PAX Prime 2014 Wrap-Up!


So another PAX Prime has come and gone, so I thought I would share my impressions of this year’s show!

The Year Of The Off-Site Party: This year there were a lot of off-site events.  I went to two of these events, Bioware’s Shadow Realms party, and Epic’s Fortnite event.  At these events the developers wined and dined attendees, and also let the attendees play their games, which was very nice of them.

The Expo Hall Has Became More Pointless: The Expo Hall is a main selling point for PAX, and it is worth walking through, but it has lost a lot relevance.  All the games, including some lower tier games, have long lines, and they are showing less and less.  Your time is better spent playing board games, chatting with indie developers, going to talks and panels, or checking out the aforementioned outside events.

PAX Needs More Space: The show is more spread out than ever.  To go see something at the main theater, you had to walk six blocks.  What to play board games? Three blocks.  Go get something signed? Off you go to the Paramount Theater.  I love that PAX Prime is in Seattle, but they need to find a bigger venue.

Oculus Rift Is Everywhere, But Still Not Compelling: There were a lot of games featuring the Oculus Rift, but they were mostly small indies, and the games themselves were not that interesting.  It was fun to get the gear on this year, but if Facebook wants to sell a lot of these things they are going to need to find a must have game to move units.

Board/Card Game Of The Year: I didn’t play a lot of board games this year, but of the few I did play, I am going with Hot Tin Roof.  It is a game were you play as cats trying to navigate city roof tops, but other cats will build cat walks and shelters and make you pay to pass through.  It is like they mixed Monopoly and Ticket To Ride and made both simpler and more streamlined.  It will be a great new game for the family.

Table-Top RPG Of The Year: This one took me by surprise, but Valiant by Catalyst took the title this year.  It takes place in the little known Valiant comic book universe, which you have probably never heard of outside of maybe X-O Manowar.  It is a simple system with fun rules, and fast gameplay.  The little known universe works in its favor since you can bend the NPC superheroes to fit your needs, and no-one cares that much.  This would be a great starter RPG for anyone wanting to dip their toe in to the Table-Top world.

Video Game Of The Year: FortniteYou might argue that they bribed me by giving me free food and drinks, but I don’t care!  I have no journalistic integrality to uphold.  This Minecraft/Shooter hybrid is a lot of fun, and from what the devs told us there are a lot of new modes coming.  It is in closed Alpha right now, but you can sign up and try to get in, and you should, so you can help me build forts and try to stem the zombie tide!  Here is the link.

That was a brief review of my PAX Prime.  I had a lot of fun.  I may go more in depth with the games I played in the days to come, but we will see.  Thanks for reading, and maybe I will see you at next year’s PAX.

An Epic Angry Birds!


It makes sense that Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, would try and expand the popularity of their hit mobile game, so them creating a turn based RPG out of the upset fowl is no surprise.  What is a surprise is how fun Angry Birds Epic is.  The birds’ unique powers lend themselves well to the format.

The game is simple, you drag the bird you want to have attack to the pig you want it to hit.  Or you tap on the bird to have it cast its protection spell.  Different birds have different attacks and protection moves, so picking what birds and moves to do gives the game its strategy.  As the game progresses you gain different weapons that tweak the moves, and items to help you get out of a tight spot.  You also level up so your birds get more powerful.

The game looks good.  It retains that charm of the Angry Birds franchise, but still looks unique.  The animations are smooth, and the characters all have fun expressions.  If you like the Angry Birds you will like the look of this game.

The “Free-To-Play” stuff kind of gets in the way by always asking you to buy the items and weapons, but it is still fun even if you ignore it all.  This game is not super deep, but it is a good way to kill a few minutes, and that is what any good cell phone game should be.

Burn Through Your Wallet With Dungeon Hunter 4!


On my flight to Disneyland I needed a distraction, so I downloaded Dungeon Hunter 4 by Gameloft.  It is a free-to-play Diablo clone for mobile devices.  The game starts off very fun, but then when you just start to really get in to it the free-to-play gimmicks weigh it down.

The story follows a hero who is trying to save the world from demons.  How does the hero do this you ask?  Why by hacking and slashing his or her way through multitudes of enemies of coarse.

The game is very simple in premise.  The more bad guys you kill, the more you level up and the more loot you gain, so you can fight bigger and badder (I know it is not a word) guys.  This works very well in the beginning, but once you get a ways in to the game its shortcomings make their way to the forefront.

To buy health potions you need to spend real money.  To use more then one health potion in a few minutes you need to spend real money, so that means for any of the truly challenging quests you need to show up with a few bucks.  At first this didn’t seem like an issue since you could level up on the easy stuff, and then come back to the challenging areas, but after awhile everything is too hard.  So to win you are going to need to spend some of your hard earned cash.

It is such a shame too because the game plays so well, and it has live multiplayer!  If this game cost five dollars up front it would be a must own.  The controls are great, and the graphics for a mobile game are top notch.  Heck I would even be okay if it was free, and just the upper tier weapons and armor cost money (which they do).  Oh well, this is the new mobile video game world we live in I suppose.

One of these days I will stop playing free-to-play games, but when they are all that seems to be coming out these days for mobile devices they are hard to avoid.  For the first couple of hours Dungeon Hunter 4 is worth your time, but once they ramp up the difficulty pull out your wallet, or just uninstall it.

Why Can’t We All Get Along?!


Image via, and you can get it on a shirt!

As long as there has been more than one gaming platform, there has always been the argument that one reigns supreme over the others, but instead of discussing it like mature adults, we like to rage against one another on forums.  The sad fact is that now more than ever the platforms are very similar to one another, so all this rage is mostly meaningless.  Why is it that we can’t all just get along?

I think it all comes down to money.  Gaming can be an expensive hobby.  By the time people get the hardware, the peripherals, and the games, you can be several hundred dollars, if not thousands, in the hole.  A person just wants to feel justified in their purchase, so when someone makes a different choice then them it is like they are saying “you were wrong”.  Buying a console or PC is not a test.  There is no wrong answer.  Are you having fun on the platform you purchased? Yes?  Good you made the right choice.  That is all there is too it.  People are reading in to the current console hardware sales, and trying to use them to prove that one console is better than the other, but the console race will last for years to come.

Plus we do not really want a winner.  If there was only one platform, there would be no competition, so games would cost even more, and the lone console would be pretty crappy.  For those of you that are old enough, look what happened to the Atari.  The Atari 2600 came out, and it was the only game in town, so when they made a follow up, the 5200, it was a giant pile of dung.  It was so bad it almost destroyed video games, but luckily the Nintendo Entertainment System saved the day.

The new consoles are all selling well, and there is a resurgence in the PC market due to the rise in indie development.  We as gamers should all be happy about that.  As an Xbox One owner, I want the PS4 to do well, and as a PC owner, I want there to be strength in the console market.  We are all part of the same hobby, and it is something we enjoy greatly, so we should be happy for one another.  Though I am sure we can all agree that mobile gaming is the WORST! 😉

Free To Play Ruins Star Wars: Tiny Death Star!


Star Wars: Tiny Death Star is created by NimbleBit the same people that made the very successful Tiny Tower.  It is published by Disney Mobile and Lucas Arts.  It is out for pretty much every major platform, but I would advise against it.

The game starts off well with Emperor Palpatine telling Darth Vader his new plan to finance the Death Star by getting people to move in, pay rent, and buy stuff.  It is very funny and it fills in one of the major plot holes of Star Wars: “How the heck could they pay for the Death Star?”

The writing is fantastic and funny.  It pokes fun at Star Wars, but with more than a little love. It also has a great look, and characters from the Star Wars Universe have never been cuter.  All of them are in this game with their own little cut scenes.

After that it quickly goes down hill.  Like many RTS type games, you are in charge of planning out the apartments and stores for the people known as Bitzens, but the rates that these things build or restock is ridiculously slow unless you spend Imperial Bucks which of course can be paid for with real bucks.  Also if you want things to run well you need to hire VIPs which again you can pay for will real money.

If they balanced this game well it would have been worth quite a few dollars, but in its current state it is unplayable unless you pay, and once you start paying there is no telling how much it will cost.  With the Star Wars license, geeks like me would have paid for a good game, but to be nickel and dimed every three seconds is just too much.  If they come out with well balanced flat fee game, I would recommend it, but not as it is.