Category: Games

Learning Resources | Smart Snacks® Counting Cookies™ Game {review}

Board games are going to be huge in our household for the children since Daddy (and mommy too) are always playing all sorts of games whether board, pen and paper, or on a digital device such as the computer or gaming console. And with that being said, I’ll note that I’ve been nothing but happy about the games that I have in my home by Learning Resources.The games offered at Learning Resources are very impressive and available in a wide variety of ages and grades! You’ll find games that feature numbers, colors, letters, matching, trivia, math, language skills, and more! They even have a line of games on USB sticks that you can plug straight into your computer! How neat is that?

Smart Snacks® Counting Cookies™ Game is the latest educational board game that I choose to be added to our library.  My three year old daughter struggles a bit with numbers so I figured this game would make tackling that concept a little bit easier and it has not disappointed!

Thoughts by Daddy….

I played Counting Cookies with my 3yo daughter Melody and we both had a good time. While she is still learning the concepts of a ‘game,’ the taking of turns, rules, etc., she did catch on the to matching aspect of the game. She started picked the correct cookies to match the remaining empty spots on her cookie jar.

The game teaches matching, and counting, and the concepts of playing by rules of a game. The game itself is very simple, so the game play for an adult wont be very interesting (you’ll win every time if you don’t try to lose) but the real joy is in teaching your kids how to play.

The game is well made. The parts are nice and colorful and the spinner spins well and the board is sturdy. I think they will hold up well so long as they don’t get chewed on more than a little.

Overall thoughts by Mom…

I think Smart Snacks® Counting Cookies™ is totally worth the price of $16.99. It can be used through the span of age 3-5 and it’s great to sharpen those number sense, social, and comprehension skills before kindergarten! I really like the fact that there’s not only one way to play this game but two! How neat to bring the challenge up a level. This game is made for four players!  I would recommend that to make this game work and fun to know you need to have a lot of patience with your child! We look forward to playing this game many more times in the future!

Buy it: You can purchase Smart Snacks® Counting Cookies™ directly off the Learning Resource website! And if you are interested in more titles you can find similar games by the same company at Amazon such as Smart Snacks Counting Cookies Jar Game, Smart Snacks Sorting Shapes Cupcakes, Smart Snacks Rainbow Color Cones, and Learning Resources – Smart Snacks Mix and Match Doughnuts just to name a few other fun titles!

Disclaimer: I was sent the mentioned product for review. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Puzzle Agent by Telltale Games {PC Game Review}

What the heck is going in Scoggins, Minnesota? When White House inquiries to the Scoggins Eraser Co. are answered only with curious puzzles, the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research’s Nelson Tethers is sent on the case.

The strange case of Scoggins plunges Tethers into a mystery that will challenge every ounce of his expertise, and possibly his very wits too. He must overcome brainteasers at every turn, including mazes, logic puzzles and riddles, and he soon realizes that these – along with the clinically pre-occupied townspeople, secret societies, and mysterious sounds from the forest – are intimately connected to the core conundrum. And what’s with the gnomes?

My husband is big into puzzle games so he willing volunteered to review this game on my behalf! Here are his thoughts on Puzzle Agent…

I’d heard mentions on TellTale Games Twitter account of Puzzle Agent and was pretty excited to have the chance to give it a try. Before I get started I want to note that I had a review version of the game, so the few minor gripes I have might be fixed in the version you can buy now (and the versions soon to be available in the Apple store and on the Wii.)

I’ve been a fan of adventure games since the first time my dad brought home a 486 machine that ran MS DOS and games came on 3.5 in disks. When I heard that TellTale was bringing back some of my old favorites (Monkey Island and Sam and Max) and some of my new favorites (Strong Bad), they were my new best friends. The puzzle adventure games are making a comeback. The world is returning to balance. One of their latest creations in Puzzle Agent.

Puzzle Agent follows Nelson Tether’s Puzzle Agent through a mystery in a small town of Scoggins, MN. The eraser factory is shut down, and they make the erasers for the White House, so this situation needs solved fast.

I mentioned several other adventure games, so I’d like to clarify what Puzzle Agent is not: It’s not the same as other adventure games where you come across ‘world puzzles’ such as a wire over a chasm and you have to find the right rubber chicken (with a pulley in the middle) to get across, and you aren’t collecting items to combine them in different ways to solve other problems. What Puzzle Agent is though is a mystery adventure in which you come across stand alone puzzles. For instance one puzzle is in a diner and the waitress is distracted, so you solve a logic puzzle with some clues to figure out which dishes go to which customer. In another instance a stovepipe breaks and you have to turn the puzzle pieces to put it back together. When you aren’t interviewing the townsfolk, you are solving a puzzle.

One of the things I like about the mystery part of the game is the game doesn’t tell me what to think about the mystery. It unravels as you go, but I am allowed to put those pieces of the puzzle together in my head without the game telling me there they go. I like that.

An area the game falls short in is a few of the puzzles are entirely confusing with the info you start with, and you are required to use a hint, or guess, to get anywhere, at least that happened for me. Most are clear and are explained perfectly, but a couple fall short. Thankfully, there are a lot of puzzles, so the few I didn’t like didn’t take away from the game much. One though, I’m positive there were two ways to read the clues, and one was wrong and the other right.

I do like the hint system. Nelson needs to chew gum to think, so you find gum in different places to spend on hints. When you are stuck, you spend some gum and get a hint, each one giving you a more powerful hint. Use it sparingly though, because using clues lowers your score, plus it’s much more fun to figure them out by yourself, or with the help of a friend. You can play this multiplayer, just pull up another chair and solve all the puzzles together, or just when you need an extra set of eyes to see the problem from a different perspective.

In a few cases, the puzzle theme is entire arbitrary.  What I mean by that is the puzzle to solve has nothing to do with the situation at hand. It’s like someone said ‘there has to be a puzzle here’ and someone else said ‘I have a spare one’. That doesn’t mean they were bad puzzles, but it’d be nice if they always matched the situation at hand. Most do anyways. There are also just puzzles everywhere, even when it would seem a bit silly, but not only does the game poke a little bit of fun at itself for doing it, it’s expected (you know, because it’s called Puzzle Agent,) so suspend your disbelief and enjoy the puzzles.

Overall, Puzzle Agent is an enjoyable and fun. The voice acting it top notch. The lines are delivered without sounding forces or scripted. The art style is different that any other game I’ve seen and is unique and enjoyable without being a distraction. In a few cases, like the aforementioned waitress, shows a ton of emotion just in the way she’s drawn.

Puzzle Agent is a must have for a lover of puzzles. There are many different types to solve, along with a mystery.  TellTale Games is bringing back my favorite type of game, so do me a favor and help them make more by getting a copy of Puzzle Agent today, then getting one for your friends.

The following are known issues that will be fixed in the release build:

  • Occasional minor graphics glitches
  • Minor animation glitches
  • Some sound effects missing
  • Some typos / spelling errors

PC System Requirements:

Operating system: Windows XP / Vista
Processor: 2.0 GHz + (3 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent rec.)
Memory: 512MB (1GB rec.) Sound: DirectX 8.1 sound device
Video: 64MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card (128MB rec.)
DirectX: Version 9.0c or better

Buy it: You can learn more about this game at and the game can be purchased straight from the Tell Tale Games site for either MAC or PC for just 9.95.

Disclaimer: I received this review as a member of the Game Review Network. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Holiday Gift Guide: Sims Animals Africa DS Game Giveaway

Thanks to the good people over at Electronic Arts, I’ve going to give one of my readers the chance to with SimsAnimals Africa for the Nintendo DS system!

To enter:
Tell me who this would be for if you won and what your favorite African animals is!


1. Add me to your blogroll or add my button.
2. Blog it, link back to this post. (2 extra)
3. Favorite my blog on Technorati
4. Subscribe by email/RSS. (2 extra)
6. Follow on Twitter @erinlowmaster & Tweet (daily entries available)
6. Email a friend about this giveaway. (Leave name of friend)

Tweet: (copy/paste)

RT: Win a Sims Animals Africa for the DS! 12/16 @erinlowmaster (add url)

This Giveaway is only open to U.S and Canada

Giveaway running till 12/16/09 . Winners will be notified shortly afterward by email. Please respond within 48 hours or you forfeit your prize to another participant.

Wii: NERF N-Strike Elite game review


Personal Thoughts by Justin Lowmaster…

nerfNERF N-Strike Elite is a rails light-gun shooter by EA Games. It is an decent alternative to the more violent and bloody rail shooters such as Dead Space: Extraction or any of the House of the Dead games. While it isn’t a game I enjoyed a lot, it will do well for certain audiences.

Key Game Features

* The NERF: N-Strike Elite Game – Enjoy a classic rail shooter packed with arcade style shooter action where your path through the game is laid out in advance so you can concentrate on having fun.
* NERF Switch Shot EX-3 Blaster Included – Bundled with the game is the NERF Switch Shot EX-3 Blaster, which is compatible with other games utilizing the Wii Remote, and as a standalone NERF gun with a three NERF projectiles capacity.
* Decoder Lens Attachment – Your blaster includes a detachable decoder lens through which special codes and enemy weaknesses can be seen in-game.
* Multiplayer Support – NERF: N-Strike Elite features 2-player off-line. multiplayer co-op functionality for twice the fun.
* Multiple Available Characters – NERF: N-Strike Elite features access to four different characters, each with their own arsenal of NERF blasters
* Weapons Selection – Weapons available in NERF: N-Strike Elite include 16 different NERF blasters, both real and fictional, each with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

This games enemies are robots who shoot NERF darts and the weapons the players use are also foam NERF projectiles. I have not played the first game in the series, but I believe that in that game the players are in a training course. In the second game, the robots have gone awry and are in ‘real’ danger.

I myself enjoy games like House of the Dead, so when I started the NERF game, I wondered how it would compare. While I hoped for a similar game that was just geared for a younger audience. I was, sadly, a little disappointed. While at its core, it is like any rails shooter. The camera moves around and you fire at whatever enemies pop up. My biggest complaint is the fact that enemies take many hits so sometimes you just stand there holding the trigger, waiting for a robot to explode, then going to the next one. I’d call it slow-paced. There aren’t enemies popping up all over forcing my to quickly blast them. Some robots show up, I hold down the trigger, and wait. Even on the harder difficulty, the only difference is that you take more damage and the rockets you blast from the sky move faster.

Another issue is that there is very little ‘feel’ to the game. The robots will move somewhat when hit, but there is little to no feedback to know you are hitting one. Obviously they are getting hit with foam darts, not shotgun shells, but still, some reaction would be nice. There isn’t much in the way of impending danger. Your shield is the only ‘health’ meter you have, and when it drop to zero, you simply are asked if you want to return to the previous checkpoint or to the menu. Also, to reload you have to shake the remote. This is awkward and I kept wondering if I’d shake something loose, but I didn’t. Shooting off-screen to reload, like most games like this, would have worked just fine. It auto-reloads when you run out of bullets though.

NerfNstrike2-245x300In game you can shoot canisters that you spend to upgrade your weapons. This makes them stronger, hold more ammo, bigger scopes, the normal things in this type of game. I did not find any bonus modes or options, but they could be there.

The game is short, beatable easily in just a few hours. That’s not too uncommon for any of the rails shooters I’ve played. There are three difficulty modes, but playing on Hard didn’t make it much more a challenge as nothing changed that I noticed besides the amount of damage I took and the speed of one enemy. Basically I just had to replay more often. The levels appear to be the same for every character, you just have a different set of weapons to choose from.

The game comes with an actual NERF gun that you can remove the firing mechanism from and insert the Wii Remote into to play. Attached to the top is the Red Reveal scope. It’s a red bit of transparent plastic that will sometimes reveal a specific target to hit. I believe you could play the game without it, but it is meant to be played with it. For me it was kind of a gimmick and didn’t make the game better. Didn’t make it worse though.

Final Thoughts…

All in all, Nerf N-Strike Elite falls short for me, but if you’d like a rails shooter that isn’t full of zombies and blood spattering everywhere, it is a viable alternative. I could have been better with faster paced game play. I worry the younger audience it is meant for will also tire of the repetitive times when the same few robots show up and you just stand there waiting for them to explode. It’s not a bad game though, just could have been better.

This title is rated Everyone 10+ for fantasy violence and can be purchased at various locations as well as .

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of
NERF N-Strike Elite for review from Electronics Arts . This review is 100% our opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.