zophar53's Blog

Posted on Sep 5th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Free Guy, video game movies, Ryan Reynolds

I first started seeing trailers for Free Guy last summer. The teasers showed Ryan Reynolds as a polite, happy-go-lucky bank teller in a fictional online multiplayer game called Free City. One day, after putting on a pair of sunglasses left behind by one of the players, he discovers through their augmented-reality HUD that there's so much more going on in his world than the endless daily loop he's been living. Like so many things, the global pandemic put the brakes on Free Guy's release, but it's finally in theaters. It doesn't appear to be on any streaming services yet, so let's see if the film is good enough to warrant a trip out into the real world.

Continue reading RF Cinema: Free Guy

Posted on Aug 6th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Doom Eternal, Doom, id Software, Bethesda

A million years ago (March 2020, to be exact), I was chomping at the bit to play the sequel to Doom 2016, my favorite game of that year. I loved Doom Eternal's predecessor so much that I pre-ordered it on both PS4 and Xbox One and knew I was probably going to eventually buy it on Steam as well. Then, after finally getting my grubby hands on it, my initial thoughts were....well, less than glowing. A year and a half later, I'm close to beating it on all three platforms and have (mostly) enjoyed the journey. How did this happen??

Continue reading My Doom Eternal Redux: A Lesson in Second Chances

Posted on Jul 5th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Racing games, Driving games, Arcade racing

The series may not be about car racing anymore, but it still has insane stunts

With F9: The Fast Saga finally hitting theaters more than a year after the studio intended (thanks pandemic!), I've been boning up and re-watching the series in anticipation. It's no surprise, then, that racing games have been on my mind lately. I've loved racing games ever since the first time I played Pole Position in the arcade and on my old Vectrex. I dabbled in games like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport over the years, but it wasn't long before I realized my favorite racing games were ones that completely defied the laws of physics. "Less braking and tuning, more power sliding and stunts" is my philosophy.

Continue reading Who Needs Realism When You've Got Speed and Stunts

Posted on Jun 3rd 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Beat em ups, Brawlers, coop

I recently received my copy of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game from Limited Run Games and gave it a go for the first time in several years. I was quickly reminded not just how much I love the game, but how much of a love letter it is to games of its kind from the NES and SNES. In those days, I played pretty much every game I could get my hands on, but as much as I loved racing games, shooters, and the occasional RPG, the vast majority of my game time was spent with platformers and beat-em-ups (aka. brawlers).

Continue reading My Favorite Retro Beat-Em-Up Memories

Posted on May 4th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Mortal Kombat, video game movies, movies

Back in the ancient time that was the 1990s, Mortal Kombat brought the video game franchise that shocked the world with its goriness to the big screen. It wasn't necessarily a good movie, but by staying true to its source material and not taking itself too seriously, it's managed to remain one of the very best examples of what a video game movie should be.

Now, over 15 years and several sequels later, a Mortal Kombat reboot film is here. Is it a worthy successor to the franchise, or will it be remembered with the likes of train wreck films like Doom and Battleship?

Continue reading RF Cinema: Mortal Kombat

Posted on Apr 4th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Jamz, Chiptunes, music, game music

When most people think of video game music, they think of the songs that play in the background while we play our favorite games. Then there's game music covers, where fans use their musical talent to recreate their favorite tracks with real instruments or in a different genre/style. But all too often, people tend to forget about another way video games and music cross paths, and that's chiptune music. In looking over the recent RF Generation donation drive prize lots for 2021, I was excited to see a bundle of chiptune music as one of the options (big thank you to site member ugr for that, by the way!). I also thought it would make for a fun opportunity to celebrate the wonderful music that can be created with retro game consoles.

Continue reading RF Jamz: Chiptune Edition

Posted on Feb 3rd 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Resolutions, Goals, Gaming, Backlog

It's a new year (perhaps you've noticed) and things are a lot different. Many things are the same, including many of the problems, but we've got a changing of the guard, vaccines coming in hot and ready, and hopefully an end to at least some of the wretchedness that has gripped this country for some time now. With that, I'm finding myself cautiously poking my head out of the miasma of societal hopelessness I've been in since last summer. I've started doing weekly gaming nights with some friends from my local book club and have a renewed interest in gaming, which has helped my mood tremendously lately.

I've never been much for New Year's resolutions, personally, but I do like the idea of setting goals as a tangible intent to get things done. In that vein, and in lieu of a top 10 of 2020 list, I thought it'd be a good idea to set some goals for checking out some of the games I was too distracted to play last year, as well as check some games off my backlog. I won't commit myself to finishing every one of these, but as a means to hold myself accountable, here are the games I want to play this year.

Continue reading 2021 New Year's Gaming Resolutions

Posted on Jan 4th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Review, Books, Game Art, Arcade Games, Typography

I thought about doing a top 10 list this year, as I always try to do, but I'm just the latest in a seemingly endless string of writers saying 2020 was unlike any year I've seen in my lifetime. I feel like I have an excuse every year for why I didn't play as many games as I would have liked, but frankly, I feel less apologetic about it this time.

On the bright side, this was a great time to dip into the warm, fuzzy, comfort food of pixel art. I recently came across the book Arcade Game Typography: The Art of Pixel Type and hadn't seen anything like it before. As the name suggests, it highlights early gaming fonts and details the differences from the perspective of someone who is a trained typeface designer. Paging through it was just the kind of happy place I've been going to a lot this year, and I have a feeling it'll spark some interest with this group as well.

Continue reading Arcade Game Typography

Posted on Dec 5th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Luna, Amazon, cloud gaming

It's been nearly one year since Google Stadia limped out onto the internet, bringing cloud gaming to the masses. It was pretty half-baked right out of the gate. Amazon's own cloud gaming service, Luna, is now in early access. I've spent about three weeks putting it through its paces to see how it compares to Stadia, and more importantly, if it's worth your time and money. The short answer is yes, it actually is not only a better cloud gaming option than Stadia, but also a decent enough service to warrant consideration. That said, it still has a ways to go if it's going to compete in a meaningful way with Xbox Game Pass. Read on for the details.

Continue reading My Experience As An Amazon Luna Early Access Member

Posted on Nov 3rd 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Spooky Plays, RF Jamz, Halloween

I decided I would take a different spin on my Halloween post this year and resurrect a dormant RF Generation topic that looks at the wonderful world of video game music. As we all know, music can play a vital role in setting the tone and atmosphere of a game, just as with movies and TV shows. And few genres are more enhanced by a quality soundscape than horror.

That said, as I was compiling the list of games below, I started to realize that most horror-themed games have soundtracks that are more orchestral and ambient in nature (Dead Space, Alien: Isolation, and Resident Evil VII are three recent examples that come to mind). Interestingly, a lot of the tracks I consider effectively creepy are from games that aren't particularly focused on being scary. But that doesn't mean they can't have a similar effect. Take a look at my list below, and let me know if there are any scary tracks from games that come to mind for you.

Continue reading RF Jamz: Spooky Plays Edition

Posted on Oct 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Luna, Amazon, cloud gaming

The rumors have been swirling for what feels like years now about Amazon getting into the video game space. It's one of the few, if not only, areas of content delivery they have yet to tackle. This past week it finally happened. They're calling the service Luna, and like Google's Stadia, it's a cloud-based gaming service. We're close to a year out from Stadia's shaky launch and mere weeks since Microsoft's Game Pass cloud gaming (formerly X-Cloud) rolled out to Android phones. So how does Luna compare, and more importantly, will it learn from Google's mistakes?

Continue reading Will Luna Succeed Where Stadia Failed?

Posted on Sep 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under New consoles, Sony, PlayStation, Microsoft, Xbox, console generations

The PlayStation: Futuristic Gaming Router Edition and the Xbox: Hulking Black Obelisk Edition

I've been gaming seriously for over 30 years now. In that time I've experienced six console generations. Looking back, every single time a new console was introduced, I would eat it up. I read every piece of news I could get my hands on and couldn't wait to take part in the gaming experiences a new game system would bring. I was one of the crazies who waited in line overnight for the notoriously scarce (at least at launch) PlayStation 2, and when the Wii was even more so in 2006, I'm not ashamed to admit that when an opportunity came to leverage my then-girlfriend's employment at Circuit City to snag one, I absolutely capitalized. Now that we're on the brink of yet another round of consoles, I'm finding myself pretty lukewarm on the whole thing.

Continue reading So About These New Consoles...

Posted on Aug 5th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Paper Mario, The Origami King, Switch, RPGs

It's a bit hard to believe that it's been 20 years since the first Paper Mario game was released in Japan. As disappointed as I was back then that we weren't getting a sequel to Super Mario RPG (still one of my favorite RPGs of all time), the game we got instead was the next best thing. With a unique new look and a battle system that took a lot of inspiration from its predecessor, the Paper Mario franchise came out of the gate with three excellent titles. Since Super Paper Mario, however, the series has been pretty lackluster. After being sorely disappointed with Sticker Star and put off by the negative reviews of Color Splash, I was hopeful but cautious about the trailers for Origami King. After getting a lot of hands-on time with it over the past couple of weeks, I can say that it doesn't solve all of the problems of those past games, but it gets enough things right that I'm having a lot of fun in this world again.

Continue reading Paper Mario: The Origami King

Posted on Jul 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Aurion, RPGs, Kiroo Games, Diversity, Steam

It's been no secret the last several weeks' worth of news has taken a mental toll on me. For a good 2-3 weeks, even thinking about playing a video game felt trivial to me. Recently, I've started refocusing and getting back to something of a normal mindset, but current events still make me a bit sick to my stomach when I read the news. And to be perfectly frank, I think that's a good thing. It serves as a reminder that I could always be doing more to help. I've been taking steps to educate myself and broaden my horizons, and part of that includes the games I play. It didn't take much searching before I discovered a wide array of games made by black and black-owned developers, and as I dive into some of them, I'd like to highlight my favorites.

Continue reading Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

Posted on Jun 3rd 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Gaming, comfort, comraderie, friendship, community

I apologize up front to those who come to this site for an escape, but the coincidental timing of my piece this month leaves me in an incredibly difficult position. You see, I wracked my brain the last few days trying to think of a subject, but as I sit here at my computer on Monday evening, none of the topics I came up with feel appropriate. I won't comment here on my thoughts about the past week's worth of news, and I genuinely feel bad about even bringing it up in these digital pages, but with recent headlines so raw in my mind, I've discovered I'm literally incapable of writing an article that suggests I'm oblivious to them. Eventually, one of the podcasts I watch gave me an idea, and I decided that if I couldn't force myself to write as if current events haven't deeply affected my headspace, maybe I could use the opportunity to remember the things about this hobby that has brought people together.

Continue reading What Do You Write When Gaming Isn't On Your Mind?

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