Tag Archives: Game

PC GAMER Best Puzzle Game of 2016: The Witness

I’ve played some amazing video games this year.  The one game that was my all-time favorite this year was The WitnessThe Witness was an incredible open-world puzzle adventure game that challenged me to alter how I saw things.  There were over 600 puzzles scattered around the deserted island just waiting to be solved.  No enemies, no game over, just a calming puzzle-adventure game where you figure out why you are on this island in the first place.

It was back in the beginning of the year when I downloaded The Witness for Steam.  What followed were some of the most amusing, yet philosophical gaming experiences I’ve ever had with a video game.  This game was more than just about solving random puzzles around the island; it was about discovering who you were in the game and why you were on the island in the first place.  There’s no actual storyline within the game, but you start to understand it through audio logs and video clips in the windmill room.  Overall, The Witness was truly a mind-blowing game to play through.

Now that 2016 is ending soon, gaming sites are rolling out the top gaming titles.  Gaming site PC GAMER voted The Witness for ‘Best Puzzle Game 2016’.  The game was praised by PC GAMER staff writers for the various patterns you find all across the island.  Its vibrant island and crystal-clear water made for a breath-taking environment to wander around in the game.  There were other categories that were part of the list and The Witness made it as the best puzzle game of 2016.

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Other gaming sites praised The Witness as being one of the best gaming titles of this year.  Game Revolution ranked The Witness at #8 on the ‘Best Games of 2016’ list.  GQ also listed The Witness on their best games list as well.  Many people didn’t see much potential of The Witness after watching the trailer, but their views shifted after playing the game.

Kudos to The Witness for receiving all of those praises!  I saw the trailer for this game years ago and was excited to play this title in January.  The Witness was a unique puzzle game like no other, persuading me to view the world from a different perspective.  It was amazing to see various sites putting The Witness into their own list of best games of 2016 (especially a magazine like GQ!).

2016 is coming to an end soon, meaning more video game titles will be heading our way.  Who knows what new puzzle game will be released this year.  Could the new puzzle games be even more mind-blowing than The Witness?  What unique titles are flying into the digital shelves this coming year?  Stay tuned to find out!


Crash Bandicoot Spins Into a Reboot in 2017!

By the mid-90s the home console war revolved around Nintendo and Sony Computer Entertainment.  Sony’s PlayStation may have been released first, but the Nintendo 64 won audiences over with their new games.  Rebooting new title from the Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong series reeled in millions in profits and took Nintendo right to the top of the chart.  Titles such as Donkey Kong 64 and Super Mario 64 played on the nostalgia factor, taking players back to the time when the Super Nintendo was still popular.

Both Sony Computer Entertainment and Nintendo utilized their popular characters as their brand mascot in order to capture their audience’s attention.  Nintendo already has their slew of characters (Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, to name a few!) while Sony PlayStation revolved their brand around Crash Bandicoot.  Crash Bandicoot was the answer to Sony’s lack of any mascot character that would compete with Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario.  He is an orange bandicoot who spins around like a tornado, knocking off any enemies/boxes at his sight.  His main quest is to defeat his antagonist Doctor Neo Cortex before he completes his scheme of world domination.

Crash made his first appearance on the Sony PlayStation with the title Crash Bandicoot in September 9th, 1996.  Players can run, jump, slide, and spin away any enemies that could hinder his journey to defeat Doctor Neo Cortex.  This release followed with the release of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (October 31st, 1997)  and Crash Bandicoot: Warped (November 4th, 1998).  Sony hasn’t made any announcement about other Crash Bandicoot titles lately…until now!

Sony announced that all three Crash Bandicoot titles from the PlayStation will be remastered for the PS4.  The remastered games will become a trilogy pack titled Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.  Vicarious Visions utilized the original level geometry as a guide, but they also rebuilt the gameplay by adding its own ‘lush and zany art, animation, and audio’.  Other than level design, the characters will also be rebuilt through the original designs as well as updated cinematics inspired from the originals.

Three other unique features for the game include:

  • Unified checkpoint & save game system (including manual & auto-saving)
  • Unified menu system
  • Time trials for ALL three games

The rebooted trilogy won’t be released until 2017, so you’ll have to wait until AFTER Christmas to pick up this nostalgic title.  What’s interesting is that it isn’t the first video game to be making a re-mastered comeback.  We’ve seen this trend of releasing old games with the launch of the NES Classic Mini and the Sega Mega Drive (see my former post here!).  This trend of reboot classic titles is being heavily favored by the Millennial audience because these were the games that they grew up with.

It was great to hear about Crash Bandicoot getting a rebooted trilogy series!  I used to love playing the Crash Bandicoot series when I was kid and I look forward to this game’s release.  Now I may always have been Team Nintendo, but I loved playing some titles from Sony and Sega!  Mario and Sonic already got their reboots and now it was Crash’s time to shine for Sony Computer Entertainment.

Remastering Crash Bandicoot will truly increase people’s awareness of Sony’s brand mascot.  This is an easy and cheaper way to bring back awareness of Crash Bandicoot without having to come up with a whole new title for him.  This nostalgia strategy is really increasing video game sales for 2016.  Video game sales haven’t been slumping, but it is providing a boost for the latest consoles.

With that, I am excited for the release of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.  This and other titles make it seem more convenient to purchase a PlayStation 4 soon.  Here’s to Crash spinning into the 2017 with his rebooted adventure!

Sony’s Visually Appealing Patches for The Witness

Even after being released almost a year ago, the one game I am still playing is The WitnessThe Witness is a 3D open-world puzzle game released by Jonathan Blow; it was released for Steam and PS4 on January 26th.  With over 500+ puzzles scattered around the island, this game made me want to look harder for each puzzle in the area.  Hundreds of environmental puzzles are found within different sections of the island as well.

The Witness was released for the PS4 back in January and was released for the Xbox One on September 13th.  Even on the Xbox One, the gameplay has the exact same game format.  Playstation 4 Pro is set to release on November 10th and certain PS4 titles will be receiving patches that would supply enhanced support for the console.  No bonus puzzles have been announced within the downloadable content market yet, but a special patch will be offered for The Witness when the PS4 Pro hits the shelves later this month.

Jonathan Blow, creator of The Witness and Braid, announced that the game will provide two mode to choose from when playing the game on 4K display.  One option will allow the game to run at 60 frames per second at a resolution of 1440p that is upscaled to 4K.  Texts and user interface would still be rendered at 4K, but the game world will be rendered with 2x MSAA (multisample anti-aliasing) enabled.  Multisample anti-aliasing is a technique used in computer graphics for improving image quality.

Another option players could choose from is rendering everything in the game at 4K with 2x MSAA enabled.  Only drawback to the mode would be that the frame rate limits to 30 frames per second, but the improved resolution could make the game worthwhile for many players.  Other than the two modes to choose from, HDR (high-dynamic-range imaging) is also set to be supported on the PS4 Pro and the PlayStation 4.  Players will surely be seeing lots of visual improvements of the game once the PS4 Pro hits the stores next week.

Consumers looking to purchase the hardware may be primarily interested in games that run with the demanding PlayStation VR content, but enhancing performance on older games would be an attractive selling point as well.  Tweaking the graphics to make them look better would make the game that much more appealing, targeting audiences that have played The Witness and those that haven’t.  Sony is updating the visuals for certain PS4 titles as their unique selling point to their audiences.  Popular titles like The Witness will continue to sell more with the updates installed in the PS4 Pro.

I really enjoy playing The Witness and it’s great that Sony will be providing some interesting patches for the game.  Kudos to Sony for their smart idea of utilizing enhanced visual interactions as their unique selling point for the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro.  Games don’t always have to provide hidden downloadable content in order to draw in more audiences.  Little things like improving the graphics of the games would make it that much more enjoyable to play.  In the end, it was a smart unique selling point of utilizing improved graphics as a patch for people to collect in order to progress their PlayStation 4 Pro experience.

T.J. Thyne Angel/Bones Criss-Cross

I just finished the final season of Angel this past week.  It was a memorable, yet strange season to binge-watch on Netflix.  From the bickering between Angel and Spike to seeing Angel being transformed into a puppet, season 5 just went completely off the rails as far as the storyline goes.  Season 5 may have been a bit silly, but there were some surprising cameos I caught earlier in the season.

On ‘Conviction’, I noticed something familiar about the man suited up in a light brown suit, dark blue shirt, and yellow tie.  My Spidey senses urged me to do a IMDB search on my phone while watching the show.  After a quick IMDB search, I was shocked to realized that the man was no other than T.J. Thyne from Fox’s Bones.  David Boreanaz and T.J. Thyne were in Angel before signing on to do Bones.  Another TV Criss-Cross has been spotted!

T.J. Thyne made his first guest appearance on Angel when it aired on October 1st, 2003.  He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and moved south to attend high school at Plano, Texas.  His first appearance on-camera was Doctor Oberman in Friends.  Thyne hit it big on the silver screen when he made a starring role in Fox’s hit series Bones as Dr. Jack Hodgins.  Other shows he has made appearances on include Kenan and Kel, Dharma and Greg, Home Improvement, The Tick, NCIS, and other series.

This was an interesting TV criss-cross to spot!  I caught up with every season of Bones so far and was surprised to see that T.J. Thyne worked with David Boreanaz on Angel.  Dr. Jack Hodgins is the badass bug boy of the Jeffersonian Institute, calling himself ‘King of the Lab’ when he made a breakthrough in the case.  While Angel may have concluded over 12 years ago, Bones is still running its 12th and final season in 2017.  This would be our last year seeing the duo on the silver screen unless another surprising project is in stores for next year.  Until then, we will have to wait until 2017 for the final season of Bones to hit the airwaves.

Question 1 -Yes for Revere

This year there are two candidates to choose for President and four questions to decide for the state of Massachusetts.  Question one would allow the gaming commission to issue Massachusetts an additional slots license in the future.  This slots license, also known as a category 2 license, would allow an establishment or proposed establishment that could happen in Suffolk Downs.  If question 1 were to pass, we could see a proposed hotel and limited electronic gaming facility heading into the city of Revere.  I attended a few events this week that supported question 1 to better understand what the future would hold for Revere if the question passes.

The proposed gaming partner that would be working alongside with the city of Revere is Navegante.  Navegante is a full-service gaming company based in Las Vegas that handles a multitude of projects within the gaming and hospitality industry.  It is comprised of elite gaming professionals that focus on casino/resort development, consulting, and management that they believe can offer value-added service.  Some of their well-known clients include MGM Grand, Caesar’s Tahoe Resort, Casino Niagara, Santa Ana Star Casino, Sahara Hotel & Casino, and other companies.  Other than Las Vegas, Navegante has worked with companies in Toronto and Elko.

Question 1 would revitalize a struggling neighborhood with the establishment of a new gaming facility and hotel for its citizens.  The project itself could generate about $88 million in new state tax revenue once it’s open for business.  Over thousands of jobs would be created for the city of Revere, especially when the facilities start being built.  Citizens of Revere must vote on October 18th for whether or not question 1 should pass for the state of Massachusetts.

Suffolk Downs is a thoroughbred race track in East Boston that provided live horse racing.  It is also one of many MBTA stops on the blue line heading into Bowdoin station in Boston.  Participants would come down to Suffolk Downs to place their bets on which horse would win the race.  With Wynn’s proposal approved in September 2014, Suffolk Downs closed their doors to prepare construction for the new hotel and gaming facility.  Construction would start as soon as question 1 passes and would be taking place around Lee’s Trailer Park.

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Lee’s Trailer Park is a facility sitting around Suffolk Down.  It is situated between Revere Beach/Winthrop Parkway and Route 1A (note: Route 1A takes you up to Seabrook, New Hampshire).  Question 1 would revitalize what is now a struggling neighborhood in Suffolk Downs area.  Re-constructing Lee’s Trailer Park would require a lot of help from thousands of employees working in construction.

What’s interesting to note is the proximity of MBTA’s Beachmont stop to Suffolk Downs.  Beachmont is one of many stops that will take you all the way to Bowdoin station in Boston.  Four other stops that will take you into Boston include Aquarium, State, Government Center, and Airport.  Why is it so important to mention Boston?  Boston happens to be the popular hotspot for young adults looking for work.

Young adults flock to Boston, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, to search for a career after graduating from college.  Some of Boston’s hottest neighborhoods for young adults include Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Brighton, Allston, Newton, and Jamaica Plains.  It’s also interesting to point out that the MBTA provides various lines for people traveling to these areas.  The MBTA, as well as buses, could be one of many ways of transporting people into Suffolk Downs for the resort/gaming facility.  Young adults also use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to head home from a long night in the city.  We could be tapping into flourishing audience all with the help of the MBTA.

Thousands of new jobs would be created with the passing of question 1.  Constructing the actual hotel and gaming facility would require help from potential employees who specialize in carpentry, painting, landscaping, management, welding, and many other specialties that would complete the project.  It may take about 1 ½ years until the facility will officially open, but there will always be help needed in setting it up before the grand opening.  All of these jobs would be created before the doors even open for Revere’s new hotel and gaming facility.

More jobs would be available once the project is near completion.  People working in various fields would be able to work for the gaming facility or hotel based on their experience and expertise.  Accountants/financers are needed to keep count of the finances coming in and out of the industry.  Marketers are most important in raising awareness of the facility and connecting audiences to the very best of their abilities.  Social media would play a huge role in getting the word out on the grand opening and release any interesting information for the audience.  Those interesting in working for the food/restaurant aspect would be involved in cooking food and serving drinks for the customers in either the restaurant or gaming facility.  Other facilities that are in need of employee include HR, security, and retail.

In the end, there could be potential growth for the city of Revere.  A proposed resort and gaming facility could bring in more jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue, and better publicity with more people visiting the city.  The proposal could be completed within 18 months if question 1 passes.  Nothing has been set in stone, but question 1 would play a key role in revitalizing a struggling neighborhood in Suffolk Downs.  It’s up to the citizens of Revere to decide the future of Suffolk Downs.  For now, we will all have to wait for what Revere votes for on October 18th.