a Virtual Reality headset, but I would LOVE to try this out in the future!  You can watch the VR experience on YouTube, but like any VR game, it’s completely different when you have that headset on.

For the players with the manual, I found it helpful to print out the instructions rather than having them scroll through the PDF on another computer.  This is also helpful because teens will be manically flipping through the manual to find something like “On the Subject of the Button”.  The PDF is like 23 pages give or take, and I put them in an ominous red binder.

Gameplay:  My program had 12 teens, so I decided to tweak the game rules to accommodate everyone.  First, I divided my program into two groups of six.  I randomly picked one group, and sent them over to the “Bomb Table” while the other group of six did a different activity.

At the Bomb Table, I had two teens sitting at the computer while the other four were placed on the opposite side with instructions.  I decided to let two teens instead of one look at the bomb because all of them expressed anxiety that if they worked alone, they would fail the entire team.  First, the teens with the instruction manual read aloud their instructions to the entire group, and then I had the teens with the bomb read aloud their instructions on the computer.  After that, I let them take a stab at the first bomb.  Each bomb has a five minute timer, and the groups swapped places after each bomb.  The teens managed to explode twice and win twice!

What I love about this game is it has players think outside the box in order to relay instructions.  Teens will have to get creative using homophones, verbal tics, describing symbols using real world objects, etc. It really gets their brains going!  I also love that this game is a cooperative/team building game instead of a competitive one.  All of my teens that came to my program didn’t know each other, but this game helped knock down some of that awkwardness.

Audience: This game is great ages 10+.  I think this game would be a hit at any Teen or Adult Game Night Program at the library!

I do recommend only having a maximum of six players at a time; four is the ideal.  If you have more than six players at a time, there will be players that just sit there and will not be engaging in the game.  If you absolutely need to have more than six players, you may want to print off a second set of instructions so they can work in small clumps.  Also, be sure you are in a space where loud voices are okay in your library.  The game can get really dramatic as the timer ticks closer to zero, and voices tend to get louder as anxiety increases!

Buying the Game: You can purchase the game on Steel Crate Games’ website or on Steam.  You can only buy the download version of the game, not a disc copy.  Also, if you need a W-9 form, you’ll have to contact Steam or Humble Bundle directly.

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing: $15 on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/341800/?snr=1_5_1100__1100