enfrdeitptrues

Edutainment

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Chernobyl VR Project
    Developed by: The Farm 51 Group
    Published by: The Farm 51 Group
    Release date: September 26, 2016
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Number of players: Single-player
    Genre: Documentary
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you The Farm 51 Group for sending us this title to review!

    Virtual reality is a great platform to virtually visit exotic places and partake in extreme experiences that you would not do otherwise.  With the options of visiting outer space and vacation like vistas, who would ever imagine to visit the abandoned areas surrounding the Chernobyl power plant?  The Farm 51 Group firmly believes that VR can be used as an excellent tool for addressing important social issues.   Despite some rough edges, the Chernobyl VR Project does just that.

    On April 26th, 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history occurred when the fourth reactor at the Ukraine power plant exploded and released radioactive material in western USSR and Europe.   The government kept quiet and many of the people in the surrounding areas were not evacuated until several days later.   Those that were called to extinguish the power plant fires got radiation sickness and died days or months later after their exposure.

    With the help of drones and re-creating buildings with the Unreal engine, you can visit abandoned buildings in the Pripyat area without the need of a Geiger counter to stay safe.  There is a Geiger counter available if you wish to use it though.    Many of the areas have a guide to explain the backstory and events that took place after the explosion.

    Chernobyl VR Project
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: See the devastation caused by the Chernobyl explosion first hand
    Weak Points: Low quality visuals; clunky interface
    Moral Warnings: This title doesn’t hide any of the details of this tragedy

    Some areas like an abandoned amusement park and a junk yard filled with irradiated vehicles are shown via drone while the school is rendered and interactive with clickable objects that tell a story when activated.  There are also some interviews with the Nobel Prize winning author Svetlana Alexevich, and the former legendary boxer, now mayor, Vitali Klitschko.  

    The stories of those interviewed were heart breaking.  The mayor lost his father, who was a rescue worker, months after the incident.  There was also another interview from a resident of Japan during the Fukushima disaster.  Sadly, the government was just as silent and repeated many of the mistakes that happened during Chernobyl.  

    I wouldn’t classify Chernobyl VR Project as a game, but as an experience.  This is definitely one of the more memorable VR titles I’ve played.  There are no moral issues other than the facts of what happened during this devastating tragedy.   

    Chernobyl VR Project
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls/Interface - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The visuals are neat, but not the highest quality, especially during the drone flights.  The interviews are panoramic and you can look all around, but not move about. The 3D rendered areas are incredibly detailed and capture the devastation accurately.  Inside of the power plant and missile defense system you can click on different areas to get different perspectives and guided tours of the various facilities. 

    Not surprisingly, the dialogue is in a foreign language, but translated to English via a translator.  The other sound effects and ambient noises are good.

    The menu interface is a bit clunky.  Despite an option to resume the game via the main menu, it only worked while you were in the game.  Every time I started the game I had to skip the intro movie because it treated me as a new player.  

    In the end, this title has opened my eyes and educated me on the Chernobyl disaster. This experience is suitable for younger audiences if they're ready to learn the hard truth of of what really happened during this catastrophe.  The price is a reasonable $9.99 and will show you a lot in the couple of hours it takes to go through all of the devastated areas.

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    Game Info:

    CotBot Farm
    Developed by: Divine Robot
    Published by: Divine Robot
    Release Date: March 23, 2017
    Available on: Android, iOS
    ESRB Rating: E
    Genre: Kids
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $2.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thanks very much to Divine Robot for the review copy!

    CotBot Farm is a kid's game that allows a player to explore a farm in a 3D environment and play mini games that represent various farm chores. With an extremely simple interface and simplistic gameplay, this one will appeal to small children who are just learning to use a tablet or phone. Mostly I let my kids play this one so I could see how well they enjoyed it. I then played it myself to get a feel for how it works and what all of the options are.

    The game is played in two modes. The first is a 3D environment where the player moves around the farm as their chosen avatar, selected at the beginning of the game. The current avatar can also be changed at any time in this mode. Available avatars include vehicles one might find on a farm like a pickup, a harvester, or of course my son's favorite, a monster truck. The player can also choose to be a horse or cat and stroll around the environment. In the case of the cat, passing other cats on the farm causes them to start to follow the player's cat. My daughter was delighted by this and only plays the game to run around accumulating as many as she can find.

    When moving around the farm, the steering is handled by physically tilting the tablet left and right. A large button on the bottom right corner flashes when the player is near a site on the farm where a mini game is available. There's no throttle or brake, but picking up gas cans on the farm gives the vehicle a short speed boost. (When playing as the horse or cat, nothing happens when riding over the gas can.) Being able to brake or reverse would be nice, since the vehicles steer wide. It can be a bit of a pain to get turned around and try again if you miss something you wanted to drive up to or over.

    CotBot Farm
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Sandbox World, variety of avatars  
    Weak Points: Gets repetitive, very little challenge
    Moral Warnings:None

    Most obstacles on the farm are unbreakable, and a vehicle or animal that runs into them will simply stop and slide around it. Some items can be broken up when hit, such as piles of fruit or pumpkins. Running over a pumpkin causes the vehicle to spin out and then resume its previous direction.

    The second mode is the mini game mode. In various places on the farm one can find mini games like fishing, shearing sheep or growing vegetables. These mini games are incredibly simplistic and not at all challenging. This is good for the very young players, but I can tell you my kids got bored with that part of the game fairly quickly. For example, in the sheep shearing game, the player simply slides their finger over the sheep which causes its wool to fly off and into a sack. Once completely shorn, the sheep moves on and is replaced by another. This repeats until the player exits. That's it. There's no score, a sheep doesn't move until it's completely shorn, and every one is the same. The vegetable garden game involves dropping seeds into holes, watching the veggies come up, then tapping them to harvest. This mini game at least lets the player choose which vegetable seeds go into which hole. The fishing game involved tapping the screen to throw the line, then tapping a fish to hook and reel it in. Occasionally a sharklike fish swims by and it's possible to hook a boot, if you want to.

    This game has no multiplayer mode, which is a good thing considering it's for the little ones.

    CotBot Farm
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 62%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The 3d graphics are simple and cartoonish, though in the fishing game there's a mix of 3d graphics (the fisherman on the dock) and regular 2D animation (the fish in the water). That style choice seems a little weird to me and seems to only put greater emphasis on the fact that it's a game, and not an immersive world.

    The sound effects are adequate but not particularly memorable. A lot of game events have no sound effects at all, however, and the absence is noticeable.

    The game didn't have any crashes or issues that I detected.

    There aren't any moral issues here. It is possible to drive your vehicle into the people and animals hanging around the farm, but hitting them is like hitting any other impassable obstacle. The vehicle just stops until the player steers around and the person or animal run into does not react in any way. This discourages kids from playing that way by being nice and boring.

    The game is cute and has a neat concept, but it just feels more like an unfinished demo to me than a full fledged game. I realize it's meant for the little ones and my expectations might not be entirely reasonable. It's just that my own younger kids (9 and 5 years old) loved it at first, but quickly got bored of most of its features. I think the problem here is that CotBot Farm is targeted for a very narrow age bracket of children who are old enough to operate the game's controls and yet still young enough to find the content engaging. The highlight of the game is the ability to drive a variety of vehicles or animals around the farm in a 3D environment and that feature is what saves the game.

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    FourChords Guitar Karaoke
    Developed by: Musopia
    Published by: Musopia
    Release Date: July 19, 2016
    Available on: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, SteamOS/Linux
    Genre: Edutainment
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Musopia for sending us this game to review!

    I really enjoyed playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band when they first came out.  When multiple instruments were introduced, I still stuck with the guitar.  Even though my mom and brother knew how to play guitar, I never expressed interest until a video game offered to teach me.  That game is FourChords Guitar Karaoke.  

    Unlike Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you will not be playing in five minutes if you’ve never played a real guitar before.  Before you can play any song you will have to learn at least three chords and have your fingers prepared for the strain that will be placed upon them.  Not only will your fingers be stretched in new ways, they will also endure some pain by holding down metal strings repeatedly.  It will take a few weeks to develop some callouses on them.    

    If you’re okay with the time and pain requirements, there’s a lot to like in FourChords Guitar Karaoke.  Since this game is in early access, it’s hard to say what the final version will have, but bundled into it at the time of this review are one hundred and ten songs broken into four categories. All of the songs are available from the start and you don't have to unlock any of them. 

     
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great way to learn how to strum and play guitar; instructional videos from JustinGuitar.com are integrated into the program
    Weak Points: Computer generated songs without vocals are used
    Moral Warnings: Some of the included songs have mild language (hell/d*mn) and suggestive themes; drinking references

    The categories are Traditional/Starter, Country Starter, Rock Starter and Pop Starter.  The song selection is pretty good and there should be something for everyone to enjoy.  The mobile versions are free and allow the users to build up their music library by purchasing songs of their own choosing.  I’m curious what DLC offerings will be available for this title down the road.  

    The song list can be filtered by the chords you know, but I also enjoyed playing songs that I liked even though I couldn’t play them fully yet.  When selecting a song, you will see the chords and have the option of seeing a tutorial video (courtesy of JustinGuitar.com) for each of the chords used.  There is also a fingering chart for chords, and one and three string finger positions.  You can also view and learn the strumming technique and change the BPM to your liking

    Some songs like Amazing Grace, House of the Rising Sun, and I’m Yours have a simple down strum technique while other songs have more complex ones.  The Holy Grail Strum (down down up up down) is used by many songs including Get Lucky, Counting Stars, Born to Be Wild, Don't Stop Belivein', and Sweet Child of Mine.  The song Royals (known by me as Weird Al’s Foil) uses Basic 16ths strumming (down down up down down down up down down down).  An intermediate 16ths strum (down down down up up down up down down down up) is used in Me and My Broken Heart and Higher.  Even though Oh! Susanna has three chords, it’s a rather fast song at 160BPM and has a unique strumming pattern called Shoot em' ups (down down down up down up).  I recommend focusing on learning and transitioning chords and sticking with simple down strums at the beginning.   

    FourChords Guitar Karaoke
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    Some of the songs listed above  have moral issues worth mentioning.  I love Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, but it does have the word d*mn in the lyrics. Other songs like Get Lucky and Me and My Broken Heart have sexual references in them.  Last but not least, House of the Rising Sun talks about drinking and gambling.  Amazing Grace is in the song list so they’re not all bad.

    The songs are computer generated and are not what you hear on the radio.  There is no actual singing as the game expects you to do it!  Singing is purely optional and I just focused on playing the guitar.  No matter how well you play or sing, the game will say that you rocked upon completion.  If you're into Steam trading cards, they're available in this game.  

    Even if you don’t care for the Karaoke aspect of this game, it’s an excellent teaching tool and I highly recommend it for any aspiring guitar players out there.  The Early Access price of $14.99 is very reasonable.  The free teaching video series by JustinGuitar.com is excellent and run by a donation honor system.  I recommend learning the G, D, and C chords from there so you can play a few of the songs from the get go.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    GameGuru
    Developed by: The Game Creators
    Published by: The Game Creators
    Release Date:May 19, 2015
    Available on: PC
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you The Game Creators for sending us a review copy of GameGuru!

    GameGuru is an affordable and royalty free game engine that can easily compile single-player and multiplayer games that can be completed in mere hours!  If you've ever used a level editor in a game, you'll catch on to GameGuru's interface rather quickly.  If you don't, there are interactive and video tutorials available.  

    There are several examples of single-player and mutliplayer demos to play and learn from.   Most of the examples are first person shooters, but there was a colorful coin collecting kids game as well.  The exploding porcupines and rabbits were a bit creepy though.   If you want to aim for scary, there are several ready made zombies waiting to be dropped into your level.  Unlike some of the other characters I have tried working with, the zombies were nicely animated.

     

    Game Guru
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Easily compile single and multiplayer games for Windows; reasonable price
    Weak Points: Dated visuals; buggy animations; limited selection of objects to put in the game; more are available for a price; memory errors 
    Moral Warnings: Blood is enabled by default, but you can disable it

    The medieval barbarian and thief I tried putting in my level didn't pan out.  No matter what Artificial  intelligence lua script I assigned to them, they moved around as if they were riding an escalator instead of taking steps and walking.  The enemy AI will automatically move towards the player and attack.  You can assign cover zones for them to take cover in. There are also music and story zones for triggering .ogg music files or .wmv movies to play.

    Sculpting the terrain is as simple as painting various areas with grass, rock, or sandy surfaces.  You can also pull up areas to make hills or mountains.  The next step is adding foliage and scenery.  There's a fair amount of trees, bushes, barrels, boxes, as well as medieval and concrete buildings.  Some of the items are animated, but most are not.  Animal models would have been a nice addition.  There's a store where modelers can upload and sell their creations.  DLC packs are also available from $25-$29 apiece on Steam.  

    While the content packs have a lot bundled in them, the graphics in general are very dated.  I would only recommend buying the content packs if you enjoy making games with GameGuru as a hobby.  With the limitations of this engine, I don't see much of a chance of recovering the investment in seriously selling games made from it. Visually the games made with GameGuru are a decade or more behind games made with freely available engines like Unity and UDK.   

    Game Guru

    With that being said, I'm sure my kids will making their own games with GameGuru.  I'll just be sure to disable the blood from their character models.  Other than the blood and zombies, the engine assets are pretty safe.  

    Exporting the levels made is pretty simple but if you want to edit the default menu you have to change the images from the Steam directory before you compile your game.  After the game is compiled, the images are all encrypted.  Other than that, this engine is pretty easy to use.  Unfortunately it's hard to take seriously given its simplicity, dated visuals, and limited options/genres.

    Click here to download the game I made using GameGuru

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Update--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On April 17th 2018, GameGuru was massively overhauled in a free update. Some of the new features include DirectX 11 support and enhanced visuals. Developers can now render their games using physically based rendering (PBR) too. More Lua commands are supported and are compiled in binary for faster loading.

    For reviewing the new update we were provided with another Steam code so my daughter could try it out. Unfortunately, the demo she tried crashed to the desktop upon launching. When she tried to render her projects in 3D mode, they too would crash to the desktop. I updated GameGuru on my laptop and it crashed when trying to create a new project. This time, it would display a message about a missing sound file and then go into an error loop as it kept trying to resume the previous (and broken) project. Since we’re 0 for 2 on running this program successfully, I would recommend avoiding it until it gets patched further or take advantage of Steam’s refund policy if you too have issues running it.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Learn Japanese to Survive! Hiragana Battle
    Developed by: Sleepy Duck Educational Games
    Published by: Sleepy Duck Educational Games
    Released: February 16, 2016
    Available on: Windows, Mac
    Genre: RPG, Edutainment
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $6.99 (digital download, Steam); $19.99 (disc, from developer's Web site)

    Claire's village is under attack! A sinister sorcerer has invaded, and his magical army consists of oddly-shaped inky warriors that seem impervious to any known weapon! Fortunately, a tutor from Japan can help Claire and her friends. The warriors are letters of the Hiragana alphabet. In order to win, Claire and her friends must... Learn Japanese to Survive!

    It's a somewhat silly premise, but this is surprisingly effective in its approach. Learn Japanese to Survive! Hiragana Battle is apparently the debut game from Sleepy Duck Educational Games, but the name of the company doesn't even appear on the opening menu of the game. It seems like a game made from the RPG Maker line of game development software, but is one of the more interesting ones I've come across.

    As mentioned, you guide Claire and her three friends through the world, navigating the different areas to battle the Hiragana warriors and trying to find a way to free their small island from the sorcerer Noburo's clutches. The game plays out a lot like most other JRPGs – navigation is done through an overhead map and the arrow keys. When a battle takes place – which for the most part are random encounters – the screen changes to a scene where Claire and her friends stand at the right side of the screen, and the enemies are on the left. "Attacks" are chosen from a menu. In order to damage the Hiragana warrior, the player must choose the English equivalent from the list. The player also can choose to use items or spells for other effects, such as healing or combat boosts. There's certainly not a lot new or noteworthy with this approach.

    Learn Japanese to Survive! Hiragana Battle
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Strong Points: Fun way to learn a new language; familiar interface; cute graphics; nice music
    Weak Points: Not a fully immersive language experience
    Moral Warnings: Minor alcohol references; cartoon violence

    But the familiar interface works, since the main focus of the game is, of course, learning Japanese. In between exploring the different areas are lessons in the Hiragana alphabet, with vocabulary lessons thrown in for good measure. Each area is blocked until the player completes the lesson that precedes it, so in order to complete the game, all the lessons must be learned at least once. There is some element of grinding involved, in order to gain the experience and money to survive the newly-unlocked areas. But this also serves as a review of prior lessons, so it actually works out in the end. It's actually one of the more effective ways – and reasons – I've seen to extend the life of an RPG by having the player go through prior areas repeatedly.

    The music and graphics are catchy, and reminiscent of the late SNES-era. As a result, the atmosphere of the game tends to be fun and light-hearted, even if the subject matter can be a bit dark. It's cute to see the chibi-style characters bounce happily after winning a battle. 

    As more lessons are unlocked, the number of attacks that a player can choose from becomes almost overwhelming. This is perfectly understandable, though – not only is this a new language that the player is learning, it's an entirely different alphabet than the Roman style the Western world is familiar with! During the first lesson, the instructor breaks the fourth wall to implore the player to take physical notes as well. Personally, I found it best to write down the lessons in a notebook, and referred to it often while playing the game. It may be a fun game, but it's also educational, so at times it does feel a bit like schoolwork.

    Learn Japanese to Survive! Hiragana Battle
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 91%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    As for my own children, my youngest two (ages 6 and 8) quickly became bored with the game. My oldest daughter, 12, tried to follow along, but became overwhelmed with trying to copy the Hiragana letters in her own notebook. I can see how some children (or adults) can use this as a fun way to introduce themselves to the language, though. The game also delves into aspects of Japanese culture, including Japanese greetings, food and drinks. Later portions of the game even take place in an abbreviated copy of Japan. 

    On the moral front, there is little to be concerned about here. Portions of the game do take place in an "inn" and there are a few alcohol references, but it is ambiguous whether the main characters are actually drinking alcohol. Hiragana warriors – which look like letters of the Hiragana alphabet – disappear when defeated, and the party members simply slump to the ground if they fall in battle. There isn't even any offensive magic to worry about in the game. Some of the player's characters can cast healing spells or other magic to increase defenses or strength, but the source of this magic is never explained, so it's questionable whether it's divine or arcane. Certainly there are no religious references that I came across. 

    While a great introduction to Japanese, it should be noted that this is no Rosetta Stone. It can be helpful to learning how to read Japanese, and perhaps write it. But despite the pronunciation of the words and letters, the game makes a poor substitute to actual, face-to-face dialogue. If someone wanted to learn how to speak Japanese by playing this game, then they would be disappointed. It's a great introduction to the Japanese language, though. 

    Also, the developer has started a new project called Learn Japanese to Survive! Katakana War. This doesn't appear to be a sequel to this game, but rather a separate RPG that focuses on a different Japanese alphabet, Katakana. It's a promising start for the company, and an interesting way to learn the basics of a new language. For those that enjoy role-playing games, learning new languages, or Japanese culture, Learn Japanese to Survive! would be a very welcome addition to their game libraries. 

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    SDK Spriter
    Developed by: Hullbreach Studios
    Published by: Hullbreach Studios
    Release date: December 15, 2016
    Available on: Wii U
    Genre: Edutainment
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $6.00

    Thank you Hullbreach Studios for sending us this game to review!

    With the stylus, the Wii U can be great for drawing and there have been many awesome examples shared in the Miiverse online community. SDK Spriter is a great tool for creating and animating sprites as well as interacting with them in levels that you create. When you first launch the title, it will ask if you wish to import stock artwork to work with. I highly recommend doing so!

    Once launched, you can focus on making sprites, tiles, maps, and levels. Without the stock artwork, the interface is a bit intimidating. It’s nice to have a point of reference and you can delete any artwork you’re not fond of. I accidentally deleted the stock tiles which in turn broke the stock maps and levels. In order to re-add the artwork I had to delete my user’s data file for this title. Sadly, the dog sprite I made was blown away in this process. Thankfully I uploaded it to Miiverse and online so it’s not completely wiped out of existence.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great tool for creating and sharing artwork online
    Weak Points: No easy way to re-add/import stock artwork; the stylus isn’t very accurate/responsive
    Moral Warnings: Depends on what on you draw

    The sprite creation section consists of four connected 32 X 32 pixel blocks. The grid is removable if you’d rather go free form. Many of my favorite paint tools are in place including paintbrushes, erasers, color selectors, bucket fill, and noise bucket fill. I liked the noise bucket fill which fills the selected area with a mixture of colors that blend into the color of your choosing. Before using the bucket fill make sure the area you have in mind is fully sealed or else the color will spill into the rest of the drawing. If any mistakes are made, the undo/redo buttons come in handy.

    There are four directions you need to draw your sprite facing: south, north, east, and west. In each position you can draw it eight more times to give it a walking animation. Thankfully, you can copy/paste and drag it around to make life a little easier. It’s still a fair amount of work no matter how you slice it though.

    The tiles area has a lot of good starter artwork including various buildings, walls, doors, water, paths, dirt, grass, bricks, columns, and stairs. If you want to create your own look and feel to the levels and maps, you’ll have to start from scratch.

    Once you have enough tiles made, you can put them to together to make maps. The maps give you two layers to work with. To have things pop out a little bit, you’ll need to add tiles to both layers.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    To play a level you’ll need a sprite and a map. You can move your sprite around with the arrow and joysticks and the A/B buttons will rotate the camera. Pressing the + button will exit the level.

    Badges can be earned by creating, sharing, and testing your creations. Sharing via Miiverse is easy enough, but to share on the internet using SDK Spriter’s website requires a bit more work. In order to claim your artwork you’ll have to register an account and once your work is claimed you can download or delete it. I was able to download my dog sprite by right clicking on its image, but the download button didn’t work for me. While you’re on the site you can rate other people’s creations.

    Overall, SDK Spriter is a nifty tool for creating and sharing your artistic creations. The playable levels you make don't have much depth, as they merely show your sprites and artwork in action. If you're looking to make a playable game, I recommend using RPGMaker instead. Any artists who still enjoy using their Wii U should consider adding this to their game library. The original price was $10 but as of this review it’s selling for $6 digitally.

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    Game Info:

    Spacetours VR - Ep1 The Solar System
    Developed by: Vibrant Visuals
    Published by: Vibrant Visuals
    Release date: March 8, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: Edutainment
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Vibrant Visuals for sending us a review code!

    Thanks to virtual reality we’re able to virtually walk in places that we haven’t or most likely won’t be able to step foot on. With Google Earth, I was able to scale tall structures effortlessly and travel to many exotic locales. Space was still a mystery though. Until now. Spacetours VR lets you visit eight planets in our solar system. You can also make a pit stop on the moon and see the U.S. flag flying proudly. Thanks to photographs provided by NASA and ESA/O you can get a birds-eye view of God’s creation in the stars.

    Navigating in space is pretty easy as you just grab onto any planet you see and it will come to the palm of your hand. Once you place the planet (which isn’t labeled) into your traveling device you’ll be transported there after grabbing onto the handle bars in your pod. Unfortunately, the game didn’t always register my grabbing onto the handle bars and it took multiple tries at times.

    Spacetours VR - Ep1 The Solar System
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Beautiful visuals; a fun way to explore the solar system
    Weak Points: Non-responsive controls; kids may lose interest quickly
    Moral Warnings: None!

    Once your destination is reached, you can lower the walls and gaze upon the planet. The sound and visual effects for the walls disappearing is pretty cool I might add. Unlike Google Earth, you cannot manipulate or zoom into and walk on the planet. You can, however, read and learn some cool facts about it. If there is a nearby moon or satellite, you can read about those too. I love how the satellites and International Space Station will fly by with incredible detail. The Unreal Engine is well-utilized in creating this title.

    Spacetours VR is a good title to show people who are new to VR. The controls are fairly easy (when they register properly), and the movement is light and won’t cause motion sickness. The visuals are good and there is a lot of learning potential here. What I don’t see however is much staying power. After exploring space for about ten or fifteen minutes, I see little reason to come back.

    Spacetours VR - Ep1 The Solar System
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 64%
    Gameplay - 8/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    If someone loves space they may want to do multiple tours, but I imagine that many people will be content with just one. For that reason alone, I’m not sure if the $9.99 price tag is justified. If someone needs to do research on the solar system, this is an awesome way to do it. It would also be a pretty cool “show and tell” in science class.

    Since this title is labeled as episode one, I’m curious what future installments will offer. I just hope they’re a bit more in-depth and will keep people’s attention longer. I look forward to more eye candy from Vibrant Visuals in the near future.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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