MARS: PDP Brings Lightgun Arcade Fun Back For PS4 And Xbox One Players

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Talk about a vacation from hell…

I’m smiling too much while playing a detective on holiday (and on a few replays, a cheery British gal pyromaniac) aboard a huge cruise liner that’s suddenly become filled with zombies. A few comically big-headed biters go down with ease, M-rated blood splashing and splattering when they’re hit, but I’m soon jumping out of my skin when I spend too long on a large pack of undead that suddenly appear to my left (oops), and I get waylaid by some swarming in from the right (double oops, and GAME OVER). Ah well. A few shots to the menu later, I’m trying again and yes, having a blast. Yeah, some pleasure cruise vacation this is turning out to be, huh?

The game is called:

voyage-of-the-dead_logo_600pxIt’s an Unreal engine-based rail shooter downloadable PS4 or Xbox One title from developer Gaming Corps Studios, one of three games currently available for PDP’s new MARS LIGHTCON (lightgun) peripheral and IR STATION camera setup ($99.99, game included).  The wireless LIGHTCON is sturdily built and came with 2 AA batteries installed that gave it a nice heft, but it’s light enough to be comfortable for long play sessions. It’s not cheap feeling at all, mind you, but something that’s very well-made and made to work precisely for the games that come out for it. I did replace the alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones because that’s how I roll these days.

Oddly, you need to have a wired or wireless controller handy to initialize or pause the games and definitely a wireless one if you happen to have an external hard drive plugged into a USB like I do. The IR STATION requires one port, your main controller another if it’s not wireless. PDP also sent over a nice controller charger set (I’ll review that in a separate article), but the PS4 has always suffered from a lack of USB ports. Personally, I think the console should have shipped with an extra side port and/or one on the rear because of peripherals like this and the fact that heavy users like myself need a larger storage.

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The Orangesicle color scheme is familiar, but the tech is modern.

Back to the game, it’s quite fun overall and offers up enough zombie types to keep things interesting (aliens, voodoo, and magic using undead pop in as the missions go on). The PS4 version generally runs smoothly, but there are a few areas with hiccups in the frame rate, and some scene transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be. That said, it’s got a certain charm and makes a good first impression.

The game also packs in eight characters to play as (some unlocked via mini-games), a single-player mode, a versus mode, six mini-games for up to four players (I’m especially fond of the quirky pinball , UFO, and “golf” games here). Overall, it’s worth a look if you like all things zombie-related. While it’s not rated for kids, given that there are a great deal of wee ones that find zombies awesome and kind of hilarious, if you’ve got them (kids, not zombies!) and you’re OK with the gory stuff, they might find this pretty cool.

While the campy voice acting gets repetitive, the audio design and soundtrack are quite excellent overall. You can expect about 2 hours or so in Story mode (well, experts will probably blow through in less time and nope, I’m no expert). unlocking everything in every mode depends on a player’s dedication to seeing it all as soon as possible or on their own time. While you need to restart the game each time (like most arcade games, there’s no save system in place), the game does track all your stats so you can see that progression if you’re curious.

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Ematic Switch Controllers: Solid Alternatives For Budget-Minded Gamers

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Surprise, surprise – these two budget controllers are pretty awesome.

 

Generally, when it comes to peripherals, I’m mostly a first-party OEM guy, particularly when it comes to controllers. That said, once in a while I’ll stumble across a third-party item that not only does what it needs to do well, it does it well enough to recommend without hesitation. I’d initially planned a review of the otherwise decent officially licensed Horipad Wired Controller ($19.99) and was just about done writing when I got an email from an Ematic PR rep asking if I was interested in taking their Wired N-Switch ($19.99) and Wireless N-Switch ($27.99) Switch controllers for a test drive. Of course, I said I’d love to and shortly afterwards, both arrived and were indeed, taken for a few spins and assorted tests over the past two weeks.

switch horipadI’ll say first and foremost, that licensed Switch Horipad is an excellent official controller that’s lightweight, simple to set up out of the box and a really well-manufactured unit that works fine with every game I tested it with* with no real weaknesses outside the lack of vibration, NFC, and motion control functions that give certain Switch games that extra kick. Yes, that low price point means you get not a hint of feedback which is disappointing unless you really don’t care and just want a solid, inexpensive and very reliable controller for yourself or the kids.

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For some reason, the Horipad looks as if it’s got a slight frown, while Ematic’s has a “Hey, check me out – I’m cool!” smile thing working for it.

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Tech Review: PDP Afterglow Prismatic Wireless Gaming Headset

PDP Afterglow Prismatic Black Box The fine folks at Performance Designed Products (or PDP for short) have taken their Afterglow Wireless Headset, significantly improved its looks and fit, added in a few features and overall, have made a superior product in the Afterglow Prismatic Wireless Gaming Headset.

Featuring a sturdy redesign and the ability to connect (via an included cable) to any device with a standard headphone jack (as well as any TV or video game console with the proper audio out) plus a wireless dongle that allows it to be used for PC, PS3/PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, the Prismatic is a great and very affordable ($99.99) first model, replacement for that standard company headset or any model headphones that aren’t quite as flexible as what PDP has crafted… Continue reading

Weekend Update (Kinda Sorta)…

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For some reason (or all the updates this week), it took THREE days to download one game from Steam and I still have to get another one. Boo. Anyway, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II will get some playtime, but the new chapter of The Wolf Among Us will have to wait for a bit. In the interim, I did read a Fables collection a friend lent me to help supplement Bigby’s episodic adventures in The Wolf Among Us, so I’m glad I got that done finally. I also have an APP review to write, but not for an app, exactly. That’s the name of a pretty cool horror flick that uses a downloadable app to inform you of a few things as you watch the movie and guess what? It’s actually quite good and nowhere near as annoying as I thought it would be. So that’s also going to get done up in a review. Yeah, yeah… E3 is right around the corner and yeah, yeah, I’ll cover what I see and like as the show progresses. I also have some peripherals on the way from PDP, but I missed the Fed Ex truck by about ten minutes on Friday, so I’ll need to haunt my doorway come Monday like a vulture waiting for a not so fresh meal.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I can’t believe I did over 150 posts this month (which went by too quickly), but I think I’ll have more as June rolls out thanks to so many games being announced and my poor brain doing back flips over stuff that grabs my attention. I’m not quite sold on everything “next gen” consoles have to offer, as much of what I’m seeing on the indie front can be done on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and a lot of the newer games are disappointing like most launch and launch window titles tend to be. At this point, it’ll be best to scoop those up when they’re marked down considerably, as I’m not exactly rolling in disposable income these days (as aren’t a lot of gamers in this current economy). Er, I think that’s it for the month… see you in June (or tomorrow, for at least a post or three)…

Surprise! Nintendo Gets The Jump On Super Smash Bros. Wii U Fans With A Game Cube Controller Adapter

GC_WiiU _AdapterWell, this is quite cool. Earlier today, Nintendo dropped a little video about the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament they’re holding at (or near) E3 this year and at the end of that video, BOOM! you’ll see that there’s a Game Cube Adapter coming for the Wii U, price and release date TBA.

Of course, Nintendo went and posted a picture of this soon to be hot seller on its Twitter feed… and pretty much anyone who still has a Game Cube lying around in a closet somewhere (or hey, still under their TV!) probably fainted dead away, woke up to pinch themselves HARD and promptly fainted dead away again. I think it was that sexy music playing when the Adapter was shown, but that’s probably just me…

Yeah, I want one of those AND more Game Cube games coming to the Wii U on the eShop… which according to rumor, MAY just happen. I’d gather this rumor is true as making that adapter for ONE game is just insane and I know a LOT of people want to buy and play some of those classics from the GC era and have at it for old time’s sake. I’m in that crowd although I still have a Game Cube here and a big stack of games to play on it. That said, I’ll snap this thing up in a heartbeat…

Some Silly Stuff I Have Discovered This Week…

Mr. Bagel 2

1. Yeah, it’s a fuzzy picture of a cinnamon raisin mini bagel with two raisins that look like eyes and a big grin. Amusing and kind of creepy if you can imagine it suddenly talking or singing or something. This made me laugh because it wasn’t the ONLY one in that bag of bagels either. I think I saw three more, meaning someone at the factory was having a clever day and wanted to share, there’s a bagel-making robot that’s creating not so sentient life in an effort to try and start some sort of revolution, or there’s REALLY something funky going into those bagels that turns them ALIVE before they’re bagged. Well,I never did find out if the darn thing could speak, as I ate it before it could do anything funny.

Rez Plus2. Yep, that’s a copy of Rez for the Japanese PlayStation 2 and yep, that’s the infamous Trance Vibrator peripheral next to it. While I’ve played the game numerous times to completion, I’d actually never used that Trance Vibrator until earlier today when I decided to crack open the box and plug it into my Japanese PS2 to see what all the fuss was about. In a word. Oh. In another word. My. Yeah, I can see why it was marketed as and written up as just what some of you think it is. Shocking! Well, not in the least, because we could all use some good vibrations every now and then, right? Throbbing! Yeah, that’s more like it.

3. Uhhhh.I forgot what number 3 was and I blame number 2 for that. Back in a bit…

Tommo Mobile’s Sega Hardware Series: Retro (But Modern) Gear For Your iPhone and More…

Tommo_logoOf course, I got a mighty (but appreciative and respectful) chuckle at Tommo’s really cool new iPhone accessories because as far as I know, there not a legal Sega Genesis emulator on the device (but Sega does have a bunch of games you can play if you’re an owner of Apple’s big deal popular everyphone). The iPhone 5/5S cases below cost $24.99 each and come in Genesis Controller, Genesis System, Game Gear and Saturn variants, all with a free themed screen protector. And yes, there are also clear cases for all the aforementioned consoles as well as a clear Sega Dreamcast case for those of you thinking that system would get passed over (nope- Tommo is on it, folks!)

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As for those two Power Partner chargers below, as I don’t own an iPhone, but DO own many other devices that can use a charge from something worth showing off, yeah – I want one (or both!) of these babies. Just LOOK at them:

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Yeah, I figured you diehard Sega fans would be licking your monitors and reaching for that wallet again. Anyway, each one is $69.99, comes with a free silicon case, has 2 USB type A outputs, up to 9000 mAh power, a Li-Polymer Lithium battery and PTC Smart Protection Chip to prevent overcharging. Nope, it won’t make you better at any games you’ll be playing on whatever you’re charging, but again, it sure looks really cool!

1250 And how about that Genesis-themed Bluetooth speaker ($89.99)? It also looks incredible and made me laugh out loud because I imagine that kind of booming stereo sound would have made the Genesis or Mega Drive even more awesome with assorted game tunes and sounds warbling out of that Z80 chip from speakers that were better than those on TV’s of the era. Of course, given that it’s 2013, you can expect Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility and headphone jack support, NFC and aptX support, multi-pairing, A2DP Stereo Audio Streaming, AAC Audio Format as well as a built-in rechargeable battery. if this were 1989 or ’90, all that stuff would mean a set of speakers the size of a TV and the cost of a car engine most likely. So aren’t YOU lucky to live in the future?

SG_Speaker_V2_033DHmmm… that said… it would have been absolutely hilarious to have an AV output so those of us who still own a Genny could run a cable into that box and blow out a window or two playing Streets of Rage or Sonic and Knuckles, but I suppose that will be a DIY hack someone will get to eventually. Hmmmm… I wonder who could do that? Oh, right! *Crackle, Pop!* Paging Dr. Heckendorn!

Tech Humor (of Sorts): Rumors of the Demise of PC Have Been Greatly Exaggerated…

DOOM! If you have an eye or ear close to any device that drops tech news into your world, you’ve probably been hearing of the “death of the PC” or its imminent demise from a few business analysts and other cracked crystal ball gazers. As someone who’s not a tablet/phablet user or huge fan and who knows plenty of people who prefer a larger screen experience for assorted work and entertainment, I have to poke a finger in the eyeballs of these analysts paid to say that crap and wag those fingers back and forth until they see the point. We’re NOT all headed into tiny screen world just yet and there are plenty of options for folks who like living larger and want to enhance their setups in a few ways.

Not counting the rabid PC “master race” clowns who deny any other choice for entertainment purposes while also denying their own childhoods (yeah, yeah, yeah, suuuuure you “never played a console game” in your life… maybe if you’re under 20 and was kept in a cage), there are plenty of normal Joes and Janes that like a PC or laptop as everything from a game machine to a prose and art producing monster. If you’re a dedicated device user sitting there squinting at that small to medium sized screen reading this (and about to have your expensive toy knicked by some sneering traveling highwayman), here’s a peek as some of the cool stuff you’re ignoring in favor of that “handy” device. You may want to read quickly on that device, as I hear one is stolen every fourteen seconds… or less in some areas. Eeek. Eeek. Halp, Police.

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CE Week 2013: Grip & Shoot Makes Many Apps a Snap!

Grip_and_ShootIf you own an iPhone, you’ve taken pictures with it and if you’ve taken pictures with it, there are those shots you’ve missed or mucked up because you could have used an extra hand or one less finger sticking into the resulting photo. Or perhaps you’ve handed your phone to a total stranger and asked him or her to snap away, only to watch them fiddling away trying to find the right button (no, not EVERYONE owns an iPhone, folks). Well, if they don’t simply smile,tip their cap and make a run for the hills with your phone, that is (hey, I’m in NYC, so this tends to happen, according to the authorities)…

Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Zajeski feels your pain. He’s the Project Engineer behind the amazing Grip & Shoot, a three-piece system that Apple needs to think about making a standard issue accessory. This genius device turns that iPhone into a MUCH better still and movie camera and also allows for may other apps to be used in a more natural way without fear of dropping that pricey phone. Created for the iPhone 4S or 5 (which fits snugly into a special case which then attaches to the Bluetooth-enabled Smart Grip handle) and simple to set up, this one’s another product that needs to be in the hands of as many iPhone users as possible. You can also detach and use the bottom of the grip handle with a tripod for the ultimate in stability (no more shaky-cam movies!) as well as use any other case as long as it can fit onto the Smart Grip handle.

It’s another one of those great accessories that as soon as you get your hands on it, it not only feels perfect, it makes you wonder why the heck Apple didn’t include something like it with any previous iPhone iteration. Without a case, a plain iPhone can get a bit slippery to hold onto, which is a huge issue many users have with the phone when taking pictures or playing games. Speaking of playing games, Grip & Shoot has an open API that’s developer friendly and yes indeed, if that’s up your alley you’re welcome to sign up and join the party before this thing takes off and becomes huge. While it’s currently not yet available for sale, it will be soon and yes, you should boogie on over to the product site and then here to sign up.

“Oh My!” mimoco’s Mr. Sulu MIMOBOT Has My Phasers Set To Stumped…

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Captain’s Log, Stardate 90994.46

Um… OK, kids… I got nuthin’ today. I was going to to a chuckle-filled double (or tribble)-entendre packed post about this cool new Mr. Sulu MIMIBOT USB Drive (available in 8 to 128GB sizes and chock full of awesome Star Trek content), but I think every possible GOOD joke has been thought up already by George Takei and I’d like to stay on his good side. Hey! you don’t need me to be funny to know that this is a really cool bit (well, a whole lot of gigabits, har har) of Trek collectible that’s useful and ready to save your red-shirted behind from mortal data dangers.

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Yeah, you know you want one, but you need to beam your up NOW as there are only 1000 of these and I bet George has at least one on his shelf already. I know, I know… just don’t get all “That Which Survives” around that MIMOBOT (or George, for that matter). That’s kinda creepy…