Crash Bandicoot – N. Sane(ly Difficult) Trilogy

Friday evening.  I come home from a long day in work to find the very slim, humble looking Amazon box containing a game I have wanted to happen for a very long time.  Hours of my time were dedicated to Crash back on my original PlayStation and then my PlayStation 2 (Crash Tag Team Racing  and Nitro Kart need to happen).  I completed all three games back then.  The games posed a decent challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Fast forward to Friday night and the days that followed (I was working Saturday and Sunday so only got to play in the evening when the 2 younger kids were in bed).  Since owning my PS4, I have not once felt the urge to launch the control pad.  Crash changed that.  The games are significantly more difficult than I recall.  The clunky jumping and movement is very familiar but the sheer number of lives lost in the few hours I played it on Friday evening seem more than the lives lost across the entire game back on the original PlayStation.

The ‘Native Fortress’ became the bane of my life.  It’s family tradition to switch turns once you die.  The control pad has been passed around more than the ball gets turned over in a full game of basketball.  I even Googled the level – I was towards the end and couldn’t nail the timing on the jumps to the burning pad things (three in a row and by the time I jumped the first two, the third burnt my ass and sent me plummeting).  A YouTube video of the original gameplay showed the time between the flames was at least three to five seconds longer than this remakes take on it.  What the actual fuck?  Yes the game has been rebuilt from the ground up but the difficulty has been increased to the point that this family friendly, pleasant and enjoyable game has now turned into the videogame equivalent of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.  Every single thing makes me hurl abuse at the screen, hammer the sofa/mattress, let lout pained growls and words that would make an entire fleet of whores blush.

I am now stuck on ‘The Lost City’ thanks to the platforms that convert to stairs when weight is put on them and the jump timing is relentless – this game is killing my fucking thumbs.  As an old-school player, the stick controls seem alien to me for Crash so I rely on the D-Pad.  I’m at the point where I hate the game at times.  To break the monotony, I decided to start Crash 2 (Cortex Strikes Back) and fared a bit better until Tier 2 of the levels.

I do not know how many lives we have lost between myself, my wife and my eldest daughter.  I live streamed the gameplay on Friday evening – our performance in that pretty much sums up the entire game for us.  Perhaps it’s that recent games have softened me up as, back in the day, games used to be pretty fucking hard.  The hours spent on the ‘Dizzy’ series of games, text adventure games and all the other treats of the late 80’s and 90’s before games became more about the graphics than the actual gameplay/journey.  I don’t know.  All I know is that this Crash is not my Crash.  I don’t even remember half of these levels either and I spent hours on each game getting all the crates, gems and relics and I’m sure the face-lift isn’t enough to make them unrecognisable.  Maybe the games were genuinely that hard back then and my mind has blocked out those taunted, horrific memories?

I did, however manage to get a platinum relic on ‘Hog Wild’ with a reasonable number of attempts.  That was a feel-good event considering the stench of fail at almost every turn.

The game even brought me to question the very essence of CrashCrash gets washed up on the Wumpa Islands at the start of the game.  He was probably in the water for hours.  Drifting and getting submerged on and off as he floats helplessly.  You touch even the slightest bit of water when jumping from platform to platform and you die.  What the fuck?

In Crash 2, there are parts where he has to wade through water – water that looks deeper than the little streams/rivers in the first game that caused him to instantly die.  But then, later in 2, after having been able to wade in water, you still die in fairly shallow/just as deep waters!

N. Sane by name, N. Sane by nature I guess.

This is not a review.  But, if you’re a fan of the original games…this could turn out to be an incredible disappointment unless you have the patience, endurance and thumb strength to make it through.  How the fuck folk on Reddit have already achieved the platinum trophy I do not know – they must be machines!

Watch all three of us suck (some less so than others…) below:

 

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/mXeLDs-aAQc”]

John Wick & The Assassins’ Creed

I was a late-comer to the party and my shamed head has been as hung as the state of Parliament, given the results of the 2017 General Election.  I watched ‘John Wick‘ about six weeks ago and have talked a lot about it.  The action, the story, the visuals…it’s the epitome of an action movie.  It’s action done right.  So, naturally, I desperately wanted to see ‘Chapter 2’.

I watched it the other night and, while I thought the original was amazingly perfect, this latest instalment blew the original out of the water.  The gorgeous visuals, the fantastic action sequences, the edge-of-the-seat experience of John vs an unknown number of enemies.  It used to be the case that sequels never bested their prequels (with the exception of ‘The Godfather Part II, Terminator 2 etc.) but this one took the original formula and went all Heisenberg on it.

I picked up on a number of things whilst watching the flick: the expansive network of the assassins, the code of conduct, the honour and secrecy in an ever-changing and evolving world…so many things that shroud this ‘community’ that spans across the globe and has deep, centuries old roots.  It made me think of ‘Assassin’s Creed‘.

With ‘Assassin’s Creed‘, I loved the game series up until ‘Brotherhood‘ and then I lost track due to the number of spin-offs and whatnot and, despite burning reviews, I did enjoy the movie adaptation.  For an action movie, it was pretty good.  But it lacked that essence  that made it feel like an extension to the world of Ubisoft‘s powerhouse title.  ‘John Wick‘ has that essence.

There’s a scene towards the end of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2‘ with Ian McShane‘s ‘Winston’ and Mr. Wick himself (Keanu Reeves) in a picturesque town/city square.  Winston is sitting by the side of a fountain awaiting John’s arrival.  They have a brief conversation before every single person stops and looks at John.  A signal from Winston sends them on their way, abandoning the square and leaving John and Winston alone to carry on with their conversation.  This scene hammers home the fact that these assassin’s are quite literally everywhere and, in an almost hive-mind state, a force to be reckoned with.  This is the Assassin’s Creed movie that should have been.

Switch out some of the locations, insert some complex plot for the Templars to extract information from our protagonist, splice in some flashbacks to times of old and add, who can forget, the ‘Animus’.  What if John Wick, or even Winston, is a descendant of Altair or Ezio and whoever else has roamed free within the AC universe?

It’s a shame that a movie, based on a game series with such a rich tapestry of historic and monumental events, failed to nail the very nature of the game series that made it so wonderfully brilliant.  The movie failed to create that feeling of togetherness and unity that the game series instilled.  While there were some iconic set-pieces and frames that looked like they could have been ripped straight out of the game series, it just lacked the actual feeling.

Then we have ‘John Wick‘ which ticks all the boxes and, with its own rich history that it can delve into, could create a series of its very own where it dips in and out of history to tell the tales of men and women that were just as effective and influential as Mr. Wick and create a sprawling universe of its own.

 

The Misplaced Review

As I mentioned on the Facebook page, I generally ignore DMs on Twitter as they’re usually spam bots or folks fishing for mentions etc.  Early hours of yesterday morning, I had a message from Chris Callahan (@rgb_alpha) asking if I would like to review ‘The Misplaced’ and back the project on Kickstarter.  Before replying, I checked out the project and the artwork hit me with a Neil Gaiman-shaped sledgehammer.  I immediately saw ‘Sandman‘ and was blown away by the artistic style.  So I said yes and he dropped me a digital copy of issue one to have a gander.

I have to admit, I initially thought Chris was a newbie to the comic creator realm and was looking to make a name for himself.  So I checked him out and he has quite the impressive background.  Having strong roots in logo creation and years of experience within the comic book and television industries he has dived into the indie comics scene on his own with ‘RoboChuck‘ and now ‘The Misplaced‘.  As a strong supporter of indie creators, he has created works of art.

If you wish to support Chris and the project click here.  Check out his production company, TurtleBunny Productions.

[su_video url=”https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2892769/video-764044-h264_high.mp4″]

So, open on my screen is “The Misplaced” #1 along with WordPress.  Perhaps it’s serendipitous that my first proper [attempt at a] review is also based on my first encounter with Chris’ work.  Aside from the striking artwork the text and dialogue has an air of poetry to it.  There are layers of intelligence behind the dialogue–by that I don’t mean fancy words but a structure which conveys the intelligence of the characters as well as a voice for the narrative.  As I read James’ dialogue I do so with a voice in my head along the lines of the lead in a period drama (well, what I think he would sound like considering I’ve never watched nor read Pride & Prejudice and similar…unless you count the zombie rendition…).

As well as the Neil Gaiman-esque art I am reminded of ‘Hellblazer‘ as I swipe through the pages.  The writing is as poignant as it is wonderful to look at.  But what’s it about?  “In the aftermath of a horrific tragedy, a young man pushes through the afterlife searching for the soul of his lost bride.”  James, our protagonist (or perhaps in the eyes of the angels, the antagonist) finds himself in ‘Paradise’.  Both he and Anna, his wife, died at sea (or so we believe) only her soul didn’t follow him to ‘Nirvana’.  Questioning her whereabouts and the angels’ inability to give him an answer, James embarks on a journey and turns his back on ‘Eden’ in search of his missing wife.  I don’t want to spoil anything but as the story unfolds, we find a number of things that aren’t what they seem and will inevitably catapult James along his journey.

The artwork and text form a beautiful story that, by the end of issue one, I was craving for more.  As is always the case in the eyes of the reader, comics are never long enough but I find that issue one has a strong enough grip on me to draw me in to the Kickstarter campaign and grab myself the collected edition.  I don’t want to keep comparing this to other works because this is a strong title that doesn’t need to lurk in the shadows of another artist’s work.  In fact, the book has enough shadows of its own to contend with given the dark and gritty style and the shady goings as the story unfolds.

So if you’re an avid comic reader or fairly new to the scene and want to jump in, I can’t recommend this any higher.  If you want a dark tale of the macabre punctuated by panel after panel of beautiful artwork then I suggest you jump on this Kickstarter while it lasts – it ends on Friday 28th April and Chris has added a number of stretch goals to add even more value to your donation.

Check out the images below to see more of what I’m talking about.

Collected Edition – Full Cover

 

Misplaced #1 Cover Art

 

Misplaced #2 Cover Art

 

Misplaced #3 Cover Art

 

Misplaced #4 Cover Art

 

INTERIOR PAGE SAMPLES

Final Fantasy XV: Justice Monsters Five

The rewards you obtain by playing Justice Monsters Five depend on the number of treasure chests you manage to collect (they’re the golden rectangles that pop up in the slot-machine reels when you clear a round).

Justice Monsters Five is also available as a mobile game via the App Store and Google Play. Using the app will grant you bonuses in the FFXV version of the game and unlock a special sticker for the Regalia.

Justice Monsters Five Locations

Justice Monsters Five machines can be found in all Crows Nest Diners, and near the cafe in Altissia. The machine in Altissia costs 10,000 Gil per game, so consider it for advanced players only!

Listed below are details of prizes awarded in relation to the number of chests earned.  I believe the lists to be accurate but if I have missed anything or there is an error, drop a comment below!

Justice Monsters Five (10 Gil Machine Rewards)

Number of Treasure Chests — Reward

2 — Potion

5 — Hi-Potion

10 — Elixir

15 — Hi-Elixir

20 — Garnet Bracelet

25 — Carbon Bangle

30 — Amethyst Bracelet

35 — Titanium Bangle

40 — Mega Phoenix

45 — Sapphire Bracelet

50 — Gold Bangle

60 — Oracle Earring

70 — Ruby Bracelet

80 — Platinum Bangle

90 — Emerald Bracelet

99 — Celestriad

Justice Monsters Five (10,000 Gil Machine Rewards)

The super-deluxe JMF machine near Alessio in Altissia costs a whopping 10,000 Gil per game.  Not surprisingly, the rewards are far better than you’ll find in the regular machine.

Number of Treasure Chests — Reward

5 — Hi-Potion

10 — Mega Phoenix

15 — Ruby Bracelet

20 — Platinum Bangle

25 — Emerald Bracelet

30 — Centurion Bangle

35 — Mystic Circlet

40 — Moogle Charm

45 — Legatus Bangle

50 — Blue Diamond Bracelet

60 — Gigas Bangle

70 — Assist Suit

80 — Dark Matter Bracelet

90 — Onion Bangle

99 – Wind-up Lord Vexxos

In case you’re wondering, the game’s final reward, the Wind-up Lord Vexxos, can be sold for a whopping 500,000 Gil or used to make some intensely powerful spells in crafting.

Moogle Chocobo Event

I am currently working on a list of rewards for the machines during the Moogle Chocobo event.

90 — 40 Choco-Mog Medallions (If I remember correctly, I did this earlier today…)

 

If you have any details regarding the machine rewards during the event, please let me know so I can update the list!

Kweh!  Kupo!

Final Fantasy XV Moogle Chocobo Carnival Event

 

Final Fantasy XV patch release date is this week, bringing in the new skills of taking pictures, anytime, freely. The brand new feature of the FFXV patch is also said to roll-out the Holiday Pack, which is more popular as the Final Fantasy XV Moogle Chocobo Carnival Event.

The carnival event will start at different time zones, specifically Jan. 23 PT 5 PM or Jan. 24 1AM GMT. The Final Fantasy XV event will also run until Feb. 20, 4PM. A dedicated community was further created to cater to fans who would like to check for their region’s release date and future events.

The Final Fantasy XV Moogle Chocobo Carnival Event will be Square Enix’s first DLC after the launch. According to previous reports, the event will be free for all players, which means players who do not have the season pass can still access the event. However, season pass holders will get the benefit of getting exclusive contents.

The FFXV event, moreover, will be taking place at City of Altissia, where it will be reconstructed into a theme park with lavish decors. The Moogle Chocobo Carnival Event will be bringing over exciting Noctis outfits, new side quests, and firework displays.

During the event, Noctis will reportedly adorn his chocobo outfit. The entire City of Altissia will also be featuring photography, fishing, dancing, and machine gun firing.

Final Fantasy XV Is Best-Selling PS4 Game In December 2016

The Final Fantasy XV has been regarded as North America’s best-selling launch in history of series release.  Furthermore, it is also December 2016’s best-selling PS4 game, Game Industry reported.

In a statement, the awarding body expressed that the Final Fantasy XV was able to experience the best launch for console in the franchise history, which started in 1995. The newly released game franchise sold 19 percent new physical units than the FFXIII during its launch month. With regards to total revenue plus sales of the digital full game, it also gained 54 percent more.

Nintendo Switch Announcement

When it comes to videogames and big announcements, I usually only care about Playstation.  However, since I saw the first video showing the Switch in action…well, I almost did a sex-wee.

I haven’t bothered with Nintendo since the Wii (and it was the first Nintendo console I ever owned).  This is a game changer
(pardon the pun).

So what’s the deets?

It will launch on 3/3/17.

It will cost $299.99 in the US, £279.99 in the UK and 29,980 yen ($260) in Japan, more than some analysts and gamers had been expecting.

The stakes are high for the Japanese firm after its most recent console, the Wii U, failed to replicate the success of the original Wii.

Nintendo shares dipped as details of the launch trickled out.

Nintendo revealed in October last year that the games machine would be a handheld device that doubles as a home console.

Previously code-named NX, the Switch looks like a tablet computer with Joy-Con controllers that attach to its sides.

The screen is touch-sensitive and the controllers can detect movement, like the Wii Remote.

When used at home, the tablet component slots into a dock that connects to a TV set.

Games will be delivered on small cartridges, a nod to older Nintendo consoles.

The firm said that about 80 games were in development, including a new Mario game called Super Mario Odyssey, out late in 2017.

One of the new titles unveiled was Arms, a motion-controlled boxing game, due to be released this spring.

‘Bad price points’

Initially, there was some negative reaction online to the pricing of the console’s accessories.

A Pro Controller, in the style of a traditional console controller, costs $69.99 (£57.50), additional Joy-Con controllers are $79.99 and a spare dock to use the Switch with another TV or monitor is $89.99.

“These are bad, bad price points,” wrote video game writer Pat Contri on Twitter.

The pricing was described as a “bad, bad joke” by video game news site Polygon.

But some reactions were more positive.

“Fair play Nintendo, this looks wonderful,” wrote one fan on Twitter.

Other details announced on Friday included:

  • Console comes with 32GB of storage – extendable with a MicroSD card slot
  • Plans to end regional locking – meaning games could be played on all consoles – no matter where in the world they were bought
  • Multiplayer online gaming – initially free but later paid-for
  • A smartphone app for social aspects of games including chat function

I am pretty excited for this – I won’t be a day one buyer (although I am tempted) as I want to wait and see what the games line-up will be like and how well the launch goes.

If you are looking to pre-order this awesome looking device, please support this site by clicking through on my Amazon link or TopCashback (once you have signed up to TopCashback, you can search for your preferred retailer and then use the relevant link to have them track your cashback) – either method costs you no extra and it will help with the costs of running the site.

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Nerdgazzum Stock Clearance

I wrapped up the Nerdgazzum business a number of months ago but I have some surplus stock that I am looking to clear.

Check out my items over on the Facebook page.

I have a large number of Funko POP! vinyl figures as well as some action figures and other items left – I’m open to offers and some have prices listed.

Message me on the Facebook page if you’re interested!

 

Lucifer

Lucifer is back and he’s back with a bang.  I’m keeping this free from spoilers but I will share some moments that I thought were great.  The camaraderie between Lucifer and his mother is comical – especially when it comes to her attire and lack thereof.

The more I watch this show the more I see the similarities with this show and iZombie (another Vertigo title) – the procedural drama blended with the tongue-in-cheek humour and banter between the protagonist and the companion (Liv and Ravi in iZombie/Lucifer and Decker).  The perpetrator is usually an obvious choice but, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter as the procedural stuff is a mere mechanism for the narrative to progress and keep the characters busy whilst the actual story unfolds around them.

Season two brings in a number of questions, namely centred around “Mum” and what she’s up to as well as Amenadiel whose path seems to have changed course.

Each episode seems terribly short – time seems to fly whilst watching and leaves a craving for more.  Ideal for binge watching!

At the risk of running around the perimeter and stumbling into spoiler territory, the contrast between Lucifer and Amenadiel has changed.  While Lucifer is becoming evermore human and empathetic to the human condition, Amendiel appears to be off on a different route due to what seems to be a major physical change.

I can’t wait to see what else this season brings.

If you don’t watch it, get on it.  If you do watch it, share your thoughts below.  Be wary of spoilers if you venture into the comments section!

Lucifer is an American fantasy police procedural comedy-drama television series developed by Tom Kapinos that premiered on Fox on January 25, 2016.[1][2] It features a character created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg taken from the comic book series The Sandman, who later became the protagonist of the spin-off comic book series Lucifer written by Mike Carey, both published by DC ComicsVertigo imprint. In April 2016, Fox renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on September 19, 2016.[3]

SIM Adapter Tip

Another handy mobile phone related tip – keep your SIM adapter!

Most phones now take nano SIM cards but there may be occasions where you want/need to revert back to a handset that takes a micro Sim or (as archaic as it seems) the good ol’ regular size.  SIM cards generally come as a 3-in-1 whereby you can downsize/up-size as appropriate but a lot of people don’t tend to keep hold of them after popping the SIM out for their phone.

Most folks probably can get by without, but say your phone needs to go for repair or it’s been lost/stolen and you use an old phone or get a cheap one to tide you over until your upgrade, you may need to use a bigger SIM.  You can buy the adapters online for a couple of quid but why wait/pay when you already had what you needed?

I often swap my SIM out to use my SIM which has 20GB of data to use in a my-fi device – I can use my mobile hotspot but if I want to conserve my battery and the kids want to go on to the web in the car I’ll often put my SIM into it – my Galaxy S6 takes a nano but the my-fi takes a micro – so I keep the adapter in the little pouch my my-fi is kept in so I can switch over with minimal hassle.

Just another handy tip from your friendly neighbourhood tech support man.

“SIM Ejector” Life Hack

I work in technical support for a large mobile network and quite often have to get people to remove their SIM cards from their handsets – sometimes to check they’re using the correct one but most commonly to test it in another handset to determine where the fault lies.

The majority of handsets now take Nano SIMs and require an ‘ejector tool’ or a pin to remove the SIM tray.  From experience, most people don’t tend to take it with them and they don’t generally have a trusty paperclip or pin with them at the time.

I figured I would share a stupidly simple little idea that myself and a number of colleagues do and that is to put your magical “ejector tool” on your keys.  This isn’t some absurdly awesome idea akin to MacGuyver-style shit but it’s a gem nonetheless.

Most ejectors have a loop or a hole which can be put onto a keyring so you can carry it with you at all times.  So, if you should ever bump into issues with your mobile device you can act like the Dark Knight of mobile phone paraphernalia and produce the tool from your invisible utility belt and be the hero your phone deserves.  The Batman and Darryl keyrings like I have are not essential…but they do look pretty damn cool.

So yeah, nothing groundbreaking but still a handy little hint most people have never considered!

If you have any little life hacks you do that you want to share, drop ’em in the comments below!