Which Came First: The Game or The Aggression, A Short Look At Violence in Gaming

What came first, over aggression of youths in schools or violent video games?  Also another philosophical question, but does the later really matter?  What truly matters is finding a solution/preventing kids from acting overly aggressive.

Author: Josh

This originally appear in Josh’s blog in October 2014.

Update from Josh:
If I recall, this was a bit of a tirade rant when I wrote it.
My opinion has changed slightly since I wrote this 4 years ago. I actually do believe that video games, television, and the news all play a part in the mental psyche of children. Especially as we watch in horror as the number of school attacks rises among our youth. That being said, I still hold true that it is each individual parent’s responsibility to monitor what their children play, and to teach them the difference between a video game and real life, and in some cases, have the foresight to just say no to a violent video game that your child wants. They may scream and throw a tantrum, but it’s a parent’s job to protect their children first, not be the best friend all the time. Trust me, when your children grow up, they will thank you for caring.
What came first the chicken or the egg?  Philosophical question for the ages which people have debated for years.  What came first, over aggression of youths in schools or violent video games?  Also another philosophical question, but does the later really matter?  What truly matters is finding a solution/preventing kids from acting overly aggressive.

Original Article:

First Person Shooters (FPS) have been around for a while.  Perhaps one of the most famous FPS games, Doom, was labeled a controversial title for its extreme use of violence.  So much so that shortly after Columbine Doom was thrown under the bus as the game that prompted the individuals to be so violent.  Well how does that explain the other millions of players?  If the video game is what prompted the violence, why isn’t there an army of angry teenagers all hell bent on world wide destruction?  The game is not the soul reason for the murderous rampage.  Even today, gamers of all ages continue to play FPS games such as Destiny and Call of Duty are just as violent, if not more so, than Doom ever was, and yet not every kid that plays it turns into a murderous psychopath.

What about fighting games?  Those are violent too after all.  Street Fighter and Dead or Alive both feature martial arts in a violent form.  Millions more play these games along with first person shooters, and yet they are not violent.  Kids are constantly exposed to violence from ever facet of media, not just games.

Look at movies.  How often are kids watching violent movies?  What about the news?  We all know that violence sells in the news, and as such the news premiers violence over all.  Books portray violence too; just read ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (the book is better than the movie…which is hard I know).  My point is that all day long individuals are exposed to violence, and not all of them become murderous.

So where do we draw the line?  Why are games blamed for the violence?  Because people need something to blame, and why not blame an easy target like a video game.  A person could easily say that heavy exposure to violence can morph a child’s mind, and stereo-typically, video games are a child’s toy in most of the political officer’s minds (despite the fact that the average gaming age is 35).  While it is possible for children to be influenced by what they watch, it is also equally true that a parent’s responsibility is to monitor what their children are watching, and also to explain to them the difference between fantasy and reality.

The video game does not have a conscience, or a mind of it’s own.  Much like a gun, it is simply an object that does not function without outside input.  This means it is imperative to not let ourselves become lazy when raising our children and to say no when they want a game we don’t feel would fit them.  We can’t always be our children’s friends, sometimes we need to put our feet down and be the parent.  Just as if you would instruct a child of the dangers a gun possesses and to never play with them, a parent has a duty to spend time with their children and coach them through their early life about what is right, what is wrong, what is real, and what stays in a video game.

Only when parents realize that without them, their children will grow up lost can we begin to see the problem.  Individual parents know what is best for their own children.  You watch them play, and you know if they are mature enough to handle adult topics as they grow.  If you place a child in front of a TV screen and expect an object to raise your child, you will not be raising a child.  You will merely be exposing a person who isn’t quite sure of their place in the world to uncontrolled influences of the media which, for all intents and purposes, has a primary function to entertain and raise money, not your children.  If we truly want to put a curb in violence, parents need to start being parents again.  Spend time with your children, turn off the TV once in a while and go outside and play with them.  Games will always be there on a rainy day, but that time you spend with them could be the best thing that ever happens to them.

John Bain AKA TotalBiscuit On YouTube Has Passed Away

John Bain, also known as TotalBiscuit or The Cynical Brit on YouTube, has passed away from terminal cancer today, May 24th 2018. His death was confirmed by wife Genna Bain on Twitter.

I am forever grateful for his insightful commentary and criticisms in his WTF Is… series on YouTube, that takes a look at primarily PC Indie games. He was also a host on the Co-optional podcast, that features other prominent YouTubers talking about gaming and other various topics.

John, you have always fought the good fight on behalf of consumers in the video game industry. You’ve inspired me to start this site and YouTube channel, and I can’t show how thankful I am besides continuing to be better every day in the hopes that I can influence a fraction of the people you have in your shortened time on this rock. My heart is with Genna and their family and friends through this difficult time. May you all find strength and courage to endure.

What Games Do You Enjoy Revisiting?

What game(s) do you find yourself coming back to time and time again?

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As someone who poured easily 120 hours or more into the Witcher 3, you would think that would be it for me? However, every time I want to put this game down for good, I throw it in my system “for one more go.” Each time I do that, I find even more quests, scavenger hunts, and more to do that keeps me playing for hours on end each session. Don’t take that the wrong way: I’m forever thankful that this game keeps providing endless hours of entertainment!

Which brings me to the point of this article. What game(s) do you find yourself coming back to time and time again? Is it a sports game like FIFA, NHL, Madden, or MLB The Show? What about an expansive RGP like Witcher 3, Dragon Age series, or Mass Effect? Or maybe you love JRPG’s like the Persona series, Shin Migami Tensei, or Final Fantasy? Let me know in the comments! I can always use a new classic to return to or start for the first time!

Omensight Review- More Fight Than Sight

Maybe it was the self-propelled hype, but after the six hours I spent with Omensight, I was left slightly underwhelmed with the overall mystery behind the gameplay.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Disclaimer-Copy was obtained through purchase, not provided by developer.

As someone who loves mystery games, but isn’t necessarily the best at them, I knew I had to pick up Omensight by Spearhead Games the night it released. I thoroughly enjoyed Murdered: Soul Suspect, even if others didn’t share that sentiment. Maybe it was the self-propelled hype, but after the six hours I spent with Omensight, I was left slightly underwhelmed with the overall mystery behind the gameplay.

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You’ll become very familiar with this screen as you progress through the story.

Omensight is a game where you are the harbinger, a being sent to prevent the end of the world caused by the evil entity Voden. Akin to games like Sexy Brutale, you follow different characters throughout the final day, unlocking more clues to the nature of the apocalypse each time. At the end of each day you are given the opportunity to upgrade your character with the experience you gain from that day, as well as learn new moves and eventually even reduce the overall damage you receive during combat. On the normal difficulty, I found that combat became a breeze after just a few upgrades, which is a shame because this game is about 85% combat and 15% figuring out the next path to take.

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This is where you can see what clues you’ve uncovered.

This wouldn’t normally be a big gripe, but there is very little mystery to actually put together. A character at the hub area between days will just tell you where to go next after you compete a day, completely removing any sense of discovery the player could feel. I have no problem with hints if I ask for them but being spoon fed the plot in a game that calls itself a “mystery” game seems detrimental to the whole concept of the title.

Speaking of gameplay, it’s worth noting that I enjoyed the locations you visit and how they change as the end of the game draws near. Lush forests become overrun with glowing purple decay; statues crumble. These areas are fun to explore the first couple times through, but do become stale towards the end. The game offers you the option to skip to the critical point in a day with each character, and that is a welcome change over their previous game, Stories: The Path of Destinies. Unlike that title, it does cut out a lot of the fluff at the expense of not filling up your clues for each character. If you aren’t worried about that, I highly suggest taking that option whenever it is presented.

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Pretty sure that purple stuff isn’t healthy.

That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my time with Omensight. I had a great time for the lost part (minus an escort portion of the game that I must have played half a dozen times) because it takes notes from the Batman Arkham game’s, with enemies having an indicator appear just before they attack. This allows you to dodge, counter, and combo your way to victory. The abilities you earn through upgrading and leveling up are also satisfying, like the ability to use telepathy that evolves into telepathy/life drain. If not for the constant and satisfying character progression, it would have been a struggle to finish.

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Combat is by far the best part of this game.

The silent protagonist doesn’t do the game any favors either. Injecting any sort of personality into the harbinger would have made the numerous variations of situations you have with the different characters more interesting, because those four main characters themselves are quite a joy to hang with for a day. They all have their unique personalities, and seeing how they react to having different companions with you was certainly interesting. I just feel it would have been better if your character had more impact on these scenes instead of being nothing more than a pretty sweet-looking empty vessel.

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The main hub is beautiful, even if it lacks things to do there.

This review may sound harsh, but that’s only out of love for the potential this developer has. As the same studio that created Stories: The Path of Destinies, they have proven they understand what it takes to implement entertaining combat into their games. The mystery part could use some work, and hopefully a third title set in this universe will nail everything down and it will come together to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Until them, I still recommend checking this game out if you enjoy that type of combat but aren’t afraid of a decent half dozen hour journey through ascetically pleasing areas.

Final Score: 7.5

This is currently available on PS4 and Steam. PS4 version used for review.

The Importance of Family Game Nights

Does anyone else remember family game night?  You know that time when families would pull out a board game like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, or Mouse Trap, blow the dust off of the box and sit down together and play?

Author: Josh

Note: This article was originally posted on Josh’s personal blog.

Does anyone else remember family game night?  You know that time when families would pull out a board game like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, or Mouse Trap, blow the dust off of the box and sit down together and play?  It seems that in today’s society we have changed.  These games are now all almost digital.  Family game night turned into a room of drooling zombies staring at the glowing box in front of them trying to make a man dance across the screen, or blast each other away.  While yes both could be considered time spent with family, I feel that with board games there is something special to be had.

star wars monopoly

For example, with Monopoly.  Great time to help teach your kid about math and money management.  If you want the expensive property with hotels, you need to save your money and buy it.  If you land on another players square, make sure you pay the bills.  These are very common life oriented tasks that will apply to a person for the rest of their lives.  Family game night is an amazing way to teach the younger members of the family about different tactics that have worked for adults.  I guarantee it’s better for the good old brain thinking power than a ton of pixels flashing random colors of light slowly burning out our retinas.

 Trivial Pursuit.  The greatest game to prove how smart/knowledgeable of their surroundings someone actually is.  Teams can be formed while playing this game with house rules.  With those teams comes an opportunity to bond with your family.  That bond could serve a stronger purpose one day.  For example if a child is having problems with life that they normally wouldn’t feel like talking about.  They may just remember that time spent on family game night and decide that they want to discuss their situation with their parents just because of the trust/communication that was built during last weeks round of trivia.

 While I do feel that video games are awesome and great, I also feel strongly that we can not leave behind board games.  They offer so much in the way of building relationships.  They offer a chance to unplug from technology.  They offer a chance to be human for a little while, and the best part is…when the power goes out, you can just keep on playing.

We Need More Games Like God of War

There is certainly a time and place for those games as a service, and if done well can be a very rewarding experience. For the purpose of this article though, I want to explore the reasons why we could benefit from more games like God of War.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Back in the 90’s, I was just a kid who found endless amounts of joy exploring worlds as a purple dragon that could breathe fire onto unsuspecting sheep and charge head-first into enemies. Never would I have thought that single-player only games like Spyro the Dragon (I can’t wait for the remaster to come out in September!) would become overtaken by games like Destiny 2, Farcry series, or recent Assassin’s Creed titles, games that prefer to be a service instead of a singular experience. There is certainly a time and place for those games as a service, and if done well can be a very rewarding experience. For the purpose of this article though, I want to explore the reasons why we could benefit from more games like God of War.

Awhile ago, I wrote and article condemning micro transactions in video games. It appears I am not alone, as the ESRB has begun cracking down on them, countries have started outlawing them completely, and there is even a petition online to have them halted altogether. These are steps in the right direction, but until these companies see a direct impact in sales (both Assassin’s Creed Origins and Farcry 5 were well received critically and sold well) I don’t see this issue going away. The loot boxes in Shadow of War, a game that was obviously crippled by their inclusion, recently removed them. I would give them a slow clap, but it’s too little too late for that game. These gamble boxes of random nonsense prey upon people who may have an addiction to gambling, or could possibly develop one due to this insidious practice. Jim Sterling, a moderately famous YouTuber, has been extremely vocal about the abolition of loot boxes in games for these reasons and others, and I highly recommend checking out his content to see exactly why they should be removed. They impact the balancing of the game, with the core experience often tampered with to make you feel inferior without dropping additional money to have better gear, weapons, etc. God of War doesn’t fall into this trap, and it deserves recognition for it.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is a great example of a single player game that was financially and critically successful.

Also along the lines of scumbag practices are season passes. These promises of extra content to gamers for extra cash often don’t live up to the money you invest in them. Whether it’s not as much story content, maps that don’t feel worth the price of admission, or outright screwing over customers with incomplete content, there always seems to be a downfall to a game’s season pass. God of War could have had one of these. There are multiple realms you do not visit in the game, and quite honestly I would pay extra to travel to them because the game is so extraordinary. But they aren’t available for purchase, and most likely won’t be according the game’s director Cory Barlog. For the first time in a long time, we have a COMPLETE game at release. No need to pay to finish the story, get more loot/gear, or unlock other content like characters that were already included on the original disc (Mortal Kombat I’m looking at you on that one). This gives us something to look forward to in the sequel.

Speaking of complete story, not since The Last of Us did I think a story was so well-done. It kept me engaged and always wondering how they were going to overcome their next challenge. Like the relationship between Joel and Ellie, Kratos and Atreus aren’t always on great terms. In fact, for the majority of the game, they butt heads more than a millennial and baby boomer stuck in a closet together. Which makes their evolution throughout the game that much more interesting. You see where each is coming from, you see the regret over the terrible things Kratos has done, and how hard it is for him to express that to his son. And without spoiling anything, you see how some of these rifts are closed by the credits, and how some more could be opened in future installments. Too many games are shifting to imitate a service instead of an excellent experience.

Being a single player game, without a season pass or expansions, you would think that sales would be down right? Publishers want to claim that multi-player games sell so many more copies, thus making them considerable amount more cash. God of War would like to disagree, with it selling over 3.1 million copies of the FIRST THREE DAYS! This sold more than Uncharted 4 (had multi-player) and Horizon Zero Dawn, both Sony first party games. It is hard to believe that if this were released on even just Steam as well as PS4, that the sales numbers would be even more impressive. Even still, the notion that single player games don’t make as much money would be labeled as busted if it were to be analyzed on Myth Busters.

It’s my hope as a gamer that studios continue to release quality big budget games that aren’t looked at as a service. Something that I can sink a decent amount of time into (currently sitting just short of 40 hours in God of War) and feel like I received a full and complete experience. The Last of Us did it, Horizon Zero Dawn did it (speaking about before the later expansion), and God of War did it as well. All were successful, and I strongly believe that single player games can continue being profitable for companies and provide their audience with experiences that stimulate their gaming senses. We just have to hope that publishers like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and Warner Brothers come to their senses before another collapse occurs.

 

Pros and Cons of God of War (PS4) – The Summit of Gaming

While there aren’t many things to gripe out with this game, here are my pros and cons for God of War for your reading pleasure.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

If the title didn’t give it away already, this is one of my favorite games. Ever. I don’t say that phrase often either. Only Mass Effect 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt fit into that category for me in the last 10 years of video games. There aren’t many things to gripe about with this game, so here are my pros and cons for God of War for your reading pleasure.

Pros

The Combat Is The Best in The Series

From the minute you were able to throw the ax at an enemy’s head, have it stick in it and freeze them, then lunge forward with a flying punch to the face, I knew this game was going to be special. You don’t get as many weapons in this game as you did in the past God of War games, but they more than make up for it with robust

The Visuals Aren’t Just Breathtaking, They’re The Best

Graphics aren’t everything. Mass Effect 2 looks slightly aged now, but I still think it’s one of the greatest RPG’s ever. But unlike Mass Effect 2, God of War looks leagues better than its competition in a way that the Mass Effect series never did. The fact that I took a screen shot of mud in the game…should tell you everything you need to know about how great this title looks.

Exploring the Worlds Is As Enjoyable As You Would Expect

With so much effort placed in making the visuals some of the best in a video game to date, just as much effort was placed in making the gorgeous locations just as fun to explore. From solving puzzles to defeating powerful foes in the late game content, I never grew bored of any of the numerous caves, beaches, or treks up a mountain. Finding new paths to take as you gain more abilities and progressively better loot was always a great time.

Extra Content After The Story

This is something that I certainly didn’t expect. I had a feeling this game would have a lengthy story for and action RPG, but I didn’t expect it to have a bunch of side quests and content that is unlocked after you complete the story. With all of this content available to complete, this game gives you reason after reason to keep playing, even after the main story is finished.

Bonus: New Game Plus Added

Did you finish God of War and ask yourself: What next? Lucky for you, Santa Monica added a New Game Plus mode that allows you to carry over all of your gear, experience, currency, and talismans to experience the story again. You also have the ability to skip cutscenes, craft new armor and weapons, and even some previously unavailable abilities will be available! The new armor sets add a wonderful twist with positive and negative effects, breathing new life into an already spectacular Game of the Year winner.

The Story

I don’t normally get emotional playing games, especially not ones that feature Kratos yelling and grunting his way through them (of which he does a considerable amount less than the previous titles). God of War redefined my expectations for this series moving forward, offering an incredible story and a very moving ending with twist after twist. I love where the story goes, and the curve balls the developers boldly throw at you until the credits roll.

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Even the mud in the game is impressive!

Cons

Odin’s Ravens

I understand the idea behind having clever things hidden in the environment for the player to find. However, to me the 51 Odin’s Ravens scattered throughout the game are more of a pain than they are worth to find. There are other collectibles like chests, artifacts, and special enemies hidden that are far more interesting and fun to find. Personally, I wish there weren’t as many to collect or didn’t literally blend in with some of the environments to the point of being almost completely impossible to see.

Attitude of Atreus Half-Way Into The Story

This is a minor gripe, since in the context of the story it makes sense. The story is about the journey and how it changes both Kratos and Atreus along the way. At one point, I grew tired of Atreus’s attitude. I understand what the developers were doing with his character, but it didn’t make it any less annoying. Thankfully, his personality doesn’t remain this way for too long.

How are you enjoying the game? Were there any points you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Tips and Hints for God of War (PS4)

Here are some tips and hints for God of War that I wish I had known earlier and some that have helped me enjoy the game even more as I continue my journey to the top of the summit (of gaming and Midgard).

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Almost 20 hours into this game, and I can honestly say this is one of my favorite games EVER. Not in the last decade, not favorite RPG or action game, quite literally top 3 games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Here are some tips and hints for God of War that I wish I had known earlier, and some that have helped me enjoy the game even more as I continue my journey to the top of the summit (of gaming and Midgard).

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Not all realms are created equal.

Explore, Explore, and Explore Some More

As most RGP and open-area games go, it pays off to return to areas you’ve been. This holds especially true for the new God of War. Kratos and Atreus will receive ways to explore even more of the worlds as you progress through the story, so if you see something that looks important but you can’t access it the first time, make a mental note or real one on paper to return to that area. While some areas pay off more than others, I never felt cheated when I chose to spend some extra time exploring with “Boy”.

Mix It Up in Combat

While the axe is an adequate weapon, your fists can be just as deadly. Mixing it up in combat will help you overcome the myriad of enemies the game like to throw your way. At the beginning of the game, I found myself barely using my fists to pummel enemies. Now, I go all out, using the axe and fists, combined with the separate abilities that correspond with each style, to thoroughly obliterate my foes.

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The different environments are all beautiful in their own way.

Spread Out Your Upgrades

This goes for both your armor and skills. I foolishly upgraded an early armor a few times, then regretted it an hour later when I found a much more improved armor that I could have improved even further if I didn’t spend all my resources on the one armor set. You get a ton of loot in this game, and most of it is markedly improved over previous iterations. Keep that in mind when you are deciding what to spend those precious resources on.

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Stunningly gorgeous and equally dangerous.

Play It For the Story

A great story in a God of War game? Yup, and even though I haven’t quite finished it yet, I have seen more character development than many other RPG’s that have come out in recent years. It is obvious how much time and effort was put into making the story not just coherent, but engaging and moving. The characters are interesting, the setting spectacular, and the twists and turns the plot take are sharp and unexpected.

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To the summit!

Play With Headphones or a Nice Stereo If Possible

This one might not apply to everyone reading, and that’s understandable. However, if you have the ability to play this game with good headphones on or a nice stereo system, I highly recommend doing so. This game makes sounds I’ve never heard from my speakers before, and the World Serpent made my house literally shake from it’s voice. It’s something to behold that I never experienced in another video game before.

What do you think of the game so far? Are you enjoying the new camera and increased focus on story as well? Let me know in the comments!

The Pros and Cons of Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Instead of doing a traditional review, I am making the creative decision to do a list of pros and cons for the game (hopefully with similarly positive results like those in this masterpiece of a video game). Not only does this allow me to produce more quality content in the same amount of time, but it also let’s me provide a concise list of what features stood out the most, both good and bad.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Instead of doing a traditional review, I am making the creative decision to do a list of pros and cons for the game (hopefully with similarly positive results like those in this masterpiece of a video game). Not only does this allow me to produce more quality content in the same amount of time, but it also let’s me provide a concise list of what features stood out the most, both good and bad.

Pros

  • Art Style-continuing the hand-drawn look of the first game that stands up to Studio Ghibli’s pedigree was a smart decision. This game looks just as good as the original, and possibly even better during battles and in the over-world.
  • Re-imagined Combat-The switch to a more Tales-like combat style that emphasizes mobility and quick decisions without the ability to pause the action mid-combat paid off. I think it is the most improved aspect in the sequel and a major reason I poured over 70 hours into my play-through.
  • City Building-Ni No Kuni 2 introduces a robust and enjoyable city building feature that is something other games could implement in the future. While it isn’t necessary to engaged with this system, it is well worth your time if you plan on getting the platinum trophy.
  • Higgledies-I wasn’t sold on the concept of Pikmin in my Ni No Kuni game, until I realized how valuable they are to succeeding in combat (in additional to be adorable). Having a Hiddledie that can boost your elemental resistance when fighting a dragon can be a difference maker, especially on late game enemies. They can also have abilities like bringing another Hiddledie to battle when they power up (Awaken), transform into a cannon with their respective element, or even boost your attack. With so many different ones to find in the world and create in your city, the variety of combinations is impressive.
  • Side Quests-Most JPRG’s have fetch quests galore. Thankfully, this game mixes up the objectives required to complete the plethora of quests. From getting specific items, to completing strategic battles where you control four groups of different warriors with different abilities and battle against other groups on the over-world map.
  • Pacing-Something that should not be overlooked in games is the pacing, whether it’s a story that drags on a dozen hours too much, or has too many points where you can’t progress without completing certain objectives. Whereas the first game did have some pacing problems, often slowing down the progression of the game to a crawl, I am happy to report that the pacing in this game is nearly perfect. It took me about 30-40 hours to complete just the main story, which to me felt like the perfect amount of time.
  • The Map and Traversal-I included both of these in this point since they are closely linked. The traversal in this game is vastly superior to that in the original, to the point that going and playing the original has been a tough sell lately for me. The map itself may not feel as large as the original game once you acquire all types of traversal, but the layout and getting from point to point is easy and doesn’t require too much additional travel time in between. Also, the Traps (teleport spots) scattered throughout make getting where you need to very accessible.

Cons

  • The Story Until The Last Chapter-I want to be very specific about this point. The last chapter in this game is phenomenal, and has a giant twist that I honestly didn’t see coming. However, until then I feel the story was slightly underwhelming and that a few of the story beats that should have been momentous instead fell a little flat. Still, overall it was enjoyable and the last chapter made up for all the previous areas that didn’t have the impact of the original game.
  • Strategic Group Battles-There are battles in the game where you are able to choose four groups of warriors, each with their own individual stats, strengths, and abilities, and are asked to complete objectives that normally include defeating the enemy groups. There isn’t a ton of variety in these battles, and to fully complete the game you need to grind out a minimum of 50 of these (something I am slowly working towards completing). They aren’t always exciting, sometimes have very high level requirements, and occasionally leave me wishing this feature wouldn’t have been relied on as heavily as it is for the side quests.

Those are my Pros and Cons for Ni No Kuni 2. Hopefully you are able to find these helpful and informative. Are there any that you feel I missed? What do you think of my choices? Let me know in the comments!

How to Make Fun Games More Fun

The topic of this blog is House Rules and game modifications.

Author: Josh

Note: This article originally appeared on Josh’s blog in November of 2014.

How do you make an awesome game like Mario Kart even more fun?  Add alcohol to it.  Yes that’s right I said add alcohol to the game.  Set up rules where each player has one beer in their hands and whenever they cross the line for a lap, they must drink their race placement in sips.  For example if a player is in first, they take one sip, second two sips and so on; the caveat being that you must drink while you are driving your kart.  Play the game this way for thirty minutes.  Everyone playing will have an incredible party buzz going on and bam, social barriers collapse.  A great way to break the ice in my opinion.

 The topic of this blog is House Rules and game modifications.  The above is an example of modifying a pre existing game to conform to a specific desire of a group.  Another classic example can be seen in Monopoly.  I can’t imagine there being a large number of people in the world who have not played Monopoly at some point in time in their lives.  What’s interesting to me though is how often people do not actually abide strictly to the rules.  Most everyone has their own way of playing this central game.  Growing up in my parent’s house the rule of free parking was actually a refund.  Anytime a player paid taxes, they put it in the middle of the board.  Also in the middle was a $50 dollar bill always put there after the pot was drained.  This was definitely not in the rules.  A more commonly missed rule in this game is the skipping of auctioning.  As a kid, we never did this, but in high school, it was a staple in what made the game a blast to play.  Who wants Park Place for $200… I do I do!

 There are even games that were born from mods of other games.  Unreal Tournament was born from the game Unreal.  And Tactical Ops was born from Unreal Tournament.  A mod of a mod.  Unreal was a FPS style game that was modified in the late 90’s early 2000’s to be more of a death match style game.  Thus Unreal Tournament.  Tactical Ops was a skin for Unreal Tournament which stripped the sci-fi from the game and replaced it with terrorists, S.W.A.T., MP5 submachine guns, and Berettas.  These games are just an example of how creative a person can be when they wish to modify the rules of a pre-existing game.  So much so that multiple sequels are spawned from each one.

 The point of the matter is, we should never be comfortable with a game forever.  If you can think of a way to change it to make it more interesting, you owe it to yourself to try (at least in your own house that is).  Just because a game is played with structured rules, there is nothing that says you need to abide by them.  So get out there and mess around with some of your games and see what you can come up with.  You might just have an idea that millions of others like.

My Top 5 Comic Books and Graphic Novels

While recent organizing my office, I came to the realization that I have a lot of amazing comic books and graphic novels. That led to me writing this article, because comics are awesome and so is sharing new ones with others so they can enjoy them as well! So, here are my top five comic books/graphic novels. Please be aware that this lists contains only ones that I have read AND have in my current possession.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

While recent organizing my office, I came to the realization that I have a lot of amazing comic books and graphic novels. That led to me writing this article, because comics are awesome and so is sharing new ones with others so they can enjoy them as well! So, here are my top five comic books/graphic novels. Please be aware that this lists contains only ones that I have read AND have in my current possession. If I don’t own them or haven’t read them, then they were excluded from this list, regardless of how great they may be (i.e. The Dark Knight Returns penned by Frank Miller).

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Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year 1

The first one on this list, of course, involves Batman (Batman is the best I don’t care if Superman has laser eyes and cold breath!). I highly recommend Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 1 The Complete Collection to anyone who likes video games and/or DC comics in general. Set before the hit video game of the same name, this follows the events that turn hero against hero in a surprisingly dark string of events that see our favorite heroes turn into hated enemies. The writing is great, and the excellently drawn scenes keep you reading way past your bedtime. Although I have only read through Year 2 (there are five years in the first Injustice series) it was nothing short of pure nerdy euphoria the whole time.

The Squidder

This is a bit of an odd one, since I am sure almost no one has heard of The Squidder. To make a short story shorter, the earth is invaded by Squid-like gods and only one person has the ability to stop them. With a very violent but clean style, Ben Templesmith delivers a one-of-a-kind journey that is unique and enthralling. Also, I find squid-gods an incredibly scary concept to think of, and Templesmith doesn’t disappoint in bringing those thoughts to a disturbing post-apocalyptic to life.

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Star Wars Legacy

Set a hundred years after Return of the Jedi, the Star War Legacy story focuses on the direct descendant of Luke Skywalker, Cade Skywalker. A bounty hunter and force sensitive, he faces some of the coolest looking Sith in Kryat and Talon, as well as other powerful and dangerous foes. As are all Skywalkers, Cade comes face-to-face with the Dark Side of the Force more than once. With intriguing characters and well written plots, I cannot recommend this series enough to any Star Wars fan looking to delve into some Expanded Universe but aren’t sure where to start. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed in this one.

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The Witcher

One of my favorite video game series, The Limited Edition Witcher Comic was a promotional comic that bridged the gap between the events in The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3. While maybe not the best comic on this list, it’s just as visceral as the video game series (don’t forget the adapted books that it is based on as well) and Geralt of Rivia is awesome in any medium.

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The Mass Effect Comics

Anyone who knows me personally knows that Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of all time, and that the Mass Effect 1-3 games hold a special place in my video game enthusiast heart. Normally I would separate these into their own section, but each one is so great that I wanted to include all three. Each one focuses on a different storyline: Evolution is all about the Illusive Man, Invasion follow Liara T’Soni, and each of the Homeworlds comics circles around one character, providing a more detailed look at their life before you encounter them and Shepherd. Personally, my favorite of these has to be Evolution, since so little is known about the Illusive man until the end of Mass Effect 2.

What do you think of my list? Am I missing any that you feel I should have in my collection? Are there any on here that you have or have read and enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!