Game of the Week: Relive Your Life

Hey there folks, now while I’ve still got E3 moments to cover [ and Comic Con on the way ], I’m still devoted to smaller indie titles that grab my fun buttons. Today is no different, because I’ve found a game which I find quite intriguing. It’s an interactive narrative with Suessical meaning. It’s called Relive Your Life by Matt Ackerman, a game that keeps me coming back again and again. As you’ll see it’s affected my rhythm and verse, which unfortunately for readers, may come as a curse. Don’t believe me my friends? – Well you should try it out first!

What kind of person will you be?

Ackerman’s artistic endeavors and Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson’s narrative prose make for one of the most interesting games I’ve played in a while. Now the game has very simple mechanics, and all of them are keyboard based: “Press X a specific amount of times.”, “Type out this sentence to save your life.”, “Pet a pet in this sequence of arrow keys”, etc. and while it may seem easy I have to say, it’s one of the most frantic games I’ve played in a while. The game gives you a 5 – 6 second window to complete these small keyboard-based tasks. This isn’t a ton of time, and so gamers with motion impairments or slower reflexes will have a tough time completing sections and changing your fate.

I’ll snuggle you for a better life teddy! You’ll be my friend!

Never fear my dear, for there’s something to help!

Their looks are so incredulous, because you’re just that dang AWESOME!

If you ever feel lost or give cause to yelp, well then after a play there’s a “Previous Chapter” A button you’ll press, when the pressure comes after. Heh. Rhyming isn’t helping is it? Well all I’ll say is that if you screw up you have an opportunity to replay the events over again and try for a different ending. There are 29 different stories in all and I’m intrigued enough to play through them all! If you’re totally into narrative storytelling like I am you’ll want to sit down with this little flash title and relive your life over and over again! You can play it for free today on Kongregate or even Newgrounds – both have the game, and I promise you’ll get addicted to a game that even Dr. Suess would be proud of!

Pros:

  • Easy gameplay, with about 6 chapters per playthrough. 29 possible endings will keep you quite busy.
  • Colors are simple and clean. Easy for viewing and playing. 
  • Game runs on keyboard based functions, and while not accessible for all gamers, it makes for simple gameplay.
  • Stories are fun, interesting, and keep gamers wanting to reach the end of their fate on each playthrough.
  • The interactions and stories are truly funny. Egoraptor’s dialog definitely amps up the enjoyment of this game!
  • A previous chapter function allows gamers to replay sections they may have messed up on to hopefully get new endings.

Cons:

  • No subtitles for audio, which makes the game much harder for deaf gamers. However: Deaf gamers can read the script: HERE.
  • No audio cues. The game has audio that blind players can listen to, but no audio cues for when items are highlighted, etc.
  • Quick reflexes are needed for this game to be able to access ALL of the endings. A small window of time doesn’t give you much room.

Enjoy folks! Happy gaming to you all!

E3 Impressions: ZombiU

Well, if you haven’t noticed I’ve kind of taken a break from the blog. It’s summer, and thus, life happens. Life also ends, and sometimes horribly – like in the case of zombie attacks. There was one game this year at E3 that, while I’m not so sold on it yet, definitely intrigued me with the new hardware and interactivity. Ubisoft and Nintendo have teamed up to bring a zombie survival game that tests the boundaries of interactivity and brings a whole new perspective to the experience. The game will infect you and keep you on your toes as you try your best to survive in the upcoming: ZombiU.

The London Olympics – just prep for this?!

I’ve looked over countless interviews, stories, and information trying to compile something wonderful for you all. Consider it your survival inventory as you get ready to tackle the newest adventure from Ubisoft. I’ve looked over previews and interviews and here’s what I’ve learned so far about ZombiU, and what I think about it’s accessibility so far:

  • ZombiU seems to be a survival-horror game set in London in late 2012. I have to admit that I like the new environment vibe for this game.
  • ZombiU seems to require the use of both hands to do many of the actions required for the game. A difficulty for motion-impaired gamers.
  • ZombiU seems to have everything you’ll need to use incorporated within the Wii U controller: inventory, body scanners, etc.
  • The one touch controls of these functions definitely gives the game a plus in this regard. It seems easy, and provides accessible movements.
  • The touch screen seems like it may cause some struggles with colorblind gamers. The scanner is very bright with monotone blue tones.
  • There are moments within the game that the scanner gets disrupted. This will be extremely frustrating for deaf gamers due to loss of radar.
  • Gamers with heart conditions or other medical conditions that may be triggered by unexpected moments of fear may want to avoid this game.
  • The game is very dark and unpredicatable, which may make the game difficult for visually impaired gamers.

The game starts you off playing as a random citizen thrust headlong into surviving in this apocalyptic London environment. You’ll have to keep on your toes, keep your inventory up to date, and prepare for anything! The most innovative function I find that ZombiU carries is that Ubisoft incorporated a twist to gameplay I haven’t seen in past zombie games. If you die within the game there are NO save points. This means that the game is meant to be played through seamlessly, as though you are truly a survivor of the apocalypse. If you die, don’t worry though, you’ll be brought back as a brand new survivor. You WILL lose any inventory or upgrades you earned as your first survivor, but hold on – there’s a catch.
Don’t think that all is lost – [ even if that zombie is eating your brains like a bowl of oatmeal… ]

God Save The Queen – and EVERYONE ELSE!

You may come back as a new survivor, but if you FIND your old survivor body and kill the now-zombified former you, you’ll acquire ALL of the inventory, upgrades, etc. that the former survivor had. The bonus here is that things like doors, or impassable areas you may not have been able to access as a new survivor will already be opened and accessible. This means that each new playthrough will be different and more dynamic than the next. Ubisoft designed the game with surprise of the survival horror genre in mind. These aspects of the game may make the game more difficult for some gamers, but I’m actually excited for this title because of the unexpected design of it.
I want to feel frightened as I play through the London expanse. I want to feel like, no matter what, the gameplay won’t provide a linear similar experience each time. I want to feel that sense of tension around every corner, even if I’ve been around that corner before. I feel like, while the Wii U controller may be cumbersome and challenging, it’s going to aid in providing a brand new sort of survival experience that no one’s ever had before. I may have my concerns in terms of accessibility, but overall this game looks as though it’ll be one of the more adult successes for the Nintendo franchise. I can’t wait to get my hands on this for real and test out my survival skills – but this is shaping up to be a scary good time!
ZombiU is set to release right around the holiday release time of Wii U. So here’s to all of the disembodied fun and hoping we survive our royal induction into the infected world of ZombiU coming late 2012! Thanks Nintendo for giving me a reason to fear your console with an M rated passion!

E3 Impressions: Wonderbook

Now I’m all about exploring the newest technology on the market, and Sony brought out something that truly caught my eye. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know my love for spreading education via the virtual video game experience. Well Sony seems to be on the cutting edge of the educational ‘gamification’ movement with their new tech they rolled out called the Wonderbook. Now what exactly is the Wonderbook? Well from what I understand they’re going to be actual interactive books that correlate with the Playstation Eye and using the Playstation Move to interact with the product. How cool is this idea? Well you better believe the little kid in me is squealing with excitement!

Especially due to the first major author that’s signed on to do a Wonderbook: J.K. RowlingsHARRY POTTER ANYONE?! That’s RIGHT! Rowlings has helped to devise a wonderful interactive storybook, The Book of Spells, that will take the reader into in-depth to NEW content by Rowling herself! Players will get to experience the Harry Potter universe like never before, and I personally can’t wait to see what they’re going to be capable of with this. You’ll see in the demo that they do have some technical glitches, but hey it’s the initial stages of what I believe to be a wonderful product. There’s always going to be some hiccups – that’s what demos and Q&A testing are for. Well now knowing that what do I expect from Wonderbook going forward?

Wingardium Leviosa!

Wonderbook Expectations:

  • Wonderbook definitely seems to be aimed at a younger crowd [ family and youth ] but I see a lot of potential here for some classic works.
  • There’s so much educational potential here. Can you imagine books like Dr. Seuss? Sesame Street? Where The Wild Things Are
  •  Interactive reading isn’t new by any means, but Wonderbook brings two of my favorite things together: reading and video games.
    • Disney used to provide interactive software for PC long before Sony began bringing this out, but there’s far more personal engagement  provided via Wonderbook I’d imagine. I loved my 90’s Disney Interactive software, but Wonderbook conceptually feels much better.
  • Teachers may even benefit from having PS3’s in their classrooms now, and using Wonderbooks to teach classic novels to students.
  • The interactivity provided by video game mediums provides new, exciting, and exhilarating memorable experiences for players.
  • The comprehension and excitement of reading might be sparked with enthusiasm via the way Wonderbook delivers this new material.

Incendio!

Sure, some naysayers may claim that this newfangled ideology of ‘gamification’ towards the way we read might turn children, parents, and others off actually reading. I say no way! Imagine this. Your young child sits down and plays with a Wonderbook [ for this hypothetical let’s just say Disney signs a license via Sony and they produce a Winnie the Pooh Wonderbook ] and he, or she, gets to explore the Hundred Acre Wood, learn valued moral decisions via Pooh’s adventures, counting, letters, etc. The educational potential is limitless! How could you not love this idea? So where do we go from here? Well we wait. We wait patiently for Wonderbooks to catch on. It sounds like they’ll be sold seperately as individual ‘game’ titles, but I wouldn’t mind spending on them. Especially if they were titles that I was hoping for [ like Harry Potter ]

If there are adults out there wondering, “Well, wait, so is Wonderbook only going to be for children and families?” – it certainly looks like that, but I can tell you folks with confidence that there are tons of companies that host more to teenage and adult fair that are interested in the Wonderbook technology. In fact, I’ve done some snooping around and it sounds like BBC America is totally interested in getting in on the Wonderbook vibe. If the idea of Stephen Moffit reinventing Doctor Who for an interactive reading material isn’t cool, then you may direct yourself to a TARDIS right now and jettison yourself into a time vortex! Can you imagine books like: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a Dr. Who novel based on the Whoniverse – Daleks, Cybermen, Fallen Angels, etc. or who knows – Game of Thrones? Lord of the Rings?

A Whovian Experience like NO OTHER?!

The choices are endless and I hope to see some of these come to life for real. They most likely won’t be out this year, and it’ll probably be a 2013 release – but I’d be willing to wait for such literary enjoyment. I’ve never been much of a Playstation Move supporter, but you’ve won me over Sony! Congratulations, now I’ll be Move supporting – as long as you continue to use your Move technology for the benefit of educational mediums.

Gaming With A Cause: The Speedgamers’ Pokemon Marathon

Well this is pretty fantastic – I found something awesome via Tim Schafer. Yes. The Tim Schafer. I follow him on Twitter and he just so happened to share a link that I feel like blogging about as well! So there’s this lovely gaming group called The Speed Gamers. The Speed Gamers run gaming marathons all the time, but this one really stood out to me. Why? They are currently running a charity gaming marathon to raise money for ACT Today.[ Austism Care and Treatment ] What is this gaming marathon about may you ask? Well I’ll let this graphic explain it:

Gotta Catch ‘Em All for Autism!

They are using Twitch TV to broadcast the stream and it’ll be up through the 22nd. So if you’re a fan of Pokemon and you want to support research for autism – grab your DS or your Gameboy Color – relive the retro love of this epic marathon and get to catching ’em all and donate to this wonderful cause. You’ll be helping children of all ages, while watching one of the most EPIC Pokemon marathons I’ve ever seen.

They’re still only half way done and they’ve got 3 days to go!

Game of The Week: Choice of Zombies

Well, as I work hard on trying to get my Zombi-U impressions together, I figure I should actually give you folks a game to play today huh? It’s been a while. Well I’m kind of in love with the idea of text adventures right now. I know. They may not seem like much but, truth be told, they’re the building blocks of many of your favorite games you play today. Text adventures employ one fundamental game design technique that’s necessary to all games:

Choice. 

Look at how the pretty choice bubbles float around my head!

Choices. Choices. Choices. Ok – umm THIS ONE!

Providing the user choice over their actions gives a sense of meaning and interactivity to any action that players take within the game. It allows game characters to become more life like and real, stories to become more emotionally tense, and gamers wanting to continue with each passing moment. So without further adieu, considering I’m in a zombie mood, I present to you: Choice of Zombies

Note: I haven’t played through the whole thing. They’re rather extensive [which is nice.] but folks should be aware that it does contain some language and of course violence in this piece, so just use caution when playing.

“Brrrraaaaaaaiiiiinnnnssss”

It’s a text adventure game that drops you into, well an infected zombie world. You wake up  one morning and discover a human leg in your kitchen, and then it’s up to you how to react to the scenario. The game is entirely multiple choice and incredibly easy to play, but what I love is that it’s kind of addictive. You start with one question, but find yourself thrown head long into trying to figure out when everyone started becoming zombies, trying to survive, etc.

One little, two little, three little zombies… four little… fiv-grraah!

There are plenty more games designed by a company called Choice of Games. They have a plethora of multiple choice text adventure titles to choose from. They even have an open source text adventure script that can be used to design your own text adventure games in the future. You can write your own story and Choice of Games will even help you host it on their site.

So, if you’re interested in text adventure games, if you long for the days of Zerg, and you just happen to have an affinity for zombies I’d give this game a look. Between Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Zombi-U, and Resident Evil 6 on the horizon there’s plenty of zombies to look forward to – I just figured you all could use a little bite to tie you over. Enjoy my minions!

E3 Impressions: Nike+ vs. Wii Fit U

Well it’s becoming an age of digital exercise isn’t it? The outdoors has become a scary vortex of something called ‘sunlight’ that burns the skin of nerds everywhere isn’t it? Well have no fear! The superheroes over at Microsoft and Nintendo intend to keep you agoraphobia ridden folks happy and healthy with their newest edition to their exercise video game roster. Microsoft has teamed up with Nike, and Nintendo intends to expand their Wii Fit program. I personally have never been one to think that my video game console could be used as a digital trainer and assistant in my health program, but I think I’m starting to see a trend here. Couch potatoes be damned – the exercise games have come full circle so prepare to get your butts moving instead of your fingers children!

Hey – they’ve got shoes, why not have a game that uses them?

How to start this then, well let’s look at the general use of video games as a participant in our physical activity. It sounds like a neat idea right? I mean, sure, for years I thought the only use for my console was to train my thumb muscles and brain to protect me from zombie attacks. I’m now realizing that with these added games on the market, I might actually be able to work out more than my thumbs. I personally never got into this idea, because I felt like it was just going to be a gimmick sale and that it would pass just as fast as an old high school fad. I was wrong, oh so wrong.

Wii Fit U – so U don’t have to!

So let us begin shall we?

Note: Keep in mind that I’m aware these games may not be suited for many mobility impaired gamers. I’m hoping that by looking into this area of gaming, the industry might look into how to introduce physical therapy and low-intensity exercise programs into these games in later iterations. There are so many exercise games out there: Zumba, Just Dance, Dance Central, Active, etc. I just hope that companies focus on exercise for ALL players and not just activities for MOST players, and with that I move on…

Microsoft’s Nike+

Compete with your friends online. This way you don’t feel self conscious.

Well they did it. Microsoft really impressed me this time. They joined up with one of the biggest juggernauts in workout apparel and content, Nike, and managed to form a game around your personal health. Impressive guys. Impressive. I mean I saw what Microsoft had to offer with Active for Kinect, but I was still on the fence, because it didn’t seem as effective. Well Nike+ just set me straight and I can’t wait to actually get this game for my family [ of course this means I’ll actually have to buy a 360 now. Woo! ] It seems like, in comparison to other games, Nike+ will be a virtual trainer. It will help you keep track of calories, heartbeat, jump height, etc. It will track everything and for folks who are wishing to lose weight, gain a little more muscle mass, etc. can definitely benefit from seeing that rewarding progress tracker. Oh, and if you think that’s cool, you can port the info to your phone – to keep yourself on track on the go [ outside! ] I just ask that developers look at gamers of all kinds. Fat, skinny, mobility impaired, etc. We all need exercise to stay healthy, and we all need ways to participate in doing just that.

Wii Fit U

 

Well Wii Fit. You’ve been the captain of the ‘in-home’ fitness genre for years now haven’t you? I remember my first experience with the Wii Sports Boxing and how much that used to make me feel like I’d had a real workout by the end of it. Well, with a new console, comes a new rendition of Wii Fit. Introducing Wii Fit U. It seems as though it’s designed as an advanced version of the Wii Fit program, but with some added benefits. What I found that I loved about the Wii Fit U in comparison, was that it allows for mobile activity. What I mean by this is, say a friend wants to come over and watch a movie, but you’ve still got 5 minutes of workout to go. You can port the Wii Fit program from your Wii U to the controller and it’ll display on the screen. This leaves the main TV open for personal use by others. I didn’t see this in the Nike + Kinect Trainer [ but hey XBox Smart Glass might change this. Wink Wink Microsoft! ] The Wii Fit U also comes with a portable pedometer to carry around.

It may not seem like much but that dual screen functionality is going to help!

I’m not sure how much the Nike+ “fuel bands‘ cost, but I’m uncertain if one of them comes with Nike+Wii Fit U has the edge here.

I will say, I feel like Kinect was more physically accommodating – but Wii Fit U gets the mobile usage edge at the moment. We’ll have to see later.

Overall, I love that game companies want to get us all active. I’m excited to see these games affect our daily lives, but will these drag me away from games like AC III, Watch Dogs, or Black Ops II? Probably not, but I’ll be glad that they’re available for when I want to work out at home! So keep a look out for these – it looks like it’ll be a sweaty holiday season at this rate! Happy gaming folks! Much love to you all!

E3 Impressions: Assassin’s Creed III

The Assassin’s Creed series has been a staple of my gaming library for at least 6 years now. I’ve followed Desmond from his first days in the Animus, and I’ve travelled through time to some of my favorite eras in history: Jerusalem, Renaissance Italy, and the Byzantine Empire. I’ve seen it all and I’ve enjoyed every conspiracy driven minute of the Assassin’s journey, and now Ubisoft is bringing my much loved franchise to an era that I can’t get enough of. Assassin’s Creed III will bring the boats back around, setting sail for a story centered in Colonial America.

“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” – George Washington

With a new addition to Assassin’s series comes a brand new assassin to embody. The game will continue following the story of Desmond, but this time his ancestry takes him neck deep within the Revolutionary War. You’ll get the opportunity to strap on the white cowl as you play as Connor, a half-Native American/half-English assassin, who becomes a silent voice for liberty above the tyranny of the British soldiers. Now from what I’ve seen, this game has everything I could ever ask for when considering what I would want out of a 18th century experience.

It would be incredibly easy to go into a in-depth, multi-paragraphed dissertation on all of the ways Ubisoft has altered the newest addition to their Assassin’s series. I, however, will try and remain completely objective and refrain from my fan-boy obsessions with the time period and characters to give you a detailed and unbiased multi-platform examination of the game. Here goes:

  • In past Assassin’s Creed games the game has had some linearity to it, but it felt like an open world experience. In AC III Ubisoft truly revamps the open world experience for the game. I always found that in past iterations of the Assassin’s series that, while the environments looked beautiful, they lacked environmental climate changes. In AC III Ubisoft has seen the need for environmental experiences. Players can now experience the weight of walking through thick tufts of snow, crunching over mounds of dried leaves, and even fighting off generated wildlife that roams the wood.

The most epic game of “Hide and Seek” ever.

  • In AC III there seems to be far more open ended fun to be had. The quest systems seem to be more ‘in the moment’ and even if they’re similar in some fashion [ and by this I’m referring to the fetch quests, assassinations, etc. eventually they felt very similar in scheme after a couple of attempts.] Ubisoft seems to want to change that with letting you feel as though each mini-quest is as important as the main story scheme. Interact with historical figures and feel like a meaningful part of the Revolution Era. I’m sort of loving this, and I can’t wait to see what that means for further gameplay.
  • It seems as though your main enemy in this game is, of course, the Templars. The Templars seem to be mostly associated with the British soldiers, but that’s not saying there probably won’t be some traitors within American ranks either [ I’m actually kind of hoping for that! ] Ubisoft really focused on being authentic though, because if you watch the gameplay scenarios, the soldiers only shoot once before they have to ambush you with bayonets.
  • This is going to give a lot of variation to the new gameplay mechanics, and with some of the new moves that seem to be showing – I think this will be one of the most versatile combat systems we’ve seen out of the Assassin’s series. The movement and dodge mechanics seem to have new animations and provide the player with a brand new experience that makes every combat scenario a unique experience. I can’t wait to kill off Templar goons, string them up, use them as bullet shields, etc. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s actually going to be naval ship battles too – which blows me away! No pun intended!
  • The game has multiplayer of course, and though I haven’t seen much of it. It looks like they’ve made the system easier to deal with and more accommodating to the user. I was unfortunately disappointed by the Revelations revamp and how difficult the system was to handle. I preferred the interface they incorporated in Brotherhood, but it seems as though the interface for AC III seems far more fitting to the user.
  • The game is going to be released multi platform as always, but what makes AC III so intriguing for me is that it’s going to be coming out for Wii U, PS3, 360 and PC. I’m intrigued by the possibility of AC III on the Wii U. Will you be able to use the second screen function as a far more visible HUD, inventory screen, etc. How will the touch screen be implemented? This also brings to mind the 360 Smart Glass. How will Smart Glass help AC III differ on their system in comparison to if I bought it for PS3?

For Liberty and Justice For All

I’m hoping the new gameplay and environmental elements of AC III will bring Connor’s story to life in the greatest way possible. I’m hoping with new technology and new ways to interact with the AC universe that Assassin’s Creed III will be one of my most loved and cherished games. I will be on pins and needles waiting to see how this game unfolds, but it’s shaping up to be one of the most epic adventures that Ubisoft has ever unveiled.

Thanks guys for giving this designer something to truly swoon over both from a gamer perspective and from a tech junkie’s anticipation! The game’s slated for October 2012 – so get ready folks! The Revolution is coming!