Review: Monkey King: Hero Is Back (PS4)

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“Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind…”

Monkey-King-Hero-is-BackTo the point: I really liked the old-school simplicity in Monkey King: Hero is Back ($39.99) because it feels like a bit of late 90’s or early 2000’s era nostalgia and it’s not a game where modernity rears its head with overly complicated “soul-crushing” gameplay and normal (i.e. now crazy tough these days) enemies that take an annoying amount of time and patience to kill. Yes, I found the lack of “git gud” here a and nice oddly refreshing change of pace because you don’t need to break a controller or stress yourself trying to figure things out. You can indeed kick back with this and have at it without cheats or clicking around online for a guide. The game does get a bit funky monkey with a busy boss-packed section, and a bit of repetition and intentional slowness in spots can be pesky if one has a short attention span or dislikes long  exposition. But overall, there’s a feeling of laid-back pure fun here missing from more seriously themed fare.

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What’s big, pink and easy to hit when it gets dizzy from it’s attacks?

More to the point: As a kid’s game (and it IS a kid’s game when all is said and done. Remember those? Or being a kid, for that matter?) or something fun and light to zip through between other, heavier titles, it does a pretty solid job and impresses on that front with it’s pick up and play style and lots of stuff to collect. The sometimes cinematic loading (in areas where camera takes over like when ladders are climbed) throughout will be an issue for some, but it’s not a game killer at all. The fact that it’s a licensed movie game that hearkens back to those days where so many games like it were made that didn’t offer more that a retelling of the film’s plot makes it a game that might not be appreciated even when it’s doing what it does right. For those that haven’t seen the film, the game can be seen a sort of a playable way to do so, if you think about it.

You can get through this in about 5 hours or so (some kids might take a bit longer), but I chuckle at this when I think of an old licensed game like Virgin’s The Terminator, a game that took less time to play that it did to buy for me (I think the bus ride took one hour each way and the game was done in within 45 minutes with a few restarts when it was gotten home!). Anyway, If you want a long, educational read and don’t know the history of the character, feel free to bookmark the pages here and/or here before settling in for the evening with your beverage of choice (well, after reading the rest of this review!).

Continue reading

Portal Knights Goes BIG So You Can Go Home

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…and stay inside playing a lot longer. 505 Games and developer Keen Games have announced a huge new update to their popular family friendly crafting/action/RPG, Portal Knights that includes many requested features such as voice and text chat for online play, remappable controls, and a ton of tweaks and fixes. The new larger islands make the overall game world even more fun to run around in, and my logging in to check out the changes also revealed the game’s visuals have gotten nicely upgraded as well. 

Check out the new trailer and screenshot slideshow below.


 


 

-GW

MOTA: Droning On About My New Favorite Things

MOTA JETJAT Nano 6 JETJAT Nano-C Box Contents JetJat Live-W side shot

As someone new to the drone scene, I’m finding the options somewhat daunting, but have recently narrowed my selection down to what the fine folks at MOTA have to offer. As a near-total novice to the hobby, I’m currently not one for the bigger models that now need to be registered with the FAA. But the three entry-level JETJAT models I saw at Toy Fair really got me wanting to take them all for a spin. Continue reading

Want a LEGO Build to End All LEGO Builds? Here You Go.

Not that you’d have the time or space to actually build an life-size Death Star out of 435 TRILLION (yikes) LEGO bricks (not to mention the only way to get that many bricks in the first place requires a working time machine and a black hole suitcase to hold all those bricks), but the folks at Ebates decided to figure out just how many LEGO it would take to whip up some of sci-fi’s most recognizable items. I’m gathering certified LEGO expert, Matija Puzar has access to those two items noted above, as he’s actually crunched the numbers and came up with those insane figures in the infographic below:

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WHAT?! no Serenity from Firefly? How do you have The freakin’ Heart of Gold, a Borg Cube, AND Spaceball One but not Serenity? Boo. Ah well, maybe next year. I’m actually not all that inclined to the construction business, as I prefer to watch stuff being built or get someone a lot less easily distracted to tackle the heavy lifting. Of course, those planet-sized builds would require a lot of labor and an actual planet to build them on, so perhaps there’s something to all this “we’re going to Mars!” nonsense after all. The moon is a better idea, as it’s closer and you could probably watch the construction from your roof with a good telescope. That and my own storage space is limited here at the home office. As in I only have room left here for stuff like Santoki’s extremely cool and very useful LEGO Stationery lineup, coming to a store near you soon.

PC Review: Portal Knights

Portal_Knights_LogoHDPlatform: PC

PK_cropDeveloper: Keen Games
Publisher: 505 Games
# of Players: 1 – ?
MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Official Site
Score: A- 90%

Even though it’s still in Early Access on Steam, Portal Knights has become something of a phenomenon among its growing user base. According to 505 Games, to date players have:

– Looted more than 232 million items

– Mined more than 103 million blocks

– Killed more than 23 million enemies

– Crafted more than 19 million items

and yes indeed, I’m one of those players having a blast with the title. While it does start out a wee bit slowly, some literal digging around in that first (and later, every) area will have you soon seeing that there’s a great deal under the pretty surface that really goes a long way in making things even more entertaining. While geared towards younger players (note that E10+ rating above), the RPG elements, often challenging combat, crafting and exploration elements have a very wide appeal for novices as well as hardcore gamers looking for the next big deal.


 

Things kick of simply enough with a character creation screen where you choose your gender and select one of three classes (Warrior, Archer, Mage) before warping into the first randomly generated world. There’s a set of basic tutorial pop-ups that cover a few things and Minecraft fans will probably get wise to what to do a wee bit faster than anyone who’s not played that game. That said, there are enough differences from that game (and the side-scrolling Terraria) that set it apart. For one thing, other than the simplistic character faces and baggy starter outfits, the visuals (which run at a zippy 60fps) are much more appealing and lively here. Rich colors and nifty visual effects abound in each area, making exploration always fun when you make it to new worlds. Monster types are nicely varied as well, changing at night to deadlier varieties once you unlock your first portal. Continue reading

March Already? Safari Ltd. Has You Covered (As Usual)

safariltd-lion-290229-1 safariltd-bleating-lamb-233729-0While it’s a hugely unfair real life animal battle, March is supposed to swing in breezy and bold like a lion and prance out like a lamb with the promise of better weather ahead.

Oddly enough, you’d think a cute as all get-out lamb would mean itchy wool sweaters that are still worn by many when March begins SHOULD be how the month begins. However that would mean a reversal to March going out like a lion that pounced on that poor lamb for its din-din (*yikes!*) and a lot of traditionalists getting somewhat upset at that change from formula.

Anyway, you can get that Lion ($6.99) and Bleating Lamb ($2.99) above from the fine folks at Safari Ltd. along with a bunch of other great animal mineral and vegetable figures of assorted size and all high-quality, to boot. Back in a bit with a bit more.

Portal Knights Early Access: Fun As Heck (But Fixable)


 

While I’ve only sunk about an hour in so far to the Early Access Steam build, Portal Knights is so far, pretty darn good. It’s not quite the Minecraft-like game some think (which is a good thing), but a pretty new action/RPG with (so far) smallish worlds and a light crafting element that doesn’t get in the way of players who just want to whack as wee beasties and level their avatar up. Again, I haven’t played enough to write up a decent review or even and solid impressions other than most everything works quite well. My archer seems to have an issue dodging when I hit the correct keys, but she hasn’t died a horrible death by slime or other low-level monster just yet. The game looks and sounds great so far, but it would have been nice to have a few more character customization options out of the gate.

Still, it’s early and bugs will be squashed, feedback will be listened to and when it’s really ready to shine, I’m predicting Portal Knights will be the go-to game for players looking to try something new and hopefully get few friends to give it a go as well. Okay, stopping here for now. I think I hear a level up calling me.

TMNT Half-Shell Heroes in “Prehistoric Plastic”

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Aha. So the Plastic Age came long before the Stone Age. Well, if you always failed those classes that taught otherwise with tons of field and museum trip tested truth, that is. Or if you’re a toy maker who’s smart enough to take advantage of a cool show and whip up more lovely licensed goodies. Anyway, Playmates Toys has its hugely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Half-Shell Heroes division) paired up with their favorite dinosaurs from the Nickelodeon special all boxed up and ready for your favorite Turtles fan. It’s cool that those big dinos are considered “vehicles” because countless giant monster movies aside, you’re not going to see much of that “vehicle” stuff without chuckling a little.

Robo Raptor w Triceraton

You may notice that instead of the usual suspects, there’s that Robo Raptor with Triceraton “replacing” a certain turtle. Well, kids… that’s your first big adventure, then! Go find out what happened and report back ASAP!

With a suggested MSRP of $19.99 each and a “TRY ME” package for each that is worth getting out to an actual retail location if you want to make a trip out it, these latest additions to the growing lineup are going to make those certain someones very happy indeed. So yes, it’s your move and make sure to follow Playmates around the internet through their social channels as you never know what can happen:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TMNTPlay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PlaymatesToys

Instagram: https://instagram.com/tmntplay

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TMNTToys

Website: http://www.playmatestoys.com/

Toy Fair 2016 Pre-Show Thoughts: Juggling Is Harder This Year, I’d Wager

TF2016I have a box of turtles and dinosaurs here plus some other stuff on the way and that makes me giddy. Yep, NY Toy Fair is here and is going to be fun, but I’m also thinking of stuff outside the box that makes me think things aren’t all rosy and pastel framed goggles. The economy is weird at the moment and anecdotally I know people who just aren’t spending as much money as they used to for a few reasons. Some parents with less disposable income are choosing to give smaller, less expensive gifts or will go for one or two pricier gift meant to last a while (usually something tech-like). Others are going for more educational gifts with an eyeball towards their wee ones doing something else with their futures than becoming future sports or music stars (which is a good thing in my book).

Toy companies catering to collectors with primarily or only high dollar items are probably feeling the pinch even more but need to keep pushing out their premium product because competition for certain big licenses is huge and NOT being there with that hot new collectible means losing money to the other guy or gal who got their goods on the floor. Of course, collectors with space and funds only are about getting that new item first and fast, so that market is more than safe as long as their passion (and shelf space) hold out. Of course, superheroes are hot stuff and will be for a while. But between the retro trend that keeps bringing back older collectibles and the newer licensed goods that command attention of young and old collectors alike, something’s going to give eventually… Continue reading

Toydriver: Screwy Idea’s A Time-saver For Your Toolbox

Toydriver
 

Ha. Toy Fair 2016 hasn’t even begun and I’ve already found one of my favorite items that’s not a toy. If you’re a parental unit with active kids (or kids you’d like to be more active), you’ve probably dealt with the dreaded battery change in that favorite toy or electronic something or other where screws needed to be removed. Those old days of lost battery covers has been replaced with trying to find the right screwdriver or finding one but needing an extra bit of force you may not have to get that cover off, dealing with recessed screws and some kid(s) waiting impatiently to get their game or whatever back on. Well, Toydriver is here to the rescue!

And yep, that’s the second best use of a Prince song clip that one an get away with legally I’ve ever heard. Nice. Anyway, I’ll see if I can give one of those Toydrivers a test drive when I scoot by their booth over the weekend. If it’s sturdy enough, I can see it as a great multi-tasker that only needs extra bits for things like game consoles and other devices. Hey, I’m all about making cool stuff like this work even better.