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.

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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:

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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!

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Pokemon games have been collectible for a very long time.  If you were fortunate enough to have bought and kept them when they were first released, you likely have some very valuable items in your collection.  It is insane how valuable some of these games are today.  For example, I have Pokemon Soulsilver for the PSP, in its original box with an unused Pokewalker.  I got it for $50, but it now sells for over $125.  These prices are not going down, either.  I routinely see lots of four or five Pokemon DS/3DS games selling for over $250.

However, you need to be careful when purchasing these online as they are easy to counterfeit.  This is why you will see many Gameboy Original and Advance games going at cheaper prices.  They are SO easy to fake that most assume these are fake copies.  If you’re unsure, ask the seller for a picture of both the front and back of the cartridge.  Compare it to a picture of a real cart (found online) and make sure everything matches.  Pay special attention to the logo placements and the serial number.

If you’re buying on Ebay, look for the tell-tale seller signs.  If this person has a rating below 100, be cautious.  A lot of counterfeiters get caught and then create new IDs.  If it’s someone from China, it’s most likely a fake.  There are great deals to be had, just be careful.

I will post another day about identifying fake DS carts as I’ve become somewhat of an expert in the area.  When in doubt, you are very likely correct.

Stinkers – Deal or No Deal, Nintendo DS

Genre:  Game Show
Platform:  Nintendo DS

I love game shows.  I am a sucker for the Game Show Network and BUZZR.  It really doesn’t matter the age or content of the show, I will sit and watch it.  I also really like Deal or No Deal.  The premise is fairly simple.  You pick a case and hope that it has $1,000,000 in it.  Throughout the game, you pick other cases that have other values in them.  Between rounds, the host talks to the banker, who makes you an offer for your case.  If you want to risk it and keep going, you can.  If you like his offer and just want to run away with that money, you do.  Nearly every time, people get too greedy and end up busted.

So naturally, I picked up this game.  I had a lot of fun with it, at least the first few games.  It was just like the TV show, Howie Mandel and all.  But then I noticed something.  It was a pattern.  And it destroyed the (video) game for me forever.  You see, this game has a big flaw and I can’t believe that the developers didn’t see it.  If you’ve not played this game and intend to, hit your back button now.

The critical error is that the $1,000,000 is always in the same case.  Every single time.  This takes away all of the fun.  The company that made this came out with a second “special version” of the game, but the damage was already done for me and I didn’t want to buy it.  It’s too bad because I really had fun before I noticed it.

Stinkers – Toon-Doku

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  DS

Everyone knows by now that I love puzzle and logic games.  I enjoy a good game of sudoku now and again, so I thought the concept of Toon-Doku was fun.  You apply the same rules of sudoku – no more than one number per column, row or block – to a grid of icons instead.  I’m sure this would have actually been fun if it wasn’t for the horrible presentation.

The image above looks pretty good.  You can see everything pretty clearly.  This is not how it actually looks on the system.  The icons are so small that it’s hard to tell them apart.  This makes it impossible to fill out the grid, which really defeats the purpose of the game.  I really wanted to like this one, but after five minutes with it, I was done.  Skip this one.