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    Pokémon GO Plus: The Good and The Bad

    Pokémon GO Plus

    As soon as I heard about the Pokémon GO Plus, I grabbed every game I could part with and went to GameStop to preorder. Niantic hadn’t released a whole lot of details on how the peripheral device would work, but I knew it was supposed to make playing easier, so I was on board. Like many who was excited to get their hands on the accessory, I was disappointed when I heard they were pushing back their original release date from late July until September. However, I waited patiently, have been using it for a few days now, and have come to my opinions on the currently in low supply device.

    The Good

    • Wearing it: Pokémon GO Plus comes with two options for a person to wear it. You can either clip it on your person, or wear it on a bracelet. I love the options, but I have chosen to wear it as a bracelet. It’s lightweight and more comfortable than most watches I’ve worn in my time. I also think it looks pretty cool, as it looks like a cross between a Pokéball, and a map marker on Google Maps.

     

    • Ease of use: Once paired with the Pokémon GO app, the Pokémon GO Plus makes playing so much easier. The device will vibrate and flash with a green light when a Pokémon is near. Then, all you have to do is push the button on the device for a chance to catch the Pokémon. If the device flashes with different colors, it means you caught the Pokémon. If it flashes red, it means the Pokémon ran away.

     

    • Pokémon GO Plus will vibrate and flash blue if you pass within range of a Pokéstop. Again, pressing the button on the device will count as “spinning” the Pokéstop in game, rewarding you with items. However, if the device flashes red after trying to “spin” the Pokéstop, then it means you have already traveled too far away from the Pokéstop in order for the spin to count.

     

    • Niantic’s peripheral also makes hatching eggs easier. While the device is connected via Bluetooth to the app, it acts as a pedometer. No longer do you have to worry about whether or not the app is “counting” how far you’re traveling due to it’s not always so reliable GPS. The Pokémon GO Plus counts your steps that are then read in the app as distance traveled. If someone were so inclined, they could lie on their couch, shake the device, and hatch all the eggs their heart desires.

     

    • Using other apps: While Pokémon GO is connected to the Pokémon GO Plus via Bluetooth, you can back out of the app and it will run in the background. This means you can use other apps on your phone and still catch all the Pokémon that come into range.

    The Bad

    • Battery Life: Since the app has to be connected via Bluetooth in order for the Pokémon GO Plus to work, it does cause a little more strain on the battery. It’s very easy to keep the app going all day to maximize on the Pokémon extravaganza, however, be prepared to charge your phone more than once a day if you do this.

     

    • Disconnects after a time: I’m sure they put this in as a way to help save on phone battery life, but it can become annoying to keep going back into the app to reconnect the Pokémon GO Plus.

     

    • Running out of Pokeballs: Since it’s so much easier to catch Pokemon with Pokémon GO Plus, be prepared to run out of balls more quickly. I accidentally went through 100 balls in just a little over a day. However, if you’re someone who lives close to a ton of Pokéstops, then Pokémon GO Plus will make it much easier for you to keep up your supply of Pokéballs without having to throw money at microtransactions.

    The Verdict

    8/10 Would buy again.

    Pokémon GO Plus is a freaking godsend and I can’t sing its praises enough. Get your hands on one as soon as you can. It has made Pokémon GO fun for me again. If you’re someone who stopped playing because it became a grind, or because you just didn’t have time for it, Pokémon GO Plus might just be what you need to get back into the game.

    Pokémon GO Plus is available at most retailers that sell games for $34.99.

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    Puzzle game Best Fiends now available for iOS mobile devices

    Best_Fiends_Screenshots_5_1536x2048-768x1024Seriously, a Helsinki, Finland-based mobile entertainment startup, has released its first IP, an iOS game called Best Fiends.

    The title is set in Minutia, a world populated with cute yet fiendish creatures that players must collect. These adorable, courageous little guys lived in harmony until a meteor struck, transforming the Slugs of Mount Boom into an army of pests that are now sliming and chomping their way through Minutia. Now, our tiny heroes have to save their families from the slugs by gaining special powers as players level up. To do so, players engage in the type of puzzle-based gameplay that has them matching shapes to make them disappear.

    The new IP has a pedigree worth noting; the company behind it was created by former Rovio (Angry Birds) executives Andrew Stalbow and Petri Järvilehto, with music from “Despicable Me”‘s Heitor Pereira performed by the Budapest Art Orchestra. Best Fiends was designed from the ground up as the first of what Seriously hopes is a global entertainment franchise.

    Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Järvilehto said in a press release, “The story of Minutia and the cute yet fiendish creatures that inhabit it is something we’ve been passionate about developing for a long time. For us, this launch is the beginning of an incredible journey that will unfold through a trilogy of games.”

    Best Fiends has already had a soft launch with what the company says were promising results, and the next installment in the trilogy is already in the works. The second game is due out in 2015.

    The game is free to play with in-app purchase options, and is currently only available at The App Store worldwide for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. Check out the Best Fiends YouTube channel, complete with trailers, reveal videos, making-of pieces, and more. Get it at www.AppStore.com/BestFiends, or find out more information at www.bestfiends.com. The game is expected to be available for Android devices via Google Play and the Amazon App Store before the end of the year.

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    I Missed This Whole Flappy Bird Thing

    flappy_bird_hits_1

    Over the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has occasionally forced upon me images of this little pixelated bird flying between pipes that look like they came from 8-bit Mario’s world. Apparently, these pictures came from a frustrating yet addictive game called Flappy Bird. I dismissed this game the same way I initially dismissed Candy Crush Saga requests – as something too meaningless and faddish and probably dumb to really catch my interest. I figured if it was any good, it would stick around and down the line I’d download it and check it out.

    And then, suddenly, creator Dong Nguyen announced he was pulling the game. I gasped, wondered where I could download Flappy Bird before he completely eradicated all traces of its existence, started contemplating if I should get it for my Android phone or my iPad, then got a work email I had to respond to and promptly forgot all about it. Then I went on with my day, because I am a mom and I have crap I have to do.

    Sure enough, Flappy Bird is no more. As I write this phones loaded with Flappy Bird are being offered on eBay for thousands of dollars, Kotaku is issuing mea culpas for possibly contributing to bullying that maybe led Flappy Bird’s creator to shut it down, people are debating the little app’s merits (great endless game with lots of genuine buzz, or terrible time-waster inflated by bots and ripping off Mario, Grand Theft Auto and everything else?). And I missed the whole thing.

    I’m fascinated by all the buzz, generated over a game that existed for just a few months. Flappy Bird reportedly took just a few nights to make, and was made available for free because its developer felt he couldn’t charge for a game that simple. The game, during its lifespan (and it’s been available since mid-2013), generated something like 146,000 reviews – many of which were put up on the last day, and the tongue-in-cheek nature of which helped make it even more popular. BuzzFeed created an article, which right there means You’ve Made It and Every Idiot Knows What This Is. Slate.com and even The Atlantic have weighed in. Flappy Bird, at the time of its demise, was bringing its creator $50,000 a day in ad revenue. This is a great story, right? With a strange ending.

    The popularity of the game may have been too much for Nguyen, who probably took it down so he didn’t have to deal with haters, critics  (did I mention it’s a FREE download?) and other folks displaying bad behavior. All asking for more from the game’s creator, making him feel overloaded and out of his depth (as seen on his Twitter feed). Well, at least, that’s my interpretation of why he quit. And now he’s getting death threats too.

    See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Thanks to the Internet and people, I won’t ever get to play Flappy Bird and decide for myself if I like it or not. Unless I’m willing to shell out $6,000 for this iPhone with Flappy Bird installed (spoiler alert: I’m not). Not that I’m actually blaming everyone (or anyone). I’m just thinking that this hyper-critical modern world we live in today, full of instant feedback, faceless comments, a forum for everyone, and out-of-control virality, can sure be a mixed bag.

    And as a result, Flappy Bird has flown off into the sunset, hopefully dodging green pipes along the way. I’m just going to have to find another game to play.

    Titanfall, anyone?

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    Play God Day – January 9th

    app_pocketgod2

    Tired of people telling you they can’t stand your “God complex”? Well, today is your day to let that personality flaw shine like a heavenly light!

    January 9th is an exceptionally obscure, obscure holiday…Play God Day. While I was unable to ascertain exactly what Play God Day means, I have some suggestions on how to celebrate it.

    Suggested game: Pocket God
    I remember when this game came out five years ago. Developed by Bolt Creative, Pocket God allows you to…well…play God. You’re given an island, some pygmies, and you can choose to be kind, or creatively cruel. The game is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Facebook.

    MV5BMTYwMTUyNzAxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDYwOTY3._V1_SX640_SY720_  Suggested movie: Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey

    In Bruce Almighty, Bruce Nolan (Carrey) blames God for all of his problems and goes into a fit of rage. God (Morgan Freeman) decides to step aside and see if Bruce can do his job better. It’s a cheesy movie, but what more would you expect from Jim Carrey?

    Or you could skip the games and movies and just do whatever you think God would do for a day. Be kind to your friends, do nice things for others, forgive someone for something you’ve been holding onto way too long. And if you believe God is evil, go out and stomp on some ants* or something. It’s your day, have fun!

    *Please note that we at The Mommy Gamers do not condone violence against ants or anything else. Not much anyway.

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    Ryse: Son of Disappointment

    Ryse: Son of Rome
    Like most people who purchased an Xbox One close to launch, I was extremely excited to dive into Ryse: Son of Rome.  All the trailers made the hack and slash, action-adventure game set in ancient Rome to be one of the most epic games in the last decade.  The graphics looked sleek, they promised immersive multiplayer, and the story line seemed as if it was going to be a deep, rich tale.  Developed by Crytek and published by Microsoft Studios I figured if nothing else the action would be amazing.  Unfortunately, however, Ryse: Son of Rome just didn’t meet all of my expectations.

    The game starts off running as you, playing as Roman soldier Marius Titus, save Emperor Nero during an attack on Rome by barbarians.  The action is awesome.  The controls are easy to master for the hack and slash bits, there are moments where you take control of whole armies of Roman soldiers, and there are even Kinect voice commands to make for a truly immersive gameplay experience.  The graphics were as breathtaking as the awesome gameplay.  Truly at the beginning it seems as if Ryse was going to be everything promised.

    Then seven hours later I beat it.  That’s right…seven hours of story line.  I couldn’t believe it.  I have played short games before, but they were always either games that released at a cheaper price point (Ryse was $59.99 at release), or had a great multiplayer experience.

    ryse-son-of-rome
    The multiplayer, however, was as equally depressing as how short the story was.  There is no competitive multiplayer, only cooperative.  You can go in with up to only one other person to complete rounds in a gladiator inspired arena combat setting.  Also, the only way to get better gear is to buy the items with gold, which you can earn through completing rounds, but the easiest way is to purchase the gold with micro-transactions within the game.

    I understand why micro-transactions exist, I really do, but they shouldn’t exist in a game that starts with a $60 price point.  On top of that you can’t pick exactly what gear you get.  You buy “booster packs” which have random items in them, so you never know what you’re getting.  I’m sorry but if I am going to spend real money on a game that I already sunk $60 into I at least don’t want to have to gamble with what I’m getting.  That alone enraged me enough to never want to play the multiplayer again, despite the fact that the entire experience was disappointing to begin with.

    Overall I’d say Ryse: Son of Rome was an OK game, but definitely not worth $60.  I would say it is a solid $30 buy, but no more than that.  If you’re curious about this one, wait until the price drops.  You won’t be sorry.

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    Girls Against Girls

    girlsagainstgirls

         Bullying is a growing problem in our society today.  It isn’t new, but with the rise of social media bullying seems to be getting worse.  Being connected to the entire world via the internet has given bullies a new way in which to inflict emotional harm on others.  No one is worse about bullying each other as females are to other females.  Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton is the best resource I have ever seen in the fight against bullying.

         Bonnie starts off explaining why we, as females, tend to hurt each other.  She goes over how biology and hormones, the way we are raised, the legacy we pass down to our children, and the naturally competitive nature of women all play into why we tend to bully each other.  Seeing such an in depth look at the why is such a great step into helping it to stop.  Sometimes all we, as humans, need to better ourselves is to understand why we do some of the bad things that we do.

         From the why she continues to the how bullying occurs.  Bonnie goes over various ways we hurt each other including the silent treatment to gossiping, to cyberbullying, and to other methods.  She explains what each method is, why it happens, why it hurts, and how to deal with it.  Meru, my 11 year old daughter, after reading the section on verbal abuse came up to me in tears and said, “Mamma, I’ve never thought about why [name of girl in her class] says such mean things to me, but now I know it’s because she’s hurting.  Now I feel bad for her.”  Meru hasn’t come home upset after school since.

         Girls Against Girls then continues to teach readers how to deal with the stress of feeling overwhelmed by bullying.  Sometimes when we are bullied we can feel as if we are completely alone.  Bonnie goes beyond the traditional “just ignore them and they’ll go away” advice and gives some real ways in which to deal with bullying.  She gives some examples such as writing in a journal, exercise, and even starting a club at school.  She also gives advice on how to get help if the problem gets to be too big to deal with on your own.  A list of different agencies, websites, and hotlines is included for anyone who may need the extra help.

         The last two chapters are all about stopping the bullying cycle and how to team together as females to help empower instead of tearing down.  Bonnie helps us to find constructive ways to vent our frustrations instead of taking them out on each other.  There is also a list of websites and organizations to help women form strong relationships with other women to help gain empowerment.

         Girls Against Girls is a must read for everyone.  Anyone who has felt bullied or has perhaps bullied someone else can learn something.  Especially any mothers of young daughters should pick this up.  It is one of the greatest weapons out there in the war against bullying.

         Recently I was fortunate enough to ask Bonnie a few questions:

    Carrie: What first inspired you to write this book?

    Bonnie: I was bullied when I was a kid, and the only books that I could find about the subject were completely unrealistic or written for parents. It’s hard to deal with bullying in junior high and high school when all the advice is outdated. So I wrote this book to help girls get good advice on what to do and not to do, as well as how to avoid turning into a mean girl by battling bullies. Fighting fire with fire only leads to a lot more drama.

    Carrie: What is something that you personally learned through writing Girls Against Girls?

    Bonnie: I learned that mean girls grow up to be mean women. Sadly, women learned bad behavior as kids and never really grow out of it. So you have to use the same defenses from junior high, but in the workplace or PTA meetings or even dinner parties.

    Carrie:  It definitely seems as if bullying has been getting a fair share of media attention lately.  Do you think that the rise of social media has made bullying worse? Or do you think it has just helped bring bullying more to light?

    Bonnie: Anything that gets people talking more about bullying and why it’s wrong, is always a good thing. The worst that could happen is that people think “it’s just a natural thing all kids have to go through.” There’s nothing okay with mistreating those around you because they’re different or quiet or not exactly like you. Parents, teachers and other students ALL have a responsibility to take a stand against bullying and offer support to those kids who need someone to talk to. Bullies will never go away, but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate them!

    Carrie: What inspired you during a time when you felt you were being bullied?

    Bonnie: When I was being bullied all throughout school I turned to writing and art to keep my spirits up and not be discouraged about what was happening to me. When you’re a kid, life can seem unbearable when you think it will never get better. But it DOES get better. Once you know how to deal with bullies, surround yourself with real friends, and be comfortable doing your own thing, life doesn’t have to be so miserable.

    Carrie: Who is your biggest female role model?

    Bonnie: That’s a hard question to answer! I have a wide array of female role models! I love funny ladies like Tina Fey and Laraine Newman who paved the way for female comedians and improv actresses. I love the writing of everyone from Anne Rice to Jenny Lawson. Bettie Page and Dita von Teese are big fashion icons for me. Siouxsie Sioux, Jane Wiedlin, Kim Gordon, Kim Shattuck, and Patti Smith influenced me to learn how to play guitar. My friend Felicia Day inspires me to follow my dreams and never give up on goals no matter how impossible they might seem at the time.

    Carrie: Girls Against Girls is such a great book, have you ever thought about writing more books along this line?

    Bonnie: As a matter of fact, yes! I’m hoping to write a series of anti-bullying books like this but for elementary school aged girls. Sadly, bullying happens to younger girls as soon as preschool, so the sooner we can teach them kindness, the better.

    Carrie: If you could only give one piece of advice to a young girl being bullied, what would it be?

    Bonnie: Be your own best friend. It can be hard to trust others and not feel betrayed when friends turn into frenemies. But if you can be happy just entertaining yourself through reading, writing, painting, crafting, running, playing guitar, playing with pets, etc., then you won’t feel as alone. Friends are great, but depending on them 100% for your happiness is a recipe for disaster.

    Fun Questions:

    Carrie: What is your favorite video game or video game series?

    Bonnie: I don’t really play video games because I’m paranoid that I’ll end up getting so caught up in the game that I’ll never get my book projects done! But I do love old school video games like “Hamburger Time” and “Frogger.” “Ms. PacMan” will also be dear to my heart.

    Carrie: Cupcakes or brownies and why?

    Bonnie: Cupcakes! Brownies! Ooooh I can’t decide. How about both together as the ultimate dessert?

    Carrie: Finish this sentence… “If I ruled the world every home would have at least one____________.”

    Bonnie: …taxidermied squirrel playing the violin!

    Bonnie Burton is a San Francisco-based author, journalist, comedian, actress and show host. From 2003 to 2012, she worked as a Senior Editor for Star Wars.com and staff writer for Star Wars Insider magazine, and was the Senior Editor of the Official Star Wars Blog. Burton's books include The Star Wars Craft Book (Random House), You Can Draw Star Wars (DK Publishing), Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Klutz Books), Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change (Zest Publishing), Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets in Peril (DK Readers) and Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers (Apress).

    Bonnie Burton is a San Francisco-based author, journalist, comedian, actress and show host. From 2003 to 2012, she worked as a Senior Editor for Star Wars.com and staff writer for Star Wars Insider magazine, and was the Senior Editor of the Official Star Wars Blog. Burton’s books include The Star Wars Craft Book (Random House), You Can Draw Star Wars (DK Publishing), Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Klutz Books), Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change (Zest Publishing), Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets in Peril (DK Readers) and Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers (Apress).

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