Gamers rally in Animal Crossing to support Black Lives

On Saturday 20th, the fight for racial equality will take place on an Animal Crossing island called Isle of Buns, owned by Adelle Lin.

“I was inspired to “say their names” and wanted to create a memorial space with the time I was spending in Animal Crossing. Coupled with not being able to be out to protest because of Covid, it made sense to try to protest from home,” explained rally organizer Adelle Lin. “There are many others who feel the same and this is an avenue for us to connect with the movement.”

At Adelle’s rally, players can donate directly to organizations and show receipts for unique artwork. For those unable to donate money, her rally uses a unique donation matching system using in-game Bells currency. “Bells are the animal crossing in game currency that you earn by doing a variety of things – picking fruit, making items, planting money trees, popping balloons and most lucratively selling turnips on the “stalk” market,” Adelle explained. “Players spend loads of time gathering these bells and are valuable to building your island. I’d like to offer a way for friends with variable income like artists to also participate in donating, which is rewarding in itself. By donating in game currency, I’ll personally exchange that at a rate of 99,000 bells to $100 cash donations.”

Within the game, an area for donations is split between different charities. The player walks over to the donation area for the charity they want, drop bells, and tells Adelle which charity and how much, they want donated on their behalf.

Anyone can come visit via an Animal Crossing turnip code link or tune in via twitch. Visit the livestream Saturday at 6P EST.

Animal Crossing Event Info

SW Captain’s Log – Yay. Pop-Culture Entertainment Hype!

SW Log Entry: Earthdate 2017.7.17.6

Captain Orion reports:

All is well and quiet for this midsummer weekend, though I hear much noise over from corporately driven pop-culture franchises. Such can not be ignored, as I can feel the energy of the collective fandoms. So, here are some personal thoughts on these…

Doctor Who (TV) – Huge fan since the 2005 revival. I am anxious for the new, recently announced 13th Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whitaker. No longer a Time Lord, but a Time Lady (but still not ginger!). Such is exciting for this bold approach in casting, with its new showrunner (Chris Chibnall takes over after Steven Moffat). I did enjoy the last season and Peter Capaldi’s portrayal but felt much else was feeling tiresome and losing its originality. I have a good feeling the new direction and Doctor will freshen the franchise up.

Game of Thrones (TV) – So, I hear from the new season starts tonight, and many are super excited. I have yet to watch the show, and perhaps I should start soon.

Baby Driver (movie) – I recently watched Edgar Wright’s latest directed movie. It’s the best movie of the year so far. If disagree, please tell me of something better released in 2017, and I will check that out.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (movie) Still looking forward to seeing, even though the reviews are not hailing it as some perfect masterpiece.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (movie) – I like the new posters. But sadly, not feeling the excitement of the movie. Is there really much more of a story to tell here? What happens after the “Last Jedi?’ More “Wars?” I guess. As much as I enjoy space battles, I sometimes question what Star Wars is really about in the end. I hope this next movie will shed some light.

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (movie) – Sure, I guess. It’s also another hype train boosted from the recent D23 convention. I’m sure there will be some awesome action scenes and campy moments, and probably some surprises. Such would be worthwhile if only the inclusion of the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer would finally come about, and lead to a proper reboot of Marvel’s first family into the pop-culture mainstream.

Star Wars: Battlefront II (game) – I must admit, I am far more interested in the Star Wars storyline of this video game. Here, is a completely fresh look at the pivotal original trilogy end, and what it means for those in the Empire serving. The introduction and details released in a recent video detailing the Inferno Squad, reveals a look from the Empire point of view seeing the Rebels as the villain. Such is a bold take that can go anywhere, with an interesting perspective on just what the Empire was looking to accomplish beyond the selfish power-hungry desires of Emporer Palpatine. The pride and personal relationships humanize the other side, towards an ideal I loved while watching the CGI Clone Wars animated series. I hope this will get released for the PC.

Kingdom Hearts 3 (game) – It’s been about ten years since Kingdom Hearts 2, and a gazillion sub-sequels between. Is the hype still here? Not too much from me, as the gameplay presents much of the same thing, but with some new gimmicks and Toy Story now thrown in. I used to love the franchise, but this Disney/Square Enix collaboration must work harder to recapture some of that old magic.

San Diego Comic Con (event) – The grand show of gathered fandoms is almost upon us, where I will be attending. I am super excited! But, I wish some much of the consumer hype could be about the comic books, because much there on shelves and in boxes are just as deserving of your attention as all the above franchises. I will be there checking out more on the sequential art and reporting back.

Looking forward!!

“You have to be respectful of pop culture, because people interpret it in the way they want.” – Jaleel White.

PICTURE: Star Wars: Battlefront II trailer video screenshot.

Game Playing Review: Planet of the Eyes

Planet of the Eyes (Steam version, version 1.1)

    • Genre: Platformer, Puzzler
    • Release Date: Aug 24 2015, Price: $9.99
    • Development: Cococumber
    • Platform: PC (via Steam), Xbox One
    • Official Site: planetoftheeyes.com

Synopsis:

“You’ve crash-landed on the Planet of the Eyes in an escape pod. Discover what lies beneath through puzzle solving, exploration, and audiologs from another survivor. Turn down the lights, put on your headphones and grab your controller to experience the atmospheric journey of a lone robot in a dangerous world.”

Personal Thoughts:

(based on the current Steam version, after 1.1 patch, played 95 minutes of gameplay)

Planet of the Eyes feels like other things, more than its purpose as a game. That is a good thing.

This being part of a wonderful trend in modern gaming now, of these cheaply priced puzzle platformers. Great other examples include Braid, Limbo, Night Sky, Outland, Never Alone. Such games are where simple functions in a character do more than platform its way to a happy end. By doing more, there is less. No power ups, no crazy combos, no such increase in abilities, no points or pointless objectives. All you have in your protagonist, is your wits and mobility. There are sudden ways to die (often horrible and with hilarity) but the puzzles involved in figuring out the environment is where the real challenge is at.

2015-10-04_00002

With Planet of the Eyes, the puzzles feel a bit easy for my gaming hands, as I have played through many puzzle platformers since Abe’s Odyssey on the PlayStation 1. Nearly every obstacle faced in Planet of the Eyes, I have seen before in other forms and knew how to handle. I beat this game with little death, almost continuous in about 90 minutes time. Yet, I regret nothing of my spent time as I have much love for this game.

I say this because, sometimes games ask too much of me outside of the visual experience. I am often weary of drawn out tutorials, unnecessary lengthy text, constant need to upgrade and customize. I sometimes crave simple, more so in my cheaper games of recent times. In Planet of the Eyes, I need only survive and move on to unravel some mystery. I am a lone walking robot of simple design, following the path of a mysterious (human?) survivor leaving clues to his possible fate. Combined with the linear gameplay, the story feels like a short science fiction novelette. Except here, the protagonist can die horribly on any page, and that would be the end.

2015-09-27_00002

Along the way, you will see gorgeous and surreal visuals. The vibrant colors, digital gradients give life to the surrounding, where I feel somewhat privileged to explore and possibly die. Nearly every panel feels suitable for framing. And within and throughout, there are fantastic creatures of many shapes and sizes exhibiting deadly behavior when disturbed. Also, are remnants of a lost civilization, and surreal architecture. Much of the game is continuous walking between challenges, which are wonderful sequences as one could gaze and admire the situation.

The music is beautiful, with some original ambient electronic tunes. The soundtrack mixes well with stylish sound effects and the voice acting of the journal logs picked up. I highly recommend some good headphones for Planet of the Eyes, to fully immerse yourself in the gameplay and its awesome soundtrack.

2015-09-27_00001

Overall, this is a fantastic game for being more of a great work of interactive art and story. It’s still a game worth playing, but lacking in challenge for hardcore platform gamers. Yet, it is fitting for casual players and a new generation of gamers. Also, it is low cost and complete with no in-game purchases. With all that, there is enough reason to enjoy Planet of the Eyes.

– Orion T

Game Playing Review: The Executive

The Executive (iOS version version 1.0.1)

    • Genre: Fighting, Action
    • Release Date: July 2 2015, Price: $4.99
    • Development: Riverman Media LLC
    • Platform: iOS (Apple mobile)
    • Official Site: www.rivermanmedia.com

Synopsis:

“Flame kick werewolves, perform thrilling acrobatic stunts, and run a trillion dollar mining company in Riverman Media’s combat-action masterpiece!”.

Personal Thoughts (based on the current iOS version, and a week of gameplay):

The Executive kicks ass!

That, for multiple reasons if you enjoy a good quick fight here and there, with a look and feel all to its own. A uniqueness in style, look, and story elements. Yet, simple in all three. It’s also something you can play on the go.

There is a challenge that can go well beyond what one would pay for a game less than $5.00. By that, I mean entertaining for the long run. The gameplay is simple..punch and kick with the occasional super power-ups and timing. In between fights, run and do some crazy “stunts.” Rewards involve a fake monetary cash system, of which you can upgrade your skills and hire “employees” to mine for more fake cash. The enemies become tougher, quicker, and trickier as you progress. The Executive must adapt and become better though 120+ levels to win. Yes, plenty for the price.

Photo Aug 23, 10 02 26 PM

The control scheme is simple, as there is only one-finger swiping involved. In fighting challenges, you tap where to hit..high or low, or use different kind of swipes for different moves and abilities. The rest of the pushing involves icons, menus, and timed arrows for the “stunts.” Easy to do on a small phone, and fantastic for the iPad (I played on my iPad mini).

The story itself is a bit strange. From what I gather, you are the Executive..in which you help run a silver mining company. Suddenly, enemies appear as werewolves and other werecreatures (probably looking to sabotage this silver business). The fight is on for the Executive to battle these werebeasts with his awesome abilities and skill.

Part of the story is the sweet art and visual design. The art is all within a sharply animated side-scroller rail. The character designs are of various beasts with fluid movements and attacks. The looks on each is impressive up close, the result of hand drawn creations..not 3-D modeling or pixel art. The background is cartoonish, yet fitting; perfect for this absurd premise.

The music is also great, with multiple tracks fitting for different backdrops and situations. It’s well composed and not overly repetitive (unlike many other games of this price). Evidence of this and the art shows hard work happened to make the game entertaining and fulfilling.

Photo Aug 23, 10 00 40 PM

(above: my current status)

Overall, the game is for the causal player wanting a better challenge than fruit slicing and bird flinging. There is a call to classic nostalgia with the side-scrolling fighting styles and tapping, but not as complex as your Street Fighters out there. And, the originality does eventually fall flat as progression in gameplay reveals new enemies, which are often re-skins and updates of the older enemies. The challenge also falls a bit with successful mining, where with the right choices leads to easy payments for upgrades before needed. Eventually, the upgrading can tire out and you feel kept up with whatever challengers are close ahead. I feel in time, I will master this game.

Still, The Executice is fun and worthwhile for its price. But, there is an end I foresee; probably with the last level difficulty, and the beating of the last monster listed in the “Bestiary.” But that’s okay, as I do not expect the world in a game for $4.99 or less. But the Riverman Media developers have done well with this adventure, and I will keep a close eye on any future developments from the same.

– Orion T

SW Games Rec: The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable (2013 remake version)

    • Genre: Interactive fiction, 1st person
    • Release Date: October 17, 2013 (remake by Galactic Cafe)
    • Development: Davey Wreden, Galactic Cafe
    • Platform: Windows PC, MAC OS, Steam
    • Official Site: www.thestanleyparable.com 
    • Notes:  The original release date was July 27, 2011 by original creator Davey Wreden , an earlier version of the game with some changes in visuals and gameplay.

Synopsis:

“The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. You will play as Stanley, and you will not play as Stanley. You will follow a story, you will not follow a story. You will have a choice, you will have no choice. The game will end, the game will never end.”.

Personal Recommendation (based on Steam Version on Windows):

2015-08-16_00002

This is a story….

The Stanley Parable is a game of narratives, not so much the challenge of gameplay. The demands are little, other than seeing a story to its end. However, finding the right path that suits you (or Stanley, or the narrator, or an audience perhaps) is really where the fun sets in.

The brilliant starts begins with the mundane, familiar setting.  We have something familiar to the working white-collar 1st world worker; living death for some, a satisfying simple life to others. Suddenly, people are gone and that puzzle which begins the mystery. The first idea is to unlock the mystery, and find the bigger picture of it all. A voice guides you to its logical or illogical conclusion. The choice along the way varies..

For full enjoyment, play The Stanley Parable for repetitive times till the game feels like that classic Groundhog Day movie. Because you as the player, deal with decisions led by your narrator on suggested processes. To go through with them, you must choose and challenge your surroundings. Often, that will mean whether or not to listen to the narrator. I suggest rebellion.

So that is the joy of The Stanley Parable, which leads into the aesthetic look and feel of the game. There is emptiness, perhaps an unease on the loneliness of it all. The narrator provides a little company, with wit at times. An almost bonding happens, which for the sake of the stories saves Stanley from suffering of an existential nightmare. Some endings there is a sense of company..which may not be better. For the best ending, Stanley should be truly happy and free..which can be questioned by the player.

2015-08-05_00001

The layout is genius, where at first may seem to have little purpose but to provide environment. There is some wicked humor and jabs at the everyday mundane life of the cubicle worker. Prepare for the sound of constant locked doors and beeps that do nothing, should you decide to freely explore the game looking for..something else.

The controls are fairly simple. You have full mobility with no forced direction. You can touch things and duck (which for some reason, I have yet to find a reason to).

To my knowledge there are eighteen endings to this game, as I have yet only found six. To progress and find them all, is perhaps the true ending for me to complete the game 100%. This becomes an experiment in thinking. The game gets into my head, and I must get into the head of the developers. Resist conformity, linear traps, and good endings to dig deeper into the weirdness of the game. There is a fantastic joy in repetitive exploration, to look for those missing variables, and unlock something new and perhaps grand.

2015-08-08_00002

The art is also playful, ranging from almost minimalist to complex and complicated. The numbers on the door, the wall art, the colors of things and surfaces…everything has a narrative purpose. Also playful is your scale and dimensions, where the game can start small in your cubic prison to the opposite in dimensions. The question becomes on just how big a picture did you get, and who must you go against to get that.

The Stanley Parable is clever and wonderful. Stanley would play it, and so should you.

– Orion T

New Game Trailer – Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9 – Beat Them at Their Own Game | PS4, PS3, PS Vita

  • Release Date: September 15, 2015
  • Publishers: Deep Silver, Development:  Comcept USA, Inti Creates
  • Platform: PS4, PS3, PS Vita, 3DS, XB1
  • Official Site: www.mightyno9.com

Synopsis:

“Classic Japanese side-scrolling action, evolved and transformed by Keiji Inafune, an all-star team of veteran Mega Man devs…and YOU!.”

Original Kickstarter campaign, as it was successfully crowd-funded.  Mighty No. 9 is the spiritual successor to the original Mega Man X side-scrolling game classics, and the creation of Keiji Inafune.  Inafune, is best known for his work as the original co-character designer of the Blue Bomber, and designed many other characters throughout the Mega man and Mega Man X series, while as producer to many throughout the series. Mighty No. 9 is his personal project from his own company, Comcept.

Personal Thoughts:

I am a huge die-hard fan of the Mega Man X and Mega Man: Zero spinoff games, as I have played many times over the years. Now, those games feel further distant as classics from a past age. Since then, I felt the side-scrollers of our modern era have slowed down. Yes, there have been good games..but nothing comes to mind matching that action packed intensity, dynamic control, and the music/visual feel of the magnificent Mega-Man X series.

I couldn’t put my finger on why we have not, until I saw the first looks of the Mighty No. 9 game via the Kickstarter, last year.  I see the heart and soul back from the Mega Man games, via the return of Keiji Inafune, who put his imagination and vision from that, into this. I see it all, plain as a summer’s day…but with awesome robot-on-robot action all around.

Screenshot 2015-06-03 23.24.02

It;s all back, with the dashing, high jumps and pew-pewing. The crazy power-ups and special upgrades, I see. The crazy enemy bosses, with some unique angle of sophistication in their design and environments. And those designs, still that classic inventive touch by Inafune. I see again, that combination of vibrant colors, sharp edges; brought together with childlike wonder and imagination.  The hyperquick smooth control of the character calls me back, with the true extent of what platforms must bring (not just the nostalgia), and beyond. To me, this thrill of good side-scrolling action is like going through a comic-book, but sped-up with uncountable pages. Panels, screens..same difference..right?

Overall, Mighty No 9 is a brave new world in wait for its new fandom, without the convoluted burdens of the old history of Mega man. I can’t wait to press start, and see how many years will the whole gameplay experience take me. This is Inafune’s own child now, to own to raise and grow. Best of all, it’s with the fans, of the old and new; who together helped make it all possible.

– Orion T

Screenshot 2015-06-03 23.24.08

Castlevania SOTN Producer, Koji Igarashi Bloodstained game Kickstarts high

Koji Igarashi, is ready to produce a brand new game, perhaps called by humans who wish to pay him tribute.

Or, help him succeed in his Kickstarter project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Nighta spiritual successor to his long-standing work producing games for the Konami’s Castlevania game franchise; mostly for the Playstation and Nintendo DS. His most notable work remains Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, an essential game for every side-scrolling aficionado to experience.

So now, Koji brings his gothic-horror side scrolling animated style fun back, under his own wing as an indie label under development by Inti Creates. The game promises to bring back those awesome RPG, exploratory, action-filled elements that enriched his games produced for Castlevania. The game will have Michro Yamane as composer, whose work includes Castlevania SOTN, and many other games. Ippo Yamada is also on board as a sound producer for Bloodstained, whose past work also includes ,many Mega Man games. For the English voice acting, David Hayter is stated to be on board (thanks to stretch goals), best known for this work as Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid game franchise.

Bloodstained ROTN now has fantastic success thanks to eager fans and their collective deep pockets via Kickstarter; now reached over $28,000,000 of its original $500,000 goals. With half a month to go, I predict Bloodstained will reach above 40 mil. Many stretch goals were met adding new features promised to the game, including cross-platform development for the PC, Wii, Ps4, XB1, 2-player Co-op, and the “Biggest Castle” of which I think means a bigger exploratory area than previous Castlevania games produced by Koji Igarashi. Also added, are Boss Rush, Speed-Run, Classic, Nightmare game modes.

There is more to this project, with many exclusive rewards for contributors. For more details, click here.

Personal Thoughts:

I love Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as one of my top favorite games of all time. I played and enjoyed some of the later DS games to a lesser extent, but always drawn to them for their similarity to SOTN. Everything about them, especially SOTN, have a complete experience in gameplay, music, visuals, and fun with a sense of gothic-style spookiness that to each full completion.  I could sense his work, with the excellent style of the games he produced, but never quite familiar with his name. I see in the video, a man with a sense of humor and fun; looking to expand beyond the Konami realms. With Bloodstained and the success of his Kickstarter project, I think his prime time will be soon; to make the best name for himself as this première purveyor of “Igavania” games.

Until then, “enough talk, have at you!!”

– Orion T

Game Trailer – Evoland 2

Evoland 2 Official Trailer

  • Release Date: Summer 2015
  • Publishers: Shiro Games
  • Platform: Windows, probable others in the future.
  • Official Site: www.evoland2.com
  • Notes: Sequel to the first Evoland game. It is schedule to be released for the summer of 2015, hoever can be preordered now from the Evoland 2 official site.

Synopsis:

“Evoland 2 is the spiritual successor to the original Evoland with its graphics style changing as you travel through time and it’s gameplay evolving as you move along the storyline. It is also a much bigger game and a classic RPG at heart, with a complex scenario based on time travel, dozens of characters with their own backgrounds and ambitions and vastly different gameplay styles that are linked to the story and the player’s actions. Full of humor and references to classic games, the aptly named Evoland 2, A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder will bring a truly epic and extraordinary adventure, unlike anything you’ve ever played before!.”

– Official site, http://www.evoland2.com

Personal Thoughts:

I enjoyed the hell out of the original Evoland, though it was short and easy for this experienced player.

The original was more than the quirky premise of the many past console RPG games since the mid 1980s. The gameplay contained much on reverential humor, poking fun at tropes and overused plot devices. Players like myself got the frequent snark, especially at some cumbersome elements (yes, village music is terrible), as it just went ahead and reused them anyway (argh, not another random encounter!). The main characters (Kaeris, Clink) were often parodies or tributes (pick one), of one or more beloved gaming icons.  The gameplay was solid and good, accompanied by a good soundtrack.

However, all was short and very limited. The land, very small and the changing elements of the game from classic to modern was too few, for being such an original concept that added to this game’s uniqueness. The ending felt rushed, and unfulfilling. All that was left, were hidden dungeons and some mundane side questing. This was acceptable for the price I paid, but I wanted more.

And now, we get more in Evoland 2. The trailer reveals much, and more into the history of gaming. I can tell the original creator (or creators), put a lot more into this. I see fighting games, shooting games, puzzle games..all no doubt are accounted for in the similar humor-filled homage-filled tone of the first. I also see a bit more of what the changing style of the original, hopefully not following a chronological order and adding to the story itself. The game is also likely bigger than the first, as all sequels should. I can also hope for some ridiculously overly expansive and contrived story development, that will expand upon the overly simple script of the first. Also, I have no doubt the gameplay and soundtrack will be just good, perhaps better than the first.  The new challenge elements look good, especially the side-scroller play. I look forward to all this nostalgia, with hopefully more meta humor added in.

Yes to Evoland 2.  I look forward!

– Orion T

Game Review: Out There : Ω Edition

Out There : Ω Edition

  • Genre: strategy point/click RPG
  • Creators: Mi-Clos Studio
  • Platform: Steam
  • Price: $9.95
  • Official site: outtheregame.com
  • Notes: Expanded edition of the regular game, still available on IOS, Android systems.

Synopsis:

Out There is a strategy game based on point and click decisions, set in a space-travel survival scenario. As the player, you are an astronaut set astray after cryogenic sleep gone wrong. Now you must survive and find your way back home, with very limited means. You eventually mine resources, communicate with alien cultures, balance your necessities, upgrade (and eventually change) your ship, and make decisions that may reward to end your life. Eventually, the story will change. There is more at stake than your own survival as you find yourself taking part in a larger cosmic game.

The game was previously released as an app for iOS and Android mobile devices. This Out There : Ω Edition game is an expanded edition for the Steam console. The Ω Edition has new alien breeds, new spaceships, expanded stories and text, new ending, and more difficult decisions. The game also has a new animated opening, and extended musical score by Siddhartha Barnhoorn (Antichamber, The Stanley Parable). There is also much added environment and planet details, more colorful and deeper detailed map chart, and more visual details added; using a new graphic engine

Personal Thoughts:

Out There is not the game for those seeking satisfaction through engagement of a world made convenient and easy. There is no easy mode option, nor is there any forgiveness should their character of control die within 20 minutes of gameplay. There are no second chances or extra lives. If your story ends, you can not go back. You simply start over, and learn from experience; which does not guarantee any longer or extended experience. You may start with something, and end with nothing. This is not a game for anyone who believes the universe is fair and made for them.

Out There is a game base on 20% luck, and 80% of working to figure out how to manipulate your chances of luck, for good fortune or recovery from a bad turn. This is a game of survival, and discovery. The reward is living an extra day, turning one more page of your own cosmic drama. This game is for anyone, who enjoys more reality put into their pretend situation of misplacement on its grandest scale. To be often be dealt a bad hand, and still win. And perhaps, even alter the ending to an unforeseen destiny.

For me, I am a big fan of the earlier iOS version, which I played to its fullest. I have a little advantage in what to expect, and the many ways I can die; thus can make decisions on how to avoid some of that. Still, the game is hard and challenging.

This game is also compared too much to FTL, a space ship game with similar visuals. There is little besides the visuals and placement of ship components, that deserves such a comparison. Out There feels closer to Oregon Trail, in the ideas of surrealism and dealing with misfortunes. The reward is building upon your story, and seeing it through.

The constant narrative is wonderful in its initial simplicity. You identify with the character, as someone who does not ask to be alone, but works to make the best of it. Being observant, and seeing the bad situation as a sort of challenge. Your destinations have beauty, and there is cheer in finding the right elements at the right time. To reach a “garden planet” before losing your last moment of oxygen, or to find a an abandoned ship when all else seems hopeless; if your adrenaline rush that while the universe if unfair, there is something “out there” on your side.

2015-04-25_00004

That’s where the constant modification, installing and upgrading of your ship to foresee and unlock rewards and avoid danger. Much like in the picture above, where the “Inframeter” allows me to see what a solar system may have for me, before spending my valuable resources on travel. To get these valuable resources, is also a game of hope and good educated guesses. And your sizes of ships vary; often with very limited space to what’s available for equipment and extra element resources. You must choose wisely on what to use and drop.

The Ω Edition adds more complication to the new ship acquisition. Some new ships of promise need repair, as you hopefully have the right elements ready, or figure out some quick access to. I also came across one of the new ships for this edition, filled with dead humans as an actual resource. I could was a bit puzzled on what to do with these bundles of dead humans, and felt it wasn’t morally right to simply drop them into space. This is the odd emotionally involvement that Out There has brought me to.

Compared to the iOS version earlier played, I felt surprised to that one very vital flaw which can still be exploited. That would be a cheat, where one could simply “quit” during a visit to a solar system as an unfortunate mishap that does not end in death. Then go back to the title screen, and “continue.” There is a slight rewind, and you may continue. The cheat seems petty, but I cant help but to repeat this as I feel I should do whatever it takes to survive; even if that means using my Captain Kirk style solution to this Kobayashi Maru of a game.

2015-04-25_00005

Not all challenges depend on luck, or altering that luck. Some challenges are conquered by simply thinking and studying your mistakes. For example, the alien encounters; where mistranslated reactions can lose some great rewards. Look carefully at the words of aliens when you encounter life. Sometimes a few giveaways at some names that reveal friendship, or testing your allegiances to malevolent cosmic forces. In most cases, you need to just know a few words in English, through previous encounters.

The “Omega” element is everything, especially after your survival extends to a point with in the game where suddenly hostile alien forces greatly limit your chance for finding resources. You come across the important Omega element in mastering your encounters with alien life, and in rare story interruptions during space travel. You also find the ability to change life should you gain the technology to develop the”Life Seed” or “Death Seed” ship enhancements. New narratives open, and more mysteries of this game reveal themselves. You may find yourself more involved in the game as your death may come before a satisfactory conclusion, resulting in increased agony.

2015-04-25_00006

For this edition, the added visuals and extended musical track is a fantastic touch. The changes in both as the gameplay extends, adding freshness. Some even adds a lot more attentive detail than expected, enough to almost bring a cinematic element to the game. The added font, text narratives, effects bring Out There closer to reading a comic book, than reading a novel or watching a movie. As a game, this works perfect.

However, this edition should have some updates, or more features.  A day counter could be instantly available at the push of a button. An automatic story log would be awesome, with perhaps even a save feature to archive your greatest adventures; perhaps even publish them to Facebook and social media happenings. I would also more story art to the narratives, as the visual designs (aliens, ships, environments), are fantastic. I love to see more of the artist’s take on some of these chance encounters, like this one..

2015-04-25_00007

Overall, Out There : Ω Edition is a fantastic adventure for hardcore RPG fanatics, and casual gamers wanting more story. It’s also great science fiction storytelling, intelligent written and engaging. This edition brings the much needed depth the mobile versions missed, and a worthwhile use of your money and time.

– Orion T

Game Review: Star Realms (Gambit Expansion, digital version)

Photo Mar 09, 12 59 26 PM

Star Realms

  • Genre: Deck building card game
  • Creators: White Wizard Games, LLC
  • Platform: IOS, Android, PC, Mac
  • Price: Gambit Expansion  – $3.99,  Full Base game – $4.99, Limited version – Free
  • Official site: starrealms.com
  • Notes: Review of the IOS version, played on my iPAd air. Latest update is 2.17 which fixed some bad bugs from the Gambit update (2.12).

Synopsis:

From Starrealms.com:

“Star Realms Gambit Expansion incorporates both the Gambit set and the Year One organized play promo cards from the physical card game. Just $3.99 once unlocks for all four platforms. The game changes in powerful ways with a new type of card — the Gambit. There are nine of them, and each player is given two of them at random to begin the game. When do you use your Gambits? When do you make your move? The war continues, and now the stakes are even higher!”

Gambit Expansion details:

“The new digital Gambit Expansion includes all the Gambit and promotional cards from our Kickstarter physical card set:

  • Nine new Gambit cards that give players special abilities
  • Fifteen new ship and base cards added to the trade deck
  • Two new campaign chapters with a total of 13 new campaign missions
  • Top 1,000 Rankings, lifetime, monthly and weekly leaderboards”

Personal Thoughts:

(after playing the iOS base version since its release, and the Gambit expansion for a few days)

This is a great game made better.

Star Realms, to me at least, so far..the best deck-building game on the digital formats. Now about time, with the Gambit expansion (worth the value), makes game more addictive and challenging.  So, here is why:

The new dimension to the game, are the Gambit cards that are randomly played for you at the beginning of a game (two at a time). There is often some advantage to each game, though not hugely significant as they do not decide the winner. Most Gambits often either quicken the game (usually though quick sacrifice ability for extra draws, damage, resources. Or, something taken away from the enemy), or stay held on for turning the tide later. It feels, the pick of Gambits are not blind luck to what one could hope for; they give some extra thinking for dealing with bad odds, or delivering a bigger blow to the enemy (always fun to go for the highest damage possible).

Photo Mar 10, 8 43 01 PM

The new cards for the stack are different, but not too off the wall for game balance. The regular cards are still often needed for the best devastating combos. Most notable are the new location cards, which give some sweet rewards for adding location. This makes locations more vital to the game, after thinning out Scouts and Vipers. These and rest of the cards, add unpredictability. Also, the AI seems upgraded through the update; as I now lose more in the ‘Hard” mode AI battles involving Gambit cards.

Photo Mar 09, 1 05 28 PM

The campaign mode is meh. Even so, good to get through them for some new bonus Gambit cards for the deck. The storytelling is a bit wordy and bland, and the voice-over is unnecessary. That’s okay, as campaign modes are not essential to a great card game. Playing the game is world-building enough. It would be nice to perhaps save the voice-over talent used in Campaign mode for surprise random sound-bites during the game itself, instead.

The new artwork for the cards are consistent, adding to the Star Realms atmosphere. I however wish there was some variance in the musical score. I love the epic soundtrack, but it does get stale after some time. I think I am getting used to the warping sound effect throughout the game. Still, room for improvement.

Overall, great expansion that adds excitement for the game. Also, a worthy in-app purchase for those who already enjoy the game (rather than having IAP beyond the full game present to enjoy the game, like so many other mobile games out there). Here, is hoping for an eventual Crisis (now out for the physical game), and many more expansions after.

– Orion T