Pokémon Go – Pros, Cons, Tips, Tricks

Pokémon as a franchise has come a long way from the days of 8-bit pixelated screens and colourless  characters.  Nowadays, Pokémon games are so advanced and varied, one is hard pressed to find someone that hasn’t at least heard of the phenomenon.  Even so, Pokémon is still seen as a “nerdy” interest. Something that is played in the comfort of ones own home in a video game. A solitary activity – until now.

Pokémon Go is the latest brainchild of Nintendo. A game that does the unthinkable and forces video game players to leave their houses and interact with the world around them in their quest to find and acquire Pokémon. The game will have Pokémon “appear” on ones phone screen at different locations in such a way that immerses the cartoonish character into the real world environment around it. The player is then encouraged to “catch” the Pokémon with one of their “Pokeballs” to add to their collection. They can level up or “evolve” their Pokémon with different powerups, and take over Pokémon battle buildings that other players have previously held monopoly on.

This game encourages long walks and exploration – a concept that is completely new to the video game world and as a result, comes with brand new things to think about and consider.

Primarily – safety. Children who are playing Pokémon Go might end up in unfamiliar neighbourhoods in order to catch that elusive Pokémon they’ve been looking for. The easiest way to combat this is to simply go adventuring with your child while they “play” this game. It has the potential to be a fantastic bonding experience, as well a quick way to work off supper.

The other main concern with Pokémon Go is the game’s ability to track your location. There are many other popular phone apps that also track location, but none quite as precise as Pokémon Go. The game requires very specific location tracking in order to deliver accurate 3D modeling when players are walking around. So far, the makers of the game have taken steps to limit the information being shared with third parties, but there is a growing interest in this information from law enforcement in particular.

Ultimately, Pokémon Go is a fantastic, free phone app that encourages kids to get off the couch and explore the world around them. It is up to parents to decide and delegate how the app is used and for how long by their children and if it is worth the risk of sharing their geographical locations with potential third parties in the future.

 

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Halo 4 – Brother vs. Brother

Sibling birthday parties.

Something our Party Heroes are all used to at this point.

Because the Game Asylum trailer can hold up to 16 kids all playing at once, it is often hard for one child to find 15 people worthy of an invite. Having a double birthday party happens at Game Asylum every once in a while and those parties tend to get pretty crazy.

None however, as crazy as the one for Galin and Rogan. Only 2 years separated the boys, and their competitive spirit was apparent. Th3 Doctor picked up on this, and saw that they had requested Halo 4 as one of their party games. This game allows for local connectivity – which means all the kids in the trailer can be playing in the same world at once!

Galin and his friends were the blue team and Rogan and his friends were red. They sat on opposite sides of the Game Asylum trailer and prepared for in game battle.

Most groups that Game Asylum has playing Halo enjoy a variety of different game types but Galin and Rogan ONLY wanted the teamed matches. Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Gryphball to name a few. Essentially, any game type that promoted working together and beating up the other team.

Game Asylum has very strict rules about bullying and real world violence. Essentially, that they are both unacceptable. The nice thing about video games is that they allow for kids to beat each other up in the virtual world without ever laying a finger on each other in real life. This party was a great example of brother versus brother in the saf

est way possible. Not only that, but the boys and their teams were evenly matched!

When one team won, the other would get mad and fight extra hard together in the next round.

When one game mode wasn’t going well, it was switched up and improved upon until even the neighbours down the street could hear the boys battle cries.

At Game Asylum, we believe that there isn’t anything wrong with a little sibling rivalry – as long as it’s taken out in a safe and virtual way among friends J

Kairi – The Minecraft Survival Specialist

    There are two kinds of Minecraft players – those who like to create, and those who like to destroy. Generally speaking, the majority of kids that enter the Game Asylum trailer are in the latter category.

    Nothing is more hilarious to a Minecraft Destroyer than blowing up a Party Heroes newly built house or recently tamed dog.

    However, at Kairi’s birthday party this past Tuesday, Minecraft was all about creating and surviving.

Her entire house was decked out in Minecraft décor, from “Potions of Healing” for the kids to drink, to a giant creeper head on the wall made entirely of coloured paper plates. It was clear to Th3 Doctor and Th3 Avenger right from the get go that this girl was a true Minecraft fan.

Kairi proved to not only be a fan of the game, but a true professional. Her survival skills were better than most reality TV stars. Along with her friends, Kairi built a mountaintop castle overlooking a large chunk of the world. She used this vantage point to spot skeletons and zombies long before they could reach her, and used the items from her bonus chest to get a leg up on mining and building.

In Minecraft, coal is used to create torches and Kairi found the motherlode. You can even scare off mobs with well-placed torches to protect your house.

Not only was Kairi great at her own Minecraft game, but she was very helpful to all of her friends as well. A few hadn’t played Minecraft as much, and along with Th3 Doctor and Th3 Avenger, Kairi led her friends out of Minecraft caves and helped them to get to The End, where the group was able to fight off the Ender Dragon. Ultimately, the dragon didn’t stand a chance and Kairi and her friends came out victorious.

A few of Kairi’s friends took to playing Just Dance near the end of the party but Kairi was dead set on Minecraft – as any real fan is. 2 hours of Minecraft inside a giant video game trailer with all of your friends?

Every 8 year old’s dream. And Kairi was living it.

Surprise Parties @ Game Asylum

When the Game Asylum Party Heroes set out to celebrate Dominic’s birthday, they had no idea it was a surprise party. One they found out from his mom however, a whole new level of excitement came about.

The Party Heroes set up quickly, and then waited outside the truck for Domenic to arrive home from school. Once he did, the smile that lit up his face was one of the biggest the Party Heroes had ever seen.

Domenic had been to Game Asylum parties before, but when he asked to have Game Asylum for his birthday his parents had said no. Little did he know they planned an entire video game themed birthday for him and Game Asylum was the main surprise attraction!

There are many different ways kids react to seeing the trailer and the best reactions are those at surprise parties. Domenic’s was an Asylum Mixer – an assortment of games from the Game Asylum library, but themed parties tend to add even more to the surprise.

Heroes dressed as Mario and Luigi burst in and surprise the birthday boy or girl and their friends for our Super Asylum World theme. Halo masks come out for Ultimate Asylum theme, and for Asylum Craft themed surprise parties – Party Heroes don their giant Minecraft themed Steve or Creeper head when they enter the party house. Undead Asylum parties are even more impressive as surprise parties, as Party Heroes tell the guest of honour that they are responsible for leading the charge against the zombie invasion!

There are a lot of things that set Game Asylum apart from other video game related birthday options but one of the big things is our focus on themed parties. It helps kids work towards common goals in groups. Teamwork is massively promoted by Party Heroes, and those children who work together and accomplish the themed goals that Party Heroes set have a better chance of winning The Asylum Cup – a coveted trophy that the winning children get to take photos with at the end of the party.

Surprise parties are just another way to enhance the party experience, for party goers and Party Heroes alike.

 

Megatron – Rockband Rockstar

Most know of Megatron in regards to Transformers – a towering beast of a robot whose sole purpose in life is to rule and destroy. However, the Megatron of Game Asylum has a very different set of beliefs.

Megatron grew up in a small community outside of Toronto. Her mother and father raised her with strong beliefs that encouraged her to do her best at school, and work with her peers using teamwork and good sportsmanship. Megatron had always been special, and the other kids in her school looked up to her for her amazing teamwork abilities and how fantastically skilled she was at the game Rockband.

As Megatron got older, her Rockband skills got even better and a couple of her friends would come over every night to play with her. Eventually, they decided to team up and form a REAL Rockband, calling it “Mega-Rock”.

Megatron was the lead guitarist, and the band drew crowds all over the world. Because they were so great working together and writing amazing music, they eventually got signed to a record label.

The night that “Mega-Rock” was scheduled to record their very first track for their very first album, a horrible accident occurred. A truck carrying an entire shipment of the new Rockband game fell over on the highway, right onto Megatron’s tour bus. Everyone in the band was okay – except for Megatron.

They rushed her to the hospital, but no one knew how to save her. Just then, a chilly wind blew through the ward, and Th3 Patronus appeared at the end of Megatron’s hospital bed.

“Don’t worry guys. Luckily, Megatron has me looking out for her.”

And with that, Th3 Patronus waved her arm over the bed and disappeared.

Miraculously, Megatron sat up.

“What happened” she asked groggily.

When the doctors explained, Megatron had no idea who the ghostly apparition was or why she was looking out for her, but she wasn’t going to ask too many questions. She was just happy to be alive and able to rock out once again.

“Mega-Rock” eventually disbanded, but Megatron still found a way to feed her Rockband addiction – hosting rockin Game Asylum parties for kids all over the tri-cities!

 

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Minecraft Sushi

     Repeat customers are pretty common at Game Asylum, and at Nicholas’s Minecraft party a few months ago, his younger twin brothers were interested in having us for their birthday.

     Th3 Doctor and Th3 Avenger were at Nicholas’ party and the twins wanted them back. For Party Heroes, getting requested for a party is a big honour and the two were happy to oblige.

     Pulling back up to the familiar house and walking in the door, the boys pointed at the two party heroes and cried out “I KNOW YOUUU!” – something Party Heroes are very used to hearing at this point.

The twins Wes and Jack, were planning on having a Super Asylum World party, but very quickly, the trailer became mostly Minecraft. Who knew 9 year olds liked playing Minecraft so much? :p

This group was all about Creative mode. The boys were playing around with slimeblocks and built an amazing multi-tier Minecraft bouncy castle complete with woolly rainbow walls. Nicholas and Th3 Doctor spent most of the party creating giant houses that looked like sushi and a chocolate chip cookie. A few of the other boys even came over and helped the pair, adding lights and beacons around the houses for good measure. It was a party full of Minecraft creativity and teamwork – two things Game Asylum encourages as much as possible.

A few of the other kids decided work on their Smash Bros skills and for a lot of the party, 8 kids were playing at once. These massive games tend to be the craziest, and a lot of the time the boys had trouble even finding their character on the screen! It was chaotic, it was loud, it was everything that Game Asylum is about!

It was amazing seeing Jack and Wes and Nicholas again and, much like Nicholas’ party – it was one to remember.

Trolling and Teamwork

    Teamwork is something that we emphasize heavily at Game Asylum.

    Anyone can sit in front of a TV and play video games, but at Game Asylum, we want to get kids working together – whatever the style they choose to work together may be.

For James and his friends, they showed off their teamwork skills with some classic survival Minecraft exploration. The boys at his party mined all over their world, stuck together when they needed to and went out on their own when it called for it as well. Eventually they found red-stone, lapis, and gold. Such is the power of teamwork between friends. Who knows if the boys would have been so successful sitting at home playing the game by themselves.

Two other boys were playing Mario 3D World together on another tv and demonstrating some of the strangest teamwork our Party Heroes had ever seen.

One of the boys was a skilled veteran at the game, and the other had never played before. At some points, the game forced them to work together and at these points the boys excelled. However, at every opportunity the boys sabotaged each other’s game. Usually this would phase our Party Heroes, but these boys seemed to work better together when they could “troll” each other into oblivion.

Mario 3D is a great game that emphasizes teamwork and working together for certain goals. However, it is also extremely easy to sabotage your teammates, making it very tempting to do so – especially for 8 year olds who go to school together.

When one of our Party Heroes tried to join the game, the boys turned their wrath on her. Instead of trolling each other, they started picking up her character and throwing her off cliffs! It didn’t take long for her to rage quit, which made the boys laugh even harder than when they were killing her in the game.

All in all, a party that emphasized teamwork – in all its strange and crazy shapes and forms.

 

Zombie Party: Hardcore Mode

All zombie parties are not created equal.

Obviously, having Game Asylum at ones zombie themed birthday party helps out a whole lot, but before the trailer shows up, party guests can be participating in a wide variety of activities. Those activities don’t HAVE to include preparation for the zombie apocalypse, but they really should.

Wesley and his friends were told to meet him in the garage (fueling station) where they had pizza and drinks ready to distribute. It takes a lot of energy to fight off a zombie horde and the boys knew this. When Th3 Doctor arrived with the Game Asylum trailer ready to go, she briefed the boys on the dire zombie situation outside and instructed them to yell if they saw a zombie, in hopes of converting it to fight on the side of good.

Just as she was finishing the briefing, a zombie breached the garage and the boys yelled as loud as they could, eventually converting the zombie back into Th3 Avenger, who helped out with the rest of the battle.

Westley and his friends were zombie experts. The second they got inside the trailer, they were fighting the good fight in COD zombies and Halo flood. The boys were teaming up and working together like the world depended on it (which it did) and the Enclave Leader (aka Wesley) and his partner for the evening were fighting the hardest of them all in Left 4 Dead 2. The zombies in Left 4 Dead 2 run when they see you. They have special abilities depending on what kind of zombie they are. There is even a zombie that looks like a little girl crying that will knock you out in you startle her. Such a crazy zombie game took some crazy good shooting skills from the boys, and they worked their way through the entire Dark Carnival mission in the game. Then, on the final boss chapter, Wesley’s best friend and comrade ditched him for the helicopter. Wesley perished, but his friend survived, apologizing profusely.

Wesley swore up and down that if the REAL zombie apocalypse happened that HE would survive. One thing is for sure though – after such an amazing zombie fighting birthday party – Wesley and his friends will be very well prepared for the real thing.

 

Shamus & His NHL All Stars

    Hockey teams are guaranteed chaos for Game Asylum, and often have our Party Heroes playing referee to 4 NHL games at once.

    This past Friday night, Th3 Doctor and Th3 Phoenix were called out to celebrate Shamus’s birthday, along with his entire hockey team. The Game Asylum trailer can accommodate up to 16 kids all playing at once, but Shamus had a few extra friends, which just added to the chaos. While most of the boys played NHL 15, 4 boys on the center TV raced through the intense streets of the Blur universe, adding car sounds to the hockey sounds that filled the trailer.

    Later on in the party, the boys loaded up the Winter Classic, and played some intense NHL games in the virtual snow. Shamus dubbed himself “King of the Trash Talk” on top of his Party Hero given title “King of the Trailer”, and boy did he ever take his title seriously!

From pulling the other teams goalie, to trash talking his team to victory, Shamus made sure that everyone knew that he was king for the day. It is every birthday boy or girls right to take full command of their Game Asylum party, and it was awesome to see Shamus doing so.

For the awards ceremony, the boys cheered loud and proud for their team mates, often hugging and patting each other on the back after each award was announced. NHL and hockey teams go together like peanut butter and jelly, and after such a high energy party, the boys were amped up and more than a little proud of their accomplishments.

Group photos were more than a little bit nuts as well, and made for some memories that will no doubt last Shamus and his family for a lifetime. May his NHL pursuits continue to be successful, and full of trash talk!

Call of Duty Chaos

Call of Duty is a game that tends to get requested by those birthday boys and girls in the double digits. It is a maturely rated game that involves a lot of shooting and violence, but also allows kids to develop their gaming skills in a unique and fast paced atmosphere along with their friends.

This weekend, Domenic invited Game Asylum along for his 13th birthday and Call of Duty was on everyone’s mind.

Because it was a smaller party with 7 boys, Th3 Jester was able to hook 4 of the TV’s into one giant trailer wide game. Each Call of Duty screen can host 2 players, so the boys had lots of room to watch the action unfold on their respective TVs.

Domenic was well versed in Call of Duty etiquette, and put his friends (and Th3 Jester) through many of the game’s unique play modes. From Gun Game; a mode where you get better and better guns every time you make a kill, to Domination; where the boys captured flags and held their ground in 2 teams.

The real highlight of the party however, was when Domenic decided to let the boys go completely nuts and hosted a massive free-for-all game to 100 kills. A half hour of button mashing and trigger pulling later, the birthday boy and one of his friends were leading the pack, with their scores separated by a mere 6 kills. Domenic, being the skilled Call of Duty player that he is, got to 99 kills and then stopped. He wanted to show off his 360 No-Scoping trick shot and had to line it up properly.

In the time it took for Domenic to line up the shot however, his friend caught up in points and ultimately won the game. The other boys went NUTS.

Th3 Doctor announced to the boys that in Call of Duty, you should “Never Give Up Your Dreams of Glory” which led to even more yelling and laughing.

It’s always nice when you can learn life lessons from a Game Asylum Party Hero… and Call of Duty.