peggle 2

Tech-Less Mom: Playing Peggle 2

Posted by | Opinion, PlayStation 4, Xbox One | No Comments

When you play video games, sometimes you want a challenge; you want to use your mind and problem-solve. Other times you’re me, and you just want to press a button and destroy things, and that’s when games like Peggle 2 come in handy. This is what you play when you want to lose yourself for hours, but you want the game to do most of the work for you. That’s my kind of procrastination station.

On the surface, Peggle 2 looks like it should be called something like, “My First Video Game.” It has lots of bright colors, rainbows, and sparkles—there’s even a unicorn, for crying out loud. But then you learn that this unicorn is named Bjorn, and he occasionally farts rainbows. And that is when everything changes.

Peggle 2 is a simple game: you aim, you fire your ball, and you watch what happens. It’s set up like a pinball machine: you shoot a ball and it bounces off the pegs and sides on its way down and out. The goal is to hit as many pegs and squares as you can, which gets more difficult as all of the pegs and squares that get hit then disappear before the next turn. Also, some of the pegs are different colors and are therefore more valuable.

As a woman who has been known to waste many, many minutes on Bubble Witch Saga, this kind of game is right up my alley. Even better, there was nothing complicated or fancy, so when I played my kids I actually had a shot at beating them.

Sometimes, momma wants a win. So sue me.

Peggle 2 is great for family play because not only can you play against one another in an option called “local duel,” but you can control other aspects of the game like how many green pegs appear in the level (which give your character a super power), how long you have to make your shot, and how many rounds there are per match. The fact that you can adjust the difficulty of the game to suit your child’s age, skill level, and how much they deserve to be punished on any particular day is a big plus for me.

My kids and I loved Peggle 2 not just for its playability but for the little extras that make it so much fun. For example, there are the characters: I’ve already discussed Bjorn the unicorn, who head bangs to Ode to Joy when he wins. I never did get to see his famous rainbow farts, though. I asked my kids when he was going to do it, and they said, “You can’t predict the farts,” which I felt was both fair and realistic.

peggle 2

Luna is a lovable little zombie girl who can turn her head into a candy corn.

We also enjoyed Luna, the zombie, who can turn her head into a candy corn. She also dreams about dead teddy bears, which I can’t explain but did appreciate. Then there’s Jeffrey the troll, who has two goats hiding in a bush on his back (as you do). The goats think about bananas when you do well, and poor Jeffrey drips snot in and out of his nose when you lose. My favorite character, however, was Gnorman the robot with his giant hat and fierce moustache, while the kids loved Berg the yeti, who turns around and shakes his butt at you when you do well (his butt is pixelated to cover his shame, which was a genius choice by the good people at Popcap Games.)

In short, Peggle 2 is all joy. And lest you think it’s too easy for you, there are different challenges you can try, like doing trick shots or beating a high score. Or you can just relax, dress the yeti up like a baby, and enjoy round after round of sparkly rainbow happiness.

from the makers of Banjo Kazooie

[Podcast] Gaming With the Moms #3: Get Ready for Eeeeeee! (E3)

Posted by | News, Podcasts | No Comments

Check Out Technology Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Gaming With The Moms on BlogTalkRadio

Welcome to episode #3 of the Gaming With the Moms podcast, where we talk about family-gaming news and issues—and we occasionally/often go off on crazy tangents about geeky topics like Riker’s beard). Nicole Tanner, our host and Pixelkin’s managing editor, leads the conversation. This week we talk about violence in video games and other topics, including E3, the big industry convention.

Please subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our RSS feed! We’ll be forever grateful. Also, you can download the episode here.

In this episode:

  • The people behind the beloved Banjo Kazooie game are coming out with a new game called Yooka-Laylee. A chameleon and a bat team up in this great-looking 3D platformer.
  • A leak! There are going to be new Star Wars figurines for Disney Infinity.
  • Microsoft has announced they’re going to make modding (modifying) Minecraft much easier. They’ve also announced the name of their new browser will be called “Edge.” Somehow this discussion morphs into a fight about how good the band U2 is.
  • Children’s TV shows can be annoying. How you decide what you can put up with (it’s not easy sometimes).
  • Simone and Linda had dinner with Jerry Holkins and had a lively discussion about Assassin’s Creed: Unity. We go on a rant about whether it makes sense to hide in haystacks, in closets, or in both.Assassin's Creed Unity
  • We talk about the video games we’ve been playing: Peggle Blast (Simone), Broken Age (Courtney), Year Walk (Nicole), plus the usefulness of walkthroughs. And why it’s always good to play hard puzzle games with a friend.
  • Although violence in video games sometimes looks bad to non-players, most video game players actually experience the violence in video games in much the same way that chess players do—as just a part of playing the game and trying to be a good competitor. (And yet, how we wish there were more creative games like SplatoonPortal, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney that don’t involve “killing” things.)
  • Some video games are really funny, like the indie game I Am Bread, in which you’re a piece of bread trying to toast yourself, and a game that’s a favorite of Courtney’s, Octodad: The Dadliest Catch.
    Octodad Dadliest Catch

    Octodad: Dadliest Catch is fun and funny.

  • Not everyone is going to enjoy video games. And that’s okay. But we live for the day when “gamer” carries the same type of (mellow) connotations as “movie fan” or “reader.”
  • Somehow we get off on a long tangent about the myriad Star Trek series on TV.
  • We talk about the merits of an article in Gamasutra in which the author complains about the tyranny of popularity—how being popular makes games more popular, but it’s hard to break in and become popular in the first place.
  • We talk about Steam, an excellent place to buy video games on the Internet, and why it’s great. Especially with the new increased ability for games to ban players.
  • The June E3 conference is the place where many new games are announced. There’s a new press conference for PC games planned for E3. If you like being the first among your friends to find out when games are coming out, you can watch the streaming press conferences—or just wait for Pixelkin’s coverage of E3, because we’ll be watching and posting articles the whole time.

This podcast was recorded in the studios of the Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. Music by Pat Goodwin at Novelty Shop Creative. Nicole Tanner, Linda Breneman, Simone de Rochefort, and Courtney Holmes participated in this podcast. Thanks for listening!

And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our RSS feed!

 
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peggle 2

6 Cheap, Downloadable Xbox One Games to Play with the Family

Posted by | Opinion | No Comments

Got an itch to play a game with your family, but don’t have anything new or exciting to pop into your Xbox One? Luckily, you don’t have to run to the store—and better yet, you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

The Xbox Live Marketplace has dozens of digital games you can purchase and download straight to your console within minutes, and while some are merely disc-less versions of the $60 games you see in stores, there are several low-cost games that are a great fit for local multiplayer fun. Here are six Xbox One games that cost less than $20 apiece and can provide hours of cooperative (or competitive!) fun for your family.

Minecraft: Xbox One Edition

ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence
Publisher: Microsoft
Price: $19.99

If you’ve encountered Minecraft on any other platform—and chances are you have, with more than 50 million copies sold—then you know what to expect here. The Xbox One version uses a controller rather than a mouse or touchscreen, but the core experience remains intact: you’re a little block guy in a big block world, and you can manipulate your surroundings to build structures, try to survive amidst peril, or just have creative fun together.

What’s especially great about the game on Xbox One is that it offers four-player split-screen action, which means each player gets to control a character in his or her own section of the television image. You can then team up to concoct even more amazing-looking buildings, or protect each other as you dig down into the uncertain terrain below. You’ll create your own fun in Minecraft, and you can do it together.

Chariot

ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Mild Fantasy Violence
Publisher: Frima Studio
Price: $14.99

Here’s a two-player game that you can play with your son or daughter—and it won’t be time spent silently staring at a screen. Chariot tasks a young woman and her fiancé with guiding her royal father’s remains to a final resting spot. Only his ghostly visage has deemed your initial choice unsatisfactory, and thus you’ll need to maneuver his rolling casket to a new home.

It’s sort of a grim premise, but Chariot handles it with a lot of humor and charm, not to mention really stunning visuals. But where the game really shines is with the cooperative gameplay: you’ll need to work together to push the casket or pull it along with ropes, and naturally the levels aren’t just flat plains. You’ll nudge it over inclines and yank it across gaps, and you’ll need to communicate to figure out strategies along the way.

Riptide GP2

ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): None
Publisher: Vector Unit
Price: $4.99

If anyone in your family has fond memories of Wave Race 64 from the Nintendo 64, then you’ll probably have a lot of fun with Riptide GP2. This jet-ski racing game was actually ported over from phones and tablets, but the move to your television screen has brought an appealing new multiplayer option—and it still offers a tiny price tag at just $5.

Most multiplayer racing games top out at four players per screen, but Riptide GP2 goes the extra mile by letting up to six players compete at once. Granted, you’ll need a lot of controllers, but if you have a big family—or you’re having friends over—it’s an easy-to-learn experience that delivers a lot of communal fun for very little cash.

Peggle 2

ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Comic Mischief
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: $11.99

While the latest mobile version of PopCap’s amazing casual hit made an awkward transition into free-to-play shenanigans, the Xbox One entry lets you pay once for another great, premium experience. As in previous entries, the goal of Peggle 2 is to launch a ball from the top of the screen and try to hit and clear all of the orange pegs below within a certain number of shots.

It’s a one-player-at-a-time kind of experience, but Peggle 2 lets you compete for the highest score by taking turns and comparing the results. While you may not control the ball after it’s launched, there’s still plenty of strategy in where you aim, when you fire, and how you utilize special abilities. But it’s so simple and easy to pick up that even complete video game newcomers can have fun.

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Violence
Publisher: E-Line Media
Price: $14.99

Never Alone‘s title should be taken to heart: you shouldn’t play this charming indie game on your own, because it’s not nearly as enjoyable. Truly, this side-scrolling platform-action game ought to be played by two people, with one person controlling the young Alaskan native girl and another guiding her companion fox. You’ll work together to solve environmental puzzles, evade pursuing enemies, and attempt to discover what’s causing the blizzard that’s harming your people.

It’s a game unlike any other, infused with the spirit and culture of the Inupiat people and even interspersed with optional documentary-style videos that offer a window into Inupiat heritage and traditions. While short, it’s memorable and quietly atmospheric, but it’s not for younger kids—one scene of animal violence during the quest is particularly disturbing, even if the creature lives on as a spirit companion.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptors: Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Price: $14.99

Don’t let all of those content descriptors above scare you off: while Guacamelee! is perhaps best suited for pre-teens and older, it’s a great game to play with a child if you’re seeking something that challenges and forces you to work together. This side-scrolling action game stars a slain professional wrestler who comes back to life to avenge his death, and it bursts with colorful locales and enemies alike.

It’s playable individually, but a second player can jump in for cooperative gameplay, which means you’ll both explore the world, battle super-powered boss characters, and find a way to overcome difficult obstacles in the world. You’ll need solid gaming skills, and it’s a game that’ll probably take several sittings to complete—but if you can persevere together, the result should be very gratifying.