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“Attack The Light: Steven Universe RPG” is another gorgeous, fun game from Cartoon Network

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If you're familiar with "Steven Universe," a show running on
Cartoon Network right now detailing the life of a young half-alien boy being
raised by three alien mentors, you're likely very familiar with how absolutely
gorgeous the show is, and how sweet and hilarious the writing is. Okay, maybe
that's biased. I'm a big, big fan of the show.


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

So when I heard "Steven Universe" was getting another game, I
was … Excited! But cautious. Mobile games tend to not be … Great. The last "Steven Universe" game was fun, as was the Disco-esque Lumpy Space Prince dance game (These Lumps was addictive). But I've seen other mobile games just be quick
cash-ins, or relevant textures just sort of slapped onto a previous game (I
love you, Gem Bound, but I am looking at you). So finding out Attack the Light
was going to be a turn-based RPG was…. Surprising!


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

To explain: Turn-based RPGs are games where you control
characters, and deal out moves each 'turn.' You typically explore lands, fight
monsters, and there's a big over-arching plot. This seemed like a lot for a
mobile game to deliver. I bought the game on day one, because, like I said,
big  fan. But wow, I was NOT
disappointed.


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

In "Attack The Light: Steven Universe RPG," Steven & Co.
must stop a gem monster that has created light monsters from its gem prism.
They have to travel across lands, get treasure, and "Attack the Light" to defeat
it. It's actually very cute, as Steven's a video game fan, and keeps expressing
excitement over being in an RPG (To which Pearl
asks, "What's an Are Pee Gee???")


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

As you can see in these shots, the game is absolutely
gorgeous. The creative and art team from "Steven Universe" actually helped with
this game. The backgrounds are reportedly intensely inspired by Yoshi's Island,
and convey a lot of mood without too much detail. The artwork itself is nice.
The character portraits are based on 'far away' simplified models of the
characters used in the show. And they're fully animated for moves in game (A
particularly neat one is Amethyst's Purple Puma move, where you see Amethyst
turn into her wrestling alter ego, Purple Puma).


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

The game play itself is fantastic. Grumpyface Studios did some
really creative, incredible stuff. You attack normally, then hit on a rhythm to
double your attack. Or some attacks, such as Amethyst's Purple Puma, or
Garnet's Shield Smashing Hammer Fists require timing for a successful attack
(In Amethyst's, you have to hit a moving wrestling bell 1-3 times to deal
damage, with damage increasing with each successful subsequent hit. And
Garnet's involves hitting a red area on something that almost resembles a
test-your-strength meter, which will make the character deal damage on top of
smashing an enemy's shield).


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

You do the same for enemies, of course (All gorgeous, all
very well suited to their respective areas: Bats and scorpions in the cave,
beetles and plants in the garden, snakes in the desert. All reflect the design
that they're created by the light, as guided by the design notes from series
creators Rebecca Sugar and Ian Jones-Quartey show below. They attack, you block
with a timed prompt. It makes figuring out what new enemies do a fun puzzle.
And it can make boss fights seem like very intense challenges. Thankfully, the
many items throughout the game really saved my bacon in those boss fights.


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

All in all, I was absolutely blown away by this game. While
I still haven't beaten it (Midterms), it's absolutely taken over my
Illustration classroom. Classmates come to me talking about how much fun it is.
How it's a game you really have to pay attention to due to the game play style,
and due to this it sucks them in for longer amounts of time. I've got to agree.
Most mobile games I find myself playing for chunks of ten minutes at a time at
the most. Attack the Light pulls me in for hours, and I stumble out later,
usually because of battery issues, excited for more.


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

I've only encountered one glitch in the game so far, which
made me have to delete the game and start all over. I had to shut off my phone
mid-battle and switched to another ap without pausing the game. And when I came
back, the game was an unresponsive black screen, even on a restart of the
phone. Hopefully this problem has been fixed by now.


Copyright 2015 Cartoon Network. All rights reserved

Overall, though, I'd recommend "Attack the Light: Steven Universe RPG." Between the
beautiful art, hilarious snappy writing, and intuitive game play, this is not a
game that I'd pass up!

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Video Games & Technology

“Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion” game coming this summer

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Adventure Time Pirates of the Enchiridion

“C’mon on, grab your friends … ” A new Adventure Time game is coming out across multiple platforms.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

In this open world game, Finn and Jake will be sailing on a raft (Named Jeff) through the flooded land of Ooo to solve the mystery of why water engulfed their home and to help others & get in hijinks along the way. With a ragtag gang of friends (From a vampire, to an Ice King, to a little robot) Finn and Jake will travel from the melting Ice Kingdom to the Fire Kingdom and fight in turn-based combat like an RPG.

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The trailer shows off some absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. I’m particularly enchanted by the gorgeous Candy Kingdom that’s briefly shown in this footage. The art design sticks close to the show, but brings with it a soft, sweet design rarely seen in adventure games. Which is a refreshing thing to bring to the table. Likewise, it’s a joy to see the characters translate to 3D so well. Outright Games has done some fantastic work here with their art design.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

Likewise, the voice cast for the show will be reprising their roles as characters in the land of Ooo. And they’ll have a lot of lines to record. Not only can you control Finn and Jake, but you’ll be able to play as BMO and Marceline as well. You can upgrade these characters to unlock unique abilities for combat and the map holds plenty of fun mysteries too. With side stories and secret locations, this seems like a game that’ll have hours & hours of fun.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

What strikes me particularly about this game is how much it resembles Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is no coincidence. Adventure Time have a history of being direct corollaries to Legend of Zelda games. “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” ‘s gameplay references “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” and “Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom” has the same top down look & combat stylings as “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With this in mind, it’s absolutely delightful to see a Wind Waker homage with a series like this. Wind Waker was a gamechanger for the Legend of Zelda series, and it feels like “Pirates of the Enchiridion” will be a gamechanger for the Adventure Time games.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ will be out July 17th for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. 

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Video Games & Technology

Do you like treasure hunting and/or cooking soup? Then Pokemon Quest is the game for you

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Pokemon Quest

Immediately after the Pokemon press conference on May 29th, the mobile-switch cross platform game Pokemon Quest was available to download on the Nintendo eShop (with the mobile device version debuting later this month). Curious about the ‘Free-to-Start’ game, I snagged a download and started playing.

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Pokemon Quest is a game that feels best letting itself auto-run. You check in several times a day to see what Pokemon have appeared at your camp (The conceit behind this game is that you’re a treasure hunter & Pokemon flock to you to fight their brethren in your honor. They also sometimes just come by because you make really good soup. What can I say?). With the Pokemon at your disposal, you build a small exploration team much in the same style as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game series. And you then set them out to fight other Pokemon in open levels. From these battles, you win power stones (which allow you to upgrade your Pokemon’s health & attack power), and ingredients to lure other Pokemon to your camp.

You may’ve taken notice use of the term ‘Free-to-Start’ earlier in this article. That’s because — like many mobile services — this game offers add-ons for purchase. I don’t see any age limit on the Nintendo Switch version to take away ads for purchases (which many mobile games have chosen to add. See Disney’s own ‘Disney Crossy Road’) but the Pokemon Company may be expecting parents to set their own controls over the switch with the parental controls available on the system.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Still, the game is typical in mobile game fare for trying to wring money out of players. Energy to play the game costs P tickets, which you can earn 50 a day … or you can just buy. The game gives you an amount to start with, shows you how to use them to speed up your game, and then takes you to the shop where you can see an advertisement to buy it — along with Pokemon furniture to help your team.

These packages can go up to $30 and include Pokemon in-game items & exclusive furniture. And while Pokemon Go offered items in bundles like this, it’s still odd to see in a Pokemon game — let alone a Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch (albeit, this is a cross-platform game). The game itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of hard-pay line for gameplay, though. I’m up to the fifth world in my game without making any purchases. And while the game difficulty has dramatically ramped up, likely to encourage purchases, it’s still completely manageable to play without paying.

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In that sense, for a free game, it’s really cute & enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing and colorful. And if you return to camp, you’ll find all the Pokemon you’ve befriended hopping around adorable decorations. Sometimes stacking on top of each other, other times following each other around in what seems like games of tag.

The ‘cooking’ mechanic to encounter a random Pokemon makes encountering them feel less like gambling and more like strategy. By cooking certain recipes from materials you find on missions, you can draw certain types of Pokemon to your camp. Cooking in certain pots (unlocked by playing through the game) can draw higher powered Pokemon at the cost of more materials. And waiting while your energy fills up means running out of ingredients (At the point of the game I’m at, about half-way through) doesn’t seem to be a problem.

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All in all, I’d say, if you have access to this game, check it out and see if it’s for you. There doesn’t seem to be cross platform support for other Pokemon games. But as a standalone, it’s a cute, fun blip of a game. The hard ‘end’ of the levels within surprises me, especially since it seems to end with 150 Pokemon (out of the over eight hundred available). So I’m not sure what there is to get out of it when you get to the end level outside of getting every Pokemon. But it’s still a fun, very casual strategy game. Just keep an eye on purchases if your children decide to play. 

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Video Games & Technology

“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” & “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” to come to the Nintendo Switch this year

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Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

During a conference in Japan earlier this week, the Pokemon Company revealed three new games : A mobile and Nintendo Switch cross platform game, “Pokemon Quest,” with graphics similar to Crossy Road and some absolutely adorable furniture in a “free to start” format; and for the Nintendo Switch, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !”

Taking inspiration from gameplay styles from the popular “Pokemon Go” for mobile devices, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !’ adopts the thrown Pokeball system. By using one controller with the Switch system, you can make a tossing motion to throw a Pokeball and capture a cute critter for your team.

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Additionally, you can buy the “Pokeball Plus” accessory to act as an additional “Joy-con” controller for your Switch to capture Pokemon. Then load a Pokemon into your pokeball, and take it out on the go.

From there, with the accessory, you’ll be able to interact with the Pokemon you have inside. Although current information doesn’t offer whether we’ll have more options than putting Eevee or Pikachu in the Pokeball Plus, the footage seen in the linked trailer is absolutely adorable.

The game itself seems to be a remake of Pokemon Yellow, a game released twenty years ago for the Game Boy Color. You explore the Kanto Pokemon region, and seem to be limited to the 150 Pokemon available when that game was out (Well, 151, if you were lucky, or good at exploiting glitches). But these games ditch the random encounters of mainline Pokemon games and adopt the overworld encounters of Pokemon Go. What Pokemon you see on the overworld is what you get.

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Additionally, Pokemon can follow you around and you can ride some of them. In footage, we see a trainer riding a giant Onyx (i.e., a giant snake made out of rocks. Who wouldn’t be comfortable riding on that?) and followed by a starting Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Although in these two games, you start instead with the series mascot Pikachu, and the evolution Pokemon Eevee, which can evolve into several different pokemon. You can also put little outfits on them. Which is – frankly — incredible.

Likewise, this seems to have local multiplayer. Hand the left Joy-con to a friend and let them enter your game. Or if you’re feeling really lonely, put the left Joy-con in your hand and pretend you have a friend while controlling the new trainer that arrives. What a fun time!

You and your friend can then team up to capture Pokemon together, or go exploring together- And you can have Pokemon you capture in Pokemon Go (of the original 151 Pokemon) arrive in your game. You can also send “Presents” back to your Pokemon Go game, including a possible new form of Pokemon as the trailer discusses.

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch this November. Likewise, a new Pokemon game will be released in the second Half of 2019. With a Mario movie in development and theme park additions on the way, it’s sure to be a busy year for Nintendo. 

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