stardew valley

Farm Together in Stardew Valley’s 1.3 Multiplayer Update on PC

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Today there shall be rejoicing! The highly anticipated multiplayer update for Stardew Valley is available now. There are a few caveats: it’s only available on PC (and even then, GOG users will have to wait a few more days) and it’s currently in Beta.

To opt into the open beta, right click on the game in your Steam library and select Properties. Go to the Betas tab and type in the password – jumpingjunimos – and click Check Code. That should open up the beta option from the drop down menu directly above it. Select that and your game should begin downloading the update from Steam.

The developers warn that as this is an unstable beta, everyone should back up their saved games before downloading the patch, and remove any mods that haven’t been updated to work with 1.3.

Save files are located in %APPDATA%\StardewValley\Saves on Windows, or ~/.config/StardewValley/Saves on Mac and Linux.

You can play multiplayer by starting a new game or even by using an existing save (though you should still back it up just in case). For an existing game you’ll need to get Robin to build some cabins for your friends, which opens the game up to allow for multiplayer. Alternatively you can start a new game with cabins pre-built by opening the co-op menu and selecting Host New Farm.

Players should be able to join their games through their Steam friends list, or by having the host invite them through Steam. An invite code may also be used so that GOG and Steam users can play together, though GOG users must be using the optional GOG Galaxy client.

Up to four total players can share a farm together. Players have their own inventories, skills, and NPC relationships but share money and obviously the farm space. You can even marry each other to able to live in the same house together.

The major 1.3 Update is also adding a bunch of new content outside of single player, such as hats on horses. A full detailed list of patch notes is still forthcoming.

Stardew Valley released in 2016 as the indie darling of the year, and was one of Pixelkin’s Games of the Year. It has been ported to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The developer has previously stated that the Switch will receive the multiplayer update before the other consoles.

hotel transylvania

Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard Sets Sail in July

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Game tie-ins for kid’s movies used to be a dime a dozen. Most of the licensed games are tied to LEGO games these days, yet Bandai Namco is producing a game based on Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation. It’s called Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard. It’s developed by Outright Games in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Monsters Overboard arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC the same day as the film, July 13.

“Following our long term strategic partnership with Outright Games, we now bring the famous monsters to a complete new story with Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard” said Hervé Hoerdt, Vice President at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe. “We want to keep offering the best entertaining experiences to the whole family and with this new title. All I can say is that new adventures are around the corner!”

The lovable monsters from Hotel Transylvania are washed up on an island following a storm while on a cruise vacation. Players control both Drac and Mavis as they form a crew of little minions called Impa. Impa are used to solve puzzles, battle enemies and save missing monsters. Basically it sounds a lot like Pikmin.

“Since 2012, families have enjoyed watching the humorous monsters of Hotel Transylvania go on fun filled adventures ,” says Jamie Stevens, EVP Worldwide Consumer Products at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Now, players can jump into the story and help Drac’s Pack save the day! It’s a completely new experience.”

Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard launches on July 13. Also coming July 13 is the film it’s based on, Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation.

ink monsters

Ink Monsters Review

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Publisher: Albino Dragon
Players: 2-6
Time: 20-30 minutes
Age: 6+

Card games can be tricky for younger kids. It can be challenging to hold very many cards in tiny hands, and privately manage their own resources.

Ink Monsters alleviates these issues by providing a streamlined set collection card game, themed around drawing kid-friendly monsters. The enchanting artwork and simple iconography helps sell the light-hearted experience, though end game scoring quickly grows complex and unwieldy.

Monsters, Ink

Ink Monsters is made up of two decks of cards: 48 monster cards and 57 action cards. In each of the three rounds, 12 monsters are randomly drawn into a circle. A magic pen card is place on the outer ring, indicating the next monster that will be drafted. Each round players play from their hand of three ability cards to rotate and move the pen to a more desirable monster before they select it. At the end of three rounds, the most victory points wins.

ink monstersEach monster has a point value, ranging from -5 to +5, as well as several trait icons, such as clothes, arms, and teeth. Monsters also come in five different colors, and almost all of them have either a once per round ability, or offer bonus (or negative!) points depending on the other Monsters you’ve drafted.

Once you start collecting monsters you have to start paying attention to their associated icons and powers, which can be challenging for younger kids who just want to pick their favorite-looking monsters.

I wouldn’t blame them; the card artwork is exceptional. These monsters would feel right at home within the world of Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. But what really matters are the icons and abilities each monster possesses.

For example, Alex gives you the ability to move the magic pen clockwise one to three spaces, essentially giving you a fourth card in your hand of ability cards. Lisa grants +1 point for each different colored monster you’ve collected. George lets you draw an additional monster from the deck. But that could be a blessing or a curse.

Some monsters are worth negative points, or have negative bonuses. Cary is worth 0 points, but his ‘bonus’ is that each other monster you own with hair scores -1 at the end of the game.

Juggling all these collection bonuses together becomes a bit too unfriendly with less players and younger kids, which is our typical family situation. The game doesn’t scale for the number of players, so less players equals more monsters per player. That means sifting through a dozen or more traits, bonuses, and abilities by the end of the game.

End game scoring is likewise a complete nightmare with that many monsters. It’s way more difficult than I would expect from a game aimed at 6+ kids. Thankfully Albino Dragon has released a free scoring app on iOS and Android that does all of the work for you. It’s a solid app and almost a necessity to determine final scores.

Pen is Mightier

The key to producing a great game for the under eight crowd is to minimize text. Ink Monsters comes close to succeeding but falls short with the abilities. The trait icons are easily identifiable, and all the action cards include a large visual aid indicating the action, such as a turned arrow and a +1.

Yet we still had to explain what most cards do with our six year old, and play with open hands to help her make a decision. Repeated plays helped, but there’s still just a bit too much going on. I would recommended the age closer to 8+.

ink monsters

On the flip side the game scales well for older kids and more players. Collecting less monsters lets you focus on specific strategies, such as monsters with hair and monsters who are pink and purple. There are also not a lot of cruel gotcha tactics. Instead players will often be left with really bad choices toward the end of each round. But there are enough negative-point monsters that everyone will have a few bad eggs in their collection.

Ink Monsters is a fun but flawed card game for kids. The artwork is absolutely amazing and every single monster card is unique, leading to an impressive replay factor that plays fairly quickly. But the gameplay is a bit too complex for what it offers, with too many overlapping traits, icons, and powers that players have to keep up with. With the amount of text involved I would at least bump the age to 8+, and I would absolutely recommend the free scoring app as practically a requirement to get through the complex end-game scoring.

splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 3.0 Update Adds 100+ Items and X Rank

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As previously announced during the March Nintendo Direct, Splatoon 2 has received a major update. The Version 3.0 patch adds more than 100 pieces of gear, new songs, a new top-tier X Rank for Ranked Battles, and the return of Callie of the Squid Sisters. The free update is available now.

“As promised when the game was first announced, we are determined to provide players with new experiences and content in Splatoon 2,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. “Through these regular updates, we are ensuring that both players old and new will log on to fun new experiences.”

The major new addition is X Rank. X Rank is an ‘extremely challenging’ tier of Ranked Battle mode that features only the best Splatoon players. Only players who are S+10 in the current Splatoon 2 rankings will be moved to X Rank. Players within X Rank will battle with each other for X Power levels. The top 500 players with the highest X Power level for the four different Ranked modes will be announced once a month on SplatNet 2.

X Rank requires constant battling, as rankings reset every month. Players who fail to meet the X Rank threshold will fall to S+9. The first X Power reset will take place May 31. Future resets will occur on the final day of each month. These Ranked resets will also rotate the pool of selected stages.

The new 3.0 update also adds more than 100 items, some of which are returning from the original Splatoon. Fans of Splatoon’s uniquely snappy soundtrack can enjoy more music tracks from in-game band Chirpy Chips.

Finally Callie of the Squad Sisters will maker her long-awaited return. Callie will appear in Tentakeel Outpost in Octo Canyon. She will provide multiplayer stats to visiting players.

View the full Version 3.0 patch notes, including any bug fixes and weapon balancing.

Splatoon 2 released last summer as a Nintendo Switch exclusive sequel to Wii U’s Splatoon. It’s a competitive team-vs-team 3rd person shooter involving paint guns and unique squid-changing kids. It’s rated E for Everyone.