Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:00

The world is dead and all you have left is a speeding train

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So you didn't win the big $1.5 billion Powerball. You will have to work yet another day at a job you've loathed from day one. It happens to the best of us. In fact you should have left that place months ago. You're smarter than your boss, you don't like the people you're forced to go to lunch with, and you can't find a polite way to tell Julie from accounting that you never want to look at another picture of her dog dressed up in a 'cute' outfit ever again.

Man, what a shock the world woke up to on January 11th. The death of David Bowie was not something that I was ready for, not by a long shot. He was a guy who left an impact wherever he went, from music to movies and yes, even games. David Bowie’s involvement in games wasn’t substantial, but he was involved in what was, at the time, a rather groundbreaking game in Omikron: The Nomad Soul. What better way to market a game than featuring a soundtrack written and performed by David Bowie, as well as Bowie helping out with some aspects of the game’s story and design?

Saturday, 09 January 2016 00:00

Orchids to Dusk will make you enjoy your life through death

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In the great ether of all energy in all of time and space in this universe and every parallel universe that follows it -- you only exist for a blink of it. In the grand scheme of things, nothing you do will ever be remembered. People may have memories of who you once were and the likes you accumulated on Instagram, but even those will eventually fade off into obscurity. Let's say you had enough money or military control to construct a statue in your honor to let future generations know how much of an egotistical barney you were. On a long enough time span, your marble statue will begin to crumble and eventually erode to beach sand. If you go with bronze or iron, your inanimate self will just wither away from rust and corrosion. According to David de Vries's 'Life After People' that premiered on the History Channel, the final remaining relic of humanity that is sturdy enough to withstand time will be Mount Rushmore, and even that only has a 10,000-year life span. On an even longer time frame, our sun will dwindle to a white dwarf star and then fade into the background temperature of the universe. The Earth, without a sun to keep it alive, will stop its rotation and tumble through the universe as a cold, forgotten rock.

Friday, 08 January 2016 00:00

The 2016 Science Fiction Game Outlook

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I have no qualms with openly talking about how much I love science fiction. In fact, I’ve kind of dedicated myself to being immersed in the world of science fiction and writing sci-fi books. Science fiction has gripped the box offices ever since the advent of Star Wars in the late 70’s and the world of videogames has been no different in its undying love for science fiction games. In a way, videogames are the perfect outlet for science fiction to come to life. Entire immersive worlds can be created, elaborate backstories explored and it all serves as the perfect backdrop for futuristic heroes to save the world/galaxy/universe.

Virtual Reality has been a viral hit over the past year, with videos featuring everyone from security guards to dads to grandmothers checking out VR and being blown away by it. No doubt, VR is pretty incredible and there have already been talks of it being the hottest new technology that will change lives when consumers can get their hands on it. The biggest question mark has been the price and release date, with many believing that the $300 - $400 range would be where we’d see consumer headsets launching at. That price itself comes from the cost of Oculus Rift’s dev kits.

We're just four days into 2016 and we've already discussed racist puzzle games, walking simulators, and now a game in which you're forced to watch your son die from cancer. What an uplifting story for this Monday afternoon.

When I look back at 2015 there are a lot of games that stick out in my mind for being great, but one of those wasn’t created by a huge studio and didn’t involve me killing much of anything. Instead, it was a contemplative journey through a fascinating story and it has been divisive among the gaming world, much like many other games that play similar to it. This game is Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. By now you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “walking simulator” assigned to games such as Rapture, you may have even dismissed it or similar games because of that title.

No, ladies and gentlemen. Not only do #BlockLivesMatter -- but #ALLShapesMatter. Granted, the entire Block Lives Matter movement would mean nothing if there wasn't a disproportionate number of blocks killed in comparison with the other shapes. Therefore saying #AllShapesMatter disregards the very real concern that blocks are getting unjustly murdered on the streets.

Thursday, 31 December 2015 00:00

Behold, The Stoned Gamer 2015 Awards have arrived

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The second annual The Stoned Gamer Awards -- in the same month as our second The Stoned Gamer Tournament. All of this stoned tomfoolery happening at a record-setting pace -- and my mother doesn't even know I'm in the cannabis industry. Let's keep it like that, stoned gamers. If you feel like obsessing over someone, direct your attention to Kristin Kreuk. She can use a couple stalkers in 2016.

Of course we're just kidding. Don't stalk Kristin Kreuk. Leave that to me -- I've been doing it for over a decade.

We’ve pointed it out before, but damn, was 2015 a great year for games. That being said, not everything was roses when it came to our hard-earned cash. Sure, everyone has their share of complaints for games like Halo, Metal Gear and Fallout, but in the end, those games were still enjoyable and hit most of the right notes for fans. So what game was full of hype only to deliver next to nothing and quickly slip away from view? The Order: 1886.

Holiday sales were enough for a few friends and myself to cave in and purchase Star Wars Battlefront, with a huge help from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You know, $20 off a new game is a pretty good deal and the game just really nails the feel of the Star Wars universe unlike any game has ever done before. Some might complain that it’s just a generic shooter, but what really would you want for Star Wars other than just good, plain fun?

Sunday, 27 December 2015 00:00

420 Character Reviews: Prison Architect (8.5)

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420 Character Reviews: Prison Architect (8.5)

The learning curve is steep here, there isn’t a real tutorial to explain everything you will need to run a successful house of criminals. You decide the toilet placements, that is if you want a toilet. This game is a ton of fun and will totally pull you into a vortex of building, maintaining, and disciplining. Oh, inmates CAN escape into the outside neighborhoods. You're on the wrong side of Shawshank Redemption.

As someone who is prone to playing games on PC often, even opting to buy multiplatform titles on PC depending on my mood and hoping that they’ll both look and play better on there, maybe this is exacerbated for me considering that I’ve been playing games on higher settings for a while now. The leap from the previous console to this console generation feels merely iterative in a lot of ways, though. The graphical leap simply wasn’t as huge as everyone expected it would be. The promise for a new generation is always mind-blowing visuals and while some games have delivered upgraded visuals, we’ve seen a lot more of the same.

Thursday, 24 December 2015 00:00

Wrap-up of the The Stoned Gamer Tournament II at Blazers Cup

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Just two months after we put on The World's First Stoned Gamer Tournament at XO Gold Cup, on December 12-13th we threw The Stoned Gamer Tournament II at Blazer's Cup in San Bernardino, California.

After a few less-than-stellar years, the usual transition years that come after a new console generation is released. That’s okay, though, because 2015 was a pretty damned good year for releases big and small. We were treated to a lot of solid games, including big, hyped-releases that either delivered or didn’t depending on your tastes, but undeniably made an impact. So here are some of the biggest releases for the next year, let’s see how they stack up.

You know, looking back at 2015 it’s pretty difficult for me to ignore just how good of a year that it was for games. Usually I make a lot of dumb purchases that I regret later on, which means buying games that I really wasn’t sure about only to play it a bit, kinda like it, then cast it aside after I grow tired of it. That absolutely happened this year, but it happened a lot less than has in past years. In fact, there were games that I actually enjoyed a lot. That’s huge, folks, I’m kind of a grump.

Just a heads up, don’t worry about spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in this article. We wouldn’t do that to you.

Everything is official now; Hideo Kojima, the evil genius behind the Metal Gear series, has departed Konami and has started up his own game studio, aptly named Kojima Productions. This new game will be made in conjunction with Sony and debuting on PlayStation 4 as well as PC. The reaction to this has been, as expected, that of joyous rapture after Konami garnered ill will with treatment of the gaming god over recent months. All that is clear right now is that it won’t be the canceled Silent Hills, that’s it. So what Kojima will whip up is still seemingly up-in-the-air for the time being, leading to a lot of speculation.

Virtual Reality has always been a bit, well, nerdy. Prior to the Oculus Rift came around whenever the words “Virtual Reality” were muttered thoughts of bad 80’s and 90’s television and films come to mind, bad music videos, or worse -- the Virtual Boy. Yikes. So imagine the surprise when VR became the talk of the town again thanks to how our daily technology has advanced to the point where having a multiscreen headset with a proper frame rate all of a sudden was a reality. Not only was the Oculus Rift Kickstarter a success, but it showed the world that the new VR isn’t awful, it’s actually something that could change how we all consume media.

For a great deal of time games have been seen as “casual” or “hardcore.” Those classifications seemed vastly important for the past twenty years or so, with some games that require more time, effort and skill from the player seen as hardcore games, while other, less involved games would be the casual games. Casual games were, for lack of a better word, for the “casuals,” you know, those people who didn’t play games for long periods of time and just liked whatever had the shiniest features and the biggest ads?

This game is everything that i wanted Wind of Luck Arena to be, and more.

Monday, 14 December 2015 00:00

Steam Sale Gems: Valkyria Chronicles

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There are, on occasion, some great games that slip and fall between the cracks for every ardent gamer. For me, one such gem was Valkyria Chronicles on the PlayStation 3. Initially released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3 it was met with rave reviews from RPG fans, but by the time that I had purchased a PlayStation 3 in 2011 and found myself catching up on all of the games that I had missed, sadly, Valkyria Chronicles was not one of those. The recent delay of Persona 5 has left me hungry for a new RPG to play through and a recent Steam sale saw a bunch of Japanese RPGs on sale, so I decided to buy up a few and go from there.

Xbox One backwards compatibility, now PlayStation 2 games being released on the PlayStation 4 and, regardless of previous ownership, costing money. This is the world that we inhabit currently, hot on the heels of the early days of this current generation of consoles being all about “remastered” re-releases of games from the previous generation. The latest announcement to cause big waves is the remake of the classic title Final Fantasy VII.

The carpet in my parent’s room was a brown shag, the kind that if you ran your fingers through it would turn a shade lighter or darker, depending on which way you moved it. That carpet became the backdrop for the warm summer nights of my childhood, occupying the space in my peripheral vision while I stared down at my Game Gear.

Shooters have been a staple in the gaming world for what feels like forever now. In fact, most games use some sort of shooting mechanic as the main means of furthering stories at this point, or for online gaming purposes. That’s fine, really, it is, but at a certain point there is only so much time that one can spend staring down the sights of a gun while ripping apart another digitized human being’s body before it begins to feel a bit ridiculous. Needless to say, I wasn’t super stoked for Rainbow Six: Siege before the open beta started up.

December looms heavily on the horizon and another year is about to be in the books. There are still a few major games set to be released in 2015, but most of the damage has been done and the heavyweights have all been released, leaving us to reflect on what kind of a year we’ve had thus far. In retrospect, the past few years haven’t been great when it comes to major game releases. Two years ago was the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, neither one launching with anything that great exclusively and one of the few “must haves” for launch being Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Think about that. Last year was a bit better, but nothing really sticks out as a game that will go down as one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it’s just that this year has been so good that is making me dismissive of 2014, but rightfully so.

Monday, 30 November 2015 00:00

420 Character Reviews: Brawlhalla (6.9)

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420 Character Reviews: Brawlhalla (6.9)

This is a dumbed down version of Super Smash Bros that will have you clicking like a you’ve gone mad with bloodlust. Cartoonish bloodlust, that is. Maybe you want a gun toter, maybe you want a spear jabber… Or maybe you don’t care what physical form your fighter spirit takes on this day because you know that everyone is reborn time and time again in Brawlhalla for only one purpose - to brawl!

Rubber Ninjas is a single or two player game made by Matteo Guarnieri of Rag Doll Software. The 3D gameplay is based on a previous title of Guarnieri’s, Ragdoll masters. This game was released in 2009 and the Rag Doll Software team has been relatively quiet ever since; however, they have recently announced development and porting of new games and the porting of their games to mobile as of this past summer.

They came in peace… He didn’t give a shit. “Get Off My lawn!” - He yelled! Step into the shoes of old man whatshisbucket as he defends his lawn from “illegal” aliens. Considering that these buggers (Formics?) showed up in their flying saucer, I’m going to assume that they haven’t stopped by the International Space Station to undergo quarantine, testing, and sterilization before entering our atmosphere and, uh, crossing our borders. They might be carrying the lethal form of that space virus that simultaneously melts and eats your flesh at the same time. That’s illegal as fuck! Just look at that spaceship and the car they’re driving onto your lawn - these aliens aren’t here for your jobs that you aren’t willing to do anyways. Don’t worry about it.

Over the past few years the gaming world has become more aware that women aren’t objects, although the debate still rages on about artistic freedom, the merit of games that do choose to objectify women and other cultural norms. Not everyone agrees with third wave feminism and many gamers are frustrated that it has spilled over into their realm, but the reality here is that this is that these discussions are valuable and worth having. Part of the cost of this new, collective conscious seems to be that Koei Tecmo has decided to not bring over Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 to the US and other western countries, confirming the fears that many gamers had in the first place. The thing is, it isn’t the fault of feminism or our new collective conscious over treatment of women, it’s cowardice.

Much like by following a few simple precautions you can prevent forest fires, you can make the game industry more honest. Or, well, you could at least make big publishers like EA waste a lot of time and money. Getting famous people to play news games has always been something up the sleeves of the game industry. Hell, back in the 80’s we got Fred Savage starring in a feature film with some of the greatest product placement of all time for Nintendo by the way of the Power Glove and making Super Mario Brothers 3 the big reveal in The Wizard. People who grew up in my generation still, to this day, remember Lucas’s line about the Power Glove and not that it was a pretty crappy, expensive peripheral.

This game, Caromble!, is Breakout with a futuristic twist. Each box (brick) that is hit releases an iota of magical pixie dust that you have to pick up to score any points at all. You can power up the bumper for a charge shot or send the ball for a spin shot to get extra points from the pixie dust. Of course, the boxes break and release power-ups and I-shouldn’t-have-picked-that-up hazards. If you pick up a white power-up you can grow your bumper or even gain an extra charge, life, or ball. If you accidentally pick up a red hazardous power-down, though, you might end up with a pixelated or zoomed in screen.

Telltale Games announced that they will be bringing back their Game of Thrones series for a second season late this week, which brings about some tough questions, for me at least, about what gamers really want. A cursory glance at Metacritic shows Telltale’s Game of Thrones sitting at a 73, which for recent Telltale adventures serves as a new low, considering series like A Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead and Tales From the Borderlands have all received much higher scores.

420 Character Reviews: The Secret Of Tremendous Corporation (8.2)

You sidescroll and click your way through this story as a new intern at the Tremendous Corporation, which has a monopoly on the gaming industry. You enter the large office building looking forward to making games - but instead you are told to make coffee… But then ninjas kidnap your coworkers to search for the “Secret” that will bring gaming back to its heyday, to the masses. Should you be looking too?