Posts tagged #family

Nintendo is aiming the Wii U GamePad directly at parents and children

If you've been wondering what exactly the point of the GamePad is, this little quote from the Financial Results Briefing gives some insight on how Nintendo views its Wii U GamePad:

Gameplay that utilizes the GamePad possesses a large amount of potential, and it can further expand the way parents and children have fun together.
— Satoru Iwata, Nintendo President

Mr. Iwata also commented that of the games that are scheduled for release in 2015, many "fully utilize" the Wii U GamePad.

This idea of parents and children playing together on the Game Pad is a new tack for Nintendo. Previously the Game Pad was not positioned as a family device, but by turns as a TV remote, a remote play device (at which it works extremely well, by the way), as a second screen for game UI, or as a motion controlled scanning device.

All of these use are completely valid, and I'm not taking away from the functionality of the Game Pad, I think it's great. It's just that using it in a way that involves "parents and children having fun together" needs to be more fully explored, and I don't think Nintendo has really done that yet.

Posted on February 17, 2015 and filed under Article.

My Interview about Family and Gaming on GamesReviews

I was recently interviewed by Adam Roffel of GamesReviews about games and family.

I wish that we could all stay in our early 20’s forever, but eventually some of us have to get jobs and start families, and yet somehow still find space for games. As more writers, game developers, and gamers have kids of their own, I can see that games we can play with our kids will become an increasingly important topic.
Posted on February 12, 2015 and filed under News.

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:

 

Posted on April 3, 2014 and filed under Article.

The Extra Life Experience

The Extra Life marathon is over, but it's not too late to give! To get your donations in please visit: www.extra-life.org/participant/gamerparent

This past Saturday, gamers of all stripes from all over the world set themselves to a task. To play for 24 hours (25 with daylight savings time) to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It was my first time participating in the Extra Life event, and my kids and I decided to make it a family affair. We chose Sick Kids Foundation here in Toronto, a hospital that provides care for thousands of kids each year. I should know, I was one of them!

We started at 8AM and live streamed the whole thing to my twitch channel. It was an interesting day, because we had to take a break right at 9:30 in order for the kids to attend their dance class. I continued to game a little bit by playing on my 3DS!

After that momentary break, we got right back to it. I really had no lack of choice of games to play, as I've amassed quite a bit of a backlog recently, so it was a great chance to move ahead a bit in my games.

Rayman was a multiplayer affair, with the kids tagging along as we played a little Football first, and then did a few of the beginning levels together. With Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, I travelled to Dragon Roost Island, and figured out a few things on how to get to the top of the darned mountain and see said dragon.

Then things got interesting, because the kids wanted to play Boom Blox on the Wii, while I wanted to stream The Wonderful 101. Well, with the Wii U's Off TV play (shameless plug) we were able to do both! I felt that The Wonderful 101's mirrored mode was an interesting design choice, as those of you who watched the stream will have noticed. The game puts the display of what otherwise would have been on the Gamepad into a small picture in picture window at the bottom right corner of the screen. It wasn't until about an hour that I figured out how to make that screen go away when not needed, so it wouldn't block the subtitles. I had fun playing it, and I was required to use the Right Stick to make my drawings, which took some getting used to. I definitely would appreciate another go at the game using the normal control scheme and dual screens. What fun, though! It's fast paced, frenetic action, the way only Platinum knows how to do. If you have a Wii U you need to get this game.

Then it was Disney Infinity time, where I mostly handed the time over to the kids. They played through parts of the Incredibles missions, while I explored some of the Pirates of the Caribbean levels. Then I left to catch a short break while they played the Monsters University area and showed off the toolbox to some of our friends who had arrived.After that it was Pikmin 3, where we did a little Bingo Battle mode. This pits two players against each other in a race to collect fruit in the same arena, to see who can be first to get four in a row on your bingo card. That was a lot of fun, and after that I tried some of the new missions available. There are fruit collecting missions, and there are creature battle missions. Neither one was I very good at, sadly! I need more practice managing everything, right now I'm definitely a beginner level Pikmin player. They should have Pikmin tournaments, like they have Starcraft tournaments. Seriously, Pikmin 4 should be made into a Starcraft type online tournament game, it would be awesome.

After that it was time to try out Wii Fit U for the first time. This game was just released on Friday, so it was brand new and there was lots to explore. Having only experienced the first Wii Fit and not gone in for the Plus version, there was much to explore in Wii Fit U. Nintendo have really added a lot of new modes, including and entirely new Dance mode, and have included refinements and enhancements to your old favourites. I tried a trampoline jumping game, luge, squash, and kung fu, all of which were fun, but were not part of the core strength or yoga parts of the game. I'm looking forward to getting more out of this game, and Nintendo have made it more community and online oriented this time, with the ability to join a gym with other players.

Then it was time to unwrap a new game that I had been saving: Pandora's Tower for the Wii. This is an action/puzzle RPG, with an interesting story premise. There is a girl who has a curse mark that is slowly turning her into a monster. Your task as the hero is to go into various towers of a castle and defeat monsters and bosses to get some of there flesh, in order that the girl might eat it and temporarily gain some respite from the curse. Yep, pretty messed up. I managed to get to but not finish the second tower in my 2 hour sitting, and I liked what I saw.

At around 11PM I started Monster Hunter, and any of you who know me will know that this is my favourite game. I've put about 380+ hours into the WiiU version, and over 300 into the Wii version, so what's 3 more hours, right? I was joined online by a few buddies and we did a bunch of quests, ending off with a glorious 4 monster arena battle ending with Savage Deviljho. G-Rank is tough, and I did cart several times, but I didn't fail any quests. That's probably a testament to my teammates skill rather than anything I contributed, but we had fun. The nice thing about playing with super high skill players in Monster Hunter is that by this time, everything is sort of just for fun at this point. At least the people I play with are. Shout outs to Kaze, Daimao, and Sheppie for helping me stay awake!

It was a bit surreal to look at the clock and see 1:45 AM, and then look at the clock a little later and see 1:05AM. That's what being awake for the time change is like. You get to experience 1AM all over again.
At 2:00AM (the real, post time change 2:00AM) I switched to Need for Speed Most Wanted. I had bought this a while back on sale, but hadn't cracked it open yet. It looked gorgeous, I really appreciated the wet roads and the reflections, they looked nice. I couldn't get into the driving feel of it, I'm not sure if it's the game of the controller, but every car just felt sloppy. It was as if small inputs wouldn't move the car, and then long inputs were too big. Maybe I've just gotten out of the habit of driving with a controller, since I got my wheel for the PC. In any case, I did have fun trying to outrun the police all the time, but I didn't really do too well on the races, not knowing the map too well hindered me there.

After a few hours of that it was home stretch for me, so I put Injustice Gods Among Us in the machine, got out my fight stick, and played through the story mode from the beginning till about chapter 7. It's a fun game, I have no issues with it whatsoever. Love it.

And then it was 5 AM. I have to admit that when the kids came downstairs to relieve me and take the last leg, I felt as though the cavalry had arrived. They had readily agreed to wake up early and play video games so that I could sleep a few hours before we had to go out, so I gladly handed the reins over and went to sleep.
It's hard to describe the exhaustion, it's not physically taxing, playing video games, but it does take some mental focus. By that time I was done done. I had reached my limit. I think that if I didn't have a full Sunday of activities, if I could have just crashed after the 24 hours, that I would have made it to the end, but practically it was not possible for me to do it. I'm so proud and glad that my kids could get involved and also really help me out. Kudos to you, bookworm and scribbledot. You're the best.

As of this writing, the Extra Life weekend marathon raised over $3.6 million dollars for Children's Hospitals, and I'm so happy that I was able to be a part of it. Thanks to all who donated, and watched the stream. You were a part of this too.

I will try to do it again next year, and I'll definitely start promoting it a lot sooner next time. To find out how you can participate, go to www.extra-life.org for information. Here's hoping 2014 is even bigger and better!

Posted on November 4, 2013 and filed under Article.

Ubisoft's Child of Light designed for parents and children to play together

Child of Light is a new game from Ubisoft that features a princess off to save the world. A supporting character in the form of a spark of light allows young children to be a part of the game as well. Creative director Patrick Plourde, who is himself a father, was nudged by his marketing director to make a game that he could play with his children.

In an interview with Plourde:

Plourde told Polygon that his goal is to make the game a shared experience in the same way that watching sports can be a shared experience.

"Watching sports with a child, when the team scores a goal then daddy's happy and the kid is happy, then we're giving each other high-fives," he said. "You should have those moments with games. It's good to share moments and it can be with a child or it can be with anybody."

The game is JRPG inspired, and from the trailer you can see the combat is turn-based. Plourde took great pains to make the menu system easy to navigate, even for children at the pre-reading level. I'm also glad to see that it's coming to the Wii U, which seems like the perfect platform for this game.

via Polygon

Posted on September 10, 2013 and filed under News.

New Nintendo Wii U Commercials target families

kotaku says these commercials are awful. I think they're perfectly tuned. What do you think?

Listen, I'm all for advertising to core gamers, but I think all the core gamers have already bought their Wii U's. That amounted to what, ~2 million sales? Now Nintendo is going for the rest of their Wii market. You know, the other 90+ miliion people. The parents, the families. The traditional market for Nintendo.

These ads are perfect and to the point: games for kids, games for parents, games for kids and parents together, this is why you need to upgrade. I feel like that's a key word right there. Parents don't need to be sold on specs, or features. They need to know that there are games, and that it's an upgrade from the Wii that they probably already have. That's it. Parents know what an upgrade is. It helps fight the "Wii U as a peripheral" misconception.

For the target market of these ads, parents, it's perfect.

 

Posted on April 22, 2013 and filed under News.

The One Console Problem

One console. Let that sink in for a minute.

One console, alone, forsaking all others, till a red ring of death or overheating or faulty optical drive do you part.

Most people who would identify as gamers have difficulty with just one console, or even just one device, in fact the very definition usually involves owning all the consoles, all the devices. "You call yourself a gamer and you don't have a (insert name of thing that you don't have)?!"

So it is with some trepidation that I write these following words: I only have one console. And it's a Wii.

Soon, I will have two video game consoles, but since it is going to be a Wii U, it's more or less the same as just having one.

As I wrote elsewhere, I did manage to acquire a healthy number of Wii games, enough to say that I definitely got my money's worth out of that system. But there were a great deal of games that just didn't make it on the Wii that I really wanted to play.

And that's where the PC came in.

The first thing I did when I built my gaming PC was get on Steam and buy Dirt 2, GRID, and Street Fighter IV. I wanted driving games, and good graphics. I wanted to throw fireballs and spinning bird kicks.

Later I discovered Civilization IV, and then Civ V. Elder Scrolls Oblivion. F1 2011. Mass Effect 1 and 2. Portal. Dragon Age: Origins. L.A. Noire. The Witcher 2. Diablo III. Skyrim.

All these games with no hope of being on the Wii. But there on the PC, in glorious 1920 x 1080, these amazing games were just waiting to be downloaded and played.

If I only had the Wii, I would have missed out on a big segment of what was going on in games. But if I didn't have the Wii, I would have missed out on all those wonderful Nintendo moments of fun.

No Mario Kart, no Zelda, no Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I wouldn't have experienced the thrill of Monster Hunter Tri, or been challenged to work out more with Wii Fit. Mario Party, even. All games that were exclusively Wii.

Is a Wii U paired with PC the perfect combination? It depends on who you are. If you're a family with younger children, it probably is. Nintendo first party titles appeal to the whole family, while everything else, if it's not on the Wii U, will probably be on PC.

Will you miss out? Sure. Personally I'm sad that I won't get to play Ni No Kuni, or Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster for Kinect (no seriously, that game looks awesome). No Halo 4, or Gran Turismo. There will be exclusive 360 and PS3 titles that you won't get to play, and I'm just as sure there will be next-gen exclusives that you will not experience if you only have a Wii U and PC. But on the whole, you're going to have 85%* of gaming covered. Or something.

I think I've dodged the question here. If I only had to choose one console, I don't think I could.

* I just made that number up, obviously.

Posted on October 25, 2012 and filed under Article.