I first had the opportunity to check out This War of Mine at PAX East. I was immediately intrigued. The art is absolutely beautiful in its realistic simplicity. The game sucks you in and keeps you wondering what will happen day to day. You truly go through the day to day of what it’s like to live in a country ravaged by warfare.
I found myself wondering if I would survive and make it. You see the characters struggling and dealing with the psychological effects.
11 Bit Studios describes This War of Mine as:
This War Of Mine provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle. For the very first time you do not play as an elite soldier, rather a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city. During the day snipers outside stop you from leaving your refuge, so you need to focus on maintaining your hideout. At night you get a chance to scavenge nearby locations for items that will help you stay alive.
Make life-and-death decisions driven by your conscience. Try to protect everybody from your shelter or sacrifice some of them to endure the hardships. During war, there are no good or bad decisions; there is only survival. The sooner you realize that, the better.
11 Bit Studios created a great game that will keep you enthralled for hours. I highly recommend checking This War of Mine out and giving it a try. I give the game a 9 out of 10.
This War of Mine is available now. Check it out and buy it here.
What is Richard & Alice? Well it’s a game that is not gameplay driven, but mostly about narrative the same way visual novels are.
It’s a point and click game but at its core is a modern work that uses the video game medium to tell its tale.
The scenery is dreary and lifeless, unimaginative at most, the pixelated characters and scenery leave much to the imagination that itself doesn’t make the world it brings forth much more exciting. This works in favor of the game.
Richard & Alice is about the struggle of a woman to survive after a cataclysmic change. She is Alice, and the other titular character Richard is the character you use to learn about her. Richard and Alice both find themselves in prison for very different reasons and since he finally has a cellmate and hasn’t talking to anyone but guards since his arrival he eagerly tries to learn about her. You can play as both Richard and Alice, with the game going through days and the same pattern of action taking place. Play as Richard in the prison and then play as Alice when she continues recounting her experience.
Alice’s story is one very much like The Road, a book Richard actually has in his cell, since it shows the strain a guardian must endure to protect a weaker and innocent child from a harsh reality and how to bring one child to adulthood without damaging them in the process. Where The Road had ash Richard & Alice has snow. Blanketing the world, delegating it to a reality far from the one that used to be.
My only real critique is getting places takes a long time since your characters move rather slow and the character illustrations next to the dialogue look rather amateurish. I really think having the characters better drawn wouldn’t have taken anything away from the dreary pixelated scenario and made the game stand out more. Other than that not much else. The writing is superb, the characters multidimensional, and based on your actions there are various endings with realistic outcomes. I recommend this for literary geeks like me, and gamers who want to play a great story driven game.
I love the first Cherry Tree High game. A lot. It set itself apart from most visual novels I’d played because unlike most visual novels it was highly interactive. Usually you just get the dialogue and a few choices, playing more like a pick your own adventure novel. It is a medium with endless possibilities and lends itself to some splendid storytelling. The medium however is only widely used in Japan, with most western VNs being subpar cash ins for anime fan money. Cherry Tree High was a visual novel and a strategic video game at the same time. You can read all about why Cherry Tree High Comedy Club was so good in my previous review.
Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! is the follow up I never expected to actually happen. When I saw it in the Steam store I could barely contain my excitement, and from the first episode with the subtle humor I’ve come to expect from the series out in full force I was greatly looking forward to some fun time with Miley and all her friends.
“Wait what’s going on? Why are all the names Japanese?” was the sentiment that followed. When I first played the game it was westernized, with the setting in America along with appropriate name and reference changes. This was really alienating after playing through the westernized game. I couldn’t help but wonder if they made an original version of the first game so new players can seamlessly go from the first game to the follow up. Turns out they had.
I’ve learned about some wonderful things in Japan by replaying the original version.
Now as to why they’ve deviated from localizing this particular game unlike the previous one can be attributed to an entirely Japanese phenomena. Idols.
As to what idols are; you could equate them to pop stars but the culture surrounding them is so much more different than that of the west, it’s a difficult topic to explain. Unlike the first Cherry Tree High game where the plot involves happenings that can occur almost anywhere, the emergence of an idol in the story now makes it impossible for I! My! Girls! to take place anywhere but Japan.
The events of I! My! Girls! take place where the original game left off with the comedy club’s founding and all potential club members recruited. This new chapter in the Cherry Tree High series involves an idol, real name Ai Fujino, who finds out about the comedy club’s revival and decides to attend Cherry Tree High to pursue her dream of being a comedian. This of course is something that poses a problem since she is an idol.
The story, while primarily focused on this new character and Mairu the main character, also gives time to tell the stories of the other club members while introducing new characters.
Unlike the previous game, this one is purely visual novel. There are no choices, the story is told and slowly revealed. The game is broken up into “episodes” each with a chapter of some sort.
To me this actually felt more like reading a manga than playing a game since there are no choices. Did I like it? Yes I enjoyed the game for what it was. But do I think someone who knows nothing of Cherry Tree High Comedy Club should buy this game? No, this isn’t a story one would enjoy unless they are already acquainted with the characters and setting. It is knowing the character and seeing them carry on with the promise of the previous game that make I! My! Girls! satisfying.
Mairu faces challenges to her comedy club from rivals, you learn more about the adult characters from the previous game, about the Cherry Tree High Comedy Club’s history, you see character bond with each other, and so on and so forth.
I don’t want to describe the plot further since I wouldn’t want to spoil it but any CTHCC fan would like it. You get the atmosphere of the previous game and the same easygoing slice of life dialogue while being told a new story. The game ends on definite note of more to come, and as much as I enjoyed this, I hope the next installment is as interactive as the first game. It’s a good companion to CTHCC, but as a standalone game it lacks footing.
What is it that I find most disappointing about I! My! Girls! is the fact that this is not a game I could show to my non-otaku friends as an example of how visual novels can be for anybody, that it is not an obscure medium, and they can tell wonderful stories anyone can enjoy. Unlike Cherry Tree High Comedy Club it doesn’t lend itself to wide appeal outside of Japan.
The creator can’t be blamed. This game was made with a Japanese audience in mind, foreigners are the last thing doujin circles try to cater to. In a Japanese market obsessed with Love Live! School Idol Project and used to simple VNs like these there is no obligation to be innovative. I’m not saying the creator wrote to pander, it’s obvious through his writing he enjoys what he does, but the fact I! My! Girls! was so different from CTHCC disappoints me a bit.
Conclusion, play Cherry Tree High Comedy Club and then Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! If you’re unfamiliar with VNs and not a big fan of slice of life anime I suggest sticking with the first game unless you’re willing to take risks. Luckily, both games come in a bundle deal for max savings. Happy gaming!
I showed up opening day to the Baltimore Convention Center for my 1st time ever stepping foot into the biggest comic book convention in Maryland the Baltimore Comic-Con. I had a blast for the four hours i walked the convention center checking out all the wares in “Artist Alley” located in the back of the center. I will within the next few days post interviews with three exhibitors that was kind enough to oblige me with an one on one with them amongst all the hustle and bustle. The featured artist will be Kat Brenowitz of Square City Comics showcasing the Square City Anthology and other comics at Booth# A259-A260 , Gregory Garay of Visual Verbosity showcasing his Jack B series at Booth# A191 , Finally but, not least Colin Lawler & Joseph Grabowski for Spirits: The Soul Collector at Booth#A351 .
To get the word out before the last day comes upon us I will reveal to you several locations at Comic-Con that just might tickle your fancy.
Third Eye Comics – Booth# 307-308, 407-408
One of a few booths with two variants of the latest mini-series of comic “Death of Wolverine” one variant being an rare one. Third Eye has a four block booth jam packed with a wealth of modern comics along with some classics to pick up. The booth’s staff has a welcoming sensibility just like the store in Annapolis, MD the folks are knowledgeable, please stop by and check them out.
Charles Soule – Booth#2309
All I have to say this guy just like the other talented artist are signing autographs. Oh and by the way he too is the person behind the latest mini-series “Death of Wolverine” so, yeah you have that. He also has another rare variant not carried by Third Eyes Comics, make sure you throw some money his way to get a piece of future history. The Death of Wolverine series has been quoted from Charles Sole that a new comic will come
“Once every week, depending on shipping that schedule might slide but, not too far from the once a week scale”
So, keep a look out for the four part series sure to give your heart a tug.
High Grade Comics – Booth# 901-903
Retailing high caliber and rare vintage comic books HighGradeComics.com is here for those serious collectors at any capacity like Buying, Selling or Trade. Check them out the prices vary but, be mindful because of quality and rarity of these collectibles be ready to pay upwards of $20+ for these classics.
That Creative Fox/ Runaway Rosettes – Booth#A44
Their names are totally indicative of what they create on one side you have pleasant Eve Cowan she provides hand sewn plush dolls geeked up to perfection with cute DeadPool cats, Pokemon characters along with Flash & Wolverine. Her prices are reasonable and are well worth the cost. To the right we have Runaway Rosettes headed up by Casie Smith, the Rosettes are ribbon badges with various themes spanning from Star Wars, Harry Potter and DC comics celebrities. These Rosettes are as wild and elaborate as the person who sells them make sure you stop by and chat up the both of them while purchasing their wares.
Josh Lyman – Booth#A377
Josh is a laid back Illustrator deep from the heart of Texas he is also a Concept Artist and I scooped up three conceptual prints based off of one of my favorite movies “Alice in Wonderland” it has the Cheshire Cat on a tree and scrolled on the branches are every line the came from the lofty cat from the movie. Josh Lyman has a ton of other prints all priced at a great price among other art pieces see what he has I’m sure you’ll walk away happy.
Ben Harvey – Booth#A304
Didn’t get a chance to sit and chat Ben Harvey up too long because it was getting time for me to check out everything he had in his booth table but, from what I saw Ben Harvey has some great stuff in store for you. On this last day Sunday the 6th check him out.
RoundStone Publishing – Booth#A179
Casey Caracciolo, the Author of the book Shadow Of The Gauntlet already given high marks around other comic-cons and online outlets like Amazon. Shadow Of The Gauntlet available in print and digital copies are ready to leap off the pages or your tablet screen and into your mind to set your imagination on an epic journey spanning the the galaxy. Go to the Artist Alley and speak with anyone at the both to get more on the story and buy it directly with an autograph of the author or if you are reading this from abroad please go to Scargen’s website and download a free chapter digitally or purchase either copy from them.
Harley Yee Rare Comics – Booth#905-906
If you are looking for classics boy I will tell ya HYRC will take you from Rare collectibles like “Forever People” to “Adventure Comics” yes plenty from the Silver and Golden age of DC Comics. If you have that itch for some ultra rare comics that you remember from your youth (That is if you are 40+ years old) Harley Yee Rare Comics just might be for you. Harley Yee has experience in collecting and enjoying comics for over 30 years. I’m sure you can find interesting convos surrounding this booth on comics, I sure have.
Hot Flips Comic books & Supplies – Booth#3701-3703
While draining your wallets and pocket books at Baltimore Comic-Con it might be wise to stop by this booth to protect your new found treasures. Hot Flips can furnish you with protective sleeves for your comics, posters or bust sketches that you commissioned by one of the many artists in “Artist Alley” Don’t worry Hot Flips won’t knock you over the head with the prices either. While you are there make sure you check out their comic book selection also.
Home of the Pearler Bead sculptures and they sure are a hit! I’m sure you have seen these bad boys all over the interwebz well today you can get your very own. Josh and his brother decided one day to create a comic book series (of course) and with a lack of funding the entrepreneurial bros. surmised a plan to use some loose pearler beads to iron out that financial wrinkle. Reasonably priced at $3, $5 & $10 these themed pieces which are key chains, magnets, table figures, faux potted plants & mini piggy banks. All are from our famous comics, cartoons and pop culture icons like Adventure time, Super Mario Bros. & the cast of the Avengers to name a few. Stop on by and see what this table has in store for you I’m sure something will jump into your heavy bag right after you pay for it (or them)
Now, while I haven’t even scratched the surface of the talent that is here at Baltimore Comic-Con I can attest that these wonderful people and the booths that they are running are top notch and are sure to impress in one way or another. I can also say that even this list is missing some other retailers & artists I just couldn’t fit into my article. Again, if you are near by please stop pass Baltimore to score a ticket to gain entry to one of the geekiest shows in Bmore.
The brilliantly deranged minds at KrillBite Studios have collaborated within the shadows of their confines to come up with a freakish survival horror title sure to rattle the players cage. Brought to us in a very new and unique perspective we play as an frightened two year old boy, in first person… Yes, you play as a toddler in first person! Me being a horror story buff I instantly clamored at the chance to play Among The Sleep whichwill be later released on PlayStation 4. On the KrillBite Studios Website you can download Among The Sleep onto your PC, Linux or Mac platforms.
“Brought to us in a new and very unique perspective”
Among The Sleep begins off with a blank screen with only ambient noise coupled with the soft pitter patter of rain drops rapping against the window pane. You begin to hear the voice of a mother softly whispering to you sleep all the while a gentle, slightly freaky song begins to fade in. Soon afterwards you the protagonist the two year old starts to blink slowly giving us a brief glimpses of the surroundings which is inside a crib inside a child’s room. As the blinking persists you start to see how your confidant Mr. Teddy is being whisked away by an unseen force to outside the crib down to the floor eventually out your bedroom door, it closes and now your game truly begins.
“Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD”
Controls are the basic PC variety you have WASD for your movement then you your mouse for looking around and interacting with the worldly items like toys, furniture, doors etc. Your character being an toddler hasn’t mastered walking so he still crawls around when he needs too. To get into the stand and crawl positions there are two ways to attempt this; Using the CTRL key & the SPACE bar with these two keys you can also climb obstacles in your way. Oh one neat animations in Among The Sleep is when you pause the title by pressing the ESC key your character places his cute little toddler hands over his face to cover his eyes to show game options. While the object interactions when grabbing items within the world is sometimes spotty this early Alpha build plays well enough to get the general idea of where the final build will be.
I will not speak anymore on the technical issues like the system freezes every so often because KrillBite Studios is obviously abreast on that issue. Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD.
“I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece”
What really drew me to Among The Sleep is the idea of what KrillBite could think of imaginatively with this genre this is NEW territory. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this title as development progresses. So, far I have enjoyed the dark and freakishly frightening ambiance they have going on it in this average home in suburbia. I always told my wife what scares me the most in horror films/ video games are children & kiddie music. Though, at this point there is only one child the main character the music is definitely there or not. See its the slightly drowned out noise of the house that gets me it gives you the false idea that everything is OK. All I have to do is find mommy though, mommy as you will figure out is hard to find. Among The Sleep aims to be one of the best atmospheric survival horror games released. This early alpha build I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece, lets hope KrillBite Studios delivers when the final build launches to the public on PC, MAC, Linux & PlayStation 4.
To get in on the action of building this potential classic, keep a close eye on Among The Sleep for its future releases up to its final launch. If you would like a taste of the action now go to KrillBite Studios Among The Sleep’s website and download the Alpha PC build or whatever available platform of your liking.
Stay tuned for upcoming news!
UPDATE: As of May 29th Among The Sleep has been released (so that means you wont be able to play the Alpha build) it is available on www.SteamPowered.com it is available for $17.99 GO NOW and try out this game it is sure to please all my survival horror fans!
STAY TUNED FOR RealOtakuGamer.com’s full review of this final build!
One of many upcoming Unity engine games developed by independent studios. Press Play presents to us Max: The curse of brotherhood heads the way on Xbox One’s indie showcase 1st class. Just like the title infers this title is based on a tale of two brothers. One is a seemingly tween aged boy who is starting to outgrow his slightly younger sibling, just like the old story goes. Max the older brother decides to very early in the game (Actually, the beginning sequence) to go online to his worlds popular online search engine humorously named “Giggle” Max has one goal in mind, getting rid of his little brother. Max finds an odd website geared towards witchcraft he then recites the words to a spell on the sorcery site of ill will. Surprisingly to Max a portal opens up behind his brother and a creepy looking hairy armed beast snatches scrappy little brother Felix from their realm to another dimension. Max instantly understood his misdeed and goes after Felix right before thee portal closes.
Max: The curse of brotherhood is a solid puzzle/platformer, it is the best platformer available on Microsoft’s flagship console to date. This title is endowed with great puzzle solving elements and classic gameplay mechanics that made this genre the most go to genre to date. This title has its moments of difficulty and I probably at the time of writing this review have logged in 11 hours to beat the game. I have yet to 100% complete the game currently my completion is at 52% progress in game objectives and 82% XBL achievements.Max: The curse of brotherhood was perfect in mostly all areas, I will give you what I liked and what I didn’t. I will start with the worst elements of the game.
The only part of the game that was lacking, while this title is littered with voice acting keep the game interesting and progressing the narrative of the game. My biggest gripe with the story element of Max is that the story is bare bones in terms of the epic journey Max is obviously on. The story progression is only pushed forward by in game animations and short game engine video sequences. The character progression is also leaving me wanting more, out of the five characters focused in on in this game zero characters backstory was moved forward if built up at all Max really did not impress. I must strongly say that’s while for me story in a platformer or any game is considered one of my four pillars of a solid game whereas Story, Gameplay, Controls & Art direction take precedence above anything else. Max’s other three pillars transfers the weight onto themselves helping you to forget the lack of story and focus in on everything that makes this game awesome!
“…the best platformer available on Microsoft’s flagship console to date”
One of the most premier pillars of this game, Max: The curse of brotherhood really shines. As Max you will utilize the power of your marker endowed with magic (pun not intended on my end) This “Magic” marker Max has will gain multiple powers which all are derived from nature. Earth, Trees, Vines, Water and Fire will all be at your disposal soon as you unlock them from their temples. Each power adds to your arsenal and can be used at anytime to traverse your way through each level. You will use Earth to create platforms to lift Max up to get past or trap enemies. You will be able to create bridges and platforms with the powers of the Tree,Max will also be able to create customized shapes of branches like steps, ramps, rafts and any weirdly shaped object to get you through the levels. You can snap off and drag your newly created objects across the stage for puzzle solving purposes. Vines can be used to cross chasms by swinging or by crossing over them hand over hand also, you can ascend or descend within the stage. One great thing about all of your powers is that you can combine them in inventive ways to Solve your way through the end. One such way is creating a tree branch then drawing a vine connecting it to the branch either helping you cross something or maybe you can find other ways to utilize this new object to further your goals. Water will allow you to draw custom shapes to ride the waves or direct them at molten lava to turn it temporarily into stone creating platforms to get out of a flaming hot situation. You finally get to have fun with Fire when you create projectiles to pummel some of your enemies into a powdery dust or use the projectiles to break down barriers. I’m sure with all of these powers available to you by this time in the game you will be able to find other tricks to barrel your way to the end.
The key to saving your little brother Felix is you “Magic” infused marker this is how you will draw your way through each stage and you will find that when it comes to control this element is spot on. You as Max will start the drawing process by pressing RT+A buttons while using the left analog stick to draw the shape you want your select power to turn into. You can then cut/ erase your object by holding RT+X button and crossing the objects path using the left analog stick. While playing I have had zero experiences where these controls were anything less than superb while, you will understand the control scheme early on it will take more time for you to master them later on within the game. Later you will get more imaginative battling your way through each level creating strings of power combinations making you feel like you are ready for anything. Max: The curse of brotherhood animations moves smoothly with seemingly cruising at a steady frame rate. Press Play has created this puzzle/ platformer with speed runners in mind in my opinion.
“…this is a pleasant platformer sure to please”
I love the pre-rendered design the character models have. Each stage has its own unique feel they reflect what powers you will use or obtain as you delve deeper into each environment. The dramatic camera angles immerses you into the game along with having background, mid & foreground activity happening all at once or separately. As small as Max is in scale to the world he is apart of the camera plays a large part in bringing you close into the excitement or show you the grandeur of the environment. The large, lush, beautiful environments coupled with bright visuals and particle effects Max: The curse of the brotherhood’s graphical fidelity and camera work is unbelievable for the measly $14.99 you will pay for this small and jam packed title.
I must admit that I am a newcomer to the XBL lifestyle I am typically drawn to Nintendo and Sony’s consoles yet I have kept an eye on on the games out, Last Xbox I owned was the original one two whole generations ago. This generation I have all three eighth generation consoles with that being said out of all three consoles Max: The curse of brotherhood is one of my top 5 puzzle/platformers so far available.This outer dimension out world that Max sent his brother into has a history I would like to sink my teeth into further. I only hope this game does well enough to garner yet another return to this franchise. If you have any apprehension about trying this games out I highly suggest you purchase this title right from the Xbox Store this is a pleasant platformer sure to please.
Survival horror isn’t exactly my favorite gaming genre, but I saw that Outlast was for free on PlayStation Plus a couple of months ago. I can’t say no to free, so I downloaded it and spent some time playing it. Just for the record, this is the scariest game that I have ever played. It’s so scary that I had to stop playing for awhile. It is just downright frightening. This type of genre is not my favorite, but Outlast was unique enough for me to buckle down and play through it. Here is what I thought:
Outlast is a survival horror game developed and published by Red Barrels. The game play is in first-person perspective; however, it cannot be described as a first-person shooter because there is not actual shooting. The game came out for PC in September 2013 and was released for PlayStation 4 this February. It uses the Unreal 3.5 Engine. Outlast is more of an indy-game, but it has so far gotten some good reviews from critics.
The story follows journalist, Miles Upshur, a mild-mannered reporter who unfortunately doesn’t like fighting back. Upshur has gotten a tip from a person only known as “The Whistleblower” and is going to check out some crazy things going on at Mount Massive Asylum. At first glance, the asylum looks like it’s not even in use: there are no guards, doors are locked, and everything appears are be abandoned. After breaking in, Miles comes to the realization that there is some really dangerous and scary things happening in the asylum. Instead of gathering evidence, escaping becomes his main goal.
What could possibly go wrong in a creepy looking asylum, right?
Overall, the story was pretty interesting, but there was something lacking in it, as if Red Barrels could have done a little more with it. It’s a typical horror plot with some slasher elements. The game is really, really scary. Incredibly scary. I found that there were times where I’d scream and throw down the controller. Gamers looking for scary will not be disappointed. However, I was hoping for a little bit more of a story than that I got. Players get a lot of jump scares but not a lot of meat to the story. The gore is pretty amped up, though. In fact, it is a huge aspect of the game: severed heads, bodies everywhere, and pretty much anything that would remind you of a Saw movie. Squeamish players would probably not like this game, but if this is your type of thing, you’ll probably like this game. As a game in the horror genre, Outlast is one of the best that I’ve seen.
Outlast is in first person perspective, but this is not a game about fighting for your life like most first person games. Upshur is described as “not being a fighter,” so unless a scripted scene takes place, the player’s options are to run, hide, or die. This was quite annoying for me at first because I can’t stand games where I can’t fight back. I’ve always thought that if anyone is pushed far enough, he or she will find something to fight back with, even if it’s just a make-shift melee weapon. Then again, I will say that not being able to fight back makes the game ten times scarier. There’s nothing more frightening than running from something trying to kill you that makes your heart pound a bit harder.
Instead of fighting, the player will spend a lot of time hiding in lockers from the inmates in the asylum.
As a journalist, Upshur gathers evidence by filming his surroundings. The only light you get to use is from the night vision on the camera, which is very handy since many of the areas are pitch black. Unfortunately, the night vision is hard to see out of. This may actually make the game scarier in a way. You also have to conserve the night vision because it will drain the battery quicker. You can find more batteries but depending on the difficulty, they can be few and far between. In true survival horror-style, you have to be a bit stingy with the batteries if you want to use the night vision during the really important times.
Overall, the controls are a bit stiff, and I found it kind of hard to move around the way I am accustomed to in most newer games. When climbing ladders and scaling ledges, you can’t look down, which was quite annoying. The game really didn’t feel as polished as other games in first-person perspective that I’ve played. I was disappointed with this because I might have liked the game a lot better if the controls were a little more fluid.
The graphics were unfortunately the most disappointing part of the game. Initially, I didn’t notice them as much because many of the areas are really dark. However, after looking at bit closer, I noticed that a lot of the inmates at the asylum weren’t designed very well. They didn’t look that great. I’m not a video game graphics expert, but the characters looked like they were lacking a lot of detail. If you look at them up close, there isn’t a lot of detail. This was disappointing for a game that pretty much came out on PC and next-gen console only. Then again, I do understand that this game was a smaller project. Besides, you probably won’t notice it that much anyhow because it’s always so dark when you play.
There’s something off about the way the characters are built.
Though I don’t really like the survival horror genre, the game was pretty interesting to play. I doubt that I will be playing it again because I don’t like spending my free time feeling scared. However, if you are looking for a game that will scare you, this is definitely the game. Overall, most fans of the genre will enjoy it, and I am now a little curious to see how Outlast will compare to the upcoming The Evil Within, which comes out in August.
Zen Pinball 2 from Zen studios is known for their beautifully themed play tables. These pinball tables span from Plant vs Zombies up to expansive sets based off some of Marvel universe classic characters like the Avengers and Doctor Strange. Now Zen Studios have shot into a galaxy far far away…
To our enjoyment Star Wars: Heroes Within Includes a set of four tables that are available on PSN for PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Steam, iOS, Google Play and the tablet from Kindle, Fire TV also available on Mac App Store, I had the pleasure to review the PlayStation 4 version.
Let’s begin with the first of the sets of course, Star Wars:A New Hope The scene is set in the epic storyline with sound bites littering your speakers from this iconic classic flick. You will notice animatronic characters placed in the front of the table from the movie too in the upper left corner on the play tables you will see the LED screen showcasing off their dot matrix monochrome video of scenes from the film & high scores rankings, Score multipliers & Obi Wan’s wisdom filled quotes will harken you back to the the days of yesteryear when this movie originally released amongst other things. The game table centerpiece is decked out with the infamous Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker & Obi Wan beautifully painted onto the virtual table. Lining the outside of the tables you will find hints of this movies characters and settings like the animatronic foes the Tusken Raiders & their sand dunes on one side then the Temple of the Jungle moon of Yavin 4. The action really occurs where the platform changes six ways all because of the game tables missions, objectives that are only accessed by certain trigger activation like hitting a panel several times to spell out a word, name or phrase. I was able to access several but, two of them I will reveal to you readers the rest I’m afraid you must find out yourself. I will start with scene 6 one in which you enable a multiball challenge and if you can get one of those steel balls into the platform that opens up to resemble the galley run into the Death Star. You can enter and destroy the Death Star via paddling the ball into its treacherous crevices. The second scene I will share with you all is scene 4 where you have to uncover Princess Leia’s location in the prison just like in the movie. In the game several spots will have to be uncovered on the play field to find her afterwards you will reveal the trash compactor minefield to shut it down your steel ball is your only hope.
Star Wars: Droids This play table’s theme is following the story of Star Wars two most famous robots journey, this mainly wide open play table is set inside the busy sand crawler, R2-D2 & C-3P0 are present providing dry-witty quips along with the bells & whistles we are familiar with. While this play table is one of the more open displays this amazes me with all the dizzying rails and ramps crisscrossing the table. The ramps of this table are pushed deep back into the back of the set yet, they all are steep & highly curved making the ascent onto these conveyor belt ramps very tasking, slight mastery will be needed for this portion of the table. The missions for this table are located in center behind 3 yellow panels that will be unlocked after you successfully hit them with your pinball several times later these panels will drop below the surface of the table then allowing you to gain access to tables missions. First of the missions will have you salvage C-3P0’s body parts after an accident caused by the curiosity of the golden droid. The mission is straightforward just like Princess Leia’s prison mission except you just have to recover the exploded body parts scattered around the entire table. If you fail to obtain all the body parts the Head, Torso, Arms & Legs of C-3P0 by losing the ball R2-D2 will finish the job for you while your score gets tallied up as you move on. There are a set of five missions and the following is mission 5 where you are put to the task to immobilize the sand crawler you attempt this feat by unlocking these scrap metal looking balls that you aim towards the middle of the ramp where you initially unlocked your missions for this specific pay table. Playing this one is a delight from the openness of the center to the crazy rails, so far this is my favorite, I love also how the physical pinball machine is the sand crawler dredging through the sand dunes on the outside of play table.
Star Wars: Han Solo This nicely designed table is set inside the Millenium Falcon this busy table is by far out of the Heroes Within pack the most difficult of them all, definitely a table to be reckoned with. Filled to the brim with activity from the faithful sidekick Chewbacca & Han Solo in his captains chair done up in their pleasant animatronic form, while a roulette of bad guys surrounding the bar table at Mos Esly’s cantina in the back of the machine are seething at the opportunity to score that bounty on your head. The centerpiece is comprised of two objects; The Millennium Falcon & the dark sides Mother ship of destruction The Death Star. There is an abundance of buttons to trigger and ramps to ascend and rails along with flippers tucked into hard to see corners this suicide run of pinball machines will make you a master of the virtual pinball culture scene for sure. Lined within the nook and crannies of the game table you can flick your ball into a unsuspecting spot only to reveal an electric bumper raise from the surface of the table to garner you added points. From the flurry of fast moving, multi ball challenges to hard to reach jackpot panels & quick shot ramp opportunities located in the back of the table this game table provides feats of skill damn near impossible for a pinball novice such as myself,lol. This by far is the most challenging & the most rewarding of all tables with hard to reach objectives/missions available around the borderline of the table are so hard to find & get to, I applaud the ones who takes this challenge head on and reaches for the hidden treasures this table makes you work every second for. I love the mini games play table provides one in which I encountered was one where the game zoomed into another screen scene only to show up into an asteroid field in outer space, you take the helm of the Millennium Falcon being chased by TIE fighters from the evil empire. The objective is to lure your foes into the massive floating space boulders for of course big points at the end if you get through this mission alive. Each time I play this eye-dizzying table filled with gadgets and action I bump into another activity involving the Millennium Falcon lifting up out of its place, rotating and revealing another parlor game tapping into the gambling spirit of Han Solo. This Han Solo table will challenge you until your eyeballs are drier than the Mojave desert and your fingers are cramped up like Redd Foxx in Sanford and son (I think I might be too old, lol) regardless of your physical strain that might occur, if you can master and uncover all of its secrets you will be known as the pinball Jedi of the universe or just receive a self high five.
Last but definitely not least is Masters of the force, designed to be harmonically balanced between the two sides of the force. On the left red representing death and destruction and on the right you have blue harkening the spirit of justice and peace. Beautifully set up with a set of masters of all signifying the constant struggle, rebirth for universal balance Masters of the force is one of the best to look at tables in my opinion. When first glancing at this play table it doesn’t seem as if it is filled with all the bell and the whistles like our previous affair like Han Solo’s table. Though as you delve deeper into this bad boy you will reveal the mysteries of the two sides. On the dark side you will find floating pyramids that can magnetize and spin your pinball into a frenzy in midair propelling it across the table. Now on the light side, target the Holocron and you will activate one of a few different activities one in which will have you gain access to a crazy puzzles that will have you target your ball into multiple target switches tucked into pocket holes some hidden by sharp corners or strategically positioned curved pathways. All of this of course is all for those beautiful, beautiful points, I honestly couldn’t tell you because out of countless attempts (actually 7) I couldn’t activate all switches inside of this puzzles. Now back to the dark side you will find yourself uncovering many secret passageways to gain entry to so that you can push your ball into unknown spaces, As you set your eyes on the path ahead many revelations will be brought before you. The main attraction of this play table is located front and center, controlled by the Force-meter the legendary fights of classic saga will play right in front of your eyes in two ways. First, you will notice cut-outs of members of Jedis of both dark and light sides sliding left to right attacking one another while you attempt to hit them with your ball while trying to pop off some points while they’re in the thick of it. Second, you will see a full motion video display at first you will notice a still shot of a scene or character from the films watch while this come alive right smack dab in the front of the table directly above the paddles this display is visualizing what the cut out characters or playing out. Zen Studios set out to create a perfectly balanced play table in design they succeeded by giving us a beauty to look at with footage of the epic story on a nice sized screen while having live cut out action dance about the play table centerpiece. We are given plenty to discover and much to stand in awe over Masters of the force is a shout out to great pinball artistry of long, long ago.
All in all while not being a virtual pinball enthusiast I must say that Zen Studios like before with games like Castle Storm (Here’s my past review on it) has opened my eyes to new, fun ways to play classic genres. I now am a fan of the Zen pinball 2 franchise and look forward to all future play tables yet to be released.
Hi, Sean Jacobs here I would like to present my interview with Switchblade Monkeys the wonder team behind the upcoming title Secret Ponchos. I would like to apologize for the delay but, I went Clark Kent and transcribed my interview via my handy digital voice recorder. Lets get into this tasty treat why don’t we.
Me: Hi, Sean Jacobs here from RealOtakuGamer.com can you Please introduce yourself to our readers at realotakugamer.com
Yousuf Mapara: Hi, I’m Yousuf Mapara and I am the Creative Director (and President of Switchblade Monkeys) of Secret Ponchos.
Me: Well, you just answered my second question because I was going to ask you what you’re relation to Secret Ponchos was!
Me: What inspired Switchblade monkeys to create such a unique game like Secret Ponchos?
Yousuf Mapara: We really wanted to make a game that takes us back to multiplayer fun, That’s just fun to pick up and is not this huuuge learning curve of like 30-40 hours just to be able to have fun. We are all hardcore fighting game kinda fans and so we love that depth but not the (inaudible) Though, the main thing is that we wanted to make a Spaghetti Western game so, that’s where it all started, ya know? its just such a cool genre. Basically our musician and I were sitting playing Soul Calibur and we had um, were playing Ennio Morricone in the background at the same time and all of a sudden everything just magically synced up the music, the epic trumpets and uh ya know the drama from the music and it felt like everything we felt like everything we were doing was just choreographed to the music so, we were like “WOW we really need to make a fighting western game”
Me: Isn’t it weird how things just come together like that?
Yousuf Mapara: I know, I know it wish there was a cooler version on how the game started but, its stupid but, that’s how it came together.
Me: That’s OK because that is the most organic way to come up with an great idea.
Me: Were there any other influences drawn from other games pulled into making Secret Ponchos?
Yousuf Mapara: We really wanted to make a game that has this competitive, you pick it up and we want your adrenaline to start pumping, that kind of fun. You pick it up and we want it to feel competitive, fun kind of game… I remember lining up to Street Fighter and getting our quarters and this is the type of game that we wanted to make so you could enjoy. A lot of games recently are awesome experiences but, they have also have became like interactive stories with a lot of cinematic experiences
Me: Yeah, like watching a movie you sometime play.
Yousuf Mapara: …and we wanted to take a step back from that, we have developed plenty of projects like that at AAA studios and we wanted to get to the feeling of “ah man you got me this time I’m going to go home and practice to get the best of you”
Me: Given the multiplayer nature of Secret Ponchos when it is released will Switchblade Monkey launch some sort of DLC to compliment that element?
Yousuf Mapara: You know uh, so our model for DLC is very interesting we don’t want to be very aggressive with dlc. When you buy Secret Ponchos its a complete experience on its own you don’t need to pay more money or buy stuff to be able to fulfill your experience, with that being said the genre is such an interesting genre for character archetypes that we only scratched the surface with our characters so, we are going to keep expanding on the Secret Ponchos Universe and that’s a better road to DLC. As long as the fans want to see the game universe expanded we will keep have new guys and use DLC to fund new characters.
Me: When I was doing research on you guys on YouTube that’s what I was thinking. I was like They could be in a good position to be able to spin DLC in a good way if infused correctly. I don’t like the aggressive DLC, I don’t like aggressive salesmanship at all so like, if your company create a great package its going to make us the fans want to buy it.
Yousuf Mapara: Yeah don’t want people to have their defenses up when playing our games as if we are trying to pitch them, if they bought the game its a fun universe, right? we hope people are looking forward to new expansions and new characters and we could use DLC to fund that. When you are really excited for a game, like Diablo and you are really looking forward to the expansion and its a worthwhile purchase that is the type of feel we want to lean towards.
Me: What about this game excites you the most and what can you tell people about secret ponchos that haven’t heard of it?
Yousuf Mapara: The two things we are the most proud of is the art style we really tried to focus on a great art style but, secondly when you look at team shooters and fighting games and there is a lot of them and they are all feeling kind of similar it was really exciting that we have found a new twist a new presentation for a combat game in this genre hey we are a small indie company and just by moving the camera over top we kinda made our own type of combat game and that’s what we are excited about it doesn’t have this superficial feel of a slight change on an existing shooter game it has its own thing and that’s what we are most excited about.
Me: Thank you again Yousuf and it was a pleasure standing here with you and playing with your staff on multiple matches. I can’t wait for Secret Ponchos and the many ways you will possibly expand its universe.
*Before our scheduled interview Yousuf and I had several conversations one that revealed that Secret Ponchos will be on the Steam for early access. Secret Ponchos was originally slated for PS4 release but, after the outcry of the PC community Switchblade Monkeys have decided to appease the masses and give the Steam community an early shot of the former PlayStation 4 exclusive.
I was so amazed by what I walked into the main show floor at PAX East I witnessed all developers, hardware manufacturers have their very own nook carved out of the Boston convention center. Before I walked down the long steps and I snapped the 1st picture of my face in utter amazement. I first walked into the Boston Convention Center and stood in line to receive my first media badge. I proceeded to walk towards the big glass doors spotted with a few security guards and some structures promoting PAX. As I walked through the door I had an Idea of what was to be in store for me but, what took me by surprise the most was the amazement that stemmed from the actuality that I have finally made it! I have made it to one milestone of mine to go to one of the big shows in the gaming world PAX East!
I descended the staircase I first noticed Bethesda Softworks booth showcasing large walls of Wolfenstein & The Evil Within images the large titan tron screen had no image up yet, later they were to display two titles ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) and Wolfenstein.The two titles displayed are good as some of you know already of ESO but, the beginning sequence to Wolfenstein was awesome a far cry from the original game of course in the graphics department but, more importantly story. Later, I wandered around snapping selfies of me in from of Turtle Beaches mammoth sized headphones and snapshots Xbox One’s large setup. In Microsoft’s booth they were setting up Kinect Rivals Sports definitely a game I would love to play on the show floor tomorrow. I also snapped a picture of a barely set up of Project Spark another title I must play coming from the wonders over there at Rare Games. As I moseyed around the corner from there I saw roughly 15 monitors half in which had Xbox One’s hooked up, I’m sure the rest will plug into the flat screen tvs. I wandered around avoiding heavy machinery and guys and gals pushing carts around with serious merch and building supplies and I got side swiped by that hinted at behemoth two legged dinosaur monster from the game Evolve and this statue is surely fine crafted and gargantuan!
There was several sections setup for pc play for titles from developers like NC Soft & Carbine Studios WildStar and games like Infinite crisis which has a large section carved out with custom comfy gamer PC chairs on stage and off… sounds like some great things will happen in that side of the convention center. I have heard some rumbling about Infinite crisis but, when I saw a little bit of the cast which is DC universe characters, if you didn’t know made me flip my wig (just a tad). When I took a deeper look on the outskirts of the show floor where all the large displayed casted its shiny shadows I saw random geekery merchandise from creators like Fangamer whom makes all types of stuff showing reverence to our video game favorites like Animal Crossing New Leaf socks and Legend Of Zelda shirts and the flying P from Super Mario Bros 3. There is plenty from these wonderful folks and hopefully I can catch the ear of one of their booth reps to ask them a few questions for realotakugamer.com. I also saw small booths displaying mobile games, This weekend I will try to over the small indie mobile games that are glue that binds this convention. I saw merchandiser booths for retro games and even retro systems to go along with those classic gems. Oh yeah, The Crew had a grand display too giving us the feel of working in the garage set of fast and the furious RIP Paul Walker.
Come to find out after I recharged my body phone and wrote part of this article on the 1st floor when I went back inside to check out some more booths for around 20 minutes an “Enforcer” people whom are hired to secure the floors for random things that shouldn’t be happening, spotted me and noticed I had a Media Pass. The nice fellow asked if i had any “other passes like a vendor badge”, I honestly said “no” and he politely asked me to leave. He walked me to the front counter, the information counter and explained to them that the security at the door was not checking badges properly. I was elated that i was able to experience the behind the scenes of PAX East while also giving you, our readers the inside scoop on my Twitter account.
Boy oh boy I have plenty to say about my 1st PAX East but, to the thing is it hasn’t even started yet! This is only the beginning and oh how sweet it is even at the crunch time for the shows main opening. Stay tuned for future reporting from myself Sean “NoirZilla Gamer” Jacobs and Tiffany Marshall on whats going down on the show floor at PAX East 2014 from RealOtakuGamer.com