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Gamers Edge

Alien Isolation

gamerAliens games

I’ve always been a big fan of Aliens games. I remember seeing that Aliens upright game show up  at the bowling alley and I could always beat the first boss with one quarter, but would always get killed on the next leave, (driving and elevator). I had the first Alien game for the Atari 2600. I didn’t spend  as much time on the Aliens vs. Predator arcade game, but my Friend Johnny Em did. I had Alien 3 on my gameboy, nd while I had kind of outgrown the arcade scen by the time that Alien : the Gun arrived, I did take notice and look upon it longingly.

About fourteen years ago  I was very into the Aliens Vs. Predator Gold game. It came at just the right time for me, as I was getting into FPS and multiplayer. I really liked the look they managed to create for it, more than a passing resembalace to the terraforming station in  Aliens (flat as it may be)  and it was the first time I really got a feel for how fast and dangerous these creatures were. It was one of the first time a game startled me, and I really loved it, possibly my favorite Alien game of all time.

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2416302-ai_360+rgb+frontIt’s been  a while since I found  a new Alien game and very recently we finally got it. I finished alien : isolation this weekend. The design of this game is brilliant, immersive.

An awful lot of the game play however, involves hiding from the alien. Basically jumping into a locker closing it, and watching the thing walk by. This was cool at first, and scary, peering at the thing through the slanted slits was really effective. But it began to happen so much that it got annoying. However, this game isn’t really about the Alien. You won’t see too much  of them here, perhaps jut a little less than you might wish.

There’s no killing it, though you are equipped with a flame thrower to drive it away. But not being really able to blast these things away (It’s far more Alien than Aliens) means you have to work around them. The scenes were you have to toss some sonic noisemaker out to distract the Alien and then run behind it to get away – you’re in the same room. You’re in the same space as the alien and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t turn around and see you. This is where the game gets a little nerve-racking. This is where it gets a litt2552234-preview_alieniso_20140606v2gsle scary.

By the way, Considering how much we complain about them being computer-animated in the films the aliens look really good here. Perhaps it’s the context, they’re surrounded by computer animation here. Where as it in a real-life film a suit or a puppet work better. In real life, real objects have weight…something CG just never quite seems to achieve. It could also be how sparingly they are used, and all the shadow that they are draped in when we do see them. And that weight I mentioned earlier, they definitely have weight in this game, as they walk by you can hear the clomp clomp clomp of their feet. It’s effective and heavy, and it’s inclusion is definitely a welcome addition to the mythos .

1390105674-7Still, like I said, this game isn’t about the Alien. It’s about the environment. I genuinely feel like I’m inside the alien universe. So many of these designs from the hatches to the padding on the walls to the grating on the floors in the shape of the hallways, it’s all straight at the movies and beautifully replicated.

There’s an interesting element of the walking dead in here as well. The idea that civilization on the space station has broken down and people are divided into factions, murderous groups that prey on each other. It’s an interesting aspect we never really explored in any of the movies. The synthetics in this game are different from the robots and the rest of the alien series as well. Not sure why that decision was made, perhaps to make them easy to identify within the game. They alien-isolation-111most definatley are wonderfully effective with glowing red eyes deathly pallor to their skin. A great deal of the game is spent avoiding a group of these turn murderous and it adds an unexpected element of depth. A word of advice, the most effective weapon here is the handgun. Three shots should bring any of these guys down.

One of the things that I’m not thrilled about was the main character. The inclusion of Ripley’s daughter in this game seems forced, although the way the storytelling goes, it IS an organic progression it does make sense. Still, I would’ve thought by now we would’ve learned that you don’t need somebody with the name Ripley just make it an Alien movie. Far more interesting al1and effectively tying to the alien film, (the original that is) is a flashback sequence showing the discovery of the Nostromo’s flight recorder. No sign of the ship or lifeboat, but they did find a flight recorder, and obviously this is where the alien comes into play. It’s an adequate explanation of why alien running around in this ship in a story that takes place somewhere between alien, and aliens. Then again yet another trip to LV – 426 just feels repetitive, and I do wish there is another way of doing this. To be fair though, the point of the game is to be able to actually participate in the movie, to be able to visit the sites that we saw in the films, and that’s really why we find ourselves back on Acheron.

I’m also not a fan of the ending. I’m not sure if they were going for bleak or ambiguous, but the alien films have never really alien-isolation-2been either of those. even 3, the most downer of them all, Ripley’s sacrifice feels heroic. Triumphant. this game ending, I’m just not sure what to make of it.

if you’re a fan of survival horror games, you’ll dig this. If you’re one of those people like me who is just fascinated with the Alien universe – so much so that you’ve not only seen all the movies in the theater, but you’ve also seen the three hour assembly cut of Alien, and watched Prometheus more than once, you’ll really love it.


Tic Tac Glow

gamerOne of the games my daughter has learned from her Grandfather is Tic Tac Toe. It’s a typical childhood game, and something that we generally grow out of….until we have children.

I found this game in the Amazon App store and downloaded it immediately. it’s still the typical old Tic Tac Toe, but with a slick look and cool neon graphics. You can play against the computer or another person and the difficulty can be set at different levels, along with different size grids, not just the three square by three square we’re used to.

If you have a child in your life, they will love this game. Give it a try, it’s a free download at the app store….and don’t forget, new Violent Blue is up!


Fighting is Magic

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mlp1I know, this game has been around for a while – kind of. It’s been on my radar, but I figured I’d never get to play it because, well let’s not get ahead of ourself.

Hasbro has been really good about fan participation in My Little Pony : Friendship is Magic, turning a blind eye to copyright infringement on fan sites, fan fics, fan films, art and the like. However, when they discovered a video game being made in a Street Fighter motif, they came down hard on the programmers. The team, who call themselves Mane 6, never intended to see a profit from this, they simply wanted to do a cool game with the characters. Hasbro decided that a fighting game wasn’t in the spirit of their ponies (as opposed to clop fics, or disturbingly violent fan fics like Cupcakes) and issued a cease and desist, shutting down production of the game.imagesCA3WVP2Z

I managed to get a hold of an early release (fluttershy isn’t finished, and only the main six are in it) and tried it out.

It’s incredible. Yes, it’s a fighter, but the fighting is fairly non-violent, and absolutely in character. Pinkie Pie may whip out a pinkie cannon to blast you with pet alligators or presents. Twilight Sparkle telekineticly whips a book around at you and summons a spell from it to blast you with. The characters look exactly like they do on TV and the backgrounds look perfectly in place with Ponyville. My two imagesCA0A2SA6little girls absolutely LOVE it. They beg me to play it with them almost every day.

It’s a great gateway to gaming and to ponies. It’s quick and simple and I’m really disappointed they never got to finish it. I’m glad the development team has since gone on to bigger and better things, but still, a perfected version of Fighting is Magic would have been divine.

And of course, we play it on the Arcade machine – and that makes it the best thing ever.


Pac Man Kart

gamerToday,71rK84kQMyL I’m reviewing Pac Man Kart for Android. I’m playing i on my tablet, but you can get it for your smartphone as well.

Here’s the big problem. Mario Kart set the bar WAY high with innovative graphics, beautiful in depth back grounds, compelling characters and easy to use controls for streamlined game play.

This game has got none of that stuff. It’s clunky, blocky and just hard to use. You have Pac-Man and ghosts in go karts. It’s a good idea. I want this to work, but clumsy controls doom this game. To get him to turn you tap one side of the screen or the other and hope that it responds the way you intend. Sometimes holding down the button turns you into a sharp turn, other times it doesn’t do anything.  There’s a whole different virtual button for power ups, some of which are actually pretty neat, but it’s not enough to save the game from the horribly awkward controls.

Grab the free version from the App Store just to see the graphics (very cool the first time but rapidly grow old), but pass on the full version.

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My Dragon

gamerI recently found this little app for my android tablet. I was looking for something fun for my two little girls, and this was definitely a hit.

My Dragon is a little virtual pet, and a perfect fit for little princess loving girls. They love petting the dragon, and feeding it. As you go through the game, you teach it tricks like siting, come here and searching items for various characters. you can dress it and play with it.

The models are just adorable and for a free app the gameplay is quite extensive. Try it out from the Amazon app store, and don’t forget, new Violent Blue is up back at the main site!


Stupid Zombies!

gamerImzl.wincmctf.320x480-75 posted a while ago about the Stupid Zombies game I play on my tablet. It’s a lot of fun, though I’ve beaten most of the levels in it.  I recently got my wife a little tablet for Christmas and was loading it up with games when I discovered Stupid Zombies 2!

It’s more of the same, and that’s not a bad thing. you are shooting at shambling zombies, trying to ricochet your bullets off walls, platforms and obstacles to clear out the invading horde.

There’s some new features to the gameplay that are really nice improvements. First, you always have a laser site – a beam that shows you about where the bullet is going to go. This has been a great help in trying to line up shots in between small spaces. The other fun element is getting extra points for head shots. I’ve spent more time trying to get that perfect aim to blast off the zombie’s head when I would have previously just tried to get all the targets off the screen in the quickest way possible.

I’m having great fun with this. It’s as addictive as the original, and definitely a sequel that doesn’t disappoint. Certainly the kind of thing they would play over at Violent Blue. A free version for your tablet or smart phone is available through the Amazon app store.


Video Game Parents

gamerA question has been occurring to me lately.

It first came to mind when Maddie and I were playing Gauntlet on the M.A.M.E. cabinet on night. Maddie frequently asks to play games with me on the rebuilt arcade machine, mostly the Marvel vs. DC M.U.G.E.N. game, but also things like Marble Madness or Crusin’.

100_0956This night she had asked for a co-op game, especially one with a princess. Gauntlet seemed to be the best solution and we played through dozens of levels.

The next time the question came to mind was when I was playing a game of Heroclix over at Comics are Go! in Sheffield. I had brought out some of my custom objects to play with the game pieces – an old 7-Up machine, a cigarette vendor and an X-Men 4 player arcade cabinet. We were talking about how dumb it was that no one ever ported this game over to any arcade 1platform of the day or even to PC-CD (Though I’m told it’s finally available for ps3. Is that correct?) I mentioned that my daughter and I had played through the entire thing on my M.A.M.E cabinet.

So what’s the question? Here it is.

Are we the first generation of parents to use video games to bond with our kids?

It’s a devilishly simple question….and not as straightforward as it seems.

Sure parents probably played some video games with their kids, but how often? How did it fit into their 1795077relationship? It’s still a reasonably new medium thought that’s getting easier and easier to forget. One of the developers in the documentary “Indie Game” pointed out that this generation – people born around/after 1975-1980 grew up with games as a normal part of their life. It wasn’t a novelty, it wasn’t an occasional activity, just popping a quarter in if you happened to be at the pizza parlor or something. We had Atari’s and Nintendos and probably played a little bit on most days.

When we first got an Atari 2600, my parents played a little bit with me, but the novelty soon wore off for them and they moved on. For the most part, I played games alone or occasionally with friends. I imagine that was the case with most kids. Some dads here and there would get addicted to Zelda or Mario and perhaps they would take turns, but those are really single player experiences, not bonding games. The documentary “The Ecstasy of Order” describes a 100_0957couple of families where they would competitively play Tetris, but again, one at a time, posting the score on a whiteboard or refrigerator.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a gamer. Not in the least. If you really stretch the definition, you might be able to label me as a retrogamer (one of the reasons I made Steve in Violent Blue one – at least that way I can know a little more about what I’m talking about). I enjoy classic games, and archive as many as I cam using emulators. I have a paticular love of old arcade games up through the 32-bit era. They tend to be short and the M.A.M.E. rampagedcabinet gives me unlimited virtual quarters and that’s a good thing because more often than not, I don’t have the patience to finish a game. I complete a game on my PC or DS approximately once every year or two. The last one I did was the new version of Y’s ….and that doesn’t exactly count since it’s just a rehash of the game I beat on my Sega Master System twenty years ago. I’m pretty sure I will beat the Spirit Camera game Amy got me, but even that three hour game has stretched out for months!

When I was a teenager  I played every day, as an adult, I play games once a week or less…which brings me back to my point : NOT a gamer.

105_3776Having kids kind of changed that. I play more often now, because when they ask to play a game with me, I don’t want to say no. They won’t always be around to play games with me. When I built the M.A.M.E cabinet, I intentionally built in two controllers because I knew my kids would be playing games on it some day. Maddie and Lydia race against me in Mario Kart on our DS’s and pass around the tablet for the Hungry Shark game. We fight on Marvel vs. DC and on the old Capcom games, we co-op on Magic Sword. We play on the Genesis hooked up in the Livingroom (although those games actually don’t look that great on the HD TV) and Maddie has discovered she likes Scorpion best in Mortal Kombat.

Video games with Daddy has always been a part of their lives.

See?

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Pet minder

gamerSo I found the craziest app for my tablet and phone. It’s not exactly a video game, but that’s  the closest category I could really come up with to put it under.

pet_minder_ipad400Does anyone remember having one of those Tamagotchi devices back in the 90’s? You know, the little virtual pets in a LCD egg that you had to feed, clean up after and play with to keep them alive?

Chances are, if you were old enough to have one of  those games, you’ve grown up a bit now. According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 millions homes. Of course a real pet is more than a little different from having a virtual pet. That’s where today’s app comes in.

Pet Minder Lite for Android keeps track of all the needs your pet has. It’s a free app that tracks pet feedings, bathroom breaks and trips to the vet with a tile notification system that is very similar to Windows 8. It even remembers birthdays!  The app can show as many as to two feeding reminders every day on the Android notification bar.


Bubble Mania!

gamerMy wife adores bubble popping games, tetris clones and puzzles of all kinds. So when we found bubble Mania, we were both hooked.

It’s a standard puzzle game, match three or more of the same color and they all disappear. It’s wrapped up in the tiniest of stories, that the main character ( the cat like creature at the bottom) has had all of her babies kidnapped and they are trapped in the bubbles. It’s up to you to rescue them! So she stands under the mass of bubbles and throws them up one at a time, trying to match enough to free her babies.

You do have limited energy, lose to many times and you’ll have to wait until the next day to play again, but all in all it’s a fun time waster, with pretty graphics that feel similar to the more kawaii Anime styles. Give it a try, it’s free at the Amazon App store, and while you’re waiting for it to download, head on over to Violent Blue and check out today’s strip!


Sonic 4!

gamerI’m Screenshot_2012-05-15-19-32-271a Sonic fan from way back. During the 16-bit revolution, I took sides and picked Sega. The Genesis is still my favorite console system of all time and let’s face it, one of the things that made the Genesis so cool was Sonic.

Sonic games have had a mystique comparable to the Mario games. They are a genre all of their own. But just like the Mario games, not every sonic game is all that good. Even on the Genesis, by the time we hit Sonic 3d, I was largely uninterested.I’ve tried a couple of these games for the Nintendo DS, but they get way to complex for me and somehow, just don’t feel like Sonic.

This new game for Tablets and Smart Phones takes me right back to the glory days of the mid 90′s. This feels very much like Sonic 1 or 2 to me. It’s a familiar side scroller with the comfortable checker board lego-like imagery I remember so well. By those graphics have been definitely kicked up a couple of notches. First glance it looks like any other Sonic game, but the detail and depth in these graphics becomes apparent as you really watch the game go on. Indeed, that was one of my reactions to the classic Genesis game – it was just so fun to watch. We had never seen game graphics like that before. This is perhaps not as revolutionary, but definitely just as pretty.

The gameplay is straight forward, you have a virtual D-Pad one the left corner of the screen and a couple of virtual buttons on the right side to jump, spin and cooperate with Tails. Occasionally you’ll run into an obstacle that needs a specific solution. If it’s the first time you’ve encountered this object, there will be a TV screen near by showing you what to do. It’s a great way of familiarizing your with the controls without having to resort to a tedious tutorial, the way so many games do.

I recommend giving this a try, especially if you are a fan of Sonic. there’s a free version available at the Amazon app store for you smart phone or tablet. And after you get tiered of it, go check out the new Violent Blue!


Stupid Zombies

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stupid-zombiesThis game has been out for a while, but  I really want to talk about it’s sequel, so that means I need to talk about this one first.

stupid-zombies_3-300x200Stupid Zombies is more of a puzzle game than an action adventure, requiring you to figure out the angle and ricochet of your gunfire in order to clear a board of meandering zombies. As you go through the 240 levels, the puzzles get more complex. If you’re a fan of Angry Birds, then this is a game for you! Currently available for android and iPhone. It’s one of the few games I managed to finish, and never got bored of it.

And guess what? It just so happens there’s another one! But more on that later…


Lego Batman

gamerI’d just like to say, I’m SO digging Lego Batman 2. I like these characters and I think the lego ideas are fun and you KNOW it’s one of the games Steve and Chloe are playing over at the Violent Blue comic strip, but my main beef with the Lego games was that there wern’t NEARLY enough save points. I don’t usually have 40 minuets to sit and play through a level before I get my next save point. That was killing me with the first Lego Batman game and they’ve really fixed that this time around.

This one has an interesting feature, certian objects can only be manipulated by certian characters. Perhaps you can only pick this thing up with a power ring, or only move through these ducts if your are an acrobat. It works well and really helps showcase the vast aray of DC superheros available in this game.

It’s cross platform and available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows.


DC vs MARVEL video game

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So, I’ve had a lot of questions about the DC vs MARVEL video game. I run it on my MAME Cabinet, but it runs on any PC.

I’ve added a bunch of characters to my copy, but the base version is available for free over at www.scruffydragon.com.  Poke around the site for additional characters, info about the game and how to run and tweek it.

In other news, it’s leap day, and i plan on takimg advantage of McDonalds buy one Big Mac and get one for .29, not to mention the .29 wings over at Sambino’s in Elyria!

You know, after all that, I think I could really use some Violent Blue…good thing there’s a new strip up today.