VGA 101: If Monday’s Still Kicking You Around, It Could Be Worse…

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You could be some poor guard in or under Garuda Compound in Valhalla Knights 3. These poor saps never get a break at all, as you can see in these screens. Hell, no matter what day of the week it is, they’re going down hard and fast if your party is properly leveled and you’re in no mood to be trifled with.

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Ouch. But wait, there’s more… Continue reading

More Sage Advice From Valhalla Knights 3? Okay, Sure…

2014-01-22-133054Although I’ve completed Valhalla Knights 3 a little while back, I ended up snapping a bunch of screenshots for no other reason that I can use them for random posts like this. Anyway, guys (and some of you ladies out there), here’s more of Tina laying it down for you. She sounds as if she’s got a good head on her shoulders, right? Then again, I guess you can trust a half-dressed weapon shop clerk only so much…

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Happy Perihelion! Go Out And Get Some Sun Today (It’s A Lot Closer!)…

(Thanks, ClassicMovieTrailers!) 

Okay, so it’s not actually THAT hot out today, but yes, today is that day where the sun and earth are closest, which may not be any comfort at all to those of us who dislike the freezing weather and wish that closer hit star would do some rapid melting of what’s on the ground while super-heating the air around so it’s… well, just like that silly film clip above. Hey, silly – actual science doesn’t work that way and besides, things are already disrupted here enough (hotter, stranger summers and colder, stranger winters have been a thing for a while now). Oh, I know Perihelion isn’t a “day” to be celebrated like a traditional holiday – it’s just a term at the end of the day. So don’t go zipping into that big box party store looking for decorations any time soon.

You can however, get a fine start on next year’s Perihelion by going out and getting a few dozen boxes of glow in the dark stars of assorted sizes and a current map of the solar system and make a heroic attempt to recreate what’s on that map on your walls and ceilings. Er,I hope you live in a REALLY big house and don’t mind guests wondering who decorated your entire place like it was a planetarium gift shop. Or you could just do what everyone else here in the US does and wait until Aphelion (which is around July 4th) and get a free fireworks show as a backdrop for that non-holiday. One of those is a lot less maddening to accomplish (in most cases)…

STL Ocarina Reminds You That Tauriel Is a LOT Cooler Than Zamfir Will EVER Be…

So, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters today and yes indeed, STL Ocarina wants to get you in the mood for the film with a lovely little tune played by an actual elf. Okay, so it’s NOT an elf, actually… but hey, that video and tune make you BELIEVE there are and that’s all that counts, correct? And yes, you can still snap up that 6 Hole Lord of the Rings Ocarina you’ve been eyeballing. Did you know that people who play any type of musical instrument over time tend to be sharper when it comes to picking up on mistakes? Well, there’s a University of St. Andrews study that says it’s all due to learning how to play an instrument and sticking with it. Who says you can’t learn anything new these days? Now go get yourself or someone else a nice playable gift this year!

KontrolFreek Is Back With More On Target Goodies For Console FPS Fans!

KFPhantomThey’re baaaaaaack! The last time I reviewed a few products from KontrolFreek, they ended up disappearing from the home office when some friends popped over, checked them out and decided that I owned them some freebies for making the trek all the way up here or something. Yeah, guess who’s not getting invited back, chumps? Anyway, fortunately, Casi over at KontrolFreek was kind enough to shoot over a set of the new FPS Freek Phantom (MSRP $19.99) and after playing through Call of Duty: Ghosts and a few other FPS and non-FPS games, it’s safe to say that they perform exactly as expected. Which would be pretty darn fantastic.

As noted in my earlier review, the FPS Freek series of analog stick toppers adds height to those sticks and precision to your movements, allowing you to use LESS pressure when moving normally, sprinting or shooting in games, allowing for more accuracy and less funny looking thumbs after extended play sessions. It’s all ergonomics, people – that’s all you need to know and even if you’re the most skeptical buzzard on the block, one try should convince you within seconds that this is the way to go if you’re a big shooter fan. I’d say you club-fisted gamers will NEED to learn to not jam those sticks around because you might occasionally pop one of the Freeks off an Analog stick (they’ll snap right back on). But other than that, this is money well spent if you’re a fan of those high-action shooters and want that extra edge in solo or online play. Anyway, go boogie on over to the KF site, check out what they have to offer and feel free to check out their upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One lineup, as they certainly aren’t going to forget about you next-gen owners one bit. yeah, you KNOW you want that extra edge…

Your Life Lesson for the Day, Courtesy Valhalla Knights 3…

2013-11-10-163038For a game very unfairly labeled “misogynist” and a few other choice negative terms by some skittish reviewers who clearly don’t know the meaning of some of the big words they use, Valhalla Knights 3 sure has a few interesting side-quests and resolutions. Sure, the skimpy outfits and NSFW “Sexytime” mini-game with certain ladies in the game are there to please the more prurient otaku with itchy fingers and the old-school RPG level grinding isn’t for every taste. But dang it if Producer Yoshifumi Hashimoto and his team at K2 didn’t whip in a few oddball surprises that prove they’re not the sexist neanderthals some “journalists” think they are for making this game.

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Yeah, I’m still working on my review. I have a load of notes here and I think it’s going to be longer than I was initially thinking because warts and all, this one’s nowhere near as awful as some are saying. The Valhalla Knights series have never been known for the depth of its plots or stellar storytelling and VK3 continues that trend outside of some fun vignettes such as this one that aren’t tied to the main quest. That said, the main plot in the game does have its moments, but I’ll discuss some of those in my review…

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Granted, I’ll admit right now that the game is NOT for all tastes and I can see some taking offense at a few of the more salacious elements. Of course, it’s a free country, so it seems that a bunch of people who probably shouldn’t be playing this are doing so with varying degrees of disgust or shame because they can’t handle the content. It seems that the completely humorless, kids who convinced their parents or some other adult to buy this for them and are turned off by the lewd elements (hey, it IS a MATURE rated game, you little dummies!), or those expecting a pure porn experience (it’s most assuredly NOT that at all) are getting slapped in the head with confusion on a few fronts (as always when it comes to games that toss even the mildest forms of sexual themes into the mix).

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RETRO Magazine Kickstarter: Old Folks Talkin’ About Games Seems Like A Darn Good Idea…

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And given that I’m ancient enough myself to actually know and have read a lot of work from these old folks, that’s not an insult above and this KS is right up my alley. OK, I’ll be good from this point on, folks. Anyway, RETRO is a big Kickstarter project by some of he best known names from the gaming press’ best years as you’ll see when you check out that link. I know of a few people who could be potential contributors (well, I’m on that list I have in my head as well), but we’ll see if this mag makes its target. It SHOULD, as there’s way too little gaming history and appreciation out there with all the internet whining and moaning about modern gaming’s many issues. RETRO should be a kick in the pants and head the community clearly needs.

VGA 101: Let There Be Light! (Or, John Carmack Explains It All For You)

OK, now THIS is my idea of Sunday school: here’s a VERY technical talk from legendary game maker John Carmack at this year’s QuakeCon that’s going to send your brain into a few handstands and back flips out an ear if you’ve a short attention span or just don’t give a hoot about what it takes to get lighting effects in games and how important this is (well, in more modern and future titles). I’d say this is also required viewing for you kids out there who want to show their parents that a career in making games is a GREAT deal more than sitting on one’s butt all day with a controller in hand. If you’re saying out loud something along the lines of “Huh? Light has physics?”, then yup – you need to get learned, so pay attention.

The again, this just may turn off a short stack of the lazier gamers reading and watching this while making their parents all of a sudden start pushing them like mad to get better in school so they can make those new games (and maybe prop them up with some nice retirement money at some point – hey, it’s only fair with the free food and rent you’re getting, right? RIGHT??! Yeah, I thought so.)…

Noose Flash: Microsoft Caves (Temporarily, I Bet) On Some Xbox One Restrictions…

Read it and weep, or clap or run to the window and make like Peter Finch or whatever… but don’t get TOO happy, I say. Sure, Microsoft is finally listening to some of the rage (justified and unjustified) that’s been washing up over them since the reveal of the Xbox One, but the console is still packing a slew of restrictions that make it unpalatable under certain conditions. For one, a mandatory online connection is STILL required to activate the console (set up an Xbox Live account and probably check in with Kinect), meaning those gamers without broadband access at home or nearby (you know, the ones Microsoft told to buy an Xbox 360 if they wanted to play games offline?) can’t use the thing at all (duh).

That’s the main sticking point for me, but I also dislike the current licensing terms that say the product can (and will) change any time at Microsoft’s discretion. So expect things to roll back in as the system draws in suckers users who don’t mind or don’t know this until it hits them in the face when they turn on their consoles one fine day and get smacked upside the noggin with a mega-update that smarts because it’s the company thinking it’s time to move “forward”… We shall see, but I got a sack of pennies (well, 21 pennies) riding on not all going as smoothly as the company would like. Hell, at LEAST the damn box is region-free now (something the Xbox and Xbox 360 can’t claim outside of a handful of games that run on consoles in almost any territory)…

Xbox One: $499, Always Connected, HUGE Cloud Focus, New Xbox 360 Model in Stores Now…

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Hmmmm… so it’s officially priced (429 Pounds in the UK, 499 Euros in Europe), there’s still NO explanation about the license policies (awful PR there), most of the games look really impressive and if you have no online at home… welp, you need to buy another console. Also, the major focus on Xbox Live GOLD memberships across the board, while not enforced at the press conference, means it’s probably a given that it’s going to be the sole way to go. Well, at least Microsoft Points are now in REAL currency. Finally.

Back in a bit with more…