Animal Crossing : New Leaf

animal_crossing_new_leaf_box_art_north_americaDate Completed: 11/25/2013

You may have already noticed that this review is being published two and a half years late.  I generally don’t write a review until I’ve gone through the process of ‘retiring a game’ which involves placing it back into it’s packaging and either listing it on eBay or placing it on my “I might want to play it again but probably won’t but I will keep it anyway” shelf.  In the case of Animal Crossing I never retired the game because the game never ends.  I’ve checked in to my town a few times but I haven’t played the game regularly in awhile now and I think it’s finally time to do my write-up.

I bought my wife a copy of the predecessor of Animal Crossing : New Leaf (known as Animal Crossing : Wild World) before I heard that New Leaf was going to be a thing.  I thought it was the kind of game my wife would enjoy  and as it turns out she really did get into it and I was surprised to find I sort of enjoyed watching her play it.  A few months later I heard that a 3DS update to Animal Crossing was coming so as soon as it came out I bought my wife a copy.  I never intended to purchase a copy for myself but I noticed that everyone I met on Streetpass had been playing Animal Crossing.  Various video gaming news sites were also publishing vast amounts of Animal Crossing propaganda and I eventually caved and bought myself a copy as well.

HNI_0097

My house may resemble a gothic cathedral. 

My wife wasn’t emotionally ready to leave her old town behind so I ended up starting in on New Leaf first.  As I’ve mentioned numerous times before anything Norse related is automatically awesome.  I decided to make my town as ‘Norsey’ ( May Thor forgive me for using that word) as possible.   I named my town ‘Alfheim’ after the home of the Light Elves in Norse mythology and I designed my town flag to look like a Viking longboat.

HNI_0005

My town flag

After arriving in town and being installed as the new Mayor you are free to pursue any activity you want.  You can go fishing, dig for fossils, collect bugs, plant orchards, commission buildings, decorate your home or engage in various other activities that the average person wouldn’t expect to be fun.  It would take a lifetime to describe all the activities so I won’t do that here.  The one I engaged in most was bug hunting on Tortimer’s Island because that was the quickest way to earn massive amounts of Bells (which is the in-game currency of Animal Crossing).

HNI_0001

My wife and I during a visit she made to my city. 

Once you’ve fully upgraded your house and paid off your home loan there really isn’t anything specific left to do in the game.  You can continue to develop your town as you see fit but after putting countless hours into the game I finally just phased it out of the gaming rotation.

HNI_0006

Based on my actual T-Shirt.  I’m so creative.

Animal Crossing was a surprise to me and I think it was worth the experience.  It’s not the kind of game I usually enjoy but it’s well done and very ‘Nintendo-ey’ in execution.  The game oozes adorable charm out of every orifice and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

HNI_0098

Relaxing in the town square.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  ?? (lots) hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Simulation

 

 

Flower

Date Completed: July 20, 2014

My good friend ‘Mark’ (I’ve changed his name to protect his identity) suggested that I try out Flower several years ago.  I didn’t know much about the game at the time but I did know that it was called Flower and that basically disqualified it for purchase in my book.   I probably still wouldn’t own it except for a healthy PS Plus discount and a lack of anything else to play on my Playstation 4.

Calling Flower a game is a bit of a stretch.  You can’t lose and it doesn’t require much skill to play.  If I had to say what Flower is I’d say it’s a ‘Interactive artistic motion controlled story’.  You control the wind in a flower’s dream and your goal is to help the flowers grow.  It doesn’t take much to cause a flower to bloom, all you have to do is get kinda close to it and it will pop right open.  Each flower that blooms adds a new petal to the wind front which doesn’t serve any purpose other than to indicate that you’re accomplishing something.

In spite of very basic gameplay and no written or verbal communications the game manages to tell a compelling story of life, death and rebirth.  There are six different flowers and six different dreams to play through, each about 15 minutes long.  It’s difficult to describe how the story progresses.  Similar to Journey (which is developed by the same company) this game is just one of those things you have to experience.

My kids surprisingly enjoyed watching me play the game and often asked me to play it.  My older son though it was silly that a flower could have a dream, but I think the concept did get him to at least consider the possibilty.

Flower was a fun little diversion for a low price.  It helped me pass some time away while waiting for my third child to be born and was an interesting experience.  I’d say it’s certainly worth the price.

Pros

  • One of a kind experience.

Cons

  • Not very challenging.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length: 2 hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Action / Adventure

Final Fantasy : All The Bravest

Date Completed : 1/25/2013

Final Fantasy : All The Bravest might as well have been called Final Fantasy : All Your Money Are Belong to Us.  I’ve been a long time fan of the series and I have played almost all of the titles released in the US.  Long time fans all know that the series has been in a steady decline.  I once took the time to graph the decline of the series using data from gameranksings.com, which proves empirically what we all knew anyway.

FF:ATB is played exclusively with frantic tapping.  You have a huge team of Final Fantasy archetypes (Warriors, Mages, Dragoons) to send into battle against monsters.  You tap on a character to make it attack and after a short cool down you can tap again.  Each of your characters is knocked out with a single hit but every 3 minutes you get a character back.  The only skill that is required is to avoid hitting the buttons along the bottom of the screen that exit battle and send you into the bestiary or the social network menu.

As you play you level up and unlock additional character classes.  For 1$ you can pay to unlock a random character from previous FF games.  I paid 1$ thinking I could choose one of my favorites (I was hoping for Terra from FF6) but I was randomly given one of my least favorite characters of all time – Baltier from FF:XII.

Baltier is in the top right. I hate that guy.

My boys really enjoyed taking turns tapping on the enemies for me but the game play wasn’t enough to keep me interested.  I would have given up on the game shortly after purchasing it except I spent money on this game so damn it I was going to play it!  Luckily the game is really short and doesn’t really require any mental effort so I was able to breeze right through it.  After finishing the game additional maps can be purchased for 4$ each, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend 4$ to play this game longer.

The game does have it’s redeeming value (In the singular sense).  The bestiary has descriptions that can be quite humorous.

Ninjas are always good for a laugh.

All of the content for this game would set a person back over 50$.  For $50 I can pre-order BioShock Infinite or Starcraft II : Heart of the Swarm.  No one on earth should spend 50$ for the privilege of tapping on Final Fantasy characters.

If you enjoy boring games, wasting money and hating life then this may be the game for you.  If you are a rational, sane human being there are much better games for cheaper on the App Store.

Pros

  • Bestiary is good for a few laughs.

Cons

  • Not Fun.
  • Costs 4$.
  • Randomly Unlocking a Characters costs 1$.
  • Unlocking additional levels costs 4$.
  • Buttons are easy to accidentally click while in battle.
Is it fun: No
Score: 1/10
Length:  2 hours
System: iOS
Genre: Casual / RPG

Flapcraft

Date Completed : September 17th, 2011

Anything related to the Vikings in any way is automatically awesome so it was a foregone conclusion that when I heard about the game Flapcraft I would buy it.  The game is actually a tech demo created by the Pixelmator team to demonstrate the capabilities of their image editing software.

In Flapcraft you will be participating in the well known Viking pastime of flying through the air on a wooden log.  You get points for distance and you can spend the points to purchase upgrades to enable your log to fly faster and farther.  There are five difficulty levels with five challenges in each level that for the most part are not very challenging.  If you find yourself stuck on a challenge then upgrade your log and suddenly it becomes easy.

There isn’t a lot of content in this game, just a ramp and a log and a Viking.  It’s a pretty fun distraction for a few minutes but the only challenge I found remotely challenging was the final one which I eventually resorted to looking up a solution for online.

Flying past one of the many volcanoes in Scandinavia

While I am of the opinion that anything that contains Vikings is automatically awesome I can see how some people who are a little less thrilled about Viking awesomeness might find this game to be lacking.  The amount of time you’ll spend on the game is short for the price and the physics are pretty questionable.  If the Pixelmator team touches the game up a bit more and patches in some more content this could be a pretty fun distraction but right now I can only suggest this game to the brotherhood of vikings.

My Wife’s Take :

  • Is that Viking riding on a log?

Pros:
* Vikings on Logs!!!

Cons:
* Not much content for the price.

iTunes Link:
Flapcraft

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 5/10
Length:  ~1 hours
System: iOS
Genre: Sports