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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

Can You Solve The Code Lock Puzzle? Sunday Puzzle

I got this interesting puzzle by email. A safe has a code lock that unlocks if you input the correct four digits, in any order. The lock has a keypad the digits 0, 1, 2, …, 9.

For example, suppose the unlock code is 1000. The safe will open for any order you input the digits:


Or consider the unlock code 1234. Then the safe will open for any permutation of the same digits (1243, 1342, etc.).

How many different unlock codes are there? (Two unlock codes are different if they do not contain exactly the same digits.)

Watch the video for a solution.

Can You Solve The Code Lock Puzzle?

Or keep reading.

Answer To The Unordered Code Lock Safe

I will present the long way to solve this problem and then I will show a clever approach that solves the problem nearly instantly!

Method 1: count all possible permutations

In an ordered code lock, there are 10 possible digits for each of the 4 possible entries, making for a total of 10(10)(10)(10) = 10,000 codes.

In this unordered code lock, codes that involve the same four digits are equivalent, so we have to avoid double-counting codes.

One approach is to directly count the codes. The 4 digit code can have 1 unique digit, 2 unique digits, 3 unique digits, or 4 unique digits.

For 1 unique digit, there are 10 possible codes (0000, 1111, …, 9999). In other words, there are 10 choose 1 = 10 ways to pick the digit which is repeated all four times.

For 2 unique digits, it is a bit more complicated to count. There are 10 choose 2 = 10(9)/2 = 45 ways to select 2 digits. Now we have to consider how they can be ordered. If the two digits are marked a and b, then either one digit is repeated three times (aaab or abbb), or each digit appears two times (aabb). Thus, there are are 3 patterns for each of the 45 ways to select two digits. There are 45(3) = 135 codes to check involving 2 unique digits.

For 3 unique digits, there are 10 choose 3 = 10(9)(8)/[3(2)] = 120 ways to select 3 digits. Now we have to consider how they can be ordered. If the three digits are marked a, b, and c, then one of the digits is repeated, so there are three possible code patterns (abca, abcb, or abcc). Thus, there are 120(3) = 360 codes to check involving 3 unique digits.

For 4 unique digits, there are 10 choose 4 = 10(9)(8)(7)/[4(3)(2)] = 210 ways to select 4 digits. Since each digit has to appear exactly once, there is only one possible code pattern abcd. Thus, there are 210 codes to check involving 4 unique digits.

The total number of codes is found by adding up each of the possibilities:

10 – 1 unique digit
135 – 2 unique digits
360 – 3 unique digits
210 – 4 unique digits

715 – total codes to check

This is a direct method to count the total number of codes. But notice there are many calculations to make, and if you make a mistake in any step then your final answer will be wrong. So it is useful to solve this problem in another way that involves fewer calculations.

Method 2: solve an equation for the number of non-negative solutions!

Let’s write xi to be the number of times that digit i appears in the code. Each digit has to be a non-negative number between 0 and 4. Furthermore, a valid code involves 4 digits, so the sum of all of the variables must be 4. We have the equation:

x0 + x1 + … + x9 = 4

The number of valid codes is equal to the number of non-negative solutions to this equation.

This sounds like a hard problem, but there is an elegant combinatorial proof method! I described it in a video puzzle about distributing coins to individuals.

The idea is this: the equation has 10 variables that need to sum to 4. We can visualize this as having 4 identical stars that are divided into 10 groups. The 10 groups can be created by using 9 bars to divide the stars. The first group is to the left of the first bar, then each subsequent group is in between two bars, and then the final group is to the right of the last bar. Here is one example of a star and bar division.


The first three groups are 0, the next group has 1 star, then the next group has 2 stars, then there is another group with no stars, then another star, and then the final three groups have no stars. This corresponds to the equation:

0 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 4

We could also use this solution to translate to the unlock code 3446, as there is one instance of the digit 3, two instances of the digit 4, and one instance of the digit 6.

How many solutions are there to the stars and bars problem? We have a total of 13 items (4 stars and 9 bars) that need to be arranged in some order. We have 13 spots, and once we place the 9 bars, the remaining spots have to go to the 4 stars. So we have 13 choose 9 = 13(12)(11)(10)/[4(3)(2)(1)] = 715 ways.

This gives us the number of non-negative integer solutions, and therefore this is also the number of unlock codes. It’s the same answer obtained in just one calculation!

More generally, in such an equation, if there are r variables that sum to n, the total number of non-negative integers solutions is (n + r – 1) choose (r – 1). You can derive this formula by counting how to arrange n + r – 1 items consisting of n stars and r – 1 bars.

We get to the answer of 715 without all the steps of counting out unique digits and code patterns!

Proof of number of non-negative solutions

To see why the formula works generally, imagine we have n objects and we want to distribute them to r people. If we write xi for the number of objects person i gets, then we want to solve for the number of non-negative integer solutions to the equation:

x1 + x2 + … + xr = n

We can count the solutions by thinking combinatorially. Let us draw the n objects as “stars”:

*******…*** (n stars)

To distribute the items to r people, we can place r – 1 bars in between the stars. Then, the number of stars person k gets is the number of stars between the bars k – 1 and k, except the the number of stars for person 1 is to the left of the first bar and the stars for person r is to the right of the r – 1 bar. The r – 1 bars create a total of r divisions. If two bars are directly next to each other, then that person gets 0 stars.

||*|**|****…*|** (n stars, divided by r – 1 bars)

How many divisions are possible? There are a total of n + r – 1 positions for a star or a bar, and we can place the bars in r – 1 different positions. Thus the number of divisions is (n + r – 1) choose (r – 1). This solution then corresponds to the number of non-negative integer solutions to an equation with r variables that sum to n.

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Can You Solve The Code Lock Puzzle? Sunday Puzzle

3 steps that may boost brain health in old age – LaSalle News Tribune

WASHINGTON Are you seeking steps to keep your brain healthy in old age?

There are no proven ways to stave off mental decline or dementia, but a new report says there are hints that exercise, controlling blood pressure and some forms of brain training might offer help. Without proof, the government should not begin a public health campaign pushing strategies for aging brain health, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report released Thursday.

But the public should be told the evidence is encouraging, though inconclusive, the report concluded. That way, people can use the information in deciding whether to invest time and money on different interventions.

The three highlighted strategies do no harm, said neuroscientist Alan Leshner, chairman of the National Academies committee.

At least two of them are really good for you even if the brain link doesnt pan out.

Scientists know that risky changes in the brain begin decades before symptoms of Alzheimers and other dementias become apparent, suggesting theres a window when people might bolster their cognitive health. But the report says Americans face a bewildering array of products and strategies promoted for brain health despite little if any rigorous science to back them up.

The National Institute on Aging asked the prestigious National Academies to review the field. The committee said three interventions should be more closely studied to prove if they really can help:

– Getting high blood pressure under control, especially in middle age. People with hypertension need treatment anyway to prevent heart disease and strokes.

– Increased physical activity. Similar to the blood pressure advice, whats good for the heart has long been deemed good for the brain.

– Cognitive training, specific techniques aimed at enhancing reasoning, problem solving, memory and speed of mental processing. While immediate task performance may improve, the committee said its not clear whether theres lasting, meaningful benefit.

This is not merely brain games on your computer, Leshner said. The committee isnt backing those costly computer-based programs. Indeed, the government fined one brain training company last year for misleading consumers.

Instead, the best study to date included training done in groups, providing social engagement too. And cognitively stimulating activities include such things as learning a new language, the report noted.

Since generally keeping intellectually active appears to be good for you, do that, Leshner advised, and if youre considering a commercial program, ask the company to see studies backing it.

The Alzheimers Association had been awaiting the recommendations, and agreed that more research is needed to determine what the optimal interventions should be, said chief medical officer Maria Carrillo. In the meantime, we recommend that people challenge their brains to maintain brain health.

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3 steps that may boost brain health in old age – LaSalle News Tribune

Best puzzle adventure games like The Room for iPhone, iPad and Android – Recombu

The Room trilogyis a brilliant series of puzzle-based adventure games for iOS and Android devices. If you’ve already finished all three titles, here’s our pick of the best puzzle games for iPad, iPhone and Android devices which are similar to The Room.

The Room 3 came out well over a year ago now and there’s still no sign of a successor in the App Store or Google Play store. That said,developer Fireproof Games has promised that a new game in the series (nicknamed The Room: Old Sins) will be released towards the end of 2017, to sate our appetite for complex multi-structured brain-ticklers.

To tide you over until then, we’ve compiled a selection of our favourite adventure games that are similar to The Room. Expect unforgiving, sprawling and imaginative puzzles, as well as gorgeous presentation throughout.

If you want more great adventure games for iOS and Android, check out our round-up of the best mobile point n’ click adventure games.

The House of Da Vinci seems to take direct inspiration from The Room, offering a similar presentation, control scheme and intricate puzzles based around complex mechanisms.

Like The Room, you have to work out how to progress in each location by opening up boxes, tracking down keys and so on. You can glance around by swiping, zoom in and out ofhotspots with a pinch and interact with the environment at will, to find secret hiding places and manipulate puzzles. Items which you pick up can be closely examined and played with, while you also collect some objects which grant special powers.

Sofar, so familiar, although The House of Da Vinci shouldn’t be viewed as a straight-up homage. This is a great game in its own right, offering a near perfect difficulty level to keep things challenging (yet not frustrating). You get a built-in hints function too, if needed.

Chances are pretty good you’ve heard of classic adventure game Myst. This brain-stretching puzzler has been released on pretty much every platformsince its initial release 25 years ago. Now you can grab it on your smartphone or tablet, as it’s out on the App Store and for Android devices also.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, Myst is a complex point and click adventure game that won over audiences with its beautiful visuals and complicated puzzles. Many of the challenges must be tackled after taking in your entire surroundings, with tasks that have to be completed in order for eventual success – just like The Room. We recommend taking lots of notes, to give yourself the best possible chance of emerging victorious.

On mobile, you get the remastered ‘realMyst’ version of the game. This includes built-in hints and a whole new age to complete, so you’ll be occupied for quite some time – but never stuck.

Riven is actually the sequel to Myst, offering an even more complex challenge. While Myst was separated into self-contained ages, see, Riven is one massive open world. In order to finish the game you’ll need to explore every square inch, decipher alien languages, break through cultural barriers and much more besides.

This game is notoriously difficult, so thank the deities above (or simply the mobile developers) that a hint guide is included as standard.

Agent A offers a different kind of presentation to The Room, withcartoony graphics and a fun spy plot that sees you chasing down a master criminal in their own home. However, we recommend Agent A to fans of The Room as the smart puzzles are well integrated into the environments, while the difficulty level is just right.

If you’re after a point n’ click adventure game to while away a journey, we recommend this one fully.

Although Machinarium is a different style of adventure game, this game and The Room share many qualities. The lack of speech throughout beingjust one of them.

In this title, you must steer a cute robot fella to freedom, solving all kinds of complex puzzles in order to progress. Difficulty levels are definitely up there, yet the detailed and attention-grabbing presentation mean you’ll rarely want to quit before solving the next brainteaser. Some of the puzzles are tricky multi-layered beasts, similar to the sprawling efforts in The Room (and the other games here).

Read next: Best hidden object games for iPad

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Best puzzle adventure games like The Room for iPhone, iPad and Android – Recombu

Puzzle Solving in the Beautifully Oppressive Dark Train –

Once in a while a game comes along that is uniquely creative and a mastery of artistic achievement while still be an entertaining gaming experience. A game that brings about human imagination and personal storytelling rather than being told every detail. Using ingenuity and brain power to solve puzzles with minimal assistance from the game gives this game a more intellectual quality while feeding curiosity and connecting the player to the environment. This game is Dark Train, a hauntingly beautiful, oppressive, and macabre world made of paper. Yes, paper as in all the elements inside the game are actual paper cutouts put into a digital gaming environment.

At first the game felt familiar and then when I was in a room with a giant knife and apple, it dawned on me, shadow puppet theater. The ancient form of puppetry that uses cutouts to tell a story between a light and translucent screen. Instead of a hidden puppet master you the player are the puppet master telling the story.

Without dialogue the movements, strange rooms, and situations, create a unique opportunity for the player to come up with a story about what is happening beyond the written prologue. Haunting music sets the mood for the experience and makes this oppressive industrial macabre world feel more bizarre and dark. The surreal feeling of the game gives way to a puzzle challenge that makes for a not so easy going game. Let us now dive into the artistry and challenge that is Dark Train.

The game has players take control of a mechanical squid called Ann 2.35f who is chained to the train. A train according to the story on the Paperash site is a self-contained model of the human world with different environments and places. Each environment is in a wagon and there are four wagons: a forest, city, graveyard, and pool. These are marked on the train with icons. Our mysterious train was created by an inventor named D. W. Tagrezburg and is to be delivered to a mysterious client. The game takes place at the beginning of this delivery journey following the death of the inventor. Its up to our Ann; there are multiple Anns that the player encounters throughout the game, to see the train delivered to its patron.

Ann 2.35f, here on out I will just refer to her as Ann, is a simple mechanical being in the shape of a squid. She is chained to the train but can operate it and explore the different wagons and areas of the train. When it comes to these wagons they all have specific riddles to solve that moves the player to the next environment. There are many different environments that become available throughout the game. One of the tasks is to first make them available as all entrances are initially blocked by a barrier. Upon solving the riddle the chain will break and Ann can enter the new wagon.

Now some riddles cant be solved at first. For instance in the first graveyard there is a church, when entering the church players will notice a missing cogwheel for the bell. This has to be forged but the foundry is not available until a button changing instances is unblocked. Changing instances changes the original wagon to a new environment so the forest becomes a foundry with a cog mold. Throughout the game Ann can pick up other molds that are used to forge items used to solve other riddles. Also she can pick up collectibles that are stored in her nest. We see the nest in the opening scene were we first meet Ann.

Once all the wagons are uncovered and the initial environments and instances explored then the wagons can be moved around changing the environments with a new set of puzzles. If you like puzzle games you would like this game. So many different environments to explore plus the rooms in the background city can keep players occupied for hours.

Beyond the environments that range from a forest, forested church, graveyard, city, holiday winter city, clock tower, forge, room with statues, raining city, a octopus cog room, and many more there are rooms behind the train and situations that Ann can interact with. I found a room with an electric chair that had to be activated, and the inside of a large industrial forge. Also what appears to be a giant apple in a room, but Ann can appear in different sizes. At one point there was a fire that I could extinguish by flipping the rain collector control to a fire hose.

On the train there are different controls that activate a lightning rod to start the train, a rain collector for the fire hose, and a fire button that releases a wedge that creates fiery sparks and can turn on candles. These can be flipped to activate other train functions or in situations. For instance during the journey other engines will come to stop the train if you can fend them off by adjusting the fire control they can back off. One time I was stopped and found some new rooms. Starting the train just requires lightening to hit the rod and you can also stop the train yourself or let it run out of electricity. Refilling fire, water, and electricity is done using the corresponding buttons. There is a lot more going on in this game then perceived at first. Still all created from real paper cutouts.

The thing I noticed was the game is set in a very industrial dark setting. This is where the game gets its oppressive nature. It is oppressive. I can just imagine this world clogged with smog from the industrial factories, depressed humans living their lives among the industrial complex, which goes beyond just the industrial revolution of steam engines and factories. Everything is mechanical even Ann.

However, Ann is unique among the depressing backdrop. Even in the winter scenes and lighted church with falling flowers it was oppressive. Ann stands out as a personable being, as hope in the dark place. She may be tied to the train but she has a personality all her own and I couldnt help but become attached to this little character. She is also not very industrial looking but rather more living then the other Anns with a heart and maybe even a soul. Though not living she moved and flowed in her environments with grace and she felt alive in this dead quiet world. Humans are seen as silhouettes walking around train stops but it still feels dead with industry ruling the world.

Moving on to gameplay, its a very simple mechanic. Move Ann around with a mouse or controller and click for interactions when necessary. The gameplay is smooth and Ann moves very nicely in her environments. Clicking can interact with objects but many times players will need to move objects, which is simply aligning Ann with an object and pushing it. However, it can get more creative and you may need to carry something like light, electricity, or flowers to a destination. Collecting items is achieved by activating lights and clicking, which brings down a giant mechanical arm that picks up the object. Sometimes the object goes to Anns nest other times it will release the object at a new destination to solve another riddle.

Its a game that anyone can play with the only real challenge being the riddles. These are difficult riddles that require the player to observe the environment and know how the train controls work. Observation, trial and error, or really good puzzle solving skills can beat this game. Even for those who are not the best at solving riddles its a great way to challenge the mind and in the end you will be a better puzzle game player. Well, that was my case at least.

Looking back at Dark Train and the creativity that went into it, the beautifully haunting industrial world with a touch of science fiction, oppressive music with musical cues when Ann interacts with objects, and the challenging riddles to solve, this game is at this moment one of the best puzzle 2D games I have played. The game is so unique with a character that is different from other games and a story that is as puzzling as the puzzles themselves. I highly recommend this game and would like to see more games made in this style that goes beyond just creating things digitally but goes back to an old form of storytelling with paper cutouts.

Puzzle Solving in the Beautifully Oppressive Dark Train –

Study Finds Good Reason to Keep Having Sex Over 50 – Newser

Study Finds Good Reason to Keep Having Sex Over 50
For older people for whom sex isn't an option for whatever reason, the Toronto Sun reports exercise, managing blood pressure, and some brain games have been shown to help maintain brain function. (Two ways video games affect a man's sex drive.).

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Study Finds Good Reason to Keep Having Sex Over 50 – Newser

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