29 December 2009

Finally Signing Up for GameFly

Ever since GameFly first hit the scene, I've wanted to sign up. I'm familiar with the model since we've had a NetFlix account for years. However, I was concerned about how well game discs would fare in my house. We haven't had many problems with the NetFlix DVDs, but DVDs don't get handled as often. When my kids play games, they switch game discs a lot and they don't always put them back in the case right away. Also, the discs are getting smaller and smaller these days. The Nintendo DS games are smaller than an SD card! I was afraid that I'd end up spending a lot of money with GameFly if the kids lost or ruined some discs.

Well, I think we have a handle on the situation now. The checkout system that I've been using with the kids for library books is now being used for video games as well. This way, I can keep a closer eye on the games. I feel confident enough in this system to try signing up for GameFly. With a PS2, a Wii, a PSP, and a Nintendo DS in the house, I figure this will be more cost-effective than renting games from the local video store, even if we end up buying a game or two.

17 November 2009

It's Gonna Be a Gaming Christmas

Yes, I know there hasn't been much activity on this blog. My kids will rush to tell you that it is all my fault. They are always willing to play games with me, but I've been giving more attention to my book blog by reading and reviewing books. Also, the kids have more homework this year than they've gotten in the past. I can't exactly pull them away from their schoolwork to play games, can I?

Anyway, my husband and I have taken steps toward making this a gaming Christmas. I bought a copy of Pictureka and Clue: Secrets and Spies when Toys R Us had a sale at the beginning of November. The kids have also asked for other board games like Zombie Fluxx, so I will be going through our game shelf to see what we want to discard to make room. I won't feel too bad about it because most of the games were used when I bought them and are a little worse for wear now. There's not a collectible in the bunch :-).

In the video game realm, we hit the pawn shop and bought a PS2 and a Wii. I know that the PS2 is a last-gen console, but we have plenty of PS1 and PS2 games that the kids still like to play. Also, I've seen a few great deals on PS2 games that are still new in the box, such as Dance Dance Revolution with the dance pad for $17. As for the Wii, the kids and I have wanted one for a while, but we couldn't sway ABM until he saw all the active games that came with it. We think it will be a good option for the summer when it is 99 degrees and too hot to run around outside.

Anyone have any suggestions for inexpensive PS2, DS, or Wii games? When I say "inexpensive", I really mean "dirt cheap". I'm talking older games that are still fun that you can find on clearance for under $20. My kids don't play shmups, but any other suggestion is welcome

09 September 2009

Finally, some gaming going on!

I know, I know -- I haven't posted in ages. There hasn't been much to post about, at least on this blog. I've spent more time living and reading than playing games. However, the urge to game has been waking up slowly. Here's how I've been satisfying that urge:

--The online Scrabble playing is still going on. M and I have been playing a Flash game called Scrabble Sprint to see who can get the higher score. So far, my personal best is 336 points. M is beating me, but my Scrabble-champion sister is behind us both so I feel better :-).

--I've gone back to playing games at It's Your Turn. They have variations of classic games like checkers, chess, Go, and Reversi. Like many sites, you can play for free or you can pay a fee for more privileges. This site has never been overwhelmingly popular, but there used to be a lot more players. I think the player base has gone down because non-members are now limited 15 moves a day; it used to 50. I like the clean layout of the site a lot, but there isn't enough traffic these days for me to consider paying for it. I'll accept a game from anyone who wants to try it out. My username is daniinnc.

--We didn't BBQ on Labor Day, but ABM invited a few friends over to play games. I guess he has been jonesing for a little table time, too :-). We played Have You Herd? and Huggermugger. This game session made me feel old because M sat down to play with us and ABM didn't object. Usually, he only lets one of the kids join us if they are helping to teach the grownups a new game. This time, he let M stay as if she was one of the adults. It was the equivalent of moving up from the kids' table at Thanksgiving.

Have You Herd? is the American version of a World War II-era game called Super Farmer. It is pretty simple; you roll the dice and try to get one of each animal to win. To get the bigger animals, you have to trade your way up the line (five rabbits for one sheep, two sheep for one pig, etc.) and avoid rolling animals that will eat your herd. This is a great game for kids and fun for adults if everyone takes their turn really fast.

Huggermugger is a word trivia game that I bought back in the late 1980s. I'm pretty sure that it is out of print. M discovered it on the shelves and it is her current favorite. However, ABM and I figured out a long time ago that if I play this game against our friends, it results in a massacre. What I lack in skill when it comes to strategy games, I more than make up for it in word and trivia games. The questions in this particular game involve spelling words, unscrambling words, defining words, and identifying the proper word for a sentence. It isn't bragging for me to say that I am better at all these categories than the people we usually play with, so it isn't a fair fight. A word game that involves a bit of luck, strategy, or stealing levels the playing field.

25 August 2009

My Struggle With Scrabble

Once upon a time, my family and friends viewed me as a Scrabble ace. It was mainly because I have always been a good speller and developed a large vocabulary at an early age. As I've gotten older, however, I am routinely beaten at Scrabble and similar word games by my sister and my best friend. The problem is that I don't have much of a strategic mind.

Here's an example. I'm playing Lexulous with my sister; it is a Scrabble clone you can play via email (formerly known as Scrabbulous). I have the choice between laying down the words "patois" or "path". The simpler word would earn me five more points, but I know my sister would be impressed if I trotted out "patois". I resisted the urge to flaunt my word knowledge and played "path". It put me 20 points ahead of my sister, but I still wish I had played "patois".

See? I play Scrabble because I love getting a chance to use the words I know, while my sister tallies points in her head and actually remembers what color the triple-word-score square is. That's why I usually lose.

19 August 2009

Why Do People Hate Facebook Games?

Recently I wrote a post on my main blog about why I'm not on Facebook. Basically, I feel like Facebook is on the last 5 of its 15 minutes of fame and I'm ready for everyone to move on to something else. However, there is one aspect of Facebook that is tempting to me -- the games. Every time I hear about something like Farmville or Lexulous, my resolve to stay off of Facebook weakens. I love the idea of playing a game online with my friends that isn't a shoot-'em-up or a World of Warcraft clone. The only problem is that I know I wouldn't be able to get anyone to paly with me.

My real-life friends barely check their email accounts, so I know that games are out of the question. The big surprise is that many of my online friends hate the Facebook games. I've read many comments on Twitter and blog posts from these friends saying that they will un-follow or block people who send them requests to play. I don't get it.

For me, being online has always been about expressing myself and having fun. Lately, though, the internet seems to be all about networking if you are over the age of 12. Does tending a virtual farm really make you look bad to a future employer?

23 June 2009

Plants Vs. Zombies

When I first played the video game Plants Vs. Zombies, I didn't even realize that it was a tower defense game. The few games I've tried in that genre were confusing and more war-like with tanks and guns and such. Plants Vs. Zombies is nothing like that. It is tower defense for the casual gamer crowd.

The premise of the game is that there are zombies trying to get into the house to eat your brains. Before they can have their lunch, they have to make it across the lawn. Your job is to plant some killer flora to stop the brain munchers. A couple hitches are that you need to have enough sunshine to use certain plants and once you plant a certain variety, it takes a little time for that variety to recharge before you can plant it again.

Frankly, most casual games aren't worth $20 to me because they are one-note wonders. I'd rather go on an ad-supported site and play a free match-3 game than buy Bejeweled. For me, Plants Vs. Zombies beats this hurdle by using their basic theme in several different ways. There is the basic adventure mode where you defend different parts of the yard until you get to the big boss. This mode unlocks puzzle games and mini-games where you can play zombie-fied versions of other games like Whack-a-Mole.

How did this game play in our house? Everyone in the house except my husband has taken a crack at it. I've played all the way through the adventure mode, which is rare for me because I usually get bored before making it to the end of a game. My kids fight for computer time to take their turns. I would say that this game is definitely worth the wrist pain I've developed playing it :-).

28 March 2009

I'm still here . . . just not playing much

I think about games and this blog at least once a week, but thinking and doing are not the same, are they? These days, with the new job and all, it is easier to pick up a book than organize a game so you will see me post more often at my book blog than here. That doesn't mean I'm giving up; I just have to find a new way to fit it all in. Keep me in your feed reader and something new will pop up eventually!