Mythbusters 2015 Season
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 October 2015, 10:00 am

Being sick last week gave me a bunch of time to catch up on TV.  Normally I don't just sit and watch TV passively, it takes a really good show to get me to sit down and watch, but resting while sick is the perfect TV watching opportunity.

The announcement last week that Mythbusters is cancelled and their final season will air next year reminded me that I hadn't watched last season yet.  So, I marathoned it.

It was a really good season.  It's a return to form for the Mythbusters.  Instead of having five people in two teams doing five or six myths per episode this season just has Jamie and Adam.  Typically they do two or three myths in an episode.  It's much more like the early seasons of the show.

I love that they take the time to actually walk through the process of trial and error again.  In the most recent seasons it seems like they always jump to full scale and going over the top.  In this season there's a lot more about the process of testing everything out along the way.

My favorite episode was one where they tested the Myth that the U2 plane is the most difficult plane to fly.  It was awesome because it wasn't actually like a myth at all.  It was Adam and Jamie geeking out over how cool the U2 plane is.  Then they got to train for it and actually experience the near-space flight.  Adam's energy in the episode is especially contagious.

It makes me realize that I'm ok with Mythbusters ending.  They both seem to have outgrown the current formula for the show.

It sounds like Jamie is done with TV and public appearances.  In interviews it seems like he wants to move on to more private projects.  And I'm ok with that.  Adam has always been the driving force in the show while Jamie is the straight man.

I love watching Adam geek out over things he's excited for and this seems like it will free him up to do more interesting work outside of the Mythbuster formula.  I already listen to his podcast and watch some of his side videos on so I hope he takes a well deserved break and then throws himself into whatever he's passionate about next.

That being said, after watching the 2015 season I'm now really excited to see how they send the show off next year.  It'll probably be with a bang.

Yoshi's Wooly World
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 October 2015, 10:00 am

I picked up Yoshi's Wooly World mostly for my kids, but I'm really glad I did.  I've been playing it too and it's a lot of fun.

A huge portion of the enjoyment in this game is the style.  Everything is made of yarn or fabrics.  It all has a handmade crafty quality to it that sets it apart from any other game I've seen.  It's not hyper-realistic graphics, but it's perfectly styled to fit the game.

The game itself is still very much a Yoshi's Island game.  Yoshi is trying to explore levels while collecting various objects throughout.  Clearing the level is rarely the challenge, instead the challenge comes from finding and collecting everything in the levels.

I've had some fun with it, but my daughter is really the one who has latched onto the game.  My wife knits so our kids are around yarn all the time.  My daughter thinks the yarn style of the game is just  amazing.  She's having a ton of fun with yarn Yoshi and just exploring the game.

I highly recommend this one if you have kids or if you're a platformer fan who also likes collecting and exploring.  It's super cute.

Killjoys Season 1
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 October 2015, 10:00 am

Remember a couple months ago when I was trying out a bunch of new shows and couldn't seem to get any of them to stick?  Killjoys one of the only shows that did.  I was sick last week so I had a lot of time just sitting in bed to catch up on shows.

I watched all of Killjoys season 1 and I loved it.  In a way, Killjoys gives off a Firefly vibe.  It's set in a solar system with four major planets, a ruling body called the nine, and "the company" that runs almost everything.  The planets all have a different feel and socioeconomic status.  This leads to a lot of strife between the populations of different planets.

Into the middle of this comes the RAC.  It's an independent organization that doesn't take sides in any conflict.  Instead, they take contracts to find and transport goods or people.  They're basically a giant coalition of bounty hunters that are government approved and get all sorts of unique access.  The members of RAC are called, you guessed it, Killjoys.

The three main characters make up a Killjoy team and take contracts for hire.  This is the premise that the show starts out with but every episode it draws you more and more into the secrets and pasts of the main characters.

In the first ten episode season there wasn't a single throwaway episode.  Every single one added more to the overall plot and brought us closer to uncovering new information about the main Killjoy team.

It's really good Sci-Fi.  I'm super picky with my shows these days so when I find one I truly love I try to really appreciate it.

Killjoys is easy for me to recommend to any and all Sci-Fi fans.

Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 October 2015, 10:00 am

I picked up subterfuge on iOS (for free) after reading some interesting reactions.  It's a game of real time decisions, base capturing, alliances, backstabbing, and underwater mining.

At least that's what it is supposed to be.

What I've actually found is a game where no one talks, no alliances are formed, people make some moves in the game then get sick of waiting for the real time aspect to happen so they resign.

Subterfuge is a game that's supposed to take place in real time over the course of about a week.  What this means in reality is that you can set some orders to move your drillers around to new bases and then wait for most of a day before making any other meaningful decision.  I think the game would be more fun if it were just faster.

The few games I played I won just because everyone else got bored and resigned.  They walked away from the games mid-progress and I don't really blame them.  There's not enough here to keep a person engaged.

Now, that might be different if you're playing this with a big group of friends who know each other.  I bet that in that case alliances would form, secret conversations would take place, and some fun backstabbing could happen.  But, in random games I couldn't get a single person to talk or interact.

I'm recommending you stay away from this one, unless you have a big group of friends who are all willing to play at the same time.

Check out the trailer below to see exactly what doesn't happen when you play this game with random people.

X-Wing: The Krytos Trap
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 October 2015, 10:00 am

I finally got around to finishing the next book in the Star Wars Legends timeline that I'm reading through.  This is the third X-Wing book in the X-Wing series.

This book is still very close to the events of Return of the Jedi in the old expanded universe.  The empire is torn into different factions, but they're still big enough to be a threat to the New Republic.

This is the worst X-Wing book so far, and if I remember correctly, it might be the weakest overall.  It's not a horrible book but it lacks the pacing and excitement of the other two leading up to it.  The majority of the book is about the trial of a member of Rogue Squadron who may or may not be an imperial agent (he's not).  The other major event is the capture, imprisonment, and attempted brainwashing of another member of the squadron.

The problem is that these events are 90% of the book.  There's a little bit of X-Wing action thrown in at the end but it feels forced and misplaced.  It's sad, because this series is generally about Rogue Squadron and their missions both on the ground and in the air.  But this book is about the courtroom and jail cell.

I'm really hoping the next book gets the series back on track.

80 Days... Again!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 October 2015, 10:00 am

I played 80 Days when it first came out on iOS but a recent update to the game put it in the news again and inspired me to replay it.

I still love this game.  It's half way between a game and interactive fiction.  You are the valet for an English gentleman who has accepted a wager to go around the world in 80 days.  He essentially leaves all the decisions to you.

You are in charge of picking the route, discovering new routes, handling money, and dealing with key decisions.

It starts out as a race out of London but quickly turns into more of an adventure than a race.  The first time I finished the game I completed it in 85 days and failed the wager... but it didn't matter, I had a ton of fun.  And you always have the option to go around the world again.

I heard they had patched in the North Pole, the Moon, and the Center of the Earth since I last played.  I set my sights on the North Pole and.... wow.  I was amazed with the narrative I got.  The Arctic expedition was one of the coolest things I've seen in 80 Days.  Without spoiling it... it gets intense, in the most captivating way.

By surviving the North Pole I ended up finishing my journey around the world in 56 Days this time!  It was so much fun!

If you haven't looked at 80 Days you should definitely give it a glance.  When I picked it up it was only on iPhones but now it's on all iOS devices, Android, and Steam.

Minecraft Story Mode Episode 1
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 October 2015, 10:00 am

I've enjoyed most of the Telltale adventure games I've played in the past few years.  The Walking Dead Season 1, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones have been my favorites.

So when I saw that they were releasing a Telltale adventure game in the world of Minecraft I knew I had to check it out.  I played Minecraft heavily when it was in Alpha and Beta, and while I seldom play it these days it still has a special place in my heart.

Episode 1 is the setup for the rest of the season of Story Mode.  You are a builder who is going to attend Endercon, a convention in the Minecraft world.  By the end of the episode things have gone wrong and you're tasked with seeking out four legendary heroes.

It's the same Telltale formula as their other games.  You make decisions that impact and change the story.  It's very story focused but captures the fun of building things and interacting with the world of Minecraft.  This one is much more kid-friendly, which makes a lot of sense.  You won't find any giant moral quandaries or sudden traumatic deaths in this game.  The consequences for failure are much lower than that.  It makes the game very approachable.

The characters are fun and varied.  My favorite character is the pig.  He's the pet and friend of the protagonist in the story and I think he's awesome.  But all of the characters had something unique to offer.

While Minecraft Story Mode didn't have as big of an impact on me as the other Telltale games I've played it still was a lot of fun.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 October 2015, 10:00 am
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a game I picked up on the recommendation of Shut Up and Sit Down, my favorite board game reviewers.

In it you take on the role of Sherlock Holmes' assistants.  You're a member of the group he uses as his eyes and ear around the city.  He has you working on the same cases he is working on, so in essence you get to solve the same mystery as Sherlock Holmes.

The gameplay is what really makes this game shine.  You get a case, read the intro, and then you have the freedom to go anywhere in the city of London to investigate.  There's also a newspaper for the day that may or may not have anything related to the case, but it's always worth looking through.  You have a map, a London directory, locations of your regular contacts, and the case book.  You're left to your own devices to decide where to go and who to investigate.

When you think you've finally learned enough about the case you flip back to the solution section where you are asked to answer a series of questions which will determine your points.  Then you are given a classic Sherlock case solving scene where he walks through what happened and how he figured it out.  Then you compare yourself to Sherlock.  He always scores 100.  You will probably score less, but that's fine.  The fun is in figuring everything out, not in trying to beat Sherlock.

In our first game we got 55 points and were really proud.  In the second case we got -35 points and failed badly, but we still had so much fun playing that it didn't matter.

I would recommend this game to anyone who likes the idea of solving cases.  It's great as a two player game but I can also see it being awesome as a solo game too.  I bet you could go up to three or four people and still have a great time with it.  It's a great game!

I'll leave you with the Shut Up and Sit Down review that convinced me to buy this game embedded below for you convenience!

Review: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective from ShutUpShow on Vimeo.

Testing out my Steam Link + Steam Controller
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 October 2015, 10:00 am

This past weekend I found myself in possession of a Steam Link and Steam Controller.  I had pre-ordered them right when they were announced, so mine got shipped out with the very first batches.

I have to say, I'm super impressed with the Steam Link.  It's a streaming device for those of us who already have a good gaming PC.  There's no need to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars for one of the Steam Machines that are being made.  If you're like me, you already have all the computing power you need in your desktop PC.  That's why I grabbed this little guy for $50 instead.

I plugged it in and it just works.  It's fantastic.  As long as I have my gaming PC turned on all I have to do is boot this up and Steam will stream to my living room TV.  It boots into Steam Big Picture mode which is ideal for controlling it with a gamepad of some kind.  But, it has a bunch of USB ports so you can easily hook up a wireless keyboard/mouse or any other kind of controller you want.

The coolest part is something I found while jumping back and forth between this and my computer.  It's not actually streaming Steam in the way I thought.  It's streaming everything from my PC.  So, a quick alt-tab gives me access to my entire PC in my living room.  I played some Blizzard games, browsed the web, and played some videos just to check it and and it works fantastically.  It's the coolest thing I found.

The Steam Link isn't just streaming Steam.  It streams your entire PC!

The Steam Controller on the other hand... well.  Let's just say I'm not as impressed.  I tried to use it in a ton of different games and none of them felt good.  I was quickly back to using either a wireless 360 controller or the wireless keyboard and mouse I hooked up.  Those seem to be ideal.

The Steam Controller fights my muscle memory.  The face buttons aren't where I want them to be, the D-Pad doesn't actually behave like a D-Pad, it's begging for a second joystick, the triggers feel strange (especially the ones on the very back of the controller), the whole thing is plasticky and clicky in an unpleasant way.  Worst of the, the right thumb touchpad is just horrible.  It's not accurate, it jumps around, it's imprecise, and it also rumbles at you for some reason.  I thought it would be like a track pad but it's like the offspring of the worse trackpad ever mixed with a vibrator.

I'm hoping that they may improve the Steam controller with software updates as time goes on but the way it is right now is simply unusable for me.

Overall, I would buy the Steam Link again in a heartbeat.  It paired with a wireless mouse/keyboard and a wireless 360 controller is amazing.  I love it already.  If I could take back my order of the Steam controller I would.  But, altogether I'm counting the purchase as a win because the Steam Link is just so good!

Metal Gear Solid V Initial Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 October 2015, 10:00 am

If you haven't followed my journey, after recently giving Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, and Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes a try I eventually came to the conclusion that Metal Gear Solid V might actually be a game I would have fun with.  This is despite the fact that I haven't had fun with a MGS game since MGS2.

Ground Zeroes was what eventually convinced me to take the dive and purchase MGSV.

I jumped in and almost immediately was struck with dread that I had wasted my money.  The first sixty or ninety minutes of the game is the prologue and it's everything I hate about the Metal Gear Solid series.  There are long boring cutscenes, unintelligible story, characters I don't care about, and railroaded gameplay that can only be completed in one way.

Some friends on Twitter told me to stick with it and get past the first mission after the prologue.  They were so right.

As soon as you get out of the prologue and past the first "real" mission (which is actually more tutorial) then the game opens up.  You get a list of missions, side ops, base management, travel options, and an open world.

Having already been turned off by the prologue and first main mission I decided to try the side ops and was sucked into the game.  I spent hours and hours just playing side ops and messing around in the open world.  Then I reluctantly went back to the main missions and was surprised to find them super fun as well.  It seems like they're structured much more openly after that first main mission.

I've probably put six to eight hours into the game already and I've barely even touched the main campaign.  I'm going to try to make some more progress on it going forward, but the important thing is that I'm having fun.

I especially love that this is the first Metal Gear game that has a competent shooter built into it.  You can start a mission sneaky, but unlike previous MGS games if things go wrong you can go loud and shoot your way out of a situation.  It fixes the main gameplay issue I used to have with MGS, waiting around and hiding after being detected, and replaces it with a fun shooting component.

But my absolute favorite thing in the game so far is the Fulton Recovery System.  It's essentially a balloon that you can attach to enemies if you knock them out without killing them.  It will inflate and fly them away into the sky... and then they'll be inducted into your secret army.  Probably through brainwashing.  That part doesn't really matter.  The part that matters is how fun it is to knock guys out and send them away on balloons.  I love it.  I hope it doesn't get old as I continue through the game.

Even being hours into the game I still feel like I'm scratching the surface.  Metal Gear Solid V has a lot to offer.  I'll report back in as I play more of it, but for now I'm having a blast.

Fading on Hearthstone
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 October 2015, 10:00 am

I'm starting to lose my current drive to play Hearthstone.

I've been playing it daily ever since the Grand Tournament released in late August.  I've done my daily quests, weekly brawls, and monthly ladder.  At this point I've gotten a deck I like for most of the classes in the game and I have all the cards that I want.

I'm kind of just in a holding pattern until the next expansion or adventure gets released for the game.

And while I'm in this holding pattern the same old thing is starting to bug me, the quest structure.  The daily quests in Hearthstone aren't about playing the game, they're about winning in the game.  Most of the daily quests that are given out are win a certain number of games with a certain class.

I hate this structure.

My favorite days of Hearthstone are when I get quests about playing the game.  Quests like "Do 100 damage to enemy heroes" or "Play 20 minions that cost 5 or more mana."  I love these days because every single game I play is helping me towards a goal, even if I don't win that game.

I wish there were more quests along these lines.  One of my favorite parts about another Blizzard game, Heroes of the Storm, has always been that their quests are all about playing and not about winning.

Why can't they bring that philosophy over to Hearthstone?

The Beginner's Guide
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 October 2015, 10:00 am

Earlier this month my brother bought me a copy of The Beginner's Guide because he had just played it and then saw that it was on my Steam wishlist.

He warned me that I should carve out some time to play it in one sitting, so a few days later I did.

I've been thinking about it a bunch since then and I'm not sure how to write about it.  It seems like I'm not the only one.  Almost every video and article I've seen has had the same problem.  It's hard to put this game into words.

But I can say this, it was an experience that was worth the time and pricetag.  Steam says that I played it a total of 80 minutes.  I feel like I got so much experience out of that 80 minutes that I can easily recommend it at it's current price.

I'm still not sure what to tell you about the game.  The basic premise is that there's a narrator who is going to walk you through a series of short games that were made by one of his acquaintances.  Telling you anything more than that will start detracting from the experience you could have with the game, so I won't.

Get this game.  Find an hour and a half of uninterrupted time and play the whole thing in one sitting.  It's worth it.

Is Disney on the Right Track?
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 October 2015, 10:00 am

I've been watching a lot of Marvel lately and getting into the new Star Wars stuff and it's gotten me thinking about Disney.

Disney is a company that has been through some good times and some questionable times.  I feel like the content they were putting out in the 90s when I was a kid was amazing.  Movies like The Lion King, Aladin, Mulan, Hercules, Pocohantas, and so many more came out of that era.  They had hit their stride for classically animated movies and it was great.

Then in the 2000s it seems like they faded a bit.  I know they were never in trouble as a company, but their output just wasn't of the same quality as it once was.

Recently I feel like they've finally turned this around.  The acquired Pixar and started making amazing animated movies again, although this time CG movies.  Then they started buying licenses like Marvel and Star Wars.  So far they're doing amazing things with the Marvel universe and I'm so excited to see what they do with Star Wars now.

All of the initial Star Wars content that has come out has shown a love for the series and an attention to detail that I find very promising.  I hope they do the movie well.  They seem to have hired the right talent to usher the series in for a new generation, let's just hope they succeed.

Not to mention all the success they've had with movies like Frozen and Inside Out in the past couple years.  I have a 5 year old and 3 year old and they absolutely love Frozen and Inside Out.  And, more importantly, as a parent I don't mind them wanting to watch those films over and over since they're actually really good movies.

It just seems to me like there's a new Disney that's emerged over the past few years.  I wonder how much of it could be chalked up to a new group of leadership emerging over there.  People like John Lasseter continue to move up the ranks while the old guard of Disney is aging and fading.

I hope they continue on with the trend they're on.

Captain America Movies
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 October 2015, 10:00 am

My recent infatuation with the Agent Carter TV show led me to rewatching the two Captain America movies.  They're a mixed bag.

The first movie isn't all that great.  I don't think the Marvel movies had hit their stride yet and Chris Evans was still figuring out how to fit into the role of Captain America.  It's also all about World War II and Nazis which has been done to death in so many movies.  It's an entirely predictable movie that is often simply going through the motions so that we can see Captain America's origin story.

It has some fun action scenes and it has it's good moments.  But overall Captain America: The First Avenger isn't a movie I'll go back and watch often.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a much better movie.  It takes place after the first Avengers movie, Chris Evans has hit his stride, Captain America has been brought to the modern times and has finally stopped being naive to the world around him.  It also stars Black Widow and Falcon which help add variety and interesting characters.  I had seen this movie before but I had actually forgotten some of the twists and turns of it.  The Winter Soldier has an interesting look at corruption without organizations even when those organizations are meant to be good.

If you can't tell, I liked The Winter Soldier a lot.  It's a solid entry in the Marvel movie franchise.  It actually made me even more excited for the next Captain America movie about the Marvel civil war.

Since I'm still on this Marvel kick I'm trying to decide if I should try to watch Daredevil or Agent of Shield again.  I only made it through the first four episodes of Daredevil and the first half season of Agents of Shield.  Everyone has told me they both get much better just beyond the point where I stopped.  I'll probably end up taking a look at one or the other soon.

Agent Carter
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 October 2015, 10:00 am

Agent Carter is one of the expanding line of Marvel shows on TV and streaming lately.  It passed me by when it came out last year, but I saw a mention of it recently in an article and decided to check out the show.

I had fairly low expectations because both the Agents of Shield and Daredevil shows had lost my attention during their first seasons.

Agent Carter blows them out of the water.

It's set just after World War II and it follows Agent Carter, the woman who was Captain America's liaison and love interest during Captain America: The First Avenger.  It deals with post-war events, being a woman in that time period, being an agent of the U.S. government, Howard Stark, and so much more.

The basic premise to kick off the season is that Howard Stark had a bunch of inventions stolen and the agency that Carter works for is trying to find them and get them back.

One of my favorite parts about the show is that it's all about humans in a world that has had superheroes like Captain America.  Coming back to the human level of everyday life in this sort of world is so fascinating.  Things don't have to be larger than life and so... superheroey all the time.  It makes for an excellent show.

Not to mention that the first season is 8 episodes.  I'm finding that I like shorter seasons of shows more and more.  They tell their story, move their plot along, and then wrap up.  They don't have to drag out over the typical 22 episode season.  That means there are no bad or filler episodes.  They're just all good.

Agent Carter has actually reinvigorated me for Marvel shows in a way I didn't know was possible.  I think I'm going to go back and give Daredevil and Agents of Shield another shot.  But before I do that I want to rewatch Captain American: The First Avenger.  I haven't seen it since it was in theaters but after Agent Carter I really want to check it out again.  I honestly want to see it more for Agent Carter's origin story than for Captain America's.

Star Wars Battlefront Beta
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 October 2015, 10:00 am

I've been playing the Star Wars Battlefront Beta and I need to say this game fulfills the fantasy of being in the Star Wars universe.

That doesn't seem like a big statement by itself so I'm going to say it again.

This game fulfills the fantasy of being in the Star Wars universe.

And that's all I really wanted.

The gameplay is acceptable.  It doesn't feel super slick or modern.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles we're used to in our shooters these days.  But it's not bad.  It's just fine.

The graphics are beautiful.  I typically don't even think about graphics these days but I immediately noticed how gorgeous this game is.  This is the prettiest game I've ever seen.  I've been wracking my brain trying to think of anything that surpasses Battlefront in terms of graphics and I just can't think of anything.  It's amazing eye candy everywhere.  For the first time in years I found myself stopping to just watch things unfold in front of me and admire the graphics.

Even though the beta only had 3 modes to check out they were fun and varied.  Ship combat is a ton of fun on the Hoth map and that makes me super excited for one of the modes that's not in the beta, Squadron combat.  I can already imagine myself sinking so many hours into flying X-Wings and Tie Fighters online.

Without knowing it, Battlefront is what I've been craving in a Star Wars game for years.  It makes me feel like I'm in the Star Wars universe and that's something hard to qualify.  The game scratches the Star Wars itch inside me and I know I'm going to pick it up on day 1.

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 October 2015, 10:00 am

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker is the PSP game that released after Metal Gear Solid 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4.  From what I can tell it was the most recent game in the franchise until last month's release of Metal Gear Solid 5.  I think chronologically the story takes place between MGS 3 and MGS 1.

I was out about $5 after the other day's failed attempt at Metal Gear Solid 3, and Peace Walker was only $4.  So, if these didn't work out I wasn't going to feel too bad.  I just wanted to sample what the series had done over the most recent entries.

I found Peace Walker to be a mixed bag, but not in the way I expected.  It had a clear tutorial and taught the gameplay very well.  I also liked the characters, setting, and mood right from the outset.  It had some cutscenes but they weren't overbearing in the way that MGS 3 was.

I generally liked where they were going with the series.  The only downfall were the controls.  But this time I could tell they were trying to go with a modern control scheme.  The problem was they were limited to the single analog stick of the PSP.  Even playing a PSP game on Vita there's only so much I could do to alleviate the controls.

But it was a good sign.  If I had a horrible experience with Peace Walker I would have given up.  Instead, I was interested to see what they had done next.

Which is why I installed Ground Zeroes on my PS4.  It's the prequel to Metal Gear Solid 5 and I had already gotten it for free on PSN.

It was awesome.  It had stealth gameplay, with modern controls, modern storytelling techniques, and a Metal Gear Solid vibe.  Ground Zeroes is the first Metal Gear Solid game that I've latched onto this strongly since I played the original Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation all those years ago.

I spent the night exploring the facility in Ground Zeroes and having a blast.  It's doing so many cool things.  Using binoculars to tag enemies and equipment is surprisingly fun.  Being stealthy and exploring felt great.  When I triggered an alarm or got spotted the gunplay was a ton of fun too.  And I wasn't fighting the controls at all.

Ground Zeroes got me back into Metal Gear for the first time in years.

So I bought Metal Gear Solid 5.

Series that Doesn't Connect
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 October 2015, 10:00 am

Have you ever had a series that is widely loved and talked about that has completely failed to connect with you?

I've had it happen a few times, but the most recent event that brought it to mind was the release of the Uncharted collection.  I've had chances to get into the Uncharted series before and every single time I've picked up the controller and played the game I get bored within ten minutes.

The Uncharted Collection on PS4 would be the perfect time to jump back into the series and get caught up since it has the first three games in one package.

Which is why I downloaded the demo to check it out.  And again, within 10 minutes I was bored with it.

I should like this series.  I love a good platformer and good shooters.  It looks like a blend of a decent third person shooter and the platforming of Tomb Raider or Assassin's Creed, both games that I've liked.

But it simply fails to connect.

I'm not sure why this happens, but it seems like most gamers I've talked to have had this same experience.  There's a huge game series that seems universal and you just can't get into it for whatever reason.

Have you had it happen?  What was the series for you that failed to connect?

The Hobbit
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 October 2015, 10:00 am

I've been reading to my daughter for as long as she could sit in my lap while I flip through pages.  She's 5 now and she's an avid reader.

We've gone from baby books, to little kid books, to kid chapter books.  Last month she asked me when she could start reading "grown up books like Daddy".  And I said, "Right now!  Let's start!"

So I've been reading The Hobbit to her.  It's the quintessential starter book for adult novels in my mind, probably because I remember my mom reading it to me.

It's a book that I can read while she listens and just lets it wash over her.  When we sit down to read for the night we always talk about what happened the night before, and she seems to be keeping up with the story just fine... even though Tolkien's prose isn't all that approachable.  I'm thinking next up might be something more modern and easy to read, like Harry Potter, but the jury is still out on that decision.

After finishing the first third of the book I realized that I hadn't actually watched the first Hobbit movie since I saw it in theaters and I had just reached the conclusion of it in the book.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey covers this third of the book.  It's basically the beginning of Bilbo's adventure all the way through the end of the Misty Mountains part of the storyline.

That night my wife and I rewatched the Hobit and found it holds up really well.  It's the most faithful to the book with very few deviations.  The only parts that aren't directly from the book are the parts with Gandalf and the council of Elves and Wizards, which also happens to be the most boring part of the movie.  But, it's a small diversion which is over quickly.  The first Hobbit movie focuses mostly on Bilbo and it's a great movie because of it.

I'm actually excited to watch the second movie again after this one.  I forgot how much I enjoyed the first Hobbit movie.  I remember them diverging more and more from the book until the third movie just becomes dumb, but I don't remember the second movie very well.

If you haven't watched it since it's release or if you've never watched it, I would highly suggest checking out the first Hobit movie.  It's really good.

Life is too Short to Play Something that Doesn't Make You Happy
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 October 2015, 10:00 am
One of my friends on Twitter said, "Life is too short to play something that doesn't make you happy."  And when I read that I realized that's the philosophy I've been living by this past year.

Last December I got the desire to start working through my giant backlog of games.  And this is the one trick that allowed me to do it:

If a game doesn't make me happy, I stop playing it.

It sounds so simple, but in practice... it's difficult.  Once you get involved in the daily grind of a game it's hard to extricate yourself.  What if there are daily quests?  What if it's an MMO with a community of people you interact with?  What if you're half way through the story of a massive RPG?

What if there are so many forces driving you to keep playing the game that you're currently playing... but you stop having fun with it?

This last year, after 25+ years of playing games, I was finally able to get my head into a place where I can walk away from a game once I hit that point.  And it's made all the difference.

I sampled and played through my entire Steam back-catalog.  I finished all the core Final Fantasy games I wanted to.  I played every single PS3 game that I hadn't touched yet.  I finished all my 3DS games.  I'm caught up on the PS4 and Wii U games I've been wanting to play.  I played enough MMOs to get back into the swing of them on PC but not let them take over my life.

I have a couple RPGs left on my Vita, and that's it.  That's all that's left from a list that has been growing for years and years.

And for the first time ever, I can get entirely excited for the Fall releases!  They're usually an exciting time, but they also can feel like adding weight to an already unbearable load.  Not this year.  Not for me.

I'm ready to dive in and have fun!

Metal Gear Solid 3
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 October 2015, 10:00 am

With all this talk about Metal Gear Solid 5 lately it caught my eye the other week when MGS 3 and MGS Peace Walker were on sale on PSN.  I got both of them for my Playstation Vita for less than $9 total.

My history with Metal Gear basically went like this:

  • MGS: I loved this game, it was amazing at the time.
  • MGS 2: Um... weird... but still impressive for the time.
  • MGS 3: Utter frustration at controls and story.
Then I gave up on the series.  I thought I would pick up the story where I left off with MGS 3 and see what I thought of it now that I've had years of distance between me and the series.

I started up MGS3 and instantly felt frustrated.  The game kept yanking control away from me.  It was full of cutscenes and dumb radio dialog.  I mean, they tell Snake that it's a super secret stealth mission and time is of the essence but then immediately spend 30 minutes on the radio with him just introducing each other, making jokes, and shooting the shit.  And then introduce some more characters.  And then talk about philosophy.  And then, eventually, Snake gets to start his mission.

Now I know why I put down this game so fast last time.  It's trying to cram so much information down my throat before I even get to play that it's ridiculous.

Then I finally get out of the radio dialog window, walk 30 seconds across the jungle, and get another cutscene.

At that point I'm almost done with the game because I can't take pacing like this, but I think, hey maybe the gameplay will be amazing.

After the cutscene I have my first encounter with two guards.  BUT, there's no tutorial about the button configuration and the controls of this game don't match up to any modern standard.

So I gave up on MGS 3 for the second time in my life.  This time was much quicker than last time.  I remember playing at least a handful of hours the first time I tried this when it came out.

I've come to the conclusion that MGS 3 isn't a game for me.  But, I'm going to give Peace Walker a try and see what I think.

I did enjoy the first two MGS games, but at this point I doubt I could ever go back to them.  They're too much a product of their time.

Really, I'm testing out these games that I missed to see if there's any point in me picking up MGS 5.  I keep hearing people rave about how much fun they're having with it and I wonder if it might be fun for me too.

I Love the Modern Movie Theater
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 October 2015, 10:00 am
My wife and I have been going out to more movies lately and we recently discovered that one of the theaters near us has been completely renovated into an awesome modern movie theater.

We now refuse to go anywhere else.

What is it about this theater that makes it so great?  Well, let me tell you.

The biggest thing is assigned seating.  I can pick out two good seats online days ahead of time, buy my tickets, and know that I'm going to get those exact seats.  There's no need to show up early or wait in line.  We can show up five minutes before the movie starts and be in our chosen seats.

The seats themselves are all basically giant lazyboy recliners.  They're probably three or four times the size of a typical movie theater seat and they're super plush.  Plus, every other one has an armrest that goes up and turns the pair of seats into one big loveseat which is perfect for date night.

These seats are seriously awesome.

The rows are all super staggered vertically so that there's no possible way your view can be blocked.  Every seat that isn't right under the screen is an amazing view.

Plus, at this movie theater they have a bar where you can get adult beverages and take them into the movie with you.  It's not something I often partake of, but it's really cool to have the option.

All of these things together mean that we just refuse to see movies anywhere else.  I can't imagine going back to the typical movie theater setup.  We have to drive a little bit further, but the prices for tickets are the same as anywhere else and the experience we get from it is so much better.

I hope more theaters move toward this model.  I absolutely love it.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Fun
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 October 2015, 10:00 am

I picked up Disney Infinity last month, mostly for my kids.  The real tipping point for me was that it had both Star Wars (for me) and Inside Out (for my kids).  Star Wars, as you well know, is my favorite fictional universe.  And Inside Out has been my kids' favorite movie ever since they saw it.

Since my September was crazy I barely got to touch this game until a few nights ago.

Mostly my kids have just been playing in the "Toy Box" section of the game while swapping out characters and making up their own games with each other.  That's exactly why I got the game for them and they seem to be having a ton of fun with all the characters they love.

The Toy Box is great for kids, but I find it kind of underwhelming as an adult.  There's a ton of stuff to see and do, but none of it is directed enough to really drive me to do it.  That's where "Playsets" come in.

In Disney Infinity Playsets are much more of a traditional video game.  They have a continuous story, levels, quests, and an overall objective.  We currently have all three Playsets that are available, although more will come out for this version of Disney Infinity over the next year.

My daughter and I dug into the Inside Out Playset one night when her little brother went to bed early.  It's mostly platforming and we had a lot of fun together.  She could do most of the challenges but I had to help her in a couple tricky spots.  Overall, it was fun for both my 5 year old and me.

Then, over the course of two nights, I played both Twilight of the Republic and Rise Against the Empire.  They were great!

Twilight of the Republic is all about being a Jedi during the clone wars era.  Asoka and Anakin are the main characters that come with the Playset but you can pick up other characters like Yoda and Darth Maul too.  It was so much fun to have some decent lightsaber combat in a new videogame for the first time in years.  And if you're a fan of the Clone Wars TV show you'll recognize a lot of the characters in this Playset.

Rise Against The Empire was my favorite of the three Playsets.  It comes with Luke and Leia but you can buy the figures of Han, Chewie, Boba Fett, and Vader to play with as well.  It retells a simplified version of the Star Wars original Trilogy.  I loved getting to experience it this way.  The Playset hits all the high points in the original trilogy.  As long as you can get out of the very first (and only boring) questhub of the game on Tatooine the rest of it is a pure joy to play.  I especially loved piloting X-Wings and the Millenium Falcon in their iconic runs against the two Death Stars.

Disney Infinity runs a little on the expensive side, but I made the calculated decision that I would enjoy the Star Wars figures even if I didn't enjoy the game.  After playing through the Playsets I feel like I've gotten my money's worth.  And my kids are still having a great time in the Toy Box mode.

I'm really excited to see what the next Playsets are going to be.  Since I've already done the initial investment of getting the game bundle with the game itself and the figure stand... chances are good that I'll keep picking up Playsets as they come out.

Currently the next two announced Playsets are The Force Awakens (AWESOME!) and Marvel Battlegrounds.

INCOMING! Fall Releases Imminent!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 October 2015, 10:00 am

One of the items on my Gaming To-Do List the other week was the generic "Fall Releases".  It's a big category and I'd like to dig into it more.

The reason I didn't list specific games is because I'm not sure what I'm going to pick up yet.  For one of the first times ever I'm near the end of my gaming backlog, so I'm really excited for the new Fall releases.  The release season has already started with games like Metal Gear Solid 5 and Super Mario Maker but it always seems like things truly get crazy in October and November.

Here are the games I know I'm going to get for sure.  I either have these pre-ordered or I plan on picking them up day one:
  • Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes (October 22nd)
  • Fallout 4 (November 10th)
  • StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void (November 10th)
  • Star Wars Battlefront (November 17th)
Two of those I already have paid in full and the other two I'll grab digitally right when they release.  But, that's not even close to all the Fall releases out there.  Here are the other games that I have an interest in and may end up getting:
  • Metal Gear Solid 5 (Released in September)
  • Soma (Released in September)
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance (October 6th)
  • Rock Band 4 (October 6th)
  • Transformers: Devestation (October 6th)
  • Uncharted Collection (October 9th)
  • Minecraft Story Mode (October 13th)
  • Dragon Quest Heroes (October 13th)
  • Yoshi's Woolly World (October 16th)
  • DnD Sword Coast Legends (October 20th)
  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate (October 23rd)
  • Yo-kai Watch (November 19th)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X (December 3rd)
This doesn't even include big name titles coming out on Xbox One (since I don't have one).  If I did then games like Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider would be on that list.  And it doesn't include the games I've already picked up like Super Mario Maker, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Disney Infinity 3.0, and Armello.

It's shaping up to be a good Fall release calendar this year!

Is there anything you're particularly excited for?

Super Mario Maker Levels
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 October 2015, 10:00 am

In my household we've been having a lot of fun making Mario levels in Super Mario Maker.  My daughter has been making levels based on whatever her 5-year-old mind desires.  I've been trying to make themed levels.  My wife is having a lot of fun making super challenging levels and then making me play test them... and when I eventually figure out a way to finish the level she just makes it harder.  The other day my brother stopped by and made a level too.

It's been so much fun!

If you have Mario Maker come check out our levels!

My levels:

  • 36C6-0000-004B-BEBF
  • 7563-0000-004D-E3F3
  • 5E55-0000-0031-5D85
My 5-year-old's level:
  • E7CC-0000-0059-A20D
My wife's levels:
  • 027C-0000-0031-D43D
  • 8943-0000-0048-D0C3
My brother's level:
  • 2B0A-0000-0072-B6BA

If you've been making Mario levels please share them in the comments below.  I'd love to check them out!

Also... Nintendo really needs to find a better way of sharing and linking to levels.  Typing out all these level codes was ridiculous.

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