Who ya gonna call?

(Editor’s Note:  With the (un)official status of 2 Guys Gaming very much up in the air, Christine suggested that I do a podcast with the boys.  Be on the lookout for Episode 1 of Noob and Sons, most likely tomorrow.)

Being a gamer dad can sometimes be a delicate balancing act.  When the children were very young, I only had time to game when they were asleep.  Thankfully, babies and toddlers take a lot of naps and ours were even very good about sleeping through the night very quickly.  Even with the care I took to shield them from the more violent games, Liam still stumbled on Dead Rising.  I don’t know how or when he saw me playing, but he made a very specific reference to running over zombies with a lawnmower.  Christine gave me a look and I could only respond with, “I have no idea.”  After that, I took more of a precaution by putting our games and movies away from the kids.  They have since again discovered our horror collection because they are tall enough to reach the shelves, but we are much more prepared as parents to deal with the situation.

Mowing though zombies: may not be suitable for 3 year old children.
Mowing though zombies: may not be suitable for 3 year old children.

We still don’t let them play or watch overly mature games or movies, but they are getting to the ages where their friends or classmates will mention Halo, Counter Strikes, or Modern Warfare.  Heck, they’ve even made up a zombie tag game that they play together.  To his credit, Liam has my attitude on FPS war games and thinks they’re really stupid.  Aiden will be tougher to keep in the dark.  He is already asking to watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The movie Halloween.

I can't wait until Liam discovers Fat Albert and we can have two really awkward conversations in a couple of years.
I can’t wait until Liam discovers Fat Albert and we can have two really awkward conversations in a couple of years.

Granted, he only knows about the John Carpenter version, not the decidedly more questionable Rob Zombie Remake.  Not that he’ll be watching either any time soon, but I’d really rather not he be exposed to Rob Zombie’s particular brand of film making…well, at all, to be honest.  So, if he must know about one of them, I suppose that the original is safer.  Yes, I did just attempt to justify one version of a movie about a homicidal maniac as more acceptable for my 8 year old.

So, while we have kept them mostly away from the less kid friendly elements of gaming, they have taken to games in a big way.  Kindle games, DS games, computer games, card games, and now even role playing games have gotten their interest.  We have enjoyed playing many of these games as a family and it has led to a potentially different direction for the website and podcast.

When  realized that October would be the first episode of “Noob and Sons”, I tried to think of games with a Halloween theme.  Since the podcast is now all ages, I wanted these games to be kid friendly.  As you may have deduced, the video games that I play often fall into one or the other of those categories, but rarely both.  So, it was a bit of a challenge until inspiration hit like a flash as it often does.  There was a game that the boys loved so much that they tried to emulate it by pretending to be characters in the game and play acting various scenes from the game.  I’m not positive, but they may have even written their own skits involving Luigi and his ghost busting vacuum.  Naturally, our first topic for the Digital Playground is Luigi’s Mansion.

It's a me...Green Mario!
It’s a me…Green Mario!

I feel the need to disclose that this review (and much of our podcast discussion) revolves around Dark Moon for the 3DS.  I played the original version for about 45 minutes to an hour, but I am hooked on Dark Moon.  I only planned to play a little bit so that I didn’t sound like a total moron (what stopped me this time, you might ask) on the podcast and I’m now trying to beat the final boss level on the 3rd world.  That’s not going so well right now and I’m taking a bit of a break after tossing the 3DS in frustration, but I’ll be back and ready to fail some more soon enough.

I will start there.  This can be a challenging game.  Not only are the boss battles sometimes hard, but more than once I found myself wandering through the mansion with absolutely no idea what to do next.  A couple of times, I finally just gave up and asked the Google machine for help.  Hey, I’m not proud.  I will cheat at a kid’s game, too!

The Google Machine. It looks shockingly like a level from Super Mario 64. No wonder it is so helpful with these games.
The Google Machine. It looks shockingly like a level from Super Mario 64. No wonder it is so helpful with these games.

As I mentioned, in spite of the sometimes dastardly design of the game, you’ll get hooked.  The story is interesting and entertaining enough to keep you wondering and coming back for more.  Cheesy humor keeps the mood light and not too scary in spite of subject matter of ghosts and hauntings.  To their credit, they don’t shy away from the spook factor even though it is a kids game.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not scary on the level of Silent Hill or Fatal Frame, but it sets the right mood.

The music helps to set that tone with a catchy and memorable melody that is just melancholy and moody enough to keep you on your toes and you explore unfamiliar territory.  You are constantly on the lookout for what will trigger the next ghost event.  Once you know them, you tread lightly and carefully through the room in anxious anticipation of the inevitable “Boo!” moment.  Sometimes the “Boo” moment involves an actual Boo for you to capture.

By the way, good luck in getting that song out of your head now.  Getting back to the topic, the Boos in the game are only one of a number of different secrets in the game for you to collect.  If I ever beat the clock part that has me almost swearing and accidentally tossing the 3DS to complete the game, there is plenty to bring me back to the game and try for that 100%.  In the interest of “no spoilers”, I won’t mention what they are, but trust me when I say that the replay value is high.

Overall, Dark Moon is a fun game full of spooky surprises.  While intended for kids, some parts are challenging even for adults.  Secrets galore will sustain the game through several playthroughs.  Even after finishing the game and finding those secrets, you might be tempted to go for 3 stars on all levels and compete for best scores, times, etc.  If you’ve never played the game, now is the perfect time with Halloween right around the corner.

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