Posted on July 15th, 2016
As I mentioned yesterday, I was a huge video game whore when I was a kid. I'm not going to lie... I still am, but only for Nintendo and LEGO. The difference being that when I was a kid I didn't do anything but play video games... whereas now I have things like "responsibilities" that keep getting in the way. Doesn't keep me from loving video games though. Here's a list of consoles that I love most of all...
HONORABLE MENTION: ColecoVision.
This is a gaming system that rarely appears on people's lists of favorite game consoles. Yes it was underpowered. Yes it had one of the shittiest controllers ever. But it brought home a lot of great arcade games that Atari or Intellivision couldn't match... including the best home-port of Donkey Kong, my all-time favorite arcade title. I spent a huge chunk of my childhood playing ColecoVision, and am more than a little disappointed that it's forgotten by modern gamers.
Posted on July 14th, 2016
INSERT QUARTER, PLAYER ONE!
When I was in High School I played a stupid amount of video games. Both at home and the arcade. And while they improved greatly from their humble beginnings, when I think of "arcade games" my mind always goes back to that era. Here are the games that make me feel that way...
Arcade wishes and 8-Bit dreams!
Posted on February 12th, 2016
It is no secret that I love LEGO Star Wars.
The video games, the TV shows, the building sets, the books... all of it. Given how the absolutely heinous prequel trilogy nearly destroyed all things Star Wars for me, it was the coming of LEGO Star Wars stuff that brought me back from the brink. What LEGO was doing was smart, fun, beautiful, imaginative, and highly entertaining... basically everything that the three shitty prequels were not.
And yesterday I learned that a new cartoon series is coming set in the LEGO Star Wars universe...
The Freemaker Adventures sounds fantastic...
Told in the whimsically-charged style that audiences have come to expect from LEGO Star Wars entertainment, the series stars the Freemakers, a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from the scoured debris of space battles strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact – the Kyber Saber – his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. Throughout their adventures, the Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters, and learn the true value of what it means to be a family.
Needless to say, I hope and pray that we'll be getting a video game out of the franchise.
Of course, I'm still waiting for a game adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which is supposed to be coming in June?), so patient we must be...
In the meanwhile... I finally had a chance to sit down and play LEGO Marvel's Avengers for a while. It's pretty great in all the right ways, despite being another mediocre port to the Wii U (why in the hell Traveler's Tales have been unable to work with the technical limitations of the Wii U when they did such an amazing job with LEGO City Undercover, I have no idea. LEGO Marvel's Avengers certainly has more laugh-out-loud moments than usual, which is great.
And... speaking of LEGO Marvel's Avengers... I should have time to get through another level before bedtime!
Posted on January 24th, 2016
You haven't struck gold... but you're getting the next best thing, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Boss! One of the funniest things to come out of Saturday Night Live in a while was Undercover Boss: Kylo Ren with Adam Driver reprising his role from Star Wars: The Force Awakens...
And now they've released some behind the scenes clips...
• Vax? So this is what it takes.
• J-Law! I'm obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence... and her appearance on Graham Norton takes it up a notch...
• GHOST! BUSTERS! LEGO Dimensions is the gift that keeps on giving... thanks to new Level Pack releases that take the game in entirely new directions. The latest? Ghostbusters!...
Looks epic. Can't wait until I have time to play it.
• Blake! Nothing quite like "discovering" a new song you like... eight years after it was released...
Apparently Blake Lewis was an American Idol winner. Since I don't watch that show, I never knew he existed until my Amazon Echo played one of his songs a couple days ago.
And... that's a wrap.
Posted on October 25th, 2015
Don't worry... blogging isn't as dead as they say, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Jones. I do not have the vocabulary to adequately express how much I'm looking forward to Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix this November 20th...
If it's even half as good as Davedevil was, I'll be ecstatic. Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter (as LUKE CAGE!) look to be knocking it out of the park.
• Outrageous. And so it turns out the shitty Jem and the Holograms movie adaptation is, in fact, shitty. Which was foretold by many, many people after watching the trailer...
IT'S NOT FUCKING ROCKET SCIENCE! RESPECT THE DAMN SOURCE MATERIAL OR FAIL!
• FAKE! Nothing like getting excited over a ton of five-star reviews on an item you're needing from Amazon... only to find out that every last one of them were from people who either got it for free or received a discount for their "honest and unbiased" review. Well screw that. Your "honest and unbiased" review is overwhelmingly positive because THAT'S how you get chosen to get free stuff for reviews! They're not going to choose people who are critical of the things they write about to review their product. I absolutely loathe this shit.
• Dull. Seems almost eerily accurate...
Dell. The pink slime filler of computer companies.
• Comeuppance. Oh. How sad for the price gouging little fucker.
• Force! This has got to be the single best video game commercials ever made...
The magic of video gaming is that it has the ability to put you in a fictional universe made real. Many video games have been advertising along these lines... this is the first one to absolutely nail it.
And I'm off. In the meanwhile, here's probably the cutest thing you've seen all week.
Posted on October 2nd, 2015
If you are playing LEGO Dimensions like me...
And you're a LEGO whore who is collecting a lot of the Fun Packs, Team Packs, and Level Packs...
You will very quickly be swimming in teeny tiny LEGO pieces. All of the builds are nothing but teeny tiny LEGO pieces. And even after you build stuff, there are always pieces left over for the re-builds, which quickly gets confusing because you can't remember what pieces go with which set.
I don't know if it's the perfect solution, but I've found that the "ArtBin Super Satchel Slim" works pretty darn well for keeping all your characters, vehicles, extra pieces, instruction books, and other stuff neatly organized...
I divided it into 15 sections. Team Packs and Level Packs I'm giving two sections... Fun Packs I'm giving one. This gives you plenty of space to store each play piece and all the pieces for builds you haven't gotten around to yet. As your needs change, there's plenty of dividers you can move around to reconfigure the compartments however you want.
I pretty much gave up on attaching the portal build to the Toy Pad... it's so damn fragile that it keeps falling apart. I've just bagged it up and use the Toy Pad without which works just fine.
Highlights so far...
The Dr. Who level of the main game, which is suitably funny and scary... can't wait for the Dr. Who Level Pack!
The Portal 2 Level Pack is hands-down my favorite addition to the game. Unless you have a love for the characters in one of the other packs, this is the pack to get if you're buying just one. Partly because it's the only way to open up Portal 2 World... but mostly because the included Aperture Science Lab level is a love-letter to Portal 2 that fans will piss themselves over. So good.
I just wish I had more time to play the thing. Life keeps getting in the way!
Posted on September 28th, 2015
And the moment I've been waiting for has finally arrived... my copy of LEGO Dimensions was delivered today.
For those not in the know, Dimensions integrates many of the LEGO franchises into a single video game. You start out with characters from LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings, and The LEGO Movie in the starter set, but can then add other "worlds" like Scooby Doo, The Simpsons, Ghostbusters, Dr. Who, Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, (and so on) with add-on packs...
If you've played any of the other LEGO video games, you already know how things work. You run your little LEGO mini-figure around solving puzzles and breaking stuff to collect LEGO studs so you can buy in-game upgrades with them.
I love, love, love all the various LEGO games, and having them all come together in a giant mash-up is amazing. And really fun to play.
The difference from previous games being the addition of the LEGO Dimensions portal pad peripheral (built from LEGO, natch) which allows you to interact with the mini-figs in the game...
A lot of your time will be spent moving characters and their vehicles around on this thing. Wicked Witch of the West have your character trapped? Simply remove them from one area of the portal pad and place them on another to escape. Need a character who can fly to solve a particular puzzle? Swap out WyldStyle for Wonder Woman and you're good to go. Need a vehicle to get past some obstacle? Place the Batmobile on the portal pad and it instantly appears in-game.
As if that weren't enough, building with LEGO is an integral part of the game experience. The Wonder Woman add-on pack, for example, tells you how to build Wonder Woman so you can add her to the portal pad and get her in that game. But you also get a bag of bricks for her Invisible Plane that comes with no instructions whatsoever. When you add Wonder Woman to the game, then the game itself instructs you how to build her plane and add it as well. Even better? Some in-game builds have to be re-built in order to turn it into something new that progresses the story. That's a key element of playing with LEGO bricks, and the way they've integrated it into the game is pretty darn amazing. Dimensions truly is a melding of on-screen gaming with physical LEGO sets, which is what makes it so much more interesting to me than the toy/game hybrid competition.
With that in mind, it's this physical interaction from toy to video game that makes LEGO Dimensions so compelling... and so frustrating.
Compelling because you can mix-and match characters until your heart's content. Want to have Homer Simpson, Scooby Doo, and Dr. Who all playable in the same game? Drop them on the portal pad and they're yours. Want to have Batman driving The Mystery Machine? Easy. Hobbits in Gotham City? No problem. Scooby Doo in Jurassic Park? You got it. You can choose whatever characters you have available and add or subtract them from the game worlds at will.
Frustrating because you can't play with Marty McFly unless you run out and buy the Back to the Future add-on pack. Further frustrating because certain areas of the game are locked off unless you run out and buy the appropriate character pack. Want to explore Springfield? Well, unless you go buy an add-on pack with a Simpsons character in it, you're out of luck. Want to collect that Gold Brick guarded by a Spinjitsu Gate? If you don't have a Ninjago character to unlock it, no dice. It goes on and on. Sometimes there are alternative characters you can use, sometimes not. At least not yet.
And I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in this. I didn't buy any of the Chima sets or Ninjago sets because I'm not interested in them. And if that means I can't play in the Chima or Ninjago worlds, I'm perfectly okay with that. What I didn't expect is that skipping a few sets would lead me to miss out on part of the main game. Being told you can't access a part of the story unless you have the Peter Venkman mini-fig (who won't be released until January 2016) is also a little harsh... but also a little exciting because I will absolutely buy that set, and now have something to look forward to. That will keep the game fresh. But what if I wasn't a Ghostbusters fan? Buy it anyway? That adds up to spending a serious chunk of cash for something you'd just as soon do without, just because you want to finish the game. Not cool.
And speaking of expensive...
LEGO Dimensions is as addictive as crack and almost as pricey.
In summary... I LOVE THIS GAME! If you've enjoyed all the other LEGO video games, you probably will enjoy this one too. Just make sure you know the financial burden you're buying into before you start.
Posted on August 21st, 2015
Yesterday I mentioned how I've had a Nintendo Wii U sitting in my closet for over two years. Last night I pre-ordered all the LEGO Dimensions sets for it, which seemed incentive enough for me to finally unbox my Wii U and get it hooked up.
And so I did. And I've been goofing around with it ever since.
When compared to the PS4 and the XBOX One, the Wii U comes up short. The processing power... the graphics... all the specs, really... everything is a step down. A noticeable step down. But that's par for the course for Nintendo, who has always put the gaming experience above specs... doing far more than the competition with less. Even so, while you're never going to mistake a PS4 game for the Wii U equivalent, that's not saying Nintendo's graphics are ugly or the games are slow and dated... far from it. Everything I've looked at has been beautiful and fluid on the Wii U. Nintendo's programmers are absolutely getting the most out of what they have to work with.
So... if the Wii U can't compete with modern gaming consoles on specs, what does the hardware offer that's worth investing in?
Just like the Wii before it, the Wii U breaks some new ground in gameplay with its controllers. This time with their "Game Pad," which is a massive tablet-esque controller with standard game controls around the edges...
At approximately 5.25 x 1 x 10.25 inches, it's even bigger than I remember it being.
And yet... not entirely uncomfortable for me to hold (don't know about kids). Its lightweight, the buttons and sticks are well-placed, and the on-board touch-screen actually seems useful. The only big negatives are A) poor battery life is 3 hours max, and B) the screen is fairly low-resolution. After becoming accustomed to the Retina Display on my iPhone and iPad, it's almost painful to look at. Otherwise, pretty cool... assuming the game you're playing takes advantage of it.
Which it can in two ways. The first is that it can display supplemental information or additional controls past what you see on screen. The second is that most games actually let you transfer the display from your television to the Game Pad so you can play games while somebody else watches the television. This is nice... but only half as cool as it could be when you realize you have to stay in the same room and fairly close to the console in order for the Game Pad to maintain its connection. Bummer. I want to Wii U from bed.
The weird thing about the Game Pad is that you can't connect more than one to the system. Players 2-5 have to use Wii wand controllers or Wii nunchuck controllers or Wii U Pro Controllers (none of which are included). I guess I get it... streaming live video takes processing power and the console doesn't have a lot to spare, but still... I can't believe that you can't connect at least two Game Pads to a Wii U so that you can go head-to-head with somebody using the same controls.
Oh... one last word on the Game Pad... you can use it to control your television. Namely, use it to turn the thing off and on plus select the video source, meaning you don't have to go scrambling for the TV remote to play. Nice.
The system I got was the "pro" version that comes with a pathetic 32GB of storage... only 25GB of which is available. Which means I am almost out of space and all I have is two games and a demo onboard. I have no clue how those with the "non-pro" 8GB version manage at all. The solution is to purchase an external USB hard disk or thumb drive or something. There's an SD card slot, but that seems to be exclusively for backwards compatibility with Wii games, as I've found no way to access it from the Wii U side.
When it comes to actually navigating the system, I find it surprisingly similar to the Nintendo 3DS. You can run one application/game at a time, and that application/game goes into suspension so you can access system controls mid-game. It's not as elegant as the XBOX One and PS4 menuing system, but it's perfectly serviceable. About the only negative I've found so far? No universal in-game chat system, which is a pretty big oversight in modern gaming. For multiplayer online games, you just have to hope that the game has its own chat system built-in or else there will be no in-game chat for you.
I'm just going to get this out of the way... NINTENDO-DEVELOPED WII U GAMES DO NOT COME WITH INSTRUCTION BOOKLETS! Not even a single-page pamphlet to give you an overview of the controls! Nope, everything is done with the online help system, which works okay, but is pretty lame. Nothing like having to pause the game so you can look up something that should have been shared on a hardcopy.
Obviously I haven't had a chance to play with a lot of games yet, but here's a quick sampling of what I've been up to so far...
LEGO City Undercover... The game that made me purchase the Nintendo Wii U in the first place, this is one of the best LEGO minifig games to date. As police officer Chase McCain, you scour LEGO City for criminals using brilliant disguises that endow you with new abilities. In many ways, this is the LEGO version of Grand Theft Auto but in reverse. I absolutely love it, of course... despite some agonizingly long load times and no ability for multi-player (which is kind of a staple with these games). The sandbox you're in seems vast and affords a lot of freedom, but is ultimately part of a fairly linear gaming experience. Since the Wii U seems to be picking up steam, I'm hopeful we may get a sequel one day. I've barely begun playing, but already know I'm going to be wanting more.
Super Mario 3D World... As with all Nintendo gaming systems, I figure that the biggest development effort is always going to go into their signature Mario title, so I always buy it and have never been disappointed. Like Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Galaxy before it, the title is exceptionally imaginative and fun to play. In the few hours I've been playing it, I've seen all kinds of cool things... including Mario putting on a cat outfit so he has cat powers to play with. Epic.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham... I had already started this game on XBOX 360, but it was so cheap I decided to grab it for Wii U so I can have a consistent experience when LEGO Dimensions arrives in September. So far, it feels exactly the same. I think the XBOX 360 controller is a bit better for this title than Nintendo's Game Pad, but I'm not having any trouble. The game itself is amazing... though it doesn't reach the heights that LEGO Batman 2 did... feeling more confined and less open despite taking place on multiple planets in space. Still... LEGO Batman. UPDATE: Went to purchase some of the cool downloadable content for this game only to find out it isn't available for the Wii U... WTF Warner Interactive? Guess I go back to the XBOX 360.
Bayonetta 2... I bought this game for the specific purpose of seeing what a non-cutesy Nintendo and non-cutesy LEGO game would be like on the Wii U, and this one was the highest rated I could find. And for very good reason... it's utterly amazing. Far from being over-hyped, you just can't believe how beautiful, fluid, and fun it is to play. I had a really tough time putting it down long enough to write this blog entry. Basically, you play a witch with lethal fighting abilities... plus guns. She's kind of like Neo from The Matrix in that she can slow time and gain a distinct advantage over her enemies. As this is a Nintendo Wii U exclusive title, it's almost worth buying the system just to play it. Yes... it's that good.
I have to say... if these four titles are indicative of the quality that goes into Wii U titles, it's very easy to see how the system is one to be reckoned with. No, the visuals are not as tight as what you'll find on XBOX One or PS4, but Wii U excels in entertainment value, which is all that really matter, isn't it?
And that's the Wii U as I know it right now.
Kind of regretting that I waited two years to discover it.
Posted on August 20th, 2015
As anybody who has been reading Blogography for any length of time already knows, I am addicted to LEGO video games. It started with LEGO Star Wars, forged ahead into the massive triumph that was LEGO Batman, then wandered into amazing places with LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Lord of the Rungs, plus many more. And I've purchased every game that's been published.
Until the game came along I couldn't purchase... LEGO City Undercover...
The reason I couldn't buy it? The game was exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U gaming system, which I did not own. The closest I could get was the "prequel" to the game which was released for the Nintendo 3DS (and was awesome)...
While I owned a Wii and liked it quite a lot, the Wii U didn't seem to offer much additional that I considered investing in the system. So I bemoaned the fact that LEGO City Undercover would be the first LEGO game I'd not be able to play, then moved on with my life.
Fast forward a couple months... and, while visiting friends in Pittsburgh, I got to play with the Wii U up-close-and-personal. Much to my surprise, I found out I had grossly underestimated it. The system built upon the Wii with some intriguing upgrades in game play (and in graphics, which finally caught up to the competition with HD quality)...
After playing the majesty that is LEGO City Undercover for fifteen minutes, I knew I had to have it.
So when I got home, I called up a buddy that could hook me up with a Wii U and ordered LEGO City Undercover. They both arrived the following week... when I promptly stuffed them in a closet and forgot about them. Turns out I don't have much time for playing video games.
That was over two years ago.
Then LEGO Dimensions... which looks like it may very well be the greatest video game in the history of video games... became available for pre-order...
Of course I must have it.
But which system should I order it for? It's available for almost all of them.
Ultimately I decided to pre-order the Wii U version so that it would encourage me to get my console out and get some use out of it.
And so today was the day.
But I'll get to that... tomorrow.
Posted on June 17th, 2015
THE CAKE IS REAL!
I REPEAT, THE CAKE IS REAL!!!
It's like my entire life has been leading to this moment...
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! TAKE ALL MY MONEY!!!