Friday, August 30, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo Special Edition: The Crazy Announcement Week

Welcome to a very special edition of Wrapping Up Nintendo.  This time, it's not a Nintendo Direct I'm wrapping up, but actually a serious tsunami of Nintendo goodness.  I'll give you all my thoughts on ALL the crazy news.

First, is the most ridiculous bit of news: A 3DS without the 3D slider at all (and without the flimsy hinge) that is called Nintendo 2DS. I can already see confusion amongst parents, BUT if Nintendo markets it right, it will become a surprise hit.  I figured Nintendo would do something like this sometime, but to put it out for $129 on the same day as Pokemon X and Pokemon Y was actually a stroke of genius.  The design's really cool (almost like a 7-inch Nintendo tablet of sorts), and I love the fact there is not a flimsy hinge that'd break the first time you looked at it funny.  I even like the specially made case, except I think that's sort of stupid of Nintendo not to include it with the device itself.  But hey, an extra $13 or so isn't THAT bad.  It could be worse, Nintendo could've seen fit to charge $30 for it.

Second is the long-awaited Wii U price cut!!   $300 for the Wii U Deluxe as of September 20th, plus a Wind Waker HD bundle!!  Should've been that way all along, with no basic version to speak of.  I know certain folks would've wanted the white one but I don't think they should have paid the same price for the Wii U Basic as the Wii U Deluxe will be priced at come September 20th.

Third, and last for today, is all the crazy release news bits.

First, first party Wii U game releases that were dated this week:

  • Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available digitally September 20th (same day as the Zelda Wind Waker HD bundle), and physically on October 4th with a Ganondorf figure only at GameStop, all priced at $50.
  • Wii U Party drops October 25th with a Wii Remote Plus bundled in for $50.  Good going, Nintendo.
  • Super Mario 3D World drops November 22nd for $60, which is a red letter day for all Nintendo fans' wallets apparently.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze drops December 6th for $50.  (FYI, it's St. Nicholas Day for those who celebrate it, whether in Germany or elsewhere.)
Next, first party Wii U games that were NOT dated this week but are still slated for this holiday:
  • Wii Fit U is still slated for a holiday launch.  Here's hoping it comes soon because I have gone ahead and asked for a Wii U for Christmas.  Yeah yeah I know it's too early to think about Christmas, but I mean come on, it's not like we haven't all thought about that.
  • Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is also slated to launch this holiday but they have not given a specific date yet.  I won't watch the Olympics this time I don't think, I'll be happier playing this video game instead. :)
And finally, the 2 3DS/2DS game releases that were dated this week:
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - Comes out November 22nd for $40.
  • Mario Party: Island Tour comes out November 22nd as well for $40.
I'm so glad to get this out of the way.  I'm so glad that this happened, even without a Direct, and now we'll probably get another Direct closer to the release of Pokemon X & Y detailing more stuff.  I can't wait!

As The Steam/GOG Turns #9: "Kimberly, come in, are you okay?" (plus The Chaos Engine and much more)

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week's releases are ... interesting to say the very least.  Some older games being rereleased, some newer games that made it onto GOG a little bit later, and more!

So, let's start with Steam-only releases.  Of course they always tend to release a ton of stuff onto Steam, except when there's a Steam sale, but this week I want to highlight a few releases.

First I want to highlight the game which I've quoted in the title, which is now on Steam: Space Ace, the Don Bluth / Gary Goldman laserdisc game in the same vein as Dragon's Lair is now available on Steam.  I don't know if this has the nasty blue flashing from more recent ports of the game, so I would steer clear of it for now until it's certified to be reasonably arcade-accurate.

Next is an Early Access title, but I think I'm going to at least have a reasonable amount of interest in this because it's basically based on The Incredible Machine, and that is called Contraption Maker.  I've definitely got some interest in this one so keep an eye out for this one.

Next is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows, the first TMNT game released by Activision (who now has the TMNT license... it is SO weird for me to write that, since Konami has been synonymous with the Turtles for a long time...).  Some people are saying this one's bad so I would  steer clear of it for now, at least until TotalBiscuit or someone does a first impressions-type video that should help with the buying decision.

The final game I want to feature that is Steam-only this week is the full release of Game Dev Tycoon, which I mentioned last week as a pre-purchase.  I can't wait to give it a play, I don't know about you guys.

Next is GOG's GOG-only releases, which are a touch sparse once again this week.  

First up is Wing Commander Academy, another Wing Commander game!  Hooray!

Second is a rerelease because I guess the rights worked out and they've returned Dark Fall 1 & 2 to the GOG store.  If you like horror games, go for it, but since I do not...

Last in the GOG-only releases this week is a 2-for-1.  If you've kept up with this column, you know about the fact that Tales From Space Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee! Gold Edition were released on Steam awhile back, and now they are both on GOG.  Nice going, guys!  Glad that this worked out as well as it did.

And finally we have the dual releases on both Steam and GOG.  There are three this week, so proceed accordingly depending on which one you support.

First is Shelter, an animal life simulator game that puts you in the paws of a mother badger.  This one's interesting enough that I might pick it up on sale.

Second is the pre-purchase of the new Shadow Warrior.  GOG's selling the new one alongside the classic one but since I already have the classic one, the point is moot and I'll wait a tad till it goes on major sale.

Last, but by no means least, is the remake / rerelease of the Bitmap Brothers classic The Chaos Engine.  There are a few tweaks BUT you can play the original Amiga version.  So, if you loved The Chaos Engine back in the day on your Amiga, or were always curious about The Chaos Engine, this is the perfect release for you.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Night Dive's New Tease: Is The LucasArts Catalog Returning?

Night Dive Studios, the ones who brought System Shock 2 back from the brink, are now teasing a brand new announcement for Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013.  My guess is this is going to be yet another date that shall live in infamy for all of us who love classic games, just like February 14th, 2013 was (which was the day on which System Shock 2 was rereleased).

Now what do I think is going to happen?  I know it's more than likely NOT their original game that they're making, they wouldn't be teasing something like this unless it was a classic property, or even a classic library, that they were putting out releases of.

I also know there are about 5 possibilities of what it might be.  So, here is my speculation and my top 5 most likely candidates for rerelease:

5) System Shock 1: I put this at #5 because while System Shock 1 is a classic in and of itself, they've rereleased what many consider to be the better game in System Shock 2 already, so the likelihood of this one being the case is practically nil.

4) I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: This is a particularly thorny one because you have to appease one of the... more colorful authors in science fiction, plus you have to get all the licenses involved here, and... well... that just drops the likelihood to nearly nil.

Now, before I get to my top 3, the following three entries are more than likely all really good possibilities, so I'm just putting them in order of what I'd most like to see.

3) The classic Blizzard titles.  Especially since Blizzard seems to LOVE their DRM and their janky online activations with, I think Night Dive are the ones who can not only take these games and rerelease them sans DRM, I think they are the only ones who can take these games and treat them properly.  I don't even trust Blizzard to do right by their old IPs anymore and that saddens me greatly.

2) No One Lives Forever.  Yeah, this one's pretty obvious, but I think this game (and series) deserves to be played by gamers who enjoy classic PC games like myself.  Yeah I can go on eBay and get this one, but I'd rather go onto GOG and get it.

1) The LucasArts catalog seeing a rerelease in full, and finally getting onto GOG in the process.  I know, I am pretty much like a broken record on this one at this point, but Disney doesn't exactly have the world's best track record about actually USING the intellectual property that they own, and my guess is because they shuttered LucasArts without a care in the world, they by extension do not care about the LucasArts game catalog, with its vast variety of game genres and even its vast variety of Star Wars games.  So, if Night Dive got in there and wrestled the catalog and got Disney to finally do the right thing for once, I'd be super duper happy about that.


However, I think that the top 5 above is pretty much moot because it's pretty obvious it's either NOLF or the LucasArts catalog.  And the LucasArts catalog is very very likely because they've been doing a lot of teasing as of recently about, of all things, robots.  And one of the ones they mentioned was HK-47 from the Knights of the Old Republic games.  So, by extension, I think the LucasArts catalog is going to return.  So, because we'll know what exactly they're announcing next week, IF they announce that LucasArts's entire catalog is finally going to be available to the public digitally, then all next week I am going to do a LucasArts Week of posts about LucasArts games that people overlooked that they need to check out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Distaste For The Mid-To-Late-90s Output of DiC Entertainment

Unfortunately, I kinda stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of months ago about the really, really, really popular anime Sailor Moon.  I made some statements that I more than likely should not have, and for that I am terribly sorry.

However, I want to use this platform to clarify just why I made such uncouth off-the-cuff remarks, and why I admittedly hate Sailor Moon... at least the butcher job that happened to it in America, and why I will no longer watch dubbed anime.

First, I have to explain why I hate DiC Entertainment in the mid-1990s with an explanation of epic proportions:

Before the time of Sailor Moon's total hackjob, DIC was known for actual halfway entertaining cartoons!  They did a fabulous job adapting the Ludwig Bemelmens Madeline children's books (a staple of my childhood I am proud to say) for TV, specifically HBO.  (This was long before they decided to screw up that goodwill totally and turn it into a full-fledged series about the time they fell out of favor with me, BTW).

They put out Inspector Gadget (still one of the most catchy theme songs from my childhood), and they made the Mario cartoons (rather decently if I dare say so myself).

So, where did all this start to go epically, horribly wrong?  Before I detail just how quickly they fell out of favor with me as a company, I need to speak about the director Tex Avery.  He is quite possibly one of the best animation directors who ever walked this earth.  He is on a whole higher level than Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and many others.  So, cut to the late 1990s.  I'm watching a Saturday morning cartoon called The Wacky World of Tex Avery (gag, even writing THAT title is making me want to retch violently) and I was telling some friends and they were going, "you mean The Tex Avery Show [a show on Cartoon Network at that time... prior to them going totally off the deep end and refusing to show actual CARTOONS on Cartoon Network, much less classic cartoons like they did in those days]?"

So, I took this friend's advice, and watched The Tex Avery Show, and my mind was BLOWN.  So much so that DiC very quickly fell out of favor with me because they pretty much sullied the legacy of the greatest animation director who ever lived with a show that not only didn't pay proper tribute to the man's legacy, but did it so unbelievably distastefully that they couldn't even get away from there without making distasteful fart jokes.

So, after all of this malarkey, I finally got to see this show called "Sailor Moon" on Toonami because my father had just gotten DirecTV or something like this.  Anyway, Sailor Moon was... to put it mildly... not my particular cup of tea.  The main character was totally screechy, her friends didn't seem particularly bright either, and the guy was interesting, but not interesting enough.  I had no idea DiC was behind this hackjob until the very end of the episode, and DiC had fallen so far out of favor with me at this point that I finally couldn't take Sailor Moon anymore.

This led to what initially got me in deep trouble and frankly, I may very well have been wrong about my initial extreme distaste for it.  However, if I do see any episodes of Sailor Moon, I am not getting bootlegs (was already burned by that with Muppet Babies...), nor am I getting extremely expensive DVD boxsets that are either imports or extremely out of print.  I will also not be supporting DiC's horrific hackjob of Sailor Moon, nor will I ever watch dubbed anime ever again.

I know, I know, dubbing anime is a big-money job for many Hollywood voice actors and actresses, but the problems involved with getting people who have NO idea what the anime is that they're watching come up when you watch an anime like Sengoku Basara.  I was lucky enough to be able to see a fansubbed version of the first two or three episodes of Sengoku Basara at an anime club at the time because I went to their meetings.  I got the first episode off iTunes and at the exact time I expected to hear "Put yer guns on!", I heard "Let's gun it!"... which made me absolutely incensed.  Incensed enough to make absurdly sure that I *never* watched or bought any anime without a language option for Japanese with English subtitles ever again.  So, there is hope for this budding otaku yet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just a Monday Morning Post of Potpourri

Yeah, I have a severe case of The Mondays today.  Also, I think people think I do this blogging thing every day.  No, no I don't.  I do it every WEEKDAY, not every day.

So, today's post is going to be more of a potpourri post because I feel like discussing different things in the world of tech, videogames, and even a bit of TV talk with my opinions, of course.

First up is I got to see the briefest of glimpses of the new Sean Hayes-fronted sitcom, "Sean Saves The World", coming this fall to NBC.  TVLine has the trailer and I actually think, unlike certain sitcoms on CBS on Monday nights, that this show is actually FUNNY.  And Linda Lavin (of "Alice" fame) is Sean's mom and hoo boy that is going to be fun.  Can't wait!  Also, people think that well-known second bananas can't pull off a show of their own, but I think that if ANYONE can buck this trend, it's the multitalented Sean Hayes.  Heck, I might even forgive him for being in that abominable Three Stooges movie from the Ferrelly brothers.

Next, this weekend I have been going crazy looking at Mohu's antennas.  From the unassuming-looking Mohu Leaf to the Mohu Leaf Ultimate (with included amplifier) and the Mohu Sky, this line of antennas is quite possibly one of the most interesting in the tech industry.  Their antennas are known for pulling off miracles, but from a guy like myself who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, I will have to get either a Leaf Ultimate or a Sky.  Probably think I'll get a Sky just because I want to make sure I can get ABC because of another new fall show called Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I can't wait for.

Next, moving on to the world of videogames, apparently the new female fighter for the new Killer Instinct for Xbox One that Double Helix has been teasing is a new character to the universe named Sadira.  I guess this is a good idea but I will, of course, reserve judgement till I get to see it in action. But, until then, I will just think of her as a Mileena clone.

And finally today, I wanted to discuss something that has been noted in the last few days that I didn't feel like discussing till now: Steve Ballmer's long-awaited (by me anyways) exit from Microsoft.  People think Steve Jobs had an ego?  Ballmer had an ego cranked up to 11 and exponentially multiplied by 11.  He was a terrifying presence in the tech industry and I am, to be frank, glad to see him go.  Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Ballmer.  And I for one will be thrilled to not see Steve Ballmer doing something horribly embarrassing on-stage at some Microsoft press event.

Friday, August 23, 2013

As The Steam / GOG Turns #8: Somewhat of a Slow Week

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week, I want to talk a lot more about games, game releases and such.  There is really like no overlap between Steam and GOG this week, so let's get on with the show!

First I want to discuss something cool that GOG did this week before I get into releases.

Steam Greenlight has been... shall I say... controversial within the indie games community, where both fans and developers have absolutely no love lost for the Steam Greenlight service.  So, GOG takes a look at this and starts singing "Anything you can do, I can do better" (from the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun) and they revealed for any and all indie developers to submit their work and (hopefully) get onto GOG.  But they are being remarkably upfront about their criteria for submission so maybe it'll work better than Greenlight, who knows.

Now I want to discuss the releases for GOG:

First up this week is Shadowgrounds Survivor, a top-down shooter game.  I love these kinds of games, especially if they're not "bullet hell" type shooters so I will definitely consider giving this one a go.  Next is Hammerwatch which is a retro style hack-&-slash game.  That looks interesting, so I might give that a go at some point, probably when it is on sale for less than $7-$8.  And finally on the GOG releases this week: Thunderscape, a 1990s dungeon crawler game.  $6 isn't too bad for a game of its vintage so if you like dungeon crawlers I say get it.

And finally this week here are the Steam releases of note:

First up is The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and this one's getting universally trashed.  And why wouldn't it?  It is $50, and it's yet another attempt for the people who own XCOM to try and shove a strategy game series into an FPS game.  This game seemed interesting to me so I might get it at some future point when it goes on a serious 75% off sale and play through it.

Next is a game that went through the arduous Steam Greenlight process mentioned above and is now available for realsies: Divekick, which is a 2-button fighting game created by Adam Heart, aka keits from, and Iron Galaxy Studios, known for its ports of various fighting games like 3rd Strike that've come out as of recently.

Next is a game that, if you've already prepurchased it, or you paid $30+ during Lab Zero's IndieGoGo campaign, you already own but the rest of you can now pick up the full retail copy of Skullgirls and give it a play.  Go on, you know you want to.

Finally, we have a couple of prepurchases on Steam: Game Dev Tycoon, the game infamous for basically releasing its own pirated version of the game and then having you lose the game because too many people are pirating your games (which was a brilliant stroke BTW), the Angry Video Game Nerd game, and Might & Magic X: Legacy.  Have fun, you guys!

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coming To Terms With My App Addiction (a.k.a. The Great App Purge of 2013)

What does it take for you to get to admit you have an app addiction?  Does your phone or tablet have to be horribly unresponsive for a certain length of time because it's bogged down with apps to get to a point where you finally crack and say you can't take it anymore?  Do you anticipate the release day for your mobile platform of choice because you get more apps to download?  Or is it just a sign of the times?

For me, it's none of the above.  I'm anticipating the glorious day when I get my new iPhone in a month or two and I want to clean it out so that I can figure out what I really use, what I just keep on there "just in case", and what I could do better on another device (or at the very least NOT on my iPhone).  It's going to be a long process of self-discovery and it's going to prove quite difficult, to say the very least.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that I will need to do this now because The Great App Purge of 2013 has already freed up 3+ GB of space I didn't have previously.  That's a big deal for me, even with a 32GB iPhone 4S.  Now, please excuse me as I go right back to it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An Update

While I love giving you what I know for free, at some eventual future point I am going to have to be able to sustain a comfortable living off of whatever I end up doing, whether it's this or something else.

To this end, I have my first set of affiliate links to have you guys help me test out.  I know most of my readership either are Apple or Google guys (with the majority more than likely Google guys) but I would like some help test driving this regardless.  I get at least a little bit of kickback when you click these links but since I'm so new to this I have no idea how much kickback I actually get.

The Doctor Who Podcast
Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks (First Doctor story)
Agnetha Faltskog - A (new Agnetha of ABBA fame album)
Bonnie Tyler - Holding Out For A Hero (from the album simply believe)
Doctor Who - The Name of the Doctor (last season's much-talked-about season finale on the new incarnation of Doctor Who)
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition for iPad (it's back!)
The Commodore 64 Book (an iBook about the C64.  Since iBooks is coming to the next iteration of Mac OS X, best be ready, am I right?)
Star Trek: The Original Series - Fan Favorites, Vol. 1 (the top 10 episodes of the original Star Trek series, including the infamous episode The Trouble With Tribbles)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (yes, you can buy this right now off iTunes about 3 weeks or so before the DVD/Blu-Ray release!  Cool, eh?  I'll probably pass for now though.  Seeing that one twice was enough for now)

The Tech and TV Conundrum (Or The Lack Thereof)

Yesterday, I read an article on Time Magazine's website about why we want TV to be disrupted so badly, and I had a revelation: Why hasn't Apple or Google done that super-disruption of the TV space thus far?

First, a little bit of background: The music business, back in the late 90s and early 2000s, was racked by piracy and they had to find some way to save their business.  The way they did it was they allowed Apple and their fledgling music application/store/service/etc, iTunes, to take over and see what happened.  Not only did the music business suddenly start thriving, they realized they had backed themselves into a corner with their Apple / iTunes deal and the other pieces of the entertainment industry still has reason to be wary of Apple and iTunes.

Now, why hasn't that super-disruption happened?  I think that negotiations are still ongoing, I have no idea (and I probably won't have any idea of when this will happen) and frankly I think the super-disruption will either start out small and grow bigger and bigger, like the iTunes Store did, or it'll start out with a bang and maintain its velocity like the App Store did.

I find it very interesting that, while the rumor mill is talking about gold/champagne iPhones and iPad iOS 7 delays (the latter I find highly unlikely), we've not heard much about the fabled iWatch or the fabled entry/disruption in TV.  Heck, usually we would've heard about any surprise announcements for the (rumored but more than likely still on) September 10th event by now, but the rumor mill has largely stayed silent on this fact.  The doubling down on secrets Tim Cook talked about has, in fact, been the rule.

Heck, I don't even know when Apple will debut new Macs and new iPads.  They've talked about that gorgeous-looking new Mac Pro, but they've not yet specified price or release date other than "fall 2013" in a new movie theater ad spot that I will more than likely see on Wednesday when I go in to see "Jobs", the sadly bombing independent Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as the titular late great.

Now, what can the movie/TV/video game businesses do to fight rampant piracy of their content?  Take the example of, CD Projekt RED's fabulous digital games distributor.  They provide all the games they offer, both retro and indie, with star level treatment that the pirates cannot better, and they don't lock their content down with debilitating DRM, or digital rights management.  They actually provide a better customer / user experience than the pirates.

Google does this pretty well also, much to their credit.  I cannot tell if there's any way that their Google Play movies, music, and TV shows have DRM, but if they don't rear their ugly heads and get in users' way, then they can create an experience that isn't awful.

So, the movie and TV businesses need to get their digital strategies right.  They need to stop fearing piracy and go full throttle into a new digital age.  Fact of the matter is, it's the movie and TV businesses' collective fear of piracy that is, unfortunately, fueling piracy from those who either a) do not have the funds to buy things legitimately, or b) wish to access a movie or TV show on any device they choose, no restrictions to bump into, no hoops to jump through, and most certainly no restrictive formats.  The column A people you'll never collect money from, so forget them.  The column B people, on the other hand, are the people who are woefully underserved in today's horribly fragmented marketplace.  So, serve those people and your piracy problem is pretty much solved.

Hey, that's a solution that is almost too easy, right? Actually, it's common sense.  Treating your paying customers like pirates only increases the order of magnitude in which piracy affects the business of entertainment.  But giving the customers what they want (which seems to be such a difficult proposition for these movie and TV studios) and NOT treating them like they'll "just pirate this stuff anyway" is actually going to help them make MORE money, instead of losing it to "piracy".

Friday, August 16, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #7: Lucky Seven Edition

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week's releases are, to be frank, a tad bit stark on the GOG side but the Steam side is amazingly rich and broad (and expensive...) this week, so let's get going!

First up in Steam-only releases is the game I just wrote and put up a review for, DuckTales: Remastered.  Capcom, Disney, and WayForward did a fabulous job and it is SO worth the $15 if you are nostalgic for your childhood and your childhood consisted of the Disney Afternoon.

Next is Europa Universalis IV.  The granddaddy of grand strategy games has returned, better than ever!  $40 is a tad pricey for a game that seems the slightest bit same-y, but then again people like NorthernLion on YouTube are doing videos about it, so who knows.

Next is Payday 2, the sequel to Payday: The Heist.  If you liked the first one, you're more than likely to like this, so there you go.  It's $30 or your regional equivalent, so if you enjoy that sort of thing then hop to it.  The rest of us can wait till it goes on significant sale.

Next is a game called Guncraft.  I guess this is for those who are fans of games like Minecraft, but since I am not a fan of these open-world sorts of games I will steer well clear, thanks.  $15 isn't too much but I'll wait till it goes on significant sale.

Next is a game called Catan: Creator's Edition, which is (finally, at long last) a PC version of the legendary board game Settlers of Catan, along with its Seafarers and Cities & Knights expansions.  It's $16.99 regularly but is on sale till the 21st of August for 10% off.

Next is Worms: Clan Wars, the latest in Team17's venerable series of artillery games with full Steam Workshop support.  If you like crazy games like this, then go for it, and go for it now.

Penultimately in the Steam-only releases, is Gone Home, a Myst-style exploration game.  Not bad, but not something I'm really that interested in, so I'll pass, thanks.

Finally in Steam-only releases is a preorder for Full Mojo Rampage with included Steam Early Access. I know next to nothing about this game, so I will not say anything more.

Next up is the "I don't know if I have covered this already" file, with the lone game King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition, which is an updated version of the console fighter from two years ago with supposedly much improved netcode.

Next is the dual Steam/GOG releases. And apparently the time has come for people who want to to preorder Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the newest in the Amnesia series of horror games.  And that's the only dual release this week.

Finally is the lone GOG-only release this week: Wargame: European Escalation, which is YARTSG (yet another RTS game).  The less said about this the better.

And before I go I will go into what I've been playing.  First I've been playing DuckTales Remastered and thoroughly enjoying that, and I've also been playing and enjoying Worms: Clan Wars as well.  Single-player is pretty good, and I haven't really done any multiplayer matches yet but I am enjoying what I've seen and/or played thus far.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Life Is Like A Hurricane Week Conclusion: DuckTales: Remastered (PC) Review

Before I get into this review, I just want to say this for the record: I bought this game myself and as such, no matter if I get review codes or not, I will give my honest thoughts on the game.

Oh. My. God.  I grew up with DuckTales on the Game Boy and the cartoon.  This melds everything that was so great about the DuckTales cartoon and the DuckTales videogame into one melting pot of pure, unadulterated awesome.  I felt just like a kid again as I played the game, and that felt SO good.

I want to break this review up into parts so that I can talk about every aspect of the game equally.

The story in the original DuckTales game was... shall I say... thorny at best.  Thankfully WayForward took what was kinda lacking in the original and gave it a superb, overarching story that includes a new tutorial level that is set in Scrooge McDuck's money bin and a brand new final confrontation level after all the original levels (Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, Himalayas, and The Moon) are completed that I *dare* not spoil because it is one of those things that MUST be experienced firsthand and even my describing it is technically a spoiler.  All I will say is that Flintheart Glomgold, Magica De Spell, and the Beagle Boys are in the story and more integrated than they were in the original NES/ Game Boy title.

The graphics are fantastic and highly colorful, and the controls are just as they were in the original Game Boy title... that is, a tad on the slippery side.  They got every single nuance down pat and I love every minute of it.  However, if you have a really bad D-pad, ya might want to invest in a controller for your PC that has a really good D-pad.  Once the Xbox One's controller does work on PCs in 2014, I think this will be a thing of the past.

Jake Kaufman did one heck of a good job with all of the music in the game.  Each level is unbelievably good, the voice acting in the game is top-notch, and the sound just makes the game totally sing.  Great job, Mr. Kaufman, along with Capcom and the amazing people at Disney.  Please put the soundtrack out, somehow, some way.  I would buy it in a New York minute.

This game is definitely a game that, if you are of a certain age and you love you some DuckTales, then this game is for you.  Even if you aren't of that age where you remember and love the show, this is still a game that must be experienced.  Yeah the cutscenes are a bit overly long, but the story is kind of dependent on these cutscenes and you miss something by automatically skipping every cutscene.  I give DuckTales: Remastered on PC a solid, highly recommended 10 out of 10.  An instant classic that deserves to be played.

Life Is Like A Hurricane Week: The Influence of Carl Barks On Other Media

I am celebrating DuckTales Week in style and talking about DuckTales-related topics.  Deal with it, folks.  Review will be up later today.

Carl Barks, also known as "The Good Duck Man", created Uncle Scrooge and the whole world of Duckburg.  But he didn't just influence future Disney comics.  Oh no, he actually influenced some amazing filmmakers and the future creators of the show DuckTales.  So, today during DuckTales Week I am planning to detail some of what Carl Barks influenced, most of it might be a tad mite surprising, while others might not be as surprising.

First., I have to get the really obvious ones out of the way.  The DuckTales TV show, that I am celebrating this week, is a fabulous series, most of which is based on the work in comics that Carl Barks did.

However, I cannot make any post about the late great Carl Barks's influence without mentioning the infamous boulder-rolling scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which came from the story "The Seven Cities Of Cibola" where the Beagle Boys trigger pretty much every trap in one of the temples and figure out that the boulder is rolling down after them, just like Indiana Jones does in the famous opening sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Now for the... not so obvious ones.  First is an episode of Mythbusters called "Ping Pong Rescue", in which Adam and Jamie test a myth about whether you could raise a boat using only ping-pong balls... exactly like what Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie did in the very first Carl Barks comic book story, "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold", which was based on an unused Donald Duck story idea for one of Donald's short cartoons.

Next is a big one that I think most of us would be intrigued by.  Osamu Tezuka, known as the father of manga and the godfather of anime in Japan, has confirmed that his pioneering manga work was totally influenced by Carl Barks's creation, Scrooge McDuck.  So, you can thank Carl Barks for creating a world of manga and anime... and in a roundabout way, you can thank him for Toonami's main thrust of its lineup, both back in the day and now.

Finally, I think almost anyone who has read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich would confirm them as being fun reads, but Janet Evanovich is actually someone on whom Carl Barks had (and has) a pretty major influence.  So much so that at one of the comic cons a few years ago when she was promoting her Troublemaker graphic novel from Dark Horse, Evanovich pretty much flat-out stated that she based the Stephanie Plum books on Uncle Scrooge and that she still subscribed to the Uncle Scrooge comics.  So we can thank Uncle Scrooge (and Carl Barks) in a roundabout way for the Stephanie Plum books.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life Is Like A Hurricane Week: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa

Because I haven't gotten to play with the newly-released DuckTales: Remastered yet, I decided today would be a perfect day to talk a lot about my experience with the original DuckTales game from Capcom.  It's unique, and it'll certainly help explain why I am mondo excited for the new Remastered game, which I am more than likely to pick up tomorrow (Wednesday).  But until then, I am celebrating DuckTales Week in style and talking about DuckTales-related topics.  Deal with it, folks.

Now, for the second post of DuckTales Week, I want to talk about a comic that means quite a bit to me, and that is the epic 12-part series "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" by the legendary Duck artist, Don Rosa.  He's sadly retired now due to health concerns, but his epic legacy of Life and Times lives on.

First, I want to talk about where I'd first heard of Life & Times, and that will involve how I first got into the amazing world of Disney comics, and it was even a part of my very first Disney Comics issue that I remember buying with my own money, and that is Donald Duck Adventures #29, published by Gladstone Comics (an apt name if ever I heard one) in December of 1994.  The cover was by (ironically enough) Don Rosa, and this issue was also my very first exposure to a man whose whimsical Disney Comics art style still enthralls me to this day: William Van Horn.  So, basically this comic launched me into the Disney Comics stratosphere.

So, why do I bring up DDA #29?  Because, near the back of the book, is a page that talks about what else is in the other Gladstone Disney comic books that month, and besides DDA #29, we have advertising for Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #594 which features another William Van Horn story as well as a Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse comic story, and Uncle Scrooge #289, which featured chapter five of the Life & Times epic, The New Laird of Castle McDuck, whereby a young Scrooge returns to his native Scotland to reclaim his ancestral castle.

Well I never really read Life & Times until a couple years ago, and the instant I did, I knew this was a classic beyond classics.  You can put Life & Times up against just about any epic adventure comic nad it seems to hold up just fine on its own.  And when I finally did read Life & Times in the graphic novel form, I just fell in love with the art style and the amazingly well-crafted story immediately.

In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, you find out in this story how Scrooge got his Number One Dime, why his Money Bin is where it is in Duckburg, and so much more.  Even better, it actually dovetails quite nicely into how we find him in his very first comics appearance in Carl Barks's classic story "Christmas on Bear Mountain".

I have to say I love what Don Rosa did with this story, along with all the cool little details he threw in.  If you can find a copy, and the price is right, get it, read it, and enjoy it as it comes HIGHLY recommended.

One issue, however: Life & Times and every single other story from Don Rosa is NOT available for legitimate purchase in any digital format.  Even worse, you can't really find any Carl Barks stories for legitimate purchase in digital form, nor William Van Horn.  Floyd Gottfredson (the man behind Mickey Mouse's very best comic stories ever) is getting more reprint love right now from Disney and Fantagraphics than any of the other Disney Comics legends combined, including the late Donald Duck comic strip artist, Al Taliaferro!  Please, somebody fix this injustice.  Now.

Life is Like A Hurricane Week: BJ's Experience With The Original DuckTales

Because I haven't gotten to play with the newly-released DuckTales: Remastered yet, I decided today would be a perfect day to talk a lot about my experience with the original DuckTales game from Capcom.  It's unique, and it'll certainly help explain why I am mondo excited for the new Remastered game, which I am more than likely to pick up tomorrow (Wednesday).  But until then, I am celebrating DuckTales Week in style and talking about DuckTales-related topics.  Deal with it, folks.

My experience with the original DuckTales from Capcom and Disney is... shall I say... a tad bit unique.  First, a bit of history: I kind of had a bit of a strange childhood, as my father got a bunch of increasingly good jobs and we moved around quite a bit in my youth.  

I got a super-cool (at the time) Nintendo Game Boy for my 5th birthday, which in those days was the giant jobbie with the green screen, the soft purple buttons, and a game called Tetris packed in.  As a result, most of my most treasured gaming memories came on that little green-screened, purple-buttoned wonder.  I first experienced the Pokemon series on it, and I first played DuckTales on it.

Now, fast forward to the early 2000s.  DuckTales for the Game Boy had haunted my nightmares for years and years and years.  I booted it up on whatever new Game Boy was in my hot little hands at that time, and decided enough was enough, I had to beat this game, no matter what.  I started on Easy, went through each level in order, and beat that game senseless.  (Even then I wondered why Magica DeSpell and Flintheart Glomgold were teaming up to steal Scrooge's Number One Dime when we only saw Magica in the Transylvania level and we never saw Glomgold at all...)

Anywho, I started kicking the game while it was down, beating it senseless on the other two difficulties.  And after all of that... I didn't want to play that game again for a long time.  The fun, unfortunately, evaporated from that game for me.  So the fact that DuckTales: Remastered is out now (and was announced back in March on my birthday weekend at PAX East in Boston) makes me super happy, and I am 150% ready to experience what I loved about the DuckTales series and the game all over again.

Now, the fact that I played DuckTales on the Game Boy is significant because on the Game Boy version of the game, you only did the pogo move with a single button, i.e. you didn't have to hold down on the Control Pad like you did on the NES version, like the difference between Easy Pogo and Hard Pogo in DuckTales Remastered.  So, as a result, I've... never really gotten to play the original NES version, but once I start to beat this game senseless all over again, I will probably more than likely want to play the original NES DuckTales.

Friday, August 9, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #6: The Calm Before the Storm Edition

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week is really the calm before the storm.  Next week we have a TON of games coming out, and once the rain starts coming, it's going to pour.  But that doesn't mean this week's releases are slouches by any stretch of the imagination.  Not whatsoever.

First, I want to talk a little bit about what I've been playing.  I haven't really been playing that much really on Steam and GOG, I've been playing more on my iPhone... again.  I'll talk about this one a bit later but I've been playing a TON of the new Wits & Wagers Trivia Party app that dropped this past week and it is very, very fun, and any trivia nuts should get it.

So, now on to the releases.  The Steam and GOG dual releases this week are pretty good, there are no GOG-only releases, and there is one Steam-only release worth noting.  It'll certainly start getting really interesting next week, but I am very excited to see what happens in the next month or two, but my wallet is NOT anticipating that very highly, believe me.

The first Steam/GOG dual release is Divinity: Dragon Commander.  It's a mix of the Total War games, a good RTS game, and a high fantasy game.  It's great!  You can even make crucial decisions that make each playthrough very, very different.  It's fabulous!  The price, however, is not so fabulous.  $40 is quite the price to pay, so unless you want to buy a game like this full price, wait till it's on sale.

The second dual release is Papers, Please, the highly buzzed-about game about making decisions at an immigration agency, much like Ellis Island and that ilk for persons who came to America by boat long before our current immigration discussion.  It has sprites that look like those from the Carmen Sandiego games, and that makes me super happy so get it!  And I think it's even $10, so you have no excuse not to get it if you like those kinds of games.

The third and final dual release (and the final GOG release this week) is the highly-praised indie game Spelunky!  Spelunky looks really, really good, and it unfortunately is $15, but if you like indie games, then you go ahead and pick this up. No excuses, you guys.

The one Steam-only release and the final release I want to talk about this week is Guacamelee! Gold Edition.  This game is a crazy mashup of Super Metroid and Mexican luchador wrestling, and it's been out on the consoles for awhile and it is finally making its way to the PC.  If you want another copy of this game, or if you didn't get a chance to play it on the consoles, then pick this sucker up.  Another indie game you should pick up at full price, or if it's on sale, even for 10%, pick it up.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 Upcoming Movies To Watch

Okay folks, I am here to preview 5 upcoming movies I think it will be prudent to keep an eye on.

1) The new Muppets movie, Muppets Most Wanted.  The teaser trailer has gone up everywhere online, my friends at The Muppet Mindset did a full breakdown of the new teaser trailer, and I think this is a movie to watch.  I'm not thrilled by the idea that it's basically The Great Muppet Caper all over again (with Tina Fey in a similar archetype to Dame Diana Rigg), but I love the Muppets, I greatly admire the late great Jim Henson, and I'll more than likely see this one when it comes out in Spring 2014.  Plus it's got Scooter singing "Moves Like Jagger" with Muppet penguins... what could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

2) CBGB, a film based off of the storied CBGB club of the same name, has Stana Katic as Genya Revan, and some chick I don't know named Malin Akerman is playing Debbie Harry (aka the lead singer of Blondie)... I dunno, this one looks really good but I'll withhold judgment till I see it this fall.

3) Saving Mr. Banks.  The upcoming Disney movie about the behind-the-scenes goings-on during the making of Mary Poppins with Tom Hanks as Mr. Walter Elias Disney himself looks unbelievably good!  This comes out right around Christmas time, when I saw the movie Hitchcock last year (about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of his classic film Psycho).

4) Ender's Game.  Whatever you think of Orson Scott Card and his homophobic viewpoints, I think this science fiction thriller is going to be one to watch this November.

5) Thor: The Dark World.  It's Marvel.  Nuff said.  My guess is this one's gonna be another movie to watch this November.

Wrapping Up Nintendo #2: The Happiness Is Retro Goodness Edition

Well, here we are.  Yeah, we didn't get any Wonderful 101 stuff today, but we will get that on the morning Friday, August 9th.  So, we'll hopefully have 2 Wrapping Up Nintendo columns in the same week.  Lucky me.  (Thankfully I live on the East Coast so I can wake up at a much less obscene hour on Nintendo Direct mornings)

So, what WAS discussed?  Funny you should ask.

Iwata-san started and ended this broadcast today, and the Treehouse information specifically for North America was sandwiched in the middle, and oh what a glorious sandwich it was.

But Iwata started with ... GASP... third party games.  He started off talking about Sonic Lost World for Wii U and 3DS, and they both look gooooooooood.  They are both coming out October 22nd.  Then he talked a little bit about Rayman Legends and we now know we'll get to play it on September 3, and with Rayman and... (I"m sorry Scooter I don't know the proper name of that blue guy) wearing Mario & Luigi outfits exclusively on the Wii U version!  Nice, right? (If you have a short memory of the middle finger Ubisoft flipped to Nintendo fans, then maybe.)

Next, they talked about the Art Academy Sketchpad app for Wii U, which they did not specify a release date for in the ND but it is coming later this week.

Then we got to hear from Erik Peterson of the Treehouse, and this one was where all the good megatons that usually come with these Nintendo Direct broadcasts came.  First, however, they broke their arms patting themselves on the back for how well people responded to Pikmin 3, and detailed this weird camera thing where you could take a picture from the perspective of a Pikmin, and showed fans' screenshots taken in this matter.  Maybe it was just me but this part was weird.  It's almost like they WANTED their fans to help promote Pikmin 3 for them, and they didn't acknowledge how poor the software releases have been for most of 2013.

Then, as expected, they discussed Mario & Luigi: Dream Team for 3DS.  I know some of you didn't like the idea of them showing off upgrading your gear and finally having multiple badge effects, but for me personally, that was a HUGE deal.  It's the biggest problem I have had with previous Mario & Luigi games, and the fact that they actually so much as fixed it with Dream Team makes me very confident about buying the game blind on the eShop as soon as possible.

Then they talked about the game Pokemon Rumble U... and I could care less about it.  The idea of using NFC (or near field communication) figurines so you can really experience the full game (and having them be exclusive to GameStop) is dumb, but if it makes Nintendo some more money and gets their investors off their backs... then so be it.

Then they talked about the retro classics like Shantae that are finally a download away after being notoriously hard to find for so long... and then they said that a legendary NES/Famicom shmup called Summer Carnival '92 Recca is coming to the Nintendo eShop soon.

Next they announced several other games that were coming to the 3DS Virtual Console, like the original NES Donkey Kong (still no full arcade version?  WTF Nintendo!) coming August 15th, TECMO BOWL coming this fall (no specific date but I'm so there with bells on), Wario Land 3 for GBC comes August 29th, and finally (but by no means the least important) Super Mario Bros. 3 coming to both the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles later this year (this might be the "buy once, play on whatever" launch game... I hope this is coming to every Virtual Console title myself).

Then he discussed Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy which is coming in 2014, and then he said there was nothing else to discuss today... and a classic "OBJECTION!" exploded on our screens and dropped the megaton bomb that I had totally lost hope about: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is actually being localized and is coming in 2014.

Then it was back to Iwata and he detailed Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (the Link To The Past followup/sequel on 3DS) with a cool looking Dark Triforce, and the new HD remake of Wind Waker! Both are coming in November and I cannot wait for both of them!

Then they talked a little bit about The Year Of Luigi... and revealed that Luigi IS confirmed to be in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS... which everyone went "called it" almost immediately, but I feel that this was a master stroke to not reveal that Luigi was in the game right away.  Maybe that's just me?

And the final announcement was... a new Animal Crossing Plaza overlay for the Wii U's WaraWara Plaza... My guess is that the 3DS/Wii U integration with regards to Miiverse are still coming but they aren't coming just yet.  Let's hope they finally do this before the end of the year.

Anyways, see you Nintendo fans Friday for another Wrapping Up Nintendo.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Waiting For Nintendo #1: The "I Don't Expect That Much Newness" Edition

So, Nintendo announced this morning that they are going to do a nice Nintendo Direct presentation tomorrow focusing on 3DS and Wii U games coming the rest of this year tomorrow morning.

What on Earth should we fans expect?  Frankly, not much.  I guess I'll get right into my predictions for 3DS, Wii U, and Other, in that order:


  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team comes out this coming Sunday, August 11th, so I wouldn't be surprised to see one last push of the game before it drops.
  • They *might* talk about the upcoming 3DS eShop update I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, but really, who knows at this point whether that eShop update was real or not.  Even still, I hope they come out swinging to prepare Nintendo fans for the Nintendo eShop Unification Blitz of 2013 (the promotion of finally being able to buy eShop games on your computer or smart phone).
  • The next game coming out after Dream Team drops is (for now) Pokemon X and Pokemon Y on October 12th, so there may or may not be a September surprise for 3DS owners, but who knows.

Wii U:

  • I expect them to basically talk about how amazingly well Pikmin 3 was received.  They always like crowing about how their very recently released games have been received by the press and the public.
  • Maybe we'll see a new bundle for the price-conscious amongst us, or possibly even a price drop, who knows at this point.
  • Also they might talk Wonderful 101 again, which I think, if Nintendo drops the price cut bomb, we may actually get games that actually freaking sell like Wonderful 101 (which looks... bizarre... to say the very least).
  • I have really no other major surprises, maybe an eShop update again, maybe something else, I really have no idea what else they could announce.  I am hopeful Nintendo is listening to their fans and drop a good surprise announcement or two, because they do like surprising us.
After all of that?  I will recap tomorrow as per usual, so see you then.

Waiting For Nintendo #0: It's Time for Mario!

(BTW, people of a certain age will get what I am referring to in my title here... just replace Mario with what Bob Clampett did after he left Leon Schleisinger's studio that was making the Looney Tunes cartoons that involves a very seasick sea serpent and you'll get it. Maybe.)

Welcome everyone to the first-ever Waiting For Nintendo column!  These columns will be fairly infrequent because Nintendo Directs that have the kind of 1-day-plus notice that we fans are seeing more and more of recently don't happen every month, usually they happen every other month or so, sometimes it takes 3 months, sometimes only 2, sometimes a Nintendo Direct Mini comes in between the times that Nintendo Directs happen in and makes the wait that much less unbearable between Nintendo Direct broadcasts.

So, what will this be? It'll be a discussion of what I think Nintendo will talk about in the next day's Nintendo Direct and I'll go over what I think MAY happen, and it's purely a bit of wishful thinking for this Nintendo fan.  So, I shan't waste any more time.  Watch this space.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Passionworks: The Most Underrated Heart Album EVER

Heart, if you've been following me on Twitter, or elsewhere, is one of, if not my all-time favorite musical artist or group.

Also, I am one of the few people who love, love, loves their eighties and early nineties output (a period that stretches from 1985 till 1995), but the same Heart lineup that makes me super happy on the 1985 self-titled comeback record and on 1994's flawless Desire Walks On was first on the scene with quite possibly one of the most criminally underrated records ever: 1983's Passionworks.

So, why has Passionworks become one of those albums I constantly have on "Repeat"?  Well... here's your chance to learn why.

First off the band ROARS into life on the positively insane "How Can I Refuse?", a song about a passionate love affair that the narrator doesn't exactly want to end.  The only thing is, the music video for this one is... cheesy 80s at best, and frankly doesn't add anything different or new to the song other than a... creepy magician who enslaves the band...  Yeah, just don't make mention of just how bad that sounds, just watch this music video and see for yourself:

Next is Blue Guitar, which I've always thought was about guitarist Nancy Wilson's beautiful blue 1973 Fender Telecaster (which, when she puts that sucker on you KNOW it's going to be a good old fashioned hard rocking song).  I don't quite know whether they're talking about a man or a guitar later on in the song, but holy cow, this works so well coming right off of How Can I Refuse.

Third in line is Johnny Moon, a slower song about what I can only guess is a spectral being disguised as a teenaged boy... Either way, this is the first major piece of evidence for my theory that Denny Carmassi is the best drummer in Heart's history, next to Ben Smith, the current drummer for the band.  He just NAILS the drum parts in this song and it adds something ethereal to this song that already had ethereal bits to it.

Fourth is Sleep Alone, a moderately more rocked up song about a woman who needs the... ahem... companionship of man.   It's interesting, but it kind of works better as a bridge between Johnny Moon's ethereal sound and the next song's more moderately rock song.

Speaking of, fifth is Together Now, a song about a person who is consummating his or her relationship in saying how they're together now, and nothing is going to shake their faith in how well this one's gonna work.

Sixth is Allies, which Rob Smith, the guy behind Death By Power Ballad over at PopDose said in a comment about 3 years ago was the other side of a coin flip that wrought his marvelously funny review of Heart's Alone.  I would very much enjoy hearing his thoughts on the entire Passionworks album, and this one in particular.  It has a superb piano line to start off, and has my attention throughout and I can sing along, moderately.  This one was confused with a song on the 1985 self-titled comeback album when I went searching for lyrics for the song All Eyes a couple years ago and when I finally got to hear it, I was so amazed at the song, it made all that prior confusion totally worth it.

Seventh is (Beat By) Jealousy, a song about (well, what else?) how the speaker is jealous of someone else's major successes.  It's really interesting for someone like me to listen to just how Ann Wilson effortlessly moves people's emotions to be on her side, and it is really unique to this artist because she can still totally bring it!

Eighth is Heavy Heart, about (again, what else?) a heavy heart, and how sometimes you have to move on, even with a heavy heart.  This is another great transitional song into the next song, Love Mistake.

Ninth is Love Mistake, which was written by Nancy Wilson for a friend of hers who had gone through a... rather painful breakup, to say the very least.  It's probably one of my favourite songs, and I was this close to thinking they were going to play this one live when I saw them in Asheville, but I still love this song dearly and hope they perform this one live... eventually.

Penultimately we have Language of Love, another fabulous song (and another one of my favorites on the record), and it contains such a perfect callback to How Can I Refuse that it basically cinches the entire album up with the most gorgeous yellow ribboned bow you could come up with.  

And finally we have Ambush, a fitting closure to their tenure at Epic Records, even if this album sold unbelievably poorly at first.  However, I think the above music video is proof positive they had NO idea how to sell Heart at that time...

As I wrap this up, I'm going to be honest and say that this album is probably one of those albums that I now hold in the same high esteem as the aforementioned 1985 self-titled comeback record by Heart and 1994's Desire Walks On.  As for Passionworks, this record totally rocks, and if you want a nice, criminally underrated early 80s album, you can't do all that much worse than Heart's Passionworks.

Friday, August 2, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #5: The "Moved-To-Fridays-Permanently" Edition

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

First, before I get into the releases, I am going to move the column to Fridays for good, mainly because it's a nice way to cap off my week.

This week is, once again, firing on all cylinders, so let's get moving!

First, there are a release or two that are on both GOG and Steam, namely Rise of the Triad.  Look back a post or two to see my (very positive) review in case you missed it, but my summary is to just buy it already.  $15 is really a bargain.  Also on both GOG and Steam is the upcoming new game that has taken off across the Interwebs, Papers, Please.  It's coming out next week, but you can preorder it now. Another preorder on both GOG and Steam is the indie darling Spelunky.  Just get this game if you, like me, are wondering what all the hype was.

Now, on to the GOG-only releases!  First is Penumbra Collection, a collection of three horror games from the same people that later went on to make Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  If you like horror games, go for it.  I, on the other hand, will refrain.

Second is Jack Keane, and it is another great indie point-&-click adventure game!  If you like these sorts of games, you already know whether or not to buy it, so go to it.

Now on the Steam-only releases!  This is a packed week this week, with several pre-purchase offers and lots of DLC (which is NOT covered in this column, as I only cover full game releases).  I'll cover the full game releases for Steam only first, and then I will cover the multitude of pre-purchase offers that popped up this week.

First up in the new releases is Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny, which is a faithful remake of the original Realms of Arkania.  That looks really good, so any folks who are interested in CRPGs or who have played many CRPGs in the past might want to look into picking this one up.

Next up is CastleStorm, a 2D physics destruction/tower defense brawler.  Looks like fun so I will pick that up.

Next is Skulls of the Shogun, the XBLA indie darling (which Billy Berghammer of Planet Gamecube worked on) that is finally making its way to the PC.  I love indie games and I will more than likely pick this one up.

Next is Cannon Brawl, a RTS/artillery mashup game.  I am so happy that RTS games are starting to fully innovate so this one is on my list as I return to RTS gaming after a number of years away.

And finally this week in the new releases is Narco Terror, a old-school style twin-stick shooter where a one-man war is being raged against a drug cartel (sounds eerily Rambo-esque to me...).  I might get this one, we'll see.

Now on to the two Steam-exclusive pre-purchase offers.  First up is Skullgirls, for those of you who didn't get in on the IndieGoGo campaign to fund Squigly, Big Band, and others.  $15 gets you a fabulous independent fighting game that has a very distinct Marvel vs. Capcom 2 feel to it.

Next is Castlevania Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition.  I'm surprised this game hasn't made it to PC already but I'd very much rather play the original Castlevanias, they deviated much too far from the Castlevania mythology that has been in place for the entire time Castlevania has been made available on platforms like the NES.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...