Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The VGL Review

I’m sure you’re already very familiar with Mario Kart 8, especially if your library has a publicly-available Wii U console or a circulating collection of Wii U games. But Nintendo has decided to fill out the Switch’s launch window with an enhanced and updated version of the game known as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

I recently reviewed Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Warp Zoned, and it’s safe to say the game is just as essential the second time around:

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers all of the same options as its original Wii U incarnation from 2014. Recognizing that many players who purchase Deluxe also owned it on the Wii U, Nintendo has unlocked all characters and courses from the get-go, as well as the 200cc Class and Mirror Mode. All the DLC content, even the Mercedes Benz Pack, is also included at the start, and Nintendo added more than a dozen new kart parts and five new characters (Splatoon‘s Inklings, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.).

But all of this is just a prelude to the return of Battle Mode. Yes, Mario Kart 8 technically had a Battle Mode, but the jousting-style minigame was a huge disappointment, and I’m still baffled as to why Nintendo decided to do that to one of the franchise’s signature features. Thankfully, the Battle Mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe erases that horrible memory with multiple match types, all of which are exciting in their own way.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an all-caps MUST HAVE for all collections, and it’s now available for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review @ School Library Journal

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has absolutely captivated gamers across the world since its launch on March 3. I’ve even seen some commentators go so far as to say that it’ll change the way we think about video games. But even if you haven’t upgraded to a Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest console, you can still give the sprawling RPG adventure a shot on the Wii U.

Teen Librarian Alanna Graves recently played through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as part of a review for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, and she agrees that it’s something special:

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the launch game that was simultaneously released with Nintendo’s newest console, Nintendo Switch, which came out in mid-March. In my opinion, Breath of the Wild is by far the best game in 2017, although I have been playing it on my Wii U, not the Switch. I still am not wholly convinced to spend $330-$400 on a Switch, but I’ll keep you posted if I ever cave.

I recommend this game to teens and adults who are fans of Zelda games, because I think it’s one of the best Zelda games in the last 10 years.

After putting a few dozen hours into the game myself, I agree that exploring Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an almost magical experience, and should be a requirement for all circulating collections.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Review @ School Library Journal

keeptalkingandnobodyexplodesIf the traditional Smash Bros/Mario Kart/Minecraft rotation has your gaming group in a funk, you might want to try something different and check out Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a two-person bomb defusal game from Steel Crate Games. The developer explains how it all works pretty well on the game’s official website:

One player is trapped in a virtual room with a ticking time bomb they must defuse. The other players are the “Experts” who must give the instructions to defuse the bomb by deciphering the information found in the bomb defusal manual. But there’s a catch: the experts can’t see the bomb, so everyone will need to talk it out – fast!

Writing a review for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, Teen Librarian Alanna Graves was also happy with the chaotic camaraderie created by Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes:

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, created by Steel Crate Games, was recommended to me from a colleague when I asked our staff if they knew of a fun game where players work together to defuse a bomb. I was not disappointed with this recommendation.

The game can get really dramatic as the timer ticks closer to zero, and voices tend to get louder as anxiety increases!

I’ve played a few rounds of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and I’ve got to agree, it’s a great game for any group of players.

Batman: The Telltale Series: The VGL Review

batmanthetelltaleseriesTelltale Games has embarked on their biggest project yet with the release of the premiere episode of Batman: The Telltale Series. Following both Batman and Bruce Wayne, the publisher wants to tell the kind of Batman story that you don’t often see in games.

I recently reviewed Batman: The Telltale Series for Warp Zoned, and while some of the scenes drag a bit (especially the lectures from Alfred), I can’t wait to explore more of Gotham City in the future:

I’ve never played a Telltale game before, but Batman: The Telltale Series felt like a good jumping off point for their patented combination of dialogue choices and Quick Time Events. Even with the inclusion of a “Finishing Move” meter, it felt like the Quick Time Events were a bit pointless. But I liked that the conversation choices let me mold my Batman into a noble hero, rather than the psychopath he’s sometimes depicted as (even if many of the choices do boil down to “Punch A Mobster” versus “Punch A Mobster Really Hard”).

The first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series is currently available to download for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

A “Season Pass Disc,” which contains the first episode and a one-time download code for future episodes, is also now available for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

No Man’s Sky Review @ School Library Journal

nomansskyWith complaints of broken promises and missing features flooding its online reviews, No Man’s Sky has become one of the most divisive games in recent memory. That said, many PC and PS4 players are absolutely amazed by its massive universe, and have gladly spent hours upon hours exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no one has gone before (different franchise, but you get the idea).

Unfortunately, Teen Librarian Alanna Graves falls in the former camp. In a review on School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, she had this to say:

After a few days, I grew tired of No Man’s Sky. The game is too repetitive and overwhelming for my taste. All you do is find a new planet, land on it, explore, gather materials, maybe learn a few alien words if you’re lucky, rinse and repeat. This game is great for gamers out there who love to grind in video games, but I think those gamers are the type who will go out and purchase the game for themselves.

Terraria: Wii U Edition Review @ School Library Journal

terrariaAfter beginning life on the PC all the way back in 2011, Terraria is now available for the Wii U. The side-scrolling sandbox game features Wii U GamePad support for quick item selection, and might just be the best version of Terraria yet.

Teen Librarian Alanna Graves recently reviewed Terraria: Wii U Edition for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox and she certainly seems to agree:

Terraria on the Wii U is hands down the best console adaption of this PC original. The GamePad allows players to make quick selections, and players who use the GamePad will feel immersed in this Minecraft-like game. While the setback is you can only use one GamePad at a time, multiplayer groups can figure out how to enjoy to game by sticking together or assigning different roles. Either way, Terraria requires teamwork and communication for success. I highly recommend this for both circulation collections and Teen Game Night programs.

Terraria is also available for a number of other platforms including the 3DS, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Tumblestone: The VGL Review

tumblestoneTumblestone, which I recently reviewed for Warp Zoned, is the best puzzle game to hit consoles and the PC in years. If your patrons are puzzle fans, consider it a must have for your collection.

And with an intense four-player battle mode, Tumblestone is also great fit for open gaming programs:

Developed by the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, Tumblestone’s closest cousin in the puzzle genre is probably Bust-A-Move, a Bubble Bobble spinoff that rose to fame in the 90s. Like Bust-A-Move, Tumblestone players will run back and forth along the bottom of the well while rows of blocks loom above. But instead of connecting three similarly-colored circles, Tumblestone players will attempt to clear the board by shooting three matching blocks in a row.

Tumblestone is now available to download for the PC, Wii U, and Xbox One. If you own an Xbox One, and you’re an Xbox Gold subscriber, it’s also available as a free download through August 15.

Tumblestone will also be available to download for the PS3, PS4, and Vita later this month, and a disc version will be released for the PS4 and Wii U in August.

Pokemon Go: An Overview + Safety Issues to Consider @ School Library Journal

pokemongoMore librarians have discovered the joys of Pokemon Go, including Alanna Graves of School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox. She put together a great how-to guide for the app that covers how it works, safety issues to consider, and links to strategies a few libraries are using to lure in Pokemon Go players:

This weekend my timeline flooded with posts about Pokemon Go. Then on Sunday afternoon, The Teen came home from a friend’s house declaring they had walked 3 miles trying to catch Pokemons. So I decided I needed to figure out what this Pokemon Go is because my teens are definitely in to it.


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