Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch

mario kart 8

Mario Kart is one of those games which turn a room full of strangers into a room full of new buddies- or at least rowdy racers.  With equal parts skill, luck, and know how, Mario Kart has consistently been a gem of this gaming’s generation.  The latest in the franchise, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, dare I say may be the brightest gem so far.  With almost all characters unlocked to begin with, this game is built for multiplayer.  As the Switch will show you, it is easy to grab a controller and play.  Each player takes the mini controller for their racer and plays.

The game runs at 1080p, and the graphics are spot on- levels pop with textures and colors, with characters smoothly running along the tracks.  Every track from the Wii U version of the game is included, including DLC, which makes a glorious return. Plus, the Inklings appear as all-new guest characters, along with returning favorites, such as King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.  My personal favorite is green Shy guy, because he reminds me of Christmas., followed very closely by Dry Bones.  My son favors likes Link or Yoshi.

With tons of characters to choose from, everyone can pick their favorite without arguments.  Characters of different wights and sizes act differently and effect your controls, as do the type of vehicle and even the tires selected. Every track has character and originality, never facing two of the same type in a row.  Some new and some classic from previous Mario Kart games, but updated for 8 Deluxe.  The game also includes support for amiibo’s and amiibo cards, which unlock more content in game, allowing for even more customization.  Most of these options come in the form of the outfit for your Mii to use in race,  which are all cool to see and even more fun to use.

Mario Kart Deluxe 8 is available no for $59.99 from retail locations of via download fro the eShop.

Dragon Quest VIII for the 3DS

Dragon Quest has been a long standing classic series, and one of the most memorable of them is Dragon Quest 8. This game was originally released for the PS2 and is now available for the Nintendo 3DS.  Dragon Quest sports characters and environments (which are beautifully designed) as well as enemies with unique oddities including slimes, Drackies, bone barons, and sabercats are all included.  Not only is it a portable version, but there are also quite a few extras packed in as well.  Now you can defeat monsters and add them as backup for your own battles, adding a new dimension.

There are also 2 new characters, monster arena owner Morrie and Red the bandit.  You can now save anywhere during the game, which is fantastic, and a very important update is the fact there are no more random encounters.   So if you are searching for some health, no need to get as nervous as you make your way about, just be quick and stealthy.  The alchemy pot is another addition, where items are added and new items are made- (such as potions or weapons) there are many possibilities.  There are also new weapons, new side missions, a whole new ending available, and a new dungeon as well.  You also now have the ability to take pictures in game and share via StreetPass with your friends on the 3DS.

The story itself follows your adventures while trying to defeat an evil villain with a magical staff who cursed the kingdom of Trodain.  Along with your friends Yangus the bandit, Jessica the magical minx, and Angelo the knight, you explore and battle your way through this game experience.

Dragon Quest is a classic RPG where planning and careful game play are rewarded with leveling up and new equipment.  Many even say this is the title to get your feet wet with in the Dragon Quest line of games.  Dragon Quest 8 is available now on the eShop and at retail stores everywhere. Enjoy.

Poochy And Yoshi’s Woolly World for 3DS

yoshi and poochy

Yarn Yoshi is back, and this time he has brought his woolly buddy Poochy, in Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World.  Kamek the magikoopa has changed everyone into wool, Yoshi and Poochy are here to save the day.  This game is a retelling of Yoshi Woolly World on the Wii U, which includes over 55 levels of fun and also adds some new Poochy levels.  Every level has a craft feel, where enemies are yarn-abes and each texture and item is also craft based.

There is also an ability to enter Mellow Mode, where Yoshi sports his signature wings and can float about, and adds Poochy’s 3 little puppies to help find secrets and hidden passages.  This game is great for players of all ages, where experienced players will try to collect all the items available while beginners will be happy to beat each level.  New to this version are collectable pencil stamps which add materials to use in craft mode.  Craft mode is where you can create your own Yoshi patterns using various colors and materials gathered during game play.  You can make any pattern you like from a favorite sports team to a super hero costume design.  These Yoshi can then be shared as well.  Another neat feature is Yoshi feature, where you can watch animated shorts based on Yoshi and Poochy’s adventures.

The game also supports amiibos.  Yarn Yoshi unlocks a double Yoshi to make levels even more fun.  Taping the new Yarn Poochy lets you add Poochy to a regular level while tapping Poochy during Poochy Dash unlock extra challenges and thus bonus Poochy designs as well.  Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is available only on the Nintendo 3DS and is available for download from the eShop or at retail locations.  In addition to the regular edition, there is also an amiibo bundle where the game includes a Poochy amiibo packaged with it.

Fun New Video Games for Families

Nicer weather is on the way, but what to do while you are still trapped indoors? Check out these new video games and devices you can play with the kids.

 

Skylanders Imaginators is the newest in the proud Skylanders line of games.  Each game further expands on the previous, and lets real life toy-like figures meet and battle on the portal (game) and inside the game itself. Each character is unique and can be brought into the game with the included portal by simply placing the toy on the portal.  This newest iteration brings in a character creation element which makes for great fun and increased interactivity in a unique way.  The story follows the Skylanders as they try to defeat Kaos in his newest plan to destroy Skyland.  Kaos has found a new power called the Mind Magic and is creating an army of Doomlanders.  The leader of the good guys is Eon, and he calls upon Portal Masters to battle Kaos and his army.  But this time there are Sensei’s as well.  These sensei’s give you new powers for your Imaginators to use and be built with.  The new Nintendo system Switch has received its own version of this fun game, and now includes further mobility. You can also save your Skylanders’ figure stats and abilities to the system so you can play Skylanders on the go with your characters but without a portal or figures in tow.  This is a great new addition (and kind of a big deal)  and makes Skylanders able to be an “on the go” game as well.

Skylanders Imaginators

If you haven’t yet, you can also create your own Skylander that will be mailed to you in real life. My son flipped his lid over this, and your Skylanders fan will as well. It’s easy to do, just download the Skylanders Creator app from the iOS or Android store, and using the app, create an Imaginator character or transfer one from the Skylanders Imaginators console game to the app. Follow the directions, it takes just a few minutes once downloaded from start to finish. Any Skylander you created can be yours in real life- one of the cooler things we’ve seen in a while.  Highly recommend.

Nintendo Switch

Speaking of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has finally given us what we have been frothing at the mouth for, a new system!  Their newest console is the Switch.  It is both a portable as well as a use at home console, which I think is very neat.  It is easy to switch between the two, even in the middle of your current game.  The first thing you will notice upon opening up the Switch is there is not much in the box, a tablet and a stand, controllers, a few various controller accessories and cables.  This is exactly the point of the system- portability.  The tablet portion of the Switch is quite a powerhouse, with a crisp, gorgeous display.  The controllers are very responsive and are solidly built as well.  They do feel a bit small in Dad’s monster size hands, but are definitely still playable for long periods of time (especially when used in conjunction with the joy con grip, which turns the two small controllers into one bigger one for a more classic gaming feel).  It’s actually kind of telling of current gaming, all the different ways the Switch is played in our house.  My son loves playing portable, anywhere, from the kitchen to the bedroom, while dad loves the classic gaming feel with controller in hand on the TV.  The Switch’ s joy con controller can also act as two separate controllers for two players, which make for fun for all with the accessibility of a small controller with fewer buttons.  Non gamers will be easily  drawn into multiplayer games with the small controller making for a more fun multi-player experience.  The Switch is available now in stores and online retailing for $299.99.

breath of the wild
The Legend of Zelda has always been a fun franchise, ever expanding and growing with each entry.  The newest, Breath of the Wild, takes the player places they have never been in a Zelda game.  As Link, you will explore the vast area of Hyrule full of shrines, villages, friends, and foes, with fights being less of a button mashing event and more of a strategic battle.  What will strike the player in some of your earliest encounters will be how difficult this game actually is.  Do not expect to run into a fight, slash some baddies and hop out.  Each encounter is a lesson in sneaking, dodging, attacking, magic, and of course the ever important strategic get away (which does not always succeed).  As you progress through the game, your armor, weapons, and shields get damaged and break, needing to be replaced. Link himself learns new powers, abilities, and and gains friends.  This game also supports amiibos which can be a huge help.  The Breath of Wind series amiibos are all compatible as well as Wolf Link, and the Zelda 30th Anniversary amiibo to name a few.  When you use Wolf Link, you get a companion who will assist in battle and travel along side you.   Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is avilable now for $59.99 in stores and online as well as from the Nintendo eShop retailing for $59.99

yoshi and poochy

Yarn Yoshi is back and this time he has brought his woolly buddy Poochy in Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World.  Kamek the magikoopa has changed everyone into wool, and Yoshi and Poochy are here to save the day.  This game is a retelling of Yoshi Woolly World on the Wii U, by including over 55 levels of fun while also adding some new Poochy levels.  Every level has a craft feel where enemies are yarn and each texture and item is also craft based. There is also an ability to enter Mellow Mode where Yoshi sporty his signature wings and can float about, and adds Poochy’s 3 little puppies to help find secrets and hidden passages.  This game is great for players of all ages, where experienced players will try to collect all the items available while beginners will be happy to beat each level.  Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World is available only on the Nintendo 3DS and is available for download from the eShop or at retail locations.  In addition to the regular edition there is also an amiibo bundle where the game includes a Poochy amiibo packaged with it.

Spooky Fun in BADLAND

Badland is an award-winning game, and deservedly so. My young one first saw the captivating adventure on a friend’s tablet. Since then, he’s been playing on our home computer. In Badland, players control a bunch of mysterious winged creatures. They look silly, flap their arms to fly, and tumble along any path. Badland is definitely unique, and it’s definitely fun.

I should mention that Badland might be a bit too spooky for very young children (much like The BoxTrolls or Coraline). It’s not a haunting Halloween game, but it’s not as bright and cheery as Cut the Rope. Badland has stunningly pretty graphics, with a glowing sun that lights up a foggy, interesting world. Old trees are overgrown with alien-like flowers and oddly colored bushes. Withered branches hang from high above, occasionally covered in autumn leaves. The world in Badland is deeply imaginative, and it may provide a strong source of inspiration for our creative little ones.

Learning how to play Badland is easy. When gaming on a computer, simply click the main mouse button or press the “up” arrow key to fly. Every single movement stems from that one button. Flying, rolling, and climbing all happens by flapping your character’s arms.

Despite having easy-peasy controls, this game isn’t easy to beat. As we’ve come to expect from single-player games, each new level is harder to beat than the last. At the beginning of the game, your child might progress very quickly, spending no more than a minute or two on each level. After that, the landscapes get tougher to cross, with all sorts of new variables coming into play.

Most of the action in Badland involves interacting with Mother Nature. Players must fly above hills and glide through caves. Certain branches are in the way, but they can be pushed aside or bent. In more advanced levels, dubious traps challenge gamers. There are windmill-like blades that block paths, teeter-totter barriers, and dangerously large boulders. The sheer number of special obstacles and traps makes Badland much more than a standard arcade game. It often plays like a puzzler, daring players to think creatively to cross the forest.

Badland has realistic physics, meaning everything acts as it would in our world. No two games play the same way. There’s a randomness to the levels, in what you’ll encounter and how you can win. I find this to be one of the elements children like the most, because there’s no repetition. Every time they play, something new happens. In fact, many new things happen.

There are ways to shrink your flying character and grow to massive sizes. Depending on the level, you might need to be very tiny to squeak through an underground tunnel. Or, you might have to be huge to barrel through a cluster of rocks. Each of the 300 missions is different, and that’s a very good thing. Badland is free, it is wonderful, and it’s parent-approved. Have a go, and you could end up playing it just as much as your young ones do.

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

This gorgeous Wii U game is making its way to Nintendo 3DS. This version contains some new features, plus every stage available in the original. Exclusive new stages focus on Poochy: Players must time Poochy’s jump to collect beads, and Poochy Pups as they head for the goal. Poochy Pups are curious little helpers who jump on suspicious spots to indicate where players should look for secrets and collectables. Nintendo and Japanese stop-motion animation studio Dwarf are collaborating on 30 animated shorts featuring Yoshi and Poochy that will be included in the Nintendo 3DS version of the game. A yarn amiibo figure of Poochy will launch at the same time as the game.

How to Choose the Best Computer to Play Minecraft

Technically, you can play Minecraft on any computer. However, this game is based on the programming language Java. So you will need a computer capable of running Java programs. All new computers can do this. However, Java takes up significant processing power to function properly. So, even if a computer can run Minecraft, it may not do it well. If the computer you are using lacks enough processing power, Minecraft will lag and run on a low-frame rate.

If you are looking for the ideal computer to play Minecraft, here are some tips:

PCs are the Best

Minecraft can run on PC, Linux, Macs, Xbox, Playstation and even on computers powered by Raspberry Pi. However, PC is the best type of computer play the game on. If you have a good desktop or laptop PC with a powerful graphics card, that’s all you need to play the game. You do not technically need a gaming computer for Minecraft. However, if you also want to play other games, it won’t hurt to buy a low-budget gaming laptop or a desktop.

Framerate Matters

Framerate, or fps (frames per second), is how fast individual images can be displayed on a screen so it looks like the images are moving. You may know this as moving picture, or movie, technology (very fancy). Video games display images similarly to movies. The graphics you want to see on the game will be affected by your computer’s fps. The higher the fps, the better. You can change this setting in-game, but there’s no point in tuning up in-game fps very high if the computer you are using cannot render the fps that fast. The basic frame rate for Minecraft is around 50 fps. Standard computers can manage around 60 fps. Gaming computers usually have double that rate, which will be more than enough to play Minecraft smoothly with great blocky graphics.

Get a Solid Processor

Ultimately, it comes down to the computer’s processor and memory. The Intel Pentium processor is the most basic processor that you can play Minecraft without major issues. You can upgrade to Intel Core i3, but this processor is largely similar to Pentium but costs extra. Ideally, Intel Core i5 with 4GB or 8GB RAM is the best processor for the game at the moment. Of course, you will have to combine the processor with a good graphics card. Core i7 processors are great if you already have one. There is no need to upgrade from i5 to i7, as you won’t get noteworthy perks for the additional cost.

Pair the Processor with a Good Graphics Card

Minecraft’s graphics are meant to be blocky like in arcade machines of the yore. However, a good graphics card will render the images best without lag. You need to pair a solid processor with a good graphics card like Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M or Iris Graphics 6100. Make sure the graphics card comes with at least 4GB of memory. Your computer will need at least 4GB of memory as well.

You can optimize your Minecraft experience further by buying an ergonomic external mouse and perhaps an external keyboard if you are using a laptop.

LEGO Dimensions Packs – Dr. Who, Simpsons, and Adventure Time

dr who lego

In what other game can you have Homer driving down the yellow brick road in the bat-mobile?

The answer is LEGO Dimensions.  The Lego brick themed multiverse spanning game is constantly expanding and with the most recent additions you can now explore the worlds of the children’s favorite Adventure Time, the generational favorite Dr Who,and the TV classic The Simpsons Springfield to name a few.

Sets are broken down into a few different categories, the predominant one being levels. With the download of an update to your game and the usage of figures from that particular universe, the level is unlocked.  Simpsons brings your characters into Springfield to solve various quests and requests by locals as well as the collection of various items to complete the level to 100%.  There are playable levels as well as free play modes where you can just go exploring to find all the nooks and crannies put in the game.  I guarantee as a fan you will find something that will put a huge smile on your face no matter which level pack you play.

Adventure Time has tons of characters and interactions with authentic voices.  When combining the level pack with the character pack, you can play as the duo Finn and Jake and cause mischief and save princesses with the help of BMO and Lumpy Space Princess.  To be honest, my son was least interested in Lumpy Space Princess to start off with, but her animations and interactions with characters are so spot on and genuinely funny, she is now one of his favorites in the entire game across every universe.

In addition to the sets mentioned, there are also fun packs like the Ninjago Cragger pack, which includes the evil Croc-tribe warrior Gragger and his Swamp Skimmer (which can be rebuilt into Cragger’s Fireship and Croc Command Sub).  This is one of the interesting parts of Lego Dimensions- vehicles aren’t only one vehicle but can be upgraded and rebuilt into other forms making them stronger or adding a new mode of transportation to the game, like a submarine going underwater or a jet which can fly around.

Each pack is jammed full of fun with levels, characters, and of course the LEGOs themselves, which come with digital instructions on how to build some characters in game.  Once put together, the characters can also be played with in real life just as other LEGO sets are, and fit in with the rest you have at home. Don’t lose the parts, though!