Tag Archives: gaming

Minecraft in the Classroom?

So I just came across this video from the Idea Channel, talking about Minecraft and the value this game has in schools for a multitude of different reasons.

This brings up an idea that I had heard about before, but never really thought about until now.  Minecraft in schools, classes, being used to teach math, science, and whatever else those teachers can come up with.  Video games in general, actually, are well on their way to becoming a new form of source material that proves itself as versatile as well as engaging, but more on that later.

Check out http://minecraftedu.com/  to see how it works!

~Andee

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Why I’m a Noob: My Shaq-Fu Confession

So I’m not gonna lie here: I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to gaming.  Now, I don’t mean that I just discovered video games yesterday or that I straight-up suck at them.  Oh, no.  I remember my days of hardcore gaming as a kid, playing Shaq-Fu long into the night, while Super Mario Bros. sat to the side collecting dust for years.  I mean that I’m honestly, truly still getting into inner gamer, learning which kinds of games I like and what genres I’m most skilled at.

WAIT, what? Hold up. Did you just say Shaq-Fu?

Yeah bitch.
Yeah bitch.

I think you can see what the problem is here.  One of them, anyway.  Not only that I counted Shaq-Fu as quality entertainment for most of my childhood, but that I chose it over super Mario on a daily basis.  I can’t believe I’m saying this now as an adult (who totally knows better now I SWEAR), but I loved that game, and it still has a strong sense of nostalgia for me. When I see that title screen I just gotta reminisce.  I didn’t realize that the controls sucked or that games were supposed to have a story, and I guess because of that I kinda grew up thinking that button mashing was a way of life. It’s like having one of those awful teachers for years, then realizing how much you’ve been screwed over when you actually move up to a better class.  Basically, I grew up with a lack of taste in games.  This one game, as well as other hot titles like Caeser’s Palace and some other random unnoticeables kind of laid the foundation of my gaming habits as a very young girl that would haunt me for years to come.

Ulgh.

So it wasn’t until I graduated to the Playstation that I started to appreciate the magic of what video games actually were.    I still remember that Christmas day, the moment I first saw that gorgeous gray console, and the crisp clicking sounds the CD cases made as I pulled them open for the first time. Man, that’s refreshing! And the games I got with it, Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, made up the next part of my collection of classics for a few years after.  But as I got older and busier, I stopped playing games altogether, and by the time I had considered starting up the habit again, I was far behind with new titles already on the market like Assassin’s Creed and Half-Life. I thought to myself “What is all this stuff? I don’t get it… Microsoft’s making games? Sonic sucks now? WHEN DID THIS ALL HAPPEN?”  Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed by the gaming market and found myself too intimidated by the advent of these “hardcore” games to even bother picking up a controller.

Now on a quick note, I did get a chance to play Left 4 Dead a few years back at a buddy’s house, but I was really unversed and boy did it show.  In fact, my friend kindly told me that if we ever got stuck in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, my one and only job would be to stay the hell away from him. Note taken, man.

But there were a few times when I would find my way to a fighting game like Super Smash Bros. Melee where I could button mash like in the good old days, but even still nothing really struck a cord with me for quite a few years.  So when exactly did I rediscover my love for gaming?

In college, of course!  After just one semester I’d discovered the beauty of popular titles Portal, Torchlight, and Team Fortress 2, and my thirst for video gaming just started to grow. Also, I dated a brony, which helped.  But that’s a completely different story.

So here’s my brief account of why I guess I tend to feel like a total newbie on the whole gaming scene sometimes.  Since I’m just getting my toes wet in the world of gaming, I haven’t quite sweat out all of that Shaq-Fu yet. But I’m getting there, finally caving into my new interest and emptying my wallet for the newest games to taste what I’ve been missing for so many years.

Ever feel this way? Probably not, but feel free to leave a comment anyway!  I always love feedback, and thanks for reading guys.

~Andee

Why I Can’t Open Amnesia: The Dark Descent

I love scary movies just as much as I hate them.  Dark, tantalizing,  yet absolutely scarring.  And then I can’t sleep for days afterwards.  Yeah, I’m a wuss. Which is exactly why I can’t open my copy of Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  And I don’t mean that it doesn’t work or that the file has somehow been corrupted by some software or that DirectX crap that renders my copy of Saint’s Row the Third absolutely useless.  I mean I just can’t click it.  Physically. When my cursor would so much as graze the icon on my desktop, I felt shivers.  I’m not a very hardcore gamer and I got the game in a cheap batch on steam, so I felt no remorse or shame taking the shortcut off my desktop.

Ok, maybe a little, especially now that I’m admitting it.

Desktop
That thing used to live here.

What makes me so terrified of this game?  What keeps me from getting involved in a fictional environment in an imaginary castle with monsters you don’t even see half the time? I’m not quite sure.  I honestly think it has to do with the terror I experienced after watching The Ring.  I was a college freshman, naive and optimistic, looking for a light scare.  And let me say, that was one of the worst movie experiences I’ve ever had.  No, I’m not joking.  I usually deal with scary media pretty well, but something in that film just broke me.  I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t look at a TV screen without thinking about it. The premise is of course as stupid as every other horror film out there – a ghost that actually haunts you through your phone and attacks you from your TV screen.  Sounds more like that Sonic the Hedgehog creepypasta (Warning: Creepy Tails Doll pics in that link).  I didn’t have great expectations for it.  But it was actually a decent film.  Too well done, in my opinion. And so I shudder every time.

So what does this film have to do with a video game?  Well, it was a milestone in my life.  It was the first time I had ever felt life-threateningly terrified from a movie.  It game me nightmares.  It sucked me in.    And no amount of parodies or episodes of My Little Pony could wipe it from my memory.  I can deal with it now, but back then it was just straight-up terrifying, and it’s  that same fear that I carry with me in regards to video games.  Which, to me, is actually a worse scenario.

Think about it. Unlike a movie, which simply demands the visual and (depending on the film) mental engagement of the viewer, video games put you in the driver’s seat of whatever horrible situation is being imposed at the moment.  You are the player, the one in charge, and by extension, the victim.  It’s an exciting experience, but it lends a certain role to the person in front of the screen that I don’t feel I can stomach sometimes.  Heck, I used to get freaked out by those giant boulders that would chase you in Crash Bandicoot.

So even after looking at several walkthroughs of the game and seeing friends play it, I just can’t.  Now don’t get me wrong, it looks like an amazing game with a great atmosphere and I know most people who bought it really like it.  But I know that it would keep me at night.  It’s illogical, but, eh, so was the fact that I believed the Boogie Man lived above my apartment until I was 7.

He was obviously under the bed.

Bed
Found you!

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of my self-imposed limitations, something that I would have to really push myself to actually experience firsthand.  And I hope that one day I can muster up the courage to open that file.  But until I lose a bet for which there are no take-backsies, it’s going to sit here and collect dust in my steam folder.  And I know. That’s sad.

Amnesia is available at the Steam Store for the few who haven’t bought it yet:

And P.S.: They’re making a sequel.

Have you ever felt this way about a game?  Maybe a movie or a certain life scarring episode that just got to you?  Leave a comment and thanks for reading!

The Mirror Lied: A Walkthrough

So, I got this game called The Mirror Lied, by Freebird Games.  It’s this indie game that is… well, it doesn’t really have a genre.  Alternative maybe? Can that be a thing here?

This game has inspired countless pages of speculation and analysis online, and so I got kind of interested.  What could possibly be so interesting about this little RPG, this small indie game that just popped up one day and took the so many by surprise?  I knew I had to try it, and couldn’t type the name into Google without getting any spoilers, so I knew it was time to take advantage of this free download.  Let’s have a look.

I can’t wait until they explain the title!
I can’t wait until they explain the title!

WARNING: Spoilers.  From this point forward.  Completely.  So I really suggest you play the game first, and you can download it for FREE here: http://www.desura.com/games/the-mirror-lied

Overview:

What an interesting game.  I thought it was a horror RPG from the second I opened it. The first thing you see are a few clips of an empty house.  And then this phrase come on screen:

A bird landed on water today.  It flew away.  Come’re, birdy.  Oh, too late.

You start off as this little girl, who wakes up in a bed and finds herself alone in a house.  At least,  think she’s alone.  She’s a small redhead, with a cute tawny dress on, sleeping surrounded by stuffed animals.  And, oh yeah, she has no eyes.

...good morning...
…good morning…

Yeah.  “Great!” I thought, “Let’s get started.”  So upon leaving the room I made my way to a staircase.  One thing I can say right off the bat is that the house seems to have this atmosphere that just gets at me. It’s amazing unsettling and quiet with nothing but the ticking of a clock.  Not even 5 minutes into this game and I can’t help but feel incredibly lonely.  The atmosphere is like… just imagine being in your house as a kid when no one else is home.  And there are clocks everywhere. Yeah, you’re welcome.

Study 1

So I go downstairs and head into a room that seems normal enough. A study, I’m guessing.   I take a look around and there’s some good stuff here!  I go to the bookshelf and I get a text box: “The books have titles, but the pages are blank”.  And then I go to the table.  “Assorted book with smudged titles.”  There’s a computer I need an access card to log into, a map of the world, and a globe that is apparently emitting a strange odor, or so the game tells me.  And what’s under the microscope?

Microscope 1

Huh.  Alright, seems innocent enough.  Moving on.

Hall 1

So I head out  the door to the dining room, and here’s the scene.  Paintings on the walls, cabinets, a large dining room table to the right, and a mysterious staircase.  And right in front of me, a plant.  It looks kind of lonely so I stop for a moment and name it Ralph.  He’s thirsty apparently! ’ll remedy this situation quickly enough, I’m sure.  So I head over to the cabinets to search for anything useful, and I get… pesticide and a small key. Ok.  Fair enough.

 I also picked up a teddy bear.  And a bucket.

Afterwards I head into the other rooms scattered among the hallway, nothing particularly intriguing or out of place in any of them.  There’s a wooden chest I need to get into, but I have no key. I went into the bathroom were I found a filled bathtub, a toilet in the corner, a lamp and  painting.

Tub 1

I head back into the hallway and water Ralph.  And holy crap! The plant grows to twice its size.  I guess this plant just makes as much sense as the rest of this house. And then the phone starts ringing.  So I head over, pick up the line, and guess who’s there?

Hi, Leah.  Birdie grew wings today. Wait for me, Leah.

Hm. Ok.  Maybe it’s my… father?  My sister.  My cat.  Ok, I have no idea. They hang up the phone, that creepy AOL dial up noise plays, and I’m alone again.  Right.  I’m not scared.  This isn’t a horror game at all.

While I was still at the table, I decided to take a look at an object sitting on the left half of the dining table.  It appeared to be a small box, and I received a prompt to open it.  A rather melodic, yet somewhat cryptic music box tune of jingles and bells started playing.  “Hey!” I thought, “I found the soundtrack!”  Pretty creative stuff, and great timing since the only other background noise of a ticking clock was starting to freak me out.  So I thought it was time to try out that mysterious flight of stairs and I went down into what must be the basement.  I saw two boilers to the left and a room down below.  I tried to enter, but the door was barred by a table.

Basement

Alright…. To the right I saw a panel with three switches.  I toggled the first one, and then the second, but the third was stuck.  All I got was a note that said “Wait for me at 3:26”.   Sure.  I trust that.   So I head back into the study and check the microscope again.

Microscope 2

Meh.  It probably means nothing.  So at this point I’m completely lost.  Where do I go?  No clue. This is not a hard game at all, but it can get pretty confusing if you aren’t paying attention. I decided to head back upstairs to my room to look for clues, and behold! There’s a bathroom to the left of the screen.  And there’s another bathtub. Filled with water.  And a toilet.  I flushed it, and there’s apparently something stuck in it… I got a piano key!  So I go to the piano and play a song.  Cool.  That does nothing.

I head back downstairs to check on my little plant friend and of course he’s thirsty.  I top him off, he grows, and I notice that the room seems a little different…

Hall 2

Yeah.  So the paintings are empty now.  They ran off.  No, I have no explanation or any of this.  I wander back into the study and there’s a shiny thing on the wall.  It’s a wooden key.  Cool! Now I can open that chest in the other room I’ve been eyeing. I also check the microscope.

Microscope 3

Um.  I walk out and head over to the adjacent room and open the wooden chest to receive a tiny key.  I walk back out to the hallway and the phone starts ringing.  Great.

Hi Leah. It’s 3:26.  End.  Ok, it’s time to see what all this is about.  I head back down to the basement and unlock a small chest with the tiny key.

Pistol

Sure.  Why not.  I then head to the levers and toggle switch 3 at last, and hear what sounds like some sort of muffled explosion.  I head back upstairs…….

Fire 1

I’m sorry, allow me to zoom in on that face.

There we go.
There we go.

OHMAGEEEERD my house is on fire!  What?!  How!  What… who lets a little girl set her own house on fire?!  I’m probably 12!  I may not have a face but I still have feelings! And quite frankly, I’m a little hurt.

So I run around like an idiot trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do – a way out or maybe a safe zone – but there are none.  The whole bloody house is on gosh dern fire, shaking and quaking and red injury screens constantly flashing, and I’m stuck.  I tried to head back downstairs, but that was a stupid move since the boiler literally exploded, sending me back up into the dining room.

...really?
…really?

Then that darn phone rings.

Hello Leah.  Don’t be afraid. Birdy flew away today. Catch it on its way over Africa. Sleep it off, it’s not too late. Bye, Leah.

Yeah, yeah.  Ok.  Wait, what?  Sleep it off?  Are you nuts!  But at this point I’m out of options, so I decide to take the helpful advice and head up to my room and crawl into bed.  Then I sleep.

Just like an angel.
Just like an angel.

Bed Fell

So after the whole “I burnt my house down thing” Leah wakes up in a bed on a table downstairs.  Ok.  I would also like to point out that the room is in completely perfect condition… except for the bed… for it’s situation.  Our little lady doesn’t seem to care in any case, and hops down off the table, ready to get started once more.

I walk down the hall and I see two blue arrows pointing me towards the plant.  Looks dry, so I head into the bathroom to get it some water.  It looks a little strange, like… darker somehow.  But I ignore it and head over to see Ralph.  After I water him (it’s a boy) I walk back into the study. Nothing too strange it seems, and I can’t do anything until I get an access card for the computer.  So I head over to check on the microscope.

Microscope 4

Yup, seems about right.  I walk out and head upstairs to my room.  I didn’t even realize that the phone was there until it started ringing.  I picked it up.

It’s open, dummy. The table was burnt off.  It’s no longer blocked.  Go under, and don’t forget to drink water.

I hang up figure that it’s probably time to head to the basement.  I head downstairs, and as soon as I try to open the door I receive a prompt to shoot the lock with my pistol.  “Great! I thought, until I realized I had no bullets.  Touché game, I get you.  I have to earn the right to use this gun, like a good 12 year old.  Alrighty then.

I walk upstairs and wander for a few minutes, watering that greedy plant until I remember that there is a cabinet! And I had a key!  I searched through until I found the right drawer, and I used my small key to get a medium key.  Sure, that works.  Now what?

Bullets, that’s what!  Turns out I needed to go to the cabinet to the left of the cabinet I was at, use the key to get another key, then use that keep to open up the first cabinet I was at before.  Then I get two bullets.

Ugh.

I get back downstairs and shoot at the lock, which lets me into what seems to be an office of sorts.  There is a blackboard with math equations and books scattered on the table, all in some foreign language, the game informs me. I walk over to a shining object and receive… an access card! Finally!  Now I can head back to the study and pop this puppy in.  Once at the computer I login, noticing that the map has lost yet more pieces of itself.  Only Eur—Afri-Whatever is left.

I think.
I think.

Turns out that I have 7 unread messages, starting at 2:06 PM and ending at 8:01 PM.  I begin to pour through them one by one.

1.  Leah, abandon birdie, it lies to you.

By the way, right after I opened this, half of the map disappeared.

I literally have no idea when this happened.  WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN.
I literally have no idea when this happened. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN.

2. Leah did you see my message?

3.You must kill birdie before it flies over Europe, Leah. Respond ASAP.

4. It just flew over Europe.  What are you doing, Leah?

5. Respond Leah, the birdie is coming.

6. We had a deal, Leah. Respond.

7. I have to go. Kill the birdie at all costs, Leah. Good bye.

Ok, officially creeped out at this point.  Kill the birdie?  “Alright” I’m thinking,  “but I don’t know why you’re so upset man. According to the map, Europe doesn’t even exist anymore!”  So I walk to the bathroom to get some water for Ralph.  I look at the tub.  I question the tub.

Tub 2

And yeah.  That water is definitely red.  So I leave, water my buddy, then hear the phone start ringing.  It somehow got downstairs onto the dining room floor.  I… didn’t do that.

Hi, Leah. This is birdie. Birdie is about to fly over you. Have you been drinking lots of water?

A pile of glass crashes in front of the plant.

Good. Come, Leah.  Dial tone.

It’s finally go time!  But first, I head into the study out of curiosity just to check… and yep, the map is completely empty.  I walk back out to Ralph and douse him in pesticide.  Once he’s all ready, I start climbing.

We are not at a cutscene. I find myself on the roof at night.  Little Leah raises her arms, and a giant white bird dives down and carries her off.

Roof

They fly for a few seconds until the sky suddenly turns blood red, and I see Leah pull out her pistol.

Birdie

The screen goes black, and she shoots.  When the image returns, Leah is gone, and the bird flies alone for a few seconds in the night sky before it starts flashing, and disappears as well.  Then credits roll.

Confused?  Yeah.  Then you’ve pretty much just played The Mirror Lied.  It’s hard to explain this game, so I hope that you were able to glean some understanding about the actual gameplay from this walkthrough.  More so than just show where everything is and providing spoilers for those who are curious, I really wanted to show my own view of the game and the thought process I had while playing it.  So this is more so for enjoyment than instruction.  And at some point I thought that if I wrote out what I was seeing, the game might make more sense. But nah, didn’t happen.

But seriously  check it out.  Get on desura.com and get yourself this game!  It’s free, and if anything it’ll make you think.  And that is what I enjoy about it.  Every time you replay it there’s something new to discover, and when you find a game with that quality to it, you know it’s worth checking out.

BIT.TRIP RUNNER Review

Image

So this is a little gem that I bought quite a few months ago after getting some recommendations, and I have to say that it’s one of the most colorful and upbeat games I’ve ever played. BIT.TRIP RUNNER is definitely a star amongst games in regards to its style, that amazing soundtrack, and it’s challenging yet oh-so-rewarding gameplay. This is just a quick review of the aspects that I like about the game more so than an analysis, and I won’t bother to look at the story here. I’m looking at BIT.TRIP RUNNER as a sole game, not as a part of a series.

Let’s check it out.

Overview

BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a platformer in which you play as the principal character known only as Commander Video. Your goal is to run to the beat of the music while avoiding obstacles so that you can make it to the finish line and advance to the next level. Plain and simple. You can also collect power ups and gold along the way, which can take you to a bonus level that allows you to rack up a high score.

Image

Style

This game is set in the magical land of Who-Knows-Where, and the environment seems to be made of rainbows and acid. An absolutely stunning game with perfectly mixed bright and dark tones, sparkles and stars… It’s basically a land of absolute wonder. The main character is very simplistic in design yet the backgrounds are awe-inspiring. And despite the eccentric colors, nothing seems out of place or painful to look at.

And to me, the strongest point of the game’s visual style is the retro design choice, made even better by the fact that the environment actually reacts to your presence. I mean, just look at these majestic creatures, constantly following you with their gaze, watching you…. .

Image

Though they are kinda cute.

Music

This soundtrack is amazing. That’s it. I don’t know how much more I need to say. It’s upbeat, energetic, spunky, funky, and all around a feel good time that goes on for the duration of the level. And the gameplay is set to the beat of the music, so if you mess up and have to restart the level, Commander Video actually taps his little feet and starts running when he’s back on track with the rhythm of the song. But what makes the music even better are the power-ups available once you clear the first minute or so of running. They instantly upgrade your basic 8-bit style beat into a chorus of angels. But rather than just taking my word for it, have a listen.

Video by YouTube’s David G:

Gameplay

So this is where the game really sparkles. Despite the amazing music and the artistic rendition of Wherever-Land, the gameplay is the greatest contributor to how beautifully simplistic yet challenging this game truly is. For one thing, the controls are tight, and I mean truly spot on which is an absolute necessity for this game. Just think Super Meat Boy tight. So if you mess up it’s most likely because of your own timing. As the player you are held completely accountable for any and all successes and failures which fosters a great sense of accomplishment and helps track your improvement as a player.

Overall

This is a fantastic game. I love its energy and charisma, its finesse and charm, and you can tell that the creators put their hearts and souls into this production. And it was well worth it! The music, the visuals and the tight controls are all just… spot on. They fit so well together and create this uniquely satisfying side-scroller. This is quite remarkable considering the game doesn’t seem to be the heaviest in terms of plot. Not to say that there isn’t one (I’m not even taking the other games in the series into consideration at the moment). But this is one of those games that doesn’t need overly complex storylines and a plethora of characters to keep the player invested. The need to beat these levels, to ride along with the music, and to explore more of the gorgeous scenery constantly pushes us forward and towards the next level.

Goal copy

Now, I won’t say that it’s absolutely perfect. It comes pretty close, but ones thing that bugged me was actually the accuracy. What I mean is, if your computer happens to be rather slow or if your keys stick, you might get frustrated with the gameplay not working in your favor. I spent a few frustrating minutes trying to make a jump – just ONE jump – from one platform to another because my laptop’s space bar tends to stick a bit. I made it eventually, but beware that the tech issues in your life could be brought to life when playing a game that really does require such tight controls. It’s a strange complaint, isn’t it?

And one other thing that got to me was the fact that if you bump into anything or mess up, you get jetted back to the very beginning of the level. It’s not the worst thing ever and I wouldn’t even go so far as to call the game unfair in this regard, but with no checkpoints to lean on I got pretty frustrated trying to beat some of the levels.

Image

This is a game that truly tests your patience, and I won’t lie – it can be trying at times. But when you finally jump over that last hurdle and pass the level, you can’t help but pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Perfectly challenging, and perfectly rewarding. It’s a definite buy and you can get it for (one penny) less than $10 at the Steam Store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/63710/.

So take a look and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.