Bears Can’t Drift!? Can They?

I remember the first time I played a kart racer, huddled around a small CRT TV, three friends and I would sink countless hours into Mario Kart – a newly founded concept of the racing game genre. Throughout the years I developed a strong fondness for kart racing games, from playing the likes of Crash Team Racing, Modnation Racers and the Mario Kart series. I adore retro karting action, however, it seemed like this was something that the PS4 lacked.

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Bears Can’t Drift!? is scratching the kart racer itch that I’ve had for over half a decade.

I began to do a little digging, in the hope of finding a kart racer that would invoke the same feeling I had when playing those that share a special place in my heart. I stumbled across an article, on the Unreal Engine forums, written by Arran Langmead. After watching the attached videos within the thread and reading through the features of the game, I quickly became enamoured with Bears Can’t Drift!? – A kart racer being developed by Strangely Named Studio.

The project started as a small Unity made game for the OUYA, developed by a team of two. With a few unfortunate twists and turns, Arran single-handedly steered the ship in a different direction and chose to target Steam and PS4, instead of the OUYA platform. Starting from scratch he made the switch from Unity to Unreal and began utilising Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint system.

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I think I’ve found my favourite racer already.

Although the game was made primarily by Arran, seven months into development two new members joined the team. Adam Barton became a business partner and co-developer on Bears Can’t Drift!? with Rachel Simpson working alongside both, as a freelance composer and sound designer.

You can clearly tell that Arran has matured with the same undying love for kart racers that so many of us hold dearly. Taking inspiration from unforgettable classics of the early Nintendo and PlayStation era. Bears Can’t Drift!? features an open hub world to explore while also replacing the traditional menu system.

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A beautifully sculpted array of colours makes up this stunning oriental themed enviroment.

Players are able to drive through whatever hub they desire to gain admittance to three uniquely themed worlds, each hosting up to twelve playable tracks. Players can dual among other racers by using and combining power-ups to cause frantic mayhem throughout the course. In order to gain access to more challenging difficulty levels, you will need to prove you’re worthy enough by completing a specific task – such as making a challenging jump after drifting around a dangerously narrow pathway rather than just selecting it from a menu.

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A mountainous, woodland area allows for the grizzlies to drift free in their natural habitat.

The artistic flair and prodigious sound design, that first attracted me to the game, were distinctly reminiscent of my childhood, each aspect of the game creating a sense of nostalgia. Worlds seem full of character in terms of visual design and sound, possibly one of the most admiring features is the inclusion of four-player, offline split screen.

It’s very rare these days that games cater for the offline players, as more tend to focus on the online portion of the game. Rekindling with old friends in this couch, co-op, kart racer will definitely be on the agenda later this summer. Bears Can’t Drift!? is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.

/ CR

 

The Aladdin’s Cave of Retro Gaming

Down a narrow walkway filled with neon lights and maid cafe waitresses, in the streets of Akihabara, Tokyo, lies a small stairway that leads into the glorious past of retro gaming. Super Potato is renowned throughout the retro gaming community, with stores in Osaka, Kansai and Tokyo, with the latter serving as the flagship store. I couldn’t visit Akihabara without paying a visit to this illustrious store that holds some of the world’s greatest video games.

Video game artwork from past and present adorned the walls and stairway upon entering the first floor of the store. It was like stepping into a museum, each item inside enriched in history. Across three floors a treasure trove of hidden gems from the 80s and 90s onwards, comparable to the gaming equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave.

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Losing myself in aisles of Super Potato – “The Aladdin’s Cave of Retro Gaming”

There were games I’d never seen before, rare titles – some still sealed in pristine condition. Famicon cartridges decorated the walls like an artist’s canvas bursting with colours, entwined with one another but holding consistency, similar to a Jackson Pollock painting. Every corner of the room just oozed with memories from my childhood, remembering back to when these retro characters and games were once more popular than the giants of today. Each one instantly triggering that nostalgic feeling.

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There were rows and rows of wondefully coloured Famicon boxes along with single cartridges, each one meticulously ordered throughout the store.

The Japanese versions of each game, in terms of packaging, seemed to be of a different calibre of what we are used to in the west. I’d never noticed that Japanese Gamecube games came in individual sleeves that featured full artwork, some with extra detailing such as textured raised spot glass accent to specific areas of the sleeve. Super Potato also sells pre-loved games and it just shows how much the locals value their possessions. The used games were in such pristine condition they could have been mistaken as brand new.

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The sleeve design and box artwork from the Japanese Gamecube games was a lot more appealling than those in the west. 

Not only does this condensed retreat offer games from the past, it also has a small selection of more recent releases, although they aren’t the stores main focus. Every side of the room features some form of popular gaming protagonist. There’s merchandise, gaming peripherals, home consoles and more, all of which are purchasable unless otherwise stated.

The highest floor of Super Potato is abundant with Arcade Machines that give prominence to the golden era of gaming. On approaching the top level of the store you are instantly hit by that vintage, retro beat from gaming’s past, like a waterfall of sound hitting your ears from the open doorway. Local folk can be seen spending their evenings in a pixelated universe, escaping the day to day mundane before heading back off into their daily lives. Luckily we managed to visit during a weekday so avoided the boat load of attendees we were told visited after working hours.

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We managed to visit the arcade mid afternoon on a weekday, avoiding the truck load of people who visted after working hours.

The pure excitement etched on people’s faces as they first stepped inside was shared among others as an instant reflection of those from the past. The first time we acquired the master sword in The Legend of Zelda, Defeated Bowser in Super Mario or stepped away victorious from the elite four in Pokemon. The Christmas days of way back when that saw us tearing open the newest home console, now housed on the walls similar to a video game museum. It’s the facial expressions in these memories and moments that was plastered on the faces of those arriving for the first time, the memories not only seemed to flood back to me upon entering but many others too.

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Although my girlfriend isn’t the biggest fan of gaming she certainly developed an appriciation for the place, especially after meeting the giant Super Mario at the entrance of Super Potato.

I for one had become extremely jaded with how important this era of gaming was, however, for many years I’d took it for granted. This gaming pilgrimage to Akihabara made me realise that this foundation of classics, that was built up so long ago, was the building block that allowed gaming to thrive today, becoming a behemoth of the entertainment industry, and for that, I am truly thankful.

To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

/ CR

 

 

Club Sega: A Step Back in Time

The first place I just had to visit when I arrived in Akihabara was Club Sega, known as Club Sega Akihabara (クラブ セガ 秋葉原) in Japan. Whenever anyone mentions Akihabara or makes reference to the Electric Town of Tokyo, the first thing that comes to mind for me is this neon-lit street that houses these Sega-branded Arcades, right in the heart of Akihabara. The area in which I visit contained three buildings all of the same style but are counted as three separate entities by Sega, despite being within walking distance of each other.

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The entrance to one of the Club Sega buildings, Akihabara, Tokyo.

As I approached what is known as the “Main” building I was in awe how something as vast as these arcades still existed this day in age. Back home in the UK, it’s lucky if you see any arcades at all, never mind something of this nature. What was even crazier was the fact that people were queuing up before the doors opened at 10:00am, more than likely to secure their favourite arcade cabinet in order to play with friends or reach a new high score. The same for the western world may have been apparent twenty to thirty years ago, but it’s something that has almost died out completely, that certainly wasn’t the case in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. It was like stepping back in time.

The first floor contained mainly claw machines in where an array of prizes was showcased at the back of the machine with one prize teetering on a ledge, ready to fall, playing it’s part in luring you in. Most people know that these are a game of chance and luck, the claw mechanism fails to grip the prize until a certain amount of money has passed through the machine. Meaning you could spend an ungodly amount or win the prize on your first go. That didn’t stop the other half diving in with a handful of change.

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The ever alluring claw machine that the other half spent all of her change on.

The next few floors above contained various other prize winning games, but what I was really there for were the arcades. As the elevators opened to the next floor, it was apparent why many people still come here to play these games every day. The music blares out from the cabinets as you step back in time to a place where Arcades were as popular as ever. The neon glare from the machines captures its players in a daze. Cheering spectators crowd around popular players, ones who are exhausting their change in order to reach the highest score possible. Some people were even queuing up to play some of the most popular games. It was certainly a sight to behold.

I managed to snap a few pictures of locals playing their favourite games, one hand moving in a lighting quick manner to register the button presses as fast as possible, while the other hand raised a cigarette to their mouths to take another toke. Public smoking is still prohibited in these arcades and the second-hand smoke can still be seen lingering in the air as the neon lights from the arcade machine cut through it. I never expected these Arcades to be as popular and alive as they were, but that’s Japan in general for you. It strips every expectation you had of the place and presents something new.

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We spent a few hours in Club Sega in which most of the locals stayed glued to their seats.

I wasn’t looking for another arcade cabinet in particular but while advancing through the many different floors we did manage to stumble across a number of Pokken Tournament cabinets. This is where the Wii U title that released earlier this year was ported from. I stood in line to wait until a fresh set of competitors were brought up to the table. You can see why Nintendo wanted to get this game on a home console, some people were laughing and having fun, while others remained calm, focused and collected as they faced off against other competitors.

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This was actually my first time playing Pokken Tournament. I loved it so much that as soon as I got home I picked up a copy along with a Hori tournament controller.

Before we left we noticed a wall where many had shown their love for Club Sega, leaving their mark in the form of manga sketches, appreciative notes or just a general message stating who they were. My girlfriend decided to add a note to the wall in order to commemorate our visit to Club Sega. The place itself is a spectacle, I expected something different, wrongly comparing the place to the arcades back home, where in reality, the place thrives with people from all ages and walks of life. If you are visiting Japan and are in Akihabara, this is definitely worth a trip and somewhere I wouldn’t think twice to visit again if I were to return to Tokyo.

To see more pictures from my recent trip to Japan, follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

/ CR

I’m going to Japan!

After months and months of saving and planning, in just under two weeks time I’ll finally get to tick “Travel to Japan” off my bucket list. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. From a very young age, I developed an interest in Japanese culture without even realising.

It all started when I got a SNES for Christmas, back in the early 90’s. I was brought up on Nintendo – Super Mario Bros. being my introduction to Video Games. My collection included classics such as – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Street Fighter II, Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country and much more. These games were my bread and butter and I sunk countless hours into them as a child. Through my friends, I got introduced to Pokemon, which was a complete phenomenon through the 90’s.

I have vivid memories of how it literally swept the nation and the world for that matter. It was incredible. Everyone was collecting and trading Pokemon cards, watching the TV show or playing the games. I used to watch Pokemon every Saturday morning and weekday nights along with Dragonball/Dragonball Z. I picked up a Gameboy with Tetris, which I still have to this day. I remember the day I got Pokemon Yellow, I went into town with my Mother and little brother. We bought it from a now discontinued gaming store. I came home and spent the rest of the day playing it until the batteries in my Gameboy died. Such great memories.

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Nintendo and PlayStation are my go to platforms when it comes to gaming.

As I got a little older I transitioned to PlayStation, although I still held a strong love for Nintendo. Video Games began to get a little more mature and I began to realise that games weren’t just a pastime for young children. Metal Gear Solid was the game that brought me to that realisation. The story gripped you, the character arcs were incredible and it felt like more than just a game. Final Fantasy VII evoked the same emotions. It was my first introduction to a deep story-driven JRPG, and I absolutely adored it.

You may begin to see a pattern starting to emerge – all of these Video Games, TV shows and various popular culture originate from Japan. This was something I wasn’t aware of at a younger age. The same pattern continued throughout the PS2 era and around the dawn of the PS3. I started to become aware of just how much of an influence Japanese gaming had on me. If it wasn’t for all of these games, I may have never been into gaming as much as I am now. I never knew that I was a fan of Anime, or that I even used to watch it and as I became aware of it I began to watch more of it. The older I got the more I developed a love for Japan, along with its history and culture. It soon became the country I wanted to visit most but it always seemed like a pipe dream. A few year ago my girlfriend and I conceived the idea of visiting Japan through the form a guided tour, but the price just seemed inaccessible and my dream of visiting Japan seemed to wither.

Luckily things changed, we decided to scrap the idea of paying for a guided tour and plan things ourselves. Finally, the dream of the Video Gamer pilgrimage to Akihabara was alive and well. Apart from the usual tourist destinations, Geek culture wise, I plan to visit the Pokemon Centre(s), Animate – The 8-floor Flagship store for everything Anime and Manga related, Nanako Broadway and many others. I’m open to any other recommendations as to where to visit if there are any readers who have visited Japan before or have heard of anywhere that’s recommended?

I’ll be documenting my trip through photography, blog posts and youtube videos. All of which will be done when I get home. Although I will be live updating on Twitter and Instagram while I’m there, if you’d like to follow those feeds. I have a lot of content planned with this trip in mind, I know I have a large number of followers who share this interest of mine so I hope you guys look forward to what will be coming to WhatRhinoSaid over the next few month.

/ CR

Have you ever suffered from Video Game fatigue?

Late of last year, I was totally engrossed in the hype leading up to Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront. When both games released I actually took time off work to play them through. I played both titles endlessly and when I wasn’t swapping between the two of them, I’d be creating related content from both, to upload to my YouTube channel. As Christmas rolled in I began playing those games a lot less, In all honesty, I was playing all games less and less to the point where my PS4 started gathering dust as the weeks went by.

This isn’t the first time its happened. When I was younger I had a lot more time to play. I didn’t have a job, didn’t have a girlfriend and apart from a social life, gaming became my biggest form of recreation. As you get older, you begin to become more responsible for a number of things. Whether it be a full-time job, paying your way, spending time with your partner, becoming a parent etc. There are many things that can begin to chip away at your time spent gaming. In my case, I fall under a number of those categories, yet I still find the time to play games, but at the moment I just don’t have the drive or motivation to do so and that isn’t a bad thing.

When I first encountered this sudden turn off from gaming I scoured the web in search of some kind of remedy or advice, something that would allow me to continue enjoying video games in the same way I may have at a previous point in time. I’d try my hand at classics – going back to games I’d thoroughly enjoyed at an earlier age. I’d play new games and try to experience something different. None of the above ever worked, which is when I realised I’d gotten burnt out from playing video games. It may sound crazy, video games are meant to be fun aren’t they? something you turn to when you feel burnt out from other things such as work or after a bad day? But I definitely stand by the saying; too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

I definitely stand by the saying; too much of a good thing can be bad for you

If you genuinely love playing games and do so the majority of the time then this fatigue may be something you have experienced before. Nothing really seemed to jump out at me, I had a shelf full of games I’d barely touched yet didn’t feel the need to sit down and play them. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something that you have no love for. I’m an avid watcher of Kinda Funny and I spent a lot of time watching the various youtube content they uploaded. I realised I was going through the same experience of video game fatigue at the same time as Colin Moriarty, one of the driving forces behind Kinda Funny. It’s very rare that you hear people, especially highly involved in the gaming industry, talk about their lack of interest in video games at a given time.

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The set of Kinda Funny Gamescast – featuring Tim Gettys, Colin Moriarty and Greg Miller

From then on I just decided to take a step back from gaming and embrace it. I focused my interests elsewhere – picking up my first DSLR in order to continue my hobby of photography, I began reading a lot more and started catching up on various TV series’ and Films that had remained on my watch list for the last few month. I even booked my long awaited trip to Japan. I’ve never once felt guilty about not constantly being involved in video games, even though I am a passionate gamer at heart and someone who always wants to create content around that medium, in forms of blog writing and video related content.

The point I’m trying to get at is, it’s not a bad thing to take a step back now and again. Video games aren’t a form of prison or a ball and chain that is constantly tied to your persona. If you aren’t enjoying something it doesn’t hurt to take a break, no matter how long that break may be.

The point I’m trying to get at is, it’s not a bad thing to take a step back now and again. Video games aren’t a form of prison or a ball and chain that is constantly tied to your persona.

If you love video games, something will come along eventually and generally catch your attention enough to peak your interest again. I have my eye on The Witness at the minute and Firewatch isn’t too far away now. With those intriguing titles on the horizon, my video game drought may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

/ CR

Do you remember why you started playing video games?

If you were to ask this question 20 years ago, you might well get a completely different answer from today’s generation. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how much video game content we have on hand these days. There are constantly active social feeds going off at all times around the globe, each displaying various information on the next upcoming trend – whether it’s a new game, news, reviews, leaks etc. Even if you choose not to follow, this information still seeps through the cracks, whether it be from sponsored links, ads tailored to your search engine entries, YouTube/TV ads or even posts liked by your social circle that just so happen to appear in your news feed.

The video game industry has blown up since the dawn of the Internet and the psychical world still holds its own too. Now this may be true with nearly every form of entertainment. But the way we consume video games and their media never used to be anywhere near the magnitude it is today.

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Rather than bringing us together, gamers can tear each other apart because of what their platform of choice is. Why? Not everyone likes the same things.

It’s not just video game media that’s changed though, video games themselves have massively spiked in popularity, and they’re now a commercial phenomenon, appealing to the most casual audiences with characters and consoles becoming household names. The industry consists of multi million dollar projects, which make up an impressive $90 billion dollar industry, as of 2015. Video Games as a medium now share a close likeness to film – due to the sheer jump in visuals, writing and game play we’ve seen in the last 20 years.

The medium is one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment. Which barely even existed 30 years ago. Can you remember when gaming was a relatively underground activity? When games existed in just a 2D pixel based format, the evolution in terms of time has been drastic. As the medium grows so rapidly, so does the selection that comes with it, with each company wanting to get a piece of the pie, which they then in turn can feed to us consumers to make a substantial profit.

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Fallout 4 seems to be a huge contender for GOTY, but still has to fight off an astounding amount of competition.

I’ve recently created a list of all the games I’m hoping to get my hands on in the coming months. Two of those titles sit high upon my wish list perch – Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront. Although I may not want the many others as much as these two, the others that sit beneath it still call out for my attention through a vast form of media. With my recent trip to EGX I got a reminder of just how many games I have my eye on going into Q4 – Uncharted Collection, Assassins Creed Syndicate; which seems to have made a triumphant return in terms of reviews and from what I’ve played.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 also makes its way onto the list along with Rainbow Six: Siege and Just Cause 3. Each game cleverly marketed to draw my attention – mostly through nostalgia I’ve noticed. Call of Duty with its throwback to Nuketown and emphasis on Zombies, Battlefront with its authenticity of the original trilogy and Fallout 4 with the expansion on all of the good points from Fallout 3, moulded into something even better.

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 Companies often like to hone in on our Nostalgia. Nuketown is a firm favourite amongst COD fans.

Now I know I’m not the only one who would love to pick every single one these titles. The media I consume each day insists that I have them all. I’d love to play the majority and each one has been fighting for my attention through adverts, promotions, etc. But when does it all just become too much? How much time do you really have? How are you expected to keep up with everything, not just with the games but also with the media that comes with it?

Do you ever get that feeling like you’ve missed out on something you should have played way back, but at the time there was just too much choice and now it’s come back to bite you in the arse. For example Mass Effect is a series I always wanted to try out, but due to the already overflowing market I never ended up picking it up. Maybe it was financial constraints due to blowing my budget on other games that were released around that time, or maybe due to already devoting a lot of time trying to get through other games.

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The new Mass Effect trailer looks outstanding, but with all of these other games on offer I really don’t know if I’d find the time to play through the series.

When Andromeda was previewed the media and gaming community went crazy for it, yet I feel as though I missed out on everything that came before it and feel like an outsider looking in on something I don’t feel part of, but should, even becoming scrutinized by certain folk because I was never part of the series in the early days. I’ve also seen this happen to others on Twitter most recently with the likes of the Fallout series.

It’s not just the consumers that can sometimes suffer, companies can also feel the squeeze in such a saturated market. People pay with their wallets and its survival of the fittest. But is it really too saturated? Do we have too much choice as gamers? Is that a better thing, which then in turn equals more competition?

Do you just pick and choose, hoping the game you want doesn’t flop after spending your hard-earned cash on it, while others that may not have been as appealing end up rising in popularity after you’ve already laid down your moolah elsewhere. It’s so brutal out there, for both seller and consumer at times.

If games don’t sell the prices take a massive cut too. With so many on the market you can end up picking up new games for half of their retail price, just a few weeks after release as the companies fight to keep themselves and their games afloat. It really is that cutthroat. People complain that games are too expensive, even though they’re the cheapest they’ve ever been. If your game isn’t pulling in an audience then the price won’t stay as high as its initial release. Games like GTA V can remain at their first price because of how popular they are while others take a nosedive in order to sell the copies that remain.

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Not many games can stack up against GTA V in terms of popularity.

Trying to keep up with all of the latest gaming trends, what’s hot, what’s not, what you should be playing, what you shouldn’t be, who’s streaming what, the most popular YouTube video doing the rounds, FPS this and 1080p that, all the different types of memes and gifs, hateful comments, Gamer Gate etc, etc, etc. JUST STOP, ARGH! It all just gets a little too much at times, doesn’t it?

The way everything is extremely scrutinized, the cutthroat market, the endless choice, marketing that reveals every minute detail about a game it ships, the uninviting media, the annoying YouTubers, the swatted twitch players, micro transactions, season passes, pre-order bonuses and DLC. Remember simpler times, when none of this even existed?

Thinking back to when I was a child I was allowed one game for Christmas, maybe two if I was very lucky. The deciding factor would come from a few screenshots on the back of a box or the cover artwork on the front. That experience of buying a new game, travelling home, reading the cover front to back, actually reading through the instruction manual. All of that now just a distant memory often thought back too in a flicker of video game nostalgia. I’d play the games I had over and over, numerous times, I’d know the ins and outs of every part.

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I put countless hours into Legend of Zelda: A link to the past, as at one point, it was all I had to play. Attempting tough puzzles and feeling a real sense of achievement once I’d progressed further. Whatever happened to putting in the groundwork?

Games weren’t as accessible as they are now, you’d actually get your money’s worth. You wouldn’t play a game for five minutes, get bored and move on. You wouldn’t buy games in a sale and let them gather dust. You’d dedicate yourself to them. I’m not saying that’s what all gamers are like, but it seems the attention span of many has greatly reduced over the years.

It’s not just the short attention span though; games are just much more accessible these days. I have countless games sat on my shelf, still in the cellophane, in my steam or PlayStation library, all un-played, hoping to see the light of day, but I’m no octopus, I can’t play everything at once. I get a game, play as much as I can, then before I know it, its old news and the media and gaming community are all focused on something else, I then feel like the un-cool kid in the playground who isn’t on board with the new fad and before I know it, new games are out, time moves on and the old stuff, still un-played, gets left behind. The 10-year-old me would have never let that happen.

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Through the year I’d mainly have to rent games but each rental was decided on my own accord, what I thought looked good, regardless if it was or not, it was ME that made the decision and I felt no marketing or peer pressure in doing so. You’d discover hidden gems and amazing experiences, like getting lost in a library of amazing new worlds. Memory didn’t matter; your handful of MB on your memory card was sufficient enough. You’d play games first hand – mainly knowing nothing about them, apart from a blurb on the back or a paragraph in a magazine – that was it.

Yeah some were lacklustre and not worth your time. But remember the ones that were worth it, the ones you knew hardly anything about, you’d become engrossed in their worlds or get lost in the story, yet you’d essentially go in blind, knowing very little about them as opposed to how much we know of a game, pre-release, now.

Look at No Mans Sky for example – Murray and Hello Games are negatively criticized for not revealing much information about the game. I’m sorry, but that game looks intriguing enough as it is and I’d rather find out about it for myself when I have it in my own hands.

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Playing Minecraft for the first time, without any idea of what it was, how to play, or what I should do, was such an amazing experience. Something that made me think back to a time when each game I tried was like playing Minecraft for the first time.

Remember when Minecraft wasn’t even a thing, yet when people first jumped into that they knew nothing, no instruction manual, no tutorial – you just played first hand and worked it out for yourself. Just like how it used to be. You’d play games due to how engaging and fun they were. How a game looked, in terms of visuals, just didn’t matter. You’d share a couch with friends, it was a social thing – playing co-op, competitive split screen multiplayer, conducting mini gaming tournaments for FUN or taking turns handing the controller to one another after each turn. That is but a distant memory with most games.

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The couch never used to be this lonely.

Yet now people are constantly connected, with a camera and microphone in their face, sat on a specialized “gaming” chair, pondering over YouTube or Twitch or arguing in forums over FPS and Display Quality, something that was relatively unheard of. Everything has become so competitive; if you aren’t winning, then you’re a loser.

Some games even offer you the option to skip levels if they’re too hard, what happened to actually putting the effort in and retrying until you got it, you know, when games actually taught you valuable life lessons – not to give up, to always keep at something even if you fail over and over, to put the time, effort and work in, in order to reap the benefits, rather than paying your way out of something, skipping a level, paying to win or progress. It baffles me how anyone would rather chose the latter.

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The fact that the invincibility leaf power up, in Super Mario 3D World, is even a thing makes me weep inside.

Remember when fighting games had hidden characters and you’d have to work your way through the roster in order to obtain them, putting the time in to unlock them, now you can just download them from the store or get them free for pre-ordering. The likes of Black Ops 3 allows you to play every level from the get go. You don’t even have to work your way through the game, you can just go right ahead and play the last level if you so desire, never mind skipping sections if they get too hard, this let’s you skip the whole game, period.

What next? An auto pilot button, that when pressed, just plays the game for you while you watch. Some may argue that this already exists in the form of watching let’s plays – now don’t get me wrong, watching lets plays can be fun, but when you hear people saying they can’t be bothered to play the game and that they’d rather just watch someone else play to see what happens, it really gets to me.

Gaming never used to be like this, or at least this isn’t how I experienced video games when growing up. Even though you are constantly connected with people around the globe and the industry is abundant with all different types of titles, video gaming can, at times, leave you feeling isolated or become very over whelming.

It seems with an ever-growing industry the times, values and reasons people play games have changed dramatically. People play games because of how popular they are, resulting in more views on their latest lets play videos, rather than playing what they really love, regardless of how popular it is. I’m not saying this applies to every gamer, but it applies a lot more today than it did 20 years ago.

Maybe I’m just stuck in my old ways, agitated by a fast paced world, everything moves so fast these days, written media is a dying art form, 8 second vine clips and countless snapchats are all the rage. People don’t have time to play games these days, or so it seems. Hmm. I don’t know, maybe that’s how we’ve evolved as a society, not enough time for anything, but still enough time to keep our social feeds up to date.

Maybe it’s time I stopped trying to adapt to every form of change within the industry and take a step back. Chasing trends and gaming fads will never work. You’ll always feel left behind or out of the loop, even if your first to arrive, the party will be over before you know it and you’ll be left wondering why you even attended in the first place.

Stop feeling like you’re left behind. Play what you love and love what you play, you shouldn’t play games for anyone else but yourself. You didn’t get into games because other people wanted you to play, so why become a puppet on a string to please others?

Whatever it may be, we need to remember why we got into gaming in the first place, hopefully for the love of it and the chance to visit amazing new worlds, to get lost in different time periods; whether it’s fiction or non fiction or sharing the love we have for different games and characters.

Forget about all the inconsequential shit and play for your love of playing, as without that, what does that make gaming, but a passive form of media, as we let it pass by in such a fast pace world, watching others experience it, rather than experiencing it for ourselves.

Why don’t you pick up a controller, take an old game from your shelf and remember what made you start playing in the first place.

/ CR

EGX 2015 – Sunday: Tom Clancy’s The Division, Hitman, PlayStation VR and More

As the weekend drew to an end, EGX was about to host it’s final day. As we were leaving Birmingham too, we decided to head over to the expo a little later. We packed our bags and arrived around 10am. Sadly there were a few bad apples within the staff that I’d come across that weekend. This was made apparent once again when I asked a member of staff how to get to the cloakroom – I was rudely spoken too, belittled and totally left with a bad taste in my mouth after speaking to him. This occurred a few times over the weekend by staff from not just the NEC but from EGX staff too. I’m not going to go into it to much, but he wasn’t the first member of staff that had a horrible attitude.

Moving on from that we got into the event and started taking some footage. The event doesn’t open it’s doors publicly until 11am, Super Pass holders and early access members are allowed into the event an hour earlier, then once the public enters prepare to feel as if you are part of a sardine tin. The event easily could have been doubled in size and it would still have aptly held all attendees. Even though the event was a lot bigger than when it was held at Earls Court, it was still crammed full, hopefully next year all of the problems with staff, queuing organisation and event capacity gets resolved.

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If you took your picture with Vaultboy at a certain time of day you were given Vaultboy masks for free! – Here you can see my missus doing just that.

We’d heard that you were able to get hold of a vault boy mask if you took a picture with him at 11am. This was definitely on the agenda. We hung around in the retro section and got to play some NES and Sega Mega Drive, while waiting, which was a lot of fun. Once we’d picked up the masks it was time to head on over to play The Division.

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Back to my roots – playing Super Mario on the NES.

Once we got to the start of the queue we were greeted with a sign that no one wants to see; “3 hours wait from here” this was in fact true, even though I thought it may have been done to avoid congestion in the public walk ways. I was in fact proved wrong. This was the last main game I wanted to play and one of my most anticipated, so I figured the wait had to be endured. After three long hours we finally got on to to play. First impressions were not so good – due to the crazy queue that snaked half way around the event itself, but the game definitely lived up to the hype, my only problem with it is that I just wanted to see more of it, the vehicle and environment art was fantastic and visually it looked photogenic. I wished they’d focused more on the survival element, but I suppose in such a short demo that wasn’t really an option. The game is still six month away though, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot more before release. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final game and it’ll more than likely become a staple throughout the blog when it released next year.

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The Division at EGX – Look out for an article from me on the game coming really soon.

Before queuing to play The Division I’d put my name down again to play PlayStation VR, very luckily I got a text notifying me that there was a space available just as I’d left the over 18’s area. After around a 20 minute wait I was able to have a second look at PlayStation VR, I got to play EVE Valkyrie this time, I’m not going to go into too much detail, as this is something I’ll be covering in it’s own article at a later date, I just have to say, it was incredible.

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I managed to get to experience PlayStation VR twice at EGX.

Seeing as though we’d spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon queuing, we decided to break for lunch. Afterwards I spent an hour or so capturing extra video footage while I had a moment. After lunch we joined the queue for Rainbow Six Siege, while standing we were handed some free beta keys to play the game once we got home. The queue itself was taking longer than normal to reduce down, I remembered that IO Interactive were doing a gameplay presentation on the new Hitman game. I decided it’d be best to make the most of the time left and go and see that presentation, rather than waiting in line to play the game when I could just play the beta once I got home.

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The new Hitman gameplay presentation was amazing.

The decision was a positive one as Hitman looked fantastic on the PS4. The game overall seemed a lot bigger than previous versions, there was a lot more choice to be made and many more paths to take when trying to execute your target.

Overall the weekend was fantastic, I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if there were a few underlying problems with the event itself. There will obviously be a few more articles to come, involving EGX – My thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront, PlayStation VR, The Division and much more. Most of these updates may be shown on my Youtube channel so head over there and subscribe in order to keep up to date once they drop.

/ CR