Obligatory Nintendo Switch Post

nintendo-nx-switch-reveal

Today has been an exciting day for gamers. It began with the official reveal of the codename “Nintendo NX” as the Switch and then continued with the reveal trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. Let’s take a closer look at the Nintendo Switch.

First of all, you’ll quickly discover that I’m pretty excited about their new console, its exactly the type of concept I was hoping for with all of the leaked information and will get me back to playing some Nintendo games.  The Switch is a modular gaming console intended to function both as a home console and as a portable console for gaming the go, all with the same performance and game library. Because of Nintendo’s unique approach to this console, just about every feature is unique to the Switch.

The form factor is a tablet like device in its most basic form. That is where the relate able features end though. It seems like the tablet’s screen is not touch sensitive from the reveal trailer as they show no one using touch inputs, so that makes it different from anything in the tablet space. The way that you interact with it is through the Nintendo Switch’s unique controllers. Firstly, the controllers, pictured above, are not tradition in any way, but can be attached to a sort of grip secondary device to form a more tradition gamepad with a layout not too far from a Xbox One gamepad, albeit with a significant square frame in the middle. This is the home console controller for when you have the device hooked up to the big screen.

nintendo-switch-multiplayer

You can then remove the 2 input sections from the grip and attach them to the sides of the tablet to make it an all in one device. This is where the portable aspects of the console come in. While on the go, you can also use a kickstand on the tablet to set it up on any flat surface and then detach the controllers so you can sit back and play. Here they look a bit like the Wii-mote and nunchaku without a cord attaching them to each other. A great aspect along with this is that the controllers seem to be identical, and when using them you simply hold one upside down so one controller favors buttons and the other a joystick, just like when they’re attached to the tablet or controller grip. But, because they’re identical, you can also hand one over to a friend and play together, as demoed with the new Mario Kart.

When you want to play at home, there’s a docking station that you just hook the tablet into to switch the video to your tv. It seems like gameplay seamlessly can be continued after docking it or after removing it from the dock. From there, you  can either take the detachable controllers off to play with them standalone or attach them to the controller grip. If you want a more traditional gamepad, there’s also a home controller that looks just like the old Xbox 360 controller. Nintendo has stated that the games will all preform identically whether you’re playing on the tablet or on your TV, but haven’t released anything about the display resolution of the tablet’s screen.

nintendo-switch-3

The reveal trailer also showed off a ton of software, likely due to the post launch woes of the Wii U. The games displayed featured some of Nintendo’s heaviest hitters like Splatoon, Mario Kart and of course Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but they also prominently display the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. This is Nintendo speaking to consumers who are worried about 3rd party support. To further show developer support, they also showed a group playing EA’s NBA 2k16 (probably) with 4 players across two consoles that were linked wirelessly. I’m huge on couch co-op, but its often neglected in favor of online multiplayer in the current gaming environment, so it’s nice to see that it’s still a focus at Nintendo. Although, requiring 2 consoles to play 4 player local is an interesting move.

That brings me to my next point. Nintendo hasn’t given us any details outside of the release date listed at the end of the video. The video of 4 players playing with 2 consoles gives me the idea that it will be rather affordable though. Nintendo usually focuses on making their hardware approachable price-wise  and this seems like it will follow that trend, although it looks to be a more premium device than either the Wii or Wii U as far as build quality. It might not require 2 consoles for 4-player action, they might’ve just been showing off the portable multiplayer functionality though. If the modular do-anything nature of the device is any hint though, we’ll probably have a ton of options with the Nintendo Switch.

The last thing that really sticks out is that there were no kids in the trailer. Everyone showed playing the console is a young professional looking person, likely the crowd that grew up with the original Nintendo. They’re banking on nostalgia, just like with the upcoming NES Classic, and I have no problem with that.

All Images and Video courtesy of Nintendo

Destiny 2 on the PC Sounds Great

destiny 2 rumors for pc

The Struggles of a Controller Enthusiast and PC Shooters

Some information came out about Destiny 2, most importantly the fact that it’s likely to be released on the PC this time around. This is kind of a big deal for me. I sold my consoles and made the switch to a PC in my living room with a Xbox controller not too long ago and I’ve loved it so far. The only regret I have is in the area of first person shooters.

I love competitive first  person shooters, but my current setup locks me into playing all of my games with a Xbox 360 gamepad. Back on the 360, I was a pretty competitively skilled player in Call of Duty and the like. I can’t say the same anymore. Besides the fact that I’ve had less time to play, playing with a gamepad is technically inferior to a mouse and keyboard. I’ve tried my best with Overwatch and Black Ops 3, but you can feel that the controls are less precise than the competition. Since giving Overwatch the old college try, the idea of getting a console just for competitive shooters has been in the back of my mind. The idea just won’t go away.

Destiny raid co-op gameplay

Destiny’s Co-Op Seems Controller Friendly

Destiny 2 has given me a chance to save some cash. Destiny is known to be a finely honed shooter experience that is also, for the most part, not a competitive player vs. player experience. With this news, I’m hoping to scratch my shooter itch with some of the cooperative Destiny 2 action, with a little team death match mixed in for good measure. Unlike the majority of shooters, the focus of Destiny is the cooperative mode and not the cutthroat competitive multiplayer that my controller handicaps me at.

Controllers on PC and Steam Big Picture

It seems like the amount of players that use a controller on the PC and Steam is growing. Almost every newish game that I’m interested in has controller support, and hopefully the issue will be addressed at some time. I’ve heard rumors of games adding matchmaking that takes the type of input players are using into account and makes games from either all controllers or all mouse and keyboard, but I haven’t seen any examples of it actually happening yet.

This is such a first world problem, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to use my more powerful PC and controller to play the shooters I miss so much sometime. Most specifically, I’m psyched for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, whenever they decide to start selling it outside of a bundle that is.

Then again, a game like this emerging on a new platform could be bad for some people…

Images courtesy of Bungie

Creators in my Youth and Now

space ghost coast to coast and c martin croker

Space Ghost Coast to Coast’s Influence

Earlier this week I found out that one of the people who was largely responsible for the creation of Space Ghost Coast to Coast passed away. C. Martin Croker voiced Zorak and Moltar, two of the four pillars of the show along with Brak and Space Ghost himself. I’ve been thinking for the last few days about how much of an influence that show had on me in my youth, even though I probably didn’t get most of the humor, and how interesting the world of creators is today as compared to in my youth.

I remember watching a ton of the original Space Ghost show when I was younger, along with the likes of Thundarr the Barbarian, and how they captivated my imagination. The space setting of Space Ghost and the dark fantasy setting of Thundarr were still new and intriguing to me, especially in cartoons. They could do anything on the screen, where live action media was limited by real life. Then, likely years after Space Ghost and the like had lost their appeal to me, I found something with the same cast of characters but in a late night talk show format. They interviewed real people and pulled shenanigans on each other, all the while introducing me to a new form and level of humor. The show had a tremendous impact on me and is probably the reason I’m still so interested in animation today. I was not a super fan by any means, but it still saddened me that I had never even heard Croker’s name before.

Our Relationships with the Creators We Love

That brought up the contrast of now and then in context. Back then, between the state of tech and my age, I would’ve had no idea how to even begin to be any sort of devoted fan. Croker had a hand in a bunch of shows that I love, but I had no clue. I was too young to work on finding out more about the crew and probably barely comprehended that there was a team behind its creation. I don’t know if it was just my youth or the lack of available information at the time, but looking into the creators never crossed my mind. I just knew the characters.

Now spin up to 2016, the internet and social media may have their issues, but creators and their fans are able to connect on many levels besides a single piece of art. I look up information about anything that piques my interest. I can look at that creator’s past and see what they’re up to now, even get book recommendations and little quips from them on Twitter. Unfortunately, the public nature of creators now has two sides and is often abused by people who are mad at the world for whatever reason. On a more optimistic note, if Space Ghosts Coast to Coast was on today, I’m confident I would’ve been more familiar with C. Martin Croker and his work. I like that idea.

I’ve matured in the time between now and then. Now I realize there are some amazingly people behind the art that I love and has shaped who I am. Whether a writer, comedian, journalist, voice actor, or animator, I am gracious for my contemporary ability to send some kudos their way and directly let them know that they’re kicking ass.  Too many people let the art that they enjoy just slip by. In the digital age, we have to ability to do so much more, as shown by Patreon and similar services. Let creators know when you appreciate them and the way they’ve influenced you, I like to think that gratitude and can to influence them just as much as they help to shape us. At the very least, I hope it keeps them motivated and hungry.

Everyone can use a little word of thanks from time to time, like a gracious kick in the ass.

Image credit goes to Gizmodo

Steamworld Heist is Exactly the Game I Didn’t Know I Wanted

Steamworld Heist cover art

Steamworld Heist is a Future Classic

I recently played and beat Steamworld Heist, and I will assuredly be going back for more. It was one of my most genuinely quality game experiences that I’ve had in recent memory. It didn’t stand out to me because it appealed to me personally for any specific reason, it distinguished itself because it was the definition of being just plain fun. I would highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether they are typically interested in games. Here’s why.

Steamworld Heist Gameplay is Tight and Fun

Steamworld Heist is just a damn good game. It’s a turn-based, tactical squad game, akin to Xcom: Enemy Unknown, but in a 2D plane like the Worms games. It features only robots, protagonist steam-bots facing off against imperial adversaries, so there’s no blood and only cartoon violence. There are some tense tactical situations, but there’s no perma-death as the steam-bots can always be re-assembled. Each character has a likeable and cartoony personality and you end up with a crew of various outdated steam-bots on a noble mission against the ever powerful imperial forces. It sounds a little cliché, but the quality and approachability of the gameplay and the quality of the experience make this a game that everyone can enjoy.

Steamworld heist gameplay

The scrappy captain and the crew that she assembles echoes likeable sci-fi properties, and comparisons to the likes of Firefly are unavoidable. The similarities only make the game’s spirit more fun. I haven’t played anything that so effectively evokes memories of the well-meaning struggles of Mal and crew.

The phrase that just kept coming to my mind while I was having a ball playing through the campaign is that it’s just clean fun. In a world where games realistic graphics and competitive killing situations get the most attention, this is a diamond in the rough. The feelings of pure fun I had while playing it are shared with the greats like Super Mario 64.

Steamworld Heist Captain Piper Humor

Image and Form Evokes Classic Nintendo

While I’m not sure how much success Steamworld Heist had on the 3DS as a Nindie, I can completely see why Nintendo wanted it on the platform. Without any compromise, this game mirrors the quality of experience that gave Nintendo the reputation that they enjoy today, despite their more recent struggles.

I will always love Nintendo because of the experiences their consoles and games afforded me during my youth that sparked my interest in video games. The time I had playing Steamworld Heist strides side by side with some of my favorite gaming experiences. Sure, I probably won’t sink the hours into it that I do with the likes of Dark Souls games, but there would be no shame in doing so. Along with that, I would never introduce someone to modern gaming with a Dark Souls adventure, but Steamworld Heist would be a perfect way to jump into contemporary gaming.

All images courtesy of Image & Form Games

An Intro to Craft Beer- The Beer List

intro craft beer list bar
The first thing you’ll probably do upon entering a new brewery is check out their beer list. Depending on the brewery, the beers on it could vary tremendously. There are some core ideas though, that you’ll probably see in most every brewery you visit.

The Information on a Beer List

Firstly, you’ll see the names of the beer. Duh, right? But give them a little thought, they will clearly showcase the atmosphere that the brewery is going for. Is there a theme? Do the beers have their style in the name? Are they funny, clever, obscure, etc.? The beer is a brewery’s business card, and they’ll want them to showcase the company’s personality and character.

craft beer list wood display

Aside from the names, you’ll probably find some other information. If the styles of the brews aren’t incorporated into the names, they’ll most likely list the style as well. This is the best guideline for new craft beer drinkers. Have you had a pale ale that you liked? Grab another pale ale from another brewery to compare. Want something a little more intense? Maybe step up to an India Pale Ale (IPA) for a bigger beer with more aggressive flavors. Want something dark? Check out the stouts, porters, and brown ales on the list. Each style provides a different take on a malt forward beer, see what you like the best and then branch out. Of course, if you want something on the lighter side, try out some lagers or a pilsner for a more crisp and refreshing beverage.

How Drunk Will it Get You?

In addition to the names and styles of a breweries offerings, it is typically required to display the Alcohol by Volume, or ABV. The amount of alcohol in a beer is crucial information for many reasons. Craft beer tends to be stronger than marco-brews to enable a larger flavor profile. You might be used to having a few Bud Lights and be unaware that beer weighs in at 4.2% ABV, so a 10% Imperial IPA might knock you right on your ass. The entire industry of alcohol advocates drinking responsibly, and consumers need to be aware that ordering a craft beer at a brewery might not entail the same effects as ordering a beer at a more typical restaurant or bar you frequent. Do your research and know your limits.

How Bitter Will it Be? (Not as much as she is…)

The last piece of information that’s becoming fairly standard to display is IBUs. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units. While they don’t correlate directly to how “hoppy” a beer is, they do tell you objectively how bitter it is. The malt and grains in a beer are there to sweeten the brew and stimulate alcohol production during fermentation. The hops balance out that sweetness. While IBUs don’t tell you how hidden the bitterness is by other flavors, they’re a good baseline to begin evaluating your options. If you know you don’t enjoy the bitter aspect of beer, keep it on the lower end, under 40 IBUs for example. If you’re curious about the hop craze, step up the IBUs on each beer to try to find your ideal interval. While IBUs don’t tell you how much hop flavor is in a beer, there’s a pretty good chance that a more hoppy beer will be higher in IBUs.

There could always be more information presented on any brewery’s beer list, but these are the tidbits that are most essential for you to scope out what might be your favorite thing on the list. Other stats like OG (Original Gravity) and specific ingredients used are more for homebrewers and beer geeks and don’t offer much to a craft beer novice. It never hurts to ask though. If you see anything else on the list, always feel free to ask the bartender, I’m sure they’ll be happy to clarify.

Have you seen anything not mentioned here listed on a breweries beer list? How crazy and detailed was it? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Beer Gaming Pairing: 3 Floyds Zombie Dust and Dark Souls 3

Beer Pair Dark Souls 3

Beer and Gaming Coming Together

I’ve been working on this one for a while, it’s an idea that I’m excited about. There are many reasons why I am so passionate about both beer and gaming, but one at the forefront is how well they go together. Pairing beer and food is all good and fun, but this idea is more me. It’s obvious that gaming is experiential, but drinking a great beer is an awesome experience as well.

As you know from several of my other posts, I love the Dark Souls series and Dark Souls 3 was the first of the games that I had the opportunity to play the moment of its release. Right around that time, I had also luckily acquired some of what would become one of my favorite beers that I’ve ever tasted, 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust. The game and the beer paired together seemed like a match made in heaven, and they proved to be such.

Dark Souls 3 beer pairing zombie dust

Two Parallel Acquired Tastes

Almost everyone that follows video games knows about the punishing difficulty that has made the Souls series of games notorious. They are a grinding and sometimes stressful experience, but for certain people, they are also the most rewarding game experiences you can have. I happen to be one of those people, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the final entry in the trilogy. I have an acquired taste for the difficulty curve at this point, I’ve finished the first Dark Souls a few times and I’m in the middle of my second play through of Dark Souls 2. Even with my seasoning, sometimes you hit a wall in these games and it can be frustrating. In those situations, the Zombie Dust was a welcome complement to the game.

Much like the Dark Souls game, aggressively hoppy beers can be overwhelming and are an acquired taste among craft beer drinkers. But, just like the game, they have a habit of hooking people who embrace them. After you’re hooked, there’s nothing else like a well hopped IPA. Zombie Dust happens to be one of the most renowned hoppy beers in the country, marketed as a pale ale, but likely actually closer to an IPA. To those imbued with an unnatural appreciation for overly bitter beverages, this one is a gem.

For anyone who likes beating up their palate while they’re getting beat up in a game, this is a great beer gaming pairing. There wasn’t anything too ridiculous in the early parts of the game within which I was partaking of these fine brews, but Dark Souls games are always hard, they just aren’t always ridiculous. Whenever “You Died” appeared on screen, a hefty swig of Zombie Dust was an awesome counter-balance. The citra hops are aggressive, but the citrus notes they add make this beer nothing but refreshing to an IPA enthusiast.

Dark Souls 3 viewpoint

A Niche Appeal, Executed Perfectly

It’s interesting that both of these products most likely weren’t going for universal appeal when they were first released, speaking specifically to the original Dark Souls or even Demon’s Souls. They both set out to stand out from the crowd to a very certain type of gamer or beer drinker, but through the undeniable quality of the experience they present, each has transcended through to the mainstream. More people probably discovered a love of hops because of how fine a beer Zombie Dust is and I know gamers started to warm up to challenging games more as Dark Souls devotees raved about the quality of the experience that the Souls games offered being above any other.

Zombie Dust -4

That all sounds a bit dramatic, but I freaking love Zombie Dust and Dark Souls.

I wanted to start this idea for a series off right with something I knew I would enjoy writing about. This pairing definitely did not let me down.

Let me know what you thought of the post and the idea for the series in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Pokemon Go’s Best Feature May Be its Lack of Social Features

Archer making friends at the park
Archer making friends at the park

Everyone is Trying to Catch Them All!

Pokemon Go has been everywhere since its release. It’s unclear how it will continue on as a mobile app, but its release has been meteoric despite many technical issues in the first few days. I’ll be honest, it’s not what I hoped for. It feels more like a generic AR app than a true Pokemon game, but the skin that’s on it seems like it’s enough. I’ve had some fun with it, but I may have put it down by now if not for its true killer feature.

Pokemon is an almost universal concept within people my age. Not everyone loves it, but everyone knows about the dream of catching them all. That’s been a huge key to its success so far, it evokes just enough nostalgia for just about everyone I see to be at least a little interested in talking about it, even if they have no other interest in video games. That’s the best part of this app, in a world where stimulation and media are everywhere and no one thing can catch everyones attention, Pokemon is captivating an entire generation.

Nintendo’s New Killer App

With that dominant amount of mind share, Pokemon Go has done something few apps have managed. It has transcended our digital lives into our actual social ones. One of the first things I checked for in Pokemon go was a sort of friends list, a near universal feature in the age of social media, but there was nothing to be found. That’s where the apps magic started kicking in. In a time where every app features a heavy focus on reviews and ways to share it with friends, Pokemon Go forced me to just ask people if they were playing it and what they thought. A friends list where you can see each other’s Pokemon is an obvious feature, but the app makes to meet up with friends and compare Pokemon in person.

These pesky Pidgey's are everywhere!
These pesky Pidgey’s are everywhere!

Pokemon Go’s Impact So Far

It may encourage people to walk around with their phones out all the time as well. That’s a definite negative for me, but it also encourages you to get out and walk around more, usually with a friend or 2. Social media, twitter specifically, has been rampant with people talking about how they have sore legs for the first time in awhile due to hunting pokemon. How can that be a bad thing for a app to accomplish when so many are just focused on holding our attention above all else? I’ve already heard so many jokes about how Pokemon Go has already accomplished what Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign has been attempting to do for 7 years, just get kids off their ass and outside to play. No harm in that, as long as you don’t get caught by an armed robber who set up an in-game lure to catch want to be poke-masters off guard.

New features, like trading, are already being promised by developers and Nintendo’s stock price has gone up by 25%, so it doesn’t seem like Pokemon Go will be losing its spotlight anytime soon. As the game evolves, let’s hope it maintains the real life social component that makes it so special. It’s hilarious that almost the entire staff of the brewery I work at is playing the same app, and even more amusing that its about catching imaginary pets.

pokemon go-3

Upslope’s North Boulder PokeStop

Also, if you happen to be searching around the Boulder area, Upslope’s North Boulder location on Lee Hill just happens to be a PokeStop. I caught a Gastly up there yesterday. Happy hunting everyone! Thanks for reading and let me know that you thought of the post in the comments below.