Oldies But Goodies – Number Munchers

Genre:  Educational
Platform:  PC

I came in to school at a great time in history.  Home computers were newly affordable, which meant that they had a couple of them in schools.  They began using games as teaching tools, and we were learning while having fun and not even realizing it.  One of these early games that I remember is Number Muchers.  There were several “Munchers” games after that, but this was the first.

You played as the hero, the number muncher.  I’m not sure what you were trying to save and I don’t think there was much of a story behind this game.  Anyway, it was your job to “munch” the numbers (press the space bar) that fit the category at the top.  It typically focused in number multiples, but sometimes it would be prime numbers and other varieties.  The Troggles attempted to foil your plans for heroism.  They were cute monsters that were trying to eat you.  Every time you moved a square, they moved a square.  They started out pretty random, but on later levels, they had some AI and made the game more and more difficult.

I remember this game very fondly.  So much, in fact, that I just bought a Number Munchers t-shirt.  You can still find this game online in various forms.  If you want to play the original, you can find it on abandonware sites and play it using a DOS emulator such as DOSBox.  It’s a blast from my past and I’d be interested to know how many of you also played this game in school!

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  DS and 3DS

I can’t believe I’ve never written about Professor Layton before now.  This is a puzzle series exclusively on the Nintendo DS and 3DS.  There are currently the following games in the series:

  • Curious Village
  • Diabolical Box
  • Unwound Future
  • Last Sceptre
  • Miracle Mask
  • Azran Legacy

There is also a Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright game for the 3DS, but I have not played it yet.  I am going to lump all of these games in one post because they are all very similar.  The stories change and you get new puzzles in each game.  It doesn’t matter, though, as this is a fantastic series and should be played by every puzzle lover.  Some of the puzzles are down-right hard and I had to grab a pencil and paper on more than one occasion.  They really test different parts of your brain – you’ll get a math question and the next a word puzzle.  Fortunately, they allow you hints for coins that you find while working on the regular story.  If not for this, I wouldn’t have been able to continue in some spots.

In addition to the puzzles, the stories are compelling and you’ll enjoy following Professor Layton and his various companions throughout the series.  You don’t need to play them in order, either.  If you are a puzzle lover, (like me!)  you need to pick up one of these games!  Good luck stopping at just one.

Stinkers – Jumble Madness

Genre:  Word/Puzzle
Platform:  DS

I love puzzle games, especially word games.  And I REALLY wanted to like this game.  I was excited to get it and it cost more than your average word game.  I played it for a good couple of hours, but it just never grabbed me.

If you’re not aware of them, Jumbles are puzzles that have been around American newspapers for a very long time, since at least 1962.  I have enjoyed them for a while, though they are not my first choice of word puzzle.  Anyway, I found that this game was far too easy.  It’s not a fun puzzle if you can solve it in 20 seconds.  This game has some sort of story mode, but it didn’t add anything to the game.  It also has a strange “word-jong” mode, which just has you matching letters like a shanghai-tile game.

If you were looking at this one, skip it.  It’s not much fun.

Brain Games – Brain Age 2

Genre:  Eductional
Platform:  Nintendo DS

Video games are fun, but we can also be taught while we play them.  And we have fun doing so.  There are tons of games in this category for the DS alone.  One of the best examples that I can think of in this category is Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS.  There’s a Brain Age 1, but I haven’t played it.  I’m sure it’s just as good, but Brain Age 2 is what I know.

This game is designed to help keep your brain sharp.  You’re not going to feel like a whiz if you play this all day.  You’re supposed to play it in short bursts, but do so every day.  I did this for about a month and I do feel like it helped a bit.  My memory increased, or it felt like it did, which is a big deal for me because I have a terrible short-term memory.

This collection of exercises includes math, memory, logic, music and other types of games.  They are all fun in their own right.  My favorite were the music games, but that’s probably because I’m a musical person.  There aren’t enough music theory games out there.  I am going to go research those games to see if there are any.  Anyway, I would recommend trying this out if you want to give your brain a little workout every morning.

brain-age-2-1

 

Compilation Games – SEGA Genesis Collection

Genre:  Compilation
Platform:  PSP, XBox 360 (Genesis)

Recently, I did an article on AtGame’s SEGA mini.  It is just so-so.  I think a much better deal would be to purchase one of the compilation games that I am going to discuss now.  I own two of them – The SEGA Genesis Collection for the PSP and Sonic’s Genesis Collection.  These are both winners and you can’t go wrong with them.

They both contain all of the classics for the system.  The XBox 360 game has 49 games, some of which you have to unlock.  I actually like the fact that you have to unlock the games as it makes you play games that you may not otherwise.  For example, I wanted to unlock Phantasy Star 1, but I had to reach a certain objective in Sonic the Hedgehog first.  I’m not a huge fan of Sonic, but I did have fun trying to hit that objective.  As with every XBox 360 game, there are a multitude of achievements and you get ratings for each game.  Fun stuff!

The PSP game has 33 games.  Again, some are unlockable.  I haven’t spent a ton of time with this version, but it does have the classics you’re likely familiar with – Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Vectorman, Sonic, Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star, Ecco, etc.  I prefer the XBox version, but this one is great because you can take the games with you.  Of course, I’ve got my GCW Zero, so I just tend to take that as I have just about every Genesis game ever made on it.  But still, this is a more “moral and legal” option.

Casual Game Spotlight – Slingo

Genre:  Bingo/Slots
Platform:  DS, PC

Slingo has been around for a long time.  I think I first played it in 2009 or so, possibly earlier.  I would definitely call this a casual game, as you can pick it up whenever you want and quickly put it back down (if you can).  This game is all over the place now – I have a DS game, it’s on Facebook games, there are stand-alone PC games – and there are many different versions of it.  I’m going to focus on Slingo Quest for the Nintendo DS.

It’s fairly easy to sum up this game – it’s a cross between a slot machine and bingo.  You spin the reels at the bottom, and then select the numbers in your Slingo card that match.  Get a standard bingo pattern (minus four corners) and you get points.  Slingo adds in other objectives that vary from card to card as well.

It’s a simple game, but it is a lot of fun and I recommend it for anyone looking for a quick time waster.  There are times when you need to play more than one card at a time, and I love these games:

slingo-1

It’s more challenging and fun.  If you’ve never played Slingo, try it out.  I am fairly sure you’re going to have fun!

Oldies but Goodies – Excitebike

Genre:  Racing
Platform:  NES

Matt and I are taking a motorcycle safety course today so we can legally ride the new Tao Tao scooter that we recently purchased.  What a better post for today than Excitebike!

I believe Excitebike was one of the first games I played on the NES.  It seemed so fun at the time.  It was action-packed and could get difficult.  We all had the struggles with the stupid bike overheating (see video below).  Sometimes the computer seemed to cheat.  It did that a lot in these older racing games.  The obstacles seemed ridiculous.  But it was still a fun game and actually did get a bit challenging as you played through it.  I don’t know that I ever made it past the first five levels or so, but I was a kid and just had fun playing it.  My sisters and I would compete, but they were quite a bit younger and I would destroy them.  And gloat.

I also spent quite a bit of time with the level creator.  It was the first game on the NES that I had played that had something like that and I really enjoyed it.  If I thought the obstacles on the main game were ridiculous, then the levels that I created were just insane.  It was jumps from one end to the other.  Needless to say, I didn’t play my own levels very often.

I’m not sure that I would recommend going back to play this now, however.  I recently did so, and it’s just not that much fun anymore.  Enjoy the game in your memory!