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Ahhhhhh, Shoot-em-ups. one of my beloved genres of games to play, and twin stick shooters?  A personal favorite. Tachyon Project offers some new and interesting twists on the genre, but does it work?

Tachyon Project is one of the most unique twin stick shooters I have ever gotten my hands on. And while some may call it a “knock-off” and liken it to other games like Geometry Wars, I feel that is an unjust comparison. Tachyon Project has similar feel but is very different and thus should be viewed as its own thing.

The game has an impressive range of visuals, displaying a rush of images at once in a large kaleidoscope of colors and objects present to the player. While it’s not so intense that it would hurt my eyes, others players, especially ones with epileptic issues might should be careful. Still, the visuals and intense effects on display is an impressive sight to behold.

The stages are difficult, and at times intense, but they are not without reward. The leveling system allows you to gain more defense, weapons and abilities. You might have to grind a bit to gain everything but it is very much worth it. Death will come for you many times over but if you keep at it, the rewards are definitely worth sticking with it. A surprising aspect of the game though is the story mode. It does feel a bit….. cliche in places but is nonetheless still a great plus to a twin stick shooter game, giving it a rather rare feel to it, setting it apart from the rest in the genre.

The music is great and sound effects are spot on too. It really helps you get into the mood to have fun. It’s the kind of music that can make a good game better, like Ducktales, or Megaman.

In conclusion, if you got the spare cash and are looking for something to play for a while, give Tachyon Project a try. It ain’t perfect but it doesn’t need to be for you to have a blast.

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Shadow of the Beast was a game for the Amiga, ZX Spectrum and other platforms, developed by Psygnosis and was a visual masterpiece for its time. Psygnosis was later purchased by Sony who thus acquired the ownership of Shadow of The Beast and have now revived the IP for the Playstation 4.

The first thing to note about this game is the fact that this is NOT your traditional beat-em-up game. There are precise controls and movements to be done along with quick time events in order to do well in the game. It can be tricky to learn at first but once you get the hang of it, you will find the game is actually very fun. Some have written off this game, simply due to the control scheme and that’s pretty unfair since the game makes no illusions of what it is. Combat can be fluid and quick, or thought out and deliberate or even both but all it requires is one to follow the directions. When you do that, the game flows well and you get into it much better.

The visuals in this game are absolutely stunning.  The game has beautiful layouts and transitions from 2D to 3D done so well that it can actually leave you speechless for a time. The various areas you visit all seem alive and unique, unlike anything in a video game before it. It is something truly to be seen.

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However, if there is a major flaw in this game, it is in the platforming. The game attempts to mix styles but it is here where it falls short. The platforming in the game is awkward and, at times, can be downright frustrating. The game just doesn’t seem to be made with proper platforming in mind. This can really mess you up when you are in some of the later stages for example where you are in need of precise jump. Its a big mark against an otherwise great game.

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The highly visual style of combat led me to jokingly call this “Odd of War” when I saw the trailer but its not necessarily a bad assessment. The game has a stunning 2D visuals and an ultraviolent combat system that is a beautiful marriage of style and substance. Its not perfect but then again, nothing is. The game can be beaten in just a few hours but there is so much replayability that you will keep coming back. There are unlockable extras including the original Amiga version, which has options to reduce the difficulty (and you will have difficulty with this).  It just has so much in it, that it really does have something for everyone, for both modern and retro gamers. While the platforming does bog it down somewhat, the game is still fantastic and I can easily recommend it. For once, this is a remake that’s done right.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 25 May, 2016 At 09:12 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments
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A few weeks ago, I started playing Super Meat Boy and it’s kept me busy since then. This game will haunt my nightmares for the rest of my days. It is this game that I have learned the true meaning of “platform hell”……and it’s actually a decent video game as well.

Super Meat Boy has a notorious reputation for being a balls hard game. It is well earned reputation but that doesn’t mean the game is bad by any account. The game is difficult but not impossible. This is a game you play if you want to show your friends that you can be good, or if you want to really learn how to get good.

You play as Meat Boy, a wad of meat who has to rescue Bandage Girl, which seems simple if not for the fact that every stage is a sadistic deathtrap. You will soon be ducking and dodging everything imaginable, just to reach the goal and as you progress, it only gets harder and harder. Eventually the early stages will seem like the easiest levels of “Sonic” compared to what happens later on.

But just because a game is hard, does not mean it’s bad. Super Meat Boy is a game that will knock you down and make you like it. It is a game that mocks you at every turn but at the same time, motivates you to continue. This is one of those rare games where no matter how much you die, something just clicks inside of you that makes you want, nay, NEED to beat it. Hard games come out all the time, but only a few actually succeed in this sweet spot like Super Meat Boy,  in terms of 2D Platformers anyways. You will find yourself playing and replaying the levels and becoming more determined than ever to beat it. That is one of the best feelings a game can give you.

Sadly, Super Meat Boy lacks the original soundtrack that it had before, due to licensing issues, but the new soundtrack is a very suitable replacement. The visuals look great and the presentation is all around top notch.

If you are a fan of platformers, hard, easy or otherwise, then you owe it to yourself to check out this game.

 

 

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Indie games on the Wii U come in a large variety of genres and the puzzle platformers are among the best. The Beggar’s Ride is a puzzle platformer that does the genre right and tries its best to bring in new ideas.

The Beggar’s Ride makes use of both in game powerups as well as the Wii U gamepad for puzzle solving and progression. The gamepad is used for both touchscreen interactivity and motion controls, the likes of which have only been seen in a few games on the system. But is it fun? I would say so, and it is most certainly one of the most inviting games on the system. The kind that tries all it can to bring you in and keep playing. I liked what I played of it but I will admit that it is not for everyone. The aforementioned puzzle elements involving the gamepad will no doubt alienate many as it requires a significantly higher amount of paying attention than most puzzle games. However if you can get past the controls, then fun will be had.

The Beggar’s Ride is one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen on Wii U, with an art style that helps its gameplay seem more involving than most others. It really has to be seen in motion to be understood. Combined with its control scheme, The Beggar’s Ride is a game that presents itself as more than just another game. The music in the game is great and really helps you get into the experience as well. It is the kind of music that makes you feel like you are becoming part of something.

Bottom line, if you want a puzzle platformer that offers a new experience, then I suggest trying this out. If you are turned off by new control schemes, then look elsewhere.

 

By Jessica Brister On 16 May, 2016 At 07:20 PM | Categorized As Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarOne of the fun things to do as a geek parent is share your love of various fandoms with your children. I am definitely guilty of this. I really adore sharing geeky stuff with my daughter. Now that Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise and with the release of The Force Awakens, there are tons of new novelty items out for fans to purchase. My daughter received a boxed set of Star Wars Little Golden books that follow the first six movies. If you don’t know, Little Golden books are children’s books with a gold-colored binding. Many of you may have read them as kids or are currently reading them to your kids. After reading through The Phantom Menace with my daughter, we moved on to Attack of the Clones. It was just as cute and entertaining, and my daughter particularly loved this one for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan goes to Kamino to discover that the Republic has a new army of clones. I’m assuming that if you are interested in this book, you probably already know the rest, so I’ll spare you the details.

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Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Little Golden Book edition) was written by Christopher Nicholas and illustrated by Ethen Beavers. It was published in 2015 by Golden Books. This particular book was actually a packaged deal with five other Star Wars episodes as children’s books, but for the purpose of this review, I will only be discussing Attack of the Clones.

The book highlights the main points of the movie. Padme is in danger from assassins, so Anakin is recruited to watch her and keep her safe. Romance ensues.  Though Attack of the Clones was slightly better in plot than The Phantom Menace, there were still big long sections of dull stuff that could have just been cut out. As a children’s book, though, the story gets right to the point, glimpsing past some of the cringe-worthy romance between Padame and Anakin as well as some of the boring politics. In some ways, it was more fun to read this story as a children’s story than as an actual movie.

The book is aimed at older children as it has no rhyming and does not focus on teaching. It’s more story-oriented than anything else. The book only comes with regular pages and a hard cover, so parents with very young children might want to wait. I know my little one could only do board books very awhile because she would tear at the pages.

The illustrations were great and very child-friendly. They gelled together well with the style of writing and were very appropriate for a younger audience. There are illustrations on every page with text, and the pictures really did do a great job of furthering the narration when needed.

Overall, I would rate the book highly since it did a great job as a novelty children’s book: tells a fun tale that is full of action and adventure. Attack of the Clones is not one of my favorite Star Wars movies, but it does a great job as being a children’s book. I would recommend this book for any geek parent who would like to share Star Wars with their kids.

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No GravatarSometimes there are very special games that will forever hold a place in the heart of gamers. Chrono Trigger is one of those games. It is a game that is often hailed as being one of the best RPGs of all time and, in many cases, can be considered on of the greatest games of all time, period. Here are the reasons why:

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Chrono Trigger is a role-playing game developed by Square (now Square Enix) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game was created by a team of extremely talented individuals, including Final Fantasy’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was published in 1995 with critical success and was the third best-selling game of that year. Chrono Trigger was later ported to the PlayStation in 1999 and then repackaged in 2001 with Final Fantasy IV as “Final Fantasy Chronicles.” With such critical and commercial success, it has been later ported to the mobile platforms of the Nintendo DS, iOS, and Android. It is a revolutionary game that spawned the sequel Chrono Cross and gave a lot of fans some very happy memories.

The game follows Crono, a main character who never speaks during the game, Marle, a princess, and Lucca, Crono’s super-smart friend. During a Millennial Fair for the time period of AD 1000 in their world, Lucca and her father demonstrate a new teleporter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like it was supposed to and teleports Crono, Marle, and Lucca in time. They bounce around both forward and backward in time, learning about a creature named Lavos that wipes out civilization. The party is then determined to do what they can to save the world through time travel.

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It is a fantastic story, filled with twists and turns. Players end up traveling between seven different eras with their distinct characters, setting, and feel. Along the way, you meet the wonderful characters of Robo, Ayla, Magus, and the best and coolest video game character of all time, Frog. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Trust me, though. Frog is freaking amazing.

One of the many revolutionary aspects of Chrono Trigger was the possibility of multiple endings. However, there were other advancements including plot-related, character-driven sidequests. These may not seem like a big deal today, but in 1995, that was unheard of.

Though the game play is a fairly standard RPG, there were several new ideas to come forth as well. Done with beautiful two-dimensional graphics (that still look good, by the way), the player can roam around in an overworld typical of RPGs of the time and visit different areas. Each area has things to interact with, whether it be people to talk to, puzzles to solve, or enemies to defeat. One change to the traditional RPG is that Chrono Trigger has random encounters for enemies, some which may be visible and some that will ambush you. Unlike other RPGs at the time as well, the game’s battles take place in the same map area instead of being whisked off to a different screen.

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During fights with enemies, Chrono Trigger uses an active battle approach. Each character can do an action based off of a personal timer that is affected by that character’s stats. Characters can either do a straight attack or use their Techs, which use their magic points. One unique feature for the time was the ability to do combined attacks with characters using the Techs. The characters can double or triple their Tech use to create an even greater effect.

The game play is a lot of fun and allows a player to use many tactics to defeat enemies. Another really cool element that Chrono Trigger officially introduced was the New Game+ feature that allowed players to keep their characters’ stats, techniques, and inventory when playing a new game. This helped players go through the multiple endings easier. Though this idea may have been used in earlier games, from my research, it does look like Chrono Trigger was the first to actually use the term “New Game+.” Pretty awesome, right?

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One of my favorite game elements of Chrono Trigger is actually the soundtrack. It was primarily done by Yasunori Mitsuda, who had some help with the legendary Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. The shear amount of tracks for the game was an amazing feat for the time frame. The music is otherworldly and consists of some amazing songs, one of which is my all-time favorite: Frog’s Theme. Seriously, whenever I do something cool, I start humming it. Yes, the song is THAT epic.

Chrono Trigger took some giant leaps forward for gaming. It helped push some of the gaming elements that we all love so much in modern RPGs, especially Western RPGs. The game will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am planning on making it the first game that my daughter and I play together. It is just THAT amazing.

By Jessica Brister On 15 May, 2016 At 04:03 PM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarThe geek in me loves Star Wars. The English teacher in me loves Shakespeare. So why not combine the two and make people just like me extremely happy? Well, this actually is a thing. Someone has gone through an re-written the classic Star Wars movies into Shakespearean plays. I received Episodes IV through VI as a set and think they are an absolute blast to read. For the purposes of this review, I will only be concentrating on A New Hope, or as it has been so aptly renamed: Verily, A New Hope.

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope was written by Ian Doescher and was published in 2013 by Quirk Books. At this time, the first six Star Wars movies have been published in this series so that nerds like me can collect them all. Doescher decided to write these books because George Lucas purposely put archetypal characters in Star Wars, and Shakespeare pretty much is the king of archetypes. It was pretty much a match made in heaven to rewrite the stories in the form of a Shakespearean play.

Verily, a New Hope is essentially Star Wars: A New Hope in iambic pentameter with stage directions. The plot has stayed the same, but the dialogue has been greatly changed. It was definitely a fun way to read a story that I’ve watched and read so many times before. I’m assuming that you are familiar with the basic plot of the story if you are reading this, so I will focus more on how this version differs from the original.

Besides the traditional Shakespearean format and rhythm and rhyme, the book is written from the perspective that the reader already knows the plot twists in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. There are several asides that let a couple cats out of the bag. There is also an added scene that I thought was interesting where Luke, after the trash compactor seen, holds up the storm trooper’s helmet he had been wearing and does an aside like Hamlet did with the skull.

It was interesting to see how different parts of a story set in space would work on a stage. Sometimes, instead of seeing the action, a character will just go ahead and tell you what just happened. The big battle at the end was done as characters just standing on the stage, representing that they were in a ship. Honestly, it’s probably the best that could be done as a play.

One thing that got to me—and this isn’t an actual issue with the book—was some of the iconic Star Wars lines had to be replaced by something that sounded Shakespearean. The Han Solo scene on the Death Star on the detention block with the com speaker was just…not as good for me. It’s really nothing wrong with the book itself. That’s just me being crazy about certain Star Wars things. It can’t be helped.

I loved that the story was separated into a traditional five act play and split up into scenes. The story was divided perfectly to demonstrate the rising action and climax. It’s actually interesting how well A New Hope fit as a Shakespearean play. It felt natural. It didn’t feel forced at all.

Overall, this was an excellent addition to my collection of Star Wars literature. It obviously caters to a very small niche of people, so it is definitely not for everyone. Regardless, I really enjoyed it, and I think that any literary/Star Wars geek will love it.

By Jessica Brister On 14 May, 2016 At 11:43 PM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarMany geek parents often like to share their various fandoms with their children. I am no exception. I love doing geeky stuff with my daughter. With Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise and the release of The Force Awakens, there have been a lot more novelty items available. One of the cuter items that I have seen is Little Golden Book editions of all of the Star Wars movies. If you don’t know, Little Golden books are children’s books with a gold-colored binding. Many of you may have read them when you were kids. Well, I read the Phantom Menace version with my daughter and thought that it was a cute way to share Star Wars with her.

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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Little Golden Book edition) was written by Courtney Carbone and illustrated by Heather Martinez. It was published in 2015 by Golden Books. The book that I received was actually a packaged deal with five other Star Wars episodes as children’s books, but for the purpose of this review, I will only be discussing The Phantom Menace.

The book obviously follows the main highlights of the movie. As much as I really disliked it as a movie, it’s kind of cute as a children’s book. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi try to help out with the blockade of the planet Naboo by the Trade Federation. They end up escaping with Padame and meeting a young force-talented boy. The rest is history. It’s kind of funny because of how convaluted the politics were with the movie, but in a children’s book, it sticks with the main plot and makes it sort of enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that The Phantom Menace is an abomination. However, it’s a little more bearable when you are reading it to a child.

It is really for older children, so there is no rhyme scheme to it. The book is not for very young children who like to tear at pages, since it is not a board book and is more focused on telling a story than teaching.

The illustrations were quite cute and very child-friendly. Even characters who could be considered “scary” for a young child like Darth Maul or Darth Sidious were a little more friendlier-looking for the younger audience. There are illustrations on every page with text as well as a few pages that are full illustrations. The pictures did a great job of furthering the narration when needed.

Overall, I would rate the book highly since it does its job as a novelty children’s book: tells a tale full of action and adventure, where good wins over evil. Obviously, it’s still The Phantom Menace, so I was cringing at bit at some of the parts. However, I felt that it was well suited for kids and was actually quite cute.

By Jessica Brister On 14 May, 2016 At 10:33 PM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarI will have to admit that as a geek parent, I often purchase items for my daughter that are for nostalgic purposes or are just plain geeky gimmicks. When I saw the children’s book Goodnight Darth Vader, I knew that I just had to have it because…why not? (I ended up putting it on her wish list, and my sister got it for my daughter as a birthday present.) I think it’s cute that there are so many geek novelty items out there that I can share with my daughter. This particular Star Wars-themed children’s books is particularly adorable in all of the right ways. It brings back a lot of nostalgia for adults, and is fairly cute for the kids.

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Goodnight Darth Vader is a children’s book written and illustrated by Jeffrey Brown. It was published in 2014 by Chronicle Books. Brown has written previous Star Wars-themed children’s books such as Darth Vader an Son (2012) and Vader’s Littler Princess (2013). Goodnight Darth Vader continues the tradition of combining the rhythm and repetition of children’s books with cute pictures and Star Wars content. It parodies the classic children’s book, Goodnight Moon.

The premise of the book is that Darth Vader needs to get his children, Luke and Leia to bed, as if they were a somewhat normal family. The rest of the book goes through saying “goodnight” to all of the familiar Star Wars characters from the original trilogy to the prequels. It’s definitely a nostalgia trip for the adult reading the book, though I’m not quite sure if the young child will appreciate it as much.

The “good nights” go (mostly) in chronological order from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi. Every two pages rhyme, so when you open the book, each set of pages go together. Some of the rhyming doesn’t flow as nicely as other sets, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable book to read aloud to a child.

The artwork is definitely the best part of the book. It fits the tone and feel of the book quite well. Each page has a fairly full color comic-like drawing of a particular Star Wars scene. Sure, it’s cutesy, but it is a children’s book after all.

Though the book is very enjoyable, I wish that there was the option of getting it as a board book so that it is a little more toddler-proof. I could only find it as either an e-book or as a hard cover with soft pages. Overall, though, I think this is a great buy for Star Wars fans who would like to share their fandom with the younger generation.  Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but I don’t think most adults who are considering purchasing this book will mind.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 13 May, 2016 At 05:05 AM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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Sci Fi games that involve obstacle jumping and dodging with ships are a strange breed. Some can be good and some….not so much. Sadly, this game falls more into the latter category.  What do I mean by this? Well let’s go into detail.

SpaceRoads pretty much involves guiding a spaceship to jump over obstacles and reach a goal. Not too much involved and what is involved is not a good product. The controls are completely broken and veer from too stiff to too sensitive to the touch.  Given that this involves a lot of jumping and dodging, this can easily lead to much frustration. The awkward controls repeatedly got in the way and after numerous instances of this, my frustration reached an all time high.

Another point against this game is the music. It is a repeating loop that immediately gets on your nerves and makes you want to pull a Mick Foley and get your ear ripped off ( Much Love Mick, I’ve always been a big fan). The music is bad enough, but being on a repeated loop just drives you that insane. Its bad in small doses but as its presented? Horrible.

The visuals in the game are not bad, but are not anything to write home about. They are decent to average graphics. In fact they may be the only thing decent about this game. If I seem harsh, that is because this game was just that unpleasant to play. I don’t want to discourage the developer, Wurd Industries, as I think they do have potential to be great developers. They should take this opportunity to learn from this experience and do better next time.  I would love to see what they can do with some more experience and learning.

Overall, I would suggest passing on this game.

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