Stardew Valley Review @ Teen Services Underground

A few months ago, I introduced Stardew Valley as “a retro-styled farming game” and said, “[it] first appeared on the PC in February 2016. Since then, it has also cultivated a large fanbase on the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The serene simulation is the work of a single developer, Eric Barone, and it was hugely inspired by the Harvest Moon franchise.”

That introduction lead into a glowing review of Stardew Valley at School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Yesterday, Teen Librarian Dustan Archer published a review of Stardew Valley for Teen Services Underground after spending quite a lot of time with the game:

I think it’s safe to say that he highly recommends it as well:

Stardew Valley is an indie role-playing farming simulator, very similar in style to the Harvest Moon franchise. Even the graphics are a throwback, but they’re beautiful in comparison to older consoles. You start off on an old, poorly maintained farm and begin to craft a new life for yourself. You decide what you want to do with your allotment of time and energy every day – whether it’s farming, raising livestock, fighting monsters, mining ore, or building friendships with the rest of the village’s inhabitants. You can craft all kinds of items, grow various types of crops (many of which only grow in specific seasons), go fishing, get married and have children. Very little in the game is mandatory and it is totally open-ended as to how and when you decide you’re ‘done’, if ever.

[…]

Truly, this game captured me like no other in the last few years. I’ve spent over 100 hours on two separate playthroughs, and few games can get my attention like that. It has become my go-to game when I just want to relax after a long day, do something that doesn’t require too much thinking, and enjoy either the peaceful music in game or my own soundtrack that I play in the background. The community is fairly robust and friendly, and there’s a great wiki on the game if you want to look up hints and tips rather than discover things for yourself.

Barone is still working on Stardew Valley, and he’ll bring the game to the Vita in 2018, along with a multiplayer mode on all platforms.

Hearthstone 101 @ Inverse Genius

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft continues to be a popular choice in the competitive gaming scene, and Stephanie Frey from Inverse Genius’s Games in Schools and Libraries blog has put together a new how-to guide for librarians interested in trying out the Collectible Card Game (CCG):

Are your gamers interested in Hearthstone? Do they already like games like Magic the Gathering and Yugioh? Do you want to try something new to attract a new group of the gamer curious to your library or school club? Here is everything you need to get started.

Hearthstone is a FREE Online Collectible Card Game. It is played over PC, Android, or Apple devices and an online connection is required. This is a game where gamers construct decks from cards they collect either from leveling up their characters by playing matches or from buying booster packs with points earned or cash. While it is free to play, each gamer can have their own account or the moderator can make guest accounts available, players can earn in-game currency to purchase additional booster packs and game modes or do the same by spending real money. We are getting a lot of play without spending a penny.


Looking for more Hearthstone information? Find all posts tagged with a Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft label now!

Retro Gaming Program Ideas @ Games In Libraries

“Retro Gaming” is big business in 2017, fueling everything from the indie development boom to Nintendo’s popular line of Classic Edition microconsoles. Many libraries have begun to tap into this fandom, and some are even offering game programming centered around retro games.

Thomas Vose has also noticed this trend, and he recently put together a how-to guide on retro gaming for the ALA’s Games In Libraries blog:

Looking to go old-school? Want to try something different in the world of video gaming as a program? There are a lot of great retro programs that can be put together to offer something different for your patrons and to reach new audiences by appealing to nostalgia, and recent developments in the world of gaming have made those retro programs more accessible.

Some of Vose’s programming ideas include high score competitions, Let’s Play broadcasts, retro tournaments, speedrunning challenges, and retro gaming crafts.

Best of Gamescom 2017 Winners Selected by Gamescom Committee

gamescomEvery year, Germany’s Digital Gaming Culture Foundation (Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur) supervises the Gamescom Committee, a small group of journalists who choose the best games that were present at the Gamescom expo. The Gamescom expo is held in the Summer, and serves as the European equivalent to the Los Angeles-based E3 Expo.

While most of these titles are still in development, you should keep them in mind when you add games to your collection this Fall and into 2018.

Super Mario Odyssey was named “Best of Gamescom,” and the full list of winners and nominees can be found below. Continue reading

Sonic Mania Review @ School Library Journal

It’s hard being a Sonic the Hedgehog fan… especially in the last few years. The “Blue Blur” has always endured his share of ups and downs, but his most recent games might mark a low point for the franchise. Thankfully, Sonic Mania is here to save the day.

Teen Librarian Alanna Graves recently reviewed the game for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, and she thinks Sonic fans will love it, though teens might be put off by its difficulty:

I would recommend buying a copy for circulating collections, but it appears you can’t buy a disc version at the moment. If you purchased the “Collector’s Edition”, you pay $70 for Sonic statue, cartridge cast with a gold ring, collector’s box, and the digital code to download the game.

As for teen gaming programs, I recommend asking your teens. If they’re really into Sonic, then this might be a good choice especially because the game only costs $20 on online console stores.

Sonic Mania is currently available as a digital download for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Slime Rancher Review @ School Library Journal

Slime Rancher made its debut on the PC and Xbox One as an Early Access title last year, and developer Monomi Park recently launched the “Full Version” of the game for both platforms.

And that makes it the perfect time for Teen Librarian Alanna Graves to review the game, which is a combination life simulation/shooter, for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox:

Your character’s name is Beatrix LeBeau, a young adventurer who decides to start her own slime ranch on a faraway planet. The ranch was formerly owned by Hobson Twillgers, who mysteriously disappeared after leaving electronic notes around the planet. Since the planet is only occupied by Beatrix and slime, the storyline is minimal, and players do not have to “beat” the storyline in order to progress in the game.

Similar to Stardew Valley, there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong way to play Slime Rancher. The goal of the game is to make as much money as possible so Beatrix can build up her ranch, as well as try to create unique slime species. Players have to strategize in how they will spend their day, feed their slime, and harvest resources.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review @ School Library Journal

The Crash Bandicoot franchise kicked off a new wave of platformers in the late 90s and helped put Naughty Dog on the map. But after Vivendi Universal took over the franchise in 2000, a string of middling-to-poor entries forced the franchise to go on hiatus after the release of 2008’s Crash: Mind Over Mutant.

But that was then, and this is now. Today, Crash Bandicoot has returned thanks to the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered compilation of the first three games in the series. Even though the original games are over 20 years old, Teen Librarian Alanna Graves highly recommends the N. Sane Trilogy in a review on School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox:

Crash Bandicoot is a 3D platform jumper where on some levels Crash has to run left to right and some are bottom to top. While players can simply beat the levels, each level has bonus items like gems for completing unique challenges like destroying all of the boxes in one life or a relic for beating the level under a time limit. I have forgotten how insanely difficult this game is, especially the first one! My favorite game in the trilogy is Crash Bandicoot Warped (the third one), because it adds more moves like double jump, belly flops, and BAZOOKAS.

[…]

This game is great for kids around 8+, families, and teens. I also think this game is great for grown ups like me who played the original in the 90s!

The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is currently available only for the PlayStation 4.

Nintendo Will Release Super NES History Book Alongside Super NES Classic

Nintendo is teaming up with Prima Games to release a colorful history of the Super NES this Fall. Scheduled to be released alongside the Super NES Classic on September 29, Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics will be available in paperback and in a special hardcover slipcase edition.

Featuring 320 pages of Super NES-fueled nostalgia, here’s what fans can expect from the book:

  • The Console: A nostalgic celebration and exploration of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in all its 16-bit glory.
  • The Games: Discover everything you’ve always wanted to know about some of the most beloved SNES games, including speedrun tips and little-known facts.
  • The History: Learn about the SNES development and the visionaries behind this groundbreaking console.
  • The Legacy: An in-depth look at how the SNES has left its mark on the gaming industry, and how its legacy continues.
  • The Memories: From family stories to fan art to merchandise and more, this book is a love letter to fans of the Playing With Super Power era!

Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics is actually the second partnership between Nintendo and Prima Games. Last year, the two companies published Playing With Power: Nintendo NES Classics to coincide with the launch of the NES Classic.