The Game Guy

 

OriCoverLet me start by giving game developers a quick pointer about my response to a specific kind of video game. If a game nails “Metroid-vania”-esque progression and exploration, I’m automatically interested. If it has that base and then adds something unique to the genre like a creative story and art style, I’ll place the game in the upper echelon of video games. Lastly, if it has extraordinarily tight, responsive controls, just go ahead and take my money. Moon Studios’ “Ori and the Blind Forest” meets all of the above criteria to become 2015’s first truly exceptional game.

Forget for a second that “Ori and the Blind Forest” is a total treat to play from beginning to end. Gameplay is such a driving force in this game that it’s easy to overlook the heartbreaking story that’s on display. The story is one of loss. Ori is a small spirit-like being who befriends a larger forest dweller. The two have a strong bond that is a mixture of parental and friendship. The once thriving forest begins to decay after a great storm of fire and lightning. Ori’s friend dies of starvation, forcing Ori to wander the forest alone. On that journey, Ori meets a spirit guardian named Sein.

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SCREAMRIDE-PACK-FRONT-XBOX-ONE-2D-FOB-RGB-png“Screamride” doesn’t know what it wants to be when it moves from the starting line. The new budget title for Xbox One and Xbox 360 by Frontier Developments bills itself as a roller coaster simulation game, but gameplay is rigidly divided into three parts. Only one of those three parts involves building roller coasters. Its lack of identity constantly works against itself, as it fails to give the player a firm objective or central motivation. Unfortunately, bland gameplay does “Screamride” no favors either.

The fictional company of Screamworks puts adrenaline junkies through over-the-top amusement park tests. The player acts as the puppet master of these test. The aforementioned three parts of “Screamride’s” gameplay include testing rollercoasters, building roller coasters and demolition.

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'The Order: 1886' review - empty armor

Thursday, 19 February 2015 10:00 AM Written by

OrderThe PlayStation 4 has its first major exclusive of 2015, and its name is “The Order: 1886.” Developed by Ready at Dawn Studios, this period piece of alternate history pushes the limits of the PS4 hardware by bringing unrivaled visuals to the third-person shooter genre.

 

Set in a 19th century London, “The Order” follows the Sir Grayson Galahad, a knight within a secretive organization of the royal family. The Order acts as a Special Forces team to fight supernatural evil and protect the British population. But a rebel uprising seeking social equality opposes The Order. The knights fight an enemy that is two-pronged: the rebel forces, and powerful lycan creatures that threaten London.

 

The game has the clear appearance of a blockbuster release. The experience leans heavily on impressive aesthetics. Character faces have realistic features and movement down to subtle twitches of characters’ facial creases. Clothing is layered and detailed with many separate moving parts and textures. The game can’t help but show off its graphical prowess as Galahad is prompted to pick up and inspect numerous items throughout the game. These tricks provide no purpose other than to show off that these graphics can’t be found in any other game.

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boxart-largeThe following review of “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” was based on a reviewer’s first-time playthrough. Max Parker did not play the original “Majora’s Mask” for the N64.

“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” is a prime example of hindsight being 20/20. It was the follow-up “Zelda” game to what many believe to be one of the greatest games ever made, “The Ocarina of Time,” but was skipped by many Nintendo fans due to its late release in the N64’s life and because it required the sold-separately Expansion Pak.

Now the game gets a second chance, which is oddly fitting with the game’s theme of repetition. Link continuously repeats the same three-day cycle in the game, adding to his skillset and inventory along the way. Now the game itself has a chance to relive the past. “Majora’s Mask” is arguably the most qualified game in Nintendo’s catalog to receive the redux treatment. The world wasn’t ready for it in 2000, but it is now.

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lombardiSuper Bowl week is upon America. While #DeflateGate (cringe) has cast a massive shadow over the game itself, it’s important to remember that the actual game still has to be played on Sunday. Thanks to "Madden 15," an Xbox One, Twitch and a capture card, I’m going to host my own “Virtual Super Bowl Virtual Party” tonight!

The party will consist of a full length game of “Madden 15” between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks streaming live on Twitch.tv/GameGuyPgh  at 9:00 p.m. eastern. The game will be completely handled by the "Madden 15" A.I. I’ll watch for the duration of the game and chat about football, video games or anything else with anyone who chooses to stop by and participate in the Twitch chat.

There’s only one game of NFL football left in the 2014 season, and football withdrawal is all too real. For those of you like me who just can’t let it go, tune into Twitch.tv/GameGuyPgh tonight at 9:00 p.m. to watch a virtual preview of the big game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GrimFandangoCoverWho would’ve thought that 17 years after “Grim Fandango’s” original release would be the perfect time for a remastered edition? Here we are in 2015, and the peculiar point-and-click adventure fits perfectly among newer friends like “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “Tales from the Borderlands,” and “The Wolf Among Us.” “Grim Fandango” returns to show how it paved the way for these games back in 1998.

What “Grim Fandango” has that the aforementioned games don’t is a unique cocktail of narrative themes and devices. Developed by Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Games (originally developed by a LucasArts team led by Tim Schafer), “Grim Fandango” tells a comical tale of the afterlife through a veil of noir styling. Comedy and noire aren’t normally paired, but the narrative makes it seem like the perfect fit in its distinctiveness.

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Pokémon symphony comes to life at Heinz Hall

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 01:30 AM Written by

Heinz1
(Photo Credit: Jeron Moore)

 

Video games and symphony came together on Saturday for Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions at Heinz Hall. Princeton Entertainment and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra showcased music from the “Pokémon” series beginning with “Red” and “Green” for the original GameBoy, and working through each generation to “X” and “Y” for the 3DS.

 

This is not the first time the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has played songs from beloved video game soundtracks. Producer Jeron Moore and composer Chad Seiter tapped them in 2013 and 2012 for the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses tour. Pittsburgh was just the third stop of the Pokémon tour, with more tour dates and locations being announced in the near future.

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Opinion: The New 3DS deserves a power cord

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 03:30 AM Written by

3DSConsumers deserve better. They also deserve a power cord. Nintendo finally announced the long awaited New 3DS (that's the actual name) for North American markets today. The new device, which will hit stores on February 13, will have a faster processor and an extra control stick that will enhance gameplay. But the package has one peculiar omission. It doesn’t come with an AC adapter.

 

It’s not that the updated 3DS has a nifty new gadget that that replaces the conventional power cord. There is literally no way to charge the device’s battery right out of the box. It requires the same power cord that has charged Nintendo handhelds since the DSi released in 2009. Users will have to hold onto a charger from an old DSi or 3DS. If this is a consumer’s first 3DS system, however, he or she will have to buy a charger separately.

 

As outrageous as this news sounds, Nintendo has been getting away with this practice elsewhere in markets outside of the U.S. for some time. The video game manufacturer sold its 3DS XL in Japan without the power cord.

 

How essential is a power cord for something like the New 3DS? Every handheld owner will quickly tell you that it’s as essential as a charger is for any other electronic device. It’s completely and totally necessary. There’s no way around it. But the real question is, “how essential is it to package a power cord with the New 3DS?”

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