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.

A Weeklong Series at Waypoint Examines Gaming in Prison Libraries

Waypoint (the video game arm of Vice) has announced plans to publish “At Play In the Carceral State,” a series of articles this week about the intersection of gaming and prisons. It’s not a corner of the games culture that you hear much about, and part of their focus will be devoted to the way prison libraries play a role in giving inmates access to games during their incarceration.

Waypoint’s Editor-In-Chief, Austin Walker, laid out their mission for the series in a letter to the site’s readers:

When I’ve explained this series to people, one of the most common responses has been a sort of awkward bewilderment. Games and… prisons? Play and the… ‘carceral state’?

On first blush, they’re an odd pairing, but a closer look reveals that games are a natural locus for this contention. They are concerned with boundaries, limitations, and rules—the hand of cards you’re dealt; the empty energy meter that prevents you from using your powers; the invisible walls and infinite, uncrossable seas which border otherwise vast open worlds. Yet they also enable players to experiment, explore, and defy expectations as they respond to those limits. And it’s that tension where games are at their most powerful—perhaps even their most utopian.

The first article from “At Play In the Carceral State” is Inside the Gaming Library at Gitmo, America’s Controversial Military Prison, a look inside the Detainee Library at Guantanamo Bay by Muira McCammon:

Over the past 15 years, many detainees have requested and read books from the Detainee Library. Journalists have actively documented what titles appear on the shelves, and in recent years, the inventory has grown to include not only DVDs, but also PS3 games.

But the library remains a labyrinth, a facility full of thorny questions. This summer, Waypoint sent me to the Detainee Library, to figure out what happened to the games at Gitmo.

New articles will be added to the series all week.

Stardew Valley Review @ School Library Journal

Stardew Valley is a retro-styled farming game that first appeared on the PC in February 2016. Since then, it has also cultivated a large fanbase on the PS4 and Xbox One. The serene simulation is the work of a single developer, Eric Barone, and it was hugely inspired by the Harvest Moon franchise.

Teen Librarian Alanna Graves recently reviewed Stardew Valley for School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox, and she was quickly entranced by the game’s rural rhythms:

There isn’t a good or bad way to play Stardew Valley. Players generally try to fix up the Community Center because they can get special items and unlock special areas around town. The second thing players try to do is get married. There are certain villagers whom you can marry if you have enough friendship hearts, and it doesn’t matter what gender the player is. I chose to marry Elliot, a sensitive soul who lives on the beach who is trying to finish writing a novel.

[…]

Like any role-playing game, Stardew Valley will have a niche audience because it is a slow paced, relaxing game. If you are a gamer who liked Harvest Moon, I highly recommend Stardew Valley.

Stardew Valley is currently available for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The game will be released for the Nintendo Switch sometime this Fall.