The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series- A New Frontier episode 3: Above the Law | Review

Posted on April 9, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Telltale Games has come out with the newest episode in their Walking Dead series. While the two part opener was good, it needed to really develop our new protagonist in order to live up to the love that the games built up for Clementine or even Lee. Javier is certainly not unlikable, but can Telltale continue its line up of strong protagonists? Can they build up Javier without neglecting Clementine? How will the story of Javier’s group progress and what will be learned about this New Frontier? This mid season episode has a lot of answers and story to unbox. This episode has a lot of story points and character development to look at, and less gameplay aspects to talk about, so minor spoilers are to follow, but nothing that ruins the episode. I recommend if you have played the episodes up to this point, definitely continue despite the lacking gameplay


The episode opens up by diving into Javier’s past and how he began to lead the family after his brother David’s absence. We see thatKate is hesitant to take action against the walkers and the kids are hesitant to leave without their father, but you must make the hard choice of either staying and risking the walkers becoming too numerous and overwhelming or leave and hope that David finds the group later down the road. His conversations with Kate and the kids when deciding how to handle their uncertain future offer quieter, but essential moments that help enrich the characters and offers some insight into how they ended up in their present situation and why they might feel the way they do. Getting this insight and character development really shows how much Telltale cares about their protagonists for the Walking Dead and puts at ease concerns that may have risen about switching protagonists for this season. We see how hard it is for Javier to take the leadership role, how hard it is for Kate to protect her loved ones while seeing such gruesome sights and how hard it is for the children, especially Gabe, to leave their father behind.


We also get some insight into what has happened to Clementine and her time with The New Frontier. We see how she got her tattoo, how she became a loner again after finding some stability and what choices she had to make to save her only remaining ties to family. A major discovery happens concerning AJ and we see that Telltale has not given up on Clementine or her story regardless of the change of protagonists. Clem is still as interesting and even heartbreaking a story as ever. We learn more about the connection between Javier, Clem and the New Frontier and the title “Above the Law” becomes very clear as we go deeper into how The New Frontier works. As the trailer for the episode showed, David reunites with his family, creating some hard choices for the family. Do they accept David back? Do they side with the New Frontier now that they learn David is involved? You need to make your own decisions and judgments after some investigation and conversations. There are some interesting developments, but it soon becomes a bit convoluted and frustrating when dealing with some dubious characters. There were times I even went against how I normally would respond in order to take a more aggressive action as opposed to a diplomatic response because of my frustration. The plus side is that this lead to some interesting responses from those around me.

Overall, this episode was wonderful for the character development and bonding with our new protagonists, but somewhat lacking in the rest of the departments that would have knocked it out of the park. There is certainly no reason to give up on this season or The Walking Dead now, so play for yourselves and discover why some are “Above The Law”.



PAX East Indie Megabooth: What’s new in indie gaming

Posted on March 26, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Every year PAX is the host for many indie developers. These developers are some of the most diverse voices in the industry. They come from all over the United States and even all over the globe to show their creation to a passionate crowd of gamers who are itching for innovation and fun and a unique experience that the indie game community brings. I had the good fortune to try out some of these games and even talk to some of the indie developers at PAX.  I enjoyed a great sampling of the dozens of games set up to demo. From the selection that were available to buy and play now, my favorites were “Inversus”, “Tooth and Tail”, “Keen” and “Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?”.

Inversus, developed by Hypersect,  is a strategic geometric shooter game. The idea appears so simple, you control the color black or white and you can turn squares black or white by shooting them. If you get hit by the opponent’s color, you die. You want to defeat your opponent by shooting them. It’s fast paced, simplistic game play charmed me and I solidly recommend trying it. You can buy it on Steam today.

Tooth and Tail, developed by Pocketwatch Games,  is another strategic game that involves outsmarting and defeating your opponent. This arcade style strategy game has you taking the role of the leader of an animal revolution! With an army of squirrels, boars, pigeons, ferrets, moles and other WWI era styled beasts, there are plenty of options to choose from and a lot to play around with as far as ways to wipe out your opponent and their base in the skirmish. Matches are short and the maps are small and it is not mouse based, unlike many RTS games. Tooth and Tail has an alpha available, but only available to Discord users who regularly interact with the community and show interest in experiencing this unique game.

There were quite a numerous amount of puzzle games at the indie booth this year. One that particularly caught my attention was an adorable game titled “Keen’, developed by CatNigiri. In this game, you are guiding Kim “on a journey to stop an evil corporation from destroying her village”. I had the honor of talking to some of the team that was there representing this game and got to know a little more about this hidden gem. The game has been in development for 3 years as of the date of this article. It was inspired by both Zelda and 2048 to create a hybrid of RPG and sliding puzzle game. They were looking for something “deep and entertaining like Zelda with simple commands”. They started it with a tabletop origin to test how the mechanics would work, and since that went well, they took to developing it as a video game. After changing some gameplay and features,  they polished the gameplay idea  by creating another swiping puzzle game called Kitty Kitchen and then moving back to Keen to make their project a reality. The aesthetic of Keen was inspired by baby metal and megaman. A demo is currently available on Steam and on the Cat Nigiri website, and is definitely worth the time to play.

“Holy Potatoes! We’re In space?” also got my attention. Published by daylight studios, this game has you exploring the “vastness of space” in a spaceship you manage while crafting weapons. The combat is the tactical, turn based variety ad with hundreds of weapons to craft, the possibilities are extremely varied, leaving for much replayability. This game is available to purchase on Steam right now and I look forward to playing this soon, especially after talking to some of the team. The main inspiration was pop culture and punny humor for the story, characters and dialogue. After Holy Potatoes! A weapons shop! The creators wanted to expand the idea and gameplay and with their 7 person development team, they have made it a reality. 

Overall, the indie gaming scene as always is thriving and booming with positivity and creativity. With so much diversity, passion and imagination, it’s easy to see why indie gaming is only becoming more popular and it was amazing to see everyone gathered together, sharing their projects and seeing others enjoying them and getting excited for what’s new and what’s to come.


Mass Effect: Andromeda jumps into PAX East

Posted on March 10, 2017 by Meghan Kass

With Mass Effect: Andromeda quickly approaching, PAX East was alive with the anticipation of what was going to be revealed at the development team panel. The main theater was filled with hundreds of voracious, excited fans as the team was prepared to entertain and answer any last minute questions or concerns while showing off the project they worked hard on and were passionate about.

After the team was introduced, they shortly fired up a mission for the game and Ian began to show off some story and gameplay. The team made sure to point out that their new Frostbite engine enabled for some beautiful views of space and mission settings and, fluid, impressive character animations. The change over to the Frostbite engine seemed to be appropriate for the feeling of a new start the team wanted to emphasize, which was mentioned multiple times in the panel. The characters are new and different, the story is more light hearted and the look is more advanced than the previous trilogy. While there were some throwbacks to the previous installments, such as mention of your Shepherd’s gender, loyalty missions and the like, the team wanted to start fresh and try to step forward trying new things for the series, even saying “it’s always exciting to start with a blank page”.



While some fans express concern that Shepherd is not involved and that it is trying to distance itself from previous games, the team only seemed confident that this was the right way to go with the series. They expanded exploration and the environments without making the world feel empty, revamped the battle system by allowing one to switch between favorite roles (such as vanguard or soldier) “on the fly”, the ability to jump and puzzles involving jumping, displaying stats in both multiplayer and single player and even more romance options that seemed to be spoiler free for the panel. The team also addressed the concern over multiplayer affecting story; they stated that multiplayer will no longer be a “story changer” but optional for players to add to the experience. While it appears that the team has learned a lot from past mistakes in Mass Effect games, just like for our new protagonists, it is all a new (and slightly scary) experience and we will all have to see how the final product will turn out March 21st.



A Look at Guts and Glory

Posted on March 4, 2017 by Meghan Kass

There is nothing I enjoy more than a pleasant ride through the country; either by car or bike, there simply is nothing better. Of course, if you are the characters in Guts and Glory, there might be something a little better than a ride through the country. This game, developed by HakJak, has taken all what could be logical, relaxing and child friendly and turned it upside into the absurd, violent and nonsensical. With a strong community building already for this game and tracks full of surrealism, ragdoll physics and a sense of humor, it’s no wonder this game is gaining the attention it is.

The game is simple enough in concept. You choose the level you want to play and then choose the track you want to run. You can choose between official levels and tracks, or instead opt to play the community made levels. Either way, the goal is to reach all the designated checkpoints and try and be as fast as you can and make it to the end. Try is the key word with this game, and that is where the fun of this game happens.

This game offers some of the most amusing physics I have seen since QWERTY. The characters offered all have their unique way of controlling and have their strengths and weaknesses as far as running the tracks. My personal favorite character to play was Earl and his tractor. I found myself not only able to control Earl the best out of the group, but found myself doing some rather fun tricks such as spinning in the air and successfully landing flips. John and Jimmy offered some of the most challenging gameplay, but also the most fun wipe outs. When you need to respawn, the wipeout was usually violent and absurd. Since Johnny and Jimmy are only on a bicycle, balancing them was slightly more difficult, but it was faster. I paid no mind to who I crashed into and injured on the way to the next checkpoint, but I also would fall to my demise many times with a lot of red splattering around me. Thankfully, you can respawn at the last checkpoint you reached.

Crashing through fences, buildings, people and causing destruction is enough to stop caring about the time on the clock and just have fun creating mayhem. You can go slower and make sure you move ever so slightly so not to veer off course too far, but where is the fun in that? Perfection is definitely not the only goal of this game. Even when the mechanics and physics get slightly frustrating due to how sensitive controls are and how easy it is to get turned around or fall, you realize its all just for fun and learn to let go and throw yourself into the absurdity. It was also amazing to try some community levels and see the creativity of some of this growing user base.

Overall, this game is a unique experience. It offers challenge, violence, absurdity and fun. With the growing community creating new challenges every day and the surreal gameplay, it is no secret why this game is already gaining attention even before its official release. I look forward to keeping up with this game and seeing how they add, improve and put the finishing touches on this game. The developer seems very passionate about this game and listening to its players. This makes for a very hopeful prediction for the success of this game. This game is highly recommended for anyone looking for a fun time and doesn’t mind a little blood along the way.


Project DIVA Future Tone: Hatsune Miku | Review

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is an arcade style rhythm game published by Sega. Future tone may be the most comprehensive Hatsune Miku game ever published as it boasts 220 songs if you purchase the bundle that includes Future Sound and Colorful Tone, After the disappointing lack of songs in Project Diva X and overuse of exposition, will Future Tone’s sheer volume of music be enough to satisfy Hatsune Miku and rhythm game fans? Is imitating and porting the arcade version of Hatsune Miku games the right direction?

If compared to the disappointing Project Diva X, Future Tone makes a massive increase in number of songs from 35 to 220. Not only does it provide more choices in music, but puts on fan favorites and new music that has not been seen in any games prior. Even the tutorial song “Levan Polka” gets a the full version touch as it becomes part of the roster, which personally made me tickled inside. From previous games, you get ”Pinky Swear”, “Clover Club”, “Canterella” and of course “Wintry Winds” and there is even more new material than ever before including the “NyanNyan” song and “Beware of the Miku Miku Germs”. You will not get bored with the selection you get in this game.

Modules also get a slight upgrade from Project Diva X, increasing from around 300-394 modules. What is also a positive change is the fact you can buy these modules with points you earn instead of having to unlock them slowly. You get a fair amount of VP points to spend after each song so collecting the various customizable looks is an easier task than previous ways of unlocking modules. In addition, you can also customize the hairstyle you want for the characters and can save an outfit for particular songs.

The gameplay has changed slightly from previous versions of Hatsune Miku games. Future Tone adds the use of all buttons on Easy mode instead of just the circle button and also makes use of the shoulder buttons on certain songs and slides instead of star notes. Modules also do not add any bonuses to your score like Project Diva X does and there is no gift giving in Future Tone. There is also no story as there was in Project Diva X and instead focuses on its Rhythm game. If you are looking to bond with the vocaloids or interact with them, this may be something to consider. For those looking for a strict, arcade style rhythm game, it definitely offers more than previous games. One flaw that still exists with these series of games is the distracting videos that play in the background. Many times its flashing images, bright colors and colors that frequently match the buttons can hinder gameplay even if the videos themselves are enjoyable and may hurt your score if you can’t block the distractions out or see the buttons properly.

Overall, the song choices are impressive and enjoyable and the customization has shown improvement. If you are craving Miku, her music and a solid rhythm game, this is worth the price of admission. If you are a player that is looking for more interaction with the vocaloids or story, then if may be worth it to look to past Hatsune Miku games that offer story, mini games and gift giving. Hopefully, DLC will be added to Future Tone down the line, adding to the longevity of this game and keep the game enjoyable for a while. This game offers a rich arcade experience and will hopefully only expand. If you like J-Pop, Vocaloids or Rhythm games, definitely give the demo a try as it is available for free in the Playstation Store along with the full version, if it doesn’t entice you immediately, wait for a possible sale in the future to try out these tones.


Circles: An Indie Game | Review

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Circles is an independent, casual puzzle game by developer Jeroen Wimmers. Circles boasts its 90+ levels and bonus content and its unique intuitive game play that doesn’t require lengthy tutorials,  words and a “zen” atmosphere that promotes relaxation and the ability to “let your mind wander”.  Does this minimalist circular based game succeed in its efforts to relax and be so intuitive that you don’t need tutorials or texts to distract you from relaxing? Or does it fall short?

As far as design and atmosphere, there are some fine choices that do set the desired mood the designer intended. the color choices of this game are earthy, soft and pleasant to the eye. There is rarely a level that uses bright, loud colors and instead uses light blues, browns, soft pinks and deep oranges which are relaxing to watch as you explore the levels. The music is soft and changes along with your movements in the game, but always stays breathy with occasional strums when you need to start a puzzle over again. Even the use of circles themselves is almost calming; there are no sharp corners, no overwhelming numbers of different shapes and instead just simple, round circles. This game’s design will definitely put you in a zen mood with its simplicity and softness.

The gameplay is definitely unique as advertised. The game uses only the mouse to move around your circle through the puzzle of opposing circles in order to meet your matching circle and complete the level. The levels range from easy to challenging, though there are a few levels that seem to be a bit nonsensical in their solution. A few puzzles had me just swiping the mouse quickly through circles and it actually working out for me. These levels left me feeling slightly unsatisfied, but were quick enough to not ruin the game for me. The beauty of this game is that for every level you don’t enjoy, there are plenty more you most likely will if these kinds of puzzles are your type of game. There are also beautiful “boss” levels that lead you through swirling circle patterns to enter the next stage which had me almost hypnotized. If there is a game that can call itself “zen” or “relaxing” while still offering a challenge, this is it. Each new stage offers new gameplay elements to explore to keep the game from being monotonous or boring, which is good for a game consisting of nothing but circles and one ultimate goal.

This is not the game you play when you’re looking to let out aggression or are looking for something punishing in its difficulty, but it really is a game to play to unwind and relax maybe while watching your favorite TV show or before bed. As someone with anxiety and mood disorders, this game was definitely enjoyable. Not needing a tutorial or to memorize lines of text was almost a relief as sometimes games can be overwhelming trying to teach you its rules and world. I was worried the game would get tiresome or boring, but the levels and interactivity vary enough to keep from too much repetition or tedium and you can bounce around slightly to different levels if one is not suiting you or enjoyable to you. If you want a relaxing, simple game to unwind with after a long day, this may be for you. The game will be offered for $8.99 US dollars and with the sheer amount of content and beautiful, zen atmosphere it might be worth considering. If you are not a fan of simple puzzle games, you can pass on this, but if you like puzzles and want a calming experience, pick it up and play and enjoy hours of circles.



What does the possible elimination of the NEA mean to video games?

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Meghan Kass

In the United States, there is a federal agency that goes by the name the National Endowment of the Arts. According to their website, they are “an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.”. On January 19th, a report from The Hill, and an unnamed source reported that the NEA was on the chopping block for budget cuts under the reasoning that taxpayers should not have to pay for such things such as plays, paintings, scholarly journals or other such works and that it was a “waste”. While it can be debated whether or not the NEA is necessary or not, what can not be debated are the numbers. The NEA and NEH (National Endowment of Humanities) would only be 0.0006 percent of the 2016’s federal spending, a minuscule amount for something that provides a lot of opportunities to so many Americans. This is also particularly disappointing as only as recently as 2012 was the NEA paying attention to the world of video games and funding such projects as Walden, a game and allowing what was once thought of as mere children’s toys to be seen as a serious medium for art. How will the elimination of the NEA effect the gaming community?

A Still From Indie-Cade 2015, a popular gathering of indie developers.

In 2012, $290,000 in grants were given to 4 video game projects. This opened the door to new types of video games and new creators. It was even inspiring non profit organizations such as the WITS (writers in the schools) to utilize grant money to incorporate video games into the education of students in reading and writing by using their inspiration and knowledge to make whole video game projects and stories. If not for the NEA, some creators may not have had the opportunity to explore video game creation and bring their ideas to life in this medium and with the NEA offering millions of dollars in grants each year, who knows what new creations could be made or what brilliant new artist could be discovered? If the NEA is eliminated, this could potentially hurt the progress of video games being explored and expanded as a medium even further, especially since it had only just gotten its chance to shine as a federally funded art form in America.


The freedom of indie developers mean that exploring with emerging technologies like VR is possible.

While the gaming industry is still going to be standing and even the indie community will still find its funding, especially with crowd funding as an increasingly viable option, the elimination of the NEA still destroys an opportunity for learning and growth for some and it is now more than ever important  for Americans to help support its gaming  community and its creators and continue to grow and evolve video games. Art, in any form, is essential to culture, building creativity, empathy and education and that most certainly includes video games.


Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Episode 1- Ties That Bond (Part one and two)

Posted on January 17, 2017 by Meghan Kass

It is not a secret that I have a great fondness for Telltale and their games. As much as I love their games, I feel none compare to what they have done with The Walking Dead. While others may differ in opinion, I personally feel not only has Telltale done an impressive job with the series, I feel they may have even surpassed the TV show at this point. I have followed Clementine and her many companions and stories since season one of the Telltale series and not only have they made one of the most charming children characters to date, but they managed to get us emotionally invested in her and all the characters involved in this series for the entire 20+ hours of the games. Each episode has made me beg for more and many have made me hold my breath, cringe at their pain and even cry. With part one and two of season three out and ready to play, can the series keep up the momentum, or is Telltale beginning to lose steam?

It is hard to judge the first two episodes individually, so I chose to view them as one long episode. This time we are not following Clementine as a main character, but instead are playing a new character named Javier “Javi” Garcia and following his life and story beginning from before the zombie apocalypse leaves the world in shambles and disorder. Javier is the prodigal son of the Garcia family. Resented by his older brother, David and beloved by the rest of his family, Javier has made some mistakes with his life, but wants to pull his life together after a family tragedy and begin to truly grow up. Once the “muertos” begin to take over, Javier puts those words and intentions into action and soon he is raising his niece and nephew with his sister-in-law on the road, trying to keep ahead of the hoards of dead and make sure they have what they need to survive day by day while keeping the children’s best interest at heart (and maybe sneaking some adult fun at times). Along the way there are choices to be made and people who you must decide to trust or maybe even hurt. Will you decide to open fire or negotiate? Will you murder or show mercy? Will you take a stranger’s word on faith and hope they won’t turn on you? Will you stay at what seems like a safe location or keep moving? Even more important, how will you interact and treat Clementine? Has growing up in such a chaotic world so quickly turned her into your enemy? Or will she become a strong ally and even friend of your family and still show her good heart? What has happened to Clementine between season 2 and 3?  All are wonderfully emotional moments and make for a wonderful story.

What I love is the uncertainty of this game that you feel along with the characters. Telltale keeps you on the edge of your seat through much of the first two parts of this season. While a couple of instances telegraphed some events and once even made me roll my eyes because I just knew what was going to happen, most of the time, I couldn’t tell what would happen next. I genuinely cared about Javi and his family and love the diversity the family brings to the world. Telltale does a good job as always with representation of many cultures, races and creeds. The cinematography and editing of the cut scenes felt very real to me and sometimes reminded me of a live action show and not just a video game, even with the stylized design. The gameplay was fun, and I only wish there were more zombie shooting moments as I had the most fun picking them off like ducks in a shooting gallery.

The only complaint overall I had was a couple of predictable, telegraphed moments among the uncertain atmosphere that somewhat throw off the experience and some stiff character movements. Overall, this is looking to be just as good as season one and two and has the potential to be one of the best in Telltales library. I recommend this wholeheartedly along with the rest of the series and can’t wait for more.



Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 5: City of Light | Review

Posted on January 4, 2017 by Meghan Kass

So, here it is, the finale to Telltales adaptation of Batman. This first attempt by Telltale at telling Batman’s story has come to an end and the question now becomes “did it end with a bang or was it a dud?”. While this may not have been Telltale’s strongest project, there was a lot of enjoyable moments that Telltale brought and interesting ideas that gave a unique look at the characters we all know and love. The final episode, while it may have its flaws, does tie up many loose ends and leaves great anticipation for a second season.

This episode starts with you having to either fight Harvey Dent or Cobblepot’s drones depending on the choices you made in the previous episode. I find it interesting, that based on your choices from previous episodes, Harvey will remain unscathed physically and not have the literal two face we have all become accustomed to or he will indeed, be the two face we all think of when we think of the character. I enjoy the fact that they focus on Harvey’s mental health and treat him as more of a three dimensional, almost tragic character than a simple “bad guy” who simply went over the edge from being disfigured by a mob boss. Harvey is sick and has been for a while, resisting treatment and has been hurt by someone he thought was a friend and his mental health is affecting his ability to deal with his hurt. Telltale took an interesting turn with Dent that I am glad was constant through the episodes..

Lady Arkham was also a drastically different character than we thought she would turn out to be and turned out to be much tougher  than previously assumed. She also continues to be more fleshed out in City of Light as we learn a lot  more of how she grew into the revenge seeking, tough woman leading the Children of Arkham and her motives for attacking the Wayne empire. The writers certainly were creative with their decisions for this character”. Her and Harvey certainly have their reasons for their behavior and are handled wonderfully throughout the series, although Cobblepot and The Joker seem much more insignificant.

The problem with City of Light from a story perspective is the sheer amount of characters shoved  into the story. While Harvey and Lady Arkham get fleshed out and even sympathetic at times, Cobblepot and “John Doe”/The Joker seem in comparison. Yes, we learn about Cobblepot’s motivations, but not much else but some simple exposition. I felt no connection to him and he seemed to be more of a nuisance than a character. The Joker also seemed very rushed into the story as his purpose to was to possibly help Bruce in one section of episode 4 and then make another appearance in City of Light that just seemed unnecessary. I feel Telltale could have held off introducing his character until a theoretical season two so he didn’t seem so obligatory. I feel if Telltale only included the two villains, it could have led to a stronger ending. The result feels muddy and at times rushed, and yet, still entertaining.

For what flaws this final episode brings, how they concluded Lady Arkham and Harvey/s stories left me satisfied with the episode and wanting more from their rendition of Batman. They were overall creative with Bruce’s story and how he fought for his family’s name and honor and the story ended a lot of arcs in a satisfying way. If you have played the other episodes, there is no reason not to finish the story and if you have not played Batman at all yet, it is definitely worth a look.


The Last Guardian | Review

Posted on December 30, 2016 by Meghan Kass

At long last, The Last Guardian has arrived at us after a long, patient wait. This game – brought to us by genDESIGN and SCI Japan Studio has faced many challenges in getting to the public, but thanks to the consultation of members of Team Ico, even after leaving Sony, the game that was assumed to never be reaching store shelves has become a reality. As a fan of Team Ico’s work, I was highly excited for this game and even counted down the days until I could play it. I braced myself for the artistic beauty, heart-wrenching story and atmosphere to spare and a style that only Team Ico could create. Now that I have thoroughly played through the game, the question is, was it worth the ten-year wait?

The Last Guardian transports you into the narrative of a man looking back on his time with the unique beast, Trico and his relationship with him and the bond they shared during their time together. The unnamed young boy wakes to find himself covered in tattoos that were not carved into him before, in any unknown castle type building and on top of that, with a large, injured beast he calls Trico. He gains the beasts trust by helping heal his wounds and feeding him to help him gain strength. As Trico begins to trust the young boy, the two of them join together to escape their captivity and form the most unlikely of friendships. Trico will eventually learn to listen to your commands, help you out with tough enemies and you will even help him get out of a few tight spaces too. It is this bond and this adventure that will make you fall in love with this game, especially if you already loved Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. This bond is very reminiscent of the bond formed with Yorda in Ico or Argo in Shadow of the Colossus and that makes the story all the more emotional and enchanting. This adventure and love between the boy and Trico will keep you invested and entranced despite the game’s shortcomings.

Even when you love a piece of media, it is important to still acknowledge and accept imperfections and flaws. While this game is stunning and emotional and artistic, it definitely shows a ten year age. My problems personally were with the camera and commands for Trico. The camera often would swing wildly and zoom in on the young boy far too often when I was trying to navigate and in general, I found it too tightly focused on him and the camera would often twitch or jerk when I would climb Trico to get on his back. I found it hard to get the boy to go from clinging to something to jumping. He was desperate to hang on, as if scared to make the leap I was trying to make, While that was almost interesting, as I could imagine a young boy being afraid to be told “Hey, jump from Trico’s head to this high ledge that is clearly dangerous”, it was more frustrating because I was trying to make it to the next area. Trico would also cause me frustrating moments, as much like a real animal, it was almost a gamble to give him a command as sometimes he would listen, sometimes he would just sit there and give me a whine. I also found Trico slow to complete commands, making me give an audible sign on more than one occasion. As much as I loved Trico as a character, as an aid in gameplay, I felt he was unpolished and clunky to control.

Overall, if you can overlook some major flaws in this game, it was very much worth the wait. The story and atmosphere more than makeup for the mechanical problems and the characters are completely charming and the story emotional and engrossing. I was hypnotized despite my frustrations and would recommend this to any Team Ico fan or someone who loves emotional stories of friendship and overcoming the odds.


Batman: The Telltale Series- Episode 4: Guardian of Gotham | REVIEW

Posted on December 11, 2016 by Meghan Kass

Batman continues its adventure with episode 4, titled Guardian of Gotham. Telltale has made some impressive and creative choices with their interpretation of Batman and its iconic characters and while this episode may not have the twists and turns of previous episodes, it still continues to intrigue and engage despite some technical setbacks. With a new game mechanic, new character added to the mix and the story being brought closer to its conclusion, can this episode lead up to a promising end for this story? Can this episode deliver another chilling chapter for the Batman? Let’s take a closer look.

After a startling conclusion, we begin this episode with Bruce in the infamous Arkham Asylum and he is proving to be the worse for wear. As it turns out, the facility is not exactly Disneyland and its orderlies and employees are not the most caring, understanding people.After some abuse from the employees and then being beaten two colorful patients, who comes to Bruce’s rescue but the clown prince himself, the Joker. While he is not “The Joker” in this episode, and simply John Doe, he still has his iconic green hair, white skin and wide grin. You have to chose to trust The Joker or not as he attempts to help you get out of your predicament and you can choose to take his help or get out on your own terms. This could mean causing a scene and making yourself look worse than you already do or putting others in danger to help yourself. Luckily Alfred is there to get you out of the hell you got yourself into and you can be on your way into getting your life back together. Unfortunately, there are a few hiccups.

An interesting addition to the game this episode were the effects Lady Arkham’s drugs have on you. During moments where the drugs are acting up, you may be given the choice to make a reasonable reply to a character during a dialogue, but what actually comes out of your mouth is uncharacteristically violent or angry. You have no control over what you say during these moments and it adds an element of tension in the game. I found myself verbally shouting  “That’s not what I meant at all!” when trying to talk to someone while the drugs were controlling me. Hopefully these responses won’t cause any long term effects on Bruce’s relationship with any of the characters. During all of this, you still need to investigate and figure out how Lady Arkham is transporting her drugs, what she plans on doing with them and how to stop her. You also need to try and control Harvey who is not on the best of terms with you and make sure the police are informed and make the best decisions. There is a lot on Batman’s plate and your choices could help or hinder him in his goal to get his life back from Cobblepot and Lady Arkham.


The only problem I had with this episode in particular were some technical issues. It was frustrating to see things like lag issues during certain points and even more frustrating when I experienced sound issues during a fight scene where there were no sound effects as tables were being hit and people were being thrown. If Telltale could have polished out these few issues, this episode would have been far more immersive. I will add, an element of the gameplay they added that I particularly enjoyed was a new small puzzle game where you had to match a chemical to your DNA to figure out a potential antidote for the drug,

Overall, this is a strong episode and has the potential to lead into a brilliant conclusion. If Telltale works on some of their technical setbacks, this could easily be one of their best stories to date. Only time will tell if this will end strong or end with a whimper.



Diner Duo | REVIEW

Posted on December 5, 2016 by Meghan Kass

So far, in it’s short existence, the Vive has had an interesting selection of games. These games range from literally nauseating to impressive, but most have the feeling as a tech demo at this point. Many Vive games have a lot of style and gimmicks, but lack in actual gameplay or even fun for a stretch of times. While the horror genre and arcade style games have shown us some virtual reality gems, what are other some other types of games that are worth the time and money that the Vive or, any VR system require? One of the more fun games I have played for the Vive recently is one called Diner Duo.

Diner Duo is an asymmetrical multiplayer game by publisher, Whirlybird Games. The game’s concept is simple; you and your partner are running a diner and have to keep the customers happy and served the correct food and drink in a timely manner. You achieve this by having one person, using the VR headset, be the cook and the other person using a traditional keyboard and PC controls running around the diner, taking orders and serving food and drink. The game closely resembles a two player Diner Dash in both its concept and mechanics if you are playing as the server and loosely resembled the chef level of Job Simulator if you are the cook. You can unlock hats and other cosmetic customization. If you don’t have or want to play with a partner, there is also a single player mode where you can see if you have what it takes to be the top chef.

I played single player and played the multiplayer with a partner and see if we had what it took to run a restaurant. As the chef, the controls were slightly clumsy and I tended to drop my fair share of food and it would occasionally take two or more attempt to grab the item I wanted.I also found it wasn’t obvious how to initiate some options, such as scaling the kitchen for the chef, but that didn’t inhibit the gameplay and could eventually be learned. I also noticed the table would knock ingredients out of your hands or the knife would get stuck while trying to cut cucumbers. While annoying, these quirks were not enough to stop playing and didn’t stop the fun.


As the server, I found the gameplay to be smooth for the most part and fun. As someone who has played Diner Dash type games in the past, this was more of the same. It took a minute or two to get the hang of the controls, but once I did, the levels flew by and a rhythm was established and I found myself loudly, but efficiently communicating with my chef and making sure to keep customers happy with plenty of pie during more chaotic times. The only hiccup I experienced as server was that during more rushed and advanced levels, if I wasn’t paying attention, it would be very easy to pour the wrong drink or give the food to the wrong customer unintentionally, leaving a customer who had been waiting longer getting progressively angrier.

Overall, this game is best experienced in multiplayer mode and is a much needed addition to the VR collection. The world of VR can be a lonely one, so more asymmetrical games are not only welcomed, but necessary in a library full of arcade or horror games. This game may not be the most complex and it has no narrative, much like so many VR games, but the multiplayer aspect it brings and the fun that comes with it makes it worth the money.



Pirate Pop Plus | REVIEW

Posted on November 21, 2016 by Meghan Kass

When I was younger, I played a lot of simple games. I clearly remember getting a CD with a collection of old games, including Dangerous Dave and Skunny the Squirrel games. In between playing Civilization games and Sims games and my NES, I played these quite often. These games weren’t the most sophisticated by any means, nor were they even great, but they made me smile and they were oddly relaxing and had short play times for when I wanted to play a game,, but didn’t have enough time to invest in a longer game (I was a busy kid with a bedtime, after all). After playing the Pirate Pop Plus, I can say, this game would have fit right in with those nostalgic titles I enjoyed in that obscure collection of odd computer games. It is not the most sophisticated, complex or story driven game, but it brought me a relaxing, enjoyable time.

Pirate Pop Plus is the newest title by 13AM Games, developers of Runbow and aims to recreate a classic arcade game from the late ‘80s. In this game you are the pirate, Pete Jr., who after waking up discovers that his arch nemesis, Bubble Pirate has trapped the local townsfolk in his devious bubbles. Pete Jr. must grab his anchor, and battle it out with Bubble Pirate to save the locals and of course, collect treasure. You pop bubbles without being hit and hurt by them all while being thrown off by Bubble Pirate’s anti gravity device that will send you flying around the screen. This is a game of endurance to see how long you can go and how many points and coins you can collect. You can use the coin to customize your portable game border. You can add stickers, change the color of the system, or you can try to test your skill on the “hyper” difficulty and see what new treasures await. You also can obtain weapons to shoot the bubbles more effectively and could save Pete Jr.’s life.

As far as simple games go, there are definitely worse games than this one. The gameplay was smooth with the exception of Pete Jr sometimes moving too fast or too far to make precise movem
ents and avoid bubbles or shoot my anchor correctly to hit the target. In spite of some flaws, this game still had me playing and trying to unlock my favorite colors and decals and even to see just how far I could go. Along with games like snake, Dangerous Dave and other repetitive simple games, this game is addictive. I feel some might get bored of the repetitive nature of the game and to some it may not be worth the money, as it seems like something to be played on the original Gameboy or an older cell phone, but for those who grew up with these types of games and looks back fondly on them, it is worth it for some quick, fun gameplay and cute pixel art.


Pirate Pop plus may seem out of place in 2016, but it is a game that is addictive and entertaining for someone looking for a quick fix after a busy day. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, I had a fun trip down memory lane, back to those days I explored little unknown games that were unique and quirky. This game has beautiful art, a love of old arcade games and plenty of things to unlock and scores to beat to keep you playing. If you can spare the $5 on steam, Wii U or New 3ds and enjoy old arcade style games, I recommend it, but unless you are a fan of this particular type of game, it may be a pass in favor of something slightly more fulfilling.



Kickstarter Games Festival: Ghost Arcade and the passion of Indie Development

Posted on November 9, 2016 by Meghan Kass

No matter the entertainment enjoyed, one of the most fun things about independent media are attending festivals and small events. Whether it’s and independent film festival, music festival or art gallery, such events leave an intimate, passionate atmosphere that is almost infectious. I recently had the pleasure of attending such an event for indie gaming, the Kickstarter Games Festival: Ghost Arcade, at Bric in Brooklyn. The experience of trying new games, meeting developers and playing with other indie fans was something truly unique and reminded me why I enjoy the indie game scene as much as I do.

The festival was split into video and tabletop gaming. While I played two very fun tabletop games, Heartcatchers and Illimat, most of my time was in the atmospheric video game arcade area. I sampled games that had either just recently been funded, still being funded or starting their campaign on Kickstarter in the near future. Ayo the Clown, developed by Cloud M1, was the first game I played in the arcade area, and piqued my interest almost immediately. This bright, colorful platformer about a clown in search of their pet was both challenging and had me smiling as I met various characters and completed 2 levels that were being demoed. This game showed a lot of promise and will soon be available on Kickstarter, but a demo can be played right now through their website. I had the pleasure of also playing Waynesaw, a mobile game in development by AmazingSuperPowers, that had reached its Kickstarter goal and is on its way to being released soon. This game is an endless runner featuring an “innocent chainsaw” that simply doesn’t know how dangerous he is. As far as endless runner mobile games are concerned, this was one I easily could see myself passing the time with during train rides and waiting in lines or relaxing in bed or on the couch with. The developers definitely displayed their sense of humor and showed great enthusiasm for their second game project. I also played Treachery in Beatdown City, developed by Shawn Alexander Allen who brought a unique combination of tactical turn based battle and a retro beat-em-up. Learning how to fight my opponent and how to combine moves in the menu based system was certainly something interesting to experience.


I also took the time to visit the Pixel Noir developers, SWDtechgames, that were displaying their successfully funded game, and got the chance to ask them why they chose to focus on indie development and what they found most different about from AAA development work. They explained there was a freedom and passion that they found in indie development and that it was much less restricting and enjoyable to be one’s own boss and work on projects that were close to them and be closer to the community. This resonated with me, because in the end, that is what I love most about indie development, passion and a sense of community through the good and bad.



Batman: The Telltale Series- Episode 3- New World Order | REVIEW

Posted on October 28, 2016 by Meghan Kass

Previously, on Batman: A Telltale Series: we have seen the beginning of the fall of the Wayne empire and the rise of the Children of Arkham; we have seen Bruce love and lose (depending on your choices that is) and we have seen Batman kick around some criminals and investigate the mystery surrounding his and his family’s past. As this exciting story continues, what does Telltale have in store this episode? Will it continue to excite and intrigue? Let’s find out!

batman-telltale-new-world-order-available Picking up where the last episode left off, Harvey is in the hospital, and his physical and mental state are taking a toll. Telltale addresses Harvey’s mental illness competently to explain his duality and compulsion to flip coins in search of a true fair result that is left up to fate. The game addresses how mental illness can affect friends and loved ones by seeing Bruce and Selina’s reactions to Harvey’s episodes, which include pleas for him to see his therapist and continue his medication. The game also allows you to chose how to interact with Harvey and help him cope with his illness. While the accuracy of his disorder may be questionable, the emotions captured by those involved were well done and add complexity to the story and make your choices harder to make, Should you take sympathy on your friend who is ill, but has hurt you? Do you chose love over friendship? These are all addressed in the game.

This episode is full of intense decisions that need to be made and more twists and turns than ever. There is a definite feeling of helplessness as the story progresses and it appears Bruce’s world is crumbling beneath him. Thankfully, there are still some major players on his side that assist him in continuing his work as Batman. You must choose how much you reveal to the public about Cobblepot, how you react in the face of adversity of Wayne Industries asking for a new CEO and who you hurt or help along the way to restoring your reputation.fbmhudb

The gameplay has some improvements; there are more fast fights and investigations to be had and Lucius Fox makes an entrance and adds some new tech, which include sticky bombs that leave explosive results in a particular fight. He also brings some levity to a disastrous  situation with witty Banter while also giving us a touching moment with Bruce, showing us more insight into Bruce’s life that we don’t always get from a Batman story.

While the PS4 version of the game has some hiccups, such as slight issues with lips syncing with the voices and minor frame-rate drops, it is easy to look past due to its stylized, comic book design and strong plot. The fights are exciting, quick and reflexive and can get the blood pumping and the adrenaline rushing which is definitely a positive for an exciting comic book based game like this. While the action has had its improvements, it is still the story, dialogue and choices you will be coming back for more of than the fights and punches.

Overall, Telltale has done it again, with this episode being the best so far. The stakes are at it’s highest, the fights are exciting, the characters intriguing and it ends with a bang. If you have played the first two episodes, there is no reason not to continue. If you have not picked up the game and are looking to see if it would interest you, it is a strong addition to the Batman mythos for any fan. I am excited to see where Telltale leads the player next and what they have in store.