I’m not sure what was more of a surprise to me—that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around for 30 years, or that the John Madden videogame football franchise goes back 25 years! John Mayer has some ground to make up; his first album debuted in 2001, an Internet only album titled Room for Squares. Hopefully he’ll have the longevity of turtles and one particular earthbound former football coach.
Paradise Valley, John Mayer (Columbia)
However you feel about John Mayer’s personal life, you’ll find Paradise Valley is a back-to-basics blues sounding album. His gift as a guitarist is clearly demonstrated as he skillfully interprets his music in this peaceful, mood altering collection. Most of the tracks on his sixth studio album convey a laid-back, relaxed stroll through Midwest America. Though not a huge country fan, I think the recent popularity of country with Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, and Hunter Hayes is pretty cool. Mayer’s duets with Frank Ocean on “Wildfire” and Katy Perry on “Who You Love” make these tracks extra special. This album is much more accomplished and approachable, and while it gives the listener wonderful ballads, it lacks some of the edginess of past albums. Mayer has definitely chosen to play it safe here, and I guess I can’t blame him. Check out “Wildfire” “Badge and Gun,” “On the Way Home,” and “Who You Love.”—Geena G., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Madden 25 (Electronic Arts)
Any true football fan knows, the new season is incomplete without a new release from the gameplay icon, John Madden. That is one of the reasons the Madden football franchise has been a success since its inception. Another is developer Tiburon’s continued tweaking of the game with every new installment. Madden 25 is no exception to this, and offers players several interesting features and improvements. Many of the upgrades benefit the running backs. The new Precision Modifier allows jukes, spins, stiff-arms, and more in order to get around defenders. While executing these moves and manipulating the console, players can combine moves ensuring success on the field. There have been upgrades to the playbook, and use of the Read-option plays. The Infinity Engine has been enhanced for more realistic animations, but still needs work. Owner Mode gives players the opportunity to draft players, sign free agents, restructure contracts, and manage all aspects of the stadium. This part really adds to the experience. A definitely satisfying game that any football fan will dive into. Rated E for Everyone. Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.—James M.,grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Activision & Red Fly Studio)
It is hard to believe that the Ninja Turtles have been around for about 30 years, and of course, have amassed a huge following. The popular cartoon series on Nickelodeon has been a big part of their resurgence, so it makes sense to jump on the bandwagon with a videogame. The game’s premise is that April O’Neil has been kidnapped, and the Turtles must fight to save her and New York City from the evil Shredder and his gang. The game campaign lasts roughly five hours, and is totally combat-based. The four turtles always fight together, and the martial arts-style fighting is action-packed, with a ridiculous amount of combination attacks and button mashing sequences. Difficulty levels continue to increase throughout the campaign, which makes things challenging. Each turtle has his own weapons, fighting style, and personality, and players can switch between each of these at will. The Turtles’ familiar nuances are numerous, especially with all the references to pizza. There is a classic mode feature that allows you the play the game in vintage black and white. There is also a multiplayer mode for up to four friends, and a local co-op mode for up to two players. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is very reasonably priced and will provide you with hours of great “cowabunga” fun. Rated E for Everyone. Platform: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Nick M., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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