I'm Going to My Happy Place… The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher.

According to XBox’s statistics, I’ve played more than 72 hours of Slime Rancher. That feels about right.
I’ve mentioned before that Winter in New England is one of the forgotten circles of Hell. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and create the reality you want to live in. The place I want to be my reality is The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher. I want to live in a place inhabited by greedy slime and stupid chickens.
My husband would pick up Slime Rancher every so often and ask aloud, “How do you win this game?”
Winning isn’t the point. Not for me at least. Sure you could get all the achievements or, like me, aim to finish the Slimepedia. However, I find myself picking up Slime Rancher, not for the challenge of finishing it but for the feeling playing it. I just want to play. The dopey Slimes just want to play (and eat, they eat a lot).
Continue reading “I'm Going to My Happy Place… The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher.”

Back to the Future: The Game – Ep1 "It's About Time"


Back to the Future The Game... If you just spent three movies traveling to the past, present, and future to cultivate the perfect life for yourself and your family, would you risk it all to save a friend? Would you risk not only the existence you know but also your actual existence?

That philosophical brain teaser is how Telltale Games kicks off Back to the Future episode 1, “It’s About Time.”

Six months after the events of Back to the Future Part III, the DeLorean Time Machine mysteriously returns to Hill Valley… Driverless! 

While that sounds super heavy, it’s actually more in line with the tone of the movies. These issues could be deep and disturbing but they’re handled with shrugs, side-eye, and chuckles.
Why am I seven years late for this game? Because I wasn’t really interested until it was free on Xbox as part of Games with Gold. As my grandma use to say, “If it’s free, it’s for me.” Continue reading “Back to the Future: The Game – Ep1 "It's About Time"”

Being Black in Video Games

Being Black in real life isn’t super easy. Sure you always have company whenever you go shopping, even if you started alone. You’re more likely to have a living will or healthcare proxy (at least you should). Because Black folks are dropping dead like it’s Jim Crow again.
South Park’s new game recently introduced a slider that was labeled “Difficulty” and changed the character’s race. The darker you are the “harder” the difficulty. It’s funny because it’s true.

At least Fractured But Whole lets you be a person of color if you really want to. Or if you just really want to see a person of color as a hero in a video game. Continue reading “Being Black in Video Games”

I'm 100% here for Debris (the video game)

Today I stumbled across a new game coming out in October called Debris by Moonray Studios.  This is an indie game that feels big but doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard or doing too much.
Indie games come out every ten minutes. However, quality indie games are diamonds in the rough. This game is looking pretty shiny. There are a vast amount of research and unique perspectives built in. From the trailer alone the artwork, voice work, and quality are all top notch.

It’s a breath of fresh air[1. Pun completely intended] to come across a game like Debris. The developer, instead of creating something based on what they think people want, made a game based on what they know they’re good at.

Check out the trailer and press release below:

Continue reading “I'm 100% here for Debris (the video game)”

The Surge illustrates how beautifully the good intentions of corporations pave the way to Hell

The Surge from Maximum Games and Focus Home Interactive has it all: A teaser that opens with a corporate spokesman explaining how their company is going to no only save the world but also the people- by MAKING THEM BETTER,  glitchy feedback, space, robots, a desperation that can only lead to the most dangerous kind of progress.

Continue reading “The Surge illustrates how beautifully the good intentions of corporations pave the way to Hell”

5 Video Game Futures That Could Be Awesome

Sometimes the present is boring and the future takes too long to get here. No hover cars, no robots, not a single alien. In video games we get to see the possibilities for the future good, but mostly bad. But I don’t think the bad is really all that bad. If you look from the right angle, some of these video game futures are kind of awesome.

1. BorderlandsBorderlands2boxart3

If you’re a psycho or a bandit in the Borderlands future your life expectancy is probably not very promising.
However the Borderlands future is an entrepreneur’s dream. From magic powers to treasure chests everywhere you turn, it’s a wondrous place for those with plans and ambition. Would you like to run a bar like Moxie? Maybe have an army of brutes like Handsome Jack? Or, maybe you’d like to start a simple minion  operation like Claptrap? It’s all possible!
Sir Hammerlock is an anthropologist of sorts and even though he’s lost a limb or two, he’s having a ball. Of course there’s a constant threat of death an destruction and the wildlife is out to get you, but that just spices up life on Pandora.
What’s the fun in  just safely walking from point A to Point B with no threat of being stomped or devoured?!

2. Mass EffectMasseffectlogo

Ignoring the very end, Mass Effect was a damn good future while it lasted. Unless you were sick or enslaved or from a place that got invaded while no one was watching…
But! for people who live in the Citadel or on Commander Shepard’s ship life is pretty fun. There are so many different aliens to mingle with. Different planets are waiting to be mined for resources or treasure. There are bazaars for buying, discos for dancing, and beautiful views every which way you turn. And every time you want to go somewhere, you get to hop on a space ship.
Maybe (likely) a big draw for the Mass Effect future are the characters in it. Mordin, Garraus, Harrot… Any future that produces people like that, must be a wonderful place… aside from the constant threat of  interstellar destruction.
3. HaloHalo_Generations_by_Halcylon
Sure, life on the ground might be a bit chaotic with all the indiscriminate killing and various types of grenades being thrown at the suicide grunts and highly explosive vehicles but Spartans don’t live on the ground. Hopefully no one lives on the ground considering it’s pretty much razed except for the beautiful and indestructible buildings.
Oh and how beautiful are the buildings?! If there’s a dystopian, post-apocalyptic place to be stranded, one of the Halo colonies would be perfect. If there aren’t any Spartans or Flood or Covenant or other type of weapon-wielding juggernaut around, you could make yourself quite comfortable in one of the many abandoned buildings.
Hell, even if there are killer factions around, there are piles of weapons caches as well to help you defend your turf. Most buildings also have some kind of anti-air weaponry waiting to help keep your city beautiful.
4. Resident EvilResident Evil - Apocalypse (2)
Very few people will agree with this one because it seems like Alice is the only person who survives this future without being controlled by robot spiders or locked in a coma pod. …Actually Alice might have died and been a clone or two a few times.
All that aside– and also ignoring the the fact that the zombies in this future are psychotic, monstrous  beasts– notice that the zombie populations in the Resident Evil future are in massive hordes. Massive as in the entire population of California is gathering around this one building. That means everywhere else in California is empty and worry free.
Alice is a badass but she have a 50/50 save to loss ratio for her party member (at best). If your goal is to survive, avoid Alice.
Find a comfortable place outside a city to cal home and wait for whoever is fighting in this chapter to drop some bombs on the horde and know it’s not your problem. The skies (except in the one chapter there seemed to be vicious bird things…) are clear and the air is safe to breath.The pollution is no worse than it’s been and no one interrupts your shows to tell you a celebrity is having a baby. Even the bandits have to work hard to earn their keep.
5. Dead Risingscreenlg4
In Dead Rising 2 the zombie threat is mostly under control. Under control to the point where zombies are used in entertainment.
People choose to group up around zombies to watch them get their comeuppance. The uprising was quelled and now, instead of cleanly ridding society of zombies, zombies are props and the virus is a controllable condition. This sounds so great!
Maybe zombies feel pain, maybe they don’t but using them for violent entertainment is a bit barbaric. No worries, there’s even a group of activists that fight against that part.
All that nonsense aside, this is a future where you can find work on a zombie clean up crew, the malls are open, and the zombie virus can be kept at bay with pills. A boring lunch time walk requires a solid bat, just in case.If you’re spending a day at the beach, you pack sunscreen, towels, and a crowbar!
Who doesn’t want a world that’s mainly organized but has a bit of extra spice to kick things up a notch?

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First Impressions: MARS: War Logs

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
MARS: War Logs is set in the war-torn, waterless future of Mars. Surprise, you colonized Mars and its supply of one gallon of water didn’t last to sustain a whole planet full of people.
According to the Purple Prose introduction narrated by the most pathetic grunt in the Water War, there’s a war on and there are Water Gangs fighting for control and—I don’t think there’s a society anymore. I think this is like post-apocalyptic anarchy on a colonized planet. Deep.
Well, our grunt is in a truck with other folks heading to elsewhere. Apparently he’s been captured and is a POW (prisoner of war) being shipped off to the enemy camp.
(Keep in mind, all this is being told through Purple Prose and cinematics. Try as you might, you don’t get to play in the train, in the loading bay, in the gen pop area… No playing for you.)

Innocence in a box
Innocence in a box – That’s him in the corner. That’s him in the spotlight.

Finally this sad little lad with the emotionless reading voice telling me of all the horrors of war arrives at the enemy base. Yay, I get to play! PSYCH!
The kid’s introduction to the POW is a foul-mouthed gang of other POWs who wish to make passionate love to his butthole. The portly gang leader is Fatso. Literally, his name is Fatso.
Our idealistic little runt fearing for his rear-virginity? His name is *Le Sigh* Innocence. Yes, his name is Innocence.  Take a minute to eye-roll and regroup.
So Innocence is all, “But I don’t want to be but-raped.” And Fatso is all like, “But I’m a villain and this is prison and you’re new so… Dibs!”
(You still not playing the game yet.)
So then this dude comes up and stands at the edge of the argument with his arms folded and I’m like, “YES! Finally I get to play, I’m gonna brawl this Fatso!”
NOOOOPE.
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Whadda you want?”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This doesn’t concern you.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “The Boy is Mine.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “You’re Crazy!”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Let’s get out of here guys, this guy’s crazy.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This isn’t over.”
WHAT THE FUCK!? (Pause for head shaking and or eye rolling.)
Okay, so whatever, you finally get to play now. Now that nothing is happening, you get to play.
And by play I mean you talk to Innocence and decide if you want to be a hard ass or a nice guy (your reputation matters). Apparently Innocence is just an introduction and Roy is our main character. He’s like, “I’m Roy.” And Innocence is like, “Ohmigawd, ROY? The Roy?”
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado

Roy’s like, “Yeah, The Roy.”
So by now it’s very clear that the writing is not good and the voice acting ranges from cringe-inducing to pretty good. However, since I only started actually playing the game a minute ago, I powered on.
Uh oh, Fatso and his gang are waiting for Roy and Innocence in the courtyard ready to pin down Little Buddy and slip it in the back. (There’s a lot of swearing and Fatso is really keen on rape).
Tutorial fight time! I like tutorial fight time. I get to play the game and beat up bullies. X to hit. RT to distract them. A to break their defenses.
Cool got it. Let’s punch more people!
Nope. Time to sit and chat with Innocence. Go hither and fro. Chat with dudes.
Okay, this is an RPG so you’re not going to just side-scroll style fight through the world until you hit a boss. Roy is running around (with Innocence in tow) exploring the base with a surprising level of freedom for a POW.
Mutants are sad
Mutants are like people only mutated and sad. And oddly spiritual.

They fight a few other prisoners and a beast and meet the mutants. The story and the game really start to take off. The dialogue stays horrible but the story is fascinating. In this war-torn world, there are people called Technomancers who control electricity, underground monsters called Moles that make it really hard to dig for water, and possibly mysterious ruins from the colonists who first settled on Mars.

Developer(s) Spiders
Publisher(s) Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network
Release date(s) Windows
April 26, 2013
XBLA
July 26, 2013
PSN
August 13, 2013
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Mars: War Logs Pros:

A mysterious technomancer
Mysterious technomancer is mysterious.

1. The story is interesting a possibly unique. With all the hokey dialogue and waiting around, the story is what kept me around.
2. Innocence fights with you instead of acting as another obstacle to keep track of. He doesn’t finish any off on his own but he’s definitely more partner than package.
3. The game world is large and the menus are extensive creating  a deep and interesting experience for just $9.99.
Mars: War Logs Cons:
I assume this is a boss.
I assume this is a boss.

1. Holy shit the dialogue is bad. It’s outright laughable at some points and not helped by the fact that a lot of the voice acting is sub-par.
2. Can I say the fact that it’s not a book is a con? I truly like the story but didn’t feel like I was a necessary part of it. Maybe that’s because it was a demo so it was just a teaser of what’s to come. I just didn’t feel moved so much as curious.
3. The demo felt long. If a game is truly engaging it should steal hours of your time and have you looking around in surprise because you didn’t realize how immersed you were. Mars: War logs felt like it was taking too long. I wasn’t pushing forward but trudging. I found myself annoyed when I accidentally retraced y steps because UGH I just want something interesting to happen.
Overall, what I think of Mars: War Logs:
Moles are not your friends. But if they were you wouldn't dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately...
Moles are not your friends. But then again, if they were you wouldn’t dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately…

During a time where games aren’t launching and tax season may or may not leave you broke, Mars: War Logs is definitely something to look into. It seems like it will provide hours of entertainment with an interesting story.
I realize I’ve mocked it relentlessly but that’s because the game does manage to stumble into a writing trap where things are described too beautifully or characters aren’t dimensional enough. Paired with the voice acting, that would be fine for reading aloud in class, it gets a bit laughable.
The silliness though, doesn’t detract from what is a pretty solid game with decent graphics and a large, interactive world. There are side missions, craftable weapons, upgrade trees and a lot more. For $9.99!
Try the demo and see if you can live with the writing and reading.

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Math Apocalypse is every student's worst nightmare

If the only way to save the world is for me to do basic math, we’re all going to die. Math Apocalypse is an Android app game that tasks you with the tremendous pressure of solving math problems to defeat aliens invading earth.
Seems pretty straight forward and totally plausible to me.
Aliens walk in with a math problem over their head. You tap in the (correct) answer and your character zaps them to death with a bolt of electricity. Seems easy enough. That is, until you realize math is hard.
98060583016052
Math is especially hard when you’re being pressured because the problems are coming at you, threatening your life. Then the problems get bigger and harder and some aliens have multiple math problems.
This is truly a sick and twisted kind of apocalypse. … But I really enjoyed it.
Math Apocalypse was written by someone who, while strong in the math department, is  probably not a native English speaker. The introduction story has a number of grammatical issues, so if you’re thinking of handing it to a child for training you might want to keep that in mind. Other than that it’s a fun mix of academic challenge and apocalyptic fun.
It reminded me of playing Number Munchers when I was in grade school. It’s not bloody or violent but it gives purpose to brain training in a distracting way that’s enjoyable and makes you want to strive to do better.
You can set the game to just addition and subtraction or include multiplication and division in the mix too. If you want to trick your kid into being smart or you’re looking to exercise your brain muscles instead of just your color-candy coordination, Math Apocalypse might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Best of all, just like the intuition that let me make it into adulthood without the ability to do basic math without my fingers, it’s free!
(It’s also available to play on the web Here.)

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Beautiful Borderlands 2 Makeup Tutorial by MadeULook

Borderlands 2  was one of my favorite games. It still is. Every aspect of it was awesome, from local co-op to single-player to the story to the dialogue to the art. So much squee. I’ve always said that art can make or break a good story in comics, film, or video games.
Borderlands 2 was beautiful. I loved the mix of flat and dimensional art with heavy, comic-style contours and shading. It was truly a unique look in a unique world with brilliant characters.
Often inspired by characters, makeup and cosplay, I find YouTube to be treasure trove of amazing work from others with similar interests and more talent and determination. One of these artists is MadeULook. She’s a young, sassy artist with an eye for detail and a creative depth unlike any other.
Well, MadeUlook is not only talented and engaging, she’s also a geek like me. Love!  Being a loving gamer almost all her life she can’t help but be inspired by some of the fantastic artwork and characters encountered in video games. Recently, she created a body paint Psycho from Borderlands 2.
I love MadeULook‘s make up and tutorials. In her videos, it clear that she is not only incredibly talented but also charismatic. Many tutorial videos are too much about the artist and not enough about the artwork. If I wanted a vlog, I’d watch a vlog.
She makes it sound so easy and look so good, I can’t even explain. Just watch and feel the Awe.

Borderlands2boxart3

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Gods vs Humans is… an interesting mobile game?

3_gods_vs_humans
So I get the objective of Gods vs Humans but it just doesn’t feel fair or clear as soon as I started playing. I want to destroy the tower but no hurt the people because I need them to worship me so I can have the power to destroy their tower…
Le Sigh.
Here’s how it’s officially described in a December 17th press:

In “God VS Humans” humans build a ten-story tower up to the world of the Gods. You embody one of the twenty Gods or Goddesses (four of them are hidden) to foil their bold attempt and stop them from getting into your world. Using different powers, you have to destroy the storeys until the foundations give way. But it’s no easy job. Builders work tirelessly to repair the damage while continuing to erect the tower. You must also avoid injuring people. Paradoxically, to be able to use their powers against humans the Gods must be worshipped by them.
There are four game modes that enable you to vary the gameplay. Use the tutorial to learn the basics of the title and get the most out of it. Once you have advanced through the “adventure” mode, you can access the modes“free” (where you choose a God and the easy, normal or difficult level) and“challenge” (which involves certain constraints). The “adventure” mode comprises seventy-six missions that allow you to consecutively take the part of all twenty Gods and the different goals they must attain.

2_gods_vs_humans
It’s cute little game but, maybe because it’s a port from the Wii, it’s a bit clunky. There’s a bunch of stuff  off to the side that you can use to destroy the building but UGH! How do you no hit the people with super weather?! This is unpossible…
Okay, it’s likely possible. I just hoped it would be more addictive and  engaging than it was.

Pros of Gods vs Humans:

  1. It’s made by people who know how to make games and art. I think a quality look is vital to a game holding a user’s attention and establishing credibility.
  2. Many of the reviews in the play store mention crashing and other software issues that I never experienced (knock on wood).
  3. Destruction in a unique concept. I’m so over playing the same game but skinned differently. I love smashing things and making little virtual characters suffer but I’m not so easily fooled that I don’t realize I just played the same zombie game but with aliens or chipmunks. Gods vs Humans, however, isn’t something I’d compare to any other game.

Cons of Gods vs Humans:

  1. 4_gods_vs_humansIt’s complicated for a mobile game. I want to whip out a game in a waiting room or in a long line (so I don’t start picking up the impulse-buy products they surround you with). This just doesn’t have that flexibility for me.
  2. It is not free. Gods vs. Humans costs 99 cents in the Play Store and the Amazon appstore. I guess I’m just use to apps being free…
  3. Meh. Yes, my final con is: Meh. That’s how I felt when I played it. When I say pictures I thought it looked delightful like Rayman or Ninjatown or ilomilo. But unlike those games, once I got into it the feeling I thought I would have didn’t surface. I didn’t feel motivated or excited or nostalgic or sunny or anything really. I get more excited when I use my calendar or my calculator apps. Meh.

Bottom line on Gods vs Humans:

I wish it was a cartoon. I’d probably watch it. Heck, I’d probably play it if it was a knockoff of another game (maybe Super Monsters Ate My Condo!).

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