Cricket Through the Ages

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Wyatt and I finished Cricket Through the Ages, via Apple Arcade, this past weekend. With him turning 10 and entering 5th grade, I don’t get to play games with him as much as I used to (we have reached the stage where personal alone time is a thing now).

I enjoyed sitting to my son, on the couch, flailing away at each other on the iPad. Cricket Through the Ages is a silly game with equally silly mechanics. A fantastic/short weekend distraction; A win-win in this dad’s book.

Things I’ve Loved in April

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I finished another book last night. A book that is a part of a series I’ve loved. This perfect mixture of humor, drama, and thoughtful science fiction. So why haven’t I talked about this book series here? I think, deep down, I’m afraid too.

I fear being judged by things that I love. So I keep them close to my chest. I don’t want to cause any fellow Christians to stumble or friends to be all like, “Whoa”. I’d much rather be silent, free of causing anyone harm, and free of being judged; free to just enjoy something.

“But this is your blog”, you might say, “Why not write about what you actually love?”

Why not indeed.

Things I’ve loved in April

Awhile back, I had a co-worker introduce me to author John Scalzi. Now Scalzi is known for his novel Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas. But I jumped into his Old Man’s War series at my co-worker’s suggestion. Tabitha bought me all six of the books for Christmas. I have a good wife. 🙂

Initial Premise: Imagine a world where you have a choice to live out the rest of your life among the stars. Once you turn 75 years old, you are eligible to join the Colonial Union as a recruit. Leaving Earth behind forever to fight against the horrors of space. A 10 year tour, if one survives, that ends with retirement on a human colony.

Old Man's War

I have loved the way Scalzi has built his world, characters, and then interwoven them throughout the Old Man’s War series. Pure popcorn reading at it’s best. Sure, there are a few questionable things… BUT I’ve enjoyed the literary escape Scalzi has created.

I just finished up book three, The Lost Colony, and will continue on with Zoe’s Tale. I’ll let you know how it is!

Guildmaster Story (iOS) also consumed a bit of my time in April. I love the writing; not super hot on the puzzles. The protagonist reminds me a lot of Fozzy Bear’s character from Muppet Treasure Island.

What have you been enjoying this past month?

Been reading or playing anything good?

Let me know in the comments below.

Florence

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Out of Melbourne, Australia, developer Mountains has crafted an interactive story about love and life titled Florence. Florence features an exquisite mixture of stylized graphics, music, and creative gameplay mechanics. The end result is what I’d best call a Pixar Short Film experience in video game form.

My most favorite part of Florence were the way emotions were conveyed through gameplay. When Florence first meets her boyfriend, her conversations with him are presented as puzzles. A complete the puzzle to continue the conversation sort of thing. In the beginning of her relationship, the puzzles have more pieces/are more complex. As the relationship matures, there are not as many puzzle pieces to put together as communication has become easier.

I enjoyed my time with Florence. Even though I’d say that the story is slightly predictable, the execution is flawless. Check this out if you get a chance. Florence is short (30 minutes) and sweet.

5/5 – Florence is one of those video game experiences you need not miss.

Title: Florence
Developer: Mountains
Platforms: iOS and Android
Reviews on: iOS/iPad
MSRP: $2.99

Miitomo

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The legacy of the Mii, Nintendo’s player avatar creations, continues with Miitomo. Uniting iOS and Android users, Miitomo is a personable social network experiment. Inhabited by Facebook and Twitter friends, Miitomo encourages and rewards players for:

  • Answering questions
  • Reading, listening, liking, and responding to your friends replies

Gamification of Social Media: Check

There is also an odd game within the game called Miitomo Drop (drop a player down a board, hope they hit something valuable). As well as options to buy and dress up a player’s Mii. Style points awarded, of course.

Beyond the spongy exterior, the heart-filled frosting of Miitomo tastes hollow. There just isn’t much to do in this app. Yes, Nintendo has done a great job building an oddball social network. I keep wondering though where the gameplay hook is.

As a longtime Animal Crossing fan, the ability to decorate your Mii’s space would be most welcome. Minigames in the vein of the 3DS Mii minigames (Find Mii, Puzzle Swap, etc.) would elevate Miitomo to another level. Nintendo excels when they take a simple concept and refine the player experience.

Miitomo makes great first impression. The missing gameplay hook, the reason to stay and enjoy this weird world, must be found. Mario is indeed missing.

Two Dots

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Two Dots strings the player along in free to play fashion. Connect the dots, combo color pairings, advance to the next level. Clean aesthetics and simple controls act as delightful seat warmers.

Somewhere in the mid-20’s, level advancement slows down. Power ups needed for progression. The puzzle game’s presentation revealed as a mask for something far darker. They want your money.

There is a cycle I know well,

Free to play games formula from hell,

First they hook you with easy levels,

And gifts to help advance,

Then they increase the difficulty,

And watch you squirm and dance.

I’m not sure at what point I’ll quit falling for the free to play model. Two Dots reminded me of moments of Candy Crush weakness. I admit, I have spent real money for an extra attempt at a puzzle. Shame. Video game shame.

Two Dots has great presentation built on the free to play model. How fair that model is, in regards to this specific game, remains unseen. I may play a level or two more, but I find that hard having glimpsed at the monster behind the mask.

DEFCON 2

wavesplinter2/5 – Proceed with caution.

Wave SplinterTitle: Two Dots
Developer: Playdots Inc.
Platforms: Android, iOS
Reviews on: Android
MSRP: Free

Josh’s Sproggiwood Review

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My friend Josh created a hilarious review for a game I wouldn’t normally give a second glance, Sproggiwood. Check out his video review below or read his review here.

I feel like Veruca Salt. I just want “more.”

I want the world! I want the whole world! Give it to me!

Consider this your Veruca Salt moment for the day. You’re welcome.