Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 at "OtakuDante's Gaming Inferno"

As 2015 draws to a close thoughts of the new year are racing through my mind. On one hand I look forward to being able to continue doing reviews, and articles for the lot of you. On the other hand I know that my busy life beckons more than it ever has. Family illness, and health issues have come into play, and as much as I hate to believe it some of my family may not live through the new year. Along with the increasingly bad weather, political nonsense, and war looming just over the horizon times are more uncertain than they ever were. Concerns are definitely plentiful in my life as I'm sure they are in yours ...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Blood Bowl 2 (PS4)

When it comes to football I know pretty much nothing about the sport. I do know of European futbol (aka, Soccer), and have participated in that activity in high school, but I've never really been an American football fan. I couldn't tell you any of the rules, or regulations if my life depended on it. Even with having watched football related movies like "Jerry McGuire" I couldn't tell you which end is up. That's why I proceeded to request this game with the hopes that it wouldn't be entirely football related, or at the very least that I would finally be able learn about the sport in a more fun filled atmosphere. Thankfully the game is a hybrid of sorts that combines both tabletop RPG mechanics, and basic football rules. By that I simply mean it is a combat dice game played on a playing field that is governed by tiled squares which houses game changing statistic modifiers. The teams which are controlled by the player/s, and CPU opponents each move as they would in an American football game, but do so square by square in a more SRPG (Strategy Role-Playing Game) fashion. While the formation changes, turnovers, half time events, rules regarding scoring, and time associated with said sport remain intact for the most part the combat centered mechanics that come with the characters'/teammates' blocking dice rolls changes the gameplay significantly. In doing so it becomes more brutal in nature, and actually gives the players a different way to win outside of the traditional scoring opportunities. Death, and blood are but two of the many things that are a part of the 'Blood Bowl' franchise. You can imagine my excitement at finding this out, especially with me being into the more violent side of video games.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Is a Balanced Fighting Game Possible?

I've been playing fighting games for years now. Many years to be more precise. Ever since my 13th birthday when I got "Street Fighter II: Championship Ed." for the Sega Genesis I've been into the genre. To put that into perspective I'm nearing 40 years old now. That is a long time to dedicate to such a hobby. In my years spent with gaming, specifically with fighters (and I've played more than most gamers) I've noticed a trend that has been there pretty much from the start. That trend being the fact that the games in the fighting game genre have never really been balanced. Whether it be the OP (over-powered) bosses, an unbalanced roster, or poorly applied mechanics something has always been unfair for one player or the other.

What makes this so bad is that fighting games are now being marketed as an eSports type of experience. Developers have become so wholly focused on emphasizing the competitive scene that they've lost sight of what makes the genre so great. In doing so they continue to fail to see that their games are still the unbalanced mess that they always were. They don't realize how important it is to balance things out, and don't really seem to care. I think in a way the developers seek out the "show" associated with the fighting game tournament scene more so than they do making the actual fights in said games fun, and fair. Probably for sales purposes. They want their sponsored players to make a 3-ring circus out of the televised competitions for those watching, because a flashy tournament full of special effects, attention getting characters, and hype is seemingly more important than having a proper in-game fight with intense fun filled back & forth action.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ark: Survival Evolved - Day 2 (PREVIEW)

This morning I spent a couple of hours getting back into the PvE side of the"Ark: Survival Evolved" preview on the Xbox One. For whatever the reason the second go around was vastly more pleasant, and greatly more enjoyable than my first time with the game. The graphics definitely looked better. There were also less noticeable texture issues, and the frame rate hiccups weren't as bad as they were before. On top of that I finally figured out how to craft things which in turn allowed me to survive longer than I did before. I still feel that the menu management UI isn't as user friendly as it should be, especially in regards to the crafting mechanics though. I'd highly suggest referencing the in-game manual before getting into the game. As far as the fun factor goes this game is amazing! I feel like I'm a part of a living prehistoric ecosystem every time I get into it. I've had some laughable moments as well as some moments of discovery that kept me wanting to play more just to see what I could find.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ark: Survival Evolved (PREVIEW)

Instead of taking to Twitter, and spamming your timelines with my thoughts on the Xbox One "Ark: Survival Evolved" preview experience I figured it best to include it all here on this blog post. That way you can reference all of my thoughts any time you wish ...

When 'Reverb Inc.' contacted me about getting in on the preview of "Ark: Survival Evolved" I was honestly very excited. What got me even more excited than that base excitement was the fact that I was given the go ahead to stream, or post my thoughts on the game if I so wished. Not many PR, developers, or publishers have the brass balls to let the journalism outlets have at their game so early on, and this alone had me thinking we might actually be seeing one of the Xbox One's best game offerings yet. You can imagine the thoughts racing through my head when I realized that. While my anticipation was definitely hyped up, and my anxiousness to get into the game and hunt dinosaurs was to the extreme I found said expectations met with a bit of disappointment. Mind you, the game is still far from being hammered out to perfection though, and I expect it will be a work in progress up until release date. I fully realize that this is a preview build, and that the final product will no doubt function, and look much better than it does now. At least I'm hoping so.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fat Princess Adventures (PS4)

Before I get into this review the crew at 'Santa Monica Studios' wanted me to inform you that I was given a code by them. I chose to do the review myself though, and was not required to provide such a service. I'm simply doing it, because I fell in love with the game, and want my readers to know about it. Thanks to SMS for providing the code for this truly Awesome game! ...

Fat Princess Adventures, as it were is a fun filled RPG rogue-like adventure the likes of which I've never really seen in my time as a gamer, or a gaming journalist. While it does take obvious hints from the classic "Legend of Zelda" games, and games like "Diablo" it, in itself is a unique experience. You'll find an odd mixture of kid friendliness joined with some more mature gameplay themes. Within the game you'll find pop-culture nods aplenty, potty humor in various forms, blood splatters that would give 'Splatoon' a run for it's money, and adulterated entertainment references abound. Don't be surprised when you walk along a yellow brick road talking in a squeaky voice as you battle blood filled baddies that look as if they were ripped out of a child's storybook. Things like the underhanded mention of HALO, Blood Gulch, and the red & blue of said game are subliminally incorporated as well. As far as features go the amount of detail put into this miniaturized misadventure are titanic in proportion. Whether it be the diverse selection of characters, or their equally diverse voice-overs the attention to detail in-game is greatly impressive in so many ways. Sony, and the development studio behind this odd little treat of a game really went above, and beyond their means to impress on a budget level, and in doing so I think they succeeded. The fact that this latest "Fat Princess Adventure" offers online co-op is icing on top of the cake.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Wanting Oni and the Humble Monk

The Wanting Oni and the Humble Monk
a story with a moral by - Brad Carver

Long ago in a time when the demons of Japan, and the holy men of Buddha coexisted in the plains of life, and death there lived a wanting Oni, and a humble monk. The Oni, which spent it's time longing for that next wayward soul to pass was always unhappy, and always wanted for a better existence. Despite the enjoyment that torturing a new soul brought to him he couldn't be content with his role in the grand scheme of things, nor could he be content with the one or two souls sent his way every one hundred, or so years. He wanted more. He longed for more souls, and he longed for a higher position in the Oni hierarchy. Thus he made it his goal to rise among the ranks, and become the best Oni in hell. As the millennia passed, and the ages of Japan came, and went the wanting Oni continued to long for more. Though he had risen in the ranks, and became the leading Oni general with a constant supply of human souls to judge, and torture he still felt a longing in his darkened heart. An emptiness that just could not be filled. He did not understand it ...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Hopes & Concerns For 2016

This year has been filled with many ups, and downs. I've had my fair share of issues, and triumphs just like everyone else has. Through it all I've tried to remain hopeful, and positive for the future. Not only for myself, but also for others. With the constant barrage of bad news, journalistic road blocks, and industry downfalls I've struggled to maintain a positive outlook. I've faltered many times, and have only been brought back to my feet by those of you who cared.

Looking forward at the possibilities of 2016 I find myself even more conflicted in the emotional sense. The world around me is collapsing, and each day I'm reminded how much closer this world, and my life are to ending. I'm realizing that my hopes which are grounded mostly on simple pleasures, and online friendships could be taken away without a moment's notice. At the same time I know 2016's lineup of video games is going to be something to behold. As oddly misplaced as that notion is it keeps me distracted thinking I might at least find some pleasant moments amid the chaos that will no doubt ensue. Video games for me have been a saving grace more often than not. At times they were my light at the end of a dark tunnel. That's part of the reason I find myself in a depressed state. Seeing the gaming industry fall victim to bad business practices, and extremist ideals hurts. It cuts deep. I know the days of couch co-op on the NES with my brothers are long gone, and that a true revival in the industry will likely never happen due to corporate greed, and industry mismanagement, but I still hope for some enjoyment from the hobby I've grown so fond of over the years. I hope, and long for the distraction.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (Xbox One)

This review has been at least a couple of years in the making, if not more. Ever since the mention of "The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing" coming to the Xbox 360, it's canceled release on said console, and it's later releases on the PC platform that is Steam I have waited anxiously to be able to play, and review a console version of it. It looked amazing in the shared screenshots that I viewed, and even in the developer diary videos that I watched which were constantly being posted throughout the game's lifespan. I'm personally a fan of the old Van Helsing lore, and even the questionable movie of the same name that starred 'Hugh Jackman". When 'NeoCore Games' announced that they'd be bringing the monster hunter to life in their own unique way I was stoked (Enter "Bram Stoker" Pun Here). The developers' vision seemed clear, and the gameplay looked promising. Unfortunately this hype that I built up over the years, and the longing to play the game was eventually met with the realization that the game's execution was far from being perfected. It's actually even far from being fully functional, to be honest. I suppose when you build up excitement for so long only to be able to play a version of a game that is so obviously flawed in delivery it adds a sort of salty edge to the deeply cut disappointment that comes with experiencing it first hand. Thus I find myself having to point out the many wrongs that I found among the few rights.

A Look at the Japanese to Western Gaming Censorship Problem

Though I only briefly said it before I predicted that other Japanese gaming studios would follow the actions of Koei Tecmo regarding western censorship. I said that once this exclusion of the western marketplace became a "thing" other developers would likely follow in Koei Tecmo's footsteps. Whether it's out of fear of a backlash, or straight stupidity it is inexcusable for any entertainment provider from any country in the world to not port an adult themed product to another country who clearly has an audience for adult material, especially a legally acceptable market for such material. At first I seriously thought this was an ordeal about social justice warriors, or extremists complaining about DOAX3's sexually provocative young ladies, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it seems to be something else entirely. My theory is that these "niche" Japanese developers are looking for a way out of providing for the minor amount of fans they have amassed in the United States. I think their fear doesn't lie with the morals of the outspoken few, but instead lies with the realization that it costs more, and doesn't pay out nearly enough to produce their niche games overseas. I think the whole censorship debate was a marketing ploy started by Koei Tecmo, and that it is slowly being adapted by other like-minded Japanese developers. I think other niche developers like Idea Factory who recently caved into such supposed western censorship regulations are catching on, and are slowly backing out of the US market in an attempt to save face and finances. That of course is a theory though. Take it as you will.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Praying to the Porcelain Throne

Clickity Click Bait! You've been had by Brad, lol! Just kidding! There is a point to this article ...

These days I honestly feel like I've knelt down in front of a metaphorical toilet bowl as I pray for my putrid disgust to pass while I continuously vomit out logic, and common sense with no relief. What the gaming industry has become is truly sickening. It has failed, and continues to fail the gamer in so many ways. Like a monster turd clogging a public comode the BS that the developers, and publishers constantly push out won't pass through the plumbing pipes that make up the integrity of the gaming industry. All bathroom metaphors aside I feel we, the gamer are being dealt a bad hand. I believe we are being given a raw deal. Whether it be bad business practices in the form of abused DLC, micro-transactions, or whatever this industry is being brought to it's knees, and the gamers who made it as great as it once was are no longer being heard. Why more gamers aren't vocally disgusted, and outright offended is beyond me. We, as gamers often times side with those well spoken individuals that tell us the gaming industry is failing, but we do f**k all about the problem. We continue to buy into the bad business practices reassuring shoddy developers, and publishers that it's okay to monetarily ream us a new one. I honestly don't think this ass backwards madness will ever stop. I don't think gaming will improve.