Monument Valley 2

MonumentValley2

Monument Valley 2 is a surreal, beautifully interactive work of art, a moving story, and a wonderful experience. Don’t get this if you’re into hardcore puzzles or vast realms of content. Do get this if you’d like a low-stress game that lets you marvel at beautiful vistas of pixels or if you enjoyed the first game.

Monument Valley 2, from ustwo games, has been out for a few months, but I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I played (and reviewed) the first version. That game was interactive, mysterious, immersive, and magical.

I am happy to tell you that Monument Valley 2 is just as good. “Just as good,” though, has some modifiers — an obvious downside of the original Monument Valley was the lack of content. It’s about an hour or two to play through it the first time. Monument Valley 2 has about the same amount of content. Knowing this, I consciously rationed my play to spread the game out over four days. This second game’s gameplay has a distinct lack of challenge to it. The puzzles seem to be there for show. I only remember feeling challenged at three points in the entire game.

Now for the good stuff.

The characters are Ro, her unnamed child, and several ghosts. Ro and her child explore Monument Valley, working together and separately to solve puzzles and discover themselves.

The art is just as wonderful as ever. Beautiful new mechanics, an emphasis on plant life and water, and a consistent theme throughout levels even improve on the original. I don’t really have anything to say about the art that I haven’t said before — magical, minimalistic, surreal, etc., etc. I could not stop playing the game on the first few occasions I started it up — the old familiar “just one more level,” for slightly different reasons. The game was so beautiful I only wanted to see more.

The music is even better than the original game’s. In this game, sounds create an immersive effect that pulls you into the story. At the beginning of the game, text even states that “this game is best played with sound.”

The story is quite a lot more immersive. Simple motions, sounds, and memories included in the game imply a level of emotional depth and attachment that wasn’t so obvious in the first game. This second story is far more open-ended, but it is much, much more relatable. I’m not saying that the first game’s story was bad. It wasn’t. But this one informs the level order, the level design, the characters’ journeys, and your sense of Monument Valley’s history. When compared to this story, the first story seemed like it was written in as an afterthought.

The gameplay mechanics are still easy to understand and use. There’s a pretty cool new ability to draw the sacred geometry that Ro and the child create. It has me incessantly striving to make my geometry even prettier.

I rate this a 4/5, because there is still not enough content. This irritates me deeply. All I really want is more Monument Valley, but even when they released this new game, I didn’t get what seemed like my money’s worth. Four more levels at least, please, and I’ll throw all my money at ustwo games.

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Rainbow Six Siege Video Game Review

rainbow_six_siege_blood_orchid_header-163c2b75-c8c1-4f7d-91aa-5cbb43d3ffccRainbow Six Siege is a tactical high-skilled shooter video game. You play in 5 vs 5, attackers and defenders playing around a key objective. The attackers have a choice of 16 different operators only on offense. These operators have special abilities and a non-unique gadget like grenades. For example, one operator has a large sledgehammer he can use to open up floors, walls, and hatches and another operator has the ability to destroy reinforcements placed by defenders. Defenders can choose from 17 different operators unique to their team. Their job is to keep the attackers out of their objective for a set amount of time. Defenders have abilities like one-way mirrors and protective armor plates. They can also barricade doors and reinforce walls. Barricades take 3 punches to destroy and cut off movement routes for defenders and barricades are unlimited. Reinforcements are limited to 2 per defender (10 total) and can be placed on walls so that you need a special ability on offense to break them. Defenders use these to defend their objective, which is either hostage, secure area, or bomb. In hostage, you must extract a hostage outside, in bomb, attackers plant a defuser and must defend it, and on secure area you need to clear the area and stand on the objective without any defenders in the room. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes first-person shooters and wants to try something new.

 

Jack, 8th Grade

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

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Review by: coolkid73

The Legend of Zelda is a video game series everybody has heard of, whether you’re a gamer or not. In 2003, The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was then re-released in 2013 for the Wii U under the name Wind Waker HD.

In this game, Ganon has returned and has kidnapped Link’s sister. Link must now travel to several different islands, get items, and defeat enemies. This game uses anime style graphics to make it cartoony, which is only in the Gamecube original. The Wii U remaster upgrades to HD graphics.

One of the biggest alterations between the versions is the huge triforce hunt near the end. The locations of the triforce shards are switched, and so are the locations of some other items. The soundtrack is a mixture of calm, upbeat, chaotic, and adventurous songs. The Wii U remaster upgrades some of the songs to sound more realistic.

If you are new to Zelda games, this is the game I recommend you try out first. If you ask me which version I prefer, I would have to say the Gamecube original because that’s the one I grew up with, but most other people prefer the Wii U remaster. This game is fun, so I give it a 10/10.

Fun fact: If you own an older model of the original Wii, you can play Gamecube games on your Wii. You will need a copy of the game you are playing, a GameCube controller, and a GameCube memory card to play. You’ll know its an older model because it has four controller ports and two memory card slots at the top.

Dye Review

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Review by: jakobsherman

Dye is a fairly new indie game about a white blob who jumps around to color stuff. I know, an engaging plot. But what this game loses in story it more than makes up for in game play. This game plays excellently, especially with a controller. If you’re using a keyboard, well, it’s not that great. I decided to use my Retrolink SNES USB controller. I had a problem using it in game, so I downloaded JoyTokey, a free application that reads controller inputs and converts them into key presses. If you go this route, make sure to get the application from JoyTokey’s website, or else you might be at risk of a virus.

Dye is very good for what it is. It is easy to compare to Super Meat Boy for their tough game play and tight platforming. In Dye, you will die. Like a lot. In fact, for the best experience, I recommend creating a mindset where you’re okay with dying. Otherwise, prepare to rage. This game is perfect for any one looking for a retro game similar to things like Mario World, but with a modern twist. There is a ton of content in this game, especially if you’re going to one-hundred percent or speed run it. In the newest patch, there’s even a speed run counter, so I encourage you to run through it.

I picked this up recently, when it was on sale for less than four dollars, but I would recommend picking it up now while it’s on sale, and maybe even getting the bundle with the soundtrack for only a dollar extra. This game’s presentation is very nice. There are things in this game called Pigments, which are basically this game’s main collectible. The more you collect these, the more the levels fill up with color.

In conclusion, I would recommend picking this up now while it’s cheap, but otherwise, you should probably get it anyways, unless you don’t like this genre. I give Dye a solid 9.2/10, for it’s solid, yet difficult game play.

 

Game review of “Super Mario World”

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Review by: jakobsherman

Super Mario World was a game released in 1991 by Nintendo. This is a game that would go down in history as one of the best games to ever hit shelves in stores, and for good reason too. Many people praise this game for it’s complex yet simple gameplay. This game mostly revolves around jumping around and collecting power-ups (Mario’s version of items). The game does an excellent job of teaching you these mechanics without shoving them in your face with a tutorial like many other games. Most 2-D Marios are good at this. They show you how to dodge Goombas by letting them kill you, or rather, making you fly off the screen.

This game, however, has some flaws when it comes to that. For example, it teaches you nothing about the different Yoshi powers. Speaking of Yoshi, this is the first game to feature Yoshi, the iconic green dinosaur who’s famous for eating things, and then turning them into eggs. Yoshi sort of acts as a power-up in this game. You find him and other power ups by hitting a question mark block with your fist, although many believe it’s your head. One of these power-ups is the feather, which gives you a cape which lets you fly and glide by jumping once in a sprint. This however allows players to skip near levels entirely.

The difficulty of this game, in my opinion, is unbalanced and sometimes unfair. This is mainly due to the huge difficulty spike around the third world. Worlds are basically just a group of singular levels. At the end of each world you enter a tower and fight one of the eight Koopalings, each being one of Bower’s children. These levels range from haunted houses to underwater sequences to grassy plains, to caves with what seems like endless amounts tunnels. Nearly half these levels, have secret exits that lead to switches that help you in other levels, and even unlock more levels themselves. There are a total of 29 secret exits in this game, and there’s even the star world with five more levels and the special world with levels like Tubular which take hours to complete due to their difficulty. At the end of the last world, you finally face Bowser in his castle in a fight to save Peach from his grasps.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a retro game to play without a deep story or just a fun time, whether it be a quick play through or an one-hundred percent one with lots of content, I recommend Mario World. I give this game an 8.7/10.

A Drawing of Shu and Madonee from Ensemble Stars

By: hannahn281

For this post, I decided to draw the character Shu Itsuki and his doll who he calls, “mademoiselle”, or “madonee” for short. To put my own twist on it, I made Madonee a real human being. Shu is from the phone game Ensemble Stars, in which you can collect cards. I used the outfits from this card in my piece. I am actually not that familiar with this game because I’ve never played it before. My older sister is the one who really likes this franchise, in fact, she is sewing the exact dress that Mademoiselle is wearing! I kind of drew this in honor of her, because she is really good at sewing and she gives me a lot of support and encouragement about my art. I don’t know what I would do without her or the rest of my family!

I painted this piece using my Wacom Intuos Tablet and the art program FireAlpaca (as usual). This took about six hours, which felt like forever, especially drawing all of those gears and cogs in the background. Drawing mechanical, straight-edge objects has never been easy for me, so this was pretty good practice! This also helped me practice drawing people at a side view/ profile. The profile is definitely the angle of the face that I struggle with the most. But it quickly began to feel more natural as I went through the lining phase to the coloring phase. In the end, I really did enjoy coloring the sparkly gold trims of these outfits, as well as the steampunky feel they have. Thank you for reading!

Hannah, 10th grade (I will be, next year)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

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Review by: coolkid73

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the seventh game in the Grand Theft Auto series released in 2004 for PlayStation 2, and in 2005 for PC and Xbox. A high definition remaster was later released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2015. This game is set in the fictional city of San Andreas, and follows Carl “CJ” Johnson and his friends Ryder, Sweet, OG “Jeffery” Loc, and Big Smoke as they try to rid the city of a rival gang. This game is addictive to play and is loads of fun.

The best part of the game is the music. While in a car, you have access to various radio stations. One is a talk show, and the rest play music. This game uses rock, reggae, heavy metal, gangsta rap, and various other genres of music. All songs used in the game are real songs made by real people.

This game has loads of missions, involving stuff like beating up drug dealers, stealing crates of guns from a guy’s house, catching and killing a guy, stealing a famous rapper’s rhyme book, and so much more.

This game has loads of fun missions and loads of weapons, like batons, golf clubs, and, of course, guns. This game is fun so I give it a 10/10. I hope you try this game yourself.