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Set Nostalgia to Maximum with the NES Classic

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So I managed to land a NES Classic recently through pure luck.  Walmart found some stock, or had some left over, and was running a deal every day for a week or so.  Log in at 5 PM central, click buy, and if you were the first of 25 or 50 you got one.  I managed to get on the site on the last day, right on time and get one.  So it arrived two days ago (as of this writing), and of course, like a little kid on Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to plug it in.

The ‘console’ itself fits in the palm of your hand.  Hookup is easy, just an HDMI cord and power.  The nice thing is the power is like a USB/standard power cord similar to what some cell phones have.  That way you can plug it into an outlet or a power USB port.  Between that and the 3 ft controller, I think they intended people to hook this up to their desktop monitor and play it there.  Like the old-school gamer that I am, I hooked it up to my TV.  Then I proceeded to sit close, probably just like I did back in 80-whatever when we got our NES for Christmas, and got to playing.

Scrolling through the 30 games pre-installed on the little replica was a trip through memory lane, but firing up the first game was like being ten again.  I fired up Punch-Out and proceeded to play with the biggest dopey grin on my face.  It was shameless, laughing and mashing the two red buttons for all I was worth.  The music and graphics took me back to a time when video games were still a fairly new wonder.  I didn’t get far, because I had long forgotten how to beat some of the fighters from all those years ago.

Just last night I played about 45 minutes of Legend of Zelda, one of the first games we had on our old NES.  I’ll be doing a lot of playing of that one, but it was actually the few minutes I spent on Dr. Mario that hit me the most.  It wasn’t my favorite game, but it was fun.  The music was kind of annoying, and the gameplay a bit repetitive, but it was my mother’s favorite game.  Ever since we lost her back in April, I’ve been looking for every little connection I can to the good memories stored away after all these years.  This is definitely one of them.

My brother and I thought it was so cool that our parents liked video games.  They bought us our first consoles of course, actually buying the Atari 5200 probably more for themselves.  Watching, and playing Dr. Mario with my mom is one of those good memories.  It probably sticks with me the most because of the music.  Completely unforgettable, ingrained in our consciousness almost, is music from those old games we love.  Like the Super Mario Bros theme, Legend of Zelda, or the classical music from Tetris, they just stick with us much more than a lot of modern games.

Games have had a huge impact on people’s lives, right down to creating memories that we carry with us for years.  Some people like to discount nostalgia, or the affect it can have on a person.  All I can say is cherish those memories you make while gaming.  Hold on tight to the afternoons playing 4 player split FPS on the TV with your friends or playing head-to-head Super Mario with your sibling to see how fast you can beat it.  Those memories are just as important as any part of our lives and can sometimes bring a smile to your face when you need it most.  It certainly did for me.

Games to Get Excited About – December 2016

Hello and welcome to our final installment of Games to Get Excited About for 2016. Of course, its December, so most of the high profile releases for the year have already released and a number of titles that I would have used this feature to talk about have been delayed into 2017. So, since I already wrote about The Last Guardian (no, I can’t believe its finally coming out either), we’ll be taking a look at a release coming early in the new year…

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Gravity Rush 2

Gravity Rush 2 is (surprise!) the sequel to Gravity Rush, or Gravity Daze if you prefer the original Japanese title. You may have heard of the original game but it honestly wouldn’t be too surprising if you hadn’t. It was a flagship release for Sony’s ill-fated PlayStation Vita handheld and it was an ambitious attempt to show what the system could do with an open-world style game. The game put players in the shoes of Kat, an amnesiac who wakes up in a strange city that hangs suspended in the sky from the trunk of a massive tree.

Before long, Kat discovers that she is a “shifter,” a person with the ability to manipulate gravity, and sets about helping the citizens of the city fight monsters, complete tasks, and repair the damage caused by increasingly frequent gravity storms. The game was fairly popular on the Vita, but didn’t make much of a splash in the wider consciousness. Earlier this year the game was remastered and re-released on the Playstation 4, hoping to find a wider audience before the sequel releases.

Why are we excited?

The first Gravity Rush had a fantastic visual style inspired by French nouveau comics and a gameplay loop focuses on using gravity to fling yourself and your enemies around massive floating environments. It was charming and inventive, if a bit rough around the edges. Even when re-released on the Playstation 4 it was obvious that the game had been created for less powerful hardware and some of the maps could seem sparsely populated. The sequel has been created specifically for the Playstation 4 and is taking advantage of the bump in horsepower to create larger, more detailed, more dynamic environments.

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In addition to making the game larger and more detailed, the developers claim they are tuning up the combat, which was a weak point in the original game. Hopefully the sequel will offer more dynamic encounters and more varied enemy designs. As a fan of the first game, I hope that the sequel retains the charm and inventiveness of the first title while refining its formula and smoothing out some of its rough edges such as imprecise combat and a meandering story.

Gravity Rush 2 is currently slated to release in January 2017 on PS4.

Notable December Releases

As noted in the introduction, things are pretty thin on the ground this month. There are a few notable ports but only two new releases are on my radar.

Warhammer 40K Space Hulk: Deathwing

There have been a lot of games released under the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K names over the past few years but this one looks like it might be a standout. It is based on the classic Space Hulk board game and puts an emphasis on gorgeous visuals and frantic action. The game is a first person shooter and will release in December for the PC with console ports to follow next year.

Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero

This is the 4th game in the Shantae series which began back on the Gameboy Color. It was launched as a successful Kickstarter and will be the first game in the series to see simultaneous release across multiple handheld and home platforms. The Shantae games have carved out a niche as solid Metroid-style platformers with a fun art style and cast. Here’s hoping the newest entry lives up to the pedigree of the previous titles.

Guest Post: Synopsis of DC’s Raven Vol 1 (Comic Book)

By Dandc_special_-_raven_1

I would like to thank the staff at Real Women of Gaming for giving me the opportunity to write a few words for them about comic books. As a fellow geek, I understand the powers these sacred tomes hold dear to us, in various ways. I don’t know if I pique enough interest in my digital correspondence to the world, but I’ve never been one for backing down in a request from a friend.

Given the task of writing about a comic book hasn’t been an easy one. I seriously thought about choosing a character I can associate myself with, going beyond the actual powers of said character and resonating with the story itself. Initially, there were a few I thought would be “flashy” or “neat,” but shortly after reading them, I didn’t quite feel the message of what the writers were trying to portray. Deciding I was thinking too hard about this, I’ve opted to go for a gut feeling.

DC Comic’s Raven, issue one, written by Wolfman, Borges and Blond.

First glance of the cover art, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. Raven’s wings juxtaposed to a shining white light conveys a sense of apprehension in being a protector, torn between the fear she has of people knowing who she is (as the book she’s clutching is a foreshadowing of her father) and the good nature, which I presume comes from her mother, or even her, herself. Its pretty apparent from the age she’s drawn at, she’s in high school, which only further reinforces the fact that she’s going through turmoil. This instantly reminded me of the struggles I faced in school, having been a “weird(nerd)” kid in school, constantly carrying all of my textbooks, being made fun of, wondering if people really liked me (or only for my homework).

Upon reading, you’re immersed into being a typical teenager, who’s lost and trying to find their way in life. The story starts with Raven sent to live with her aunt’s religious suburbanite family. This doesn’t seem so bad, unless you’re the daughter of a prime evil demon and your very namesake would make Poe never quote you. She feels uneasy being around such nice people, even if they are her family, but she craves trying to be normal, still thinking what she’s doing is for the best. This ideology causes her to have conflict with herself and dreams of her father lash out at her. This scares her new family, but they understand from a “normal” perspective, trying to cheer her up and soothe her. Raven’s aunt tries to assure her, that she’s just like every other “normal” teenager, even if she’s the daughter of her “different” sister.

At “normal” school, we’re inferred that she can just basically feel emotions around her. She presses on, knowing that “normal” kids her age are struggling with problems, too, given by a two page spread showing the different thoughts that typical teens might have. She feels that she cannot fit in, but she’s quickly made the center of attention from a group of friends that basically realize she’s not like everyone else, causing an instant bond. However, one teen is not quite like the others, and in comic fashion causes Raven to react to help one of her new found friends. We’re given the idea that someone can use powers similar to Raven’s, although is much stronger and controlled in their powers, and left wondering who that person could be.

My First TPK | OMG THE FEELS!

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In 20 years, I had never lost a character in any of my tabletop games.

Twenty years! Please, let that sink in for a moment. Twenty years. Depending on your age, that will hold different weight.

Any character I had previously lost was part of the story or because I left the campaign, but never for these reasons… and I lost two in a month. The second loss was the result of my first ever Total Party Kill (TPK). A TPK, to me, was a that myth that happened to other people. It was that cautionary tale that meant you should be more aware, think things through, be cautious. Let me rewind a bit.

It was like a birthday present as we sat around the table, trying to figure out what we would play next and who would run it. Colleen, Thia, Vel and Orsen. Orsen pipes up: he can run us through Ravenloft. My eyes lit up as if I’d just unwrapped my big Christmas present or loaded up a game that just came out. Crymson Pleasure, Vampire Goddess (self proclaimed) has NEVER been to Ravenloft.

When it was mentioned prior, my party mates always said it was too hard. It was unforgiving and relentless. I scoffed at every single one of them, essentially calling them noobs. The realm of vampires is where my character longed to be. Take all of my angst and goth and put me into a realm of the undead, I beg of you.

I created Tereza Lupei and fashioned her after Gretel from the most recent adaptation of Hanzel and Gretel, the one with Hawkeye (at this point in her editing process, I’m sure Vanri is rolling her eyes. I know his name is Jeremy Renner, but he’ll always be Hawkeye to me).

Anyway, I created a fighter class character and gave her archery and handed her a crossbow. I even created an order around her family, but that will come later. I dressed her in  black leathers with a thick dark braid and off she went.

She wandered into the thick fog with her new friends in tow. A mad scientist/tinkerer, a barbarian, and whatever Thia was playing (you’ll understand later). So, we went through several encounters and quickly we were given a taste of how hard it was going to be. Several of us dropped to zero HP as we struggled to try our hardest. We learned to react a bit smarter. Orsen reminded us that he wasn’t going to pull punches. It’s Ravenloft, after all. It’s meant to kill the players. We smiled and nodded, but none of us really understood what that meant.

We lost Thia’s first character. We were overwhelmed and she dropped to zero. In order to save the rest of us, Vel created a ring of fire which burned her character to a crisp. She couldn’t be brought back.

Our group traveled on and encountered another group in the woods. With that group was an NPC: Isabella. She was Reza’s sister and Thia’s new character, a druid. Both from The Lupei clan (a group of vampire hunters, so to speak – centuries old). They continued on and Vel also created a new character, a Blade Dancer with whips. Orsen told us that we moved through more fog as our new group moved along, this time transported to the campaign, The Curse of Strade.

I was still utterly excited by all of this. We lost someone, but it was only the one so we’ll be just fine. Of course, this is the lie that we told ourselves. We proceeded with some caution, but we were still a group of murder hobos, as most D&D groups are. We had a few close calls and I shaped Reza in such a way that she became my most loved character ever. She embodied more of me than any other character before her.

They reached level 8 and it happened, the utterly unthinkable. The barbarian decided to see what was really in a crate labeled junk. It appeared that the junk was vampires… lots and lots of vampires. Trying to ensure that everyone got out safely, Reza distracted them. Everyone except Isabella got away. Isabella ran straight into the fray and was devoured by vampires along with Reza. The rest of the party decided to burn their bodies to prevent them from becoming undead themselves. This was the end of the sisters.

I cannot tell you how upset I was. I loved Reza more than any other character and now she was gone. I was hurt and angry, but there was nothing I could do. There was no magic, no hope. She was dead and I actually had to grieve a little bit. I have no idea why I connected so much with Reza, but I had and now that was gone.

So, it was time to make a new character. This time I made a Blood Hunter (thank you, Matthew Mercer, for creating this class). I made Demetrea, Reza’s mother. She had received news of her daughters’ death (I created the family/house so that, upon death, an important article of theirs was returned to their home) and traveled to join the party. With the way the timeline was set up, Demetrea had gotten the two articles weeks before the event actually happened in Ravenloft. However, by the time she came to the rest of the group, not even a full day had past.

They continued on and I had more trouble connecting with this character. She has a great build, but I couldn’t find her personality. I didn’t want her to be Reza, but Reza was all I felt, so I struggled with her. I roleplayed the best I could but tried to keep quiet because I didn’t know how to act.

Then it came, I finally found her voice and it was snuffed out. I connected with her anger over the death of Reza and Isabella right as they went up against the most powerful creature they had yet to encounter and no, it wasn’t even Strade. We had all made a grave mistake that we didn’t know about until this very moment. When our lives literally depended on it, we lost.

Everyone was killed. This had never happened to me before. I sat in stunned silence, waiting for some miracle, but none came. I felt a bit numb. This had never happened and two streaks were ruined in a month. I was devastated. I swallowed that feeling and dove into the creation of my next character for our new campaign.

How could this happen? Easy, we made the wrong decisions, several times over. We were too careful at the wrong times and reckless at the worst possible times. We tried our hardest but, in the end, Ravenloft won and we learned a few things from it. Hopefully we learned the right things, but mistakes will always be made when you don’t know the outcome. Like life, everything’s a gamble.

However the most important thing I take from this is… 

Ravenloft… I’m far from done with you. We will meet again and I will best you.

Nintendo, Scalpers, and Retailers Fail the NES Classic Release

 

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Every once in awhile a company, or store, fails spectacularly in anticipating consumer demand for a product.  This time it was the NES Classic Edition, hyped like crazy for months now, and sold out in minutes at every retailer.  This time it was like a perfect storm, a trifecta of fails that left expectant gamers without their NES Classic.  Nintendo failed to ship enough, the retailers failed to anticipate an issue and put a limit on purchases, but worse is scalpers took advantage of the situation to make a huge profit.  Some people were reporting units going for as much as $1000 or more on eBay.

Of course it’s natural to want to blame Nintendo, they should have shipped more.  Why they didn’t anticipate demand, I don’t know.  Chris Grant at Polygon says there’s only two reasons…incompetent or underhanded.  Well, I’m not so cynical.  First, we all know Nintendo’s not incompetent.  They’ve managed to become one of the most well-known names in gaming, and have been around longer than most gaming companies.  You don’t accomplish that if you’re incompetent.  As for underhanded?  What’s the benefit?  Doing something underhanded implies that you have ill-intent toward someone which is to your benefit.  How exactly does it benefit Nintendo to only sell a fraction of the units they would have sold had they produced more?  Fact is we don’t know why.  Maybe retailers didn’t order enough, or production issues kept them from reaching a goal before release, or a number of other reasons that they could have failed.  Contrary to what Chris says, there are more than two options.

Then we have the stores.  Retailers like Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon didn’t put a limit on the number a person can buy.  So people could buy 5, keep 1, and put 4 on eBay to let the bidding get to ridiculous highs.  It’s similar to the failure with the Nuka Cola that was being bought up by employees at Target, and often resold online for a higher price.  Then again, did they even anticipate a run on the console?  Without spending a lot of time crunching numbers about a novelty legacy console releasing a couple of months before Christmas, I can’t possibly know what would have been expected.  Hell, did anyone at either Nintendo or the big retailers know how popular retro gaming has become? Obviously they had some idea or why release the console in the first place, but retro gaming is making a pretty big comeback.  Maybe they just didn’t have any idea how big.

I can’t really fault either of these two groups for anything more than not paying attention to the market and failing to anticipate demand.  Scalpers though, those people intentionally took advantage of the situation, and if you ask me that’s pretty damn underhanded.  Sure, free market and all that, but I’m not saying they don’t have the right to be jerks about it.  Just noting that this kind of crap sucks.  We see it with ticket sales more and more now.  I recently tried to get tickets to an upcoming concert, but a ticket scalping company had bought all the general admission tickets and were selling them at a much higher price.  Even setting their website name to be similar to the concert venue so it looked like you were buying tickets right from the convention center.

That’s really what bugs me the most about this situation.  This wasn’t a mistake, or a failure in judgement.  This was an intentional act to make a profit on gamers who rushed to the store only to find the console sold out.  That’s an awful thing to do if you ask me, and I hope with the units coming soon, the retailers handle it a little better next time.

That’s the silver lining to this thing.  Just this week Wal-Mart had more units that they put on sale each day at a particular time, and Nintendo has promised to ship more before Christmas.  I know I am looking forward to getting mine, so I hope everyone does a better job.  As for the scalpers, don’t buy those consoles for that price.  Let those guys sit on the units, hopefully for a long time, until they’re worthless because the market is flooded with them.

Real Women of Gaming’s Top Things We’re Thankful For

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Thanksgiving was days ago, yes, but the spirit of being thankful is still upon us. In this spirit, the Real Women of Gaming Staff has shared what they are thankful for this holiday season. Let us know in the comments below what you’re thankful for!

I am so thankful for the friends that I’ve made while embracing and celebrating all the things that I love and nerd out about. I’m finally living in a time where I can openly talk about my love for Dungeons & Dragons, gaming, fandoms (ALL THE FANDOMS). This has helped me to make some deep connections with friends that I was previously unable to make while hiding so much of myself. I am blessed that I have them all and all of the RWoG staff are true and dear friends to me. I love them all to bits. ~Crymson Pleasure~

I should start off by saying that I am grateful for many things, however one thing that has consistently made my world better is fandom. Some of my best friends have been made by “geeking out.” I joined this wonderful group because of a conversation that started with fandom. I truly am not sure if I would be alive if not for the friends that I have made because of fandoms. Fandom have been my shield, my safe space, a place to hone my talents, my mirror and my fun!

Always keep sparkling -Thia the Bard

I am thankful for my parents. Whatever my Dad could do for us, he did. He worked two jobs, moonlighting as a drummer in a wedding band while fixing vending machines during the day. My Mom, aside from the massive task of raising 3 boys and a girl, taught us how to play. Every board game we got we learned through her. All the classic parlor games, she taught us. When we got our first console…she kicked us off of it so she could play. She’s the reason I create, the reason I play games. I’m thankful for Mom and Dad. -MaxUrso

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working overtime to keep my guild running smoothly, ensure its stability, and maintain its growth. It’s left me stressed-out, exhausted, and unhappy. My in-game friends know me well enough to notice, and care enough about my wellbeing to intervene. In this ‘intervention,’ they insisted I take a break from raiding and offered to take over some of my duties as a guild officer. It’s given me the chance to recharge and catch up on some RL duties I’d been neglecting. I couldn’t be more grateful. I am so, so thankful that these people, people whose faces I’ve never seen with my own eyes, are looking out for me. -Solyria

I’m thankful for many things, including my husband, my friends, my family, and my health. More specifically, I’m thankful for my new, full-time job and the geeky friends I’m making there. It’s awesome to be working in an environment where coworkers tell me that I “rolled a 20” or got a “critical hit” on a piece of work, where people play D&D over lunch, and where we’ve set up biweekly board game nights after work. It certainly makes the daily grind that much more bearable, and sometimes even enjoyable. -Rinshi

Things I am thankful for…A steady D&D play group of fun friends to play with that make me laugh and enjoy the game. Being able to go out on Friday night and play Magic: the Gathering for a few hours with other friends and get stomped and do some stomping. Waiting on the news on when I will get my new Kitty Mango  -Fluffy the Necromancer

This year’s been a tough one. I’m thankful for the friends and family that were with me, and are still with me. The health of my family, and my son getting his GED. My job still being great, and my writing starting to get some notice out in the world. -Trever

I’m thankful for conventions. A lot of the time I feel like my world is very small. It’s easy to me to retreat to the familiar and I end up feeling like it’s impossible for me to meet new people and make new friends. Conventions get me out among awesome people who share my love of awesome things and I have made some great new friends going to them. -UC Booties

I am thankful for a roof over my head. It has been a rough year I think for everyone but personally it had gotten to a point where things were getting to the unknown. I am very thankful for my amazing husband who supports me in this endeavor of being a part of this group and my streaming career. I couldn’t do it without him. -KinkedNitemare-

I am thankful for video games, which make me happy even if some of them are as old as I am. Video games have evolved with technology and there is something to fit every person now. They help teach children, they help people focus. They provide escape from tough times, even if only for a little bit. VR is now helping people approach situations that are scary to help them get over their fears as much as it is entertaining.

Hearing the do-do-do-do of the dungeon song in Mario makes me smile, every time. Seeing the old games from Atari and SNES brings me back to a childhood where video games were primitive but oh so thrilling. My family used to gather around to play… or watch my dad play Dig Dug for the millionth time. Even now, my family gathers to play. Separately, hubby has his World of Tanks. My 62 year old Mom, has her World of Warcraft, played religiously. My brother, the traitor with the PS4. The XBox One is all mine. But together, we have Mario Kart. We have board games like Monopoly made into video games (no banker cheating, yay!), among others.

So I am thankful for video games, without which my life would have gone on, but would have been a great deal more boring for it. -Chritter

There ya have it, folks! What are you thankful for?

Review: Anarcute

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Anarcute is advertised as a riot simulator. When I think of riots, I do NOT picture the cutest fuzziest animals alive, but there is a shit load of rioting going on.

What’s it about?
You are cute and fuzzy animals that have had it with the government oppression and squishing your desire to spread love. You are so filled with furry rage that you take to the streets and beat the crap out of anyone who gets in your way, taking down every building you can find to combat the evil overlords and bring peace and love back to your world.

You have to navigate your rioters through maze-like levels of buildings to avoid guards, lasers and mines while rescuing your friends to make your group larger. The larger the group, the harder they are to navigate and control. Keeping them from harm is a near impossible task. You move through the level trying to keep as many of your furry friends alive while trying to complete your level objective.

What did I think?
OMG, I LOVE THIS GAME. I have fun even during the most difficult levels. This game stresses me out even less than Flat Kingdom does. You go through different countries, liberating areas and freeing locked-up comrades. You can buy bonuses and earn them. You gain different abilities depending on how many rioters you have in your group. You can get anything: from stomps that throw your enemies, to abilities to knock down buildings and even a roman shield formation to project everyone.

This game is full of adorable visuals, a great soundtrack, a terrifying story line and continued complexity. However, this game isn’t for kids (in my honest opinion). There are snipers and your rioters will die if they take too much damage. I don’t know how well they will react to seeing a bunny sniped in the streets (even if there is no blood). The mechanics of the game continue to impress me and the boss battles are interesting and well thought out. I am also impressed at the animals that you save/unlock throughout the game. They aren’t just your typical animals. They have snails, jellyfish and unicorns alongside the cats, pugs and horses.

Do I recommend it?
This game is by far one of my favorites. I love every aspect of it and I think it’s a steal for $14.99, available on Steam. If you love great music, cute fuzzy characters, a really good laugh and supporting indie developers, then this game is surely for you.

However, if words aren’t enough, please take a look at all the fun I’m having in my Let’s Play here: