Month: May 2015

The Humble Nindie Bundle is Absurdly Region-Locked

The Humble Nindie Bundle is Absurdly Region-Locked

Nintendo has recently announced they’re taking the role of Santa Claus and bringing smiles to everyone with free games on the eShop. Okay that was a lie, but it sure feels like the incoming prices for the games included in the bundle, is a steal. But there’s more to getting more bang to your buck with this promotion, the money generated behind the ‘Humble Nindie Bundle’ will go to support Code.org, a non-profit organization dedicated in expanding computer science.

Nintendo fans can acquire over eight games split across the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS family of systems when they fork over a measly eight dollars to the cause. You can do so right here.

‘Choose your own price’ to get access to some of the best indie games to hit the Nintendo eShop. This is probably the smartest move for the Big N and will certainly invite even more gamers to eShop’s most memorable experiences. Gamers will be able to pick up, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, Mighty Switch Force, Woah Dave!, The Fall, OlliOlli and Moon Chronicles. But if you exceed the 10 dollars asking price, you will be granted two more games in Stealth Inc. 2 and SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt, which are fairly recent.

But what’s concerning is the promotion is region-locked to people across the Americas. People outside of the territory won’t be able to contribute to the cause or receive the games at the unbelievable discount. The total value for all the games amounts to roughly 88 dollars. You are basically getting for 90% off. Fans across the world, I can hear your outcry from here.
nindieinsert1But apparently Nintendo didn’t want that to be the case for a long time. Damon Baker, who works for marketing at Nintendo of America took to Twitter to reveal it wasn’t their intention to have the promotion region-locked.

“Yep, it’s only a @NintendoAmerica deal. Tried for months to make it global but we’ll get there eventually!” said Baker.

Now that quote could be alluding to the fact the promotion could eventually be landing to other territories soon but they could also be saying that to stay on the good side of gamers. The site suggests more games are ‘coming soon!’ so if this promotion continues it could eventually (but maybe not likely before the two weeks are up) give them the chance to iron out the specifics to give fans all over the world the ability to experience these Nintendo exclusive indies as well contribute to the cause.

If you live in the Americas, this is available for only two weeks. So start throwing your wallets at the screen to get these games while they’re cheap!

Are you or going to support Code.org to pick up these games on your Nintendo platform of choice? Let me know what games you are stoked to play below.

San Andreas (Movie) Review 6

San Andreas (2015) Review

It was inevitable that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would one day star in a disaster movie. After all, the mountain of a man and former wrestler towers over every puny human costar he faces on screen. There’s rarely any suspense involved in a movie fight scene when The Rock is involved. The guy is going to win or at least end the fight in a draw for the sake of Vin Diesel’s ego. So, the only way to set up a fair fight for The Rock is to pit him against Mother Nature. San Andreas might be the title of Dwayne’s latest movie, but it really should be called An Earthquake Vs. The Rock. That’s the fight that audiences will pay their hard earned cash to see and that’s exactly what the movie delivers. Aside from the title match, there really isn’t that much to the movie to be honest. Like all disaster flicks, few of the pesky non-explosive elements in the movie like plot or characterization register. It’s a deeply dumb movie, but also kind of a fun one if you can shut your brain down and admire all of the pretty explosions.
sanandreasinsert2Dwayne Johnson stars as the greatest damn rescue worker in California. He can fly a helicopter and help out innocents like nobody’s business. The only thing he can’t save is his marriage, which has fallen apart at the seams. Following the death of his youngest daughter, The Rock’s ex-wife (Carla Gugino) and now-only daughter (Alexandra Daddario) leave big poppa bear and move in with some rich jerk. It hurts The Rock deeply, but he’s too nice of a man to do anything about it. At the same time, Paul Giamatti plays a super-scientist specializing in earthquakes who develops a new system that can actually detect earthquakes before they happen (because of magnetic waves or some other such movie-science nonsense). Unfortunately, Giamatti can only predict these earthquakes minutes in advance. So he gets the machine working just in time to notice that the biggest earthquake in history is about to hit California. Sure, he gets on the news to warn people, but that just means they expect it when the entire West Coast crumbles, not that they’ll survive. Wouldn’t ya know it? Both the Rock’s ex-wife and daughter end up caught in the catastrophe. I wonder…if he were able to save both of them, do you think that might mend his broken family? Hmmm…

San Andreas (Movie) Review
San Andreas (Movie) Review 4

Chances are, you can plot out the entire movie in your head following that brief first act summary and I’ll wager that whatever you’ve come up with is actually better than the script a team of writers actually sold to Warner Brothers. There’s no getting around it, San Andreas is a deeply, deeply stupid movie. At best, characters are two-dimensional cartoons. For the most part, the actors have only a single dimension to work with. The movie isn’t destined to win any screenwriting or acting awards any time soon. It may as well have been written by a computer program that mixed and matched scenes from previous disaster movie screenplays until it reached 100 pages. However, dismissing a movie that features a pro-wrestler and an earthquake as being stupid is missing the point. Of course San Andreas is a dumb movie. It would almost be disappointing if it wasn’t. The real question is: Is the movie any fun?
sanandreasinsert3Answer: Yes. Yes, it is. The Rock reteams with his Journey 2 director Brad Peyton, who can’t exactly be described as an artiste but is certainly a guy who knows his way around a brightly colored CGI action scene. The massive crumbling 3D city destruction sequences in San Andreas are indeed quite impressive. Sure, the audience is essentially watching millions of people die at once, but as long as The Rock saves his family it doesn’t matter. They are the only characters viewers need to care about and if they get out ok, who cares about a few million lost lives as long as the explosions look good? Yeah, it’s probably deeply irresponsible and unprofessional for the greatest rescue worker in California to ignore all of the civilians and steal a rescue chopper just to save two people, but hey! Family values are restored at the end of this $100 million series of blow-em-ups, so what more do you want? Folks who simply can’t get behind braindead popcorn fodder will scoff off San Andreas and with good reason: it’s a dumb and generic movie. However, anyone excited to see The Rock kick an earthquake in the nuts will have a good time. This might be a dumb and generic movie, but it’s also fun, hilarious for those who enjoy the ironic appreciation of trash movies, and The Rock is in it, who never disappoints. Not a bad popcorn cocktail for those in the mood for mindless entertainment. A completely forgettable blockbuster and also a painless one.

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (PC) Review 5

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (PC) Review

Something happened while I was reviewing this game, that has never happened to me before. As I was leaving a group, another player urged me to support Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown, and that there was no game like it. He spent a few minutes, not quite pleading, but seemingly wanting me to have a good impression of this game.

This was important given our previous experience. We had just beaten a difficult section despite dying horribly, due to a collection of flamethrower-toting gang-members encircling us, which consisted of myself and another player and two NPCs (of which we each controlled one. Coordination became an issue, as we could both act simultaneously – but when our characters actually moved, the other player’s movement indicators would reset, leading to them having to repeat it again. Never mind how hard it had been to get a group before, nor how many issues had cropped up with players forcing to restart due to the host leaving the group and the other members being unable to leave.
shadowBinsert2I don’t want to compare this game to Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun Returns – the two were in development at the same time, they share a turn-based system, and they’re both set in the same universe. It’s unfair to strongly compare the two games, especially since Chronicles is more of an MMO – or at least a hub-based online game.

In truth, I feel for Shadowrun fans who want to support the MMO, speaking in the game’s general chat with the distinct Shadowrun lingo (“Hoi Chummers” and all that). The game itself, sadly, suffers heavily from its flaws and from being a bare-bones experience.

The plot is fairly basic; you operate as a Shadowrunner, a mercenary hired to deal with the supernatural and cyberpunk world that is Boston. You take jobs, in the form of turn-based “runs”, as the city is overwhelmed by a sudden strange outbreak and rising gang violence. It’s sufficient for the game’s purposes.

Creating your Shadowrunner is fairly fun, and has a decent degree of customization that I found welcome. Appearance is entirely modifiable, and you’re presented with dozens of options, ranging from military gear to Matrix-style jackets, beards and tattoos, and skimpy fanservice miniskirts (none of which are gender-locked). Your skills are purchased through “karma” gained by completing missions, and by turning in the jobs back at the hub (the latter of which can only be done once per mission, requiring long farming if you want to max out your XP trees). This gives you an incentive to help out on any mission you aren’t currently doing with other people, giving you some more points to level yourself up.

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (PC) Review 3
Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (PC) Review

Each Boston Lockdown mission is a fairly-small turn-based map, depicting areas from crate-laden docks to corporate towers, to the ever-convenient sewers of science fiction and fantasy. These levels look pretty good, capturing the run-down, hyper-modern future. Sadly, you’ll see a lot of the same maps, as the game frequently reuses entire layouts for different missions. It’s not egregious, but it is does break immersion. Fortunately, the maps are well-designed – glass shatters and cars explode with triggered alarms in fire-fights, and there are several containers or doors affected by skills such as lock picking or hacking that can provide more items or give advantages in missions. It’s fairly simple to have bare proficiency at two of these environmental skills, so you’ll rarely have an issue where it’s impossible to do.

I admit, I played through the game with pure magic, using Summoning and Spellcasting, thus making myself entirely reliant on mana all the time, except for my summoned bear-spirits. The issue with this is that there are several damage types, such as physical, magical, or “tech” (hacking), and certain enemies are differently affected. For example, robots are unaffected by any magical damage, meaning my bearded elven streetmage had to hide behind a spectral grizzly bear if his party were unavailable.

The combat itself is a bit of a gamble, mostly due to how deadly it can be if you make a mistake. Some enemies go down quickly, but others have mountains of hit points and armour, particularly flamethrower-enemies who can easily kill you in one attack. Cover is completely critical, but even that can’t entirely mitigate damage – healing is almost entirely through items you carry that have limited uses, and a few key skills. Death puts you out for the entire mission, and gives players a limited time before they’re booted and the mission is failed. There’s no consequence for that besides having to restart, and you keep any items you found anyway. However, it does mean you have to do the same missions again, and this can get tedious.
shadowrunBinsert3Of course, doing it as a group is far easier, and generally doesn’t result in horrid death. A properly coordinated group is key – making that group, however, has several issues. Firstly, the interface lacks support for basic commands, like /invite or even a whisper function, leaving only a general chat and a hub chat (the latter based on your current hub) as areas to ask for missions. While you can join any mission, and there’s some leeway in what level of power you’re at, I found it nearly impossible to get help for the specific missions I needed to progress the main game. There’s a lot of basic functions that we take for granted in MMOs that just…aren’t there. It makes a lot of grouping and communication difficult, which in turn eliminates the point of having a multi-player element.

In the end, the missions just aren’t enough to really make this stand out too strongly. They’re adding more to the game and apparently working on expanding its interface, so we’ll see how it goes. Right now, it’s a bit lacking for a forty-dollar price tag, and I recommend that players keep an eye on it to see if they expand on much-needed functionality.

I Died Alone With a Very High Score 2

I Died Alone With a Very High Score

Days after my fourth anniversary with my girlfriend we came upon the stark realization that things just weren’t working anymore. Over the years she’d begun distancing herself from friends, relying on me almost entirely for all forms of relationship. Meanwhile I’d grown aloof, antsy as the tenure of our relationship extended with each passing month.

It was only days before the anniversary that I stumbled upon Passage, an incredibly evocative indie title by minimalist Jason Rohrer. In a very subdued fashion the game chronicles the life of a couple, from first encounter to final moments.

Passage is beautiful because through the subtlety of its design and the simplicity of its mechanics the game takes the player through the impetuousness of youth to the recollection of old age, all in a span of 5 minutes. The centerpiece for this journey is the pixelated relationship between the protagonist and his love.

As the two move in tandem through the 100×12 pixel landscape they take up enough room that passing through certain gaps in terrain becomes difficult or impossible. This makes many of the game’s hidden treasure chests inaccessible regardless of how you maneuver the lovers.
passageinsert1Because we had come to the decision to break things off over the phone we agreed it would only be right to meet the next day and do it in person. Thus came one of the worst 24 hours of my life. It felt like the scene in Gladiator where Russell Crowe is bravely waiting to enter the arena for the first time. Except I wasn’t Russell Crowe, I was the squeamish guy that pisses himself with fear.

Thus, I retreat in to games; Street Fighter, Unreal Tournament, whatever could make me forget about the impending fate of my relationship. But I find no solace in these experiences; they’re distractions and provide no real comfort. So, as I go back to my bed to contemplate some more I take my iPhone and play Passage one more time.

There’s a very small window in the game where you can bypass the relationship the entire story is structured around. It’s not likely to happen because it requires the player to go out of their way to avoid the girl. I do this, if only to see what could happen.

Things progress as normal, but the former immobility is gone. I’m free to move through narrow hallways and get every treasure chest I see. I’m showered with big blue stars as each chest displays its satisfying animation. My score rises higher and higher, breaching my former record.

Then I get old. I’m slowed, but I’m still collecting. My score continues to climb, but I know what’s coming soon. I look back one last time at the obscured past; if my love is in there she’s miles back and completely forgotten.
passageinsert2So I die alone, my record score sitting pixels above my deathbed. My tombstone sits patiently while the title screen washes it and any record of my high score away forever. The loveless life I’d lead and all its accomplishments are forgotten completely.

Passage isn’t about the score; in fact it’s quite the opposite. The personal conquests of a single soul don’t matter when the final curtain is pulled. Love is the only reward and though that love can hinder your life, holding you back or challenge you to progress, it’s the only thing worth doing.

As I write this, it is hours before I’m scheduled to see my girlfriend and potentially break up for good. Passage has made me even more scared than ever. While I still see all our flaws and hindrances, I now feel like that’s just part of life and it’s something you need to work through.

Passage doesn’t give you the option to have a spotty relationship. If you’re in with the girl, you’re in for life. Life is unfortunately not like that. I don’t know what’s in store for us, but if there’s a way to stay together I want to try it. I don’t want to die alone with a very high score.

What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series 5

What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series

Instead of rebooting the Resident Evil franchise to its glory days, Capcom has decided to announce another remaster on the way to current and last gen consoles. Yes, the prequel to the series, Resident Evil 0 will launch some time in 2016 in Japan. A release for other territories has yet to be announced but it will happen considering the first remaster exceeded expectations.

The game was announced at an event in Japan and is currently in development. The original staff and director Koji Oda are returning to helm the remaster. Capcom will have more details on the game in the coming weeks. E3 anyone?
resevil0insert5For those that don’t remember, Resident Evil 0 takes place slightly before the events that Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine embark on the creepy mansion that loyal Resident Evil fans are fond of. The game features Rebecca Chambers, a police officer, as well as a prisoner on death row in Billy Coen. The unlikely duo must fend off the impending zombie outbreak. Players could switch between both characters on the fly throughout their playthrough with the game feature called ‘partner zapping.’ Both Chambers and Coen possess unique abilities that you’ll need to take advantage of if you want to survive.

Earlier this year, Capcom brought us all arguably the greatest entry in the Resident Evil franchise, with the game that started it all, Resident Evil HD. A high definition remake that ditched the older tank controls and gave players a newer, free form stick-based control scheme. Camera angles were slightly changed to create a more optimal playing experience. The graphics got a facelift that pushed all the textures to 1080p resolution.

What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series 3
What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series 2

Resident Evil 0 will most likely adapt all the key upgrades found in the remaster that was released this year. Capcom has suggested that “HD remasters will be one of their key business activities” going forward. So it’s plausible that we’ll be getting Resident Evil 2 and 3 again. But the question now becomes, will they get lazy and ship those entries with the original Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1 graphics again?

I would certainly hope not.  The work they have put into Resident Evil HD has certainly paid off being their fastest selling digital title in the company’s history. Resident Evil 2 and 3 would possibly rake in even more sales because fans have been clamouring for these games to receive aesthetic upgrades since the last generation. Almost as much as people that have been pleading for Final Fantasy VII remaster. They would be printing money if Resident Evil 2 were slated for a 2017 release and Resident Evil 3 the following year. Only time will tell if that will be the case. So far, sounds like Capcom is giving people what they want. The classics revamped in beautiful high-definition graphics. Now it’s your turn Square Enix.

What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series
What Resident Evil 0 HD Means For the Series 1

All these remasters could be holding us off for another number entry in stored survival horror classic franchise. Everyone wants the return to the series roots in Resident Evil 7. So maybe them looking at their previous masterpieces will keep the ball rolling for what’s next.

Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster will release on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC sometime early 2016.

Do you think Resident Evil 0 remaster means more classic entries will see the light of day? Chime in the comments below.



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