I’ve had a very nice working relationship with Xgaming for well over a decade. These guys make high quality arcade controllers and arcade cabinets for arcade emulators like MAME. They’ve been around a long time and I have praised them over and over through the years on my popular RetroGaming Radio podcast.
Recently they sent me a very retro looking controller with very modern capabilities – the NES Wireless Gamepad. How could any lover of retro gaming NOT want one of these? Let’s check it out together. Read More …
Blizzard Entertainment threw the gaming community for a loop when they announced that their first new IP in 20 years was a team-based first person shooter. Blizzard is best known for their insanely popular MMO World of Warcraft. So a first person shooter was not what anyone expected when Overwatch was announced.
So what is Overwatch exactly? Overwatch is an online-only, class-based, team-based, competitive, first person shooter that draws inspiration from Team Fortress 2. That’s a mouthful. But to be fair to both Valve and Blizzard, comparing Overwatch to TF2 would be like comparing Quake Arena to Call of Duty 4. Although there are similarities, there’s more than 10 years that separates the two games. Read More …
It is 2016 and almost every digital appliance in our arsenal is battery powered. While great strides are being made every year in battery economy and longevity, most of us are still chained to some form of external battery pack to supplement our power needs – whether it be a cell phone, tablet, Bluetooth speaker, controller, headphones …. well you get the idea.
With all this need – hundreds if not thousands of manufacturers around the world are trying to come up with the perfect external power source; and if they can’t, they are looking to come up with a different gimmick or hook to separate them from the pack. Sometimes they are just trying to be the cheapest possible.
Then you have Tech Armor. Read More …
It might be a little confusing who this product is for, so let’s start there.
If you have an older monitor laying around (and who doesn’t??) that doesn’t have HDMI in, chances are you’ll end up with a device (laptop, tablet, phone, even video players and game consoles) that are “HDMI OUT” only.
This little guy let’s you plug that sparkling new HDMI device into that VGA monitor and use it. What’s neat is that you can still old VGA monitors (big ones) from thrift stores that are still useful if you have the right converter.
Included is an adapter for outputting sound from the HDMI signal (VGA doesn’t carry sound). Your monitor may have an audio input jack or you can plug in a pair of speakers.
I tested this out (see the pictures) with my new Chromebook with an older Dell monitor. The Chromebook resolution is low and a bit odd, so the monitor quality seemed questionable. It is hard to tell if it is the conversion or the resolution that is the issue.
The photo included on the product doesn’t show it needs USB power to work. So included with the package is a USB power cable. Once you have the VGA cable, the audio cable and the USB cable all in the mix, you have a pretty “Frankenstein” looking set up. This isn’t something I’d want to move around a whole lot.
It is a workable solution but it is a bit cumbersome. With HDMI equipped, decent monitors available on the cheap it may be difficult to justify $20 to avoid buying a new one.
Where I see this guy coming in handy? With projectors. Projectors cost a lot and people and businesses keep them for a long time. With HDMI only laptops and portable devices being used so much for presentations, being able to make your $500 projector “HDMI ready” makes a lot of sense for $20.
I docked a star because of how unwieldy it can be to get everything hooked up and the possibility of the quality hit during conversion. I might have to break out my old consoles and see how they look on here.
Alright, as my holiday vacation ends I decided to weigh in on my personal picks for the best games I played in 2015. This was a damn hard list to put together and I used no other source other than my Steam list. These are PC games only (some may cross over to consoles) – there was no consideration given to handheld/mobile games or console games.
Like Casey Kasem, let’s count down the hits of 2015!
Coming in at number 8 is an amazing 2D space shooter loaded with nods and hat tips to classic technology and anime. Galak-Z feels like a 16-bit shooter but looks like a modern game with all the lighting and effects you would hope for. The controls are a bit of a struggle, but their tight nature are required for the often brutally hard dog fighting you’ll have to do.
Everything is polished to hell; great cell shaded graphics, real quality voice over work – even the menus are loaded with paused VCR references or video game power up cycles. Sharp eyes will catch tons of amazing references during the Battlestar Galactica-esque launch sequence.
This game isn’t going to hold your hand and you’re going to die a lot – but it is worth every restart. Shouldn’t be missed.
7. Disney Infinity 3.0
The countdown continues with The Mouse House cash cow Disney Infinity 3.0 at number 7. It wasn’t until I figured out the secret of buying cheap web codes (and not playing it on Wii U) that this game came onto my radar.
The game has a lot to offer OUTSIDE of the “build your own crap” toybox. Commercial “playsets” are out for Star Wars that include your favorite playable characters. These can be had for $10-12 on eBay and they will shoot you your code over email. Beats paying $30+ retail and you get the exact same game experience. No portals, no plastic characters taking up space.
The playsets are pesudo open world adventures with tons to do – and your characters follow an RPG path of leveling up, expanding skill trees and more.
The game is free to download and “try” but don’t expect much for free. But, if you wheel and deal on eBay, you can walk away with all the Star Wars playsets and several of your favorite characters for $30 or so.
6. Cities: Skylines
Number 6 on our countdown hails from a very old premise of building your own city and making it grow. But Cities: Skylines isn’t your Papa’s Sim City; it takes metropolitan construction to a whole new level.
While the classic building elements are here, Cities takes it even farther with more complexity – right down to building your own sewage system. The game’s genius is in replay; each time you play you learn something new about how to “build it right” and like Tinker Toys of old, you knock it down and start again – with your new found knowledge building you an even BETTER city.
You’ll be borrowing money from other cities to get through your fiscal year … you’ll be watching the in-game “Twitter” app to see how your townspeople feel you are doing. It is so encompassing and engulfing – hours will feel like minutes. My dream of Sim City was the ability to zoom in and pick a PERSON and watch them … work, play, commute – and Cities delivers that level of detail.
If you’re even remotely curious, pick it up now!
If any game should stun you to be on this countdown – let alone number 5 – it is a match three + dating sim. Huniepop was a surprise sleeper hit that sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.
While an amazing match three game in its own right, the dating aspect of it along with the clever writing and diverse girls to “date” truly makes you work at “getting lucky”. You’ll have to learn about the girls; their stats, their favorite things, etc. to get them to even date you (the date is the match three part).
There is so much going on, hidden secrets to find – and even an “uncensored” patch that will take you just a little bit farther than your significant other would probably like. You really should give it a chance – even if you aren’t a big match three or dating sim person (who the hell is???); I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
4. Life Is Strange
The next three on the countdown were very hard to place in order. They all represent a different experience and they are all amazing games – but part of these lists is making the hard calls – so this head-bending time traveling episodic experience comes in at number 4.
Don’t let the fact you’re playing a female budding artist protagonist sway you from trying out this game. The game play is a bit more robust than the TellTale games series – but it is hard not to draw comparisons between them. It is story and character rich; a real rarity in today’s casual and me-too gaming market. Much like another title in this countdown – you will actually care about the people, places and events of this game as the mystery unwinds … or rewinds – as this game gives you the power to make choices, play them out, and rewind in short bursts to change the outcome (think of it as cheating with Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth). But this is no kid’s game.
You won’t just rewind time in short bursts – you’ll time travel too (ever see the movie Butterfly Effect? This game and that movie share a lot of similarities …) in order to set things right. All of this is wrapped up in a who-dun-it mystery. There are five episodes to the full game – each one lasting anywhere from roughly one to two hours depending on how you play the episode out.
When it comes to “must play gaming” in 2015, this deserves to be high on the list.
3. The Forest
While technically not released in 2015, I don’t care; number 3 on the countdown is in Early Access so it is changing and updating all the time – and the game is still Alpha!
There are dozens (if not more) “survival” games out there; Ark, Savage Lands and of course games like Minecraft. Unfortunately, none of them have all the stars and moons aligned to my liking.
The Forest became a monster hit with my friends and me over holiday break 2015. I’ve logged over 75 hours (and once I’m done with this review, I’m probably right back in).
You’ve crashed on a remote island – your kid is taken along with all the other passengers on the plane. You’re cold, hungry and you soon find out the island is crawling with fierce cannibals that want nothing more that to add your head to their collection. Build, survive and fight. Explore the HUGE island. Discover its many secrets. Delve underground and underwater to find even more mysteries. Craft weapons and items to give you an edge – build huge fortresses or take the fight right to the natives.
Then, when your feet are wet (ha) – grab up to seven of your friends and start playing together. You’ll make better fortresses, you’ll find more secrets.
I spent a whole episode of Passenger Seat Radio talking about it – listen to it here.
2. Zombie Army Trilogy
At just one away from the top of charts at number 2 is Zombie Army Trilogy (or ZAT). From Rebellion, the team behind the amazing Sniper game series comes this insane mixture of arcane dark Nazi arts … and sniping.
The game is a perfect balance of exploration and killing – along with the nagging draw of completeness (finding gold and bottles to shoot). This is a full remastering of the first two games with a brand new final adventure. Full solo and multiplayer round off an amazingly engaging, gorgeously bloody experience (complete with gory x-ray cam). Shoot, snipe and blow up – the choice is yours.
Nothing says lovin’ like a 50 foot Hitler torso and head with dancing fire demons around it and freaky ass skeletons with their hearts still beating in their rib cage.
1. Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
This is the best game to come out in 20 years. Everything I could POSSIBLY say about this game is in my full long form review here. It is GOTY for most. Game of the decade for many. For some? The best game ever made. You’re wasting valuable time reading this review – you should be playing Witcher 3.
No, you don’t have to play the other two games. Yes, it is worthy of all they hype. Yes, best game in 20 years.
I’ve reviewed a couple of these now and the real benefit to these sorts of lamps is the ability to be adjustable – both in brightness and in position. They run very cool, use very little power and usually have extra features. The manufacturer read some of my Amazon reviews and thought I might like to see theirs.
This lamp goes all the way.
Show Us The Light
Let’s start with the light itself. The large LED panel is very different from many lamps. It really casts more illumination, more evenly. It is almost like a mini-light box in itself. Light features two types of light; bright white (for reading) and a bright natural light mode. Using two buttons you adjust the light between the two modes.
Two other buttons control the brightness. Both these buttons and the type adjustment are smooth transition changes vice the “5 position” you might find on other lamps. This makes it a lot easier to get exactly the lighting you want.
What’s really neat is there is is hepatic feedback that lets you know when you have reached one the maximum (or minimum) settings.
So the lighting is great. But if you can’t position/point it where you want – what good is it?
Five Points of Change
With 5 points of change, you WILL get the light where you want. The main arm itself swivels in the base a full 90 degrees. Right above that you can motion the whole arm forward and backward. Three quarters of the way up is ANOTHER up/down motion. A few inches above is a right/left rotation point. Finally, the head of the lamp also moves up and down. This is easily the most versatile lamp I’ve used for positioning. The heavier base makes it possible to put the light in some weird configurations.
Your settings are saved between uses – so if you spend a bunch of time dialing in the right light; it will be there when you get back. A handy “sleep” button will fire the lamp up in a very dim “for night” state, making it a useful nightlight.
If that wasn’t enough – on the left side is a USB port which is perfect for charging your phone or rechargable battery (it’s only 1A so it won’t be the one you want to charge a tablet with). Normally my phone complains about lower power ports when charging, but it liked this one just fine.
The Dark Side
If I had to complain about ANYTHING it would be that the base is a huge fingerprint magnet. Within a few uses, the base will be marred with your fingers. It doesn’t affect performance – but I want to give the most honest and complete review.
There are cheaper lamps than this one; but I promise you – you’ll get what you pay for. I can’t imagine ANYONE not being completely delighted with this lamp. I recommend it highly.
Note: I shot the photos mostly without flash so you could see the coloring of the lamp which may degrade the image quality.
I’m compelled to write this article. If you Google “witcher 3” you will find that the game is overwhelming praised by critics and game players alike. Phrases like “sets the bar for the future” and “DLC done right” and many other clickbait chants will fill your search results. I don’t tend to trust modern gaming journalism and I suspect there are many that frequent Review Lagoon that feel the same way. Maybe it is because half the people writing for gaming sites were either unborn or not even in kindergarten 20 years ago. Read More …
Windows 10 is here and whether you’re an early adopter or a “wait for SP1” kinda user – eventually you’ll be exposed to and possibly forced to use Windows 10 in some capacity or another.
Some people are going to want to “neuter” Windows 10 to get it as close to what they are used to (or just like more); namely Windows 7.
This survival guide will be updated with all my findings, hacks, tweaks, fixes and tools that make Windows 10 work the way *I* want it to work. Read More …
Four years ago, I wrote a four part article here on Review Lagoon called Exploring Digital Distribution explaining how digital distribution is an unsustainable model and that Digital Rights Management would never be the glory child that Content Owners want it to be.
Despite all my anti-DRM tirades I have adopted the game delivery system Steam as my choice for acquiring and executing games on my PC and have recently denounced GOG.com’s rival product GOG Galaxy and their efforts to deliver DRM free games to the market.
To those who know me best – this seems like a huge departure from my core values and belief system. I figured a nice article on the subject might be worth writing and certainly is well-timed. Read More …
I’m about to make a bold statement. I will receive hundreds of emails, IMs and comments telling me how wrong I am. Probably a few death threats too. But it has to be said, and no one else is saying it.
Console Gaming is dead.
Oddly enough, the date that Console Gaming died is a quantifiable one; 8 October 2012. Read More …