Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kids Games

I'll keep this short and simple.

If I ever create a kids game I vow that I will do everything possible to make the game load straight away with no publisher, developer or licensor splash screens that take up precious minutes of time.

Every time my daughter wants to play a new game (which is often - she plays one for ten minutes, then wants to try another) - we have to sit through the same load screens again and again - many of which are unskippable. Then we get to the menu screen and have to click on more buttons to start the game. She just wants to play. Why not boot straight into the game? My 3.5 year old could care less about copyright notices.

Put all this stuff just before the team credits! That means it will be buried in a menu somewhere, or will only be seen when the game is completed, or printed in small type in the back of the user manual (if the developer is lucky).

They can be as bad as those kids DVDs that take forever to get to the Menu, then don't have the Play Movie option as the default. Grrr. Thank heaven's that Disney has their fast play feature - that is such a great idea. Kids game developers should look and learn.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indy 4

I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night - and I liked it.

It's odd, but I usually hate movies that have incoherent plots or endings that don't make sense - like Ang Lee's "The Hulk" - but despite the fact that this new Indy movie has a bunch of "what was that all about?" moments I found myself enjoying it.

The reason for this is that characters really clicked for me, and my fear that Shia LeBeouf would be annoying were unfounded. All in all it was pretty cool. I could not tell you what the plot was - or why a lot of stuff happened as it didn't make much sense - but in this case it was all about the journey, not the destination :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Boom boom boom

Man, what a week (or even month) to play games!

No sooner does Grand Theft Auto IV come out then we get Wii Fit and now Boom Blox.

All are extremely fun and an essential part of your games collection (except GTAIV if you're a kid). So, with all these options and extremely limited time, I've been mostly playing Wii Fit and Boom Blox. These are both great games to tackle if you only have a few minutes of gaming time available.

So, what makes Boom Blox so great? Here's a few things:
  1. The game play is simple enough for anyone to grasp (you throw balls at piles of blocks, or pull blocks out of piles of blocks like Jenga).
  2. Each level is short but they get progressively trickier without overwhelming you.
  3. The controls are awesome (this game is made for the Wii).
  4. It's got a cute adventure mode with cute characters.
  5. It rewards you a lot so you always feel like you're achieving something.
  6. It has a built in level editor so you can make and share you own levels.
Here's hoping to seeing more games that embrace the Wii and take advantage of what it has to offer. Now, I just have to find more time so I can play GTAIV too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hurts so good

Today I am feeling the results of using Wii Fit. Yes, I am actually hurting all over.

Well, I'm actually hurting in my legs and lower torso. Apparently I have muscles there that I didn't know about!

The Balance Board is a pretty cool gadget. Not sure if I'll still be using it in a month's time. I'll let you know if that's the case. In the meantime, it's a fun way to get some exercise. And despite my initial thought of "these exercises won't really work" I am feeling sore, so I guess they do.

Not a bad effort Nintendo!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clone Wars... oh dear

There's a new Star Wars animated film coming out. It's called Clone Wars and it's damn ugly looking. It has the whiff of "Shadows of the Empire" about it.

Check out the trailer here:

And guess what? It has the Hutts in it. Can George Lucas make the Star Wars universe any smaller? I guess Luke was being ironic in Star Wars (the good one from 1977) when he said:
If there's a bright center of the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from.
Well Luke, apparently Tatooine is ground zero for all things Star Wars. Your dad grew up there, Ben Kenobi retired there, Han Solo was imprisoned there, Boba Fett was "killed" there, C-3PO was created there...

Maybe in the new series we'll discover that Princess Leia's adoptive parents have a summer holiday home there where young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian work as kitchen hands. And are actually brothers. And have a pet Wookiee called Chewbacca. Who actually built R2-D2.

On a positive note I saw the excellent Iron Man movie. It's certainly no GTAIV, but it was pretty darn good. It more than made up for Spiderman 3. Here's hoping that Marvel keeps control of their IP and keeps talented people involved in making their movies.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wii Fit on Mother's Day

When I asked my wife what she wanted for Mother's Day I was very excited when she suggested Wii Fit! Obviously, I'm a huge gamer, so when she suggested a video game as a present I jumped to it.

So, today Leigh unwrapped Wii Fit and we've had some fun playing around with it. I've already played two player jogging with my 3 year old daughter - and am excited about spending more quality "video game" time together over the coming months.

Of course, it's not all about getting fit in front of a TV - the family is just about to head out for a bike ride at the park.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Wii Fit yet, you should check it out.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Beatrix Potter

We watched Miss Potter last night, a fictionalized film about Beatrix Potter, the children's author of classics like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The filmmakers changed a few facts here and there to make for better drama, but overall it seemed true to her life.

I enjoy finding out about the people behind works of art that impact on popular culture. I've read books on Herge (creator TinTin), Charles Schultz, Stan Lee, George Lucas, etc. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the film.

Anyway, I've been reading an eclectic mix of books to my daughter at bed time, ranging from Peter Rabbit to Tin Tin - and strangely enough she really digs Tin Tin - more so than Peter Rabbit. And she's 3 and a half.

So, she's been asking me if we can read a girl TinTin - and today we went to Border's in search of a TinTin equivalent for girls - but came back empty handed. The only other large sized illustrated books they had were the Asterix series - and they seem very boy oriented.

Is there a series of graphic novels for young female readers that don't talk down to their audience? Surely there must be something out there. If not, there should be. I'll have to scour for some candidates. Heck, even an illustrated Nancy Drew would be a start.

If anyone knows of any, let me know.