As you heard in our podcast, we are pretty excited for Star Wars Battlefront. We even took part in playing the beta, and from there here we have the top 10 moments of us playing the Star Wars Battlefront beta!
The Rolling 20's are very excited to announce we have a special guest locked down!
On our May 3, 2015 recording, the voice of Flint on G.I. Joe, the narrator on Kings Quest IV: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, Ambassador Donnel Udina, Mess Seargent Rupert Gardner, and others in the Mass Effect games, and too many others to list, BILL RATNER is coming on the show!
We look forward to asking questions of a man who spent a lifetime stoking our fandom!
They’re as essential a part of the experience as any other element, but they’re not always enjoyable.
All game developers know that nowadays, replay value is an extremely important factor for gamers, especially with gamers becoming more wary of the current trend of DLCs. Games have become veritable investments, and in order to convince a player to invest the time and money to play your game, you need to convince them that they get their money’s worth with an intriguing storyline, smooth gameplay and controls, and of course, lots of things to do on the side.
This is especially true with role-playing games (RPGs), as they often follow a strict story that the player unravels as he explores the world within the game. Without side quests and mini-games, RPGs become linear and boring, often failing to fulfill their full potential, even when they have all the other things figured out. This is why, when you look at the communities dedicated to the independent creation of RPGs like RPG Maker have had extensive discussions about the creation and execution of mini-games.
But these mini-games don’t always click. Take for example the Serendipity Casino in Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Square Enix’s response to gamers’ complaints that the previous game in the series had been too linear. Serendipity Casino was, for all intents and purposes, only there to eat up some game time, but there were also some items that you would have had to get from the casino if you wanted to get 100% completion of the game. These included Fragments, and even the completion of a hidden story regarding one of the characters from Final Fantasy XIII. But Serendipity Casino proved to be more annoying than enjoyable, and many players were able to get the Fragment from a slot machine by simply sticking rubber bands on their controllers and leaving the game running for hours. We’re not even kidding.
After all, it wasn’t like the previous casino in Final Fantasy, the beloved Gold Saucer, where games were actually quite fun, with one even spawning its own mobile app. But these games were enjoyable because they had a bit more of an element of skill to them, unlike casino games, where luck was the most important factor. This is something that many gamers have repeatedly complained about, and even though Intercasino. the world’s oldest online gaming website, has said that there’s always a way to boost your chances of winning at slot games, many gamers have complained that RNG (random number generators) just aren’t the way to go when it comes to casino mini-games.
Written By Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
Every year, around the winter solstice, the world stops to have a celebration of the birth of a very popular jewish guy. Now whether you are serious about this holiday or very impartial, you can't deny it’s overwhelming influence on the world. Well neither can TV studios, they seek to make you feel all warm and toasty on the inside with their yearly specials. Here is a list of the ones that will make you feel sick and confused, enjoy the 12 worst Christmas specials I could find.
12. Dinosaurs: Refrigerator Day (1991)
If you were old enough to remember this show, then you’re probably wondering why it’s on this list because you and I have fond memories of it. My major problem with this episode is that the show is supposed to be a satire on both sitcoms and real life events. Refrigerator day is when all dinosaurs celebrate the day the refrigerator was invented...really. What makes this terrible is that there is no context to what they are satirizing. Is it that christians celebrate a ridiculous holiday? Is it that people are greedy this time of the year? And why the refrigerator? They say the word “God” multiple times so that means they have a deity but no day for that deity? Look, I love this show but this episode makes little to no sense.
Earl Sinclair and family are getting ready for Refrigerator Day when Earl is given the bad news that the bonus he was expecting to receive is no longer going to happen. The consequence is his fridge is to be repossessed. This leaves the Sinclair family with no Refrigerator on Refrigerator day. Desperate to help Earl, the family agrees to return their gifts. The store has no return policy so the store buys back the gifts at a lowered rate causing the family to buy a styrofoam cooler. After performing their traditional Refrigerator Day pageant. The guys who work at the store from the previous scene bring back the fridge and the gifts with Earl’s bonus and a snow maker on the roof for no apparent reason. What was the message again?
11. Shrek the Halls (2007)
What happens when commercialism is more important than quality? The answer is an unnecessary Christmas special. Shrek is an ogre, as if that hasn’t been established by the first 3 movies, and that being the case, he has also never had a christmas. This year, for the sake of Fiona and his children, he wants to have a Christmas. He receives a book titled ‘Christmas For Village Idiots”.
He sets up decorations and then when Donkey, Puss ‘n Boots and Gingerbread man tell christmas stories, Shrek isn’t happy with them. While yelling at Donkey, the book falls out of his vest and donkey picks it up. A tug of war ensues and causes everything to become destroyed, ala a Rube Goldberg device. Shrek is pissed and kicks everyone out which makes Fiona leave with the kids. Shrek gets his shit together and saves Christmas. As with most christmas specials, it’s loaded with puns, however these have slightly better timing, still not good though. I’d say the best part is when the gingerbread man is telling his story and it’s about how his girlfriend was eaten alive by Santa Claus, it’s classic horror movie style, actually quite funny.
10. Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (2014)
The Grumpy Cat meme became a massive internet sensation and now has earned a supposed 100 million dollars. It was only a matter of time before a movie was made, and it was only appropriate it would be a terrible christmas special. The special starts with Aubrey Plaza as Grumpy Cat telling the audience, in a very annoying self referential way, to not watch the movie because it’s awful. The sad part is she actually isn’t wrong but my question is “was this an attempt to seem funny by telling me it isn’t funny or was this an actual warning?” As the plot continues, you are introduced to a series of characters you don't care about, this could be from very poor acting or overly cartoonish characters.
The pet store owner has to come up with the rent or the evil landlord will shut down his store, this also happens to be where Grumpy Cat currently lives. A young girl is teased by peers, makes a wish from a magical mall santa (im not kidding), and gains the ability to talk to Grumpy Cat. A heist breaks out when the pet store owner unveils a rescue dog thats worth an absurd amount, I think it was 10 million dollars, I really don’t remember, it’s not like this was important plot information anyway. And in true christmas special fashion, the little girl with Grumpy Cat in tow, fend off the bad guys before the cops arrive. Thats really it guys, there is a “twist” where the mall cop was in on it but did you really care about spoilers on this one? The worst part about this special was all the times the story was paused to make an awful joke about how bad it is. The thing about comedy is that a joke is really funny when it’s unexpected, these popped up every 10 minutes, at least. I recommend playing a drinking game with this one, every time a joke is made and no one in the room laughs, take a drink, you’ll be drunker than I wanted to be watching this.
9. The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982)
What is there to say about this one? The Smurfs are annoying and Gargamel is a dick. The main plot centers around 2 children who are asking for help because the sleigh they were in with their Grandpa has tipped over and killed him. Yep, that’s death and lost children right of the bat.
A stranger (he seriously has no name) wants to sacrifice them for more power (I guess) and the smurfs sing a song that makes him and his ring of hell fire disappear. The song by the way "Goodness makes the badness go away/Goodness makes you happy every day/Badness cannot start if there's goodness in your heart/Goodness makes the badness go away." Its the type of song that makes you root for the bad guy.
8. The Super Mario Bros Super Show - Koopa Klaus (1989)
“Christmas is a Bah Hum Koop!” If these specials are a representation of christmas, than I completely agree. This cartoon was on for about the same amount of time that the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon was on, but different years and just as bad. The show was a mix of live action sequences and animation, the live action parts starred Captain Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi. These live action sequences are way more entertaining than the cartoon episodes, the christmas special is no exception.
In the Cartoon, King Koopa kidnaps Santa, and unlike most villains, it’s simply because he wants to ruin christmas. Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess show up at the north pole while heading to Hawaii Land because Toad loves Christmas so much. Well now the Mario bros. need to take out King Koopa in order to save christmas, and wouldn’t you know it, they do. The live action sequence is about kid named Brian who’s running away from home and through a comical story about Mario running away when he was a kid, they convince Brian to go home. the live action sequence makes this bearable but barely. The cartoon is loaded to the brim with puns and gags that’ll makes you sick.
7. Alpha's Magical Christmas (1994)
Zordon and Alpha are lonely this Christmas Eve and would like the Power Rangers to come and visit for Christmas. Alpha believes that if you decorate, they will come, however they cannot because they are helping Santa with a very important mission...that we don’t get to see.
So instead, we get to see Zordon and Alpha kidnap a group of children to sing a slew of christmas songs. What if one of those children was Jewish? That would have been awkward. At the end, 3 of the 6 Power Rangers (Tommy, Kimberly and Billy) show up to hang out with Alpha and Zordon because I assume they pity them. The hardest thing to watch about this one is it has more lens flair than all of J.J.Abrams movies combined. Also it so fucking boring!
6. Sonic Christmas Blast (1996)
This special is from the animated series “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”. The story behind this one is Robotnik kidnapped Santa Claus and made a robot Santa to announce retirement. Upon doing so, he demands everyone of Robotropolis to give him gifts instead. Why anyone would live in a place called Robotropolis is beyond me. Sonic is talking to a Princess Sally about how she doesn’t want anything for christmas this year, then behind her back, he explains to Tails that he’s going to get her a gift anyway because when a woman says she doesn't want something, she really wants 2 stores full. Tails asks how he plans on getting said gifts, Sonic explains that he will go to the mall and “be in and out in a flash”, I only assume since he has no pockets, he’s plans on stealing them. When Tails warns Sonic that Robotropolis is dangerous, Sonic responds with “not as dangerous as Sally if I don’t get her something for christmas”. So in summation, Sonic is misogynistic and a thief.
There is some exposition in Robotropolis about what has been happening, but unfortunately, that’s for Sonic’s sake, not the audience because we have already seen it transpire. When Sonic finds Santa, he recognizes this ring Sonic received from Sally last christmas and explains that the only way to save christmas is for Sonic to complete 3 trials to have the ring bestow upon him “Ultimate Velocity”. The show turns into the X-Games for a few minutes and after hes done all 3, he achieves “ultimate velocity” and becomes the flash and saves Christmas. Santa is so happy that he goes into retirement and Sonic is the new Santa. The animation in this is that classic 90’s rubber animation that is used so often that it just looks like a mess. Robotnik is constantly calling his robots incompetent which begs the question, if Robotnik built these robots, wouldn’t Robotnik be the incompetent one?
5. Christmas Comes to PacLand (1982)
This one is based off the short lived saturday morning cartoon series, Pac-Man, based off that game from the 80’s that no one can ever remember the name of. The synopsis is simple on this one. Santa crash lands in Pac-land and needs the Pac family who help gather all his lost gifts or christmas is lost. What makes this so awful is that it’s full of puns and gags, and almost all would easily go over a childs head.
The ghosts all sound like dick tracy bad guys and have winter clothing which makes little to no sense since they wear no clothing in the regular show. The only way to combat the ghosts is by eating power pellets which are scarce, so it would seem the ghost win a lot but apparently the pac family are really lucky...often. In the end, they help Santa and his reindeer get his gifts back and christmas is saved. This also stars the voices of Frank Welker (Megatron) and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime).
4. He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985)
This special has everything, robots, multiple crashing spacecrafts and a machine puppy. The story is about...actually, I’m not sure what it’s about, I know Orko is spying on Skeletor but crash lands on earth and meets 2 kids who explain Christmas. Then He-man and She-ra decided to help but have to go through a ration of shit to help.
Skeletor and Hordak are summoned by a villain named Horde Prime, and his goal is to kidnap the 2 children because they somehow will give him power over the Christmas spirit. And at some point, Skeletor turns into a good guy for the briefest of moments, and exclaims that he would rather be evil in which She-ra reassures him that christmas only comes once a year, as if thats an excuse. It’s your basic bad, lethargic voice acting over laid with subpar 80’s commercialism animation but with the “Christmas Spirit”.
3. The Christmas Tree (1991)
Oh man alive, where do I even begin with this one? First thing you’ll notice with this special just how terrible the animation is. I understand this was 1991 and I should have some leeway but the inconsistencies are so noticeable that it’s a wonder why this made it to television. One of the things that bothered me greatly was how the children look semi normal with their big eyes because children normally do have large eyes, however this was given to the adults as well. Another intriguing thing about this was the voice acting. I wonder if they just grabbed the nearest person off the street for a quick buck to record these lines. Some of the actors are actual children who are too young to be doing voice over roles and are clearly toddlers or kids with speech impediments because I have no idea what they were saying.
The villain of the special was this old lady who had no real agenda till the end. At one point, she was even willingly going to kill a group of kids and a grown woman to cut down a tree that children talked to, and no, the tree didn’t speak. She is then struck down by lightning and presumedly killed. Santa shows up to give you creepiest wink imaginable and then takes off to deliver gifts. Shortly after that, the evil old lady walks out from behind the house, completely unscathed. There are so many questions here, how did she not die from that lightning? Did she crawl back to the house after not dying? Did she take a very quick shower and change her clothes? Where did the chainsaw go, she was holding? How is she just a “good” person now? When will I be able to go back to a normal life after watching this?
2. We Wish You A Turtle Christmas (1994)
This special was made the year after TMNT 3, and I would rather sit through a 24 hour viewing of the new TMNT movie than this punch to the nostalgic balls. It was a weird time when the turtles were still quite popular but also starting to drop in said popularity and 20th Century Fox was gonna milk it for all it was worth. This one starts off with all 4 turtles decorating a tree for Christmas and shortly realize they forgot a gift for splinter, after getting said gift, they wrap it and give it to splinter, the end.
Upon hearing the synopsis, you might be thinking that this sounds like an episode of the cartoon but no, this is live action. The costumes are awful. The turtles look like $30 halloween costumes and the head pieces are literally puppet heads, the “puppeteers” aren’t even trying because throughout the entire special, when one of them is finished talking, the mouth continues to move. Splinters costume looks like a giant cat hairball on top of a Karate Gi. The turtles sing a bevy of songs, and not a one of them is the same, They range from rock to rap to the whole 12 day of christmas...The. Whole. 12. Days. And believe it or not, this is not the worst one...
1. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
I welcome you as we come to the worst Christmas special of them all, The star wars christmas special. If you haven't had the privilege of seeing this wonderful gem, I’ll spare you the pain. It begins with Han Solo and Chewbacca running from 2 Star Destroyers in the millenium falcon, Han says to chewie that he promises to get him home on time for “life day” with his family. What is life day you ask? It's Fucking Christmas. You may be asking yourself “Chewbacca has a family?” well yes he does but that’s not where the absurdity ends, let me run down the names of his family members, Malla, his wife, Itchy, his father and his son Lumpy. I let you soak that in for a second........good? no? Me either.
The rest of the special plays out as a family drama with the occasional human/humanoid dropping by on kashyyyk, and little unrelated stories from both bad and good characters. The worst part about this is 90% OF THIS SPECIAL IS IN WOOKIE GROWLS AND YELLS, Nothing is subtitled, the only context to anything is the motion they have in their modified ghillie suits. This special does have one good thing going for it, a cartoon that introduces Boba Fett, keep in mind, this special came out the year after the first star wars movie was released, this pile of George Lucas pus and feces was the world’s first introduction to Boba Motherfucking Fett. I..I can’t...I...I just can’t...
Did I leave any out that you thought were just as terrible? Are you planning on watching any of these this Christmas season? Let us know in the comments section below, On our Facebook fan page, or tweet us @MissionStartP
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful holiday.
-Written by Anthony Beanes
Hello MSP faithful, and today's feature is a bit different then what we usually provide on the website. Normally, I try to stay away from using press releases we get from various companies, but in a recent email I received actually have very useful information. Viz Media sent me a email of a list of box sets and Manga books for various anime's coming up this holiday season. With Black Friday, and the December holidays around the corner this list should be very useful to those who wondering what to buy this holiday season.
ONE PIECE MANGA Box Set Vol. 2 · Rated “T” for Teens ·
MSRP: $185.99 U.S. / CAN · Available Now!
The latest ONE PIECE manga box set features Volumes 24-46, which comprise the series’ third and fourth story arcs – Skypiea and Water Seven. The Box Set also features a full-color poster and special ONE PIECE mini-comic. As a child, ONE PIECE main character Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, an enchanted Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch like rubber. The only drawback? He'll never be able to swim again – a serious handicap for an aspiring sea dog! Years later, Luffy sets off on his quest to find the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world...
BLACK BIRD MANGA Box Set · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·
MSRP: $149.99 U.S. / CAN · Available Now!
The BLACK BIRD Complete Box Set features the entire series run of 18 volumes. In the acclaimed series crated by Kanoko Sakurakouji, there is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. But she is the bride of demon prophecy, and her blood grants incredible powers, her flesh immortality. Now the demon realm is fighting over the right to her hand...or her life!
VAMPIRE KNIGHT Manga Box Set 2 · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens ·
MSRP: $89.99 U.S. / $99.99 CAN · Available November 4th!
This comprehensive manga box set features the second-half of the VAMPIRE KNIGHT manga series, Volumes 11-19, along with the hardcover 42-page art book. Set is contained in a gorgeously illustrated slipcase.
VIZ SIGNATURE MANGA:
RESIDENT EVIL · Rated “M” for Mature Readers ·
MSRP: $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN · Available Now!
Discover the sinister beginnings of the Resident Evil story in the first-ever manga series based on the smash hit game property. The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In the series’ opening volume, at the prestigious and elite Marhawa Academy in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms.
YUKARISM · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN ·
Available December 2nd
In this new manga series by the creator of YURARA AND RASETSU, Yukari Kobayakawa, an accomplished author at the age of 17, writes with amazingly accurate details about historical Japan. As it turns out, he has the ability to slip into his past life in the Edo period – as a beautiful, renowned courtesan named Yumurasaki!
KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS · Rated “T” for Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available Now!
Anise Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anise is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?!
VAMPIRE KNIGHT Vol. 19 (Series finale) Limited edition ·
Rated “T+” for Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available Now!
Savor the tense finale to Matsuri Hino’s acclaimed paranormal series in a limited edition featuring an exclusive alternate cover and a hardcover 42-page art book.
VAMPIRE KNIGHT: FLEETING DREAMS · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN / $10.99 Digital · Available December 2nd!
Fans will not want to miss this special collection of short stories by Ayuna Fujisaki based on VAMPIRE KNIGHT, with illustrations by Matsuri Hino! Stories include “Deranged Love,” in which a dying Rido reflects on his obsessive love for Juri. Kaname seeks to reward Yuki for doing well on her studies with tutor Aido in “Gifts for Yuki.” The story of Sara’s first love is revealed in “Hidden Love.” In “Queen of the Abyss,” after Zero parts ways with Yuki and returns to being a vampire hunter, he encounters a vampire named Shien.
ALL YOU NEED IS KILL · Rated “T+” for Older Teens ·
MSRP: $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN · Available Now!
Takeshi Obata’s ALL YOU NEED IS KILL originally premiered in VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP digital manga anthology earlier this year and is the stunning manga realization of the popular Japanese sci-fi novel, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In this rousing action story, when the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally – the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?
world trigger · Rated “T” for Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available Now!
“Destroy thy Neighbor” in Daisuke Ashihara’s thrilling sci-fi action manga series, WORLD TRIGGER! Earth is under constant threat from Neighbors, invincible monsters from another dimension that destroy humanity’s way of life. At least there are the elite agents of Border, warriors who co-opt alien technology to fight back. Our hero Osamu Mikumo may not be the best agent, but along with his Neighbor friend Yuma, he’ll do whatever it takes to defend life on Earth as we know it.
Haikasoru science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers:
ASURA GIRL · MSRP: $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN · Available Now!
This tense urban drama about the violent and sexually charged life of a Japanese teenage girl in Tokyo is offered in English for the very first time. Seventeen-year-old Aiko lives a life of casual sex and casual violence, though at heart she remains a schoolgirl with an unrequited crush on her old classmate Yoji Kaneda. Life is about to get harder for Aiko, as a recent fling, Sano, has been kidnapped, and the serial killer Round-and-Round Devil has begun slaughtering children. The youth are rioting in the streets, egged on by the underground Internet bulletin board known as the Voice from Heaven. Expecting that Yoji will come and save her from the madness, Aiko posts a demand for her own murder on Voice of Heaven but will she be left waiting...or worse?
PHANTASM JAPAN · MSRP: $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN · Available Now!
The secret history of the most famous secret agent in the world. A bunny costume that reveals the truth in our souls. The unsettling notion that Japan itself may be a dream. The tastiest meal you’ll never have, a fedora-wearing neckbeard’s deadly date with a yokai, and the worst work shift anyone—human or not—has ever lived through. Welcome to Phantasm Japan, Haikasoru’s latest anthology of fantasy stories from around the world, including new tales by New York Times best-seller Zachary Mason, horror master Gary A. Braunbeck, popular Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe, and much more.
PRINCESS MONONOKE: THE FIRST STORY · MSRP: $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN · Available Now!
This is the original Princess Mononoke story, created by Hayao Miyazaki in 1980 while he was first conceptualizing the landmark animated film that would be released to universal acclaim seventeen years later. As an initial version of the tale, it offers a new and significantly different perspective from the final version presented in the film. After a long, exhausting war, a samurai lost in a forest encounters a giant wildcat – a mononoke. The beast saves his life, but at the price of his daughter's hand in marriage...
Special thanks to Viz Media for sending me this. With the year coming to a close, expect to see end of the year picks from the MSP staff in regards to conventions, video games, anime, and or movies. Till then, see you guys next time.
-Written by Alexander Gilliland
As the mobile phone industry introduces new technological advancements to its products, you can use your phone do complete any task, ranging from playing a game to turning on your central heating. Here are 5 of the market leading smartphones that are best to play your favorite games on, be it a graphic heavy thriller like Call of Duty or a classic game of poker at an online casino.
Although the phone is one of the more expensive smartphones to buy out-right at $770.55 (£484), it more than makes up for it with its fantastic graphics. The HTC One has a Super LCD3 5-inch screen, making any game you play look fantastic and clear in resolution. The Adreno 330 graphic processor also allow for excellent graphic, and the aluminum body stops the phone from over-heating, making it perfect for long-haul gaming.
The Google Nexus 5 comes with 2GB of RAM making it perfect to play games such as FIFA or any Marvel special. And at a cost of $476.02 (£299), it’s a real bargain on the smartphone market.
With 1080 x 1920 image resolution 5 inch screen with 441-ppi density, the Xperia Z1 is one of the market leaders for graphic clarity, making it perfect for games such as Need for Speed. The phone also has a massive battery of 3000 mAh, so it is good for the likes of online blackjack, which you can test on http://www.gamingclub.com/au/online-blackjack, as your phone won’t cut out half way through a game. But, at $953.64 (£599) it comes with a big price tag compared to others on the market and is slightly on the heavy side at 170g (5.9oz)
LG G3 For gamers, the 5.5 inch screen is one of the larger on the market, even though the phone handset is not overly that large in size. This is ideal for players, as the screen size is maximized and the phone is easy to carry in your bag or pocket. However, the smartphone is more toward the upper end of the market, costing around $762.59 (£479).
Apple iPhone 5S Although the iPhone 6 has been released, it will be massively out of the majority of gamers’ budget, so the 5S is the next best thing. With a 64-bit chip and only weighing 112g (3.9oz), the phone is perfect for games you would play on a laptop and is easy to carry around. The App Store is also has a huge variety of different games and apps for users to try out.
I recently wrote a review on shovel knight and why it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. There are hundreds of reasons I could list as to why you should buy and play this game but that is not what I want to talk about here. This article is a breakdown of the first level of Shovel Knight and why I feel it’s pure genius. Now it should go without saying that this is a bit of a spoiler alert warning. Yes, it is only the first level but the warning is out there now. Also I would like it to be known that I am in no way a level designer or game programmer, just a guy who has played many games all the way back to the NES. I noticed all this from watching my nephew (age 10) play this game for the first time with little to no knowledge of classic games or how they function. With that preamble out of the way, let us...dig in.
The first board the player is confronted with is a long seemingly empty section. The top of the screen shows everything the player needs plus what they will come across. This gives the player time to become acclimated with how Shovel Knight moves and controls. As the player moves right, they see a shiny mound, when the players strike this, gold and gems come flying out and this teaches the player just how Shovel Knight’s attack works. They are then confronted by a slow moving beetle. This beetle is very reminiscent of the first goomba in the original Super Mario Bros. At this point, the player has learned that 2 buttons work, jump and slash. Well let’s slash the beetle and kill him. As the player moves forward on the first board, the rest is a series of slow moving beetles and jumps the player must make. This further gets the player used to how Shovel Knight controls.
The next section is introduced by a screen transition similar to that of classic NES games. This is a great way to not only introduce the player to a new obstacle, but it also allows the player to understand that they have progressed. The first thing the player sees is a series of dirt blocks, blocking progress. The player will try many things to get around this before discovering that pressing down after you jump does a downward strike. The fact that this is taught to the player by discovery vs a prompt is something that I really enjoy. It give a sense of accomplishment without the player realising that they just had a quick lesson. After getting past that, the bottom of the board has a beetle and a shiny mound, if at this point the player didn’t discover that mounds contain gold, the beetle and the mound are so close together that it’s inevitable that they will hit both. Moving forward shows a new transition with a gap and a bubble rising from the ground. If the player hasn’t figured out what to do with this bubble upon seeing it, they will eventually because they were just taught about the downward strike. The player learns that they can move left and right as they are downward striking. Feeling victorious, they climb the ladder on the right to the next board.
This is the “moving platform” section of the lesson. This is also the first checkpoint that they have come across but this will come back later. After learning how to handle this platform and kill the beetle on the ledge, they will transition to a floor full of spikes and a platform. If they miss, it’s ok because they will just go back to the screen they were on previously at the checkpoint, this shows the player what exactly what checkpoints look like. When they died though, all of the gold they collected at this point will be floating where they perished. Here comes another lesson, as they make the jump to the platform, they will collect all the gold bags floating and regain their money. This is a fantastic lesson that teaches the player that death isn’t so bad. The next board has a Bubble Dragon! Two things are taught here, the first is that this is not the boss that the top of the screen is predicting to. The second thing is that minibosses exist and they have weak points. The dragons head is the weak point and after it dies, the player is rewarded with gems, gold and health. the next screen introduces a new enemy, a skeleton man with a sword. The player will more than likely attack with this new found confidence because they just took out a dragon. However, they will be hit and this is to teach them that some enemies will attack you instead of walking in a straight line. The next transition has a ditch that seems like the player is trapped, but the way the level is designed shows a weird visual. Grass can be seen on a block of dirt that you would normally be standing on. Well the only thing the player can do is jump and shovel strike, swinging the sword around with eventually hit the wall. After destroying the giant dirt block, they will see gems that fall from it. Getting to the top of this board, they will destroy another wall and walk forward with confidence and a desire to collect the gems that will be there, wait, enemies can be inside walls? They sure can.
The next section has a beetle, a spike trap and skeleton with a sword, these are no problem for the seasoned warrior that now lies before you. There is also a wall with the same markings as the walls the player destroyed earlier, this is a very visible secret to show the player that secrets exist so keep an eye out. In the wall is a piece “Sheet Music”, this is something that comes up later in the game. The next board doesn’t have much to teach except that there are what look like covered dinner plates with a whole chicken inside to replenish your health. From here on out is testing your newly found skills that you just learned. All of this leads to a boss fight, the boss fight teaches the player a few things as well. First would be that the health bar is now full to indicate that this is indeed, the boss of the level. The second thing that this teaches the player is that bosses have patterns, you must read the patterns to defeat them. The last thing this teaches the player is that your health and the bosses health work the same, 2 hits per dot. After defeating the boss, you are shown a scene which adds to the story with shovel knight dreaming about saving shield knight. After the dream sequence, the player has control and can move left or right on the screen, the over world map opens new areas to enter and the adventure begins.
This level is what is amazing about good game design, teaching the player by discovery and fun, versus having someone tell you what to do. Having an “AH HA!” moment in a video game is one of the most satisfying things that any developer can do for the gamer. People argue that modern games have a harder time doing this because things are too complex. I say thats a load of bull. Sometimes it’s ok to use a prompt to tell the player how to use a new thing, Shovel Knight does this with magic. After you get the first item, a prompt shows up to tell the player to press up and attack to use it. What makes this acceptable is this is the only time something like that shows up during the entire game. Lets take a very popular game like Halo for example. The first thing you do in the game is “Calibrate the suit”, what is happening here is immersing the player into the role of the character and breathing life into the world they are about to inhabit. Everything about that first stage is a giant lesson on how to play the game without a bunch of screen prompts. Portal is another example of how to teach the player without overloading them with prompts. As I said in the beginning of this article, I am in no way a developer or designer. Just passionate about video games and love to critically think about them.
How did you feel about this article? Do you think I’m talking a load non-sense? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page or tweet us @MissionStartP
Thanks for reading
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
Screen grabs are courtesy of YouTuber notjustinbailey
Nate and Gregg have been playing a fan-made Mega Man game and doing terrible at it but they beat it.
Here is the full playlist where you can watch them get mad at each other.
I doubt there were many people more surprised than me when one of the companies handling the promotion of Yoshiki’s current world tour contacted us regarding advertising and potential review of the recital. After some back and forth emails, Mission Start Podcast was invited to attend the Costa Mesa show near Anaheim and Westminster on Friday, April 25, 2014.
I arrived at the Sergerstrom Center for the Arts about an hour before the concert. This is a very aesthetically pleasing building. It has at least four levels to it, and although the color scheme is full of beiges, cream colors, and whites, there’s something about the architecture that makes me think of water almost constantly. The staff was very helpful, if a bit soft-spoken.
The actual hall can be a bit intimidating. Around the main floor is three floors of upper tier seating. They aren’t deep boxes, but every seat up there is a rail seat to be envious of. The main stage isn’t raised very high compared to the first couple of rows of seating, but behind the stage is an impressive pipe organ that can seem rather intimidating. The sounds of it could probably deafen someone if played with fervor. However, the pipes were obscured by an LED screen and, of course, Yoshiki’s own black piano.
A bit after the scheduled start time, the house lights dimmed and the LED screen sparked to life with a few minutes of Yoshiki being interviewed at the Southern California Grammy Museum asking about his influences, where he remarked on his father buying him classical albums every week, and how he loved rock, but classical was his soul. The video then moved to a montage of Yoshiki during X-Japan concerts across the globe and his interactions with fans, as well as his apparent passion for his music.
After the video, six women walked out to waiting chairs. They were the accompanying strings for the show. They played a striking preamble, and after it was done, the star and host of the evening appeared on stage in garb that could be well-described as gothic. He was in dark slacks and a white button down shirt. Over it he wore a long black jacket covered in strands that made it look reinforced by spider webs. Yoshiki sat down and began playing the first song of the evening.
That’s when I noted the lights. Surrounding the players in a shallow semi-circle were a host of moving stage lights projecting shapes and colors on the walls, along with other lights projecting more colors on the back curtain framing the stage. The LED screen lit up with different backgrounds depending on the song; roses petals falling in a light rain, sparking stardust, an iridescent light flare, and so on.
There was an interesting surprise as Yoshiki and his accompaniment went into the fourth song, an unplugged version of X-Japan’s I.V., a lean man with dark hair, clothes, and sunglasses walked onto stage and plugged in an electric violin. Suddenly, we were treated to Yoshiki being joined by Sugizo of X-Japan to finish the song. After they finished, Yoshiki took a microphone and asked jokingly, “What are you doing here?”
Sugizo said flatly, “I missed you.”
After some back and forth, Sugizo and Yoshiki asked fans what they wanted to hear and the people in the room started naming a bevy of X-Japan songs. In the end, Yoshiki interrupted and said, “Well, those songs aren’t on the schedule, so we’re going to play what we want,” drawing laughter from the room. Sugizo only stayed for the next song, Tears, but it was a fun surprise.
Not long afterwards, Yoshiki took another break before the intermission and said that during the next week, there will be an announcement about plans for X-Japan, drawing more cheers from those in attendance.
I could go on and on about the details of the piano concert, but what you want to hear is it worth going. As a person who doesn’t listen to a lot of classical music in his spare time, I would say it is. Ignore Yoshiki’s reputation as a rock star and internationally known musician. What surprised me is that where a lot of classical recitals starring individuals tends to be somewhat bland visually; they are often the star in a spotlight with their chosen instrument and unless you are very into the chosen pieces of music, it can be very repetitive. Yoshiki was very careful to not only pick songs that weren’t terribly similar to each other, but the lights and screen added a strong visual dimension to the presentation. They’re striking enough to invoke imagery, but vague enough to leave it up to personal interpretation, giving you the ability to take a journey with the audience while leaving the specific road up to each person. My only sorrow from the show is that the performance was only about two hours long. I could have easily sat for another hour of such a stirring show.
Even more surprising is how soft-spoken Yoshiki himself is. For someone with such a reputation as a multi-genre star, you never get the feeling that he is overly confident or demands absolute control of the show. He seems, to me, at least, to be a man who communicates primarily through his passion for music and tries his best to connect with the heart of his audience. It’s a very different feeling than other classical recitals where people often try to show you their vision of music.
As of the date of this writing, Yoshiki’s only other U.S. date, April 28, 2014 in San Francisco will be happening this evening. After that, he leaves for the majority of his tour from now until the last date of June 17, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Tickets can be purchased by following this link: Yoshiki Classical Piano Tour.
Treat yourself. It’s a show very much unlike many out there.