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Wednesday
Aug142019

Let's Talk Violence and Video Games

I have been trying really hard, and I MEAN REALLY HARD, to not rage about the ignorance of people with a large platform (ie. government officials), but ENOUGH is ENOUGH... AGAIN. Why can't we just do some research or reach out to experts in a certain field to find out what is true and what is purely false/propaganda. It's really not all that hard, hell I don't have a politicians budget but I somehow avoid most knee jerk reactions when it comes to blaming something for something else that happened. Sure we're all at fault for letting some things going out of control and find out later that it was all a lie, but I think in the case of Video Games causing mass violence, we should probably be past this now. Here is a fun little graphic that says it best, I think...

 

Isn't that odd? The US isn't even the biggest consumer of video game products and yet somehow we're all a bunch of homicidal lunatics. Could it possible that there's another factor that we're ignoring? I could point the finger at the effort or lack of effort it takes to get a gun, but there's more to it than that. Making it more difficult to get a gun will slow things down, but there's other factors that are in play here. There's definitely a certain mindset that is required to plan and execute an act of violence on this level. 

There are too many instances where people have ignored what they saw/heard, or maybe simply didn't take what they saw/heard seriously enough. Sure you might come off as a complete dick if you run to the authorities when confronted with unsettling actions observed in another, but if it saves a life or 40, I think it should be done. Here's the thing, if the person gets pissed off at you what's the worse that happens? You lose a friend? If that person was going to actually conduct an act of violence, do you really want to be their friend? I know it may feel like an act of betrayal, but there are those out there who are trying to reach out, and there are times that doing so means acting out. Save a life today... Now don't get me wrong, we do need to look back over gun laws, what guns can be sold, owned, and maybe add some more steps to how to obtain a gun.

So if there's one think to take away from this rambling rant it is do your damn homework before you start pointing figures, I know its tough to do, but I, personally, believe you can do it. Also if you are looking to really change gun laws you're going to have to be as vigilant as the NRA is about attending public meetings talking about guns.

Wednesday
Aug072019

Dark Quest II Review

 

Many gamers out there might not remember a board game called HeroQuest, but let me tell you that there was many an hour spent playing this game. The game had a set of characters which 2 - 5 players would take control of and move around on a grid-based board. There was a quest instruction book that gave the Dungeon Master the needed information to setup the board so that the adventure could begin. Well it turns out that there has been a digital attempt to recreate my fond memories of this game in the guise of Dark Quest II.


Dark Quest II centers around an evil wizard who has seized power and you playing anywhere from 1 to 3 characters to try to defeat him. The journey will be long, and there will be many obstacles, monsters, and twist that you’ll have to overcome, but if you can survive through it all you will be able to come out victorious.


The game takes place over 26 different areas, however you don’t have to take on all the areas as the path splits and doesn’t require the completion of EVERY level, however I would HIGHLY recommend that you take on all the levels. You want to be a strong as possible when it comes to the end game. Each area will have a quest requirement needed to succeed, and sometimes the odds will be heavily stacked against you, so you’re going to have to utilize some serious strategy. I do want to point out that if your party does wipe you will go back to town and for a small price (20% of your gold) you can resurrect each member of your party.


Speaking of the town, it is your base of operations. You will come back to it after each completed/failed area. In the town you will find a place to forge items (you can only create one of each item), a place to increase the power of your skills (you’ll need blue potions that you can gather through each area), a place to sell extra items (most of it will be junk you found while exploring), a place to create potions that can enhance or heal your character(s) (you will have 2 item slots for each character to use), of course a place to resurrect your characters, a place to give you temporary stat boosts (it’s a brothel), and the place where you will gain access to the area map and can choose where to go next.


At this point you are probably to the point of wonder what kind of characters you will have access to well you’ll have access to the following and each comes with its own unique skill set.

  • Barbarian

  • Wizard

  • Dwarf

  • Healer Knight

  • Dark Monk

  • Archer

Personally I’m the type of gamer that builds a party of the max size and then keeps with those characters throughout the entire game, so for me it was the Barbarian, Dwarf, and Archer. Honestly by focusing on just those three I was able to max out their skills as well as get the best items/equipment you have access to.


After covering all the basics I think it is only right to give you my thoughts on the game’s shortcomings. The first thing, and this is a game design that comes from the source material (HeroQuest), it’s the fact that you have access to one copy of the equipment. What that does is it makes it so that the player has to truly weigh the ups and downs of items equipped to one character over another. Sure it would make the game a lot easier to have multiple copies so that you can outfit your characters in a way to make them almost untouchable, but a gamer can dream (right?). The next qualm that I have for this game is that because the game is isometric (basically a grid that is turned 45 degrees) trying to navigate around the grid gets a bit disorienting and tricky. You then couple that with the fact that the move selector does allow you to move off the traversable area and it sometimes does become a struggle to find your way back to areas that you can actually move to. There’s also the fact that the move indicator doesn’t always start where you think it should be when moving from room to room, so you’ll have to go find it on occasion.


At the end of the day this game did its job, it gave me nostalgia, sure there were some bumps in the road, and sure I’ve been spoiled by the way RPGs have simplified rules and restrictions in comparison to HeroQuest (released in 1989, by the way). This might not be for everyone, but this is a game that I threw myself into and made damn sure that I completed EVERY level to make sure I could get the task done. 


Friday
Aug022019

Guns, Gore, & Cannoli 2 Review

Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2 puts you back in the shoes of the gangster, Vinnie Cannoli. 15 years have passed since that massacre with all the zombies happened in Thugtown, but now something has changed. A new villain calling himself The Dark Don has appeared and he is putting their crosshairs squarely on Vinnie. Of course that doesn’t sit well with Vinnie and so he once again hits the streets, picks up tons of weapons, and takes care of any obstacle, be it car, doors, cops, gangsters, Nazis, or the occasional mutated rat. In order to accomplish his goals he will have to return to Thugtown and then take his many talents to Europe where he’ll have to mow through Nazis on World War 2 battlefields.

I’ve got to be honest with you, I thoroughly enjoyed the first game and was thrilled to hear that I could continue Vinnie’s story. For the most part this game lived up to the hype I had built up in my mind. There were a couple of small things, mainly the aiming didn’t feel as solid using a gamepad, but other than that I couldn’t stop playing the game. There are quite a few bosses you’ll have to get through, and some of them took me multiple attempts to conquer. One thing that you’ll learn is that there is no such thing as a truly “safe spot” when dealing with bosses. You’re going to have to constantly be on the run, jumping and sometimes double jumping, all while shooting to succeed.

Graphically this game looks just like the first, and that’s not a bad thing. The scenes you’ll play through, the enemies you’ll face off against, they all look great while your traversing this side-scrolling game. The music in the game definitely gives you that 1940s vibe, which fits right into the theme of the game. There’s also the witty one-liners that Vinnie will spit out, or the enemies will toss your way that add an additional layer of enjoyment.

If you like side-scrolling games with that “Metal Slug” type of feel, you’re going to want to get this game ASAP. It’s that solid of a game. I might also recommend that you bring a friend along and co-op to extend that enjoyment… just in case one of you takes one too many bullets/bites/hits/etc.

 

Sunday
Jul212019

Silence: The Whispered World 2 Review

 

You start the game with a boy and his sister hiding in a bomb shelter praying that they survive an air raid. To calm his sister, Renie,  the boy, Noah, starts to tell her a story which turns out to be an abridged recap of the first game of this series. During that story a bomb hits and their world goes dark. Noah wakes up in a strange place and his sister is nowhere to be found, and this is where the real story will begin. 

This is a point and click adventure game so as you play through the game you will be in control of either Noah or Renie. There will be times where you will have to change between the two to advance the story enough to solve certain situations. You will have to be on the lookout for objects in the environment that you’ll have to immediately need to use, or will save for later. You’ll also be joined by a couple of characters that are willing to help out with your quest to find a way home, as long as you help them defeat the false queen (a mysterious character who seems to be taking over this world with the help of monsters that upon touching you turn you into a copy of the monster).

This game, I have to admit, definitely had its challenging, and slightly frustrating moments, mostly because I chose to play this game on the Nintendo Switch, which lacks a mouse, so trying to change the focus of what I want to interact with was sometimes tricky (hence a level of frustration that shouldn’t have been a part of the game). There is definitely a flow to the game, and once you get used to the way things work, and have an idea of how to take on many of the puzzles throughout the game, I was definitely hooked. The developers did do some sneaky things, such as throwing in a little pinch of morality here and there, which made you make choices that weren’t always “rainbows and butterflies”.

Overall this was a stunning game, I enjoyed the story (even with some of the last minute twists, that TORE my heart out), and I would have to say that if you are a fan of good point and click games, you’ll have to check this game out. Having only played it on the Switch I can only hope that the PC’s controls are a little bit better, so perhaps that version of the game will be a little less stressful with the game mechanics, but either way you should definitely give this game a look.   


Wednesday
Jul102019

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech Review

After having such an amazing experience with SteamWorld Dig 2 I made the decision to see what else the SteamWorld game catalog had to offer, and so I took on SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, an RPG with the art style of other SteamWorld games. As you might have guessed with the word 'Quest' in the title this is of course an RPG. Actually let's take it a step further, this is a turn-based RPG with action mechanics utilized through the use of cards.

So let's give you a little bit of background, in this game you're going to be playing, the vast majority of the game, with a party of three characters. Each character has a unique set of cards that you can unlock as you go through the game. The cards fall into three different categories: Base Attack, Support, and Steam Pressured. I think the first two are pretty self-explanatory, so let's just talk about this strange "Steam Pressured" category, think of Steam Pressure as what most games would call Mana. All non-"Steam Pressured" actions will increase the pressure, which of course will in turn allow the player to unleash more devastating attacks. There is one thing that could make for an even more devastating attack and that is if you string three of the same character's cards in a single turn. Doing so will really cause a good bit of havoc on the battlefield. The story is broken into areas and chapters. The areas, after you complete them the first time, will give you a percentage of treasures found (so if you are looking for that 100% completion rate...).

There are five player characters that you will have at your disposal, and as much as I would love to tell you all about every single one of them, I'm going to be totally honest with you, as is mostly the case, with me, I stick with the party I'm given off the bat. That of course means I'm not sure if there would be any advantages to the last two characters, however the first three filled my needs. The first three fall into the following categories: Warrior, Magic User, and Tank. In my opinion that's a winning combination, so I wasn't going to mess with success. I did complete the entire game with them, so there's that.

The thing is that I really enjoyed this game from start to finish. It is the story of a wannabe adventurer (and friends) trying to prove to the world that they are actually legitimate adventurers. There's humor and stereotypes scattered through the game, and the story flows. I would recommend that you do replay some of the areas, even if you have the 100% completion for the area, it's always good to have a little extra coin on you to pay for upgrades for your characters. When the story came to a close I felt closure, enjoyment, and triumph (basically all the feelings you want at the end of the game). If you're looking for a solid RPG, this is definitely one you have to add to your playlist.