Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Name: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS
Date: October 2007
ESRB Rating: Everyone
UPC: 4902370516081

Summary: The fourteenth installment in the popular Legend of Zelda video game franchise, the story of Phantom Hourglass follows hero Link in his attempt to rescue his friend Tetra from the evil Bellum, a life-eating monster.  With the help of his fairy companion, Ciela, and the assistance of mariner Captain Linebeck (and his ship, the S.S. Linebeck), Link must travel through the islands of flooded Hyrule to find hidden maps and clues in order to help him on his rescue mission.  The Phantom Hourglass helps Link discover the Spirits of Wisdom and Power, and he discovers the true identity of the Spirit of Courage and the Ocean King, all who are supporting him on his quest.  In order to defeat Bellum, Link must forge the Phantom Sword from metals collected from various islands in the archipelago.  Will Link reach Tetra in enough time to save her?

Critical Evaluation: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is a great addition to the popular video game series.  The game really translates well into the Nintendo DS platform.  A portable gaming system (great to bring on the go!), the DS features two screens, including one touch screen.  In Link’s voyage, the touch screen frequently displays the map, while the action takes place on the top screen.  This means that certain actions, like moving the ship in a certain course, can be achieved by drawing the desired course on the touch screen with the provided stylus.  I liked that it was possible to skip through many of the video portions – while they were nice for providing background to the plot, it was also great to have the option to skip ahead and get to the action!  In addition to the main adventure plot, it was also possible to play in “Battle” mode – an unrelated mode that allows players to hone their skills, and even challenge friends!  If two players have Nintendo DS systems and a WiFi connection, they can play against one another.

Annotation: Link, the hero of the Legend of Zelda videogames, is assisted by Captain Linebeck in his voyage to rescue his friend Tetra.

Company Information: Nintendo Co., Ltd. was founded in Japan in1889 as a playing card company.  Over the years it developed side businesses, including a cab company, before transforming into a major video game company, one of the most influential in the industry.

The CEO of Nintendo is Satoru Iwata, and the company is based out of Kyoto, Japan.

Genre: Action, Adventure

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas: N/A

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This game has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the game and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the game from teens who have played it.

Selection: I loved the Nintendo 64 game “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” when I was younger, and was interested in evaluating a newer game in the series.

Extras:

Official Phantom Hourglass website.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Games | , | Leave a comment

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: Playstation 3
Date: November 2009
ESRB Rating: Mature
UPC: 047875837478

Summary: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter, war based video game.  You can play against up to three friends on one game system, picking a location (from deserts and cities to ruins), your weapons, and tracking each other down – sniping at other players from distances, and knifing them when close-by.  If you have an internet connection, you can even play against gamers from all over – up to eighteen at a time!  The ratio of the number of kills you make to the number of times you are killed is calculated so that you are facing other players that are equally ranked, making it an exciting match!  Don’t forget to check out the story mode, which continues the plot from Call of Duty 4, taking you to locations like Red Square in Moscow, Washington D.C. and Afghanistan.

Critical Evaluation: If you’re looking for a realistic war video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 fits the bill.  The graphics are phenomenal, although somewhat gruesome – if you’re the one being fired at, your visor will be splattered with blood. For a non-gamer like me, figuring out the Playstation 3 controls put me at a disadvantage – it was hard enough tracking the other player around the arena, let alone having to worry about two joysticks and various controls for commands and attacks.  In any case, it was obvious why the game is so popular: whether playing in single player mode or against friends and other gamers, playing a game based on tracking each other down is evocative of children’s games like Tag or Capture the Flag, albeit in a very adult, and bloody, war setting.  In other words, it was a lot of fun, even for a novice like me!  The first person shooting perspective really gets you into the character and makes the game come alive.

Annotation: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a war-based first person shooter game, where you can play with up to three friends and track each other down.

Company Information: Infinity Ward was founded in 2002 by former employees of video game development studio 2015, Inc.  Acquired by Activision in late 2003, the company now hires about 70 employees.

They developed the popular Call of Duty franchise, which is currently working on the fifth installment. Infinity Ward is based out of Encino, California.

Genre: Action, Warfare, First Person Shooter

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do violent video games have an effect on the players?
2) How well do you think games like Call of Duty depict actual war?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: intense violence, blood, language, drug reference

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the game and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the game from teens who have played it.

Selection: I was familiar with the Call of Duty franchise (it was popular enough for me to have heard of it!), and it was recommended by my teen gamer cousin.

Extras:

Official Modern Warfare 2 website.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Games | , , | Leave a comment

Street Fighter IV

Name: Street Fighter IV
Developer: Capcom
Platform: Playstation 3
Date: February 2009
ESRB Rating: Teen
UPC: 013388340095

Summary: Let’s get ready to rumble!  Street Fighter IV is the ultimate street fighting game – it allows you to pick your character (with customizable options that let you change their outfit colors and set a handicap level), and pick an arena for your street fighting match.  Street Fighter IV features familiar characters from earlier versions in the Street Fighter series, such as Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li, as well as introduces new fighters, like super spy Crimson Viper and mixed martial artist Abel.  Each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and attack moves, so there are countless combinations of match-ups between the characters, allowing for hours of fun playing time.  There is a wide selection of match locations, from a crowded parking lot outside a diner at night to a secluded tropical bay, and new special moves to keep the matches interesting.  Street Fighter IV will appeal to any gamer who enjoys the Street Fighter canon, and it will interest new fans of the game as well.

Critical Evaluation: Street Fighter IV is a worthy addition to the Street Fighter line of games, and it combines nostalgic elements from earlier editions with enough new material to appeal to both old and new fans of the franchise.  One of my favorite features was the use of 3D effects – although the game primarily operates in a 2D field, like past Street Fighter games, it also incorporated 3D animation when introducing the characters and environments, although the style in general was a little too cartoony for my personal taste and the movements of the 3D characters seemed a little too unnatural.  I thought the outfits for the female fighters were unnecessarily suggestive – why aren’t they wearing pants? – but I realize this is somewhat standard for this genre of game.  In general, this is one of my favorite types of video games, because even if you are just pressing buttons at random you can hold your own!

Annotation: It’s time for the ultimate street fighting match!  In Street Fighter IV, pick your character, arena, and start fighting!

Company Information: Capcom Co., Ltd. is a Japanese developer and publisher of video games.  Founded in 1979 as Japan Capsule Computers, Capcom has created game franchises such as the Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Dead Rising series.

The CEO of Capcom Co., Ltd. is Kenzo Tsujimoto, and the company is headquartered in Osaka, Japan.

Genre: Action, Fighting

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do violent video games actually have any negative effects on gamers?
2) How does Street Fighter IV compare with earlier Street Fighter games?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: violence, suggestive themes

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the game and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the game from teens who have played it.

Selection: I asked my closest teen gamer (my cousin) for some game suggestions to review, and this was one of his recommendations.

Extras:

Street Fighter IV official website

Capcom US official website

Trailer for Street Fighter IV:

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Games | , | Leave a comment

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures
Date: February 2010
Rating: PG
Runtime: 118 minutes

Plot Summary: Percy Jackson doesn’t consider himself to be particularly extraordinary – he struggles at school because his dyslexia and ADHD make it hard to focus and learn, and his home life isn’t much better because of his rude and boorish stepfather.  His life completely changes when he discovers that he is the son of a Greek god – Poseidon – and that Percy is accused of having stolen Zeus’ lightning bolt.  His life in danger, Percy escapes to Camp Half-Blood, a training ground for demigods like him, but not before his mother is taken by a raging minotaur.  After learning that Hades is keeping his mother as a prisoner, Percy and his friends Grover and Annabeth – a satyr and a daughter of Athena – take off on a cross-country adventure looking for Persephone’s pearls, which they need in order to safely escape the Underworld.  Can Percy save his mother, prove his innocence, and help return the lightning bolt?

Critical Evaluation: Based on the bestselling series by Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief brings Greek mythology into contemporary life by positing that the Greek gods and goddesses exist and are still having children with humans.  The movie bears a lot of resemblance to the first Harry Potter film, partly because the main trio consists of a protagonist with a revelation about his parentage and power, a strong female lead and a humorous sidekick, and in part because both movies were directed by Chris Columbus (not my favorite director, and some of the faults I had with Harry Potter were repeated in Percy Jackson).  I enjoyed the film overall, especially how cleverly Greek mythology was incorporated into a modern setting.  One of my favorite parts was the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, meant to represent the Island of the Lotus Eaters from The Odyssey.  Although the books seem to be geared for a younger audience, the movie puts Percy in high school and would appeal to a broader age range, including older teens.

Annotation: Percy Jackson’s life is turned upside down when he learns that his father is the Greek god, Poseidon.  When he is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolts, can he prove his innocence and save his mother, who is being held captive in Hades?

About the Director: Born in 1958 in Spangler, Pennsylvania, Chris Columbus studied film at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.  He went on to work as a screenwriter on such projects as Gremlins, The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes before making his directorial debut in 1987 with the comedy Adventures in Babysitting.  Some of his most famous early films are Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire.

In 2001 and 2002, Columbus directed the first two installments of the Harry Potter films, then the 2005 musical film Rent, and the teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper in 2009.  Columbus is married and has four children, who occasionally appear as extras in his films.  He currently lives in Pacific Heights in San Francisco.

Genre: Action, Adventure

Curriculum Ties: Greek mythology

Discussion Ideas:
1) What kind of powers does Percy inherit from his father?  What kind of power would you want if you were the child of a god?
2) If you haven’t read the books, what do you think might happen next?
3) Would it be possible to have Egyptian or Norse mythology in a modern context?  What would that look like?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: a drug-like substance, gambling

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the film and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the film from teens who have viewed it.

Selection: I went to see this film expecting (first of all, not to like it) that it would be geared for a young teen audience, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how it appealed to a broader age range than I anticipated.  I remember going to see Harry Potter in high school, I’m sure today’s students went to see this.

Extras:

Official Movie Website

The Lightning Thief at IMDB.com

Trailer for The Lightning Thief:

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Movies | , , | Leave a comment