Meditation In Motion With Alto's Odyssey

Meditation In Motion With Alto's Odyssey

How the newest game in the Alto series makes the most of its broadened horizons.
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After a brief reflection on the newest Monument Valley installment, I was recently introduced to another mesmerizing mobile phone game: Alto's Odyssey. It's actually a follow-up to another Team Alto release, Alto's Adventure -- a collaboration between Canadian studio Snowman and lead artist/programmer Harry Nesbitt -- but my entrance to the series starts here. I'm discovering that I might have a certain taste for cerebral games; both are minimalist in character design but striking in their color palette and sense of environment (a picture says a thousand words is a pretty apt metaphor here), but that is where the similarities end.

The game opens on raspy, meditative chords, not dissimilar to the opening notes of Trevor Morris's theme for Bioware's Dragon Age: Inquisition. The association alone had my breath catching in my throat and tugging at my heartstrings. The title screen is set against a horizon awash in dawn and speckled with hot air balloons as the sun slowly rises to scorch the hills upon hills of sand. If I wait long enough even the text fades away, and I am alone in the middle of a vast desert. But, with a tap, a blur enters from the left side of the screen and Alto is there, sandboard slamming onto the slopes.

My choices are limited -- jump or not jump, flip or don't flip -- but that doesn't mean the experience has to be as well. I guide Alto through countless biomes in a never-ending cycle of day and night, of wind and rain and dusk. There are sets of three goals at a time -- such as "Discover The Canyons", "Break a pot using a lotus flower", or the easy-breezy "Backflip off of a hot air balloon" -- that string me along and give me a concrete reason to play. I collect glowing coins along the slopes, which I can trade in at the Workshop for stronger helmets, extra lives, and special items. The scarf trailing behind Alto grows longer the farther I'm able to go or the more combos I'm able to land in one run, and after a certain amount of time I can even spot brightly-colored Birds of Paradise hovering over Alto's shoulder, curious at my progress. I quickly sink into the rhythm of the game, calculating the time and distance of my jumps, distinguishing between rocks and plant life, and cringing when I overestimate the number of flips I can accomplish in one go. But the game doesn't seem to mind my many failures: it promptly tells me to dust off and try again. "Don't worry, crashes happen!"

The more goals I accomplish the more levels I ascend, which gradually allows my boarder to progress further into entirely new zones, with new platforms and abilities and characters to spice it up a little. When I find myself getting too incensed (usually because I can't shake a pesky lemur off my tail) I can return to the title screen and swipe to the left, activating what I'm calling Zen Mode and leaving me with only the horizon and a simplistic, rotating drawing of the sun. I focus on the sun and the swaying cacti as my breathing levels off, and I'm ready to try again or go about my day.

I know Alto's Odyssey has so much more to offer me -- hours of smooth gliding, new areas, contemplative tunes, and more characters to test out on the slopes -- but the game makes it clear that I must work for such simple pleasures. I have to fail many times before I can accomplish menial goals, each one taking me further down the slopes than the last. It knows exactly what kind of game it is, and excels in all quadrants: it has gorgeous graphics, runs smoothly, doesn't overload me with objectives or abilities, and is overall one of the most meditative games I've played just to pass the time. Perhaps the best way to wake up is with Alto in your cup!

Alto's Odyssey is now available for download on iOS devices in the App Store.

Cover Image Credit: Team Alto

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5 Games To Play In School That They Never Block

You used to play these games in school, and so did everyone you know.
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Even though some games were blocked on the school's internet, these games were not (for most people) and we used it to our full advantage. Also, one of the pictures on this article will take you to the actual game itself, it is up to you to find it. Good Luck!

1. Poptropica

This game was always so fun but 99% of the time I would only play on spy island.

2. QWOP

This is the source of misbehavior in schools because this game was so aggravating.

3. playretrogames

This entire website was never blocked so it was constantly being played on the computer.

4. CoolMath

Again, an entire gaming website that was never blocked and had what was honestly some really fun casual games.

5. The Impossible Quiz

THIS NEEDS TO DIE

If you are kids are in school and looking for some fun during the day, these websites are almost never blocked by the school's wifi. (Just don't get caught). I hope you enjoyed this article and if you did please feel free to follow myself and the Anderson Universtiy page and I will see you all next time, bye!

Cover Image Credit: Rico Tec Solution

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5 Apps To Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

To help you focus on making the most of the year.

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It's getting to that point in the year where people are starting to lose steam when it comes to their New Year's Resolutions. If you're like me, you make some pretty big goals, but then fall short on how to achieve them. We are all so connected to our phones, that sometimes the best way to keep track of our goals, is to use our phones. Here's a list of 5 apps that will help keep you on track for your New Year's resolutions.

1. Goodreads.

If one of your resolutions was to read more, then this is the app for you. Goodreads lets you set a reading goal for the year and track your progress. You can make reading lists and track your progress page by page. It also allows you to review books and read other people's reviews.

2. TV Time.

If one of your resolutions was to catch up on all of those shows that people talk about that you've never seen, then try TV Time. Much like Goodreads, it allows you to select what shows you want to watch, log shows you have watched, and track your progress episode by episode. It also lets you look at reviews and interact with other users.

3. Letterboxd.

Letterboxd (@letterboxd) | Twitter

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If TV shows aren't your thing, but you vowed to watch more movies, then Letterboxd is more your speed. Browse movies by genre, popularity, release date, and many more. Select the movies you have watched and pick which ones are on your watchlist. You can make lists of movies and browse others altogether and you can also rate and review every movie.

4. Flora.

Flora - Stay Focused Together

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If you have made either a resolution to use your phone less or to focus more, try downloading Flora. Flora lets you set a timer 25 minutes up to almost 2 hours. Once you set a timer, a seed is planted on your phone and if you click any buttons, the plant will die. However, if you succeed and don't use your phone within the time you set, a tree will grow and will be added to your digital garden. If you need a little more incentive, you can bet real money that you won't lose. If you do lose, you pay the money and a real tree is planted in a rural community. When signing up with Facebook, you can also see how many trees your friends have planted.

5. One List.

App Of The Day: One List

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One of the New Year's resolutions people have is to be more productive. If you're like me, you're most productive when you have a list of the things you have to do. One List is the most simple to do list app I have found. You simply pull down on the screen to add something to the list. You can set a priority for each task and then they are automatically sorted from highest to lowest priority. Then you simply swipe to check a task off the list.

So, unless one of your resolutions was to reduce how much you use your phone or stop using your phone altogether, some of these apps are bound to help you achieve one of your resolutions.

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