PlayStation One Retro Gaming

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

We recently hooked up our PS One to our HD TV just for kicks, and it seems to have breathed a new life into it for me.

The graphics are similar to an old Apple IIe for me, but actually not too bad on a larger screen. I think what killed it for me was the advent of the PS 2, and the acquisition of an Xbox.

I was playing a little bit of Grand Theft Auto 2 last night, and was having way too much fun with it. I enjoy it because it is a throwback to when I was in college, and life was a lot less complicated at the time. It was also more cartoon-like; I’m not a big fan of the later versions that are more realistic. I prefer my games to be more of an escape from reality.

Later I tried a bit of Crash Bandicoot, which I absolutely loved.  The music is catchy, and the early 3D graphics are actually pretty good for when it was originally released; not much different than the N64.

Hudson Valley Comic Con 2016

•May 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I attended the first ever HVCC in Poughkeepsie on May 7-8. It was pretty cool! Parking was awful, and I’m hoping that next year that they will switch venues. Since it was the first, I’m sure that they didn’t want to rent something large and lose money on it, so I’m holding out that they will book something like the Mid-Hudson Civic Center next year.

We got there around noon on Saturday, only to be told that there was no more parking available and that we had to go to the train station to catch a shuttle bus. We lost about 2 hours doing that, and missed the Doctor Who panel that I wanted to see.

We did arrive just in time to see the panel with Ernie Hudson, of “Ghostbusters” fame. He was hysterical. I got the chance to meet him on Sunday, with a photo op, and he was very sweet.

I also met GiGi Edgley, of “FarScape”. She was fantastic. Her panel was small, so she had us get in a circle, and it was a brilliant hour of Q&A up close, and it was awesome listening to her experiences. I met her afterwards, with a photo session, and she was so funny.

I’m usually pretty introverted, but I had a great time meeting these fantastic people, seeing replicas of cars like the Ghostbusters, Kit, Dukes of Hazzard, the Batmobile, and the Mystery Machine.

I’m looking forward to attending next year.

Unfortunately, I can’t attend Awesome-Com this year, which is a shame since Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are among the guests this year. For those who can attend, I hope that you have a great time.

Star Wars is Coming: Retro Review: KOTOR

•November 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In honor of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, I am going to post this review from LarryBann. Follow his new Twitch Stream, LarryBann!

Retro Game Review: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic

HEAVY SPOILER WARNING:  This review contains a lot of spoilers, but it is for a 12 year old game after all.

It seems weird to be reviewing a 12 year old game, but weirder still is playing it again after so long.  Back in 2003, this game came out and while I didn’t get to play it, it was responsible for lost sleep due to not wanting to set down the controller.  I originally played this game on the original xbox but for the review purposes I wanted to try it out on pc.  Why play this game again after all this time?  Well, after replaying some of these areas in the Shadows of Revan expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I wanted to go back and see them again and play Revan’s original storyline in Knights of the Old Republic.  Also, I had recently spotted the game as being available in the iTunes app store but didn’t want to pay for a third copy of the game especially with my pc version still sitting un-played.

First off, the graphics haven’t aged as gracefully as I would have liked.  These were really decent at the time, but I found myself looking to see if anyone had modded the game to update the textures or anything like that.  Sadly no, but hopefully someone will get on that soon as this is really the only downside to playing this again.  Everything else is what I remember.  Yes, swoop-racing side quests are still not as fleshed out as they should have been, but there are mods for that if you’d like, or you can skip it all together.  The rest of the game really shines.  From the RPG elements, the wonderful (albeit mostly linier) storyline, to the sheer customization of armor and such, I absolutely love this game.  This was also in my opinion the first time I felt the lightsaber combat was done right.  Before this, we had the FPS Jedi Knight games that felt too forced (again, my opinion and no the pun was not intentional).  Granted this is turn based combat.  Here it’s less about skill, and more about strategy.  But then again, we don’t all have force-like reflexes.

One technical issue I ran into (and confirmed it was an issue for multiple users) was the game exiting in the middle of one of the overly repetitive cut scenes, such as when leaving a planet. It only happened for me when trying to skip past. Fortunately there is a way to turn these off via the config application that comes with the game.

The story has you playing a protagonist who wakes up to klaxons going off as you are in the middle of a capital ship battle. Your ship, the Endar Spire, is done for.  You need to get off the ship, escape Taris, and somehow stop the Sith Empire.  Along the way you’ll become a Jedi and team up with a group of companions who will help you out.  One of the biggest plot twist comes when your character realizes their life was a lie and they are Revan (about ¾ into the game). This was huge at the time and really made the whole story line.  The other big sell is the romance story lines. You have two choices here, Bastilla if you are a male character, and Carth if you’re female.  I played as a male as this was the then canonical end to the game (along with being light side).

I found myself playing the game differently than my previous play-throughs mostly because before I would either be all light side or all dark. This time I wanted to complete all side quests regardless of their alignment.  I specifically held off advancing to the 3rd star map with this goal in mind.  Did it make the game take longer?  Yes, but I felt it worth it to re-experience this game as a whole.

Above all, if you’ve never played it and are a Star Wars fan this game is a must play

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Shadow of Revan Expansion

•February 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Recently, I got back into playing The Old Republic (or SWTOR) right before its latest expansion came out.  Star Wars: The Old Republic is set about 3600 years before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  While the events herein are no longer canonical due to the recent acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney (Editor’s Note: Worst. Buyout. Ever.), until the new Star Wars film comes out, this is the closest we can come.  I had hoped to get a chance to play Star Wars 1313 before it got scrapped but I am thankful that SWTOR is still coming out with new material for now.  But let’s get back to SWTOR.  This is actually the 3rd game in a series of sorts and is based off/successor to the highly successful Knight of the Old Republic series (which I plan to do a couple of retro reviews on).  Originally it was announced as the third installment in that series which would progress to an MMO.

The basic overall premise for the story is that the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire, after decades of war are in a sort of cold war state.  You can play as either side as one of 4 classes, each of which has two advanced classes.  Not much news there right?

So what changed with the new expansion?  Besides raising the level cap to 60, a lot changed.  One major change was the removal of the old skill trees.  Now, we have new revised disciplines (you still have 3 to choose from based on your advanced class).  We also see 2 new planets which are both very well done along with a well-developed storyline.  This was something missing from the previous expansion as the Makeb storyline of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel was pretty lackluster, especially in comparison to the original storylines of SWTOR.

This expansion goes back into the Revan storyline and brings back Revan from over 300 years ago.  This is no surprise to anyone who’s had their chance to play through any of the recent high end flashpoints (Korriban, Tython, Manaan, and Rakata Prime) which were seen as a prequel to this expansion.  You also spend a lot of time interacting with the characters introduced as part of that flashpoint series.  We do get to see a new (non-playable) species in the native people of Rishi.

Some things this expansion lacks:  A new character class would have been nice to see, maybe even a new playable species or two.  “Flying” mounts would also have been a nice addition. However, I don’t think Bioware and EA want to put in the sheer enormous undertaking they would have to do for that which is too bad.  I also am not a fan of all the FTP limitations and would like Bioware to at least open more of the game up to newer players or even returning players who haven’t played in a while.  I don’t mind paying the subscription myself if I want to play, but I can understand the frustration of the game not being enjoyable once you are no longer paying (and considering some of the people I play with are on multiple MMO subscription games at once, The Old Republic can easily fall off the radar.)

Over all, this expansion is definitely worth playing for the story line alone.  However, consider that should only take you a week for anyone already level 55 and then you’re right back to the same issues SWTOR has always had, a lack of an engaging end game.  It’s certainly better than it was at launch, but I don’t see any but the most diehard Star Wars fans holding out.  Then again if you’re not into Star Wars, why are you playing this in the first place?

Minecraft 1.8 (and 1.8.1) Review

•February 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When it comes to a game like Minecraft, it feels like no review can do it enough justice.  Before Minecraft, there was no other game like it.  Now we have so many copycats out there that Minecraft has created its own genre and sub-genres of gaming.  So instead of focusing on the game as a whole and why it’s so amazing, I am focusing this review specifically on the new updates brought out by version 1.8 and 1.8.1 (which are supposed to be interchangeable).

I meant to write this review a while back as I was playing on a server that was running pre-release versions of 1.8 but there ended up being some issues with that server (on our end) and we lost the world save.  This was due entirely to human error and one for which I can hardly point fingers for.  However, this did allow me an opportunity to play on a couple other servers running 1.8 including one vanilla, and one running Bukkit. (Bukkit is a mod for Minecraft designed to give server admins more control over player interactions with each other, among other things.  This would include things such as setting safe areas and preventing some theft among players.)

I originally heard about Minecraft back when it was in Alpha from some co-workers.  I didn’t actually get the game until after its initial release.  I had, at one point, stopped playing it to play a few other games but I am glad to be playing again and to have gotten up to speed with some of the newer mechanics that I had missed.

First off, let’s talk about some of the changes.  1.8 added a lot of new elements to the game.  From new types of stone like Granite, Andesite, and Diorite to Banners and Armor Stands to new mobs and critters like Endermites and Rabbits, there is a lot for long time players to re-learn about the world.  One big change is new door and fence types which now changes the recipe for the fence model.  I remember that being a bit of a surprise to me when I first started playing.   All of these changes are welcome additions even if they do seem to be a lot to take in at one time.  What’s the difference between this and 1.8.1?  It’s just a few bug fixes.  As a matter of fact, you can run 1.8.1 on your end and now connect to as server that’s only running 1.8 which is very neat.

But, the biggest update of 1.8 would have to be the addition of the ocean monument (or as I have come to call it the water temple) with its guardians.  In the pre-release world, I was a part of a group that went to a water temple to try to turn it into a guardian farm to generate unlimited fish for us.  It was a lot of fun and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there on the topic.  It took a lot of work and we are just about to do that again as it was part of world that we lost.

The best part about playing online is always the interactions with other people and while most people are genuinely constructive, there are a few destructive individuals out there.  Don’t get too attached to anything you build and if you do end up having to rebuild, look at it as an opportunity to do it better.

Recently, we’ve been looking into some add-ons to up the challenge but also provide a decent reward structure.  I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to play Minecraft again.  It can suck a lot of time out of you, but it’s also very forgiving if you need to be able to drop what you’re doing at a moment’s notice.  If you haven’t played recently or never tried it, it’s definitely worth it.

Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

•January 28, 2015 • 3 Comments

I recently brushed the dust off my Nintendo DSiXL; literally, I had not played it since I got my iPhone about two years ago.

While researching for games purchase for the library (see a previous post), I really got in the mood for some Nintendo time.  I played some MarioKart; and then perused my collection of DS Games.

I found my “Izuna”, both the original and the sequel “The Unemployed Ninja Returns”, and knew I had my next time waster.

Izuna is similar to an old school Final Fantasy style dungeon game. The characters are recently unemployed ninjas who anger local gods, so they have to visit them one by one; through various dungeons, until they are appeased.

It took me a little bit to figure out the strategy of using the talismans and different equipment on various characters; the game is a bit more strategic then finding the most powerful weapon you can and than hack and slash.

There are various talismans that can add different elements to your weapon; plus there is the option of using the talisman on its own when facing an enemy for an immediate effect. I prefer to use the talisman on the weapon to increase damage. There are foes that have the unfortunate power of “wrapping you up” so that you can not use a talisman during a level; which is particularly annoying with the Kikan talisman; this game’s equivalent of a town portal. What I do find annoying is that your inventory is extremely limited; you can only carry 20 items with you. As a result, I end up carrying 2 Kikans (because there are traps and enemies that can fry them up), several Likeness items (restores SP), and healing orbs. That requires a bit of time during dungeon traveling to stop and pick up an item; figure out if it is worth more than what I’ve got, and discarding an item. That also takes up an action; since it is turn based.

The added advantage of the sequel is that you are tag teaming with another character; you can switch out when a different strategic attack is needed, and each combination of characters has a powerful tag attack, which really comes in handy versus multiple opponents.

The replayability on both these games is high; particularly in the second where there are quite a few characters to choose from in order to tag team.

If you can get a hold of these games, I highly recommend them; but try to start with the first due to plot points.

Deponia: The Complete Journey

•January 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This Game collects the 3 Deponia games by Daedelic Entertainment: Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, and Goodbye Deponia.  First off, I’m glad I got this set if for nothing other than the developer commentary which is as good as the game itself.  This game brings to mind classics like the Monkey Island series with is old school gameplay mixed with the wit of A Bard’s Tale.  First off, this game is long for this particular style of game play.  I spent over 20 hours on this game.  That’s not a bad thing and certainly some of this time was spent by me going back and redoing some things a different way.  I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as I can, but there might be a small bit or too hidden below that I’ve missed so you’ve been warned.

One thing to understand is that the main protagonist, Rufus, is a complete selfish jerk and a moron.  Don’t let that throw you off.  Rufus is born on a junk planet which humanity essentially destroyed and only the privileged few live up in the sky in the city of Elysium.  When we first meet Rufus he is living with his ex, Toni who can’t stand him.  His father left him when he was 8, he was the former mayor of the town he lives in and he has an unhealthy obsession for leaving Deponia for Elysium.  While Rufus never seems to completely change, there are bits of a better nature that shine through from time to time. Some of the bad things that happen are more due to his ignorance and stupidity than anything else, although there are times it’s just because he’s a jerk.  Thankfully, there are bigger jerks out there to focus on as antagonists.   I’ve read some reviews where people couldn’t get over Rufus’s character as a main protagonist and I’d have to wonder what any of us would be like in this character’s shoes (other than less likely to be as destructive).

The game’s plot and humor are where this game really shines.   Besides the insanely depressing backstory which you get to learn more about as the game goes on, you get to see the overall goal of Rufus gradually change.  The characters throughout the story are also very colorful and very real.  The game is not meant to be taken seriously but there were a couple parts where I did think the humor went a bit off note (mostly part of Goodbye Deponia which is the darkest of the trilogy), but barring that I found myself really enjoying this title.

The gameplay is not too challenging but just enough to keep the plot moving.  You will have to do quite a bit of backtracking to areas you’ve been to but not to areas from previous chapters.  A good tip to know is that spacebar will show you what points can be interacted with if you’re stuck.  I wish I had discovered that earlier in my play through, but the game is still entertaining enough for me to have already started another run through to try to pick up all the Steam achievements I missed.

SPOILER ALERT: I do want to touch on the ending.  A lot of people commented online how disappointed they were with the ending.  In a game like this, that says a lot about how attached to Rufus they were despite all his flaws.  I, myself, prefer the old school “Hollywood ending,” but the ending they had here fit with the overall theme of the trilogy.  It’s not like the endings to the first two games were not depressing, so why expect different at the end of the trilogy? The whole thing is still better than the Mass Effect ending.  Even the creator of the series, Poki, admitted to crying when writing the end.

Overall, the Deponia Trilogy is a definite recommend for mature players (due to some of the content).  If fun, entertaining, just don’t take it too seriously.