Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse

A satisfying, if overly long, fifth entry that has the fun characters and varied puzzles of the venerable adventure franchise.

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I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Revolution Software

Publisher: Revolution Software

Release Date: April 17, 2014 (Episode 1 December 4, 2013)

rogue's adventures

I want to take a moment to celebrate my 50th completed game since I began Rogue’s Adventures in the Fall of 2012.  Motivated by an ever-expanding backlog thanks to constant and amazing Steam sales, I was drowning in games, and never knew which ones to play. Rogue’s Adventures helps me create a schedule and stick to it, and I’ve played (and completed) dozens of games in the last few years.

Broken Sword 5 is a neat game to have for number 50. The first three games were a major reason I began Rogue’s Adventures. I had a particularly large backlog of point and click adventure games at the time. Most of what would become Season 1 of Rogue’s Adventures were adventure games, including the first three Broken Sword titles (which I undoubtedly bought in a discounted bundle). I usually prefer my adventure games with fantasy or sci-fi flavoring but the modern thrillers with lovable characters and varied puzzles resonated well with me.

While Broken Sword 5 is far from the best entry, it does effectively bring back the characters, themes, and fond memories of the originals – a nostalgia factor I’ve only had for a few years! Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse”

Three Years Later Diablo 3 Is A Whole New Beast

In three years Blizzard’s steady stream of updates and patches have improved Diablo 3’s shaky launch into the premiere action role-playing game.

Read the full article at Playboy

diablo 3

Blizzard Entertainment doesn’t release very many games. They still have only a handful of franchises to their name, and half of them have “craft” in the title. Blizzard has abstained from releasing yearly entries in its popular franchises like many big gaming companies do, instead releasing just one or two games a year total, then giving players years’ worth of post-game updates, improvements, support, and the occasional paid expansion.

Blizzard’s successful approach to mainstream gaming and commitment to their games has never been more apparent than with Diablo 3. Originally released in 2012, an agonizingly long 12 years after Diablo 2, the latest entry made the surprising changes of breaking and reconstructing many of the series’ (and the whole genre’s) beloved systems. And fans were not happy.

Skill points were completely scratched, the game instead rewarding everyone with the same skills and skill-runes every level. The art style was bemoaned as being far too bright and cartoony compared to the series’ former Gothic, sinister tones. An auction house, at which you could buy other players’ in-game items and sell your own, destroyed the exhilaration of finding your own loot, and a real money store—where you simply paid the developer for stuff—threatened the game’s basic integrity.

Then there was the infamously derided always-online component, which forced even those that just wanted to play by themselves to sign into Blizzard’s servers, at the constant mercy of their internet connection. On launch day players who simply couldn’t play the game they had just purchased spewed enough bile to fill a Grotesque.

Many purists and diehards of the genre quickly dismissed Diablo 3 in 2012. But then a funny thing happened. You see, underneath all these derided changes beat the demonic soulstone of a solid action-role-playing game. The desire to swiftly kill things to get more powerful and get fancy loot so that you can then kill more things is still a winning formula. Its near universal popularity has been co-opted by shooters and action games like Borderlands and Destiny, and is particularly adept at bringing friends together in a more relaxed, cooperative environment.

Read the full article at Playboy

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Fifty Years into the future a grizzled Wolverine is one of the last surviving heroes in a dystopian world ruled by villains.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

marvelWriter: Mark Millar

Artist: Steve McNiven

Issues: Wolverine (2003) #66-72, Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size

 

“What If” stories have been a mainstay in Marvel comics for decades. Sometimes they’re as simple as a single panel stories or one-shot issues. Occasionally they may be used for entire mini-series – with the best example being the first big event that kicked off the modern Marvel age of events, House of M.

Toward the end of its six year run, Wolverine‘s 2003-09 solo series was randomly converted into a grand post-apocalyptic road trip adventure starring an older, grizzled Logan. Most of the world’s super heroes have been killed and villains have carved up the USA. Amazing art from Civil War‘s Steve McNiven remains the gorgeous (and extremely bloody and violent) focus, though the story loses itself somewhat in trying to create this fascinatingly bleak future world.

A big problem with consuming media years after the fact lies in hype, popularity, and expectations. I’d heard really great things about “Old Man Logan,” and the post-apocalyptic concept is way up my alley. I love me some Wolverine and putting him in a Mad Max style world of anarchy seems like a perfect fit. There was never a question of if I would read Wolverine: Old Man Logan, only when. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine: Old Man Logan”

My Favorite Super Mario Maker Levels

I leveraged my extensive Super Mario Maker experience into a yearbook style list of user made levels. From Most Insanely Difficult to Biggest Existential Crisis!

Read the full list at Pixelkin

super mario maker

Super Mario Maker has been available for only about a month. But already the community response has been incredible. The game gives players most of the tools from the biggest Mario games of the last 30 years. It lets them run wild with crazy concepts and inventive ideas.

New sub-genres of the traditional Mario platformer have already been established. There’s everything from “Don’t Move” automatic levels to faithful remakes of other classic Nintendo titles. I’ve scoured the top charts to find some of the best levels.

Read the full list at Pixelkin

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 5 Recap

More than just Redbrands lurk in their hideout as the PCs battle a horrific subterranean terror.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

 

It wasn’t until this week’s session that I realized a big part of role-playing that I had missed in Shadowrun – monsters.

I’ve always enjoyed dipping my toes into dramatic voice acting, and I feel like my skills and range have steadily improved over the last few years thanks to reading to my young daughter nearly every day. In Shadowrun most of the foes and NPCs were gangsters, mobsters, businessmen, hackers, etc. I had fun with some unique accents and speech patterns, but nothing too crazy.

Dungeons & Dragons, however, has actual monsters. Demons, fiends, aberrations, undead – lots of fun opportunities for creepy whispers and foul mutterings.

“Lost Mine of Phandelver” includes a rather unique creature called a Nothic – an insane, twisted former mage with clawed hands and a single eye. It feeds on flesh and communicates telepathically – a wonderful excuse to unnerve my players as it steels into their minds, searches for their secrets and their past while gibbering about rending, tearing, GNAWING, biting, feeeediiiing. It was a lot of fun, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 5 Recap”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Captain America: The Man With No Face

With Steve Rogers dead, Bucky Barnes grapples with wearing the uniform and the terrible things he did as the Winter Soldier.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

marvelWriter: Ed Brubaker

Artists: Steve Epting, Butch Guice

Issues: Captain America (2004) #43-48

 

Been awhile since I read Ed Brubaker’s fantastic Captain America series, which began in 2004. The last volume I read was a gigantic 20 page tome covering everything from the Civil War to Steve Rogers’ death to former Winter Soldier Bucky picking up the shield.

The six issue volume The Man With No Face continues Bucky Barnes’ adventures as faux Captain America, while also battling his own guilt of the assassinations and killings he performed as the brainwashed Winter Soldier. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Captain America: The Man With No Face”

My Final Thoughts on Ready Player One

Starring an intriguing virtual reality gaming world, Ready Player One ended up one of the most dissatisfying books I’ve ever read.

Ready player oneThere’s a sci-fi adventure book replete with lots of neat gaming, 80s, and general nerd-culture references? And Steven Spielberg is making a movie out of it? I’ll have to check this out!

Nearly 400 pages later I finally put it down, and thought about one of the most dissatisfying experiences of a book I’d ever read.

Published back in 2011 and written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One stars Wade Watts, a typical gamer shut-in with poor social skills and obsessive attitudes. The fact that I just said ‘typical gamer’ followed by an awful stereotype is a big clue toward how I felt about the entire experience.

Wade’s world is a near-future 2044 (I don’t know why sci-fi authors insist on giving us an actual year) in which a gradual dystopia has made life generally terrible for everyone. No real apocalypse has taken place, but everything is awful, or at least written from someone with a tiresome, cynical and nihilistic view of the future. Continue reading “My Final Thoughts on Ready Player One”