Category Archives: Editorials

Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie


Disclaimer…not all games are officially coming out for 2015, but they’re announced and this is me hoping.

2015 so far looks to already be leaning towards a year of incredible releases, as long as the trend of releasing half finished games or delaying the games until 2016 doesn’t continue. Nonetheless, my hopes are held extremely high and I can’t wait for a few games in particular. So why not just jump into that list. This list is in alphabetical order and is not rated by how much I want the game.

Continue reading Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie

The Only NUReviews Top 10 GOTY 2014 That Matters*


Man, what a year, am I right? I mean, I haven’t posted any articles in a year, but if you follow our FaceBook page you’ll have seen we were at least semi-active this year.  But really, all that matters is the last post of the year, the traditional 2014 GOTY Top 10 List.  I’ve played a handful of games over the year, mostly good, some bad, and then there’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, but narrowing down what I could consider my Top 10 was certainly harder than I thought it’d be.  I’ll provide a small insight into the game and why I think it deserves the place on my list for each game, and much like The Octopus from The Spirit, I like to start from the bottom and work my way up.  So let’s start with the metaphorical toes of my Top 10 List, entry number 10.

NUmbeR 10 – South Park: The Stick of Truth


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South Park: The Stick of Truth finds you, the new kid on the block, in the middle of a war of the imaginations between the children of South Park, Colorado.  Initially enlisted alongside Cartman and Butters, you eventually team up with Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and even Jimmy as you fight to try and reclaim the all powerful Stick of Truth, a weapon so powerful that anyone who wields it can bend all of reality to their whim.  Written by the brains behind the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and animated to look just like the show, the game blends wonderful visuals, crude humor, and simple yet solid gameplay mechanics to craft a game worthy of praise.  My biggest complaint with the game, however, is that it’s so short, in just under 12 hours, I was able to complete the main campaign and most, if not all of the side quests. For an RPG, that certainly leaves things lacking.  Some will say that making a 40 hour RPG out of South Park material would be stretching the source too much, and you know, they’re probably right. But I wouldn’t let this issue deter me from recommending people buy the game.  However, if you can’t get it for anything less than $15, I’d highly recommend you hold off on it. That really is the best way to get the most bang for your buck for this otherwise great game.

NUmbeR 9 – Hyrule Warriors


tumblr_ndz1m5nS6h1rf0hsxo4_250Stupid Sexy Link-senpai

When announced at E3, Hyrule Warriors looked to just be a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda skin, which if it were only that, would still have made my list.  But instead, what we got was a game crafted around both the gameplay elements of the two completely separate series, while maintaining the feel that comes with a game that the developers truly loved to make.  The Tecmo Koei people have perfected the Dynasty Warriors gameplay to an art, almost, being able to create these spin-offs of the series while lovingly crafting them around the source material that they’re being based on.  Each of the characters hold weapons that are pulled from the 3D Zelda Games (with the exception of some 8-bit weapons to throw in as a treat to fans), along with giant boss monsters that sometimes invade the field require a bit of easy puzzle solving to do massive damage to them, as it would take with any Zelda game.  Packed with hours of content past just the main story, as well as a gameplay style that doesn’t really get old in my eyes, it’s one of my GOTY titles.  You may be wondering why, with such high praise, it’s so low on my list. Well, the reason is because at its core, it’s still a game from the Dynasty Warriors series, whose games aren’t for everyone.  Many people get tired of the Hack-n-Slash, mow-down-an-entire-army gameplay the series provides, rather quickly.

If you love Zelda, it’s worth the look just for the care that was put into the game. But if you’re not a fan of Dynasty Warriors as a whole, you won’t be able enjoy the game to its full potential.  Also, how can you not include Groose? He demands to be let loose.

NUmbeR 8 – The Evil Within


THE NOPE WITHINI really feel you SeaBass

I guess it’s time to admit one of my greater gaming sins: I have never played Resident Evil 4, the last Resident Evil title before the series went, objectively, to the shitter (though I still liked RE5 a little, despite its terrible AI).  When The Evil Within started showing it’s face in the gaming world, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention. But towards release, I started to get pretty hype by trailers and screens, and post release the hype was intensified by watching other people play. It ended up being one of my better purchases of the year.  Following the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, you find yourself in a life or death struggle against crazed, zombie like people and a mad man with mysterious powers called Ruvik.  If you’re wondering why I had to start this by bringing up Resident Evil 4, it’s because anyone who has played the two will tell you of the huge similarities the two games hold.  Even putting aside the fact that they share the same director, gameplay elements and sections, which  The Evil Within seemed to have almost carbon copied from Resident Evil 4 (though they took out the ability to do sick suplexes on stunned enemies, the fools).  The story is a bit of a cluster-fuck and doesn’t explain a whole lot, but the visuals are great and the gameplay is solid.  Despite my terrible skill at the game, I enjoyed every minute I play of this wonderful title.

NUmbeR 7 – Jackbox Party Pack


hqdefaultShameless ripping of Steve’s image

You’ll start to notice something from this point on, so I’ll give you the heads up now.  Starting with this entry, I really don’t have many negative things to say about the rest of the games on this list.  While clearly all these views are subjective and your thoughts may vary, if I can make a top ten list, and run out of negative things to say by number 7, then I’ve clearly had a good year.  The Jackbox Party Pack is exactly that kind of game. It’s a collection of five games by the developers behind You Don’t Know Jack (which is also included in this collection).  Each title can be played solo with a controller, or with multiple people with each person using a smart phone, tablet, computer, or anything that has a browser as their controller.  Because of this set up, some games are able to support up to eight consecutive players. One game can even supporting up to 100.  It’s a perfect game to have when you have a lot of people over, as none of the games require any real amount of skill. I guarantee that everyone will have a great time playing it.

NUmbeR 6 – Mario Kart 8


YoshicolorsSo much wasted potential in a single roster, wheres my Rawk Hawk?

What is there really to say about this that’s not already known? If you just read the title of the game, you would know what you’re in for.  Mario Kart 8 brings the classic karting fun the series is known for to the Wii U, in beautiful high definition.  The worlds are lovingly crafted and each race is a load of fun, no matter how good you are at the game.  Another great game to play with your friends, fun for all without as much of the relationship crushing nature that comes with Mario Party.  If I had one complaint for the game, it’d be the waste of character slots (seriously, who thinks putting every Koopa Kid and Pink Gold Peach in was a good idea?), but I’m not going to let that ruin my view of the game.

NUmbeR 5 – Dark Souls 2


tumblr_naux25S9pP1sxoyxro10_500I really have nothing clever to put here, but I’m on a roll and won’t stop now

There is so much that can be said about Dark Souls 2, it’s a little hard to think of a place to start.  Even if I started with a rough overview of the story, that in and of itself is complicated.  You play an undead, someone who can not die, who is on a quest to try and find a cure to your condition.  You find yourself in the land of Drangleic, an ancient kingdom that has all but fallen apart, where you are tasked to seek the king of Drangleic, for it is he who will have the answers.  Your quest takes you all around this strange world: from deepest darkness of The Gulch, to the strangely high and seemingly geographically misplaced Iron Keep. As your quest goes on so does your goal.  However, it is not the ideals of the character that changes, it feels more as if the world is just guiding you on your way, and as you continue on, you start to forget why you set out on the journey to begin with.  Featuring the action RPG combat that started way back on the PS3 with Demons Souls, Dark Souls 2 is refined in some matters while faltering in others.  Many will argue on how the game compares to previous entries in the series, but I enjoy it all the same.  Where it falters, its previous entries rise to the challenge, and where they falter, Dark Souls 2 sits high above them.  The inclusion of the DLC is easily the best part of the game, showing design and artistic methods that show what the team is truly capable of.  If you haven’t played this game yet, then I would highly recommend you do, don’t let the claims of its insane difficulty deter you away.  The key to playing any “Souls” game is patience and learning. Keep those in mind, and you can overcome any obstacle in your path.  Dark Souls 2 will be re-released around end of Quarter 1 and beginning of Quarter 2 of 2015, with the Scholar of the First Sin edition, which will include new story elements, NPCs, and gameplay balances.  This edition will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC with DirectX11 support, which will include enhanced visuals and alternate enemy placements. So if you’ve been putting off playing the game or are just considering playing it, wait for this definitive edition to be released.

NUmbeR 4 – Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix


braigYes, good, that’s the word.

When I was constructing this list, I found that there were a couple of HD remakes that I played over the year that I considered for the list, but I really couldn’t put any of them above Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.  While its close contender, the FFX/X-2 HD Re-master, was an excellent remastering of some excellent games, updating their visuals for more modern systems, I didn’t really get all that much more out of it.  While the editions did come with the extra content from the “International” editions of the game (which were kind of like Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, except only not released in the US), all of that extra content was end-game, so I didn’t see any of it until well into my playthrough.  Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix brings the Final Mix version of two of the best games of the Kingdom Hearts series stateside for the first time, and these versions are of course the reasoning this has made it so high on my list.  Kingdom Hearts has been my guilty pleasure game since its release. I’ve played every title, save for the Japanese only mobile game, and at one point even imported Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.  To be able to play these enhanced version with new forms, gameplay balances, difficulty levels, cutscenes and secret bosses in a language I understand, is almost like a childish dream come true.  As a fan of the series, there’s no reason for you not to own this game. If you’re looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 3, but don’t quite grasp the story, these HD Remix versions are the best place to start.

NUmbeR 3 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc


imagesIt’s Un-Bear-able~

Danganronpa: Goodbye Despair is another example of many of why the Vita is actually a handheld worth investing in.  While the number of big named titles doesn’t reach the expectations one might have for it, the sheer force of the niche Japanese titles is what really drives the system.  When I first bought Danganronpa, I didn’t expect to really enjoy it, since I heard it was kind of like Phoenix Wright, but that’s all I had known about it.  What I got was another entry into the small list of Visual Novel-esque titles that have become some of my favorite handheld games.  Danganronpa is about a class of “Ultimates”, students who are the best of the best in their given field, trying to survive imprisoned in the very school they thought they were safe in.  You take on the role of Makoto Maegi, the “Ultimate Lucky Student”, that is to say he has no particular skill of interest, he just got accepted into the school because he won a lotto drawing.  Inside the school you’ll encounter your fellow “classmates”, including the “Ultimate Programmer”, “Ultimate Martial Artist”, “Ultimate Otaku” and more. You’ll be lead by the sadistic, pun throwing, monochromatic mad-bear, Monokuma.  There’s only one rule to surviving this dark situation: Murder your fellow classmates.  The gameplay is split between two different states. There’s what I’ll refer to as the “Peaceful State”, where you spend your days spending time with your classmates, getting to know them and building friendships ala the Persona Series.  And then there’s the “Murder State”, which takes place when ever someone has been murdered.  Your job in the “Murder State” is to find clues as to who committed the murder, and then bring them to justice in a trial.  If you win, the murderer gets punished and you continue playing, however if you pick out the wrong person, everybody but the murderer gets punished, and the murderer gets set free.  The story is full of twists that even I didn’t quite see coming(And I’m pretty good about spotting twists, I figured Vader was Luke’s father a whole minute before he said that line), and the characters are eccentric to the point where you can’t help but feel love for all of them, even the sadistic asshole that is Monokuma.  If you want a game similar to 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors or Virtue’s Last Reward: Zero’s Escape, but with a more light-hearted tone to it, be sure to pick this up.

NUmbeR 2 – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


shadow-of-mordro8 out of 10 witty comments isn’t too bad right?

Let’s be frank with each other: franchise games are rarely good.  I’m, of course, not talking about video game franchises. I’m talking about video games based around franchises that pre-existed in other mediums, such as movies or books.  Short of an original story not told in other mediums, or being a LEGO game, franchise games are essentially doomed to be at the bottom of the barrel for eternity.  So it comes as a surprise that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a franchise game that takes gameplay directly from two of the biggest AAA game franchises on the market right now, can do it better than both of them and come so close to my personal GOTY.  The story of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor follows Talion, a ranger in charge of defending the Black Gate.  All is going well with him and his family, but everything changed when the Fire Nation… I mean… the Black Hand of Sauron attacked.  After watching his family killed before his eyes, Talion himself is killed, but his spirit remains in the world of the living.  An Elvish wraith tells him that his soul is cursed, much like the wraith, and that if they were to team up, they could take down the armies of Sauron, the Black Hand, and then finally reunite with their families.  So begins a quest across the lands of Mordor, slaughtering Uruks and retrieving fragments of the Wraith’s memories to discover his hidden past.  Exploration in Shadow of Mordor is taken almost directly from Assassin’s Creed, with the ability to stealth at will and climb up buildings like a professional climber.  The similarities in this system are so abundant, that sometimes I thought I might have actually been playing an Assassin’s Creed game (which was quickly rectified by the fact that it wasn’t Assassin’s Creed IV and I was having fun).  Meanwhile the combat is a carbon copy of the Batman Arkham games of recent fame.  In combat, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Uruks that will try to attack you one or two at a time. You can press ‘Triangle’ to counter their attacks at the last minute, ‘Square’ to issue strikes, ‘X’ to bound over your enemies, and ‘Circle’ to stun them, which, while stunned, you can issue repetitive blows using the ‘Square’ button.  After you get a high enough combo, you can press a combination of two buttons to perform a finishing move, which does things like knock out a single opponent or stun enemies in a radius around you (seems pretty familiar huh?).  The inclusion of a Bow with a bullet time mechanic allows you to take out a group of enemies swiftly and from a distance.

But the real meat of the game comes from the much acclaimed Nemesis System.  Each Uruk captain is generated to look and sound different, to fight differently, and to have different strengths and weaknesses.  Killing a captain opens up his spot in Sauron’s army, allowing another captain to move up in the ranks.  Combine this with the late game ability to turn Uruks into your own minions, the game quickly becomes finding Uruks you particularly like, beefing them up and turning all of Mordor under your control.  The game is loaded with side challenges to distract you from the very few main quests (only 20 total), so much so in fact that I had completed all the side challenges I could complete in the first half of the game before I was even done with the first half of the story missions.  It never feels like a chore to do these side quests, unless you wait until the end and that’s all you have left to do.  While the story isn’t particularly engaging, the gameplay is almost perfect in all aspects.  If I had two complaints about the game, it’s that you don’t get the ability to control enemies until very late in the game, and that the DLC they added trophies which ruined my 100% completion rating.  I worked very hard for that Level 25 Rune, damn it, and you took away my pride!!

NUmbeR 1 – Shovel Knight


 276752-SN2221It’s both cozy, and lonely at the top.

Here we are, Numero Uno, The King of Kings, the 100%, Indisputable** 2014 Game of the Year: Shovel Knight.  What a game, where can I even start?  So often Indie games try and pander off their work by giving it that “retro” look, but rarely is a game so expertly crafted as Shovel Knight is.  Taking elements from the classic side scrolling action games of the 8-bit era (see Megaman, Ducktales, etc), Shovel Knight is as much a love letter as it is a stand alone title.  You play Shovel Knight, a once proud Knight of the Spade who, after the loss of his companion Shield Knight, retired to a life of easy digging.  However, after an evil Enchantress started rising to power with the aid of the Knights of No Quarter, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to bury these evil doers and dig up some Justice!  Starting off fairly weak (classic 3 heart containers), each level sees Shovel Knight traversing the 2D planes, defeating enemies and collecting cash, which he can then use to buy relics and upgrades.  If you die in a level you lose a percentage of the gold you have on you, but similar to games like Dark Souls, if you make it back to the place you died you can reclaim all that lost gold.  While a single playthrough won’t last you too long, the game has a New Game+ feature, which allows you to start again with all your upgrades and stronger enemies.  Attached onto that are a number of challenges and achievements that will have you playing the game for hours on end.

Despite being an 8-bit Indie Game, the difficulty matches and, in some cases, exceeds modern AAA titles.  Enemies make platforming perilous yet fair, and Bosses do large amounts of damage but have fairly predictable move sets.  The game is perfectly balanced to be both fair for those who are possibly new to games, but also challenging and rewarding to the more experienced gamer.  There is nothing I can possibly say wrong about this game, which makes it a one of a kind diamond in the desert that has been 2014 in gaming.

*: NUReviews does not stand by that this is the only GOTY list that matters, there are a lot of lists out there and they are all respectable opinions, NUReviews doesn’t condone the idea that we’re better than everyone***

**: It is completely refutable if Shovel Knight is indeed GOTY because this is based off Brad’s personal preference.

***: Except Kotaku, we’re better than Kotaku

Steve’s Top 5 Games of the Year (2014)


GOTY2014

I have had an extremely busy time this year. Unfortunately, most of that times was dedicated to academics and other life stuff…and Peggle Blast for Android OS. Don’t worry, no way I’m letting a mobile game get on this list. I did manage to get to a good number of games I’ve been eying for a while, but unfortunately, time (and funds) didn’t let me get to other games I been putting off (Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, South Park: Stick of Truth, etc). It’s actually why I had to do a Top 5, rather than a top 10. I guess those are left to my eternal backlog. Oh well, anyways, to the list.


Honorable Mentions:

underwater

Mario Golf: World Tour

I’m not the biggest sports guy. I would only watch big events like the Super Bowl or World Cup( dat 7-1, eh?). That also applies to sport games, so don’t expect to see me talk about the latest Madden or MLB game. However, there are exceptions. Games like NBA Jam or NFL Blitz, mostly those zany, arcade styled games, are more my speed, since they’re a bit more hectic and allow for more creativity. The Mario sport series certainly falls under this category. Mario Golf: World Tour is a great portable game. You can play the game for a few holes, take a break, and then resume later with no hassle at all. Even the online mode is pretty fun and helpful for picking up some swing techniques. My major gripe with the game is that despite having a decent chunk of content, there’s little to no replay value. The lack of a single player RPG mode, which were featured in previous portable versions of Mario Golf, left me desiring more out of the game. But still, the mechanics and courses were solid enough for me to recommend this game to any casual golf fan…but perhaps when it’s discounted though.

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The Jackbox Party Pack:
If there’s one thing I love, it’s playing party games with my friends. At $25, this can’t be passed up…unless you are not the type of person who likes this sort of thing. Anyways, this game contains a bunch of great games, like You Don’t Know Jack 2015, which has a bunch of new episodes with everyone’s favorite virtual game show host, Cookie Masterson,  and Fibbage XL and Drawful, where you have to create deceitful answers believable enough for others to choose in order to win points. What’s great is that everyone can play using their cell phones, iPad, or computer, so no need for extra controllers. Brad actually did a livestream a few weeks ago where viewers can actually play too. If we get enough of a response, we’ll try to do something like this again.

And now to the list!


#5- Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season TwoWDS2_KeyArt_Logo-650px

Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is one hell of an emotionally impactful game. Although there were not many, the decisions you had to make drastically affects the sort of experience you were going to have. And, of course, as Lee, you had to decide what kind of role model you were going to be for Clementine, which made decisions so much tougher. This element allowed players to become more involved with the relationship between Lee and Clementine, which made the ending so effective.

In Season Two, the primary dilemma for Clementine is what she values more: survival or loyalty? This question creates a number of dire situations in Season Two, which resulted in me asking “Well there is no way this is going to end well” on many occasions. However, I felt that the writing may have been weaker in this season. A number of the hard choices were virtually pointless, since all decisions end with similar results (Season One had this problem as well[i.e. illusion of choice ]). I also wasn’t as emotionally involved with this season, since I wasn’t as fond of the majority of characters in this season, which lessen the impact of their potential deaths. All of the endings except one, which was the one I received during my first playthrough, felt disappointing. Even though the ending I got left me tearing up, I had the feeling Telltales won’t be able to continue the story in Season Three successfully. They have to somehow tie in the multiple endings of Season Two into a one cohesive plot for Three, which could mean that the choice the play made at the end of Season Two meaningless.

Nevertheless, I still recommend this series, both Season One and Two, to people who desire decent stories in a zombie infected world. Even now, I prefer this game over the TV Show and the comic series. This series has the compelling human drama that I desire in zombie stories, and fortunately for me, it shows up in the entertainment medium I enjoy most: video games.

Mk8dlc14

#4 – Mario Kart 8

I’m not sure how much more I can say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn’t been already said by others. This game is the best Mario Kart game yet. It built upon the superb foundation of Mario Kart Wii & 7, bringing back key features like gliding, underwater driving, motorcycles, and a great online system. It’s also the best looking MK game to date as well.  Even the DLC is great, drawing inspiration for new characters and track from other Nintendo franchises like F-Zero and Excite Bike. Despite some gripes with the roster, this is a must have game for the Wii U. ‘Nuff said.

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#3 Super Smash Bros for 3DS

I’ve said this once, when I managed to get Smash Bros 64 working on a Nintendo 64 emulator app for my phone, but I’ll say it again: if I were to show my younger self that I was able to play Smash Bros just about anywhere in the world, without the need of a home console, kid Steve’s mind would explode. That’s how much I love Smash Bros, and I can firmly say that I love this version of Smash Bros.

Smash Bros for the 3DS doesn’t compromise much on content, despite being on a portable console. Anyone familiar with Super Smash Bros’ director, Masahiro Sakurai, knows that his game philosophy includes having an insane amount of content in each of his games. This game features many returning modes from previous iterations of the game, like Classic mode, Stadium mode, All-Star, and, of course, Smash. But this game adds a few good modes as well, such as a completely playable online mode that puts Brawl’s to shame(which sadly, isn’t a difficult task to do). Smash Run is a mode that has the player run through a giant maze fighting enemies from various gaming franchises and collecting stat boosts in order to strengthen the player’s character before playing a final round of Smash after five minutes.

Some people would argue that this version of Smash was merely a glorified demo for the Wii U version. But I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time with this game (partially because I’m not home often enough to play the console version). This game, along with Wii U, has the largest roster of any Smash Bros yet. The stages, although smaller in scale to compensate for the size of the 3DS’s screen, were quite creative, like the F-Zero and Earthbound stage (although I’m sure no one likes the ‘birdmin’). The controls work well for the 3DS, although some may free lost since the 3DS control scheme is rather different from the Gamecube controller, which many Smash players have become more than fond of. Once again, this is one of those “must own” games for the system.

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#2 – Dark Souls II

The Souls series is infamous for its difficulty. I’m sure just about every modern-day game enthusiast knows this. But I argue that the game series is manageable, as long as you always display caution around every corner, along with having a firm grasp on the combat system. If you still run into trouble, there’s one piece of advice I have for you: “Git gud.”

Any souls veteran should be able to pick up this game with ease. But Dark Souls II is even accessible for newcomers as well, thanks for the optional tutorial at the beginning of the game. Of course, there’s new bosses, new weapons, armor and spells, new enemies, and a whole new land to explore. The game also allows for online co-op and “invasions”, when you can warp into another player’s game, uninvited, in order to fight and vanquish them. Dark Souls II allows for many ways to go through the game, whether you wish to create a character who is a tank, a nimble ninja, a sage, or somewhere in between.

One of the issues I personally have with Dark Souls II is that the game didn’t have as many memorable moments as DaS1. The different areas in the game are all branched off of Majula, the hub area. But in Dark Souls I, there was more of a connection between different areas, such as seeing older areas in the far distances, or shortcuts that can take you to areas on the complete opposite site of the map. The bosses, although plentiful, were quite forgettable, some even being recycled from DS1. Finally, the atmosphere felt a bit duller, due to some of the blandness of the areas found in the game.

But I went into Dark Souls II for primarily one reason: to put up a good fight and eventually kick its ass. And that I did. I found the challenge I was looking for. If you are brave enough to test your skill as a ‘gamer’, absolutely give this game a whirl. There’s a new edition coming out soon for the XB1 and PS4, along with an updated PC version. I recommend checking those out when you get the chance. And if you struggle…”git gud”.

Smash+Bros+Wii+U

#1 – Super Smash Bros for Wii U

Reasons why this is my GOTY
1.) 8 Player Smash

2.) Glorious HD

3.) Solid Online Mode

4.) Dat Roster

I really can go for a long time, singing praises about this game, but I want to grab some food, so I’ll try to keep this brief. This is the game Brawl should have been. The gameplay is solid enough for competitive and casual players to enjoy. The roster has someone for everyone. Who would have imagined that Wii Fit Trainer would be so fun to use? A lot of the single player modes now have co-op options, giving this game more options when with friends. Smash Tour is a fun mode that brings some of the zaniness found in Mario Party and Fortune Street to Smash Bros.

BUT 8 PLAYER SMASH! It’s a fantastic way to make the already chaotic local multiplayer mode even crazier. The fact that you have a lot of controller options (Wii U GamePad, Pro Controller, Wiimote, Wiimote and Nunchuk, Wiimote and Classic Controller, and , shockingly, the GameCube controller). If you are a Nintendo fan, you should have no problem gathering enough controllers for some 8 player fights.

The Amiibo functionality is also worth noting as well, since it allows for extremely weird virtual Smash Bros Cock Fights. You can personally train your Amiibo to level 50, who will pick up your technique and fight style along the way. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy an Amiibo for every character in the game, and you’ll be able to use these Amiibos in other games as well. Just a warning though, it may be difficult to find some of the Amiibos since they are actually rather popular, and Nintendo underestimated how popular some of them would be.

Nevertheless, Smash Bros for the Wii U is a great reason to get a Wii U. As mentioned before, Sakurai’s games always have loads of content that’ll last you a good, long time. Now that it finally has a decent online mode (and a tournament mode coming soon), you’ll be able to play people from all around the world with little to no lag. Who would have thought that ‘smashing’ would bring people together?


Now that I have some time, I should finally be able to catch up on some games that I missed during 2014. But overall, it was a solid year, especially for the Wii U. I’m glad to see that Nintendo’s console is finally getting the games it’s been yearning for a while now. I’ll be doing a list for ‘Most Anticipated Games of 2015′ soon, because uh…wowzers, it looks like my wallet is going to going into overtime.

A Happy New Year to all of our followers. Let’s hope that 2015 and all following years has games for all of us to enjoy.

A Smashing Ole Time: A Personal Super Smash Brothers Retrospective Part 2 (Super Smash Bros.)


Super_Smash_Bros._-_North_American_Boxart
BIFF

This is a multi-part editorial about my experiences with the Super Smash Brothers series and the importance it played in my life. Click here for the introduction.

Side-note: You know, even though this is the first actual entry for the editorial series (aside from the intro), it’s kind of hard to figure out a proper place to begin. I could just delve straight into the first Smash Bros, but I believe I do need some build up before I get to that. I apologize if the next paragraph or two seems out of place or feels like filler.

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In the introduction, I said that I got my start with video games with arcade games. But the place where I played the most was at home. I started off if a Sega Genesis, since the local Blockbuster Video Store had one set up to try out games. I only owned two games for it: Toy Story and Sonic 3D Blast. But every weekend, I’d rent out a game from Blockbuster. Of course, being about 5 or 6 at the time, I really had nothing to go off on in terms of selection except for what I saw on TV, which was why a lot of the games I rented were games based on TV shows or movies, like ‘Ren and Stimpy’ and ‘Ninja Turtles’. I really didn’t get much too many of the big Genesis games aside from the Sonic games and Vectorman. Same thing happened when I got my next console, the Playstation(I got the Crash Bandicoot demo kiosk at KB Toys to thank for that.) Hell, I didn’t even have a memory card for it. But thankfully, I believe I had a fuller console experience with the Nintendo 64, especially since game saves don’t need a memory card.

The Nintendo 64 had a quite of bit of first for me. Aside from my GameBoy, it was my first Nintendo home console. I didn’t have Super Mario 64 (though I rented it) or Ocarina of Time (since I didn’t even know what it was at first), but I did get a well rounded experience with its library. I played games like Mario Kart 64, Mario Party 1-3, F-Zero X, Donkey Kong 64, Goldeneye, Kirby 64, Paper Mario(still need to beat that), and so on. It was really the first time I really enjoyed multiplayer on a home console as well. Many of those games mentioned before were memorable because of the appeal of 4 player multiplayer. For me, I played multiplayer N64 games with my friend, Pat, and his two brothers at his house. If we weren’t outside playing basketball or on the trampoline, it would be video games. I would like to say that we were evenly matched…but that just might be me repressing memories of constant losses(nowadays, there’s too many to count). But after a certain game came out, the level of competitiveness reached a whole new level between us. Furthermore, this game helped tighten the friendship Pat and I have, since has been going for almost 18 years now (I’m currently 22 now). To put it in simple/relevant terms, we are Smash Bros.

Of course, no article about Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64 would not be complete without that commercial. Just seeing the Nintendo characters that I was able to recognize at the time, all in the same frame no less, was mind-blowing. Pokemon was still huge at the time, so even just seeing Pikachu was awesome. Finally, a Nintendo fighting game? I’m in. I played Tekken 2 and Marvel Super Heroes quite a bit at the arcade (OK, more like button-mashed). I was never amazing at fighting games (I’m still only decent now), but since it’s a fighting game I can actually practice whenever, it could be cool.

Although I didn’t get the game until my birthday, which was 6 months after the game was released, I did get very familiar with it at Pat’s place. It became a staple of our hangouts. We’d all have our main characters; I typically used Pikachu and Mario, while the brothers would rotate between Kirby and Samus. We’d play it until my dad came to pick me up. Once I got my hands a copy of the game, I got a much better look at the game, aside from the Multiplayer mode. I’d do speed runs of the game without a timer just for fun. I learned the movesets of all of the characters. I’d do 1-on-3 matches against computers just to see how I fair (still can’t win against three level-9’s). I’d go to Training Mode to see how much damage I can deal out with the fan without KO’ing the CPU player.I’d look at the character profiles to learn the backstories of the characters I wasn’t familiar with and made note to check out their games. That last part really helped me familiarize myself with Nintendo’s franchises. I honestly don’t think I would have checked out any Kirby or Legend of Zelda games if it wasn’t for Super Smash Bros.

But my initial love for Smash Bros didn’t stop there. At school and at summer camp, I wouldn’t shut up about it with my friends. I would ask how to get unlockables, the best way to speed through single player mode, whose the best character in the game is, and so on. It even led to a semi-creative project that a friend and I worked on. One year, I spent a summer at a different summer camp than the usual YMCA day camp. This camp was held at the campus of a college, so many of the activities we did took advantage of that, like the bowling alley and the Olympic-sized pool. But the coolest thing there, and I apologize if this seems lame, was the computer lab. I didn’t have a home computer until 2004, so I didn’t spend too much time on them except from at school. The lab instructor encouraged used to work on creative projects like making birthday cards or banners with computer programs. I did remember working on a door hanger, since I didn’t have much of a clue on what to work on. However, two guys in my camp group were showing everyone what they worked on. It was a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time card game. It kind of played like the Pokemon TCG, except without the evolutions or energies. After playing it a few times, I asked how they did it. It was actually rather simple. They made the cards in PowerPoint. They switched the orientation of a slide to portrait (taller rather then longer), and add things like a picture, health, and attacks to the card. Then they printed out the cards in groups of 6 per page, so the cards came out at a decent size. On top of that, the lab instructor offered to laminate the cards as well, so the cards came out very slick. Impressed and slightly jealous that I didn’t think of doing that sooner, I turn to my friend said asked “You know what video game would be perfect for a card game adaption?”

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This was the background used for the back of the cards. Everyday, for a while now, though, I regret not keeping them in a place where I’d know where to find them.

Of course, being around 10 years old, and realizing that you were actually suppose to play with Pokemon cards, not just collect them, the Smash Bros cards had no sense of balance whatsoever. I think Sonic, you know we had to have had a Sonic card, was overly powered, due to his dodging ability and quick attack. But nevertheless, I was ecstatic that an idea of mine became something tangible, as in I can actually hold and show people what I made. However, we literally had the cards printed out and laminated at the last minute/day of camp. So we did one or two quick rounds before we got picked up. But since we both had a set of the cards, along with the template saved on floppy disks, we both decided to make new cards ourselves and play each other next summer.

Nowadays, when it comes to playing Smash 64 in its purest form (as in being played on a console connected to a television), that is something that occurs occasionally. Currently, my video game backlog is quite overwhelming, so it doesn’t get as much playtime as it used to. If I got friends over, we’d opt for Brawl, since it’s the most accessible game in terms of controllers and gameplay. Although now, thanks to smartphone technology, I’m able to play a quick round or single player run on an N64 phone emulator if I’m waiting on a line or something. Every time I boot it up, I however, I can’t help but be amazed that I’m able to play a game that defined my childhood at any time, any where. Sure, there are some things like graphical issues and touch screen controls that slightly damper the experience, but I’m appreciative, nevertheless. In fact, I’m appreciative of all the ways I can enjoy Smash 64, whether it’s on a couch, on a phone, or on a computer, being played online. That last part, though, is a writing entry for another time.

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In a sense, the next two parts of this editorial series branch off of Smash Bros 64, due to both parts being intertwined. The next part is obviously Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the part after that is a revisit of Smash Bros 64, but now with online play. Online Smash Bros 64 is something I feel is significant enough to warrant its own part, since it brought an new element that would change the future of my gaming experiences.

Until next time, smash on!
(I’ll get a better sign off phrase for next time, promise!)

LAN gaming is in dire trouble


LAN gaming is downplayed too often for the success of games. It was vital to the success of Doom in the 1990s, and until recently it was how PC games were played in tournaments. Even on consoles, the original XBox’s allowing of LAN multiplayer made Halo a lasting franchise. Yet now developers that had previously included the option are ditching it in order to fight piracy; the result is a game that will be completely dead as far as multiplayer goes once a central server is removed.

I’ll start by blaming Starcraft 2, the Call of Duty franchise, the Battlefield franchise, and the numerous Defense of the Ancients clones. Both the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises started requiring a dedicated, non-LAN server for games; the LAN club at my university had people that would play the game, but we would never have the full room involved. Call of Duty was already shunned (we were PC gaming elitists), but Battlefield, a game that was known for it’s large player battles, was never played officially once Bad Company 2 hit (although we played it a lot on our own time). We reverted back to playing UT2k4, TF2, and CS:Source instead. Old games do get old eventually though, and nothing could prepare LAN events for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2/League of Legends.

Starcraft was played often along with Warcraft 3. It was common for one person to even get a Diablo 2 speedrun going in the middle of a day-long LAN party. They were loved games, and when Starcraft 2 launched it nearly killed LAN events for one of the largest universities in the USA.

It’s worth mentioning that removing LAN capability was a great anti-piracy measure. It killed the need for anyone to pirate it in the first place. Piracy happened at a LAN party unofficially. No one was allowed to talk about it, but if you didn’t have a game you just needed to speak up; someone would get it to you and get it working.

Starcraft 2, and after it Diablo 3, proved that you could force players to be online always to play with eachother and not suffer sales. Any boycott, same with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield, would be ignored once the hype train arrived. It not only didn’t involve LAN options, but it was one of the most competitive games to date. The original game is/was a national sport of South Korea. Starcraft 2 almost killed my LAN club in everything but name only, and this is university that hosted the CSL Grand Finals in 2012.

It wasn’t just the DRM that Starcraft 2 incorporated, but it was the very competitive nature that made it popular. LAN parties were now segregated between SC2 players and everyone else; rather than try something new, or attempt to get a free game like Savage working, one game would be played all day. People stopped showing up as SC2 player took officer positions, because what’s the point of going to a LAN if you could play at home? Dota 2 and LoL only exacerbated tensions further. LANs that used to include over 100 diverse players were now down to 20-30 at most.

One of the disgruntled members started holding private LANs with a vast array of classic games, but anti-piracy gave him a headache at least once very LAN party. Westwood has been the worst (defunct) company so far; Nox has problems with the latest GOG version, and Red Alert 2’s anti-virus has completely broken it. Westwood Online would be the other option, but with the company gone it’s a non-option. These games are hardly viable any more because of the anti-piracy measures, and no one wants to give money to the IP’s current owner for supporting similar measures.

Anti-piracy and DRM effectively killed the multiplayer aspect of these games. Nox eventually worked, but only because someone grabbed an older version of it.

LAN gaming needs to be brought back. Valve has done a good job of keeping it in CS:Go. Smaller companies like Tripwire have been great about including it their games; if you haven’t played on a hacked (over six players) Killing Floor server at a LAN party, I actually recommend it (you’ll probably die due to the lack of perks, but it’s a great amount of fun). A few of us still enjoy the larger releases, but without LAN play they’re severely lacking an aspect that made the previous games fun. Diablo 3 hasn’t been played once. A Use-Map-Settings creation from Starcraft: Brood War is preferred over it’s sequel. Red Orchestra or Battlefield 1942 is played over 3.

EA is already facing troubles for it’s measures against gamers. Blizzard and others can’t survive on good name only. It’s not just LAN gaming on the line in the end. It’s games surviving their decade, and the consumer being able to actually use their purchase. The latest Sim City release is the biggest example of the horrific troubles of anti-piracy DRM; if EA ever went the THQ/LucasArts/Atari route, it’s doubtful they’d pull a Relic and incorporate the game into Steam. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 set that precedent for EA. When the companies fall, their games will too. All because a person may pirate it at a LAN, and they might derive joy from the multiplayer without paying for it.

tl;dr: DRM and anti-piracy is bad and evil. LAN games are fun, and you should buy them even if you ignore my rant.

My Gamer ID


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A lot of people play games. Some do it for fun, some actually do it for work and some actually make games for a living. A lot of the time they all get squashed together under the “gamer” label, which for me was actually something I wanted to be acknowledged for. Granted I’m not the type to go around screaming “Gamer Pride,” I just try to be myself like Steve mentioned awhile back. The thing is though I didn’t grow up in a Western society where the idea of individuality was encouraged. It’s not that the people where I’m from were against it more like it was just considered an oddity, an alien concept if you will. Conformity was their comfortability and that made me quite uneasy and very misunderstood for the most part. Over there people generally did the same thing (of course with variation) and the only labels people had were either you were “in” or you were “out.” I remember the first time the topic of conformity was brought to my attention; if you’ve watched the movie 21 Jump Street then you’ll get what I’m talking about somewhat. I was a “one strapper” when it came to wearing my back pack and one my friends took notice of that. After a brief discussion on why “two strapping” is “cooler” and me defending my want of being comfortable and myself, she looked at me and said “individuality isn’t really that cool.”

Some may say that that was a good thing. More generality than specialty. As mentioned everyone did the same thing; hobby wise people were into watching anime, playing video games, listening to music or playing sports. But there are no “gamers” in my hometown but everyone I know loves playing videogames, hell if you owned a console you were actually considered “cool.” Well more like “that guy has money, I can play on his system for free.” I actually had a guy come to my house in the morning just to play DoTA the whole day just so he wouldn’t waste money at a cafe (I don’t put out that easy, he’d buy me lunch and dinner :P). Anyway, I didn’t want to be another sheep in the herd so I tried to identify myself with something close to me which was gaming. You could say I was a hipster back then, when people were listening to popular music on the radio I was listening to Ska on my mp3 player. I was really on my own when I wanted to talk about games because most of the people I talked with only played a certain game somewhat comparatively to western gamers and the general love of the Call of Duty games. I wasn’t a social outcast, I was generally out going, hell I was a cheerleader at one point in time.  I’m not trying to get dark or anything but I was alone in what some may consider a lifestyle I tried to indulge in. But that’s the weird thing, labeling myself as a “gamer” wasn’t a negative connotation, sure people found it weird that I tried to dissect the meaning behind Shadow of the Colossus or once used The Power Rangers’ Megazord as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity (I went to Catholic school), instead I was regarded as creative and unorthodox in a good way.

Usually this is the part where you’d hear about “what gaming has done for my life” and all that jazz but that’s not really the point of this little article. I mean sure gaming has influenced my college and career path by wanting to become a game designer, but that was actually a calculated choice more than it was a desire. Gaming is what it is; a culture, a hobby or whatever. Sure you can say it defines me but I spent most of my time trying to define it. I don’t need it in my life but I certainly want it to be. I hear it a lot of the times that being called a “gamer” is a certain “social crutch” which leads to a lot of problems.

Being a certain label isn’t a bad thing. It’s isn’t something that you need to call attention to either. Most of the time it just so happens it is a part of you who are and I believe there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Let it identify you but don’t let it define you. I’m Ted and that’s my Gamer ID.

Comics Review: Age of Ultron #1


Hank Pym really does have some problems. I really do enjoy him as a character though. Seriously, people hate on him too much. Hopefully Edgar Wright changes that.
Why can’t he hold all these Avengers?

Ultron is the mistake that Hank Pym should be remembered for. For the uninitiated, Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man. He was one of the founding Avengers, constantly deals with an inferiority complex since he works in the same universe as Mr. Fantastic (Doom has the same problem), and is known for a comic in which he smacked Wasp up; the actual writer stated decades later that Hank Pym was never a wife beater, but the idea has been cemented in Marvel canon. It’s also what people always bring up.

Ultron is the real menace though. Ultron is the AI based off of Hank Pym’s brain patterns that conveniently decided it hated organic life. The latest appearance of Ultron was during Abnett & Lanning’s cosmic Marvel run where it was very good at what it wanted to do (unless it has shown up in the mean time). This however appears to have no basis in the actual 616 universe, but rather it’s the Avengers’ version of Age of Apocalypse. It’s a dystopian society ran by Ultron; an Earth that’s his base to wreck havok on the rest of the galaxy. It’s also not perfect.

Brian Michael Bendis’ best work was his street level heroes and not his Avengers’ run. Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Daredevil, and especially Alias (AKA Jessica Jones) were all fantastic; his Avengers’ run suffered from having too slow of a development along with some of his other work. It’s just particularly obvious when he’s dealing with a wide variety of characters. Bendis is a big champion of story decompression; to him, a story should be as long as it needs to be and not necessarily be contained in a 26-page comic in any way. This makes it better to wait for a trade paperback over buying singles.

Age of Ultron seems to be suffering this; the start of it was interesting, riveting, and engaging, but it felt a bit hollow. Swamp Thing and Animal Man (the current Nu52 versions) have suffered recently from such developments, and Age of Ultron may be following suit. The art by Bryan Hitch resembles the Marvel in-house style; it’s standard cape comic fare without much variation, but it isn’t horrible either. It’s clear he was on a deadline, but it doesn’t completely distract from the script he was portraying.

Bendis’ story is very reminiscent of both Age of Apocalypse. Ultron has taken over, and he has the ability to infect people with nanotechnology (think more Prey from Michael Crichton than Deus Ex). It’s also including Bendis favorite Luke Cage in a role, but not exactly the primary one. Hawkeye and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) are the focus of this first issue. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic, especially Robot Apocalypse storylines, you’ll enjoy this. To me, this was a disappointment, but my judgement is reserved for the second issue.

Moon Knight, my favorite crazy hero, had his last run build up to this (also written by Bendis). It ended abruptly for Bendis to work on this. He doesn’t appear until that second issue, and from the build-up on that comic it was expected that this would be a universe event. It’s merely an alternate universe setting which may very well be better in the end.

Pick this up if you’re a fan of Bendis, Bendis’ Avengers’ cast, or apocalypse settings. Otherwise, wait until it’s finished and buy the trade paperback at the most. Or just stay away; there’s plenty comics and games that could use your patronage.