Review of Ascend: Hand of Kul Beta

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The Ascend: Hand of Kul beta is a free offering on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace that blends a high replayability system with freemium content for a deceptively addictive smash-em-up title.  Players are introduced to the soul currency system at character creation, as customizing one’s Caos allows a small choice of free skins and a deeper selection that costs souls.  After the first opportunity to spend money on the game, the customized Caos must finally choose one of the three gods of the game: Void boasts the domains of ice and deception, Light reigns over speed and critical hits, and Dark is the heavier damage aspect.

The Caos runs about the World Above, using magic, quick, and heavy attacks in sequences for chained combo attacks that cut swaths through enemies.  Combat is akin to that of God of War, right down to bonus multipliers for uninterrupted combos and finishing moves for weakened foes.  Defeating enemies will grant you souls, which are essentially the currency of the game.  And that’s the catch.

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The Ascend: Hand of Kul (beta) is free to download, free to play, but you are often presented with the opportunity (and encouragement) to buy packs of souls to save yourself the grinding time.  Souls, being the sole currency, are used to unlock abilities, attain boosts, upgrade traits, buy customization options, acquire gear, and repair equipment.  You NEED souls, but you don’t NEED to pay for them.  But the option is always there.

Besides fighting monsters in the Overworld and in dungeons, there are player-versus-player elements worth mentioning.  Other players will populate your world, visible as ghostly Caos characters outlined with the color dedicated to their chosen Gods (red for Dark, yellow for Light, and blue for Void).  Crusade Spells can be used to either buff the other player with a Blessing (such as extra experience) or hex them with a Curse (like Banishing Overworld enemies into their plane of your world).  Occasionally your conquered lands will be invaded, and you’ll be given the option to warp there and fight the opposing Caos in a duel.

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The objective of the Caos is to convert lands and humans to the god you serve.  Once objectives are completed and the land is under your god’s control, human followers may be summoned from the lands to ride on the shoulders of the Caos.  From there, the tiny warriors can be eaten for health, thrown at enemies, or left alone to fire arrows at foes.

After reaching the appropriate level, the Caos is encouraged to Ascend into the Crusade to become an Ascended Champion.  At this point, the Caos dies to be reborn, being granted the option to place equipment on a Legacy Pillar (the first is free…the others, of course, cost souls) in order to pass it on to the next Caos.  In being reborn, you will stand before the three gods to choose once more to whom you will pledge; each god will offer a bonus for your allegiance, which is passed on along with the current soul balance.  In Ascending, certain abilities will be passed down to the next Caos.  You have the option to Ascend every five levels, and each time the level cap will increase by five.  Your Ascended Champion will earn an emblem for all Caos Warriors you create, serving as another encouragement to keep rerolling.  Also, characters that you have retired through this process will attempt to invade other players’ lands and claim them as your own.

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A noteworthy plus of the Ascend: Hand of Kul beta (besides being free) is that dungeons are restocked every day, giving new loot and new monsters to plow through day after day.  A complaint (or blessing, depending on your take) would be that many of the encounters can be avoided with the Dash ability; it’s possible to Dash through dungeons and loot chests while evading enemies.  The foes are also fairly manageable; you can often step away from a boss to regenerate your health, though your enemy’s bar doesn’t seem to refill while you catch a breather.

Ultimately, Ascend: Hand of Kul is a fun download that offers interesting benefits for replaying.  It’s free for Gold members, though you can absolutely sink money into soul packs and skip lots of grinding.  I’m sure the gods would still accept you…

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Valve Unveils Steam Controller

Valve’s final reveal for revolutionizing the living room is a doozy; it’s a controller the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before…

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Analog sticks be damned, Valve’s offering eschews the modern method of directional input and instead makes the interesting (futuristic?) move to dual trackpads.  Adopting clickability of current-gen analogs and boasting high resolution comparable to a desktop mouse, Valve confides that the controller will work with all past, present, and future Steam games.  Though it’s purported that precision will be improved with the new spin on controllers, I’d be interested to see the learning curve required to adapt to the stickless device.

Acknowledging the “light touch” nature of trackpads as opposed to thumbsticks, Valve concedes that the tangible experience will not be similar with the new controller.  The company endeavored to make a more physical experience by tweaking the weighted-single-axis haptic feedback formula to include “dual linear resonant actuators…attached to each of the dual trackpads…allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.”  It’s suggested that the system will be handy in “delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware,” while also coming with nifty perks such as being able to “play audio waveforms and function as speakers”.

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In accordance with controller couture, the Steam Controller will have a high-resolution screen in the center of the device that features sensitivity to clicking, swiping, scrolling, and radial input (which may encourage Bethesda to add even more radial menus).  Valve also notes that the button can be touched to share its display over what is currently being played, therein canceling the otherwise pesky requirement of looking down at the controller and away from the game’s action.

As you would expect with a controller, the device’s buttons have been “placed based on frequency of use, precision required and ergonomic comfort”.  Eight of the sixteen buttons are purportedly reachable without removing the thumbs from the two giant circles they will call home.  Valve claims that the software can accommodate for left- or right-handedness, configurations can be created and shared to better suit game bindings, and the included legacy mode will ensure compatibility with games that predate the Steam Controller.

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Valve reports that the Steam Controller “was designed from the ground up to be hackable,” and insists that they “plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering”.  As with the Steam Machines, the Steam Controller is open to beta (by submitting to the same process), but the beta units will require a USB cable and bear four buttons instead of the touch screen.

So, that’s Valve’s approach to reshaping your living room in 2014.  Though many gamers hoped that the big reveals would include Half-Life news, the reveals of a free operating systemnew hardware to run said OS, and an intriguing new game controller are sure to grab the attention of both PC and console gamers.  What do you think of the Valve offerings?

Valve Reveals Steam Machines

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The second item of news for Valve’s 2014 plans comes in the form of Steam Machines.  The company states that they are collaborating with a number of partners to pump out a slew of devices that will run SteamOS, of course.  Valve claims that they are aiming to create a “high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam,” and is “also completely upgradable and open”.  Three hundred of the prototypes have been designated for disbursement to Steam users who meet a set of criteria (besides possessing sufficient luck):

THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST:
Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility
3. Make 10 Steam friends (if you haven’t already)
4. Create a public Steam Community profile (if you haven’t already)
5. Play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode
 
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Valve explains that once the above criteria are met, the user will earn a special badge and be entered into the drawing for receiving one of the 300 prototypes.  Your odds seem to be somewhat increased with prior community and beta activity, as Valve offers that “a small number of users (30 or less) will be chosen based on their past community contributions and beta participation,” while the rest are subject to random luck.  You have until October 25th to throw your hat into the ring, so get to it!

Steam Introduces Free Operating System

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Valve announced today that part one of its big news trio is SteamOS, a free operating system “designed for TV and the living room“.  As the first reveal of the plan to enhance Steam in 2014, the OS appears to be Linux-based and engineered for “any living room machine”.  Valve touts major steps in graphic processing already, and now aims to augment audio while reducing input latency.  Valve claims that SteamOS will encourage collaboration between creators and customers in the spirit of innovation.

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Announced to be “available soon in both SteamOS and the Steam client” are four new Steam features oriented around making the living room even better:

  1. In-home Streaming – SteamOS machines will be geared to play nice with both Windows and Mac games.  By starting up Steam on your computer, the SteamOS will do all the handshaking required to run both platforms of games, streaming them to your television.  Finding out where you stand with brand allegiance, on the other hand, is still your own iResponsibility.
  2. Music, TV, Movies – ???  “We’re working with many of the media services you know and love.  Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS.”  Valve probably won’t kill the radio star.
  3. Family Sharing – Currently in beta process, the family sharing aspect will let friends and family play your games and forge their own progress in them (and save to the cloud) when you’re taking a break, and vice versa.  If the details from the beta remain when the OS kicks off, if you start playing a game while a member on a designated shared device is enjoying the same program, they will have a few minutes to purchase the game before they are disconnected (until you sign off again, of course).
  4. Family Options – Sounds like a pretty standard parental control element, as Valve reports that “families will have more control over what titles get seen by whom,” and introduce “more features to allow everyone in the house to get the most out of their Steam libraries.”

The next reveal goes live in 37.5 hours, so that’s plenty of time to get popcorn and come right back.  Or go to work or school.  Or just keep playing on Steam.

I know your tricks.

Xbox Live Credits Program

 

As extra incentive to enhance your engagement with the Xbox Live program, Microsoft awards credits for spending quality time with your console.  By completing objectives listed below, you can accrue credits at various rates; once you earn 5,000 credits, your balance will be converted to currency added to your account “around the 15th and 30th of every month”.  After you achieve a credit total of 1,000, however, you can petition for a deposit ahead of schedule.  Here is a list from Xbox that entails how you can boost your Credits:

 

 

 

  • Take a Survey – 250 Credits
  • Complete My Apps Punchcard (Downloading a designated app for the first time and using it for 5+ hours per punch) – 1,000 Credits
  • Refer My Friends (Getting friends to upgrade to Gold status and uses your link) – 1,000 Credits
  • Play a New Game (Playing a designated new game for 10+ hours) – 1,000 Credits
  • Make My First Xbox Store Purchase – 1,250 Credits
  • Complete My Movies and TV Punchcard (Purchasing or renting five or more movies/designated TV episodes)- 3,000 Credits
  • Renew My Gold Membership – Up to 3,000 Credits
  • Complete My Map Pack Punchcard (Purchasing any five map packs by a designated deadline) – 5,000 Credits
  • Unlock MyAchievements (Tied to your Gamerscore) – Up to 3% Rebate
  • Get the VIP Treatment (Maintain a Gold membership and stay active) – Prizes, Credits, Etc.

 

Review – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

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Introduction

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is Square Enix’s redux of the franchise’s second entry in the MMO genre.  Since the original FFXIV pissed off fans and was generally negatively received, Squeenix apologized and gave it a second go with new tech, UI, and plot.  Essentially, the player survived the cataclysm that marked the end of Final Fantasy XIV Version 1, waking up five years later in an Eorzea scarred by the mortals’ war and the primal Bahamut’s escape from the false moon Dalamud that served as its prison.  After a very busy beta test, the game went live for pre-orders and version 1.0 subscribers on August 24th, 2013 and three days later for everyone else.

Gameplay

Square Enix scrapped many components of the old system (and members of the old team) in order to make FFXIV: ARR more accessible.  The result is a very fluid, very progressive offering for the genre.  While there are familiar elements such as the minimap, exclamation point indicators for available quests, and menial kill/fetch quests for leveling, FFXIV: ARR has a distinctively streamlined feeling to it (see Extras section below).

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A Realm Reborn has fair depth of character creation.  Players can customize characters by choosing Hyur (human), Elezen (elven), Lalafell (similar to FFXI’s Tarutaru), Roegadyn (similar to FFXI’s Galka), and Miqo’te (similar to FFXI’s Mithra).  While the races are fairly reminiscent of those found in FFXI, the Galka-like Roegadyn can now be female and the Mithra-like Miqo’te can now be male.  Hair, eyes, voice, tattoo, and a number of other features can be tweaked to make a unique character you’ll stare at and listen to for many, many hours.  Class, birth sign, and deity can be chosen as additional aspects of flair.

Classes

There are crafting Classes, gathering Classes, physical combat Classes, and magic Classes:  Disciples of War (Gladiator, Pugilist, Marauder, Lancer, and Archer), Disciples of Magic (Conjurer, Thaumaturge, and Arcanist), Disciples of the Hand (Carpenter, Blacksmith, Armorer, Goldsmith, Leatherworker, Weaver, Alchemist and Culinarian), and Disciples of the Land (Miner, Botanist, and Fisher).  While there’s a wealth of combat options to choose from, A Realm Reborn does a good job of making the Classes feel distinct.  The Pugilist hand-to-hand Class is all about hitting the Greased Lightning status that improves attack speed and damage; this is achieved by using certain stance-shifting skills in a specific sequence in order to get to that holiest state of ass-kickery.  The Thaumaturge uses the fire and ice system, casting fire spells that consistently do more damage and cost more mana, then switching to ice spells that are cheaper and improve mana regeneration; the Thaumaturge routinely shifts back and forth between the two elements in order to maximize damage and manage the precious mana resource.  The Lancer commands big damage output depending on positioning and mob control mechanics, such as Slow.

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Crafters no longer participate in the painstakingly tedious crystal synthesis that they did in FFXI.  For example, a Leatherworker will open the synthesis menu to craft an item.  A small window opens and shows the stages of progress; there’s some clicking to be done to fill the bar for completion, but in that time the crafter can attempt to raise the quality of the item (and consequently make it more difficult to create).  As crafters level, they’ll unlock abilities that will give them more chances to succeed, improve the durability of the item if they’ve failed on a few steps, and so on.  Like mana, these abilities use a CP bar that refills after completion of an item.  After a player has successfully crafted an item, he or she can then set up automatic synthesis for quick mass-production of the same item, saving lots of time churning out the same item over and over at the expense of potentially earning greater success through meticulous ability use.

Progression

Players can engage in solo play or group play.  Monster kills, quests, and FATE (Full Active Time Events – scripted events that pop up in the open world) give combat Classes options to gain experience through solo play.  Group play also opens up dungeons for acquiring experience and loot; partying with others allows for faster kill chains (which subsequently increase the rate of XP gain) and introduces new mechanics, such as Limit Breaks (abilities available after a number of monster kills in a dungeon; the Class that activates it determines what kind of attack/buff/heal results).  While group play is necessary for progression at certain points in the game, ARR offers more options than many other MMOs have provided for solo play.

Speaking of options, there is a plethora of experience-boosts available to adventurers.  Time spent in towns will grant rest XP that is tacked on to crafting and combat experience.  Certain food items can be consumed to grant a few extra percent of XP.  Hunting Logs targeting certain monsters for kills grant batches of bonus experience upon completion.  Kill chains established for quickly and successively dispatching enemies augments experience gain.  Having a primary Class higher than your current Class pads the bar with bonus XP.  Are you a pre-orderer or Collector’s Edition owner?  You should have a code that gives you a helm for an extra 20% XP for a Class up to level 10.  Completing a dungeon for the first time?  There may not be an app for that…well there probably is…but there’s also extra experience.  As you can see, there are many options for getting a character leveled without as tedious a grind as other MMORPGs.

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Combat

Battles are made easier in FFXIV:  ARR thanks to many baked-in features.  Linking monsters are identified by a streaming ray from one mob to the other.  Targeting is indicated by arcing lines (a system introduced in FFXII).  Enemies will often forecast activation of a special ability as evident by a red circle, rectangle, or cone indicating the direction of attack.  Enmity in ARR is easily discerned visually during combat.  Clicking an enemy will reveal an A and numbers to the left of party members’ profiles; the A and sequential numbers afterward detail priority of aggression, according to that particular target.  This makes it easier to manage tanking, DPS, and heals without a third-party program.  Players can also easily mark targets for priority, facilitating greater efficiency in group combat tactics.

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Extras

Mass player communication is accomplished through Linkshells (now more like chat rooms than guilds in FFXI) and Free Companies (essentially the player guilds in the game), giving more options for keeping up with large groups of peers.  Free Companies can also grant bonuses depending on the size, such as combat or craft experience boosts.  Also, players can unlock more customization options by being a member of a high-ranking FC.

By meeting certain level requirements with Classes, players can unlock Jobs down the road.  For instance, a level 30 Arcanist who is also a 15 Conjurer can quest to become a Scholar.  Leveling in the Job would subsequently level the primary Class…in this case, gaining experience in Scholar (which is then differentiated from Arcanist by equipping the Job-specific stone) would also automatically raise the level of the Arcanist Class.  Besides the experience boost a player gets from leveling lower Classes after a primary Class outpaces others, gaining levels in other Classes will allow sharing of certain abilities; for example, a Lancer with levels in Conjurer can splash a curative spell to help out with soloing and emergency heals in parties.

Travel in the game is easily accomplished by using mounts outside of the main cities and dungeons, Chocobo Porters as battle-free escorts from one location to another that you’ve unlocked, Airship, the Return spell (sending you back to your designated Home location, only limited by a 15-minute cooldown), the Teleport spell (bringing you to areas with aetheryte crystals to which you’ve attuned yourself), the Aethernet (smaller crystals in the major cities that allow you to teleport from one portion of the area to another), and even a free Sprint ability that comes on cooldown.  Class changing no longer requires you to run to the Mog House as it did in Final Fantasy XI; instead, you simply have to equip a primary weapon to immediately switch over to the Class that uses that particular equipment.  The Duty Finder can be used to queue up with other players for instances; you’ll be slotted into either the two DPS openings, the healer opening, or the tank opening, depending on the Class you are playing when you register.  Once the instance starts, you are whisked away to the zone; when it’s over, you’re teleported back to where you were.

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The Fantasy Thus Far

Much of FFXIV: ARR’s release was slow-going, as the servers struggled to deal with a huge influx of players and gamers who didn’t want to log out for fear of getting the “World is Full” error.  Character creation on a handful of servers was quickly shut down, keeping me from playing with friends on Excalibur and leading me to create my character on Goblin.  Digital sales of the game were suspended to accommodate for the mass of players mashing buttons as they attempted to force themselves into the game.  Days after launch, ARR was locked during a ten-hour maintenance in order to add new servers; players were given seven free days to make up for the growing pains.  Also to the relief of players, an AFK timer is in the works.  For the past couple days, I’ve had to wait seconds (if at all) in queue to enter the game.  Extra content such as (PVP and housing) is slated to be released approximately every three months, and the general subscription rate is 12.99, with such modifiers as extra character slots and legacy subscription.

Conclusion

From someone who has played about a dozen MMOs for about fifteen years, Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn has taken what works in the genre, tweaked components to streamline the package, and infused franchise classics of chocobos, magitek, and Limit Breaks.  I loved Final Fantasy XI, but the progression was too slow; when I returned years after I first walked away from the game it was bastardized with an exploited leveling system that cannibalized much of the pre-end-game content.  I haven’t yet fallen in love with ARR’s lore (I’ll never forget you, Star Sibyl), but at the same time it’s not so painstaking to learn it through gameplay.  Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn is Final Fantasy heavily influenced by World of Warcraft, Rift, and other modern MMORPGs, but without losing the magic in the process.

 

Score:  7.5

– Iggypu

Sequels I Want to See

Gauntlet Legends

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Gauntlet Legends was a hack-and-slash game that ate so many quarters (and eventually so many raffle tickets) in my youth.  I have very fond memories of piling in a car with friends to take the trip from Bay Saint Louis to Biloxi for Edgewater Mall’s Aladdin’s Castle arcade, where we would spend hours combating hordes and racing each other to loot piles.  Nevermind the fact that the damned arcade unplugged that arcade cabinet every week, making the inevitably wiped leaderboards each week was enough bragging rights for the ride home, which would be followed by all-night Dungeons and Dragons fueled by fast food banquets the likes of which only youth’s blessing of metabolism can handle.  Ah, nostalgia.  Sorry, so in the game you apparently play as adventurers such as Archer, Wizard, Valkyrie, and Warrior, and through amassing of loot and subsequent unlocks you can play as a slew of other characters.  Though the game was ported to home consoles, those who never had the joy of playing in the arcade will never know the coin-guzzling demand of “YELLOW WIZARD NEEDS FOOD BADLY”.  You see, apparently the adventurers were all starving to death, or had terminal cancer, because their life points were constantly dwindling…this was remedied by grabbing food items as they appeared on the screen or (in the case of the arcade), putting in more quarters.  Essentially, this was an effective microtransaction system that would soon be bastardized by today’s social media games.  After fighting large groups of enemies, avoiding traps, and staving off the Grim Reaper by using a halo powerup or throwing a potion, players would unite to take down each level’s boss in order to gain the environment’s Runestone.  Once all the Runestones were collected, players could then fight the demon Skorne; of course, gameplay could still continue, since characters could still be leveled up and unlockables could still be purchased.  Such a great game.

Half-Life 2

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Seriously, where the HELL is Episode 3?  Though I regrettably have  yet to play the original, Half-Life 2 was easily acquired in The Orange Box, a collection of Valve’s Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.  At the time I was able to buy the whole slew of games for $20 from GameStop, but ever the gougers, you can currently order a pre-owned version of the game at their website for $34.99, nearly six years after release.  Half-Life 2 earned loads of Game of the Year commendations, due in part to a fantastic package of great physics, narrative, and environments.  The First-Person Shooter continued to follow Gordon Freeman as he tested his mettle with both shootouts and physics puzzles in a dystopian Earth governed by the Combine alien entity.  It was in this game that I truly came to appreciate the crowbar as a weapon in an FPS.  Without going too deep with spoilers, Half-Life 2 presents believable characters, an oppressive yet absorbing environment, disturbing enemies, and a plot that will grab you faster than a Gravity Gun.  Also?  F headcrabs.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

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Speaking of not beating games, here’s one with a brief and infuriating story.  I had been hunting for this game for ages, only to find out that GameStop had stopped carrying Xbox games now that the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were running the market and apparently not enough gamers wanted to buy the old games.  I finally tracked this game down online and bought a good copy for $30(!), brought it to my then-fiancée-now-wife’s apartment, and started playing the Hell out of it.  A couple hours in and I scoot closer to my console, vertical on a carpet, because I see my girl’s roommate’s demon cats creeping closer.  I go to establish a barrier with my arms, and I nudge the console, sending it horizontal.  For the first/only time ever (knock on wood), I hear that awful scraping sound you never want to hear from your console.  I cringe as the Disc Read Error pops up on the screen and open the disc tray in dread, expecting the worst.  Sure enough, the disc I put so much work into finding is carved up with rings guaranteeing the thing won’t play.  That being said, what I DID get to play began to scratch the itch of my Cthulhu/Lovecraftian appreciation.  Developed by Headfirst Productions and Published by Bethesda (yeah, THAT Bethesda), CoCDCotE (get your CoC jokes here) was a great blend of FPS, stealth, and survival horror.  Of course, the stealth system was a bit sketchy due to a weird system based on noise and movement that requires you to duck+move OR stealth+jump.  Aside from that, there’s no heads-up display, which means you have to keep an ear out for the audible cues of your heartbeat and breath or the diminishing of color on your screen.  Injuries were dynamic, meaning a damaged arm complicated gunplay while a leg injury impacted maneuverability.  Finally, as sanity was torn away the deeper your protagonist delved into what should not be, hallucinations appeared and game controls even skewed until either reaching sanctuaries, eliminating threats, or committing suicide.  Yeah.  Great Old Ones don’t play.

Double Dragon

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So I included the picture of Double Dragon II in particular for a few reasons.  One, it was my overall favorite of the first three games in the series.  Second, THIS CLIFF SUCKED IN COMPETITIVE “CO-OP”.  So you could play single player in the second game, co-op, or friendly-fire-enabled co-op.  At this point early in the game, my cousin and I would hesitate at that ladder you see at the bottom of the screen; if you didn’t have a good lead on the other person and friendly-fire was enabled, your ass was getting drop-kicked off into the abyss.  There was no maybe about it, you needed to get to that ladder or take the risk of forming a truce and hoping the other person didn’t stab you in the back…which happened approximately 78% of the time.  The Double Dragon series is another beat ’em up franchise that ate many of my hours as a child.  Martial artists Billy (or Bimmy) and Jimmy Lee went through this series performing awesome karate moves against thugs and using their own weapons against them.  Though the series has seen a number of iterations, reappeared in cameos, culminated in crossovers (Battletoads & Double Dragon…seriously…it’s only missing Ninja Turtles for full awesome rating), and spawned a tongue-in-cheek spinoff about one of its goons, the popularity has waned even after the movie, comics, and animated series.  Weird resurrections aside, we need more Double Dragon.

NBA JAM

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If you ain’t boomshakalaka’d, I feel bad for you.  There have been basketball games, but this one is the best.  Though it doesn’t feature a full court of players, it’s easy to overlook the two-on-two play of the NBA Jam series because the gameplay is just so wild.  While not as Barkley Bows-tastic as Arch Rivals, players basically shove opponents, mash down on turbo, and dash toward the hoop in order to pull off a monster jam.  Sure, you can shoot threes, but that’s only secondary to the crazy dunks that are hallmark of NBA JAM.  Another feature that is integral to the series is the hot streak.  Once a player scores two unanswered buckets, he starts “heating up”…a third will put him “on fire”, where his accuracy skyrockets, his Turbo is limitless, and his shots literally scorch the net.  Fire is only doused with four consecutive baskets by the blazing player or a successful shot by the opposing team.  NBA JAM has always featured actual players as well as hidden players, such as veterans of the game, mascots, political figures, and more.  Loads of Easter eggs paired with easy yet fun gameplay make for a series that pretty much anyone can enjoy.  The latest version on current gen systems slowly updates rosters, but we could use a new version with next gen tech…possibly using the console’s camera devices to scan players into the game?

Well I’ll go ahead and end it here, because once I started on this list I amassed a number of games that would take another week to include.  Feel free to chime in with your own take!  F YOU HEADCRABS!

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