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Mini Dragon Group (ages 6-7)

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Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson

Mini Motorways | Game Of The Week

Of course, the thrill of Mini Motorways (much like Metro before it) is in redesigning your road network on the fly, drawing new roads with a click and drag of your mouse in real time - although you can always hit pause and take a more considered approach if you want to. In another nod to the first game, getting to the end of the week earns you more tools to play with, giving you a choice of what to bring with you into the week ahead. Each week's options are randomised, so one week you could be choosing between a straight 30 road tiles or 20 road tiles with a roundabout (the latter of which can help ease the flow of traffic at big junctions), while another might give you 20 road tiles along with the choice of a traffic light, tunnel, or a bridge.

Mini Motorways | Game Of The Week

This is particularly true of the game's titular motorways, which soar above the daily rat-run taking place on the streets below to create fast, arterial expressways. These motorways are powerful puzzle pieces. They need to be a certain length, but technically they can be as long as the map allows for, and can also stand in as makeshift bridges. It's why they only come with an additional ten road tiles as opposed to 20 or 30 like some of the other options you're presented with, as any more and Motorways' carefully calibrated pressure engine would feel off. Motorways do have one weakness, though. They can't go over mountains, and it's in these moments that you still feel subservient to the landscape around you - and that's great, as it makes each city feel like a distinct challenge now rather than simply more of what's come before it.

In short, its more varied puzzle pieces, greater environmental challenge and clearer visual presentation all add up to make Mini Motorways a worthy evolution of Dinosaur Polo Club's minimalist transport formula. Despite appearing first on the Apple Arcade, Mini Motorways feels right at home on PC, and its intuitive mouse controls make for a much better architect's pen than a motion controlled remote. Add in daily and weekly challenges to its bumper crop of mainline maps (with more to come every few months after launch, as well as new game modes and the same breadth of updates we saw in Mini Metro) and Mini Motorways is a fine second outing for this vehicular puzzle series. Dedicated Mini Metro-ites may find Motorways a tad too familiar for it to enter their own god tier of video games, but if you're hungry for more of what Dinosaur Polo Club do best, then this is one diversion you won't want to miss.

Time passes quickly and at the end of every in-game week, you are offered a choice of two random deliveries of tools. This can be from 30 road pieces, 20 road pieces (plus a roundabout, tunnel, traffic light or bridge) or 10 road pieces and a motorway.

Mini Motorways is relaxing as it is tense, and each game transitions between the two extremes exponentially. The first few minutes (week 1 and 2) are calming, slow and can put you to sleep with the sweet lullabies of its soundtrack. You will be asking when will the game is gonna hit the gas.

As for the game itself, Mini Motorways has no options to maintain player engagement other than the same gameplay loop from the first hour well into the twelfth, with no narrative, overarching goal and a limited number of new stages. The game offers options for daily and weekly challenge runs with slightly altered RNG, but the only real incentive is a leaderboard chart. Although pure gameplay is far from the worst that a game can offer, Mini Motorways does not take long to start feeling samey and fits in comfortably as a game that one might play until completion once, and then forget about for a long time.

Using StageXL and Dart, I built another mini-game themed around our MMORPG Here Be Monsters this week. The game follows a pack of Taotie monsters, which is a type of spirit monster created when a ghost with immense hunger possesses a Chinese pot. Taotie originates from Chinese folklores and is one of many monsters that you encounter in the world of Here Be Monsters as seen in the in-game almanac page on Taotie:

Being pots, you will crack and die if you get hit by an asteroid, hence the premise of the game is for you to lead your Taotie minions and navigate through the asteroids and survive for as long as you can.

Players can help biomedical research by playing a new color-matching mini-game introduced in Borderlands 3 this week. "Borderlands Science" basically tricks human players into solving complex genetic alignment problems that can be intuitive for humans but difficult for computer algorithms.

The mini-game is a joint effort between Borderlands maker Gearbox and scientists at McGill University, UC San Diego's Microsetta Initiative, and the Massively Multiplayer Online Science group. "The first time I met with [Gearbox founder] Randy Pitchford and [Producer] Aaron Thibault to discuss this crazy idea was 5 years ago at GDC," MMOS founder Attila Szantner said in a blog post. "Since then we have been working together with the Gearbox team to realize this project."

A game of Mini Motorways starts you in a geographically abstract location supposedly representing cities around the world such as Moscow, Los Angeles, and nine others. A coloured square and a larger square of the same colour mark the humble first nodes of your network. These coloured shapes are abstracted representations of two nodes that must be connected on a network, with the matching pairs of shapes assumedly being the home and work locations of cohorts. The game provides no clear context to the consequences of our little seedling of a logistics empire, except that we are the omniscient god that must connect the arteries of a motorway courtesy of a weekly allotment of roads.

As time passes over the course of the week, which players can also toggle between paused and accelerated states, different coloured pairs of squares begin to appear. These new locations may then be connected to the existing network in a manner that conserves the limited road tiles, while also accounting for congestion and optimal routes. At the end of the week, the game gives a choice of two resource options to prepare for the following week. These always consist of at least some road tiles and a choice of congestion-busting aids such as roundabouts, traffic lights, bridges and even express motorways bypasses that provide a streamlined freeway between two distant points of the map.

The strategy of the game lies in managing your limited resources to balance the demand on the roadway network. After each week of in game time passes, you will be offered and choose between motorway upgrades, like roundabouts, traffic lights, bridges, tunnels, and highways, as well as additional road tiles.

For gamers who like thrive on competition, there are world wide score boards for each map, with additional daily and weekly challenges to see how you measure up against the best of the Mini Motorways player base.

Most events are held at the Event Center for players at town level 8 or above. During an event, players can play a mini game or perform in-game actions, or compete with other players to earn a variety of rewards including coins, cash, construction materials, zoo decks, coupons and boosters.

Back in June of this year during E3 2014, Square Enix began showing off a new mini-game spinoff from the Final Fantasy VII game called Final Fantasy VII G-Bike. If you have played Final Fantasy VII then you are probably already familiar with the G-Bike mini-game and this is essentially that game but made into its own title for mobile devices.

This mini-game, along with many others including the Chocobo races, we found at the Golden Saucer casino-style complex from Final Fantasy VII and will be the first in a series of ports to mobile devices of these mini-games from the franchise. Players will take control of Cloud and you will be racing against various AI opponents while riding on the G-Bikes from the original game.

Motorways are one of the best things you can use in this game. A motorway allows you to stretch an instant, unblocked road from one part of the game to the next. Mountains can interfere with where motorways can be placed, but other than that, their length is practically infinite. The only downside to motorways is that they will only come with ten road tiles when you select this weekly power up, which can limit how you intend to build your city.

The game also functions on a weekly schedule, and at the end of each week, you will be given a choice between two specialty pieces and more roads. Special parts are things like motorways, roundabouts, bridges, and traffic lights to help break up the traffic and get the increase in flow. Time can also be slowed down, even to a halt, and it can be sped up fairly fast as well. This is a great set up for the game, as it keeps your attention, lets you think and play creatively, and also gives you the ability to pause and think before you make further moves.

Mini Motorways is an absolutely amazing puzzle game. It is unique in its design, and it also provides a solid challenge without stressing you out. The minimalistic graphics are so pretty, even if some Los Angeles stages are hard to see, and the sound design is exquisite. There are even more ways to enjoy the game like fun alternatives to some maps and daily and weekly challenges. This is the best puzzle game I have played since Sokobond, and it is one that I will continually be going back to and try to improve my scores.

Although the main game gives you multiple ways to take down targets, Hitman: Sniper Challenge only lets you snipe. But this mini-game embraces the Hitman ethos by giving you points for headshots, as well as taking out targets such that their bodies are disposed out of sight: off the edge of the building, into a pond, and even down an elevator shaft. But if a body is discovered, everyone flees.

More quality-of-life improvements requested by the community will accompany The Endless & Expert Update. Discover a new multi-level manual zoom option to choose your preferred way to draw roads across the city on every platform, and make well-informed decisions with the ability to view your current city layout before choosing an upgrade at the end of each in-game week.


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