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Author Archive for Brian Visser



inFamous: Second Son

by Brian Visser on May 1st, 2014

secondsonps4jpg-88473fOne of the first things that you’re asked to do in inFamous: Second Son is hold the controller sideways, shake it and create street art on a billboard.  The speaker on the PS4 controller even produces the click-clack sound of a spray paint can.  Little details like this are found throughout inFamous: Second Son, a third-person, open world action game for the Playstation 4.

You play as Delsin Rowe, a likable jerk, who discovers that he is a “Conduit,” a superhuman capable of controlling certain elements and materials.  Delsin’s first power is over smoke, which might not sound cool, but imagine being able change into smoke, enter a vent and quickly travel to the top of a building.  Delsin is on a mission to take down Brooke Augustine, the director of the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P).  The D.U.P. has taken over Seattle, and it’s up to you to systematically clear them out.  You do this by destroying their mobile control posts.  The combat is fun and fast-paced.  

As you progress through the story, you acquire new powers including neon and video.  Each power has its own feel and skill set.  Neon is all about precision, while video is brute force.  The separate powers have different styles of locomotion too.  With smoke you dash from place to place, neon is super speed and video is short distance teleportation.  Getting around is one of the best parts of the game.  inFamous: Second Son is all about empowering the player and choosing whether to be good or evil.  I chose to be good.  I wonder what you’ll choose?

 

 

 

V is for Villain by Peter Moore

by Brian Visser on April 16th, 2014
V is for Villain by Peter Moore Cover Image

Superheros and villains exist in Peter Moore’s “V is for Villain.”  Brad Baron comes from a family of superheroes, but he’s a bit of a disappointment because he’s only super-intelligent.  He’s jealous of his older brother, Blake, who has super-strength, speed and flight, and is a member of the Justice Force.  Brad attends the Academy, a school for super-powered students, but he’s soon transferred to the alternative program since he can’t keep up with his super-strong classmates.  There he finds a kindred spirit in Layla, who doesn’t think that heroes are that great either.  Soon, Brad, Layla and their friends decide that they should give villainy a try.

My favorite part of “V is for Villain” is Brad’s believable descent into becoming a “bad” guy.  He has good intentions at first, but he ends up doing questionable and downright evil things.  But, honestly, I thought most of his actions were justified responses to what had been done to him.  I also really enjoyed the teens exploring their powers.  Not to spoil it, but Brad does have another power, and the book really takes off when he masters it.  “V is for Villain” is a fast, fun read.  I recommend it to comic book readers who like Young Adult books.

April Teen Events

by Brian Visser on April 1st, 2014

Here are the upcoming April events for teens at the Iowa City Public Library!

Teen Concert

ICPL/UAY Mission Creek Teen Concert
Iowa City Public Library and United Action for Youth co-sponsor a Mission Creek Teen Concert featuring: Other Band, ConeTrauma and Dion Jackson.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., music at 7:00 p.m. For grades 7-12.
Date: Friday, April 4, 2014
Location: Meeting Room A

TAG

Teen Activity Group
Calling all people in grades 7-12! TAG is looking for new members!
The Teen Activity Group (TAG) helps plan teen programs and give teens a greater voice at the Library…also we eat lots of snacks.
Want to make a difference in your Library? TAG is a fun way to earn volunteer hours!
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

T A&M

ICPL Teen Anime & Manga Festival 2014
We’ll watch anime, talk about our favorite manga and eat massive amounts of candy sushi! We will be screening: Kamisama Kiss, Girls und Panzer and Say, ‘I Love You.’
There will also be an artist alley with prize drawings for participants, so be sure to bring your finished drawings or do some freehand work while you’re here! Cosplay dress is always welcome and there will be prizes for those that take part. For Grades 7-12 only.
Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Location: Meeting Room A

Need to work on your car?

by Brian Visser on March 11th, 2014

Source: http://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Car-repair.jpg

On Sunday, a patron asked if we had a Chilton’s Manual for a 1989 Chevy Silverado, because he couldn’t figure out how to change the time in his truck.  For those who don’t know, Chilton publishes do-it-yourself automobile repair manuals.  We didn’t have a physical manual, but, lucky for him, we have access to the Chilton’s Library online.  You can access it from home too if you have a current Iowa City Public Library card.  Just go to our Online Resources page and click on “Chilton Library” under “Premium Databases at ICPL.”

Please note:

Because of licensing restrictions our databases are available only to residents of Iowa City and of areas covered by contracts for library service: rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights.

March Teen Events

by Brian Visser on March 7th, 2014

March

Here are the upcoming March events for teens at the Iowa City Public Library:

GIF Workshop–Teen Tech Week: DIY @ Your Library
Hannah will show you how to make awesome GIFs like you see online to impress your friends. For teens in grades 7-12.
Date: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Time: 3:15-4:15 p.m.
Location: Computer Lab

Magnetic Silly Putty–Teen Tech Week: DIY @ Your Library
We’re going to make magnetic silly putty. For teens in grades 7-12.
Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Divergent Party
Join us in the Teen Center to celebrate the release of Divergent. We’ll have Divergent themed crafts and activities! For teens in 7th-12th grade.
Date: Friday, March 21, 2014
Time: 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Activity Group
Calling all people in grades 7-12! TAG is looking for new members!
The Teen Activity Group (TAG) helps plan teen programs and give teens a greater voice at the Library…also we eat lots of snacks.
Want to make a difference in your Library? TAG is a fun way to earn volunteer hours!
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Anime & Manga Club
We watch anime, talk about our favorite manga, draw and trade tips on cosplay! For Grades 7-12.
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Minecraft Meetup
Do you play Minecraft and want to meet other Minecraft players? Then join us for our monthly Minecraft meetups! For Grades 7-12.
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Time: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Computer Lab

 

Teen Anime & Manga Club This Saturday

by Brian Visser on February 20th, 2014

squid girl

Hey!  Our Teen Anime & Manga Club is meeting this Saturday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the Teen Center on the 2nd floor of the Library.  We’re watching Squid Girl, which is about a girl from the sea who possesses squid-like tentacles and vows to conquer humanity as revenge for its pollution of the ocean.  Seriously.

You can watch a trailer for it here.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

by Brian Visser on February 10th, 2014
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith Cover Image

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is about the end of the world as told by 16-year-old Austin Szerba.  Austin is confused:  He’s in love with his girlfriend Shann, but he’s also in love with Robby, his gay best friend.  Austin is preoccupied with history, and he points out that history chews up sexual confused young men.

Austin’s narration meanders and repeats itself.  He gives us history lessons about his Polish ancestors as well as telling us the unlikely series of events that led to unstoppable, giant, man-eating praying mantises being unleashed on the fictional town of Ealing, Iowa.  Yes, you read that right:  Giant, man-eating praying mantises.

Grasshopper Jungle is a brutally honest work.  Smith is an amazing writer.  He has expertly tapped into the adolescent male mind.  A word of warning: This book is awesome, and it also contains copious profanity, sexual situations and people being eaten by giant bugs.  I recommend it to readers looking for a highly original YA book.

February Teen Events

by Brian Visser on February 5th, 2014

February Teen Events Blog

Here are the upcoming February events for teens at the Iowa City Public Library:

We Write in Sand: a Synchronous Transmedia Creative Collaboration
We are hosting a session for teen participants to collaborate on a digital, real-time, multifaceted writing activity.
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Time: 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Activity Group
Calling all people in grades 7-12! TAG is looking for new members!
The Teen Activity Group (TAG) helps plan teen programs and give teens a greater voice at the Library…also we eat lots of snacks.
Want to make a difference in your Library? TAG is a fun way to earn volunteer hours!
Date: Saturday, February 22, 2013
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Anime & Manga Club
We watch anime, talk about our favorite manga, draw and trade tips on cosplay! For Grades 7-12.
Date: Saturday, February 22, 2013
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Teen Minecraft Meetup
Do you play Minecraft and want to meet other Minecraft players? Then join us for our monthly Minecraft meetups! For Grades 7-12.
Date: Saturday, February 22, 2013
Time: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Computer Lab

Teen Welcome to Night Vale Party
Friday we will grow fangs. Or at the very least, play Welcome to Night Vale monopoly, make our own Glow Clouds (all hail), and listen to the podcast. The winner of the WtNV Fanart Contest will also be announced; the winner will be spared. For teens in grades 7-12.
Date: Friday, February 28, 2014
Time: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: Teen Center

Drew: The Man Behind The Poster

by Brian Visser on January 21st, 2014
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster Cover Image

You may not know his name, but you know his work.  He has created some of the most iconic movie posters of all time including Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  His paintings seem to effortlessly evoke the spirit of each movie that he works on.  He’s Drew Struzan, and he was profiled in the insightful, entertaining documentary, “Drew: The Man Behind the Poster.”

I realized that I knew very little about Drew.  I was pleased to see that he’s a very down-to-earth, humble guy.  He speaks candidly about his life and his work, and an all star line up of directors and actors gush about Drew’s posters including George Lucas, Frank Darabont, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford.  Drew is now semi-retired from movie work and is focusing his own original art.

A lot of the documentaries that I watch are, in some way, about movies.  If you can say the same thing about yourself, then I wholeheartedly recommend “Drew: The Man Behind the Poster.”

Need For Speed Rivals

by Brian Visser on January 2nd, 2014

I never gave the “Need for Speed” franchise much thought until Criterion Games, makers of my beloved “Burnout” series, became stewards of the annual racer with 2010′s “Hot Pursuit.”  I was going to skip this year’s iteration as it was being created by a different developer, Ghost Games.  I’m glad I didn’t, because “Need for Speed Rivals” has one of the most addictive gameplay loops ever.

“Rivals’” gameplay is similar to “Hot Pursuit.”  You race expensive cars and evade the police or you play as cops and takedown street racers in an open world.  The delicious hook is that you earn SP (essentially experience points) by completing  races and other events to upgrade your car.  As the racers, you can build up an SP multiplier by racing as long as possible before heading back to your hideout.  As the cops, you arrest racers and take their SP.  It creates these ridiculous risk/reward situations where you think “should I try one more event?”

Besides earning SP, “Rivals” has some other RPG-like features (turning it into a caRPG, as the guys at Penny Arcade called it) including Speedlists which give you objectives to complete like “Drift for 50 feet.”  These are somewhat analogous to quests in full-blown role-playing games, and you also earn Ranks similar to leveling up.  All this turns what would’ve been a generic game into an addictive gem.  The Library owns “Need for Speed Rivals” on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.




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