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gamerparent the site was started in 2012, born out of a love for games and my kids.

the gamer parent came into being in 2003 when my first child was born, and I learned how to give her her bottle one handed while I played Diablo II with the other... with the sound off, of course. Since then I've found ways to sneak in gaming, and also involve my kids with games.

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Steam ID: yougenius

Nintendo Network ID: gamerparent

3DS Friend Code: 4098-2922-8204

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Thursday
Apr032014

Feature Article - 4 Best Things about Child Of Light for Families

The following is a feature article from Andy Robertson of FamilyGamerTV about the upcoming Child of Light game from Ubisoft. Child of Light is a platforming RPG which has you play the role of a child on a quest to return home. Developed using the UbiArt Framework, the same engine that powered Rayman Origins and Rayman Origins, the game has some promise to look nice, at least. But how does it play? And is it a good family game?

Read on and find out!

Four Best Things About Child Of Light For Families

Having had some time to look at the game, here are my four favourite things about Child of Light:
 
1. Lemuria: The world of Lemuria, in which you play is both enchanting and dark. Although not as restrained a pallet as Limbo this certainly draws from its art style, along with games like Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy VIII. Fireflies dance in the foreground as leaves blow through the trees behind. It's an eerie empty space, but one that was obviously inhabited not long ago with ruins, fences, ethereal flying fish and broken statues guarding every turn. It's all rendered with the UbiArt Framework used to make Rayman Origins & Legends.
 
2. Aurora: You play Aurora, a girl from 1895 Austria who falls ill but instead of dying she falls asleep and wakes up in the mythical world of Lemuria which has had its sun, moon and stars stolen by the Black Queen. She seems to be about ten years old and brings with her a fragility and bravery. She is upset at the loss of her father, but resolves to rescue him and restore the celestial bodies. But unlike her male counterparts she is a protagonist without the strength to do this alone, struggling to even lift her sword. As the developers put it "An active heroine, no prince charming at the end, focused on the idea that we need to grow up, leave home and take responsibility to make a change in the world."
 
3. Game-Play: The game moves from side scrolling platforming into battle encounters. Here we find a system much like the Active Time Battle systems of games like Final Fantasy and Grandia, but in stylized and beautiful form. Players must draw on their party and choose between attack or defense in a limited time. Act quickly and you can interrupt enemy attacks to gain the upper hand. There is complexity and depth here but this is handled sensibly so as to not be off putting to new comers to the genre while drawing on the team's experience with upgrade skill trees from games like Far Cry 3.
 
Game-play is extended considerably when a second player takes control of Igniculus. This works because Aurora and Igniculus offer substantially different play patterns. Aurora offers standard JRPG fare (physical attacks, magic and targeting one or more enemies) while Igniculus has a more tactical bent (blinding enemies or interrupting them in the middle of an attack) as well as collecting health and magic from the battle and heal other party members. Other interesting game-play touches include being able to leave messages behind for other players, much like Dark Souls allowed players to do. This not only provides a novel way to communicate with other people but also lends a sense of community to Lemuria.
 
4. Story Telling: The experience is then tied together with fairy tale prose in the form of rhyming couplets ("Will someone please explain, how water falls with no rain"). It's a risky approach to story telling as there is a danger here of it feeling twee and too cute. However the balance seems good in the sections I've played. The story happily continues through the game with speech bubbles popping up during play, as well as the hand draw cut scenes. The result is an Elizabethan theatrical feel to the writing that plays to the fairytale castle visuals. As Jeffrey Yohalem, script writer, puts it "Because the text in the game is largely written, not spoken, my goal is to pack as much meaning into as few words as possible. Much of the story is told through gameplay, the story's evolution is tightly linked with Aurora's evolution."
 

Interview with Creative Director, Patrick Plourde:

 

Wednesday
Mar122014

Diary of a Dark Souls Dad: Day 1, part 2

CONTAINS SPOILERS

I watch as the opening cinematic plays out in all its splendour on my plasma and the 5.1 sound system. I dim the lights a little, enjoying the moment. I only get to see it for the first time once, after all. I’m shocked as the game begins, dumping me onto a dais and letting me walk around.

There’s a grassy field, and with the wind blowing and my feet rustling in the brush I swear I can hear other sounds, other things making noise in there with me. I need to keep moving.

There’s a glow from a hut up ahead, so I head there. Ah, there it is. The character creation screen comes up, and I make my choices. The UI looks different from Dark Souls, and it’s initially jarring. There’s a lot more customization possible this time around, and I take my time making my character look right. Well, close enough anyway.

I choose the Warrior class, because I’d like to focus on melee, and you need lots of  Strength to even wield the weapons I’m thinking of. I can always build another character later. A Sorcerer, probably.

I choose the Ring of extra HP as my starting gift. The other ones look either useless, or consumable. I’d rather not take a gift that I’ll just use up right away.

When you exit the character creation hut, there’s the first bonfire. If you continue out of there, you get to an area with multiple branching paths, and fog doors on every side. In my mind, fog doors equals bad scary bosses on the other side, and even though that’s not always the case, I didn’t feel like checking it out just yet. So I ran through, and if you do that, you get to Majula.

I think I found a bug. If you go straight to Majula without opening any of the fog doors in the previous area, talk to everybody and collect all the loot, if you then go back to the previous area and go through the fog doors and clear the area, when you go back to Majula the loot will be there again, and you can collect it again. At least that’s what happened to me. I did not look that gift horse in the mouth, let me tell you. I took it all!

Majula is a sunny place. It’s bright, it’s open, it overlooks the sea. There’s a monument there, which at its base has a plaque listing the number of worldwide deaths in Dark Souls 2 so far. When I checked it around noon Eastern on launch day, it was already at 300k something deaths. I contributed a few to that number.

Majula also is home to three of the most vicious, hateful, violent little groundhogs that I’ve ever seen. Since I had run straight there without doing any of what is ostensibly the tutorial area of the game, I had only my starting gear with me. My weapon was a broken straight sword, and those groundhogs have a ton of health! I could only do 10 damage with each attack, and I really though the three of them were going to surround me and paw and kick me to death. Seriously. Judging from all the bloodstains around there I think those groundhogs did some serious damage on Day 1.

I managed to get 5 hours of play time, and I’ve reached the first boss and fought him twice without success. Along the way I picked up a few weapons, and bought an Estoc for some stabby stab action.

I spent a fair bit of time going through the ‘tutorial’ area, and after clearing all the different sections, it came down to the final area with creatures in it, down by the beach. There are two rather nasty cyclops / hippo / rhino looking dudes down there, who won’t think twice about picking you up and chewing on you. They’re very strong and I wasn’t successful in killing them. There’s a coffin / boat on the shore where they’re standing, and I managed to get inside of it and lie down and close the lid over top of me. The screen changed to a loading screen, the ones where they tell you tips about different items in the game, and then it went back to the same location, but with me exiting the coffin boat. At which point the two dudes promptly killed me. I’ll give you a little hint: if you want those guys to leave the beach, try lighting some fires. I won’t say what the coffin boat does, you’ll have to figure that out on your own. Let’s just say it’s a subtle change.

A note about the Black Armour Edition equipment: it’s cool looking, but be careful, some of it is fragile. I learned this the hard way after placing my summon sign down, getting pulled into someone’s world, and equipping the Amber sword, I believe, and then having it break while fighting the boss on the roof. Unable to switch swords while in combat with the boss, I was useless and died.

Day 1 has been, all in all, wonderful. It’s everything I have been looking forward to, and the world seems huge. I won’t be able to play for a few days, as other obligations are competing for my gaming time (you know, like family, March Break, and work). I’ll put more thoughts down as I play. Until then, Dad out.

Wednesday
Mar122014

Diary of a Dark Souls Dad: Day 1, part 1

10:00AM. It’s March Break, so that means the kids are off. Today they’re heading over to grandma’s house, which is about a 15 minute walk. I feel like walking, but my youngest isn’t really in the mood. I really want to walk, not only because it’s warm out (6C in what’s been a very cold March), but because on the way between our place and grandma’s is the video game store where I placed my pre-order for Dark Souls II, and I’d really like to pass by and pick it up on my way home.

She is convinced to go as long as she can take the scooter. The plan is a go.

10:30AM. I step into the video game store. I know that it is this time because I looked at my phone when I crossed the threshold.

“Oh, you guys are open,” I say, knowing full well that 10:30AM is the stated opening time, but that sometimes they arrive late. Not today. “Did Dark Souls II come in yet?”

The man behind the counter nods. His name is Sam. He pulls out a copy of the game, and puts it on the counter. There’s a problem. “Is that the regular version?” I ask, “because I saw on your Facebook page that all pre-orders had been upped to the Black Armour editions. Can you check?”

Sam doesn’t know. He picks up the phone and makes a call. “Yeah, hi. I’ve got a customer here…”

I move to the display case of PS3 games, letting him make his call in relative privacy. I’m looking for a few titles to build my new collection. I’ve had the PS3 for less than a week now, and I have a lot of catching up to do. There’s a copy of Ni No Kuni on the shelf for $15. I’m taking it.

Sam gets off the phone. “Yep, you’re right. What’s your name?” He checks my name and number on the list, and crosses me off. The steel book Black Armour Edition of Dark Souls II and a used copy of Ni No Kuni are paid for and in my hot little hands.

10:37AM. I tweet “Dark Souls 2 get! I might just skip all the way home!”

10:45AM. I arrive home. There are some things I need to do before I can begin my gaming session. The dishes from breakfast won’t wash themselves, and I know it. Once I get started, I plan to go until the kids get home in the afternoon, so I can’t have dirty dishes lying around.

11:12AM. I head downstairs. The game feels heavy in my hands, a pleasing weighty case. As the PS3 powers up, I take off the plastic wrap and admire the art on the sleeve. The steel book is even more impressive out of the sleeve, as the front is raised and textured. I open the case, and the installation begins. A small 125MB patch is downloading, and then it installs.

11:26AM. I’m in.

Wednesday
Mar052014

Adorable Monster Hunter Plushies

I don't know if I can handle all these cute Monster Hunter plushie toys... must resist buying them all!

Monday
Mar032014

Monster Hunter Airu Pouch for 3DS LL/XL preorder

Wednesday
Jan292014

Sales! Numbers! Facts!

Nintendo Hardware Sales (as of end of year 2013)

WiiU - 5.86 million units

3DS - 42.74 million units

Wii - 100.9 million units

DS - 153.98 million units

Comparison of Wii U to PS4 and Xbox One Hardware Sales (as of end of year 2013)

Nintendo WiiU - 5.86 million units

Sony PS4 - 4.2 million units

Xbox One - 3.0 million units

Monday
Jan272014

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate comes to West in 2015 for 3DS

This happened yesterday in Japan... Monster Hunter 4G is announced for Japan, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the West, coming for 3DS in 2015.

Monday
Jan272014

Let me remind you about X

You should be excited about this game, it looks amazing.

 

Monday
Jan272014

Nintendo Life picks its 10 most anticipated for Wii U in 2014

Monday
Jan132014

2014 is off to a great start for me

I haven't touched my Wii U at all this year, so far. And it's not because there's nothing to play on it, there's plenty waiting for me there to finish off. I actually spent most of the pre-Christmas break playing and finishing SUper Mario 3D World, which is a great game. But I'm not here to talk about that.

Instead, it's the 3DS that has commanded most of my gaming time in 2014. Fire Emblem: Awakening, in particular, and then the Bravely Default Demo, more recently. There's just something about being able to grab a few minutes pr gaming (or a few hours) here and there, wherever I happen to be, that's just magical. Fire Emblem: Awakening was my first Fire Emblem game. Approaching it as a noob, I really appreciated the new "Casual" mode offered this iteration, which lets you play through the game without permadeath of characters found in what they call "Classic" mode. I figured, I have no idea how to play, this should be the perfect mode for me.

And it was. I fought, I died, I continued on without major consequence. But then a funny thing happened along the way. Around about Chapter 12 I found that I was really enjoying the game. I mean really enjoying it. Something clicked for me.

I decided to restart the game on "Classic" instead of casual, and started right from the beginning again. It was a wholly different experience. No longer could I make a mistake near the end and just throw everyone at the last boss to win. I had to keep everyone alive, and I played much more conservatively. Any mistake was usually punished by losing a character, accompanied by the frustration of having to restart the game and try again.

But I learned through those restarts, and through the mistakes. I began to understand how to position my units, who was going to win which encounters, and who would die if I left them there.

And the game rewarded me with a wonderful little story, told in anime, and layered moving stills, and in game engine rendered sequences. I wish there were more of the anime cut scenes, but what was there was excellent. (I wish they had an anime series for Fire Emblem, it would be great)

This year is my "Year of the Pile", and after Fire Emblem I am working on finishing Dragon Age 2, and then maybe dip into Dark Souls a little bit. February I'm looking at the release of Bravely Default (also for 3DS) and then working through New Super Mario Bros U. Through 2014 I want to get at least 12 games off the pile, if not closer to 20.

Wish me luck, and here's hoping your gaming 2014 is filled with great experiences!