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video games

The King of Arcades

gamerindexAs we look to the different video game documentaries, there’s been elements that are prevalent in each one. Chasing Ghosts reminds us of our love of video games, but it’s King of Kong that really makes us fall in love with the old system.  The Tetris Masters brings us back in the competition and reminds us how hard it is to become a master. The King of Arcades reminds us that the communal arcades experience is an important one.

This is The story of Richie Knuckles.

Richie’s focus and intent is in bringing the arcade experience back by building one of his own. What’s really striking about Richie in these stories is how much he loves the games themselves – the time that he spends tracking down old arcade cabinets and rebuilding them. The amount of time that he spends loving the genre, and obsessing over the idea of the video games. There is a desperate attempt to recapture something that we really have lost in this age of online multiplayer. It’s omething about that communal experience, that commonality, that gathering place where we come to play but also come to be… Come to hang out. It’s an important thing. It’s an important place, it’s the mystique that rolls around these games in this era – I totally get it. That’s what makes this film so compelling – we get it, we share that 18j1b6zwsjo6bjpgsame passion for these games, for this place, for this thing. Now, perhaps Richie Knuckles takes this to an extreme, but that’s really the purpose of film – that others live a life that we can experience vicariously through them. The ending is bittersweet, and in many ways we are just wondering if it’s really worth it… But one look at Richie knuckles face and you could see – yes it absolutely is. Of all the video game documentaries out there, this is absolutely one of my favourites. It’s right up there on par with the King of Kong in terms of sheer relatability and passion. This is another absolute must have if you love the genre and you love all video games.


Arcade

gamermaxresdefaultToday’s cinematic atrocity is Arcade! It’s a Full Moon classic starring little Ralphie from a Christmas Story and Q from Star Trek : the next generation. It also features a VERY young Seth Green and is pretty worth watching just for that.

I’ve had to defend the special effects in the past though – if you look there on that old VHS box, you’ll notice it exclaims “virtual reality special Effects”! They may be pushing the definition of virtual reality – they might be pushing the definition of special effects for that matter… Zacherly used to refer to certain SFX as special DEFECTS, and that’s far more appropriate here. There is a lot of primitive CG splashed up against a blue screen – and what’s really frightening is the original set of special effects were even more primitive, to the point where Charles Band put the movie on hold until they could find somebody who could do you something little better.

The original version of the CG villain had no moving parts – he was a far more blocky solid character, where as the finished product as a bit more personality and movement to it. You can get a glimpse of what it would’ve looked like at the beginning of the video zone featurette’s at the end of every full moon videotape. Those graphics have a lot more in common with Tron – not a bad movie, but back in 1993 that look was quite seriously behind the times. You can see huge differences between the two pictures below – the very static face of Arcade, a mask  really with no movement except shadows from the flickering lights behind the mask, transport that looked more like light cycles than liquid metal terminators, and a title font that would look extremely cool in a children’s cartoon but not in an r-rated horror movie. It’s stuff that would pass on VR Troopers or in an 80’s movie, but not in ’93, not after T2 had redefined CG forever (or at least until The Matrix arrived seven years later)

I’ve seen some of those original,and  I can see why they decided to redo the effects. Not just the models, we also go from grids and gradients to textured backgrounds with clouds and atmosphere. Electrical effects and far more detail. The original effects were simpler. They took less time to create (one or two moving pieces and slap a bitmap on it for color) and would take FAR less time to render. The finished effects have multiple textures applied, with great detail, are made up of far more polygons and include more lighting effects. The difference in both build time and render time must have increased by months.

Despite the computer generated FX even worse than those in the Lawmower Man, I’m a fan of this film. The CG does not age well, but it’s not meant to – and you can forgive it because of that.

The story is practically paint by numbers. New game put out, someone developed AI. AI turns evil. The girl who can’t play video games is the one who has to save the day.

Despite that, it has the sense of fun and adventure that Full Moon Films typically have. I really love watching this, and another big selling point here is the cast. These are all kids (at the time anyhow), and you can tell they are all having a genuinely good time with each other. watching the behind the scenes feature in particular REALLY brings this out.

Can I talk a little about the actual video arcade they feature in this movie? Because seriously, this place is awesome. A little basement hole-in-the-wall with black lights and glowing stickers all over? A nice mix of old games and new, man I would have loved this place and spent every dollar I ever made if I’d had one of these joints in the 90’s. The only arcades around here were at the Mall and the Bowling Alley. This however, this feels real. It feels like a teenage hangout and it made me want to be there. It’s little details like this that I’m talking about, this is the stuff that makes a mediocre film come alive and entertain.

Truth is, this is a FUN movie. You forget about the low budget, Even though the effects make you feel like you crawled in to your Packard Bell micro tower to play DOOM  you don’t care. This isn’t T2 or the Lawnmower man. You didn’t pick this up to stare at the pretty SFX. Sure you can see that plot twist coming a mile away, but you’ll find yourself rooting for it anyhow.

You’ll see it on the shelf at the Record Exchange or Flea market sometimes. It’s sure to be on Full Moon Streaming. Seriously, give this one a try some lazy Sunday afternooon. It’s got to be better than watching the Browns lose.


Alien Isolation

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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!


Disney Infinity

gameruntitledWell, Christmas has come and gone and I’ve got a few new games to talk about. First up is the Disney infinity, Disney’s answer to Skylanders. That’s not an accusation of Disney ripping off someone else’s idea by the way. The idea of taking a physical toy and making it interact with a virtual game world is long overdue. Skylanders just got there first, and as a result, they are what the rest are judged against.

Because I’m not a gamer and my kids are young girls, we have a Wii. images3Experience may differ on other platforms, but I’m not so sure.

The sculpts on the figures are wonderful. Fun, and detailed, they may actually be superior to Skylanders in that respect. The fact that you get to play with familiar characters like Captian Jack or the Monster’s Inc guys is a HUGE plus. The game doesn’t have to create it’s own world from scratch. Then again, toys are something Disney does well.

imagesCAM0B6F1Video games on the other hand are not.

The infinity worlds feel cheap. Slapped together. It’s a failing I’m more prone to assign to Disney than to Nintendo too. I’ve see namazing worlds on the Wii – Metroid immediately comes to mind. I have on the other hand, seen Disney put out truckloads of poorly coded games and sell them at a premium because they are Disney. We specifically got the Vanellope character from Wreck-it Ralph because I untitled3desperately want a good version of the Sugar Rush racing game. The racer that came with Vanellope was awful. Slow speeds, uninspired cars, blocky characters….and don’t tell me that’s a limitation of the console. Play Mario Kart just ONCE and you’ll see how great this console can handle racers.

The real tragedy of this game however is the VERY limited co-op, available only in the mini-games in the “Toybox” environment, not in the adventure track. This is unforgivable, especially since the packaging proudly proclaims two player gaming. Again, I’m told this is a limitation of the console, but again, it doesn’t seem to bother Skylanders any. Seems more like a limitation of the Disney Developers instead. I was untitled2hellbent on getting the Lone Ranger set (and by the way, after the rather poor performance of the film, how on earth can they justify that $35.00 price tag???) but with such limited co-op functionality…I’m just going to get the Lone Ranger. I’m sorry if this offends, but really, what’s the point of playing Tonto solo?

Speaking of characters, I’m appalled at the limited releases. There seems to be a focus on male gamers – but that’s not Disney’s core market. images2Where are the princesses? Rapunzel was on the shelf for about five minuets six months ago, sold out and never restocked. The Frozen girls are out, and that’s it. Where are the girl warriors like Pocohontas and Mulan and Meridia? Here’s a radical thought. Put out a princess edition of the infinity with three (perhaps limited edition sculpts) classic and neo classic princesses? Ariel, Cinderella and Snow White perhaps. Aladdan and Jasmine sets, Belle and Beast sets (oh look! Target boys and girls at the same time!)…where are these??? This stuff should have been first wave and then shortpacked every wave after!

Perhaps they will come if the system lastsimages5 long enough, but I’m not sure I’d be taking bets on that. With such a poor reception, the infinity is likely going to die, but seeing as it’s Disney, the existing parts will linger, making it a slow death.

Go buy a Skylanders Swap force instead.


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.


Wreck-It Ralph

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IMG_20130413_141438Wreck-it Ralph was one of those movies I kept meaning to get around to. It made it on to my radar during the Halloween season because my daughters got stickers at one of the trick or treat events we went to  and I liked the concept. I was reminded about it a couple months ago when I met Kyle Herbert, who does voices for Street Fighter – one of the cameos in the movie.

My older daughter is totally nuts for video games and she loved this movie. The story is told from the perspective of the game characters living in the games itself and has it’s similarities to things like TRON, but in a more lighthearted Pixar way. What’s interesting is that the games in the movie’s arcade run the gamut of game periods, from the things that belong firmly in the Donkey Kong era  through the 16 and 32-bit fighters to slick modern 3d racers that we8-bit Wreck-It Ralph game see today. Cameos are shoehorned in every chance we get, making games created for the movie  like Fix-it Felix (a weird combination of Donkey Kong and Rampage) or Sugar Rush (a candy themed racer) feel legitimate standing next to Q*Bert and Street Fighter and Sonic and Pac Man.

With CG cartoons increasingly aimed at children and not their parents, this works really wellimages giving both grown-ups and kids something to look for an enjoy. It’s also one of the rare roles for Sarah Silverman that doesn’t make me want to punch her in the face. I think the biggest downfall for the movie is the lack of tie-ins. Sure they released a Wreck-It Ralph video game, but what I want is a Sugar Rush racing game like in the movie! There’s a buggy flash version on the film’s website, but that’s not the same as me plugging it into my Wii Wreck-it-Ralph-wreck-it-ralph-33985804-1920-1200and racing in one of those candy cars on my big screen.

This one is definitely a buy for any gamers out there raising little gamers. Probably still a buy for anyone with primary school kids, and a rent for absolutely anyone who ever played a video game or used to hang out at the mall arcade.


Deadpool

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thI finally got around to playing the Deadpool video game while I was on vacation.  Gameplay is reasonably straight forward, though there are a few places you have to backtrack to achieve game effects. Still, that’s all standard. That could be any other review.

What Deadpool stands on is the tory and the character. This is the merc ith a mouth and boy, do they go out of thier way to live up to that reputation. I’ve never played a game where there was this much talking in game. As he slices and dices he taunts and talks and jokes. Spider-Man game developers could really learn from this mechanic.  A lot of the material is repeated, but that’s to be expected. Heck, I tell the same jokes to diffrent audiences on a regular basis.

th3There’s a heavy X-Men influence here as well. Much more than I expected to see. Sinister is the villian and I was a little surprised about that. He dosen’t strike me as a typical Deadpool baddie.  Cable and Domino show up enough to make me feel like I was reading old Liefield X-Force off-issues.  Wolverine makes an appearance and it’s JUST enough. People have a tendancy to overuse him and he could have easily taken over a good level or so but no, in fact Rogue has more screen time than Wolvie.

I love the Rogue level.  It’s easily the best one in the game and she comes off remarkably well in the game. We even get to play her for a minuet after Deadpool lends her his healing factor….and mask. Deadpool spends most of the level searching for her so he can make her fall in love with him. Maybe that’s why I really dig this part -I’ve had a thing for Rogue since I read Asgard Wars (and  then there was that year I dated a girl who absolutely wanted to BE Rogue). I can relate with Deadpool’s low motives.

th2Nolan North captures Deadpol perfectly by the way, whenever I read the comics from here on out, it’s his voice I will hear. He’s as definitve as Kevin Conroy is to Batman. Daniel Wray has written a brilliant script.  This FEELS like Deadpool. Even the potty humor (which I usualy don’t go for) works in this context.  I’m not one of those people who thinks video games are the next evolution  of entertainment…that thinks they are the natural progression from film, but I will say this: This game is far more satisfying than any Deadpool movie I could imagine (and I say that having read the excellent screenplay  by Reese and Wernick).  THere’s an inheriant goofieness, and breaking the fourth wall fits better here. One of my favortie moments is when Deadpool has to get across a huge chasm and he does it by jumping on old dialogue boxes.

Overall, a great game with a fun attitude and atmosphere that sets it above a normal hack and slash. It’s a shooter where the witting matters, and I love it.

 

 


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.


Injustice : Gods Amoung Us

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I went out of my way to read all the Injustice series as they were putting out the comics (tie-in). It was enough to get me to really pay attention to the game when it came out.

It’s been a bit, so most people have had more than enough time to play it and get to know the game. It’s the kind of game that appeals to me because I really don’t have to supermanthink too hard about it. It’s a fighter that I can drop in and out of real quickly. my girls love fighting games too and a superhero fighting game with Daddy is just one of their favorite things ever.

One of the other things that makes it so noticeable is that it’s a DC game. Good DC games are few and far between. Marvel still cranks them out with regularity (though not quite as often as I remember them doing in my Genesis days) but DC seems to have problems making anything that doesn’t have the words “Batman” or “Arkham” really work outside the comics.

The new costumes are neat, and not something I’m going to get up in arms about. It’s an HD video game, they want some more grain and texture on them. I’m notinjustice_flash_alt_thumb_zpsc07c122d expecting exact duplicates of what we see in the comics- though I will say the Injustice comic prequel really did better jobs on the costumes. In fact, I prefer the Injustice comic version of Superman’s costume to the New 52 version even.  I’m not digging the shape of Batman’s mask and evil Flash looks downright silly – still Flash can be a hard costume to get right. The lightning motif keeps it right on the edge of cool or lame as it is, and it doesn’t take much to push it all the way to silly.

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The Flash TV show got it right. The JLA pilot….not so much.

lexAnother interesting thing about the look – while Lex Luthor does don the armor occasionally, he spends most of the game looking like Lex Luthor : CEO of Lexcorp. I LOVE that. Even more interesting to me is that they seem to have patterned his face after Bruce Willis. Maybe that’s just me, but seriously, other than those eyebrows….

The other thing about the game that’s very standout is the Joker. He’s actually a playable character at one point in the game, and that’s unique in of itself. It’s not Mark Hamil though, and believe me, he is missed. This isn’t Richard Epcar’s first time out as the Joker – he previously did the voice in DC vs. Mortal Kombat. You can see right away he’s doing something very similar to Hamil, and that’s cool. There are a lot of moments, every few sentences where you hear an inflection that tells you it’s not Hamil, but considering how long he did it, this is to be expected. I think it’s really col that they are trying to keep a similar style, instead of going a completely different direction. The Joker has some of the best lines in the game – “Why does she hate Pancakes?” was one of my favorites.

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20120824013136!Justice_League_Task_Force_game_coverWhen we come down to it, my only real problem with the game is simple : We’ve seen this story before. Justice league or JLA from alternate universe is evil and good JLA has to defeat them. It’s been done a hundred times- heck, it’s even been done before in the game world. Remember Justice League task force for Genesis and Super NES? Still, it’s a very minor gripe. After all, this is a fighting game, and the storyline, while derivative, is well done. Far better done than I would expect coming from a video game anyhow.

The replay is alright, though I’m not sure how often I’ll return to it. I can’t see myself going through story mode again, and I don’t really have the stick-to-itness to unlock all the characters, but standard  Vs mode is always around for a quick pick up and go when I’m not drawing Violent Blue…. in fact, I think I hear Superman calling my name right now!


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!


The Spirit Camera : The Cursed Memoir

gamerSpirit C641696_246134_frontamera! All the fun of the occult but with none of those messy deals with the devil!

This isn’t a title I really paid much attention to until my wife got it for me as a gift. I’m surprised at how much I like it. The Spirit Camera is an “Enhanced Reality” DS game mostly utilizing the camera. THe background is whatever room you are in, but things are in that room you can only see through the camera. No using the D-Pad or stulys to move here, you physically have to t urn around and look for things.

It’s a simple ghost story dealing with a haunted diary (Included with the game). You go through pages in the diary and things happen on them. This kind of stuff starts immediately with the calibration, when a melted face pops out after you align two circles on the screen. Occasionally it will transport you to another place, like the main villains home- a crumbling mansions, dimly lit and foreboding. Again, no D-pad. If you want to look behind you in that mansion to see what that sound was, you have to actually turn around.

gfs_226369_2_1_midThe Spirit Camera has jump scares along with atmosphere. The diary included in the package is a really nice touch and beautifully (if creepy) illustrated. Things happen within the pages, pictures move and can be manipulated, not to mention things coming out of it – that scene on the game case cover? Yeah, that happens. In fact, that hand reaches out to grab yours towards the beginning after you touch a specific part of the book.

The Enhance Reality is used to it’s fullest and is really a great idea. However the camera’s limitations is possibly it’s greatest flaw. You need to be in a really well lit room for this to work properly. Preferably with some sunlight and ambient lighting. Otherwise, the cam will have trouble reading the book, and you won’t really be able to see the background either….and seeing all of this happen in you own home is half the point isn’t it?

Still, it’s one of the most immerse games I’ve played in a long time, making the scares even more potent. The 3d works really well and the switching between the ghost world and my own living room makes it even more effective. If you’re a horror fan, definitely give this game a try. And if it gets to  scary, you can always hit up Violent Blue to lighten the mood.


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.