Thursday, June 12, 2014

Turn-based Strategy Games and my Operation Darkness Review

Even though I'm really into action games, Strategy games (and specially turn-based strategy games) have a place real close to my heart.

That whole thing about getting through a game, not with your skills or reflexes, but with your brain makes a victory even more rewarding. Then there are those beatiful different units every game gives you command of; how could I compare driving one character, when I'm in control of a whole army?!

Games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Ogre Battle, and Fire Emblem became inmediate obsessions of my own. But I'm not really into fantasy games as I am about—you know—war games, and Advance Wars remains one of my favorite series of all times; I've mentioned it both as one of my Most Influential Games of All Times, and (just recently) as The Game I'd Play Forever.

Also, I just became obsessed with XCOM: Enemy Unkown when I rented it some time ago, I just don't know why I didn't try it earlier. Now I'm looking forward to get it.

Finally, there's that other title I like talking about, but many people really know:

Operation Darkness, and here's the review I made for GameCola some time ago. And more than just talk about it and giving a score, I even added its very own ESRB rating:

Monday, June 9, 2014

River City Pixels: Mario Kart 8

Oh, yes. I also made a comic about my experiences playing former Mario Kart titles, my expectations for the new game on the series—Mario kart 8, and my memories of my friends and I playing Mario Kart Double Dash way waaaaaay too much, that I can no longer like that game anymore.

By the way, I'm momentarily pleased by Mario Kart 8, let's see if that lasts enough.

Friday, June 6, 2014

World of Tanks: How to Drive Online Gaming Back into my Heart

Pictured Above, World of Tanks irrumping into my online-jaded heart.
I’ve spent so many hours playing World of Tanks since it was released on Xbox Live, which I find very surprising since I just stopped caring about online gaming some time ago, mostly because every game these days tries to lure me to keep playing its awesome new multiplayer options in the little time I have for gaming these days.

I knew this day was coming; I never stopped liking competitive gaming. It was just a matter of getting my hands on the right game to bring me back into multiplayer. Now that I’m pretty much hooked to World of Tanks, I want to sit down and talk about the reasons why I like this game so much.

When I think about it, I realize that this game not only offers some good reasons that keep me playing it, but actually does everything right in order to catch my attention. If you’re also heavily into World of Tanks, maybe the following statements will sound familiar:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Guest Comic: 3-Chord Dorks

Here's another comic I did some time ago, this time is a guest comic I did for 3-Chord Dorks, the webcomic that is all about celebrating rock and music in general.

Kevin Griffin (the comic's artist) took a couple weeks vacations, and offered the chance of doing a guest comic for him... which I took inmediatly and enjoyed the hell up of building Kevin and Jolie with pixels.

Anyway, I played this one to both critique our Internet-generation and lyrics websites, as well as making small reference to Don McLean's American Pie, one of my favorite songs of all time.

Read the comic and Kevin's comments right here >>

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Best of BANHAMMERED! Collection

Back in November 2011, Xbox Live seemed to be holding some sort of banning season, since there seemed to be a lot of users being taken down from the service, as I looked into the issue, I went to the Xbox Live’s forums and found lots and lots of people complaining why they were “unfairly” suspended or banned from the online service.

Later on I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. Not only the complaints made by Xbox Live’s users were hilarious (apparently, no one didn’t recall doing anything wrong), but also the way the XBLPET—the Xbox Live Policy Enforcement Team—decided to respond to those inquiries was pure gold; they didn’t hold anything back and let them know the specific reason why they deserved being taken down from XBL’s service.

I knew I had to share this with everyone, so I made an article about it, I called this one: This Banning Season, and  uploaded it into GameCola; here I did some sort of PSA informing readers how to avoid the wrath of the Banhammer by making fun of people being banned from Xbox Live.

Later on, I published this article on Bitmob (the site that started it all) and it caught the eyes of the editors, so it ended being promoted to the first page, and renamed as From the Xbox Forums: The best of BANHAMMERED!

See? This is why I usually trust on editor's judgement. In this case, they didn't only came up with a funnier name, they reshaped the whole concept of the article, and made a bigger enphasis on fun parts of the article. I don't mind if someone's taking away some of my words, as long as the overall message is better delivered.

But last year I wondered if I did a wrong to the world because—for whatever reason—theXBLPET just stopped responding to complainers the way they did pretty much after my article was published. So I went back to those days, and dug up a few more precious posts to share in a second article, this time the theme was to put down the fears of people losing their games over being (once again) "unfairly" banned. So I named this one as The Best of BANHAMMERED! 2: In Defense of Xbox Support.

Still, my collection of hilarious posts from Xbox Live Forums held a lot of great pieces, so I knew it was just a matter of time until I finally released the third part. And here it is, The Best of BANHAMMERED! 3: Retribution.

Because you just can't have a sequel without a subtitle, right? I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did collecting these, I don't think there'll be a 4th part as long as the Xbox Forums remain as boring as they're these days.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Inverted Controls: Can you tell me which way is up?

Everything is fine...
It happens all the time. Whenever someone is about to play on a controller (or a profile) I was just using, there’s always that question I need to make, and—more or less—a dialogue like the following takes place:

-Can you play with inverted controls?
-What’s that?
-It’s like, when you press up, the camera goes down, and when you press down, the camera goes up.
-What? No. I like it when up is up, and down is down!

Yes, that’s right dear readers. My name is Daniel Castro and I play with inverted controllers; this is one of the reasons I’m familiar with the controller settings menu of every game I play. Not only I need to make sure that inverted Y-axis is “on” whenever I’m about to play, I also need to change it back to “how normal people play” when someone el se is going to use that same controller.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Social Networks: the more we are connected, the more we are split appart

One of my part-time jobs is to teach English as a foreign language, so I often ask my students about what do they do in their free time in order to fetch some examples we can work in class. In one of these sessions I asked a group of teenagers how often did they check their e-mail; their answer was basically “Nah, no one checks their e-mail anymore”.

That response surprised me quite a bit. Of course the reason behind that answer was obvious; instant messaging applications such as Facebook, Skype, or WhatsApp have rendered e-mails obsolete. Later on, when I had a group of adults on class I asked them about this very topic, and found out that –despite all these new means of communication– they still check their e-mails regularly, as well as they expressed my own concern toward how the youth is losing the skill of writing letters (or e-mails); something they will eventually require in order to procure and/or conserve a job.

I made sure to include that for later classes, but that’s another story.

Keep reading >>>

Saturday, March 1, 2014

River City Pixels: Arkham City

I don’t miss the “time limit” we used to have imposed on us in early videogames, but sometimes I have to stop suspending my disbelief during a game when it tries to convince me that videogame world would be a lot better if I did my saving ASAP. We all know that nothing will actually happen no matter how much time we waste.

Such thing happens when you’re playing Batman Arkham City; Doctor Strange keeps reminding everyone that something huge called Protocol 10 will happen in a few hours, but then, his countdown repeats itself every time you’re procrastinating the main objectives of the game in favor of one of the many subquests this title has.

I guess there’s no place for a real sense of urgency in a non-linear game; I surely would regret not being able to explore everything that Arkham City has to offer if I were pushed to finish the game within a time limit.

On the other hand, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask did an excellent job at implementing and running wild with this idea; every moment is a constant reminder that you and everyone around you is in danger; actually, it did it so well that I don’t need another game throwing a damn psychedelic moon on me if I don’t hurry the hell up!

First published on CultureMass.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My take Into Shooting Games

There was a time not long ago when I used to like shooting games more than most other videogame genres, and it’s not that I stopped enjoy them; at heart I still like them very much, and that’s pretty much the impression I give whenever I talk, whenever I write, or whenever anyone watches my Xbox Live’s Avatar (pictured left).

I enjoy the sheer excitement current shooting bring to the table: they’re usually fast-paced, and franctic fun the moment you start playing; while some people might consider them dumb or brainless, knowledgeable players know that overcoming in shooting games require strategy and mental prowess processed so damn fast that can’t be seen with bare eyes; also shooting games offer some of the most replayable experiences out there, one playthrough will rarely go the same way as another.

But I noticed a trend in my latest articles for CultureMass, I tend to talk as much about shooting games, as I complain about current games and the state of the videogame industry.

This is what I'm talking about?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Halo 4: The Tale of the Teabaggin Mantis

This is a guest comic I did for —another of my favorite webcomic series— when they gave me chance of making a pixelated interpretation of its characters. Since their comic series covers more recent videogame news, I used this opportunity as a vehicle to rant about my exact feelings toward the Mantis Trailer prior to Halo 4's release date.

You can read the full comic here.

[After this comic had been published, I still needed to talk about the reasons why I ended up doing it, which I post at GamesBeat, but you can also read it right here:]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't be that Guy

Now that this blog is officially moving again, I’d like to talk about the things that you’ll frequently find in here, and the first thing I need to tackle is the Column that gave such much joy, and the beginning of my writing career: Don’t be that Guy.

It started as a funny flowchart I did for (now called GamesBeat) back in 2011, when I was really into Online Gaming; that article would end up being edited, posted on the main page, and read by tens of thousand viewers; one of them: a curious fellow called Paul Franzen.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Getting back to business

Look at this, it’s over a 1 ¼ year since my last update, and I didn’t even stopped by to say hello, or even to announce that I was taking a break from the blog, or whatever. For my own standards, this is unacceptable, but coming from all that I went through over all this time, it was more than expected.

Even though this blog was conceived to be a humoristic site, I need to sit down and talk straight this one time before actually going back to business.

Long story short, life caught up on me and gave me a good lesson on humility.