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By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Aug, 2017 At 06:44 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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There is always that one game. It is the game that you loved and played constantly, the game that enthralled you, that made you say “Wow, this is awesome”. That feeling of joy when you play that game is hard to recapture for multiple reasons, and chief among them is that your memories make the game seem better than it really was. This often leads to remasters that go overboard in updating a game’s look, only to make the game look less like the memories and more like a modern game. It is for this reason, I was nervous when I heard Blizzard would be remastering StarCraft 1. I was worried that too much would be changed and it would defeat the purpose. I am happy to say that I was wrong in that regard.

StarCraft Remastered actually managed to take the game and redo the art in a way that doesn’t betray the original game and does feel like a big improvement. The sprite based artwork has been redone with a heavy emphasis on detail and you can see the textures and amazing artwork much better. It even manages to give the game’s sprites the illusion of 3D at times. This is aided by a zoom in feature that has been added to the game which, when used on units and areas, shows just how much work went into every last part of the game. I am absolutely amazed at the excellent job done with this, and Blizzard’s team did great work. The new lighting effects really make things pop, and it just brings me so much joy to play this.

Other changes to the game include missions being preceded by new 3D talking portraits in the ready rooms. The ready rooms have also received an awesome makeover, which helps keep things fresh. As well, ranked multiplayer has a ranked Elo number that reflects wins and losses, with matchmaking working extremely well in this version. Best of all is that most of the custom maps are still here.

Now for the bad part ( for some). Some of the game’s features are very dated in terms of mechanics, due to not updating things such as unit pathfinding. This can create some annoyances, and there is an adjustment back to how things were played before, but to be honest it feels right that the gameplay was left this way. It may be alienating to some more casual players, but it is how StarCraft was meant to be played, and fits with this game being StarCraft as you remembered it.

 

In the end, I had a blast with this remaster and truly appreciate what Blizzard did. I must fully recommend this game to everyone.

 

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 17 Aug, 2017 At 10:06 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Sonic hasn’t had a good time as of late. Many of his games have been lacking and the fans have been divided. There were many who felt Sonic belonged in the past……and others took inspiration from that idea. Sega had worked with indie developers on ports and remasters of the original Sonic games in the last few years. These games were well received, and thus an idea was born, a new game would be made from a remix of classic levels with new ideas and content. The result is Sonic Mania, a game that returned to the past and proved why we fell in love with Sonic.

Sonic Mania is a beautiful tribute to the original games, and serves as a what if? type game, for what kind of Sonic we may have seen on the 32x or Sega Saturn. New ideas such as the drop dash are brought in and they fit wonderfully with the gameplay The new stages and content feel right at home in a Sonic game, and I have to give a lot of credit to the developers for doing this so well. In addition, the games pays homage to various Sega and Sonic games in a variety of ways, from small shoutouts, to a major point that I will not mention due to spoilers. The game definitely keeps things fresh and changes things at the right pace.

There are some issues, namely the Switch version has some delay when interacting with the home button and share button, and there are some bugs that still managed to seep through. It can get annoying but I have not personally noticed anything gamebreaking just yet.

One thing I must comment on is how the game has so much replayability to it, just playing the stages gives you many ways to progress but Playing as a different character really does change things up, especially if you play as Knuckles. It adds a lot to the game, and makes me want to keep playing and experience more. From the boss battles, to the levels, there is great music and animation. The tunes in this game are great and just give you an immersive feeling.

Sonic Mania is a Sonic game that just feels right, even with the bugs. It is a well made game and looks great, and has the right mix of nostalgia and new. It really does help remind people why Sonic became an icon. This is the best Sonic game made in years and I hope Sega continues this. You should definitely check this out.

 

This game was reviews on the Nintendo Switch.

 

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I am a fan of The Elder Scrolls series as should be well evident from my articles by now. Instead of talking about a particular game today however, I wanted to do something else and discuss the various DLC expansions released for the main games. I will not be discussing Elder Scrolls Online at this time, but may do another list in the future. This list is purely my opinion, and I ranked the DLC based off of quality, what it did for the game, how well it was received, and how well it held up years later.

 

 

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

 

 

Without further delay, let us start with Number 7.

 

7: Hearthfire 

Hearthfire is a great little DLC, but there is emphasis needed for the word little. It doesn’t have a huge amount of content like the other expansions, but what it does offer is some new followers, new houses and children to adopt. It isn’t the most exciting DLC but it does help the role playing experience and does allow a greater degree of immersion. There isn’t much to talk about. Its a nice way to build on the game but there isn’t much to it.

6: Knights of the Nine 

Knights of the Nine was the first major expansion for Oblivion and it was well received at the time. However, I honestly feel it hasn’t actually held up as well as the main game or what came later. To me, Knights of the Nine feels like an attempt to bring Morrowind’s narrative style to Oblivion in a way that just didn’t fit. The story was good, don’t get me wrong and the expansion did offer a neat experience, but it just has not held up as well as others. It is also rather short and doesn’t feel as well developed as the other expansions, bar Hearthfire.

5: Tribunal

I can hear the anger already. Tribunal serves as a direct sequel to the story of Morrowind, one of the most acclaimed games in the series, so how could I only put it at number 5? Well, to be honest, it isn’t very good. I rated this above Knights of the Nine because of the fact that the story is a continuation of the events of the main game and is very important for that reason. That being said, the expansion has a lot of issues, a story that feels ill plotted at times, and game mechanics that take you out of the immersion. It is an important DLC but not one that I particularly like.

4: Dawnguard

The top 4 DLC expansions are all amazing and I had a hard time choosing which to put in number 4 through 2, but I came to the conclusion that Dawnguard fits best in this spot. The vampire threat is a big departure from the main quest of Skyrim, but the story does actually build on the lore of the game and the series in general. It introduced amazing characters like Serana, explored the history of Skyrim and the Falmer, and showed us the truth about the soul gems. It had an atmosphere of adventure, tough enemies and great new abilities. Plus it overhauled the perk system and due to the choice you make early one, there are two ways to actually explore the DLC.

3: Bloodmoon

The 2nd expansion for Morrowind is far and away the better one.  This is the first time we are introduced to Solstheim and the Skaal people among other things. Bloodmoon introduced the Lycanthropy ability to the game and offered a unique area that felt large and yet different from the main game. it felt new and different and had a great charm to it. The quests were great, there was a lot to do in the expansion and it brought a lot of innovation. It does not get the attention that Tribunal gets, which is a shame because it is a far better expansion, as it is better developers, has a better story, and a much better sense of immersion with more choices for the player.  It has aged better than tribunal and is simpley a better experience.

 

2: Dragonborn

The third and final dlc expansion for Skyrim, Dragonborn is set once again on Solstheim, only 200 years have passed since Bloodmoon. You can now see how things have changd, while exploring a familiar setting for players of Morrowind. As with Bloodmoon, there is a lot to do in this expansion, but it goes beyond as we get an epic plot that discusses the nature of the Dragonborn more, awesome new abilities and shouts, great new weapons and armor and more. This isn’t even mentioning the excellent quests and characters that are in the dlc. Reviving Raven Rock gives a real sense of accomplishment, and honestly, this feels like proper semi sequel to Skyrim more than Tribunal felt like a continuation of Morrowind. This is a story that emphasizes how things have changed and how you are the one to help make things right.

 

1: Shivering Isles

There was no other choice for the number one spot. Shivering Isles  is the greatest DLC expansion for an Elder Scrolls game so far. If Cyrodil felt like too much of a typical European fantasy setting, then this solved that problem by making the setting a bizarre would where madness ruled. It made Sheogorath into a fan favourite character and gave him some amazing lines. There was so much to do, and so many ways to do them. There was a sense of whimsicalness as well as a tragic undertone building up throughout the story. The ending was amazing, with Jyggalag being freed from his curse and the cycle of the Greymarch broken, and then your character ascending to godhood as the new Sheogorath. Nothing has topped this yet, and I doubt anything will. Shivering Isles could have been a standalone game and it would still have been amazing. There is a reason the fans love this one the most, and time has been very kind to it, unlike some other expansions. It is simply a masterpiece of game design.

 

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the list. Let me know what you think of it, and some suggestions you think would make good lists.

 

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and not necessarily the views of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 10 Aug, 2017 At 11:51 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Few fighting games have made as much of an impact as Super Smash Bros. The party/platformer/fighting game obviously had the big draw of being a Nintendo crossover, but the combat has gained attention as well, due to its unique nature.

As with any big product, fans have their own ideas for how to do things, and in one such case, a spiritual sequel came to be in the form of Brawlout. Brawlout takes what works from the Smash Bros series, and gives its own unique spin on it. It is a well designed fighting game and while it doesn’t have the unique characters of Nintendo, the characters of Brawlout have their own charm to them. The developers could have gone the easy route and made the characters generic but instead they actually do feel like characters.

The combat mechanics are mostly similar to Smash Bros Melee but the game does take some hints from Brawl and other fighters. This is not a bad thing at all, and the game feels less like a clone, than a tribute. I was concerned I would find the fighting bland, like with many tribute games, but instead I really got into it and had a blast. The game ran smoothly and the fighting was quick and without fault. Playing against others was fun and made me appreciate all the work the developers did.

Brawlout is amazing more when you realize it is still being built on, as it is an early access game. It doesn’t feel incomplete, but rather it feels like the developers just happen to have more they want to do with it and that is fine. I am eager to see what comes next in the game.  Some have said this surpasses Smash as a fighter, but that isn’t a necessary comparison. It compliments Smash by making you realize how well done both games are. That is a rare feat and Angry Mob games did well with this. I recommend checking this out.

 

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A review key was provided for the game

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Warning: This post contains spoilers

When DOOM released last year, it had a lot of interesting ideas and concepts in it. The multiplayer was not to everyone’s liking, but the single player was viewed as one of the best games ever made. It  featured great gameplay, amazing action and a good amount of energy. But what wasn’t acknowledged by many ( although some did), was the way the game handled the narrative. Namely, in a game that was a throwback to old school shooters ( and a successful throwback at that), DOOM had a surprisingly strong narrative that elevated it above being a mindless shooter. Many shooters have a strong narrative but DOOM succeeded in an area that few others do: Show, don’t tell.

The game contained large amounts of lore that you could find that detailed the backstory of the Doom Slayer and the demons. This is reminiscent of other games like Metroid Prime, but with one major difference. That is, Metroid Prime is exploration and adventure focused, while DOOM is action focused. Thus id Software essentially blurred genres while still keeping the game focused on action. Its been pointed out by people like Jim Sterling, that the Doom Slayer’s mannerisms make him a unique character in that even without saying anything and only really showing a pair of hands. It was just the way he moved, the way the camera was angled at certain times, that conveyed emotion and told a story without needing words. You could feel his anger in his reaction to what happened. He came off less as psycho who could only solve things by shooting, and rather as someone who honestly felt everything had to be stopped because he had seen the true extent of the damage that could be caused by tampering with Hell’s power.

But it goes even further. As user, Sir Bill noted here on the SpaceBattles forum, DOOM actually has a large degree of moral ambiguity. Using the Argent energy means tampering with Hell, but Dr. Hayden has a point. The humans have been using it for decades and have devoted fields of science to it. There is no alternative available. The Doom Slayer has seen what horrors Hell can do, with the destruction of his home world being a clear example. Hayden is fighting to keep humanity alive the only way he can, and the Doom Slayer is opposing him because he has seen the damage and destruction this can bring. Both sides have a point and both are right. No words are needed about the matter because the game tells you this without words. It is a masterful case of showing instead of just telling, with the closest acknowledgment in the dialogue being part of Hayden’s reasoning at the end for banishing the Doom Slayer.

DOOM 2016 was assumed to be just an action game, albeit an awesome one, but now we can see that this game has subverted the expectations of what narrative in an FPS should be. Given all id Software and Bethesda accomplished here, I cannot wait to see what they do next. I doubt narrative driven FPS games are going to be the norm in the future, but this is an awesome way to do it, as DOOM, despite the gore and violence and high energy, is subtle in an area where most developers struggle to be subtle. That is skilled writing and I must commend the team on that.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Aug, 2017 At 11:30 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Retro City Rampage is a beloved indie gem and has now come to the Nintendo Switch. But does this version hold up well? Or is the game overrated? Well, if you saw the title, you might have a hint as to what I felt.

Retro City Rampage is many things in one. It is a demake of the GTA series as well as a loving homage to the 90’s and early 90’s. Pop culture references abound from movies, tv and of course gaming, but then there is the modern ideas that are celebrated as well. These include jabs, lighthearted and otherwise, at modern gaming, as well as references to other indie games. In fact, with some like bit.trip, this goes so far as including crossover content along with some internet personalities. It seems like an odd combination but it blends really well.

Gameplay is similar to the original GTA games but also with more throwbacks to the NES era to shake things up.  Platforming segments, swimming segments reminiscent of TMNT and more abound. But in addition to including parody, the game actually does have a decent narrative. It is completely bonkers but that is part of the charm and it just fits well. Plus running around in a rampage is oddly satisfying….and yes I realize how disturbing that sounds. But the best part of the game being a throwback are the cheats. Cheats aren’t done much today so this was a welcome addition. They will disable your ability to save, so it is more for having fun than completing the game. Enter some well known cheats from older games and you may be surprised.

The last thing I want to mention is how the game has a great 8 bit soundtrack and the developer went above and beyond to create and awesome audio variety for the game.it takes a great game and makes it even better, yes there are issues like the driving segments being awkward, but you get used to it. I fully recommend getting this on Switch!

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Batman and Superman are two of the most well known superheroes ever created. In fact, I would say they are the most famous ones. It is common to see fans of the characters express their thoughts, but one thing always annoys me. The claim that Batman is better than Superman.

For many reasons, this is foolish. Not just because if there was a fight within actual canon, there is no way Batman could win, but rather looking at the characters and seeing what they represent.

Batman, is a symbol of fear. That’s been a part of the mythos since the origin was given. He chose the bat to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but lets continue. Batman has devoted himself to his life of crimfighting to the point that it takes priority over all else. In many ways,  Bruce Wayne is just a mask for Batman, who is the true personality. And what kind of personality does he have? That of a traumatized child unable to cope with a tragedy.  He fights the villains in Gotham, but more than one character has suggested that his presence actually attracts the villains to Gotham, making things worse.  In fact, the Joker calls Batman out on his mental state several times, notably in The Killing Joke, where he suggests Batman had “one bad day”. Obviously someone who recruits children into his war on crime, and is willing to build a satellite to spy on everyone, isn’t the most stable of individuals.

Batman has contingency plans to take down other heroes if they go rouge, but figures one isn’t needed for him, the man with billions, who can take down the Justice League.  If anything, Batman is one step away from being a supervillain himself. I wondered why that hadn’t been explored more, but then I realized it had been, just with another name you may have heard of: Lex Luthor. But while Lex is more motivated by jealousy and greed, the scary thing is that he still comes off as more stable at times than Batman, given how he is able to outsmart both Batman and Superman. Batman symbolism is less one of comfort and more one of fear and tyranny. While Lex needs to maintain his image, what would stop Batman from just deciding he can fix everything? Batman is a dangerously unstable character if you really think about it.

Now let us look at Superman. Superman is the opposite of Batman in ways people don’t think about. Not just because he has amazing powers, but rather what he represents. He is a symbol of hope, and a source of inspiration. Whereas Batman creates fear, Superman inspires hope in people. This can be traced to his origin as well. Yes he was sent from krypton as a baby to escape its destruction, but he was also raised by a kindly couple in Ma and Pa Kent. They raised him with good values and to be a good person. Superman is said to stand for Truth, Justice and The American Way, but what does that mean. Truth and Justice are easy to understand, but The American Way? The American Way is actually simple and isn’t what most people think it is. Its the one idea that has driven America from its beginnings and still does. If you feel something is wrong, you fight to change it. From the revolution, to the civil war, to the civil rights movements, this has been the driving philosophy in America, you fight for what is right.

Superman  isn’t just an all powerful alien. Whereas I feel Bruce Wayne is a mask for Batman, I feel that the consensus is wrong, Superman is a mask Clark Kent wears. The idea of an evil Superman can make for a good villain, but Superman as a character doesn’t make sense to be evil. Whereas Batman noted he wont kill, but he does hurt people, Superman is more likely to try and resolve a situation without harm if possible. He will only release his power against someone who can take it. If anything, it is Superman who feels more human than Batman. And as noted above, his enemy is Lex Luthor, who is someone Batman could easily become. Superman may have powers far beyond what humans have, but he acts and feels human, whereas Batman is essentially hanging on by a thread to his sanity. The excellent comic story “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, And The American Way?” proves why Superman is an amazing character in contrast to darker and edgier characters. When contrasted against the Elite, he proves their reasoning flawed and shows that not only does his way work, but they are little more than psychopaths.

It all comes down to symbols in the end. Batman represents fear and control, and Superman represents hope and justice. I know which one I feel is better.

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The above was the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Jul, 2017 At 04:48 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarKnights of Pen and Paper was one of the most ridiculous and awesome games I have ever played. It was a brilliant spin on RPG games and I honestly could not get enough of it. The game has now received a sci-fi themed successor called Galaxy of Pen and Paper and I can honestly say that it more than lives up to its predecessor.

Galaxy of Pen and Paper is, like Knights, a parody of RPGs and Tabletop RPGS in particular while still showing off why they are awesome. There is an increased character variety in this game and more options become available gradually. As well, the game has much more interaction when it comes to the story. These boil down to choices and while they don’t do much for the outcome ( besides jokes here and there), they do make a difference for your character. Choosing a character is much more detailed in this game and that is a great touch. The narrative in general just feels more developed and the world itself more vivid. And this is all done with minimalist graphics to boot!.

The combat in the game has more variety and there are a lot more options for what you can imagine doing. Even going to different areas feels more improved, and restoring health is handled much better. As for the story itself? Galaxy of Pen and Paper continues its predecessor’s charm and has the same witty dialogue and writing. The story is funny and yet isn’t meant to be anything spectacular, instead just paying tribute through parody to the gaming conventions that we love.

Galaxy of Pen and Paper  is an incredible game, with great music and a fun atmosphere. If you want a game that will just be a fun time and not give you issues, then this is the game for you. I must highly recommend it.

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

A code was provided for this review

By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Jul, 2017 At 04:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Twin Stick Shooters are a staple of the indie gaming scene. This is good for me, as I love the genre, but the fact is that many of the games fall into the same tropes and conventions as all the others. Some differentiate themselves by becoming more character based, some by having a story to them, while others try something a little different. Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a Twin Stick Shooter that makes heavy use of tactical strategy.  It has been done before, but somehow, the developers found a way to make it stand out. Whether its the unique environments or atmosphere, or the deeper gameplay, Solstice Chronicles: MIA manages to shine. brightly.

Story plays a much bigger role in this game than I expected, and the narrative did manage to keep me hooked for a while, but what sold me on it was the fact that you cannot rush in guns blazing. In fact, in many instances you must decide whether to attack or retreat. This is not something I’ve seen done all that much in the genre and it helped keep things fresh for me. Add into that, the skill tree and leveling elements, and you have one of the most unique twin stick shooters ever.

It is not perfect, and does get repetitive at times, and there are moments that throw you off due to a difficulty spike, but these are not big issues. Solstice Chronicles: MIA  is one of the most developed and well designed twin stick shooters ever made. It manages to have a unique identity and has it without going down a path that will lead only to infamy. When I heard the premise of the game, I did not expect I would enjoy it that much, which made it a very pleasant surprise that I did.

Solstice Chronicles: MIA  is a game I would recommend to all twin stick shooter fans, but also fans of action and strategy action games. You cannot go wrong with this one.

 

 

 

 

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Disclaimer: A review code was provided

By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Jul, 2017 At 06:58 PM | Categorized As Featured, Games You Slept On, Old School Otaku, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I am a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series and have been for years. It is one of the premiere RPG series and one of the premiere open world game series. People rave about how amazing Oblivion and Morrowind were, and Skyrim is considered one of the best games of the last few years, but many don’t realize just how important the first games were.

I will concede that the first game, Arena, is rather generic. It came off as more of a Wizardry clone, as well as containing many basic fantasy elements that didn’t make it stand out. later games would take the ideas and make them great but Arena is not the best the series has to offer. That said, too many people write off the second game in the series, Daggerfall. I am of the opinion that Daggerfall was one of the most important games ever made, and was a turning point for the RPG genre and open world games.

To begin, Daggerfall was a true 3D game unlike Arena’s 2.5D engine, and took full advantage of that to create a explorable world. In fact, the world in Daggerfall is one of the biggest ever in a video game, albeit with the drawback of having a lot of dead space. Still, it is this open world 3D development that directly led to more innovation in open world games and also taught developers what the limits should be. Thanks to this, we have gotten great games including not only Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, but also the Witcher games and Breath of the Wild.

Another point to mention is that Daggerfall allowed for true roleplaying rather than just getting experience. You had to mold your character and develop them by choices. Choices were a big part of the game, including the very ending, which had multiple possible outcomes. It had a lot more of a unique feeling than anything else at the time and part of the reason was that unlike Arena, the developers did not take many influences from other games.

Daggerfall had some very important lore aspects as well for the series, as it was this game that introduced the Daedra, as well as started several long running storylines such as the Dwemer, Mannimarco and so on. the events of this game’s story had a major impact on all the later games, yet that isn’t realized by many players who came late to the series. Yes, Daggerfall seems dates by today’s standards, but it is this game that laid the foundation for so many greats, including one can argue, Baldur’s Gate. Through both storytelling and game design, Daggerfall helped make RPG gaming what it is today, and we all owe a debt to it for that.

If you haven’t played the game, you really should. it is a true classic and indeed it is one of the most important games ever made. Even if many people simply do not realize that this is the case, it needed to be said.

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Real otaku Gamer or its staff.