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Author Archives: Trever Bierschbach

Games to Get Excited About: February 2018

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2018 promises to be a good year for geeks with a lot of exciting movies coming our way.  Gaming is no exception and February is packed with some interesting titles.  We Were Here Too looks cool; a sort of adventure exploration game where two players communicate over walkie-talkie in order to find their way out of a medieval castle.  Shadow of the Colossus has been remade and is being released for PS4.  Also with the release of Bayonetta 2, the original game will also be releasing on the Nintendo Switch.

There’s one release this month that I am excited about, and hoping I can pick it up for streams in the next month or so.  The history nerd, and gaming geek in me is excited for Kingdom Come: Deliverance.  This game had a rocky start with lack of interest and funding for a game from the newly formed Warhorse Studios.  It looked, for a time, like this game would be just another game that seemed like a great idea but never saw the light of day.

In 2014 a Kickstarter was launched to earn enough money to prove there would be interested enough to justify funding.  They secured the needed funds, and have since pulled in over $2 million.  It will finally come to us in a full release on the 13th of the month after being in beta since March of 2015.

Why am I excited?

Unlike a lot of RPGs, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is going to strive to be historically accurate rather than set in a fantasy world.  The game promises period appropriate architecture, clothing, armor and weapons from early 1400’s Bohemia (modern day  Czech Republic).  In the story the old king has died and the new king’s brother kidnaps him in a plot to seize the crown.  The player takes on the role of the son of a blacksmith, whose parents were killed in the war.  You will seek revenge for the killing of your parents, and attempt to restore the rightful king to his throne.  I love the idea of a historical fiction RPG, which isn’t a very common concept in gaming.  We get a ton of fantasy, science fiction, or variations of those but not many that try to replicate a time in Earth’s history.  I love RPGs, video games, and I’m a huge history nerd so this game appeals to so much of what I enjoy.

The game seems to put a lot of consideration into the details as well.  Your armor and gear will wear down and need repairs.  You’ll need to eat, sleep, and otherwise maintain your character’s health.  Even the horses have their own AI, can fight along with you, and have their own set of skills and equipment slots.  Every NPC has tasks that they perform in their daily lives, and the player’s actions have an affect on them.  From the description it looks like this will be a truly immersive RPG where player actions and conversations will have an impact on the world of the game.

They’ve even gone as far as layered armors and having their damage and wear show on the character’s appearance.  Skills will change when they are used.  Combat will include a variety of moves, defenses, and tactics all modified by a kinetic system where blows can affect what you can do and how fast you can do it.  You can commit crimes, but they can change the game’s economics and how NPCs react to your character.  The level of detail is impressive and it sounds like this will be a fantastic game if they pull it off as promised.

Notable Releases for February

Shadow of the Colossus – A remake of the original is coming to the PS4 early in the month.  This is a complete rebuild from the frame up but it will retain its original game play.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall – The first expansion for Civilization VI adding several new features, including the ability for your society to rise and fall due to several factors.

Dragon Quest Builders – This game will see players take the role of a hero setting out to rebuild the world after its destruction.  Game play will be along similar lines of other block building games like Minecraft or Terraria.

Dynasty Warriors 9 – This next release of the popular hack and slash action game releases on the 13th of the month.  It will include stealth elements and introduce an open world format.

Secret of Mana – This is a full 3D remake of the 1993 Super Nintendo release of the same name.  It will release in the middle of the month.

Bayonetta 2 – The sequel to the popular action game Bayonetta will release in the middle of the month as well.  It comes to us on the Nintendo Switch along with a re-release of the original on the same system.

Games to Get Excited About: January 2018

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I had to take a short hiatus, which meant less game-type excitement over the last half of the year.  Now I’m moved, settled, and looking forward to bringing you all sorts of great stuff in the new year.  Here we go!

January is always a little slow for game releases.  The holidays are booming with new things as studios and publishers try to catch those gift-giving sales and last minute shoppers.  That doesn’t mean we are without anything to look forward to as we ring in the New Year.  In particular we have several releases for consoles, most of which are based on anime titles, as well as current Japanese games getting released in the states.

The one that’s looking the most interesting to me is Lost Sphear.  It’s being called the spiritual successor to I Am Setsuna, also from the developer Tokyo RPG Factory.  It is being published by Square Enix and has been available in Japan since October.  It will release for us in North America on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4.  Despite good reviews and praise for its similarity to Chrono Trigger, the Japanese release of Lost Sphear didn’t sell as well as the previous title.

Why We Should be Excited

Square Enix created Tokyo RPG Factory for the sole purpose of creating JRPGs with a 90’s feel.  Some of you may be too young to remember the 90’s, but that era gave us some of the best and most influential RPGs.  Many set the stage for the games we have today –  the primary reason I showcase them on my own YouTube channel every Monday night.  It may be a good reason to pull Lost Sphear and its predecessor into my Saturday show to explore a new game built in a classic style.

The game’s story follows a familiar theme for a JRPG.  Young Kanata and his friends must discover the cause of something plaguing their home and eventually save the world.  Looking through the screenshots it appears to be built like a classic top-down game with turn based combat mechanics.  The graphics are more modern while keeping the feel of games like those early in the Final Fantasy series.

Notable Releases for January

Death Mark – Coming to the Switch and PS4 on the 19th, Death Mark is a horror adventure game previously released on the Vita.  The game centers around a group of people who have received a strange mark, driving them toward a mysterious mansion to find answers.

Dragon Ball FighterZ – A fighting game that borrows from other popular titles like Marvel vs. Capcom, this game comes to PC, PS4 and XBOX on the 26th of January.  It will be a tag team style game where players select three characters and can use one in an assist move against their opponent.

Monster Hunter: World – This open world action RPG is coming to XBOX, PC and PS4 on the 26th.  Much like the other games in the franchise, the game centers on capturing creatures to be studied.  Players will have single player as well as multiplayer available as well as many of the features, weapons and skills found in previous Monster Hunter titles.

As I said, light on the releases but it’s early in the year and close to the holidays.  I’m sure we have more exciting games coming as the year marches on.

C2E2 is Still Better than Comic Con

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Yah, I said it.

I used to go do Wizard World Chicago every year, like a religious pilgrimage to the closest shrine of comic geekdom we had. Then, one year, everything changed and it was suddenly Comic Con Chicago. Vendor booths, artist alley tables, and dealer areas were eaten away to make room for roped off and curtained no-go zones for those who paid big bucks to get signatures from celebrities like Bruce Campbell and Patrick Stewart.

Around the second year of that, if memory serves, we also went to C2E2, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  I believe it was their second year, and it was a small convention, but it reminded me of the early years going to Wizard World.  We had a blast and decided that would become our regular yearly stint.

A bonus was that we always had to make the choice between GenCon and Wizard World. WW always won out due to price.  With C2E2 being earlier in the year, that opened up the opportunity to start going to GenCon as well.  We went to Comic Con one more time after starting to go to C2E2 and, if possible, it was worse than the time before.  It wasn’t about comic books and artists anymore.  It was all about getting in to pay ridiculous sums just to get a glossy picture of an actor signed.

C2E2, while mostly about comics and artists, doesn’t pretend that it’s only a comic book convention.  They do dedicate most of the floor space to comic artists and vendors though.  The amazing part is that in just 7 years they’ve gone from a small show with just shy of 28,000 attendees to a juggernaut topping 80K this past year.

McCormick Place is the perfect venue as well.  Where Comic Con is limited in growth by the Rosemont’s (Donald E. Stephens Convention Center) limited space at 840,000 square feet, McCormick Place boasts 2.6 million, 1.2 of which is all on the same floor.  Just three years ago C2E2 topped New York Comic Con in size, with over 670,000 square feet of space used.  It’s safe to say if it exists in the world of geek culture and you can’t find it at C2E2, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Due to its size, I recommend any attendee go for more than a day.  One day used to be enough for us, whether it was Wizard World, Comic Con, or the early years of C2E2. After the 2015 trip though we knew that wasn’t going to be enough. We were there from opening until about an hour before the floor closed and we felt like we only saw half of it.

Even this year, with two days in Chicago, we didn’t see everything, but we ran out of spending money about lunch time on Saturday and the crowd was getting to be a bit much.  Take your time. Don’t rush; and don’t spend all your money right away.  Best practice, see everything you want to see, and if an item you saw earlier in the day is still on your mind, then go back and get it.  Better to have to backtrack than buy something early and find an item you want more later, but have spent yourself out of funds.

Here’s some other tips for anyone new to large cons:

  • Deodorant
  • Comfy shoes – the show floors are hard despite the carpet
  • Backpack with water bottle compartment – water fountains are free
  • More deodorant – halfway through the day, you’ll wish you could jump into the bathroom and refresh with a damp paper towel and application of deodorant
  • Print/poster tube – pick it up early at one of the many booths selling Dick Blick products. You’ll be glad you did if you buy any art.
  • Phone charger/backup battery – Your battery will drain fast if you use your phone for anything inside a steel and concrete building with no signal strength
  • Dress light, even if it’s cold outside – no matter the temp outside it will be hot in the hall. A short cold walk beats a long sweaty day on the show floor.

Of course, C2E2 is also an entertainment con, so it has a long list of celebrity guests, and some of them cost a lot just for one signature.  The convention does a great job of giving the celebrities space without taking away floor from the comics, artists, and vendors.

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Many of the celebs you meet will also vary in price for autographs from free on up to $60.  I would avoid the meet and greets, though, honestly.  My wife did a meet and greet with Wil Wheaton this year. $60 for a picture with him that he didn’t even sign.  Want that signed? Another $40… yeah, a little disappointing for a long-time fan.

Sure, you get to stand next to them for a second, maybe get a, “Hi, how are ya!” but Michael Cudlitz (Walking Dead, Band of Brothers, Southland) was doing autographs and taking a ton of selfies with fans at his table, and actually talking to people.  We watched from the line to meet Timothy Zahn and it was great to see Mr. Cudlitz treating all of his fans like friends.  He didn’t even sit behind his high table they set up for him.  He came around the side, standing right there with the fans, and it was fantastic.  Granted, Cudlitz had far fewer people in line, but damn if he didn’t show the utmost appreciation for every single one of them.

Other than all that, plan ahead.  Make sure you know what you want to see, and prioritize. You can be in line for a signing longer than anticipated, so don’t schedule anything back to back.  Look for things that aren’t at your local shop, or easily ordered cheaper on Amazon.  Really scope out the deals and find those items that you must have and are hard to find.

Make frequent trips to the car to drop off stuff, but also to get out of the crowd and noise for some fresh air.  The population of a decent-sized city descends on that convention hall and sometimes you just need to get away from it to recharge before diving back in. Above all, have fun.  Any convention you go to is ultimately about that.  Sharing your love for geekdom and having fun.  That’s what makes it all worth it.

Games to Get Excited About: August 2017

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August is looking to be a much better month for game releases with more than 25 games coming out, including Ark, Uncharted, and another Life is Strange title.

There’s a good mix of console and PC releases, and Nintendo continues to slowly add to the Switch library.  A few are continuations of popular franchises, and a couple are re-releases of games we’ve had for awhile, so it’s a mixed bag of new, almost new, and official releases of games we’ve already been playing.

It’s looking like a good month, but a difficult one to pick out a title despite the selection.  Ark is certainly a contender for most exciting release, but unfortunately my experience with it has been hit or miss.  Various bugs, memory leaks, and now unable to even join a server due to a strange error after the last patch has worn down my pleasure with the game.  Then there’s a lot of sports and racing games that just aren’t my cup of tea.  I’d be excited for the Pillars of Eternity Complete Edition release, if I owned a PS4 or XBox, but that’s one I’m sure a few are looking forward to.

That leaves me with one game I’m sort of excited about, even though I haven’t played the original series.  Thankfully, this is a prequel, so I might pick it up to play before going back to the first series.  Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 comes to us on August 31st and will tell the story of Chloe Price three years before the original game’s story line.  Chloe forms a bond with Rachel Amber, and together they help solve the mystery of Rachel’s family.  Some of the game mechanics have changed, most notably the removal of time travel.  Chloe will instead have a conversation feature called Backtalk that will allow you to manipulate characters in the story.

Why Should we Be Excited?

Obviously, this is a popular series, and a lot of gamers are going to be excited to jump into this world again.  For those of us who have not yet played the first, this could be a good place to hop on the train.  As a prequel one can step into the story without having to know the previous games.  If we enjoy it then we can pick up the first series and continue the story chronologically.  We’re also going to see an added episode covering a character named Max Caulfield, expanding the world’s lore even further.

Whether you’re jumping in to start here, or continuing the story of Chloe in a way, it should turn out to be a good release for August.  I’m seriously considering adding it to my list.  Maybe it will change my mind about this type of game.

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Notable Releases for August

Ark: Survival Evolved – The official release for a game long in early-access comes to us on August 8th.  It’s unclear if the bugs that have plagued it recently have been cleared up, but we’ll see early in the month.  Here’s to more dinosaur taming fun.  The release is for all systems.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – Also releasing on the 8th for Windows and PS4 is a action game from Ninja Theory, who are touting it as an “Independent AAA” game.  The story works with Norse and Celtic mythology and takes place in the underworld.

Sonic Mania – Sonic rolls into all systems on the 15th as a classic side-scrolling game that the franchise is known for.  The game received a good deal of acclaim at E3 and gamers are excited to return to the feel of what made Sonic a hit.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – Dropping on the 22nd this installment follows the story of Chloe Frazer, and stands alone as its own story in the world of Uncharted.  Beside the new characters the game will be much like others in the franchise, incorporating combat and platform play in third-person.

Hello Neighbor – A strange release hits the market on the 29th.  This stealth game has the player attempting to enter his neighbor’s house without getting caught.  The neighbor sets traps while you try to break and enter. Interesting, but odd concept.

 

Games to Get Excited About: July 2017

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As we start through the summer months, the releases to feed our gaming addiction get slimmer and slimmer.  There really only seems to be three actual new games coming in July from any major publishers, and a couple of expansions or re-releases.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to look forward to, but this will be a bit of a short post since we don’t really have much to talk about.

Following up on one of the more popular release of 2015, Splatoon 2 is coming near the end of July.  This time the game will be released exclusively on the Switch on the 21st.  Like the original, this will be a 4v4 multiplayer shooter played in the third-person view.  Leading up to the game’s release, you can read the Squid Sister Stories on the official site and catch up on events between the two games.  Players in Europe and Japan will also be able to snatch up pink and green joycon controllers released with the game, though I expect they’ll be available to gamers around the world through third-party suppliers shortly after.

As the story goes, after the first game the sisters go back to relatively normal lives.  They start to do their own thing, but Marie worries that her sister might be having trouble with the events of the first game.  After spending some time together, Marie leaves Inkopolis to see her parents.  When she gets back home she discovers that Callie is missing and the Great Zapfish has been stolen.  Marie believes the Octarians are responsible so goes looking for a squid recruit to infiltrate the Octarians and save the day.

Why Should we be Excited?

Splatoon was popular for a reason.  The game was fun, colorful, and whimsical.  People could play competitively, without the super serious nature of games like Siege or Battlefield.  Those games are fun of course, but sometimes we just want to throw down on some goofy fun, like shooting paint at each other in a ridiculous world of multi-colored squid people.  I think this will be another fun game for people who like to goof off but also have a good time being competitive.  The original spawned a lot of fan art, stories, and even a manga, so it’s likely even more colorful squids are in our future.

Notable Releases for July

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age – Coming out early in July is a remaster of International Zodiac Job System for Final Fantasy XII that was previously a Japanese-only release.  It’s coming to Playstation 4 exclusively.

Miitopia – An RPG coming to the Nintendo 3DS at the end of the month.  It was previously released in Japan in December of 2016.  It is a fairly standard JRPG using the popular Mii avatars for characters.  The characters interactions will affect combat, meaning if they don’t like each other they will be less effective.

Dragon Quest XI – This JRPG is coming to Nintendo Switch, 3DS, and PS4 at the end of the month.  It mixes traditional turn-based combat with exploration like previous titles in the long running series.

Hey! Pikmin – Another game coming to the 3DS at the end of the month this will be a side scrolling adventure game based on the Pikmin franchise.

Games to Get Excited About: June 2017

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June is showing a slimmer release schedule than the earlier months of the year, but there are still a few choice games coming to us for the last month of Spring.  Today, I started playing Little Nightmares, a game I talked about a couple months ago, and I enjoyed it quite a lot.  Hopefully, June will also turn out an equally fun title for all of us to enjoy.  Without much more babbling; onto the game that looks to be the most promising of the bunch.

Tekken 7 is probably the most anticipated game coming in the month of June.  Originally, it was released in Japan in 2015, with an expansion called Tekken 7: Fated Retribution released in 2016.  As with previous titles, Tekken 7 focuses on 1-on-1 fighting, but has added new mechanics.  Power crush allows players to attack even when they are being overwhelmed by their enemy, though it doesn’t stop the damage.  The second new feature is rage art which allows the player to trade their normal attack power increase for a more damaging critical hit.

The game’s story features a darker theme according to the producer Katsuhiro Harada.  It is the conclusion of the Mishima Clan saga and will answer the questions about the feud between the Mishimas and Jin Kazama.  There are several side stories related to non-Mishima characters, and Akuma from Street Fighter will have a guest spot.  The cast of fighters is huge and as diverse in technique and nationality as expected of the series.

Why I’m Excited

Why am I excited?  That’s a good question on this one, because fighting games aren’t normally my bag.  Except for Soulcalibur that is.  I won’t be buying Tekken, but there is reason to be excited to see a tent pole franchise get another release with a lot of excitement and discussion.  It means we’re more likely to get another Soulcalibur release before too long.  Hopefully in time for me to pick up the Switch next year or so.  So yah that’s me being honest, I’m excited for this one because it might mean another release of about the only fighting game I liked.

Notable Releases for June

Seiken Densetsu Collection – Originally released as a Final Fantasy game under the title Final Fantasy Adventure the Mana series is an action RPG set in a fantasy world.  The game releases on June 1st and will include Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden, Seiken Densetsu II, and Seiken Densetsu III.

Dirt 4 – Coming early in June is the 6th installment of the rally racing game Dirt.  It’s the 12th in the Colin McRae Rally series.  Spanning 5 regions around the world players will race on various surfaces, under changing weather conditions, and can even race in procedurally generated tracks to keep things unique.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – The last expansion for the Final Fantasy XIV MMO comes out at the middle of June.  The base game has been through a roller coaster of criticism, development and redevelopment, and finally success.  This will also mark the end of PS3 support for the game.

Much Ado About Medocrity: The Drama Around Mass Effect

Much Ado About Medocrity: The Drama Around Mass Effect

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The Mass Effect series has been a highly regarded RPG franchise since 2007.  Even with the widely criticized ending of Mass Effect 3, the series is considered by most to be the pinnacle of story-telling RPGs.  In my opinion, it has been the game that’s kept Bioware on the map all these years when compared to other releases from the company.  It has spawned comics, film prospects, novels and more, and has over 14 million units sold before the release of the latest installment.

Now, ten years after the release of Mass Effect, Mass Effect: Andromeda is out and the reception is less than stellar.  On Metacritic, where reviewers and gamers rarely agree, the game has a critical score of about 77 out of 100 (as of this writing) and right about 4 out of 10 with gamers.  It’s being criticized for everything from bad animation, rehashing of dated mechanics, and poorly developed story.  A couple of reviewers whose opinion I trust give their initial reactions as a mediocre installment at best.

While much of the criticism is without a doubt justified, some few have gone beyond that.  You can’t really go on Twitter without seeing memes, gifs, and screencaps of the bad animations in the game.  That’s all normal for something like this.  What isn’t normal are the people going after one animator that doesn’t even seem to work for Bioware any longer.  Whether she was involved is a matter of debate, but targeting one person on a team for actual harassment isn’t acceptable at all.  Linking them here would be pointless, but if you look, you’ll find a couple of amateur trash bloggers out there with some pretty terrible pieces on the subject.

Then came the defenders to stir the pot and make it worse.  Articles coming out blaming whole swaths of gamers for the harassment, which is completely untrue.  Commentators and games media saying you should support the developer by buying the game and so on.  People defending the game out of pure righteous indignation because of the negative feedback.

All the drama boils down to this.  A lot of people dislike a mediocre game.  A few people have decided to be jerks about it.  A few other people have decided to defend it with large sums of money.  All of it over a game that doesn’t appear to be up to the standards of the franchise.  All this drama, over nothing really.  The worst part is, I can see this eventually becoming the next big marketing ploy.  Crank out a lackluster game, get some bad coverage, stage some harassment or drama, signal the defenders, cash the checks.  We all know publishers aren’t above some seriously low garbage to sell games and get good reviews.  This is well within the realm of possibility.

So, if we want better games, stop buying bad ones for stupid reasons.  Don’t harass developers because they didn’t do a good job on a game.  Stop letting the media blow things out of proportion or convince you to throw your money after bad ideas.  And for Gods’ sake, play some decent games.  I hear Neir Automata is good.