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Tag Archives: Console Gaming

Nintendo Switch is Coming and I’m Actually Excited

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So, we know what it’s going to look like, and how much it’s going to cost.  We know what some of the games will be, and what they’ll look like, and I am actually looking forward to a console for the first time in awhile.  At the time the Wii U came out, we already had a PlayStation and there just wasn’t any games coming out on it that caught my eye.  Now we have the Switch coming, and Breath of the Wild.  Of course I’ve been burned before, buying a system for one game, so I’m doing my best to keep my enthusiasm in reasonable check.

I’m intrigued by the idea of a convertible sort of console, something we can take from a portable to TV-connected unit on the fly.  I’m glad to see that the controllers don’t look like the concept that was leaked early on.  Something as flat as the original concept would be awful.  I have an NES Classic, and I forgot how much those old controllers were hell on the hands.  Especially hands now suffering from Carpal Tunnel.

I’m not huge into portable gaming devices, but that could be because I never really have the money to own a console and a handheld.  I borrowed a PSP to play Final Fantasy II (the only way to get the original now) and I actually liked being able to game while I was doing something else.  I haven’t had a use for one before, but maybe with this system I’ll find a time to use both.  I think a lot of people are like me, only enough money for one system, buy maybe having a use for both.

The pricing looks good for a console of this type of versatility.  I’m a little concerned about extras though.  I’m sure there’s a lot of money to be made on cases, extra cords, controllers and screen protectors.  I haven’t owned a Nintendo system since the Game Cube, but they were always good about including what you need and making the extras just that, extras.  Of course it’s been awhile so I’ll have to see how things turn out as we get closer to release.

There are some concerns.  Paid online features, no Ethernet, and graphics issues.  For the first two I’m not too worried.  I do my online gaming on PC and I don’t expect that to change.  The types of games I tend to play on console aren’t multiplayer anyway.  Graphics concerns about preview footage from a game still in development isn’t much of a worry for me either.  People are doing a lot of comparisons of different previews of Breath of the Wild and showing how older graphics look better than the newer.  It’s not the first time, so it’s hardly any indication of whether the console will be good or not.

So, what do you think?  Are you as excited for this  as I am?  Has it brought back the Nintendo fanboy or fangirl in you?  I’m not positive yet, but it has definitely given me reason to watch closely.

We Are All Gamers, Stop Letting Them Divide Us

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We are all gamers, period.  I’ve been living with the constant barrage of negative views on gamers since gaming was a thing.  Never before have we let it cause such a rift in our community as we do now.  There was a time when the Jack Thompsons of the world were universally condemned by gamers, and the press that covered our community.  Who is ‘them,’ ‘they,’ those people who have us fighting each other over petty garbage now?  Now it’s that same press, ‘industry insiders,’ a few developers, and people who have decided they want to be a member of this community, but want to change it into their own version of a utopian tribe.  If you question some aspect of it?  Well you just aren’t welcome in this new definition of ‘inclusion,’ and to top it off they’ll happily print articles spinning it as if  you run a concentration camp in your back yard.  Then, when the dust settles that rift is just a little wider and they go hunting their next target.

But, we’re all gamers.  Why do we listen when an analyst says “PC gamers are like arrogant racists?”  Why do we then go looking for people to call racist just because some guy said it in an interview.  Worse yet why do we accept it as normal that it’s OK to paint with such a broad brush?  PC gamers, just like gamers in general, aren’t any one thing except gamers.  We are all part of the same community, and yet we are all different.  To say PC gamers, or gamers are one thing or another is no different than saying heavy metal fans are all satanists, or roleplayers are all devil worshipers.  It’s the same puritan mentality that has caused hysteria with the ill-informed public for years.  How many of us had friends that had to hide their D&D books from their parents, or could only listen to Megadeth at a friend’s house?

We’re all gamers.  We need to start standing up for each other, because it’s obvious most of our major press isn’t going to do it.  Just Google ‘Gamers are…’ and look at the majority of the posts.  The vast majority right now are links to the article above.  Imagine a parent wants to educate themselves about our community before buying their young kid a console for Christmas.  Our media is doing a terrible job of representing our community to the general public, and in many cases we’re playing right into it.  Sure, we have our fights, but it’s usually about which Zelda is the best or whether PC is better than console.  That’s part of being in this community, just like sports nuts argue over which team is better, or which sport.  Unfortunately, when the media prints an article about gamers being sexist dudebros a lot of us go off and say, “Yup, look at this. This is how it is, gamers are like this.”

A lot of it reminds me of how the media plays us with politics.  They turn us on each other based on our political parties and who we support.  If you back this guy you’re a racist, if you don’t back this woman you’re a sexist.  Then we fight about it all while the politicians and media collect the cash and keep it going.  Who is really being helped here when we fight each other because the games press calls some of us names?  We all know they’re shady as hell, yet when they print an article, or 80, about somebody supporting the ‘wrong candidate’ not only do we believe it outright, but somehow we accept that it’s OK to shun someone just because we don’t like their political choice.  We help the media create a culture that is the opposite of inclusive, and by the time the facts actually come out, and we find out they didn’t give money to the ‘wrong guy’ it’s too late.  They’ve already smeared the guy, run his girlfriend off social media, and forever skewed public perception of the company.  Companies are already cutting ties, people are already boycotting, and most of the media will never go back and correct those articles.  They’re too busy writing the next clickbait to keep us outraged and at each other’s throats.

We’re all gamers.  We have to start having each other’s backs.  Get back to being that awesome community I know is still there, still strong, but overshadowed by all the mess created by a few people looking for their 15 minutes.  We are all different, but we all love games.  We don’t all like the same types of games, and that’s fine.  We can argue about which game is better, which genre, or which platform is the best without devolving to the hate that people have brought to this community.  That’s precisely the issue.  We aren’t a hateful community, but a few people have certainly brought that out.

So what’s the magic fix?  I wish I knew.  We just have to make a conscious effort to be the community I know we are.  Stop listening to media, start listening to each other.  Sure, we have our outliers, but that’s just what they are.  The little trolls and gremlins sitting in the corner spewing garbage.  They’re just like the trolls and gremlins sitting in the light, writing articles that spew garbage.  Neither will ever go away completely, but we have to stop listening to the half that have the loudest voice.  All they do is scream and shout about the other group, and act as if they’re representative of us all.  Call them out on it, back each other up against both of those nasty groups, and above all fight that hate with love, not more hate.

Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

consoles v pc

Right off the bat I’ll admit I’m a PC gamer. The time came with my Xbox 360, where I realized I hadn’t touched it in 6 months. It sat there beneath my TV gathering dust and cat fur. Eventually, I handed it down to my son. He has a PS4 now, so the old Xbox is again a corpse in the shadows of our basement. I caved in again and now an Xbox One sits beside my PC. It came with 6 games; one of which I gave away to charity, two I’ve actually played (briefly), and the last two have not been touched.

So why am I faithful only to my PC? What has the Xbox One done to earn my ire when I accidentally bump the power button and it turns on? I use a controller with my PC, so I’m not strictly a mouse and keyboard guy. I use headphones for both, they share my monitor, my desk, my computer chair, and my mini-fridge (yes, be jealous). The PC does not have a better location or peripherals.

As society evolves technologically I believe we’re going to become more dependent on the internet and PCs. They have utility. I can write on my PC, the words flowing with ease from fingers to keyboard. I can listen to music, jumping from one streaming service to another all from my browser; all without adding another app. I can practice being socially awkward along with the rest of the web. I can access my email, pay my bills, and shop. Maybe there are apps for all of that on the Xbox, but I wouldn’t know. I’m too busy surfing the web.

Then there is the library. When I’ve upgraded or changed consoles, the games went with them. Even though my PC has changed over the years, I can still play the games I had on the last machine. There’s no need for backwards compatibility. Windows being what it is, I can keep my library and just reinstall the games I love playing when I get new hardware. Perhaps Steam is the culprit then, for that is where much of my time and money has gone in the four years that I’ve owned my current rig. Yes, it’s due for an upgrade soon, but it’s still humming along.

Consoles however…well, there’s no real money to be made in making old titles work with the new system. No remaster, no reboot, no sales growth. There’s quite a few 360 titles available to play on the Xbox One, but it is limited. Mass Effect: Andromeda is coming so you want to relive the original trilogy? Fine, but you better still have your 360 because Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 won’t work on the Xbox One, and that’s just one example. There are approximately 1174 titles in the Xbox 360 catalog and only 204 of them are backwards compatible. Now we both know no one owns every title, so that matters little, but chances are the one you want to play on your shiny new system isn’t ready yet. You’ll just have to wait until they feel like handing it to you.

Sure, consoles are more stable than PCs. It’s easier for publishers to put out games for consoles because each generation is pretty standard. There’s never any major snafus with console games, and they don’t suffer hardware malfunctions like PCs.

{/sarcasm} Nope. Never. {/sarcasm}

Consoles are the family cars of gaming, they’re safe and they can entertain the kids. PCs are the sports cars, fun to drive, but dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. I don’t think consoles are driving the gamers away; PCs are just naturally more attractive.

Review: Gone Home (2013)

Dev./Pub.: The Fullbright Company
Platform(s): PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: Aug. 15, 2013

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Gone Home is a visual novel that focuses on exploration. According to the Steam store page, this game does not have any enemies or puzzles that must be completed to beat the game. The player simply must explore the house until they learn the whole story.

What’s it about?
You are Katie Greenbriar. You return home after a long trip abroad in Europe to find a note from your younger sister, Sam, instructing you not to go looking for her. It is your goal to explore the house to find out what happened to your family through notes, letters, books and pamphlets. The game ends when you learn the whole truth about what happened while you were abroad.

What did I think?
This game is beautiful. Not only are the graphics amazingly detailed, but the gameplay is flawless. As Katie, you are able to see and interact with every nook and cranny in this mansion that is your family’s new home, including messy beds and strewn about clothing.

The story is a powerful one. You learn early on that the house, which used to belong to Katie’s great-uncle, is referred to in town as the Psycho House because the previous owner went crazy and killed himself. The ambiance screams horror game as a thunderstorm rages outside and the old house creaks as you explore. Despite all this, my favorite part about this game is that it’s not horror at all. The devs could have fooled me.

There is a lot of reading to do, but what else can you expect from an exploration game that focuses on finding notes? The journal entries from Sam, written as letters to Katie and voiced out loud, are a nice touch. They pace the story quite well so that you are able to explore the entire house before you know exactly what happened.

The game overall reminded me of Life is Strange, which, I think, is a compliment.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I definitely do. If you have a PS4, it’s the free PS Plus game for June. Otherwise, you can find it on Steam and Xbox One.

Lifted Chinese Ban on Consoles Leads to Tomahawk F1

As some of you may or may not know, the Chinese government is very well-known for banning the use of various devices and websites within the country. For example, the 2009 Xinjiang riots in Western China sparked the banning of Facebook throughout the country. Because of this, other Chinese specific social media sites, such as QQ and RenRen, have popped up in its place.

Long before the Chinese government ever banned Facebook, however, they banned gaming consoles. In 2000, consoles were outlawed in China for fear that games would have negative effects on Chinese youths. This ban was ineffective, though, as many Chinese citizens were still able to purchase off brand and smuggled gaming consoles, which were being sold openly in many Chinese cities.

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In 2014, this ban was lifted with the condition that all gaming consoles must be approved by the appropriate governmental department before hitting the market. Microsoft and Sony both pushed for their consoles to be released in China late 2014 and early 2015, however have gained little momentum among the citizens of the People’s Republic of China.

In an effort to undercut Microsoft and Sony, a Chinese company by the name of Fuse has announced that they will be releasing a console specifically for Chinese gamers. This console, the Tomahawk F1, will run on an Android system and be priced at approximately 899 Yuan, or $140, which is significantly less expensive than either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

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It is common in China now-a-days to find “knock offs” of popular western technology at cheaper prices. For example, there are several iPhone rip-offs, including the Oppa 9, and even a Google rip-off, called Goojje. The Tomahawk F1 is along the same lines, a rip-off. While the interface is openly Android, the console itself is designed like the PlayStation 4 while the controller is almost an exact replica of the Xbox One controller.

There is no news as to whether or not Microsoft or Sony will file legal action against Fuse. Given Apple’s recent loss in a high profile trademark infringement case against a Chinese company called Xintong Tiandi, who was using the name “IPHONE” for their line of leather products, there may be no legal action taken at all, as copyright and trademark laws are different in China.

It is Fuze’s plan to have all sorts of games available for the Tomahawk F1, including PC, mobile and AAA games. As of this time, games such as Zheros, Assassin’s Creed, Saint’s Row and more will be available for the Tomahawk F1 upon it’s release.

Happy gaming, China!

E3 for you and me

Crackdown 3

E3-2014Looks like awesomesauce! I was a huge fan of the first two. Well, the first one a bit more than the second, but that happens. I am really wondering what turn the storyline will take with this one. However, this game did give me achievement issues. As in, must have them ALL!

Halo Collection
Halo is the reason I got into Xbox in the first place. Well, that or Ghost Recon. I don’t remember that well. Anyway, I was excited to see that Halo was picked back up and beautifully done with Halo 4. I think I might have to pick this bundle up.

Halo 5: Guardians
SQUEE! Of course there is a beta with the purchase of the bundle. Damn it!

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