Wyatt and I took a trip to our local game store, Three Suns Unlimited, this past weekend. I have been meaning to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game for awhile now. I figured Pokémon would be a great entry level collectible card game for us to learn. After asking the ultimate parent question in this scenario:
“What do I need to play this game?”
The knowledgeable store staff directed us to a Pokémon Sun & Moon Trainer Kit. Priced at $10, the Trainer Kit comes with everything you need to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). The kit includes:
A full 60-card deck that you split into two to play two player
Playmat (with rules on it)
Damage Counters (cardboard tokens)
A Game Coin to flip to determine who goes first
And 2 Rule Books to teach you how to play your first game step-by-step
Once home, we pulled out the instructions and got to playing. I was impressed at how easy the game is to learn. We ended up battling our Pokémon against each other in more than a few matches over the weekend.
Side Note: I was amused that one of the game’s rules is having to shake hands with your opponent prior to playing. This brought about a great opportunity to teach Wyatt about how men shake hands. Not too soft. Not too hard. Firm and determined.
As a real man, I can admit that I got my butt kicked multiple times this weekend by a growing boy and his Pokémon. I am pleased that $10 provided the entertainment it did while allowing me to connect with Wyatt more. We’ll continue to play, refine our skills, and figure out the luck of the draw nature of the game. Who knows, maybe we’ll be ready to battle Team Rocket in the future… if we ever meet them.
My son and I are gripping our controllers, leading our small group of Avengers to victory. But wait, even though the screen is split, the onscreen action blinds us both to our positions in-game. Lego Marvel’s Avengers fails to provide a visual indicator to note where ones character is on screen. There is no “player one” or “player two” designation. The game’s camera pulls too far out of the action for the player to be able to follow their hero.
I am frustrated; my six year old son, even more so.
The Lego games have always frustrated me. There is so much potential with the Lego properties, squandered in the name of shoddy controls and split screen mode. What frustrates me more, as with Disney Infinity, is that developers market this half-assed game design to children. We love playing videogames together. My son is able to hold his own in Guacamelee. His skills increase every time we sit down and play. But Lego games block our fun together.
I would like to say that videogame developers hate children. But that isn’t true. Videogame developers lack a certain awareness of how kids play.
Kids games need to:
Provide clear visual cues
Make it easy for players to find themselves: a simple portrait of a superhero, in the top right corner of the screen, doesn’t cut it. For a great example, check out Diablo 3.
Offer different camera distance so that players can see the action
Give players control over the environment that engages motor-skill and muscle-memory
My son and I will probably continue to play Lego Marvel’s Avengers. I just wish it was more finely-tuned to my son’s early skill levels.