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Events Gaming Reviews Tech Video game reviews What's Hot

E3 2015: Nintendo Direct: Reaction – A family of gamers

Nintendo E3

E3 2015: Nintendo Direct

The kids and I were eagerly anticipating Nintendo’s E3 show. We all raced into the living room at 1 minute of, kicked on AppleTV, went to E3.nintendo.com on my iPhone, and grabbed a seat on a sofa for the about-to-start livestream.

So many games! What a jam packed hour! Muppets. StarFox, Mario, amiibo, Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem, and more!

Here’s a recap, and our reactions.

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Apps Gaming iPad Reviews Tech Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids – 2012

Today is Cyber Monday, and there’s only 28 days left until Christmas! Time to get cracking on holiday shopping. While the older crowd is playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed III, you need some ideas for games for kids 10 and under.

The hottest video game item right now is the new Nintendo Wii U, just released on 11/18. The Wii U Basic/White has a retail price of $299.99, while the Wii U Deluxe/Black’s retail price is $349.99. I’m looking to buy one for our family for Christmas, but they are sold out everywhere – online and in stores. Checked eBay this morning, and the average selling price of a new Wii U deluxe is $900! One actually sold on 11/22 for $12,700!  Insanity. Again. The same thing as when the original Wii was released – everyone snapped them up to sell on eBay, and none were available to buy and wrap up for Christmas. I’ve got the phone numbers of 5 local stores on hand, and am hoping to get lucky and find one at retail price before 12/24. *crosses fingers* (For week of 11/8, Nintendo sold 400,000+ Wii U’s, 300,00 Wii’s, 275,000 DS’s, and 275,000 3DS’s.)

Here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+. Everything is sorted by console, to make it easier for you.

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Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids 2011

Note: This list is from Christmas 2011 – for my list of top E rated video games for kids for Christmas 2012 click here.

Only 33 days until Christmas!  While the Mature crowd is playing Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you need some ideas for kids’ games.

Here’s my latest list on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+. Everything is sorted by console, to make it easier for you.

Ratings are in parenthesis after the game title – for example Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10) – was rated 10.

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Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids

I’m a bit overdue, but here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+.  This time I sorted by console, to make it easier for you.

Top selling E rated video games

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Top rated lists Top selling lists Video game reviews

Top E rated video games for kids 2010

Note: This list is from Christmas 2010 – for my list of top E rated video games for kids for Christmas 2012 click here. And for my list of top E rated video games for kids for Christmas 2011 click here!

There’s only 46 days left until Christmas, according to eBay’s new countdown-to-Christmas clock – time to get cracking on holiday shopping plans.  Here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+.

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Video game reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

There’s a new Zelda game coming!  Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a new 1 player, action-adventure wii game with a planned release date of early 2011.  A prequel to Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword will feature integrated, true 1 to 1 sword fighting using the wii MotionPlus, new weapons, and a new targeting system.  Holding the Wiiremote (with MotionPlus) is your sword, and the Nunchuk is your shield.  Graphics will be a colorful, impressionist art style – a mix of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker like a painting come to life.

As the story begins, Link is just an ordinary boy in Skyloft, a group of islands floating above the clouds.  He discovers the Skyward Sword and is caught up in an adventure, traveling between Skyloft and the world below.  Mysteries abound, and the Skyward Sword is more than just a sword.

If you want to know more, I recommend checking out an excellent article by girl gamer (yeah!) Audrey Drake, at IGN.com – Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and the Great Gold Hype:  Link’s back! 5 reasons you’re not excited, and 5 reasons you should be – which addresses concerns by Zelda fans that the latest Zelda games have been too simple and too cartoonish, and the unimpressive, jittery demo at E3 2010.

Check out Nintendo’s E3 Network site for videos, images, interview, hands-on demos, and tips & tricks for game play.  In the video of Iwata Asks (by Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo Co.), where he interviews Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto and head of development Eiji Aonuma, they talk about the importance of creating a beautiful, challenging, and dense game that Zelda fans will love to play.  They also talk about integrating the wii MotionPlus into swordplay, to create a game control system that “just feels right” to the player.

Even though the E3 2010 Skyward Sword demo did not go well, after the press show  an attendee from PC World was able to try out a demo of the game, and found the controls were precise, fluid, and intuitive. 

“After playing for a few minutes and realizing just how right the controls felt, that desire to see things pop at crazy-high resolutions faded completely away.”

Me?  The kids and I can’t wait to try out the new game-play mechanics and check out the weapons (mechanical  flying beetle thingee, whip, bow, slingshot).  I do miss the fact that my favorite weapon of all time, the hookshot, doesn’t appear to be part of Skyward Sword.  But still, we’ll get to battle enemies, break some pots, solve some puzzles, and wander around exploring Hyrule, and if that’s not enough – the origins of the Master Sword will be revealed.  I have faith that Miyamoto-san and crew will deliver  an enjoyable, unique, and challenging gaming experience – something familiar, and yet something new.  And, as Audrey from IGN says:

“Whenever a new console Zelda installment is about to hit the shelves, it sends a shockwave through the gaming community, setting hopes afire across the globe. A Zelda release date is like a holiday, 20 Christmases rolled into one. Because it’s not just a new game. It’s the next coming. The next Zelda.”

A sidenote, in the spirit of Halloween…  A couple of years ago, all my boys went trick or treating dressed up as Link, with green tunic and cap, Hylian shield, and Master Sword.  It was a lot of work.  And it was awesome.

Are you excited about Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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How To

How to connect your Nintendo DSi to your wireless network

To fully take advantage of Dragonquest IX’s online features, we had to connect each boy’s DSi to our wireless network, which turned out to be a little tricky.

First a little info about wireless protocols:

WPA is the newest, strongest, and most widely accepted protocol for wireless connections.  Everything between the wireless piece and the computer (wireless access point) is encrypted using WPA.  There are 3 – 4 different types of WPA (pro, home, etc.), but most importantly, WPA hasn’t been hacked yet.

WEP is the original encryption protocol.  It’s much weaker and has been cracked, so it’s not used as often.   You wouldn’t want your household network/laptop using WEP, as it’s been hacked, and your data could be intercepted and maliciously used.

The Nintendo DSi used only WEP.  Most computers and routers can be set up for WPA or WEP, but you must choose only 1, because a single router can’t use both at the same time.

The way we solved this problem was we installed a separate router that supported WEP, and turned it into an access point, by disabling all of its router functions.  This enabled us to use WEP to connect the DSi’s to an access point, so they’re on the network and have Internet access.  All without endangering the security of the other computers in our house, which still wirelessly connect using WPA on our original router. 

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Video game reviews

Reviews By Kids, For Kids: Dragon Quest IX DS: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Dragon Quest IX Sentinels of the Starry Skies is your basic medieval fantasy role playing game, with Magicians and Warriors and Martial Artists.

The game’s story is that you are an angel apprentice learning to protect mortals from monsters.  After a while, you become an actual angel and protect a town called Angel Falls.  When you go back to the Angels HQ, you find your old master and the chief angel talking, then head up to the ancient tree, Yggdrasil.  You decide to follow them.  When they are up there, they notice you tell you “You must see this, Yggdrasil is bearing fruit!”  While that is happening, the Starlight Express, a magical flying golden train, is circling the tree.  Suddenly, a dark beam shoots out from above and hits the Starlight Express and Yggdrasil, and the glowing fruit, you, and the Starlight Express all fall to the mortal world and you are stripped of most of your angel powers.  Then, you land in Angel Falls and begin your journey to get your powers back.

In the game there are 6 classes that can you start with, and 6 hidden classes.  The regular ones are Warrior, Priest, Magician, Martial Artist, Rogue, and Minstrel.  The only hidden class I have unlocked is Gladiator.  To get Gladiator, you have to use dragon slash at highest tension to a slime and kill it.  You must do that three times. Anyway, a Warrior can use a sword only.  A Gladiator can use an axe, hammer or sword – I recommend the sword.  A Martial Artist can use a pole, claw, fisticuffs, or fan – I recommend claw.  Magicians can use a staff or a wand, and Priests can use staffs or poles.  Minstrels can use fans or swords.

I like Dragon Quest IX because you can also, if you have a brother or sister, link to other people’s worlds.  Example: I can link to my brother’s world and help him do his story.  The link range is about 30 feet.  I also like that the game is very long, and if you beat the game there are many side stories.

I recommend Dragon Quest IX for ages 8 and up.

Reviewed by Peter, age 11

 

A little more information about Dragon Quest IX

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a Nintendo DSi game, released on 7/11/10, and rated E 10+.  Because it was one of the top rated games, all of my boys decided to buy it and have played it consistently.

DQ IX is an RPG (role playing game) with an epic storyline, and 3rd person oriented turn-based battles, including a combo/multiplier system.  The more monsters your character defeats, the stronger they become.  One of the features my kids love is that DQ IX allows you to customize your character’s gender, hair, face, body style, and equips.  You also get to choose your job – each with its own unique strengths, weaknesses, spells, and skills.  They also love that they can all play together using multiplayer, which allows up to 4 players to play together in cooperative gameplay mode using a local wireless connection.

Unlike some RPGs where you follow a set path each time to beat the game, with DQ IX gameplay can be different for each player, each time through.  Players encounter different stories based on their choices in game – which NPCs they interact with and which quests they choose.  Essential to the storyline and game progression, quests unlock rare items and hidden occupations and are either earned through gameplay, or can be downloaded.

DQ IX was designed with online functionality, and has a wireless feature that allows you to download new items and quests every day.  Using wireless broadband Internet access, players can visit an online shop to buy new items (using in-game money) or download (for free) additional quests.  Quests vary between continuing the main storyline, side quests, standalone missions, or seasonal themes.  As a parent, I appreciate that the online shop was designed to use in-game currency, and not real cash.

One feature my kids haven’t used yet is Tag Mode, which allows you to passively share content with other players.  Tag Mode allows players to keep the game active, even with their DSi stored in their pocket, or backpack.  “When two players come within range of one another, Tag Mode enables them to wirelessly–and automatically–exchange character information, customized greetings and treasure maps. These treasure maps allow players to find otherwise inaccessible dungeons called grottoes featuring special boss monsters and even rare items“.  All in good time.

DS IX is well rated, well designed, and fun to play.  If your child is looking for a good E rated DS game, check it out.  And if you’re kids get stuck, don’t forget you can always access the FAQs and forums at Gamefaqs for a quick assist.

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Video game reviews

Reviews By Kids, For Kids: Flipnote Studio and Flipnote Hatena

First, Flipnote Studio is one of the ways to reach the Flipnotes on Flipnote Hatena.  Flipnote Studio is only located on the DSi or DSi XL. It is an application that is completely free. You can find it in the DSi or DSi XL shop. In Flipnote Studio, you can create your own Flipnote and share it with the world if you access Flipnote Hatena and post it in your selected channel.  The way to reach Flipnote Hatena on your DSi or DSi XL is easy. Simply open Flipnote Studio and under Create Flipnote and View Flipnote is a green button that says Flipnote Hatena.  Once You Click the green button, a small window will open up. Click ok and you will proceed to Flipnote Hatena. The DSi has many applications, but this is my favorite one.

To reach Flipnote Hatena on the Computer, all you have to do is go to the website.  At this website, you can browse through the flipnotes, find your favorite ones, and show them to your friends. Some flipnotes are junk. These are some of my favorites:

Simon Z vs DK

Secret to Success

Ice vs. Fire, Part 1

You can make your own flipnotes, you can share them with the world, but I just like watching other people’s flipnotes.

Flipnote Studio: Free; ages 7 and up
Flipnote Hatena: Free-you can spend money for things if you want; ages 8 and up

Reviewed by Peter, age 10

Cell Phones Can Kill Bees:  video by gizmo (kingboo7), a 14 year old master Flipnote animator from California

A little more information about Flipnote Studio and Flipnote Hatena

Flipnote Studio:

Got a Nintendo DSi?  Then you already have access to the free Flipnote Studio software.  Using Flipnote Studio you can use your DSi to create flipbook-like animations.  Draw pictures and words (using only the colors black, blue, and red) with the DSi stylus, add images from the DSi Camera, and record sounds or music with DSi Sound.  Flipnote Studio gives you the tools to put it all together and create your own animations. 

Flipnote Hatena:

Once you’ve created your animations using Flipnote Studio, register (for free) with Flipnote Hatena, and upload your animations to share with friends.  Using Flipnote Hatena’s online service, you connect to the Internet to upload your own animations, and view other people’s Flipnotes.  On the Flipnote Hatena website you can add comments and stars to the Flipnotes that you like.  You can also track your favorite creators, which comes in handy when you see the thousands of Flipnotes available for viewing.

Guide to Flipnote Hatena
How to post a Flipnote
How to get a Hatena ID

So, if you see a bunch of kids huddled together with their DSi’s, and you hear laughter, and the faint strains of that classic “Do You Like Waffles?” song, you can bet your kids have already discovered the creative fun that is Flipnotes.