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“Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming” app features beautiful design, challenging gameplay

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The long-awaited sequel to "Finding Nemo" arrives
in theaters in little more than a week. To help raise awareness of this
highly-anticipated Pixar Animation Studios production, Disney Digital Books and
Seven2 have released the "Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming" app. Which is
a fun, interesting storytelling experience geared towards kids that's jaw-droppingly
gorgeous. 


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

Using your finger, the player guides the world's
most famous Blue Tang through a variety of levels where she collects bubbles
while relaying the story of "Finding Dory" to the player as she remembers it.
To poke fun at Dory's faulty memory, and get the player a little more involved
in the story, at the beginning of each level you're invited to select items
based on vague descriptions from Dory (For instance, on one level I got "Wait,
I forget. There's this deelybob, and … Woah! It always makes a noise much
louder than you expect." And the options I was then given were a pizza, a
pinwheel, and a cheese grater.) that later appear in the levels. It's always
good for a laugh. Like when you're racing through a level and suddenly have to
smack through about twenty lollipops in the middle of the ocean.


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

The storytelling within "Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming"
is very interesting. And boy is the design within the game pretty. Before and
after each level, these fantastic models of Dory & Marlin (and occasionally
other characters) retell parts of the story to the player. And when you fall
behind in the game, rather than losing a life, you lose some bubbles and hear
Marlin very gently scold Dory about telling the story wrong. (So, uh, heads up.
"Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming" really does seem to basically just summarize
the movie. But if you're worried too badly about "Finding Dory" 's story being
spoiled, don't worry. The app development team actually had a very clever
workaround for this. Where the last two levels of the game won't be released
until after the movie is. Pretty darn smart!) 


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

But okay, wow, the design of the game is fantastic.
The environments and character designs are gorgeous, and while simplified,
still feel very strong. Particularly the simplified 3D models. "Finding Dory:
Just Keep Swimming"  's use of
environment to create depth is beautiful, and the music is absolutely gorgeous.
I did notice some errors in the animation in the tank-based levels (with red
boxes surrounding the fin and eyes of every fish in certain tanks). But it
didn't affect the gameplay at all.


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

Speaking of gameplay, wow! I didn't expect "Finding
Dory: Just Keep Swimming" to be this intense. The game scales up difficulty the
further you get into the levels, which can be interesting when steering Dory is
already somewhat difficult. Early levels I'm absolutely sure kids can manage. However
later levels may require adult help. But there's a fun variety to the levels.
In some you have to keep a certain pace or you'll lose bubbles. In others, you
can freely explore to find objects hidden throughout the maze. In others you're
being chased while dodging attacking objects. I didn't go into "Finding Dory:
Just Keep Swimming" expecting much, but I came out excited for more levels.


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

Now, just a little complaint: There's an annoyance
factor you should be wary of if you're a parent handing this off to your kid to
play, and your volume is on. Certain sound effects repeat … A lot. There's a
level in particular, Level Nine, involving beluga whale sounds that plays over
… and over … and over … and over. It's not great. But thankfully, you can
adjust the volume of "Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming" 's sound effects
through the options menu.


Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

If you're a fan of "Finding Nemo," or are just a
fan of nice artwork in games, you should definitely give this app a spin. Just
keep in mind "Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming" 's price tag of $3.99. With
eleven levels out, and two more on the way, it's a fun time you can get on
Microsoft's Windows 10 store, and the Google Play and Apple App Store. If you
have Apple TV, or the Amazon App Store for Android and want to play, you'll get
your chance later this month.

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“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.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

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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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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“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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