Madden 17 First Impressions

If you read my article earlier this week, I really struggled with the purchasing of Madden 2017.  The franchise has done me wrong for the majority of this century, but the collective reviews for the game were strong and seemed to be speaking to the areas of my greatest frustration.  So I bought it.  Last night I waited impatiently for a large update to be downloaded and then dove into Madden.  I will preface to say that I have not played a Madden game at length in several years.  I would test them out or watch someone play and typically walk away.  So I can’t speak with real authority on how this compares to the last few years of games but it played pretty well.  The graphics are certainly good, and the action I played was largely devoid of clipping and other errors.  The new and improved run system is a lot more fun and not as random as previous versions where you might button mash your way to glory, or get frustrated that your enormous back was tackled too easily.  I still sort of suck at passing, but unlike some previous versions where it seemed that the ball was defying physics or defenders were impossibly swatting passes I felt like it was simply user error and a skill I need to re-acquire.  I was also playing a mode where my receivers were garbage which was not helping the situation.  I really enjoyed the post-play statistic screen pops and some other touches that made it feel much closer to a traditional TV watching experience.  The kicking system was revamped, and I think it better conveys the difficulty of certain kicks and while I am still getting used to it I think it will be a worthy upgrade.   Suffice to say I am enjoying the gameplay thus far, but I need to experiment more with the different modes to see which one will rob me of the most time.

I checked out the Madden Ultimate Team mode (MUT) which involves you getting a team of almost exclusively scrubs and trying to unlock better players to battle against challenges and other players.  You get an initial pack from your favorite team (or strategically picked from another team) where you get two stars from the team one for each side of the ball.  I chose the Texans duo of JJ Watt and DeAndre Hopkins but was sad to see it is watered down versions of them.  JJ Watt in the base game is a 99 value character.  My version is not that guy.  Maybe it is “After a long bender JJ Watt” or “JJ Watt with the Flu”, but I didn’t get the consensus number 1 player in the NFL I thought I was getting.  That aside this version of the game is really cool, but they micro-transactioned it to death.  You ideally would need to spend some real money ($) to get some elite players.  Once you get those elite players you have to spend contracts to use them in games ($) and there are also cool items you can collect and trade ($) like trading cards.  The contracts is where they lost me.  I am a collector, and I love football and I follow the league as a whole so I am interested in many of the players, and the historical players you can unlock (John Elway, Emmitt Smith, etc).  This mode is speaking my language, but having to pay to keep using the players I paid to unlock is too far.  And while you can do things to earn contracts and coins etc, that is always a sad excuse to subvert the question as to why they are bilking us for extra money.  I love the concept, not loving the execution.  And I can only imagine playing this online and getting paired up with the trust fund kid who is sporting an All-Star team and I have to get CJ Spiller to stop getting hit in the backfield.

Another mode I explored was Draft Champions, and while I see people complaining about the rewards for this mode I think it was the most fun section I played so far.  Like the Ultimate team mode you have a team of scrubs but you get to “Draft” for 15 rounds some better players.  You are presented with 3 players at a time and you have to choose one.  They generally start with elite players but you might see one sneak in during later rounds, and this can include historical players.  For instance, my team has Legendary Packer Ray Nitschke holding down the middle Linebacker position.  The rub of this mode is that if you pass on a position you might not see it for awhile and you will not be strong at every position.  I passed on a great Wide Receiver to get a solid Defensive Tackle (Aaron Donald) and I didn’t see another WR until near the end of my draft where I had to settle for Kenny Stills as my best catcher.  My team ended up being strong defensively but my offense has its stars primarily along the offensive line so I had to grind my way down the field to win.  My opponent conversely didn’t go hard on Offensive line and my duo of Aaron Donald and Malik Jackson spent the majority of the game eating their lunch.  I felt that unlike the MUT mode, this was fairly balanced in that each team had notable strengths and weaknesses, you had to be wise when drafting, but you also had to contend with some luck.  While they did micro-transaction this mode (you need Tickets to join events) it seems much easier to stay engaged in this mode especially if you don’t mind playing against sims.

I will spend some time on Franchise mode and report back but my initial dabbling was promising.  However, I had a gripe with the Fantasy draft mode where every player goes into a pool and each team drafts their entire roster.  Your draft picks aren’t reset.  So if your team traded a bunch of picks for next year to get a player (Example the Philadelphia Eagles who traded up for Carson Wentz) you still don’t have those picks but also might not have the player they were traded for, so I recommend picking a team that doesn’t trade picks unless you have a clear favorite team (Green Bay for example wouldn’t trade a future draft pick with a gun to their head).  In my case I made a trade to get Wentz that involved the infamous Richie Incognito which made me laugh.  But it seems like that should have been something that would be reset when you choose to play the “Fantasy” version.  Or there might be a setting for it that I missed.  I’ll investigate this mode further and report back.

As for recommending it to others I will say that it hasn’t burned me yet.  It still might, but I am cautiously optimistic.  However, don’t buy the Deluxe Edition unless you are all about the MUT mode as the only difference is extra packs to unlock players for your team.  If you are into the MUT mode, it seems you get your money’s worth in extra packs but they slow play it for you as you will only get 1 per week for 7 weeks.  I assume the delay is to not instantly bury the people who aren’t dropping extra money on packs like me and poor old CJ Spiller at Running Back trying to revitalize his digital career where Madden branded him a “Slow” learner.

Throwback Thursday - Pressure Cooker Atari 2600: USDA Prime Grade

Pressure Cooker
Activision Inc.

I love a good burger, just ask my wife (and my doctor.)  I feel like burgers can go either way, it's either cooked amazingly well, or it's a hockey puck. Back in the early 1980's, the video game industry was no exception to this analogy. Companies from all over the world were trying to cash in on the home video game craze, and a lot of cartridges ended up being turds (no not E.T., we will get to that another day.)  However, if there was one company you could always count on for a great game it was Activision.  Excellent titles like Pitfall!, River Raid, Dragster, Fishing Derby and more all stood out from the crowd providing a beautiful and addicting gameplay experience. With their brightly colored labels on their cartridges, these titles stand out from the crowd of trash that was put on a circuit board inside a black plastic shell.

Pressure Cooker allows you the player to control Short Order Sam. You have the glorious task as being the head chef in a burger joint named "The Grille" where apparently there are no other employees working. A conveyor belt provides the bottoms of hamburger buns and a ground beef patty for you to customize to the customer's liking. Ingredients are located on the right side of the play field, which are shot at you for you to catch to place on your bun. Lettuce, tomato, onions, and cheese can all be shot towards you, depending on what the customer wants. However, some ingredients may be fired that you don't need, you can send them back by pushing the joystick button while in front of the rejected topping. Finally, the top of the hamburger bun is also shot from the right hand side to complete your mouth-watering masterpiece.  While all of this is going on, your customers orders can be found at the bottom of the screen, with check marks under which ingredients they have requested. The color coding specifies on which distribution conveyor in the "Wrapping Room" the completed burger creation should be deposited. This "Wrapping Room" screen can be found by moving Short Order Sam to the bottom of the screen, and pressing the button to release the burger to the appropriate customer.

Make sure Short Order Sam places the burger in the correct slot or it doesn't count!

"Business is Booming at "The Grille". Hamburger orders are just pouring in. But back in the Assembly Room, the Food Dispenser is pouring out condiments everywhere. Help Short-Order Sam fill each order with the proper combination of tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cheese. And don't forget the bun! Then, rush the completed orders to the Wrapping Room fast. Alright cooks, grab your spatulas!" -Pressure Cooker Manual

Prove that you scored 45,000 points or more in Pressure Cooker and you could mail away for this Short-Order Squad patch.

My first experience with this game was in the late eighties, when my cousin Candace had this title and many others that I had never seen before. She brought some of her Atari cartridges over to my grandmother's house for my brother and I to play with our system. Immediately I was hooked with the brightly colored graphics and catchy background tune that was unusual for many Atari games of that time. The controls are slick, and the game is very easy for anyone to pickup and play but hard to master. Score 45,000 points and you would be eligible for the Short-Order Squad patch by mailing into Activision with photographic proof of your score. A little known fact, Garry Kitchen was the designer of this classic and hid a secret message inside the game. When Short Order Sam turns left, you can see the letter "k" that is placed inside the body of the character sprite to signify the last initial of the creator.

The main Pressure Cooker play field. Note the "k" in Short Order Sam's body to signify the creator, Garry Kitchen.

Pressure Cooker can be found in multiple Activision collections, including PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, PC, Android, iOS, and more. There also is a 2-player mode where players alternate to compete for a high score. This game is perfect for a quick test in reflexes and memorization, and is in my "Top 5" Atari games of all time. It is a perfect game in all areas, and one of the top games to come out in 1983 for the Atari VCS / 2600 system. A countless number of clones have tried to recreate the addictive madness that is Pressure Cooker with cakes, ice cream, and other junk food, but nothing comes close to a good juicy burger.

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Worms W.M.D - A Return to Greatness - PlayStation 4 Review

Worms W.M.D

Quick Glance

•    Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
•    Players: 1-4 (Local Multiplayer) 1-6 (Online Multiplayer)
•    Achievements: Yes, trophies/achievements
•    Steam Trading Cards: Yes
•    Controller Support: Yes, Full
•    Retail Price: $29.99 (Physical release or Digital download)

High Level Premise – Progress through a variety of developer-made levels & challenges, or compete against others among local/online multiplayer death-matches.

Graphics/Style – 2 dimensional Worms with hand-drawn textures, now in gorgeous 1080p/60fps!

Music/Soundtrack – The classic slow-paced background music returns with a number of the tracks being remixed versions of memorable classics from the series.

Story – N/A

Replay-ability – Moderately high, a fairly large amount of in-game challenges & objectives will keep the player revisiting levels on multiple occasions.

Time Commitment – While the single player missions will last several hours for completion, a wealth of time can be spent among level-specific objectives; training missions, challenge missions – not to mention the local & online multiplayer components!

Value – Moderately high – while the cost of admission is higher this time around, there’s more than enough content to justify a purchase.

Favorite Element – Environments contain more variety than ever, including artillery weapons; mechs, and vehicles.

The ability to craft weapons & items is a welcomed addition.

Sean says:  When it comes to Team 17’s Worms, I’m always the first in line for the newest installment.  Several years back, I felt they missed the mark with Worms Revolution, as the game was riddled with bugs and poor performance on the PS3, as the new revolution engine did not play well with that console.  Thankfully, the series came back swinging in the summer of 2014 with Worms Battlegrounds, showing off the true potential of the Revolution engine, only this time on the PS4. Battlegrounds went on to be one of my favorite titles of 2014, and most of all, my favorite Worms game on a PlayStation platform.  Being one of my favorite series, I went into Worms W.M.D with high expectations.  I’m happy to say this installment has far exceeded all of them.       
    So what’s new with Worms W.M.D?  Gone is the 3D Revolution Engine, and in comes the new 2D engine which promises classic Worms physics and 2D hand drawn visuals.  It’s evident upon first booting up the game that Team 17 went back to the drawing board for this one in order to promise the classic gameplay that everyone loves, along with a host of new features to warrant a purchase.  Added into the environments are vehicles, stationary artillery weapons, and mechs – all of which can be used to add flavor to the classic Worms combat.      In addition, buildings can be entered for temporary shelter, yet they can also be destroyed to ensure no player has an unfair advantage among their competition.  Crafting is also new to the game, allowing the player to collect resources to build weapons and items, along with new variants from the classic arsenal that the fans are already familiar with!  

30 fun single player missions each have four level specific objectives, adding depth and replay value.

Multiplayer – it’s something that Team 17 understands the importance of getting right, and this time is no exception.  Nearly all of their games included both local and online multiplayer options during the last generation, something of a staple when you consider how many titles outside of their fantastic studio merely offered either/or.  Worms W.M.D takes it even further by offering the classic local play, and up to 6 players online!  
So grab your friends, order some food, and throw a party like it’s 1998.  Worms is back with what can easily be labeled as their most ambitious and greatest title since the classics of yesterday.  Worms W.M.D has re-written the playbook for their staple series, offering more than enough content and new features to justify the asking price of $30.  This one will surely go down in history as an instant classic.

Gareth says:  Right off the bat I could tell the wait was worth it for this new installment of Worms.  The game runs smooth and from all of the single player and online that I played there were no flaws that I could find.  This was without a day one patch, which is something that is becoming rare these days.  I will get it out of the way now, if you are like me and love the Worms series, buy the game.  If you have not played a Worms games before, then read the review and then go buy it.  
Worms is a classic formula that for the PlayStation platform that dates back to PS1 era.  There were many a days when Sean and I played couch coop (I think it was just multiplayer back then, right?).  As years go on, small improvements were made and little things were added here and there.  There was nothing that ever really made me stop and think "wow" these are big changes.  That day has come with Worms W.M.D, and it isn't just one or two things.  They could have gotten away with just including the new crafting system and I would have been impressed.  Instead they decided to include vehicles which are done so well.  My first worry was that they would be overpowered, but that isn't the case.  Buildings are a simple yet amazing addition to the Worms formula that makes it seem like it should have always been there.

New & improved level design gives competitive matches a breath of fresh air.

Single player is never really the main point of buying a Worms game.  That isn't because it’s not fun, it is obviously made for the hours of multiplayer down the road.  This time around the campaign includes 30 mission that each contain four objectives.  This makes clearing each level more fun and challenging.  Instead of just relying on your favorite weapons and demolishing the AI which is never really a challenge, you have to adjust your whole playing style for each map to meet the objectives.  The inclusion of 10 challenge maps which are fun puzzles that take some trial and error to figure out are another great inclusion.  Training is complete and introduces classic and new components to the player.
Multiplayer is the heart of any Worms title, and it comes in spades with this one.  The ranked matches and the ladder of ranks will keep many people coming back in hopes of rank 1.  Private games are available so you can play exactly how you want to (extra homing missiles only for Sean Chandler).  If competitive play is not your thing, then quick games are available as well.  
I will say that the last installment of Worms didn't grab me like this one did.  It feels like it went back to its roots while improving on many things.  The fixing of the ninja rope was also much needed, and it runs flawless in W.M.D.  
For thirty dollars I don't know how many people will bite.  I am on the half of hating No Mans Sky and would pay 60 dollars for this Worms before that game.  If you are a die-hard Worms fan like Sean and I, then you won't be disappointed.

The Worms have unleashed mechanized mayhem in Worms W.M.D! Shoot, slam, smash, blast and spray the enemy with a variety of devastating vehicles from the tried and tested Tank to the agile yet deadly Helicopter.

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Like a dog to vomit, I contemplate buying Madden.

My relationship with Football games is complicated.  I love football like no other sport, and as I get older I get more into the nuances of football schemes and stratagems.  I want a good football simulator like few other things in life.  So when EA got the exclusive license for the NFL and started peddling excrement a little over a decade ago I became furious.  I tried to get excited for NHL games which is my second favorite sport, I tried to focus on Fantasy football and enjoying NFL RedZone on a Sunday afternoon. Every year when Madden comes out I greet it with derision.  I know that their annual release schedule keeps them from making any real improvements and that because they lack competition and the demand for the product is strong enough without significant improvement they will move forward in their glacial pace and cash checks.  But after I laugh my head off at "Breaking Madden" and enjoy some retro Tecmo Bowl, I secretly want to love Madden.  I pick up a few used and give them a whirl, hoping that they did finally put in the effort to fix the game.  Each time I am disappointed.  Passes 20 feet in the air are getting intercepted by Linebackers because the game doesn't understand 3 Dimensional space.  The franchise mode is shallow, broken, and unsatisfying.  I never learn.

Last year they say they fixed the passing game, this year they worked to fix two things - the running game and the franchise mode. The franchise mode has been neglected for far too long, and for me to get my money's worth from the game I need the value and content there to be strong.  Maybe they got it right...Maybe they won't hurt me this time.  They have failed almost every year this century but maybe...maybe they pulled it off.  Or maybe I am a sucker with desperate optimism tainting my perspective.  The game comes out today, and part of me is scared I might be one of those idiots buying a copy.

Inside the Seedy World of Video Game Gambling Groups

DuckTales 2 auction for Nintendo, ending at a very high price.

Acquiring that sought after or rare video game can be tough. The market has spiked in the last 5-6 years, and prices are through the roof.  A game like DuckTales 2, which could be had for $40 a few years ago, is now over $150.00. Add in the box and the manual, and prices get out of control very fast.  Over the years thrift stores like Goodwill have wised up, and started listing more on their sites, preventing both collectors and resellers from obtaining a good deal in store. Independent stores have no choice but to go with the market value, as people would stop trading in games to their business if they were undervalued.  Collectors that are strapped for cash have turned to desperate methods for obtaining these games, whether to have them sit pretty on their shelf, or actually play them. One popular method is making or purchasing a reproduction, which is essentially a bootleg copy. But those who want the legit thing have turned to something worse, gambling.

No we aren't talking about slot machines, or black-jack, we are talking about gambling sessions set up by users on social media. Sometimes these are called "Game Wheels" or "Game Lotteries", where users can purchase an entry in the hopes that a seemingly random number generator will draw their ticket and they will win the prize.  There are a certain amount of entries, so each contest is limited. The drawing does not start until all entries are fulfilled. If it looks like a contest isn't going to fill all slots, then it is cancelled and players who did enter are refunded. To enter, you have to have a PayPal account, and submit to the administrator the proper amount with a note about which drawing you are entering. When paying, the user must select "Friends and Family" to prevent the administrator from receiving a PayPal fee. Once all entries are collected a livestream is created and the number generator is run, announcing the winner. There are no returns or refunds, so if the item you have won shows up damaged or not at all, you are out of luck.

The results of a finished "Mini" contest.

There are so many flaws in this game, that my brain is frazzled that anyone would ever participate in one of these. A Facebook account is easy to create, allowing the administrators of the game group to easily create fake submissions, to favor their odds. So, if you and one other legitimate person are 2 of 30 entries and paid $40 each for your entry on a chance to win a $200 Power Blade 2 cartridge, but the other 28 entries are faked, most likely the administrator just cashed in $80 and kept their game.  Even if this was proved to be true, the buyer has very little recourse as they "gifted" the payment to the game administrator. The way they get around this is by saying each person doesn't pay for an entry or a ticket, but a digital photo that will be sent to them if they don't win the game. This is definitely a gray area, and still illegal in most areas when it comes down to it. Okay, so maybe a scam, or maybe not but you never know!  Now here is where it gets REALLY shady. There are drawings called "Minis" where you are paying less money to try to win additional entries to win the big prize. On that $40 Power Blade 2 contest, you would pay $12 to enter the Mini to try to win additional entries in the main Power Blade 2 contest. Winner might receive 5 additional entries, loser is out another $12. Crazy.

Earthbound is no stranger to the retro video game craze.

Lets take a look at a real example I found in one of these groups. Earthbound for Super Nintendo is a very sought after role playing game. Video Game Price Charting says today the average price on a complete copy with box, manual, and guide is $660.00.  Okay great, lets see what the contest has to offer. To enter it is only $90.00, wow! And there are only 10 slots available! Great odds! If all 10 entries were sold, this alone nets $900.00 to the administrator, with no fees. But wait! There is a "Mini" for an additional $6, users have a chance to win up to 3 additional entries in the main Earthbound contest, and there are 45 entries available, so that takes away 3 of the $90 slots, which means the administrator now at $630.00. If you are following along, the mini will net the administrator an additional $270, and is now able to sell the $6 entries to the mini easier than the original $90 ticket. This allows him to now proceed with running the game and still retain the original $900 that was gifted to him. If everything is on the up and up, the game is run and some lucky person potentially just got a CIB Earthbound for Super Nintendo for $6.00. Or maybe the account was fake, and the administrator just made a boat load of money and was able to keep his game. Or maybe he never had the game to begin with. Hmm.

Details on the main Earthbound contest for contestants.

The "Mini" contest for a chance to obtain more entries into the main Earthbound drawing.

These groups tend to be shut down by Facebook and other social media sites when they are discovered and reported. Groups have become smarter in that they are removing "Contest", "Game Wheel" and other keywords that can easily identify their shadiness. However if they are reported, they are usually shut down. It's just really easy for them to pop back up again, and will ultimately never be truly stopped. These people prey on the community that already has enough issues to deal with, and are desperate to acquire some of these hard to find titles. Bottom line, stay away from this madness as the odds might not be in your favor to begin with.

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Throwback Thursday - Tecmo Super Bowl III (SNES or Genesis)

With the NFL preseason underway and the promise of another crappy Madden game that is only slightly different than last year’s on the horizon let’s look backwards to Tecmo the makers of some of the finest football games ever to be released.  Yes, Tecmo Football loses a lot of the nuance and specifics of football like how every defense has to play the 4-3 even if they don’t in real life, and substitutions only happen with injury but the gameplay still holds up and for a video game that matters more.  While the NES Tecmo games are legends unto themselves, I thought that the third “Super” game was the best as we got to add create-a-player options to the game so instead of just marveling at the magic that is Bo Jackson, a towering Dean McCarthy could be created at QB and win the super bowl.  The third game also added some statistics and record keeping that I really enjoyed, like it would notify you when you broke an NFL record and kept track of league leaders throughout the season.  My goal was to try to hold on to a few of those top spots as well as winning the big game.  This Tecmo game also included trades and free agency which was an exciting addition and could be manipulated to get your favorite players on any squad.  If you win the Super Bowl a few times you may see some “Legends” show up as free agents to mix up your league a little bit.

Calling plays is much the same as on the NES, but now 8 running and passing plays are available for a little more variety and to decrease the chance of the defense guessing and destroying your play call.  While this game is a little more subdued than the previous versions where you could more often break off wild long plays or run the length of the field back and forth juking between opponents, you can still break open big plays and dominate an opponent with some skilled controller work.  I always had to turn the injuries off on this game though because they were too random, like having a Defensive lineman get hurt sacking the QB.  Very few QBs in the history of the sport can put a hurting on a lineman, especially while being sacked in the backfield.  Plus, those injuries would ruin my run for the league leader in whatever stat that position favored.  The game may have benefited from a few more cut-scenes or animations especially around big events, but like Barry Sanders quietly handing the ball to the ref after scoring a touchdown you don’t always need the pomp and circumstance to know when you are the best. 

Destiny - The Complete Collection Announced

Since Chris and I began our adventure into Destiny it has absorbed quite a few hours of our lives.  And while we were late to join the party as we waited for the Taken King collection to get cheap, we are set to be early adopters of the fall release of “The Rise of Iron” Expansion.  For those who have held out this long, or who might be finally upgrading from the last generation there is a collection set coming out for 60 bucks to get all the previous content for Destiny.

Like The Taken King Collection which provided a onetime boost to level 25 for a character this pack will bump someone instantly to level 40 which is the current level cap.  Since we already own the Taken King collection we only really need the Rise of Iron content which is 30 dollars by itself.  However, the level 40 boost might be tempting enough to pay the additional 18 dollars to get the collection ($48 after the Amazon Prime 20% discount).  We have both been somewhat stuck with the characters we originally selected and the grind to build up a new character in another class has kept us both from doing it.  While others may enjoy this process as busy dads I couldn’t imagine it.  But for 18 dollars or less than 2 hours of pay for most people you can skip that process and get right into the action.  I could keep my beloved Hunter, but suddenly have a level 40 Warlock to play with in the game. 

We may have begun this process as two cheapskates, but now I am debating buying a game I already own for some extra content and a onetime level boost.  And it is compelling.  If you have waited the game out until this time, I will say that the value is strong to jump in with this release. 

New Gameplay trailer for Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom

Based on the older Sega franchise Wonder Boy in Monster Land, a reboot of sorts has been planned for awhile now. Transform into six different characters with unique abilities to aid you in your quest. The Monster Land series has been lost over the years, despite turning out several great games during the 16-bit era. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom boasts modernized graphics, super smooth gameplay, and the retro style that many love. This game is scheduled to release during Q1 in 2017 on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Check out the press release and trailer below:

A legendary video game series returns with an all-new experience for today’s consoles and Steam! Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom continues the colorful side-scrolling action-adventure tradition and is being created in cooperation with Ryuichi Nishizawa, the creator of the Wonder Boy TM and Monster World TM series that first debuted thirty years ago.

True to the beloved franchise, Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom celebrates the best content of the series including the popular transformation feature that allows Monster Boyto take five different animal forms. Each character has unique skills and abilities needed to unlock new paths and advance in a connected world full of secrets, huge boss battles, magical power attacks and loveable characters. Unlike in Monster World II though, players now have free reign to hot-swap characters at any time for endless gameplay variety.

Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom recaptures the enjoyment of classic games that shine in their simplicity: pure, adrenaline-pumping gameplay, upbeat music and smooth graphics, but packaged in 1080p at 60 frames-per-second. Access to the entire library of characters, graphic assets, sounds and music from the complete Wonder Boy series makes it a true spiritual successor and love letter to gaming from the 80s and 90s.

Game Features:
    •    Based on the Legendary Wonder Boy Monster World TM Series: Meet old and new characters from the popular classic game series rendered in beautiful hi-res 2D and full HD for the first time!
    •    Created in Collaboration with Series Creator Ryuichi Nishizawa: Supervised by the legendary series creator for faithful implementation of the original franchise
    •    Huge Adventure World: Explore a vast and completely connected world full of secrets, monsters and loveable characters. You’ll find yourself traversing dozens of locations like lush forests, haunted mansion, pirate ship, dark caves and even a scorching hot volcano
    •    The Power of Six Playable Characters: Hot-swap between up to six different characters for great gameplay variety and re-playability. Each character’s unique ability unlocks exciting new ways to play and beat the game, find new secrets and overcome formerly impossible traps and obstacles
    •    Magical Powers: Unlock five magical powers to cast special attacks like whirlwind or fireballs
    •    Legendary Composers for the Ultimate Original Sound Track: The list of composers is epic. Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom’s soundtrack was created by the Legendary Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage and many more), Motoi Sakuraba (Tales of Series), Michiru Yamane (Castlevania), Keiki Kobayashi (Ace, Super Smash Bros) and in the game performed by the famous Haruka Shimotsuki (Atelier Game-Series).
    •    Re-Arranged Music from the Wonder Boy Series: Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom introduces all-new music tracks including completely re-arranged music from the original series. Hear the famous chiptunes composed by Shinichi Sakamoto brought to life by musicians recording live in studio for a truly memorable soundtrack.

Combine the power of 6 different characters to lift the curse of Monster World kingdom! Monster Boy will be playable on the Xbox booth at gamescom this year. Come and see us in Hall 8! #XboxGC In this new trailer we show lots of Action going on while making use of the various abilities of each transformation.

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Super Mario Adventures Comic is Getting a Reprint! What about the other books?

Super Mario Adventures
By Kentaro Takemura

Nintendo has a rich history of producing something for a short time period, and then abandoning it for the next project. I get it, move onto the next thing to make that paper. The problem is their fan-base is thirsty for more merchandise than their grubby little paws can get a hold of. However every once in awhile there will be some bone that big Nintendo tosses their fans, and I am happy to say that day is today.  Super Mario Adventures was a comic series within Nintendo Power that spanned 12 issues, focusing predominantly on the Super Mario World universe, and one issue in the Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins universe. A beautifully hand drawn comic, this 12-part series was collected into a graphic novel in 1993 that saw a limited release.  Recently this graphic novel has been fetching in upwards of $100 on eBay and Amazon as it is officially licensed and terribly hard to acquire in decent condition.  However, this now will be reprinted and released this October for almost 1/10th of what the going rate of the original is.  This is great, because being a parent, I want my kids to experience this comic and not worry about ruining a collector's piece.

Even though I am really excited to share this graphic novel with my kids, I really wish they would reprint more of the books that were geared towards kids. The Nintendo Comics System by Valiant is a great example, featuring classic franchises like Captain N, Metroid, Punch-out!, Game Boy, and more. Another series that is excellent are the Nintendo Adventure Books. These books are designed just like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, with multiple paths to dozens of different endings.  Finally, there were a few Nintendo stories published in the Golden Books series written by Jack C. Harris, gearing towards children at an early age. But alas, none of these are in print, and some have not been for decades. The only way to acquire these currently is to save up your gold coins and purchase these classics on the second hand market. But make sure you check them out, they are entertaining reads for all children (and dads.)

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Throwback Thursday - Base Wars NES

Base Wars

I loathe baseball. It is supposed to be America’s pastime (Football stole that long ago) but I think the league is broken and the sport is lame and all the best athletes grow up and play other sports now. We are now entering into a time when we could make Base Wars a reality. Robots already fight on TV we just need them to be a little more humanoid and have them roughly follow the course of a baseball game. In Base Wars, you take your robot team and play against another but with many new wrinkles. The ball is shot out of a cannon in their arm and can be manipulated in mid air for some gravity defying mayhem. Other than being caught out, if someone wants to tag you out they have to fight you for it and the winner gets the base. In this battle for the base, some weapons are allowed. And unlike roids, spending money to power up your robots is allowed and encouraged. So the current broken system (see: no Salary Cap) can still have the money teams (Boston, New York, L.A) spend more money and have the best bots. You can also win a game by beating a team so badly in battle that they forfeit a game by not being able to field a full roster. The players come in various shapes and sizes, including a robot with a tank for legs, and another that can hover in the air. We have already seen that people have a little bloodlust in their sporting choices and instead of the brain damaging UFC or Football we could enjoy a robot drop kicking another robot to the delight of everyone except the mechanic who has to piece him back together. Base Wars was such a fun game it begs us to make it a reality. Until such a time that the MLB gets their stuff together let’s play Base Wars and dream about what could and should be.