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Posted on Nov 4th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Halloween, RPGs, Candy, Trick or treating, Costumes

From the Double Fine website

I'm cheating a bit with this entry, both because Halloween is over, and because I've chosen to highlight a game that isn't a typical spooky game in the traditional sense. But I think I'm justified in doing so since before we know it, we'll be drowning in Christmas decorations and muzak carols. I'm not quite ready to let Halloween go just yet.

As we grow up, most of us either decide we don't like scary things and avoid them as much as possible, or can't get enough and watch all the horror movies we can get our hands on. That's all well and good; I love a well done horror flick or game as much as the next person. However, when I think of Halloween, some of my favorite memories of this fall holiday have come not in adulthood, but from my youth, when the most important things in my life were the costumes and candy.

Continue reading Spooky Plays: Costume Quest

Posted on Oct 3rd 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Pinball, Arcade games, expos, events

There's just something about going to a live event that's special. Seeing so many people gather with friends and strangers alike to share their passions, and seeing those passions take shape in all sorts of fun, creative ways, is powerful. It's encouraging and uplifting to be able to step away from the all-too-common toxicity of the internet at large to see the best of what a fan base can be. This is even better when the event is local. I've traveled to shows and expos in the past, and while that's fun and carries with it an added layer of traveling adventure, it can also get expensive. A local event gets you all the excellence of a good con without the potentially prohibitive cost of a flight, gas, and/or hotel room.

So it's with this in mind that I'm going to break from the norm and hold off on writing an October/Halloween post for the time being. Instead, I wanted to share my experience at the 2nd annual Cleveland Pinball and Arcade Show I attended a couple weeks ago. I went to the first CLEPIN as well, and I'm happy to say there were some fantastic tables on display this year, making for an even better show than in 2015.

Continue reading Keep the Pumpkin Spice, I'll Fill my Fall With Pinball

Posted on Sep 3rd 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XV, SquareEnix, RPGs

From the SquareEnix press site

With the release of Final Fantasy XV a mere handful of weeks away, I should be getting more and more excited. I should be devouring every trailer and screenshot with abandon, but I'm not. Instead of squeeing at the thought of a new massive RPG from SquareEnix's flagship franchise like a 14-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert, I find myself caring less and less, to the point where I probably won't even play the new game. It's disappointing, and has had me thinking for a while now about other times this has happened to me.

Continue reading Final Fantasy, We Need to Talk....Call Me

Posted on Aug 4th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Movies, Games, Game movies

 photo Wreck-It Ralph_zpslves0z8v.jpg
Photo from IMDB

With the summer movie season in full swing, and the fairly recent announcement that Wreck-It Ralph will be getting a sequel, I thought it would a fun time to look back on some of the best examples of the oft-forgotten genre (if one could even call it its own genre) of video game movies. My hope is to provide a fond look back for those of us who've seen some of these, and for those who haven't, or for some of the younger crowd who may not have stumbled upon the older ones, to give some good recommendations.

Now to be clear, I'm not referring to films based on games, so you'll not see Prince of Persia, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy: Advent Children, or even the recent Warcraft highlighted here. I'm also not referring to documentaries like IndieGame: The Movie (even though that is really great and everyone should watch it). What you'll find here instead are a handful of films that use video games merely as a backdrop, providing a fun digital setting to tell an underlying story unrelated to any actual video game plot. They're presented here in no particular order, and I'm sure there are others out there I've overlooked, so I'd love to hear which of these you liked, hated, or if you have recommendations of your own. Speak up in the comments and let us know.

Continue reading It's Summer, and That Means Movie Time!

Posted on Jul 3rd 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Fathers Day, Retro games, Barcades, Arcades, Star Wars Arcade

Even though this piece won't post until a couple weeks after Father's Day, as I type it up, I'm on a plane with my father and my stepmother this holiday weekend, off to sunny Arizona for a vacation with them and some family we have there. It got me thinking a lot about how my dad has influenced my favorite hobby over the years, especially since only a few months prior I was able to share with him what may be the most surreal and personally moving gaming experience I've ever had.

I wasn't exactly surprised when the retro barcade opened up in my hometown about a year or so ago. In fact, I was surprised it had taken so long. In the last decade or so, with the explosion of geek culture and the proliferation of nerdy being the new cool, barcades seem to have sprung up all over the country ready to pander to both the crowd looking to reconnect with their youth, as well as the college crowd riding the wave of gaming as the next "in thing." 

It was during my first trip to this barcade when I saw a machine that completely blew me away in a fit of unexpected nostalgia, even in the midst of so many arcade games I played growing up. Walking into the 16-Bit Bar+Arcade in Lakewood, OH, just west of Cleveland, most of what I saw there was welcome but unsurprising. Upon seeing a particular cabinet, however, everything else around me faded away like one of those flashback triggers in movies where the camera zooms in on the character and they get taken back to their childhood. In my case, I fell back to a memory of my dad, a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away.

Continue reading Father's Day in a Galaxy Far Far Away

Posted on Jun 3rd 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Firewatch, Modern games, walking simulator, narrative

One of the most interesting and recent evolutions of the adventure game genre is what many have dubbed the "walking simulator." In a similar way to visual novel games like 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and Danganronpa, their minimalist approach to gameplay and action allow the story to become the primary focus. Despite claims from some that these are not "games" in the traditional sense, the fact that we've benefitted from some excellent story telling from this space in recent years can't be denied.

Three of the best walking simulators in the past few years are Gone Home, Life is Strange, and the debut game from Campo Santo, Firewatch. I've just come off playing the latter two in fairly close succession, and boy have I been having a lot of thoughts about them lately. I had high hopes going into Firewatch, as the developers have some serious pedigree both in games media and production. Unfortunately, right from the start I found myself struggling to connect with the characters and had trouble reconciling the story it seemed to want to tell, the choices I was being given, and where I expected things to go. This continued throughout the game, and I was ultimately unsatisfied and conflicted.

**Be warned: there be spoilers ahead! But if you're interested in this game, it's only about five hours long so it won't be hard to play it through and come back**

Continue reading Firewatch - A Lesson in Wanting to Like Something

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