Posts Tagged: Mike D

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Thrift stores are neat, in the sense that one can rummage through an assortment of garbage and useless knick knacks in hopes of finding some hidden treasure or some amazing item you never knew you wanted, but now cannot fathom life without it.  In my experience, whether I go into a thrift store with an agenda or not, I always seem to find something that randomly perks my interest.

This is usually the same situation I deal with when I peruse through the many titles in the Xbox Live Indie selection.  Amongst a barrage of vibrator apps, Minecraft clones and avatar games, every now and then you find a game that, quite honestly, I would’ve paid 160 MS points for.

On such occasion, that game was Trailer Park King.  I knew absolutely nothing about this game, aside from the typical washed out rocker with terrible fashion sense, which usually lurked around the small town I grew up with.  On either side of this outstanding gentlemen were two ladies showing off their “assets”.  Now, whether my initial interest in purchasing this game came from some primal appeal to the opposite sex, or perhaps I was curious to see how terrible this game would be, I do not know.  Regardless, my hard earned MS points were spent, and with an open mind, I began the journey into the Monarchy of the Trailer world.

Trailer Park King is an XBLIG title made by Freelance Games.  The protagonist of the game is “King” who thinks he is hot stuff around the trailer park.  The ladies of the park may fawn over the hero, but he also has to deal with the real manager of the trailer park, Truck.  Through a series of unfortunate events, the protagonist must prove he was not responsible for the untimely demise of the trailer park manager.  Trailer Park King is a series, with part 2 recently released.

With a title like “Trailer Park King” one shouldn’t expect some sort of rich story line about a hero finding true love, or a deep enriching plot line about conquest and dragon slaying.  Still, Trailer Park King starts out with the ridiculous immediately.  Imagine, if you will, Leisure Suit Larry somehow got blown into a small town in the Deep South.  Every little joke is reminiscent of the kind of humor that the LSL series was known for, adding tons of jokes about red necks and such. 

Obviously, this is not a game for those who get easily offended.  Every single female in this game is illustrated in a style one only sees in adult films.  Clothes barely on, blouses unbuttoned, and sexual references abound; clearly not the kind of game play designed for anyone who might not approve of misogynist humor.  Still, these characters are illustrated no different than female characters in Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, or a zillion other games.  While I’m certainly not defending this patriarchal mentality, there are certainly far worse examples of sexual perversity in other games.  At least Trailer Park King doesn’t go out of its way to defy physics, or force characters into body armor that serves zero practical usage.

Trailer Park King’s style reminds me a lot of old PC adventure games.  There is next to no animated movements, except for when you move King around the trailer park.  The game is also almost entirely based on conversation trees and using common sense and logic to solve the various riddles thrown at you.  I was able to get through each installment in about 30 minutes apiece.  The challenges and mini games aren’t particularly challenging, except for a few moments where the game eases off helping you out and forcing you to figure out the next part on your own.  Again, everything about this game reminded me of the old Sierra franchise Leisure Suit Larry.

Despite the crude humor and lack of zero complexity, I still found myself not only finishing the first installment of this series, but actually purchasing part two.  The humor is very adult like, but being a mature 28 yr old, I still found it enjoyable and even a tad humorous.  The jokes and comments are so over-the-top, it’s difficult to take them with any sort of harm.  In a world where people get offended but are so quick to make an off color joke when no one is looking, I don’t see anything particularly evil with the brand of comedy Freelance Games uses in the Trailer Park King series. This game is by no means even close to the level of Rapelay, and doesn’t suggest anything that one hasn’t seen on most TV or movies. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend playing this game with the children around due to the mature nature of content.

At the end of the day, you could spend $1.00 on a lot worse things, like Angry Birds.  If you’re maturity level can handle it, or you really need a fix of pixilated scantily clad girls, Trailer Park King parts 1 and 2 are available in the XBLIG catalog for 80 MS points a piece.

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Mike D did an interview with Attorney Greg Perleberg from Mansfield, Tanick & Cohen, P.A., who specialzes in Patent, Copyright, and IP law, to discuss SOPA, PIPA and the future of copyright laws on the internet and media. You can download the file here as well.

You can find more information about Mr. Perleberg here.

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Like Hollywood, video game companies have used nostalgia as a selling point for their games. Whether this is a sign developers have run out of ideas, or more that these games were just that good that we need another iteration of it, is hard to say.  Sometimes, these modern versions of classic games turn out amazing, such as the new NBA Jam. Yet, sometimes these revisits on the olden turn out to be nothing short of abysmal (See: Splatterhouse). Either way, when game companies use ideas or characters from yesteryear, it usually peaks the interest of gamers on some level.

This was exactly the situation I saw myself in when I came across Sonic Generations.  The Sonic games always got more love in my youth than Mario games.  The idea that a charter platformer could have some level of challenge and complexity to it, all while engrossing a player in colorful and cute 16 bit graphics, was extremely appealing to my young self.  Even now, Sonic games hold a special place in my heart and usually find it difficult to pass on the opportunity to give a new Sonic game a whirl.

Sonic games always had, at best, minimal and corny story lines.  Sonic Generations is no different, in that aspect.  The plot line involves some sort of time traveling vortex that captures Sonic’s friends, makes Sonic from 20 years ago show up, and has Sonic now and Sonic then going through classic levels of various iterations of the franchise in order to rescue Sonic’s pals such as Knuckles, Tails, Amy and the rest of the gang.

After purchasing this game from Steam’s holiday sale, I noticed two things almost instantly: 1) This was a console game ported to the PC and 2) This game would force me to buy a wired controller for my PC, as the Keyboard method was about as useful as a screen door on a Submarine.    Ports from console to PC, especially nowadays, almost seem painfully obvious.  I had this same issue when giving Dragon Age 2 a glance.  Everything about the game screams “Get this on a 360 or PS3 instead.”  From character controls to movement, nothing about the game play feels right on a PC. 

Amongst many of the issue I had with it was the issue of its frame rate.  My gaming PC is not some over powered $2,500.00 machine, but it’s no slouch either (It was built to exceed the requirements for Civilization V in mind).  It runs almost every other game I’ve played on it without incident.  Yet Sonic Generations, a game which doesn’t seem like it’s that graphic intense, chugged along like it was a slide slow at certain parts.  Even with some adjusting and setting all graphic settlings to the lowest possibility, the game was still having the fits.  Not only were the graphics being wonky, but the sound was nowhere near in synch with what was going on during cut scenes.  Clearly, my $12 spent during a Steam sale could’ve been spent on something that would’ve operated better on my desktop, and not make me question the hardware inside of my machine.

Still, the game itself, when it was working, was a lot of fun.  Game play was a nod back to the time-honored versions of Sonic, with a 3D element thrown in.  The 2D platform parts were a lot of fun, and appeared to be almost identical to the level design of the classic Genesis versions of Sonic.  The 3D parts, while a good concept, made it confusing to know how exactly I should be moving during those sequences.  Some of these sequences were well done, but the transitions from 2D to 3D mid-level sometimes felt forced and kind of awkward.  Coincidently, I usually died or missed something during these transitions as I wasn’t prepared for them. 

The game also has you play each area in two separate acts; one for modern Sonic, and one for classic Sonic.  Sadly, the game play doesn’t feel terribly different between the two Sonics.  I was expecting some old school game play for vintage Sonic, and some crazy more involved 3D escapade for modern Sonic.  It seems the developers completely missed the point of having two separate Sonics. Rather, they missed a prime opportunity to allow a player something unique and instead, used their homage to the past to force a player to play two acts on one level.  That’s something that could have easily been put into the game without two Sonics, or even any long drawn out forced nostalgic elements thrown in.

Around a $10 price point is about right for purchase of this game.  If you happen to have a NVIDIA graphics card in your gaming computer, it’s probably best to avoid the PC version and look for a used copy on your console, unless you’re willing to go through some voodoo like configurations to fix just one game.  While the core game play is entertaining and great for young and old alike, the game itself feels like a feeble attempt at a nostalgic money grab, failing to really present a player with a true reminiscent experience of the glory days of SEGA.

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I recently got a change to have an email exchange with two of the folks who worked on the recent EA Sports title EA NFL BLITZ:  David Ross (Producer) and Yuri Bialoskursky (Designer).  Below is our conversation:

MJD:  First of all, nice job on the release!  Been looking forward to this since it was announced, and you did not disappoint!

EA: Thank you very much.  We are excited to bring the title to market and share the fun with NFL Blitz veterans and new players alike.

MJD: I’m sure this was something you guys/gals played in your youth.  How was the experience working with such a classic arcade title?

EA: Many of our team members were fans the earlier versions. Because many of us were fans of the original, we understood the significance of delivering on the core aspect of NFL Blitz arcade action gameplay.  It’s been a lot of fun and very rewarding to see the game take shape over the course of the development cycle.

MJD: What challenges did you face working with such a simple, yet exciting little game? Did the simplicity pose problems?

EA: Nothing is simple in games development. J  Early on we identified what mattered most to the game and we stayed focused on delivering those elements / features.  As with any effort, we faced challenges, but were able to overcome them and deliver the game we have today.

MJD: If I remember right, the late hits were removed due to concerns from the NFL.  Did they have a strong oversight on the final product of this game?

EA:  The NFL is a great partner and they are involved in any NFL licensed property we create as a video game.  We worked with them over the course of the development cycle and worked to make sure that NFL Blitz would be a product that both EA and the NFL would be proud to offer our fans.  Concerning, late hits, the NFL is very concerned about player health and safety and they asked us to remove the post whistle interactions as they put a spotlight on activity that is contrary to their safety goals.

MJD: A while back, EA Released Madden Arcade.  What did EA devs learn from that experience, and how was that implemented into NFL Blitz?

EA: NFL Blitz was a unique development effort with delivery goals specific to NFL Blitz.  While we do have people on the team that worked on Madden NFL Arcade, our focus was on NFL Blitz and driving what was important to deliver for that title.

MJD: Are there any plans for DLC you could talk about?  Perhaps adding legendary players?

EA:  No plans for DLC at this time.

MJD: I noticed there are new modes in this game.  Tell me about the inspiration for these new modes!  Was there any ideas that didn’t make the final cut?

EA: We always have more feature ideas than is possible to fit into any development cycle.  Therefore, like most products, we have our share of ideas that didn’t make it into the game.  However, one of our core objectives for NFL Blitz was to foster competition between people.  NFL Blitz is a blast to play against someone else whether they are on the couch next to you or playing on line.  Therefore, we offer a robust online feature set that will foster competition and bring out the action, competition and excitement which is what is most fun about playing the game.

MJD:  Finally, who is your favorite team?  Obviously, the Vikings, right?

EA:   :)  Our team is comprised of fans from many NFL teams.  We have Eagles fans, Lions fans, Packer fans and NFC West Champion San Francisco 49er’s fans.

MJD: Thanks for taking the time to answer a couple little questions, and putting out this title!

 

You can currently pick up EA’s NFL BLITZ on XBLA for 1200 MS Points or on PSN for $14.99.  See the Yet Another Gaming Show review here.



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I miss arcades a lot, especially the fast and exciting game play styles that they offered.  Many of my favorite titles to date were ones born out of those big boxes, with glowing lights, fun sound effects ranging from bleeps and boops to monstrous bass-ey sounds, joysticks, and big buttons that were jammed repeatedly. 

NFL Blitz was one of those games in the arcades that burned a good chunk of my allowance money.  My love for this over-the-top football experience also extended to the console, where many installments of this game saw lots of time in my various consoles.  So when EA announced they would be resurrecting one of my beloved sports IPs, I couldn’t have been happier.

EA’s NFL Blitz offers a lot of the same experience we’ve come to know and expect from the Midway classic.  Electronic Art’s rendition of the game offers larger than life players, classically violent hits, 30 yard first downs, and amazingly terrible commentating (as in funny, not in the annoying sense.) 

But, were in the 21st century now, and not everything can be exactly the way it was back then.  One noticeable difference players will see right away is the lack of late hits.  While this will draw the ire of some, this decision came down from the NFL, as they wanted to send a message coinciding with their stricter policies on late, nasty hits in the real game.  Others will notice the game plays just a tad slower than the arcade classic.  Personally, I didn’t even notice it that much until someone else pointed it out to me.

One of the big differences however, is the addition of online play (Blitz Battles) and a ladder local play mode (Blitz Gauntlet).  Online Blitz Battles allow you to play head to head against other players online, or even as a team against another team.  Players then score ranking points based on the performance in the game, which can be spent on bonuses to be used in the game.  The online play also features a ranking board so you can see how you stack up against other players.  The Blitz Gauntlet has you taking your team head to head against other teams on a ladder which features special teams (boss battles) along the way, such as Gladiators, Zombies and many more interesting characters.  Once you have defeated these boss teams, they are unlocked for use in regular play, as well in Gauntlet play as well by matching their corresponding code in the pre game lobby.

Another online mode EA has introduced into Blitz is called Elite League.  This mode, which is similar to the Madden Ultimate Team has players building their fantasy rosters through purchasing card packs with points earned through online play.  Players can build their own custom rosters in this mode, along with various power ups and special players.  This mode is loads of fun and perfect for those who want to mix things up a bit from the same old rosters.

EA’s NFL Blitz brings a lot of fresh concepts to a classic arcade hit.  The introduction to various modes of online play will gives players a reason to come back for punishing hit after punishing eccentric hit.  EA’s NFL Blitz is available now on PSN for $15 or on XBLA for 1200 MS Points.

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

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I don’t know about all of you, but when Steam has their holiday sales (or any sales for that matter) it’s hard to resist a lot of purchases.  Sometimes, I will buy a game in these sales based on a teaser trailer or description if the price is right and the funds available.  More times than not, these games end up being better than the game I was originally intending to purchase.  This of course happened during the Holiday Steam sale this week with the purchase of an alluring little indie game called AudioSurf.

AudioSurf, like many nontraditional rhythm games such as Beat Hazard, allows you to play the game using all your own music.  Given my music library, this can range anywhere from Top 40 to Punk Rock to Brit Pop to Japanese Metal,  all of which are a delight to play in this Tron-like trippy game play.  Unlike Beat Hazard, which game play wise is akin to Asteroids, AudioSurf offers a completely new and unparalleled gaming experience blending Racing style games with rhythm and a touch of abstract strategy.

The concept of the game is simple: connect a color string of 3 or more of the same color between 3 different rows of colors.  This is achieved by piloting a space ship along a psychedelic pathway that lasts the length of your song. You are given a 3X5 grid on the bottom to match colors on. It sounds simple enough, until you actually pop the game in.  The game also lacks any prologue or forced story line; just awesome game play.

To give you an idea of my experience with the game, consider the first 5 songs I popped in:

·         Lady Gaga “Poker Face”

·         Against Me! “White People for Peace”

·         Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Someday I Suppose”

·         Fitz and the Tantrums “MoneyGrabber”

·         Kanye West “Stronger” featuring Daft Punk

Each of these songs offered a unique and amazingly fun experience.  Just like in Dance Central, any Lady Gaga song instantly makes a game harder.  Her music is insanely fitting given the graphics of the game.  Same goes with the Kanye West track.  With some of the punk and rock tracks I played with however, you really get to experience the tempo of the game through a visual experience.  To me, this was a very trippy experience, to be able to see the speed, tempo and rhythm of a song.  This sort of audio/visual synching, along with the rapid but ambient experience in game play is unmatched in any rhythm game I have ever played.

The game does not play in the traditional full screen, as many Steam games do, but rather in its own browser window (Though you do have the option to play it fullscreen).  You also have the option to change the display colors for your game play from white or black.  My suggestion is to go with the black background.  I also highly recommend that anyone who buys this game, pays attention to the tutorial, in order to fully understand what’s up with this game.

Surprisingly, AudioSurf is just an indie game.  It feels like a lot of work  went into this game  especially considering it goes through any song you load up to play, figures out the precise rhythm, tempo and any variants in the song, such as a charge of speed, bass, etc.  Truly mind-blowing considering this is only a $10.00 game.  ($2.50 for those lucky enough to pick it up on the Steam holiday sale. Currently on sale for $4.99)

For those of you who are fans of rhythm games that offer something new and have always wanted to play with your own music rather than whatever RockBand or Guitar Hero say you get, this is a nice little downloadable title that I highly recommend.  Ben Paddon from GameJournos.com even said that AudioSurf was comparable to Klax and Rock Band having a baby.  Whether Klax, Beat Hazard, or any rhythm games are your cup of tea, this should be a game you instantly add to your Steam library.

To see a perfect example of game footage, click here.

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In the age of downloadable “arcade” titles, many gems of games have come about.  Not only are these games simple and fun, but many of them do not require 20-40 hours of your dedication to finish them.  Some, in fact, can be enjoyed in a matter of 30 minutes at a time, but make you want to come back to them time and time again.  Pinball FX 2 is one of those games, if not the pinnacle example of one of those games. 

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Admittedly, I haven’t spent a ton of time playing Skylanders. What little I have played, has been demos in a store, and at a friend’s house. From what I have played, however, I can tell you I’ve fallen in love with this adorable game. What excites me the most about this game however, are the little figures one uses to change characters in the game. These serve a dual role: Not only to change characters within Skylanders but neat little figures for us collector nerds out there. I got to thinking though, and I can’t be the only one to have this thought, if Skylanders proves successful enough, what doors does this open for gaming?

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