Sunday, June 27, 2010

Should We Let Mario Go?  

Man, what a weekend. I think I worked harder and spent more time doing non-fun things than I did between Monday and Friday. Tons of paperwork, a mandatory visit with my mom, the baby developing a full-blown fever, and about a dozen other things happening at the same time. If this is the way the weekends are going be from now on, then let me get back to work so I can get some rest.


Random: While my son was taking a break from Monster Hunter Tri today, he went back to Super Mario Galaxy, a game he started last year but never finished. I sat beside him with a Wiimote of my own doing ‘collect the stars’ duty while he put Mario through his paces, but it wasn't long before he began to struggle and hit some problems.

My kid is definitely no slouch at games, but he was having trouble maneuvering Mario with precision in some of the weird gravity worlds and a couple of the bosses were starting to aggravate him. It was a little surprising since this is the same kid who's seen more of Tri than most of the people who've reviewed it, but there you go. As I was trying to coach him through the rough patches, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't quite sure who Mario's target audience is anymore.

The game is bright and colorful, and makes its home on the Wii -- by far the most kid-friendly console of the big three. I think it's pretty natural to assume that most kids who play more than just Wii Sports will probably play Mario at some point. Kids aside, the Wii is the console that has clearly been making the biggest push towards casual gamers. Wii Fit has sold like gangbusters, but it seems logical to assume that Nintendo would want to sell a few copies to casuals who might be inclined. With those two things in mind, the recent trend of Nintendo increasing the difficulty of their games seems to run counter to their strengths.

Although I haven't played either title yet, New Super Mario Brothers Wii was widely reported to be too difficult and cumbersome to play in the later levels, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 has also been tagged as being more difficult than the first, not necessarily in a good way. I find this interesting since in my mind, the only people who would theoretically want more difficulty are the old-school gamers or hard-core gamers who Nintendo’s basically distanced themselves from over the last few years.

I've had a few people mention that Mario has traditionally been much more difficult in the past, and they are right. However, we are living (and playing) in different times. Back then, people weren't targeting demographics or strategically designing their games; they were just making the best games they could, and whoever could play them did. That's not the case anymore. We've got distinct genres, distinct age ranges, and even distinct consumer psychological profiles. To break it down in the most grossly generalized terms, kids need something approachable, casual console gamers don't appear to get into anything too deep, and the old-schoolers apparently dislike cakewalks.

How do you design a game that satisfies all three groups, straddling what appear to be completely opposite demands on each side? Is it even possible? Iconic status and uber-enviable Q-Score aside, I'm starting to wonder who Mario’s really aimed at these days? Following that line of thought, I started to wonder what would really be lost if Nintendo had made Galaxy 2 easier and positioned it strictly for casuals and kids? Of course a certain segment of the gaming population would be up in arms if they were able to blow through the game in three days, but is that really so bad?

As a parent who supports videogames as a positive hobby for kids, it can be tough coming up with titles that are interesting, appropriate, and playable for children who don't have the knowledge and reflexes from a lifetime of experience. Looking at something like Mario which is so warm, friendly and appealing to such a wide variety of people and then seeing my son get frustrated and disappointed by the difficulty spikes, I can't help but wonder what would really be lost if Nintendo put all their eggs in one basket and proceeded on the path they've been on for the last few years. Sony and Microsoft definitely have the mature angles covered, and there are no shortage of titles that I can only play after my kids are in bed. Is it wrong to think that Nintendo letting the older players go and solely focusing on being a gateway to newcomers might actually be an acceptable thing?

I'm not sure that I’ve completely captured the spirit of this thought here on my blog, but I suppose it's a bit like books. Libraries need Dr. Seuss and Dick & Jane, but no one expects those books to challenge older readers or to satisfy everyone who might glance at the cover. Is it right to expect Mario to do so? If not, would the players who grew up with him be all right letting him belong to a new generation?

To Do: Everything  

I had big plans for today.

I had a handful of separate blog topics I was going to work on, and editing the novel is going quite rapidly. Getting another two cleaned-up chapters (if not three) in the bag was entirely doable.

After that, I was going to approve some reviews before finishing off a few more sections in Alpha Protocol.

Toss in an episode of Dr. Who or Burn Notice while on the couch with the wife, and a little Monster Hunter before bed, and I was going to call that a day well spent.

... of course, exactly none of that happened.

My "day off" ended up being “get called by the boss and work all day long" followed by "the baby wakes up at 9pm and stays awake until 1am.”

I don't mean to complain since I love being a father and I absolutely cherish my kids, and I'm also incredibly thankful to have a job during the sort of economic times we're experiencing in the country right now, but y’know, like… Damn, it's been one of those days.

My to-do list remains unchanged. We'll try this again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Negative Comments (and) Physical Things  

Just a couple of vaguely games-related thoughts tonight...

1> The other day at GameCritics, someone left a post insinuating that we've started to approve only those comments which agree or support the opinion of the review they are connected to, while deleting those that disagree. Honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Dale Weir, our webmaster and man-about-town, replied to that person's comment and laid the fact on him that the reason critical comments weren’t being published was that they were so foul, inflammatory and full of profanity that they simply couldn't be approved.

..u aer the worst revewer evAr, and sois your moms cuz im do1ng her now LOLZ..

Historically over the last ten years or so, we've never filtered or deleted comments left by our readers. We are strong believers in discussion and dissenting opinions, and there have been plenty of times when people have left paragraphs worth of venom and we've let them post away to their hearts’ content. Unfortunately, it's been only recently (just this year, if memory serves) that the quality of comments left has turned so bitter, insulting and completely unproductive that we've had to institute a comment approvals and filtering process. We didn't want to do it, but there was just too much hate getting through and we couldn't stand it any longer.

As an example of how things have changed, I used to pride myself on reading and responding to every comment that came in to the site as a way of showing respect to people who took the time to share their thoughts. Not anymore. These days, I avoid the message notifications and I don't bother reading anything that hasn't already been approved by one of the other critics. I just don't have time or patience for people who don't have the ability to disagree without getting nasty.

The moral of this story is that readers who disagree or have opposing viewpoints about a particular article or review at our site are absolutely welcome to chime in and let us know what they think -- they just need to do it in a civil manner. If you are one of the many “readers” who’s left an angry diatribe and then wondered why you don't see it posted, wonder no longer. Leaving a message on a privately-owned website isn't a right, it's a privilege, and when that privilege gets abused it goes away.

2> In the future, will anyone who's a fan of something be able to call themselves a "collector"?

I'm a collector. I love having things that I'm into... things like comic books, favorite CDs (and records!), novels that shaped my taste in reading, and of course, videogames that I've played over the years. There is a type of pleasure in the tactile sensation that comes from holding an object in your hand and examining it up close and personal. Turning it over, feeling its heft.


With the advent of electronic everything, the thought occurs to me that actually being a collector might not be a viable option in the future. Possibly the near future.

Very few people I know still buy actual CDs these days. IPods and other portable music devices that play MP3s are just too prevalent and too convenient. Books are heavy, and with the modern lifestyle on the go, many people are turning to audio books (also easily available in MP3 format) or e-versions on any number of handheld readers. Comic books are now becoming more and more available electronically while retailers slowly starve to death as their patronage disappears, and anyone who's even halfway been paying attention to the videogame realm has noticed that more and more titles are becoming available electronically, with many smaller games being download-only.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly many advantages to going electronic. The immediacy and ease of access to certain things with just a few clicks is truly a wonder, and something that would've been unfathomable just a few years ago. As a gamer, I certainly appreciate the fact that older titles on obsolete systems are now available in a way that they never were before. Times were that when you wanted to play an obscure Tubrografx-16 shooter you actually had to have the HuCard and a system hooked up to your TV. These days, all it takes are a few points to redeem and a router. Marvelous, indeed.

That said, I can't help but feel that there's something missing... something insidious about this shift. Looking at files in a folder isn't the same thing as browsing titles on a shelf. Clicking on a screen isn't the same thing as turning a page, and books have been written about the style and design work that goes into creating a good cover, or an attractive package. Having these things actually be things is part of the experience, if you ask me -- not to mention all the rights problems inherent with not actually physically owning the items in question.

...or this?

I've certainly heard the other side of the argument often enough from people who seem to have no misgivings about letting go of tangible goods in exchange for fitting entire libraries of media onto devices that slip neatly into trouser pockets, but it just doesn't sit right with me. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, or maybe there is something inherent in the "collector” personality profile that derives less satisfaction from a full memory card than a full bookshelf, but I'm just not okay with letting go of all these things.

Regardless of my feelings, however, I may not really have a choice. With so many things going e-enabled, will it be much longer before my favorite pastimes are e-only? I (and those like me) may enjoy being collectors, but as I said at the beginning, the thought that being a collector may not even be an option in the traditional sense keeps looming in the back of my mind.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Alpha Protocol Redux, No Frontier, Joe Danger and an 80's Revival  

Games: So my Alpha Protocol review is still stuck in limbo.

Despite liking some of the writing and peripheral elements like the e-mail and consequences of choice, the actual gameplay left me ice-cold. I felt absolutely no motivation whatsoever to continue after having reached the third location, and could see little reason to put up with the clumsy, archaic mess that was the “action”.

Tell me where my gameplay is... NOW!!!

I knew AP was going to be a rough play from the start, but I've championed plenty of oddballs and underdogs in the past and I thought perhaps that this little spy tale would be another one I could get behind. That didn't turn out to be the case. (Yet, anyway.)

I was seriously considering scrapping the review altogether and calling the whole thing done, but after hearing from several people on Twitter and receiving a very detailed explanation of the stealth playstyle from @DarthOdium, I decided to erase my character and start over from the beginning, this time focusing solely on being sneaky.

I began the second playthrough tonight. I haven’t seen the benefits yet, but it’s still early days.

It's pretty rare that I'll give any game a do-over, let alone one that performed so poorly the first time, so Alpha Protocol should count itself lucky that I feel some sort of strange compulsion to give it one more chance. My bar for the game isn’t set very high, and I’m hoping it’ll achieve minimum standard expectations… More to come.


In more “shut up about it already" news, I’ve been hearing lots of conflicting reports about Capcom bringing Monster Hunter Frontier to the Xbox 360. The title has been eagerly awaited by MH fans for quite a while, and seems like it would be a perfect fit for the Live online service.

Curious as to whether or not there was any truth to the chatter, I contacted Capcom directly for the inside scoop and was told very clearly: Capcom has NO PLANS to bring Monster Hunter Frontier stateside at this time.

A shame, perhaps, but if Tri does well enough (and that's a fairly big if) there might be hope yet.


Although tons of people have been talking about it lately, I'd be willing to bet that Joe Danger on PSN has gotten lost amid all the announcements and general chaos that come with every E3.

If you haven't heard about Joe, the easiest way to explain it is that the game is basically Trials HD with cartoony visuals and a difficulty curve that's not nearly as sadistic. The action takes place on a 2D plane with the player controlling a highly maneuverable stunt bike over jumps and through obstacles, and each level has its own set of special requirements. Things like ‘collect all-stars’ or ‘achieve a 100% combo’.

It may not sound like much from that description, but the game is concentrated fun thanks to extremely forgiving controls and a formula that's simple to grasp but not so simple to master. Anyone can blow through levels with a minimum of effort, but completing all of the tasks and going for high scores will definitely take some practice.

My son and I have been playing through the title together, and today was the first time that we hit a Trials-like level of OMFGTHISISSOIRRITATING. To be fair to the game, we were both pulling our hair out over something that was totally not required to progress, we just really wanted to say that we did it. We eventually met the goal, and the feeling of satisfaction for getting that hard-earned gold star was a good one.

We're not done with the game yet, but based on what I've seen so far, I would totally recommend it for anyone, but especially for kids or parent/child playtime. Like I said, it's very easy to blow through the levels so younger ones won’t experience too much difficulty, but there's definitely enough meat on Joe Danger’s bones to keep older players’ interest.


Family: Since my oldest only lives with me for a small part of the year, whenever he's here I sort of see the whole thing as a giant game of catch-up. I keep various lists of things that I want to take him to, or show him, or have him watch. Trying to pass on the family values, as it were...

This time around, we are discovering the cosmic value of Netflix by getting him started on some of the classics that the wife and I enjoyed when we were younger. I am, of course, talking about the A-Team, Knight Rider and Thundercats. (He's been a Transformers fan for years.)

The wife and I haven't watched any of these things since they were new, and the son is seeing them for the first time. I've got to say, it's a totally fascinating experience for everyone involved. For us, we get a tidal wave of nostalgia and a lot of laughs out of seeing how cheesy some things seem in retrospect, or how bad the fashions were. For him, he gets to see completely different philosophies and techniques in television production. He doesn't know exactly why these things are different, but he does know they are.

We're just beginning to immerse ourselves in the shows, but I will say that he has developed an almost immediate fascination with Mr. T, and took to the A-Team as a whole right away. I recently read a blurb in Entertainment Weekly that said the show (at the height of its popularity) drew forty million viewers a week -- more people than watch the American Idol finale show. Seeing the effect it has on my son and how pleasant the episodes are to actually watch even today, it's not hard to see how the series became so popular.

More 80’s revival to come.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BRP, E3, ME2 Overlord DLC, Disgaea Infinite, and more Monster Hunter crap.  

Shameless Whoring: The fine folk over at Big Red Potion recently had me on as a guest, and the recording is now available for download if you're interested in that sort of thing. The topic was “Guilty Pleasures” and starred Jeffrey Matulef (@MrDurandPierre), Michael Abbott (@BrainyGamer) and myself, and was hosted by the ever-charming Sinan Kubba (@Shoinan). Give it a listen if you've got the time, won't you?


Games: So, E3’s in full swing. It's been a pretty busy week so far and I haven't had time to watch the full press conferences given by the big three, but I hardly feel like I need to. With as much information coming down the twitter feed, I'm already perilously close to overload. I'm not going to comment too much since we are going to be recording a podcast this weekend focusing solely on the convention, but I did want to call out one thing: PlayStation Plus.

Although I'm not on the floor and I don't have all the details at the moment, the thing that stuck out about that for me was the idea that a player can have access to certain pieces of content only while actively subscribing to the service. Of course, a lot is going to ride on the specifics of the plan and which content is at stake, but I couldn't help but feel a small chill run down my spine. The thought of moving to an electronic-only state where gamers don't actually own anything is one of my personal nightmares, and PSPlus seems like one step closer to that sad state of affairs. Some people may disagree with me, but the idea of effectively renting something with little or no control over that purchase isn't something that appeals to me in the least.

PlayStation Plus aside, there haven't been a lot of huge surprises so far. Everyone's essentially looking at the same games and predictably gushing over the 3DS, with very little chatter about smaller titles happening. I expect that to change tomorrow and the next day. At least, I hope it does. Everyone has known about the "big" games on display for quite some time, but I always enjoyed E3 more for the sheer number of games on display, and the chance to get a peek at things that don't get nearly the same amount of press. Smaller titles need love too, people!


The new “Overlord” DLC for Mass Effect 2 was released today, and I just finished it a few minutes ago. I'm in the middle of the review so I'm not going to spill a lot, but I will say that it's the best add-on for BioWare’s juggernaut so far.

Featuring a good mix of combat, vehicle action and dialogue, it comes close to replicating the sort of holistic, connected experience that I enjoyed so much with the first Mass Effect. The ending sequences were especially memorable, getting Comander Shepard back to the kind of qualities that I appreciate most about RPGs. That's all I'll say for now, but look for an expanded review soon.


Disgaea Infinite hit the PSP over the last day or two. I know very little about it except that it's some sort of graphic adventure featuring lots of dialogue and time travel.

Considering that my favorite parts of the Disgaea games have always been the characters and dialogue (no, not the extended grinding) this pretty much sounds like the perfect Disgaea experience to me. Gonna try to check this out soon.


I know I've become a total boor about this whole Monster Hunter thing, but I was reading some reviews of the PSP titles earlier today, and one of the articles I read really served to highlight the different reactions that people have to the gameplay it offers. Found it kind of interesting, honestly.

In this particular article, the reviewer (not gonna name names here) stated that the title he was reviewing at that time was his first experience with Monster Hunter, and he found it incredibly obtuse and frustrating. That's understandable, really. The game does a poor job in general of walking newcomers in, so I don't blame the guy for feeling a bit brutalized. That said, I do think that players with a good head on their shoulders should be able to figure things out before too long. Some of the finer details certainly require an FAQ, but things like when to dodge or when to run should be fairly obvious after a few deaths.

In any event, the reviewer went on to say that he was stuck for over four hours on a first-tier mission – the easiest group of missions in the game. Very curious about this, I actually went and got a copy of the version he was talking about and played to the section that had stymied him to the point that he had nearly tossed his PSP out of a window.

Arriving at that particular mission, I was a little bit apprehensive. Was it really that hard? Was I about to have my ass handed to me? I shouldn't have worried. From start to finish, the mission took me about eight minutes and was completed without a defeat, or even significant damage taken.

I chuckled about it for a little while afterward, but I don't bring this up as a way of saying that my 5ki11z are so l33t or that the reviewer was bad at games; I see it more as a sign that the game itself failed to properly introduce its mechanics to someone that could have potentially become a new fan. Rather than working to ensure that someone understood and enjoyed the game (and who would likely purchase future installments) the result was a player who was angry and frustrated, and who walked away from the game after having seen less than 1% of it.

Making hardcore games is all well and good, but there's really no benefit to shutting people out before they get a chance to appreciate the work that went into making it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Up and Rolling Again  

Misc: It's been a long time since the last update. I didn't anticipate being out of action for so long, but whenever an office gets moved, things inevitably get thrown out of whack and it takes longer than expected to get rolling again.

My last workspace was pretty small and not really optimal for the stuff I needed to get done every day. Without much choice in the matter, I had to make do. However, the impact on my productivity was pretty apparent and I really wasn't happy about it.

My new office (only partially set up at the writing of this blog) is much more comfortable, more spacious, and will be a much better fit. It's always a pain in the ass to relocate and reestablish a routine, but in this particular case it is absolutely worth it. I’m not one of those people who can write anywhere, anytime, so now that I've got this new spot for myself, I'm definitely looking forward to more consistent, regular content being turned out.


Writing: Not much to reveal at this point, but I am happy to say that edits and revisions are happening on the two texts I've been working on over the last year or so. It's going quickly and smoothly so far (knock on wood) and at the risk of being an enormous Pollyanna, I don't anticipate many problems with the chapters left to go. More info as it comes.


Games: I completed Monster Hunter Tri’s offline story mode since the last blog update, clocking in somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty-five hours or so. It was a much larger undertaking than I had originally anticipated, and I have to admit that I'm a little shocked that the grand total ended up being so high. Despite all of its problems (and there are many) it kept me interested and engaged all the way through (when I wasn't being intensely frustrated) and that's more than I can say for a lot of other games who shoot for the same sort of completion time.

I certainly don't think it was necessary to put all that time into the game or even to finish the off-line mode before writing the review, but in this particular case I really felt like I wanted to do that. Primarily, the game has an intensely rabid fan base (of whom, I suppose, I'm now part) and I really wanted to be able to say that I had done my due diligence before publishing my official opinion. Besides actually finishing the off-line, I have spent several hours in the online cooperative mode and it really does add to the experience overall. I can count on one hand the number of times that an online mode appealed to me enough to come back to it more than once or twice, so the fact that it's so enjoyable is a real feather in Capcom’s cap.

Look for the review soon.


In other games news, I started Alpha Protocol a few days ago and I would estimate I'm about halfway through.

Although I can't say that I had high hopes for the title, it was one that I really hoped would succeed. I think there is certainly room for the espionage genre to grow, and the RPG elements married to it in this particular title seemed like a great match.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know what I think of it, but so far the experience has been wildly uneven. The main character is forgettable and utterly lacks any kind of star power, but the dialogue portions are fairly well done and interesting, and the game does a great job of playing up the research/intelligence angle that goes hand-in-hand with spying. It may sound odd, but my favorite part of the game so far is reading and answering e-mails, and reading some of the supporting text documents.

When it comes to gameplay, Alpha Protocol is a giant mess. There's so much wrong with it I really can't get into detail here, but I'll just say that pretty much everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I do not enjoy the action portions even a bit, and I can't get through a single session without thinking of a dozen ways that the game could have been improved.

A review is in progress, but this is one of those titles that I really have to force myself to come back to... the formal write-up might be a while.


Capcom announced recently that Dead Rising 2’s system of using skills by reading particular books would return, this time replaced by magazines. One of the magazines mentioned in a press release was the venerable, I-just-read-it-for-the-articles Playboy.

No mention was made of which skills this magazine would impart, but only that it would be some sort of "special" upgrade.

Special, indeed…


Atlus recently announced part of their upcoming 2010 lineup. The titles will include (but may not be limited to):

Trine 2

Rock of Ages

Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

Knights in the Nightmare (PSP)

Although I don't have very much information at this point, I'm definitely glad to hear that there's going to be a sequel to Trine. Although some of the physics were a bit wonky there, it was a quality title and one that I certainly would like to see more of. I don't know a thing about Rock, and hearing about a Knights port does nothing for me.

Although I know the game has some fans out there, I have to be perfectly honest in saying that I felt like the game was one of those that people celebrate because it's so strange and bizarre in spite of the fact that it's just not any damn fun to play. I tried getting into it on DS and no matter how much time I put in, it never stopped feeling like a giant, abortive clusterfudge.

Finally, I am somewhat excited about Etrian III. The first two games are some of the most unforgiving and difficult I've ever completed, but I do have great respect for them and regardless of their difficulty, they are quality titles. That said, I will admit hesitance to jump into a third one… taking on one of the Etrian games is a serious commitment, and one not be entered into lightly.


The GameCritics Podcast would normally be recording this weekend, but we've postponed in order to produce a show focusing on this year's E3.

We've got some things in the works, but we would love to hear from you -- What games are you most excited about? Which ones were you most surprised by? Which ones would you like us to talk about on the show? Apart from games, what topics are you focused on? 3D? Motion?

Drop us a line and let us know, and if we use your submission we will give you a shout-out on the show.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Just a quick entry today – a couple of links and some pre-E3 info for those who care about such things.


First up, a great article by @Batrock on the proposed Mass Effect movie, and how such a concept doesn’t quite jibe with the way each ME player’s experience is so personal. Also, he’s funny as hell on Twitter, so you may want to give a follow.


Next is a new blog launched by @Stillgray and @Ashelia. Some pretty interesting writing going on here… Check it out if you’ve got a few.


Finally, Capcom announced a partial E3 lineup today. I’m going to reserve comment at this point, but I think a lot of these titles will speak for themselves…

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds


Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

Sengoku BASARA: Samurai Heroes

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2: CASE ZERO

MotoGP 09/10

Can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Son is Back, Tri Is Nearly Over, and Endless Ocean 2  

Sorry for the lack of updates lately (and thanks to everybody who wrote in to ask what was up.) I'm glad to report that the dwindling of updates here at Coffeecola is actually due to a very good reason: my oldest son recently arrived, and is spending the summer with us.

It's always a bit of a transition when the family unit goes from three to four overnight, but it’s a joyous sort of chaos. He's growing up so fast that it seems like a bit of a time warp when he comes back around and he’s 3 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier, but we enjoy every moment together and that’s only amplified by the great relationship he has with my wife. This is also the first significant length of time he’ll spend with my new little guy, and it’s pretty amazing to see the two of them together.

I love kids, can you tell?

Anyway, updates will probably be spotty for another week or two, but please bear with me while we settle in to a new normal. (For the duration of the summer, anyway…)


Games: Not a lot to report here. Basically, I'm still playing Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. At this point, I'm about forty-seven hours into it and I've only got two battles to go before credits are supposed to roll. Since I’ve poured so much time into it, it would be pretty ridiculous of me to not turn out a review, but I will admit that it will be a tough one to write.

this guy's a friggin' jerk.

On the one hand, it's pretty outrageously behind the times and has a ton of problems that are fairly significant. On the other hand… I've put forty-seven hours into it. I don't give bad games that much time. I just don't. Clearly, there is something to this experience regardless of its technical issues.


From a games-for-kids perspective, I want to give a quick shout-out to Endless Ocean 2, also on Wii. It's basically the same game as the first in that the player goes underwater, checks out a bunch of fish, and basically swims a lot, but there are a ton of improvements. The menus are clean, and the intro to the game is extremely friendly to the young ones. Directions are straightforward and simple to understand, yet there is quite a bit of depth to be had.

The son and I have only just scratched the surface of this one, but so far I've been extremely impressed. I'll definitely talk about this one more in the future, but based on the few hours I've seen of it so far, I would absolutely recommend it to parents who are looking for games with some substance to them, yet are free from any questionable content. That's a pretty neat trick to pull off, and very few do it, but Endless Ocean 2 has been doing great so far.