games / Columns

Average Gamer 2.26.2013: Non-Violent Games Edition

February 26, 2013 | Posted by Dan Watson

Welcome back to the Average Gamer.

Before I begin, I want to address a bit about the site here. I have noticed in some other columns in the comments’ section that many readers are asking where some of the columns have gone. To put it simply, many of our writers have graduated college and no longer have time to write, have gone into the service and served for our country, or just don’t have the time anymore. We haven’t had a strong new batch of writers in quite some time and are in grave need of help. There is another post out in the games’ section asking if you are interested to please send us your information with some requirements. If you enjoy the site, please give it a shot. I come from a sales and business background but can write about video games. You don’t need to be an English major or journalism major to write for us. Just have a love for video games, be able to stay in a weekly schedule, and contribute to the extras when you can. I am sure you all, as readers, would love to have some fresh views thrown into the website as well as columns like 4 player co-op and top 5. It doesn’t work well when it is the same people with similar view each week.

In other news, as I type this on Monday, February 25, 2013 I am getting ready to go to closing on my first home. Finally this process is almost over. Just in time too, a huge snow storm, biggest of the season and of the two years, is coming to Chicago tomorrow. So, that will make my life fun.

Now, I want to invite a special piece into this week’s column brought to you by Adam Larck.

Average Reviews

Skulls of the Shogun (XBLA)

After being delayed for a few months, the first title allowing for gameplay between the 360, Windows 8 and Windows Phone is now available.

Skulls of the Shogun is a strategy title that gets rid of the block move system most strategy titles have. Instead, units can use a circular system to dictate movement area and attack area. Units can move within the circle, attack and possibly even move away from enemies at the end, depending on how much movement was used the first time.

The game centers around General Akamoto who tries to take over the underworld after being killed in his previous life. As he progresses, he gains the help of new troops, monks and more to regain control.

Units can stand next to each other to form walls to force enemies to go around or attack them first. In addition, troops can devour the skulls of defeated enemies to get health back or add additional health and eventually get two turns in a round once enough skulls are devoured. Keep in mind, though, that you only have five moves per round.

Like most strategy titles, there are various units you can use with higher and lower attack, defense and health. When attacking, units will knock enemies back. This can be used to your advantage to knock enemies off cliffs or into advantageous spots for your team. Some troops have unique abilities to use as well, such as healing or a fireball. However, to summon more troops or use monks, you’ll have to first haunt rice paddies to get resources or take over a shrine.

While the campaign is lengthy to go through, the big draw here is the multiplayer. Up to four players can take on each other at once as different generals in a battlefield. However, it’s the asynchronous gameplay that intrigued me the most.

Like on a smartphone, players can start a multiplayer match with someone over any device. They do their turn and end it before waiting for the next player to do their turn. It’s a great feature that can let players keep the fight going on the go and keep racking up wins and Achievements. In addition, this lets gamers going on vacation still keep up with a game they may have started before.

Overall, Skulls of the Shogun is a solid title for strategy fans on the go to pick up or 360 owners wanting something new to play. However, the morbidly artsy style of the skulls won’t help sway any non-strategy fans to give the game a try.

Non- Violent Games

With the recent press about gaming causing shootings again, I wanted to take a moment to point out some non-violent games that are out there. Please feel free to toss in your own in the comments section. I really ran into a problem with this because it is really three or four genres and the rest are violence driven. I understand that gaming is growing with its core gamers but this was tough to find non-sports titles to write about.


Of course the most well-known, non-violent game is Madden. This game had its own show on ESPN for several seasons and is still as popular today as it was five year ago. Some of the thrill of this game is just having your own created self in the game playing with real players. Others find the competitiveness of the game the reason worth playing it. Whatever your reason, this game is bought every year in huge numbers and normally leads sales figures in the months of August and September but then will remain in the top ten for several more months.

Need for Speed

A racing series that has continued to grow with gamers. Sure there are some violent tones in some of the games (The Run for example) but as a whole the series provides some great realistic racing with a twist. Not many of us are able to drive Vipers, Porches, or any other high end sports car in our lifetime so it makes for a great escape.


This may be the fastest growing sports franchise in gaming right now. Each year it sounds like more and more people are buying this game and each year the game is getting bigger. Even last year with the strike/lock-out, the company found a reason to get gamers to buy the game. Everyone wanted the case with Jordan, Bird, or Magic on the cover. I have enjoyed playing this series each year and it is quickly becoming my annual favorite release.

Guitar Hero

What other game allows you to defeat the Devil without ever touching him or using violence. This game is a fan favorite and I believe most gamers have at least spent a little time with this, Rock Band, or some other variation of decent music with a rhythm based game. If you have not, go pick up a guitar and any of the non-band based Guitar Hero titles and have a great weekend of fun.

Brain Age: Concentration Training (3DS)

The Brain Age series is back, bringing with it some devilish training this time.

Brain Age: Concentration Training is the same title you’ve grown to know from the DS, just with some added features. The newest addition is Dr. Kawashima’s Devilish Training. The training forces you to strain your memorization and concentration skills to remember multiple words, math answers or memory positions at a time as you try and complete levels as quick as possible. At the end of each round, you’re given a percentage of right answers you got. Above 85 percent advances you up a rank, but below a certain percent and you’ll drop back to the previous rank, punishing you for guessing and having a lapse in concentration.

Each exercise lasts for five minutes before stopping you at whatever level you finish on. You can pick up from the new level the next day. New trainings can be unlocked by playing the game more often and multiple days in a row.

Outside of that, there’s supplemental training you can do that are smaller samples of the Devilish Training to help your brain. There are also games you can play, such as solitaire, that are used for training and even some games for relaxation.

The game still follows a similar pattern to past Brain Age titles. Will the game help with your concentration? Well, that may vary depending on the person. Some people may find it helps a ton in concentrating on one thing and ignoring outside distractions. However, others may find no help at all.

Still, if you’re a parent watching a kid struggle or just want to try and boost your own concentration, Brain Age: Concentration is definitely worth a look for the 3DS.

There you guys have it. This week is in the books. Have a great week everyone and be safe if you live in the mid-west or in an area that is being hit by this storm.


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Dan Watson
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