Brighter Minds Media -- A hometown hero for gaming.

This issue I'm going to do something a little bit different. With today's economy the way it is and more and more jobs being shipped elsewhere, we're going to talk about something to help keep your hard earned bucks close to home. And when I say close to home, I mean literally within minutes from some of you.

Brighter Minds Media, LLC is a video game publishing company located in Worthington, and is responsible for a large number of popular games for PCs and Macs. One day I received a box from the good folks at Brighter Minds loaded with an assortment of titles for Tyler and me to check out.

World of Goo (PC, Mac and WiiWare)
Worldofgoo.com Rated E for Everyone

First off, let me say that this game is a physics masterpiece. World of Goo is a multiple award-winning independent game developed by 2D Boy Studios and published by Brighter Minds Media. In World of Goo, you play as little gooballs who start at one point on the map and have to travel to an exit on another point on the map. Easy enough, right? There is a catch though. The gooballs attach to each other with lines connecting to two other gooballs like a triangle. When the pieces are connected, gravity and physics take over. Your gooball structures might be weighted too heavily on one side causing it to tip over and break, or might sway in the air from poor support at the bottom, causing it to topple over. As I said, physics is key in completing the levels and as the game progresses your brain gets pretty challenged on how to best get to the exit point. And new kinds of gooballs are introduced into the game; like floating gooballs, and gooballs that stick to the walls; adding more of a challenge when trying to beat each level.

The controls are simple enough for my 6-year-old, the puzzles are challenging enough for this 30-year-old, and the levels are creative and well-designed enough to keep both of us entertained for hours. All in all, 2D Boy has shown it doesn't take a big name developer to make a truly innovative and amazing game. And with a $20 price tag, it's even more worthy of picking it up.

Bob the Builder: Can-Do Zoo (PC, Mac) Rated EC for Early Childhood
http://store.brightermindsmedia.com/store/products/Bob-the-Builder-Can-Do-Zoo

In Can-Do Zoo, you play as Bob the Builder and all of his friends who must build a zoo to house a train full of animals. Using problem solving, kids will play a number of mini games focused on patterns and shapes to help build areas for all of the animals to live in. Using voices from the TV show, your kids will be excited to be a part of the Bob the Builder universe and they'll probably learn a lot too. As players get older they can switch between three difficulty levels for added learning and challenges, and also collect over 100 stickers for completing certain tasks in the game.

Can-Do Zoo reminds me a lot of the V-Smile games as it focuses on learning and wraps it up in a video game sandwich, but Can-Do Zoo has much better graphics and is an overall better game. Your younglings will keep coming back for more! And again for only a $20 price tag!

These two games only scratch the surface of the huge selection offered by Brighter Minds. They also have games from popular series such as Caillou, Thomas the Tank Engine, Cartoon Network and Diner Dash. Check out their website at www.brightermindsmedia.com for more information and to access to their huge online store. Also be sure to check out their online game site beanstalkgames.com for Web games and demos of a lot of their retail products.