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GH74: Joe Executive, CEJoe

GH74: Joe Executive, CEJoe
Gamer Heroes

 
 
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This week, there’s Discord among the ranks as we discuss the digital gaming marketplace. Then we (Let’s) Go headfirst into the latest Pokemon game as we round out the year and look forward to one last episode to round out the year!

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Podcast Credits

A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Produced by GGKC

Hosts
Thomas Egan
Mike Madsen
Joshua Welch
John Marney

Editor
John Marney

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Music
Lifeformed

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GH74: Joe Executive, CEJoe

North by Outlands – Review

North is an Indie video game by Outlands that was originally released in April of 2016 on Steam. On March 6th, 2018, it releases on Nintendo Switch. The Switch is quickly becoming the go-to platform for Indie console titles, so North is in good company. Now, North is a relatively short game. In fact, if you know what to do, you could probably finish it in 30-40 minutes but the game anticipates that it should take you about an hour. With that in mind, I am going to do my best to avoid spoilers in both written and visual mediums. It’s a linear story with very few variations and I would prefer not to ruin it for anyone who is looking to pick it up.

Outlands describes the game as:

In NORTH you play a man who applies for asylum in a city filled with strange creatures and strange customs.

Dealing with the issue of the contemporary refugee crisis while at the same time being deeply rooted in a classical cyberpunk atmosphere à la Blade Runner, NORTH features a dark synthpop soundtrack, a sprawling mega-city and weird monster-like inhabitants.

The gameplay is very straightforward and mostly consists of exploration and simple puzzles. The main difficulty is to understand what you have to do in order to get asylum. You’ve come from an foreign land in the south and find yourself lost and confused – a confusion you convey through letters to your sister back home. An important part of the gameplay, these letters help you understand your tasks while at the same time moving the narrative of the game forward.

NORTH is short (20-40 min) and comes with a full soundtrack (8 songs).

North hits some heavy notes and focuses on an intense topic that impacts millions of people around the world. As you complete the game, the overtones and concepts it relays become much more clear. The story really does all tie together in a fairly creepy and unfortunately real way. But let’s start with the basics.

North by Outlands - Mines

It is a first-person game. You do not have hands. You cannot see any part of yourself or anything you may be holding. While this cleans up the screen, I would have appreciated some kind of aiming cross-hair as interacting with certain objects was tedious when using the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. It is not immediately clear what you are supposed to do but that is the nature of the game. North doesn’t have a menu. You can’t pause or save. There’s no HUD nor indication of health, location, etc. aside from one specific life monitor when you are in the mines, as show in the image above. Instead, all you get when the game begins is what you see below:

North by Outlands - Opening

The graphics are relatively simple and look like they would have been great for a VR game. However, the loading between screens is a problem. It is very buggy. The beautiful soundtrack gets broken up on a regular basis when loading between screens which really takes you out of the moment and feel. With that said, the sound is truly beautiful and reminiscent of movies like Blade Runner and The Neverending Story, two of my personal favorites.

North by Outlands - First Floor City

Speaking of bugs though, I broke the game. You see, there’s a part when you have to go to work in the mines. The atmosphere is dangerous and you have to limit your time in there. My first couple of attempts led to my death and in dying, broke the flow of the game to where I was not able to complete the steps. The arrow markers that were supposed to lead my way to the mine locations I needed to work were no where to be found and I could not interact with the drink machines that were active prior to my death. I found myself stuck and decided to just close the game and relaunch it, starting over. Being that I was about half an hour in, this wasn’t the end of the world and now that I knew what to do, it was much easier to progress.

North by Outlands - Church

I did use some walk through from Steam because the whole Church conversion tied in with the street cameras was not immediately intuitive for me. I think that’s my chief complaint. The game relies a lot on you just figuring things out but since I essentially broke the game during my experimenting, I was also hesitant to do anything I wasn’t fairly confident in. Of course, there are the letters to fall back on. As mentioned earlier, you are sending letters to your sister and as you progress, they tell you vital information about upcoming tasks. Yes, it’s a little weird. Essentially, you perform an action and a letter becomes available to send your sister. In posting the letter, you get to read it and learn what… you… learned. It’s a little convoluted but it’s a solid mechanic that does help you along. So it works.

North by Outlands - Letters

In the end, it’s a short game that does have a solid message about the way many refugees are treated, the hoops we force them to jump through, and how we make them feel about their background and who they are.  There are some technical issues, specifically around loading between events and what happens if you die or do not convert correctly. Hopefully these things will be fixed with patches. I am playing pre-release, so I will cut them a little slack. Also, it’s a dirt cheap game, only $2.99 USD on Switch, making it easily one of the cheapest games on the platform and not a terrible way to spend an hour.

North by Outlands - Police Station

If you’ve played North by Outlands, please hit me up on Twitter @TheStarTrekDude and use the hashtag #northgame. I’d love to talk to you about it.

If you haven’t played and are going to snag it on Switch, also hit me up and let me know! It releases Tuesday, March 5th on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

North by Outlands – Review

A Case of Distrust Review

As soon as you enter the stylish, monochrome world of A Case of Distrust, you can immediately feel the mood this game is trying to set. It’s the 1920s, you’re a down on your luck gumshoe with a troubled past, a former cop who interacts with the seedy underbelly. There’s a lot of fun and winky nostalgia as you talk very seriously to your cat as you lament your empty fridge in the game’s clever tutorial phase.

The game has virtually no user interface. The only persistent element on the screen is a small tab in the corner that allows you to review your notes. It’s a great touch and lets you entirely focus on the story being told through the game’s text blocks and static images.

Case of Mistrust

There are three ways to interact with A Case of Distrust. There are large scenes with objects you can click on that will give you clues or flavor text, there are conversations where you can pick from multiple dialog options, or there is the “Show Notes” interface where you can press for more info or contradict someone’s story by presenting something from your detective’s notebook.

For anyone that’s played L.A. Noire or Ace Attorney or any number of detective games, this will all seem very similar. That’s really the problem with A Case of Distrust, though. The more I played, the more things felt familiar. Not a new take on an existing genre or a nostalgic look at a foregone period, but a tedious attempt to capture the feeling of something else while doing none of the work.

Case of Mistrust

The art for the still images is crisp and stylish and the writing is a fun homage to detective writers like Dashiel Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but when all is said and done you’re basically paying $15 to read a short choose-your-own adventure detective story with pictures. Your notebook fills up with red herrings as you try and press the game’s few characters for information, all of which return stock responses. Progression is linear, there is no fail state.

The game is cute and interesting, but it never quite justifies it’s price tag. The main character’s backstory is a fascinating look at a female cop in the 20s, but you never feel like you get a strong sense of who she is under the layers of PI tropes. Going from place to place can trigger a neat little conversation with a cab driver, but it never amounts to anything. It’s like an informational loading screen when nothing is loading and the information isn’t germane to the game being played.

A Cast of Distrust would be a great game for anyone looking for an introduction to the detective/noir genre in either novel or game form, but it might be a little too familiar for anyone who’s spent some time with Phoenix Wright or Humphrey Bogart.

A Case of Distrust Review

GH41: Narcosis, Doom, and Microtransactions

Star Wars: Battlefront II lands in some hot water, Marvel shuts down Heroes, Derreck plays the underwater horror game Narcosis, and Jon checks out Doom on Switch!

02:00 – Battlefront II & Loot Crates

10:20 – Marvel shuts down Heroes

16:45 – Xbox One X is Selling

25:55 – Sony Pays for Trophies

31:45 – Narcosis: the underwater horror game

44:55 – Doom for Switch Impressions

59:55 – Black Friday, Video Game Contesnt, and Show Details

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Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH41: Narcosis, Doom, and Microtransactions

GH33 – PUBG and SteamWorld Dig 2

SteamWorld Dig 2 lands, PUBG bans, and Sony slams… okay, so Image & Form’s latest SteamWorld game has hit Switch and Steam with PS4 to come, Player Unknown’s Battleground starts having banning issues and trouble with streamers. Meanwhile, Sony has their Tokyo conference and announces new games including one that is already available right now! Plus, we talk a bit about other games including Project Octopath Travler and Metroid: Samus Returns.

01:15 – Seedi Retro Gaming Console

07:10 – Sony’s Tokyo Playstation Conference

17:15 – Player Unknown’s Battleground (PUBG)

29:30 – SteamWorld Dig 2 from Image & Form hits Switch and Steam

44:00 – Playing Now: Injustice 2, Project Octopath Traveler, Metroid: Samus Returns

48:00 – Personal thoughts, our new video series, video game contest and more!

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Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH33 – PUBG and SteamWorld Dig 2

GH30 – Do You Even Half-Life?

We’ve got tons to talk about this week including more details on the upcoming Ataribox home console, tons of Indie games at Nintendo’s Nindie event including SteamWorld Dig 2, Sony’s PSVR gets a price cut, Microsoft discontinues the OG XBox One, Overwatch makes massive changes to Mercy and D.Va, plus our thoughts on Half-Life with special guest, Ryan of Screen Heroes and Buster Props! So Stay tuned!

02:58 – Ataribox Crowdfunding and Dates

09:00 – PSVR Price Cut & the State of VR

15:05 – SteamWorld Dig 2 and Other Nindie Games

21:45 – Overwatch Tweaks Mercy and D.Va, Big Time

36:00 – OG Xbox One is Discontinued

37:05 – Half-Life 3 and What Could Have Been

53:25 – Closing Thoughts and Contest Details

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Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Special Guest
Ryan Couture

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH30 – Do You Even Half-Life?

GH22: Classic Consoles for Days

Classic consoles are everywhere with announcements of the SNES Classic, Atari’s return and more! Plus, we talk Steam’s Summer Sale, Superhot, and Zelda DLC. First, we discuss some of the games we’ve purchased on the Steam Summer Sale, plus a bit about Best Buy’s latest pre-order deals. Then, it’s off to Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s first DLC pack which is officially live. Once we cover the latest, it’s on to our main topic: Retro Gaming and Classic Consoles. We dive head first into Nintendo’s SNES Classic, discuss how the NES Classic was handled, and talk about the significance of Star Fox 2’s long awaited release. Then it’s on to Sega Forever hitting mobile, Atari’s surprise console announcement, and finally, a little about Superhot.

0:30 – Steam Summer Sale & Best Buy Pre-Orders

05:30 – Crash Bandicoot Trilogy

7:40 – Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Drops

9:50 – Impostor Retro Gaming with the SNES Classic

28:00 – Impostor Retro Gaming with SEGA Forever

37:20 – Atari Returns to the Console Wars

47:50 – Currently Playing

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Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH22: Classic Consoles for Days

GH21: Minecraft Story Time

Minecraft can be a dangerous place, corporate challenge can be a freeing experience, Mario Odyssey gets 2-player, and the Necromancer returns to the world of Diablo. We talk these topics, plus a few more across the gaming universe including the Steam Summer Sale, BlizzCon, and the Xbox One X!

2:00 – Story time with Derreck: Minecraft Happenings

11:15 – Steam Summer Sales has Landed

15:50 – Xbox One X held back by S and PS4

23:40 – Blizzard Stuff: BlizzCon expansion, Overwatch Prime Loot, and Necromancer’s return

36:00 – Super Mario Odyssey and weird Nintendo Switch online chat

Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on iTunes for a chance to win a free console game!

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E3 2017 Predictions Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH17: Shovel Knight Interview

Yacht Club Games, makers of the smash hit indie title Shovel Knight were awesome enough to sit down with us for an interview! We talk with two of the original founders of the company, Ian and Sean. They’ve been with Shovel Knight even before there was Kickstarter. We talk about their contributions to Yacht Club games, what they do day-to-day, and then dive into Shovel Knight. We hit on the Kickstarter, stretch goals, initial release, expansions, bringing the game to the Nintendo Switch, and the newest release, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. Plus, Ian and Sean talk a little about the final two major components coming to the game slated for 2017.

0:15 – Introduction with me (Derreck)

1:20 – Interview begins with Yacht Club Games

3:55 – King’s Knight Campaign

7:00 – Expanding the game from Kickstarter

14:00 – Bringing Shovel Knight to Nintendo Switch

19:45 – Treasure Trove and new features like body swap mode

27:00 – Amiibo compatibility

31:00 – Ian and Sean’s final thoughts and Shovel Knight in 3D

35:30 – Contra NES streaming and closing

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Gamer Heroes Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Special Guests
Ian and Sean from Yacht Club Games

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

Google Play Subscription Link
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GH17: Shovel Knight Interview

HTC Vive Review

I recently had the chance to try the HTC Vive, the next generation virtual reality peripheral.  I spent about 4 hours taking things for a test spin, poking, prodding, and testing the hardware capabilities. Going into this I had questions about the Vive and this new VR wave in general. Is it a gimmick? Is it truly as immersive as they say? Most importantly, is it worth the money? Well I’d say sorta. Here’s what I think of it so far.

Brief History of VR

I don’t know, I’ve always been drawn to new takes or concepts and I’m always on the look out for new ways to interact with technology, but ever since VR was first touted in the 90s with films like Lawn Mower Man, I was always let down. Gimmicky devices like the failed Nintendo Virtual Boy had left me jaded as to the possibility of having anything like the Holodeck anytime soon.

Wii Comparison
That being said the Vive bares some similarities with Nintendo’s Wii. Both are creative and innovative ways of interacting with a games. They also are both great at bring otherwise non-gamers in to gaming. Interestingly, because of the unique interface, it poses both a puzzle and an opportunity to make games.

The Wii brought motion controls to the fore front and virtually every other gaming system incorporated a wiggle, wag, or a wave into there list of user controls. More Importantly, although the Wii was slightly gimmicky it opened up everyone’s eyes to a new way to play. The Vive is at a very similar crossroads. I believe it is the first VR device that is actually up to the task.

Wii

Level of Immersion 
All of the hardware allows an unprecedented level of immersion.  Every movement and location is tracked flawlessly in real time 1-for-1, enough to fool your instincts up to the nearest millimeter. The 3D vision from the headset coupled with precise motion controls tricks your mind into thinking you are actually in the game. Proof of this to me was treating the virtual world as if it where real.

In one game, although I knew support beams and furniture wasn’t actually there, I had to fight the urge to place the real life controllers on them. I often found myself bobbing and weaving around obstacles that weren’t actually there. Not to mention the actual game mechanics. When the in-game baddies charged in to attack I flinched and backed away, much like a child would when first experiencing video games. I was having as much fun as that small kid playing games for the first time.

Games covered
I played three games and for the most part they reminded me of the Wii Sports and Wii Play games. Sure, incredibly fun to play in their own right but they were fairly simple in both look and function. They are often meant to demonstrate a concept or idea that would otherwise not even be possible on other platforms. And much like the Wii, they were meant to give both game developers and game players ideas of what the Vive can do for gaming. Let’s take a look at those three games next.

Space Pirates: takes inspiration from Tron Legacy. It’s a basic shooter with a techno feel and neon look. You hold lasers in both hands and shoot down drones in a kind of futuristic trap shoot, except the clay targets are shooting back. You fire in powerful slow moving shots or in much weaker rapid fire. To help you out you can draw a shield barrier that can protect you from one angle as your enemy tries to circle around and hit you in the flank. When this fails you can actually dodge and move out of the way in a “bullet time” style when time slows down.

Space Pirate GIF 1

On the whole Space Pirates was a fun challenge as it gets progressively more difficult. Groups of drones hold formation in front of you to draw your attention while others flank you. After learning this trick I’d draw my shield between me and the formation and take out the flankers when they popped up over the horizon. Both your pistols and movements are tracked flawlessly 1-for-1. It felt much more like playing a sport than actually playing a game. Exactly the kind of immersion I’ve been graving.

Space Pirate GIF 2

The Lab:  not so much a game as it is a platform for VR ideas. Many of the features of The Lab are only marginally interactive. The robot repair sequence or solar system model have you more as a passive observer. My favorite by far was the bow and arrow simulation. Holding the bow in one hand and pulling the arrow back felt incredibly realistic. It took some getting used to but it was very satisfying when I got the hang of it. But the amateur astronomer in me was giddy walking around the solar system, chucking planets that I grabbed along the way. This was obviously a great educational or professional tool. Imagine looking at a chemical molecule and walking around inspecting it. The Lab was all done in the Portal video game feel with GLADOS making appearance. As you might imagine it was incredible funny.

The Lab

Zombie Training Simulator: as an avid shooter fan I really wanted to try this one. Sure the zombies coming at you where only cardboard but everything else was realistic, especially the firearms. Besides, I wanted a more realistic shooter than Space Pirates. I was curious at just how easily you could look down real iron sights in the game. At first, my reflexes brought the gun on target, much as it would with something like what a Colt 1911. The in-game guns would shoot like I was pointing my finger at the target, very realistic. At greater ranges the Glock’s U shaped irons sights weren’t that useful but other guns like the MP5 and M4 allowed from the shoulder firing, much as you would in real life. It all felt realistic and accurate. Having to manually aim like this would make “run and gun” tactics in modern day shooters like Call of Duty obsolete, rewarding skill and reflexes, not foolhardiness.

Zombie Training Simulator

Final Thoughts
The HTC Vive is an incredible experience that everyone can enjoy. Sure the price tag is steep ($800, about 1 months rent) but it’s a first step in a completely new frontier of gaming that other game makers are sure to follow. And it’s true that there aren’t many 3rd party developers or in-depth games just yet. But  I imagine as time goes on prices will drop and more and more people will adopt. Developers will follow and we will be living in a new era of gaming. The Vive is more than just some gimmick but for what it’s promising and the price, I’d wait a little longer. Trust me, if I had the money to spend, I’d buy a Vive. I’m ready for VR.
Pros:

  • Immersive beyond compare
  • Clever use of motion controls simpliefies gameplay, no need of multiple buttons
  • A new way to play, making even mundane gaming chores fun
  • Cheap games

Cons:

  • Price tag reminds me of the Sega Saturn’s initially high price
  • The headset isn’t terribly comfortable and sometimes you don’t want to move around a front room just to play a simple game
  • Due to the 3D drain on the system and motion sensing there isn’t much computer resources left for pretty games
  • Not much 3rd party support just yet

Have you had a chance to try any of the new VR platforms? Comment below with your thoughts!

HTC Vive Review

Allians: A New Collectible Card Game

Have you ever wanted a personalized game character? Imagine a card game where you are both player and card! The company Claimony is making that a reality with Allians. Inspired by the classic collectible card games and fantasy leagues, you can draft your team and develop their unique traits. Your team can then wage war with a dash of competitive card games and betting. Engaging in tactical battles and climbing the battle to glory! If that all seems too normal, or average, Claimony steps up the game by connecting your personal card, with your personal Steam account. The system only requires the URL for your Steam account to generate a Champion Card. By default, the card will feature your Steam ID, however, you can upload your own original artwork instead. Your Champion’s attributes are based on your Steam performance and typically range from 0 to 150. The Combat Level is an indication of the Champions overall strength. It’s derived from all attributes with extra weight to the top attribute and range from 1 to 15.

Allians from Claimony

Allians from ClaimonyPlanning: Used to reveal hidden information. Based on your efforts in Strategy and Other genres. Also influenced by Sports and Adventure games.
Endurance: Helps you withstand tough opponents. Based on your efforts in Simulation and MMO genres. Also influenced by Strategy and Racing games.
Aggression: Commonly used to overpower enemy tactics. Based on your efforts in Action and RPG genres. Also influenced by MMO and Other games.
Reflex: Helps you evade and confuse your enemies. Based on your efforts in Action and Racing genres. Also influenced by Indie and Sports games.
Luck: Lets you take advantage of your surroundings. Based on your efforts in Adventure and Indie genres. Also influenced by RPG and Simulation games.
To further personalize your Champion, you must choose from a variety of factions:
Seeker: Seeking wisdom and power through understanding the world around them.
Primal: In need of freedom and individuality through free expression and competition.
Zodiac: Mysteriously keeping secrets within their circle to outwit their enemies.
Infiltrator: Lone wolves who love to manipulate and spy on others to gain intel.
Guardian: Team players who are very protective of their allies and their reputation.

The role of factions will be made clear during the upcoming Kickstarter. The link will be provided as soon as it is available.Allians from Claimony

Check out Alliansgame.com to create your personalized card.

Have you looked into Allians? Comment below with your thoughts on the new CCG.

Allians: A New Collectible Card Game

Twitch with The Grid Daily

Do you like video games? Well then we have something for you! This past week, The Grid Daily launched our very own Twitch channel! What is Twitch? Twitch is an online service that allows people to watch live video streams of video game play. It also allows viewers to talk to the streamers via chat. We’ve only just started producing content for our channel but there are several videos available right now! That’s right, Twitch allows us to save our live broadcasts, making them available on our Twitch channel and allow us to export them to our YouTube channel. Check out our game play of the original Borderlands below, where Ryan (Screen Heroes and Buster Costumes and Props) joins me for my first play-through of the game.

If you liked our video, please subscribe to our YouTube page and our Twitch channel so you don’t miss our latest videos and game streams. We’ve got a lot planned including so classic video game play on consoles like the SNES and N64 as well as brand new games like Rocket League.

Are there games you’d like to see? Comment below and we might just make it happen!

 

Twitch with The Grid Daily