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    Feb 7th, 2008 at 23:03:52     -    Bejeweled (PC)

    GAMEPLAY

    The first time I played Bejeweled, I only played in “classic” mode. This time I played, I tried out Action mode and Puzzle mode. In Action mode, the timer is affected by how many combinations you makes, so that making a combination adds time to the timer. When the timer is full, you advance to another level. When the timer is empty, the game is lost. This was my favorite mode of playing because it felt more intense than classic mode, and I liked the feeling of the way that I played the game being connected to the timer, rather than just soaring through levels on a set clock. Unfortunately, I lost the game at the same level each time.

    In Puzzle mode, the player must solve puzzles by making sets of jewels in the right combinations so that all the jewels on the board are destroyed. To advance levels, 4 out of 5 puzzles on each level must be solved. This mode had a very different feel than the others, because for one, it did not rely on a clock. There were also lots of buttons to switch puzzles, undo, hint, etc, so it felt much slower. I was not very good at it and liked the other modes better, which felt more intense.

    It feels good that every time I play the game, I seem to get better at it. It is still very addictive.

    DESIGN

    The design of the Bejeweled is interesting because the way the game is played, the design doesn’t matter much at all. When the player is playing, he/she is only really concentrating on one thing, which is making jewel combinations. The game could be just as fun without the start menu, the level design, and the bridges between levels looking the same as they do. Even the idea of having jewels as the objects that are being played with could be altered to make a similar gameplay experience.

    The jewels themselves have some important qualities. Most importantly, they are made of bright colors and of slightly varying but bold shapes. This allows the player to distinguish objects without having to think much about it, which is crucial for the experience. But they are not so different that they can always be immediately distinguished.

    The design of most parts of the game seemed to be trying to convey a feeling of intensity and grandiose. There seemed to be a decent amount of effort put into giving the game a feeling of movement when bridging levels, and giving the levels a background, but not too much effort. After all, it is not a very important aspect of the game.

    I did enjoy how smooth everything felt. There was something nice about everything being a little bit rounded and not feeling like there was any lag. Though the specific details of the game design didn’t matter much to me, it was nice that they put some effort into it.

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    Feb 7th, 2008 at 23:03:32     -    Bejeweled (PC)

    SUMMARY

    Bejeweled is made up of a board full of different colored jewels. The player swaps adjacent jewels to make combinations of 3 in a row or more. Each level is timed, with the timer getting progressively quicker as the levels advance.

    GAMEPLAY

    It was fun playing a very simple game of emergence. The rules were easy to learn but allowed an interesting gameplay experience. It is one of those games that without much variation in design as the player progresses through it, I could still play for hours. It is not seeing anything new that made it interesting, but mastering a single concept.

    I found Bejeweled personally very addictive. I was very quickly and intensely sucked into it. The timer made the gameplay experience seem especially intense, because I couldn’t take breaks or distract myself but had to concentrate on the screen. The music made it even more intense seeming, but was sometimes distracting. At several points I got so into playing the game and beating the timer that I lost the ability to actually play it for a few moments while I was in panic-mode.

    As I got to higher levels, I found myself improving skill-wise without even realizing that I was doing so. I suppose the goal of the game is to get a higher score, but with the timer on, I was so into playing the game that I forgot to even look at it.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 22:47:11     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    SUMMARY

    I don’t have much more to say after playing Super Mario Galaxy a second time. For the most part, it was a continuation of the same experience. I got through another level or two. Luckily most of the storytelling took place in the beginning of the game, and I didn’t have to sit through more of it.
    It had also become easier for me to use the controller, although with gravity changing as much as it did, I was still baffled in some places. There was one part where Mario went from being right-side-up to upside-down and I had to make him jump in the right places without falling. I kept screwing up on this.
    The variety of challenges in different levels is nice. It kept me entertained and feeling like the game had something fresh to offer.

    DESIGN

    In part, the design of Super Mario Galaxy seems like a 3D update of the first games. While improving the graphics for the sequel, the creators also had to add some new elements to the game, while at the same time using familiar elements from the old games. Though many elements reflected the old games, they felt completely different. This was especially true because they are navigated using the new Wii controller, and because they are 3D.
    The idea of putting the game on a series of “galaxies” was interesting. This allows the game a nice level of variety and some interesting opportunities for the creation of the various levels. The gravity dynamic was also an interesting twist- it definitely made the game harder to navigate and gave it a whole new feel.
    The game was fun, but I think I’d still choose the old Mario game over it. Retro simplicity is sometimes a good thing. But overall, Super Mario Galaxy is a good update.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 22:46:48     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    SUMMARY

    Super Mario Galaxy is another sequel to the line of Mario Games. The player uses the Wii controller to direct a Mario avatar through a series of challenges which in many ways resemble the previous Mario games, but are in 3D and take place on a series of planets with changing gravity. The overall goal is to rescue Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped by Bowser.

    GAMEPLAY

    For the most part, I spent this session getting through the first few levels and trying to figure out how to control the game. It’s been a long time since I’ve played any of the Mario games, and I had even more trouble trying to use the Wii to control Mario. I had a friend hold the second controller and help me along by freezing my enemies and such, and who could tell me how to play many parts of the game.
    A large portion of the session was spent being told the story which sets up the narrative. I don’t blame them for putting a story in, but I think I wouldv’e been fine just playing the game. I wasn’t terribly attached to the story itself, and had a lot more fun dodging and smashing things and beating challenges than listening to it being told.
    The game itself was pretty fun, but I think I’d rather still play the original Mario games in 2D. There is something ultimately rewarding about just going sideways. In this game, one of the challenges was to move through a constantly changing angle and gravity force. Another addition to the game was the use of the Wii controller, which can do things that the regular Nintendo controller cannot. That was fun.
    There must also be something very rewarding about the game being a sequal to one of the most classic games ever created. Anyone who loves the old Mario games can find pleasure in another recreation and expansion of that idea.

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