megaland

Megaland Review

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Publisher: Red Raven Games
Age: 8+
Players: 2-5
Game Length: 20 minutes
MSRP: $24.99

In Megaland players explore video game levels fraught with enemies but filled with treasure. If they survive they can use that treasure to purchase buildings and earn victory points.

Megaland plays quickly and easily and features beautiful artwork by Red Raven Games designer and illustrator Ryan Laukat. The gameplay provides a solid, family-friendly introduction into more advanced board game concepts such as set collection, resource management, and risk assessment.

Ready Player One

In Megaland each player starts with four hearts. Each round everyone jumps into a level, which is represented by a deck of 10 oversized cards. Players earn one treasure card from the treasure deck as each of the level cards are flipped over.

Level cards can contain enemies with 1-3 skulls, a blank, or a treasure chest. Encountering an enemy causes everyone who’s in the level to take damage equal to the number of skulls. If anyone would lose all their hearts, they’re knocked out and lose all their accumulated treasure. However, any time before the next level card is revealed, a player can choose to leave the level to keep all of their earned treasures.

megaland

The goal is to risk staying in the level long enough to earn as many treasure cards as possible. Treasure cards are more like resources or materials, such as carrots, gears, and eggs. These cards are then traded in to purchase buildings as each player builds up their own city.

Building cards are randomly selected from the box, so each marketplace layout plays a bit differently. Sets of unique treasure cards purchase buildings, while sets of the same treasure cards can be used to purchase additional hearts, allowing for longer (and more lucrative) runs.

We Built this City

Since everyone journeys on a level together, taking damage and earning treasure cards simultaneously, the game runs very quickly.

Purchasing buildings works similarly to a lot of deckbuilders, especially Dominion. But you’re not building a deck in Megaland; building cards are placed in front of the player, making it easy for kids to keep track of any possible ongoing effects.

These buildings often earn coins (victory points), either directly or through various triggers. The Hospital, for example, earns that player two coins for every player to their left or right who falls in a level, while the Fishing Pond simply awards two coins at the end of each round. The first player to reach 20 coins wins.

megaland

The risk of staying in a level to earn more treasure is a lot of fun, though it’s a shame the level deck is so thin. At only 10 cards it’s much more about calculating the odds each round rather than being surprised and shocked at the deck’s reveal.

The video game theme is also a bit thin. Other than a single jump ability provided by certain building cards, nothing inherently screams ‘video game.’ And most video games require you to finish the level, not quit early to get ahead. In Megaland the levels also never get more difficult; the level deck simply changes the order of which enemies (or blanks) you encounter with each shuffle.

On the plus side, the game moves very quickly and scales nicely as players earn more hearts, thus more treasure, more buildings, and finally more coins.

The Rating

Megaland is a great pick for kids who have graduated beyond the low age (4+) starter games but aren’t quite ready to tackle the big stuff (13+). Weighing the odds of when to jump out is a great teaching tool with stats and percentages, as is choosing which building cards to purchase. Although it’s competitive, players aren’t attacking each other, making Megaland a good game if you’re looking to avoid direct confrontation.

The Takeaway

Megaland is the perfect example of a board game publisher successfully applying advanced tabletop systems and mechanics to a wider, younger audience. Despite the small level deck the large number of possible building cards in any given game creates a solid amount of replayability, and risking it all for just one more treasure creates a lot of anguished yet enjoyable laughter.

Find Megaland at Target.

Sleep Tight

Sleep Tight Review

Posted by | PC, Reviews, Switch | No Comments

Available On: PC, Switch

Sleep Tight presents the classic monster-in-the-closet tale and transforms it into a kid-themed tower defense game, married with the gun-play of a twin-stick shooter. Both aspects are decently executed if a bit shallow, and the theme of defending your bedroom against an onslaught of Pixar-friendly monsters is a fun one.

Yet Sleep Tight lacks the mechanical depth of other tower defense games, and surviving against the hordes is more of an exercise in quantity over quality.

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frostpunk

Frostpunk Review

Posted by | PC, Reviews | No Comments

Available On: PC

Things were going well, or least as well as can be expected against an apocalyptic snowstorm, until the temperature plummeted another 40 degrees. “Snowmaggeddon” is a joke during brutal winters. But nobody’s laughing in the world of Frostpunk when temperatures approach -90 degrees, rendering most of the world uninhabitable.

In the last city my supply of coal dwindled to nothing as my geothermic reactor began shutting down. I watched a cascade of Bad News as my workforce grew sick, homes grew cold, and people began dying. I was forced to pass a law to enable emergency 24 hour shifts. Brave men and women operated frozen coal mines in the dead of night to give us the juice we needed. Some grew sick, and some were so frostbitten they had to have limbs amputated.

But the city survived. These harrowing moments solidify Frostpunk as one of the most memorable and emotional city building sims I’ve ever played.

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dr. panda plus home designer

Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer Review

Posted by | Mobile, Reviews | No Comments

Available On: iOS, Android, Fire OS

At my daughter’s preschool graduation she confidently announced that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. She draws and colors every day. Her desk is a warzone of papers, crayons, paints, Play-Doh, and magic markers.

Like most kids she’s also in love with her iPad, an old hand-me-down. She watches videos and plays games. Nothing had prepared me for how well two of her favorite activities could intersect with the newest Dr. Panda product. Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer combines the creative joys of drawing with the magic of augmented reality to transcribe your creations into a kid-friendly digital playhouse.

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civilization

Civilization VI Review

Posted by | PC, Reviews | No Comments

Available on PC

The Civilization series of games is one of the most beloved in the turn-based strategy genre. They’ve helped send their creator, Sid Meier, to almost god-like fame within the gaming industry. But all of this is for a very good reason. The latest installment of the series, Civilation VI is on caliber with the previous games, and it’s probably the best game yet.

The Basic Gameplay

If you’re not familiar with Civilization games, here’s the scoop. The game is about picking a civilization and building it and evolving it over time – from the prehistoric ages to the modern day and beyond. It’s played on a tiled board that represents city size and citizen movement. Though it sounds simple, these games are amazingly complex and have levels of depth not seen in other games. You start off by founding your first city. At the start, you’ll also find yourself with a “warrior” unit that can explore the world and fight enemies if necessary. Once your city has been founded, you can produce different types of groups, like builders, scouts, and other military units. The type of military units you can make depends on how far you’ve progressed in learning different things.

civ-vi-screen1

That’s where the second aspect of the game comes in. There are multiple areas of study for you to pursue that can help advance your civilization in different ways. If you want to work on being a civilization focused on the power of its military, you can do that. Likewise you can focus on science or culture. None of these are mutually exclusive, though, so you can take your civilization in many different directions.

Finally, just like in the real world, you’re not the only civilization on the map. There will be foreign entities that you need to interact with. You can have peaceful deals where you share trade and open borders, or not-so-peaceful tactics, such as declaring all-out war. It can sometimes be difficult to read what the leaders of those civilizations are really thinking, so a large part of the strategy is knowing how to deal with each one individually.

civilization vi

So how does the game end? It doesn’t really have to if you don’t want it to. Adjusting a few options can let the game on indefinitely, but there are a number of win conditions. These include science, culture and military feats. If you’re able to complete them before any other player, then you win.

Due to the complexity of the gameplay, each game can take hours to complete. And I mean HOURS. You can sit down and start a game in the morning and might not even be finished by dinner time. I’ve done that quite a lot actually. It’s a game that’s really easy to get lost in. However, since it’s a turn-based game, you can save at any time, so that helps to alleviate that a bit.

The Difference Between Civilization VI and the Rest of the Series

Civilization VI is still a Civ game. The series has been great about incremental changes that take the gameplay in slightly different paths. In Civ VI, the difference comes in the expansion of your cities. Rather than the building being done for you by the game, you now have to build each segment of the city itself. If you want to build a library, you have to select a tile around your city to build it on. That means making the decision of where to place your buildings very strategic. You only have so many tiles to work with, so you have to prioritize what you build and where you build it. Your city expands a bit gradually without you needing to do anything, but you can also purchase additional tiles with gold.

I like this new challenge. I often found my cities filling up rather quickly and was faced with the decision to replace a resource tile, like a farm or mine, with one of the Wonders of the World that I wanted to build before someone else got a chance to.

civilization vi

That’s the biggest change. The game also includes changes you would expect, like better graphics and more civilizations to choose from. There are also different leaders and sometimes their dialogue can be quite amusing. For example, Teddy Roosevelt will ask you to sample America’s goods like “stuffed bears.”

The Rating

Civilization VI is rated E10+ with descriptors for Drug Reference, Language, Mild Violence, and Suggestive Themes. A big part of the gameplay involves units attacking each other. While you can see the battles happening, the units themselves are fairly small and there’s no blood. The language and suggestive themes come from interactions with other world leaders, some of whom will call you names, and some of whom are dressed in a provocative way. Finally tobacco is one of the special resources you can farm.

The Takeaway

Civilization VI is the perfect next step in the series. It’s got a great amount of changes that improve the gameplay, while still feeling like the same game at its heart. This is a must-buy for existing Civ fans. If you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into the turn-based strategy genre, you can’t really find anything better. Just be prepared to tell yourself, “just one more turn” over and over and over.

 

 

titanfall 2

Titanfall 2 Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Xbox One | No Comments

Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
We played on Xbox One

Titanfall 2 is the EXO-Squad video game I have wanted to play since I was a teenager and never could. Some people might read that and think I am bashing the game for being derivative or unoriginal. But, that just isn’t the case. Titanfall 2 is a game that manages to take what was, essentially, a lifeless shell, and breath life and personality into it. I loved every minute of it. Read More