Press Start – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All

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This week, I picked up the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch. Tab and I love this courtroom drama series filled with over the top characters and entertaining word play. We decided to start with the second game in the trilogy, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, as Tabitha had already completed the first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Nintendo DS), long ago.

Last night, we completed Episode 1: The Lost Turnabout.

Phoenix Wright himself.
Phoenix Wright, doing his thing.
The witness.
Just a typical courtroom.
The Prosecutor.
The Judge.
There are worse crimes than murder...

Note how the witness reacts when accused. Nothing abnormal to report here.

This first episode turned out to be a sad story of someone being killed just because of their uniform. Spoilers. 🙂

Review: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends

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Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, developed by Taito, is a game all about dragons! Bubble blowing dragons, that is. Whether playing in single player mode or couch co-op (up to 4 players), players navigate their cute dragons through a series of stages that feature:

  • Bubble Combat – As a bubble spewing dragon, you can trap your enemies in bubbles. Said bubbles can then be popped in an effort to gain combos, which increase your score.
  • Bubble Platforming – Why use bubbles just to trap enemies when you can use them to reach new heights? Bubble Bobble 4 Friends allows you to create your own bubble platforms, which your dragon can use to float upon.
  • E-X-T-E-N-D Bubbles – While traversing stages, you can collect lettered E-X-T-E-N-D bubbles individually. Acquired letters grant your dragon upgraded bubble powers such as lightning and bomb bubbles.

The Good

  • Controls are simple and easy to use.
  • Being able to create a bubble to ride on, bubble platforming, is a neat gameplay mechanic.

The Bad

The decision to create a couch co-op game, where players share a single life pool. As a father who plays games with his son, I can say that life sharing is a massive no-no in a multiplayer game. Thankfully, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends overcomes this bit of ugly design with unlimited continues. The catch though is that if you decide to continue, you will lose all points earned up until that point in the game. This is not a game killer, for me, but could be for the casual audience this game seems to be aiming for.

Note: Wyatt reminds me that invincibility also becomes an option when you’ve died too many times against enemies/bosses.

The Ugly

  • Anytime a player gets hit, they are put into a bubble and their dragon starts crying out for help, “Help me!” This cry drove Wyatt and I nuts! I am thankful that the developers thought to include a way to turn down the voices in the options menu.
  • Length of game versus game’s cost seem at odds with each other. However, a downloadable content expansion will be released later this year that could help with game length.

Once upon a time…

…there were dragons. Cute, cuddly, dragons who threw up bubbles from their mouths. They didn’t lick things like a Yoshi. Instead, they captured/tortured their enemies with clean, clear, bubbles. The End.

Wait, I mean, this is not the end. But in the end, Wyatt and I played quite a bit of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. The entire time we were playing, we kept thinking the game reminded us of a Kirby game. Maybe it has something to do with the overall design aesthetic? I am not sure. But for us, we couldn’t get past comparing Bubble Bobble 4 Friends to Kirby Star Allies (see our review here). You see, we’d much rather be playing Kirby Star Allies.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends isn’t necessarily a bad game but an okay game. One we both agree we won’t be playing any further. Good night and goodbye sweet dragons.

3/5 – While we love the unique bubble platforming mechanic, we believe there are better co-op games to play than Bubble Bobble 4 Friends.

THE END FOR REAL!!

Title: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends*
Developer: Taito
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
MSRP: $39.99

Review by Bryan and Wyatt Hall

*Bubble Bobble 4 Friends was reviewed using a code provided by PR Hound.

Review: Hidden Through Time

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Hidden Through Time, developed by Crazy Monkey Studios, is a game about finding things. The levels progress through different periods of time such as:

  • The Stone Age
  • Ancient Egypt
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Wild West

Players hunt down objects, with the help of subtle clues, in order to move forward in history.

The Good

We recently had grandma and grandpa over to visit. While they were over, we decided to play Hidden Through Time together. Sitting around the television, we hunted objects through not just one but eleven levels. Grandma was super good at finding things. Who knew?!? By the time we were done, she said that she really liked the game.

Wyatt also enjoyed using the level editor (see video below). He says:

“Just say that I liked it… that it was good… that it was awesome!”

He notes that the object placement could be better when duplicating the same object. For example: A player goes to place a tree. Hidden Through Time allows you to place one tree and then forces you to go back to the object toolbar to select another tree before placing.

Wyatt and I also liked:

  • The hand-drawn design aesthetic.
  • The levels being in color, unlike Hidden Folks (which we’ve played on iOS).
  • How the controls feel dialed in, making movement around the map and the ability to zoom in and out a breeze.
  • The gibberish language the characters speak when poked.
  • How well Hidden Through Time plays in a group.

The Bad

  • Object hints, at times, do not make sense.
  • Size of objects often makes them harder to find than they should be—I hate eggs!—.
  • Load times between the main menu screen, level selection screen, and individual levels can take a few moments.

The Ugly

  • Hidden Through Time needs an overall hint system for those times when you are super stuck. This is more of a suggestion than a game destroying experience. We, as a family, haven’t gotten stuck in-game yet.

Conclusion

Wyatt and I have enjoyed our time with Hidden Through Time. This is a perfect game to play individually and as a family. The music is relaxing and does not annoy—as a parent, this is important—. We recommend this game to others looking for a digital Where’s Waldo experience.

5/5 – A great game to play as a family or while hidden away in the bathroom. Seriously, just go hide in there, the kids don’t have to know!

Title: Hidden Through Time
Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios
Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android, Xbox One, Windows, and iOS
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $7.99

Review by Bryan and Wyatt Hall

*Hidden Through Time was reviewed using a code provided by EvolvePR.

Press Continue – Ori and the Blind Forest

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10 minutes here… 15 minutes there.

Ori and the Blind Forest

I have been slowing working my way through Ori and the Blind Forest on the Nintendo Switch. What I’m loving is how I can make a small amount of progress, save my game, and then come back to it later.

I need to figure out how to capture my own video on the Switch.

As of this week, I have made it to the Forlorn Ruins. The game is now throwing upside down/gravity platforming mechanics into the mix. I can’t wait to play more.

What have you been playing?

On My Radar – The Red Lantern

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This looks fantastic! An adventure with Aloy (Ashly Burch), some doggos, and the wilds of Alaska. Check out the trailer below.

All I can say is if a bear does indeed try and touch one of my dogs, my fury will come forth as a raging volcano. A fury that will not just end with one bear’s death, but all the bears deaths… for all time.

From Across the Net – “Ori and the Blind Forest – Walkthrough Part #4”

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I’ve been stuck in Ori and the Blind Forest for awhile now. Videos like this one from GamersPrey make me thankful for the modern era we live in.

Turns out I mis-read the level design and was supposed to progress where I thought I was being blocked. Silly me.

In the Shadows of Fortnite

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Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:

“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:

  • The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
  • Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
  • A non-stop gameplay loop.
  • An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.

I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”

I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.

There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:

  • That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
  • That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
  • That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
  • That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.

Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.

Distracted Gaming

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I don’t know about you, but I have been all over the place with video games as of late. Bouncing between:

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • SteamWorld Heist
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Wolfenstein II – The New Colossus
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

I’ll race through a cup in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and then play a level or two in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Following that up with a couple hours of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and then a level of SteamWorld Heist. I feel like a kid at a buffet who keeps dashing between food items… and deep down I know that I just want to get a single plate of corn fritters (deep-fried cream-corn goodness).

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Wolfenstein II – The New Colossus, and Horizon Zero Dawn all equal games that require time to get into the games head-space; time to feel out the game’s rhythms and core gameplay loop. I have found myself attracted lately to games that can be played in quick bursts. Racing a cup (4 races) in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes 10-15 minutes, count me in! Destroying Wyatt in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (more likely the other way around), I’m there!

Gets me thinking about the larger list of games I have laying around, waiting to be continued. Games such as:

  • God of War – I played for a few hours and liked what I played.
  • Anthem – Picked up for $5. Played the first mission. It’s okay.
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – Have sunk at least 10 hours into.
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Have sunk 15-20 hours into the game only to realize I need to stop and level up a bunch to progress.
  • Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition – Wyatt and I have played towards the end of the second act and then quit. This game is dark, ya’ll! Even worse, boring?
  • Hollow Knight – Have put in some time on this game… I keep getting lost… but I love the atmosphere.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest – Same as Hollow Knight, I get lost which equals frustration.

So many games… so many worlds… so many play styles… so many experiences waiting to be had. But, right now, I keep gravitating towards the games that allow me the maximum amount of gameplay for my time. I’m not looking for deep video game experiences. But I would love to settle down with a plate of corn fritters soon.. and maybe Ni No Kuni II… and Destiny 2: Forsaken… does it end?

How about you, do you ever feel like you are bouncing from one game experience to the next?

A Decade of Video Games – Games I Have Completed Since 2010

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Dem Mond!

I am in no way organized when it comes to cataloging which games I own let alone those I have completed. Below is my attempt to create a list of games released within the last decade that I have finished:

  1. ABZÛ
  2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  3. Assassin’s Creed Revelations
  4. Batman: The Telltale Series (Season 1)
  5. Bioshock Infinite
  6. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  8. Detroit: Become Human
  9. Destiny
  10. Destiny: The Taken King (expansion)
  11. Destiny 2
  12. Donut County
  13. Final Fantasy XV
  14. Firewatch
  15. Fire Emblem: Awakening
  16. Florence
  17. Inside
  18. Journey
  19. King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember (Episode 1)
  20. Kirby Star Allies
  21. Mass Effect 2
  22. Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy
  23. Minecraft: Story Mode (Season 1)
  24. Monument Valley
  25. Oxenfree
  26. Pokémon Y
  27. Race the Sun
  28. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  29. Sayonara Wild Hearts
  30. Spider-Man
  31. SteamWorld Dig
  32. SteamWorld Dig 2
  33. Super Mario Odyssey
  34. Tales from the Borderlands (all episodes)
  35. That Dragon, Cancer
  36. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
  37. The Final Station
  38. The Last of Us Remastered
  39. The Last of Us: Left Behind (DLC)
  40. Titanfall 2
  41. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
  42. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  43. Virginia
  44. West of Loathing
  45. What Remains of Edith Finch
  46. Wolfenstein: The New Order

Now, to pick my game of the decade.

The End of a Father / Son Tradition – Pokémon Sword and Shield

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The release of Pokémon Sword & Shield today, on the Nintendo Switch, marks an end of an era for my son Wyatt and I.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

We first started playing Pokémon games together with the release of Pokémon X & Y–he had to have been in kindergarten, although I’m thinking more first grade.–. Armed with our 3DS systems, we’d encourage and compete against each other while playing through our separate games. Spending evenings battling each other to see who had the strongest Pokémon. I’d like to say that I won most of those matches, but I’d be lying. Wyatt is one tough Pokémon Trainer to beat.

I’ve been playing the Pokémon games since the original Pokémon Red & Blue debuted in the United States in 1998–crazy to think that I’ve been playing the same series for over two decades!–. I have owned and put time into:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Diamond
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • Pokémon Black
  • Pokémon Y
  • Pokémon Moon

Across all of those hours spent catching Pokémon, I somehow never managed to complete a single game. Playing with Wyatt gave me the competitive edge I needed to push through. Pokémon Y was my first Pokémon game to see through to the credits. I thank my son for the accomplishment of FINALLY finishing a Pokémon game. All I wanted to do was crush a little boy’s dreams by finishing the game first, typical dad stuff, right? (Wyatt won, btw.)

We moved on and battled through Pokémon Sun & Moon. At some point, hours upon hours into the game, I gave up. Wyatt went ahead and finished the game. He then completed the follow up, Pokémon Ultra Sun, by himself. We still battled in the evenings. Nothing like Pokémon fighting between a father and son.

Pokémon Sun & Moon

With the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield, Nintendo has shifted the main series from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch. In our house, we have a single Nintendo Switch console. I think that it is silly to buy another system just for the privilege of being able to play a Pokémon game. I will miss the memories and competition between Wyatt, our Pokémon, and I. Never forgetting the lesson that:

Kids have a ton of more time to play video games than a working adult. Never compete against a kid when time is required, Bryan, you’ll lose!

Coming to the end here, I am reminded of how long I’ve been playing video games with Wyatt. How I only have 8 years left with him until he graduates from high school… I hope we continue to play games together in some fashion; I can’t wait to show and introduce him to more.

An Unofficial Revival of Boys Club

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Wyatt wasn’t having the best of days yesterday. A combo of East Texas allergies and a knee injury at homeschool co-op had him snuffling/limping about. Tab ended up going to church alone to teach the kids (normally I tag along and help her). This Wednesday night though, I got to stay home with Wyatt and have a bit of an unofficial Boys Club revival. Two guys. All alone. What are we to do?

First, we kind of geeked out over a Star Wars trailer breakdown:

Second, we watched the Untitled Goose Game Gameplay Trailer. Wyatt just laughed. “We need this, dad.” I love listening to him laugh his deep belly laugh.

And then third, we played some Fortnite. I am still not a huge fan of the game. But recent changes have made the Chapter 2 update revolutionary for me (which means I’ll actually play with Wyatt now). The shooting, which always felt off/not good, feels dialed in now. I can shoot with the best of them and actually rack up a kill streak. Wyatt and I have consistently placed in the top ten playing duos. We even achieved our first Victory Royale over the weekend. Oh yeah!

Victory Royale!

Playing with Wyatt last night, I realized that we haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time lately. As we played Fornite, he talked. I learned about the video games kids at church are playing:

“Dad, so-and-so and so-and-so play Halo, but they aren’t allowed to play Fornite, isn’t Halo more violent?”

I smiled.

There is something about getting to hang out with him, one-on-one, that is super special. Tabitha is probably smiling as she reads this. At one point in my life, when she would leave, I’d put Wyatt to bed as quick as I could so that I could have some “me” time. God and the passage of time have worked to change me.

Was reading an article the other day that got me thinking about setting aside time to just spend with Wyatt. I liked this point:

Taking them out for breakfast. One much-loved tradition in our family is taking my children out for breakfast on Saturday mornings—one of them each week. It’s a tradition I have lost and revived and lost again and revived again. It is a tradition worth maintaining. The $10 or $20 expense and the time it takes pales in comparison to the investment in their lives. I will never regret our breakfast daddy dates.

Daddy dates. Going to think more on this one.

How do you make time to connect with your kids?

How did your parents make time to connect with you as a kid?

Let me know in the comments below.

From Across the Net – “Switch Lite is Now Part of Joy-Con Class Action Lawsuit Against Nintendo”

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I had wondered about this when I saw the non-detaching Joy-Con design on the Switch Lite. Awesome, Nintendo.

When the Switch Lite was announced, some worried that the similarly designed analog sticks on the miniaturized console would be susceptible to the same issue. While no plaintiffs who have purchased Switch Lites have been added to the lawsuit (PDF via Polygon), five online accounts of drift on the Switch Lite posted since the Switch Lite’s September 20 release date have been added to the class-action complaint. “I can’t believe it, my Nintendo Switch Lite is already drifting,” reads one complaint posted on September 24. “I tried to calibrate and update the controllers but it was still the same.”

You can read more here

On My Radar – Some Distant Memory – Announcement Trailer

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This looks like a perfect bedtime game.

Hundreds of years after the collapse of civilization, you are the Professor, an archaeologist searching for the sunken city of Houston. Helping you are the Commander, an explorer from another colony, and ARORA, an artificial intelligence built to help the survivors of the Collapse.