Nintendo Switch games have arrived at The Library! We now have 40+ games for Nintendo’s new portable console available for checkout, with more on the way. I have thoughts on lots of them, and they’re all worth playing, but I have to start with what has become one of my all-time favorite games.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is aptly named, as it breathed fresh life into what is perhaps gaming’s most storied franchise. Since the release of A Link to the Past in 1991, Zelda games have followed a familiar formula: the hero Link adventures from dungeon to dungeon, finding a unique item within each that you use to solve its puzzles and slay its guardian, before finally fighting the final boss, rescuing the titular princess, and saving the kingdom of Hyrule from the forces of darkness.
Breath of the Wild marks a radical departure from this formula. Within the first hour or so, Link already has every item he’ll need for the rest of the game. More importantly, after clearing the initial tutorial area, the entire map opens up to him. He is, as Sartre wrote, “condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to him to give life a meaning.”
In real life, the concept of radical freedom can be a curse – hence Sartre’s use of the word condemned. Fortunately, life in Hyrule is a lot less complicated, and so exercising your freedom is an unadulterated blessing. The developers at Nintendo have crafted a vast, beautiful open world for Link to explore, filled with rolling plains, verdant riverlands, lush rainforests, vast deserts dotted with oases, snow-covered mountains, and more. Best of all, Link’s paraglider and ability to climb basically anything he sees make traversal a true joy, uninhibited by the pitfalls of invisible walls and insurmountable terrain so common in every other open world game.
Of course, there’s more to the game than sightseeing (although admittedly I’ve spent a large portion of my playtime with the game’s camera feature). Hyrule is not just vibrant but vital as well; there are settlements teeming with colorful characters to meet, and the wilderness is filled with outposts manned by enemies who will test your mettle. I could go on endlessly about this game, but ultimately its true joy is to be found in exploration and discovery, so rather than spoil any more of that experience for you, I’ll simply suggest that you check it out and see for yourself.
It begins by following internet pioneer Leonard Kleinrock into a room on the UCLA campus where the first internet communication took place at 10:30pm on Oct 29, 1969, between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute. Kleinrock describes the moment he began typing the very first internet message, “Login.” Before he could complete it, the computer system crashed, and the first message transmitted by the internet turned out to be “Lo” – thus the movie’s name.
Danny Hillis, an American inventor and computer scientist, describes the phone book he owned back in the early days of the internet. It contained the names of everyone on the internet. Can you imagine a directory of everyone on the internet today? It is estimated it would be 72 miles thick.
Director Werner Herzog takes us to Stanford Dept of Robotics, where we learn how the discovery of biomolecule patterns was enhanced by the creation of a crowdsourced video game called EteRNA. Crowdsourcing, as defined by Wikipedia (itself a famous example of crowdsourcing) is “to divide work between participants to achieve a cumulative result.” In this case, a videogame played by a multitude of interested laypeople -“lawyers, grandmas, students, bedridden people” contributed in useful ways to the collective knowledge base about RNA (Ribonucleic Acid), which is present in all living cells. Crowdsourcing has been used in a variety of other ways for the common good. In addition to Wikipedia, another well-known example of crowdsourcing is crowdfunding, the collection of funds from a crowd (for example, Kickstarter). If you would like to learn more about how you can be similarly involved in contributing to the universe of knowledge (sometimes even by playing video games!) see this list of crowdsourcing projects.
While at Stanford, Herzog takes us to Professor of Computer Science and director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, Sebastian Thrun, who is designing self-driving cars. He addressed the concern for safety of self-driving cars by saying, “When a computer makes a mistake, it learns from it, along with all the other computers (in use and unborn.) When a human makes a mistake, just that one person learns from it.” He shares a fascinating anecdote about a certain class he taught to 200 students enrolled at Stanford. He was able to offer the same course online to interested members of the general public. Over 1000 people signed up for the online class. When he tested them, he found that the best Stanford student ranked 412th among all the students combined. From this he said he learned that for every one great Stanford student, there are 412 better out there in the world who couldn’t or didn’t go to Stanford.
Then, we are presented with some particularly dark sides of the internet. The family of Nikki Catsouras shares their story, explaining why they no longer use email or the internet. Nikki died in a car accident in 2006 when she was 18 years old. Gruesome photos of her decapitated body were posted online shortly after the accident. Then, the family began receiving anonymous emails containing the photos, one with the caption “Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I’m still alive.” The Catsouras family deeply lamented the lack of accountability on the internet.
What would today’s landscape be like without the internet? We find out more about that by visiting Green Bank, West Virginia, home of a telescope 100 meters in diameter that picks up radio waves from outer space. To eliminate interference with the radioastronomy project, all wireless transmissions are disabled within a 10 mile radius. The area has become a haven for people who experience severe physical reactions to being in the presence of radio waves. Diane Schou and Jennifer Wood describe their lives before they moved to Green Bank. They spent all their time inside Faraday cages – boxes named for the 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, designed to shield their contents from electromagnetic fields. Some regard their condition as a supersense. They regard it as a nightmare.
We visit an internet addiction treatment center near Seattle, Washington where we hear the personal stories of some clients. We learn about a South Korean couple who were imprisoned for allowing their newborn daughter to starve to death while they were consumed with playing a video game. Ironically, it was a game in which they were nurturing an electronic baby.
Adler Planetarium astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz tells us about large solar flares called Carrington Events, which have the power to disable communications and create widespread power outages, and how we could see the next powerful solar event soon. We are given a glimpse of what that might look like from footage of a recent, relatively small-scale blackout in New York City. Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss warns “if the internet shuts down, people will not remember how they lived before that.”
Famous hacker Kevin Mitnick is interviewed about the methods he employed to gain access to secured information. He goes into detail about how he manipulated weaknesses in cybersecurity systems, noting that he always found them in the people, not the systems.
In the final third of the documentary, the possible future of Artificial Intelligence is explored. Entrepreneur Elon Musk, who made a fortune through PayPal, talks about the rockets he is launching into space, and his goals of creating a colony on Mars in case Earth becomes unlivable.
Marcel Just and Tom Mitchell, brain scientists at Carnegie Mellon postulate on whether or not it is possible for computers to dream.
The Wikipedia Emergency Project is described. It is a plan that people should print out hard copies of the information found on its website and store them somewhere our heirs can find them should a catastrophic planetary event occur.
The documentary prompted much thought, and left me with so many questions the first time around, I eagerly watched it a second time a couple of weeks later, after I gave myself some time to let the ideas rattle around in my mind for a while. If you like to explore multiple sides of issues relating to the past, present, and future of technology I would recommend you watch Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World.
Unless you’ve been living inside a red and white ball, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go. The original Pokémon RPG (role-playing game) video game was released way back in the ancient times of 1996. Beginning as a game for the original Game Boy, it quickly expanded into card trading games, TV shows, movies, more video games, and even a Monopoly board game.
If you happen to be like me and only just now catching up (or you want to know what all the kids are doing) here are some questions and answers.*
So what the heck is/are Pokémon?
The name is a combination of the words “pocket monster.” Players – called “trainers” – find and collect wild Pokémon, and help them evolve into new Pokémon. Trainers also battle their Pokémon, using their Pokémon’s unique characteristics, gaining experience points, to become Gym Leaders and ultimately, the chance to become a tournament champion.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a “free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game.”
It’s a game that you can play on your phone or other mobile device that places you (via your avatar) within the game based on your location, superimposing the game world onto the real world.
The company that created Pokémon Go used location data (landmarks, photos, etc.) from another of their games, Ingress, to create the world within the game. So, if you happen to be standing outside Davenport Public Library Eastern Branch, then that’s where you are in the game.
Why are all these people standing around outside staring at their phones? It’s a little creepy.
That’s the augmented reality part of the game. While you see people glued to their phones in an empty field, outside a building, or wherever, they’re actually experiencing the location within the game.
Lots of public places have been made into important locations in the game (more on that later). Players must be within a certain distance to interact with whatever is at the location. And since the game is so popular, some locations have experienced very high traffic. For some businesses (and libraries!) this has been a boon. For other locations, not so much.
It’s true that there have been some horror stories – true and not – about people getting hurt, lost, or finding some terrible things while tracking Pokémon. The most important thing to remember when playing is to pay attention to your surroundings. Believe me, it can be hard. But, the game offers vibration and sound alerts so you can keep your phone in your pocket while you walk. USE THEM – or be eaten by Gyarados!
And it should go without saying, don’t play and drive.
I heard that Pokémon Go is reading players’ emails …
Yup – that’s the “go” in Pokémon Go! If you want to get cool new Pokémon and hatch eggs you will be walking. The game can tell the difference between riding in a car or even biking fast. But it’s a good thing! You get to experience new places you might never have seen before! Meet new people! Exercise!
Firstly, down the game from the App Store or Google Play. Once it’s up and running, sign in using you Google ID, or get a Trainer Club ID.
When you choose your trainer name and appearance, be careful! You CANNOT change either after you confirm!
UPDATE 7/31/16 – An update for Pokémon Go! (1.1.0) now allows trainers to change the appearance of their avatars!
After Prof. Willow’s introduction, you’re dropped into a fairly sparse map. Your surroundings should reflect major aspects in your surroundings, like roads, rivers/lakes, buildings and so on.
On the screen, you’ll see what looks like green confetti or leaves nearby. Those are Pokémon! Once you get close enough (your trainer’s radius is the pulsing purple circle around you) the Pokémon will reveal themselves. Tap on them, and you’ll go mano a Pokémon.
Tossing the Poké Ball correctly takes some practice. If you find the “virtual reality” setting too distracting, you can turn it off by sliding the AR switch at the top. The higher the Pokémon’s CP (combat points) the more difficult it will be to catch. The rings around the Pokémon will give some idea how where and when to toss the Poké Ball. When it’s large and green, toss! Yellow rings mean it will be more tricky, and orange even more so. Pokémon with higher CP (100+) will often break out of the Poké Ball and you’ll have to catch them again. Sometimes, they’ll grow weary of your attempts and run away.
Pokémon can break out?
Yes, once you catch one, it tries three times to get out. If they can’t escape, you get to keep them.
That’s … a bit grim.
What’s up with PokéStops and Gyms?
PokéStops are where you can pick up more Poké Balls, and an occasional bonus item, like reviving potion, eggs, razzberries and so on. PokéStops are usually located at some kind of landmark (although the term “landmark” is used loosely). You have to be within a certain distance to interact with them.
Sometimes, you may see a PokéStop surrounded by pink confetti or petals. That means that some kind soul has set a lure and, hopefully, more Pokémon will come close enough to catch.
Gyms are where trainers can pit their Pokémon against each other in battle to win the Gym, earn points and train up their Pokémon. You have to reach level 5 to enter and view a gym.
What Team should I pick?
That’s entirely up to you! If you have friends playing, you might want to choose the same team so that you can gain and keep control of Gyms. Or, if you live near a Gym that is consistently held by one team, you can join them and help defend it.
<cough>Team Mystic <cough>
How do I identify and keep track of all the Pokémon I’ve caught?
In the game, tap on the Poké Ball icon, then tap “Pokémon” from there you can see the Pokémon that you’ve caught, see how much CP they have and evolve and power up. The Pokédex is like a Rolodex (GET IT?) for the Pokémon you’ve seen and collected. It gives descriptions, strengths and weaknesses and each Pokémon’s evolutionary pattern.
Where are some places that I can go to catch Pokémon?
The Davenport Public Library Main and Fairmount Branches are PokéStops , and Eastern Avenue is a PokéStop and a Gym.
According to David Heitz, the downtown Moline riverfront, Rock Island arts and entertainment district, the Village of East Davenport and Avenue of the Cities are good places to find Pokémon. In Davenport, Vander Veer Park is a very popular place!
UPDATE 7/31/16 – An update for Pokémon Go!(1.1.0) has removed the footprints from the “Nearby” menu, presumably until they can get it work properly.
What the heck do I do with all these Rattatas, Pidgeies, and Weedles!?!
Even though it can get annoying, it’s worth it to keep collecting the common Pokémon. The more you have, the more candy and stardust you get (which you use to evolve your Pokémon). If you have too many, you can transfer them to Prof. Willow and get one Pokémon candy in return.
The game isn’t working, and/or my battery is dead.
Yeah, you’re not the only one. Pokémon Go has been plagued with slow and broken servers since it was released. It also uses up wireless bandwidth, so slow internet connections are also to blame. If you’re wondering if it’s you or the game server, try here: http://cmmcd.com/PokemonGo/.
The game also has some battery saving settings, too. But remember that you must have the game open if you want alerts and to count your steps. Bring a charger!
This year was a big year for fans of the Back to the Future movie trilogy as we finally catch up with the future timeline in the films. Buzz has been all over the internet with folks comparing the movie’s predictions of life in 2015 with what has really happened. For the full list of movie comparisons versus reality, click here.
What seemed to get the most attention was predictions the movie made about the 2015 baseball season. According to Back to the Future II, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in a sweep over Miami on October 21, 2015. Fast forward to the real 2015. With the start of the baseball pre-season, fans of both the movie and team began posting on Facebook that the Cubs were going to win the World Series this year. Considering the Cubs have not played in the World Series since 1945, let alone won since 1908, this seemed like more than a long shot. But…what if? As the season went forward and the Cubs were looking better and better, more and more started to believe. When they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, even I started to believe (just for a tiny second). In the end, they couldn’t quite do it, but there was definitely some kind of magic in the city of Chicago during the 2015 season.
Hollywood has followed up on this hype by releasing a brand new documentary about the making of the movie trilogy. Cast, crew and fans are featured in this 30th anniversary tribute. Back in Time stars Steven Spielberg, Micheal J. Fox, and Lea Thompson. For those of you that love the franchise, this is a must see. Back in Time along with the other anniversary items are available at the library.
When I was younger, the Tycoon series of games was really popular. Everyone seemed to be playing them and after several months of begging, I was finally able to convince my mother to purchase a copy of Rollercoaster Tycoon. As I was looking over the videogame section at the library, imagine my happiness when I found Zoo Tycoon, a build-your-own-zoo game put out by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 in 2013.
Looking online and also talking to other gamers results in a wide variety of definitions for the term “tycoon games”. In tycoon games, instead of just controlling one character, you are acting instead like “the manager” who is in control of a wide variety of people or animals, as well as the place where all of the activity is happening. That is very true in Zoo Tycoon. Here the game offers you tutorials, so you aren’t flying blind into how to operate and run your zoo. As the over-seer of the whole zoo, you need to remember to play smart because the guests who visit your zoo, as well as the animals, will ultimately decide just how well you are doing as a zoo tycoon.
This interactive game lets you design your zoo, build, and then manage it to make sure more and more guests keep coming and visiting. Once you build your zoo, you then get to have face time with all of your animals. You are allowed to adopt and care for your animals with the ultimate decision for you to then release them into the wild.
This game was interactive for me and definitely brought back memories of the older tycoon games that I had played. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Right around the release of any superhero movie, a lot of other merchandise related to that superhero begins hitting the market. Because I am not a pre-teen or teenager anymore and have decided that I need to start decorating like a proper adult (It’s sad, I know), buying superhero towels, sheets, and posters to decorate are no longer an option. You know what venue that does still leave open? Videogames! Because of this adulthood I have been thrust into, I have become a sucker for superhero videogames.
I recently went on a Thor binge again because of our recently ended superhero summer reading program. Confession: The movies, both Thor and Thor: The Dark World, are not my favorite superhero movies, primarily because I love a lot of actiony fights in my movies and the first of a superhero’s movie or graphic novel usually always generates around his origin story, which can be tedious, to me. (This girl is not a fan of origin stories.)
What I found lacking in the Thor movies, I found in Thor: God of Thunder. This game is available in both the Xbox 360 and Wii formats. In this game, all of the action I was missing in the movies came alive. Here, I am able to heft Mjolnir, Thor’s massive hammer, and release all of his powers of wind, thunder, lightning, and storms to fight against 25-foot-tall, 12-ton weighing frost giants and trolls that were plaguing the Norse worlds during the Thor movie. Talk about awesome! There are a variety of combinations that you can release upon your enemies from hammer throws to melee combos to all of those storm powers that I mentioned previously. What I found interesting was that you could scale the giants! You could climb them using a grappling system and multiple points to try and find their weaknesses in order to defeat them. The game also allows you to collect runes in order to pick new powers and abilities and even upgrade your weapons.
Yes, this game is repetitious, but there’s really only so much variety you can do with frost giants and trolls. Those Norse worlds didn’t exactly have many different enemies to fight. It’s important to remember that this videogame was made to be a “movie tie-in,” so it was to be released around the time when the movie actually came out. Graphics and controls are not going to be as up-to-par as if they had taken the time and released this a while after the movie came out. I still enjoyed it and I’m hoping that fellow fans of Thor will enjoy this game too.
Want to check out some other cool Thor related items that the library has? Click on the pictures below to be directed to the Thor items(movies, graphic novels, etc.) in our catalog!
For those of you unaware, Angry Birds is a game that was released by Rovio in 2009 as an app downloadable on your smartphone or tablet. In this game, you use your finger as a slingshot to catapult angry different shaped birds at green pigs hiding within flimsy makeshift shelters. The less birds you use to knock down those shelters, and most importantly destroy the pigs, the more points you receive. Once the pigs are gone, you can advance a level, earning yourself achievements and even trophies. Said pigs seem to laugh at you if you fail a level, making defeating the game all the more important in your mind.
In 2012, Activision released the Angry Birds Trilogy,a videogame available across multiple platforms, that allowed people without smartphones or tablets to revel in the glory of wiping the smug look off those little pigs’ faces when you knocked down their structure and were finally able to advance a level. Angry Birds Trilogy brings together three different Angry Birds games: the original Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio for a total of 19 different episodes, which, to make each game different than the downloadable app, gives players an exclusive new level within each game.
Don’t have an Xbox 360? Never fear! This game is available on multiple different platforms accessible through the library’s catalog. Angry Birds Trilogy is available on the following platforms: PS3, Wii, WiiU, and 3DS. Be sure to click each link to find out at which library the game is located. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the reference librarians.
I love karaoke, but I’m not fond of the whole “getting up in front of other people and embarrassing yourself” part of karaoke. Let’s be honest: when you go to do karaoke, you’re stuck in front of people in a semi-awkward situation, and unless those people are all your relatives or you are a professional singer in disguise, you’re going to be nervous. Conquering these nerves can be accomplished through practice. A new way to practice, besides spending money on lessons or singing in the car or around the house, is to play a singing videogame. My favorites are the ones similar to Rock Band that show you note length and highlight varying changes in pitch, so you’re essentially learning the songs without having to pay for sheet music.
Some of the most popular songs to play on karaoke nights are songs that almost everyone in the audience is familiar with. I have noticed that songs from the 1980s seem to be picked a lot, so I was excited when I found We Sing 80s, a videogame available for the Wii, that provides players with 30 of the biggest songs of the ’80s (21 worldwide No. 1 hits!) along with their music videos for the ultimate 80s experience. Players will be able to play three different modes, from solo to party to karaoke with up to four people jamming together. If you’re unsure how a song goes, you can even take singing lessons and figure out how to add different effects to your voice. You can also change the level of difficulty to make everyone comfortable. So grab your friends and get ready to rock out to a night of Queen, Culture Club, Tears for Fears, Cyndi Lauper, and many more.
Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles. With the recent reboot of the movie, which came out in 2014 starring Megan Fox, and the fact that our summer reading program is superheroes, people of all ages seem to be asking for more information about these pizza-loving, crime-fighting superheroes. Seeing as I like the out-of-the-ordinary superheroes, I found myself looking more into TMNT and their many different reboots. One of the games I found was the 2013 release of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the Wii. (This game is also available on 3DS and Xbox 360.)
Now I must admit that I am a fan of the 1987-1996 run of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, as I grew up watching them and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at my neighbor’s house, so my review may be a bit skewed. (Find Season One of TMNT here.)Nonetheless, I shall prevail. Graphics aside, which is where my major grumpiness resides with this game as they differ from the original, this game is still entertaining to play. Having seen episodes of the Nickelodeon show, I can say that the characters in this game move just like the characters in the show, flying through the air battling bad guys and chowing down on pizza to get their health back. Players are allowed to choose which of the four turtles they wish to play as with, of course, the option being that you can play with as many as four players. This game was clearly marketed and more or less made for younger children to play, but there are elements that will draw in older fans of the show as well.
The graphics are good, but not amazing, similar to the Nickelodeon show. There are fifteen different action-packed levels for players to maneuver through, as well as more than twelve different environments of play to muck through, be they subways, city streets, sewers, docks, and many more. Fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both young and old, will enjoy playing this game as they battle to stop Shredder and the Kraang from unleashing a mutagen bomb that, if detonated, will turn the hapless residents of New York City into mindless mutants.
If you’re interested in being a green superhero for a little while, join Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo, as they battle to save New York. Booyakasha!
For those of us who grew up with older gaming systems (shout out to everyone who remembers having to blow on Nintendo cartridges to get them to work!), the introduction of games with characters that were originally released on those platforms are always met with big cheers and applause. One of my favorites to play with the neighbor boys when I was younger was Donkey Kong. As I was searching the shelves for a new game to try, I found Donkey Kong Country Returnsseemingly waiting for me to check-out and get all nostalgic playing.
Let me tell you, this game did not let me down. Donkey Kong Country Returns plays with just as much difficulty as the original Donkey Kong games, even complete with the side-scrolling features that are unmistakably Kong with the introduction of 3D movements and sequences to appeal to newer players. Familiar characters throughout the Donkey Kong franchise are present within this game with one neat introduction: two player cooperative play! Players can play two at a time: one as Donkey Kong and another as Diddy Kong. Brilliant! Hidden items, puzzle pieces, and other bonus surprises can be found throughout the levels with the option for you to eventually spell out K-O-N-G and win an awesome bonus! There are also additional levels that allow players the opportunity to slow down and strategize as they are greeted with new challenges, movements, and attacks.
Here’s a brief game overview: The animals of Donkey Kong Island have raided Donkey Kong’s hoard of bananas and STOLEN them. Don’t worry. It’s not entirely their fault. They’ve been taken under the influence of several evil Tikis. As a result, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have to team up to find where the animals have hidden the bananas! (And try to stay out of danger, of course.)
(Sidenote: When researching for this blog post, I found an article written by NPR about Shigeru Miyamoto, the inventor of Mario and Donkey Kong. Check it out! It’s full of some interesting information about the two that I never know. The article is called The Legendary Mr. Miyamoto, Father of Mario and Donkey Kong.)
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