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PAX welcome

PAX East 2014 was my fourth PAX but my first time going as Media.  As always, PAX East was a great experience! Every year PAX East is held in Boston, so I enjoy being able to see another part of the East Coast while checking out all the video games.

This year I got to see many different video games, the most notable of which included This War of Mine from 11 Bit Studios, Sniper Elite 3 and Defense Grid 2 from 505 Games and Hidden Path Entertainment, and Framed from Loveshack Entertainment.  All of these games were very different from one another but brought a lot to the table to create an enjoyable experience. This War of Mine allows you to gain insight into the struggle of a war torn country from a very individual level of trying to survive day to day.  Sniper Elite 3 brought a new and fun entry into shooters with absolutely amazing and awe-worthy graphics.  Defense Grid 2 was an amazingly fun tower defense game that doesn’t fail to keep you on your toes.  Framed was a very unique entry with a puzzle style journey through a mystery.  I plan to get all of these games the minute they’re available and I highly recommend each and every one of them.

Of course, there was far more to see during PAX East as the expanse of the show floor and panels is ginormous! 2014 was definitely the year of the indie games for PAX East.  The presence of AAA games seemed to be a bit light and I was quite worried when I saw the schedule, but PAX East did not disappoint.

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An organization I would definitely like to highlight is Operation Supply Drop. As an Army brat (my parents served in the Army for a long time) and having a lot of friends in the military, it definitely makes me happy to see an organization that makes it their mission to help out the troops.  Operation Supply Drop does just that and more. I met with Captain Stephen Machuga of the US Army and Charity Founder. Captain Machuga, as well as everyone at OSD’s booth exhuded passion and enthusiasm about their mission to bring “video games to soldiers in combat zones and military hospitals.”  Being in a combat zone, in military hospitals, and other areas where soldiers serve can be extremely stressful so OSD does their best to make “fun where there is none!” There was never a dull moment at the booth while there or passing and I’ve seen so much enthusiasm from the gaming community to help their cause.  It’ll be very interesting to see how OSD expands and grows further to be such a great presence for our troops.  For more information about their cause and how to help out, check out their website at www.OperationSupplyDrop.org, their Twitter @OpSupplyDrop, and their Facebook page at Facebook.com/OperationSupplyDrop.

I also got to check out numerous booths on the show floor which is always exciting. GUNNAR Optiks never disappoints with their selection of gaming eyewear. I even snagged myself a pair from their Intercept line in Ink (purple). I always get a pair of GUNNARs every time I go to PAX East and absolutely love them. Whether I’m gaming or staring at a computer screen, GUNNARs help reduce the strain in my eyes. I’ve also found that their line of sunglasses are absolutely wonderful and are far better than all of the other sunglasses that I own.

GUNNARs Intercept Ink

Me with Gunnars

As always, PAX East was a great experience and I highly recommend going if you ever get the chance.  It’s worth the fun and craziness and the video game culture galore!  Everyone is excited and happy to be there with so many things to do with such a short amount of time!

Although I may not attend next year, you may be able to catch me at PAX South and PAX Prime next year. I, also, plan to be at Otakon this summer and Baltimore Comic Con this fall.

Did you go? What did you think of PAX East? Is there anything from my experience at PAX East that you’d like to hear more about? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @LadyLoveMonster!

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Inspired by Adventure Time, Minecraft, and Legend of Zelda, May’s Loot Crate has to be my favorite so far! Loot Crate is a monthly subscription box filled with nerdy goodies – toys, stickers, t-shirts, etc. It’s like getting nerd Christmas every month! This month featured a Legend of Zelda t-shirt. If you look closely, it’s Link made out of words. My very favorite item in this Loot Crate was the Adventure Time tin. Not only do you get an awesome character tin, but you get a blind bag figure inside. My tin was Fionna and I got BMO inside! This was my favorite because those are two of my favorite Adventure Time characters.

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A very close second for favorite item is the Legend of Zelda key chain. It doubles as a bottle opener and it has a picture of the famous scene, “It’s dangerous to go alone…” I always love when Loot Crates come with practical items. Another item worth mentioning was a Minecraft blind bag “hanger,” which I guess works as a key chain because the ring on it is sturdy enough for one. I got a skeleton.

Other items in this month’s Crate are tons and tons of stickers from Polaris and Maker studios, as well as a soundtrack for the talk show The Friend Zone.

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One strange thing about this month’s Loot Crate, however, is that it didn’t come with the usual monthly magazine that explains what came in it and the occasional article. Maybe it was just a mistake and they forgot to put it in my Crate?

Either way, I would consider May’s Loot Crate to be my all-time favorite so far. If you like what you see, Loot Crate is $20 per month, including shipping. Go to LootCrate.com to sign up and be sure to follow Loot Crate on Facebook for discounts and contests.

By Jesse Willoughby On 26 Feb, 2014 At 12:41 AM | Categorized As Featured, Mobile Gaming, PC Games, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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I’m a big mystery fan, even though I’m not good at actually solving mysteries. Well, I’m not terrible at it. There are times I get it all figured out before Poirot makes the announcement, but not often. But I’m a nerd. Growing up I read all the time, especially mystery novels, and because I love them I am a sucker for trying to solve a new one. That’s why when I saw the game “Home” on Kim of the YOGSCAST’s channel, I just had to try it.

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Home is a horror-adventure game. It’s a pixel style game, and is a murder mystery, but not like you’re expecting. Initially I would have passed this game over because of the pixel style and the side-scrolling viewpoint, but I’m glad I didn’t.

The game starts with the player waking up in a dark room. He doesn’t know where he is, why he’s there, or how he got his flashlight, but he sets out to answer all these questions and more. You take the main character through an old house, underground tunnels, the sewer system, an old train station, an abandoned factory, and a local grocery store before finally making it back home. While doing all of this you uncover “clues”. I put that in quotes because these items and bits of information your find are not really clues until you get to the end of the game.

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Why is that important? Because you are the one who decides what the truth is. You collect all kinds of information in this short game, but does any of it matter? That’s up to you. This game is…interesting in that way. I’ve played through it twice and I’m still not sure I got it. Notes were taken, and I never do that. Of course, I feel like there is an over abundance of information. It could be on purpose, just to make you all the more confused, but I can’t say for sure.

Home is short. It requests an hour and a half of your time, and could take up to a couple of hours, but it isn’t extensive. It’s only three dollars on Steam, and iOS, but it is re-playable. Missing clues leads to different dialogue, different options in the end game. So, going back to see what you missed is worthwhile.

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If you like mystery, a little bit of horror, and pixel style games, I recommend to you “Home”. It’s a good bit of fun, and not too expensive or time consuming.

By Will On 18 Feb, 2014 At 07:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, Mobile Gaming, PC Games, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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One of the best ways to know how well a story is written is when it drags you in and become emotionally attached to a character or plot within it. Nihilumbra has that story and character as the tutorial just had me in tears as I had flashbacks in all the most negative ways. The more and more I played the more and more I was dragged into the depths of depression as I tried all that I could to to enjoy the game. I completed as much as I could after the tutorial but I couldn’t go any further. I closed the game and tried to calm my nerves. Coffee, cigarettes, talking to family, all of this couldn’t get me out of this funk I’m in, so I’m carrying on as I write this review.

The Good:

The story, the story, the story. What else can be said about a silent protagonist that escapes “The Void” only to be tracked down by monsters that want to make the hero a part of “The Void” yet again? Nothing, but what really makes the story come to life is the narrator.  The disembodied voice, helps out when needed but in between moments of usefulness, he decides to rip into you verbally. It adds a new wrinkle in the game, as you have assistance, yet you have this sense of someone giving you the middle finger while your the only one there.

The artwork done on the game is by far the best I’ve ever seen. With the unique monsters and the lead character itself (Him, Her?! The hell if I know.) looking like nothing I’ve never seen before.

The game gives you colors as your power ups. Blue makes the ground covered in ice, as green allows you to bounce higher after leaping off a high perch. These powers are so balanced that there’s not one that’s overpowered, and you will catch yourself using all the powers through the game.  You use the mouse scroll wheel to quickly switch between the acquired powers and you move with WASD keys so for those FPS players that want a game that they don’t have to relearn the controles, this is for you!

The Bad and The Ugly:

This game is the first form of entertainment that actually made me cry, due to the story hitting too close to home. I might be reaching far, but the best part of the game might also be a downfall about it. I might not have been in the right mindset to take on such a emotional role, but it had to be done.

The minor thing that was such  was that when the voice over started and you went on to the next screen, you would have to kill yourself somehow to go back and listen to it all over again.

Overall it was a awesome game, but I wouldn’t recommend it to gamers who had a tough, personal issue in the past.

Nihilumbra is now available on PC, Linux, and Mac, buy directly from official website to get both a Desura and Steam key for the game. You can also play on the go by downloading it on any of your iOS devices. This review is based off the gaming experience on PC so gameplay might be different on your mobile devices.

By Isabel On 10 Jan, 2014 At 06:01 PM | Categorized As Featured, Mobile Gaming, Otaku Music, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
Listening to Senbonzakura with Miku

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Hardcore Hatsune Miku fanboys and fangirls feel loneliness no more because the great and benevolent makers of… well essentially a waifu app with Miku, released a translation of their popular game unto the English market. But before spending your hard earned $3.99 on this app you must be asking yourselves is it any good?

Tutorial begining screen

Essentially the app claims it will allow you to “enjoy music more with Miku” and I say they’ve delivered pretty well on that promise. This is not a gaming app and has limited interactivity, so I only recommend this to hardcore Vocaloid fans. I shall explain it in greater detail after the pretty pictures.

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Forever and ever and ever…..

Listening to Senbonzakura with Miku

Just listening to Senbonzakura while Miku jams along makes this app worth every penny.

Essentially this is another type of music player. You pick what songs you want to listen to and when you press play you can get to listen to your favorite songs with Miku. Now let’s make it clear she doesn’t dance or sing along, she moves to the rhythm with some head bopping and other stuff to break the routine. The element that makes this app more than just a buddy to listen to music with is the interaction element.

You interact with Miku by gaining points you get from listening to music with her. When you spend a point you can ask her a question, get asked a question, and if you’re lucky get a high five. What’s truly a shame is some of the questions are repeated over and over again to the point you answer or ask other stuff out of boredom, she’s lucky all her reactions are cute.

Interesting answers

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The Engrish isn’t strong with this translation, but it is present. The game is also riddled with glitches I randomly happen to stumble upon and definitely needs some fixing here and there. My main pet peeve is the bar with the time and battery life is present on top unlike other apps, and the game has a clock so it isn’t like I need it.

Item to collect: smartphone

At least she’s rich enough to get me nice things ^_^

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The best part of this game though is the items she gives you when you fill the interaction bubble. It’s always interesting to see what the latest item she gave me is and I’m looking forward to getting every single one of them.

It’s a nice simple app to keep you company. Play too long with it and you will be bored, so just use it to fill in those calm moments when you listen to music to add flavor to your daily routine. If you need some more fanservice, there are 3 additional outfit and head sets, although I don’t think they’re worth their cost ($3.99 same as the game). You can get the game on iTunes now!

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Shiny! Or maybe not so shiny, according to a lot of fans.

The news was announced today at San Diego Comic Con. Firefly, a cult classic directed by Joss Whedon was aired on Fox for only 14 episodes, along with the movie Serenity, but it has a massive following. The Browncoats, as fans call themselves, have been raging and crying for something to fill in the Serenity crew gap, so QMx Interactive, Fox Digital Entertainment, and Spark Plug Games have put Firefly Online together to try to attempt to quell the fire. But will it be enough?

Most likely not. For one, fans are still (and rightly so) carrying a grudge against Fox for canceling Firefly in the first place. Joss Whedon refused to give in to Fox’s demands to change some scenarios and character personalities, and thus, Firefly was gone as quickly as it swooped in.

"Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

Secondly, it will initially come to iOS and Android devices once it releases in Summer of 2014. Although I’ll admit that there are a number of great games for these operating systems, Firefly Online will burst with popularity and quickly die out because MMORPG’s are not really meant for tablets or smartphones; they’re really meant to be experienced on a PC.

Thirdly, Spark Plug games have some big shoes to fill. Titles by Spark Plug include Plight of the Zombie, Puzzle Quest, and Dairy Queen Tycoon. Their track record doesn’t show that they could pull off something this huge, since their games are more fun and simple based. Also, their graphics are very cartoon-ish, so to try to take on this mission to satisfy hundreds of thousands of fans is pretty daunting.

Looking at the trailer, it doesn’t look promising. And I’m sorry to completely lose hope because if you follow me on twitter or facebook, you saw my all caps tweet about how excited I was. Digging deeper, I became more disappointed the more I read. At best, it looks like a game to keep yourself occupied when you’re waiting for your friend at Starbucks or between college classes. I want this game to be gripping, competitive, and upstanding of the Firefly and Joss Whedon name.

Could it be great? Sure it can. The trailer didn’t reveal anything more than the main objective of the game, which is to find a crew, get a job, and keep flying. I suspect that it will be a time-passer on the iOS and Android devices, but maybe it will become something better when and if it hits PC.

FreedomFall

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In a world full of mobile apps and games it’s hard for a platformer to rise above the rest, but what Lisa Rye and Stirfire Studios have created here manages to do just that. The game they have created, Freedom Fall, is more than just a platformer, it’s a game with a real rich sense of humour and a massive heart.

The game started as a personal project of Lisa’s but was picked up by Stirfire Studios as a commercial release upon her move to the company. Freedom Fall was developed in Perth, Australia, and will debut at this year’s PAX Expo Australia in June. It’s currently in Beta on Desura here and can be upvoted on Steam Greenlight here.

The 'hero' of the game Marsh!

In “Freedom Fall” you play as Marsh, the ‘hero’ of the tale. He find himself imprisoned in a tower where the only way to go is down (and sometimes across!) in order to escape. The premise is fairly simple yet very well executed; move downwards avoiding traps, spikes and even a mechanical shark, but this isn’t what sets the game apart from other platformers, it’s the character and heart of the game the creators have imbued in Freedom Fall.

This character comes mainly in the form of the Princess Emph, the daughter of the king and designer of the many dangers in Freedom Fall. After being locked up herself and finding the tower boring she escapes and decided to redecorate and make it her own. Her character really brings the charm and entertainment to the game in a creepy little girl meets Glados (from Portal) kind of way! She tells her story and interacts with the player through messages written on the walls of the tower, developing the story as you progress through the various stages. What results from this clever storytelling is an experience rarely seen in mobile games – it provides a great deal of humour and emotional investment in such a deceptively simple package.

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In terms of gameplay Freedom Fall excels once again. With simple controls and levels varying in direction and challenge and a few pace changes like the mechanical shark it manages to keep the player invested in the game without completely overpowering Emph’s narrative. It also manages to keep this investment without sacrificing any gameplay mechanics. Apart from navigating traps and dangers the player may gather bolts to build several items to help the player traverse the traps such as a parachute and wings to give an extra boost when jumping. These bolts can be found throughout levels and in greater quantities in small side rooms, often giving hints and tips for the next challenge via wall messages. The game also supports two different endings and branching difficulty decisions. As the player moves downward they will reach many crossroads, offering ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ obstacles. The easy choice will of course be less difficult but also will offer less bolts and no side rooms, whereas those who brave the harder traps may find themselves better appeared for the many obstacles ahead. This relatively simple choice gives the player a sense of control and again does something not seen a lot in a mobile package.

The visual style of the game is quite pleasant, with most of it being hand drawn. The simplistic design and implementation works well on any screen from a laptop or desktop to a much smaller mobile touch screen. The soundtrack for the game works well with the fast paced style of game. Freedom fall runs quite well on both platforms with no problems or bugs encountered in my playthrough.

In summation Freedom Fall is quite a fun and entertaining game, perfect for on the go platforming with added heart, or sitting down to enjoy on a bigger computer screen. Regardless of how you play the game, what Lisa and Stirfire Studios have created is quite clever and unique, totally deserving of any gamers time.

You can check out this game at PAX Australia in June, and it will be available to download and play from the 19th of July!

Jungle Rumble Mofongo Tribe monkey

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An epic quest for freedom, happiness, and bananas. This is just a short sum of Disco Pixel’s first upcoming mobile game Jungle Rumble. Disco Pixel is the creation of Trevor Stricker, a video game industry veteran who decided to use his talent to create fun, one of a kind games. Jungle Rumble is still in development and will be released in October, but I was able to have the chance to play a demo of the game before its official release.

Jungle Rumble

The synopsis of the game is as follow. You are a spirit that helps monkeys in the Mofongo tribe and one day the monkeys find that another tribe has arrived in their jungle. The Mofongo tribe relies on the bananas the jungle provides to survive and the other tribe eats those same bananas. Because their carrying capacity will be reduced due to the threat of this new interspecific competition, the Mofongo tribe engages in war against the newcomers for the sake of survival. Your job is to help them beat the enemy tribe.

I love Jungle Rumble because it’s the first game that’s required me to strategize my next move while maintaining focus on my actions in a long time, making it a very intellectually satisfying game. This comes from how the game is played. Jungle Rumble is a rhythm based game that has you match your screen taps to the beat of the background music to move monkeys from one branch to another and have them throw coconuts at the enemy. Once you reach a certain point in the game, you will be able to move multiple monkeys as one unit and have all of them throw coconuts together to knock out enemy packs or move around the tree knocking out every monkey one by one without having to come back to the specific branch with coconuts to collect more. This ability however presents a challenge, to maintain the pack together you have to maintain the beat of the background music without stopping and time your transitions right so the enemy doesn’t go to your branch and knock out your allies or throw coconuts at an empty branch and lose the unit. As the game progresses the beat become tiny bit by tiny bit faster and the layout of every level presents a new challenge.

Jungle Rumble art

Combine this unique gameplay with the stellar, colorful graphics seen and you’ve got the mobile game serious gamers have been waiting for. I am looking forward to the game’s release and with this preview of what’s to come, I wonder about what the studio will do to improve upon the game and what later stages may look like. All in all, I think Disco Pixel has the next big hit in mobile gaming.

By Isabel On 5 Jul, 2013 At 01:39 PM | Categorized As Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Reviews, Television | With 0 Comments
Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?!!

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Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?!!

Adventure Time is one of those rare gems that captured my heart immediately and I’ve been a fan of the series since the first episode. When I found out a real Adventure Time video game would be released I was joyous. Finally a game that will sum up the awesomeness of the show, not an online game or an app, but a full blown out game. The result was satisfying enough, so let’s get to the nitty gritty of this game.

For a game with an uncommonly long name, it was quite short. Too short. With the enormity of The Land of Ooo in the show, I thought there would be more to explore. This paired with how easy the game is makes me recommend this game only to dedicated Adventure Time fans that will love the game for the characters, oh so Adventure Time like story and dialogue, and every reference to the show. It’s a good game everyone should try out, but if you aren’t a fan the current price of the game won’t make you feel like you got your money’s worth.

Princess Bubblegum's pantyhose was stolen!

What makes this game is how faithful it remains to the original show. The creator Pendleton Ward created the entire story and helped in the process of creating the game, making the story equivalent to that of a regular Adventure Time episode (the light hearted ones, not the ones that make you cry yourself to sleep). Almost every character that has appeared in the show is cleverly incorporated into this game seamlessly and items such as tiger claws and the crystal apple show up as items you can use in the game.

You play the game through Finn who carries Jake in his backpack with him. Both Finn and Jake can attack and throughout the game gain new abilities that you need to progress through the obstacle filled caves and dungeons and move from one place to another in The Land of Ooo. And who can talk about this game without mentioning the similarity to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link? You move from one location to another overhead view style. Not only that but the towns and forest are ridiculously tiny compared to the protagonist and en route you can run into ghost that warp you to a random place where you just kill enemies. And when you reach a location you switch to a regular side scroller. The similarities are definitely there and an awesome bonus for anyone who liked that game.

Jake's growing ability

Visually the game is bright and colorful and definitely feels like you’re stepping into Ooo. The background is layered and looks good when playing in 3D. Coming into spots like the Candy Kingdom and Ice King’s Lair, the original backgrounds are there to excite your inner fanboy or fangirl.

Jake using Ear Shield on Giant Worm

It’s a shame the game is too easy, even the bosses are surprisingly easy, except Ice King who was a bit of a challenge. Once you beat the game you can enjoy the credits that reveal a nice surprise in the end. After beating the game the first time you unlock harder gameplay the next run of the game. This makes up a bit for its initial easiness and makes me pretty content. However, as much as I love this game it has a low replay value. The gameplay doesn’t feel varied enough to hold my interest for a long time but its content will have me come back to play it once in a while.

So if you love Adventure Time as much as I do go get yourself a copy and play it for the ride. I hope to come back to The Land of Ooo soon for the next Adventure Time game. Definitely recommended for novice players and Adventure Time fans you’re trying to get into gaming.

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IPod Touch, Only One of Many Forms of Second Screening.

Now, this is only my opinion on the matter and even though I’ve only had one form of  “Second Screening”, this is going to be my overall take on it, going from TV and iPod connectivity alone and do not reflect the obvious differences of the Wii U.  After the first hour of a 3 hour episode of WWE Raw, I’ve got to say that I’m not impressed with the first experience.

The Good:

The idea of having behind the scenes videos during commercials is the best thing any company can do during shows, live or otherwise. What is normally bathroom breaks, is me awkwardly walking to the bathroom with my iPod and Tritton Kunai headset as I am keeping a eye on show content. During the live portion of the show, the app is continuously updating with polls and tweets from the fans as I browse the app after the video abruptly cuts off for  reasons beyond my control.

The Bad:
The content that updates while the show is going on, actually kept me from watching a Pay Per View quality match. I was too in depth with what the WWE Universe (Stupid Fans as Glen Beck puts it.) that I completely missed parts of it, and was super happy that they replayed the dive that Danial Bryan did mid match. This is the only downside to the entire second screening experience, as I have not yet dove into the other realm of watching while a episode of “The Walking Dead” is on.

WWE-app-iOS

What Did I Get From Popping My Cherry?:

Second screening is pointless. I’ve heard people talk about this awesome experience as people tweet, Facebook and interact with friends about what they are watching, but the only thing I’ve gotten out of it was a poor excuse to promote a app, and whore out their wares from their website.

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As Far As Gaming Goes:

With the most recent updates to the Playstation 3 and the PSVita, they added the ability to play ranked and player matches on Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken from your PS Vita to the console counterpart. Does anyone remember the Dreamcast VMU’s and the ability to have stats of your Madden, or Ready To Rumble matches on it? I do, and as shitty as it was, we loved it when we could take it to school and breed Chaos in the middle of study hall. What about using the PSVita for the ability to see your stats in sports or RPG titles? No one will ever think of it, because Sony is using the Vita as a handheld and not as a potential platform for a killer gaming experience.

What is your thoughts on the ability to have a “Second Screen Experience” and where do you think It can go with gaming in the next generation? Tweet me @CupcheckGE :)

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