For many, the last title in Deep Silver's clone-turned-parody franchise is old news. It's been available for some time on all the relevant platforms, and the people that purchased the title have gotten their jollies out of it for the most part. For me, Saint’s Row IV scratches that same itch that Movies like John Dies at the End, Evil Dead 2, and Samurai Cop might for film buffs. Its writing and storyline fall squarely between GTA V and Borderlands 2 in an incredibly satisfying way. Enough camp to keep me entertained without sacrificing gameplay, and just enough self-awareness and fan-service to avoid presenting like Gearbox's calculated meme dictionary. The reason my attentions have shifted to Saint's Row IV isn't because I enjoy it more than my core game library, it's because I recently moved my work machine over to Linux. To my surprise, there was a native port available, and I downloaded it out of curiosity. The experience changed the way I think about PC gaming, and the sacrifices PC gamers take for granted nowadays.
Before I acquired a copy of EA UFC 2 this week I had no interest in that game whatsoever. As a former MMA superfan, writer and podcaster I feel like I’ve run the gambit of emotions when it comes to that sport and I can pretty much say that it has passed me by and that I’ve made my peace with it. People tell me that it’ll pass, that I’ll be able to get back into it or that maybe it’ll be fun again to just watch a few fights, but that feeling simply isn’t there. That’s why getting a copy of EA UFC 2 was just so strange. A friend had an extra copy and there I was, downloading it and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.
The term “cord cutting” has been around for as long as services like Hulu and Netflix have been around and offering streaming video services. Things really started to pick up steam in this department in the mid-00’s, around 2008 or so, and now over eight years later I’ve finally become one of those people. I’ve had cable or satellite on-and-off for most of my adult life, but recently was subscribing to Comcast for what was a whopping $180 a month for what was sub-par service. We’re talking half the channels being pixelated garbage because they bury their lines out here and it has happened to be extremely rainy for the desert, meaning that their lines get soaked and have blown out a number of times.
If there’s been any defining factor for the latest trend in virtual reality, it would have to be that people just really, genuinely want this to become the next big thing. How much so? At first this generation of VR was seen as a risk, with the Oculus Kickstarter coming out of nowhere and captivating consumers into tossing money at them. Then again, it was a sort of new technology and that can always find early adopters. But then it kept gathering momentum, to the point where a company like Facebook decided to invest in Oculus. Then stuff got real.
The beginning of my disdain for Pokemon started with my Canadian ex-girlfriend. Actually it started with my Canadian ex-girlfriend's adopted cat.
When I first put together my new PC one of the first games that I played was the 2012 release Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Chivalry is a brutish, gory depiction of medieval combat that focuses on fast-paced, first person action without a ton of refinement. This was a follow-up to an earlier mod for Half-Life 2 called Age of Chivalry, only pushed as a commercial product. The relative success of 2010’s Mount & Blade: Warband was the catalyst of sort for this genre of games, which has included games like War of the Roses, War of the Vikings and the Chivalry expansion Deadliest Warrior.
If you were to ask me if the Witness was a retro throwback game I’d probably say no, as would creator Jonathan Blow. According to what the industry deems as a “retro throwback” games need to be heavily stylized like the games of yesteryear, looking like they were ripped from the NES or SNES, featuring chiptune tracks and simple mechanics. Because really, that’s what old games were, right? Old games were platformers, top down shooters, side scrollers and whatever else we’ve gotten from indie developers trying to recapture their collective youths. Yet, the deluge of these throwbacks has left me with a bit of retrovertigo. I’m over it. Every month’s PlayStation Plus offerings get added to my library but rarely ever downloaded because, seriously, I don’t need to keep snidely revisiting my childhood at this point. I’ve done it and been doing it for years.
The first expansion pack of the Magic: The Gathering series I purchased was Fallen Empires back in 1994. Yeah, that's how long I've been playing. That's two years after Shaquille O'Neal was drafted to the NBA -- and for some odd reason Shaq being drafted has been my reference point to everything that happened in the 90s.
There were a lot of us born in the 80’s and raised in the 90’s, in fact, sometimes we get labeled with weird generational names that don’t seem to really fit, or be told how we may or may not act. I’m probably too old to be a Millennial, but weird thinkpieces describe me as falling within some sort of constrained generational structure, but whatever. What many who are now in their early 30’s or late 20’s will have in common is that Nintendo meant something to a lot of us growing up. In fact, Nintendo was an integral part in how we were raised. Somewhere along the way that changed, though, we grew up, still played games, but the monolithic Nintendo logo no longer mattered.
I sit on my couch and CNN is projecting that Donald Trump is winning Florida with 32% of the vote already in. He’s up by nearly 100,000 votes and I can only assume that Donald will win the delegates from America's most fucked up state. Wolf Blitzer keeps giving me “Key Race Alerts” with even single increase in the percents. Clinton is winning, too. With all this bad news, my mind wanders to my gaming past. It causes me to think of my gaming present and future and how all of this could’ve never happened if it wasn’t for my wife -- my ‘azucar morena’ --- and somewhat my brother.
Interviewing Van Orton and getting to publish their art on The Stoned Gamer has to be one of the most fulfilling things we've ever done. Their work is basically the dreams of every 80s kid condensed to a style of art that can only be described as Analogpunk. Yeah, we invented that word -- heck we even registered AnalogPunk.net. Just imagine humanity never got passed the analog-centric time of 1987 and the digital age never occurred. At the same time, technology is equivalent with our current technology. In an Analogpunk world, smart phones come equipped with tubed TV monitors instead of LCDs and everything is controlled through knobs and switches -- touch screens are non-existent. Walkmans and car tape decks reign supreme, and the internet can only be accessed at a 56k baud speed due to analog modems. Oh, and everyone's computer looks like this.
Back in the 90’s, a time before the internet reigned supreme over everything and opinions were rampant, determining the quality of a game was next to impossible. Growing up whenever I’d get dragged to a store with my mom I’d run off towards the electronics section of said store and immerse myself in whatever was available to me. Some stores had kiosks set up where you could play games, others would have magazine racks chock full of gaming magazines. This was a time before gaming websites with daily update schedules and confusing #ethics.
The GDC has been stealing headlines this week and with it has been a lot of talk about Virtual Reality. VR is predicted to be the next hotness in not only gaming, but the entertainment world as a whole. Without a doubt VR has some incredible possible applications that could change the way that we live our lives. That sounds like crazy talk, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Who needs an 80” television when you can sit in a goddamned movie theater in your VR headset? But yet, all of this talk about VR isn’t making me think of the future as much as it’s making me think of the past. My past, in particular.
When trying to encapsulate a lot of the “movements” that have been happening in gaming recently, I’ve at times had difficulty finding the words. A part of that is because when I was growing up gaming was still very much a niche thing. Sure, Nintendo caught on like wildfire in the 90’s and names like Mario, Zelda and Sonic became commonplace, but for children. Now, no doubt, adults played games as well. Parties at my parents’ friends’ homes with their families usually involved us playing videogames with other kids and usually the dads, sometimes the moms and any other stray adults that were around.
It’s funny, the first story that resonated with me on this website was a piece by Zeus who spoke in detail about his battle with debilitating anxiety and the positive effect that gaming played in his life.
Most of us who have been playing games for a while know that feeling of a video game high. In fact, it’s fairly similar to that same high you can get from being immersed in a really great book. The first time that I ever felt that high is actually kind of embarrassing, really. You see, I learned to read at a young age, but it wasn’t really out of love for reading or whatever, it was to read the bible. My mom truly believed that strongly in assuring that if something happened I wouldn’t go to hell that I learned to read early because of the bible. But that, sure as hell, wasn’t my first book high. My first book high came from -- okay this is really embarrassing -- a Ninja Turtles book. Not a comic book, like, a children’s book that we had hanging around my classroom in Kindergarten.
For those psychonauts out there that were brave enough to take enough LSD to the point in which they sincerely questioned if they took too much, there needs to be some type of trophy to salute you. We all know it's impossible to overdose on LSD, unless you fear death from sheer astonishment.
I’ve always been an advocate for leaving home, for packing your shit up and moving as far away from home as you can manage to fend for yourself. Something about the concept of home and having people that you know and love around can serve as a bit of a safety net. I’m not saying that if you don’t leave home you’ve somehow done something wrong, but if there is even a minor nomadic urge inside of you, there’s really no choice. You have to leave. That’s what I did in late 2006 at the tender age of 23. I packed up my clothes, my guitar, my modded PS2 with a few spindles of discs ranging from games to movies to burned data, a laptop and $300. Okay, maybe there is a Nintendo DS in there as well, but it’s a lot less romantic to list everything.
Okay, so I'm not going to talk about being a chick in the gamer world - because I'm not. I'm not a competitive gamer. I'm a non-male with an Xbox One who finds modern gaming bloody complex and often impossible. Shall we go to an example?
When I was a kid what always struck me was that older people did play videogames. This was, of course, in the 90’s when games were kind of weird still, but a lot of my friends’ dads were playing games, but they were usually games that none of us cared about. Mario. Zelda. Sonic. Mega Man. These were the things that really mattered, but those weird PC strategy games that older dudes were playing? While cool, who had time for that? The rise in popularity of the shooter online put an exclamation point on that for most of us. Why play something slow like Age of Empires when there were games like Unreal on the market?
Modern America is fucking mortifying in a lot of ways. Growing up I had often joked -- citing the David Bowie song of the same name -- that I was afraid of Americans. I was a teenager who was super into Nine Inch Nails at the time and Trent Reznor’s loose involvement with David Bowie was the thing that finally pushed me to discover someone that would go on to be one of my biggest inspirations in life, so go figure. But a lot of what pushed me in that direction in the first place was seeing the world of pop culture and feeling alienated from it. At the time it felt like it was intended solely for younger girls or people that were just, well, a bit too normal. I needed a way to express myself in what felt like me.
As someone who has been an adult for a while, has had his own place for a while and thusly the space and means to game handheld gaming wasn’t a huge focus of mine for a while. To be blunt, while I had some good memories of handheld games growing up, there were a lot of games that were just hot garbage, failed, downgraded ports or alternative takes on popular games that were difficult to play. The Game Boy Advance seemed to be where that started to change, with the quality of what developers could fit into a game on a smaller screen becoming more and more in depth thanks to technological advances.
I won’t sugar-coat things and come right out and say this; Fallout 4 was a disappointment in a lot of ways. The apocalyptic open world game from Bethesda had a lot of hype before release and many of us had incredibly fond memories from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas prior. We’re talking hundreds of lost hours, heaps of talking points and stories of incredible, “only-in-Fallout” moments that made Fallout 4 seem like the second-coming. Yet while Fallout 4 felt like a welcome return early on, after a short while that lustre wore off and the game felt pretty hollow inside. Sure, some are still playing it to death and what mods have been released have given the game a bit of new life, but I just can’t imagine myself returning any time soon to the largely-hollow feeling Boston inside of Fallout 4.
When I think of beloved series that fans flock to no matter how much it costs or how little actual, new content is introduced the Street Fighter series comes to mind. In fact, each game feels like a series in its own at times, with hardcore Street Fighter fans picking up every edition that drops and being happy about it. Yet, the release of Street Fighter V has left a lot of fans angry and wondering what has happened to their beloved series. Street Fighter, much like games like Star Wars Battlefront, Destiny and many others came out with the promise of there being much, much more content down the line thanks to DLC, both paid and free.
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a side scrolling 2D masterpiece that grips you as soon as you start it. Be honest with the darkness test at the beginning of the game because g’damn this game has reminded me that I am, in fact, afraid of the dark. The gameplay reminds me of Megaman - you’ll see why. The bosses require many attempts to beat… which is not how I usually like my games, but I have been known to grind through any sort of gameplay in search of a unique storyline.
To sit around the warm glow of Keyan Shokraie's (creator of Dank Tank) incomprehensibly powerful gaming rig and get stoned to the point where words can't formulate from your mouth is a sight to behold. Keyan visited The Stoned Gamer office to show off his very own Mod Tank, and we still can't believe what we witnessed. It just didn't make any sense -- we were seeing the impossible unfold before our eyes. Games like The Witcher 3 being zoomed close to infinity without losing a shred of detail, Fallout 4 running with every mod at framerates so high that no living creature on planet Earth could fully adsorb. This all happened, and we interviewed Keyan about it. Be sure to follow Dank Tank on Instagram @danktank_official.
After I finish watching a Guy Ritchie film, a week follows where I use terms like ‘bloke’, ‘bollocks’, and ‘rubbish.’ Guy Ritchie knows how to make British gangsters look so damn cool. I’ll sit on my couch and start imagining plans to infiltrate my local bookies. Every British crime film should list ‘delusions of grandeur’ as a side-effect. I don’t think any of my friends have the ‘minerals’ to actually join me on one of these criminal outings because a lot of them have kids, which is tragic. I need something to quell these criminal aspirations before I re-watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrells -- there will be no holding me back.
That's right, six free indie games are being delivered to you compliments of the same technology that you use to illegally download UFC fights.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world more inhospitable than Antarctica, the Amazon jungle, and California? Vortex: The Gateway simulates what your experience would probably be like and, let’s be honest, it’s terrifying. I would love to go on a rant on why the current culture of safe spaces is undoubtedly the sole cause our next dimensions would-be demise, but I have a more interesting game to talk about. It’s not like you would heed my warnings, anyway.
This past weekend EA hosted yet another double XP weekend for Star Wars: Battlefront and while I was sick for most of it, when I did remember to actually sit down and play the game it felt more like a chore than fun. Why is that? Because that game sorely lacks in content, making a single sitting with the game just the same maps, same factions, same weapons and same vehicles without fail. Even the fun Fighter Squadron mode that allows you to battle it out in the same few maps as the rest of the game instead allows you to solely focus on small fighter-based combat. The problem is that there are only two factions and that both factions only have two ships available, with the differences between some of them being negligible (Tie Fighter and Tie Interceptor), or hilarious (the X-Wing lacks in maneuverability compared to the A-Wing).
A part of me gets pretty bummed out when I get really mad at someone who went out there, created something on their own (or with a small team) and really tried. I know how that can be, how difficult it is and how maddening it can be after you’ve been working on something for a long time and keep asking, “but is this any good?” Friends and family will probably be nice no matter what, someone might be critical here and there but it will be such a sharp, stark contrast to all of the glowing reviews that everyone else has given you that it’s hard to look at it and say, “well shit, this is right, I need to do a ton more work on this.”
You never truly realize how insignificant your existence is until you place a black hole near our solar system and watch everything, including light, be engulfed in its void in just a few decades.