The story of two hearts colliding is one that’s explored to great effect in virtually every medium. Except gaming. For numerous reasons, the medium has been slow to create experiences around the themes of love and romance beyond more juvenile dating simulators or bolting on elements of romantic relationships into established genres. As much as I love headshots, juggle combos, and stacking blocks, I’ve always felt like there was a whole world of possibilities that could arise when combining the interactive elements of gaming with the themes of love and romance.
Originally released on mobile in 2018, Florence takes a clever approach to bringing a love story to life within the boundaries of gaming. Though I meant to play it at the time, I didn’t get around to it until it was released on the Nintendo Switch in February 2020. The experience of playing through it has weighed heavily on my heart ever since.
“Have you heard of HQ Trivia?”
It was the fall of 2017 and my former coworker was selling me on the virtues of this hot new mobile game he’d discovered. “You can play for free and you have the opportunity to win real cash!”
A few days later, during the middle of the workday, we stepped aside to play a few minutes of HQ Trivia. Those first few minutes would form the start of a ritual that carried on for quite some time.
Swipe left to assassinate?
Reigns: Game of Thrones takes the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin and places it into a video game with the mechanics of Tinder. Wait, what?
How low can you go? It won’t be easy with all of the enemies and obstacles in your way, but the guns strapped to your feet sure do help. Downwell challenges you traverse through a series of randomly-generated tunnels with only the ability to walk, jump, and shoot directly below you.
Dr. Mario World plays a cruel game of rope-a-dope with its players. Many of the levels can be beaten within reason. Be that as it may, the buzzsaw is as brutal as it is inevitable.
That did not go as planned. A myriad of technical issues marred this stream, and I’m sorry it didn’t meet the standards that I set for myself. However, it was my first mobile gaming live stream and I needed to take these bumps! Even so, we had a great time chatting about the differences between Dr. Mario World and its predecessor, shared embarrassing stories, and had a cool chat about music and how it’s impacted our lives in negative ways! Also, before the stream crapped out, I was able to sneak in a bit of music vinyl show-and-tell!
A pair of awkward stories
How I broke my iPhone X in Paris
How R&B music messed up my understanding of love and romance
Music Vinyl Show and Tell
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My crippling addiction to Dr. Mario World has reignited my internal debate about the merits of free-to-play games. While I grew up in a world where you either dropped quarters into an arcade machine or bought a cartridge to play the full game, I understand now that games have always been driven by the business models behind them. Free-to-play is just another permutation of that, and it’s up to me how much I want to engage with that. With Google Stadia and 5G looming, streaming may add yet another approach to monetizing games.
Though I generally prefer to buy my games outright, there have been a few free-to-play games that really sunk their teeth into me. Here are a few of my free-to-play faves!
The original Dr. Mario is game that I like, but don’t love. The theme of having Mario cure viruses by smacking them with pills is great. Mechanically, you can create some interesting combos with the two-part pills splitting in half. However, that game becomes a slog the moment you have to put a pill in a bad spot. From there, you spend much of the level in a negative mindset, stressing out over the mess you made and how difficult it is to clean it up. It makes me feel more like a first-year med student rather than a world-renown professional such as the game’s namesake.
Dr. Mario World takes quite a few liberties in adapting the classic puzzler to mobile devices. Purists may raise an eyebrow at how much the game has changed at first glance, and I don’t blame them for that. However, I don’t think its gameplay is this title’s biggest cause for concern.
Always at the forefront of music and rhythm games, Harmonix teams up with Hasbro for DropMix. This innovative card game aims to give you unprecedented control over music, allowing you to mix-and-match bits of different songs in order to create intricate mashups and mixes without any prerequisite skill in music. Beyond its free-form mixing mode, DropMix comes equipped with multiple game modes that provide structure to the experience.
Does its music-mixing tech work as advertised? Do its modes of play add value to the experience? And should you take the plunge for DropMix and its expansions?
It’s been an incredibly long wait, but Pokemon Go finally has PvP battles! Having played a few matches and poked my head around the game’s new systems, let’s discuss how it works, my thought on its current implementation, and where the system could go from here!