Primal Rage 2

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Primal Rage 2

The original Primal Rage was an arcade hit that pits prehistoric animals (mostly dinosaurs) against one another. The gameplay was fun and it had that Claymation type animation that was new and unique at the time, plus you could sometimes throw and eat the humans that hung around the battle field, how cool was that?

Primal Rage 2 Title Screen

Primal Rage 2 was to be released primarily based on the success from the first game and Atari was ready to capitalize. In PR2, you discover that the meteor the crashed on plant Urth was really an egg that held a monster that would become known as Necrosan. Necrosan was a living dragon skeleton that was originally planned to be the boss monster in the original Primal Rage. However, they decided to use him in the sequel as the end game boss.

The story goes that Necrosan traps the gods who were warring for land on Urth and decided to take over himself. Unable to escape the gods selected human Avatars to fight for them. All the original characters are there including, Xiao Ming, avatar of Slashfang, Malyssa, avatar of Vertigo, Arik, avatar of Sauron, Keena, avatar of Talon, Shank, avatar of Chaos, Sinjin, avatar of Diablo, Kaze, avatar of Blizzard, and Tor, avatar. Your goal was to fight Necrosan’s minions and each other until the final showdown with the big boss himself.

primal_rage_2

There was a lot of hype over the game. Unfortunately, the game did not get very far in terms of production. In the end, the popularity for Primal Rage meant it just was not worth it to continue and the game became one of the many unreleased games.

There was word that a finished arcade cabinet was shown off at a trade show and you can find some early builds on the game for emulators. Finally, there was a book written about the world of Primal Rage called Primal Rage: The Avatars, written by John Vornholt and was published by Boulevard Books in 1997.

Classic Sierra PC Game site will return

Police Quest 1 screenshot
Police Quest 1 screenshot

Since 2009 the folks over at Sarien.net have been hosting classic Sierra PC games such as Space Quest, Police Quest and Kings Quest where fans of the classic series could log in a play without fee or ads. However, when the owners decided to optimize their site for use on the iPad it caught the online presses attention and attracted Activision.

With Activision owning the rights to the Sierra, titles and their wanting the option to see App store versions of the popular games in the future, Sarien.net received a cease-and-desist letter from Activision’s lawyers.

The site was shut down and when replying to the lawyers to let them know they complied the owners asked if there was anyway the site could continue.

“The next day I received a kind reply from Activision’s law firm, and I actually do mean ‘kind,'” Kool writes. “This new letter I received contained a proposal.”

The proposal was to allow Sarien.net to reopen and publish the first game from any of the series he had before in the multiplayer mode they had built for the website, except for Leisure Suit Larry, which is a Codemasters license. In addition, they are to provide links to the digital versions of the game where fans of the series could buy the original if they like.

Score one for classic gaming sites and fans who love them and score one for Activision who will get some good press from this and may add interest to launching app versions of classic Sierra games.

Theodore Bergquist: Gamersgate

Gamersgate logo
Gamersgate logo

Name: Theodore Bergquist

Company: Gamersgate

Profession: CEO

Favorite Classic Game: The Elders Scrolls II: Daggerfall

Quote: The depth of the game, the many endings, the spell creation system. Back then this was so complex and immersive and I spend many hours with that game as my best friend.

Bio/Current Event:

GamersGate is the leading digital distribution platform for PC and Mac games and the world’s largest store for PC games, creating easily accessible gaming experiences for gamers worldwide – anytime, anywhere. Offering a “client-free” experience that eliminates the need for a bulky client interface, gamers anywhere can now access their games without any third party involvement.

With the largest catalog of games available for download on the web (currently over 2,600), GamersGate offers a strong selection of AAA publishers (including EA, Ubisoft, THQ, Sega and more) and a dynamic variety of niche and indie publishers.

To serve the growing community, GamersGate rolled out the industry’s most robust loyalty program with the launch of Blue Coins. Blue Coins are earned through various kinds of user activity on the site, but can also be purchased directly with cash. Users can earn Blue Coins by writing reviews, ranking games, and participating in the Game Tutor program. The Game Tutor program is a mentorship system where users can ask questions to other users regarding difficult levels or other game related questions. The user who provides the solution will then be rewarded with Blue Coins.

GamersGate continues to redefine the download industry with the launch of several accompanying services including in-game chat functionality and other comprehensive tools.

The Daily Vid: DC Universe Online – End Game

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

Chris Cao, game director for DC Universe Online takes us through some of the endgame content in the superhero MMO. Starting off we have an attack on Arkham Asylum which is a raid zone where you group up with many other heroes against Mr. Freeze and his creations as he tries to destroy all the boilers in Arkham in order to freeze the entire place.

The end game starts when you reach max level and in DCUO that level is currently 30. Throughout the game you have alerts given to you by members of the Justice League or Legion of Doom (Secret Society) these alerts can be accessed via your user interface and you can select the alerts which puts you in a queue to join with other players. It works similar to the dungeon finder system in world of Warcraft.

As you level you gain access to more alerts and they don’t stop at level 30. Ace Chemicals has been taken over by T.O. Morrow who you fight against while you are leveling. You discover that he has taken the Joker’s toxin and used it to power tons of robots inside of the plant.

Another raid zone is Kahndaq, a land ruled by magic so it is no wonder that Black Adam would use its power to try to resurrect his wife. Unfortunately, he screwed it up and now the waters of Kahndaq turn the dead into the undead. In the end, you will not only have to go up against Faust but a super energized Black Adam as well.

The last raid zone in the video is the Batcave. Brainiac is trying to take over all the technology in the Batcave so you can guess what that means for earth considering it is mostly his tech that the Justice League uses. Heroes will have to fight all the way through the Batcave to Brainiac himself for the final showdown.

So there you have it, there  will be much more to do once you reach level 30 in DCUO and I am sure there is much more coming down the pipe and as soon as we hear about it so will you.

POD: Crystal Defenders

Crystal Defenders Logo
Crystal Defenders Logo

Crystal Defenders is the tower defense game based on the Final Fantasy Tactics series from Square Enix. The game is very fun and easy to learn. In a nutshell, monsters will come in through one area and make their way down a set path. You job is to place characters along the side of the path to kill the monsters before they reach your crystal. You can place characters that do damage or slow the monsters among other things and you can pause the game in order to plan your defense.

The game itself has been on mobile phones for a few years now and was ported over to the PS3 and Xbox 360. Now the game is available for Android users. CRYSTAL DEFENDERS for Android will have two versions: W1, an introduction of the game, and W2, in which players can utilize the Power Crystal feature to play more strategically.

The cost of the game will be between seven and ten dollars. The pictures below are from the Ps3.

Konami Announced Silent Hill: Downpour

Silent Hill Downpour logo
Silent Hill Downpour logo

Fans of the survival horror series rejoice the eighth game in the series is set to be released this fall. Silent Hill makes its return to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will a brand new story, updated graphics, gameplay, and a soundtrack by acclaimed composed, Daniel Licht. Here is a sample of the music.

Silent Hill Downpour Music Sample

The story follows Murphy Pendleton, a convict on his way to prison when his transport bus crashes just outside the fabled town of Silent Hill. Stranded and alone in the woods just on the outskirts of Silent Hill, Murphy will not only have to find a way out, but fight for survival.

Along with the updated graphics and music, Silent Hill: Downpour reveals a new, expansive environment that is similarly claustrophobic and where the player is never truly alone. In the screenshots below, you can not only see the incredible new graphics, but also get a sneak peek at two new areas in the town, The Diner and the Devil’s Pit.

Obsolete Gamer was able to speak to Konami about the upcoming game.

Obsolete Gamer: Why the decision to go with a convict this time?

Tomm Hulett – At the start of each game we try to consider “what would be an interesting thing to see in Silent Hill.”  Other games have touched upon normal people who have done bad things, or innocent people stumbling on events much bigger than themselves.  But a prisoner is a person you would expect to have a lot of baggage for Silent Hill to exploit.  We felt this was an interesting premise that fans could speculate on as they awaited the game.  I wouldn’t say it was a deliberate attempt to “play a badguy” necessarily, but we did have discussions around whether or not people would/could relate to such a character.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you give us some information on the new gameplay and side quests within Silent Hill?

Tomm Hulett – In previous games, in order to progress the plot you might have to do some elaborate fetch quest puzzle involving artifacts or photographs or what have you.  And the clues involved might tell some side story that had little to do with the actual story (except tying in thematically perhaps).  The side quests could be viewed similarly.

Devin Shatsky – We’ve basically taken that notion that Tomm described above , and expanded it upon it exponentially.  We have this huge city at our disposal, yet in the past, it was comprised primarily of locked doors .  We wanted to give players a bit more incentive to search around, and check those doors without facing a constant barrage of discouraging locks.  This gives the player a greater sense that they are “exploring the town” and then rewarded with these mini-stories.  We’ve been very careful to keep these immersive enough to make the player feel like they’re still a part of the main story, yet separate enough that they aren’t forced into completing all of them in a linear fashion to reach the ending.

Obsolete Gamer: What have you taken from previous Silent Hill games and added to this one?

Devin Shatsky – We’ve borrowed elements from just about every past Silent Hill game in some form or fashion.  During pre-production we did (and still do) a lot of research in the fan forums, review sites, etc. for each game in the series, and we apply what we’ve learned from those past games into certain areas of Downpour as well.  The main goal being to do it in a way that pays respect to the past games and what we’ve learned from them, as well as trying to innovate where appropriate.

Rygar OST

Rygar OST

Rygar for the Nintendo Entertainment System is considered a rough adaptation of the arcade version. However, the main character, his weapon and pretty much all the enemies are the same the gameplay itself, is quite different.

NES cover for Rygar

Released in 1987 and developed by Tecmo, Rygar was a fantasy action adventure platform game while the arcade version was more of a standard side-scroller. In the NES version you guided the main character through a number of adventures on his ultimate goal of defeating the evil King Ligar. To defeat the evil king Rygar had to travel across the world and find five Indora gods who give him the items needed to defeat the king. Each of the gods are located in a different part of the world and guarded by a boss.

This was one of those games that could cause you to break your NES, the reason being that it had no saves whatsoever. The game was pretty difficult and took a long time to beat and the only way to finish was to either sit through the whole game or pause the game and go take a break. You can imagine what happened if someone unplugged the game or the power went out.

 

 

Now Robots Can Play Kinect, Too!

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I am not quite sure how the humanoid robot balances itself as the video doesn’t really explain it but it does seem able to remain focused and not lose any center of balance whatsoever. ~Umar Khan

Now Robots Can Play Kinect, Too!

When Microsoft announced the Kinect, a lot of people thought that this was going to be just another peripheral gimmick. In reality, they were correct. It really was just another peripheral gimmick and a way to bring in another competitor in motion based gaming. The original intent of the Kinect was to just have some good gaming fun. In the world we live in, though most things that have an original intent get pushed into another direction by an opposing force. For the Kinect, this opposing force is a community of hackers that enhanced its capabilities. I am sure we’ve all seen things that people have managed to do with Open Kinect.

One user managed to make humanoid devices mimic movements applied in a Kinect. What does that mean? I mean he made a freaking robot simulate human movements! What else could I mean? Move over Iron Man because we no longer need the armored suit.

Humanoid Robot Kinect
Humanoid Robot Kinect

In the video it shows the machine doing the opposite mirrored movement but that’s because instead of facing the screen, it is facing towards the camera. The robot responds to movement inputs placed in Open Kinect programs and responds with a likewise movement. The robot shows perfect balance even when moving around with a weight on its arm and shows adaptability to remain as focused as it is in the Kinect movements.  I am not quite sure how the humanoid robot balances itself as the video doesn’t really explain it but it does seem able to remain focused and not lose any center of balance whatsoever. Give or take a couple of months and we’ll see what else hacked Kinects can really get done.

Mega Man E-Coffee Mug

Mega Man was a bad ass when I was a kid. He’d go around to different portions of the city to stop Doctor Wily’s nonsense. Shoot a couple of his fellow robots, take their energy and their powers, and then go off and shoot another robot in the face with those powers all while jamming to some of the best NES music. Yeah, Mega Man was a boss. I knew that one day I was going to be a bad ass just like him.

Mega Man Coffee Cup Close-Up
Mega Man Coffee Cup Close-Up

Fast forward 20 years later and I’m out of shape and sitting behind a desk writing about bad ass things. Oh, how far I have fallen from being a robotic boy that shot things in the face with a plasma gun. For awhile I believed there would be no way I could become Mega Man. There would be no hope for me to just taste a sliver of that rock n’ roll robotic lifestyle.

E-Mug Mega Man coffee cup bottom
E-Mug Mega Man coffee cup bottom

Luckily, thanks to the folks at Fan Gamer I can be just like Mega Man at my desk for only $28. They created a Mega Man energy capsule coffee mug. There should be a “Hells yes” coming from each of you, my dear readers. Do you understand the capabilities of having such a mug? I can use it to pour in coffee and place it on a bonus wide coaster. You know else I can use it for? A conversation starter. People will walk into my office and say “Hey, Umar. That’s a pretty awesome coffee mug.” I can reply with a smug nod and then chug down scolding hot coffee to show them how truly awesome I am with this E-Mug. Sure it’ll hurt but my life energy will fill up while drinking out of this mug, obviously. I will truly be that super fighting robot that Mega Man is. Not that I said “is”. He is still relevant, god damnit!

E-Mug Mega Man coffee cup
E-Mug Mega Man coffee cup

Source: The Mega Man Network

The HTC Tube Concept

And now something not about gaming so much but cool tech. Antoine Brieux has a grand fixation with HTC as a whole and has been coming up with some rather alarming and amazing designs for smart phones. His latest brilliant idea is the HTC Tube. What makes this smart phone stand out from the rest? It is based on cartridges placed inside to enhance the features and functionality of the device. Modu attempted this awhile back and despite their “best” marketing abilities the idea didn’t fly so well. Despite the past failings of the idea, I am hoping that the dream Antoine Brieux is trying to push out comes to life because the technical specifications and functions of a phone running in this manner are astounding.

HTC Tube
HTC Tube

The external case of the tube is made from an alloy magnesium with a 1392 x 785 resolution screen with multi-touch capabilities. It houses a port for a Micro-USB that can work as an HDMI port with an adapter. The internal features of the phone have the standards that every smart phone should have. Dual led flash camera, external memory slots that support Micro SD cards up to 32GB of memory, and Wi-fi / 3G / Bluetooth capabilities.

HTC Internal Spec
HTC Internal Spec


What sets this concept ahead of other phones on the market and has the potential to change the entire direction of the industry? It’s the cartridge that is made for the HTC Tube that enhances its features. As more and more swappable cartridges are made, you get to keep the same case of the phone you like with its standard functions but also get to constantly upgrade the power of the device.

HTC External Spec
HTC External Spec

As of right now, there are three different editions of cartridges made up for the concept. The Starter Edition comes with a 800 MHz processor, Android 2.2, 512MB of internal memory, and a 3.2 megapixel camera with video capture and auto focus. Pretty standard stuff, right? Well here is part where the phone becomes a behemoth of power. The Ultimate Edition cartridge comes with a 1.5 GHz Dual Core processor, a dual boot of Android 2.2 and Windows Phone 7, 1GB on Internal memory, and a 12.0 megapixel camera with 1.3 megapixel front camera video at 1080p. Don’t forget to breathe, guys! I know that those specs just blew your mind and blew something else all over your pants.

HTC Tube Cartridge Design
HTC Tube Cartridge Design

Hopefully, someone grabs his concept design and rolls with it. This could definitely have a lot of staying power in the market and make it much easier to upgrade your phone should you want more power without switching to a completely new device. Here’s to hoping we see the Tube in the near future.

Source: HTC Phones

Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds

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Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds

Remember the Philips CD-I, well most people don’t because it was a failure, but it did become known for releasing popular game titles from other systems and ruining them. This game was originally in development by NovaLogic and attempted to duplicate the popularity and gameplay of Super Mario World on the SNES.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 1

While the game looks and even sounds a lot like Super Mario World the level design was changed to be based on Earth locations rather than the world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Some of the levels included locations such as, Greece, Egypt, and Aztec. However, there were also original zones such as Pipeworks and Land ‘n’ Plaid.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 3

So how did this come about? Originally, Nintendo planned to create a CD-ROM unit for the Super Nintendo during this time Philips was given licensing rights too many Nintendo titles including Mario and The Legend of Zelda. When the plan fell through, well, if you think about it I would say Philips got pay back by making crap versions of their games.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 2

In the end, Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds was not released and it was a good thing too. Due to the limitations of the CD-i, several features could not be included in the game, such as large numbers of sprites on the screen, Mode 7, and many visual effects. The nature of the pointing device controller provides difficult controls for Mario, as the game has the default controls of running and jumping.

In addition, the level design was not that good and many of the sprits were just copies from Super Mario World, it looked like a fan made game and not a very good one.

Picture of the Day: Rage

Rage Logo
Rage Logo

Today’s picture of the day comes from the anticipated shooter from ID Software, Rage. Rage is an FPS set in a not too distant future of earth shortly after an asteroid had impacted earth. You emerge from the rubble to find humanity fighting to survive and rebuild as they deal with gangs, mutants and more, kind of sounds like Fallout meets Deep Impact.

Rage is set to be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in North America on September 13, 2011.

Champions Online goes Free for All

Champions Online Logo
Champions Online Logo

With many other MMO’s going the free to play and purchase additional premium features route and the recent release of DC Universe online it is no surprise to see Champions follow suit.  Today Atari and Cryptic studios launched a free-to-play version of their super hero MMO.

You will be able to download Champions and play for free. Adventure Packs, items, powers and costume pieces can be selected a la carte inside Cryptic’s C-Store.  For those who are gold member everything will stay the same and anyone can still upgrade to gold status to receive pretty much all the a-la-carte items.

“We’re thrilled to finally be able to launch Champions Online: Free for All,” said John Needham, CEO, Cryptic Studios. “The Champions team has put an incredibly amount of effort into making Free for All an amazing free-to-play MMO every gamer can enjoy at no cost.”

Here are the options that come with the Free for all launch:

·         Play Everything – With the exception of special Adventure Packs, all the content in Champions Online: Free For All is available to every player. Once a player enters a location within the MMO game world, nothing is off-limits!

·         Unlimited Play Time – Play as much as you like, as long as you like, at absolutely no cost. No subscription or credit card required.

·         Your Own Hero, Your Own Story – Become a hero, encounter his or her Nemesis, and advance to maximum level at no cost.

·         Play Your Way – Utilize the optional web-based and in-game C-Store to purchase gameplay upgrades or additional premium content.

To learn more about the game and download the software head on over to the Champions Online website.

SNES inspired action platformer Explodemon

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Due to the prototype, we’ve been in the fortunate position of having been able to play Explodemon! for a long time now. The gameplay has been honed through iterative playtesting so many times, that we are effectively now releasing Explodemon II. We’re excited to now be able to marry this solid gameplay with cutting edge 3D visuals and effects and release it via digital distribution for others to enjoy. ~Jason Perkins

SNES inspired action platformer Explodemon

What do you get when you mix a love for classic Super Nintendo platform games, badly translated classic Japanese games and a company that cares about fun game play, you get Explodemon. Curve Studios is set to release Explodemon a 2.5D platform game for Playstation Network, Xbox Live and WiiWare.

Explodemon is a platform game centered around an exploding hero that can use his special ability to fight enemies, propel himself through the air and destroy anything in his path. In addition to warfare the game will also feature, puzzles that can be solved using the games physics system.

The game came about from Curve’s Design Director, Jonathan Biddle’s, love of classic platform games from the SNES days and his wish to create his own game.

“I’d been a games designer for many years, but had always wanted the ability to prototype ideas myself. I decided to learn Game Maker and started making a platform game about an exploding man. After working silently away for a few months in my spare time, I let a few people at Curve play Explodemon! and it became obvious that I’d managed to create something very fun.” He said.

That fun gameplay was continually tested and tweaked until it was perfect and the result is the fast paced, action packed game, Explodemon.

“Due to the prototype, we’ve been in the fortunate position of having been able to play Explodemon! for a long time now. The gameplay has been honed through iterative playtesting so many times, that we are effectively now releasing Explodemon II. We’re excited to now be able to marry this solid gameplay with cutting edge 3D visuals and effects and release it via digital distribution for others to enjoy.” Said Jason Perkins, Managing Director of Curve.

Curve is an independent video game developer based in London, UK and has worked with a number of partners. Now with Explodemon it looks as if the company has their own hit on their hands.

Biddle continues, “Explodemon! is best described as what Treasure would create if they mixed Yoshi’s Island with Half Life 2. It includes many elements from games as diverse as Street Fighter II, Halo, Super Metroid and Bangai-O. As lifelong gamers, we’re huge fans of these titles and feel we’ve managed to bring together something that captures something from all of them. We think that there are many gamers out there like us who feel that there aren’t enough absolutely amazing action platform games on the current download services and we really can’t wait for people to see that we’ve managed to create exactly that with Explodemon!”

When the peaceful planet of Nibia is attacked by the malicious Vortex forces, the fate of the star system is thrust into the one pair of hands it shouldn’t be: the malfunctioning Guardian robot Explodemon. His comic quest to repel the onslaught and restore peace will take him across three distinct planets over twelve levels, with new abilities and gameplay mechanics introduced throughout.

You will be able purchase Explodemon on February 9th for $9.99. The game will featuring 12 gigantic levels – each stuffed with secret rooms, puzzles and collectibles galore – and well over eight hours of gameplay.

Black Ops Bugs and the action taken by Gamers’ Voice

No Bugs
No Bugs

Perhaps you recently played the newest Call of Duty Black Ops game and have and continue to enjoy it. I personally played through the game and though it did not blow me away, it at least played well on my Xbox 360. However, that has not been the case for many gamers from the US and the UK that has had to deal with crippling bugs on their PS3 and PC versions of the game.

After receiving many complaints about the game, Gamers’ Voice, an independent pressure group representing video and computer gamers in the UK that seeks to act as a conduit to make all gamers voices heard in the government and mainstream media said this about the issue on their website.

The view of Gamers’ Voice is that it doesn’t matter how big a game is, it should not be released ‘unfinished’ or with bugs that make the game unplayable, which are words we have seen in a lot of emails to us recently.

Gamers’ Voice accepts that bugs do slip through the net as it’s impossible for developers to find every single bug. We do not accept however allowing entire sections of the PS3 and PC gaming community appearing to be used as game testers for an extended period after a game’s release, yet being asked to pay for the privilege. This is not a tenable way to treat consumers of video games.

This week GV will be filing a formal complaint to the UK consumer protection agency on this issue. Obsolete Gamer was able to get into contact with Gamers Voice UK chairman, Paul Gibson, to get more information on the issues and the actions being taken.

Gamers Voice UK logo
Gamers Voice UK logo

Many US games had no idea about the problems with CODBLOPS especially on the PS3 and PC can you tell as a little about the larger ones?

That’s not what we’ve heard! We’ve had quite a few emails from American gamers who have experienced the same issues as us in the UK. In fact, despite us being UK based, we’ve had emails from people across Europe and Australia too. The main complaint we receive is being not being able to connect to servers online, and there are a whole host of bugs that cause PS3s to freeze and need resetting, as well as similar issues with the PC edition. We seem to be getting new emails every day with a new game-wrecking bug found – we even got a link sent to us from NextGenTactics concerning this.

What was the initial response by Activision on the bugs?

We wrote to them a while ago, but didn’t even get the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

When did you first begin receiving feedback from fans to take action?

Almost as soon as it came out. We’re quite a new group, but we already have a big following on facebook, so people knew there was someone to turn to when their own complaints fell on deaf ears.

What action have you and will you be taking?

We have contacted the government trading standards body in the UK to request their involvement, and beyond that we have a few ideas we can’t discuss just yet.

What would be the response or action on Activision’s part that could solve this issue?

To fix the bugs! The dominant theme of many of the email we gets is one of frustration. It’s a fun game but only if you get to play it. If you can’t get online to play with your friends, or if you console or PC freezes mid-game (we have heard of isolated incidents of damage being caused to PlayStations due to this, although they are not confirmed, yet) then for many the whole game is ruined. If Activision simply ended their silence and said they are working on it, it would be a step in the right direction.

In your opinion do you think that with the legacy of having gamers beta test MMO such as Everquest and World of Warcraft coupled with the availability to patch on consoles and PC that more game companies are slacking off on bug testing and quality control?

That’s not for us to say, although there does seem to be a trend of games with fatal bugs being released recently. This might simply be due to the increasing complexity of the games and their size.

Ten Questions: Computer History Museum

Computer History Museum

Last week Obsolete Gamer told you about the the Revolutions exhibit at the Computer History Museum.  This week we wanted to elaborate more on the museum itself. Obsolete Gamer had the chance to talk with Chris Garcia, curator for the museum.

First, let us take a look at the history of the museum itself.

The roots of the Museum date from the 1960s, when Gordon and Gwen Bell—with the support of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) CEO Ken Olson—initially created an exhibit of their personal collection of computing devices in the lobby of DEC in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Computer History Museum first opened to the public in 1984 under the name of The Computer Museum. Sharing exhibition space with the Children’s Museum at Museum Wharf in Boston, the Computer Museum established a history of presenting exhibitions and education programs that explored contemporary perspectives on computing culture, history, and ideas.

CHM Chairman Leonard J. Shustek, then a member of the Computer Museum board, relocated the artifact collection of the Computer Museum to California’s Silicon Valley in 1999, where it was housed at a temporary location on the grounds of the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.  This temporary site will always be known as the location where the Computer History Museum was born.  In 2002, CHM moved to its current, permanent home on Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View when the Board of Trustees issued a $25 million bond to purchase the SGI headquarters building outright.

Since its rebirth in California, the Museum has expanded its mission from a solely exhibition-based focus to preservation and collecting. CHM is now home to the world’s largest collection of computing history materials, with over 100,000 artifacts, objects, and ephemera ranging from ancient calculating devices to the first Google server.  It draws on the availability of existing partners and financial supporters from the vast computing sector, as well as on the creativity of curators and scholars to develop immersive exhibitions, an extensive website and the Museum’s acclaimed speaker series.

Obsolete Gamer: What is the process for researching and collecting your artifacts?

We go through a thorough process of reviewing the artifacts that we are offered by donors. We start by seeing if we have anything like it in the collection, if the object is significant to the story of computer history, and how we might be able to use it in the future for exhibition or study. We also consider the condition, provenance and completeness of the specific object offered. Two objects may look incredibly similar but one represents an application of the technology that tells a better story than the other.

Obsolete Gamer: Are there computer related artifacts that you selectively choose not to display and if so why?

Any exhibit requires extensive research followed by a period of pruning down potential stories leading into the creation of a coherent story that will end up being the exhibit. There are a number of factors that determine what gets displayed, including what is available as a part of the collection, what can be borrowed from other institutions, the condition of individual artifacts, and the work that specific objects need to do in the context of the exhibit.  Every object also takes up physical space along with ideological space, which limits the amount of objects that can be used.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a prized collection or prized artifact that you covet the most?

The biggest wish I’ve got is for a complete collection of the games of Westwood Associates / Westwood Studios. They were a significant part of the history of PC games and are often over-looked for the contribution they made with their games. Game developers can sometimes be over-looked for their role in the process in favor of the distributors and publishers, which is rough.  One thing that rarely happens is getting a full run of pieces from a company/studio/innovator/etc that allows you to do a thorough investigation between all the works and to show the complete evolution of a product space.

Obsolete Gamer: Personally, what era of computing over the last 2000 years has been the most significant to society?

It would be difficult to say that any era of computing was more significant than any other as every innovation is built upon those of previous generations, but it could be argued that the last fifteen years have featured innovation that has so greatly expanded the number of users and the ways in which computers are used as to make it the most significant. The great increase in the number of devices like the iPod and the iPhone, the greater penetration of Smart Phones and the complete integration of the internet into everyday life. These innovations have brought computers into the hands of more and more individuals, not only in the developed world, but also in parts of the world where computers had never been found before.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the gaming portion of the exhibit?

The Computer Games gallery looks at the development of Computer Games from the 1950s through to today. We focus on many of the most significant innovations in the history of gaming such as SpaceWar!, Odyssey, Pong and the Atari 2600. The area features a selection of gaming consoles from the 1970s through 2001, many pieces of gaming software both for home consoles and personal computers. There are also four interactive stations where visitors can play classic games such as Adventure, Pong, Pac-Man and SpaceWar!.  One of the key things to me about the Gaming Gallery is that it looks at games of all kinds, but it also includes pieces of gaming ephemera to show that it wasn’t just about the games themselves, but about how they were marketed and packaged.

The Computer History Museum Logo
The Computer History Museum Logo

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a favorite exhibit, if so can you tell us which one and why?

My personal favorite object in the exhibit is a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game from Infocom. It was co-written by the author of the novel, Douglas Adams, of whom I’ve always been a great admirer. He brought the game to the museum and handed it off to me when he appeared just a short time before his death in 2001. When we started looking at what items to use to demonstrate Infocom’s games, I knew that we had to use the Hitchhiker’s copy that he’d given us. I always smile when I walk past it and see the label that reads ‘Gift of Douglas Adams’

Two Capcom classics coming to the Virtual Console

1942 arcade flyer
1942 arcade flyer

Is your Wii Fit collecting dust and you need a break from Golden Eye? Well good thing for you that there is classic gaming on the Wii. This week two classic Capcom games are being released on the Wii Virtual console.

The first release is the classic shooter, 1942. This classic, vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up is perhaps Capcom’s finest moment of the pre-Street Fighter era. Spawning a million clones and reappearing throughout the history of gaming, 1942’s biplane action needs no introduction. This is the original released and will run you 800 Will Points to own.

Next up is, Black Tiger, Fight your way through colorful, action-packed levels in this 1987 arcade classic. Explore huge, sprawling levels as a powerful barbarian seeking to defeat menacing bosses. Plus, upgrade your character with one of the first inventory and power-up systems ever built. This is another original release any is available for 800 Wii Points.

Neuromancer: The Graphic Novel

 

Neuromancr

William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the book that introduced cyberspace as a term and single-handedly created what we gnomes tend to describe as cyberpunk, has apparently gone the graphic novel way, with the valuable assistance of Tom De Haven and Bruce Jensen. What’s more, you too, oh humble mortals, can freely glimpse at the 1st volume of this magnificent opus. Click here. It’s free and features everyone’s favorite Street Samurai.

Commercial Wars: Atari in the 80’s

Commercial Wars: Atari in the 80’s

You did not have to be born in the 80’s to appreciate some of the insane commercials that were produced and released during that time.  In the 80’s we had a mix of commercials still influenced by the 70’s combined with the emerging technology of the 80’s with directors and writers trying everything to get you to buy their products.

Atari-Computer-System

Since console gaming was brand new and even arcade gaming itself was not wide spread to the TV watching audience the challenge was presenting their ad in a way that would interest the consumer. In addition, since the graphics of the day were not that exciting the fear was showing simpler graphics on a television screen where you can watch shows that have a higher production value could turn parents off to buying their kids the system. As a result the creativity level for the commercials was, unique.

Joust

My question is why would you want to highlight a home being destroyed over playing a video game? See, the bird knew what was coming and the kid just stood back and watched it happen. What was that thing at the end with him turning into a bird? Oh, I forgot, LSD was still popular back then.

Dig Dug

Know I understand how the war in Iraq came about it was Dig Dug. I really hope our department of defense is not this stupid. However, I think I discovered how Independence Day was made, with the cuts to different locations including “lovers lane” and the dirt moving from under peoples feet. Perhaps it was more like the movie, Tremors.  We jump into crises mode at the White House while dancers shake their butts on screen. You have to love the 80’s.

Come on! Do the Dig Dug Dance!

Asteroids

You know alien’s visited our planet back in the day. What you did not know was they were looking for video games. These people look like a mix between the Andorians from Star Trek and Night Elves from World of Warcraft. The main person looks like Data and they talk like Mork from Mork and Mindy. The good news is they will be too busy playing to enslave us. The bad news is they have the technology to travel to earth, but think Atari graphics are awesome.

Berzerk

So we start off here with an old lady almost nailing a kid in the balls. Old people, they think you can only play Berzerk in the arcades, but now you can play it at home. I think there were millions of bands back in the 80’s whose sole purpose was to sing jingles for commercials. At least we got the “Have you played your Atari today” line.

Solar Fox

This was before Wing Commander and women’s lib, we have the dashing and bored Soul Fox and the bubbling blond eating popcorn while their spaceship flies toward what looks like a 3D chess board. Poor Soul Fox is so annoyed that his busty companion wants to navigate his loins and he only wants to navigate the space field. I know the feeling, wait, no I don’t.

One thing of note, I did not even know of CBS Electronics.

Back to the Future

There you have it, five commercials from Atari made in the 80’s in a style only Puff the Magic Dragon could understand. Now you vote, which was the best.

Ten Questions with Envizions

Gamebox logo
Gamebox logo

Envizions

If you need more proof that mobile gaming is becoming a large part of the gaming industry, look no further than all the innovations being released for the Android mobile platform. Gamebox is one of those newest innovations, created by Envizions it allows gamers to back-up and store their games. Not only can you store you mobile gaming save states, but you can also back-up documents, videos and music.

In order to bring you more information on this new product Obsolete Gamer conducted an interview for our Ten Questions segment.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you start with telling us a little bit about Envizions as a company?

I started Envizions in 2004. I along with four co-workers pooled our money together to self fund the company. The EVO console created such an amazing buzz that it excited new co-workers and each person pooled $5 per week to fund the company.

Obsolete Gamer: In a nutshell what is the Gamebox?

GameBox is a back-up storage for games, but can also be used to back-up documents, videos, and music.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the EVO beta market study and what did you learn from it?

We learned that we were ahead of our time with in terms of utilizing technology like voice recognition, PC, DVR, content, social and convergence and being that these advance were being presented by a startup company hurt us a bit. We constantly see things from recent consoles that our CES 2007 EVO already employed. Our testers gave us great feedback on what they liked about the system and what needed to be improved on. We sold all of our initial systems and now everyone is requesting one? Go figure (Lol)

Obsolete Gamer: For those that don’t know can you tell us about cloud and cloud-based games and storage?

The cloud has many meanings but our meaning is storing important and valuable data in secure locations. GameBox will also employ some basic game streaming similar to concepts your readers have seen from current companies.

Obsolete Gamer: So gamers will be able to save their game data including saved states like is done on some console emulators?

Yes.

Obsolete Gamer: Give us some more information on the cross-device usage and how it will apply to high definition televisions and networked-based games?

We want to take that approach we did with the first EVO with convergence, but expand on that concept further with mobile, tablets, and television. Once we are closer to finishing, we’ll have a few more secrets to share.

Obsolete Gamer: You will also offer Gesture Controlled Gaming; can you tell us more about that?

Not much. We have something very special planned. And I mean special. “We want this system to come alive…literally!”

Obsolete Gamer: Now developers will be able to sign-up and receive unlimited storage and access to tools for only $9.95 per month?

Yes, but we plan to do other special things for our partner developers.

Obsolete Gamer: What does it mean to be the first crowd source and social participation console?

Users will have control on where we release the system first, the design, the color, the game controllers etc. When the Rock says “I’m the people’s champ.” GameBox is the people’s system with Envizions providing a small assist.

Obsolete Gamer: What is your personal view on mobile gaming now and in the near future?

I have loved gaming since the Nintendo era. I have beat several games on that system. Now we have mobile gaming and I love it also. I can see this being huge as we move forward.

Cosplay: Assets

Do Booth Babes Help?

You can go to pretty much any convention and find them. From car shows to CES and even home appliances there will be some booth babes, the question is, do they help sell a product. Now studies have shown that aesthetically pleasing images does help motivate sales. We are not just talking about a pretty face here; certain colors and even light can make a big difference. For example, the color red stands out, but white makes you think of something pure and clean. With the rise in green technology that color has become a permanent part of that industry.

As for that pretty face and sexy body, it begins with simple biology. When we see a fit body, our animal instincts kick in and even if you never want children, the body sees a healthy mate and attraction starts. Obviously if you are selling sexy then you need sexy just as it is preferable to have a fit body selling memberships to gyms. Over many years, we have come to expect a certain look for a certain type of product and the same goes for the person or persons presenting that product.

Now to be fair there is also the side of us males that objectify women even if we do not mean too. For a long time we dictated the way women should look and even today, if you look at any magazine or model you can spot the influence. One could say pairing a product next to a pretty girl makes both an object for display, but this does not necessarily mean we all are objectifying her by looking.

What do we see when we look at a pretty woman showing off a product? Does it help us decide if we want to buy said product or does her personal presentation draw our interest and keep it there long enough for the product to sell itself? For the most part marketing executives and researches say that it is to draw us in and keep our attention. The key is not to draw to much attention to the presenter, but just enough to give the sales pitch. Surely, there will be a lot of drop off where people come to see the sexy woman and then quickly move on, but that is for the numbers people who deal with retention.

Have you ever purchased a product because of a booth babe? I don’t think I have, but again, those same researches say that in many cases you will never realize that was why you approached the product in the first place, diabolical!

Check out the rest of our Cosplay.

 

DC Universe Online: The Good, The Bad and the Future

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

So much of my time has been spent playing my Superman hating hero, Lineage in DC Universe online, but I had to take a moment to give my opinion on the game. While I had been looking forward to this game since its announcement it was seeing so many of my friends playing it that made me finally decide to buy it instead of waiting a few more weeks. I do not regret my decision, but there are pressing issues and long-term questions about this MMO.

The Good

I remember playing City of Heroes and thinking about how cool it was to make my own hero from scratch. Unfortunately, issues such are repetitive missions, level grinds and lack of custom powers quickly turned my love to loathing. With DCUO, I decided not to read all the developers notes or message boards. I wanted to come into this game like a child who received it on day one and make my decision of whether it was good or not based on firsthand experience not what is “coming soon”.

  • Character Design – Sure, it may not be as in-depth as City of Heroes is, but it is a great start. You cannot only make a completely original hero, but if you wish, you can pretty much copy any hero from DC, Marvel and beyond.
  • Power Layout – You have your two primary powers, but you also can choose from Iconic Powers that give you abilities such as Superman’s heat vision or Batman’s batarangs. This allows you to really customize your character whether you are a min/max’er or a concept creator.
  • Into the Fire – What I mean by this is you do not start of fighting purse-snatchers. From the beginning, you are going up against the big names from Scarecrow to Bizarro and everything in between. This makes you feel like a hero not some jerk in a mask.
  • Heroic TeamUp – From the start of the game you team up with well-known DC superheroes and this continues throughout the game. For those that though they only give you missions from police stations and the watchtower are wrong. Sure, often the heroes do not do much, but still fighting alongside them is very cool and I know there is much more to come.
  • Similar but different – Sure, most missions have you go to a location take out a bunch of bad guys and then rinse and repeat. However, there is enough variety in not only the locations and bad guys, but the story layout and endgame (mission wise not complete game wise) to keep you interested and wanting to play more.
  • Dungeon Tile sets – This was one of my biggest issues with City of Heroes, check out my report on it. When I say Dungeon, I mean an instance where only you or your team can enter. In COH it was always an office or a warehouse and sometimes a science lab, but with DCUO every instance is unique even if it is an abandoned warehouse. It makes the game seem much larger than it is and it keeps it from getting boring which is a very good thing.
  • Easy to Play, Easy to Level – There is some risk, but no more than what you will find in World of Warcraft and believe it or not this works for this type of game. You can get your butt kicked, but if you learn your role and play correctly, you can solo or group and succeed. In addition, you can level at a good pace, which COH should have learned does not mean you will quit once you max out. If there is more to do and added gameplay such as PVP, end game instances and other content you will continue to play or role a new character.
  • Voiceover and Cut scenes – They work in MMO’s and DC has given us fans of the Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons a great gift with their voiceover work. Sure, some of the random voiceover gets repetitive, but the mission voiceover and voices from names we know makes it win win. The cut scenes just make you feel like you are part of the story and they look awesome to boot.

Now there are more good things I can say, but let us move on to the bad.

The Bad

One must always keep in mind that no MMO is going to start out perfect. There will be issues in any game you play and it will take time for the developers to not only fix the bugs, but also tailor the game in a way more people will deem favorable. Many people are spoiled because of games like World of Warcraft that while it still has its issues has been polished after years of patches and expansions. The key is seeing what will happen once the changes are made and if you like it now it will only get better.

Launch Bugs

Here are some of the most annoying issues at the moment.

  • Losing audio after a cut scene – For some people after finishing a mission arc and getting the cool cut scene they lose audio and only a complete restart of the game fixes this.
  • Vanishing Weapon – Sometimes when entering an instance, upgrading, or changing your main weapon even once you equip it the weapon does not take effect. The good news is all you need to do is un-equip and reequip to fix this.
  • Disappearing Power Layout – This one is weird because I am not sure what causes it. Sometimes your power layout, which is the number 1 through 8 keys where you can use your powers sometimes  disappears from the UI. Now you can still use the powers it is just that you cannot see them. Strangely, it will fix itself on its own randomly.
  • Windowed Mode No Save – You can select Windowed mode, but if you log out and log back in it does not save your preference.
  • Alt Tab Crash – Some people say they crash or lose audio when alt tabbing out to their desktop.

Playability

Here are some complaints about general gameplay. Keep in mind much of this is caused by people being used to what they can do in World of Warcraft.

  • Alt Tab Issue – In some cases, Alt Tabbing out to your desktop can cause issues including loss of sound or even a game crash. In addition to those issues if you select windowed mode you still have to alt tab out to use your desktop unlike World of Warcraft where once you are in windowed mode you can seamlessly switch between desktop and the game.
  • Chat and Social Issues – It will take time to get use to different chat interfaces, but with DCUO having to type in commands for inviting people to group, adding friends or joining a guild would be better if one could use their mouse to click within the UI.

Nit Picking

Some of these are good points and others would make Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons proud.

  • In PVP level 30’s greifing low levels – Welcome to PVP servers in MMO’s
  • Blurring of textures in the distance – The word is this is because the game was made for the PS3 and the PC together so while you can up the settings on your PC there will be limitations.
  • Random Bad guys/Good Guys saying the same thing repeatedly – Even with 50 million spent on the game each mob cannot have its own voice.
  • Sharing credit for a kill or having a kill stolen – You take the good with the bad. If you hit Funhouse three times and got the kill even though he would have stomped you into the ground then you have to accept that someone will steal the civilian you were supposed to save.
  • Mission repetitiveness – Welcome to gaming. Think about the best comic book you have ever read, in the end you still have random fights and a mystery and a boss fight. This is how much of gaming works and in an MMO it is a staple.
  • Gold Selling Spam – Welcome to MMO’s ignore and report feature coming soon.

There are more bugs and issues, but my too long didn’t read alarm is going off.

The Future

I have personally seen a lot of launches and some have stood the test of time and many have fallen hard to the bottom of the MMO well. The key to a MMO is not only the launch, but also how fast they can fix issue before the masses leave for another game.

Keys to DCUO’s survival

  • Bug Fixes – It may seem like a no brainer, but bugs can kill it for some people faster than others. Perhaps a PC or MMO vet will expect launch issues, but many ten year olds wont. SOE has to fix these quick or they may see a mass exodus.
  • Content – Since the level cap is 30 and you can reach that quickly the key is giving people a lot to do once 30 to keep playing just in case they don’t want to re-roll. Content at 30 does not have to mean end game. You can add missions and other thing to do that are not necessarily an end game raid, but it has to be fresh and fun and sooner than later.
  • End Game – There has to be big massive raids and fights that you would just not see during your normal missions. It is not always about loot, but about feeling you are on the forefront of the game fighting the big fight and not continuing on like a foot solider. Many people play these games to be the big shot and the end game is the big game.
  • Level Cap increase – It is going to come either way, but the key is knowing when to allow players to move on to that next level or ten as it were. You cannot just add levels for nothing, there must be a reason and all the added powers, gear and content to go with it.
  • Overall Story Arc – You have to keep the overall story going and going in a manner that makes sense and is fun to the player. Sure, we may love fighting against Bane with Batman, but we want to see Brainiac get his brain bashed or have him achieve a small victory that keeps the war going, either is good.
  • PVP – PVP can make or break a game because PVP can effect PVE and in the case of DCUO, PPV can extend the life of a game for those who rush to max level. While it is true the majority of people will PVE it is best not to ignore the PVP player or you might find some of your most loyal subscribers going elsewhere.
  • Intangibles – This includes everything from discovery quests and world events to special offers and give-a-ways. You can never over promote and if you keep your fans interest inside and outside of the game you will have a winner on your hands.

So much more

There is a ton more to say on the subject of DCUO, but for now I will continue playing and asking questions and hopefully get some answers from the developers. If you are thinking about getting this game, try it out. The game has buddy passes so you can try it before you buy it, but I think you will end up buying it. If you already are playing, stick with it, I have faith good things will continue to unfold and your voices will be heard.

I’ll see you in game.

Breaking down the Video Game addiction debate

video game addiction
video game addiction

A new study was recently conducted that talked about the link between mental health issues and video game addiction. I for one would first start by saying that if it has already been established that you are addicted to video games then you already have a mental issue. The study looked at three thousand 4th through 8th grade children and found that nine percent of them had “pathological gaming” problems.

The study showed that mental health issues including depression, anxiety and poor grades led these children to access video game playing. The study stated that children who are socially awkward with a high tendency toward impulsive behavior and who had played a great amount of video games are at higher risk to become addicted to them.

Many people with some stating that they used “flawed methodology” have attacked the research study. There definitely are some issues I have found with the study, but first let us look at the CNN report.

Age Defined

The first issue I have with the study is the age range. Perhaps once you reach the junior high age video game addiction can become more of a concern due to the different social structures you will find yourself in. However, parenting is still paramount and if your 4th grader is becoming addicted to video games then it is solely the fault of the parent.

While issues before a child is born can cause different mental issues in children it is how you are raised that will determine when and how those issues will come about. Even if your child becomes a video game addict once he or she beings college it can be prevent by parenting or general supervision long before then.

If a parent cannot, does not or will not take the real time it takes to raise a child then that child will cling onto the first stimuli that it finds be it games, television or even positive activities such as reading. An active parent who is in control can allow the child to experience games, books, and television in the proper moderation without becoming overbearing causing the child to rebel just because.

Social Structure

When it comes to social awkwardness, the lines can become blurry mainly because the idea of what is socially acceptable changes from week to week. At one time, anyone who used a computer or played video games was looked down upon yet today it is much more accepted and mainstream. Again we return to the issue of age because as you develop and grow you are discovering what kind of person you will become socially. Just because a child may choose to remain quiet and listen to a conversation as opposed to talking the lead and running it does not necessarily mean your child has an issue or will develop one.

When we talk about social awkwardness the problem comes about when we compare how the person acts in different to other children, mainstream concepts of social acceptance or even the parents own social history. Often if we do not understand the ever-changing social structure, we will find fault where there is none. On the other hand, many parents are in denial and will misdiagnose why a child is not fitting in.

It is far too easy to point to a gamer that spends a lot of time playing video games and state that his lack of “face time” with other human beings is a result of that gaming time. For many gamers the act of gaming is their social time especially in games where you play in team or guilds or with thousands of other players. In addition, many gamers have tried to find common ground with other children in the outlets they have access to such as school, the neighborhood and other activities and found they relate to other gamers.

This is where many studies fail in my opinion because they refuse to adequately study the social dynamic of gamers. While it can be a generally true statement that a gamer is less socially mainstream than a non-gamer it is not true that being socially mainstream is the best course for every child. If a gamer has a strong core of good friends, who can provide positive reinforcement then it should not matter as much where that common ground was found, as long as the act of gaming does not hurt the child physically or mentally then choosing to ally his or herself with other gamers can be socially healthy.

Moderation

In the end, it again comes down to parenting and control. If a parent takes an active role and is willing to learn instead of just reacting then it is much easier to distinguish if your child is finding friends within the gaming community or is turning to gaming because of an inability to make friends in the real world. If you monitor your child’s game play just as you would their television time or even food intake it will become easier to discover the truth.

There is a balance that all parents must maintain between keeping a watchful eye and smothering and it varies from child to child. I personally was the type of child that needed an over-viewer, someone who watched from a distance to make sure I was okay, but not directly involved in my minute-to-minute activities. However, children are different and each parent must find out on their own what type of monitoring style works best.

Variety is still the spice of life and as a child, it is important to expose your children to different stimuli while they are young. Even someone who becomes an avid gamer to the point that it becomes a career path can benefit from having experienced many different things as a child. I have personally been exposed to many different social and cultural events, sometimes kicking and screaming and through in the end my love was for computers and video games I know I am a better person for having had those experiences.

Being a gamer does not mean that is all you do. Today’s gamers can go to a sports event, watch a movie, listen to concert and then go home and play hours of World of Warcraft. In order to get to the point where one outlet does not control your entire free time one must be exposed to new things and the things they enjoy the most must be in moderation.

Home Study

The main problem with a study on video games and its effect on someone socially is that the study often does not research the full home life of subject(s) in question. Take for instance weight as an issue. If a child was overweight and then tuned to gaming did the study take that into account? How about the parent, was enough research done into the parenting style? Many parents would be on guard when their child is under study, how does one find out what effect their parenting had on them before they even had a social life to examine?

This was not an endeavor to discount the effects of excessive gaming; it was more to show that linking social or even mental issues to one cause is flawed science in itself. Even if a study was to take into account that many other factors could have led to social or mental problems if video game addiction is in the forefront then many readers of the study will stop there and not dig further.

Real gaming addiction should be studied and the people who are trapped need to be saved and this will not happen with the way we currently look at it. It will take real steps and a lot of background and extensive research to discover why anyone turns to any one thing to be their everything.

GOG unleashes several classic titles from Activision

Zork Anthology
Zork Anthology

The classic gaming gurus over at Good old Games have added a number of awesome Activision titles to their line-up with more coming in the next few weeks. For those of us who loved to play the non-cape and cowl type of detective will be able to enjoy GOG’s bundle of Police Quest games, which includes part 1 through 4 for only $9.99.

Next up is the Zork Anthology for the adventure fan in us all. This bundle will offer six classic text adventures going back to the golden age of gaming in the 1980’s. With the GOG.com bundle, you will get the first five Zork games as well as Planetfall for only $5.99

So if you pick up these titles and you should, tell them Obsolete Gamer sent ya!

SNK Launches 8 new classic NEOGEO titles for the PSP on PSN

NeoGeo Station logo
NeoGeo Station logo

Today via the Playstation Network, you will be able to download eight new classic games for your Playstation Portable. Here is the list of released games.

ALPHA MISSION II
A classic shooter from the early days of the NEOGEO, blasts off once again from NEOGEO Station! Equip up to three pieces of armor, which also serve as weapons, for a variety of attacks such as the laser and flamethrower. Use them to defeat the evil “Fulvar” and save mankind!

ART OF FIGHTING
The fighting game that redefined the genre, also the first 100 Mega Shock title, is back on NEOGEO Station! Its innovative spirit gauge and super attack moves, combined with exhilarating effects and dramatic event scenes, make it a must-play for all fighting fans.

BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL
A title that launched with the NEOGEO in 1990, suits up for NEOGEO Station! Inspired by big league ball, it features a VS Mode and a Tournament Mode, dynamic animation, voiced commentary, and an array of up-close action shots for the complete baseball experience!

LEAGUE BOWLING
A simple yet exhilarating bowling game, rolls onto NEOGEO Station! Players select their own ball and which arm to use. Then it’s just choosing a direction and how much power to apply! Features three game modes and hilarious, over-the-top animations when you get that strike!

MAGICIAN LORD
A platformer from ADK and a NEOGEO launch title is resurrected on NEOGEO Station!  Set in a mystical realm, players go on a quest to defeat the evil wizard Gal Agiese and his horde of monsters. Use magic attacks and combine elemental orbs to change between six different forms!

SAMURAI SHODOWN
The original weapon-based fighting game, is back for battle on NEOGEO Station! Samurai, ninja, and other exotic fighters star in this classic that focuses on powerful strikes. Features a rage gauge that turns incurred damage into attack power, and intense, button-mashing weapon clashes!

SUPER SIDEKICKS
SNK’s first soccer game, takes to the field on NEOGEO Station! Dribble, pass, and shoot your way to victory as you go head to head with powerhouses from around the world in the SNK Cup. Come out on top and enjoy a toast worthy of a champion!

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94
The first game hailed as a dream match of SNK characters, makes its way to the NEOGEO Station! Still beloved by countless fans, its revolutionary three-on-three team battle system sets it apart from all other fighting games.

The titles are available for $6.99 each.

Revolution exhibit at the Computer History Museum

Classic video game hardware from the revolution exhibit
Classic video game hardware from the Revolution exhibit

The Computer History Museum is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world. The museum leads the world in exploring the history of computing and its impact of humanity and society.

The Computer History Museum was established in 1999 and since then has displayed thousands of computer related items from hardware to software, photographs, documents and more. Just recently, they unveiled their latest exhibit, Revolution.

Revolution looks at the first 2000 years of computing from the abacus to the smart phone. The great thing about this exhibit is it has something for everyone from the history buffs to the gaming geeks. The exhibit is massive featuring 19 galleries and five mini-theaters that will show high definition videos produced by the museum.

Of course, there is a video game portion of the exhibit for the classic gamer in all of us. The gaming section showcases key pieces of hardware and games from various companies throughout history and tells us about their impact on not only us gamers, but history itself.

Obsolete Gamer is currently working on an interview with a member of the Computer History Museum to bring you more information. However, if you are in Mountain View, California you can check out the exhibit firsthand.

The Computer History Museum building
The Computer History Museum building

You can see some great images of the video game portion of the exhibit over on Gamestop.

The Daily Vid: Lineage tours The Watchtower

Batman Nightwing and Robin from DC Universe Online
Batman Nightwing and Robin from DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online was released this past week, this MMO allows you to create your own superheroes and fight alongside some of DC’s greatest heroes including, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. So far, the game still has some bugs to work out, but to this veteran MMO player the game plays very well and is a lot of fun.

Honestly, do yourself a favor and play on the PVP servers for a bit, I play on the Public Enemies server. In the PVP worlds, you can fight against villains at anytime and any level. The good thing is even if they are level 30 a team of level 10’s can take them out. I admit it is the most fun I have had in a PVP match since very early World of Warcraft.

As for the video, I had just finished my starting missions, which included escaping from a Brainiac ship with Superman’s help. My next mission was stopping Gorilla Grodd with the assistance of, The Flash from turning the citizens of Metropolis into apes. The Queen Bee was my next mission after that, she got stung, and now I enter The Watchtower to take a tour and get my next mission.

This game has the potential to be very good with a few fixes and changes. I will be bringing you a more detailed report with more in-game videos in the next future as well as questions answers by the DCUO dev team, so, if you have questions leave them as comments and I will try to get them answered.

The Daily Vid: Rocket Ranger

Rocket Ranger box
Rocket Ranger box

Our daily vid comes to us from Recorded Amiga Games and features the 1988 action adventure game, Rocket Ranger. Developed and published by Cinemaware, Rocket Ranger is set in an alternate world during World War II. The Nazi’s are on the brink of a breakthrough that will almost certainly win them the war. A rocket pack is sent back from the future to our hero in order to prevent the Nazi’s from winning the war.

SEGA Dreamcast: Must have Collection

Sega Dreamcast Collection Box
Sega Dreamcast Collection Box

Mark your calendar Dreamcast fans February 22nd is the day for you. Sega will be releasing a special package compilation featuring some of the most popular classic titles from the Sega Dreamcast. Not only will you be able to get these if you have an Xbox 360, but it is also being released for the Microsoft Windows PC digital download.

Let’s talk games. This package include:

  • Sonic Adventure
  • Crazy Taxi
  • Bass Fishing
  • Space Channel 5 Part 2

The collection will feature enhanced graphics in addition to achievement’s and online leaderboards for Xbox Live.

“The Dreamcast console is still remembered as a pioneering console for online gaming,” commented Gary Knight, VP of Marketing at SEGA of America and SEGA Europe “We are delighted to be able to offer to our large community of dedicated fans a collection such as Dreamcast Collection for them to enjoy old favorites on this Xbox 360 and Windows PC.”

Cosplay: Double Knockout

Before you point and laugh

I can understand why it is easy to point and make fun of people who dress-up and act out scenes from a movie, game or comic book. When standing in the cloak of herd it is easy to point to the people doing something different. Sure, we can look at the pretty women of cosplay and talk about how pretty they look, but take away the sexual component and cosplay often becomes the subject of ridicule.

Now believe me I understand that running around a public park yelling “Lighting Bolt!” would seem silly to a bystander, but have you been to a club lately. While I was in Vegas for CES I went to a few clubs and some of the people there were dressed and acting as silly as your wildest cosplay, but since it was in the context of club going it is accepted.

On the other hand taking cosplay out of its normal environment is not the best idea either. Years ago, there was a story about a woman who wore her Star Trek uniform to work and even wanted to go to court wearing it. In cases of the work-a-day world, I agree that cosplay and crazy club wear should be left at home.

However, look behind the costume and you will find someone who has found freedom. You will find someone who can let loose in his or her own way and enjoy what they care about and we should applaud that not mock it. Sometimes within the darkness of a club with a bit of liquid courage, a shy man or woman can become the life of the party. The same goes with donning a Batman mask or World of Warcraft suit of armor. Happiness is found when you do what you enjoy doing with those you want to experience it with. A smile is a smile, joy is joy, and nobody should try to take that away from you with harsh words or finger pointing.

In the end we all have something that we like that others may look down upon us for. The phrase Guilty pleasures does not always apply because you should never feel guilty or ashamed for liking something especially if it does not cause harm or discomfort to others. When you point and laugh at someone enjoying themselves you are causing harm not only to the person you are targeting, but yourself as well because that kind of action will lead you to stifle your own search for joy.

The next time you want to wear something obscure you may think twice because there just might be someone like you, a finger pointer, a laugher, waiting to rain on your parade. Consider that the next time you are about to point someone out and perhaps one day you will find an outlet to let loose and enjoy letting go.

All right, enough of my white horse soap boxing, on with the FAPP!

Check out the rest of our Cosplay.

 

The Interview: Good Old Games

gog Good old games logo
gog Good old games logo

Good Old Games

Good Old Games offers classic PC game titles at low prices with no DRM. Pretty much any classic PC game you are looking to play you can find there with more added regularly, which is why we, as classic gamers ourselves, love them so much. Obsolete Gamer had an exclusive interview with Lukasz Kukawski from Good Old Games where we discussed the origin of GOG.com, his personal gaming background and the infamous re-launch marketing stunt that caused quite a bit of heat.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us in your own words what Good old Games is?

In one sentence Good Old Games, or GOG.com, is a digital distribution platform with cheap and DRM-free classic PC games. But there’s more know about GOG as we’re one of a kind :). First of all game. We’ve got such great classics like Baldur’s Gate series, Fallout, Duke Nukem 3D, Freespace 2, Outcast, Arcanum, Heroes of Might and Magic, Beyond Good & Evil (overall we have 300+ titles) for crazy low prices $5.99 or $9.99, no matter where you live. The second big thing on GOG is the DRM-free feature – this means we don’t have any copy protection in our games – when you buy a game on GOG you can download it anytime you want, as many times as you need, you can burn it on a CD, install on any PC you own and you don’t have to be online to play. What’s even better every game is guaranteed to work on modern operating systems and comes with additional materials like soundtracks, guides, artworks, wallpapers and more.

That’s pretty cool, right? But GOG isn’t just a digital outlet. Our goal is to make it the ultimate destination for all classic games fans, that’s why every game has it’s own forum where you can meet people who share the same passion for old games as you. We publish retrospective articles and interviews with developers which bring you the idea how the game was made and what decisions developers had to make during the development.

But you don’t have to listen to me, just visit GOG.com, create a free account and download one (or all) of four free games to check the GOG experience.

Obsolete Gamer: How did the idea come about and how did it get started?

I suppose the concept of offering old games had long been germinating in the minds of CD Projekt’s management guys, as GOG.com is part of the CD Projekt group of companies that also includes CD Projekt RED development studio who created the acclaimed RPG The Witcher. CD Projekt started their business as retail distributor of games in Poland in mid-90’s. One of the biggest successes in pirated-driven Polish gaming market was introducing to the Polish gamers a budget series of classic PC games called “extra classics”. Sometime around 2007 they have started to think about offering the old and beloved games with full compatibility on modern operating systems to a worldwide audience and the best way to reach such audience is via internet. A quick research showed that most of classic PC games are no longer available to buy legally, often are very expensive at on-line auctions and there are lots of issues with running them on modern machines with latest operating systems installed. That’s how the idea of GOG.com came to life.

The next couple of months were strictly dedicated to analyzing the digital distribution market, expanding the concept of the service and preparing the design and programming side of the project. At first the team was consisted of a very small group of designers and a programmer, but it quickly developed into 20 staffers including more programmers :), business development people, a band of support guys/testers and marketing folks. With Interplay and Codemasters as the first publishers getting on board, the service has been announced on July 2008 and started operating in September first in closed beta and then in October in an open beta for everyone. Since then we’ve managed to sign more than 40 partners (publishers and developers) and offer more than 300 classic PC games.

Obsolete Gamer: What made you want to focus on Classic games?

There are already services that offer digital distribution of new games, so the idea was to find a niche and develop it. As CD Projekt already had experience in bringing back classic PC games to gamers on the Polish market it was a good idea to expand this successful concept to a wider audience. Gaming industry is the only one in the entertainment business that isn’t actively preserving it’s heritage from fading into the black. You can always see new, remastered versions of old classic movies or music albums, but games are stuck somewhere in publishers’ magazines and getting covered with dust. Our research showed us that gamers are really interested in reviving the classics they used to play back in the days or the games they heard of, but  were too young to play them. GOG.com’s big success confirms that there’s a demand for those games and we’re happy to bring them back for old and new generations of gamers.


Obsolete Gamer: Were you worried it would be hard to get people to purchase older games even if they are DRM free?

GOG wouldn’t be such a success venture if we would just license the content and distribute it in an industrial store-front way. Without any added value for the end user we would probably end up as a service with old games that you can actually download for free on abandon-ware sites. But that’s not how we do business 🙂

Our approach to reviving the classics is way different. We are gamers ourselves and we have passion for titles we offer on GOG, that’s why we want to give our customers as much added value as possible. That’s why you won’t see any DRM in our games, that’s why we test all titles from the beginning to the very end so we’re sure they work on modern operating systems, that’s why we’re searching the whole internet and our own gaming archives to get all the best additional materials for games on the offer. Our commitment to revive the classic brands for gamers is rewarded by our users respecting our business model and supporting the idea behind GOG.

Obsolete Gamer: How many games has GOG sold and how many members do you currently have?

Unfortunately, these are all confidential information and I can’t share that with you. I can say that GOG is a huge business success for CD Projekt – after 2 years of operation our service is one of the top players in digital distribution of games and we’re just getting started so expect even more from us in the upcoming months and years.

Obsolete Gamer: How do you choose which games you will offer and how hard is it to get the licenses to sell them?

There are no strict rules which games should be made available via GOG.com. Of course we won’t be releasing new games (yes, The Witcher 2 is a one-time exception, as it’s a game made by our sister company ad we just couldn’t resist to promote this great game on GOG), we try not to cross the “at least 3 years old” line. As for “is that game good enough to appear on GOG?” it’s a difficult thing, as there are as many opinions on a game as many people that played it. Basically that’s very subjective and one can agree that game X is a true classic while other will say it doesn’t deserve to be called a classic. What we do is try to offer not only the games that were acclaimed by press and gamers, but also games that went under the radar of journalists and mass audience, because of different reasons like bad marketing or bad release date, but are still considered as cult games. You’ll find different games in the catalogue, so everyone can find something for themselves.

As for getting licenses for games, it’s different for every game. The whole process is a time consuming work as we need to find the rights holders of the games and this could be tricky as some of the IPs are either shattered among couple companies or have been sold to other company, etc. So finding the people who own a game is half of the success. Then we have to convince the owners of an IP that it’s worth reviving it and selling via GOG without DRM. The DRM-free feature isn’t actually helping out in negotiations as still most of publishers are afraid that this will imply the game being pirated all over the internet, while we believe that it’s exactly the opposite – offering a hassle free experience and a good value for money will convince gamers that it’s worth spending their hard earned money on original copy of a game rather than pirating it. If that works for the publisher we’re pretty much good to go, if the legal department is ok with that of course and this could take some time ;).


Obsolete Gamer: What features does GOG offer that sets you apart?

As I mentioned before GOG is not an ordinary digital distribution service, we do things differently. First we’re solely focused on classic PC games, so if you’re looking for a good selection of acclaimed titles from the past GOG’s your place to go. Then we have no DRM in our games, which makes the whole experience with GOG games totally hassle free – you don’t need to worry about any kind of activations, limited number of installations or being on-line while playing games. On GOG when you buy the game it’s practically yours – you can install it on all your computers or even back it up on a CD or external HDD. We’ve got one, fair pricing for everyone worldwide, so it doesn’t matter if you live in the US or on Ivory Coast, you’ll always pay $5.99 USD for Fallout or Duke Nukem 3D. Last but not least, every game on GOG comes with some cool additional materials like artworks, soundtracks, wallpapers and more, and every title has been remastered and tested to run on Windows XP, Vista and 7, so you get the best value for your money.

Obsolete Gamer: How important is it to the people at GOG to spread the word of classic games?

As I said before, we are gamers ourselves and in most cases, we played those games back when they were released, so we keep a special place in our hearts for those titles. Our goal from the very beginning was to bring those great games back to gamers, both the older ones who already played them and the new generation of gamers who never had a chance to get their hands on those.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the member interaction on your site including GOGmixes?

GOGmixes were designed for gamers not familiar with the GOG offer in mind. They allow more experienced gamers create a list of games around a theme they like, for example, games that feature big robots, or games you can beat in two days, etc. This way those users who don’t know many games from the catalogue can browse through GOGmixes and find e.g. “genre defining games” or “games with unique atmosphere”. With the ever growing catalogue of games at GOG such tools will be more and more useful for our users as browsing through 400 or more products might get “difficult” ;).

Obsolete Gamer: What games do you hope to offer on GOG.com in the near future?

All the best you and other gamers can think of :). Seriously, we’re discussing with every publisher, developer, rights owner who have back catalogue games about getting them on GOG. With Atari-Hasbro games the whole process took more than 2 years, so as you can see some things just require time.


Obsolete Gamer: The re-launch marketing stunt that made people believe you were shutting down, what was the thinking behind and execution of that plan?

Because of replacing the old, beta version of the service with the new one we had to take down the site. So if we had to do it we thought we’ll make it in a different, more creative way. In our opinion, the gaming industry is getting a bit stiff and too serious and we wanted to show people we’re not like that. Unfortunately, there were some assumptions we made which were wrong and we made some of our users mad.

But GOG’s closedown also raised the question about DRM systems in general. It basically means that if a DD service selling games with DRM shuts down for different reasons, be it financial problems or issues with servers, every user is cut off the games he paid for. I’m sure every company that has a digital distribution platform is making everything not to allow such situation to happen, but if something goes wrong all opponents of DRM, including us, will add another reason not to use those systems to the list.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think the reaction was too harsh?

There were different reactions for the “PR stunt” – some users felt deceived, some laughed and some were angry they can’t download their games. And all those reactions were understandable and show us how or users are engaged with the service we’re providing them. We’ve apologized everyone who felt deceived by the fact we didn’t inform them about the closure beforehand and we didn’t provide an option to download the games they bought.

Putting aside the inconvenience of not being able of downloading games for 4 days, the closedown pushed the word about GOG out to the world and we saw many comments on different sites where people admit that “thanks” to this they have heard about GOG for the first time.

Obsolete Gamer: What would you do differently if you had the chance?

Our biggest mistake in taking this action was a false assumption we made. On GOG.com when you buy a game, you download the installer and you can back it up somewhere as the service is DRM-free. You don’t need the service itself to play your games. We believed that most GOG users keep their installers somewhere on their local disks, etc. Of course, we give everyone the access to re-downloading their games anytime they need, but we felt like it was an additional feature, a backup option if they lose the files.

Unfortunately, as I said, our assumption was wrong. Gamers are probably used to digital distribution services like Steam where you have to have constant access to the service to play your games. If we would have a chance to do something differently, we would find a way to give our users access to download their games.


Obsolete Gamer: The site is all-new can you tell us about the changes?

GOG.com is full of new or redesigned features on which we have spent quite some time – some of them are visible when you enter the site, but some were done on the backend so you won’t see them but you can feel the difference. Our dev team has rewritten 98% of the code so the site runs faster and can handle more users. As for other changes, let’s name a few:

– GOGmixes, which allow you to share your tastes and passion for games with other users by creating theme based list of games;

– new product pages (“what’s cool about it” description of each game, which in short three lines sums up each title – this comes straight from our super knowledgeable QA team – these guys spent hundreds of hours with every single game at GOG.com and they know what they are talking about);

– the super -simple sign-up process (just 3 fields to fill out), which enables new users to register in just a few seconds and get access to the free games we have up on GOG.com to start with.

The above is just a short selection – there’s a full list of what is new and redesigned at http://www.gog.com/en/overview/

Obsolete Gamer: Was there anything you were not able to add or wish to add in the near future?

There are still things we can add to the service and our dev team is actually working on now, so expect another big update in 2011, but I won’t spoil the surprise as to what you can expect 😉

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about your own gaming background?

I’m a gamer from the late 80’s. My first computer was Spectrum and I actually learned English on it 🙂 Then I had a Commodore 64 with a floppy disc so the games were loading lightning fast ;). After Commodore I had Amiga 600 to which I have a huge fondness – I fell in love in point and click adventures on that system. After Amiga I started to play on PC (486, then Pentium, then 3D accelerators, etc.) and that’s how my story goes. Right now I don’t have a gaming PC, so for new games I use my PS3, but I love to play some GOGs on my laptop and some Amiga classics on the Amiga 500 system we have in the office.

Obsolete Gamer: What is your favorite classic video game and why?

That’s a very hard question and I don’t think I’ll manage to give you a clear answer for that 🙂 As I told you, I’m a huge point and click games fan, so for my favorite games I would probably go with the likes of Sam & Max Hit the Road, Day of Tentacle, Indiana Jones series, Space Quest series, Larry series – mainly because the stories in those games are awesome and funny plus I love those puzzles. As for new games, I loved Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted and Assasin’s Creed, plus I like to play some Fifa and Buzz! with my friends.

Modding your Nintendo DS

How to Mod your Nintendo DS
How to Mod your Nintendo DS

With your Nintendo DS you have wide variety of video game entertainment at your fingertips. However, with just a few items and a little time your DS can be opened up to an entirely new world of pictures, video and much more.

Things you will need:

  • R4 Revolution Flash Card
  • Micro SD Card (2GB+)
  • USB w/Micro SD Card Slot

Steps

  1. Purchase a R4 Revolution Flash Card. These cards cannot be found in stores, but are widely available at online retail stores.
  2. Download the latest firmware for the R4. In many cases the R4 firmware will be included with your Flash Card; however, it may not be the latest release. Another online search will turn up the current firmware release.
  3. Connect the Micro SD Card to your computer. Using your micro SD to USB adapter connect the micro SD card to your computers open USB port.
  4. Open the firmware fire. Your computer will recognize the new connection giving you the option to open the micro SD folder.  Inside the folder you will find the R4 zip file. Using any unzip program unpack the contents of the file to the root directory of the micro SD card.
  5. Insert the R4 and Micro SD Card into your Nintendo DS. Once you have added all the files to the root directory of your Micro SD card make sure you remove any existing game from your DS. Insert the R4 then insert the Micro SD into the R4.
  6. Turn on your Nintendo DS. Once you have inserted the card turn your DS on. When the DS turns on you will see the safety warning message, this is normal. Within a moment the R4 will take over and load the main R4 menu.
  7. Select your modding option. The R4 menu will show you three choices. The first choice is Game which will allow you to load an .NDS file (Homebrew application). The second option is Media which will allow you to play videos, music and text files (Moonshell OS). The third option is Slot-2 which will allow you to boot a Slot-2 game (Game Boy Advanced).

Tips & Warning

  • This version of modding is safe because it does not require users to open or make changes to the Nintendo DS hardware. This is known as soft-modding.
  • The R4 method allows for downloading of games, but one should never pirate games or violate copyright laws. This also goes for videos and music added to your DS.
  • R4 and Homebrew will never be as perfect as the original software associated with the Nintendo DS and is not supported by Nintendo.

Mortal Kombat Fatality Aftermath

Mortal Kombat Fatalities
Mortal Kombat Fatalities

We all know what happens when you hear the famous “Finish Him!” call and the sky goes dark. The question is what happens after that? Well, Dorkly Bits has the answer in an awesome video they call; Mortal Kombat After Fatality.

As a bonus because we like you here are Machinima’s Rejected Mortal Kombat Fatalities.

Cosplay: Traffic School

So I missed posting a new cosplay this past Friday due to being at CES so here are a few shots of the lovely ladies of CES. Just an F.Y.I I am sure there were way more pretty ladies, but I was too busy to see many of them which made me a sad panda.

Check out the rest of our Cosplay.

 

Alienware & Verizon take gaming on the road

The Alienware M11x at the Verizon booth at CES 2011
The Alienware M11x at the Verizon booth at CES 2011

At CES 2011 I had a chance to check out the Alienware M11x notebook that will soon allow you to take Verizon’s 4G network along for the ride. I ran into Raymond at the Verizon booth while he was playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit on the M11x connected to a large flat panel monitor. You can take a listen to my interview on the M11x from E3 2010.

E3 – Alienware M11x

The Alienware M11x laptop won a best in show award at last year’s CES. Since then the system has undergone some upgrading including imbedding Verizon’s 4G LTE into the laptop. The goal here is for the ultimate gaming experience on the go. When I tested the M11x it did have the power to play pretty much any game out there at decent settings and with the addition of 4G they just might have a winner on their hands. Just imagine all you World of Warcraft addicts being able to do dungeon runs with no lag or bad frame rates from anywhere. It’s a night security watchman’s dream system.

So what can you expect? The word is the Verizon network will support anywhere from 5 to 12 MB download speeds. For those that do not know this is faster than many people get in their own homes even with high-speed internet. In productivity terms this means you can play an online game, run Ventrilo and even ALT TAB out to look up information without slowdown and bandwidth to spare.

Currently all this is in beta and Alienware hopes to have the system ready to go later this year. We will keep you updated on its progress and bring you more once it is released. You can listen to my interview with Ray from Alienware below.

CES – Alienware and Verizon

Ghosts ‘n Goblins on Nintendo Virtual Console

capcom logo
capcom logo

I’m back from CES 2011 just in time for Capcom’s release of Ghosts n Goblins on the virtual console. The 1985 arcade smash hit is now available on the Wii for only 800 points. Relive the fun and frustration of guiding Arthur to his bride to be as he takes on the hordes of hades along the way.

In addition to GnG the Capcom game EXED EXES is also available today on the virtual console. This vertical scrolling shooter was also released in 1985 during the rain of the twitch shooter games. The goal hear is to doge the bullets and collect the fruit.

Enjoy!

Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

[youtube id=”6REBR_tflu8″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

The music to Warcraft 2 was as inpiring as MIDI music got. It made the complete Warcraft 2 RTS experience addicting even more as its constant high tempo medieval classical war-like style kept you concentrated and engaged in the ongoing human versus orc war!

WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover
WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover

The way I see history is although there were some minor games with RTS elements in the past the games that made it popular in order were Dune 2, Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Command & Conquer, and lastly Starcraft. Yes, there’s many games that came after them but those were the ones that set the bar for everybody else to try to copy.

The Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness Soundtrack is so aggressive and so well written that it keep you playing and focused because every single song is great. Not just good, but totally great! I even use this music when I’m busy doing something and I need to be motivated, such as sometimes writing articles for this website. ;]

Now yes, today World of Warcraft became the dominant MMO but way before that Warcraft 2 became one of the top games to play in the mid to late 90s. I played it on a 486 and I can tell you that the DOS version ran a hell of a lot faster than the Windows 3.1 version ever did. It was stable as hell too! These, of course, were the days that required you to configure your PC’s sound card if you ever wanted to hear anything. Still, this is one of those days that actually made it worth it to have a CD-ROM because you could hear CD audio tracks for the music of games such as this one and Mechwarrior 2 as well.

As far as the Warcraft universe and this game goes, I have always favored the Orc (Horde) faction. What did piss me off is that I actually had bought this game and as I read the manual I got so into helping out the Horde that when I got to a mission where I had to kill the Ogre Mage that was the narrator in the manual, it broke my heart! I was rooting for him to be the absolute leader of the Horde!

Zug Zug! Listen up, you humie!

MMO’s Coming Out In 2011 Are Already Behind The Curve

2011 sure seemed like a year that would be promising us some exciting upcoming titles in the MMORPG world. With Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rifts of Telara, and DC Universe Online it appeared at first glance that there finally would be some promising games out there which fought back against the monster known as World of Warcraft. I, for one, was in this crowd of believers looking forward to something fresh and a chance to move onto to greener fields.

Rift MMO plant
Rift MMO plant

Unfortunately, from my time playing the beta for some of these games and then also playing World of Warcraft’s latest expansion Cataclysm, I have to say that World of Warcraft has trumped the genre yet again.

But Umar, how can you say that? Those games are in beta and things always change!

Yeah, okay. People said that about Final Fantasy XIV, Age Of Conan, Warhammer Online, and Champions Online. Where are they now? Age of Conan is struggling to show some respectable numbers while being considered another tally of fuck ups by Funcom, discussions about putting FFXIV on a free to play model are on the table with Square-Enix already boasting a whopping 2 million active characters (look closely at the bolded word), Mythic is essentially dissolving with employee blogs ranting about the horribly typical EA experience they are suffering from (WAR really needs a F2P model if it’s going to stand up ever again), and Champions is already on a F2P market and is shitting bricks from the upcoming DC title.

Beta did not change those games. They have remained garbage and will never be something worth a purchase.

It’s time to take off those rosy glasses of hope and look at reality for a minute. Nothing has come to close to taking a slice of this market no matter how much you whine.
For the longest time, you’d hear me complaining about World of Warcraft and its flaws and its lack of this and that, but those were the days of Burning Crusade. The game has progressed leaps and bounds from release. I honestly have no qualms about it. What were the typical issues people had with WoW?
It’s too easy, Umar!

Okay, you nerdy Sephiroth cosplaying queer. Have you played Cataclysm? A PUG can barely clear a heroic now if most of the people you group with have downs. Oh, and don’t say “The WoW community is filled with bad players.” That’s easy to say. Most people I know that say that and then either play WoW or another MMO with me are usually just as bad as any other idiot I could PUG with.

WoW’s graphics are out of date!

Yeah, they are but it works with their art style. You need things to look pretty to have fun? Plants VS Zombies wasn’t enjoyable? Mario Kart isn’t fun? Let’s go play something pretty like Final Fantasy XIV. I’m sure that’ll be a great experience. Or let’s play Age of Conan where even the most high end computers at the time were struggling to display some of the graphics. Graphics shouldn’t be on the top of your list for playability as opposed to the actual style of the game.

I think you’re stupid and gay, Umar! Star Wars is going to be awesome!

Thanks, asshole. Enjoy Star Wars then. I’m not telling people to not play it as much as I’m saying that future upcoming MMORPGs are already behind what Cataclysm has presented. Star Wars will have what? Epic dialogue and a story? That is fantastic. Cataclysm already makes your character feel like they were part of a story, maybe not on the scale of Star Wars with all the cinematics, camera angles, and voice acting, but they did make your character more involved in the storyline.

Bioware already claimed that they won’t have much endgame and that they encourage people to roll alts to see the story from a different perspective. This is a “Choose your destiny” book in virtual form. All you’re getting is a story and not many innovative mechanics. They barely ever talk about actual gameplay and mechanics as much as they talk about the story portion of the game and the classes. “Hey guys we’ve got spaceships and Jedi! Cool shit, huh?” This is a niche game and once your story is over that’s it. Bioware isn’t known for making difficult games that require strategy and skill. Putting Mass Effect 2 on harder difficulties just meant you took more damage. Wowzers!

Rifts of Telara has already thrown in the towel by conceding the fact their game is more like Vanilla WoW than WoW in its current state. Vanilla WoW was one of the most raw and broken starts to an MMO. Gamers today are crying for innovation and polish. Not a throwback to olden times. Rifts is going to be what Vanguard was to Everquest 1. An old school reincarnation that will fall flat in the present.

The only game I think that can even grab a slice of the MMO market is DCUO. I’m not talking about a game that will take subs from World of Warcraft but a game that can fill that super hero niche that Champions failed to quench. City of Heroes is already too old school and bland even with all their amazing patches. DCUO has that opportunity to grab the market from those games and even pull in more people who cream to “Smallville” and “The Dark Knight”. It isn’t competing against the elephant in the room but against the carrion dogs roaming about.

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. You can think what you want and I can still think you’re a bag of dicks. What am I saying is going to come to true because my word is not only correct but absolute. These MMOs will fall flat with the exception of DCUO if Sony actually markets a game this time. Time will allow you to see the truth and your bottled-up, unbridled nerd pride will nourish me when you fail to accept my prophecy.

CES Report 2011: Classic Gaming Lives

iCADE by ION
The iCADE by ION

We know most gamers have a classic past and with retro gaming becoming bigger on console systems and mobile devices I knew if I looked hard enough I would find someone showcasing a product for the classic gamer in all of us.

What I discovered is a company called ION that makes a number of cool devices, but what caught my eye was the iCADE. The iCADE is a miniature arcade cabinet that allows you to connect your iPAD to it using Bluetooth. How the iCADE works is you place your iPAD on the screen holder and you can display it normal and landscape. From there you just connect to the iCADE via Bluetooth and launch an app and you can play classic games using a real arcade control panel.

The iCADE came from an April Fool’s joke done on Think Geek, they created a small arcade cabinet out of cardboard. The iCADE became popular and you knew it would only be a matter of time before a real one was created and that was what I found at the ION booth.

The arcade cabinet felt very sturdy, just like the old arcade machines I use to play on. I was impressed craftsmanship with the buttons and the joystick. If you are a serious arcader you know how it can suck to have cheap buttons or a cheap joystick because it not only feels like crap, but it messes up your game. The buttons on the iCADE felt right, they were easy to press, but could take a beating on any game you want to load up and the joystick is perfect for both overhand and underhand users.

Currently the iCADE is partnered with Atari so the game I played was Asteroids and it played just like the original. The iCADE will feature many more Atari games and they are looking to add classic more games from other companies so I hope you classic gaming companies out there will connect with these people because the iCADE was pretty cool.

Even the salesman who showed me the iCADE was a classic gamer himself so I have faith that the iCADE will do well. I don’t have a final price yet, but I will get more information on this product and update you.

Click to listen to my interview: ION ICADE Interview – CES 2011

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.

Battletech Box
Battletech Box

Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.

Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.

I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.

Munchkin Card Game
Munchkin Card Game

For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”

Vampire The Masquerade book
Vampire The Masquerade book

For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!

Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.

Spy vs Spy on the c64
Spy vs Spy on the c64

The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.

Auto Assault Box
Auto Assault Box

Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!

Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)

Ur Quan Masters Battle
Ur Quan Masters Battle

I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!

CES Report 2011: I go Gaga

Lady Gaga at Polaroid Booth CES 2011
Lady Gaga at Polaroid Booth CES 2011

Normally, I would leave this for a post on another of my blogs but this was such a fun experience I felt I should share it. During my hunt for all things classic at CES 2011 I ran into a couple of friends doing filming and promotion over at Polaroid. The Polaroid booth was all a buzz about their new 3D televisions and various other products, but the name on everyone’s lips was Lady Gaga.

What I was told was that she was going to appear at the Polaroid booth to debut her new line of products from her Haus of Gaga line. Sure, it wasn’t classic gaming, but it was Lady Gaga, so I just wanted to catch a glimpse. However, thanks to my friends is District Creative Studios I was able to get much more.

Before I knew it I was standing on the good side of the velvet rope waiting for Ms. Poker face herself to appear. Now truth be told she ended up being late because she was enjoying some sushi, but since it was sushi I completely understood.

A countdown timer appeared on the big screen just above the stage where she was to appear which kind of made people sad because it would be another 25 minutes before she arrived. People kept asking me if I was part of Lady Gaga’s bodyguard team and I was tempted to tell them yes.

Soon the countdown was over and Lady Gaga came out and I stood right there as she walked right past me. Normally seeing a star or someone famous does nothing for me, but this time I felt something. She walked onto the stage to massive applause and everything around the area came to a stop.

For those that don’t know, Lady Gaga became the creative director for Polaroid and since then has been working on her own line. The line is called Haus of Gaga and we got to see the first line of products unveiled.

The first thing she showed us from what is also called the Polaroid Grey line were some stylish sunglasses. The sunglasses look pretty cool and Gaga herself demonstrated what they do. The Polarez GL20 allows you to take photos anytime you want and you can even display them on the glasses built in OLED screens. It is pretty cool because otherwise they are normal fashion glasses; it is like fashion and spy tech coming together.

The next thing she showed us was the Polaprinter GL10 which is a portable photo printer that is small and light enough to carry anywhere. This mini printer allows pretty much anything with a bluetooth connection to connect and print photos from their devices. So say you take some pictures on your blackberry and want to give someone a real photo copy, all you need to do is connect to the printer via bluetooth and it prints the image using Zink, a zero ink technology. Lady Gaga demoed the device with her own blackberry by taking a picture of the crowd.

The last item she showed us was the new Polaroid camera, the Polaroid GL30 which was the next generation of the classic camera. The camera had a nice mix of retro to modern in the design and it allows you to print out pictures from the camera also using the Zink technology or you can store the digital image to upload or transfer later.

After her presentation she was whisked away but before she passed me I got her to smile for me and got the picture for the main image for this post. A little time later the Polaroid after party began and while I tried to find Gaga again I had no such luck, but all in all it was a great night. It pays to know people.

CES Report 2011: CES 2011 is not ready yet

After a day of taking in the Vegas strip and eating at a pretty awesome place called the Rock Bar it was time to get to the business at hand. I needed to pick up my press badge and check out a booth my friend is working at. It was then I realized that the people at the convention center (and there were a ton) would be working all night to get that place ready.

The convention area is massive; you really need to have comfy shoes or a segway or something because you will be doing a ton of walking. There were a lot of booths and areas that were not yet complete. Tons of boxes and pallets lined the hallways with massive equipment being moved from one place to another. It was like watching a movie set being built because you could see what is going to be an awesome booth being constructed.

Everyone was busy… from the booth builders yelling orders to the guys and girls in suits making sure everything will be done on time. However, some people were already done. Over at the Sony booth they were having a little meet and greet with the press, they had a bar with various drinks and right outside shuttles busing in more employees.

I admit I am glad I am not one of the people having to put together a booth. While some areas were almost done and just needed a bit of polish, other areas had a long way to go. I could bet that many people will be spending a long night getting ready. It was nice to see what will be soon all pretty and clean, all raw and unkempt. Seeing that is one of perks of getting in behind the scenes.

CES Report 2011: Vegas is Cold

Las Vegas from Excalibur
Las Vegas from Excalibur

Why did I believe that LV would be hot. I guess I could have avoided all this by checking the weather channel, but I was to busy running around last minute to make my flight. About my flight, dear Southwest airlines, your “free style” boarding or whatever you call it sucks big time.

We arrived in Vegas to a packed airport and a ton of people waiting for cabs and shuttles. They had us herded like cattle and when some people tried to jump the gate the security guard yelled out, “Don’t do it!” as if he was a prison guard with a riffle at the ready.

We were lucky and were guided to a shuttle that took us to our hotel, the Excalibur. Oh,I forgot to mention, I have never been to Vegas so to seeing slot machines in the airport terminal was quite interesting. At Excalibur the floor was pretty dead, but everyone tells me Vegas wakes up at night.

So, after a  shower I took a few pictures as I prepare for what is to come. Here are some shots I took from the room. Hopefully I will have more to update you on shortly.

Starcade

Starcade Arcade Studio
Starcade Arcade Studio

Starcade

In the 80’s when the masses were really getting into video games and the arcades were packed with classic games such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Centipede, Starcade began its run. Starcade was the video game show where contestants competed against each other for prices by answering questions and playing video games.

The game began with two players or teams who first hand to answer a video game related question. Whoever answered the question correctly first would be able to choose from five arcade games that were setup in the studio. Once the player selected the game they would have 60 seconds to get the highest score they could. If the player got the game over screen their turn would end and the points they gained would be added to their overall score.

The second player then played the same game as the first so it was possible that even if one player went before the other the second player could score more points in the game and win. The strategy here was to choose a game you were good at to rack up the points and hope your opponent would not do as well as you.

Starcade Contestants
Starcade Contestants

There were three rounds that were identical to the first except for the length of time one had to play the arcade game. At the end of the second round the player in the lead could play “Name that Game”. In “Name that Game” the player had to guess four arcade games based on only seeing a screenshot and would win additional prices. The player in the lead at the end of three rounds received a bonus prize, won the main game and moved on to the bonus round.

In the bonus around the player had to beat an average score of 20 other players on one of the two remaining arcade games. The player had 30 seconds to get the high score and if they succeeded would win the grand prize which most of the time was an arcade game, jukebox and even a home entertainment robot.

Starcade only ran for a few years completing about 133 episodes before it was canceled, but has remained a favorite among gamers. You can see reruns of Starcade on the G4 network.

Angry Birds and Tetris to the PS3 and PSP

Playstation Network
Playstation Network

As a follow-up to our review on Angry Birds the game is set to fly onto the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable Console this week.  The only question that remains is will the addictive puzzle game be a winner on a major console system.

In other news one of the most famous puzzle games out there, Tetris will be making its debut on the Playstation Network this week.

World Record for Galaga Arcade Changes hands

Galaga World Champion Andrew Laidlaw
Galaga World Champion Andrew Laidlaw

Talk about beating the buzzer, Andrew Laidlaw regained the tournament world record on Galaga right before the end of the New Year. On New Year’s Eve Twin Galaxies announced that Laidlaw scored an incredible 4,525,150 point on the classic arcade game in a tournament setting where he only had five total lives on the hardest difficulty setting.

Laidlaw had held the title before, but lost it to Phil Day in 2009. Andrew told the Denton Arcade Examiner. “It feels great… this isn’t going to wear off for a while. The first time was magical in a way, this time it’s a huge relief!”

So what was the previous high score held by Day, would you believe 3,275.720? Even though Day admitted that he believed Laidlaw would beat his score he did not believe it would be by over 1,249,430 points.

Day has since retired from Galaga competitions so Laidlaw will have to wait for another challenger. Andrew has considered aiming for the marathon Galaga record where you can play with as many extra lives as the game will give you, but that record is a hefty one at 15,999,990 points set way back in 1989 by Steve Krogman.

Wow, good luck with that one and if you beat it we will be sure to report on it.

Angry Birds review

Angry Birds title screen

The great thing about mobile and even flash gaming is that you can bring a dynamic that may not work in the console and PC world. Though there have been many successful puzzle games for console and computer systems, some of the most played have found their birthplace in the mobile world. One such game is Angry Birds, a game that has swept across the mobile gaming world with fun gameplay, level design and even music and sound effects that has captured the hearts of even the most hardcore gamer. You would be hard-pressed to find someone with an advanced mobile device that does not have this game on it.

The Breakdown

Angry Birds was published by Chilingo and developed by Rovio , a game maker out of Finland. The game in a nutshell is to fire different types of birds at pigs who surround themselves in various structures. It is almost a play on the three little pigs in that the pigs barricade themselves in structures made of wood, concrete, glass and other materials.

A group of pigs have stolen un-hatched eggs from the birds making them angry. The theft of the eggs begins a war between the birds and pigs. Each level has the pig’s setup in various positions with items such as wood planks, concrete beams, tnt and glass. Your task is to fire the birds via slingshot to take out all the pigs on the level. Sometimes the pigs are in the open and by hitting them directly with the bird takes them out. Other times the pigs are hidden beneath various objects and you need to either break through to hit them or cause the structure to collapse onto them. When you take out all of the pigs you advance to the next level.

Angry Birds bomb
Angry Birds bomb

Level Design

For the most part there is only one screen for each level of Angry Birds. What this means is you can view the entire playing field at once. However, to do this you have to zoom out in order to see the full screen, otherwise you begin from the left hand side with a view of the slingshot and the birds allotted to you for the specific stage.

The slingshot always stays the same, but the amount and type of birds you are given access to changes. The levels are made in a way that you can take out all the pigs without using all of your birds, but that takes planning, some skill and a bit of luck. Since the configuration of the structures the pigs surround or hide themselves in changes each level you need to know what type of bird to use and where to hit each part of the structure for maximum effect.

The Cast

Angry Birds is the war of birds versus pigs and there are different types of each. For the most part the pigs are the same as there are only a few size differences and what they might be wearing, but everything comes into play when deciding how to best take them out.

The Pigs

  • Small Pig – The small pig is your basic grunt, it is taken out pretty easily and does not get to wear any accessories. You can hit these directly for an instant kill or having almost anything fall on it will take it out, the same goes for it falling even a small distance.
  • Large Pig – The larger pig can take a bit of damage from a falling structure and is reflected by the appearance of black eyes.  However, a direct hit from any bird will take it out and a fall from most distances will kill it. The large pig can wear a helmet that gives it further protection from falling debris, but it does not really protect it from a direct hit from a bird or a fall.
  • Mustache and King Pigs – These pigs are pretty much like the large pigs except they may be a little more resistant to damage from a short fall or smaller debris.

The Birds

  • Red Bird – The red bird is your standard and starting bird, it is average against most structures, but is mainly for either knocking something over or a direct hit on a pig.
  • Blue Bird – The blue bird breaks into three small birds once you launch it and hit the button. These birds are great against glass.
  • Yellow Bird – The yellow bird has a speed burst if you hit the button after launch. These birds are great for wood.
  • White Bird – These drop one single bomb egg when you hit the button after launch. These birds themselves do little, but the egg bombs can destroy structures or take out pigs.
  • Black Bird – These overstuffed birds explode once launched and you hit the button or once they come in contact with any object they explode in a few seconds. These birds are pretty strong against anything, but they are really good against concrete.

Additional Birds

  • Boomerang Bird – Yes, it does what it sounds like it would do. This bird can curve once launched to come back and hit those hard to reach places.
  • Fat Bird – The fat version of the red bird, think wrecking ball.
Angry Birds bomb
Angry Birds bomb

The Strategy

When you start out each level you have a predetermined amount of birds and they will vary per level. So you may start out with three red birds, but there are six pigs to take out. You also get to use the birds in a specific order so you can’t pick the black bird first as an example. Keeping this in mind helps you plan for the best way to take out the pigs and the structures around them.

The slingshot is pretty simple. If you have ever used one as a kid the principle is the same. If not the idea is a rubber band around a curved tuning forked shaped stick. The more you pull back on the band the farther the object will fly. You can also adjust the band to fire the bird high or low and to create launching angles and bombing trajectories.

Sometimes the best way to think of each level is how much slash damage you can do. As an example, if you start with a black bird you might want to explode it in a place causing the most debris to fall that can not only fall on the pigs but cause the pigs themselves to fall over and die. However, you must know your enemy. If the pig has a helmet and you bury it under debris and it doesn’t die it can be very hard to get to it with the birds you have left.

Not only do you have to think about taking out the pigs, but there are hidden golden eggs and other things to hit and destroy. You earn points a number of ways.

  • Destroying structures
  • Killing pigs
  • Remaining birds

Sometimes causing a structure to collapse is the best move and other times you may want to cause a chain reaction as in the case of TNT. Sometimes there are boulders or other items that when you detonate the TNT can fly out and take out the structures or the pigs. Other times the pigs may build a structure you can weaken like a train out of glass or a boat of wood. If you take out its support structure you can win the day. The good thing is you can go back to any level once you complete it to earn a higher star rating, so you can go for the quick kill and then come back later to get fancy.

Platforms and Add-ons

Angry birds has five storylines with over 60 levels in each and that is before you add in the holiday add-ons for Halloween and Christmas. You can find Angry Birds on the Apple, Android, Palm and Maemo platforms.

Overall

Angry Birds is fun and addictive and can be frustrating so if you are the type of person prone to fits of anger then take a class before you play this game or you might end up destroying your phone. Personally the best thing about this game for me is seeing a chain reaction you did not expect. Sometimes I would be stumped on a level and then all the pieces would fall in place and I would win. I think that makes the game fun to play again even after you have beaten it.

If you have a phone that supports this game it is worth the price. It is a serious time killer and will make even a 14-hour ER wait bearable.