Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns

The Harvest Moon franchise is a video game series which has managed to span decades, connecting gamers – young and old – through a single, popular style of gameplay. While it is true that the style itself does not often change, the new people, activities, and potential marriage candidates (or “friendship candidates” if you happened to play Friends of Mineral town with a female player, and had a great female “friend”) will always provide a new experience.

Today I would like to separate a single game from the bunch, simply because I consider it one of the better ones in terms of unique playability. That game is known as “Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns” (available for the 3DS).


  • Two unique towns to choose from (rather than the usual single town)
  • The opportunity to switch from town to town as you please
  • Multiple marriage candidates, each with their own personalities
  • An assortment of extra events beyond the usual game activities
  • The game can be played for a very long time (ranging on months)


  • You’re in for the long term to reach certain aspects of the game (will have to progress to certain extents, each which can take a long time in-game)
  • Some marriage candidates are glitched, and thus time will be wasted trying to court them
  • Each town only has one focus – while you can use the other, this can be tedious until a shortcut is unlocked far into the game

In this game, as with every Harvest Moon game, you are a farmer who has just arrived to a town in some form of crisis, and are given the chance to start anew, building up your barren lands into a well-ran farm. In the case of “A Tale of Two Towns”, you awaken to find yourself confronted by the mayors of two rival towns: Konohana, and Bluebell. The former town is of an Asian style, and its residents believe that the proper way to farm is to raise and harvest crops. Naturally, choosing this farm will leave with you with more land to till, but only a small barn and hen house, capable of holding only a few animals. Bluebell is of a European style, and home to the belief that raising animals is the proper way to farm. Choosing this town will leave you with a far larger barn and hen house, but less land to grow crops upon. Choosing one will not get you in trouble with the other’s residents, although the mayor of the rival town will certainly grumble about it.

Besides the usual goal of building up your farm and wooing your neighbors as you search out a marriage candidate to court (and later marry), you are faced with a goal unique to this game: You must take part in several cooking competitions – the only time in which the two towns are brought together – and keep winning for your town, so as to push the two mayors (who’s rivalry stems from a long history of the two towns hating each other over what appears to be a fairly pointless argument) into once more getting along. Why winning a cooking contest of all things makes them friends rather than even more bitter rivals, I do not know – in fact, it makes very little sense at all. But hey… that’s the game.

Who Should Play:
 Anyone who has played the previous Harvest Moon games – and enjoyed them obviously – will likely find some fun in “A Tale of Two Towns”. I would also recommend this to anyone looking for a game to keep them busy for a while, who does not remind repetitive actions. Harvest Moon is, after all, a farming game, and as such you will be dedicating a lot of gameplay towards that: tilling the land, planting crops, watering them, harvesting, and repeat.

Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns is a truly enjoyable game. Anyone who fits the criteria I mentioned before should check it out. If you’re looking for a short term game, or something with surprises and action constantly taking place, this is probably not the game for you.

Nerf N-Strike Double: Blast Bundle

For Nerf enthusiasts, the Nerf N-Strike Double: Blast Bundle is a great way to enjoy the excitement of a Nerf war and the fun of the Wii all at once. This Nerf Wii game offers you two games, plus a real Nerf gun and darts so you can take the intensity of a Nerf war into a video game. This game boasts huge variety and flexibility, fast action, the ability to play with friends, a super cool way to add your real Nerf gun to the video game, and more. Following are just some of the features that make the Blast Bundle stand out.

Two Games to Play
One of the most appealing features of the Blast Bundle is the fact that it gives you two Nerf Wii games to play. The first, N-Strike, allows you to play with up to three friends. In this Nerf Wii game, you take on the character of Shane, whose goal it is to become an Elite N-Strike officer. You achieve this coveted status by completing more than 20 missions that take place in 4 chambers that are each harder than the last. The result is a game that is charged with fun and excitement as you seek to become the best N-Strike fighter ever.

The second game, N-Strike Elite, pits you and up to one other person against an army of robots. This game gives you even more features than N-Strike. For instance, you can unlock up to 16 blasters and upgrade them to achieve thousands of configurations. Plus, you can decode messages, choose from among four characters to play (each with their own set of blasters), and you have the chance to face enemies that are stronger and more powerful than any you faced in N-Strike.

The ability to choose from among both of these games, which are conveniently located together on a single disc, makes this Blast Bundle of Nerf Wii games a great value while providing you with hours of fun.

Wii Compatible Nerf Gun
An added bonus for this Nerf Wii game is the inclusion of a Wii compatible Nerf gun: The Nerf Switch Shot EX 3 Blaster Peripheral. This Nerf gun is powerful in its own right, delivering up to 3 whistling darts and possessing a long range.

However, this Nerf gun’s true value lies in the fact that it can be connected to the game by placing the Wii remote inside it. By doing so, you can then use the Nerf gun in your video game. Plus, you can use the red decoder to decode messages in the game, find your enemy’s weak spots, and more. The level of fun and interaction this gun adds to your video game makes it a smart addition to the bundle, while the fact that you can use it as a regular Nerf gun adds to its overall value.

The N-Strike Double: Blast Bundle receives overwhelmingly positive reviews from people who have purchased and used this Nerf N-Strike Wii game. While they recommend saving the game for children who are older than 8, they report that this Nerf Wii game offers hours of fun for children and adults alike.

In particular, reviewers report that the Nerf gun is comfortable to carry and easy to use. Plus, they enjoy the fact that they can use it in the video game. They enjoy the opportunity to play against others or against the computer, and they note that the variety in blasters that you can use within the video game adds to its fun.

The Nerf N-Strike Double: Blast Bundle promises you Nerf Wii fun that is hard to match with any other game. With two games to play, you can enjoy moving from an easier game to a harder game as your skill improves. With lots of chances to upgrade your blasters, play with friends or against the computer, and use your Nerf gun, you can enjoy a variety of game play that will always keep you entertained. And, because reviewers report that both children and adults love this game, it allows you to bond with the kids in your life over a game that you will all enjoy. The result is a Nerf Wii game that stands out because of the versatility, creativity, and fun it brings to the Nerf Wii experience.

Apples to Apples

Many families in this world can say they have taken part in – or at the very least heard of – a family game night. Coming from a large family like mine, playing games together wasn’t an unusual occurrence. As time would pass, however, game night was lost to the wind, and times spent together became all the more important. So, a tradition of sorts (though it’s hardly regular) came into place: anytime we were all together, usually at birthday parties, we’d play a game we could all enjoy. Our choice? Apples to Apples.

Here’s some pros and cons to the game:


  • Hilarious
  • Multiple people can play
  • Easy to play
  • Each round can last a while, without hitting the dreaded length of Monopoly
  • Up to ten players can play


  • Humor involved can go over the heads (or be inappropriate for) younger players
  • You need at least four players to have a general game (not required, but recommended to avoid a super short game)

I will admit: I tried playing Apples to Apples years ago as a kid, and thought that the game was guaranteed to be something boring, or “only enjoyable by adults”. Thankfully, having tried this game, I can say I was very wrong, and now look forward to a round (or three) every chance I get.

Apples to Apples is a card based game. The game with two large stacks of cards: green cards (which contain a description), and red cards (which contain a noun). The cards can be incredibly random, which adds both humor and a sense of challenge to the game. Each player is given seven red cards from the deck, and then a player is chosen to pull a green card from its stack, reading the description aloud for the other players. Each person – excluding the drawer of the green card – hand over a red card that they feel best matches the description, keeping the noun hidden from the drawer until each player has contributed a red card. This prevents any biased choice. Once everyone has submitted a red card, the one who drew the green card chooses which red card they believe best fits, and the winning player collects both their red card and the green card. The remaining red cards are discarded, and the person next to the drawer (clockwise or counterclockwise – it is completely up to the players) takes their turn at pulling a green card, with each person gaining another red card so they once again have seven. The game continues until the red cards run out, with the winner being whoever has the most “pairs” from their card being chosen.

Who Should Play:
Anyone who bothers to check the box will see that the game recommends players be at least twelve years old, or older. In truth, this is actually a decent rule to abide by – not because the humor found in the game is guaranteed to be inappropriate (ie: sexual or excessively violent – although dirty minds of the players could imply the former), but rather because they probably would not understand what would be the best match, or have any idea who a majority of the people mentioned on some of the red cards are. Even when playing with elder siblings and parents, there was times where we had to call the game to a pause and look somebody up, or request the “older players” give some insight to who this seemingly made up figure could possibly be.

Frankly, Apples to Apples is a super fun game. If you have ever heard of the game “Cards Against Humanity” (or have even been lucky enough to have played a few enjoyable rounds), then you may consider this board game to be a more “family friendly” version. Regardless, that should not let anyone stop themselves from playing – no matter what your sense of humor, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a good time!

Bully: Scholarship Edition

Bully: Scholarship Edition is a single player, action-adventure role playing game, in which you play as fifteen year old Jimmy Hopkins – a delinquent so bad, he’s been kicked out every school he has ever been sent to. With no options left, Jimmy is sent to the infamous Bullworth Academy, otherwise known as the “toughest and worst school in the country”. Surrounded by violent and scheming classmates, corrupted authority figures (and teachers), and abusive prefects, Jimmy has only one plan for his year at Bullworth: survival.

Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of the game.


  • Be a bully and cause trouble, or attend classes and take on the bigger bullies of the school – the choice is yours!
  • Major replay ability
  • Character customization
  • Classes are optional, and provide rewards if completed
  • Missed a side mission? Get the chance to play them at the end of the game


  • No sequel made

It’s true – I could not think of a single “con” to put on the list for this game, beyond my own frustration that there still isn’t a sequel to potentially provide more enjoyment. The graphics are good, the controls are easy, and the game is enjoyable enough to be played over and over again without disappointment.

Bully’s graphics would be best described as “advanced for its time”. While not incredibly high definition, it certainly boasts better than what could generally be seen from other games of its release year (2006), and provides a smooth, glitch-free playthrough, be it on a console or on the computer. The music is enjoyable, and sequenced with unique tunes for just about anything: from riding your bike, to exploring the school, or even sneaking around the girls’ dormitory, Bully’s soundtrack provides the perfect atmosphere to further invest you in the game while you play.

Playable Character:
Jimmy Hopkins, the playable character himself, provides a unique experience for RPG gamers, in that Jimmy is most definitely not a morally changeable character. Yes, his goals for the game verge on the side of good, in that he hopes to put a stop to the senseless bullying and corruption found within the school’s cliques and staff. However, in no way does that stop him from insulting his only friend in the school, or beating the crap out of anyone who cannot be verbally reasoned with in the game. Whether you decide to be the type of player who throws firecrackers into toilets, stuffs students into lockers, and trips prefects with marbles, or the type who faithfully attends each class and befriends everyone he meets, Jimmy will provide a contrasting side to bring a balance. In a way, this provides some extra fun and moral cushioning to the player – you can “behave properly” to make up for kicking that local cop in the testicles, or start a cafeteria-wide food fight to mix things up when you get bored of being good.

The Enemies:
The school’s cliques provide an important part of the game as antagonists, and serve as the basis to many fan’s conspiracy theories. First you have the Preps – also known as the richest kids in school – with a reputation for romance that stays within the family. Then you have the more classic clique with the Nerds: the school’s smartest (and sneakiest) students with a penchant for intellectual scheming. The Bullies are a fairly minor clique in comparison to the rest of the school, in that while they habitually torment any student they come across, they don’t have much power. The Greasers are another familiar clique, run in the similar hair gel, comb, and leather jacket style as one would find of the same-named group in the movie Grease. Even the leader, Johnny Vincent’s devotion to his lady love would remind everyone of Danny Zuko’s love for Sandy, although his Lola certainly provides a deep contrast to the shy, smitten girl of the movies. Next, we have the Jocks: the meanest, toughest students in the school, found most commonly within the football team. But even they don’t compare to the worst enemies of the game: The Townies. Kicked out of Bullworth Academy and tough as nails, the last thing anyone would want is to get on their bad side. So naturally, you will face them in this game, along with the top members of every other clique.

Final Notes:
Bully is a unique game that should be – and likely will be – remembered for years to come. Many students will likely confess to having fantasies of taking charge of their school, and becoming someone respected, rather than someone to be victimized. Jimmy Hopkins takes this fantasy, and makes it a reality – one beat down at a time. Anyone who doesn’t mind a game that bends the morality line, or is looking for an enjoyable school-based game: go pick up a copy of Bully. You won’t be disappointed.

The Game of Life

Board games are a staple of pretty much every large family household. Game nights are a wide renowned aspect, even if they do not actually occur in a particular home. But board games serve another purpose: parties. No matter what type of party you are having, it is pretty much a guarantee that a handful of people (at the very least) will be down for a game if you search out players. This is why I propose one of my favorite board games, one which has served as one of the best party games, and general entertainment: The Game of Life. No, I do not mean suddenly throwing credit card bills and charges for clothing, food, and utilities at your children. This is an actual board game and – contrary to the potentially off-putting name – is actually quite fun. Here’s a quick pros/cons summary:


  • Multiple players are needed for a decent game
  • Average game timing is just long enough to keep you busy, but just short enough to be fun
  • Aspects of the game make playful elbowing of your fellow players possible (ex: They’ve got a shack and are a doctor, you’ve got a mansion and teach)
  • It’s a pretty even balance of potential benefits and consequences
  • Multiple routes
  • Child or adult, this game is fun


  • Finding the 2005, unaltered edition (the best version in my opinion) is extremely difficult
  • Various forms of the game have appeared over time, many worse than the ones before it
  • Have a calculator ready for the end of the game

The Game of Life (shortened to just “Life”) is a fun party game. I will admit that at first glance, it appears to be a complicated game in terms of playability. However, once you have gone a few rounds (or just read the rules and played for a few minutes), it is pretty easy to catch on and enjoy yourself.

Life is like many board games in that it has three main aspects of the game: money and game cards. The object is to reach “retirement” (the final spot on the board) after going through various stages of life. In this game, your game piece is in the form of a car (of various color choices) with holes punched in to house your “person”. Based on how a player spins the wheel provided, this will determine who goes first. Then, the players find themselves with their first choice in the game: Go straight to a career path (the shorter path), or take the college path (a longer path, but with the result of a better career choice). After taking one of the paths, players pull a “Career card” and a “Salary card”. These are not changeable, beyond replacing a career card which requires a degree and drawing again (if you have not taken the college path), or if you land on a point in the game which requires a change (such as having a midlife crisis, or landing on a “Career switch” point). This is not always a good thing – you could easily lose the best career just by landing on one of these. However, as some careers have benefits to them (such as a player being “caught speeding” paying the player who is a police officer, rather than the bank), this could also work in your favor.

Throughout the game, there are various “red spaces” which serve as stopping points. Regardless if a player has enough moves to go forward or not, they must stop and follow the directions for these points. These could be anything from getting married (required), to buying or selling a house, to having children. Everything has the chance of benefiting you (you sell your house at the end of the game for money) or causing problems (it costs money to send your kids to school, and you don’t always have a choice!). Once every player has reached “retirement”, they sell their houses, retire their careers, and count up their total money. Whoever has the most, wins.

Who Should Play:
Honestly, I think anyone who has the ability to understand this game should at the very least play it once. It really is an entertaining game, and I can say from experience that there are a lot of laughs involved – after all, what’s more entertaining than having your rival or sibling have to fork over most of their life savings, just because they spun poorly? If anyone is concerned about getting bored, there is a newer version of the game of Life (just a general version – not the Minions or whatever other nonsense has been bred for the poor game) in which each turn, players are subjected to little challenges or rewards/consequences. Players can suddenly find themselves earning money, having to pay it to other players (as I often did – and still won the game), or even doing silly challenges like getting drinks in exchange for “tips” or trying to make the other players laugh so you don’t have to pay them. That version can be entertaining with children, or if you are just looking to have some fun with friends.

Overall, I would say the Game of Life is one of the more unknown party games in this world. It’s fun, it can be played with just about anyone, and it has a far less chance of table flipping (unlike Monopoly). Anyone who has not played before, needs to go round up some friends and start up a game. You won’t be disappointed!

Dragon Age: Origins

As an avid gamer, I have played numerous genres of video games in my time, through various consoles and computers. Out of all the different styles I have played, my favorite would definitely have to be open world role playing games (or RPGs for short). To me, any game in which your choices have an effect on the ending, or change how other characters in the game will react to you, is one of the best types of games to play. The one that best fit this style (and I consider one of the best games I have ever played on a computer) is “Dragon Age: Origins”. In this game, you take on the role of a new member of the Grey Wardens, forced to work your way across the country of Thedas as you recruit allies to aid you in what may be the fight which determines the world’s fate, as well as the political scheming of your greatest enemies. Here’s a quick summary of some of the reasons I love the game:


  • Extensive character creation
  • Multiple character races
  • Multiple fighting styles
  • Potential in-game romance
  • Your choices matter
  • Multiple choices = multiple endings


  • Graphics are sub-par
  • The extended intro gets dull after several playthroughs
  • The “romance scenes” are a little ridiculous

Obviously, the game has more positives to it than negatives. After all, I have played this game no less than seven times, and enjoyed it each and every time, simply because there is so much possibilities to be found in the game itself.

Let’s start off with the graphics. Admittedly, they are fairly poor when compared to the games often found today. The colors are a bit dull. However, for a game of their time, the 3D rendered backgrounds are pretty high class. Occasionally I have faced problems with the sky or mountains flickering behind my character due to some bug or other, but this has never resulted in the game being unplayable. In other words, it is fairly easy to ignore, and should not affect your overall opinion of the game.

The world of Dragon Age: Origins is – in every sense of the word – a fantasy realm. Four races dominate the world: Dwarves, Humans, Elves, and Qunari. As the player character, you have the option of playing one of the first three. Along with the race, you also have the option of customizing your character’s face (including their hair and tattoos), voice, icon background, and icon expression. Once this has been chosen, you have the option of three fighting styles which will not only determine your character’s class, but also play a part in their origin due to game lore: Rogue, Mage, and Warrior. Dwarves are incapable of becoming mages, due to their inability to harness magic, but beyond that, any race can choose any class. From there, an origin story is chosen based on your class – mages all begin in the same origin story, but rogues and warriors will have two options for each race, for a total of seven origin stories. These stories play a large part in the game’s storyline, as well as providing a tutorial. What is best about the origin story, is that depending on your choices, characters later in the game will react to you based on them – or at the very least, you will hold some insight that other origins would not.

Companions play an important part in this game, though they do not come as easy as one would expect. Out of the eight potential companions for the game (excluding those obtained through DLCs), only two are guaranteed to become “party members”. The others can be refused or otherwise lost for good depending on the choices made in the game. While this will not affect any major storyline progression, this would minimalize the amount of available side quests and interaction available for the player. I personally would recommend trying to get all companions at least once, as the potential conversations alone have proven to be both hilarious, and at times, a bit heartwarming. Or incredibly snarky, if you are speaking to one of the guaranteed companions.

Along with this, comes the opportunity for romance: Morrigan, a guaranteed party member, is available for male characters to romance. Alistair, the other guaranteed party member, is available for female characters. Leliana and Zevran – two companions who can either be recruited or left behind – are available for either male or female players. None of them have any qualms when it comes to the character’s race, although this can be addressed through certain dialogue options. Romance does not come easy in this game – the dialogue you speak, the choices you make, and the gifts you give to your party members (both in regards to type and amount) will all affect a character’s “approval rating”. If it gets too low, you will be faced with the opportunity to either lose this party member for good (excluding Alistair or Morrigan), or convince them to stay. However, if they are romanceable, and their approval reaches high enough, this leaves you with the opportunity for a “romance scene”. Filled with hauntingly beautiful music, and strangely enough – white underwear clad character – this proclaimed “romance scene” (supposed to serve as a moment in which the characters have sex, although beyond the medieval underwear and some suggestive touching, is fairly safe to view) is a bit ridiculous to view. Nonetheless, there is a sense of romance and victory to be found with each successful relationship.

All in all, Dragon Age: Origins is a wonderful game. Yes, it is less high definition than most games are found to be today (having been released in late 2009), and has some aspects that could be improved on. However, none of that has ever left the game unenjoyable, and the re-playability rate alone should be enough to show that. I would especially recommend this game to any fans of Bioware or fantasy RPGs, but for anyone else look for a good game to invest hours of play in – pick up a copy of Dragon Age: Origins. You won’t be disappointed.