Here’s some tips tip for those contemplating a stint as an ex-pat: #1, Plan to immerse yourself in local culture, food, shopping, sightseeing, travel, meeting and conversing with new people. Don’t be isolated – connect.
Tip #2: Get some video games.
Seriously, you and your family won’t be able to do the cultural ambassador thing 24 x 7. You need some downtime, some alone with your family time – you need games.
The game that has swept the Salazar household this past weekend is Dragon Island, free for iPad. This game is like Pokemon … turn based combat, with really cool monsters organized into the traditional air-water-earth-fire model. There’s a role-playing aspect as your hero character – a “monster trainer” – travels around doing the bidding of the Trainers’ Guild and piecing together the also-traditional story of a lost father and mysterious doings at the highest levels of something or other.
Who cares? It’s the planning and the combat that make this game. Seriously, once you start it is hard to stop. First, the monsters are very clever – thus far among the enemies I’ve faced are Bitewings, Mutations, Giant Crabs, King Penguins, Cult priests, Blood Priests, Baby Nessie, plus something called an “Abomination” that is animated as a fat opera singer. Second, your own monsters gain new abilities fairly quickly, and even “evolve” into new forms – for example, a “Fairy”, an innocuous Tinkerbell-like thing that puts 1 enemy monster to sleep, evolves into a “Fairy Queen” which puts many monsters to sleep, and is, shall we say, very attractively rendered.
Here’s another look at the combat screen:
There’s just the right amount of animation here, the enemies slowly floating up and down, with animated question-marks, or ZZs to indicate different conditions, and slashes or explosions to mark each attack. All this is squarely in the Dragon Quest style. and takes about 30 seconds to figure out.
Finally, this game is very forgiving. You lose lots of battles, but there’s no effect on your progress in the game. You just re-spawn in the last town you visited, your battalion of little horrors all healed-up and ready to try again. If you can’t get past a certain boss fight, no problem: Just wander around, level up your monsters, maybe capture some more, then after a while go back and try again.
Net-net: Dragon Island for iPad, super-game, get it. Now sorry, have to go – need to find out what my 20th level Bat Fiend is evolving into …