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This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science – Fast Company

There are dozens of apps and online courses that claim their brain training can make you more mentally agile, but theres usually little scientific evidence to back up those claims. While the FDA does approve certain brain training programs aimed to treat specific medical disorders, such as Alzheimers, and the FTC goes after false advertising claimsas it did when Lumonsity made claims not supported by sciencetheres also no industry body that certifies brain training programs, which is a problem for both the field and consumers, according to Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science.

Right now, theres no group that specifically reviews brain training programs and says based on the science, these ones have been shown to work in these ways, and these other ones have not been shown to work, says Mahncke. It would be very helpful to people to have this kind of resourceits challenging for a lay person to wade through the hundreds of scientific papers and figure out which brain training programs are evidence-based and which arent.

Thats why a group of Australian scientists undertook a systematicreview of what studies have been published of commercially available brain training programs in an attempt to give consumers and doctors credible information on which brain training programs are actually scientifically proved to workif any. Unfortunately, of the 18 different computerized brain training programs marketed to healthy older adults that were studied, 11 had no peer reviewed published evidence of their efficacy and of the seven that did, only two of those had multiple studies, including at least one study of high qualityBrainHQ and Cognifit. And of those, just one had multiple high-quality studies: Mahnckes BrainHQ program.

That study, along with other similar ones, shows that most brain training only make you better at the exercises themselves, and dont carry those gains over to your real-world concentration, productivity, or mental acuity.

But there is good news. Science does show that some brain training programs do work. So which ones? As the Australian study showed, Mahnckes BrainHQ and competitor Cognifit actually do have a real benefit. Because both are based on brain training that is focused on improving processing speedthe speed and accuracy with which the brain processes information. Mahncke says this type of training focuses on the visual system: You see an image in the center of your visionfor example, either a car or a truckand at the same time, you see another image way off in your peripheral vision. The images are only on the screen for a brief period of timewell under a second. You then have to say whether you saw the car or the truck in the center of your vision, and then you have to show where you saw the image in your peripheral vision. This challenges the speed and the accuracy of your visual system. And as you get faster and more accurate, the speed increases and the peripheral vision task gets more demandingpushing your brain further.

As your visual system is continually challenged by these specific tests, your brain will adapt through a process known as neuroplasticity. At its core purpose, the brain wants to resolve things. It is constantly moving from the particular to the big picture and back again, Mahncke says. As the brain works to put the big picture together it goes through neuroplastic changes in order to do so (neuro = brain, and plastic = the ability to undergo structural changes).

These plasticity-based changes actually form new neuropathways in your brainliterally changing its shape. The new neuropathways can then be called upon to help you process stimuli beyond just the specific methods used in the brain training exercises. This is why brain training that results in neuroplastic changes works much better than simple memory brain training games, which may help you remember where, for example, the red card is hidden, but wont help you remember the details from that last meeting with your client.

We know that the brain is more plastic when brain chemicals are activated, so the design of these exercises also incorporates attentional demands, novelty, and rewards to activate those chemicals and drive the chemical and physical change that produce the better functional results, says Mahncke. Those brain chemicals also impact mood and learning rates. If you think about it, what you do, pretty much every waking moment, should be positively affected by a faster and more accurate brain.

The result, as the science has shown, says Mahncke, is that people who undertake plasticity-based brain training programs notice feeling sharper, quicker, and more able to notice the important details of everyday lifelike what someone says in a noisy restaurant, or whats happening at the edge of your peripheral vision, or what all seven digits of that phone number were.

But what if you dont feel like undertaking scientifically proven brain training programs like BrainHQ and Cognifit? Mahncke says that you can prime your brain for and spur it into plastic changes by challenging yourself in everyday life. Here are his four tips how to do that:

Just doing the same old stimulating thing over and over again doesnt challenge the brain to rewire itself, Mahncke says. If youve been doing crossword puzzles for 10 years, pick something newand really differentand work at it 2-3 hours per week, even though it will be hard. My mom started harpsichord lessonsand practiced a lot! It was great for her brain: the speed and accuracy of listening and finger movements are a good form of brain exerciseand everyone in my family enjoyed having music in the house!

Dont want to switch up your hobbies or learn a new musical instrument? No problem, just get out there and travel. Travel is a great way to challenge your brain to learn and changeeverything from buying a loaf of bread to finding your way home is new and different. But if you cant afford to jet to Italy as a form of brain training, then take new paths in your own neighborhood, Mahncke says. Find a new way to the grocery store, or the long way to your favorite park. Focus on noticing new landmarks, different sounds (and smells?) and putting together and more detailed mental map of your own neighborhood. As soon as a route gets familiar, find a new oneevery few days. This engages your brains hippocampusthe seat of learning and memory.

Finally, dont forget your body. The National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine recently reviewed the data and suggested three things as supported by scientific evidencebrain training (from ACTIVE specificallynot just brain games), physical exercise, and maintaining healthy blood pressure in middle age, says Mahncke. In other words, its going to be harder to maintain a sharp brain if your body is diverting its energy to fighting other elements in your body, like high blood pressure. So avoid consuming too much salt and get out there for a walk or a runand if you want to work in exercise and brain training in one go, adjust your runs every few days to let your brain discover new paths and routes around your home.

We are at the beginning of a paradigm shift in how we think about brain health. As with any major paradigm shift in science, things may seem confusing for a while. Headlines will scream about some major breakthroughs in cognitive performance from plasticity-based brain training. This will seem to be followed within the month by headlines screaming about some other study seemingly showing the opposite. In fact, what you are experiencing is scientists rather messily trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, says Mahncke.

Some brain training has been repeatedly shown to work. If you sort through it, youll find that is a plasticity-based brain, training developed by knowledgeable and reputable experts. Other brain games have been rushed to market to make a buck, and will fail in serious trials. Its important to realize that not all brain training is the same. Look for products designed by real experts and subjected to peer-reviewed studies, and be wary of those that spend more money on advertising than on research.

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This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science – Fast Company

Tiny Bubbles Coming Soon – DVS Gaming (registration) (blog)

Tiny Bubbles is a new puzzle game, with gameplay not seen in classic puzzle games like Tetris and World of Goo. In Tiny Bubbles, you inflate bubbles with colored smoke and strategically reshape the cluster. Break bubbles to combine neighboring colors to mix and create new colors. Save the bubble bound creatures by creating a chain reaction and power up new moves to save bubble bound creatures and fend off greedy Jelly Crabs.

Developed by Stu and Paulette Denman, the game is inspired by Stus personal experiences with his grandfather, who was an MIT professor and a lead scientist on the Manhattan Project. Stu created the custom physics for Tiny Bubbles based on his grandfathers research with soap bubbles. After working with the physics for a couple of months, Stu figured out how to simulate realistic soap bubbles like in his grandfathers experiments. In honor of his grandfather, they have strived for accessibility by creating an innovative colorblind mode in the game.

Set in a microscopic aquatic world, Tiny Bubbles is a mesmerizing organic puzzle game about playing with clusters of soap bubbles. Pop the bubbles by matching four or more colors and create cascading chain reactions. Fill bubbles with colored smoke to inflate them and push around other bubbles. Mix them to make new colors. Break a bubbles edge to pop it or combine with neighbors.

Choose from two different modes to play, puzzle mode and arcade mode, and save the bubble bound creatures from the Jelly Crabs.

What do you think about Tiny Bubbles?Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter, and join our Discord for game chat and more!

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Tiny Bubbles Coming Soon – DVS Gaming (registration) (blog)

FSU institute contributes to Global Council on Brain Health recommendations – Florida State News

Neil Charness, FSU William G. Chase Professor of Psychology

Florida State Universitys Institute for Successful Longevity was among a number of scientific sources the Global Council on Brain Health relied upon in drafting its new recommendations on enhancing brain health.

In its release of the recommendations, the council, established by AARP and the British organization Age UK, also weighed in on the question of whether brain-training games and software can lead to general improvement in cognition. In a consensus statement released by AARP, the council asserted, There is insufficient evidence that getting better at brain games will improve peoples overall functioning in everyday life.

The consensus statement is consistent with findings reached by institutes director, Neil Charness, and ISL Faculty Affiliate Walter Boot in their critical analyses of existing research.

Charness, FSUs William G. Chase Professor of Psychology, was one of 13 scientists who formulated the recommendations for the Global Council on Brain Health.

These recommendations can be used by individuals, caregivers and health professionals to guide their decisions on what activities and practices can enhance brain health, Charness said.

Based on the scientific evidence, the Global Council on Brain Health concluded that:

These recommendations are strongly supported by scientific research, Charness said.

The council suggested an array of cognitive stimulating activities. It encouraged individuals to:

We want people to find activities that work for them and make those activities a part of their daily lives, Charness said. Brain games can be fun, and it is OK to play the games, but people need to do other activities that research shows make a difference in brain health.

Such activities include pursuing new hobbies and developing new skills. The global council also recommended returning to activities from ones earlier years, such as playing a musical instrument.

Physical activity is equally important, Charness said. If people do nothing else, they should get regular aerobic exercise. It is good for the brain, as well as for general health.

The full recommendations of the Global Council on Brain Health can be found at http://www.globalcouncilonbrainhealth.org.

FSUs Institute for Successful Longevity conducts research into how to live longer, stay active and be fully engaged in life. You can learn more about the institute at http://www.isl.fsu.edu.

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FSU institute contributes to Global Council on Brain Health recommendations – Florida State News

Game Day: Pigeon Wings – MacStories

Pigeon Wings is a hyper-fast, racing game with shoot em up elements and a lot of personality. You play as Pigeon, a pigeon-pilot tasked with saving Megalopolis from the evil Duke Dexter. The backstory immediately sets a light-hearted, humorous tone for the game that doesnt get bogged down in long cut scenes explaining whats happening. What sets Pigeon Wings apart though, is its tilt control steering system. The controls work flawlessly becoming second nature so quickly that they fade into the background making it easy to get lost in the games short races.

At its core, Pigeon Wing is a racing game interspersed with shoot em up levels where you battle Duke Dexters pilots. Each of the 50 levels is relatively short making it easy to dip in and of the game when you have time. Touch Arcade reports that another 20 levels and an endless mode are on the way. As you complete levels, youre awarded up to three coins that can be exchanged for items like better engines for your airplane.

The most surprising aspect of the game though is its controls. The tilt controls of most games Ive played have been disappointingly imprecise or laggy, but not Pigeon Wing. It took just a couple short races to get used to how much I needed to tilt my iPhone to move Pigeons plane up and down to avoid obstacles. Acceleration is controlled by holding your thumb down on the left side of the screen. Firing weapons and boost are controlled by tapping the right side of the screen.

The racing levels are challenging. The landscape rises and falls as you fly requiring you to navigate your plane up and down to avoid hitting things and having to restart the level. At other points in the game, the obstacles are blocks that require quick shifts up and down. The shoot em up levels require you to shoot down Duke Dexters pilot while dodging incoming fire and add welcome variety to the game.

The soundtrack of Pigeon Wings fits perfectly with the design of the game. The music is just as fast-paced as the action, which adds a sense of urgency to the races. The design is excellent too. The big pigeon in a tiny red airplane complements the whimsy of the storyline.

Ive been playing a lot of puzzle games lately, and Pigeon Wings has been a fantastic break from them. There arent many games that get tilt controls right, but here, they get out of the way leaving you with pure, fast-paced fun.

Pigeon Wings is available on the App Store.

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Game Day: Pigeon Wings – MacStories

Evergrow for iPhone proves matching-based puzzle games are actually super exciting – Macworld

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a gameYou Should Play.

When I first downloaded Evergrow, I thought I knew exactly what the game was going to be: A minimalist puzzle game that hinged on one or two clever mechanics, possibly with a decent soundtrack.

But I was wrong.

This isn’t your typical casual puzzle gamenot at all. It might start out that way, but it quickly becomes an exciting, action-based puzzler that will have you frantically multitasking as you fling blocks haphazardly around the screen. It’s also got a semblance of a storyline, which is kind of neatit adds some character and drive to each level, and you don’t feel like you’re just rushing to complete the game for no reason.

It looks simple, but it’s surprisingly intense.

In short, Evergrow is a polished, clever, and surprisingly addictive physics-based puzzle game. Here’s why you need to check it out:

It grows on you: Like many casual iOS games, Evergrow starts you out very slowlyin fact, it starts you out with a quick tutorial where you’re introduced to the main “character” (a “Chromaroid”), as well as the initial game mechanics. These initial mechanics are pretty simpleall you’re doing is dragging your finger across the screen to propel colorful blocks toward or away from your Chromaroid. Blocks of the same color are good and will attach to your Chromaroid to make it grow larger; blocks of different colors are bad and will hurt your Chromaroid. To add a same-colored block to the Chromaroid, tap and drag it until it touches (it will slide into place). To repel different-colored blocks, tap and flick them away from your little dude.

Pick a color gem and drag it to the middle to wake up your Chromaroid.

If this seems a bit overly simple, that’s because itis. The game starts out with these very basic game mechanics, and the first few levels are a bitboring.

After the first few levels, things start to get exciting. And yesyou can die.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, because once you’ve cleared the first few levels the game picks up pretty quickly by introducing new block types (various special blocks that do things like shield your structure from harm or zap offensive blocks into oblivion) and new enemies (hurtling cannons and explosive mines), not to mention environmental hurdles and increasingly difficult completion goals. Fight through the first few levelsit’s worth it!

It looks great: Evergrow’s graphics are simpleyour character is literally a two-dimensional boxbut that doesn’t mean the developers skimped on artistry. The game features some interesting physics dynamics: The blocks slip into place when they’re the same color, but bump and jiggle across the surface of your Chromaroid’s block-enclosure when they’re different. In addition to dragging loose blocks too and from your structure, you can also drag your Chromaroid around the screen (to do thing like collect coins or simply avoid obstacles), and so your Chromaroid also moves with the physics of the game.

What’s impressive here is how smooth everything looks, even as just about every object on the screen is tumbling about. The Chromaroid may have a retro-cutesy look to it, with its expressive 16-bit face, but there’s nothing retro about the game’s overall graphics.

There’s plenty to do: The game’s basic goal is pretty simple: Drag and attach colored blocks to your Chromaroid to help it grow. Each level offers guidelines for how big your Chromaroid needs to grow, and you’ll want to attach blocks in a somewhat orderly fashion or you’ll end up with big holes in your structure. But building a giant, solid block of color isn’t the only thing to think about in this game.

You always want to grow, but that’s not the only thing you want to do!

Each level also has a star ratingbut unlike most of the star ratings you’ve seen, these stars aren’t earned by completing the level “perfectly.” At the beginning of the level, you’ll see the criteria needed to earn each starsometimes it’s pretty typical (such as “become bigger”) and sometimes it’s not (such as “fill a difficult gap” or “make it spin more than 360 degrees”). You won’t be able to earn a three-star rating on every level without carefully going over these criteria, and that definitely keeps things interesting.

On top of the star rating there’s also an in-game currencydiamond-shaped coins that you can collect by dragging your Chromaroid around the board. Collecting these coins is surprisingly tricky, since the board also features blocks flying at you from every angle and exploding obstacles (like mines), plusyour Chromaroid isn’t exactly a Mercedes when it comes to handling. These coins can then be exchanged in the game’s workshop for upgrades to special blocks, new blocks to put in your “bucket” (a storage space where you can save special blocks for when you need them), and upgrades to your character.

Developer:ImagilityPlatform:iOS(iPhone, iPad, and iMessagel)Price:$3

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Evergrow for iPhone proves matching-based puzzle games are actually super exciting – Macworld

Maze Walk VR Review – Gearbrain (blog)

Pros: Simple to play and launch, app is free, fun to locate coins.

Cons: Game is fairly simple, limited coins to start, just for iOS devices.

The great fun of virtual reality is taking someone places, and dropping them into situations, it’s physically difficult to normally visit. A car ride in the desert, a haunted house. Maze Walk VR is a hedge maze: yes, like the one from The Shining. In this game, though, instead of freezing to death and getting lost, players are more apt to feel a bit queasy before escaping.

Downloading the free app is an easy experience: locate the game either in iTunes for iOS devices. The app works on Google Cardboard headsets. We played this on the Merge VR device.

Graphics in Maze Walk VR are limited, but serviceable

To start, tabs appear which offer a quick demo or allow players to go right into the game. There are succeeding levels which, logically, get harder as each Level is achieved. To play, a coin is needed think arcade games. The game starts off with a set number players pay for more. (Which takes all the fun out of a free experience.) But there are ways to find hidden coins inside the maze. Sometimes a dead-end brings a surprise coin. To collect, players just walk directly into the spinning coin.

The idea of walking through a maze with VR goggles strapped to the head is a concept bound for disaster. There’s a reason high-end VR headsets are toggled to computers, and why most VR games are played sitting down. With an alternate reality playing in a pair of glasses, rendering the player essentially blind, walking around is a recipe for stubbed toes, falling and perhaps worse.

Bobbing the head up and down is how players walk through Maze Walk VR

Maze Walk VR makers get that. While players can honestly walk around and get themselves through the maze, there’s a simpler trick: Bobbing the head up and down mimics the movement of walking, tricking the app into thinking a player is walking. And it works. In some cases, turning the body and walking a step or two is actually more ideal. Because honestly the combination of repeatedly moving the head up and down rapidly while immersed in VR imagery is a bit stomach turning. Consider taking a break every two or three mazes.

As the levels go higher the game is actually challenging. They’re timed, which encourages players to replay to lower their time. There’s also a leaderboard to see who may be the reigning maze champion. (In my case that’s everyone.) While the app was engaging, the graphics that detailed. In a hedge maze, all that’s needed is well-drawn hedges, some stone walls, maybe a pebbled walk, and some stairs. And that’s exactly what the app offered. Nothing fancy: but certainly workable.

Some mazes in Maze Walk VR are surprisingly challenging.

As with most VR experiences, Maze Walk VR drained the battery very quickly. After about 20 minutes, though, a break was a necessity. While not a game that’s offering the best graphics, Maze Walk VR was certainly entertaining. all for free. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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Maze Walk VR Review – Gearbrain (blog)

Video game review: If you’re ready for a puzzle, then ‘The Room 3’ delivers – The Register-Guard

After about eight hours with The Room 3, the latest in Fireproof Games puzzle-solving series, its occurred to me that puzzle boxes exist simply to frustrate me. Not to say I didnt have fun wrapping my head around this Lovecraftian mystery, packed with multilayered puzzles and a story that is probably meant to be as confusing as it seems, but it can get so aggravating to not be able to figure out where to go next, you know? I guess thats why I dont mess with real-life puzzles nearly as often.

For those who played the previous games in the series, youll feel right at home here as The Room 3 possesses the same basic premise: You find yourself facing a complex puzzle box, but its inner workings are far more complex than you first imagine. Also, theres a science fiction/subtle horror thing going on. Just roll with it.

Your goal is simple: Solve the puzzle box that The Craftsman leaves behind for you. Or the mystery of The Craftsman himself. Or the puzzle so you can solve the mystery. Well, maybe its not simple, but its addictive fun. The tactile nature of the game (I played on an iPad) makes it feel like youre actually moving dials and twisting cranes in this clearly supernatural world. (Youre not, but you know how the brain functions.)

Where The Room 3 differs from its predecessors, however, is in its scale. This installment pushes the boundaries as it opens up the possibility that the answer to any particular puzzle isnt in the same room as you. In fact, some puzzles require multiple steps and area exploration before they can be solved, leaving you to freely roam around to solve these increasingly difficult puzzles.

But hey, as youre banging your head against the wall trying to solve the puzzle without resorting to the hint system, you can at least enjoy your gorgeous surroundings. The previous installments in the series looked great, and The Room 3 is no different. Drowning in well-crafted detail, the game is eye candy, which almost becomes necessary as you traverse through the same room repeatedly in an evermore desperate attempt to progress forward. As with the previous games, the tonal atmosphere is dark, in hues of black and blue and red and brown, but theres plenty of shift in color as you advance, making areas distinct from one another. (The game requires a lot of computing power, and even on a newer iPad it can stutter from time to time. Be aware of the system requirements for your individual device if you plan on getting it.)

Combine those beautiful graphics with some stellar sound design, and you have yourself one spooky mystery to solve. Throughout the game, a masterful mix of ambient tones and scene music work together to keep you on edge. Its not enough that the entire game possesses a creepy vibe, one that never seems to be addressed, but the music itself is enough to send chills down your spine while youre solving puzzles.

If you get stuck along the way (and you will at some point, trust me), the series hint system returns, offering you a way out of your puzzle-induced nightmare. It gradually gets more specific as you try to figure out what to do, ranging from really unhelpful hints (like telling you which room to go to next when you already know that) to more or less telling you exactly what you need to do to progress. You can turn the system off, which helps with immersion. Just dont be afraid to check it out if you cant find the next solution. Every little bit helps as you work your way toward the ending.

And dont just think theres one ending. There are multiple, which the game is all too happy to inform you about, basically saying, Hey, you beat the game. Congrats! Oh, that ending made no sense? Thats because you have to solve every puzzle in the game before you get the best ending. Try again.

Still, even if you unlock the other endings and watch them all, Im not sure they will help enlighten you. The overarching world of The Room 3, and the series universe in general, is happy with being vague to the point of confusing. It was pretty clear what was going to happen to the unseen character you control as you solve puzzle after puzzle, but it doesnt really matter what ending you get because it never really seems to connect to the greater picture. If The Craftsmans goal is obfuscation, then the man is a genius.

But that leads to one of my biggest complaints of the game (and the series): Why? Were three games in, and while I have a vague idea of whats happening around me (spoiler: trust no one), its well past time that some questions finally get answered. The Room 2 seemed to be taking steps toward that end, but its sequel simply jumps back into the fog of mystery. If it takes too long for the stinger to happen, then it stops being a stinger at all.

In the end, The Room 3 builds on what the series previous entries created, primarily excellent puzzles and a great atmosphere. While Im disappointed that I still have no real idea as to why any of this is happening, it was a blast to work my way through the puzzles one room at a time. Theres something very satisfying about solving a difficult puzzle, and The Room 3 overflows with those kinds of moments. Heres hoping the next puzzle we solve in The Room series is the one that matters most (and that I dont have to cheat I mean, use the hint system to figure it out).

You can contact Dominic, especially with game suggestions, at dominic.baez@registerguard.com or follow him on Twitter @Silver_Screenin. You can check out his blog at silverscreeningreview.com.

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Video game review: If you’re ready for a puzzle, then ‘The Room 3’ delivers – The Register-Guard

This stick-figure Western is one of the funniest games in ages – A.V. Club

Nidhogg 2

A few years back, there was a rush of attention to The New Arcade, a wave of games focused on in-person competition: Sportsfriends, TowerFall, Push Me Pull You, Screencheat, Samurai Gunn, Starwhal, and so on. They seemed to be an antidote to the anonymous aggression of more popular first-person shooters, replacing headsets and matchmaking with local multiplayer, such that shit talk didnt devolve into racial epithets and rage-quits but friendly ribbing. They even served as a sort of icebreaker. It recalled the four-player slumber-party game-a-thons of the Nintendo 64 era or the pleasures of an afternoon spent over a tabletop game rather than the enveloping isolation of a day spent in Halos thrall.

Of these New Arcade games, Nidhogg was one of the stars. The side-scrolling fighter oozed style, with psychedelic washes of color and an uptempo soundtrack by Daedalus, as well as mordant wit: Each battle climaxes in the winner running into the open jaws of a giant, flying dragon. To do so, though, you had to get past your opponent, soaring over obstacles and conveyor belts while engaging in lightning-quick sword duels. Defeat your opponent and you could sprint, at least for awhile, toward your goal before she reemerged to block your path. Lose, and shed take off past you, attempting to make her way toward her own finish line and the glorious dragon death.

It was compulsively playable, with matches that sometimes stretched into 10-minute epics that all came down to one tense sword fight atop a drawbridge. While designer Mark Essen seemingly spent forever on the original, carting it out mostly for massive gaming parties like San Franciscos Wild Rumpus, Chicagos Bit Bash, or New Yorks No Quarter, where hed introduce some new wrinkle that mayve disappeared by the next time you saw it, he banged out its sequel relatively quickly. Nidhogg 2 honors the precision of the original games design by not breaking anything, instead adding a ton of detailed new levels, a preposterous create-a-character mode that envisions an army of goblins designed by R. Crumb, and a couple new weapons that inspire new holy shit moments. (Try thwacking away an opponents arrow.)

It is, accordingly, an absolute blast, assuming you have a couple controllers, friends, a variety of beers and other intoxicants, and a night to spend screaming at each other. But it also suffers from the same problem as its predecessor and all the games of the New Arcade: impracticality. Its a game designed for a remarkably specific settingwith a handful of players of different skill levels coming and going, and preferably with a crowd of spectators on hand to cheer on and collapse in agony with each defeat. Its far too intense to play for an extended stretch, and played online or in single-player is like setting up some Solo cups and playing a game of beer pong by yourself. Other canonical party gamesnamely those by Nintendo, like Smash Bros. and Mario Kartcracked the nut on single-player with intensely honed AI and a clearly defined sense of progression. But Nidhogg 2 is so tightly designed around the space of a party for all thatand, to be fair, still made by a single personand so it stays laser-focused on the task at hand. The result is arguably the best game ever made for an incredibly specific scenario; for anyone else, your mileage may vary.

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This stick-figure Western is one of the funniest games in ages – A.V. Club

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review for good and bad, it’s not Nathan Drake – VentureBeat

Sonys Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is one of the big exclusives on the PlayStation 4, debuting on August 22. The Naughty Dog game is full of familiar puzzles, action sequences, and plenty of climbing, but the female lead characters take the series in an intriguing new direction.

It is the first Uncharted without Nathan Drake, and it started as a simple downloadable content (DLC), a side story that grew up into a full-fledged game of its own. Sony now calls it a stand-alone Uncharted adventure, and it stars two women, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, who have replaced Drake and Sully as the heroic thieves on a grand treasure hunt. It is time for the women a treasure hunter thief and a mercenary to show what they can do with the franchise.

That is good because every new Uncharted game should walk the line between the fresh and the familiar.

Check out ourReviews Vaultfor past game reviews.

Naughty Dog sets up a good story in a believable world

Above: Chloe talks about the god Ganesh with a girl at the bazaar.

Image Credit: Sony

The beginning scene isnt a spectacle, but it sets the tone for game by taking a quiet moment to explore who Chloe Frazer has become. Shes a bit older than in the past games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, where she made her memorable debut, and Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, where she had a pretty small role. Her skin is darker, and she fits in with the Indian population in the game fairly well.

Chloe is still a thief. But at the outset, she takes a moment to talk with a young girl in a bazaar. In that moment, you can see her kindness and how she sees a bit of herself in the fatherless child. They talk about a little gold statue that she carries around: the Hindu god Ganesh. That little moment and that statue carry a significance in the story.

It reminds us that we know very little about Chloes history. In Uncharted 2, she was a darker foil to Drake, a thief who looked our for herself and chose self-preservation and selfishness over any larger purpose. It is a nice moment, and it shows us Chloes basic humanity, a goodness that will serve her well later on in the story.

As she leaves the little girl behind, Chloe infiltrates a war zone. The atmosphere of fear is very well done, and it immerses you in the foreboding atmosphere of the city at night. You start climbing the buildings, like you do in all Uncharted games, and you find Chloes partner, Nadine Ross, who gave Nathan and Sam Drake a lot of grief as the enemy in Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End. Ross is an uneasy ally of Chloes, and their relationship evolves during the game.

The relationship between Chloe and Nadine

Above: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy features Chloe and Nadine as the main characters.

Image Credit: Naughty Dog/Sony

Chloe and Nadine start out as strange bedfellows, tied together only because theyre seeking the same treasure. They dont trust each other. Chloe is weighed down by thoughts of her lost father, while Nadine is sore about losing control of her fathers company. As they find solitude on their journey together, they change. They think about their choices, and whether they are on the quest purely for the sake of money. Over time, they both find something more important than riches in the quest to find the Golden Tusk of Ganesh.

They learn to banter with each other in a way that reminds me of the jesting between Nathan Drake and Sully. Chloe has a need to control, even to the point where she wont let Nadine drive the jeep because, she says, Its a control thing. Yet along the way, they face off against an army of insurgent soldiers. And they have to trust each other with their lives. By the time the stakes get really high, each character has to evaluate where they stand, make a choice, and change who they are.

Beautiful free-roaming space in the mountains of India

Above: You can see for miles in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

Image Credit: Sony

A quest for the Golden Tusk of Ganesh takes Chloe and Nadine into some of the prettiest scenery of any game. Chloe and Nadine find beautiful hidden temples and fortresses in the green mountains of Indias Western Ghats, where they uncover the ruins of the Hoysala empire.

The game features one level where you can roam with your jeep through through a huge place with rivers and mountains. You can drive your 44 around the mud and up the rocks. But you can also speed through the rivers and escape the soldiers chasing you. And you can explore the ruins of temples and fortresses in any order. The draw distances are huge, and you can see distant waterfalls, colorful fauna, blue skies, and amazingly realistic water. What I liked about this level was that you could really make use of your jeep, even if it meant driving it off a cliff and going into a complete free fall.

Between the great character facial animations and the outstanding environments, youll feel like a tourist ready to take a selfie at every turn.

Familiar gameplay

Above: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy has familiar shooting action.

Image Credit: Sony

The game has some action-packed set pieces, exotic destinations, andintricate puzzles. I enjoyed a puzzle that was kind of like a chess board. You had to walk onto steps and watch out for big axes that the statues swung at you. Some nice touches, like a new lock-picking mechanic, youll use dozens of times in the game. I had to dispatch hundreds of enemies during the game, some of them in stealthy fashion, and some during hot firefights. I still had trouble with the giant armored machine gunners who come walking out and dare you to stand and shoot them. Of course, without these touches, it wouldnt be Uncharted.

Seeing old friends

Youll see reminders of things from the past games through The Lost Legacy. From the jeep and its handy winch to the mountain-climbing spike, youll be reminded of good times from the past. And youll see characters that are familiar as well. Thats all Ill say about that.

Asav is a memorable villain

Above: Asav is the nemesis of Chloe and Nadine.

Image Credit: Sony

One of the things that strengthens the bonds between Chloe and Nadine is their common loathing of Asav, an Indian insurgency leader who is searching for treasure to finance his rebellion. Asav is a smooth talker who wears spectacles even though he doesnt need them to see. He isnt insane in the usual madman sort of way, but hes got his issues. Asav is more like the villain who wont quit and who tries to outsmart the heroes at every turn. He lets them solve the problem, and then waltzes in and takes the prize. And hes got a very annoying army that holds Chloe and Nadine at bay.

Multiplayer can keep you busy

While the single-player campaign is short, you can enjoy a lot of multiplayer combat across 14 maps. Competitive multiplayer features six modes and a big pile of weapons and boosts. It also has co-op play and 50 waves of combat.

This isnt a full Uncharted experience

Above: Jeeps can fly in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (if you drive them off a cliff).

Image Credit: Naughty Dog/Sony

The Lost Legacy is a short game.I spent maybe 25 hours playing Uncharted: A Thiefs End and enjoyed every part of it. This game kept me busy for just 10.5 hours. It feels like a DLC game that grew up to be something bigger. Thats probably why Sony priced it at $40, less than a full-fledged Uncharted game. But we have been trained only to expect the best from Naughty Dog, and its a bit of a letdown that the game isnt longer.

A big bug

Ive never had problems with bugs in Uncharted games. But I encountered one that corrupted my saved game and nearly forced me to restart from the beginning. I was stuck in a cavern with water on one side and a cliff on the other. It was a completely broken scene, and I couldnt find my way out. But eventually, after saving and restarting a number of times, I found my way out. All I can say is that you should save your game periodically, in case the main save gets corrupted.

Not the same boss fight again

Above: Yep, I played this scene before.

Image Credit: Sony

The end of the game is exciting, but weve seen it before. You encounter some spectacular chase, action, and shootout scenes, particularly as the story drives toward its conclusion. But I have fought these battles before. I have been in the same firefights. Naughty Dog was certainly trying to make us remember that this was an Uncharted game, with many reminders of the hallmarks of action scenes. But they could have come up with something fresh.

Is this so different from Lara Croft?

Chloes a female treasure hunter who climbs a lot. She drives spikes into walls. She takes on armies of men who mean her harm. Shes tough but human enough to be vulnerable once in a while. And she has father issues, as her dad disappeared while hunting down a treasure himself. Does this remind you of anyone? For sure, Chloe is a unique character with a very different past than Lara Croft. But her story and game are familiar enough that they dont seem as original as they could be.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy isnt as ambitious a game as the past Nathan Drake titles. It probably suffered from starting out as DLC and then becoming more ambitious over time. Fans will like it, but they wont love it. It is a bit of a letdown when it comes to providing enough new experiences.

But it explores fresh characters and proves that two female treasure hunters can be just as compelling when it comes to depth and storytelling as the men of the previous games. And it takes us into the beautiful world of India, and its deep mythology that provides a great back story. I appreciated how, in a familiar Naughty Dog tradition, the beginning and the ending looped back to each other. Chloe and Nadine are a good salve for the loss I still feel about the ending of Drakes story.

Score: 83/100

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy comes out on August 22 on the PlayStation 4. The publisher provided us with a code for this review.

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review for good and bad, it’s not Nathan Drake – VentureBeat

Tri-town libraries announce upcoming programs – Wicked Local Marion

Marion

The Elizabeth Taber Library is located at 8 Spring St., Marion. The phone number is 508-748-1252. The hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. More program information can be found on the librarys website at elizabethtaberlibrary.org.

Upcoming programs

Bike Lending Program: The Elizabeth Taber Library is offering a bike lending program for adults again this summer. Library patrons ages 18 and older will be allowed to check out a bicycle and helmet for three days with a Marion library card. Patrons will need to provide their library card and license, as well as sign a waiver form before taking the bike out for a spin around Marion. For more information, stop in or call 508-748-1252.

Seed lending library: The Elizabeth Taber Library, in partnership with the Marion Garden Group, has kicked off a seed saving and lending program. Community members may check out seeds for free from the Elizabeth Taber Library. The idea is that you plant the seeds, let some go to seed, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. For more information, call 508-748-1252 or stop into the library for some material on this new program.

Afternoon Book Club: 2 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month. Stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

The Mystery Book Club: 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month. Stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

Museum passes: Heading to the museum with friends or family soon? Be sure to stop by the Elizabeth Taber Library first to check out any of our museum passes with your SAILS library card. The library currently has passes to Heritage Museums and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, Mystic Aquarium, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Plimoth Plantation, Roger Williams Zoo, and the DCR MassParks Pass. To reserve a pass or for more information, please call the library at 508-748-1252 or visit our website http://www.elizabethtaberlibrary.org.

Book a Librarian: Residents who have basic technology questions or need assistance with an electronic device recently acquired can call the library to book a one-on-one appointment with one of the staff members.

Home Delivery Services: The Elizabeth Taber Library, in partnership with the Council on Aging, is pleased to offer home delivery of library books to those Marion residents that need this service. To be eligible for this program, you must be a Marion resident with a library card in good standing. Before bringing materials to your home, a brief phone interview must be conducted with Libby ONeill, the Library Director, to discuss your areas and authors of interest. To arrange to have library books or audio books delivered to your home, please call the Elizabeth Taber Library at 508-748-1252.

Free Online Resources: With a Marion library card, residents now have access to free information online. The Elizabeth Taber Library now subscribes to the following e-resources: Instant Flix, access to thousands of streaming films and shorts from around the world; Universal Class, an online continuing education program with over 500 courses; Zinio Digital Magazines, access to 50 top magazines online; and A to Z World Travel, access to over 200 city travel guides online. For more information, call the Elizabeth Taber Library.

Mattapoisett

The Mattapoisett Public Library is located at 7 Barstow St. The mailing address is P.O. Box 475 Mattapoisett, MA 02739. The email address is mfpl@sailsinc.org. Check out the website mattapoisettlibrary.org.

Upcoming programs

LEGO Builders, Unite!: 1-2 p.m. Wednesdays. LEGO enthusiasts gather at the LEGO table in the Childrens Room to enjoy the latest LEGO challenge. Dig in and build.

Student Book Swap: Students in grades seven and up are encouraged to register this year for the Summer Reading Program upstairs in the Student Lounge. Summer reading lists are available for area schools, and students can borrow a book from the reading table to keep and enjoy. Stop in and see the new button making machine and relax in the student lounge. There are video games and DVDs here too.

Drop-In Chess: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Students are invited to play chess in the Childrens Department. Bring your own chess board or use one of the librarys. For experienced and beginning students.

History Lecture Series with Seth Mendell: 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 19. Historian Seth Mendell is back this summer with a six-part lecture series, The Years Between the Wars, 1918-1939. The series will cover the events of the period and the reactions of England, France and the United States as the structure established by the Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles crumbled, sending Europe and the world into another war. Attend one or all of these fascinating talks.

Ongoing programs

New Scrapbooking Group to Meet Monthly: 10:30 a.m. the first Friday of the month. Bring your photos, papers, tools and ideas to a new group Scrapbook Crop! The group will meet the first Friday of every month in the library meeting room. Ideas for designs will be shared over coffee and tea. All skill levels are welcome.

Tech Help: Get a new tablet, smart phone or ereader as a gift? Work with librarian Elizabeth Sherry to learn how to use it efficiently. Download free books from the library to enjoy any time, any place. For an appointment, call 508-758-4171.

Young Scientists Club: All children are welcome to drop in to enjoy the Science Exploration table where they can create a bird feeder, enjoy a squirrel scavenger hunt, and try other nature activities. A sensory bin is there for toddlers to dig in and enjoy.

Knitting is happening: The librarys Knitting Group continues every Thursday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Experienced and beginning knitters gather to share tips, patterns and projects. Everyone is welcome.

MOBY Backpacks: Explore the outdoors all year long with the whole family by checking out a MOBY backpack from the childrens department. The My Own BackYard creations are filled with equipment, activities, nature journals and fun. Binoculars, tools, collection kits and more are included, as well as books to answer questions about the seashore, invasive species, insects, wildflowers, rocks and fossils and other topics. Let the staff know what you discover as you explore the outdoors.

Signing Savvy: Want to learn sign language to communicate more effectively with a hearing impaired person or to begin a fun way to communicate with your baby or toddler? Visit the librarys website with your Mattapoisett library card and select Signing Savvy on the left side of the homepage. The free program enables searches for words and phrases you want to learn and saves your list of new signs.

Museum passes available: Did you know that with your library card you can check out passes to museums all over Massachusetts and Rhode Island that will give you free or discounted admission? The library also has passed for discounted Paw Sox tickets, zoos, state parks, aquariums and more. The list of passes is available on the librarys website http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. You can also reserve the passes online with your library card. There is currently a display about the pass program in the reading room. Call the circulation desk if you need assistance reserving a pass at 508-758-4171.

Free Videos: Library videocassettes are looking for new homes that have VCRs so they can still be enjoyed. Stop in and help yourself to the selection on the main floor near the Friends Used Book Sale shelves.

Ereader Assistance available: Still need help downloading ebooks and audiobooks from the library catalogue? Librarian Liz Sherry offers two free workshops each week to help patrons manage their ereaders, no matter what type they own. Stop in on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. or Fridays at 3 p.m. These times dont work? Give her a call and make an appointment to get assistance. If you dont have an ereader, but you are curious about them, the library has several that you can try during the workshop.

Teen Thursdays at the Mattapoisett Library: The library is staying open from 5 to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month for teens only. Library staff will be there with fun, homework help, and refreshments. Meet your friends to relax or to work on projects together. Music, food and teens only. Teen Thursdays are brought to the community with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Teen Advisors at the Library: Each Wednesday from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. students in grades seven through 12 are invited to meet at the library to help plan new library programs and services for students. Drop by and help choose new furniture, music and movies. Contact librarian Liz Sherry for more info at esherry@sailsinc.org. Come in and say hi to our gecko!

Teen Art Magazine: Make art together and help create a young adult art magazine at the library. Workshops are held the first and last Tuesday and Saturday of every month. Students may take contributions of writing, photography, art and design, or make their own creations at the workshops. Take your creative talent and ideas. For information, contact Elizabeth Sherry at 508-758-4171 or esherry@sailsinc.org.

Tech stressed?: Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 3 p.m. the library staff holds informal workshop to answer questions about e-readers, tablets, and downloading books and music. Take the device you own or try one of the librarys e-readers to see if you like reading books in this format. Everyone is welcome.

E-catalog is now online: The electronic catalog for the SAILS Library Network is now up and running with a new, user-friendly look and feel. Log in with your SAILS library card and access millions of titles in a variety of formats. Stop by the library and speak with the staff if you would like help navigating the website sailsinc.org.

Letterboxing sleuthing: This fascinating activity for the whole family will take you to all corners of the library to solve a mystery while following literary clues from childrens books. Each month the book different, visit the library and join the fun. Details are available in the childrens department.

Ready to Learn the Language?: Log into Mango Languages with your Mattapoisett library card and begin your foreign language study. Over 20 languages at varying levels of proficiency are offered at no charge. Click on the Mango logo on the librarys website at http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. Before you travel, practice your conversational skills. Its fun and free.

Computer Know-How: Need a little help with computer skills? Call or visit the library and make an appointment to meet with a computer tutor. Sessions are free and can vary in length. Let the library staff know how they can help you with web searching, email, Microsoft Word or searching for library materials. Call 508-758-4171 to make an appointment.

Curious about downloading audiobooks and music?: The Mattapoisett Library has installed a Download Station to simply the process of downloading audiobooks or music to an MP3 player or iPod. Take your device into the library and let the staff assist you with the simple two-step process. Select a book or tune, download, and youre off. No more worries about downloading software to your home computer, firewall challenges, etc. Its simple using the Overdrive database of thousands of titles. Visit the Overdrive website via the librarys webpage for more information and to see what books are available, http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. Then, visit the library and let the staff help you get started.

Need help getting online?: Would you like help setting up email or using Facebook to network and share family news? Call the library for an appointment at 508-758-4171 and a staff member or tutor will work with you to get you up to speed in no time. Appointments are necessary.

Family Literacy Kits: Be the first to take home a messenger bag filled with the makings of a great story time. Themed kits have been prepared with books, puppets, and related activities for toddlers, preschoolers and older elementary grade students. Lots of fun, ready-to-go, for families, childcare providers and school classes. There are over a dozen themes from which to choose.

Childrens author book display: Visit the Childrens Department to see books on display that have been published by local children. Join the staff in celebrating the efforts of our youngest creative writers.

Have puzzles to share?: Why not contribute your finished jigsaw puzzle to the librarys Puzzle Exchange? The library staff is gathering puzzles to lend on a swap basis. There is no need to use a library card to check them out. Puzzles are great fun on a rainy day and will entertain children and guests for hours. Drop off your donations at the circulation desk.

Free legal assistance from the Massachusetts Bar Association: On the first Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., citizens can call for free legal assistance from an attorney who is a member of the MBA. Call 617-338-0610. The Dial-a-Lawyer program has been effective in assisting many persons with a wide range of legal questions. Veterans are assisted on separate dates. Topics addressed can include housing, access to benefits, landlord/tenant matters, family and employment issues and other concerns.

Rochester

The Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library is located at 17 Constitution Way, The Common, Rochester. The phone number is 508-763-8600. The hours are Monday and Thursday, from 1 to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information about these and other programs, call 508-763-8600, go to http://www.plumblibrary.com or email info@plumblibrary.com.

Upcoming programs

Watch the eclipse: 2-4 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Plumb Library. All attendees will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses, sent to us by StarNet. Learn how to view through a pinhole viewer. There will be a demonstration of the librarys telescope and MOBY Stargazing backpack. Register on the Events Calendar. Weather permitting.

Just the Facts: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Plumb Librarys Nonfiction Book Group will meet to discuss Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips.

Cafe Parlez: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31. The group will discuss Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry.

Announcements

Friends of Plumb Library renewal notice: If you are a member of the Friends of Plumb Library, watch for your annual renewal notice in the mail. Fill it out, add a check, and either mail it back to us, or drop it by the library. Your membership pays for the programs (story times, book groups, Summer Reading Program, etc.) and some museum memberships at the library. Forms are available at the desk, and on the website. Call us at 508-763-8600 if you have any questions.

Friends seeking books: The Friends of Plumb Library are seeking used books and other items for their annual book sale that will take place on Sept. 23. Please bring your clean used copies of books, DVDs, CDs or games to the Plumb Library during library hours. Last date to drop off books will be Sept. 21. Please call the library at 508-763-8600 for more information.

Power vampires: Did you know there are vampires in your house? Dont start wearing garlic just yet, though. These are power vampires, using up electric power just sitting there, turned off. They could be the coffeemaker, the computer, the game system or the printer. You can borrow our Electric Usage Meter to see how much power these vampires are consuming in your home and take steps to unplug them, if possible. This will cut down on your electric usage and save you money on your next electric bill. Thanks to Eversource for the donation of this meter. Call the library at 508-763-8600 to reserve the meter or for more information.

Plumb Library Knitters (and Crocheters): 6:30 p.m. Mondays. Bring your latest project, get advice on a problem or a new project or just have fun hanging out with other knitters. Chocolate is always served.

COA Book Group: 10:30 a.m. the third Tuesday of each month in the activity room of the COA Building, Dexter Lane. Books are available at the library or at the meeting. All attendees are requested to bring their library cards. You need not be a Rochester resident to be a part of the book group. Call the library or the COA for more information.

Tumblebooks: E-books for E-kids: Parents! Do you want a website that will be safe and educational for your preschool or early learning child? Do you need a website that will help your pre-reader to learn to read? Does your older child need a book for a book report or wants to try an audio or ebook? Then try Tumblebooks. Check out the link on the Plumb Librarys website to access Tumblebooks, or access it here: http://asp.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/home_tumblebooks.asp No library card necessary! Youll find picture books, chapter books, nonfiction books, graphic novels, childrens classics, short videos from National Geographic, puzzles and games that help with language skills, and much, much more. Accelerated Reading and Lexile Reading levels are listed for each book. There are books for preschoolersfifth grade, all free and accessible from any computer or device. Ask us for a demonstration. Its fun; its easy; its free. Try Tumblebooks now!

Computer instructions: Do you own a laptop or other portable device, such as an iPad, iPod, etc? Want to learn how to download free ebooks from Overdrive, log into the new Enterprise online catalog from SAILS, or use one of our computer-based services, such as Zinio, Atomic Training, Universal Class, or Transparent Language? Take your device or laptop with your library cards and we will go through the log-in processes, downloads, or whatever it takes to get you connected. Starting at 6:30 p.m., we will go over the new library search site, Enterprise, then move to Overdrive. Next will come Zinio, the new magazine download site. If time allows, we will take on the other sites: Universal Class, Transparent Language, Law Depot, Atomic Training, and Tumblebooks. We will also briefly touch on Freegal, the upcoming new service that will allow you to download music to your computer or device free of charge. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited. Call the library at 508-763-8600, or email us at info@plumblibrary.com to register.

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Tri-town libraries announce upcoming programs – Wicked Local Marion


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