In play

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Sure the game is 3D-rendered and that character actually looks like a real person, but guess what? The gameplay is terrible, the camera angle is horrid and there's really no story line.

There seems to be no balance in the hot games of today. Wow, look! That person flew off into the sunset and the rag doll effect from the explosion was pretty accurate, but I don't really want to shoot zombies for hours at a time. Plus, how are these types of games geared toward kid-friendly gameplay? I know I won't let my 7-year-old run around the game with a chainsaw cutting people's limbs off!

Along with the overall story drabness in recent titles, there's another point: Where's the critical thinking? These new games are turning the populace into a bunch of mush-brained idiots where running around shooting stuff is apparently perfectly acceptable. Well, I disagree wholeheartedly.

As most of you know, me and out-of-the-box-style games and are best friends. I rant quite often about game developers straying away from truly fun and intelligent games and moving into the "body count" games that make up most of one's video game library.

I'm going to talk about two new games for Nintendo DS that focus in on the fun and critical thinking aspects, yet look like they were drawn by a fourth grader -- but I bet you you'll like them better!

Scribblenauts (DS) (9/15/09) Rated E for Everyone

Scribblenauts is amazing, just simply amazing. I've been waiting for this title since I saw the videos from E3.

The gist of the game is a simple one: get the star. When a level begins, your character stands on one side of the map. Somewhere on the screen is a star. It could be in a tree, in a lake, on a cloud, etc. Your job is to get the star. Here's the catch: at any time, you can open up a QWERTY keyboard and type in any word, ANY word, and poof that object is now in the game. Let me give you an example.

There's a star in a tree and you have to get the star. I type in TRAMPOLINE, and poof there's a trampoline. I put the trampoline next to the tree; my little guy walks over, jumps on the trampoline and grabs the star. I win! Easy enough, right? But you can literally put in any word, get the object and use it to get the star. How about a lumberjack with an axe? He cuts down the tree, I get the star. Abraham Lincoln with a flamethrower? He burns down the tree, I get the star. A woodpecker? He pecks down the tree, I get the star. The possibilities are endless!

The game graphics are sketchy, but that's the least important thing. The gameplay is addicting, the levels have high replayability and the critical thinking aspect is off the charts. I strongly suggest picking this title up even just to see what your kids come up with.

By the way, my favorite way to get the star was a midget with a helicopter backpack. Just saying

Bowser's Inside Story (DS) (9/15/09) Rated E for Everyone

We all know I'm a huge Nintendo fanboy. I flock to Nintendo characters like a fanboy at a Star Trek convention. The thought of another Mario and Luigi game for the DS just has me tickled all over. Here's the story.

An evil sorcerer has tricked Bowser into eating something magical which causes Bowser to inhale everything around him including buildings, monsters, furniture and even Mario and Luigi. The game has two different storylines: One follows Bowser as he tries to cure himself from this mysterious illness and take back the kingdom from the evil sorcerer, and the other story is Mario and Luigi inside of Bowser, trying to get out.

The cool thing is that both story lines coincide with each other. Sometimes you'll have to do something with Mario inside of Bowser to change something about Bowser in the real world which will help him solve challenges. The storylines play together hand-in-hand. The game also features the recently discovered comedy side of Mario and Luigi games. Luigi is constantly getting stuck in things, Mario falls a lot and characters in the game come up with hilarious one-liners.

As in most Mario games, this one focuses a lot on puzzle solving to progress through the game, and I think they pulled this title off perfectly. Give it a look and let me know what you think!

Lastly, Beatles Rock Band came out this week (hooray!). Did you get it? Did you like it? Do you recommend it? Let all of us know in the comment box below this article!

Until next time, play on!