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Brain games popular at the Leeton library – The Irrigator

BRAIN power is being used to its full potential at the Leeton library.

THINKING TIME: The group at brain games on Wednesday were deep in thought during the “zentangles” exercise.

HEALTHY BRAIN: Maureen Clough completes some zentangles as part of brain games at the library on Wednesday.

BRAIN power is being used to its full potential at the Leeton library.

A new program, titled brain games, is being aimed at older residents who are keen to give their brain a workout, meet new people and expand their interests.

Held each Wednesday, every session includes new activities that are all aimed at exercising the most powerful muscle in the human body.

Its been a huge success, library assistant Jo Pianca said. There are different tasks and activities each week and weve had a great response.

Ive also given little homework tasks to them when Ive run the session. Last time it was to pay it forward and do something kind for someone else without expecting anything in return.The sessions are held from 2pm to 3pm. Holiday activities are also set to kick off this week.

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Brain games popular at the Leeton library – The Irrigator

Jillian’s Backlog 04: A Journey Through the Games We’ve Missed – Gamezebo

The remainder of June is essentially a weeklong celebration of backloggery thanks to the Steam Summer Sale. If you can browse that store without coming away with a cart full of games youll never get around to playing, I salute your restraint. There are a number of games from my mobile wishlist that are sitting in my Steam cart right nowTormentum: Dark Sorrow, The Last Door: Season Two, Year Walkdespite the fact that my PC backlog is already nearly as large as my mobile one. And yet, theres a strange satisfaction in knowing that you will always have a next game to look forward to thanks to ridiculously low prices and compulsive game hoarding. And so the cycle continues.

Despite the fresh flood of PC titles, I did play through another batch of mobile backlog games this week. Ive shared five of my favoriteswhich we have not reviewed previously at Gamezebobelow.

Shape Shuffle is a tiling puzzle game a bit like tangram, but which utilizes multiple layers of shapes arranged on top of each other instead of pieces being distinctly slotted without overlapping. Players are tasked with recreating specific scenes by dragging and rotating shapes onto a single board. Since shapes can be layered on top of one another, initially unavailable designs can be created by precise stacking. For instance, an image with a half circle can be achieved by placing a full circle partially underneath another shape.

The UI is extremely player-friendly, making it extremely simple to rotate, remove, or rearrange layer orders by dragging tiles. And while the concept is fairly simple, the puzzles grow in complexity and create some real ah-hah! moments as you progress. How do you create a yellow triangle when you only have rounded yellow shapes? Where does the other half of that red arrow go? Since its so easy to add and organize shapes, you can play around with arrangements to help think through puzzles, rotating and reordering as much as you like. The only score that is tracked is whether you completed the scene and if you beat the average time. Theres no move or time-based pressure, just tons of clever shape arrangements awaiting your input.

Shufflepuck Cantina comes with a 32-bit warning: although it works on the latest version of iOS 10, it hasnt been updated since 2014 and receives the wont work with future versions pop-up at launch. But I had to share it, as its an absolutely beautiful and fascinating variation of digital air hockey that is either a spiritual successor to, or highly inspired by, the 1989 Amiga game Shufflepuck Caf. You take on the role of an astronaut whos crashed on the alien planet Athanor and just happened to land right next to a cantina where travelers gather to play shufflepuck. You need to earn money to buy replacement parts for your ship, and the best way to rack up credz on this planet is by betting it at the shufflepuck table.

You can challenge any of the characters hanging around the bar, such as the robotic bartender, M4rv1n, or the adorable cinnamon-and-garlic-scented Ambadi, Furry, and will unlock higher floors of the cantina (and more challengers) as you win matches. While the air hockey duels are fairly straightforward, every character has a unique special skillsuch as putting spin on the puck or making it zigzag across the tablethat you can learn by unlocking parts of their backstories. There is also a two-player same-device option if you want a break from taking on alien AI, but the characters, lore, and cantina itselfcomplete with a very familiar background songprovide a surprising amount of depth for what would otherwise be a simple air hockey game.

Smoosh! combines sliding block and color mixing puzzles into a deceptively difficult series of challenges. What begins as a fairly standard Sokoban-esque puzzler that tasks you with rolling cute spheres around a level and into their like-colored vats quickly escalates into a brain-bending trial where every move counts. The balls roll straight ahead until they hit a block or wall or are deposited into the colorful pools stationed around each stage. Once a ball enters a pool, a grate covers the top, preventing other balls from entering and creating another tile that can be rolled across.

However, balls can only enter their same-colored pools, and later levels will require combining balls in order to create the correct color. A level with one red ball, one blue ball, and one purple vat means youll need to run the two balls into one another before to create a single purple ball that can enter the pool. These color-combining challenges add an extra layer of complexity and ingenuity to the sliding ball puzzles, and it doesnt hurt that the spheres themselves have adorable reactions to your puzzle-solving strategies.

Poker Heroes is a strange combination of an on-rails turn-based RPG and poker, but this mash-up works unexpectedly well. Players have a squad of mercenaries, each of which is assigned to a card in their deck. Campaign missions send them through three or more waves of enemies ending in a boss battle, with player turns consisting of creating a poker hand from their character cards. Each mercenary has a default attack power, but creating strong poker hands provides multipliers to their strength. Units also have a card color they are strongest (and weakest) against, as well as some unique powers when played, allowing a variety of strategies beyond just trying to make the strongest poker hand.

Theres a strong collection element as you unlock and upgrade new squad members and card types, but the G.I. Joe styled characters and comic book-esque aesthetic adds extra appeal to the standard collectathon. Theres a lot to see and do, including PvP matches against other players fortresses, but Ive really been enjoying Poker Heroes strictly through the single-player campaign and the fun of raiding enemy bases simply with Jacks or better.

Mr. Mustachio 2 is a fast-paced math puzzler that heightens the difficulty on multiple choice questions via a grid system. At the top of the screen, Mr. Mustachio will give you an answer, such as 2. You then have to select which row or column of the grid in front of you will result in that answer. Rows read from left to right are added, right to left are subtracted, and columns are multiplied top to bottom. So, if you had a row that was 1 and 1, tapping the left side of that row would add the numbers and result in 2, the correct answer.

It sounds more complicated in text than in practice, although the game gets progressively more difficult as the grid grows with correct answers, the numbers get bigger, operations swap places, the timer speeds up, and colors are added in. Soon you have to find which row gives you 10 in blue and 5 in red, for instance. There are ten additional worlds to unlock as well, with their own types of puzzles, such as selecting rows of dots by size or the correct set of clock faces. Its extremely difficult, but extremely rewarding, and all of your correct answers help Mr. Mustachio grow out his namesake facial dcor, for whatever oddly endearing reason. Fans of math and logic puzzles, as well as Movember diehards, should definitely enjoy this one.

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Jillian’s Backlog 04: A Journey Through the Games We’ve Missed – Gamezebo

Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure announced for PS Vita – Gematsu

Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure announced for PS Vita

The two Ninja Usagimaru games bundled for PS Vita.

Arc System Works and FK Digital have announced Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure, a collection including the 2012-released 3DS eShop title Ninja Usagimaru: The Gem of Blessings and the 2015-released Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle, for PS Vita. It will launch via the PlayStation Store on July 7 in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for 1,200 yen / NT$ 339 / HK$ 83 with English, Japanese, and Traditional Chinese language support.

The pair of action puzzle games offer over 130 stages in total, and see players controlling Usagimaru while lifting, throwing, and breaking rocks, and using various tools and actions to solve each stages challenges and save the captured villagers.

Heres an overview of each game:

Ninja Usagimaru: The Gem of Blessings

Jump over obstacles, defeat the Mononoke army and save the abducted villagers from their evil clutches! You control Usagimaru, and sets off on a journey to rescue captivated villagers from the evil grasps of the Mononoke. Your mission is to bring the villagers to the safety of the Usagi Statue. In each stage there will be a captured villager, and the path to rescue them is filled with various traps and Mononoke. Use the various tools you have in your possession, and utilize the terrain and even the Mononoke themselves in order to rescue the villagers, and finally bring them to safety!

Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle

NNinja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is an action puzzle game that challenges players to put their sharpened ninja skills to the test! Taking place in a time long forgotten by men, players assume the role of Usagimaru, a legendary hero who embarks on a massive quest to save his village from the clutches of vile monsters. Travel through 60+ mind-boggling levels to rescue captured villagers and restore order to the land. Ready to reap the rewards of a true ninja warrior? Freeing villagers will bestow bonuses to boost your equipment and skills! Navigate tough traps, manipulate the environment and overcome brain twisting puzzles as the one and only Usagimaru!

Watch the announcement trailer below. Visit the official website here.

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Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure announced for PS Vita – Gematsu

The Witness: Basic Tips for Beginners – Spoiler Free – USgamer

Follow these tips to think outside the box in this devious puzzle game, The Witness.

Guide by Larryn Bell, 06/28/2017.

The Witness has delivered on its promise of mind-bending puzzles and beautiful scenery.In this The Witness Beginners Guide, weve put together several basic tips to help you unlock the secrets of The Witness mysterious world.

The Witness is chock full of mysteries and secrets to uncover around every corner. This guide features a set of general tips and guidelines to keep in mind for players who are new to exploratory puzzle games like this one. Theres no spoilers or puzzle solutions in this guide, only suggestions to help you achieve every satisfying A-Ha moment on your own.

At first, it will seem as though the puzzles of The Witness have been placed within a stunning, cel-shaded world merely for aesthetic purposes. However, as you begin to explore the landscape, you will discover that the environment actually plays a critical role in the puzzles themselves.

Your surroundings can offer new information to help you solve nearby puzzles, causing you to see certain puzzles in a different light. If a puzzle has you particularly stumped, changing your perspective or physical orientation can often provide clues in unexpected places. A difficult puzzle may simply require you to see it through a broader scope. Also, note that some puzzle screens can be activated at a distance, rather than zoomed in up close.

Try to think outside the box when tackling a tricky puzzle panel. Oftentimes your surroundings will guide you toward the puzzle solution you seek. While exploring the vast island, keep an eye out for patterns, even in unexpected places. There are plenty of secrets to discover beyond the limits of those linear puzzle matrix screens. If you sense that something has a deliberate pattern or placement, chances are it does. There are hidden secrets to stumble upon as you travel between puzzles. Stop and click around on aspects of the environment to unveil potential surprises.

In the beginning stage of the game, early puzzles can be solved with a bit of additional patience and mental jiu-jitsu. However, sketching out puzzles on paper can ease your mental burden and help you work through the more complex puzzles you’ll encounter later on. Keep a notepad handy for jotting down interesting patterns in the environment, or for untangling a puzzle by hand.

Though the colorful scenery alone is enough to justify taking copious screenshots, having a backlog of screen captures can also serve as reference information for future puzzles. Take occasional screen grabs whenever you encounter interesting patterns in the environment, as these can reveal more than just a pretty backdrop. Screenshots can be captured by double-tapping the Playstation button on your PS4 controller, or by pressing F12 when playing on Steam.

The Witness mostly contains puzzles that are deliberately structured and have a specific logic to their solution, as any good puzzle game should. Solving puzzles comes down to understanding what a puzzle is trying to convey. Once you understand the key to unlocking a certain puzzle panel, the panels linked nearby in the same section will usually require a similar solution, with slight variation.

As you complete puzzles and traverse the island, keep in mind that some puzzles can impact adjacent puzzles nearby. After solving several puzzles, try to retrace your steps and return to areas that you visited earlier, in case new information has been revealed in the wake of your progress.

If a puzzle has you frustrated or stumped, dont be too proud to walk away and explore the next puzzle. In the same vein as the previous tip, make note of difficult puzzles and return to them at a later time. Sometimes solving additional puzzles can provide the practice or information you need to grasp a tricky puzzle from before.

Game progress in The Witness is determined by lighting a series of beacons throughout the island. Although there are many beacons, you are only required to light seven beacons to reach the game’s ending. Once the game concludes, finishing incomplete puzzles can only be done on a second playthrough. This would require re-solving all of the same puzzles again. If you want to complete everything on your first playthrough, be sure to backtrack and revisit unfinished puzzles before completing the final series of puzzles. The game ending puzzles should be pretty obvious when you reach them.

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The Witness: Basic Tips for Beginners – Spoiler Free – USgamer

Video game review: ‘Rime’ is an eye-catching, ‘Zelda’-like puzzle-adventure – Worcester Telegram

By Christopher ByrdSpecial to The Washington Post

“Rime” is a game about the acceptance of loss. In a 2014 interview with Polygon, Ral Rubio Munrriz, the game’s creative director, recalled how the idea for the game came to him while he was drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. (According to the Spanish game developer, he swam out to a buoy and was seized by a panic attack, which left his future brother-in-law to save him.)

Like many who report having a near-death experience, it brought Rubio clarity. “For us as creators we have reached the end of an era of shooting and explosions, which was all great, but now we are starting to question ourselves in the world,” he said in 2014. And, in a recent interviewwith Gamesindustrybiz he said: “That’s why you have games like ‘That Dragon, Cancer’ or ‘Papers, Please,’ because they’re not trying to entertain you and that’s one step above Hollywood cinema. We’re trying to transmit you a personal message.”

The first few scenes in “Rime” convey three essential aspects of nature: its mystery, danger, and beauty. The opening shot is of a star-encrusted sky. Then the camera lowers to reveal gray, storm-lit clouds above a violent sea. A scrap of red cloth flies in front of the camera before the scene fades to white and transitions to a blue sky. A broken marble tower comes into view that overlooks tree-dotted cliffs and a pristine beach on which lies the solitary figure of a young boy. Enu is dressed in a tunic, like a boy in a picture book about ancient Greece, and what appears to be a torn red cape. With effort he lifts himself to his feet.

As Enu, players explore the beautifully realized island. Swim a bit beyond the shore in the beginning of the game and you’ll see an unidentifiable person wrapped in a red cloak standing on a high rock jutting out of the water. The mysterious figure acts as a through-line for the game which contains no dialogue. Rather, the emotional texture of “Rime’s” bare bones plot is primarily conveyed through incidents and environmental details. Ascend a gleaming marble staircase, for instance, and you might notice murals on either side – one of a distressed man with a crown on his head, and another of a boy in a red cape cradling his head in his hands.

Though it lacks hack-and-slash combat, “Rime” is a puzzle-adventure game similar to “Zelda.” I delighted in how the game’s puzzles built on each other. Aside from acting as mere gateways between areas, a number of the puzzles immerse the player in the game’s aesthetics. There are puzzles that manipulate time, so that one can scroll through the game’s day-night cycle and revel in its fantastic evocation of Mediterranean light. “Rime” also signals its artistic values via puzzles that require you to place things on pedestals. Although there were numerous times I had to step away from the game to gain a fresh perspective on a puzzle, I almost invariably found that when I returned to it, I was able to swiftly grasp the solution a rhythm I value in puzzle games.

The most perilous parts of Enu’s journey rarely got my pulse up, and I don’t mean that as a put-down. There is a tranquility to “Rime” reminiscent of Fumito Ueda’s games. Clearly, the developers went all in on developing an eye-catching art style, abstract yet sensible puzzles and intricately designed environments. Although the central plot arc can be summed up in a sentence (I won’t because I don’t want to spoil it for you), it’s the experience of the game that counts. The gradations of colors in “Rime’s” green-blue sea or in its bluish-purple nighttime sky are more expressive than in some other video games. At its core, “Rime,” is really nothing more and nothing less than an opportunity to roam around a beautiful environment and work through its strange logic.

Byrd is a Brooklyn-based writer who has been playing video games since the days of the Atari 2600. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Barnes & Noble Review, Al Jazeera America, the Guardian and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Byrd.

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Video game review: ‘Rime’ is an eye-catching, ‘Zelda’-like puzzle-adventure – Worcester Telegram

Sputnik Eyes Review: Puzzles in Space – MacStories

Im going to let you in on a couple prevailing facts about Sputnik Eyes, a homemade game by Shelly Alon.

The first is that the story, at least in my eyes, makes little sense. It includes but is not limited to robots, space, planets, constellations, exploration, Earth, scorpions, hearts, and a rocket ship. Its a hodgepodge of an idea, one that I immediately misunderstood and hardly plays any role in the overall game.

But the second fact is that Sputnik Eyes is one of the most enjoyable puzzle games Ive played in a while, and one I cant seem to stop playing. Equal parts charming and challenging, Sputnik Eyes feels exactly like what a puzzler should in 2017: clean, fun, and to the point.

When you start a level of Sputnik Eyes, youll find yourself accompanied by a grid and your robot pals. Each stage has a unique pattern, a series of connected lines that form points, sat on by the bots of varying colors. Take a look at the examples below:

Effectively, Sputnik Eyes is a matching game, one that requires you to pair the robot to its respective colored spot on the map. While it sounds easy in theory, the game throws interesting obstacles in your way, like one-way lines and paths that can only be traveled by a certain color. The more you play, the more complex Sputnik Eyes becomes; eventually, each puzzle seems more crowded than the one before it.

From there, the game can be played in a variety of ways. At the most basic level, you only need to complete the level to move on. However, finish the level in a limited set of moves or within the time period and youll receive badges signifying your accomplishments. Although badges have no in-game value, theyre a completionists symbol of pride.

I normally like to weave in comments about a games design into a review, but much of what makes Sputnik Eyes so endearing is some of its aesthetic choices. One of the best examples is the games framing instead of the game taking up the full screen, it rounds off its corners to give it a distinct look.

Throughout the gameplay and menu navigation, youll see carefully crafted animations, character models, and level designs. Motion is utilized exceptionally in Sputnik Eyes, adding touches that make the atmosphere more alive and vivid. And behind it all lies a soundtrack that shifts between ambient and thought-provoking, unafraid to take your attention but simple enough to fade into the background when youre thinking hard about a puzzle.

All of this is to say that Sputnik Eyes feels created in a way that makes you, the player, feel cared for. When playing, I felt like each piece of the game was built for me to notice, appreciate, and consider as part of the overall experience.

$1.99 and many levels later, Im thrilled by Sputnik Eyes. Had it been in the earlier days of the App Store, I think itd be considered a touchstone of the puzzle genre; now, despite the App Stores continuous growth in its biggest category, Sputnik Eyes still stands out as a must-have for puzzle fans.

If youd like to pick up Sputnik Eyes, you can do so for $1.99 in the App Store (Universal).

Jake Underwood

Jake is a contributor at MacStories, a public relations major at Ball State University, and an iOS app fanatic. His life is full of listening to podcasts and playing Nintendo games, as well as watching sporting events and spending too much money on Apple products.

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Sputnik Eyes Review: Puzzles in Space – MacStories

3 fastener activities to keep kids busy, engaged – Omaha World-Herald

As adorable as kids antics can be, there are times youd like them to simply play quietly.

Today, tablet or smartphone screens often substitute for a pacifier in older-than-baby-age kids, but many parents would rather avoid too much screen time if possible. Here are a few portable, analog entertainment options you can make yourself.

Popsicle sticks construction set

Assembled by Amber Cook.

Inexpensive and easy to find, Popsicle sticks have long been the center of kids games and science fair projects. Using Velcro fasteners, you can also turn them into a fun construction set. Place a hook fastener section on one end of a stick and a loop section on the opposite end on the same side. Self-adhesive coins, as seen in the image above, work nicely.

Once fasteners are applied to several sticks, they can be fastened together end-to-end, and be arranged into interesting shapes. Experiment with fastener placement for even more creative fun!

For two-player entertainment, why not make your own reusable Tic-Tac-Toe board? For this project, a 4×4-inch piece of MDF (manufactured wood) was used as the game board, and 2-inch wide Velcro industrial-strength tape was cut into nine 1-inch squares to be placed on it. Xs and Os are made out of segments cut from red and blue Velcro One-Wrap Straps, though any of these elements are open to substitution.

Mark your board in a hashtag pattern, dividing it up into 3×3 grid. Each of the four lines will be about one and 5/16 inches from each side. Place your one-inch Velcro squares in the middle of each of these drawn-on segments, leaving a small amount of space between each of them. Once youve cut up five of each smaller, colored segments, you can use them as markers to play the game over and over.

The tower of Hanoi is a puzzle game where segments must be moved between three positions without stacking a larger piece on top of a smaller piece. Though the concept is simple, as segments are added the game becomes exponentially more difficult. Given its simple rules and portability, this game can be a great method to distract kids once you explain the rules.

To make this puzzle, cut a piece of plywood in a 6×2-inch rectangle, then cut disks out of another piece with 1 1/8-inch, 1 -inch , 1 -inch and 2-inch hole saws, producing circles of roughly one inch, 1 3/8 inches, 1 5/8 inches and 1 7/8 inches in diameter.

Once cut out, you can optionally stain the disks and base different colors, then apply a clear coat. When dry, attach the same type (hook or loop) of Velcro sticky back coin fasteners to the base, one inch from the long side, and one, three and five inches from either of the 2-inch-long sides. In the center of one side of the smallest disk, place the opposite type of Velcro fastener as used on the base. On the other disks, place one style of fastener on the center of one side, and the other style on the opposite side.

Though constructed here out of quarter-inch plywood, many materials can be substituted for a similar effect. Corners are chamfered for a pleasing transition between sides.

Fasteners applied to base and smallest disk.

From here, you can stack the tower on one side of the base, from largest to smallest. Its now ready to be taken and played anywhere!

Jeremy Cook is an engineer who writes for The Home Depot. When he’s not working, Jeremy spends his time doing DIY projects using a variety of Velcro hook and loop fasteners to create fun games to keep kids occupied.

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3 fastener activities to keep kids busy, engaged – Omaha World-Herald

More Video Games Are Getting Easier After Release – Kotaku

Tumbleseed was a difficult, tricky game. Outlast 2 was an uphill march through dangerous enemies. Recently, both have gotten easier thanks to patches and tweaks. Many games have had their difficulty reduced after release. While this makes them accessible to more players, it also raises questions.

Last week, puzzle game Tumbleseed expanded with a PC patch that added themed maps avoiding the games difficult randomization and tweaked player abilities. But the practice of post-release patches altering game difficulty isnt new. Last year, indie hit Hyper Light Drifter went through various changes that made the game less difficult. The games tricky combat was made more bearable through the addition of invulnerability frames that protected players as they dashed around. Developer Heart Machine also added faster healing. Later, after player feedback, Hyper Light Drifter also got an easier Newcomer Mode that granted extra health and made enemy attacks weaker

Prey released a day one patch that scaled enemy statistics and changed enemy abilities to make them more difficulty-appropriate. The patch also changed player abilities to make exploration easier. Horror game Outlast 2 received a patch nearly two weeks after release rebalancing the difficulty, and Has Been Heroes had abilities and enemies changed to fix the games balance after launch.

With the option to change games after release can help them better suit a range of players, these patches also have ramifications. Sites like Kotaku often receive review copies of games far in advance of these patches, meaning reviews might reflect a version of a game thats different than what players experience. Post-release patches in response to player feedback change a game over time, sometimes radically. Is the definitive Hyper Light Drifter the punishing original version or the version contained in Newcomer Mode? How much should developers be expected to alter in response to player feedback and for how long?

The games as service approach can be good for players, who can experience versions of games that can be less frustrating or punishing. This also means players experience different versions of a game depending on their ability to download patches or when they play. A games constant changes make it more difficult for players to bond over shared experiences, since a game might be drastically different from one players experience to the next. At the same time, a game that turned off potential players who heard it was too difficult might see new life with tweaks and patches.

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More Video Games Are Getting Easier After Release – Kotaku

First Impressions: Dropping in on Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase – Nintendo Life

The launch of the Switch was an especially exciting one because, for the first time on a Nintendo system, a region-free eShop meant gamers everywhere had access to content from outside their home territory. North American gamers could grab VOEZ from the European or Japanese shops a week before its release in the region, everyone could Vroom! in the Night Sky right from the start (though we were unconvinced by that one), and there was even a quirky, colourful puzzle game Soldam: Blooming Declaration exclusive to the Japanese eShop that happened to have an English option.

Some took the plunge, while others held out for a localisation; happily, brand new publisher Dispatch Games recently announced that it’s taken up the challenge and is bringing the drop-down puzzler West, as Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase. We were able to go hands-on with a very polished build at E3 this year, and after getting to try it out were so glad we did what we played was fun, addictive, and delightfully different, a perfect compliment the Switchs other heavy-hitter puzzlers.

Soldam on Switch is actually based on a very deep cut from the Jaleco library: a 1992 arcade puzzle game starring characters from their earlier platformer Rod Land. After a single Game Boy port, the world hasnt seen anything of Soldam since, so its more than ripe for revival. We tried out three main modes in our time with the game: Soldam, Challenge, and Showdown.

The titular Soldam mode was described to us as the most Tetris-like of the options, where play starts at speed level 0 and proceeds all the way up through 200, though our hosts stressed that playing Soldam as if it were Tetris would lead to game over screen very quickly. They were, of course, very right. Soldam involves dropping quartets of coloured fruit, which can be rotated in both directions, onto the playing field below. The game starts out with only two fruit colours, but the variety increases up to four as you play.

Rather than disappearing when they fill out a line as in Tetris or popping when next to like-coloured pieces as in Puyo Puyo however, Soldams fruits have their colour swapped when surrounded either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally by another colour. If you have a blue fruit on the lefthand side of the field, for instance, and a row of red ones heading out right from there, placing a blue fruit on the right side will cause the intervening reds to flip to blue. If you can get a whole row to turn the same colour, it will jump to the bottom of the pile, and then act as an aid for making vertical and diagonal matches of that colour. Whichever colour you last cleared a row of, then, acts as a base for long-distance swaps, so careful management of your bottom line is important.

If that paragraph takes a second read to sink in, dont despair Soldam is one of the few puzzle games weve played that required some serious mental gymnastics just to get the hang of. Thats not a knock at all we were hooked almost immediately and kept playing for far longer than our hosts had likely intended, and puzzle game vets will appreciate just how different it feels from the usual falling-block formulas. It also gives you a fair chance to get to grips with the basics; the Soldam mode starts out with groupings falling very slowly, with plenty of time to think and rethink moves before the fruit hits the fan.

Its all a bit hard to describe in prose, but we came away as huge fans of the format. Soldam feels more immediately cerebral than similar block-drop games; while Tetris and Puyo Puyo can get insanely intricate in high level play, Soldam made us feel like puzzle game gurus right from the start, and its slower pace (at least initially!) lends itself to thoughtful, strategic play.

For even more strategic thinking, theres also the Challenge mode, Soldams answer to the puzzle play in games like Puzzle League and Puyo Puyo. Here, youll need to accomplish specific goals like erasing a certain number of lines at once or clearing a board in a set number of moves with the helpful bonus that blocks dont drop until you want them to. These levels tested our grasp of the fundamentals which means we didnt get very far! and also feel like they would be great training for the auto-drop Soldam mode.

After playing around with Challenge stages for a bit, our Dispatch demoers offered to take us on in Showdown, the games one-on-one battle mode. This was quite different again to either the Challenge or Soldam ruleset; here, each player is assigned a colour (manifested in the unchanging bottom and sides of the playing field) and tasked with clearing as many rows as possible to drive the opponents stack up to the top of the screen. The up-next block in the middle is also up for grabs by both players at once, so there can be a real scramble for particularly useful pieces. Even though we didnt win a single match of the five or so we played, it was a blast, and made for a nice change of pace from the single-player modes.

One of the things our Dispatch representatives told us they were focusing on in this Western release of Soldam was adding in value over the original. To that end, theyve gone in with a real boon of a bonus feature: online play. The Japanese version only supports local multiplayer, but in the North American and European releases youll be able to play Showdown mode online against friends and strangers, and that has us hugely excited. Dispatch also added in an all new localisation from scratch, and have adjusted a few UI elements like optional arrows to show area and direction of effect to make things clearer for new players.

All that adds up to a real vote of confidence in the game, and after playing for as long as we could, we have to agree. Soldam feels like a special game, and one were glad is getting a new lease on life on the Switch. Dispatch is aiming for a Fall 2017 release, in both digital and physical form, so puzzle fiends will have a new potential fix to look forward to before too long.

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First Impressions: Dropping in on Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase – Nintendo Life

The 9 games we wish were coming to SNES Classic Edition – Polygon

While the NES Classic Edition came with 30 games, the just-announced SNES Classic Edition comes with just 21 games to choose from. Despite a wide selection of classic games a steal at just $80, no matter how you slice it both the staff at Polygon as well as the rest of the planet have opinions on whats missing from this offering.

So, in what can only be described as a futile exercise designed to wring regret out of what is otherwise a seemingly excellent product, weve catalogued the nine games wed most like to see on the SNES Classic Edition. In doing so, we imagine an alternate timeline, what might have been had Nintendo saw fit to match the number of games in its previous mini console. (Also, in this timeline, the NES Classic is still available. Theres so many of them here!)

Before we get started, heres a list of all the games that are coming to the SNES Classic Edition, to refresh your memory. Look at all these great games!

Contra III: The Alien Wars

Donkey Kong Country


Final Fantasy III


Kirby Super Star

Kirbys Dream Course

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Mega Man X

Secret of Mana

Star Fox

Star Fox 2

Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting

Super Castlevania IV

Super Ghouls n Ghosts

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Super Mario World

Super Metroid

Super Punch-Out!!

Yoshis Island

While I have my personal pick for the game Id love to see even though its totally unrealistic (Secret of Evermore!), and Im sure you have your own unloved classic, here are the nine games whose absence legitimately impacts the value and authenticity of the Super Nintendo experience. Lets go in alphabetical order, starting with:

This side-scrolling action game slash city-building simulation is remembered as much for that unique genre mashup as it is for its legendary score by Yuzo Koshiro, whose talents would later be showcased in the Streets of Rage series. While ActRaiser is hardly a household name, it remains a quintessential Super Nintendo title, and one of the titles you told us was most absent on Nintendos new mini console.

Far and away, the name we heard most often a chorus of voices, united in their appeal is Chrono Trigger. The 1995 Squaresoft classic has been released on the PlayStation (under the banner of Final Fantasy Chronicles), on the Nintendo DS and yet its still not enough to sate the demands for its inclusion on every possible platform possible. Chrono Trigger is often remembered as the pinnacle of Squares 16-bit RPG efforts … while Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which is included with the SNES Classic Edition, is simply remembered as a very good RPG with Mario characters in it. Can we trade?

With Final Fantasy 3 (ie: Final Fantasy 6, in Japan) making an appearance on the SNES Classic, and the first Final Fantasy game appearing on last years NES Classic Edition, its double disappointing to not get the opportunity to complete that (U.S.) experience on the SNES Classic with Final Fantasy 2 (ie: Final Fantasy 4 in Japan). Final Fantasy 2 shared the Chronicles release with Chrono Trigger, above. It also enjoyed a 3D remake on Nintendo DS called, simply, Final Fantasy IV. And while its not nearly as beloved as Final Fantasy 3, it nevertheless deserves a spot here.

Yes, we know, Mario Paint came with a special mouse so how could they possibly include it in the SNES Classic Edition? Short of offering a standalone mouse for this mini console hardly a viable solution it does suggest that a USB port for the controllers wouldve solved another issue. Alas, the magic of making your own animations and music and recording them to a VHS cassette remains lost to time.

This is honestly a bit of a surprise. One of the Super Nintendos original launch titles, Pilotwings wowed audiences upon its release, showing off the consoles 3D-ish Mode 7 graphics. Its sequel, Pilotwings 64, was one of only two launch titles for the Nintendo 64. Alas, it wont be a launch title for the SNES Classic Edition, no matter how much you say you want it.

This port actually developed and published by Nintendo itself of the hugely popular computer game remains one of the Super Nintendos most iconic games, despite being a port. Maybe it was the Nintendo-specific touches, like the Mario statue or Bowser attacking your city, or maybe it was the literally billions of hours we spent playing this as kids. Sorry, homework.

Sure, the SNES Classic Edition wont support the Multitap and its 4-player Battle Mode … but 2-player Battle Mode would work just fine. Super Bomberman remains one of the Super Nintendos best multiplayer efforts, and with two controllers standard in the box, its a shame this classic isnt making an appearance.

There are a lot of sports games yall want to see on the SNES Classic. Unfortunately, licensing is a bear so the clear winner on this front Super Tecmo Bowl is out, thanks to the inclusion of official NFL teams. While there are plenty of capable, license-free sports titles to choose from (Samits vote is for Super Baseball 2020!), Super Tennis is an easy to play tennis simulator that, notably, is a great two-player game.

A Tetris game in name only, Tetris Attack is actually the first game in the Puzzle League series. Its also an excellent puzzle game and noticing a pattern, yet? an amazing two-player game. Head-to-head puzzle game shenanigans is what Tetris Attack was all about, and well miss having the opportunity to relive the fun and friendly violence of this Super Nintendo classic.

Technically, this would be a tenth addition to the list … except, were proposing Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest in lieu of the included Donkey Kong Country. An even trade! While the original DKC was a revelation upon its release wow, 3D-modeled graphics! its sequel improved upon that foundation in almost every way. While it lacked the novelty of the original, it improved upon its technological conceit with more detailed models, better animation and a more colorful palette.

And those are our picks for nine extra games. What are your nine? (Please feel free to include Secret of Evermore in your picks).

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The 9 games we wish were coming to SNES Classic Edition – Polygon

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